Free Markets, Free People

Billy Hollis

What happens when you let in the barbarians

The whole society felt that it was open-minded and objective. The mantra was “Diversity is good!”, and so they were diverse. They were tolerant. They were open-minded, even to concepts and philosophies that they felt were self-evidently false and dangerous. Marketplace of ideas, and all that.

So they accepted that the society had to admit barbarians – those whose ideas were contrary to the founding principles set down for the running of the society.

But then they encountered a problem. The barbarians agitated for more barbarians in the society. They pointed to how many barbarians there were in other parts of the world, and demanded more voice for barbarians.

No matter how many barbarians were let in, and no matter what accommodation was made for them, the barbarians always wanted more.

Eventually, inevitably, some parts of the society were controlled by barbarians. And, wherever that happened, the only new people admitted to that part of the society – were more barbarians. They excluded the original members. They didn’t care about tolerance or open-mindedness. All that mattered to them was promotion of their philosophy, their influence, their control.

The barbarians thought they were upstanding moral people, doing the right thing. It was obvious to them that their worldview was *right*, and those fuddy-duddies they replaced were wrong. So they had no doubts about their mission.

At times, they pretended to respect the older ways. They still didn’t control everything, and they didn’t want to arouse sufficient animosity to threaten their control. So they lied about their motives and their own tolerance. They carried out symbolic actions to reassure the gullible that they were just part of the vigorous back and forth of a free society.

But, whenever they had enough control, or whenever the stakes were high enough, they viciously enforced promotion of their own agenda. Accusations of partisanship, unfairness, or rule-breaking were brushed off, laughed off, or, if necessary, viciously counter-attacked to send a message to those who would threaten their dominance over the society.

Eventually, they wormed their way into the most important institutions of the society. Parts of it that had been founded on tolerance and openness were taken over, and transformed into citadels of rigid dogmatism. No one was admitted to thoses institutions unless they swore fealty to the fundamental rightness of the barbarians’ creed.

To ensure this end, one of the first parts of society taken over by the barbarians was the educational institutions that trained young people in becoming part of the society. They indoctrinated them all into accepting the tenets of barbarian thought with unquestioning faith.

It took a century, but at the end, only a few redoubts of the old open, tolerant society remained. The society was run by barbarians, for the promotion and benefit of barbarians in and outside the society. Anyone who didn’t accept the barbarian faith was ruthlessly attacked.

And that’s my recounting of how the society we call “the press” was taken over by the barbarian left.*

(*) This rambling was prompted by an article on the Wall Street Journal’s editoral page this morning. A barbarian, partisan leftist named William A. Galston blithely asserted that limited government types in the GOP “…want to get their own way without yielding an inch…”. This is a bald-faced lie. His entire column is a typical attempt to sound reasonable and moderate to gullible people while spewing unadulterated propaganda for the left. He is using the same techniques discussed in my post on “compromise” from a few years ago, so there’s no need for me to recount the details. He’s nothing more than a barbarian leftist pretending to be a tolerant, objective guy, carefully avoiding letting the readers know that he worked for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Walter Mondale, that he is a member of the academic left teaching “public policy” and is associated with the left-leaning Brookings Institute. He’s a dishonest shill, and it says a lot about the Journal that they even gave him a platform.

I’ve watched one media entity after another sucked into the barbaric left – US News and World Report, the Economist, and the WSJ have all moved left over the years I’ve been reading them. The only silver lining is that, when the barbarians take over, eventually the society is destroyed, and the legacy media is well into self-immolation.

“They can’t get to yes” = “They won’t give the Democrats everything they want”

In case you had not yet heard, Speaker Boehner is resigning.

As we say in the South, that’s fine and all, but it won’t really change anything. He will likely be replaced by Kevin McCarthy, who has been Boehner’s lieutenant for a long time. McCarthy is apparently better at soft-soaping the limited government Republicans in Congress, so it looks like they will go along with his election. They might even think he’ll make a difference, though I hope most of them are not that naive.

When I was reading the NYT article linked above, however, one sentence by Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania stood out to me:

Mr. Dent said there was “a lot of sadness in the room” when Mr. Boehner made his announcement to colleagues. He blamed the hard-right members, who he said were unwilling to govern. “It’s clear to me that the rejectionist members of our conference clearly had an influence on his decision,” Mr. Dent said. “That’s why I’m not happy about what happened today. We still have important issues to deal with, and this will not be easier for the next guy.”

“The fundamental dynamics don’t change,” Mr. Dent said. “The dynamics are this: There are anywhere from two to four dozen members who don’t have an affirmative sense of governance. They can’t get to yes. [Emphasis mine] They just can’t get to yes, and so they undermine the ability of the speaker to lead. And not only do they undermine the ability of the speaker to lead, but they undermine the entire Republican conference and also help to weaken the institution of Congress itself.

This is a consummate member of the political class spinning excuses for why nothing ever changes, and we get ever-increasing government. It’s the “dynamics”. Opposing more government “undermines the ability of the speaker to lead”. Those who do so are “rejectionist”.

I’m not surprised the Times sought out such a pathetic specimen of the Political Class (GOP Kabuki Failure Theater Division). They’re totally in on the gag. They know that the easiest way to get big government is to make it look inevitable, and to paint anyone who opposes it as one step short of ready for commitment to an insane asylum.

“They can’t get to yes.” Meaning they won’t cave. They won’t give Democrats yet another round of big spending, more regulation, more debt, more secrecy, and more corruption.

When means Dent is right in on it. Oh, I’m sure when he looks at himself in the mirror, he sees a fine, upstanding practical politician, constantly grappling with important issues and making wise decisions about how government will solve them. Because, like so many in the political class bubble, he lacks the context and awareness to see what he really is: a pathetic liar and coward who pretends to his constituents that he cares about limited, responsible government, and then does everything in his power to satisfy collectivists so that he can get a nice mention in the New York Times.

——————————————-

On a related subject, I think Boehner’s exit is connected, at least peripherally, with the rise of Trump.

(Oh, and could we please, please, please avoid another “Trump is not conservative, and he’s a fraud, and he’s a collectivist at heart, and a crony capitalist, and blah, blah, blah” argument in the comments? I don’t know how others feel, but that has been done to death. Everyone has made their points, and going over it another round isn’t doing anything but pissing people off.)

No matter what you think of Trump, he is effectively running against the GOP establishment just as much (or more) as he is running against the other primary candidates. I said so over at Daily Pundit when the rumors of Boehner’s exit first surfaced. I think Trump would have probably preferred for Boehner to stay where he was until the nomination was locked up.

I have to wonder if at least part of Boehner’s exit was due to the GOP establishment wanting to defuse Trump’s appeal by saying “See? We get your anger. We’re doing something about it. So you don’t need to nominate Trump, who will be a disaster, blah blah.”

I wonder, too, if part of Boehner’s motivation is to see the chaos that results, and tell himself that he really was the indispensable man. The timing means that the whole shutdown debate will happen right after he leaves. He strikes me as just the sort of guy to hope for vindication by seeing bad things happen.

But, as I said above, in the end it won’t mean much either way. The GOP will find a way to cave. Another establishment drone will take Boehner’s place. The government will spend more, oppress more people via regulation and security theater, keep letting millions on new Democratic voters illegally enter the country, keep on colluding with crony capitalists and financial types to extract more money by any means necessary, and keep on giving spiffs to the media to blunt the effects.

That’s called “getting to yes”.

What I learned reading this morning’s USA Today

I don’t read newspapers much, and of course, I’m not the only one. But I’m travelling today, with most of my work for the week behind me. So I browsed through a USA Today while having breakfast in my hotel.

Here’s what I learned from it.

I learned that the driver of the crashed train in Philadelphia was going over a hundred miles an hour. I also learned that the way to respond to a government employee going double the speed limit around a curve on a government-run train is to raise taxes and spend more on infrastructure

I learned that Jeb Bush is raising scads of money. I learned that he knows exactly how to game the system of complex campaign finance regulations to raise the most money. I learned that one such technique is to delay a formal announcement. So he can talk incessantly about what he will do as president, but he is wise to delay the day he actually says (or tweets) “I’m running for president.”

I didn’t learn anything of consequence about what Jeb would do if he were elected president. The reporter seemed completely uninterested in that, possibly because said reporter is about as likely to vote for Jeb Bush or any other Republican for president as she is to vote for SpongeBob Squarepants.

I did learn from this reporter that GOP insider named Fergus Cullen said “Somebody like Jeb Bush doesn’t need to be worried that his poll numbers are mediocre right now.” Just as Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Bob Dole didn’t have to worry about their vote totals being mediocre on election day, I suppose.

I learned that there is a breakthrough in medical research between the US and Cuba. That’s because an early trial found that Cuban doctors have this incredible vaccine that, on a modest sample, let lung cancer victims live two to four months longer. Having watched my dad die of lung cancer, I didn’t exactly see this as something to get joyous about – extending the pain and suffering of cancer for a few months doesn’t strike me as a huge breakthrough. But the reporters sure seemed excited about it. They talked about a “quantum leap” of breakthroughs. I have the feeling that if it had been, say, New Zealand instead of Cuba, their enthusiasm would have been a bit more muted.

They didn’t seem interested in the possibility that this modest trial in a Communist country might have some fudged data either. Because, as we know from the client science debate, leftists just don’t do that. So Castroite communists certainly would not.

I learned that the Senate really, really wants to give Obama more power, specifically to fix up a trade deal with Asia, but he doesn’t want it because there’s one minor thing in the bill he doesn’t like. Something about currency manipulation by China. The bill has large bipartisan support, according to the article, which I interpret to mean that both Democrats and establishment Republicans are for it. But that famous compromiser Obama somehow just can’t give in a bit to get a whole bunch of other stuff he wants. Odd, that.

I learned that Rubio has a doctrine of defense. I learned that if it’s a Republican, the headline needs to put “doctrine” in scare quotes. (The web article moves the scare quotes from the headline to the article. Nice try, USA Today. But I’ve got a photo of the print copy.)

On the casual side, I learned that Saturday Night Live’s newest, hottest cast member is breaking new ground with fart jokes. (Web article again sanitizes things. Print copy’s subhead is “With farts, weed, and sex his forte (for jokes, that is) the new kid slays”.)

I learned that the average CEO makes 373 times more than the average worker. That doesn’t mesh with the CEOsc of mid-size companies that I happen to know, but the data is from an AFL-CIO database, and, given how close American labor leaders are to Castroite communists, you can be sure it’s reliable. (This article was apparently too hot for the web. I can’t even find it on their site.)

I learned that economic growth is sputtering. Nothing in that article about how much more politicians make than unemployed people, but I guess they can’t cover everything.

I learned that USA Today has a reporter named Gregg Zoroya who “covers the impact of war on troops and their families for USA Today”. I didn’t notice that they had any reporter who “covers the impact of government policies on workers and their families”, but perhaps I just missed it.

Remember, now, these people are not biased. Just ask them, they’ll tell you.

Heads they win, tales we lose

A link at Insty pointed me to an excellent panel discussion on the illegality of Hillary Clinton’s email shenanigans.

“This is just staggering in the brazenness of evasion of the legal duty by everybody at the State Department, and especially the secretary,” [diGenova] said. “It is simply staggering; it’s unbelievable.”

No, it’s not unbelievable. Many of us have followed politics since the media shamelessly chose to take sides with Bill Clinton during his scandals. We know the dynamic:

  • A scandal or obvious lie comes out: Bill Clinton’s perjury, Hillary’s Whitewater papers disappearance, Juanita Broderick’s rape accusations, Vince Foster’s suicide, Obama’s terrorist mentor, Fast and Furious gun-running, Harry Reid’s amazingly profitable “investments”, the IRS targets Tea Party groups, Benghazi, “if you like your doctor, you can keep him”, etc. ad nauseum.
  • If the media can get away with it, they completely ignore the story.
    If not, they do cursory, biased, and distorted reporting on it, minimizing and excusing the perp(s).
  • If someone (e.g. Sharyl Adkisson at CBS or Lisa Myers at NBC) steps outside the bubble and actually finds something to report on, her superiors in the media spike the story, and ruin the reporter’s career if they can.
  • After a few days or weeks, any attempt to raise the scandal is declared old news.
  • During a Democratic administration, any illegality is studiously ignored. A faux investigation at DoJ drags out things for a few months, and then ponderously declares that there’s nothing further to investigate and no charges of consequence are ever filed. In egregious cases, someone might lose a job, but not their pension, and certainly not their liberty.
  • Any attempt by a later Republican politician to re-open the investigation and really try to get to the bottom of it is declared by Democrats and the media to be “off limits”, “vindictive”, “mean spirited”, “a partisan witchhunt”, and other semantically meaningless but highly negative descriptions.
  • The Republican politician is then punished by the media through a series of unflattering and often downright distorted feature and opinion pieces. This attempt to marginalize that politician forever often works, at least to the extent of shutting them up and cowing them for their rest of their term.

The choices for those wanting to punish illegal and intolerable behavior such as Hillary’s email project come down to:

1. Make some noise but don’t really do anything (heads, they win)

2. Once they have the power, push for legal punishment, be pilloried in the media for it, and probably never get enough allies to do anything because no one else wants to be pilloried (tales, you lose)

The Democrats have learned this lesson well. They can treat the media the way a perverted stepfather abuses his stepdaughter, and the media will never offer more than token protest. The media is determined to further their own leftist vision of justice and right, and that means backing the Democrats no matter how illegal or disgusting their behavior might be.

Hillary implemented her email plans knowing that she would almost certainly never pay a price for it. She knew the press and the rest of the Democrats had her back.

Our political system has devolved to the point that major players on the left know they can break the law in any number of ways, smear opponents, cover up past misdeeds, and lie outright as needed in every news conference. They can indeed “brazenly flout” laws and ethics. I don’t know what you call this system, but it’s certainly not the one they described to me in 8th grade civics class.

Newspaper print circulation is down about half in last ten years

I did a couple of posts back in 2012 and 2013 about newspaper print circulation at major newspapers, compared to 2004. Seeing last year’s circulation figures made me curious about how things stand at the ten year mark. Here are the results:

 

Newspaper 2004 2012 2014 +/- %, 10 years +/- %, 2 years
USA Today 2192098 1627526 1156871 -47.23% -28.92%
WSJ 2101017 1499204 1256292 -40.21% -16.20%
NYT 1119027 717513 680905 -39.15% -5.10%
LA Times 983727 489792 405213 -58.81% -17.27%
Wash Post 760034 434693 399757 -47.40% -8.04%
NY Daily News 712671 389270 313178 -56.06% -19.55%
NY Post 642844 344755 261312 -59.35% -24.20%
Chicago Tribune 603315 388848 324620 -46.19% -16.52%
Denver Post 340169 236223 188630 -44.55% -20.15%
Newsday 553117 278369 247703 -55.22% -11.02%
Houston Chronicle 549300 234483 225032 -59.03% -4.03%
Dallas Morning News 528379 345342 172690 -67.32% -49.99%
SF Chronicle 499008 229176 145520 -70.84% -36.50%
Arizona Republic 466926 274783 244726 -47.59% -10.94%
Boston Globe 446241 180919 159458 -64.27% -11.86%
Tampa Bay Times 348502 299393 217597 -37.56% -27.32%

As I explained in the previous posts, I focus on print circulation because, for major newspapers, that’s where most of the money comes from. Newspapers do get money from the web, of course. However, most of them have minimal web-only subscription revenue, and their advertising dollars on the web are only about 15% of their print advertising revenues and growing slowly according to Pew Research. That same report shows that overall advertising revenue (including online advertising) is down just a bit over 50% for the 2004-2013 period.

I ignore the web “circulation” numbers touted by newspapers, because they’re meaningless without a complete explanation of how they were measured. Unique visitors for the year? Well, people have multiple computers, and they clear their browser cache sometimes. Even when an explanation is given, those numbers can be gamed in various ways. The money is what counts, and newspapers have struggled to increase the amount of money they get from web publication over the last six or eight years. There’s no indication they’ll solve that problem.

Doing a bit of math on the above numbers, the drop in the aggregate circulation of these newspapers combined from 2004 to 2014 is just over 50%. Aggregate drop from 2012 to 2014 is about 20%.

Many dissipative phenomena in the real world have an approximate exponential decay shape to the graph. That is, the newspapers might lose, say, 10% of their readers each year, but that 10% is a lower number each year, so the decrease flattens out in actual counted numbers. That’s my best guess for the near term future of circulation for major newspapers.

However, dropping revenue also affects quality. This hit my hometown newspaper, the Tennessean, at least ten years ago. You could see it exposed unambiguously in grammatical and printing errors. I also think the quality of the articles dropped to the point that I wasn’t willing to invest time in reading them, but that’s a more subjective judgment. Except for local events such a major water outage last year, I don’t pay any attention to the Tennessean.

When that happens, the days of a newspaper are numbered. They enter a vicious cycle in which more people drop them because of their marginal or poor quality, and that erodes revenues further, which erodes quality further, and so on.

There’s no obvious way to reverse any of that, no matter how innovative they get on the web. Advertising revenue for want ads isn’t coming back; Craigslist and its smaller relatives have captured it and I see no way for newspapers to get it back. Not even middle aged people get newspapers for movie ads anymore because they can find anything they want to know on their phones immediately. Retail advertising continues to suffer as retail closures start to impact suburbia, and dead malls continue to pile up.

So, with that dead horse beaten to a pulp, what are the likely effects outside the newsrooms? 

Right now, the New York Times and the Washington Post continue to have an outsize influence on political thinking. I don’t think either one is going to vanish any time soon. The left will no doubt find the Times so indispensible that it will find the money somewhere to keep the lefty editorial outrage and the slanted reporting pouring out of Times Square and setting the agenda for TV news reporting. The Post, under Bezos, seems to be becoming marginally more balanced, which is a good thing.

The Wall Street Journal maintains a decent hold on center-right readers, though it’s a lot more center than right these days. As the only major newspaper I read with any frequency (couple of times a month) I see the quality dropping. But for now it seems financially stable.

Almost all the others, though, are in trouble. I have to wonder if the recent successes of the GOP at the state and local levels have not been facilitated to some extent by the lack of effective opposition from the typically-liberal local newspapers. The fewer people who read them, the less able they are to torpedo Republicans and shield Democrats.

Naturally, you don’t see a lot of reporting on all this in the media. They don’t have much interest in exposing their own weakness. The reporting they do typically touts “total circulation”, which means they get to include their gamed web numbers. USA Today also started an insert program with a lot of local newspapers, so they like to pretend that this is equivalent to regular circulation. It’s rare for any of them to make their print declines front and center.

The main lesson here is that limited government types can afford to stand up to these biased media types more each year. I think that’s more true at the local level right now, but I also think there are a lot of people out there hungry to see the left-liberal twits of the major national newspapers put in their place as well.

*** Update 5 April 2015 ***

It occurs to me that, if the decay in readership of major newspapers is really a bit similar to exponential decay processes such as radioactive decay, then ten years would be the half life of newspaper readership. We might then use that half-life as a rough-and-ready estimator for future declines. It would suggest that by 2024, the newspapers will have lost around 50% of the remaining readers, and be at 25% of their 2004 readership.

Naturally, there are too many real-world factors to put much confidence in such an estimate, mainly because of the “death spiral” end game for such businesses. But it’s still an interesting first cut way to think about it, and it might help us detect the death spiral start point.

Welcome to the club, Ace

Over at Ace of Spaces, Ace writes:

I have long argued against a third-party split and the Nightmare Option of simply conceding the country to the liberals for 20 disastrous years.

I am no longer confident in such arguments.

Lots of us passed that point years or even decades ago. We’ve been called all sorts of names. We’re told we’re immature and unreasonable because we don’t support people who are much closer allies to their Democratic colleagues than they will ever be to those of us who believe in limited government.

Every election cycle we get inundated with all the tactical reasons that we simply have to support whatever stuffed-shirt, big-government-friendly, Democrat-lite candidate who made it through a nomination process mostly controlled by moneyed corporate interests, using their campaign contributions and media influence.

The battle cry of the GOP loyalists is “But the Democrats are Worse (TM)”. I’ve been through this before, so no need to rehash why I think that battle cry is worse than useless.

The main thing I would ask the GOP loyalists at this point is this: exactly what would cause you to give up on the GOP?

Suppose the GOP does win the White House and keeps Congress in 2016. What do you expect from them? Write it down. Decide on the minimum you’re willing to accept to continue supporting this party that has screwed you nine ways from Sunday for two decades at least.

Ace has reached his breaking point. He’s tired of the “Small government on the campaign trail, big government as soon as they get off the plane in DC” shell game.

For those GOP loyalists still left: If you have not reached that breaking point yet, what will cause you to? And could you at least admit that those of us who gave up on the GOP have a point?

Billy
@thisispointless

“This isn’t about legalizing Latin American immigrants, it’s about legalizing Latin American-style government.”

That’s Dave Burge’s take (IowaHawk) on last night’s venture into banana-republic style government by Obama.

Hard to beat that. So I just visualized it:

ObamaGeneralissimo

You just know he really, really wants to wear that suit, but Valerie Jarrett won’t let him

Billy

Some of the week’s big stories in photos [with update]

First up: climate protestors in Australia demonstrate their philosophy towards actual data about climate science:

 

bondi-lead[1]

 

headsinsand[1]

Please savor the irony of them sticking their heads in the sand to demonstrate their own ignorance, while thinking they are supporting the leftist climate agenda.

Next, Hillary Clinton apparently has worn out her welcome in Iowa, and there continue to be questions about her health.

Salt-monster-46246874203[1]

Oh, sorry, wrong picture. Let me try again.

Hillary-Clinton-jobs-620x435[1]

Yeah, this whole “Hillary is inevitable” thing probably has a sell-by date of about February 1, 2016. Or sooner.

Finally, a feminist sets a world record for demonstrating her own insecurities, all because of this shirt.

newgunnergirlstshirt[1]

Included in this spectacular effort: envy of other women’s bodies, intelligence envy, sexual self-doubt, actual accomplishment envy, imaginary bad motives in her critics, pleasure at causing pain in others, and neediness for attention.

Most notable results of this harpy’s bloviating: 1. The guy in question cried during an apology, making this bint look like a bully and 2. the shirt is sold out. So trying to shame one guy into not wearing it causes a whole bunch of other guys to wear it just to piss off feminists. In other words, about the same results that leftist collectivism usually obtains.

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend.

Billy

*** Update 17 Nov 2014 10:30 AM ***

And here is what happens when the gap between government and kindergarten gets too small: