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%).


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, TheDaily Show was bringing in approximately 2 million nightly viewers. And according to an exhaustive Pew Survey from 2012, 39 percent of TheDaily 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, 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 camp is focused on the end and prepared to use any means necessary to achieve it.

The other mode of thought rejects the human perfectibility. 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 Burke camp focuses 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. Since the French Revolution, the Team Rousseau and Team Burke 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 Team Rousseau attack and the Team Burke defends, 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 theWall 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

Men Shut Their Doors Against A Setting Sun

Every president has his issues and by that I mean the things he likes to work on as a matter of policy. Johnson was a natural at domestic policy wrangling. Nixon had a great mind for foreign affairs. Clinton loved interns. Bush the Younger became a war president and surrounded himself with people good at prosecuting wars. The defect in the American system is that we are stuck with our president until he dies, leaves office or is voted out in the next election, which rarely happens. So, if our guy is not very interested in foreign affairs, like is the case with Obama, you have to hope nothing big happens in the world while he is in office. Otherwise, it can get ugly.

The Europeans seem to have figured this out finally. I’m surprised it has taken so long, but old habits die hard. Most of our post-WW2 presidents have had experienced people to rely on for this stuff and all of them have been willing to work with the Europeans. Some of them too much, but that’s hardly a vice. You can disagree with the policy, but even our week presidents have not followed weird policy goals. Obama is the exception. He has a weak team and he seems to hold the Europeans in contempt.

I think Europe has finally thrown in the towel and is ready to walk away from the US, at least when it comes to Ukraine.

MUNICH (Reuters) – The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France agreed to meet in Belarus on Wednesday to try to broker a peace deal for Ukraine amid escalating violence there and signs of cracks in the transatlantic consensus on confronting Vladimir Putin.

The four leaders held a call on Sunday, two days after Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande traveled to Moscow for talks with Putin that produced no breakthrough in the nearly year-long conflict that has claimed over 5,000 lives.

After the call, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said progress had been made and that he was hopeful the meeting in Minsk would lead to a “swift and unconditional ceasefire” in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have stepped up a military offensive in recent weeks, seizing new territory.

But Putin warned in a newspaper interview that Kiev must stop its military operation in east Ukraine and stop exerting economic pressure on rebel-held regions.

“Kiev’s attempts to exert economic pressure on Donbas (region of east Ukraine) and disrupt its daily life only aggravates the situation. This is a dead-end track, fraught with a big catastrophe,” Putin told Egyptian state newspaper Al-Ahram, according to an English transcript provided by the Kremlin.

A Ukraine military spokesman said on Sunday that intense fighting was continuing around the rail junction town of Debaltseve, with rebel fighters making repeated attempts to storm lines defended by government troops.

At a high-level security conference in Munich over the weekend, Merkel said it was uncertain whether further negotiations would lead to a deal with Putin but argued that all opportunities for a diplomatic solution should be pursued.

She came under sharp criticism from U.S. Senators Lyndsey Graham and John McCain, both Republican hawks, for opposing the sending of defensive weapons to the Ukraine army to help it fight the separatists.

“The Ukrainians are being slaughtered and we’re sending them blankets and meals,” McCain said in Munich. “Blankets don’t do well against Russian tanks.”

If you’re Merkel, Hollande and Putin, you have to be thinking you’re on your own at this point.Obama let the State Department run wild in Ukraine, helping create this mess. Victoria Nuland should have been publicly sacked so as to show the World Obama is not going to tolerate that sort of bungling. Instead this woman stays on, like a big”FU” to the Europeans. Further, Obama keeps sending John Kerry to Europe, despite the fact everyone thinks he is a ridiculous person.

The bellicose ramblings of the warmongers in the GOP must be very concerning. A weak president surrounded by boobs can be bulldozed by a John McCain channeling Cato the Elder. Americans are largely clueless about the politics in the provinces, the rest of the world watches American politics closely. They have to worry that weak, lame duck president could be bullied into doing something stupid. Eliminating that possibility means even a bad deal is a good deal.

The trouble with the Europeans turning their back on Obama is it means turning their back on America, if they can make a deal with Putin. Putin surely knows this so now he has a reason to make a deal over Ukraine. There’s the looming Greek problem that could also complicate things. When Cyprus is talking with Russia about military bases, it’s reasonable to assume the Greeks would jump at such a deal. The rest of Europe has to think they would be better off letting the Russian have Ukraine back so they can focus on their other issues to the south.

I don’t think Putin is the evil genius many on the Right think. It’s just that he is matched against a nitwit. In comparison to Obama, Putin looks like Goldfinger.

Ask a Mall Cop

I read National Review On-Line every day for the same reason I read the NYTimes or the WaPo. It’s not that I share the outlook, it’s that I like to know what they are planning to do to me. Plus, there’s some entertainment value. This is a good example. The piece itself is the same swill they slop the warmongering hogs with on every other foreign policy issue. The war party has worn out their welcome with me. That’s not the important bit. What I find hilarious is the author of the piece.

National Review works closely with Fox News and Sky News. You see the same people turning up on all three places. The Weekly Standard also shares resources with these three, but not as much as National Review. Tom Rogan is the new toy on Fox and NRO prattling on about foreign policy issues. Fox loves using guys with British accents to play the role of foreign policy expert. Roger Ailes must be a James Bond fan. Unfamiliar with Rogan, I looked him up and found his LinkedIn profile:

The American Spectator
January 2014 – Present (1 year 2 months)

Guardian News & Media
January 2012 – Present (3 years 2 months)

Media Contributor
January 2012 – Present (3 years 2 months)London, United KingdomProviding commentary to various media outlets – including Al Jazeera America, BBC News, BBC World News, Sky News, Radio.

The Week
December 2012 – December 2013 (1 year 1 month)

Player Escort Deputy Manager – Wimbledon Championships
G4S Security Services
June 2005 – July 2012 (7 years 2 months)Part time-

In 2005, 2006 and 2007 I worked as a Player Escort attached to the primary escort team. In 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 I was the Deputy Manager of the Player Escort Division and Lead Escort Officer for Centre Court and Court 1.

Student Ambassador
Aspire South East London
October 2006 – December 2008 (2 years 3 months)Working part-time as a college student mentor to inner city students from years 11 – 13. Guidance on University, Career prospects, Assisting on Projects.

Humfrey Malins MP CBE
February 2005 – May 2005 (4 months)UNPAID – Producing speech writing, campaign material, research, constituent demands, scheduling, press in the Office of Humfrey Malins MP*.

2004 US Presidential Campaign
July 2004 – October 2004 (4 months)UNPAID – Intern – US Presidential Campaign (July – October 2004)

The red part is what caught my attention. I was expecting, given his age, to see a bunch of college stuff. For paid work, I expected a stint at some ministry or possibly the UN. In other words I figured he was a hack in some foreign policy shop who decided to try his hand at TV. Maybe he married someone in the TV business or something, but he had something on his resume to qualify him to call foreign policy his specialty. Instead, he was essentially a mall cop.

This is why a guy like Brian Williams goes so long telling whoppers. In world where everyone is pretending to be something they are not, a world where low IQ blockheads with the right look are paraded on TV as experts, why not tell whoppers? It’s just a big show anyway. As long as a guy like Rogan does not start talking about how Blofeld is behind the Ukraine crisis, why not let the mall cop be the foreign policy guy?