2016 Predictions

When you’re in the blogging rackets, there are some things you have to do if you want to survive. The most important thing to do is let everyone know you’re badass. You can, for instance, pick out the biggest blogger on the yard and beat the hell out of him to send a message to the other bloggers. Alternatively, I went for the hand over the candle move, as I found it more aesthetically in tune with my oeuvre.

The other thing you have to do is write a New Year’s prediction post. I did one last year and one the year before that. Last year I got most everything wrong, but in my defense, I was not trying very hard. I was going for yuks. I did think the economy would perform better and the stock market to bubble up, so I was wrong on both scores. The GDP will come in under 3% for the year and the DOW finished a shade below where it started.

On the political front, I missed the Trump story entirely, but I can be forgiven for that as he was not running when I wrote that post. On the other hand, I would never have predicted his campaign anyway. I have been right on the larger theme of disintegration, just not in the details. I figured the Democrats, for example, would be in full meltdown by now. I think Trump sucking all the air out of the room has been a great benefit to Clinton, so far.

That’s enough of that. Let’s dust off the crystal ball and look at what it says about 2016.

The Fed will settle into a pattern of incremental rate hikes, showing a willingness to err on that side in order to claw back toward normalcy. Obama is a lame duck, so the politics are right for taking the pain of rate hikes in 2016. The quarter point hike was shrugged off by markets, so we’ll see similar hikes through the first half of the year as long as the waters remain calm.

The Federal Reserve has a tricky problem to solve in that they have to rebuild their tool case so they can address the next emergency, but they have to do so slowly so they don’t touch off a new emergency, requiring them to blow their reserves. The best time to do that is when one party is on the way out and the other is on the way in. That way, a recession can be blamed on the loser.

The political class is in a full panic over the rise of Trump in the GOP and the disastrous performance so far by Hillary Clinton. Not much attention has been paid to Hillary and her terrible campaign thus far, but that’s about to change. Donald Trump has played the Bill Cosby card on the Clintons and so far, the liberal press is playing along. The Post and the Times have signed off on discussing Bill’s rape problem as a legitimate campaign item.

I’ve been saying for years that the Cult will eventually purge the Clintons. As valuable as they have been to the Democrats, their verminous rapacity offends the sensibilities of the typical Progressive. In many respects, the Clintons represent a part of the past the Cult would like to memory hole and this election may be the perfect time. 2016 will be the year the liberal media turns on the Clintons, even if it scuttles the Democrats chances of winning the White House.

Speaking of Trump, I’m going to say he finishes third in Iowa, but close enough to make it meaningless. Cruz will win because he has the support of the religious groups and they tend to rally around one candidate. Rubio looks like the horse the establishment plans to ride. My guess is the Carson vote goes to him as they have always been the most skittish voters. The final totals will be a virtual three-way tie so while Trump will be third, he can pitch it as a tie.

Trump will win New Hampshire and by a big margin. His performance in Iowa will be enough to dispense with the idea that he will fade away. It will also reassure New Hampshire voters that he is not a religious wacko or beholden to them. This means more to these voters than commonly understood. Trumps big win in the Granite State will cause the Old Man of the Mountain to spontaneously reassemble.

Shifting to something lighter, I’ll pick the New England Patriots to make the Super Bowl and they will face the Arizona Cardinals. Similarly, I will pick the Red Sox to win the American League and make it to the World Series. The shocker will be that the New York Yankees become the first team in baseball history to finish 0-and-162.

English soccer leagues will not go bankrupt this year as I expect to be in attendance for games in the spring. That means I’ll either have to find some other excuse, but I’m leaning toward sucking it up and indulging in some good old fashioned hooliganism. If my British readers hear of an old man speaking with a funny accent leading a soccer riot, it’s probably me.

On the technology front, cord cutting will accelerate through the year and begin to threaten the current arrangements. The math of cord cutting is obvious and now the technology is making it easy. Old habits die hard, but they die faster when the new habit is easy to acquire. Plugging in a magic box and watching TV on demand is reaching the point where anyone can do it. By this time next year content providers will be scurrying to find a way to survive in an on-demand world.

Finally, let’s make some predictions about the foreigners. The collapse of oil prices will further destabilize the Middle East leading to more migrants flooding into Europe. The story of 2016 will be the sudden shift in the political consensus with regards to immigration as the established parties seek to check the rising parties of the Right. Suddenly, it will be Ok to talk about borders, deportations and assimilation.

The Russians will quietly begin to court the Kurds, offering low-level military aid with promises of more aid to defend against the Turks. The Turks will respond with even more aggressive acts against Russia air and sea assets. The first real crisis of NATO since the Cold War will be how to handle the potential outbreak of war between Turkey and Russia.

North Korea will test a fusion weapon setting off a true crisis in Asia. China can tolerate a crude atomic weapon in North Korea, but she cannot tolerate them having a fusion weapon. Similarly, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan will have to fundamentally rethink their defense posture. The great shift in 2016 will be from containing China to working with China to deal with the NORKS.

The Odour of Honeysuckle

One of the more entertaining aspects of the Trump Effect is watching members of the so-called conservative media throw around the word “conservative” like is some sort of magic spell. They utter the word within various incantations intended to make Trump disappear. Others use it to ward off the hordes of Trump supporters they fear are about to break their beloved party.

The word “conservative’ has lost all meaning, which is what you see in this post on NRO the other day. Jim Geraghty is no Genius T. Coates, so you have to look past the logical fallacies at the beginning, but you’ll note that what Geraghty thinks of as “conservative” is just a shopping list of Republican proposals with a healthy dollop of social engineering.

The panic among the chattering classes is obvious and the Geraghty piece has the feel of someone bargaining for his life. The only thing missing is the “I’ll give you anything you want” line that Hollywood imagines everyone says when facing death. A year ago, they were sure that one of the guys from central casting would be the nominee and now they see it all falling to pieces. The dirt people have breached the walls.

Whenever I read these columns, I keep thinking of the bit from Braveheart at the first battle. This was before Mel shows up to give his big speech. The troops are about to split after seeing the English forming up and one of the nobles pleads with them, “Men, do not flee. Wait until we’ve negotiated.”  That’s GOP Inc. these days. They want one last chance to negotiate.

The problem for Conservative Inc. is they conceded a critical principle a long time ago that puts them forever at odds with traditional American conservatism. That is, they surrendered on the fundamental right of association, which is the bedrock of American conservatism. Once the state can dictate to you with whom you can associate or disassociate, you are no longer a citizen. Every conceivable right depends on the ability to band together or walk away, as necessary.

The remedy was to grasp about for ways to gain the ends that naturally flow from freedom of association, without upsetting the Left over the issue of race. The trouble is that it was always a matter of time before the Left could close the loop and make everything about race. They even made the weather a racial issue so anything of consequence was going to be easy pickings for the Cult.

Long ago, the official Right came to an accommodation with the other side of the Yankee ruling class. A movement that fundamentally stands outside the traditions and instincts of Public Protestantism is forever trapped in that framework. Public intellectuals of the Right spend their lives trying to make their movement, their philosophy, comport with the ethics and aesthetics of the Progressives.

Once the Right gave into the Left on association, equating it with racism and therefore off-limits, the Right stopped being an opposition movement and became a partner. One side wants to use the power of the state to compel certain behavior, while the other sides either counsels caution or argues for different goals. Whether or not the state herds the people around is no longer an issue up for debate.

That’s what has the official Right in a panic over Trump and the growing resistance to immigration. If the people can debate who is and who is not allowed in for settlement, then freedom of association is back on the table. That means the average American can decide with whom he lives and, by extension, with whom he refuses to associate. More important, it calls into question the modern Right’s place in the ruling consensus.

In the novel The Sound and the Fury, Quentin Compson is the son of a once prominent Southern family who is at school at Harvard. Quentin wishes to reject his father’s antiquated philosophy, but the world he lives in seems constantly to affirm that view of the world. Eventually, unable to reconcile his place in the cultural timeline with the world in which he lives, he throws himself off a bridge and drowns in the Charles River.

The official Right finds itself in a similar dilemma. They desperately want to find some way to reject the past without succumbing to the present. The Bill Buckley experiment has been a generational attempt to accommodate traditional American conservatism with the dominant Public Protestantism that we now call Progressivism.

For a long time, they were sure they unriddled it, but now here they are facing what they see as the Snopes clan. They look at Trump and his supporters as vermin who threaten the great project. Instead of strolling the ivy covered walls of elite institutions, the official Right is about to drown in the odor of honeysuckle. Like Quentin Compson, they see no way to resolve the past with the present.

The End of Things

After the American Civil War, the big issues, with regards to politics in the country, were decided. The vanquished portions of the nation would have a say in the running of the country, but only within the constraints of the settled upon political system. America would be a country with a strong central government that would dominate the federal system conceived by the Founders. The debate would be about how much it controls and how quickly.

The idea, for example, that the restraints on the national government listed in the Bill of Rights should now apply to state and local government would have seemed odd to the Founders. States, for example, had official religions. As late as the 1830s Massachusetts provided tax money to local Congregational churches. The 14th Amendment applied the Bill of Rights to states, thus altering the fundamental relationship between the states and the Federal government.

From the Civil War forward, politics in America was largely a domestic dispute between the factions within the victorious coalition. You see this in the choice of presidents. The First “southerner” to win on his own after the Civil War was Wilson in 1912 and he remains the greatest of outliers in American politics. Both Johnsons and Truman got there by virtue of death. The next true southerner to win was Carter and again we see very strange conditions.

You can probably argue that the post-Civil War arrangements would have collapsed in the 20th century except for the great wars of Europe and then the Cold War. The crisis in global capitalism leading up to The Great War and then the war itself, placed enormous power in the hands of the federal government. The rise of America as global hegemon after the Second War made Washington DC the capital of the world throughout the Cold War.

Then something happened, something no one seems to discuss much these days. That is, the collapse of the Soviet Union and along with it the end of ideological socialism. Up until the 1990, the world was defined as capitalism on one side and Marxism on the other. Suddenly, one end of the scale collapsed, at least in terms of economics and morality. In the blink of an eye, being a Marxist went from avant-garde to ridiculous.

The 1992 election was cast at the time as the point where the Baby Boomers took over and that was true to a point. It was also the point where the Democrats threw in the towel on socialism. They embraced global capitalism with the enthusiasm of a convert. It’s not an accident that the great banking “reforms” happened in the Clinton years, embraced by both parties.

The trouble for both parties is they lost their reason to exist when ideological Marxism collapsed. It is always argued that this has been worse for the GOP than for the Democrats, but the opposite is true. In the Clinton years the Democrats went from being the majority party to the minority party. From 1994 onward, the party was in a steady retreat politically and ideologically.

The 2000 presidential election felt like a pivotal one because you had a vestigial Southern Democrat versus a Yankee heretic. The main source of hatred toward Bush from the Cult was his apparent rejection of the culture of Yankeedom for the culture of Hooterville. The venomous hatred of Bush was what you see from the betrayed. The Left was the shrewish ex-wife and Bush was the philandering husband.

That anger was put to good use. By 2006 the New Left had a sales pitch, even if they had nothing to pitch. Voters will pick energy over lethargy and the Democrats in the mid-2000’s had plenty of energy. Then they found Black Jesus and could run as moral crusaders, even though they could not articulate the point of the crusade. They had to search around the fringes for victims to champion and wrongs to be righted.

Homosexual marriage, tranny rights, ghetto rage, micro-aggressions and faux rape culture are all the result of grasping around at the edges of life looking for something, anything, which can be made into a banner. Each grasp deeper into the darkness returns something even more preposterous. Liberalism, and by extension the Democratic Party, has become a roadside freak of self-beclownment.

So-called serious progressivism today is mostly just nostalgia. Lefty plutocrats like Rahm Emmanuel, a man who made millions in a no-show job on Wall Street, vacations in Cuba while Chicago descends into a race war. George Soros, the great benefactor of modern progressivism, is a billionaire global capitalist.

The Left and by extension the Democrats, now embrace the same economics as the so-called Right. Both sides lust after riches in the financial markets. Both sides embrace global corporatism. The Left champions the liquidation of labor rights through advocacy of open borders. Think about that. There’s a reason it is hard to see the difference between the parties. There isn’t one.

Much is made of the circus going on in the GOP primary but look at the Democratic side. The party that used to brag about its youth and creativity is offering a worn out old grifter and a ridiculous commie that looks like he strolled out of a 1940’s movie on communism. The two of them are out campaigning in mobility scooters. The one young guy in the race can’t draw flies.

The great reordering that is under way is due to the collapse of the raison d’être of the American ruling class. What animated politics in America for the last several generations has been the interplay between Progressives and the defenders of the status quo, played out in the shadow of the Cold War.

The Left collapsed as an intellectual movement when the Cold War ended, but the Right collapsed as a pragmatic alternative. You can’t have one without the other. In a single generation, the Left has adopted the economics of the Right and the Right has adopted the politics of the Left. Neither side has a reason to exist outside of naked greed.

The New Containment

The policy of containment, with respect to the Soviet Union and the Cold War, evolved at the end of World War II and into the post-war period because the other options were not practical. Sending the US army to push the Russians out of eastern Europe would have been an impossible sell to the American public, assuming it was even possible. Dropping a nuke on Moscow would have been a public relations disaster.

On the other hand, simply letting the Russians dominate Europe was out of the question politically, even though many within the American ruling elite were communists. There had to be a way to keep most of Europe free that did not result in a war with Russia. Containment was the near perfect solution. It kept the Russians in check, created thousands of jobs for the Yankee elite and fed the military-industrial complex.

That’s not intended to imply that the people who crafted and developed the Western response to the Soviets thought all this through in advance. It just evolved into the best solution. At the onset it scratched the itch, the need to respond to Soviet aggression, but over time it proved to be flexible enough to accommodate the needs of various constituencies within the ruling class.

The funny thing about the Cold War is it preserved the American ruling consensus long after the facts on the ground justified it. The public was not going to support overturning the apple cart as long as the threat of nuclear annihilation was very real. That naturally made anyone advocating great change a threat and they were easily painted as a hothead or commie.

The result was a self-policing where the Left kept their commies in the lower ranks and the Right kept their hot heads out of sight. Within living memory, a ridiculous fop like Barak Obama would have been kept in the community organizing department where he could not cause trouble. Of course, fear of nuclear annihilation kept the public from questioning the arrangements, even if meant keeping the black man down.

Since the end of the Cold War a quarter century ago, the ruling elites have lost their footing, staggering around like drunks. In Europe, the main parties are imploding into a single party relying on skullduggery to overcome a lack of purpose. The recent French elections demonstrate their willingness to lock shields to preserve the status quo, even when they can’t come up with reason for maintaining it.

In America, the Democrats are a party for men in dresses and women in muumuus. The Republicans are the land of misfit toys, politicians just not weird enough for the other team. The ructions in the GOP primary reveal the party establishment to be hollow men with no reason to exist beyond habit. The Democrats look like God’s waiting room, an old pinko in a pantsuit versus an old an old pinko in pants.

For the past few decades, there’s been no real cost to excess, but that’s changing as the demographic explosion on the fringes of civilization threaten the West with an invasion of barbarians from over the horizon. Islam presents both a cultural and demographic challenge. Africa presents a demographic and biological challenge. So far, the ruling elites have failed to come to terms with this looming threat.

It strikes me that the rise of “far far far extreme right wing” parties in Europe and the rise of the “extreme right wing racist Donald Trump” in America may turn out to be a catalyst for how the ruling class responds to the next great challenge to civilization. While abandoning anti-racism, multiculturalism and egalitarianism is unthinkable, all three can be shoehorned into a new policy of containment.

Keeping the Mahommedan bottled up in his own lands, a new policy of containment, has obvious practical benefits to the West. Capping off Africa by making the Mediterranean a real barrier to entry (and maybe bribing the countries of the Maghreb), helps solve the African explosion as well. The Arabs would simply refocus their attention on making the Sahara a natural barrier again.

At the same time, containment means not mucking about in the affairs of the Mahommedan. In the Cold War, the West left the Eastern Bloc to the care of the Soviets. They had their sphere of influence and we had ours. The new containment would follow the same model. Let the Mahommedan manage his lands as he sees fit, but keep him bottled up in those lands, behind a technological, cultural and military curtain.

The benefit to the ruling class is it gives them a natural reason to exist. They are holding back the tides and sensible citizens will not want to risk that by supporting fringe candidates. It also brings back the natural self-policing that comes from permanent war. The Left will suppress their one-word fanatics, while the Right will keep their invade the world nutters under wraps.

Of course, the military and the diplomatic core will have plenty of reasons to get money and jobs for their people. Muffy Pemberton can pop out of Harvard and take a job in the diplomatic corps, while Dwayne Haskins can make a career out of standing guard at the borders. The Yankee ruling class gets the band back together, just focused on a different enemy. They can even, wink-wink, argue about which side has the best approach.

The sales pitch can center around the fact that it is more effective to send aid to these people than it is to resettle them in the West. There’s also the benefit of keeping their best and brightest in their home countries so they can help develop their societies. There’s the obvious safety angle, keeping the Mahommedan from exploding in your local coffee shop. It’s an easy sell with obvious benefits.

Containment. It’s not just for commies anymore.

Star Wars and Fake Nerds

The other day, a woman gave me the business over my lack of enthusiasm for the new Star Wars movie. When she told me about how she was going to the first night, I said I had saw the original three, but skipped the reboot. I may have caught clips here and there, but otherwise I had no interest and I have no interest in the latest rendition. When I called it cowboys and Indians in space, I seemed to have crossed some line.

In his latest transmission, John Derbyshire takes a similar position, but for a different reason and probably a better reason than I offered. John grew up reading classic science fiction, so he knows good sci-fi and Star Wars is just crap by comparison. I agree with that, and I would add that Star Trek, the original version, is the gold standard for Hollywood science fiction.

Way back when Star Wars came out in the late 70’s, it was largely considered a kids movie. The adult sci-fi weirdos were into Star Trek, with the first convention happening in 1972. Guys spending Saturday night playing Dungeons and Dragons or learning to code on their Commodore PET were doing so wearing Spock ears, not fondling a fake light saber.

But we now live in the age of the fake nerd, and I think that’s where Star Wars fits best. The people that “fucking love science!” and watch Big Bang Theory can’t shut up about Star Wars. It’s another method to signal their membership in the cult of pseudo-scientism. They may never have made it past geometry in school, but they swear they grew up on comic books and were always a nerd.

Fake nerds are everywhere in the media these days. Jonah Goldberg is the one that always comes to mind when I think about this stuff. He has invested a lot of time casting himself as a bookish nerd-boy who grew up reading Batman comics and watching re-runs of Gilligan’s Island. Maybe it is true or maybe it is just clever marketing. You never can know for sure with people in the media.

In sports media, the fake nerd is everywhere because statistics are such a big part of sports. ESPN loves dressing up a millennial as a dork and having him rattle off numbers on TV. It’s often hilarious as the typical sports reporter is innumerate, barely able to count to ten without help. But they dress them up as nerds, anyway, figuring it is what the public expects.

Of course, turning science into a religion is why we have kooks like Bill Nye demanding to have skeptics thrown in prison. He’s a good reminder that you can be batshit crazy and still be able to design a decent toaster. The amusement park manager, Neil deGrasse Tyson, made it through a doctoral program, but found better money in peddling pseudo-scientific nonsense to rich people.

The funny thing about the fake nerd stuff is that real nerds are usually active people who enjoy the outdoors, playing sports and doing the sorts of things normal people do. I used to play hoops with a bunch of programmers. I know a few body builders who are engineers, one is a rocket scientist at NASA. In my experience, the highly numerate tend to be a little nuts and anything but nerdish.

Of course, the fake nerd stuff is just a pose. We live in an age of marvels where the technology is far outpacing most people’s ability to keep up. In that regard, our era has another striking resemblance to the late 19th and early 20th century, before the great wars. When Wells, Gernsbacker and Verne invented science fiction, it seemed as if science would conquer the human condition.

A century ago, to be thought of as smart you had to be a tinkerer and love what passed for science and technology at the time. Everyone was convinced that all the answers were just around the corner and the pace of technology would only accelerate. Taylorism was the economics of its day and everyone that was thought to be intelligent was into science.

A big difference between then and now is that fake nerdism is probably filling the void where religion used to reside. A century ago, even the most empirically minded went to mass, just to keep up appearances. Today, no one believes in anything, so everyone falls for everything. Slap the word “study” onto any batshit crazy idea and your fake nerd friends will be posting infographics about on their Facebook page.

My Theory of Everything: Part VII

In the previous episode of this endless series of posts, I explained my view of history as a random stagger. Societies move from one phase to another haphazardly, constrained by the choices of those who came before them. North Korea has the options it has due to the choices made by those of the previous generations. The decisions made today will constrain future generations.

Those decisions, however, don’t spring from thin air. The choices made by Kim Il-sung were for a reason and that reason was to address a problem. The organization of his political party, for example, was about solving problems that Kim and his people were facing. Like all solutions, they were trade-offs. As is always the case with good commies, Kim let the debit side of the trade-off fall on his people, while he kept the credit side.

Everything around us, the political institutions, the laws, the customs, etc., all evolved to address the immediate needs of society and the desires of the people in charge of society. There’s not a single punctuation mark in the legal code that is not there for a reason. Every jot and tittle in the regulatory code has a constituency behind it that wanted it in the code to fix a problem for them.

The temptation is to point at these things and dismisses them as corruption, greed, or ideological lunacy. Even when that is true, self-dealing solves a problem for the political elites doing the dealing. The modern Democrat party shovels money to public sector unions because it is good for the party. The unions use those funds to elect Democrats, who in turn shovel them move money. From their point of view, it is the perfect solution.

Even the ideological stuff is done to address what the ideologues see as a pressing need. FDR and the New Dealers rolled out the welfare state because they truly feared popular unrest due to the Depression. They thought social security was a great solution to the problems of old age. They thought the Wagner Act would help stabilize labor and prevent the sorts of radicalization they saw in Europe.

Thus, the world into which all of us were born is a world populated with solutions to problems. Some are cultural institutions like churches and social customs. Others are in the political economy of society. Government, the legal structure of every society, was created and evolved as a solution to the problems of how to best organize and rule society.

Of course, many of those problems were long solved and the lingering solutions no longer seem to have a justification. This is where Progressives get into trouble. They swing the wrecking ball without wondering why the thing they intend to destroy was created. In the 1980’s, America emptied out the lunatic asylums because lefty felt bad for the crazies. Ever since, American cities have had a “homeless problem.”

Then there are problems that have been truly solved. In America, food shortages have been solved and now the poor are fat, while the rich are skinny. Despite the abundance of cheap calories available to everyone, we still have food subsidy programs for the poor and farm subsidy programs for farmers. Billions are taken from taxpayers, given to rich farmers and fat people so the rich farmers can sell the fat people cheap food.

Every year, sensible people propose that we spend public funds on new problems, but the cost of farm subsidies for rich people and food programs for the fat people means there’s not enough money for the new solutions. We kick a lot of cans down the road in order to avoid unwinding unneeded solutions to long solved problems.

Even though we have long blown past the point where the returns turned negative, the perceived costs of rolling back these old solutions exceeds the benefits. As a result, they keep rolling along, becoming ever more draining on society. Many public policy solutions take us down a cul-de-sac.

The most well-known example of this is the Roman Empire. Early conquests had huge returns that more than paid for the cost of gaining them. That meant new conquests were the obvious solution to adding to the wealth of Rome.

That made sense up to the point where the costs of new conquests exceeded what the Romans could loot form the newly conquered people. By the time of Augustus, expanding the Empire further simply made no sense, because the cost of conquering more barbarians exceeded the benefits.

The trouble for the Romans was the ongoing cost to past conquest. Those conquered lands had to remain conquered. The frontiers had to be guarded and that meant paying for legions to fight the barbarians. Administering an empire had costs as well. Roads had to be built, army officers bribed, dissent suppressed. The on-going costs of maintaining the empire eventually hollowed it out, leading to collapse.

An example of how culture can become a suicide vest can be found with the Celts. They had a tradition of burying their dead leaders with their wealth. New leaders acquired their own wealth, which created a meritocracy of sorts. To become a great Celtic leader, you had to be good at war and peace so you could gain great wealth for yourself and your people.

The trouble was, destroying that wealth on the death of the ruler made it harder for each generation to acquire gold, silver, precious gems, etc. Eventually, the number of people seeking gold far exceeded the amount available in Celtic lands. Historians believe this led to the collapse of Celtic society and the Celtic invasions.

That’s fundamentally why companies fail, revolutions topple governments and empires collapse. The cost of the status quo becomes untenable, but the cost of reform is also untenable. The business cannot reorganize, the elites cannot reform and the empire cannot downsize. The only “solution” left is liquidation, a clearing off all the old solutions and their costs. A clean start.

At a nation level, revolution is just bankruptcy with more theater. The revolutionaries seize the public assets of society, liquidate them and start over with a clean sheet of paper. What is useful is retained, but all obligations are voided. The whole point of a revolution is to wipe away all those old solutions, which are viewed as mistakes and burdens, so the people can have a fresh start.

The crisis faced by the West is not just the wave of migrants or the mountains of debt. Those are easily solved. The crisis is caused by the overhang of old solutions to old problems. Angela Merkel is the answer to a question posed thirty years ago, one no one asks anymore, because we have new questions to answer, like how to keep Mohamed from self-detonating in Europe.

What comes next, what always follows an economic revolution, is a massive political reorganization. Maybe this time it is collapse under a wave of flea infested migrants from the south. Maybe the popular uprisings in response to the flood of migrants will usher in a clearing of the debts. Maybe the Germans will stop apologizing for Hitler and Southerners will stop apologizing for slavery.

Happy Kwanzaa

Here is the late great Tony Snow’s legendary column on Kwanzaa:

BLACKS IN AMERICA have suffered an endless series of insults and degradations, the latest of which goes by the name of Kwanzaa.

Ron Karenga (aka Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga) invented the seven-day feast (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) in 1966, branding it a black alternative to Christmas. The idea was to celebrate the end of what he considered the Christmas-season exploitation of African Americans.

According to the official Kwanzaa Web site — as opposed, say, to the Hallmark Cards Kwanzaa site — the celebration was designed to foster “conditions that would enhance the revolutionary social change for the masses of Black Americans” and provide a “reassessment, reclaiming, recommitment, remembrance, retrieval, resumption, resurrection and rejuvenation of those principles (Way of Life) utilized by Black Americans’ ancestors.”

Karenga postulated seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith, each of which gets its day during Kwanzaa week. He and his votaries also crafted a flag of black nationalism and a pledge: “We pledge allegiance to the red, black, and green, our flag, the symbol of our eternal struggle, and to the land we must obtain; one nation of black people, with one G-d of us all, totally united in the struggle, for black love, black freedom, and black self-determination.”

Now, the point: There is no part of Kwanzaa that is not fraudulent. Begin with the name. The celebration comes from the Swahili term “matunda yakwanza,” or “first fruit,” and the festival’s trappings have Swahili names — such as “ujima” for “collective work and responsibility” or “muhindi,” which are ears of corn celebrants set aside for each child in a family.

Unfortunately, Swahili has little relevance for American blacks. Most slaves were ripped from the shores of West Africa. Swahili is an East African tongue.

To put that in perspective, the cultural gap between Senegal and Kenya is as dramatic as the chasm that separates, say, London and Tehran. Imagine singing “G-d Save the Queen” in Farsi, and you grasp the enormity of the gaffe.

Worse, Kwanzaa ceremonies have no discernible African roots. No culture on earth celebrates a harvesting ritual in December, for instance, and the implicit pledges about human dignity don’t necessarily jibe with such still-common practices as female circumcision and polygamy. The inventors of Kwanzaa weren’t promoting a return to roots; they were shilling for Marxism. They even appropriated the term “ujima,” which Julius Nyrere cited when he uprooted tens of thousands of Tanzanians and shipped them forcibly to collective farms, where they proved more adept at cultivating misery than banishing hunger.

Even the rituals using corn don’t fit. Corn isn’t indigenous to Africa. Mexican Indians developed it, and the crop was carried worldwide by white colonialists.

The fact is, there is no Ur-African culture. The continent remains stubbornly tribal. Hutus and Tutsis still slaughter one another for sport.

Go to Kenya, where I taught briefly as a young man, and you’ll see endless hostility between Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya and Masai. Even South African politics these days have more to do with tribal animosities than ideological differences.

Moreover, chaos too often prevails over order. Warlords hold sway in Somalia, Eritrea, Liberia and Zaire. Genocidal maniacs have wiped out millions in Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia. The once-shining hopes for Kenya have vanished.

Detroit native Keith Richburg writes in his extraordinary book, “Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa,” that “this strange place defies even the staunchest of optimists; it drains you of hope …”

Richburg, who served for three years as the African bureau chief for The Washington Post, offers a challenge for the likes of Karenga: “Talk to me about Africa and my black roots and my kinship with my African brothers and I’ll throw it back in your face, and then I’ll rub your nose in the images of rotting flesh.”

His book concludes: “I have been here, and I have seen — and frankly, I want no part of it. …. By an accident of birth, I am a black man born in America, and everything I am today — my culture and my attitudes, my sensibilities, loves and desires — derives from that one simple and irrefutable fact.”

Nobody ever ennobled a people with a lie or restored stolen dignity through fraud. Kwanzaa is the ultimate chump holiday — Jim Crow with a false and festive wardrobe. It praises practices — “cooperative economics, and collective work and responsibility” — that have succeeded nowhere on earth and would mire American blacks in endless backwardness.

Our treatment of Kwanzaa provides a revealing sign of how far we have yet to travel on the road to reconciliation. The white establishment has thrown in with it, not just to cash in on the business, but to patronize black activists and shut them up.

This year, President Clinton signed his fourth Kwanzaa proclamation. He crooned: “The symbols and ceremony of Kwanzaa, evoking the rich history and heritage of African Americans, remind us that our nation draws much of its strength from our diversity.”

But our strength, as Richburg points out, comes from real principles: tolerance, brotherhood, hard work, personal responsibility, equality before the law. If Americans really cared about racial healing, they would focus on those ideas — and not on a made-up rite that mistakes segregationism for spirituality and fiction for history.

The Cult of Magic

Over the last decade or so, I’ve lost interest in debating my Progressive friends on most everything. I’ll torment them when the opportunity arises or subtly mock them by appearing to go along with their latest crackpottery, but I avoid getting into anything resembling a serious debate with them. There’s simply no point. I’d have more luck debating an astrologer.

The astrologer, at least, understands that their thing is bullshit. People into the black arts willingly admit to being into magic and they never pretend otherwise. Some astrologers, I suppose, come close to making claims to science, but they never hide the magical bits at the core. Instead, they believe the stars determine our fate in some magical way that can be discovered. It’s kooky, but they don’t pretend it is real science and it is basically harmless.

Hang around Lefty for any length of time and you inevitably bump up against what can only be labeled as magical thinking. There’s an old gag in engineering where you have a flow chart describing all the inputs pointing to a box labeled “something magical happens” which then leads to the desired output. The modern Progressive orthodoxy is shot through with some version of this, usually dressed up with “studies” that read like astrological charts.

I’ve visited this topic in the past, but it seems like a good time to catalog the various forms of magic floating around the Cult. As the load bearing walls of the ruling class show signs of distress, magical thinking is breaking out all over so keeping up on the latest spells and incantations is probably a good idea. That and it allows me to let my hair down and say horrible things about Progressives.

And I’ve started drinking earlier than usual.

The most obvious example of magical thinking is gun control. The Cult is out shaking their staffs at the heavens now, demanding special ceremonies to make the guns stop shooting people. The way to do that, they claim, is to go hassle some white guys in the suburbs who like to hunt and shoot paper targets. Somehow, that’s going to stop Farouk and Jamal from shooting up their neighborhood.

The thing about gun control is that ultimately it is based on the belief that shaping a piece of metal or plastic in a certain way imbues it with magical powers. The “studies” they wave about claim that the mere presence of a gun shaped object causes otherwise sane people to commit suicide, shoot their old lady, rob a liquor store and now, go on Jihad at the local municipal building.

Magic Shape Theory is just one facet of the Progressive amulet. The guy holding the amulet right now is the world’s greatest example of Magic Negro Theory. Back in 2008, the Cult of Modern Liberalism assured us that the sins of the past could be washed from the soul of the nation by putting a black guy in charge. Even though he spoke mostly in gibberish and had yet to show he could run anything more complicated than his yap, he was our savior.

Sadly, we did not have a Pontius Pilate handy (or a Sirhan Sirhan) so we got Barak the Magic Negro who promised:

“I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.”

There’s political rhetoric and then there are incantations and prophesies. Promising two cars in every garage and a chicken in every pot is standard political rhetoric. Promising to alter physical reality is the sort of thing people claiming to be warlocks say just before they are carried off to the asylum or, preferably, thrown off a cliff. Not only did the people voting for this ninny believe he was magic; Obama believed he was magic.

The most famous form of magic floating around today is Magic Dirt Theory. Put that phrase in a google machine and out comes 496,000 references. In the whole wide web, that’s not a lot, relatively speaking, but it is not a little either. The fact that the phrase alone could enter the mainstream so easily makes clear it is not just a throwaway line. It’s a real thing, at least in the minds of the believers.

For the unaware, Magic Dirt Theory claims that the soil alters behavior. Place a bunch of Bantus in Paris and they magically transform into Frenchmen. Round up residents of your typical inner city, set them up in suburbia and they become the Cleavers, just without all the honky-ism and white privilege. They will quit gang-banging, get jobs, pay taxes and join the Rotary Club.

In the ongoing crisis, it’s tempting to think that belief in magic is new or just a last gasp, but magic has always been a central part of the Cult of Modern Liberalism. Decades ago, moonbats were convinced that if they affixed a Darwin Fish to their Subaru, it would turn the vehicle’s occupants into scientists. Back in the day, the surest way to spot the innumerate was to look for the Darwin Fish.

At the time, people who should have known better dismissed it as mere signaling. The people displaying these things were letting us know they were in the cult of secular humanism. Remember that one? People used to wear shirts claiming they were secular humanists.

Anyway, that’s exactly the point of a magic talisman. It is a signal to the evil spirits that the wearer is protected by strong juju. Instead of warding off Satan, the Darwin Fish people were using magic symbols to ward off Christians.

Today, the hip and groovy thing to do is to let everyone know you love Gaia by carrying grimy canvas sacks with you to the grocery store. The people doing this believe the grimy sacks create a force field around them repelling deniers who want to kill Mother Earth with their lawnmower. If enough believers carry the grimy sacks with them, Mother Earth will be protected from the bad men.

You can’t have a decent cult without a collection of abracadabra words, the incantations that expose the evil doers in your ranks, give strength to the faithful and diminish the power of the enemies. In modern America, there’s no word more potent than “racist” and its use has the power to slay dragons. Theodore Dalrymple wrote a nice column on how even non-believers can use the power of the R-word to destroy the wicked.

Anti-racism has become the philosopher’s stone of the Cult of Modern Liberalism. It’s not just a weapon, used to melt the faces off of enemies like the Arc in Raiders. The faithful truly believe that once they purge society of racism, the skies will open up and bliss will rain down on mankind, bringing about the eschaton. This is no different from the Puritans believing their purpose in life was to rid their communities of sin and sinners.

One way to purge the world of sinners is through the magic of diversity. Filling up your neighborhood with people not like you is the one sure way bring about the eschaton. If you doubt this, well, you’re probably related to Hitler. Everyone believes diversity is good, because science! and because it is. It just is and if you disagree, well, maybe you should find somewhere else to live.

Before we had the wonderfulness of diversity, we had tolerance, which was this thing that drove away the people the tolerant simply could not tolerate. Similarly, diversity is this thing where everyone is welcome to celebrate their culture, unless they are white and from a culture that has something to celebrate. Diversity promises to magically lift us all to the heavens by pulling the roof down on Western Civilization.

But who doesn’t believe in magic?

President Trump

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I’m ambivalent about Trump as a candidate. I’m enjoying the Trump Effect, but I’m not a Trump fan. I don’t hate the guy or have any strong feelings about him one way or the other. I’m just not a fan of his personal style and I have a tough time imagining him as president. Therefore, I have not thought much about him being president.

Watching the press go nuts over Donald’s schlong, er…Trump’s use of the idiomatic expression “schlonged” with regards to Hillary Clinton, I’m pretty close to convinced that Trump is not only going to win the nomination. He is going to be the next president. You can’t be this clever by accident. Sure, some gaffes turn out to work in your favor, but this guy is playing the press like a fiddle. This schlong business smacks of showing off.

Think about it. He uses an odd term that has been used by liberal media outlets like NPR and the NYTimes. That term has a sexual connotation to most people. He uses it on Hillary Clinton. His enemies immediately assume he means something vulgar, but narrative collapse kicks in and we end the cycle by talking about how Clinton’s husband is a rapist. That’s super villain clever and Trump does it regularly.

It’s pretty clear by now that Trump has a solid base of support. The remarkable thing about Trump’s polling in 2015 is the consistency. Poll after poll, pollster after pollster comes up with the same steady climb higher and higher. He started the year around 10% and is going to finish the year at 40%. No other candidate has had this steady rise in the polls, not even Hillary Clinton.

What has not been so clear, largely because Republican media has been flooding the zone with wishful thinking, is that the Trump vote has been splintered, split among several candidates. The GOP spin has played this the other way, claiming the establishment vote was split among a bunch of candidates, thus giving the illusion of a Trump lead in the polls. Once the minor figures drop out, the theory goes, the voters will coalesce around a party man and that would be it.

Yet, the math says otherwise. The latest CNN poll has Trump and 39% and Cruz at 18%. There’s no reason to think that the Cruz vote would go to an establishment figure. People supporting him hate the GOP just as much as the Trump supporters. That’s 57% of the vote. Carson, another outsider candidate is at 10% and it does seem that his vote is shifting to Trump and Cruz.

When 67% of the vote is going for candidates that exist as a rejection of the status quo, it is ridiculous to think that the remaining candidates will collapse into a unitary candidate and win the primary. Given that they are all equally weak, none of them are ready to quit and support the other so by the time a champion midget is crowned, it will probably be too late anyway.

My hunch is we are about to see the race transition into a new phase where the party establishment tries to salvage what they can from the wreckage. I’m not really sure how they can pull it off, but that seems to be the plan Cruz has been banking on for months. His act has been to avoid taking on Trump, letting the others take the beating while he lies low, waiting for his moment. My guess is he thinks his moment will be Iowa.

That sounds a like a great plan, but it assumes Cruz has not already hit the same ceiling we have seen over the past year with other candidates. They bubble up to about 18% and then start to decline again. It also assumes he can survive contact with Trump, something no one has done so far. In fact, the sign that your campaign is over has been when Donald Trump says your name.

I’m not making any predictions, but the way to bet right now is for Trump to be the nominee. He is schlonging Hillary Clinton right now, which will go a long way toward winning him converts in the GOP. Unless Cruz can handle the Trump schlong, he’s probably going to break on the wheel of Trump too.