The Kakistocracy

I’m old enough to remember a time when the average home had three TV channels and a few radio stations. Some people had more than one newspaper, but in many towns it was one paper with maybe multiple editions through the day. I grew up in a house with two TV channels, which is why I never developed the TV habit. My father would come home with the newspaper, which he read after dinner. He was a working man so he read the evening paper. Salary men read the morning paper.

The point here is that it was not that long ago when mass media was a narrow pipe allowing for few voices. In order to get on TV, you had a long apprenticeship. That meant most of lunatics were weeded out before they got in front of a camera. Newspaper columnists spent years covering local stories, writing obituaries and following cops around town reporting on crime stories. Getting a column was a big deal and reserved for middle-aged men who could be trusted to keep it between the ditches, even if they drank at breakfast.

The communications revolution has made the pipe infinity larger. So much so that anyone with a little initiative can reach a broad audience. The trouble is the number of responsible, sensible people is fixed. That means the pipe is now full of nuts and morons hooting and bellowing at us, drowning out the few intelligent voices. The megaphone is now in the hands of the dumbest members of society. Here’s a good example.

The video is horrific. Madison, Alabama police officer Eric Parker slammed Sureshbhai Patel into the ground hard enough to paralyze him. There was a time when lynchings were carried out by mobs. Now, we have created a much more formal process of carrying out violence against oppressed and marginalized people. Badges and uniforms are handed out so that those we place in authority can intimidate and repress those that we think are less worthy of life. The temptation is to say that Eric Parker is an animal and dismiss the entire situation. The truth is that Eric Parker was simply doing what we paid him to do.

The dirty secret about the attack on Sureshbhai Patel is that a homeowner called in and reported him as, “…a skinny black guy, he’s got a toboggan on, he’s really skinny.” There was also an ominous report that he was getting close to a garage. The police showed up quickly for “a skinny black guy” in a white neighborhood close to a garage. These are racist thoughts perpetuated in white neighborhoods around our nation every day. The police first thought they were going after a black man.

Upon arrival, Officer Parker realized Patel did not speak English. Instead of having patience, Officer Parker grew more aggressive. How many times does this same situation play out over and over again throughout our nation? People who are unable to understand and speak English are treated like shit. What makes us think that our language is superior to every other language on earth? The truth of the matter is that the only language that our whole nation is fluent in is the language of violence and oppression. Officer Parker simply played out the way that we treat immigrants all the time…we push them around, treat them with suspicion and tell them to go home. What began as racism, turned into xenophobia and ended up in a crime of hate.

Ever since I heard about the story, I have not stopped praying for Sureshbhai Patel. When I told a religious friend of mine how concerned I was about this story, I was chastised, “If he is Hindu, then you need to first and foremost pray for his salvation.” Who the hell is going to pray for our salvation? We are an evil, intolerant and oppressive people in desperate need of an antidote. The first step of recovery is admitting you have a problem. For the love of God, can we please stop and admit that we need help?

The Huffington Post is pretty much just a platform for lunatics like the person who wrote the above report. If you actually click through the links to the news reports, you learn that this is a case of a gung-ho cop in a small town, something all of us have encountered at least once. The town quickly suspended the cop and is charging him with assault. It’s a shame this old man got hurt, but these sorts of things are bound to happen in a big country with 300 million people.

To a mentally disturbed person, this is something more sinister. If you run “Reverend Jeff Hood” through the google machine you quickly learn he is a crazy person. He’s probably harmless, but giving him a platform to broadcast his brand of crazy is irresponsible. When you’re trying to fill that huge pipe with content, however, you quickly run out of sane people and have no choice but to dip into the lunatic bucket.

There’s no mechanism in modern societies to deal with this phenomenon. Maybe people just ignore it all, but I doubt it. The downward drift of public discourse in the last three decades suggests the coarsening is proportional to the size of the pipe. The above story was on the front page of Yahoo today, which is why I noticed it. Some number of sensible people will read that nonsense and think it is legitimate.

It’s getting harder and harder for me to remain a sunny optimist.

Nero Bush

When reading about the Julio-Claudian dynasty, I’m always struck by the juxtaposition of Nero and Augustus. Nero seems to have hated the very idea of Rome and everything associated with it. Every description of his time as emperor brings to mind someone obsessed with debasing everything around him, including his own position. Shocking the sensibilities of the nobles and offending the people appears to be all that mattered to him.

Augustus, it seems to me, loved the idea of Rome. For instance, he carried on many of the Republican traditions, despite the fact he was the emperor. There was certainly a political motive to pretending the old system was still in place, but he had to have a fair amount of respect for the idea of Rome to see the value in maintaining the customs. Of course, Suetonius claims he said, “I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.” That’s the mind of man in love with his city and what it represents.

I’m surely over simplifying, but this is not a post about Rome. I just find Roman history a great starting place when trying to noodle through events of today. One thousand years of history provides a lot of useful examples and lessons. Add in some of the great historians and chroniclers and you get a great source of material for a blog post by a random idiot.

Anyway, I was thinking about that when reading this the other day.

Margaret Thatcher famously said that her greatest success as a politician was the rise of Tony Blair to lead a party he called New Labour: “We forced our opponents to change their minds.” As yet, Barack Obama can make no similar boast. Just the opposite: He radicalized his Republican opponents, and empowered most those who agreed with him least. With the presidential campaign of Jeb Bush, Obama can finally glimpse Thatcher-style success. Here, at last, is an opponent in his own image.

What can the son and brother of a president, grandson of a senator, and great grandson of the founder of the Walker Cup have in common with the son of a failed Kenyan politician? Look beyond the biography to the psychology.

The first part is nonsense on stilts, but this is David Frum and most of what he says is nonsense. He does have solid connections to the neo-conservatives so it is often worth weeding through the nonsense to learn what’s going on with the Cult of Leo Strauss. The last bit is what got my attention. Obama is a bitter weirdo whose presidency looks like a revenge fantasy from someone with a deep antipathy for America. Making this comparison to Jeb Bush is no small thing.

This bit he quotes from Bush is stunning to me:

I’m bicultural—maybe that’s more important than bilingual. For those who have those kinds of marriages, appreciating the culture of your spouse is the most powerful part of the relationship. Being able to share that culture and live in it has been one of the great joys of my life. We chose Miami to live because it is a bicultural city. It’s as American as any, but it has a flair to it that is related to this bicultural feeling. I wanted my children to grow up in a bicultural way.

You cannot be bicultural. To quote my ancestors, a man who chases two rabbits catches none. You can be an American with an appreciation of or even a fondness for another culture. You can be a Mexican with an appreciation of America. On the other hand, you can be an American who moves to another land and adopts the culture of that land, just as millions of Mexicans have adopted American culture. You cannot be on both sides of the fence. Claims as such suggest to me that Jeb Bush really does not like America all that much.

As Jeb Bush himself notes, there is a Bush family tradition of moving away from the culture into which one is born, to plunge into another. George H.W. Bush, born to a family of Northeastern grandees, reinvented himself as Sunbelt conservative. George W. Bush, born in New Haven, Connecticut, was the only member of the next generation of Bush brothers not born in Texas, and yet became the most Texan of them all. Jeb Bush moved away first from Texas, and then from his family’s patrician identity as White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

By itself, this can be easily seen as a tick of successful families. The sons want to distinguish themselves from the father so they go another way. It’s one thing for one son to embrace the earthy side of the family. It is quite another for the other son to go so far as to embrace another country’s culture entirely.

Bush seems to have something more in mind than just the familiar (if overstated) claim that immigration can counter the aging of the population. He seems to think that there is some quality in the immigrants themselves that is more enterprising—more dynamic to use his favorite term—than native-born Americans. This is not only a positive judgment on the immigrants themselves. It is also a negative judgment on native-born Americans.

I used to wonder how anyone could think it wise to put a guy like Obama in the White House. You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning and hitting the lottery on the same day than meeting a man with Obama’s bio. He is the very definition of un-American. At least his supporters could claim he embraced America and loved his countryman. It’s an implausible claim, but not an impossible one.

Jeb Bush hates his country and his countrymen. That’s clear in all of his utterances. Putting this man in the White House is akin to handing the purple to Nero, after knowing what Nero intended to do as emperor. At least the Romans had the fall back policy of assassinating their intolerable leaders. We have to hope there’s a Sirhan Sirhan out there and he is able to slip past the Praetorian Guard. That’s not much of a fall back plan.

It’s also no way for a sane people to manage their affairs. I’m not prone to doomsday thoughts, but this may be the critical moment in the history of the nation. If this self-loathing lunatic is put in the White House, the country is finished. Even if the people rise up and stymie this guy’s drive to gut the country, the consequences of that will be almost as bad. The senate murdering Julius Caesar may have stopped Julius Caesar, but it also put an end to the Republic.

Nero Bush must be stopped.

 

Intra-Cult War

Maureen Dowd has a column up that will surely raise some eyebrows in the sycophant wing of the American press corp. Dowd’s act is getting a little stale as she has reached the point where men no longer find her attractive. Women can carry off the coquette act into middle age, but then it starts to get a bit creepy. She has managed to carry it off into late middle age by mostly staying off TV. That way she can pretend to look like her head shot from twenty years ago. Her brand of snark is part southern matron, part campus feminist and part progressive toady.

It takes real talent to pull off, but not a dazzling IQ, which is why she has always stuck with the cheap shots and barbs. She was also smart to play the right side of the street. By staying in the liberal camp and shooting out, she always had plenty of defenders. Like it or not, America is a liberal country with a ruling class firmly committed to the progressive faith. Dowd built a career polishing the liberal totems and mocking the Left’s enemies, real and imagined.

That’s why her column is interesting. It’s a shot at the Clintons dressed up as a hit piece on David Brock.

I’LL pay for this column.

The Rottweilers will be unleashed.

Once the Clintons had a War Room. Now they have a Slime Room.

Once they had the sly James Carville, fondly known as “serpenthead.” Now they have the slippery David Brock, accurately known as a snake.

Brock fits into the Clinton tradition of opportunistic knife-fighters like Dick Morris and Mark Penn.

The silver-haired 52-year-old, who sports colorful designer suits and once wore a monocle, brawled his way into a Times article about the uneasy marriage between Hillary Clinton’s veteran attack dogs and the group of advisers who are moving over from Obamaland.

Hillary hasn’t announced a 2016 campaign yet. She’s busy polling more than 200 policy experts on how to show that she really cares about the poor while courting the banks. Yet her shadow campaign is already in a déjà-vu-all-over-again shark fight over control of the candidate and her money. It’s the same old story: The killer organization that, even with all its ruthless hired guns, can’t quite shoot straight.

Squabbling competing factions helped Hillary squander a quarter-of-a-billion dollars in 2008.

As Nicholas Confessore and Amy Chozick chronicled, the nasty dispute spilled into public and Brock resigned last week from the board of a pro-Clinton “super-PAC” called Priorities USA Action — whose co-chairman is Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager — accusing the political action committee of “an orchestrated political hit job” and “the kind of dirty trick I’ve witnessed in the right-wing and would not tolerate then.”

He should know.

The fever swamp types have never forgiven the Clintons for the 1990’s. They got some revenge in 2008 when they rallied to Obama and carried him to victory over Hillary. But, there’s a reason the Roman Emperors usually killed off their political enemies. The Clintons will not go away and now their crowd is threatening to take over the party again. The Left would love to find an alternative to Hillary, but Fake Indian is unlikely to run and the other options all have the wrong skin color and genitalia.

Still, the Left can’t embrace Hillary and that’s what this Dowd column shows. The irony here is that she was a Clinton toady for eight years. Dowd has always been nimble about avoiding intra-cult politics that have condemned others to non-personhood. Juan Williams is still in counseling over his excommunication. Maybe she is just losing her touch or maybe the fanatics in the cult are organizing a stop Hillary movement. I don’t know, but I do know stories like this one are not coming from the vast right-wing conspiracy.

 

USA Sevens

For a while now, I’ve been wondering what replaces football in America as the acceptable male sport. Baseball remains popular, despite howling to the contrary, but it is not a tough guy sport. Little boys need a sport where they can get all that aggression out of their system. Football has served that purpose in most of the country. In the Northeast and upper Midwest, hockey has been the tough guy sport for boys. In some areas like the Midwest, wrestling is popular. In the inner city, boxing used to be the thing.

Football is under assault by the Cult for a number of reasons. One is it is overly masculine. The other is it is too racial. They have tried hard to create great black quarterbacks, but so far it has come up empty. On the other hand, they can’t see to find fast white guys to play receiver and cornerback. Like track, the results reveal uncomfortable truths about people. Of course, there’s also the concussion issue which is probably exaggerated, but serious injury is real and enough to scare off some moms from letting their kids play football.

Football is also too Southern for the Cult. The best college teams are in the South and the best players are in the South. The Cult hates the South. That means another sport is needed to fill the need for boys. I’ve been leaning toward hockey filling that role. The reason is the “hockey mom” phenomenon. I know a lot of single mothers who put their kids into hockey. In the Mid-Atlantic, youth hockey is doing very well. Still, it is a cold weather sport and that makes it impractical for most of the country.

Anyway, watching the USA Sevens today – USA ties South Africa! – it occurred to me that this could be the next “soccer” for the Cult of Modern Liberalism. Like football, it is a tough guy sport. You can’t play rugby unless you have some courage. But, you’re unlikely to get your brains scrambled like in football. Heads clash, for sure, but not with the ferocity of football. The added bonus is it is easy to understand so single moms can stand on the sidelines and cheer.

The big bonus, I think, is it is a sport white kids can play. Speed, strength and size matter, but it is not a running and jumping sport like basketball or football. Cooperation and discipline probably count for more than anything in rugby. The game moves quickly and there’s a lot of action. The bigger bonus is the snob factor. Rugby is a sport played by gentleman, unlike soccer, which is played by criminals and deviants. Given that rugby is getting on TV I suspect that it may become the next big thing in America.

Good News is Bad News

It seems to me that the doom and gloom crowd is increasingly unhinged. I wish I had a nickel for every “death cross” posted on Zero Hedge in the last year. They post negative economic reports like we are about to succumb to the zombie apocalypse. Don’t get me wrong, I like ZH and I get a kick out of their posts, but there’s a line between pessimism and lunacy and they seem to cross it a lot lately. Karl Denninger is following the same path. He posted this the other day.

Ok, now this is a pretty nasty report...

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $439.8 billion, a decrease of 0.8 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, but up 3.3 percent (±0.9%) above January 2014. Total sales for the November 2014 through January 2015 period were up 3.8 percent (±0.7%) from the same period a year ago. The November to December 2014 percent change was unrevised from -0.9 percent (±0.3%).

Yuck.

What’s worse is the unadjusted numbers.  Keep in mind that there’s this holiday called Christmas in December, but….

Retail, total, was down about 21% unadjusted.  But what’s worse is the lie in the above caption — previous-year comparisons.  The unadjusted January figures were up only 2.85% from January 2014, and if you exclude cars it was only up 1.41%.  Incidentally, ex-autos sales were down 24% sequentially.

You don’t need a seasonal adjustment for the same month in different years!

There was one bright light — gasoline, which was down big (24%).  But the claim that this drop in gas price would translate inexorably to other purchases appears to be flat-out wrong.  Instead, consumers are paying down debt and reducing their leverage — except on cars.

One final interesting point — non-store retailers were only up 2.57% from last January.  It appears that the “internet shopping craze” has finished its large growth numbers; this has an interesting set of implications for everyone selling and marketing on the Internet, particularly Spamazon.

PS: People are getting drunk more — to the tune of 13.1% more over last January.  Gee, I wonder if the lies are finally getting to ordinary folks……

Month to month changes in retail sales may be of importance to a retailer trying to pay his rent. In macro economics, no one really cares about it since holidays and seasonality play such a big part in retail. Restaurants and flower shops do better in February than January for obvious reasons. What matters is year over year. January 2015 was better than January 2014. But, Karl and his cult can have none of that so they focus on the month to month figure, which is meaningless.

As far as his comment about adjusted numbers, that’s nonsense. Lots of retail is done on weekends. If you gain a weekend day or lose a weekend day, it can make a big difference. The government plays games with the numbers so a certain amount of skepticism is warranted with regard to adjusted numbers. that does not mean all normalization of data is a fraud.

The Replacements

It is about ten degrees today, at least it was, so everyone is bundled up as if they are stationed at the Arctic Circle. I come out onto the street and I’m greeted by a big talking garbage bag. It has legs and I see a set of eye peering out at me. Two little boys are tagging along and the bag is speaking to them in Arabic. Such is life in the ghetto. it is where you get to see the business end of ruling class social experiments.

Muslim women walking on the street in the niqab or the burka are not just following a custom. It is a statement. In Muslim lands the point of the outfit is to warn off other males. It is a form of modesty and it is a warning. These women belong to men not you and you better keep that in mind. In America, the outfit is to let you know that the Muslims are taking over this turf and you better get used to it.

Islam does not play well with others, but Arabs don’t play well with others either. It is a toxic mix that has left the Middle East a hyper-violent, chaotic jungle in the desert. When Muslims move out of their homelands into other lands, they first work to displace the locals and then they inflict their customs and religion on whoever is left. Hamtramck Michigan is a good example. The US government probably plans to put the Yemeni refugees they keep recruiting in Hamtramck.

Sally Howell, a professor in the University Michigan system, has written extensively about Muslims in America. One of her themes is how Muslim immigrants can bring down crime in a city. She points to Hamtramck as an example. What she does not mention, and what never gets mentioned, is how this happens. Of course, we all know the answer to that, it’s just not proper to say it in public. It’s that old mokita again.

In the Imperial Capital, population displacement became the tool for urban renewal. The Washington Post ran articles about how the Hispanic immigrants were lowering crime rates. It was always the same gooey nonsense you get from immigration romantics, but that was just frosting. The message being sent to readership was that the immigrants were not adding, they were replacing. MS-13 tends to take a dim view of the locals. A rash of machete attacks sent the message. Washington is no longer an urban jungle.

Steve Sailer is fond of pointing out how Section 8 is used to clear out undesirables from urban areas the Cult wants to reclaim. They move the problem to some unsuspecting suburb and then move in gays and hipsters to spruce of the former ghetto. It’s a form of ethnic cleansing. Instead of shooting the unwanted population, they bribe them to leave. Hell’s Kitchen, for example, has become Hell’s Breakfast Nook.

Immigration serves a similar role for the people in charge. Chicago and Baltimore, for example, have been desperately trying to attract Hispanics to “clean up” their cities. The problem is the violence is too frightening even for Mexicans, who know a thing or two about violence. Muslims may turn out to be their solution. Baltimore looks pretty good compared to Sana’a.

With Jeb Bush the most likely president, you can be sure he will import millions of Muslims from the countries his family screwed up a decade ago. There’s more than enough displaced Muslims in the Near East now to fill up a couple of America cities so he’ll have plenty of support from the Democrats. His own party just wants Hindu and Chinese slaves for Silicon Valley and Hispanic slaves for the service industry.

Ask not for whom the talking trash bag ululates. It ululates for you.

The End of This Great Awakening

Jon Stewart is retiring. No one will notice after the first week, but the usual suspects will make a big deal of it in the run-up. For a long time now, Stewart has been the source of confirmation for the American Left. I’m fond of pointing out that the Left took over the American Protestant movement in the 19th century and has followed their rhythms ever since. The Great Awakenings are now Progressive Awakenings. It’s not an accident that Jon Stewart got famous in the early 1990’s, when this Progressive Awakening began.

Similarly, it is not an accident that he is leaving the stage as this Great Awakening draws to a close. It’s not hard to see that things are fizzling out with the Left. Their party is a mess, run by broken down old people left over from the 1960’s. Their savior is on his last legs, ready to stagger out of office without  bringing about the promised Utopia. At last check the seas are right where he found them six years ago. Stewart is a smart guy and he knows when to leave the stage.

Another reason to leave is he has an army of imitators now. The reason for that is his shtick is easy. Dave Letterman worked out the exaggerated irony-face bit in the 80’s. Comics have always used cues to let the audience know it is OK to laugh. Letterman, a journeyman comic, got very good at this as a guest host for Johnny Carson. He latter combined it with liberal politics to titillate the typical NYC audience.

Stewart’s innovation was to take Letterman’s act and base it on a fake news show. That way he was free to pound away at liberal themes in a way that made the audience feel special and privileged. They got the jokes so they must be smart. His act is flatire, satire intended to flatter the audience. Greg Gutfeld call it the mirror that laughed.

Now there are a bunch of guys doing it and some doing it even better. John Oliver, who is just Jon Stewart with an accent, hits the younger crowd because he can freely curse in his act. Steve Colbert has found he can keep his liberal base, but attract the less crazy too. In a way, exaggerated irony-face is a commodity. The bit has been perfected and it is now a low cost comedy option. The value in Jon Stewart is now heading down and he is wise to leave before he becomes a hack.

The strange thing about Jon Stewart is he was never all that funny. More important, he was never all that hip and groovy. That was just the bullshit middle-aged cosmopolitans and wannabe beautiful people sold themselves. The Weekly Standard has a piece on the real numbers behind Stewart’s show.

As a “millennial” (roughly speaking, someone between the ages of 18 and 29), I’ve grown used to being tarred with fallacious accusations. We millennials are spoiled and mollycoddled! (Nope.) We’re tech-obsessives who would never even think of picking up something as fuddy duddy as a book! (Wrong again.) We’re irredeemable narcissists! (‘Fraid not.)

Today’s meme is that we millennials are utterly devastated by Jon Stewart’s announcement that he will be leaving The Daily Show next year. “What Walter Cronkite was to an earlier generation — an utterly trusted voice — Stewart has been to millennials,” writes Don Aucoin of the Boston Globe.  Stewart has “hordes of millennial fans,” reports CNN. “For people under 30,” says the Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty, “Jon Stewart leaving the Daily Show is the equivalent of the Beatles breaking up.” (And Tumulty should know – she was born in 1955.)

Now one thing we millennials supposedly love is “data journalism.” So let’s back up and see whether there exists any data to back up Tumulty et al.’s claims that we millennials have just suffered a loss on par with the demise of the Lennon-McCartney partnership.

As of 2013, The Daily Show was bringing in approximately 2 million nightly viewers. And according to an exhaustive Pew Survey from 2012, 39 percent of The Daily Show’s regular viewers are between the ages of 18 and 29. That means that approximately 780,000 millennials are regular Daily Show watchers. In the United States, there are 53 million people between the ages of 18 and 29. That means that a whopping 1.5 percent of millennials watch the Daily Show regularly! Let’s be generous and assume that, say, 5 million people watch The Daily Show even occasionally. That would still mean a paltry 1.95 million out of 53 million millennials are Stewart fans.

That’s not all. According to Bill Carter, then of the New York Times, the average Daily Show viewer is 41 years old. Considering other cable shows alone, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Archer, American Horror Story, and Louie all have significantly younger audiences than does Stewart. And here’s my favorite nugget: 9 percent of the regular viewers of the nightly evening news – long derided as the news source of the geriatric set – are between the ages of 18 and 29. About 22 million people watch the nightly news. Thus, nearly 2 million millennials are regular viewers of the nightly evening news. That’s right: more than twice as many millennials watch Brian Williams, Scott Pelley, et al, than watch The Daily Show.

In other words, the great millennial following of The Daily Show is a total myth.

Reality, of course, is not of much interest to the Cult of Modern Liberalism. This piece in the Moonbat Review is what we’ll be hearing until Stewart finally quits. Again, the tone and choice of language is what you would expect from a religious cult. Calling a TV comic a “prophet” is not the sort of thing rational people tend to do. The Christian overtones are unmistakable, for those who know their history and Bible. Steve Almond sounds like one of the disciples sorting through his options after the Ascension.

This is consistent with end cycle Progressive Awakenings. Unlike UFO cults or apocalyptic cults, American Progressives handle disconfirmation by going dormant for a period. The New Left went dormant in the mid-70’s and remained so until the early-90’s. Look back at those dormant years and the movies, music and television were big on reminiscence of the 60’s. There was a certain sadness to it all in the early years until it became full-blown nostalgia in the late 80’s.

Steve Almond is speaking to that growing ennui on the Left that the party is over, for now.

 

 

The Elite Monoculture

Libertarians and some conservatives often argue that western political thought is divided into two camps, the heirs of Hobbes and the heirs of Locke. One camp wants to impose their vision of society on the people, while the other camp wants to let the people figure it out on their own. There’s really no third choice there so it is not a terrible way of looking at political philosophy. Democratic political systems would fall into the latter group and everything else would end up in the former group.

That’s fine but not useful beyond labeling the bad guys as authoritarians, which is probably the point. Both Locke and Hobbes started from a premise that we now know is ridiculous. Early man was not in a state of perpetual war or perpetual cooperation. Early man, before settlement, lived in small bands of no more than 150 members. Within the group, there was most likely little violence and communal property. Between groups, violence was common and brutal at times.

Putting that aside, the better way of looking at the great divide is between those who think there is a perfect social arrangement and those who do not. The former imagine there is a perfect way to order human affairs to achieve maximum happiness. That perfect way is both discoverable and achievable. Morality dictates that anything and everything be done in order to reach this state of social perfection. The Rousseau-ists are entirely focused on the end and are willing to use any means necessary to achieve those ends. It’s why the body count for the various Rousseau-ist cults is staggeringly high.

The other mode of thought rejects the notion that there can be a perfect arrangement. The human condition is immutable. The best we can do is incrementally improve the material state of society by adding a few grains of sand, each generation, to the foundations of society. That necessitates preserving the traditional institutions, while adding to them as they are the storehouse of knowledge, built up over countless generations through trial and error. The Burkeans focus entirely on the means knowing the ends are beyond the ability of man to perfect.

Obviously, that’s a very simple way of looking at things, but it is a useful shorthand. Since the French Revolution, the Rousseau-ists and Burkeans have been battling over the shape of western society. One side trying to create the perfect society, whatever it takes, and the other side trying to stop them from pulling the roof down on everyone. It’s a one way fight, of course, as the Rousseau-ists attack and the Burkeans defend, but it takes a long time to pull down 2,000 years of cultural institutions.

This is supposed to be reflected in the American political system. The Democrats are Rousseau-ist fanatics and the Republicans are the Burkean Conservatives, defending America from the rage zombies of the Left. A lot of people believe that is how things work. Sensible people are convinced that if the GOP can get control, they will roll back the welfare state, chase the sodomites from the Temple and bring America back in line with her constitutional past.

At the same time, liberals are sure the other guys are going to roll back the welfare state, chase the sodomites from the Temple and bring America back in line with her constitutional past. They toss and turn at night over the prospect of another Bush siting on the throne. They think Sarah Palin is hiding under their bed, ready to stuff their uterus with Bibles and sew their legs shut. It’s why they never quit, no matter how disastrous their schemes.

Kevin Williamson goes goes down this road in his piece on the authoritarian impulses of the Left.

The Right is finally coming around to the understanding that what mainly distinguishes it from the Left is not its general preference for muscular foreign policy, its not always convincing defense of the Judeo-Christian tradition, or even its relatively faithful reading of the Constitution, as important as those things are. Rather, the fight between Right and Left is about coercion.

One side is willing to use any means necessary to reach the promised land. The other side is restrained by the means they will tolerate and they are willing to accept less than optimal results. If the people prefer high tariffs, for example, that’s fine as long as it is debated and enacted in a constitutional process. The Right can argue for something on rational grounds, but accept less knowing that people are seldom rational. That’s the claim, least ways.

That would be great, if it were true, but it has not been the case for a long time now, at least in American politics. In fact, what we call “conservative” is pretty much just the same stuff we call “liberal” but with slightly different ends. This thread on NRO is a good example of what I mean.

Abby McCloskey supports a universal maternity benefit on conservative grounds. Some women, including many high-wage workers employed by large firms, already have access to paid leave through their employers. The women who’d benefit most from a universal maternity benefit are low-wage workers employed by small firms, for whom paid leave is virtually unheard of. These women tend not to have the savings or the family support they’d need to ride out a long spell without paid work. When they fall out of paid work to care for a newborn, it can be difficult for them to find their way back in. Moreover, lengthy interruptions in work experience can lower one’s wages considerably over time. That’s why McCloskey, writing in Forbes, has suggested that a modest universal maternity benefit is best understood as a way to keep working mothers from falling into hardship without punishing employers. Because the benefit she proposes is fairly small, to help ensure that it doesn’t crowd out more generous paid leave policies currently offered by employers, McCloskey estimates that it would cost only $2.5 billion to provide six weeks of paid leave to workers without other paid leave options, an amount she believes can be raised by eliminating waste from the $93 billion spent on unemployment benefits in 2012 and the $200 billion spent on disability insurance each year.

Those ruling class women have all sorts of privileges that come from their status. They have private trainers and dieticians so they can remain slim and attractive, even into late middle-age. Maybe we should mandate that too. What you see here is a fight between green eye-shade types over which Utopian fantasy is more cost effective. Abby McCloskey, I’m sure, considers herself a conservative firebrand, yet she accepts every key premise of the Rouuseau-ists. Namely, the perfect arrangements are discoverable, achievable and we have an obligation to pursue them – no matter what.

The typical Republican and most so-called conservatives accept this without question. Bush the Minor famously said that “We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, Government has got to move.” This is the very definition of the custodial state, the dreamed of end result of every Rousseau-ist cult since 1789. It is simply impossible to believe that and think they can be any limit on state coercion of the citizens. Those are the words of the police state. Yet, he was applauded by his party and most of the professional Right.

Young people can be forgiven for thinking a Ted Cruz is a far right conservative. It’s what they know and what they have been sold. Reality is a different thing. Our political culture now functions within a broom closet of the main room of western political thought. Within that small intellectual space, everyone agrees on the big stuff and most of the small stuff. The big fights over who gets to parade around in purple while the semi-permanent custodial state keeps a lid on things, like game wardens at an animal preserve.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of some readers, the Roman Republic came to an end in no small part because the ruling elite of Rome was unable to think critically about their dominant paradigm. The French Revolution was as much about the calcified ruling elite’s inability to understand the threat, much less respond to it. As the American political culture narrows and the factions close ranks, their ability to reform and respond to new threats diminishes. Correspondingly, the people’s ability to make their demands know through democratic processes also diminishes.

The Libertarians Are Not All Wrong

I’m fond of making sport of libertarians, but they are not wrong about everything. In fact, I’d go so far as to say most libertarian arguments are mostly right, when they bother to make them. But, that’s a story for another day. The one thing they have right is that every new law leads to a new abuse, because all state power is abused eventually. Here is a classic example of the phenomenon.

An Iowa widow is charged with a crime and had nearly $19,000 seized from her bank after depositing her late husband’s legally earned money in a way that evaded federal reporting requirements.

Janet Malone, 68, of Dubuque, is facing civil and criminal proceedings under a law intended to help investigators track large sums of cash tied to criminal activity such as drug trafficking and terrorism. But some members of Congress and libertarian groups have complained that the IRS and federal prosecutors are unfairly using it against ordinary people who deposit lawfully obtained money in increments below $10,000.

At issue is a law requiring banks to report deposits of more than $10,000 cash to the federal government. Anyone who breaks deposits into increments below that level to avoid the requirement is committing a crime known as “structuring” — whether their money is legal or not.

The IRS has increasingly used civil forfeiture proceedings to seize money from individuals and small businesses suspected of structuring violations, according to a review by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group. The agency seized $242 million in 2,500 cases from 2005 to 2012 — a third of which arose from nothing more than cash transactions under $10,000. Nearly half was returned after owners challenged the action, often a year later.

Some of the depositors had broken up the deposits to save their bankers from having to submit paperwork or because they mistakenly believed it was a way to avoid unwarranted government scrutiny. The Treasury Department receives millions of reports every year, and deposits above the $10,000 threshold incur no additional fees or taxes.

Facing criticism of the practice, the IRS announced in October that investigators would no longer seize funds in cases involving legal sources of money “unless there are exceptional circumstances” and would focus on illegal sources. A U.S. House subcommittee is expected to hear testimony about the practice Wednesday, at a hearing called, “Protecting Small Businesses from IRS Abuse.”

Larry Salzman, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, criticized the government’s case against Malone given its declared shift in practice.

“This is shocking because it demonstrates that prosecutors are not taking seriously the IRS’ alleged policy change not to prosecute legal source structuring,” he said.

Of course not. The people in these jobs are horrible people. In another era, they would be robbing travelers or accusing the local hag of being a witch. Five minutes with this old couple and the agents involved knew exactly what was happening. They were harmless old coots with some eccentric ideas, but that’s it. But, we’re dealing with government employees, tinpot tyrants with a badge that enjoy harassing an old women.

The reasons for passing these laws are well known. The people in the IRS and the FBI all know the laws are to help keep up with drug dealers and organized criminals. They know that, but it is hard chasing drug dealers, terrorists and gangsters. Instead, they go after old women, small business people and dentists. These people are willfully, knowingly abusing the law. The worse part is the people who wrote the laws do nothing about it. They just laugh.

The great Bob Novak said it best. Love your country, but hate your government.

The Only Good Billionaire

For most of human history, leaders had to focus on staying alive. First, they had to fend of family members who wanted the job. Then they had to make sure the people were not revolting. That was not always enough as there were always external threats so they needed the people willing to contribute to the common burdens like supplying men for war. It was not always easy to keep the people happy. Being the boss was fraught with danger, which is why it often ended poorly.

A great example of what I mean can be found in Rome. The Julio-Claudian line had five emperors. Augustus lived a long life and died of old age. Tiberius spent most of his life too paranoid to do much of anything and was smothered in his sleep. Caligula was murdered. Claudius lived a long life and died of old age, but Nero ended poorly, committing suicide rather than face being killed. That’s two good ends, two horrible ends and one debatable end, Tiberius.

Keep in mind that this was the most civilized society to have existed up until the late Middle Ages. Outside of Rome, the life of a ruler almost always ended violently. I think you can argue that European civilization turned the corner once they got a handle on how to both constrain the ruling class and address those who were trouble, without resorting to riots, uprisings and conspiracies. The orderly maintenance and transfer of civil authority is the great leap forward in human affairs.

I’m fond of saying that post-modernism is when a people forgets all of the lessons of the past with regards to human relations and sets about painfully relearning them. The care and feeding of the ruling class is one such example. America has lost control of its billionaires. Untethered from any sense of obligation to their host country, the billionaire class is now functioning as a colonial class. Along with their managerial class attendants, they are ruling over us like the Brits in India.

A survey of the news on any given day paints a gloomy picture of where it is all headed. But, a flicker of hope from the Far East should pick up your spirits. China just executed one of its billionaires.

A Chinese billionaire famed for his love of casinos, cigars and luxury cars was executed on Monday in one of the most dramatic episodes yet in president Xi Jinping’s war on corruption.

Liu Han, a 49-year-old mining tycoon once worth at least £4.2 billion, was one of five alleged mafia kingpins to receive the death penalty after being convicted of offences including gun-running and murder.

The part-time God Father “tyrannised local people and seriously harmed the local economic and social order,” Xinhua, China’s official news agency, said in a brief dispatch announcing the execution.

Prior to his death Liu was allowed a final “meeting” with his family, Xinhua added.

Liu Han made his money in construction and went on to become the chairman of the Hanlong Group, a Chengdu-based mining firm with interests in Australia, Africa and the United States.

Worth an estimated 40 billion yuan (£4.2 billion) at his peak, the tycoon was a vocal and extravagant regular in the business pages, boasting of his diamond watches and fleet of Bentleys, Ferraris and Rolls-Royces.

In a 2010 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Liu bragged of plans to buy a billion tons of uranium. “Liu Han always wins. Liu Han never loses,” said the billionaire, who was reportedly wearing a knee-length mink jacket.

Yet for all his business acumen, Liu’s parallel life as an “evil gangster” proved his undoing.

Well, it’s a start. According to the people who count these things, the world has 1,645  billionaires. Make that 1,644. Which brings me to this.

The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

From Thomas Jefferson to William Smith, 1787