The Active Citizens

Recently, I have been getting hammered with spam calls on my mobile phone. These are robo calls for various scams. One that comes daily is for some green energy scheme that promises to save me 50% off my electric bill. Another is a call from “your credit card company” that starts with “Don’t hang up.” I always hang up. The frequency of calls has reached the point where I no longer bothering answering my cell. I’ve turned the volume down to zero and check the log once in a while to see if anyone I know called.

This is a recent issue. I’ve had the same number for a long time that I registered with the do not call registry. I have no idea if that works, but the lack of spam calls had me thinking it must have worked until recent. Out of curiosity I went to the site for the FTC to see if maybe that service had been discontinued. It turns out that it still exists, but the web site is down, supposedly because of the government shutdown. That’s not a joke. Here’s the link and they posted the notice in Spanish, for the convenience of Mexican users.

Now, it would surprise no one to learn that a government website is really just a facade and that web requests are being handled by a person, who types the response to each query. You can just imagine an army of Winston Smith’s typing web responses and noting unapproved activity. That’s certainly not the case here. The bureaucrats in the FTC thought this was a bold statement. In reality it is just the petty nonsense that goes on with the administrative state. They put that up to spite the public.

This small little incident I’m describing is a microcosm of what’s wrong in the country. The FTC website should not exist. There’s no need for a do-not-call registry. The government could simply make the telephone companies responsible for the abuse that goes on with telemarketers. The phone companies would then demand the government pass laws that discourage these scams. The phone system operators would then aggressively police their networks and turn the scammers over to the state.

That does not happen, of course. The idea of the government doing things to make daily life easier on the citizens is so alien to us now, that the very suggestion of it is met with howls of protest. That is, after all, what happened when Tucker Carlson suggested the people in charge start worrying about the happiness of the public. The shrieking and gasping at such blasphemy around the Imperial Capital was deafening. No one in the ruling class, or their attendants, thinks the government owes us anything.

The paleocon formulation for this is anarcho-tyranny. This is when the state is no longer able to do the basics of government, like going after phone scammers. That’s the anarchy part. On the other hand, the state is more than happy to hassle citizens over petty rules and regulations. That’s the tyranny. It’s true in a lot of ways and certainly applies to local government. That’s not all of it though. There’s a growing hostility to the idea of people expecting their government to be responsive to the public.

That’s the core of the immigration debate, when you examine it. One side still thinks it is the duty of government to protect the borders and enforce the immigration laws. More important, they expect the government to put the general welfare of the American people ahead of the interests of foreigners. Sure, some immigration is fine, as long as they assimilate and become an asset. In other words, immigration is just another public policy and the right policy is the one that serves the interests of the citizens.

The other side thinks the only reason anyone wants to limit immigration is to protect losers who can’t compete with the newcomers. After all, only losers want the government to protect them from competition. David French calls it victim-politics. In other words, if you think the people in charge are not doing their duty to look out for the interests of their fellow citizens, you’re a crybaby and loser. It’s amazing, but a guy who has spent his life on the government teat thinks his class owes you nothing.

In other words, we have gone past the old anarcho-tyranny formulation into a new phase where the ruling class can’t be bothered to do anything. In fact, they are offended by the very suggestion that they have a duty to the rest of us. Carlson is going through an advertiser boycott because he had the temerity to suggest that maybe the people in charge are not doing their duty. All the beautiful people are rushing to social media to defend billion dollar global corporations against a guy who says stuff on TV.

Of course, the pettiness of the administrative state and the hostility to the idea of responsive government have the same root cause. The ruling class no longer see the rest of us as being citizens in the way they are citizens. We know have active citizens and passive citizens. The former is for members of the managerial class and the latter is for the rest of us. Active citizens get to talk about what kind of country they want and how the government will achieve it. Passive citizens just sit quietly in the cheap seats.

That’s why they are so offended by Trump and the surge in populism. They see it as a something like a slave revolt. It’s not the material inconvenience. It is the moral effrontery of the hoi polloi daring to question them. That’s the reason the FTC site is down. The people who did that think they are doing us a favor. They are offended and probably bewildered as to why this is happening. They are so divorced from the rest of us, we may as well be space aliens or wild creatures living in the forest.

This is why reform is hopeless. It’s not that “the deep state” is secretly gaming the system to their advantage. There’s nothing secret here. The sorts of reform needed would have no material impact on our rulers. The reason reform is hopeless is they now define themselves in opposition to the rest of us. They no longer see themselves as our fellow citizens. Rather, they see us as a threat to their status as active citizens. Anything that blurs the lines between us and them, must be opposed, on principle.

The American Jizya

It used to be that social reformers would talk about the day when racism has been eliminated from society. They would quote Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, suggesting the goal was a colorblind society. The only people to say this today are clueless civic nationalists and so-called conservative pundits. The former are always behind the times and the latter is here to run cover for the Left. In the game of racism, the caravan has moved onto a new wave, the third wave of anti-racism.

Like feminism, anti-racism has reinvented itself to meet the challenges of the multicultural age, particularly in light of the new demographics. Blacks griping about whites is not of much use when you have varieties of Hispanic, Muslims, Asians, Jews and lifestyle degenerates. The new challenges of the majority-minority empire require a new kind of anti-racism and a new kind of racism for it to oppose. The new racism is exotic and mysterious, while the anti-racist is fighting a spiritual fight, not a legal one.

Eric Hoffer made the observation that people involved in causes never reach a point where they say the cause has achieved its goals and therefore can disband and cease its activities. For example, anti-smoking zealots have accomplished all that can be accomplished, yet they persist. The same is true of drunk driving activists. Short of martial law, there is not much left to do about drunk driving and smoking. Yet, the pressure groups behind these causes still raise money and agitate for attention.

The same thing has happened with the various causes of Progressivism. Something like environmentalism has evolved into a weird nature cult, with apocalyptic predictions backed by flimsy science. Feminism is pretty much a nonsensical collection of tantrums sporting bizarre lingo and outfits. Anti-racism has moved from demands for equity before the law and mitigation for past racism, to a semi-permanent regime that includes groups, who voluntarily left their home lands for the white nations they now despise.

As a practical matter, so-called “third wave anti-racism” is really just a demand by non-whites that whites mitigate the realities of biology. They can’t say that so they have to use weird language and comical neologisms. The demand is that whites exhaust themselves maintaining a white bourgeois society, so that non-whites can enjoy first world comfort, without actually having to maintain it themselves. The new white man’s burden is whites living as despised helots in the societies they created.

For example, whites are supposed to solve the black crime problem, but not notice that black men commit a lot of crime. No one is supposed to mention that blacks don’t cooperate with police. The justification for the former is the history of racism, while the latter is excused as blacks not wanting to attract attention to the black community. Whites are supposed to work around the realities of the black community, while mitigating the realities of the black community. This is impossible and unreasonable.

Another example is how non-whites expect to be allowed into elite schools. In the name of diversity, the elite colleges decorate each class with vibrancy. The professors are expected to make sure these students graduate and never mention that they make up the bottom third of the class. Once out in the world, the process starts over as law firms hoover up non-whites to meet their diversity quota. Of course, no one is supposed to notice that these lawyers are not very good at being lawyers.

Then you have the central tenet of third wave anti-racism, which is that whites, just by being white, are a burden on non-whites. Because whites want the best for their kids and want to live in safe neighborhoods, it means they live in places without convenient bus service. This is a burden on non-whites, as they don’t have easy access to whites and the societies they create. This is so-called white privilege. The only way to eliminate this is to eliminate white behavior, which would end the modern society.

Instead, the new anti-racism regime is one where every white person is born guilty, tainted by the original sin of white racism. Therefore, just as man was condemned to toil outside of the Garden of Eden for eternity, whites are now condemned to pay the jizya in order to keep non-whites in comfortable modern lifestyles. That means open borders for formerly white countries and a metastasizing set of rules to govern the thoughts and speech of whites. The American jizya is about keeping non-whites happy.

That’s the core argument of Ta-Nahesi Coates. In his jeremiad in favor of reparations, you’ll note he never actually puts a number on it. Reparations are, by definition, about making the other party whole. Coates rejects that such a number exists, because what he means by reparations is actually a recitation. He demands an endless recitation of the crimes committed by whites against blacks. This is to both punish whites in a material sense and to remind them that they are now in the inferior position.

In order to understand the social justice movement, one must first replace the word “justice” with the word “vengeance.” It’s not about settling the books or making anyone whole. It is about establishing a new hierarchy in which whites are the infidels of the new multicultural empire, forever paying the jizya to keep modern society rolling. The point of the tax is not just to finance the system, but to lock in the moral relationships of the new multicultural empire, because it cannot exist without the jizya.

Neo-Democracy

Most people think democracy means the people get to vote on who holds office and what laws get passed. Government by the people and majority rule, at least when it comes to elections and referendums. Not so long ago, serious types would correct someone if they said America was a democracy. They would say it is a republic, not a democracy, which is technically correct. Civic nationalists will still do this whenever someone says America is a democracy, even though the term has become ubiquitous.

Putting aside the linguistic issues, most people think of democracy as something close to the Merriam-Webster definition, “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.” The people have the final say on who holds office and by extension, what they do while in office. The government is controlled by the people, through an orderly process of elections and referendums.

The people in charge, however, have a different definition of democracy. They look at democracy as a thing, rather than a process. When they speak of democracy, they are talking about the offices and institutions they control, both official and unofficial. The media, for example, is an unofficial part of the democracy. The array of non-profits and think tanks are part of the democracy. The entirety of the managerial state is this thing they call democracy, which is why they endlessly talk about the need to defend it.

For example, this story in Foreign Policy magazine is about how Denmark’s use of computer software to manage welfare benefits is a threat to liberal democracy. The authors use the term in the way in which normal people would use it. They provide an example of how one municipality is using “a system that would use algorithms to identify children at risk of abuse, allowing authorities to target the flagged families for early intervention that could ultimately result in forced removals.”

In order for these systems to work, the state needs access to all sorts of data that not so long ago was assumed to be outside the scope of government. Think about what the state would need to know about “the children at risk” in order to know they are at risk. Most of what would be useful is the sort of information, people in liberal democracies think is none of the government’s business. Then there is the notion that the state has the right to involve itself in the affairs of citizens, before they do something wrong.

Notice too the shift in language. Those inclined to dystopian views like to use the word “pre-crime” to define this sort of thing, but it is actually worse. The new class thinks they need to intervene in your life before you do something wrong, which is different than preventing crime. What the Danish state is up to is intervening in the lives of citizens before they act in a way that may be legal but not in their interests. The state now has a monopoly on morality, in addition to a monopoly on violence.

As the authors point out, the core assumption of liberal democracy has always been that the state must be restrained. This is described as negative liberty. The state is out of the way of the people, who are then free to pursue their interests. It’s why the US Constitution narrowly describes the role of each branch of government. It’s also why there is a bill of rights, which describes broad spheres into which the state is prohibited. In theory, the government is like a dog on a leash. It can only go where the leash permits.

What’s happened in the last several decades in the West is a subtle shift away from negative liberty to positive liberty. This is the claim that to be free, a person must be self-determined, able to control their own destiny in their own interests. For example, an addict is not free because they are a slave to the drug. A black person, despite equality before the law, is not free due to white racism and the legacy of slavery. The state may not be placing obstacles in their way, but the person is not in control of their destiny.

The role of the state, therefore, is not to stay out of the way, but to intercede in order to clear these limits on the citizen’s ability to fulfill their potential. That’s why the Danish government just assumes it is their duty to meddle in the personal lives of citizens. They are not violating their rights. Instead they are helping them reach their potential, by preventing them from doing things that are not in their interests. In the case of family life, it means stopping people from being bad parents or bad examples to their children.

It’s why the new class is in such a panic over the rise of populist movements in the West and willing to use totalitarian means to suppress them. From their perspective, these forces are a threat to democracy, because they are the democracy. The new class, this consolidating class of people at the top of politics, administration, finance, business and the law, are the indispensable class. Without them, there is no democracy, because there is no one to structure your life so you can reach your fullest potential.

It’s also why they are prone to blaming the super natural for observable phenomenon like racial inequality or the differences in the sexes. When you eliminate the natural explanations for why blacks have different life outcomes than whites, then you are left with the supernatural. White privilege is just another way of blaming bad juju. The same is true of “gun violence” which shifts agency from the trigger puller to the object. These various bogeymen become an explanation and a rallying cry for the new class.

More ominous is how the new class, at least in America, is slowly coming to the conclusion that the reason the new citizens are not reaching their potential is that the old citizens have a mystical power source. The mere presence of legacy Americans, minding their own business, living their lives, is bad for the new citizens. After all, that is the definition of white privilege. There can be only one solution to that problem. That probably explains why the Sackler family walks free. They are the sword of democracy.

The Greeks & Us

I’m back! I was never really gone, but the podcast took a week off over the holidays, so the podcast is back. It’s good to take a break from something like this on occasion, just to recharge the batteries. This thing takes about six hours a week, spread over the week, so there is more work to it than the blog. The part that takes the most time is gathering ideas and assembling notes. The recording is only about two hours. Still, it’s not a full time job, but it takes time, so a little bit of a break from time to time is a good idea.

One of my more popular podcasts was the one I did on the Romans. Everyone on the Right, even the sissy-Right, likes to talk about Rome. There’s something satisfying to the comparisons between America and Rome. That’s probably because the Romans had a lot of interesting characters. The Romans were also around a long time, so it feels like their history is the set of all possible outcomes for a people. With a little historical license, you can find an example from their history to meet just about every need.

The Greeks are a bit different. I think it is because the West has so much more respect for the Greeks than the Romans. Maybe it is the fact the Greeks never conquered the world, like the Romans. Alexander certainly did, but his empire did not outlive him and the people involved were not so dramatic. That said, there are a lot of interesting lessons to be drawn from the history of ancient Greece. That’s the theme for the show this week. It will be a sampling of ancient Greek history and the relevance to our own age.

This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below. I have been de-platformed by Spotify, because they feared I was poisoning the minds of their Millennial customers.

This Week’s Show

Contents

Direct DownloadThe iTunes PageGoogle Play LinkiHeart Radio, RSS Feed

Full Show On Spreaker

Full Show On YouTube

The Risk Of Speed

When it comes to automation, people tend to assume the robots will perform the same tasks as the humans they replace, just with fewer mistakes and fewer days off. While that is true, automation almost always means changing how the work gets done, in order to break it into discrete operations. Instead of a man at a workstation, doing a series of tasks, each task is done as a single event by a single robot. This simplifies the task of automation and reduces the cost of the automation by eliminating variables.

This atomization of the work not only makes the work process more efficient, it changes how the humans have to analyze it. Instead of focusing on the people, they must focus on the process. That’s always part of process improvement, but because the process changes and the variables change, new phenomenon turn up in the process. In statistics, they say quantity has a quality all its own. In automated systems, speed has a quality all its own. Those super fast, super accurate robots change the nature of the process.

Think of the game of table tennis. It is a pretty simple game, in terms of strategy. The players try to trick one another with various tactics like setting up a shot or putting spin on the ball so it is hard to return. Player A will use top spin to force Player B to change how he strikes the ball. At some point Player A will change, thus fooling Player B, who then hits the ball beyond the far edge of the table. Alternatively, one player will make the other player move side to side, increasing the chances of a physical error.

If you are coaching table tennis, it is all about training the human to play against the other human. Now, replace the players with robots. The first thing that changes is the players will not make physical errors. So, the side to side business no longer makes sense. The same is true of using ball spin to induce a physical error. The robots will strike the ball correctly each time. In other words, when you remove human error and human emotion from the game, the strategy of the game has to change as well.

It also means the game changes. For example, the team that makes the first robot player will build it to capitalize on human error. Soon, other teams will replace their humans with robots. At that point, everyone stops trying to exploit human error. Instead, they are trying to make faster robots. If their robots can exceed the physical limits of the other robots, then they win. Soon, there is an arms race between the robot builders to make the fastest robot, in terms of physical response, along with the faster processors.

If you stop and think about what this would look like, it sounds kind of cool at first. The first robots would be slow and stupid, but eventually they would pretty amazing. They would go from amusing to terrifying as the speed of the game would become incomprehensible to humans. The speed, agility and processing power of the machines would have the ball flying through the air near its maximum velocity of 900 miles per hour. The paddles would be made of special material, in order to prevent them from flying apart.

Automating the game of table tennis would first result in removing the strategy of the game that exploits human failure. This would be true of any system that is being automated. System analysis would also change as the speed of the machines would create new points of failure and new challenges, in terms of finding efficiency and a competitive edge. In other words, as the problem solving shifts from the human variable to the engineering issues, system analysis has to change accordingly.

Now, instead of robots playing table tennis, let’s think of something else. Currently, close to 90% of trades in the equities markets are done by robots, which are just computer programs attached to the financial system. These programs have access to financial data throughout the system, which is inputted into their systems and the output is the buy and sell decisions. Teams of smart people called “quants” spend endless hours fine-tuning their programs to make them faster and more efficient at trading equities.

If you read the book The Money Game, which was written in the 1960’s, it presciently predicted the rise of the machines in the financial markets. What was clear to smart people at the dawn of the robot age, but not clear to most people, is the old systems regulating and controlling markets would not hold up to automation. It took the Black Monday crash of 1987 for everyone to realize that the controls had to change in order to accommodate the new robot players in the financial system.

In the 2000’s, the rise of high speed trading algorithms and large scale trading models eventually broke the system again. The emergence of the so-called “flash-crash” was entirely due to speed. While the first phase of automation removed the normal human checks on trading, resulting in runaway selling, the next phase of automation allowed for bad human decisions, like errors in trading algorithms, to be implemented so quickly, the systems could not respond. The result was erroneous sell-offs.

That brings us to the current market volatility. The decline itself is getting all of the attention, mostly for marketing and political reasons. The dullards in the media know how to sell gloom and they like blaming bad news on Trump. Historically, this bear market is not important. Whether it is called a correction or a bear market, the numbers are not all that significant. We’ve seen much worse. No one is jumping from their office windows and the public is not banging the sell button on the investment account.

What’s unique about this market is the weirdness. There is sustained volatility, but also a sustained decline, that does not appear to correlate to factors in the economy or in the financial system. The tiniest bit of news can cause wild swings. Apple announced what everyone should have known by now, that their toys are not selling as well as in the past, and the market takes a big tumble. Apple shares dropped 10% in minutes. Of course, this ripples to the rest of the market in seconds as well.

What could be happening is the next phase of automation. The speed and complexity of the algorithms are no longer comprehensible by the humans involved in the system. Like our table tennis playing robots, a level of speed and complexity passes the event horizon of humans to comprehend. Watching the robots play table tennis would be like watching a whirl of stars, beautiful, but impossible for the mind to fathom. Similarly, the new market dynamics may be reaching the limits of human regulators to fathom.

This is not to imply that the robot traders have become aware and are now taking control of the system from humans. That would be interesting, but the robots are still relatively dumb. Instead, they have reached levels of efficiency and speed that exceeds our ability to model properly. The result is the wild volatility and the seemingly irrational behavior of the markets. Put another way, this is the age of basic ideas implemented so fast and with such efficiency, they become irrational to their human creators.

The Forever Heretic

Every once in a while, particularly during the Obama years, someone would compare the ideological enforcers to the Red Guards of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Inevitably, the response from many so-called conservatives, would be that it was an exaggeration or just a bad comparison. After all, today’s ideological enforcers just shriek and make life unpleasant for the bad-thinker. No one is being forced to publicly confess to imaginary crimes or being sent off to a reeducation camp.

The whole point of comparing something in the current time, or even the near future, to something bad from the past, is exaggeration. The point is to make the present thing appear worse, in order to warn of something bad on the horizon. The shrieking social justice warriors may not be physically attacking college professors today, but if they are not stopped now, they could be doing this in the near future. That’s the whole point of the exaggerated comparison. It is to warn of something bad on the horizon.

The question never considered is what happens when the warnings prove to be correct, but no one is taking notice. That is, what if the shrieking social justice warriors start forcing college professors to wear dunce caps and the people in charge open up reeducation camps for bad thinkers? That would be pretty bad, but it would be worse if people just shrugged and said, “Sure, you were right about this turning into the Cultural Revolution, but what are we going to do?” What exaggeration do we use then?

We are now about to find out. This story from the New York Times was bouncing around among dissidents over the holidays. It tells of a black women who got her feelings hurt on Twitter a couple of years ago. The people in charge used her sadness to force one of the people making her sad to confess to imaginary crimes and agree to spend 200 hours in a reeducation camp. Additionally, the black girl will monitor his behavior and determine if he is sufficiently submissive to her, before he is released from custody.

That sounds like an exaggeration, for sure, but it is not. A year ago, American University celebrated the acquisition of a new totem to their goodness, but then that totem was mocked on Twitter by people who read the Daily Stormer website. One of them, Evan James McCarty of Eugene, Ore., was hunted down and brought to trial. According to the New York Times story, he was forced “to apologize, renounce white supremacy, undergo counseling and help civil rights groups fight hate and bigotry.”

The point they are making, as is the point of any sort of mob justice or vigilantism, is to send a warning to others. When the Maoists were parading around bad thinkers in dunce caps, it was not about the victim. It was a message to everyone else. You either fall in line or you face something similar. That’s the point of this case and the harassment campaign run by propaganda organs like the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast. Kelly Weill and Chris Mathias are hired ideological enforcers, not journalists or reporters.

No doubt people will argue that this characterization of this event is out of line or an exaggeration. They will point out that the victim agreed to perform the confession and agreed to enter a reeducation camp. That’s true, strictly speaking. It’s also true that workers around the country “volunteer” to undergo morality training and submit themselves to examination, in order to ensure they are not blaspheming the gods of the state. In an ideological state, people “volunteer” for a lot of things.

It is tempting to dust off the great quote from Theodore Dalrymple about how in communist societies, the purpose of propaganda was to humiliate. There’s certainly truth to that in this particular case. The new class wanted to humiliate the Twitter troll in order to make a point. They probably wanted him to wear a dunce cap and sandwich board detailing his crimes, but maybe next time. The assumption is that no one will want to submit themselves to the same humiliating punishments so everyone will fall in line.

There is another side to the coin here. This was an act of vengeance. The story and the facts make clear that the new class is angry that anyone would dare disrespect the gods of the state. They are insulted by these silly acts of rebellion. That’s why the ink was not dry on the settlement and the lawyers for the black girl were on the phone to the New York Times with the details. They wanted to make sure that everyone in this kid’s community knows he is a blasphemer and a heretic. It was a high tech doxxing.

Therein lies the big difference between what the Maoists or Soviets were doing to their heretics. The Chinese college professor wearing the dunce cap, while being jeered by his revolutionary students had the hope that one day the people doing the jeering would rehabilitate him. The Russian forced to confess to harboring bad thoughts or listening to decadent music could hope to get a reprieve, if he grovelled sufficiently. In other words, the condemned still had some chance at redemption.

There will be no rehabilitation for Evan James McCarty. This is now on his permanent record. Anytime a prospective employer or rival in the work place puts his name into a search engine, his crimes will be announced. That’s the point of having this posted in the New York Times. That’s the real punishment. They are not allowed to brand him or force him to wear an armband, so they make sure his crimes were announced by the main organ of the ideological state. He’ll be a heretic forever.

2019 Predictions

Most of the predictions for the coming year have something about Trump and his agenda, as he faces a divided Congress. What will be revealed is the Congress is not so divided after all, as both parties will boldly lock shields to thwart the Trump agenda. The House will spend the year issuing subpoenas and holding hearings so their more clownish elements can perform for the cameras. The Senate will go on strike, doing nothing other than quietly pushing through Trump’s appointments to the Federal bench.

The Mueller probe will take a different turn in 2019. Now that it has been established as a semi-permanent oversight office, charged with keeping Trump from doing anything, the cover-up of the FBI subversion will be completed. All Congressional inquiries will end and the IG reports will contain nothing. Team Mueller will then turn to watching everyone working in the White House to make sure nothing can be done without the approval of official Washington. Team Mueller will be the shadow cabinet going forward.

The race to see who succeeds Trump in 2020 will be where the action is as the Democrats start to get serious about building their field. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris will be working the donor circuit, using exploratory committees to help build their brands in early states. The Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary are just 13 months away. Elizabeth Warren will turn out to be Howard Dean in a dress, as her campaign will make a lot of noise in the media, but not appeal to actual voters.

Because the Democrats will be shifting their focus to winning the White House in 2020, the censorship trend will take a different turn, as the tech giants begin to censor the Left. Look for the social media companies to begin cracking down on the BernieBro wing, in an effort to boost the standing of party approved candidates. Suddenly, groups like Antifa are going to find themselves without the protection they have enjoyed. They were always corporate tools, they just never knew it. In 2019, they find out who signs their checks.

The volatile bear market will continue as the financial world adjusts to some big new realities. One is the white retirement will quicken, slowing the flow of cash into retirement funds. Second, the Fed will continue to unwind its positions, thus raising the value of cash, while managing a mild deflation in asset values. Home prices will start to fall in certain markets and categories. The great demographic turnover has begun and the financial world will begin learning why no one cares about the Mexican stock market.

The world will start to notice that the Chinese economy cannot transition to one reliant on domestic demand fast enough to avoid a correction. China built its economy on currency manipulation and exploiting loopholes in global trade arrangements. Those loopholes are now closing. The Fed and ECB are much less tolerant of currency manipulation. The transition to a more normal economic model will require breaking more than a few iron rice bowls. That means China will get more authoritarian in the near term.

Theresa May will not get her fake Brexit bill through the Commons. Instead, there will be a second referendum later in the year so the Brits can vote correctly this time. The original deadline will be suspended pending the outcome of the new referendum, which will be rigged to make sure the remain side wins. Theresa May’s government will fall and new elections will be held. All concerned will accept a Tory defeat as the price that must be paid in order to defend British democracy.

On the Continent, populist unrest will give momentum to the Three Seas Initiative as part of a corrective to the European project. This year will see two camps emerge with one favoring the decentralized model championed by Poland and another camp favoring a centralized model with Germany in charge. The irony of the decentralized model being favored by all of the former communist nations will not be lost on anyone. The great test for both camps is their approach to immigration, which is becoming untenable.

Cord cutting will begin to have a real impact on the sports entertainment business. The rapid growth of American sports was driven by television money. That television money came from the cable monopolies that were given the right to tax households for content they would not otherwise purchase. Cord cutting and the demographic changes mean fewer households willing to pay the Hollywood jizya. This is the year when college and professional sports leagues begin to feel the pinch.

Finally, this is the year when serious questions about the authenticity of the Facebook business model go mainstream. For years, everyone has accepted their word, as far the number of users looking at ads on the site. Every six months they have to apologize for another “bug” in the metrics that overstated their claims. No one really knows how many humans actually use the site and advertisers have no way to know if humans really view their ads. This year people begin to wonder if Facebook is on the level.

Year In Review

This is the time of year when lazy writers post about the comings and goings of the previous year, usually in the form of a listicle. “The top-10 events of the past year” is a column that used to turn up in every newspaper at least once. Then you have the predictions for the coming year, which no one ever mentions as part of their year in review posts. With technology being what it is, you would think a new genre of year-end post would be the review of futures past type of post, but that has not happened.

There is some utility in looking at these things. It’s a lot like reading old articles about the glorious future of the 1990’s. It is a good reminder that most of the things we think are important turn out to be not so important. You look at some of the predictions from last year and wonder why anyone cared to mention it. Of course, you also wonder why no one mentioned what happens to be important right now. How many forecasters predicted a budget fight between Trump and his own party over wall funding?

Looking at your own past predictions is a bit humbling, which is probably why no one does it as a part of their year-end posting. Here is my post from last year with my crystal ball forecast for the upcoming year. I’m not a fan of the listicle, so it is written in the normal format. Looking back on it, maybe a list is not such a terrible thing to do for these sorts of posts. It does make it easier to read. That said, the very worst people write listicles, so I just can’t bring myself to do it. One has to keep up appearances.

So, how’d I do?

Well, I got the DACA stuff mostly right. The part I got wrong is that Trump would just drop the whole thing, rather than let the program expire unnoticed. Instead, he and his new boy-toy, Lindsey Graham are talking about trading 700,000 green cards to invaders in exchange for a down payment on his wall. In fact, Trump has gotten nothing from Congress with regards to immigration, so on that score I can only give myself a solid “C+” for getting close, but over estimating Trump’s political skill.

A similar thing is true with the Mueller probe. I got the easy part right. The farcical nature of the thing is now plain to everyone. Even the Democrats have stopped yapping about Russian collusion. The mask has dropped and they are clear about it being a way to hobble Trump. That’s not entirely true, as it is mostly a way to cover-up the Obama effort to subvert the last presidential election. I got the midterms right too, but that was so easy, so I’m not sure it’s worth grading.

I did nail the gene editing stuff. The Chinese may have used the new technology to “fix” the DNA of an embryo. That’s the claim, at least, but none of it has been independently verified. The Chinese will lie about anything, as it is a bandit culture. What has been released to the public that can be verified looks legitimate. Even if it proves to be false, it does reveal a willingness to do it by China, which has the West thinking about how to get past the ethics of it so it can be done here as well. Welcome to the future.

One thing I got very right is the continued growth of nationalist and populist parties in Europe. It is easy to forget that the smart people were all talking about the populist wave having crested last year, so going the other way was a bold prediction. Not only have the populists displayed staying power, new movements from the Left are turning up. The Yellow Vest thing in France is much more of a leftists cause, especially in Paris, than a right-wing phenomenon. That’s something to watch for next year.

Another thing I got very right is the IPO for Saudi Aramco. It’s funny to think that was a big news item last year. It’s a great example of how something we think is important in the moment turns out to be easily forgotten. Alternatively, it is a good example of something the mass media is instructed to forget, once the news turns ugly. Notice how no one talks about our second greatest ally in the world these days. A shrewd analyst might be thinking of a way to bet against the Saudis surviving next year.

What really mattered?

The dogs that were not barking last year, like the aggressive censorship of dissidents and the absolute failure of the Trump administration, have turned out to be the most important stories of 2018. This time last year most people thought the Left was starting to run out of steam with their Nazi hunting, but that turned out to be wrong. The move to a Chinese style censorship regime actually took a big leap forward. Similarly, people thought Trump was settling into the job, but it turned out he was getting worse at it.

If one were to honestly characterize 2018, it would be as the year that even cynical dissidents were shocked at the number of masks dropping. This year we learned that Congress is so frightened of Silicon Valley, that it is fair to say the real power base in the empire is in San Francisco. Similarly, Congress is so frightened of the intelligence agencies, they have become the Praetorian Guard of the empire. A shrewd analyst may be thinking that 2019 is the year we dispense with democracy altogether.

In Defense of Error

The other day, I followed a back and forth on Twitter between two smart people and one of them pointed out that the other had been wrong about the issue in the past. The details are not important as nothing serious ever gets discussed on Twitter, but what struck me is how even smart people can resort to this sort of score keeping. In the context of an internet exchange, it is about as sensible as claiming the other guy has cooties. It’s just a childish way of dismissing an argument or criticism without examining it.

It is a form of the fallacy of the undistributed middle. Someone could have a great record of being right about a topic, but those past predictions have little or even no connection to the current prediction. A gambler can get on a great roll at the craps table. It does not mean he’ll keep winning. This also means that the legendary loser at craps can win once in a while too. That’s the way it is with intellectual endeavors. You will get a lot wrong, but you can get a lot right too. Intellectual advancement is the story of trial and error.

Anyway, it got me thinking about something that turns up a lot on the dissident right. That is the quest to purify one’s past. It seems that a lot of people feel they should be ashamed of having been a libertarian or an unthinking conservative, who listened to Rush Limbaugh and voted Republican. Often you hear people talk about their journey to this side of the great divide as an awakening. It’s not a terrible way to frame it, as it certainly feels that way when you are going through it.

I know in my my case, I still remember when it dawned on me that the Bush people were serious about the spreading democracy stuff. From 2001 until 2005, I was quite confident that the democracy talk was mostly public relations. It was a way to troll the Left, by using their language as a justification for Afghanistan and Iraq. What was really going to happen is the CIA would find a friendly strong man to take over as an authoritarian. We’d install our guy and that would be that.

Even during the election with the purple finger stuff, I was quite confident it was just a show for domestic consumption. Then, it became clear they really thought they could turn Iraq into a European style democracy that would be an ally to Israel and help with the coming war with Iran. The scales fell from my eyes and I quickly moved from thinking the neocons were wrong to thinking they were crazy. Bill Kristol was just as deranged as the guys talking about the invisible imam and the end times.

Now, I take solace in knowing that I was not the only one to make this error. Tucker Carlson often talks about how he supported the war on terror and then realized it was going to be a catastrophe. John Derbyshire has written about his regret for having gone along with something he always sensed was a bad idea. Lots of smart and skeptical people were fooled by the Bush gang, so I don’t lose sleep over it. The neocons are very good at turning virtues into vices. It is their nature.

The thing is though, I’ve always thought the two best things to happen to our side are the Bush years and the Obama years. For men of my generation, the Bush year opened our eyes about the reality of the Buckley Right. Whatever the Buckley project was at the start, by the 1990’s it became a vehicle to undermine heritage America, every bit as toxic and dangerous as Progressivism. The Obama years created more race realists that an army of Charles Murrays and Steve Sailers.

The point is, mistakes have consequences, but they are often a necessary intermediate step in discovery. This is true of science and technology and it is true in the evolution of culture and society. The bungling of guys like Richard Spencer, which set off the aggressive campaign of censorship and de-platforming, has opened a lot of eyes, especially on our side, to the realities facing us. If the alt-right had been more prudent early on, the battle lines would not be so clear now.

A point I made on RamZPaul’s Christmas special was that the aggressive censorship and the fallout from it will make us better in the long run. James Edwards did not seem to like that point, but I am right about this. This is not a game you win by mastering the other side’s rules. There are no rules, just force. Our side will be better as we learn how to navigate around the searchlights, armed patrols and ideological enforcers. The path to victory is not in the appeal to their virtue, but the exploitation of their vices.

In a way, the dissident right is the result of error. Much of the skepticism that defines this side of the great divide is the result of having been wrong about a great many things, especially the integrity of the people in charge. Just as science and technology are the story of error, whatever comes next is going to be the result of many mistakes. It’s what an awakening is, when you think about it. It is that point when you realize you have been wrong about important things and begin to figure out the right answers.

Industrial Rumpswabbery

Way back in the before times, when you got news and opinion from TV, newspapers and magazines, you just accepted the authority of the source. If you were a liberal, you were required to swear oaths about the objectivity and integrity of the news media. If you were a normal person you understood that all of it was biased. Alternative sources of information, however, were thin on the ground. If you were lucky, your city still had a paper run by normal people, like the Detroit Free Press or Manchester Union Leader.

Otherwise, normal people had to read their local paper or the news magazines with an eye for the bias. Some columnists made a career out of being lefty wackos, even getting a national reputation for it. Eleanor Clift was a proto-cat lady in the 1990’s, as a barking at the moon lefty for Newsweek. The late John McLaughin would have her on as a regular, mostly because she was such a loon. In the Clinton years he nicknamed her Eleanor Rodham Clift because she was such a ridiculous Clinton rumpswab.

The thing is though, the columnists were always people who had spent a long apprenticeship in the news business. They started out as local reporters for local papers and then advanced onto bigger stories at bigger outlets. The typical newspaper columnist was a middle-aged man who had been a reporter for a couple of decades. Every city paper had a columnist who used to cover city hall, until he got bumped up to writing polemics about the people in city hall. That was his expertise.

Even the TV people had been in the business for a long time. Eleanor Clift would argue with Pat Buchanan about politics. Both had served as reporters covering campaigns, until they got columns. Their TV persona was as a columnist with expertise covering politics as a reporter for decades. They would salt their opinions with references to events they covered. That was their basis of authority. Their expertise was from long experience reporting on politics at all levels. They were professional reporters.

Whatever one wants to say for the old model of the journalism career, there was a winnowing process to filter out the extremely stupid and dishonest. The Der Spiegel scandal is mostly due to hiring a charismatic greenhorn into a prominent position, without having put him through an apprenticeship. Odds are, the people who hired him had never been local reporters or had to edit copy for a small publication. Like Claas Relotius, they popped out of good schools and the right families into elite media.

This is, of course, the problem faced by all media now. For example, this post in The Atlantic is supposed to be expert speculation about the Treasury Secretary’s maneuverings in response to the bear market. The Atlantic is a prestige publication of the ruling class that is supposed to provide informed opinion and commentary. The post, however, does not rise to the level of daydreaming. Like everything you see in the prestige media these days, it is pointless drivel written by an airhead.

The authoress is someone named Annie Lowrey. A quick search reveals she reports on politics and economic policy for The Atlantic magazine. She also went to Harvard. More important, she is married to Ezra Klein. He went to UCLA. Nepotism is nothing new in the media, but shouldn’t she be covering something for which she has some qualifications, like the Westminster Dog Show? You don’t have to know anything to report about a dog show. She just has to like dogs and being around gay men.

Of course, it raises an obvious question, how in the hell are these people getting into Harvard? It’s not hard to see why the Asians are angry about admissions. They may lack social skills, but they can do math. Ezra Klein appears to have no useful skills. If he is, as they claim, a top-1% intellect, he has yet to display a hint of it in his career as a mover and shaker in the media. His career, according to his bio, is devoid of anything that would prepare one for having an opinion anyone should consider.

It’s not just that these two have zero useful experience. It’s also that they raced ahead to take up senior positions, decades before it was normal. In the old system, Ezra Klein would have just landed a job with a major daily, covering politics. In a couple of decades, he could expect to get his own column, where he could opine about the people he covered for decades. In other words, the major media is now populated with people who know nothing useful and have not had the time to observe people who actually know things.

This is a familiar rant, of course, but the puzzle is how the mass media has evolved into a weird playground for the stupid children of rich people. One clue is the guy who runs The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg. He is a serious guy who used to take pleasure in torturing Palestinians on behalf of his people. No kidding. His vice, however, is he likes to be surrounded by shiksas and toadies, so The Atlantic is now festooned with silly girls from good schools and young men fond of hearing Goldberg’s IDF stories.

What seems to be happening is the modern mass media selects for the ability to ingratiate oneself with the powerful. Ezra Klein has a reputation for being a world-class rumpswab, but also a ruthless courtier, who would stab his mother in the neck to gain favor with the boss.  That’s how he rose so quickly in the Washington media ranks and why he is now installed in a seven figure job at a media outlet with no customers. His wife knows how to play on her boss’s vanity and inclinations.

The old joke about the new economy is you can’t have society based on everyone selling each other insurance. The modern mass media is trying to build a business model around people who wash each other’s balls. A media ball washer writes a column and the other ball washers tweet about it. The same is true when one of them writes a book. The ball washers slobber all over it, claiming it is the greatest book since the Bible. It’s no wonder that the rest of us are slowly tuning out or turning to alternative media.