Airports

I’ve spent a lot of time in airports. I’ve slept in them, hung out in them and I even worked in one for a while. I was not an airport employee, but my company rented an office at the airport for some reason. As a frequent traveler, I’ve had the pleasure of being in a lot of airports in various places. I don’t really know a lot about them, but I have noticed a lot about them.

What interests me is not the airports themselves as they are mostly the same as far as the bigger concepts. When you think about it, an airport is just a big bus stop. No, what I find interesting in airports and the air travel system is it is a great example of how societies evolve solutions to near term problems. Those solutions often turn out to be long term liabilities and you clearly see that with our air travel system. In some cases, they are crippling malinvestments.

If you were going to design an air travel system for North America, you would not replicate what’s in place. It does not make any sense and it is expensive. Instead you would look to maximize geography and technology. For instance, there’s no great technological hurdles to super sonic passenger planes. The Concorde started flying in the 70’s. The issue has always been that airports can’t handle it. The noise and the runways were the problem, not the plane.

Imagine a few large airports on the East Coast built for massive super sonic passenger planes that could ferry 500 or more people to Europe in three hours. If you are in Kansas, you would take a domestic flight to the nearest international airport. But, when we started designing and building airports and the air traffic system, no one imagined super sonic air travel or the volume of air travel we now have.

That’s the thing you see all over the air travel system. We have layer upon layer of solutions to old problems that often make solving new problems more difficult or even impossible. It’s not that the people of 1950 were morons and designed bad airports. They just saw what they could see and did the best they could to unriddle those problems they knew about and could imagine. Within living memory, the idea of a Muslim from Saudi Arabia boarding a plane in the US was laughable.

Security is where you see the cul-de-sac. American airports were never designed to filter out Muslim lunatics, luggage bombs and other Muslim problems. When I left the Imperial Capital, I had a 5:00 AM flight, but I still needed 40 minutes to pass through security. Leaving America to return back home, security took over an hour, even though there were few people in line.

It’s why I like airports as an example to explain the impossibility of public policy in our current age. We have this massive overhang of evolved solutions that are largely useless for the current age. Food stamp programs are an obvious example. Even poor countries are full of fat people. There’s no need to be handing out food to the poor. But like all those zany rules at the airport, everything has a constituency, even if it has no purpose.

Compared to the labyrinth of rules in the welfare system, airports are simple. Yet, we cannot make small changes at airports to eliminate the cost of old solutions so that we can efficiently add new technology and solutions. Instead, it is just more and more layers. To solve the problem of Muslim fanatics, they bolted on new layers of stuff between you and the point the airport, which is to get on an airplane.

Airports also make good examples for explaining the law of unintended consequences. In the 1950’s, you could walk on a plane with your sidearm. Then we started getting hijackings in the 60’s so the “solution” was to ban firearms from people and carry-on luggage. That meant metal detectors and guards to look for guns on passengers. Before long, anything that could be used as a weapon was prohibited.

The “solution” for the terrorists was to put bombs in the luggage. Then the “solution” was to smuggle knives on the plane, knowing that everyone was unarmed on the plane. Air travel is a big complicated system that few truly understand well. Make some small changes at one end and what pops out the other end is often a surprise. No one in the 70’s imagined the Lockerbie bombing or 9/11.

Finally, if you have libertarian tendencies, a trip to the airport should disabuse you of those ideas. people do not self-organize very well. You have to have someone in charge who can say “no” to the percentage of humans who do not naturally follow the rules. You need someone to tell the self-absorbed d-bag that he has to check his gigantic backpack. It’s “ordered liberty” not just “liberty” and that means someone has to be giving orders. Otherwise, airports would be impossible.

More Texas

Sitting in the stands of a rodeo in Forth Worth is like going back in time. I’ve been to the rodeo and I’ve watched the event on TV so I understand the basics. In all honesty, I find it a bit dull so while I’m sitting there watching girls ride horses around barrels, I’m thinking of other things. My friends, who had never been to a rodeo, were captivated. To them, it was incredible watching humans ride animals with such skill.

Chit chatting about it after, I think the big attraction to rodeo for many folks is that it reminds them of a better age. The rodeo is wholesome family entertainment. There’s no sex or crude jokes. There’s no hip-hop music blasting from speakers. It’s just wholesome looking young people, corny jokes and a good time. Cheap too. Tickets to a rodeo are nothing compared to a football game.

That’s what makes it feel like a trip back in time. For most of human history, entertainments were relatively cheap. Entertainers lived on the fringes of society and made very modest livings. Maybe the showman who owned the circus or traveling act made a good living, but the performers did not. Running away to join the circus was not a move up, it was giving up. If you could not hack it in normal life you ended up as the bearded lady in the circus.

Contrast that to today where we venerate knuckleheads with the IQ of a goldfish and shower them with millions. In order to do that the cost of entertainment has skyrocketed. I was at the Dallas Cowboy game on Sunday and the prices are staggering. Cheap seats are $500 just to get in the door. The facility, which is incredible, is simply a massive platform from which to sell you stuff.

That’s what’s incredible to me. Everything has a sponsor. “This hot dog concession stand brought to you by AT&T” is the sort of thing that makes me think the Catholics were right about cupidity being a mortal sin. Every square inch of the Cowboy facility has a sponsor attached to it and almost every square inch is for the purpose of moving product of some sort. You keep wondering, “Don’t they have enough?’

That excess allows the Cowboys to pay their star defensive end millions of dollars, even though he spends his free time beating and strangling women. You only do that when you have so much, you feel you are immune from public opinion. Hearing the crowd cheer when that demented knucklehead made  big play, I’m going to assume the paying portion of the public is OK with wife beating.

I’m sure many rodeo entertainers are terrible people. That’s just a part of life. My guess is though, public knowledge of bad behavior ends your rodeo career unless you also get right with Jesus. The customers will look the other way if you are turning your life around after getting drunk and running naked through the streets. Otherwise, there’s probably not a lot of tolerance for it.

In a weird way, people enjoy things like the rodeo now because it lets them escape the wall of sound that is modern mass culture. The whole downtown Forth Worth area feels like it exist as an escape. People dress in their cowboy clothes and have an old fashioned good time. I was at a bar in Fort Worth and it was just cheap drinks and people dancing to country music, like they used to in the old days.

That’s the other thing that popped into my head comparing a night in Fort Worth to the day at Jerry World. In today’s mass media culture, everyone is assumed to be a child. At the football game, it is nonstop noise and video. Between plays they are hitting you with some ad or speech. In breaks for commercials, they hammer the audience with messages. You don’t have a minute to talk to the guy next to you. They assume you must be amused for every second like a toddler.

The infantilization at a modern ballpark extends everywhere. Buy a beer and they open the container and keep the cap. I guess they don’t want you to swallow it. The container is made from something that prevents it from being a projectile, in case you have a tantrum. Of course, they shut off beer sales half way through events so you don’t have too many. The modern sporting even is the nanny state taken to the logical conclusion.

All that said, Texas is a great place to visit. I’ll have more thoughts on it when I return back to the Imperial Capital.

 

Travelogue: Texas

Travel is one of the best ways to see the world. I’ve been lucky in my life in that I have had the luxury of traveling quite a bit on someone else’s dime. Business travel is not vacation travel, but I think it is often a better way to see the world simply because you have long stretches with nothing to do so you look around, explore, adventure. On vacation, you have “stuff’ that fills every waking moment, usually within the confines of the Potemkin vacation area.

I’ve been to Texas many times. I used to travel here often for work matters. Thirty years ago when I first visited Texas on the way to Mexico, I thought this is a place I should live. For some reason, it just seems to fit my sensibilities. Every time I’ve come here, I have had the same thought: I don’t think I’m going back. But, here I am nearing my jump into the void and I’m still just a guy who visits Texas.

The funny thing about Texas is it is remains the one place in America that is brimming with confidence. Texas is not a terribly sentimental place. They will knock down an old building for a new building without giving it a thought. In the Northeast, an army of weirdos will be there guarding the old building, even though the weirdos will have no clue why the old building was built. It’s just old so they think it has to be saved.

At the same time, those same weirdos will claw one another’s eyes out to cancel the school Christmas play. There’s the lack of confidence. In most of America, our betters conduct themselves like the ne’er do well grandchildren of a successful man. The kids compete with one another as to who is the most reverent toward the old man, but not a one of them tries to emulate him. The best they can do is have a big picture of him in their house, which he bought for them.

Texas does not have the problem yet. Texans love being Texans and they love being in Texas. There’s really nothing special about Texas. Dallas is a massive suburb that looks like every other suburb in the South, but they are proud of it and you see that everywhere you go. Texas plays Oklahoma today in the Cotton Bowl and tickets are selling for $500 on the secondary market, even though UT is terrible. It’s just a great celebration of Texas football history.

I think that confidence is why Texans are soft on immigration. They are cocksure that if you move to Texas, you will become a Texan. They are right about it too. Vietnamese refugees landed in Houston and are now Texans whose ancestors came from Vietnam.  Of course, Texas has always had loads of Mexicans from the northern part of Mexico. A big part of what makes Texas tick is the blend of Southern culture and northern Mexican culture.

In Massachusetts, there’s zero cultural confidence. If America were invaded, the good thinkers of the Bay State would surrender on day one and begin taking classes in the language and culture of the invaders. That’s why the northeast seems to be leading the charge on the immigration fight. They are scared. A friend here in Texas, who is from Mass, is a rock-ribbed Trump man now and it is all over immigration.

In the South, illegal immigration is an issue, but mostly because it offends the people’s law and order instincts. It’s not seen as a threat to their way of life. In many respects, migrant workers are a part of their way of life. The South would be a very different place without the flow of migrants into the agribusinesses. Go into a poultry plant in Virginia or North Carolina and you see nothing but Hispanics. It’s been that way for generations.

The same is true of Texas. Mexican migration in and out of the state is just a part of the state’s character. The Mexicans who live here permanently came here because a part of what made them Mexican also made them Texan. The transition was easy. Of course, there are Texas families who were here before Texas was a place. The result is most Texans feel they have a good handle on how to manage Mexican immigration.

Finally, kicking around here it strikes me that the Cult hates Texas for the same reason they hated Sarah Palin. In the case of Palin, the idea that dirt people could live the feminist ideal while hanging onto dirt people culture enraged the Cult. Palin was the living negation of the One True Faith. There’s a similar thing with Texas. here, diversity is on display all over, but it’s held together with the dominant Texas culture.

The Cult believes this is impossible. For them, diversity means obliterating all culture by running it through the blender of multiculturalism. The result is the exact opposite of vibrant diversity, but the screaming and bellowing makes it impossible to point it out. A state like Texas puts the lie to the Cult’s blathering about diversity. Texas has boatloads of it without adopting any of the Cult-Marx nonsense.

Now, I’m off to eat my weight in fried food.

The House Divided

I’ve been making the point for a long time that the Republican Party is not really a political party. It’s a dumping ground for people that don’t fit into the Democratic Party for some reason. The groups that find themselves in the GOP don’t have a lot in common with one another. Many would prefer to be in the Democratic party, but circumstances make it impossible.

Romney famously ran on the “three legs of the GOP base.” That was economic conservatives, social conservatives and foreign policy hawks. That’s not a terrible formulation for a political party, but it is not based in reality. The so-called social conservatives, for example, are much more populist and localist than the economic conservatives can tolerate.

Similarly, the foreign policy hawks are not in line with the economic conservatives on a lot of things. The main reason people favor a tough line with the muzzies is so the muzzies will stay over in their countries. Many foreign policy hawks, like me for example, are OK with letting Afghanistan return to the 5th century. They should remain backward. Close down their airports, electric plants and water systems. Problem solved. That’s heresy with the economic conservatives.

Political parties in America have always been coalitions of divergent interests with one or two unifying items. From FDR to Jimmy Carter, the Democrats were Yankee elites running a coalition of ethnic groups, unions, southern populists and intellectuals. That’s given way to a party of Yankee elites running a coalition of fringe weirdos, blacks, immigrants, academic elites and their students. The Democrats are mostly the party of people who went to college and would have preferred to stay there.

The Republicans are not a coalition of anything now. If you are a Southern conservative, you have little in common with the conservative of the northeast. People in Massachusetts, for example, who call themselves conservative and vote Republican, are not religious and they are indifferent on the homos and abortion. Their leaders are often pro-abortion and gay marriage. Contrast that with the Democrats where everyone is violently in favor of abortion.

My formulation of the Republican elected officials is that one third wish they were Democrats, one third just like the easy life of elected office and the rest are genuine conservatives in the traditional meaning of the term. John Boehner, for example, would have been a fine Speaker in 1984, when the Democrats ran the House and tangled with Reagan over policy. Boehner would have been fine at building majorities to compromise on the small issues.

There’s something else. The Democrat Party is now a purely ideological party. This is a first in America. Europe has ideological parties, but American has never had them, at least ones that gain votes. The Democrats are now a party of the New Religion. You can’t win office as a Democrat being pro-life or if you are against homo marriage. You have to embrace anti-racism, multiculturalism and egalitarianism in order to have a place. I’ll note that all Democratic House members are open borders fanatics.

How a coalition party, especially a haphazard one, responds when faced with a an ideological party is debatable. The experience of Europe in the first third of the 20th century is not encouraging. It does appear that the House Republicans are so divided they cannot pick a speaker. No one dares say it, but the issues dividing the party are the old national questions, particularly immigration. The people running the party want open borders. The insurgents want national sovereignty. There is no room to compromise.

My guess is the people in charge will stay in charge. They will employ an age old strategy of backing a novus homo that they think will fail and embarrass the upstarts. Just in case, you can be sure they will work hard to make sure he does fail. They are playing the long game from the comfort of the inner party. Some of these people have been in DC so long, their GPS reads “thar be monsters” for the areas outside the Beltway.

The only whiff of good news in any of this is that I sense that the sovereignty issue is playing much better in the Northeast and Midwest than elsewhere in the country. The South is much more mildly opposed to immigration, simply due to the cultural arrangements and the long history with migrant farm workers. In the Northeast, the old Yankee paranoia and intolerance is showing up in the immigration debate.

If the GOP can evolve as a party to reflect the mild nationalism of lightly managed trade, constitutional liberty and regulated immigration, it can be a majority party that has appeal nationally. That will require something on the ball in the leadership positions, but all the incentives are pointing the wrong way now. A party riven with dissent ends up with the worst leaders of the various factions. The result are guys like Mike McCarthy who is as dumb as a goldfish.

We live in interesting times.

 

Not Funny

The other day, some one posted a link to this post by the late Larry Auster. I was not a frequent reader of Larry’s while he was alive, but I have read more of his work since his death. It’s a funny thing. I should have been a big fan of his work, but there’s only so many hours in a day and you can’t follow everyone. That and a dozen years ago I was a little wore down by paleo-con moaning about George Bush.

Anyway, his commentary about Jonah Goldberg reminded me that it has been a long time since I’ve read Goldberg. I was a regular reader up until his first book, which I thought was very good. If you want a good primer on 20th century Progressive history, it is a good option. Up until that point, Jonah was an irreverent slacker smart-ass, but after he wrote a book he tried to turn himself into a very serious person, which was a good decision. The money is better.

A couple of years ago he tried to get back to being an irreverent smart-ass again with his G-File columns, but they were painfully unfunny so I stopped reading them. They just felt hackneyed and corny, like seeing an old comic try to do his act after 20 years away from the stage. Tastes change, people change, the dogs bark and the caravan moves on. All humorists have their time and once it is gone, they start to sound, well, hackneyed and corny.

A good example of that is P.J. O’Rourke, who has always struck me as a nasty, self-absorbed d-bag. Maybe there was a time when he was funny, but I’ve never stumbled upon an example of it. I’m told he was hilarious at National Lampoon when he penned stuff like this. There’s no accounting for taste, but there was never a time in my life when that was funny to me, not even as a child when cornball humor goes over well.

The other day the twitter machine was buzzing with this column written by O’Rourke that may be humor or maybe not. I really can’t tell. It just reads like a bitter old man saying nasty things about someone out of jealousy.

Toward Ann Coulter I had always taken a “suffer little children to come unto me” attitude. Not that she ever came on to me or anything. It’s just that she’s a kid. She was born in 1961. I’ve got skinny Brooks Brothers neckties in the back of my closet older than that.

Hilarious. O’Rourke is pointing out that he he very old and has old stuff. That’s a real knee-slapper.

Ann Coulter grew up during the “I-was-conservative-after-conservatism-was-cool” era, helping found the Cornell Review in the early 1980s. She’s noisy and she gives me a headache. But kids are, and kids do. I have several.

Actually, the 1980’s was pretty much when “conservatism” became cool. It’s also when he decided his left-leaning hippy routine was becoming dated so he went with the libertarian shtick.That way, he could make fun of the lefties, but also play the old crowd by mocking the Right. To quote myself, libertarianism is standing on the sidelines and pretending it is on principle.

That last line is a classic insecure old-manism. Coulter is a middle-aged woman so calling her a kid allows the old fart to dismiss her like a servant. It’s a defense mechanism you see with old men who fear they can no longer keep up. O’Rourke is not a dunce so he knows he is a yesterday man and he is bitter about it.

The rest of it is mostly sad. Writing is not a young man’s game, but it is not geriatric man’s game either. Some guys stay fresh well into their dotage or they stick to subjects where being a geezer works well. But, all of us lose our fastball eventually. For a guy that is mostly getting by on shtick, the fastball goes early. If O’Rourke ever had a fastball, it is long gone.

Of course, The Weekly Standard is not trying to send a fastball at Coulter’s head. They just want to let her know to take it easy on the Jew stuff. This brush back was more like throwing behind the batter so you know he won’t get hit, but he’ll get the message. Having the old washed up guy do it is safe because even if he plunks her, nothing is going to come of it.

Mitt Romney in Drag

In 2008, Mitt Romney ran as the guy to the right of John McCain, which was not too hard given McCain’s record. The trouble for Romney was that he was not much of a conservative, by anyone’s reckoning so the party splintered. Evangelicals could not stomach a Mormon so they lined up behind their coreligionist, Mike Huckabee. McCain had the party bosses behind him, who thought having a black president was too important to wage a serious challenge in the general.

In 2012, Romney re-purposed himself into Robo-Conservative. His programming was combed through for any defects and bugs so that no matter which buttons you pushed, out popped the standard “conservative” response. It was a bit creepy watching a guy from West World run for president, but they say we will be ruled over by robots soon enough so it was good practice. The thing with Romney is that he said the right things, but no one believed him.

That’s the problem with “evolution” in politics. If you start out as a gun enthusiast who tried to bargain with the gun-grabbers, but evolved into a 2A absolutist, people understand your journey and they believe you.  If you start out as a gun-grabber and then suddenly change positions, you better have a damned good story. Otherwise, you’re worse than wrong, you’re a liar.

The Romney career is a great example. For twenty years he kept evolving to meet the situation in which he found himself as a candidate. It was not that he evolved as a candidate that got him in trouble. It was that voters understood he would never stop evolving and that once in office he could turn out to be anything or nothing. To paraphrase Malcolm X, Romney believed in nothing so he would fall for anything.

Fiorina has the same problem, but it is not quite as evident to the voters. I pointed out the other day that she is a stalking horse for the party bosses. They are tarting her up to walk the same streets as Trump, hoping she can lure enough of his vote away to sink his candidacy. Some guy at Bloomberg, who maybe reads this blog or can see the obvious, has a similar take on the Fiorina show.

Carly Fiorina is looking like the insider’s outsider candidate.

On the surface, it’s clear why the national political mood has swept her, Donald Trump, and Ben Carson to the top of Republican presidential polls. A former California technology executive, she has never held elected office, a profile that a plurality of Americans say they prefer to a candidate with gubernatorial or U.S. Senate experience.

Yet, as she recently demonstrated when otherwise-feuding Republican lawmakers showed up to see her on Capitol Hill, she also has Washington credentials that have won her fans inside the Beltway, even as she seeks the nomination with a strategy that makes the GOP establishment a frequent punching bag.

I always thought that the problem with Romney, in the end, was that he was an insult to the voters. The people who championed Romney just assumed that the voters were too stupid to think about it too closely so they would line up behind him as their betters instructed. Most did, but many were disgusted by it all and stayed home. Whether or not it was enough to swing the result is debatable, but it was enough to be debatable.

Now the same folks that were ready to sell us Jeb Bush are now, in response to the revolt on the Right, selling Carly! Fiorina as the antidote to what ails the American Right. She is making many of the same noises that the angry rubes in hooterville find attractive in Trump, but she’s not one of those dirt people the modern GOP finds so disgusting. The trouble is, she is just Mitt Romney in drag.

Abortion is one of those issues that is a litmus test issue. If you think it is a barbaric act, you are never in favor of anything that makes it more attractive or available. There’s no wiggle room there. You can allow for its legality and acknowledge the moral ambiguity in certain circumstances, but you do so through gritted teeth. If you were waving the Planned UnParenthood banner around, your conversion to the pro-life cause better have happened on the road to Damascus. Otherwise, you’re just adding “liar” to your list of defects.

Coincidentally, abortion was the issue that really hamstrung Romney as he could never come up with a plausible answer for why he kept changing his opinion. By plausible, I mean one that did not indicate he was a soulless sociopath who would say anything to get elected. Fiorina is a more gifted liar than Romney, having climbed the greasy pole of corporate politics, which requires great skill at apple polishing. But her polling suggests she is not catching on with voters outside the Acela Corridor.

Placing the Carly! phenomenon in the timeline with Romney, the picture that emerges is of a party that has no idea why it is a party anymore. All they know is they are not Democrats. The Democrats are not much better as they are just a collection of fads designed to piss off the squares in normalville. One party is a revolt against commonsense, the other is a response to that revolt, with neither having anything to offer beyond hysterics.

To the Gas Chambers!

Most men grow out of libertarianism, if they were ever so foolish, by their mid-20’s. It is at that age when you have enough experience in the world to see the foolishness of it. It takes longer for the young Progressive male to wake up because of the cultural reinforcements all around us. We live in lands controlled by the Cult of Modern Liberalism. To be something other than a Progressive tests the mind on a daily basis.

I’m fond of pointing out that liberalism and libertarianism are two sides of the same coin. People find that assertion bizarre, but both are utopian and both start with a hatred of humanity. That is the heart of materialism, after all. Materialism places efficency at the top of the moral hierarchy and people somewhere further down. The main difference between the faiths is the the liberal hates all men equally, while the libertarian simply detests the unfit.

This is on full display in this column by Kevin Williamson. The style is familiar where the curdled hatred of humanity is couched in an ad hoc critique of the bogeymen that haunt the dreams of reactionaries and libertarians alike. There’s also the standard layer of free market frosting about the glories of free trade and the free movement of people. It’s the part we’re supposed to notice, rather than the sadistic misanthropy at the core of the article.

Phillips, Inc., in the end decided it had no need for Phillips, Texas, and the town was scrubbed right off the map. The local homeowners owned their houses but not the land they sat on, which belonged to the company. (These sorts of arrangements were, and are, more common than you’d think, as in the case of the many Californians in the Coachella Valley who own their houses but lease their land from the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians.) Many of the residents of Phillips were uneager to be evicted from their homes, and they sued the company with the help of the famously theatrical Texas trial lawyer Racehorse Haynes, who informed the good people of Phillips: “They might whup us fair and square, but they better bring lunch.” Lunch was served, and Phillips is just gone.
It was the right thing to do. Some towns are better off dead.

That’s always been the truth at the heart of libertarianism, as well as the various implementations of Rousseau’s monstrous ideas. Libertarians have always imagined themselves as trapped with a bunch of fat lazy takers. Lacking the courage to confront the slackers themselves, they seek a system that will do the dirty work for them. Liberals have this same view. They see themselves as the saints of a fallen world and their system will take care of all those sinners.

Way back in the olden thymes, Whittaker Chambers unriddled this connection in his review of Ayn Rand.

Systems of philosophic materialism, so long as they merely circle outside this world’s atmosphere, matter little to most of us. The trouble is that they keep coming down to earth. It is when a system of materialist ideas presumes to give positive answers to real problems of our real life that mischief starts. In a age like ours, in which a highly complex technological society is everywhere in a high state of instability, such answers however philosophic, translate quickly into political realities. And in the degree to which problems of complexity and instability are most bewildering to masses of men, a temptation sets in to let some species of Big Brother solve and supervise them.

The liberal and the libertarian look at the messy arrangements of mankind and wish to clean the slate and start anew, because to work through the current arrangements is dirty and time consuming. One does not seek to alter the current arrangements out of a love or respect for the current arrangements. All utopians first aim to destroy and that is done best with a passion, which can only arise from contempt.

That’s what bleeds from Kevin Williamson’s writing. He looks at the “losers” in America with contempt. Some towns are better off dead. My guess is he thought that was a cheeky line, as he tends to the adolescent, but maybe he did think much about it. As Chambers noticed, libertarians are not full of introspection.

Nor has the author, apparently, brooded on the degree to which, in a wicked world, a materialism of the Right and a materialism of the Left, first surprisingly resemble, then in action tend to blend each with each, because, while differing at the top in avowed purposed, and possibly in conflict there, at bottom they are much the same thing. The embarrassing similarities between Hitler’s National Socialism and Stalin’s brand of Communism are familiar. For the world, as seen in materialist view from the Left. The question becomes chiefly: who is to run that world in whose interests, or perhaps, at best, who can run it more efficiently?

That last line sounds remarkably like Lenin’s adage, “who, whom?”

Groty Realism

I’m not a fan of Jim Goad, mostly because I have no respect for wife beaters, but I have read his columns at Taki from time to time. His latest is here and it starts with this:

Just like menstrual cramps and labor contractions, feminism comes in waves. Apparently we’re at the end of the third wave and on the cusp of the fourth. I don’t know what any of this means, either, so I looked it up.

It’s a pretty typical example of his work. Goad loves the vulgar and the crude. Here’s another example from a previous column:

At least that’s the stock retort lobbed like a Molotov cocktail at anyone who dares to articulate the undeniable mathematical fact that Jewish per-capita income is about twice America’s national average. It’s the term smeared like rat feces across the face of anyone who dispassionately points out that for a group comprising around 2% of the American population, Jews wield academic, cultural, and financial power way beyond their numbers.

Now, I’m no expert on rats or their droppings, but I’m pretty sure it is close to impossible to smear rat feces on anything. The point of the absurd image, of course, is not to illuminate, but to revolt, which is pretty much the point of every Jim Goad column, as far as I can tell. It’s a genre of performance that I call groty realism. The point, it seems to me, is to drag everything into the muck in order to mock it. I could be all wrong on that, but that’s the sense I get.

Goad is not a solo act. Kathy Shaidle and Ann Sterzinger write for Taki and employ groty realism in their columns. They do a lot less of it, but enough to put both in that column. I guess Gavin McInnes should be in that club as well, but he’s more of a television personality to me than a writer. Still, in his Taki columns he likes to dwell on the coarse and the crude.

I’m fond of pointing out that there is no accounting for taste so I can’t say if this style of presentation is better or worse than some other style. I’m not fond of it, but I’m not fond of the quill pen style of writing either. I tend to like a conversational tone and in my daily conversations, people don’t compare things to menstrual cramps or diarrhea, even when talking about menstrual cramps and diarrhea.

I’m a bit torn on the term. I call it “groty realism” because it plays off the term “gritty realism” that has been around for while in literature. The realism movement got going in America in the early 20th century. The subject matter went progressively down the social ladder until we got something called Kmart Realism in the 80’s, where all the characters were poor, white trash losers. The logical leap down is where all the characters are chronic masterbaters and coprophiles.

For whatever reason it reminds me of a few summers ago at Hampton Beach in Massachusetts. Like all public beaches, it is mostly populated by the lower strata of American society. You see lots of white guys with bad tattoos trailing behind pram faced women pushing strollers. Of course, you see loads of caramel colored kids running around. All the preaching about antiracism has actually been applied at the lower levels of society.

But, it’s mostly a celebration of social pathologies. Few of the men work so they carry themselves like men with no purpose. It’s a swagger that tells the you that all they have to offer the world is on their back and it is usually a poorly drawn tattoo. The women chat endlessly into cell phones, stopping to eat and scream at their misbehaving children. The great American underclass is a hodgepodge of Progressive fads adopted by people who can’t afford them.

My grandfather used to remark that when he was a child a century ago that the poor looked up to the middle who looked up to the rich. Then something happened and the rich started taking their cues from the poor and before long every vulgar and base human instinct was held up up as something to be performed in public. He may have had just a seventh grade education, but he was good at noticing things.

I wonder if the “something happened” part of the story is not in some way tied to the ascent of realism in western culture. When artists, writers, singers, poets and so on were looking up, everyone looked up with them. When they started looking down, everyone’s eyes followed to the point where we search the gutter for the right metaphor to describe our existence.

On the other hand, art is a reflection of the culture that produces it so the decline of the west preceded the decline in the arts. 150 years ago there was no audience for talking about your bowel movements whilst smearing yourself with pudding. People had more dignity. They also had a reason to look up, at least they thought they did. Now all they see is nothing so I suppose it makes sense to look down. At least there’s something to look at, even if it just their reflection.

A Post Defending Matt Damon

If you have lived in one of the Cult’s strongholds for any amount of time, you learn how to navigate around your local moonbats so as to avoid the harangue about whatever it is they are into at the moment. A decade ago when they started vibrating in ecstasy over homo marriage, the safe course was to say, “Let ’em be as miserable as the rest of us!” Then you could walk away without having to listen to the sermon.

Libertarians have built an entire philosophy around avoiding contact with the enemy. Gay marriage? They are against marriage licenses! Immigration? They are against borders! Whatever the issue, they always have some third implausible option they champion so everyone can ignore them. In the culture wars that have roiled the nation over the last fifty years, libertarians have been hiding under their beds.

Anyway, that may be a fine way to avoid conflict, but it makes public discourse impossible. A good example of it is in this screed about Matt Damon in America’s newspaper of record.

Matt Damon is an insufferable jerk. You know it. I know it. Rupert Everett most certainly does.

The Hollywood liberal (read: smug hypocrite) has interrupted the outer-space high surrounding Friday’s release of his Oscar-bait star turn, “The Martian,” to conduct a parallel “I’m Not a Homophobe” tour. But it’s only driving him deeper into the quicksand with LGBTQ types and those, like me, who couldn’t care less whom a performer loves. It’s 2015, Matt. Get over yourself!

He should grovel. GLAAD should dedicate a lecture series to him.

He should shut the hell up.

I’m betting that Andrea Peyser would care a lot if a celeb was found to be “loving” a sheep or a little boy. This affected indifference when it comes to homosexuals is exactly that, artificial. To have an opinion about homosexuals, other than the enthusiastic embrace, means you are evil, maybe even Hitler. If you can’t stomach being Hitler or you cannot embrace sodomy, then you choose the third option, which is to stand on the sidelines and pretend you do so on principle.

Now, Matt Damon is a lunk head and he says batty things. That just makes him a typical Hollywood performer. He’s in a business dominated by gay men so he is courting trouble by speaking publicly about the queers. He could stand up and say all Christians are Nazi pedophiles and his peers would applaud. Appear less than enthusiastic about buggery and you get to bunk with Mel Gibson. Shutting up is probably the best path for him to take.

If you want to live in some version of Iran, ceding the floor to the fanatics is a good way to do it. That is where we are headed. As the space for honest disagreement grows smaller, the number of people willing to risk getting the Hitler treatment grows smaller. Before long the only people left on stage are the guys with the clubs. Andrea Peyser’s admonition, “He should just shut up” becomes a way a life.

Guns, Blacks and Biology

Whenever a lunatic goes bonkers and shoots up a public place, the usual suspects march around in public, waving their banners and making a nuisance of themselves. Whether or not we have more lunatics going on shooting rampages is debatable. The figures are always gaffed by the people presenting them so they can claim science! supports their side. What no one can dispute is that we have more people with more guns, but the lowest violent crimes rates since the 80’s. Whatever is causing the nuts to go bonkers, it is not the guns.

William Saletan, a minor moonbat writer at Slate, is a good example of the deranged logic of Progressives in defense of the One True Faith. His piece on the latest mass shooting is the sort of thing that you would expect from a college freshman, but it is pretty standard stuff from the modern Left. There’s the requisite bogeyman (Republicans), the hero (Obama) and a series of cheers that are supposed to be an argument.

He writes that Obama is “raising a question that Republican candidates for president ought to answer: Our country has a strikingly high rate of killings. If it’s not because of our prodigious stockpile of firearms, what’s your explanation?”

Think about the implication of that statement. The mere presence of guns causes some portion of the public to fly into a rage and murder people. That’s the only conclusion one can draw from that argument. Even nuttier, it means that shaping metal in a certain way imbues it with the magical power to make an otherwise passive man become violent and murderous. Of course, you also have the classic logical fallacy of declaring that only one possible cause can explain the observed result.

Now, it is unlikely that Saletan believes in magic, but he is a true believer. As such, the other possible reasons for American’s elevated crime rates are off-limits. It’s not a lot different than how ancient people would assume witchcraft as an explanation for extraordinary events. When you can’t come up with anything rational, the only thing you have left is the supernatural. For Progressives, guns are magic that make people commit crimes.

Another example of this superstitious fear of knowing the true cause of crime in America is this story from 538 back in the summer. You have the typical Nate Silver treatment of the issue with lots of weird charts and tables. Then you get to the end where he slips in a bit of forbidden knowledge, assuming his Progressive readers never bother to read the whole thing. He writes:

The Charleston killings were unusual in that it was a mass shooting — and also in that the suspect is of a different race than the victims (both black and white homicide victims are much more likely to be killed by someone of their own race.) But that doesn’t negate that the threat black Americans face from homicide is radically different from the one whites do.

Get that? Blacks are killed in much higher numbers than other races, but they are killed by other blacks because murder is almost always intra-racial. Whites tend to kill whites, blacks kill blacks and so forth. Since blacks are much more likely to be victims, and blacks kill other blacks, well, you know what follows. That truth is so horrifying to Progressives it can never be said. It can only be implied and only through oblique references.

The truth is America does not have a gun problem or even a murder problem. America has a black guy problem. According to the Federal government, young black males make up 3% of the population and commit 27% of the homicides. Put another way, if black crime rates fell to the same level of whites, America would have an overall crime rate of a typical European country.

I did a series of posts on Africa a long time ago and one of them listed the intentional homicide rates. Sub-Saharan Africa has some outlandish murder rates, but they are consistent with what we see in American in cities like Baltimore and Detroit. America’s blacks are actually less violent than blacks in the mother country so that speaks well of the civilizing effects of civilization, but it still means there is a biological component to violence.

Progressives, of course, cannot accept that as it means a big chunk of the One True Faith is invalid. Reality, however, is making that increasingly difficult.

Palm readers claim to be able to see a person’s future in the patterns on their hands, but it seems it is possible to also learn about their ancestral past too from their fingers. Fingerprints – already used as a way to identify individuals – appear to encode information about a person’s ancestral background. Researchers have found there are distinct differences in how fingerprint ridges split between people of European and African ancestry. The researchers claim their findings could prove useful not just for anthropologists but also for modern law enforcement when trying to profile suspects.

Professor Ann Ross, an anthropologist at North Carolina State University who led the study, said: ‘This is the first study to look at this issue at this level of detail, and the findings are extremely promising. ‘A lot of additional work needs to be done, but this holds promise for helping law enforcement. ‘This finding also tells us that there’s a level of variation in fingerprints that is of interest to anthropologists, particularly in the area of global population structures.’

The researchers, whose work is published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, examined the right index fingerprints of 243 individuals. They looked at both the level one details, such as pattern types and ridge counts, and the level two details, which are more specific variations such as bifurcations – where ridges split – ridge endings and other structures. They analysed the prints of 61 African American women, 61 African American men, 61 European American women and 60 European American men. While they could not find any significant differences between men and women, they did find significant differences in the level two details of fingerprints between people of European and African descent.

If fingerprints carry racial markers, it is no longer possible to argue that race is anything but biological reality. How the Cult of Modern Liberalism contends with the growing amount of data contradicting a major chunk of their worldview is not clear, but denial cannot go on forever. Otherwise, they will all sound as nutty as William Saletan and the next stop is marginalization. We can only hope.