The Destroyer of Worlds

Since Trump has entered the White House, the Left has been spinning bizarre fantasies about how the Trump team is part of some super-secret Russian conspiracy. You cannot turn on the television without seeing a liberal nutter hooting “Russian hacking!” To date, no one has bothered to explain what that phrase is supposed to mean. The implication is that through some special magic, the Russians caused the voting machines to register results in favor of Trump. They don’t come out and say it, but that’s the game.

A big part of this lunacy is the fact that the Left was sure that Trump could not win the election. It’s not that they were sure they had the better choice. It was that they were completely convinced that there were no circumstances where Trump could become President. They were so sure, in fact, that they had all of official Washington convinced of this as well. A month before the election there was no one in either party talking about a Trump victory. In fact, the topic of debate was the size and scope of the Clinton victory.

This belief was so pervasive, that both parties spent the summer plotting how they were going to configure themselves after the disaster. Team Clinton spent the summer figuring out how they could use the landslide in order to steamroll the Republicans and enact their agenda. The Republicans were similarly planning for the onslaught and how they could somehow preserve themselves after the election. The day after the election, the stunned looks on the faces of everyone in the political class made this hilariously clear.

There’s another aspect to this that has become abundantly clear over the last couple of months. Both parties wanted to see Clinton win. The Republicans, at least the leadership, liked the setup under Obama. They got to pose as rock-ribbed conservatives fighting Obama, without ever having to do anything. Democrats liked that Obama was just issuing executive orders and bypassing the parliamentary process. The Washington ecosystem was at equilibrium as long as everyone on both sides played their part.

The proof of this is the fact that the GOP has no plans ready for the 2017 legislative session. They have been talking for years about ObamaCare and now we know they never planned to do anything. The same is true of taxes, which is the one thing Republicans like doing. They have no plans for anything, not even something symbolic. They not only have no plans, they are still staggering around in shock, not sure what they should be doing. Suddenly nothing makes sense to the people inside the bubble and they are scared.

In a world where the rules no longer apply, it quickly becomes every man for himself and that’s what is happening in Washington right now.The Left accusing Trump of colluding with the Russians is not just a reckless political attack. It’s war on the very system of governance. It’s the sort of thing that goes on when the political system is breaking down. Trump’s charge that Obama was spying on his campaign makes perfect sense in light of what see happening. The evidence of some sort of Nixonian skulduggery is pretty strong.

Of course, in a world where the scrupulous following of protocol is essential to maintaining the status quo, a break down in the rules puts everyone at risk. That seems to be Trump’s game here with the spying charges. The establishment has tossed out the rules in their effort to attack him, so he is threatening to further bust up the system, which works to his favor and to their disadvantage. it’s a foolish game the Left has decided to play as they have much more to lose in a world without rules.

There’s another aspect to this. Trump has fewer skeletons in his closet than any president in generations. In Washington, that makes him a very dangerous man. All of these guys have shady deals in their closet. All of them bend the rules to reward themselves and their associates. No one says anything about it because everyone is dirty. Washington is a lot like a corrupt police precinct, where everyone is on the take so no one dares rat on anyone else. Trump’s life is an open book so he does not have to play along.

That’s probably why he went nuclear over the weekend. He’s looking around at a city full of crooked politicians calling for investigations so he is turning the table and threatening to open the investigation up to everything. Imagine Trump coming out and asking for a special prosecutor to look into Obama, Clinton, the IRS people, the DOJ and maybe even the FBI itself. There’s a lot of people in Washington with a lot to hide and Trump certainly knows it, which is why he is going on the attack over the tapping of his offices.

A long time ago I pointed out that Trump was The Mule, the character from the Asimov novels. Trump is the destroyer of worlds, not because he has some grand vision of the future and wants to plow under the existing order to make room for his utopia. He is the destroyer because the old order can only exist if Trump does not exist. His rise to the White House is the nullification of the established order. It’s why Washington is going for total war to destroy him. They see it is a matter of survival.

It’s probably too late. The Mule has arrived.

It’s All Fake

Back in Obama’s first months on the throne, Rick Santelli, a TV personality, was “reporting” from the floor of the stock exchange. He responded to a question about Obama’s housing plan with a rant about socialism, finishing it off with a call for a new Tea Party. Whether it was spontaneous or choreographed is hard to know, but at the time people took it to be entirely spontaneous. Santelli is a carny barker prone to getting carried away on the air and his rant had the feel of an old fashioned stem winder.

Regardless of the intent or the execution, the rant went viral and the Tea Party Movement was born. Middle America was ready to be pissed off due to the terribleness of the Bush years, so Obama’s poor start put the normies in a fighting mood. Before long people were showing up at town hall meetings, dressed as Samuel Adams, giving their congressman the business about reckless government behavior that had made a hash of things. Since the Democrats were the majority, they got the brunt of the abuse.

It did not take long for the moonbats to declare the whole thing a racist conspiracy cooked up by the twelfth invisible Hitler in league with the eternal cyclops of the KKK. This was when the fake hate crime stuff got its start as a daily phenomenon. It was also when it became apparent to a lot of people that the news is mostly fake. The increasingly deranged Nancy Pelosi, slurring about “Astroturf” was so weird, it begged a challenge, but the news people carried on like it was manifestly true.

The claim that middle aged suburbanites, dressed in tricorne hats, were paid agents of a nefarious conspiracy was so nutty that the response from the press should have been laughter and then derision. After all, it has been known for decades that the Left uses rent-a-mobs. They pay people to show up and hold signs. Unions have been doing this since the days of Jimmy Hoffa. For the Democrats to clutch their pearls and call the Tea Party inauthentic should have been too much of a farce for even the very liberal press corp.

I’ve often wondered if that was when a lot of people started to think the corruption in Washington was worse than they imagined. The corruption of the Tea Party by Conservative Inc surely turned a lot of people to the dark side, but the priming agent may well have been the AstroTurf stuff. It was so obvious that the media was coordinating their coverage with the Left, it was hard not to notice it. The game was rigged and nothing in the media was on the level. It was not just bias, it was collusion.

The question is, how fake is it? The answer may be, more fake than you think.

A majority of online and social media defenders of Obamacare are professionals who are “paid to post,” according to a digital expert.

“Sixty percent of all the posts were made from 100 profiles, posting between the hours of 9 and 5 Pacific Time,” said Michael Brown. “They were paid to post.”

Since so much of the mass media is now intertwined with social media, the authenticity of social media is a useful proxy for the authenticity of the mass media. It’s right to assume that social media is mostly fake.

The largest network ties together more than 350,000 accounts and further work suggests others may be even bigger.

UK researchers accidentally uncovered the lurking networks while probing Twitter to see how people use it.

Some of the accounts have been used to fake follower numbers, send spam and boost interest in trending topics.

On Twitter, bots are accounts that are run remotely by someone who automates the messages they send and activities they carry out. Some people pay to get bots to follow their account or to dilute chatter about controversial subjects.

“It is difficult to assess exactly how many Twitter users are bots,” said graduate student Juan Echeverria, a computer scientist at UCL, who uncovered the massive networks.

Mr Echeverria’s research began by combing through a sample of 1% of Twitter users in order to get a better understanding of how people use the social network.

However, analysis of the data revealed some strange results that, when probed further, seemed to reveal lots of linked accounts, suggesting one person or group is running the botnet. These accounts did not act like the bots other researchers had found but were clearly not being run by humans.

This would explain the strange disparity in followers you see in Twitter. I’ve had people with tens of thousands of followers post a link to this site and the traffic was a few click throughs. On the other hand, a Ricky Vaughn tweet would net thousands of hits in minutes and it would last hours. That told me real humans were reading his timeline. It also suggests that those follower counts for allegedly famous people may be fake. We know people have bought followers for social media, but the scale has never been examined.

That may be changing. ZeroHedge used on-line traffic tools to figure out that major news sites have most likely hired Chinese click farms to help them game their traffic numbers, even though these sites are blocked in China. These sorts of solicitations come through the contact page of this site on a daily basis so it is nothing new. If the big major sites have succumbed to temptation in order to fraudulently boost their traffic counts, it is safe to assume all of them are doing it.

None of this surprises those who turned to the dark side when Darth Vader was still in knickers. The JournoList scandal was thrown down the memory hole, but the hate thinkers still remember it. The rampant fraud on Facebook with regards to their advertising is starting to impact on-line ads. That was entirely predictable if you have been following these things. But now, the general public is noticing that not only is the news fake, the people behind it look a lot like people our betters have been warning us about for years.

What may push everyone over the edge is the mother of all fake news stories, the entirely fictional Russian Hacking™ scandal. There is nothing about this that passes the laugh test. No one can even explain what it is the Russians supposedly did. No one can explain how Trump people talking to Russians is different from everyone else who regularly talks with Russians. It’s as if the media has been infected with a rage virus. Of course, it’s obvious that the hysteria is part of an orchestrated campaign to undermine Trump.

In other words, it’s all fake.

And it will end poorly.

The Battle of Preferences

The other day, Tucker Carlson had Nicholas Eberstadt on to discuss his most recent column on the economic causes of the turmoil we see in the culture.

The column is well worth a read, as Eberstadt loads it up with facts and graphs to make his points. The shocking statistics on the un-working population should be a national scandal, but as he points out, the economic data fed to politicians disguises these realities. Relying on the unemployment rate, for example, hides the legions of people, particularly men, who have dropped out of the workforce entirely. If you are not looking for work, you are not counted in unemployment figures.

Again, it is a great piece and worth reading. He has a book on this topic as well. Eberstadt is a guy worth reading, mostly because he has one of the more impressive biographies you will see.

Eberstadt was born on December 20, 1955 in New York City. His father, Frederick Eberstadt, was an author and photographer. His mother, Isabel Nash, was a novelist. His paternal grandfather, Ferdinand Eberstadt, was an investment banker and co-founder of the Central Intelligence Agency; his maternal grandfather, Ogden Nash, was a poet. His sister, Fernanda Eberstadt, is a novelist.

Eberstadt graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1972. He then earned his A.B. magna cum laude in Economics from Harvard College in 1976, and his M.Sc. in Social Planning for Developing Countries from the London School of Economics in 1978. He completed his M.P.A. at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1979, and his Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government at Harvard University in 1995.

Anyway, one of the great mistakes made by conventional conservatism was to adopt the sterile, transactional view of culture favored by libertarians and Progressives. In fact, their view is often anti-cultural, as it treats humans as if they are moist robots. Culture is about tastes and preferences that are embedded to a great degree in human biology. Just as every person is the sum of decisions made by his ancestors, the culture of any society is the sum of all those individual sums. In other words, culture is tied to human biology.

Let’s pretend that, through some special magic, economics comes up with a way to put most everyone on welfare, at a rate that allows for a middle-class life. The robot revolution leads to a world where hardly anyone works, but everyone has access to all the goods and services we associate with the comfortable middle-class life. In other words, we have lurched into a version of the future imagined by H.G. Wells, where everyone spends their day in leisure, but no one is eaten by Morlocks after sundown.

While it is impossible to know how humans would respond to such a world, we do know something about how humans relate to one another. For instance, we know that men compete with one another for access to females. Not too long ago, men would engage in battle with one another to establish status within the group. Today, status is established by income, academic titles and profession. A lawyer has more status than a sewer worker, for example. A small business man has more status than a middle manager.

In a world without work, figuring out these relationships is impossible. It is not entirely ridiculous to think that in such a world, humans would bring back things like jousting and trial by combat, as a way to settle disputes and figure out the pecking order. In fairness to Eberstadt, he does seem to get that men without work prospects lose something essential to being a man. Men without purpose are men without a reason to live. They will also be men looking for a way to fill that void, be it drugs or some great cause.

The trouble with the economic explanation is that it assumes the current rumblings are only due to the want of material goods and social status. That people would embrace the multicultural paradise our betters plan for us, as long as we have meaningful work and lots of cheap goods. The men and women of the managerial class are incapable of viewing the world through any other lens but their own. They are blinkered to the fact that theirs is a culture now alien to the rest of us and as such they cannot see the world as we see it.

Further, underlying all of the recent analysis attempting to explain the Trump phenomenon, Brexit and the cultural rumbling across the West, is the conceit among the Cloud People that what is driving the revolt is something they would call shame, if they possessed such a quality. They imagine the unrest is the result of  a great army of men ashamed of being losers in the new super wonderful global economy. That shame is turning to envy as they seek out causes and candidates to exact revenge on the Cloud People and their attendants in the managerial  and political classes.

All of the analysis of Brexit, for example, was seasoned with this view. The savvy cosmopolitans of London voted against Brexit, of course, because they have long interesting lives ahead of them in the multicultural paradise. The people who voted for it are old country rubes being left behind. Similarly, the Trump voters are always described as white working class losers angry at having been left out of the new economy. You cannot help but get the sense that the analysis on offer is less about a search for truth than it is a justification for defending the status quo.

Men are not moist robots. The reason most white men don’t want to raise their kids next door to former tribesmen from Somalia is they don’t like Somalis. It is not personal, they just strongly prefer the choices of their ancestors over the choices made by the Somalis. They like their culture. They like remembering their ancestors by maintaining their traditions. They don’t want to toss what they are into the great blender of multiculturalism. It’s not about economic data or the tides of history. It is about preferences. They prefer their own over strangers.

That’s what our masters cannot comprehend because at their heart of what drives their thing is self-loathing. They hate their ancestors and the culture they built, because they hate themselves. Our betters want the featureless gray slurry of multiculturalism because it is the nullification of culture. Multiculturalism is no culture. It is the bland formality of rules and check lists. It is a world where no one remembers the past, because no one wants to be remembered. The great unrest is not about economics. It is about men not wanting to leap into the void. It’s about men not wanting their name erased from the book of life.

The reason the focus is on the white working class and the economic plight of men is the people doing these analysis cannot bring themselves to face this truth. They insist that anything that cannot be measured does not exist, because that eliminates any consideration of alternative viewpoints. There are lots of people who voted for Trump who have done quite well in the new economy. Lots of Brexit voters suspect that they will pay some price if England breaks from Europe. They voted the way they did for more than base economics. They did it for cultural reasons.

For a long time, the political battles in the West have revolved around an agreed upon goal. Fighting the Soviets or improving human rights. The coming battles are not about agreed about ends or transcendent truths. These are not battles over things that can be measured. They will be about preferences. What sort of society will be left to the next generation? How do we wish to be remembered and who will remember us? There are no right answers to these questions. In a war over preferences, it is not enough to be right. It is that everyone else must be made wrong.

The Cycle of Life

The other day I was listening to this interesting podcast from Keven Grace and Kevin Steele, two hosers from some place called “Canada.” Both had careers in the media and now they don’t, presumably due to the local blasphemy laws. I’ve listened to a number of their interviews I found on YouTube. For those interested in hate-think and the haters who founded hate-thinkery, their interviews of Gottfried, Sailer, Taylor and others are a good introduction to the hate. They ask good questions and get good answers.

The podcast on music is interesting if you enjoy thoughtful discussion of the business side of popular culture. If you are under the age of 80, you just assume that pop music is a feature of society. It’s hard to think about a time when there was no such thing as pop stars or hit songs played on the radio. The music business did not exist a hundred years ago, at least not in the way we think about it today. It was after the war that cheap radios, cheap record players and a prosperous middle-class birthed modern pop music culture.

If you read a book like The Wrecking Crew, you see that much of what we think of as rock and roll lifestyle was manufactured. The early years of pop music were dominated by old experienced guys from the jazz and big band scenes. They wrote the music, recorded the songs and made the hits. The acts that turned up on TV and radio were often just front men, hired to be the face of the act. From the very beginning, music was a business designed to make money, not music, for the people who owned the music business.

One of the things I found interesting from the podcast is that the music industry, the people involved in the business end of things, is about half the size it was at its peak. A couple of years ago I did a post on the state of music. Per capita music sales have collapsed from their peak 15 years ago. That peak was largely a bubble created by the advent of the compact disc. Everyone went out and repurchased their music collection in the new digital format. A lot of old stuff was remastered for the new format and that boosted sales too.

We are now in a time when selling songs is no longer very profitable. Often, bands will put their new releases on YouTube free of charge. The song itself is a form of marketing for their live shows. In my youth, the opposite was the case. Bands went on tour to promote their latest album. The tickets to the show were often cheaper than the album. Now, anything you want is on-line so trying to monetize the songs has become a lost cause. As a result, the focus is on making money from the live shows.

In many respects, pop music is back to where it was before the great wars of the 20th century. In the 19th century, sheet music was the item of value in the music business. Many of our intellectual property laws, in fact, come from efforts to protect the owners of sheet music. The main source of income for musicians, however, was the live act. They went around performing for customers. It is where the expression “sing for your supper” started. Often musicians were paid, in part, with a meal.

There are some important lessons in the history of pop music. One is that cultural phenomenon have a life cycle. They come into existence, blossom and then die off. The music business is never going to go completely away. There’s still money to be made marketing acts and managing the production of recorded music, but the boom times are over. It is, as they say in business, a mature sector now. It’s not a business attracting wild men looking for adventure. Instead it attracts MBA’s moving through the corporate system. “This is Josh, who came over from the petro-chemical division.”

Pop music’s impact on the greater culture is also largely over. There will never be another Beatles or Rolling Stones. That’s because “American culture” is over. Prior to the two great industrial wars of the 20th century, America did not have a unified national culture. It was federation of regions. New England may as well have been a different country from the Deep South or the Southwest. The South was very different from Appalachia. There was no unified “American” culture to which all the regional cultures submitted.

The great national project of conquering Europe and Asia opened the door for the flowering of an American culture after the war. Into it was drawn anything that could be sold as celebrating this new world power. It is why what we think of as American pop culture blew up after the war. In music, for example, producers scoured the land looking for authentic American sounds to package up and sell, in order to meet the demand of this new growing thing called Americana. It even went global, in search of spice to ad to the mix.

Like the music business itself, the great unifying national culture that blossomed in the 20th century has run its course. America is, to a great degree, falling back to its natural, regional state. Just look at the popularity of movies and TV shows by region and you see old weird America emerging again. Live acts now setup their tours to reflect the fact that they have greater appeal in some regions than in others. If you are a country act, for example, there’s no point in booking a lot of dates in the north, outside of the one-off festivals in the summer that feature a variety of acts.

That’s another lesson from pop music. The past is the actualized, the present is the actualizing and the future in the potential. Culture is that middle part, standing on the past in an effort to realize the potential that lies in the future. Once culture attains its natural end, it dies. What’s left is what it created. The grand unified pop culture of the Cold War era is now like an old factory building that has been renovated to be lofts, shops and boutique restaurants. It’s influence on what comes next is purely utilitarian.