The High Cost of Free Trade

The Wall Street Journal has a story on the troubles facing Chinese tech giant Huawei as it tries to enter the US mobile phone market.

A Chinese technology giant, whose telecom networking equipment is shut out of the U.S. due to security concerns, is bringing its high-end smartphone to American consumers for the first time.

But a number of obstacles are blocking Huawei Technologies Co.’s path to success in the U.S. smartphone market.

U.S. carriers, which distribute more than 80% of handsets in the country, are reluctant to work with Huawei—the world’s third-largest smartphone maker by shipments behind Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc.—because of its low brand recognition and security concerns associated with its networking equipment, people familiar with the matter say. A 2012 congressional report recommended that U.S. carriers avoid using Huawei gear in their networks for fear that China might use it to spy on Americans. Huawei has denied such accusations, saying it operates independently of Beijing.

Much of what goes on in the modern age requires people to deny observable reality. China is an authoritarian state, run by a military government, that is highly paranoid of the outside world. Paranoia about the non-Chinese world is a feature of Chinese culture, a permanent feature. The type of government can change, but the Chinese elite will always view the rest of the world as smelly barbarians that must be kept under control. China is probably the most chauvinistic society on earth.

The result of this is that no Chinese firm operates independent of Beijing. Any company large enough to export to the rest of the world, or import from the rest of the world, is in bed with the Chinese government. More important, any tech firm big enough to play on the global stage is deeply connected to the Chinese military, because they could not be so big without the blessing and active support of the People’s Liberation Army. This is something everyone knows, except for the writers of the Wall Street Journal.

The result is trade with China comes with a hidden cost. If you move your electronics making factory to China, they will steal your technology. They will also do things like bake spyware and back doors into networking gear so the the PLA can exploit US communications networks. That means the US has to spend billions in counter-espionage activities in order to prevent the Chinese from running off with all of our secrets. This is just one example of the hidden costs of trade with China.

It’s not just China. We have so-called free trade with Mexico. The result was not trade in the way normal people think of it. What happened was dirty US manufacturers located their plants to Mexico. Companies looking to game the labor laws followed soon after. Mexico is not selling us more stuff and buying more of our stuff. Mexico is just a loophole in US labor and environmental laws. If you make lead-acid batteries, for example, putting the battery plant in Mexico in the right move.

The problem is those environmental costs don’t go away. The Mexican government estimates that 10% of their GDP is lost due to the effects of environmental degradation. Go to Mexico City and the air is like soup. Of course, environmental degradation does not stay local. Air pollution in one place goes global as the winds change. The fevered attempts to ban your car and lawnmower in order to reduce carbon emissions are mostly due to “developing” countries like China and Mexico.

Of course, you also have the labor problem. Making car batteries in the US means people working in a car battery factory. Move those jobs to Mexico and we do get slightly cheaper car batteries, but we get more unemployed people. The unemployed car battery worker is not taking up a self-actualizing career at the George Mason economics department. He’s going on the dole or drifting down the economic scale. At low levels, the trade-offs seem worthwhile, but once you scale this up the costs metastasize.

There’s also another hidden cost to free trade. Donald Trump rode to the White House on the promise of reorienting trade in the patriotic direction. All the beautiful people thought the issue was settled. Everyone they knew was a free trader. The same was true in Britain with regards to EU membership. Open borders and free trade are obviously all good with no bad, according to the beautiful people. In both cases, the Dirt People had other ideas and rallied to the banner of patriotic trade and nationalism.

The reason for this is so-called free trade erodes public trust. People assume politicians are crooked and dishonest. Even so, they expect their government to put their interests, the nation’s interests, ahead of the interests of foreigners. They may be crooks, but they are our crooks. Free trade and open borders break that contract as the state ends up siding with strangers over the citizens. The citizens soon begin to question the value of citizenship and their support for the state. The consequences are inevitable.

A good rule of life is that anytime a well understood word suddenly gets a modifier, you know a caper is afoot. Trade is something people always understood. One group of people trades their excess for the excess of another group of people. Mexico sends Canada sombreros, while the Canadians send Mexico beaver hats. Free-trade is something else entirely. It is a collection of loopholes, so well-connected industries can get all the benefits of the state, but shift the costs onto others. Those cost are often quite high.

Trade between nations is a good thing. America selling pop culture to China makes it tough for China to be bellicose and belligerent. China selling cheap manufactured good to America prevents domestic firms from becoming lazy and stupid. American cars are vastly better due to competition with Japan. China scrupulously looks out for her interests and America should do the same. If that means the snowflakes on campus have to pay a little more for their iPhone, so be it. In the long run, it is a bargain for them and their countrymen.

The End of the High Church

Years ago, I had cause to be at the Episcopal cathedral in Albany for a mass. A friend was being ordained into the church as a priest, so I went up to celebrate the occasion with his family. I noted the subtle beauty of the church, particularly inside. It just oozed tradition, which is quite imposing in the spiritual setting. The outside of the building was rather plain, which is what made the inside impressive. I walked in expecting a utilitarian facility and instead I walked into a beautiful cathedral with arches and stained glass.

The mass was not well attended, despite the fact there were half a dozen people being minted as priests that day. My guess, at the time, was that most of the people were relatives of the condemned. Talking a bit with some people after the mass, I was told that attendance at Episcopal services in the area was down to a sprinkling and most of the regulars were old people. If what I saw in Albany is typical for the church as a whole, I’d bet they are finished in a generation at best. A church without worshipers is a building.

This is a common story with mainline Protestant churches. The local Presbyterian Church is lightly attended and the average age is somewhere in the 60’s. They used to have a grammar school, but that closed. They still run a daycare center, but I suspect that is just a business. They hope that the mothers dropping off their kids will decide to attend services at some point. Until then it is a cash relationship for services rendered. There’s a good chance government subsidies play some role as the kids are mostly black.

Part of what has destroyed the mainline Protestant churches is their full-throated embrace of Progressive lunacy. At my friend’s ordination, three of the people ordained were woman. Judging by the haircuts, all three were lesbians. Gay marriage is a huge issue in these churches, driving off the sensible and leaving only those who see Christianity as a vehicle for Progressive activism. Many of these churches are no longer Christian, as a theological matter. They are just Progressive meeting houses for the deranged.

If you are a normal person, the mainline Protestant churches have nothing to offer but endless lectures about the joys of liberalism. It’s a familiar pattern. First the women take over, then the men leave, except for the guys willing to take orders from the gals. Then the normal women bolt. This boiling off of the sensible eventually leaves the crazies in charge of the organization. Before long the freak flag is hoisted and it is the bar in Star Wars. It’s the pattern we saw with Labour in Britain and the Democrats in the US.

A similar thing seems to be happening in the Catholic Church, which had managed to resist the same fate until recently. The turning point appears to have been the sex scandals, which have been used by the lunatics to push out the sensible. It’s also emptied the pews in many parts of the world, as parishioners simply could not tolerate the handling of these cases. The conservatives in the Church should have gone on the offensive to purge the pink monasteries and the buggerers. Instead they surrendered.

It is hard to know if the Red Pope will live long enough to destroy the Church, but he will certainly cripple it. There is only one good response to the death of Fidel Castro and that is “enjoy hell.” That’s true for the Pope, as well. It’s perfectly fine for the religious to pray for the souls of the wicked, but it is not required. The Pope should be the one guy making that point, but instead he took the opportunity to celebrate the life of a homicidal maniac. The reason is Fidel belongs to the same Church as the Pope – the Communist Church.

What’s happening with the Catholic Church is it is following the same path as the Protestant churches. They are inviting in people from other religions, thinking they will be Catholic first and communist or Progressive second. It never works that way. The secular faith always comes first, which is why you can never find a liberal Catholic, who is pro-life. Their liberal faith will never tolerate opposition to abortion and their liberalism trumps everything else. A man cannot have two religions; one must be dominant.

The demise of the high church in the West was inevitable. Big, highly organized organizations need protection from the state to survive. McDonalds cannot exist without government protection. This is especially true of churches, which often challenge the wishes of the rulers. It’s why the Catholics were willing to cut deals with both communists and fascists. It is why the Orthodox Church supports Putin. No above ground church can exist at war with the ruling class. They always have to cut a deal.

When the the ruling classes of the West began to abandon their Christianity, it was just a matter of time. Students of the French Revolution know that the radical’s hostility to the Church started with economics, but quickly became ideological. As the religion of the Western ruling classes became one version of leftism or another, hostility to the high church was inevitable. It took longer in the US than Europe, but we are well on our way to see the elimination of the main churches.

Irrepressible Conflict

This long, rambling post by Jonathan Haidt is interesting for a number of reasons. Haidt is one of the few mainstream intellectuals who takes the hate-thinker community seriously. He’s not an ally, but he does not dismiss, out of hand, the cultural and moral arguments coming from the Right. Recently he has been writing about the popular resistance to globalism popping up all over the West. He appears to be searching for a way to reconcile elite globalism with what I call national populism.

Given what is happening at the ballot box, the next big thing among public intellectuals will be crafting ways to repackage globalism in order to make it more palatable to a skeptical public. The political class is in a panic, as all their old tricks are suddenly not fooling anyone. As a result, there is a demand for new rhetoric and tactics, but also a demand for new polices that will appeal to the voters. One thing public intellectuals do not do is miss an opportunity to monetize a crisis.

The trouble they will run into, as they search around for ways to sound a more populist tone, is that the underpinnings of the managerial class are incompatible with national populism. In fact, a big reason for the populist rumblings is the otherness of the people in charge of our societies. Turn on a television and the news is full of smug experts dismissively discussing the “white working class” and the “uneducated males” as if they were describing a trip to the African bush. There’s no way to make that sound good.

It is not just a matter of aesthetics. Even if you can somehow knock the smug off these people and give them a respectful vocabulary, they are still left trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. For instance, patriotism and multiculturalism can never coexist. The former assumes a set of value judgments based on nationality and ethnicity. The latter explicitly rejects those values. In fact, multiculturalism is nothing more than the nullification of patriotism and nationalism. There’s no squaring that circle.

The bigger issue is that the prevailing morality of the managerial class rests upon a set of contradictions that can never be reconciled. For instance, we are forever lectured about the glories of diversity. In fact, “diverse” has become an abracadabra word for our betters. Cruise through the on-line job advertisements and you will find a phrase about how the firm celebrates diversity. Marketing firms go to ridiculous lengths to make sure their ads have lots of diversity, even when it has no value to the sales pitch.

Yet, if anyone dares notice diversity in public, the people in charge will land on him like Puritan witch hunters. One of the hilarious parts of reading crime stories is how the reporters go to great lengths to conceal the race of the criminal. We end up with stories about a “tall man with a red cap” being jailed for murder. The result of this absurd contradiction is that diversity has become synonymous with danger and the promotion of it erodes trust in the people promoting it.

Similarly, the ruling class makes a fetish of democracy and free speech. We’re constantly told that the end point of human society is one where all people have a say in government and can speak freely in public. Yet, we see the ruling class working to defeat the results of democracy and cripple the free exchange of ideas. The systemic rigging of the Democratic primary is one example. The shenanigans on the social media platforms to eliminate dissent reveals a deep distrust of free speech and the marketplace of ideas.

For the managerial class, democracy is just a bus to ride from one point to another. Once the destination is reached, they get off the bus. The votes on gay marriage are a good example. They kept having votes until the right answer was reached. When that failed, they just had the court reference the invisible amendments to declare gay marriage a time honored natural right. This happened in Europe with referendums on he EU. Voting became a meaningless exercise to keep up appearances.

The fact is, the meritocratic system that supports the managerial class is ruthlessly authoritarian. If you don’t check the right boxes, you cannot advance. This system is by design intended to boil off anything resembling dissent or innovation. It is why the Buckley Right locked shields with the Left in opposition to Trump. Their loyalty is to a system that has bestowed credentials and honors on them, along with a lifestyle they could never achieve outside in the dreaded private sector. Political ideology is just a decoration.

A system that cannot tolerate dissent and makes war on anything that challenges it, cannot be made compatible with popular resistance to its polices. The managerial class can search about for tactics and language to try and square this circle, but they are faced with an irrepressible conflict. We either have normal countries with popular governments, responsive to the will of the people, or, we have an authoritarian, technocratic managerial state. It’s one or the other, but not both.

Football

I’ve always been a sportsball fan. I’ve joked that I’d watch ant wrestling if they put it on television. My sports passion does not manifest itself equally across all sports. I’ll watch the international kick-ball tournaments, but I have zero interest in European league play or the MLS. Baseball is a sport I listen to, more than watch. I’ll often put a game on and read a book, paying attention as the situation warrants. American football is a TV-only sport for me. The same is true of hockey.

For me, Thanksgiving weekend is one of the best sports watching weekends of the year. I’m not a big fan of the NFL anymore, but I enjoy the Thursday games. The big draw is the college rivalry games. Friday and Saturday are packed with old fashioned grudge matches where the records don’t matter. The players on both sides are fueled by a good old fashioned hatred of the other guys. You don’t have to be a fan of the teams to enjoy the games because you know they count.

My guess is I love the rivalry games because I played sports as a kid. As a freshman in high school, the week we played our arch-rival in football was almost overwhelming. Freshman played on the freshman team, but we still played our nemesis at the end of the year. All week the older boys reminded us of what it meant. By the game, all of us wanted to kill the other guys. The only thing better than facing your enemy on the ball field is walking off the field triumphant.

In Dublin, I struggled to explain American football to the locals because they could not grasp the brutality of the game. In my first rivalry game, I hit a kid so hard I heard the air escape his lungs. He was left gasping for air like a fish. To play football requires a reckless disregard for your physical well-being. That’s the thrill of it as a player. Add in the rivalries and the traditions and it is as close a young man can get to being a gladiator. Wrestling and boxing are the only comparisons.

Anyway, watching all of the rivalry games is good fun for me and I look forward to it every year. What struck me watching the games yesterday is that football is no longer a sport played in parts of the country. That’s obvious when you look at college ball. There are no good teams in the Northeast. Penn State would be the one exception, but Western Pennsylvania is more Midwest than northeast. There’s also the fact the players they recruit are from the South and Midwest.

If you look at New England, which is the most feminized part of the country, the high school football is laughably bad. No major colleges recruit the region. Their local colleges are not very good either. The one exception is New Hampshire, which is good enough to make the play-offs, but just barely. The rest of the colleges range from really terrible to just terrible. Boston College is the one major college program in New England and they are one of the worst major college programs in the nation.

Looking at the top division, the Power Five conferences, you have Boston College, Syracuse, Rutgers, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Penn State. Their combined record against their FBS opponents is 21-and-35. That includes the two teams that get most of their players from the Midwest. No one in Western Pennsylvania thinks of themselves as Northeastern. Net out those schools and the Northeast is 7-and-29 this year. That’s about as bad as it get in the college game.

This is not just a college phenomenon. In the South, high school football teams have to cut players because they have so many boys trying out every year. In New England, they struggle to field teams and the players all play both ways. I know parents in New England that would not allow their boys to play football because it was too rough. There’s also the firm belief that anything girls can’t do must be immoral so it must be stopped. The result is a dying sports culture.

It’s not just that the men in these Progressive strongholds are wimps. There’s also a demographic issue. New England is the nation’s oldest region. Whenever I go to Boston, I’m always struck by how old it is. There are loads of students around the colleges, but outside those areas it is mostly older people. It’s also mostly white people too. New England is honky town. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are the three whitest states in the country. Massachusetts is 8% black.

I’ll also note that the war on football via the concussion issue started in Boston. The hysteria over concussions has all the trappings of junk science, driven by fanatics, rather than facts. Blows to the head are never a good thing, but these people are claiming football causes ALS, which is quackery on stilts. My guess here is the Cold Civil War is at the root of this. Football is a Southern sport now so that means the neo-Puritans of New England must try to ban it as immoral.

Given how things happen in America, my guess is football is headed for the same end as boxing. Once the vinegar drinking shrews of New England decided boxing was bad, boxing slowly disappeared from the public sphere. I grew up seeing pro fights on daytime TV. Now you have to buy fights via pay-per-view, as if it is pornography. The best fighters these days are not Americans because American parents will not let their boys go to a boxing gym.

Of course, the future is not written. We may be at peak lunacy with places like New England. The rest of the nation loves football and loves the masculine traditions that surround it. Watch Alabama – Auburn and you see girls being girts and boys being boys, just as their parents and grandparents. No amount of preaching by prim-faced lesbians from Boston is going to change that reality. But, I used to think that about other things that have been banned by the Left.

The Cult of Anti-Racism

The ridiculous lecturing of Mike Pence, from the cast of Hamilton the other day, is a good reminder that religions are highly adaptive. The Progressive nutters quickly went from smug triumphalism the day of the election to declaring themselves the new Freedom Riders, fighting the segregationists. Within hours of the result, race hustling grifters like Jamelle Bouie were spinning fantasies where he and his hotep brothers were spontaneously organizing a black underground resistance movement.

The musical Hamilton is flypaper for moonbats, because it titillates their fantasies about race. Progressive don’t actually like real flesh and blood black people very much, which is why they avoid them. Take a look at the liberal bastions of America and you always find urban reservations for the folks who likes to keep it realz. It’s why big cities are using housing gimmicks to ship their blacks to the suburbs. Gentrification is just Progressive ethnic cleansing.

No, Progressives prefer their black people to be like the ones in their fantasy version of America. These are blacks like Obama. Black but, you know, not really black. As Steve Sailer put it, Obama is the nation’s first black wigger. It is one of life’s great ironies that the ideal black man on the Left is an exotic mulatto, who acts and sounds like an Oreo. Most people would have preferred President Camacho, but in the Progressive paradise, everything is drained of color, even the black guys.

Half a century ago, Progressive radicals adopted anti-racism as a tactic. It let them lever themselves into positions of political authority by first establishing their moral authority. The old honkies on the Left, who wanted economic justice for all Americans, were pushed aside by the New Left, who promised racial justice. In the 60’s and 70’s, these new anti-racists took over the Left and when the Cold War ended, they came to dominate it.

The trouble with moral causes like anti-racism, is there is no limiting principle, so it quickly went from political expedient to religious tenet. You can’t really be anti-racist enough. How does one define the anti-racist paradise? It’s why they are always chanting about the “more work needs to be done.” It’s also why they have developed a fetish for miscegenation. The only way there can be no racism is if there are no races and the way to achieve that is inter-breeding.

It’s why the genetic test kit companies like doing ads where the customer discovers she is not what she was told. No one in these ads learns they are 100% pure honky. Instead, the person always learns they are a beef stew of different ethnic tribes. There’s even one with a middle-aged cat lady type learning that she has some American Indian in he blood. You can be sure she went right out and bought some dream catchers and started talking about her spirit guide.

The one exception is a white man delighted to learn he is not German. instead he is a mix of groups from the British Isles. He was, of course, thankful to learn he was not a Nazi. The message being sent in these ads is that even though race and ethnicity are biological reality, inter-breeding makes it unimportant. Most likely the people running these firms know better, but they also know they are on dangerous ground. They make these ads to keep the anti-racist wackos off their back.

Progressives may have built the still and cooked up the anti-racist moonshine, but the Official Right is just as drunk off the concoction as the Left. This post on the Federalist is a good example of how people, thinking they are conservatives, buy into all the anti-racism stuff. The author of that piece is sure that race relations were just fine until Trump and his voters broke some deal we are just learning about now. It’s as if the author is unaware of the last decade.

The other day, National Review editor Rich Lowry had a piece up begging the Left to not cast him and his fellows into the pit reserved for the racists. Despite the fact that Trump is the most diversity celebrating President in American history, the boys and girls of the Official Right™ accept the Left’s claims about his racism, simply because Trump does not attend the Church of Anti-Racism. It is how the hive mind works. You’re either inside the walls or outside the walls. There are no gray areas.

Steve Sailer is convinced this is just a conspiracy to reclaim the urban landscape. To some degree he is right, but that’s a downstream consequence. As anti-racism has become a defining feature of the Progressive sense of self, these schemes to hide away dis-confirmation have become a natural defense mechanism. Shipping the ghetto out to flyover country is just a way to hide the problem from the new modern hipsters in gentrified areas.

A Post About Pussies

I’ve had all sorts of animals as pets over the years. As a boy, I had dogs, lizards, turtles, fish and birds. The birds were rescues that my dog would find. Every spring he would find at least one baby bird that fell from its nest and stand over it, howling until I helped save the bird. We raised quite a few birds that way. One of them became my father’s Woodstock. The stupid thing would follow him around outside and sit on his shoulder. Most times, the bird would get healthy enough and we would let it loose.

The main pet was always a dog and I’m still partial to dogs. The trouble is that I travel enough that owning a dog is difficult. About 25 years ago a woman I was seeing suggested I try a cat. I did not think I’d like a cat, but the first one turned out to be a good pet. It was some sort of Siamese hybrid thing that had very long legs and could jump about eight feet in the air. I was surprised to learn that you can train a cat and it is not all that difficult. Me and the cat leaned a bunch of tricks to keep us both entertained.

As a result, I have had cats for going on three decades. The upside is I don’t have to worry about walking them so I can keep odd hours and go away for a few days without a problem. Shoveling litter is not much fun, but picking up dog crap is no better, so that’s a wash. Otherwise, cats are like any pet, in that they are what you make of them. I enjoy having pets so I invest in the cat and I get a decent return on the investment. That’s why you can tell a lot about someone by watching their pets.

Unlike dogs, cats have a greater range of behavioral traits. By that I mean a dachshund is going to be a dachshund. There are some quirks, but otherwise all dachshunds are the same. Cats, on the other hand, can have wildly different temperaments within the same littler, much less the same species. The most likely reason is humans have had less of a hand in developing the traits we associate with an cat’s personality. We literally created the dogs we have, but cats are more of an accident.

One thing I’ve noticed about the cats I’ve owned is they seem to create a mental model of their environment. Whenever I’ve moved, the first thing the cat would do is walk the perimeter of the new place. Not just the outer walls, but all of the furniture and closets too. Just for the hell of it, I have moved furniture around while the cat was locked in another room. Sure enough, he remaps the room to account for the new arrangements. I suspect it is why they investigate every new box or parcel that comes home. It’s being inventoried.

Having a mental map of the territory would be a useful thing for predator. Cat’s eyesight is not very good in the daylight. Their night vision is well known, but it is gray-scale and mostly for detecting movement. Having a mental model of the hunting grounds would be a low cost way for the animal to have an edge on its prey. It would also come in handy for detecting threats. Any change in the environment would be noticed and that would signal danger.

There’s research that the human mind creates a representation of the world which makes it easier for us to navigate. It’s sort of our own private matrix. This may be why we always feel at home back in the area where we were raised. That mental model of the world was imprinted on our minds and is never fully erased. The model could also allow us to delude ourselves in order to make life more bearable, by filtering out things that are particularly vexing.

The other thing I have noticed about cats over the years is they seem to have a linear memory. Hiding the mouse always results in the cat going from one place to the next in the order it found the mouse in previous games. The words “where’s your mouse” starts a process in which the cat starts at the first hiding spot, then the second and third and so on. That could be some sort of subtle training on my part, but maybe there’s something else. I’ve noticed this with multiple cats.

Humans do this to some extent when we lose something. We rewind our timeline and retrace our steps. It reduces the number of possible places to look to a manageable number. Perhaps a small predator like a cat does something similar to locate possible prey and water. There’s also the possibility that the cat is just trained to think this is a game. It does appear they are built to appeal to us in many subtle ways, so the cat could just be humoring me when I ask about the mouse.

Keeping any sort of animal in the house is a strange thing, when you stop and consider it. This is commonly explained on utilitarian grounds. Dogs make good hunting companions and good sentries. Cats keep rodent populations down. But, there’s something else. We make strong emotional bonds with our pets and anthropomorphize their behavior. Pets have no utilitarian value to modern people, but we have more of them than ever, spending billions on them.

It is another reminder that economic man is nonsense idea made up by dull-witted people to make life seem simpler. We are motivated by more complex forces. Spiritual belief is one of modern man’s oldest traits, perhaps the oldest behavior trait. It most likely co-evolved with language. A desire to be on the right side of whatever it is behind the world has been at the heart of all of man’s endeavors. Our pets are most likely some part of that desire.

Now you have it, a post about cats and yes, it is an extended metaphor for something else. In America, Thanksgiving is upon us and I will be taking a much needed break from life’s travails. For those in the states, Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for reading. For my international readers, enjoy another day at the salt mine and thank you for reading.

I Have My Doubts

I’ve rewritten this post a few times now, mostly because I keep thinking about a rule that I think all of us should follow. That is, no enemies to the Right. The reason the Buckley thing is falling to pieces is they invested all of their time slicing pieces off of the right side of their movement. The Birchers were easy, but before long they were slicing off vital parts. The reason the so-called alt-right exists is that so much of the Right had been purged, the fringe has become a majority.

Still, there’s a lot of the alt-right that creates a fair bit of doubt in my mind.  Since the election, the media has been racing around looking for “leaders” of the alt-right to report on and interview. That’s catnip to the sort of people who like being famous more than they like being right. It also attracts people who think they can make a buck off selling people what they want to hear. That’s how the Tea Party went from grass roots movement to a bust-out. How long before someone launches a line of Pepe gear?

For instance, is Mike Cernovich a guy in it for the money or a higher purpose? I don’t spend a lot of time reading his site, or any time to be honest, but his name pops up a lot in stories about the alt-right. I see he is peddling a book called MAGA Mindset with a picture of Trump on it. Maybe it is all above board and perfectly legit, but it could be just another grift too. It’s hard to know. Would he be selling the Commie Mindset if Bernie Sanders had won the White House? I don’t know, but it is a good thing to keep in mind.

There’s a difference between selling the word and spreading the word. It’s the Bible salesman versus the missionary. The former could just as easily be selling toasters or porn. The point of the exercise is to make the sale. Their product is just a means to an end. The missionary, on the other hand, is the product. He is selling more than just his wares. He is selling himself. His identity is measured in converts. VDare begs for money so they can proselytize, not so Peter Brimelow can drive a Ferrari.

It’s not just the fringy sorts that give me pause. Ann Coulter was an enthusiastic champion of Mitt Romney. She used to talk about Chris Christie as a lion of the Right. She was a late arrival to the immigration patriotism cause. Ann Coulter is in the business of selling books. It has worked to our favor that she picked up the cause of immigration and then championed Donald Trump, but what happens if she can sell more books promoting open borders? I’m not questioning her sincerity, just making a point about motives.

I don’t want to cast aspersion on these people. I don’t know enough about Cernovich to judge his motives. Honestly, my hunch is he is just a harmless weirdo.  Ann Coulter was a skeptic of the Bush Klan going way back. She was fond of ripping into the Bush people over “compassionate conservatism” before it was popular. Ann Coulter has taken a lot of abuse and lost a few friends over her Trump support. Still, it is wise to be skeptical about people making a living selling you what you want to hear. Talk radio falls into this too.

Money is one reason for skepticism. Hidden agendas are another. Fringe movements that gain traction inevitably attract members of other fringe movements. Every fringe weirdo in America is hoping on the alt-right bus, hoping to ride it to legitimacy. During the election, Jill Stein tried to ride the Bernie Bro wave. When that failed, she went on Twitter, aping Donald Trump, by calling Hillary crooked and corrupt. She even started making noises about immigration, thus earning her the nickname  “Based Yenta.”

Richard Spencer is another good example. Watching the NPI event the other day, I kept getting the sense that Peter Brimelow was there to legitimize Spencer, not because Spencer had a big stage to offer Brimelow. Spencer invests a lot of time declaring himself the Pope of the alt-right, but my guess is hardly anyone calling themselves alt-right knows anything about him. The next time someone quotes Richard Spencer to me, it will be the first time. His white identity thing is a tiny club without out much of a future.

The point here is not to disparage these people. I think Richard Spencer is mostly harmless. I’m just using him as an example to make a point. Populism is always going to be open to a lot of oddballs looking for a home, but it is important to remember that they are the ones seeking shelter, not the ones building the shelter. The people rallying to the Trump banner or the Brexit banner or any of the populist movements of Europe are not doing so because they want a white ethno-state. They just want normal countries again.

Skepticism is a good thing. There are a lot of people pulling down their freak flag now and hoisting the Pepe banner. Most of it is harmless and well intended, but not all of it. It’s never easy to know so it is wise to maintain a healthy degree of doubt about all of them. Old soldiers like Brimelow or Sailer have earned trust over long careers, but all the new guys have a long way to go before we can really know what they are up to and assess their  motivations. Until that’s clear, I have my doubts.

The Right Side of History

When I was in Dublin, I had a lot of fun watching the BBC and SkyNews, mostly because they were still in shock over Brexit. It was as if they learned that the Loch Ness Monster was real. They just could not come to terms with the new reality. Every segment circled back to the vote and how it was the worst thing to happen since Dunkirk. They talked about Brexit in the same way people talk about life altering tragedies. At one point, someone even said, “I’ll never forget where I was the day I heard the news of Brexit.”

The interesting thing was that they were so sure that Brexit would be a disaster that they were starting to pretend that the disaster was happening, even though nothing had changed since the vote. At the time, the markets were up and the economic indicators were all pointing in the right direction. There was also the fact that the vote changed nothing. It will take years to implement Brexit, assuming it ever happens, which is unlikely. Still, the people on the Beeb were sure doom was at hand.

That’s the power of belief and a reminder that all the flapdoodole we associate with the Left is not based in facts and reason. It is something closer to a UFO cult, where the members, from time to time, become convinced of some great event that is about to occur. When that event does not happen, they go through a period of confusion and sadness, like how normal people mourn an untimely death. The difference is the Progs rally together to recast the event into a new great cause with its own doomsday cult attributes.

You can see that in this hysterical tirade by Mathew Julio Yglesias. He both Voxsplains the current crisis and provides a standard around which his fellow moonbats can rally.

The country has entered a dangerous period. The president-elect is the least qualified man to ever hold high office. He also operated the least transparent campaign of the modern era. He gave succor and voice to bigoted elements on a scale not seen in two generations. He openly praised dictators — not as allies but as dictators — and threatened to use the powers of his office to discipline the media.

You could be forgiven for thinking he was writing about Barak Obama, but that would require a level of self-awareness unacceptable in a religious cult.

He also has a long history of corrupt behavior, and his business holdings pose staggering conflicts of interest that are exacerbated by his lack of financial disclosure. But while most journalists and members of the opposition party think they understand the threat of Trump-era corruption, they are in fact drastically underestimating it. When we talk about corruption in the modern United States, we have in mind what Andrei Shleifer and Robert Vishny define as “the sale by government officials of government property for personal gain.”

This is from a guy who supported Hillary Clinton. It once again points out a feature of the Left and something you always see with the hive minded. They cast onto their enemies all of the things they fear about themselves. Membership in a mass movement is about self-abnegation. The adherent wants to obliterate his sense of self and replace it with the identity of the cause. The result is all the things they despise about themselves become the first things they assume about their enemies. Their bogeyman is always a reflection of themselves.

What we are seeing with the Trumpening is the same thing the Brits saw with Brexit. These people were absolutely convinced that they were riding the warm thermals of history, like gentle little butterflies drifting from one flower to the next, until they reached the valley of the chosen. It’s not that they cannot accept losing. They did not think losing was a possibility. These events are dis-confirmation of their most important beliefs. It turns out that history has no right side, after all, and that’s the cornerstone of the Progressive faith.

The tantrums and warnings of doom are just a way for the faithful to rally together to support one another as they figure out how to reconfigure the prophesies to fit the new reality. It is no different from what has been observed with UFO and doomsday cults. The believers become convinced X is about to happen and X will confirm all of their beliefs. When X does not happen, they are faced with the prospect of their beliefs being proved false. That was election night for the American Left.

What we are seeing now is the leaders of the cult trying to rally their members to provide mutual support. Focusing their attention on the alleged evils of the other side takes the focus away from the dis-confirmation. If they can muster their numbers, they can will their way through the crisis and reorganize their beliefs to incorporate the dis-confirmation into the narrative. In time Brexit and Trump will become part of the struggle myth that motivates the faithful to keep fighting. After all, they are on the right side of history.

The Dissidents and the Media

Back in the 80’s, one of the more irritating things about following politics was watching stupid Republicans walk onto liberal news programs and get ambushed. It was if they were just made aware of the fact that the Left never plays fair. It was not just Republican politicians. Conservative chatters would also fall into these traps. It was very frustrating until I figured out that it was all a show. The “conservative” was hired to play a role in the drama. George Will, in private, thought you people were gross and disgusting.

This model persisted through the 90’s and it was only when Fox News came on-line did we see some fair treatment of people outside the Progressive orbit. Even there, the obsession with being fair often resulted in being stupid. Exactly no one gives a crap what Juan Williams has to say about anything. Yet, FNC felt they needed to decorate the set with him. Even so, it was just one outlet among many so the prevailing model was a Progressive gang-up on anyone not professing the One True Faith.

What made it most infuriating is that so-called conservatives would go on moonbat networks and do taped shows. The producers would then cut up the recording to make the conservative sound nutty or unresponsive. When confronted, the so-called conservative would admit to knowing it was a setup, but they would say they did it to try and change minds. In reality they were just taking the check. The boys and girls from Official Conservatism™ on the payroll of PBS and CNN were taking a dive on purpose so they could get paid.

It’s why the Tea Party was doomed from the start. When guys like Dick Army got involved, you knew it as a con. More important, the organizers were clawing each other’s eyes out trying to get on TV. These were not people motivated by a cause. They were motivated by the desire to be famous and hang around green rooms with the Lefties they saw on television. Those are people easy to corrupt so it was just a matter of when, not if, they sold out their people, which most promptly did for short money.

What has always been encouraging about Trump is he seems to get this. He has done almost no taped interviews and he avoided private interviews with news sites like the NYTimes and Washington Post. In the former case, he knew they would edit the hell out of his interview because he saw it first hand doing his TV shows. In the latter case, he knew these people were not honest. They lie on spec and giving them a private interview would only enable them make up fake news about Trump.

Trump’s live events were big enough to require coverage, but he put the media in pens so they could not pretend to be talking to Nazis and Klansmen in the crowd. The only thing they could do was show the video and moan about it. You also note that Trump uses lots of hand gestures when speaking. He never used to do this, but I suspect he started doing it because it makes editing impossible. As you can see in this Breitbart story, editing is now the main tool of the media.

National Public Radio ombudsman/public editor Elizabeth Jensen has recommended that the taxpayer-funded radio news service bar future live interviews of conservatives who may have controversial views, following an interview Nov. 16 with Breitbart News’ Joel B. Pollak.

Pollak, who serves as Breitbart’s Senior Editor-at-Large and In-house Counsel, defended its Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon from false and defamatory claims of antisemitism and “white nationalism.” He also turned the tables, pointing out that NPR has “racist programming,” including a story that called the 2016 election results “nostalgia for a whiter America.”

 

NPR listeners were apparently outraged that anyone from Breitbart News had been given an opportunity to defend the website and its chairman.

 

In her response, “Listeners: Two Recent Interviews Are ‘Normalizing Hate Speech’,” Jensen concluded that the live format had allowed Pollak to get the better of host Steve Inskeep.

 

She suggested that future interviews be taped: “In addition, in my opinion, these interviews should not be done live. Inskeep is an excellent live interviewer, but live interviews are difficult, especially when there is limited time. A little contextualizing never hurts.”

In other words, live interview make it hard to fake the interview. In the Reagan years, the press complained that Reagan sat for few taped interviews and he preferred giving speeches to be covered live. Trump seems to have learned this and taken it to another level with the use of social media. What he was able to do is keep the media on the wrong foot, always playing defense, even when they thought they had him, like with the fake bimbo stories. By being unpredictable, he was impossible to script.

It’s a good lesson for the Dissidents doing interviews on Lefty media. Avoid anything that is taped and only do live interviews. Supporting media that supports you has a corollary. Don’t support media that is at war with you. If you are at an event, just ignore the people with cameras and microphones. When you see people claiming to be prominent members of the alt-right, for example, begging to be on CNN or FNC, it is a safe bet that they are just in it for the money and you would be wise to tune them out and drop them from your rotation.