All About Me

After a while of doing this, you get to see the patterns. Certain times of the year have high traffic to the site, more comments and so on. Other times of the year it goes the other way, sometimes in the extreme. Most years, the week leading up to Memorial Day in the United States is one of the slowest weeks. Independence Day is another dead period for the site. It makes sense and is encouraging. People are thinking about outside stuff, so they don’t have time for politics.

This year has not been much different, despite the fact everyone has been stuck at home for going on two months. Around here, people would normally be headed to the beach or off to the woods for camping and hiking. The locals would be looking forward to a long weekend of shooting at one another. The lock down has been lifted by the state, but local government continues to keep the policies in place, so the beach and camping are closed. Gun play is still possible.

Still, traffic has ticked down, so I thought it would be a good week to catch up on the mail bag, but the mail has gotten away from me again. I sat down last night to clean out the inbox and the task was too much. I did notice a lot of familiar questions from unfamiliar correspondents. That spawned the brilliant idea of doing a show on the most common questions I get from readers and listeners. All of them are about me in some way, hence the title of the show this week.

I have to say that I did not like how it came out. I’m not a fan of talking about myself, as I’m not that interesting. It’s not false modesty. It is reality. No one is really that interesting when you think about it. You can do interesting things or have interesting experiences, but those things are not dependent upon you to be interesting. Throw Fred from accounting into the middle of a street riot and Fred will have some fun stories for the next office party. Fred, however, is still a boring guy.

That said, I have been studying live streaming for the last couple of months, as I have been contemplating that avenue. One of the things I’ve noticed is all of the popular streamers are highly personal in their presentation. They talk about themselves endlessly on their shows. That may be the appeal. For the people watching these shows, it’s like having the streamer in the home. Even TV chat show hosts are not as personal in their presentation as the live streamer.

What that means is if you wish to be a modern media star these days, you will have to endlessly talk about yourself. That’s probably why the space is so heavy with women and gay men. That’s the other thing I’ve noticed about the live stream world. It has a lot of girls and gay guys. At least I think they are girls and gays. You never can tell for sure, as some of them may be a man dressed as a woman claiming to be deer. Some claim to be hundreds of people trapped in a girl’s body.

This is a familiar topic, but there has to be consequences to having the public space dominated by lunatics. Even assuming they are harmless lunatics, like the guy in drag claiming to be Bambi. It is impossible to have a serious conversation with someone in that condition. Why would you? It is impossible to be mature and thoughtful in the presence of someone claiming to be a deer. It means all serious conversation about serious issues will be crowded out by the lunatics.

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. I am now on Deezer, for our European haters and Stitcher for the weirdos. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


This Week’s Show

To All My Friends

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The Jelly Bean Man

Imagine one day you are snatched off the streets by a group of men, who throw you into a van and take you to some hideaway. They blindfold you and refuse to tell you why they have snatched you off the streets. At some point you’re drugged and you wake up in a mysterious coastal village. Everything about the village seems normal, except for the fact you are there, a place you have never been. Everyone seems to know you, as if you belong there. Naturally, you are completely disoriented.

Of course, you try to find a way out of the village. After several escape attempts which are thwarted by a giant balloon-like automaton. You realize that the village is not really a village, but a form of prison. It is bounded by the mountains and sea, in addition to various surveillance devices. In between your escape attempts, you are interrogated by the person that seems to be in charge of the place. He keeps asking your questions about your old life, but you cannot figure out what it is he wants.

After a while, the interrogations become conversations and then friendly conversations as you become habituated to your new life. In fact, you have grown to like the talks you have with the man in charge. The villagers are nice, but rather simple and incurious and they are oblivious to their situation. Number One, on the other hand, is fully aware of your situation and quite open about it. It becomes clear that you were not really kidnapped, but recruited in an unusual way to an unusual life.

In time, the man in charge offers you a position in the power structure of the village, as you are feeling quite at home. The village does not use normal money, but instead uses jelly beans. The different colored jelly beans have different values in relation to one another and are used like currency. The villagers carry them around in a sack like gold coin in the old days. The basic unit is the black bean, while the highest denomination is the white bean, which is five-thirds the black bean.

The arrangement works well enough, as the villagers with jobs are paid in jelly beans and those on the dole are paid with jelly beans. Everyone has some source of income, so everyone can use beans for transactions. In fact, it works so well that no one thinks it odd in the least. Even you have grown used to carrying around a sack of jelly beans to make your purchases. Now that you are working for Number One, you too get a fresh sack of beans every payday.

There are some problems. One is people occasionally eat their jelly beans, thus removing them from the economy. Because they are small, they can also be lost if someone drops them. Then there is the fact that they are a bit fragile and can be destroyed if not handled carefully. The result is there is a declining number of beans in the system. It also means certain villagers, who are more prudent, increase their stock of beans relative to everyone else in the village.

Your job with Number One is to figure out how to maintain the stock of beans in the village and keep anyone from hoarding the beans. Then there is the fact that new people show up in the village from time to time, just as you did, and they have to be stocked up with beans. Of course, people do try to run off from time to time and the giant balloon-like automaton will take them out. Your job as Head Keeper of Beans is to figure out how to manage the bean supply in the village.

You got the job because you have a head for numbers, so you first try to count the beans in the village on a regular basis. This proves to be impossible, as the villagers appreciate why you are doing it, but they can’t be bothered. The count is unreliable and you can’t trust it to make decisions about adding or subtracting beans. You then come up with a way to take a sample count and estimate the total from it, but you find that your estimates are lagging indicators. You’re always behind the curve.

After careful consideration, you land upon an idea. You realize that as any bean becomes scarcer, it will become more precious, so villagers will be less inclined to part with their stock of them. It means these beans will move around the village at a slower rate. If you can measure the bean flow on a regular basis, this will be a good measure the total number of beans and the balance of beans. More important, you’ll know in real time if there is a bean imbalance.

You also notice that the people who hoard beans are never the people who eat their beans as a snack. They value their beans more than anyone else in the village, so they are always looking to increase their stash as a good in itself. You figure out that like other types of loss, this is a constant. The solution is to add the hoarding rate to your other measures in order to increase the bean supply. In effect, the number of beans must always increase over the base line bean total.

It has taken a while, but you now have a set of measures you can use to manage the bean supply. Once you see bean flow drop in some area, you put more beans there to stimulate the movement of beans. If you see beans accumulating in one area, you change the mix of beans or add beans in a different part of the village to balance the bean total in the village. You even figure out how to maintain the mix of beans in the system, as the various colors have symbolic value beyond their face value.

Number One is so happy with your work as the head of the bean supply, he slowly increases your portfolio to manage other things related to beans. In fact, you started life in the village as Number Six, but have slowly ascended to the position of Number Two, but both you and Number One realize you’re partners now. He may control the giant balloon-like automaton and other weapons, but your control of the now highly complex bean system makes you an indispensable man.

What really keeps you up at night is not the fact that Number One still controls the giant balloon-like automaton or that you could be transported back to your old life. Sure, there is some possibility he will use his monopoly of force to undermine or even eliminate your position. What haunts you is the thought of the villagers suddenly realizing that their economy is based in candy. What if one day they all wake up and realize their economy is based on a made-up system of fake money?

This is the life of the central banker.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


The Flynn Puzzle

Imagine you are out and about and you come upon something that is so incongruous, you can’t help but take note of it. Maybe it is a car parked on the roof of an old barn or a cat chasing a horse around a field. The thing itself is not all that interesting, but its improbability or its incongruousness is what gets your attention. How is it possible that a horse is afraid of a cat? Why would someone put a car on a barn? The strangeness of the possible reasons is what draws your attention.

That’s what is happening with the General Flynn case. Originally, it looked like the same old political shenanigans we always see in Washington. The establishment wants a scalp to parade around so they find a patsy to frame for a minor crime. In the case of Flynn, the inner party needed some red meat for their crazies. Over time, it became clear that the FBI had framed him and the careerists in the system were working to prevent that reality from becoming explicit to the public.

At some point, it was too obvious to everyone to maintain the charade, so the information that was being hidden for three years was made public and the DOJ moved to dismiss the case. The people who conspired to frame Flynn were not being charged and the people who systematically concealed information from the courts for three years were not fired. Instead the whole thing would be made to go away. At some point, Flynn would be paid for his trouble and his silence.

Then, the judge went crazy and started doing things to keep the case open for no obvious reason. He invited outside parties to file briefs with the court and then assigned a retired judge to act as prosecutor, going so far as to give him leeway to bring new charges. At the same time, someone rounded up a bunch of former justice officials to lobby the court against dismissing the case. The defense has now filed an appeal asking the court to force the judge to follow the law.

The whole thing is so bizarre, some are wondering if the judge presiding over the case has possibly had some sort of mental break. He’s had a reputation for being a stickler for procedure and for being tough on prosecutors. He was the judge who handled the Ted Stevens case, where the FBI and DOJ conspired to frame then Senator Ted Stevens on corruption charges. Many expected him to react in a similar way once it was clear that General Flynn had been framed by the FBI and DOJ.

Instead, Sullivan has gone bonkers in what appears to be an effort to drag this out for months or maybe even years. Since the Supreme Court has been unanimously clear on this issue, the odds of this going on much longer are slim. Sullivan has to know that a few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 9-0 decision, authored by Justice Ginsburg, that took judges to task for similar actions. In fact, that case is eerily similar to what Sullivan in doing in the Flynn case.

We are in Sherlock Holmes territory now. That is, once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. In this case, what we are seeing cannot be explained by an ongoing conspiracy to frame Flynn. That horse left the barn a long time ago. Similarly, we can eliminate a cover-up. The DOJ has released the documents exposing what happened. Other disclosures make clear that Flynn was a target of the Obama administration for years.

One possible reason for the actions of the judge is that he has been blackmailed or extorted by people involved in this caper. If that were the case, they would have forced him to shut this thing down a long time ago. Flynn was forced to sign a confession years ago, so the judge could have sentenced him and called it a day. Appealing a confession, even a coerced one, takes years. Flynn would have done his time and been free by the time the case made it through the courts.

Another possibility is the judge knows something that he cannot reveal, but that maybe this new outside prosecutor could reveal. That would make for a great plot to a movie or TV drama, but the legal system does not work that way. If he had some secret intelligence, he could easily have it passed to Flynn’s defense team. He could order the people with the information to appear in his court and answer questions. There is no reason for the judge to play cloak and dagger this way.

Now, there may be some political benefit to dragging out the Flynn case. It is possible the Democrats think they need to maintain this charade in order to maintain the larger charade of impeachment. In an effort to gain access to secret grand jury testimony, they have told the court they are preparing another round of impeachment. The trouble with this scenario is they would be better served with the Flynn case being dismissed, so they could then wave it around as part of some conspiracy.

There is the possibility that the Flynn case is tied to something that has yet to be revealed to the public. Maybe as long as Flynn remains in legal jeopardy, he is prohibited from talking about certain issues. After all, the FBI did threaten his family at one point. There’s no escaping the fact that Obama himself had a personal interest in the Flynn case.  There were high level meetings in the Oval Office about what should be a trivial issue. Why does Team Obama hate Flynn so much?

That seems to be the turtle on the fence post here. Flynn is not some big shot political operator with a lot of enemies. He’s one of the thousands of careerists who will work with both parties. It was President Obama who made Flynn director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, thus beginning his civilian career. He probably would have joined the next administration, if asked, regardless of the party. General Flynn was on his way to becoming part of the semi-permanent ruling class.

Something happened in 2014 that turned the Obama people against him. His term as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency was ended. A systematic leaking campaign to the media about Flynn started around the same time. When he joined the Trump campaign, it appears the Obama administration began a surveillance operation against him, using not only the FBI, but the NSA, CIA and even Treasury. People at the very top of the Obama administration had some reason to hate General Flynn.

The puzzle is what could it be? It is entirely possible that this whole sordid affair is like the Watergate scandal. That is, people far down the food chain from the White House abused their power in some petty political shenanigans. Then they cooked up tales of Flynn working with the Russians as a cover story. By the time this was obvious, lots of administration people were implicated in a cover-up. Like Watergate, a minor scandal grew into a monster that consumed the administration.

Alternatively, maybe the full reading the Flynn case, once all the shouting and disclosures are done, will reveal a wide-scale, systematic use of government institution for political operations. People forget about Lois Lerner using the IRS to harass conservative groups in the 2012 election cycle. There’s now a whistle blower claiming Treasury was spying on Team Trump and others. Perhaps if any of these cases is fully revealed, it threatens to reveal a much bigger picture.

All of this is fun speculation and none of it could be true. The problem is none of the explanations offered up so far to explain the Flynn case make any sense. Throw in the bizarre behavior of the judge and it suggests there is something behind all of this that is much bigger than General Flynn. The extraordinary efforts being made to run out the clock on all of this suggest it is vitally important to permanent Washington. Solving this puzzle may be the only reason to vote for Trump this fall.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


Strategy, Tactics & Discipline

One of the longest running debates on this side of the great divide is about how best to work through the thicket of taboos created and maintained by the ruling class. Because so much of observable reality is now off limits, it is nearly impossible to contradict the prevailing orthodoxy and maintain a position in the public square. For example, there can be nothing interesting said about crime, because no one is allowed to discuss the demographic reality of crime. The facts themselves are taboo.

One side of the debate argues that the only way to break a taboo is to break a taboo, so the only way forward to is to talk frankly about these things. In the case of crime, for example, the dissident must always interject the demographic facts about crime into the debate, even if it makes the beautiful people shriek. Since most people know the facts, the shrieking by the beautiful people actually advances the cause. This line of reasoning is extended to all taboo subjects universally.

The other side of the debate points out that the taboo breakers always end up in exile or condemned to some ghetto. In fact, their deliberate breaking of taboos ends up reinforcing the taboo, as no one wants to end up like the heretics. Instead, this camp argues the dissident must come up with clever language that subtly mocks the taboos, but narrowly adheres to the rules. The recent use of the word “jogger’ is an example of complying with the taboo, while undermining it.

The taboo breakers counter that this just results in an endless search for approved language to hint at unapproved things. It is just a form of self-deception, where the clever think they are in revolt when in reality they are just asking permission. The optics guys counter this by pointing out the obvious. The taboo breakers are removed from the process, so in reality their tactic is just quitting the game. Rather than take on the system in a meaningful way, they mutter epithets in their ghetto.

The heart of this debate is the paradox of the marketplace. Contrary to popular mythology, markets eventually end up with a limited number of choices, unless some external agent, like the government, intervenes to maintain a balance of options on both the supply side and the demand side. In the case of the marketplace of ideas, it means the range of acceptable opinion eventually collapses into a narrow range. Inevitably, what the market decides is who will control the market.

Anyone alive in the early years of the personal computer will recall that a walk through the computer section of a department store meant a dizzying array of options. There were dozens of computer makers. It was not just different labels for the same hardware and hardware standards either. The technology was different from one maker to the other, with different operating systems and peripherals. Many companies were searching for the right solution for the home computer.

Eventually, the marketplace “decided” that Microsoft and Intel would control the market place for personal computers. They colluded with one another to drive most everyone out the business. The government did not step in to prevent their collusion, preferring to let the market work its magic. Today, all personal computers are the same. Sure, you can be a weirdo running Linux or Apple, but that is a tiny fraction of the marketplace that is tolerated because they are no threat to the dominant players.

Political opinion in western liberal democracies works the same way. Over time, a few parties have come to dominate, becoming the mainstream. They are not identical with one another and they do have real fights for power. They have simply agreed to a set of rules that will regulate their fights for power. Put another way, they have come to define the marketplace of politics in such a way that ensures they will be the dominant players in that marketplace. Democracy put them in charge – forever.

Now, this is usually when a certain type of critic jumps in and claims this group or that group secretly controls things behind the scenes. Personalizing a process is like anthropomorphizing your pets. It is satisfying because it takes something complex and makes it simple. In the case of pets, the owner gets the satisfaction of thinking his dog loves him for how he treats the dog. In the case of politics, personalizing the process avoids thinking about the systemic issues, which can be complex.

A good example of how the marketplace of ideas operates in a liberal democracy is in this story from Germany. The AfD has been forced to purge one of the leaders of the radical wing, because of his associations with a taboo group. Technically, he is being forced out over not being honest in his statements about those past associations, but in reality, it is about acceptability. The moderate wing wants to engage in respectable politics and that means following the rules.

This is exactly the problem conservatives in America faced in the 20th century when they sought to participate in politics. In order to participate in the marketplace of ideas, they had to follow the rules and remain respectable. In the case of the Buckley crowd, respectable meant agreeing to the prevailing moral orthodoxy. They had to embrace the open society, egalitarianism and the blank slate. Any of their members who refused had to be tossed out in order to maintain respectability.

The taboo breakers look at the optics guys and say, “See, when you agree to the rules you eventually come to defend them against the rest of us.” That AfD story is a pretty good example. In time, the system will eliminate one member after another from AfD until the party is indistinguishable from the main parties. At some point, the party will become respectable. The paradox of democracy will result in the “alternative” for Germany being indistinguishable from the status quo.

The optics side will note that the reason the radicals get purged is they almost always lack the necessary discipline to participate in much of anything. They say and do things impulsively and fight stupid pointless battles. In the case of the AfD guy, if he was as smart as he imagines himself to be, he would understand how this works and be prepared for it, but instead he refused to comport with reality. This is the story of taboo breakers everywhere. They always lose site of the goal.

In reality, there is no voting your way out of the inherent defects of liberal democracy, so the taboo breakers are right to reject conventional politics. On the other hand, politics is always about persuasion. You can only persuade people by addressing them where they are, not where you hope them to be. That means maintaining enough respectability to be able to address them in the public square, even if it is in the shadows. In fact, the edge of the public square can be an attraction, as people like intrigue.

The key to any alternative politics in liberal democracy is that it must be both a critique of the system and operate on the moral high ground. This requires the discipline to sublimate tactics to strategy. It also means policing the ranks to weed out those who simply refuse to place the strategy before their own personal desires. Strategically breaking taboos, in anticipation of the response, can be good outsider politics. Similarly, maintaining enough respectability to remain viable is essential.

In the end, alternative politics in a liberal democracy comes down to attracting high quality people, disaffected by the short comings of the system. If there is a genuine alternative, then there is a genuine choice. This has always been the defect of outsider politics in western liberal democracies. The alternatives are unreasonable and therefore attract the marginal and the unstable. A real alternative will maintain discipline and sublimate tactics to the strategy of being an authentic alternative.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


The Digital Opiate

Imagine a science fiction scenario in which you and your crew discover a planet inhabited by intelligent beings that possess no written or spoken language. This strange species communicates entirely with facial movements, eye contact, and other non-verbal gestures. Perhaps in addition to an astonishingly complex set of facial muscles, they have additional limbs used for signaling complex ideas. Whatever sounds they make are more like mood music than spoken language.

It is a crazy image, but it is a useful way of thinking about language. While it is possible such a communication could work, the one obvious problem is that initially all knowledge would have to be communicated in person. If you wanted to pass on information to the guy in the next village, you would either have to go to his village or have someone do it for you. It would also mean information could die with the holder, so the culture would need lots of redundancy to retain its knowledge.

Most likely, such a communication system would be so costly, whole categories of information would be eliminated. History would have to be truncated. Imagine the effort required to pantomime the history of the Peloponnesian War. Communicating advanced math would be impossible. Imagine describing a Lorentzian manifold with hand gestures and facial movements. Even a highly advanced visual communication system would rule out large swaths of information.

It’s not just that the categories would be constrained. The concept of history, for example, may not exist at all. If it did, it would be highly personalized, since all communication would be personal. Without a writing system or some other way to record information that is independent of the sender, the concept of a fact-based history would be improbable. This species could conceive of the past, but only in the most personal sense of it and as related to the present.

There would be something else about such a communication system. Because the lack of efficiency, time would have to be compressed. That is, the highest priority would be on the events of the present time, then those in the very near future and then the immediate past. The further events, ideas or concepts got from the present in either direction, the less important they would be to the society. The species with only a visual communication system would live almost entirely in the moment.

In the 1984 book, Amusing Ourselves To Death, Neil Postman argued that a particular medium can only sustain a particular level of ideas. The written word requires the intellectual involvement of the reader. The information presented can be tested and contemplated as it is consumed. Oral communication is more immediate, as the listener cannot playback what was just said, unless it is recorded. Video is the most superficial, as the viewer is a passive participant.

The thesis was that the superficial nature of video communication was removing facts and reason from public discourse and replacing them with emotion. People will take one side or another of an issue, because they favor the people making the argument, not because they think about the facts. Politics ceases to be about facts and arguments and becomes a sales pitch, like an ad for a product. No one thinks about the claims made in the presentation, just how they feel about the presenter.

Postman was writing before the internet. He could not contemplate how that would change public communication. The internet has immediacy. In addition to the superficiality of visual communication, it now comes as a steady stream through the wide array of screens in our lives. Even if you are not on social media, you will still absorb a steady stream of small bits of information. These are intended to elicit an emotional response regarding some pubic issue.

For older people, the legacy mediums still play a large role. Old people still read physical newspapers. Radio talk shows and television still have an audience, but the audience is generally those who came of age before the internet. Old people are on-line, but they experience it as a digital form of the legacy media. At the other end of the age curve, kids get all of the information on-line. Social media, YouTube and live streams are their exclusive sources of information.

Think about the last two months of virus panic. First the stream was intended to frighten everyone with images of overwhelmed hospitals and morgues. The factual content of the presentation was nonsensical. We did not see actual hospitals or people staggering around suffering from the virus. Instead it was models and people pitching the panic, like salesman in an infomercial. Postman’s framing of television news as infotainment has now been supercharged in the internet age.

We have moved beyond the three mediums of written, oral and visual, by adding the element of time. The rapid stream of information coming to us in mostly visual formats, or at least as superficial as the visual, amplifies the emotional aspect that was always central to visual presentations. People are bombarded with inputs that are evaluated in the moment and the appropriate emotion is generated. It is why people get so angry at contradiction on-line. That’s the point of the experience.

Our modern media environment is now something like “the feelies” in Huxley’s Brave New World. This was a popular form of entertainment that combined the senses of smell and touch in a movie format. The “movie” lacks the normal content of a movie, but instead stimulates the viewer into certain emotional states. The responses created in the viewer, combine with images, reinforce the social order. It is a form of propaganda that circumvents the rational mind and appeals to the emotions.

The live stream phenomenon is similar. These are often ad hoc, with the streamer starting his stream when the spirit moves. Some are more regimented in their schedule, but they rarely start on time and they go as long as they like. The people tuning in are not looking for facts and reasoned arguments. Instead they want reassurance and confirmation. These streams have communities that exist around the live streamer. It’s virtual information and a virtual community.

This brings us back to that civilization of aliens. They would inevitably be trapped in the present, because of the limitations of their communications medium. Their information would also be highly personal, as there would be no way to communicate without the idiosyncrasies of the sender getting tangled in the message. Part of the information the receiver would get is the particulars of the sender. Information could no longer stand outside the person. It would be defined by the sender and receiver.

We are seeing this today. Live streamers are making a living by talking and playing games as a type of performance. Their community sends them money in order to get mentioned or have their comment mentioned. In fact, the community becomes a part of the performance, a sort of codependency. The streamer interacts with the community in order to move the show along, but the community interacts with the streamer in order to tailor the experience to their desires in the moment.

Of course, it also means our public discourse must be even more shallow and superficial than what existed in the peak of the television era. It also must be even more intensely present tense. The old written information stream was an interconnected collection of facts and logic. The new information stream is a constant series of highly personalized, but disconnected bits of data intended to elicit an emotion. The digital opiate keeps the sender and receiver in a constant present.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


Petty Tyranny

One of the stranger things about the current age is that very few people talk about the Cold War or the events that drove it. For people living from the 1950’s through the 1980’s, it was the central topic of politics. When the Soviet Empire collapsed, it was if everyone decided to forget about the whole thing. If it is mentioned at all it is usually a conservative trying to remind people that socialism does not produce high quality consumer goods or not enough choices in the cereal aisle.

The great ideological battle between socialism and liberalism has been reduced to a battle between market economics versus command economics. The winner was the one that made better home electronics. Yet, right up to the end of the Cold War, the battle was not about economics. Sure, the lack of blue jeans and rock music was a popular way to mock the Soviet system, but even there it was not about the products, but the reason why they existed in the West and not the East.

The West opposed communism not because of GDP numbers or cheap consumer goods, but because communism was not just immoral, but evil. Controlling the granular details of people’s lives was monstrous. Communist countries did not allow their people to voice their opinions or choose how they lived. They could not even choose where they lived, as the government assigned apartments. The image of the “iron curtain” was to compare the Soviet system to a penal colony.

On the other side, the Soviets were fond of pointing out how blacks in America were treated poorly. There was also the urban squalor and poverty. Some Americans might enjoy blue jeans and rock music, but millions lived in squalor. Of course, the existence of super rich living in mansions was immoral on its face, given that so many people were living in poverty. The communist could privately concede that their system was not making equal consumer goods, but it was still morally superior.

It’s strange how the great ideological struggle of the last century is largely forgotten or reduced to a contest over breakfast cereal selections at the market, while the short fight between liberalism and fascism is cast entirely in moral terms. The West won the fight with fascism on material grounds. America could make more planes, guns and tanks than the fascists. There was the normal wartime propaganda about the evilness of the fascist, but it was never an ideological struggle.

The battle with communism, on the other hand, was always a about the basic moral difference between the two systems. There was never any doubt that the communist could match the west militarily. In fact, a frequent theme of American politics in the Cold War was how we had to rededicate ourselves to liberty in order to keep pace with the Soviets in missiles, the space race and technology. Again, the material aspect was just a part of the much larger moral argument against communism.

Higher morality has largely disappeared from modern political discourse. There is the superficial and often nonsensical moralizing about individual dignity and inclusiveness, but that is just crude factionalism. The relationship between the citizen and the state or the relations between different groups of citizens no longer a topic. In the Cold War, this was a central topic, as it highlighted the difference between the systems. Even hack politicians could wax poetic about liberty or freedom.

Notice how the debate about the virus has been reduced to economics. One camp is minimizing the health risk because they want the economy open. The other side is wildly exaggerating the health risk to keep the economy closed, not because they care about public health, but because they hate modern economics. Amusingly, they don’t even understand what it is they hate about global capitalism. It’s often just a crude jealousy of those who enjoy the fruits of modernity.

If anyone cared to notice, this pandemic has proven that there is no hint of republicanism left in modern America. There are no protests against the impositions on our liberty, just protests about restaurants being closed. No politician is giving speeches against the tyranny of these restrictions. Instead it is either about the most primitive sense of safety or about the right to consume product. To speak of personal liberty is as anachronistic as speaking in favor of free silver.

The great conservative polemicist Joe Sobran pointed out decades ago that the colonists revolted against a king, who was a very mild tyrant compared to the American government at the time. The founders would have been horrified to see what their creation became in the 20th century. Something similar can be said about the men who set out to oppose communism. If they could see what has become of the West, they would probably rethink their opposition to communism.

In the decades since the end of the Cold War, the West has lost any sense of a higher morality. There was a time when religion would fill that role. It provided a transcendent purpose to life. In other times, the secular rulers would provide the purpose. Maybe it was modernization or public works projects. In the case of the 20th century, the fight against communism was the higher purpose. Today that is all gone and we’re left to squabble over the crudest of desires like safety and food.

Perhaps the reason for all of this is that liberal democracy was never a rational and complete political philosophy. Rather, like libertarian, it was always an ad hoc reaction to and critique of socialism. It first replaced republicanism in the economic crisis of the early 20th century, then it blossomed in the fight against fascism. Finally, it evolved into a containment vessel in the Cold War. Once that purpose was lost, what was a left was a massive economic and cultural machine with no reason to exist.

As a result, liberal democracy is devolving into petty authoritarianism. The people, stripped of their republican virtue, no longer have the means to resist. The ruling class, armed with a monopoly of force and need to legitimize themselves, is taking on the habits of the deranged tyrant. They push people around not because they want to, but because they need to in order to feel their own existence. What defines them is pushing people around, so they seek out reasons to push people around.


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Three Plagues

The original plan for the show this week was to talk about the fact that many people seem to be enjoying the panic over the virus. This is a wide-ranging phenomenon that includes people on this side of the great divide. Greg Johnson, for example, thinks the lock downs should continue until forever. Presumably he knows immortality is not in the cards, so he is happy to keep the lock downs in place forever. He’s in good company, as lots of people seem to agree with him and want this to continue.

The lock down camp is not monolithic. Some people are simply enjoying the new lifestyle that has arisen in the last two months. Working at home, home schooling and the simple life has been a revelation to many people. One thing that has been revealed in all of this is that many Americans detest the office life. They hate it with the intensity of a thousand suns. If it means playing along with the virus charade in order to avoid going back to the cubicle farm, they are happy to do it.

There’s also a wing that is genuinely frightened. Here in Lagos, there is a couple that has not been outside since the local tyrant issued the lock down order. They have groceries delivered to them. There have been other deliveries, presumably other supplies they would normally buy at a store. The delivery people leave the items on the porch and when he has retreated to safety, they retrieve the items. Otherwise, they have not been outside in over six weeks now.

Of course, the fear is spread through the media. Something I’ve noticed about the people in the fear camp is they tend to be very left-wing. The couple in hiding are Bernie Bro types. Others are deep into the anti-Trump stuff. This makes some sense as left-wing people tend to be intensely on-line and very trusting of the media. They also have a faith in government that defies reason. They are sure all corporations are evil, but they have a child-like faith in the government.

This is something that normal people are picking up now. Much of what is driving the panic is the anti-Trump lunacy. We forget that these same people were sure that Trump was going to declare himself dictator. They are still sure he is secretly plotting with Boris and Natasha to “undermine our democracy!” Maybe they think the virus is part of the secret plot or some form of divine retribution, but they have conflated their response to Trump with their reaction to the virus.

On this side of the great divide, there is a wing that is driven by their reaction to the people demanding the economy open up. Like all reactionaries, they allow their enemies do all the thinking. If Paul Ramsey is in favor of something, these people will oppose it without giving it much thought. They better hope he does not do a video opposing suicide anytime soon. That is the cost of a negative identity. You put a leash around your neck and hand the other end to those you hate.

Right now, at least, the sum of these various tribes is a majority. Here in Lagos, the local tyrant will end the lock down this weekend. There will be plenty of restrictions, but business can begin to open again. The city and county officials, however, are fighting him and will issue their own orders to continue the lock down. Presumably they are doing this because they think it is popular. For now, at least, most people want to keep the pandemic charade going for the rest of the month.

That’s another element to this. Most people really do think the people in charge will figure out how to pay their bills and keep the food supply going. It really is just a live action role play for them. This is not everyone and maybe no longer a majority, but at some point, reality is going to return to the scene. You cannot shut down the economy like this without real consequences. How will the lock down fans respond when they are suddenly faced with the reality of this thing?

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. I am now on Deezer, for our European haters and Stitcher for the weirdos. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below.


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This Week’s Show

Contents

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The Minority State

Thirty years ago, as the Cold War was ending, the big question for the West was what was going to come next? The great struggle between liberal democracy and communism was over and the clear winner was liberal democracy. The only real question, in terms of politics, was just how quickly the rest of the world embraced what was clearly the only rational politics. The question political theorists will be pondering in the future, is what went horribly wrong with liberal democracy?

There really is no other way to frame things at this point. In 1990, there was a long list of things that no one thought would ever happen in the West. Most of things on that list were things assumed to be common in the Soviet Empire. The police arresting someone for holding the wrong opinion was the symbol of everything that was wrong in the communist system and everything right about liberal democracy. Yet, thirty years on and this is exactly what we see happening all over the West.

This story from Kentucky, of all places, is a good example. Two children and two adults have been arrested for racism. That’s not the specific charge. Instead the state has invented a novel new crime called “harassing communication” which means it is against the law to upset the wrong people with your public utterances. Since there’s not official list of people one must avoid upsetting, the state is free to arrest anyone for their speech on the claim that someone may be upset by it.

At this point, it is tempting to make a comparison to the Stasi or maybe Stalin’s KGB, but that would be a slander against the communists. They were always quite clear about who you could never criticize and what you must never dispute. When Stalin’s boys dragged you from your home, you knew exactly why you were being hauled away by the police. Every man in the gulag knew why he was there. The novelty of liberal democracy is in keeping everyone in the dark about these things.

Another novelty is that in communism, everyone also knew to avoid taking the side of the accused and they knew why to avoid it. That was another thing Westerners would brag about during the Cold War. In America, when someone was bullied by the state, lawyers would volunteer to defend the accused. A common phrase used by Progressive civil and political rights activists back then was “I may disagree with what you say, but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it.”

It turns out to have been a complete lie. Not only will no one fight to the death to defend speech, the great and the good line up to condemn anyone for speaking out. Where is the ACLU in these cases? Certainly not rushing to defend children against the crime of saying mean things. No, the ACLU is too busy ratting out heretics and blasphemers, who dare question the liberal democratic ideology. In one of life’s great ironies, all of the civil rights groups now work to limit your civil rights.

Notice also how the concept of rights has changed. Thirty years ago, even left-wing political actors accepted the old definition of rights, as limits on the state. Your right to speak out against the government was really a hard limit on the state to police the speech of the citizens. Today, rights are just demands from an increasingly minoritized population for things to which no one can have a right. In this Kentucky case, they demand the community celebrate their mating decisions.

That should be the story here. This family moves to the community and begins making demands on the community. The white mother and her mulatto daughter start harassing the school about the racial complexion of the curriculum. The father demands the teachers change their classrooms to satisfy the demands of his children. This mixed-race family instantly became a cancer on the community, by making an increasingly narrow set of demands in the name of their rights.

This is one of the new realities of liberal democracy. Instead of people fearing the secret police and their many spies, the people fear the civil rights activists and their auxiliary army of novel weirdos. A mixed-race couple of trannies moves into the neighborhood and everyone is gripped with fear. It not only means everyone has to play make-believe with the lunatics, but must live in fear of upsetting them in some way. The agent of terror is the bespoke weirdo and its crazy demands for acceptance.

As an aside, this may explain the popularity of movies and television shows based on Stephen King books. One of his formulas is the nice, quiet small town that is suddenly beset by a demon that exploits the innocence of the locals, often the children. Everything is just right until the monster arrives. Further, the real terror in this formula is that there is no reason behind the demon. It’s just evil for the sake of being evil. That’s what the people in the Kentucky story are experiencing right now.

It is tempting to think that the people will tire of this terrorism by weirdo phenomenon, but the lesson of communism is that people will tolerate pretty much anything in an ideological state. The old rule about people revolting unless they are well fed and entertained turned out to be untrue in the Soviet Empire. The people often lacked the basics and the pleasures of life were highly rationed. Communism was not overthrown by an unhappy people. It just ran out of social capital to burn.

That is the secret sauce of popular government, whether it is some form of communism or some form liberalism. Both rest on the concept of the general will. The ideology of the state and the actions of the state are in the name of the general will. Everything that is done is done in the name of the people, as if fifty percent plus one is a god that must always be pleased. People will revolt against a king or despot. They will revolt against an aristocracy. People will not revolt against themselves.

That really is the paradox of liberal democracy. In the name of the people, the will of the people must be thwarted in the name of minority interests. We saw this with homosexual marriage. The champions swore they were fighting for the people, even when the people kept rejecting these proposals. It is why increasingly narrow minority groups are so popular with the ruling elite. If they can find just one weirdo to champion, they have a license to do as they please.

This fetishization of obscure minorities is leading inevitably to the West being dominated by minorities to the point where there is no majority. America will be non-white in two decades and Europe will be swamped with Africans by mid-century. Not only is there no effort to prevent this, all efforts are made to accelerate it. Paradoxically, the end point of majority rule is minority rule. Mature liberal democracy is a collection of minority groups demanding stuff from the state, like children at a candy store.


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The Creedal Insult

One of the side effects of the bizarre creedal nation theology is that what claims to create unanimity ends up creating friction and hostility. The most obvious and predictable way it does this is the debate over the creed itself. What it means to be an American, for example, will change over time under normal circumstances. Attitudes change, circumstances change, the culture evolves, so inevitably what defines the people will change with it. Everything evolves over time.

Not everything evolves at the same rate, so that definition of the unifying creed quickly becomes many versions of the creed. In a liberal democracy, where radicals are encouraged to dream up novel new social fads, this quickly gets out of hand. We now live in a land where the “unifying creed” of the people in Pennsylvania includes making a mentally unstable Jewish man the head of their public health. In a creedal nation, everyone is encouraged to have their own reality.

There may be a bigger problem with the liberal democratic notion that a nation just needs a unifying set of principles. That is, the implementation of that system cheapens it and eventually mocks it. The simplest way to think of it is this. If everyone can easily become an American, then being an America is not all that special. After all, what makes Harvard the most prestigious college on earth, aside from the human sacrifices and satanic rituals, is that it is difficult to gain admittance.

Liberal democracy flips this on its head and claims that something that is easy to attain is somehow special and unique. If Pablo can just float on over in his inner tube and become an American, then what’s the point of being an American? There is none and we see that in current year America. In fact, citizenship is now a burden. The McMichael case in Georgia is an obvious example. Following the law and being a good citizen is for suckers. It’s why people are abandoning their citizenship.

Putting aside the material aspects of the creedal nation theology, there is another aspect that makes it a lethal poison for a human society. People are tribal, having a natural affinity for their kind. Despite the massive agitation efforts to deny this reality, it remains a reality nonetheless. For example, real estate brokers will now be mentioning the local jogger scene, or lack thereof, when showing houses. The reason is we all know the correlation between joggers and quality of life.

No one wants to think their tribe is a bunch of losers. Another aspect of our tribal nature is to think our tribe has some unique quality that is unique to us. Those stereotypes did not spring from nothing. Blacks think they invented basketball, because they dominate the sport at every level. Italians assume they have a superior sense of style. The French think they are the intellectual masters of the West. Every tribe has cultural items they believe to be unique to them.

This is where the creedal nation theology creates conflict. This piece in Counter-Currents on great Jewish violinists makes the point that Jews dominate the list of great violin players. If Jews had invented the violin or invented the music best performed with the instrument, it would be a great cultural achievement of their people. Instead, it is outsiders mastering the cultural achievements of others. It’s no different than a group of genetically engineered Asians dominating basketball.

That is the unintended insult. The musician that masters the instruments and music of another people to the point where he is superior to their best is committing a great insult to those people. It is a demonstration that their cultural achievements are so little that an outsider can master them better than the natives. This does not necessarily have to be intentional. The virtuoso could sincerely love the instrument or music he is mastering, but the result is still the same.

This is most obvious in popular culture. Movie makers inserting Africans, for example, into movies about the middle ages has become a running joke on-line, because it has become so common. The zeal to prove that people don’t matter has the rulers of popular culture feverishly rewriting popular history to include everyone. The result is the past, our past, is no longer our past. Even if the intent is to be “inclusive” of the new Americans, the result is an insult to white people.

Guarding the culture from outsiders is the natural response to efforts at cultural appropriation, something we see on the college campus. If the kids want to have a party on Cinco de Mayo, they better not wear culturally appropriate costumes. Even if the kids make every effort to avoid mockery or snark, it is still forbidden. The guardians of political correctness will have none of that, as to appropriate the symbols and images of another culture is assumed to be an insult.

Jews, of course, are the most ethnocentric people on earth. They have survived as a guest people for thousands of years. One reason for that is they guard their culture, forbidding outsiders to access it. For example, teaching the Torah to non-Jews is forbidden, unless it is part of a conversion, which is not encouraged. In Israel, religious Jews send their kids to separate schools to avoid being mixed in with Arabs, but also to provide their children with training in their culture.

Even in modern America, where Jews operate at the top of society and dominate the popular culture, few non-Jews know much about Jews or Judaism. Part of it is genuine fear of being called a blasphemer, but a big part of it is that Jews are not all that forthcoming about what goes on inside their culture. By guarding large swaths of their culture and not permitting outsiders to imitate it in anyway, Jews have been able to preserve themselves as distinct people.

The creedal nation theology is the exact opposite of what has worked for Jews and other people. Instead of preserving and protecting the culture of the people, it cheapens it and commodifies it. To be an American, for example, now means occupying some space in North America and having a Netflix account and the newest iPhone. The solution in which a people are naturally suspended dissipated and we are left with a collection of strangers agreeing only on our insults.


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What Lies Beneath

An axiom of politics is that scandals are about sex or money. The politician at the center of a scandal got caught with a live boy or a dead girl. The public loves those stories, so it becomes a scandal, even when the politician is from the inner party, as was the case with Bill Clinton. Alternatively, the politician confused his money with public money or someone else’s money and someone blabbed. This is almost always the heart of local political scandals, where political machines run on graft.

It’s something to keep in mind as the years long FBI scandal has apparently entered a new phase during the lock down. The General Flynn cases was surprisingly dismissed, after a document dump by the Department of Justice revealing gross misconduct by the FBI and DOJ. Everyone sort of knew Flynn was setup, as is always the case when people are charged with lying to the FBI, but the extent of the entrapment scheme appears to lead to the inner circle of former President Obama.

Then there is the release of the transcripts of testimony to the House committee investigating the Russian collusion hoax. At the time, everyone in official Washington was required to pretend it was legitimate, so the House brought in over 50 people to answer questions under oath, behind closed doors. Those mostly unredacted transcripts have proven to be revelatory. Everything about the official narrative, according to the sworn testimony of the people involved, was entirely fake.

Probably the most amazing thing in those documents thus far is the fact that all of these people have been able to maintain a complex series of lies. The old adage about three can keep a secret if two are dead does not apply here. It’s not just the people at the core of the story either. Peripheral people, who have plenty of reasons to run to the media and tell their story have maintained a rigid discipline not seen since the heyday of the Italian mafia. Even now, they still refuse to rat out their friends.

That is the part of this that need special emphasis. Why are all of these people risking their freedom to maintain an obvious lie? Take, for example, the story about the Russians hacking the DNC e-mail system and handing the contents to Wikileaks. Just a few months ago they were repeating the claim that they were brought into investigate the crime and found that the Russians had gained access to the server. Yet, they testified under oath that they found no such information.

Putting that aside, the question is what was driving all of this from the start. Sex and money are not the motivators. The other thing that drives political scandal is power, which makes some sense here. The Clinton campaign, like the Nixon campaign in the 1972 election, was not content to just win with their massive advantages. Instead they decided to cheat with help from their friends in the intelligence services and apparently people in the White House. That may be the starting point.

The trouble with that theory is Team Obama really never liked Hillary Clinton all that much and did little to help her campaign. While it is possible that the people in the FBI and CIA were happy to help, it seems unlikely that the White House was going to be enthusiastic for such a caper. The bizarre Susan Rice e-mail to herself regarding the Flynn entrapment scheme suggests the White House really hated Flynn and was willing to do anything to keep him from re-entering government.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the DOJ in their filing to dismiss the Flynn case left breadcrumbs leading to that memo. There was plenty of information of general misconduct by the FBI and the DOJ, as well as Flynn’s original defense team, to warrant dropping the case. The government could have done one of those dramatic “to protect the integrity of the system” announcements that would leave open the issue of Flynn’s guilt, but close the issue from further discussion.

One possibility here is the Obama administration had been exploiting a workaround to the limits on domestic spying. By making Flynn the target of an investigation, the FBI could monitor his electronic communications and track his movements. This means they could know who he was meeting with as a member of the Trump team and monitor what he was discussing with them. In other words, the entire fraudulent Flynn case was just a way to spy on the campaign and later the transition team.

This would be the second and possibly third example of this play. It is quite clear that they used the same tactic on Carter Page. They faked up a case for him being an international spymaster, so they could monitor him and everyone in contact with him during the campaign. They may have been working the same angle on George Papadopoulos, the low-level foreign policy adviser. In other words, this may be a pattern of behavior that was standard operating procedure.

This ultimately may be what the Durham investigation is about in the end. A domestic spying system had evolved in which private companies worked with public officials to get around domestic spying limits and put the results to use for the inner party. The FBI and CIA would make raw information of their legitimate surveillance available to private contractors, who would leak it to the press or party members. Those press reports were then used to obtain warrants for wider domestic surveillance.

That could be the power motivator behind this. The reason for the Russian collusion hoax was to cover up the operation from the Trump administration. Team Mueller could threaten anyone making the wrong noises about it and the whole thing would remain hidden from the administration and the public. Still, that does not explain the amazing discipline of the conspirators. At this stage, a private party like Crowdstrike should be looking to cut a deal with the Feds. Yet they are sticking to their story.

One possibility is that there really is something much bigger at the heart of this conspiracy than simple spy games. Maybe the Seth Rich assassination looms larger than anyone realizes. Maybe that secret e-mail system running out of Hillary Clinton’s spare toilet is involved. Maybe it is simply ideological fervor. We know from their private communications that most of these people were fanatics. Their Trump hatred was just one aspect of their zeal to serve the inner party.

Government will always be corrupt, as men are not angels. Whether it is the lust for power or the temptations that come with power, corruption is part of the human condition. A much more serious problem is a government overrun by fanatical ideologues. That may be the heart of this scandal. The long march through the institutions has been followed by a radicalization of the institutions. The inner party now operates like a religious cult, rather than a political operation.


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