Hail Caesar!

Political parties seem like a permanent feature of modern Western societies, but there’s no reason to think they are permanent. At the founding of America, parties were looked down upon as a potential problem for a self-governing republic. In Federalist 9 and 10 Madison argued that the proposed constitution would guard against factionalism and was essential to preventing partisan government.

In the 19th century, political parties made a lot of sense simply for organizational reasons. The only way you can stuff the ballot boxes and intimidate voters is with a well organized ground game. No matter how rich the candidate, he could never overcome the army of poll workers, ward healers and bagmen that the party could deploy in every election. If you wanted to run for office you had to do so as a party man.

That reality has been with us for a long time so it is proper to think it is just the way it has to be. Independent runs for president have all ended in tears, mostly because the parties own the system. Attempts at creating third parties in America have failed because the resources involved in pulling it off are just too great. Ross Perot probably came the closest to pulling it off. Maybe the Green Party. Both efforts failed when their famous leader left the stage.

I wonder if what the Trump phenomenon really portends is an end of national parties or at least the decline of the parties as king makers at the national level. Trump is a surprisingly capable politician, but his success is remarkable given that his party and its media operation is blasting him relentlessly. The coordinated assault against him this week is a curious thing in that it looks like they are pushing all of their chips into the middle of the table.

They may be doing exactly that. Trump is spending his own money on local political operators in Iowa and New Hampshire so he can compete at the street level, but without the massive overhang of the consultancy and their party patrons. If Trump manages to win the nomination, and it is looking like a certainty right now, a lot of other rich guys are going to wonder if they could do the same.

One of those is the filthy rich former mayor of New York City, who is thinking about an independent run. Unlike Trump, Bloomy would run as a third party option, but he has a ton of cash and a lot of connections in Progressive circles. It’s not unreasonable to think he could siphon off a lot of the Democrat Party organization for his effort. Given the options on the Democrat side, it’s not unreasonable to think he could do well.

As an aside, how unreasonable is it to think that National Review and The Weekly Standard would come out and support Bloomberg over Trump and Sanders? They agree with him on more issues than they disagree and he would be down with the invade the world/invite the world paradigm. More important, he’s their sort of people.

Anyway, we have billionaires launching rockets into space, planning a Mars voyage and creating robots that promise to become aware and unleash terminators on humanity. That’s all cool stuff, but being in charge of the Imperial Army as the temporary Emperor is way cooler. You can be sure they are looking at what Trump is doing and thinking they could do the same thing.

In the past, what has kept rich guys from running for office is the hassle of dealing with party politics. In order to get in the game, you had to suck up to a lot of twerps and losers who have burrowed into the system like weevils. If you can blow past that and assemble your own temporary campaign machine that does all the stuff the party does, but without all the party nonsense, why not do it?

Of course, this is a form of Caesarism, but updated to the modern mass media world. Instead of a cult of personality and bully-boy tactics, it will be mass media strategies and the bribing of interest groups. Americans are used to experiencing elections in the same way they consume talent shows. Having a bunch of rich guys staging these things without the hassle of political parties is not a great leap.

That’s certainly part of what is unnerving Conservative Inc about the Trump campaign. If this crude rich guy can buy his way into the game and then shove aside the commentariat on his way to the nomination, why will anyone bother catering to them in the future? While I think most of the tantrums we’re seeing are just a way to get attention, some of them are smart enough to see the threat.

The parties will still have a role as the legislative bodies are regulated to the benefit of political parties. As dangerous as Caesarism sounds, the American system allows for the legislature to claw back its authority in hurry if it cares to do it. Maybe the specter of billionaires buying the White House is what’s needed to slap the political parties to their senses and maybe is is what’s needed for the Congress to reassert its role in government.

Or maybe we’re doomed.

The Dead Right

In the 1970’s, the National Basketball League was close to dead. Most of the arenas were empty and the games were rarely on TV, due to a lack of interest. It turns out that white people were not all that interested in watching drug-addled black guys with giant afros dunking a basketball. Even playoff games were often not televised due to a lack of audience.

Then a couple of guys came along who captured the public’s attention, first in college and then the pros. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird made for a perfect pairing as they were opposite in so many noticeable ways, yet nearly equal in talents. When they ended up on the two great franchises of the sport, it saved the NBA and ushered in a decade of growth for the league.

David Stern, the commissioner of the league, managed to learn the one lesson that was 100% wrong, in every way imaginable. That is, his take away from the Bird – Magic era was that he, David Stern, was a genius and responsible for saving the NBA. He then spent the rest of his career destroying the league and the sport.

This is relevant only in that is shows how easily people can believe things about themselves and their cause, even when the data points in the opposite direction. David Stern was a terrible commissioner, but he thought otherwise and his tribesmen in ownership mostly agreed. That was mostly due to the externalities that disguised the cost of incompetence, by kicking them down the road or passing them onto others.

Something similar happened with the conservative intellectuals over the same period. In the 60’s and 70’s, conservatism was an intellectual critique of the welfare socialism of the post-war West. But it was a tin-man movement because it lacked a leader with the personality to rally the people to the cause. That changed when Thatcher and Reagan emerged. It ended when they passed from the scene.

The intellectual movement, however, staggered on as a movement without a heart, but convinced that it had all the answers to the great questions. Waves of conservative intellectuals have come along like sharks’ teeth to lecture us on the finer points and nuances of conservatism. To be an authentic conservative in politics now means an avalanche of policy papers on how to fine tune the leviathan.

Like David Stern and his coevals running the NBA all those years, these conservative intellectuals, and I am being generous here, convinced themselves that Reagan and Thatcher rose to the top because they stood on the mountain of policy papers generated by the conservative industrial complex. They are blissfully unaware of the repeated failures by them and their political surrogates since Reagan left office.

The fact is, conservatism, as we have been taught it over the last half century, is an answer to a question that is no longer being asked. Forty years ago, the Cold War and the threat of nuclear annihilation demanded an intellectual counter to welfare socialism. America had to be economically, militarily and culturally up to the challenge of international communism. Conservatism was the backstop to prevent Progressive from caving into the commies.

That’s no longer the world in which we inhabit. The Russians are driving Bentley’s and buying sports franchises. They love capitalism. While the threat of nuclear annihilation will always be with us, there’s simply no credible threat facing the West, beyond the self-inflicted. Further, there’s no need for an intellectual defense of the western culture as the Left has won all the battles, taking command of all the high ground in the culture.

Intellectual conservatism is no longer the razor wire defending the trenches of the middle -class. At best, it is a tangled mess left over from the battle. Increasingly it is seen as the top part of the fences the managerial class has erected around us. America is no longer a self-governing republic under assault. It is a custodial state, a nation-scale version of the Stanford Prison Experiment.

To some extent, this is why the Old Left is collapsing in on itself, resulting in the black hole that is Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. The great intellectual battles of the 19th and 20th century are over. The fractured ruling elites of individual countries are being replaced by the global ruling class. When elections lose their meaning, what’s the point of having parties anyway?

The conservative movement is dead because it no longer has a reason to exist. Whether or not something replaces it is debatable, but if that does happen, it will not be a defensive crouch. it will be an ideology appealing to insurgents and revolutionaries. It will be the credo of those who take joy in throwing sand in the gears of the big machine.

The Davos Man’s Dilemma

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rollin’ ’round the bend,
And I ain’t seen the sunshine
Since, I don’t know when
I’m stuck in Davos Prison
And time keeps draggin’ on
But that train keeps a-rollin’
On down to San Antone

For some reason, that’s what came to mind when reading this Forbes piece about a Davos Man’s puzzlement over the current ructions.

Billionaire Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzmann apparently finds the anger of voters both on the right and left bewildering, according to a report from the InternationalBusiness Times.

“I find the whole thing astonishing and what’s remarkable is the amount of anger whether it’s on the Republican side or the Democratic side,” the Wall Street mogul said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Bernie Sanders, to me, is almost more stunning than some of what’s going on in the Republican side. How is that happening, why is that happening?”

The classic Johnny Cash song Folsom Prison is not about prison, it’s about the torment the singer feels about what he imagines is going on outside the prison. That train he hears could be a freight train for all he knows, but it is what he imagines it to be that torments him.

We are seeing a variation of this with the ruling classes at all levels. They heard noises on the streets and they just assume the people were celebrating the great wonderfulness of the modern age. Davos Man is so thoroughly divorced from the daily life on this planet, he may as well be from an alien race that has colonized the earth.

It’s not just the plutocrats. Turn on cable news and the news readers are perplexed by what’s happening “out there” among “those people” they hear about. It’s as if these people are locked away in a mountain prison from which they do their “reports” every night. Their field reporters operate like Jane Goodall, reporting back to the mother-ship on the doings of the meat sticks.

The funny thing about this is the strange lack of awareness in the media to their own disconnect from the daily reality of their audience. They really think they are “speaking truth to power” and leading the conversation on the topics of interest to the public. In one of life’s many ironies, the managerial class, at least that portion that serves in the mass media, is suffering from false consciousness.

The panic we are seeing in Conservative Inc over Trump, National Review is now running special editions bashing Trump, stems from this disconnect. These are people who have somehow come to the conclusion that they are serving shoulder to shoulder in a mass movement. They keep talking about the “conservative movement” as if it is a real thing and not just an old catch phrase from a bygone era.

All of a sudden, the people they truly believed were their brothers in arms are abandoning them to go fight in some other cause. At least that’s the way they see it. The reality is these well-scrubbed college boys and girls making a career in conservative media have as much in common with the hoi polloi as poor Davos Man at the start of this post. In fact, they have more in common with him because he signs their paychecks.

It’s not just the prep school wing of the the Right. The Evangelical rackets are suffering from a similar problem. Rod Dreher has an interest post up on this at The American Conservative. The “leaders” are wildly out of sink sync with their followers. Those people making a living in Evangelical Inc. are suddenly feeling the ground shift too.

The thing is, it’s not this disconnect that has the revolting out their revolting against their betters. Resentment of the rich is a popular unicorn on the Right, but it’s just that, imaginary. Like the poor, the rich will always be with us. Most of human history is the story of the people rallying to the standard of a rich guy who is vexed by some other rich guy.

The issue is something different. It’s that the rich guys these days are rallying the people and then abandoning their post. It’s nothing but a litany of excuses as to why they can’t do what they say they want to do. Those Evangelical voters have been hearing the same sermon for a long time and things just get worse. Why not throw in with the heathen?

What we are seeing is a public that is coming to the conclusion that the game is rigged. Vote Republican or Democrat and the results are the same and always at odds with the wishes of the people. There are other social forces at work, of course, but the people in charge are undermining the legitimacy of the system over which they preside.

That’s ultimately the dilemma facing Davos Man. Being a member of a global ruling elite is not all ski trips and swank conferences. Unless they square their interest with those of the public and do so through the popular political institutions, the divide will grow and the unrest will get louder. The lesson of Trump is the lesson of history. There’s always another rich guy to whom the public can rally.

Saluting a Hat

Deforming the language has long been a cornerstone of leftist politics. If you can find a way to couch odious polices in pleasant sounding language, there’s some chance you can convince the public to slit its own throat. Similarly, they often mangle the language in order to prevent a reasoned debate. All around us we have euphemisms that blur the definitions for commonly understood things.

Take a look at this strange story from Britain. Here’s some of the text as published:

This morning, I stood in front of hundreds of Brighton College pupils in assembly and spoke about the experience of being a trans woman. In the past few days, they’ve found their school suddenly the focus of press interest, after headteacher Richard Cairns scrapped traditional male and female uniforms to accommodate the needs of transgender children.

He made the decision to offer all pupils the option of trousers or a skirt, so that children with gender dysphoria can dress as the gender they feel they really are, rather than the one they were born into. Mr Cairns explained to me that his decision had been prompted by a female pupil, whose family had asked the school if she could dress as she did beyond the school gates – as a boy.

Now, here’s the same paragraphs in normal English:

This morning, I stood in front of hundreds of Brighton College pupils in assembly and spoke about the experience of being a man wearing women’s clothes. In the past few days, they’ve found their school suddenly the focus of press interest, after headmaster Richard Cairns scrapped normal uniforms to accommodate the demands of parents who think their boys should wear dresses.

He made the decision to offer all pupils the option of trousers or a skirt, so that children with psychological problems can draw attention to themselves by wearing clothes for the opposite sex. Mr Cairns explained to me that his decision had been prompted by a female pupil, whose family had asked the school if they could use their child as a prop in their morality play.

I’ll just note that this guy looks a lot like Ozzy Osbourne in drag.

When we say things as they are, it’s hard to not laugh at most of this stuff. The rest is so creepy and weird no sensible person would tolerate it. If an adult man wants to wear a sundress, that’s his choice. It is a harmless deviancy that society can tolerate to a point. Teaching children that sex is a human construct is no different than telling them are bullet proof. Letting parents turn their kids into acts of public piety is monstrous and not something a sane people should tolerate.

When you lose control of the language, you quickly go from pleas for tolerance of a public nuisance to intolerance of observable reality. There is no such thing as gender dysphoria. Humans come in one of two sexes, This is ground floor biology. Substituting the word “gender” for “sex” brings with it the implication that the sex of humans is open to debate in the same way the rules of grammar are debatable.

It is possible that some people think they are of the other sex, just as there are people who think they are invisible. I once knew a woman who thought she was the Virgin Mary. These sorts of mental health problems are sad. These people should be pitied and given what medical care we can. Their maladies should not be forced onto the rest of us.

Of course, the reason our betters insist we pretend that a dude in a sundress is a person of a third sex is they know it is nonsense. It is humiliating to be made to go along with such nonsense. Having to sit and listen to this horse’s ass deliver a speech in drag is about as degrading as being made to hop around on one foot while sucking your thumb. That’s the whole point of this. If you force people to accept this, you can get away with anything.

Trannies are the modern incarnation of Albrecht Gessler’s hat. Instead of bowing to a hat in front of the town, we now have to sit and applaud as a man in drag spits gibberish. In the bizarre formulation of our rulers, normal people are labeled deviant if they don’t pretend the deviant is normal.

This will not end well.

The Naked and the Right

One of the interesting aspects of the Trump Effect is how the members of Red Team, who used to lecture us about solidarity in the face of the Obama onslaught, are now stabbing their teammates in the back. Trump people are “trumpkins” and in a cult of personality. They declare that Trump is not a conservative as if that makes him a pagan who likes human sacrifice.

Read the comments of any Trump story and you inevitably see a group of mouth breathers railing about Trump not being a conservative. The word “conservative” has meant whatever the party bosses want for so long, most people can’t remember what it used to mean. It has become an abracadabra word that means “good” or “bad” depending upon the person using it.

This post I saw linked on Maggie’s Farm this morning is a good example.

For a long time I have hypothesized (and worried) that the average Republican / Conservative’s support for free markets was merely tribal — the team’s official position was pro-free market, so individuals supported the team’s position without actually, really understanding it.  I have developed this hypothesis after a lot of private discussions with Conservatives who have betrayed many of the same economic mis-conceptions and bits of ignorance that drive much bad interventionist government policy.

Now there is this, from the leading Republican candidate for President:

Speaking at Liberty University today, Trump escalated his rhetoric on Apple’s overseas manufacturing, and claimed somehow the US would reclaim those jobs in the future. “We have such amazing people in this country: smart, sharp, energetic, they’re amazing,” Trump said. “I was saying make America great again, and I actually think we can say now, and I really believe this, we’re gonna get things coming… we’re gonna get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries.”

So the Republican who is currently leading in the polls (among Republican voters, mind you) supports government intervention in a successful company’s manufacturing and sourcing decisions.  Which just reinforces my view that we are dealing with the Coke and Pepsi party.  Heads we get statism, tails we get statism.

I’m unfamiliar with the blogger and I’m sure he is a peach of a fellow, but like many people, he seems to confuse libertarian with conservative. He’s also confused about what conservatism says about capitalism and markets. That’s a common failing among the politically active. It turns his comments about tribalism into a bit of self-parody, but maybe it is intentional in order to generate comments.

The confusion over free markets versus capitalism should be blamed on libertarians, who find it comforting to confuse the two. Free markets are an academic concept. They have never existed on earth. There are always external forces at work on the market participants. It turns out that humans have this thing called culture and culture shapes the market place by placing rules on the participants, either formally or informally.

Capitalism simply means private ownership of the means of production for the purpose of producing private profit.  Put another way, it is the appropriation of capital (property, money, labor, etc.) by some to the exclusion of others. Just as there are no completely free market economies, no modern state is purely capitalist. There is always some degree of public ownership.

The point here is that you can have capitalism with all sorts of government interventions and you can have a market economy with loads of state regulation. What defines the Right is not whether there is a debate over these issues. The Right is defined by who decides and how. It is libertarians who argue that issues like trade and regulation are beyond the pale and can never be debated.

More important, the Right debates public policy within the context of culture. There is a general acceptance of the human condition. The ways of the people in Poland will differ from the those in Canada. One may produce greater material wealth, but the other may produce greater tranquility. There’s no universally right answer, just what the people in those cultures prefer. Conservatives accept that people want to live they way they want to live.

To some degree it is understandable that people like that blogger would think it is all about economics. Again, this is the libertarian poison that has oozed into the bloodstream of the Right. Since the Republicans are afraid to discuss culture, they have retreated into synthetic debates over free markets and free trade. You never have to worry about the Left calling you names if you are on the side of Apple, even if Apple is using slaves to make their products.

That I suspect is why so many are so vexed by Donald Trump. His campaign is forcing a debate about what it means to be a conservative. This is bad for the technocrats and the libertarians. Both camps operate from the assumption that culture is meaningless and can be plowed under in the quest for power, material goods or economic efficiency. It’s also a handy way of steering clear of the social justice warriors.

There’s an old gag in in finance that goes, “when the tide goes out we get to see who is naked.” That is generally understood to mean that in a down cycle you get to see who is well capitalized and who was operating on credit. We’re seeing something similar in the political sphere. We’re suddenly finding out who is and who is not on the Right. The libertarians are swimming back to their island and the technocrats are waddling back over to the Left.

The Democrat’s Dilemma

I’m firmly in the camp that says Hillary Clinton will skate on the espionage and corruption issues hanging over her head. That’s right, I said espionage. The very act of setting up this secret e-mail system puts that into the discussion simply because there are only a few reasons to be spiriting away classified data and all of them are against the law.

Allowing unauthorized people access to this server, which has been established, means she violated the Espionage Act. 18 U.S. Code & 793 subsection f reads:

“Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”

That’s the technical aspect, but there is the question no one is willing to ask and that is why she was removing classified data and storing it off-site? Why was she working with a civilian, Sydney Blumenthal, on national security matters? The most obvious answers is he was a street agent, arranging contributions to the Clinton slush fund in exchange for useful information culled from the American security services. Bubba would show up and give a speech so it looked like the money was for the speech.

That’s my hunch. Talk to people familiar with these types of investigations and they will say the same thing. A standard scheme in public corruption is to disguise kickbacks as something else. A pol may have a company hire a relative or friend in exchange for getting a contract. Maybe the company arranges for the pol to make a killing on a real estate deal or perhaps a futures contract.

This is all very serious and in a better age Clinton would be in leg irons waiting for the hangman. Of course, in a better age she never would have gained access to the position. The Clintons should never have made it out of Arkansas. In our current age, nothing will come of it other than a drag on her quest for the White House. Civilian justice is for chumps, not managerial class types. The beautiful people handle their issues internally.

I was talking with someone the other day that used to work at Justice in the Public Integrity Section. I think he was also with the FBI, based on some things he said, but I did not ask. He’s “retired” now, working for a government contractor, but I got the impression he worked a lot of these sorts of cases.

He said something interesting that I’ve been mulling over ever since. “The FBI has 150 agents working this case and they have expanded this to be a public corruption case. That means they found much more than just mishandling of classified information. At some point, she will have to suspend her campaign and the party will be forced to find someone else.”

While I remain skeptical about this, it’s not out of the question. Even if she avoids prosecution, the steady drip of bad news seems to be dragging her campaign down to the point where even a clown like Bernie Sanders can beat her. I feel pretty confident that the Democratic Party will not let Sanders win the nomination by default. They will find someone respectable to try to salvage some dignity. Bernie Sanders makes Jeremy Corbyn look like a sober realist so he cannot be allowed to win.

Thinking about it further, I can’t think of a plausible alternative. Joe Biden is the only guy who comes close to being respectable. Fake Indian is not giving up her safe Senate seat to run. There’s no one in the Senate that is famous enough to make it work, unless someone is willing to run just to help the party avoid embarrassment.

That leaves governors and there are a few who could be thrown to the wolves as they are nearing the end of their careers. Mark Dayton from Minnesota comes to mind. He hates Americans and has nothing else going on. Jerry Brown would be entertaining, but he’s basically Bernie Sanders with an interesting life. There are no good options so they may be stuck with some old fool like Brown.

All the attention has been on the Republicans due to Trump, but also for their buffoonery and corruption. Most of the chattering classes are snickering at how they have staggered around trying to find an alternative to Trump. The result is no one is paying much attention to the collapse of the other party. Look at their elected members and it is all geezers and wackos who are marginally less crazy than Bernie Sanders. Their one “fresh” face is Lizzy Warren and she’s a year away from a pension.

The way it is shaping up, the Democrats may not have a choice but to run with Hillary, even if she has to run her campaign from the penitentiary.

The Managerial State of America

It’s often suggested that America, and maybe the entire West, is undergoing a great realignment culturally and politically. The managerial class has matured to the point where it controls the high ground in Western societies and most important, it has become class aware. What we used to think of “leftist” ideology has evolved into an elaborate defense of the prerogatives and interests of the managerial elite.

The rise of the managerial elite dates back to the 19th century with the full flowering of the Industrial Revolution and the credit economy. It’s often forgotten that Herbert Hoover, the guy “responsible for the Great Depression” because of his “laissez-faire” economic policies, was president of the Efficiency Society. Hoover, like many educated men of his age, believed modern engineering techniques could be applied to the organization of human society.

The story of the 20th century in America was the retreat of the traditional middle class in the face of a technological revolution that extended far beyond the material goods of life. This managerial revolution allowed the new ruling elite to consolidate economic, cultural and political power through corporate and governmental bureaucratic power. By the end of the 20th century, the loop had been closed. Politics, finance and the culture would be controlled by the managerial elite.

What we are seeing today is the public waking up to the reality in which they find themselves. Both political parties in America are now immune to the will of the voters. Across Europe, the main parties work together to thwart challenges from populist parties. At every turn the public is faced with a unified ruling class, from proselytizing by the cultural organs to financial chicanery greenlighted by the political class. Of course, no one in power is ever held accountable.

This last part is a good example. Forty years ago, Richard Nixon was run out of town because Liberals hated him. The America of the 1970’s was a country in which members of the elite fought one another for power and influence. There were competing interests in politics. Today, Barak Obama has done all of the things critics suspected Nixon wanted to do. The result is a shrug from both political parties. Hillary Clinton most likely sold national security information for cash to her slush fund and no one in power dares mention it. The shield wall remains intact.

The thing to understand is that the managerial class is not a self-conscious conspiracy or “deep state.” It’s a cohort that shares educational, class and cultural perspectives. They are bound together by an egalitarian ethic and a preference for technocratic solutions. Those solutions are to be carried out by the bureaucratic institutions in which they swim like microbes in a Petri dish. The shared interests and shared worldview results in a natural, unconscious cooperation, like ants whose queen is the bureaucracy. The interests of one is the interest of all.

It’s why there’s no mechanism to self-police. Holding Obama to account for his crimes means expulsion from the managerial class. To these people, such a thing is up there with crucifixion or stoning. Ultimately, the only punishments that can plausibly be handed out within the elite are those that lower one’s status within the elite. Anything that threatens one’s membership in the elite is therefore off limits. Hillary Clinton can auction off state secrets and not fear prosecution. The worst that she can expect is losing to Bernie Sanders.

This natural cooperation looks like coordination because it is so natural. The decision by the Supreme Court to take up Obama’s amnesty action is a good example. The court has decided to expedite the review this case and decide whether Obama, or any future President, can issue citizenship to random people at his discretion. Lower courts have put the brakes on the program for various administrative reasons and now the high court will decide the matter.

Of course, expediting this case is unusual. The reason for the rush is Obama is leaving office in a year. There we see one element of the managerial class helping the other without thinking too much about it. This would not have happened, of course, if Paul Ryan and the Republicans had not gone along with the scheme by funding it in the last budget. So we have one side of the class pushing open borders, another element signing off on it, despite claiming to be mortal enemies of the former. Then another side comes in to help expedite it.

Again, that looks a lot like coordination and one would be forgiven for thinking it is a conspiracy. But wait, there’s more! The court now has the opportunity to remove this issue from public consideration. They will most likely rule that the executive can issue citizenship to whoever he likes whenever he likes. This removes the issue from Congress. From there, it just takes one president to issue green cards to South America for the circle to be complete. Citizenship, as a practical matter, ceases to exist.

Across the managerial class, the concept of citizenship is seen as antiquated. They all believe that the world is headed to a world without borders and countries. A vast administrative apparatus working through local bureaucracies will handle the issues of governance formerly done by nation states. While not always articulated in this level of detail, anything that moves us toward the general vision of a borderless world is supported by the elites, be they on the court, at the banks or in the legislatures.

The court did not take up the case because they intend to block the administration. They took up the case for fear it could languish until after Obama was gone and the public had become fully aware of what’s happening. Once the court rules in Obama’s favor in a few months, the game is lost. It’s just a matter of time before the ruling elite is completely decoupled from the people over whom they rule. They will have their managerial state, if they can keep it.

Snooty People In Funny Hats

Steve Sailer has a post up on this article in the NYTimes about Baltimore’s rising crime rate. When reading ruling class media organs like the NYTimes, the first thing I do is look up the writer, if I’m not familiar with them. The person assigned to the piece tells you a lot about what editors think about the topic. In narrative journalism, the narrator is the most important part of the story.

I’ve never heard of Jess Bidgood so I looked her up. According to her twitter page she covers New England for the Times and she likes day trips. I suspect she enjoys chamomile tea and walks on the beach too. She also looks a lot like Maureen Dowd. Last time I checked, Baltimore is not in New England and it is as far away culturally from Somerville as you can get in this country.

Doing a bit more digging I found her profile at the NYTimes and her LinkedIn page. It turns out that Jess – now that we are familiar I feel I can call her Jess –  is a 20-something cub reporter working as a contractor for the NYTimes. Like a lot of graduates of elite colleges, she has not wandered too far away from the campus. Therefore her knowledge of the world is limited to what she reads on-line and whatever is within walking distance from her apartment.

Having lived and worked in Somerville, back when the Whitey Bulger was killing people at the Marshall Street garage, I know something about the place. Even at its worst, it was nothing like West Baltimore. Today, it is slowly gentrifying as nearby Cambridge becomes too expensive and too developed. The spillover effect is turning the once gritty working class town into another hipsterville.

There’s nothing wrong with that and I’d argue it is a good model for a place like Baltimore. Figure out how to drive up housing costs so the poor flee to somewhere else. Then bring in a bunch of hipsters to spruce up the place and before long you have a city with low crime and a thriving social life. It may be entirely synthetic, but it beats burned out vacants and gun fights between street gangs.

The takeaway though is that the NYTimes assigned this story to a girl who is better equipped to do side bar pieces on apple picking. She is simply out of her depth and her editors at the NYTimes know this. That’s why they assigned the story to her. Odds are they arranged for her to spend a few hours with the city’s media liaison who arranged some interviews and a drive around the ghetto. She may as well have done the story over the phone and used a telescope to see the ghetto.

Given that there is nothing in the story to suggest the reporter ever set foot in the city, she very well may have done the story over the wire. In fact, her background was probably The Wire. One of the more hilarious aspects of the progressive millennial hipster is how quickly the declare themselves an expert. The briefest of encounters is elevated to a life changing personal experience, from which they become and expert. Never mind that these personal experiences happen at a great distance, often through YouTube and cable television.

The article itself is laughable nonsense, written in the style popular with millennials. It’s a listicle with a blurb “voxsplaining” each bullet point. The content is not important. It’s the pose that is the feature. That’s what Steve Sailer misses when reading this sort of stuff. He’s an old white guy who reads for the textual meaning and perhaps some esoteric meanings buried between the lines of text. Similarly, he expects numbers to be reflections of reality.

In the Cult, words have no meaning beyond the feelings they elicit. This article is intended to make the reader feel good about feeling bad for the blacks of the Baltimore. They don’t really care about the blacks of Baltimore. They are just stage props. The point is the writer is letting the reader know they are a good doobie for caring about the right things, proof of which is they retweeted this article.

Signaling is a part of human behavior. Our clothes, grooming, jewelry, choice of language all signal things about us to the rest of the humans. Groups codify this behavior and layer on insider language so adherents can easily identify one another. The fascinating thing about the modern Progressive is that’s all there is. There’s nothing more to it than letting one another know they are on the same team.

In so far as what we think of as Progressive – egalitarianism, meritocracy, anti-racism, multiculturalism – there’s nothing of substance to it. The irrationality of it is not the point, which is why rational arguments against it go nowhere. Whatever Progressivism claims to be or may have been, today it is just a defense of the status quo posing as an avant-garde critique. It’s a room full of snooty people in funny hats sneering at the one guy not wearing a funny hat, because that’s what people with funny hats do.

The Crisis of the Modern Elites

For as long as anyone reading this has been alive, the people in charge have described the great divide as a conflict between those who are future oriented versus those who past oriented. Progressives don’t call themselves “progressive” because they long for a bygone era. They correctly see their thing as being focused on the Promised Land, somewhere over the rainbow. Their opponents are naturally cast as romantics, stuck in a past age, yesterday men who will be thrown into the dustbin of history.

In fairness to Progressives, their thing is mostly a set of highly refined feelings about the ever extending wave of probabilities rippling outward from now. It’s a blend of free will and predetermination and the interplay between the two. Progressives romanticize the future to the point where the only thing that matters is their place in it, which is determined by their role in bringing it about. The moral person is one who works to bring about the eschaton.

For American Progressives, the intellectual tradition from which this springs is different from what birthed it in Europe. In America the roots are in Yankee Calvinism while in Europe the roots are in the French Revolution. As is plainly obvious to those familiar with the development of European fascism, both traditions borrowed heavily from one another. That’s why it is easy to think of Barak Obama and Francois Hollande, for example, as fellow travelers. Critics on the right routinely call Progressives “socialists” even when said Progressive is an undiluted capitalist.

To some degree, this is also why Progressives are so fond of describing their opponents, real and imagined, as the heirs of Hitler and the Nazis. While it is mostly a way for the Cult to tar their enemies, the great divide between the heirs of Rousseau is over orientation. Fascists were “restoration socialists” who imagined they were ushering in a restoration of a utopia rooted in the past. Communists were breaking with the past in all regards, building a new society and new men.

That last bit is a good jumping off point as this is not a post about intellectual history. This “great divide” in orientation really does not exist, outside the imaginings of the Cult of Modern Liberalism, but they have been in charge for so long that their view of the world is the dominant one. Even “conservatives” accept this framing. Twenty-five years ago when the political Left was reinventing itself they held “Renaissance” weekends to plot strategy. The political Right held “Dark Ages” weekends.

The fact is, all mass movements are future oriented. Until someone invents a time machine, the only thing we can do anything about is the future. The fascists may have rhapsodized about the past, but they were all about building the glorious future. Similarly, the Bolsheviks may have talked a lot about breaking with the past, but they invested heavily in rewriting it. If they truly thought they were cruising to a glorious future, they would not have spent so much time airbrushing old photos.

The real difference, the real divide, is between those who see a world that is fully integrated, like an organism, versus those who imagine an atomized world where the parts bump against one another. The one side thinks the goal of human social evolution is something close to an ant farm, while the other side does not think social evolution has a goal. Individuals have goals, desires and dreams. Social evolution is just the unpredictable result of all those bits smashing into one another over time.

You see this in Europe and in the US. The European Left is pro-EU integration, pushing for the abolition of national sovereignty in favor of the committees of technocrats in Brussels. The EU will not just coordinate big macro issues like trade. They will make sure your food has the right amount of salt and your neighbor does not say mean things about you. The EU is The Borg.

In the US, the Federal state is The Borg, gobbling up the rights and responsibilities of state and local government. At the dawn of the First World War, it was possible for an American to have no interaction with the national government, outside of the Post Office. His government was the town, village or city. Even his state government was alien to him. Today, it is impossible to live as an American without rubbing against the rasp of national government.

What we think of as liberalism is just a defense of these arrangements. The doctrines of the Left are contrary to observable reality and are mostly just expressions of sentimentality and resentment.  The obsession with fringe minority groups, the weirder the better, is just a distraction, an argument to kill time. No serious scientist, for example, thinks transsexualism is anything other than a mental illness. Yet, the elites insist we use feminine pronouns when writing about Bob, who now wears a sundress to work.

That incoherence is the reason both American political parties find themselves in turmoil. The voters of both parties, for various reasons, are questioning the rationality of the managerial state. The answer coming back from the elites is a combination of emotive nonsense and threats. The question Trump presents the Republicans, for example, is why is he less qualified for the job than any of the preferred candidates? The answer coming back is “shut up and do as you’re told.”

Every ruling elite needs a raison d’être. In the early medieval period, being the best warrior was enough. Later, having the magic blood was enough. Those reasons to be in charge may seem silly now, but they made sense at the time. They gave the people a reason, other than fear, to respect the arrangements. The modern managerial elite cannot articulate a reason to exist. That’s why they are in crisis.

The Death of the Episcopal Church

An old friend is a minister in the Episcopal Church. I’d describe him as a traditional conservative. He’s not very political, but you cannot be involved in church life without understanding the politics. It’s not just the normal internal jostling for power that you see in all organizations. In the modern church, you have the outside politics, which is mostly a battle between the New Religion and traditional normalcy.

Nowhere is that more obvious than in The Episcopal Church. Largely anchored in Public Protestantism, the church has been swept up by all the fads that have popped out of the Cult of Modern Liberalism. Since much of what animates the modern Progressive is a hatred of tradition, particularly the Christian tradition, there’s a wing of the church that believes it must destroy the church as part of its holy mission.

The primary point of entry, so to speak, for the radical wing is the issue of sodomy. Years ago Bishop Gene Robinson decided his ticket to success in the church was to abandon his family and take up with a man. He went on to become the first openly gay Bishop of the church. Ever since, the church has been a magnet for homosexuals, creating problems for the church and greater Anglican communion.

For the first time, the global organizing body of Anglicans has punished the Episcopal Church, following years of heated debate with the American church over homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the role of women.

The Anglican Communion’s announcement Thursday that it would suspend its U.S. branch for three years from key voting positions was seen as a blow to the Episcopal Church, which allows its clergy to perform same-sex marriages and this summer voted to include the rite in its church laws.

It was also seen as a victory for conservative Anglicans, especially those in Africa,, who for years have been pressing the Anglican Communion to discipline the U.S. body.

“The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union,” the leaders of the Anglican Communion, which represents 44 national churches, said in a statement during a meeting in Canterbury. “The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.”

Although it’s too early to predict what will happen three years from now, when the Episcopal Church could vote on its response to the suspension at its denomination-wide meeting, observers say it is unlikely that the U.S. church will reverse its position on same-sex marriage. This could prompt the Anglicans to continue the suspension or make it even harsher, not allowing the Episcopal Church to fill key positions on the global body.

“I don’t believe they will be ‘kicked out’ or exiled, but they will continue to be at a distance if they don’t change their direction,” said Jeff Walton, communications manager for the Institute on Religion & Democracy, a conservative Washington think tank that is frequently critical of mainline denominations.

The decision in England will have little impact on Episcopalians in the pews, who have grown increasingly liberal after the 2003 consecration of the openly gay priest Gene Robinson as the bishop of New Hampshire. That action prompted dozens of U.S. churches to break off and declare their allegiance to conservative rival groups.

You can tell how much someone values a thing by how much they are willing to give up in order to keep it. When negotiating a contract, part of the strategy is to determine what the other side is willing to concede and at what price. In fact, you want to find out what is not on the table so you don’t waste your time. Sometimes, there’s no deal to be made and you want to figure that out quickly.

Here we see something I’ve written about often. Progressivism is a religion and it is a covetous one, similar to Islam. That means you cannot be both a Progressive and a Christian, without compromising on one or the other. You either slight your Progressive faith on issues like sodomy and abortion or your Christianity takes a back seat to your Progressivism. As my ancestors would say, “A man who chases two rabbits catches none.”

That’s why the pews are empty. Any attempt to reconcile the teachings of the church with the teaching of the New Religion will just alienate both the Progressive parishioners and the normal ones. My friend the minister says this is the challenge facing his parish. Neither side is happy with the attempts to commingle the two religions so both sides find a reason to leave. The only folks holding out are the geezers who do so out of habit.

Ultimately, that’s a perfectly fine outcome for the Progressives. Just as the Muslims turned the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, Progressives would love nothing more than to turn the churches into moonbat meeting houses. If killing off the competing faith means killing off the church in which they have attended since childhood, they are fine with it. In the end, like the leadership of The Episcopal Church, they are Progressive first, everything else a distant second.