Archives for category: Politics

What wars can America’s real, permanent government win?

Political ones.

It’s been a year since the Capitol Hill brouhaha on January 6, 2021, became a super-brouhaha for the Democrats, who immediately claimed that the “storming of the Capitol” part of the event constituted an “insurrection.”

That was always a stretch. No attempt was made to overthrow the government, but the “peaceful transfer of power” from Donald Trump to Joe Biden was . . . almost . . . kinda . . . compromised.

The rioters, for their part, thought that the Democrats had stolen the election and, having been urged by Trump to pressure the Senate to not certify all the Electoral College slates — with the aim of getting accurate, non-fraudulent votes from a few key states — they thought theirs was a righteous protest. The Democrats, on the other hand, demanded that everyone pretend that everything about Death Race 2020 was on the up-and-up and that Biden be placed into office without a whiff of scandal.

The charge of vote fraud and election tampering made by the Trump forces had always been a difficult one to push, since our system doesn’t really offer a coherent way to handle such charges. Legal maneuvers made by Donald Trump’s team had failed, over and over, from Election Day to the Sixth. Though fraud charges lingered, the biggest problems with the election — the unconstitutional changes in voting in several states — never really got addressed. Trump’s January Sixth speech instigating a march on Capitol Hill to protest the “stolen election” and get the Senate to throw a monkey wrench into Biden’s accession to power was not even over when the “insurrection” began.

Then things got weird.

The behavior of the police was strange. The trespassers — not all of whom knew they were trespassing, apparently (though those who broke windows and doors surely knew) — were indeed “mostly peaceful.” No fires. No murders. Only one death, and that was by the police not of the police. After the event, Democrats made much of the “five” or more “deaths caused by Trump,” but that all turned out to be propagandistic prevarication.

Donald Trump went down in history because of this, the Democratic House impeaching him a record second time. That seemed ultra-odd — Trump was out of office before the Senate voted — not to mention petty and vindictive and . . . what was really going on here?

Glenn Greenwald gave us a clue, yesterday, on Rumble. Trump had been seriously considering pardoning Edward Snowden, maybe even Julian Assange. The Deep State’s dearest senators, like Lindsay Graham, threatened Trump with voting against him in the post-Biden accession Senate trial if he did so.

The upshot? Trump was completely outplayed by the Deep State. To avoid the sting of the Democrats’ impeachment ploy, he caved to the military industrial complex and the Wars Forever faction, leaving both Assange and Snowden in jeopardy, enemies of the Deep State.

Meanwhile, the Democrats still sling loose talk of “insurrection.” Funny, though, that in their prosecutions against the “insurrectionists” (whom they treated very badly in prison) that they haven’t lifted a finger against the one January Sixth conspirator caught with video actually promoting the capitol incursion. Democrats won’t even whisper his name: Ray Epps.

The Deep State may have won this battle, but when all the truth comes out, my guess is that it will become quite clear that the “insurrection” element of the January Sixth events was a Deep State false flag app. Not unlike the FBI’s botched Whitmer kidnapping plot.

As always, Americans let partisan allegiances prevent them from identifying their true enemy: their own government.

twv

. . . republished from March 23, 2010. . . .

The passing of the Democrats’ medical institution reform package, by clever and opaque political maneuvering, has angered many people. Though all ancient sages unite to advise us not to lose composure about things we cannot change, I, too, have been a bit angry about the recent events regarding what is popularly (and nauseatingly) called “health care reform.”

But what interests me at the moment is how risky the Democrats’ maneuvers are. We often say that politicians can’t accomplish much. Washington is riddled with gridlock; its prime movers are not merely dishonest and petty, but unable to take stands.

Here, however, regarding the nationalization of medicine in the United States of America, the Democrats have taken a daring stand. They are bucking the growing incredulity amongst Americans that government can solve our problems by taking control. For the past few decades, the long-term trend has been towards skepticism about large-scale government efficacy.

But this long-term trend has had its set-backs. The three biggest counter-trends to growing anti-statist opinion have pertained to

  1. War — There was a lot of support, early on, for the conquest of Iraq;
  2. Anthropogenic Global Warming Catastrophe — There was a huge surge, in recent years, in the belief that there had been recent global warming, that this was in some sense unique, that human civilization had caused it, that this would only grow more dangerous, and that government could (and mustsolve it; and
  3. “Health Care” — A rising number of people had begun to see rising costs and spotty insurance for medical care as a problem requiring a national solution.

In each of these three counter-trends to the rising general incredulity over government efficacy, the wave of pro-government sentiment has recently waned. Spectacularly.

Regarding the advisability of conquering Iraq, the widespread support for this had ended before the end of George W. Bush’s final term in office. Even Republican legislators, today, are almost unanimous in realizing that the war was a mistake. The general consensus, now? War and conquest and remaking other polities is tough work, and we should always be super-cautious about engaging in such action.

AGW catastrophism hit its peak popularity in 2008, and is now in steep decline. The leaked emails from Britain were in no small part responsible for this. Careful criticism also had an influence. And, finally, the silly folk sayings confirming global warming itself probably did the most to undermine the position. People can only speak risible nonsense so long before laughing. (Al Gore and media folk were largely responsible for encouraging the idea that every storm, every heat wave, and every exceptional weather event provided “more evidence” that global warming was happening. Record-breaking cold spells and blizzards heralded as signs of “global warming” became a popular folk joke in 2009 and 2010.) The hard rhetorical barrage Americans had been hit with for years — from scientist-advocates, media folk, popular entertainers trying to look serious, and Al Gore — appeared to toughen them up, not convince them.

Finally, support for new national programs for medical insurance peaked last year. By the beginning of this year, popular support had dropped to below 40 percent.

And here’s where courage comes in. It is now risky for Democrats to unite around an unpopular issue.

What could they be thinking? I mean, we expect politicians to rally around popular causes, not unpopular ones. Politicians have demonstrated a rather consistent desire to get re-elected. So what gives? What do they hope for?

I can think of a few possibilities:

  1. Democrats hope that, like Social Security, the new program package will grow in popularity over its first 20 years after implementation. Social Security became the infamous “third rail” of politics, which one dare not be seen to criticize, from the ’60s though the ’80s and beyond. They hope for a similar effect with health care regulation and nationalization.
  2. Democrats know that they have only a limited time in majority, in united government, and feel they have to do what their core constituency really wants, before they lose control. They are hoping that it will be harder to repeal the medical reform package than it was to pass. (It is harder, in America, to repeal programs than it is to create them. This is fairly well established.) Think of it as their “Final Solution.”
  3. They know that it will likely be struck down in courts, and that this will rally their supporters to take on a new, bigger fight, which they can make hay over for years.
  4. They really are (or, perhaps more likely, want to be seen as) ideologues, to appeal to their core supporters in the government unions, people who by their nature think that government is the key to all progress (the sole sense in which they can be called “progressives” . . . that is, they believe only in the eternal progress of increasing size, scope, and efficacy of political and bureaucratic governance).

In these four scenarios, they come out as risk-takers. People of courage.

But, when you look at the hodge-podge of proposals that make up the reform package, they come off as something else again. I’ll let the reader name that “something else.”

Republicans have a huge opportunity for a comeback, here, but only if they stick to the theme that nurtures Americans’ justified incredulity. And the only way to make this stick is to attack the package not for such things as Death Panels and Abortion support — proof positive that Republicans tend to be a rather brain-dead group, so off-point are most of these issues — but for its long-term and wide-spread negative consequences.

This is hard work. I have not done it here. We have only just begun. Thinking “beyond Stage One” (as Thomas Sowell puts its), identifying the “unseen” as well as “the seen” (as Frédéric Bastiat put it), striving to discover the long-term effects as well as the near-term effects (as Henry Hazlitt put it) — these critical modes of thought aren’t easy. They require effort. They rub against the grain of enthusiasm. They seem treasonous to people who demand symbolic action, and identify themselves chiefly by the “good deeds” they do by merely supporting a political party.

Ah, and there’s why we don’t see Republicans normally taking to this agenda. The technique of honest and thorough social thought cuts both ways. It cuts against the right as against the left. It makes hash of simplistic arguments for war as it does against simplistic arguments for government handouts and regulations.

But there is one thing we, who try to practice economic criticism, can take solace in: Our agenda may not be the mainstream political agenda, but it does fit in, very nicely, with the common sense of the American people. Americans’ native skepticism over government may be superficial, but it is strong, and it is growing.

By applying economic thinking, and publicizing this thought, we strengthen the growing incredulity to statism in American culture, and prepare the way, perhaps, even for an eventual political success.

twv, The Lesson Applied

From the beginning of the pandemic, I heard one simple idea every now and then, and it seems to express the assumption upon which a lot of policies came to be demanded:

I have a right not to be infected.

That is of course a falsity. There is not and can be no such right, as such. You have a right, at most, to negotiate the terms of your avoidance of infection.

The phrase: “I have a right not to be infected” shows an expectation of a miraculous nature imputed to rights as such, or to government in general.

How rights work in the real world are not so magical. A right is a specific kind of human instrument that only works when specifically limited to performable operations.

After all, every right articulates an obligation. In law, the obligations (and therefore rights) we worry about are those that may be compelled by law, or by those operating under its umbrella. We cannot compel people not to infect each other. We cannot effectuate such an outcome. Viruses are slippery critters. We can only compel people to do this and that. And most of those thises and thats must be negotiated for, traded for, accommodated by manners or by convenience. The error here — this assumption of having a right that is beyond our means to perform — has been made all across the political spectrum. I’ve heard it, or words to that effect, from progressives, conservatives, libertarians. All are wrong. Very wrong.

I suppose at some point I’ll have to write about why this is so. It seems obvious to me, but what’s obvious to me isn’t widely observed. Think of it like a similar notion, which I often hear amongst my compeers: “no one has a right to pollute.” Well, estoppel principles apply, and finders-keepers/first-poopers rights apply, too.

One should not try to make ”rights” do too much work. That is the way to break the tool itself — and rights are a very useful tool. It would be a pity were it broken because its users abused it.

twv

According to current lore, there are “right-wing facts” and “left-wing facts.” Common sense would immediately tell you that there are “right-wing fantasies” and “left-wing fantasies” and also the same binary split on lies, evasions, suspicions, errors, misinformation, disinformation, bigotry, and all the rest.

Left-wingers often mention that great formulation, “alternative facts.” The usual harrumph and chortle is that “there are no ’alternative facts,’” just lies and error, etc. But in the current context, “alternative fact” is spot on: an alternative fact is a fact that fits the “other side’s” ideology, not yours.

It is not as if facts only line up on one side.

That being said, much of what we are all really arguing about is myth, theory, and values. We do have different values. And with those values come different visions of a better world. At first blush, right-wingers hate basic left-wing values, and vice versa, but many others just think that the values and visions of their opponents yield consequences — because of the nature of reality — at variance with the ideologues’ expectations.

The biggest values/visions differences regard sex and the family. Yesterday’s sexual conservatism mirrors — reflects in reverse — on the values level, with today’s “genderism” (for want of a better word). But despite one’s initial or acculturated preferences and tolerances, one can still take a step back and say that one sort of domestic institution is generally superior to another in terms of, say, producing happy children who go on to be independent, sociable beings and a general boon to society (noting that criminals are a huge drain, and that criminality is a good thing to suppress). But a knee-jerk sexual conservative is no more interested in seeing the social benefits of un-persecuted homosexuals than a knee-jerk sexual “gender progressive” is of heteronormativity.

Thankfully, most of us need not fall into the knee-jerk values/visions camps. We should be able to argue.

But right now our culture incapacitates us for this. And we are left with people arguing over “alternative facts.”

For my part, I’ve used the word “anomalous” more often, and try to find data that might change minds. All it takes is one datum to disprove a theory. Well, if it is a significant enough datum.

And I note that almost no one uses that word today, datum.

This actually seems significant. People cannot conceive of a datum that would change their minds.

In my general defense, in the last five years I’ve found single bits of information here and there that very much have changed my mind. But I have also incorporated much, much data that has solidified other beliefs.

twv

…a note from Facebook….

There is an element of fairness embedded in the idea of justice. The vice of the left is to think that fairness can be imposed upon society by correcting for nature and chance, which operate heedless of human preferences. This is such an awesome task — impossible, really — that the motto of the left could be “everything is political.”

The left’s characteristic form of righteous indignation is envy. And there is no intellectual humility in sight.

There is an element of vengeance to the idea of justice. The vice of the right is to think that this is the whole matter, and that extremity of retaliation for a wrong is usually better than moderation. The motto of the right could be “there is no kill like overkill.”

The right’s form of righteous indignation is wrath.

And intellectual rigor is rarely welcome.

Of course, the terms left and right, relating to politics, are also outmoded and flimsy, and your mileage may differ, simply because of the inherent relativity of “left and right.” It all depends upon which direction you are looking.

But it is astounding how unidirectional most folk are, hence the ability to plot politics, if clumsily, in bi-directional terms. And name the vices.

twv, November 24, 2015

Andrew Sullivan tweets:

2016 election. Rittenhouse. Covington. Russian collusion. Vaccines. Bounties on US soldiers. Lab-leak theory. Jussie Smollett. The Pulse shooting. The Atlanta shootings. Hunter Biden laptop. Inflation. Steele Dossier.
The MSM got every single one wrong.

The major (Mockingbird) media didn’t merely get these stories wrong, they told untruths: they lied and spun and propagandized for the maximum state, for their beloved Woke Leviathan.

I confess to having thought that we had reached Peak Progressivism with the mass excoriation of the Covington kids, but O, how much lower journos could go!

In Sullivan’s think piece he links to, he writes that

when the sources of news keep getting things wrong, and all the errors lie in the exact same direction, and they are reluctant to acknowledge error, we have a problem. If you look back at the last few years, the record of errors, small and large, about major stories, is hard to deny. It’s as if the more Donald Trump accused the MSM of being “fake news” the more assiduously they tried to prove him right.

Regarding the Rittenhouse case, Mr. Sullivan tries to sound level-headed: “Almost immediately, the complicated facts became unimportant. The far right viewed Rittenhouse as a hero — which he surely wasn’t. He had no business being there with an AR-15.” This is very similar to Paul Jacob’s opinion, actually, who makes similar points in his most recent podcast:

But as I mentioned to Paul in this episode (I interview him for this project of his, every weekend), my position is far less centrist.

Now, when the Kenosha, Wisconsin, riots and Rittenhouse shootings occurred, I decided to wait until more information came in. I did not make a big deal of his innocence or guilt. I was willing — nay, eager — to let a jury decide. In that I was being as normal and centrist-civilized as one could hope for. But as evidence mounted, young Mr. Rittenhouse’s innocence looked quite likely. Then, after the prosecution has made its opening “case,” an acquittal seemed to me as obviously the only just result.

All those media mavens, Democrats and beltway libertarians who jumped on the bandwagon against Rittenhouse have lots of egg on face.

Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. The men he shot were trying to kill him. They were criminals and were very much acting in the wrong. Paul Jacob, being a nice person, states that it no one wants to see them killed, but — after the fact — I see no reason to shed the tiniest tear for these miscreants.

And while I am unclear as to the legality of Rittenhouse’s open carry, I admit: I do not much care. He was just to carry his weapons, and the rioters were in the wrong, generally, and politicians and cops who let it all happen were cowards at best.

Another major defeat for “woke,” riot-loving leftists. Good. They deserve nothing better than our spittle.

And as for Rittenhouse being imprudent for carrying an AR-15 — really? He had “no business” carrying it into a riot zone?

Everybody has by now seen the judge’s remonstrance of the prosecutor for a line of interrogation that is germane to the issue. The prosecutor was trying to show that Rittenhouse came to the event wanting to kill. The prosecutor was aiming to take a weeks’-old statement by KR about wishing he’d had his rifle with him to shoot some looters as evidence. The judge had declared that line of inquiry off limits earlier on, and, after removing the jury from the room, “yelled at” the prosecutor.

The principle the prosecutor relied upon (and got Rittenhouse to admit on stand) was that we do not have a right to defend property with deadly force. Democrats hold this as a bedrock principle. Perhaps that is why they let rioters riot. After all, a mob won’t stop mayhem upon mere instruction. Deadly force is required. So Democrats have convinced me that the use of deadly force to protect property must be at least sometimes OK.

Thanks, Democrats. You’ve changed my mind.

So I disagree with both Paul Jacob and Andrew Sullivan: when cops and politicians don’t do their jobs, it is up to citizens to take up arms and defend life and property. It is obvious that, contrary to the prosecutors, Rittenhouse did not go out hoping to shoot anyone. But taking a weapon did lead the crazies to attack him. And since Rittenhouse had been doing nothing wrong, their attacking him was a gross violation of his rights. His shooting of them was just. But I also go further: his arming himself in the melee was just, and more citizens should have done it.

Sure, it seems wrong for a 17-year-old to do this job. But that is not his fault. The adult officials who shirked their duty are to blame. And so are the fully adult citizens who should have taken up arms. And, if necessary, did what the prosecutor wanted to convince the jury that Rittenhouse himself itched to do: shoot at rioters.

Mobs are evil. That is, rioting mobs are evil.

At some point, they must be opposed just like we oppose marauding bands.

But Democrats are incapable of admitting that this is what a civilization must do. Democrats are so into “inclusion” that they look at all outsiders as “oppressed” and not, as rioters and illegal immigrant invaders are, themselves the actual oppressors.

Because Democrats no longer believe that the State is justified by the civilizational need to destroy those who would destroy us — hordes and mobs and criminals and even armies — they corrupt the institutions of police and courts and border guards and military so to disenable them from protecting us. I simply submit that when governments give up their prime task, citizens must take the necessary work.

Don’t want to see “vigilantism”? Then make sure the state does its Job One. When the State won’t do this job, it not only de-legitimizes itself, it legitimizes vigilantism.

Don’t want vigilantes? Then make sure the State (including local governments) does Its Job (their jobs) — or else consider institutional alternatives to the State. There are such alternatives, and maybe now is the time to talk about them.

Until then, young Mr. Rittenhouse may not be the hero we wanted, but he appears to have been the only hero on the streets in Kenosha that fateful day.

We just cannot expect the major media to even understand this. They have been trained to serve as (and are paid to be) the lickspittle of the Leviathan State.

twv

The recent ITV reënactment (adaptation) of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair looks really good, but it seems unfortunate that the character Sambo — described as badly legged and black on the first page of the novel — is here a well-shaped, stately black African (played by a British actor), not an Indian, and is called “Sam.”

Racial, racism, stereotypes, blah blah blah. What would Thackeray make of P.C.?

The show is on Amazon Prime, but the book is everywhere. I have in my hand a very nice Könemann two-volume, boxed edition.

twv

The Sambo I knew as a kid.

Is it possible to get more pathetic than this?

The “Racism is small-dick energy” sign is hilariously racist. I mean, it’s funny. Especially in a crowd dominated by white-chick/pink-clit progressives.

Trying to understand the moralistic cultism of the left is an ongoing project, but until this sign I had not thought of applying an old-fashioned Freudianism to the endeavor. But what if leftist mob behavior were driven by “penis envy”?

Or maybe this is simply white women lusting after black dick.

Maybe these woke white women of the west really do think “white men” (the worst people in the world!) are envious of bigger black cocks, and that is why white men keep the bigger men down!

At this point, I wouldn’t discount any of these theories.

In any case, a bunch of white women in masks kneeling (not standing) in solidarity with a Marxist-led anti-white racist group like Black Lives Matter is so silly that maybe we should just chuckle.

But if you are looking for a theory behind the put-down, “racism is small dick energy,” you might have to supply it yourself. What I’ve read is small-brained.

twv

Hey, you can buy this goofy slogan on Amazon!

Is libertarianism an outdated ideology?

…as answered on Quora….

Funny you should ask.

For the first time I heard the word “libertarian” I was informed in no uncertain terms that it was hopelessly old-fashioned, backward, and inapplicable to modern society.

The sages who told me this were the news anchors of KOIN Channel 6 in Portland, Oregon. The occasion was the night of the 1976 Democratic National Convention. After the festivities ended, the Libertarian Party candidate for the presidency, Roger MacBride, ran a television spot making his pitch for “A New Dawn for America” (his horrible slogan and the title of his campaign book) with liberty as the centerpiece. I was a teenager, and was intrigued by MacBride’s presentation. After it ended, the CBS affiliate’s local news show came on, and they immediately commented on the Libertarian candidate’s ad. It has been over four decades since then, so my memory’s a bit fuzzy, but the gist was simple: “Those kinds of ideas may have worked in the 19th century, but not today, in our complex society.”

Now, that was an interesting contention, but they gave no evidence for it. As I thought about it for the next year, I put it in the iffy category of ideological statements.

What was clear was that, after freeing the slaves, Americans swiftly became more nationalistic, imperialistic, interventionist, and government-happy. So, with each ratcheting up of the new Leviathan State, libertarian ideas had become further alienated from the general tenor of American political thought. I had read some Jefferson at that age, and dipped into Locke; I knew Thoreau and the abolitionists; I had an inkling of the kinds arguments used to fend off — unsuccessfully — the growth of government in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It was obvious to me that libertarian ideas were linked to the Declaration of Independence and the fight against slavery. I thought it weird that a people that prided itself on ending slavery, in spite of or because of all the bloodshed it cost, would now be so blasé about scoffing at universal freedom, the libertarian idea. The idea decreasingly struck me as time-bound. Universal freedom and individual responsibility were, if anything, a future ideal set, not a past one, for it was obvious that Americans had been tempted by power from the outset, and gave in to the temptation at the cost of liberty. Repeatedly.

A year or so after hearing that political advertisement I read Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia. The radicalism of the idea was pretty clear. But it was not an alien radicalism, like socialism struck me. This was familiar. Homely. And decent.

But accepting it as an ideal principle of political life required settling some factual and philosophical problems. I slowly worked those over.

Our culture did not follow my path. The enticements of power always tempt us in modern, partisan politics — including especially that mad drive to live at the grudging expense of others — and Americans seem hell-bent on succumbing.

Every year a little more.

Our culture has settled into its rut of statism, and it would be hard to jump out of the groove and take a new tack or track. We are “path dependent,” as social scientists like to say. There are costs associated with changing course.

But the course is not set to a lodestar, or to a clock. A moral ideal and a matter of general advantage does not change no matter how many wrong turns you take.

“No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back.”

—Turkish proverb

…a year ago on Facebook….

Much of today’s political tribal warfare strikes me as superficial and stupid, and my friends here on Fb and elsewhere no doubt often note that I sport no great respect for most participants, especially the movers at the top, but also anyone who is relentlessly partisan.

One reason is that I do not think very many people reason their way into their ideologies. Reason appears later in the filiation of ideas, as rationalization. And of course it does to some extent with me, too. But I read Jefferson, Locke, Nozick, Plato, Nietzsche, Peirce and a lot of political philosophy and economics and even sociology and anthropology in my teens before I adopted my current perspective. So my occasional gloating is rationalized on the excuse of past reason. (And in my defense I never have really stopped reading or reasoning.)

So what is really behind political ideological “identification”? It is “tribal,” yes, but more important is that it is sexual.

Usually I bring up the religious nature of political ideology, but a few of my friends may note that I not irregularly bring up sex.

Why?

Well — It is almost all about sex.

And honor.

Sexual honor is a main standard of hierarchy legitimation.

Which is why people take it all so personally. Why is Trump so awful? He is sexually icky! Why is he so great? He is just so tough and impressive! Sure, ideological discord sure looks like it should be seen as a technical policy matter — at least from a superificially reasonable perspective. But it is not. Because fundamentally it is really about sex, family, work, and honor, and the idealized styles of same.

It always has been, and probably always will be, about Our Sex versus Theirs. “We do sex right” while “They do sex wrong.”

And this is why leftism, hollowed out by the failure of so many socialist and technocratic programs, now is reduced to a husk of thought, obsessed with gender and trans activism and things like that. Because all the left really has left is the defense of non-heterosexual sexual activity and its lurking-in-the-background anti-natalism. Meanwhile, the right is on the verge of reviving a defense of full-blown heteronormativity. Wait for it, wait for it….

I find this rather funny. A comedy of ideas reduced to sex farce.

Time to read Tom Sharpe again.

N.B. A few weeks ago I read Sharpe’s latest
Wilt sequel. It was not very relevant to this subject, alas.
Perhaps The Gropes’ll be more relevant.