Free Markets, Free People

Culture

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There are now 2 sides in the culture war

A little history for you.  A professor has pinned down the origins of political correctness and my guess is it won’t come as much of a surprise to most of you:

“The notion of political correctness came into use among Communists in the 1930s as a semi-humorous reminder that the Party’s interest is to be treated as a reality that ranks above reality itself,” Dr. Codevilla writes in the Fall 2016 issue of the Claremont Review of Books.

Dr. Codevilla indicates that the politically correct directive began word-of-mouth as a running joke that communists told each other that went like this:

“Comrade, your statement is factually incorrect.”

“Yes, it is. But it is politically correct.”

Dr. Codevilla goes on to point out the purpose of PC:

“Why does the American Left demand ever-new P.C. obeisances?,” Dr. Codevilla asks. “In 2012 no one would have thought that defining marriage between one man and one woman, as enshrined in U.S. law, would brand those who do so as motivated by a culpable psychopathology called ‘homophobia,’ subject to fines and near outlaw status.”

“Not until 2015-16 did it occur to anyone that requiring persons with male personal plumbing to use public bathrooms reserved for men was a sign of the same pathology. Why had not these become part of the P.C. demands previously? Why is there no canon of P.C. that, once filled, would require no further additions? Because the point of P.C. is not and has never been merely about any of the items that it imposes, but about the imposition itself.

This is an ideological perversion that is rampant on the left.  You have no problem seeing it as the foundation of identity politics and all through academia which introduced it to a new generation and has been responsible for nurturing it to the extreme.  There is no question in the mind of any observer of PC that the intent is control.  The problem, of course, is as it gains more and more control  over the islands of its influence, it loses more and more touch with reality and the consequences of believing your echo chamber.  This election and it’s impact in those islands of delusion completely validate the point.

Secondly, the insistence on ideological conformity alienates huge swaths of the population that the left should be trying to woo and persuade.  Those people get tired of and eventually resent their concerns being trivialized, categorized as “xenophobic”, “homophobic” or “racist” and dismissed with an arrogant hand wave.

[T]he response to Trump radicalizes certain distressing and counter-productive intellectual tendencies and argumentative habits that were already all too common among liberals long before the election — tendencies and habits that contributed in important ways to Trump’s shocking triumph at the polls on Nov. 8.

I’m talking about the propensity of liberals to deem certain political opinions automatically illegitimate, out of bounds, and unacceptable.

Or said another way, the refusal of liberals – especially those stranded on their echo chamber islands (like academia) – to listen to the other side is killing them, politically.  But they refuse to listen and continue to believe that anything that doesn’t conform to the bubble’s PC code is trash.  Trash of the worst kind.  Vile trash.  Evil trash.  So sayeth the keepers of PC.

Here’s the chaser:

The urge toward exclusion is a perennial possibility of politics. That’s because politics takes place on two levels. On one level is the back and forth of partisan conflict, involving persuasion, argument, electoral battles, triumphs, and defeats. On this level, pretty much anything goes as long as it abides by the rules of the political game. But there’s also a second, more fundamental level of politics that involves a competition over who gets to set the rules, the boundaries of what is publicly acceptable, in the first place — and precisely where those boundaries will be positioned.

The most obvious example of second-order politics in the American system is the judiciary, and especially the Supreme Court. Until the Obergefell decision in 2015, for example, the American people were engaging in a free-flowing debate about same-sex marriage, with some people in favor of allowing it and others opposed, and public opinion shifting rapidly in the “pro” direction. That was politics conducted on the first level. But then the Supreme Court stepped in to declare gay marriage a constitutional right. That was second-order politics in action: Suddenly the rules were changed, with the “pro” side summarily declared the winner throughout the nation and the “anti” side driven — and permanently excluded — from the political battlefield going forward.

But second-order politics isn’t only found in the formal strictures of a Supreme Court ruling. It comes into play when prominent institutions in civil society (such as mainstream media outlets, universities, corporations, movie studios, and other arms of the entertainment industry) informally unite in deciding that an issue, or a specific position on an issue, is simply unacceptable because it crosses a moral line that leading members of these institutions consider inviolable. Over the past several decades, a range of positions on immigration, crime, gender, and the costs and benefits of some forms of diversity have been relegated to the categories of “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” “white supremacy,” or “white nationalism,” and therefore excluded from first-order political debate.

If liberals want to understand why their power in the nation’s first-order political institutions has gone into such steep decline, they might want to consider the possibility that it is partially a reaction to the enormous power they’ve wielded in recent years at the second-order level.

While they may not understand that completely, they do seem to sense that their “second-order” politics is about to take a beating as well.  Americans traditionally resist those who attempt to impose their way on them.  They certainly resist being dismissed as some sort of monster because they disagree.

The election was more than a warning shot in the culture war.  It was a declaration that one-side doesn’t intend to meekly stand by and accept the PC shaming attempts of the other side.

And that, my friend, is a good thing for all.

~McQ

Time to punch back?

In some places they riot in the street when corruption at the highest levels is uncovered (I’m thinking Brazil at the moment, and then there’s Venezuela). They protest government tyranny (Turkey). We just seem to sit placidly and watch the world go by as it is uncovered here.  Not only that, millions are planning on or have already voted for the corruption to be elevated to the White House where a “for sale” sign can then be firmly planted in the front yard. I mean, what will stop them?

Victor Davis Hanson characterizes the Clinton Mob very well, I think:

For the Clintons, power is the narcotic of being sought out, of being surrounded by retainers, of bringing enemies to heel and enticing sycophants with benefits. Liberalism and progressivism are mere social and cultural furniture, the “correct” politics of their background that one mouths and exploits to obtain and maintain political clout — and to get really, really rich without guilt or apology.

If she manages to slip all of these crimes she’s involved in and somehow snags the presidency, we will have officially arrived … at Banana Republic status.

I was stopped at a stoplight today and saw a guy behind me just singing away with a song.  He looked older than me.  I immediately thought of my dad singing to a 40’s or ’50’s classic.  Then I realized he could just as easily, in this day and time, have been singing along to “Stairway to Heaven”.  Argh.

Good!  It’s about time this sort of “journalism” paid a price!

A federal court jury decided Friday that a Rolling Stone journalist defamed a former University of Virginia associate dean in a 2014 magazine article about sexual assault on campus that included a debunked account of a fraternity gang rape.

The 10 member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its parent company, Wenner Media, responsible for defaming Eramo, who has said her life’s work helping sexual assault victims was devastated as a result of Rolling Stone’s article and its aftermath.

We covered this a bit when the article first came out and the story began to collapse.  This is what should happen when “agenda journalism” defames people and lies about events to make an agenda point. Agenda journalism is characterized by shoddy work since inconvenient facts are simply ignored in favor of the approved narrative.

We all understand and agree that “rape is bad” and must not be tolerated.  However, it doesn’t have to be lied about and sensationalised to make that point.  “Rolling Stone” already had a reputation for shoddy agenda journalism that had landed it in hot water before.  Whatever was left of any integrity and reputation they had was left shredded on that federal courtroom floor.

One of the things severely lacking in our political process is accountability.  About all we ever hear is an “oops” and “sorry about that”.  A perfect example?  Obamacare:

Michelle Harris, a 61-year-old retired waitress in northwest Montana, has arthritis in both shoulders. She gets a tax subsidy to help buy coverage under Obamacare, though she still pays $338 a month for the BlueCross BlueShield plan. Yet with its $4,500 deductible, she says she’s doing everything she can to avoid seeing a doctor. Instead, she uses ibuprofen and cold-packs.

“It hurts, but we don’t have that kind of money,” Harris said in an interview. “So I deal with it.”

Harris is one of many people with Obamacare plans that feature high out-of-pocket costs that can put health services out of reach. That’s because the insurance coverage Harris and others like her have purchased is designed not to kick in until patients have spent thousands of dollars.

Welcome to the new world where “you can keep your insurance and you can keep your doctor. Period”, don’t mean what you think it means. And accountability for screwing up a system that was working? “Oops, sorry about that.”  What’s even worse is those that screwed it up are now telling us they’re going to “fix it”.

Okay, I’ll eat my words … there is some accountability.  But unfortunately it’s rare. Remember Chris Chrisitie’s “Bridgegate”?

Two former officials linked to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office were found guilty on all charges Friday in connection with the closure of lanes in 2013 on the George Washington Bridge in an apparent act of political retribution, the fallout for which has come to be known as Bridgegate.

Again, good!  More please!  Lots more.

And finally in the “world gone mad” department, we have this:

Millions of Spanish children have been called out on strike this weekend, with families and teachers asked by a national parents’ association to say no to homework.

Because Spain is so, uh, competitive in the world today.  Uh huh, yeah, this’ll fix that. For good.

~McQ

*tap* *tap* “Is this thing on?”

So I’m back from a long needed … break.  No really … needed.

That and being thoroughly swamped with work and depressed about the politics we suffer today.

Screw it … I’ll just do random commentary then.

I found this to be absolutely hilarious and something I’ve suspected for years.  To the “publish or die” folks in academia it seems like publishing is the same thing as dying:

Professors usually spend about 3-6 months (sometimes longer) researching and writing a 25-page article to submit an article to an academic journal. And most experience a twinge of excitement when, months later, they open a letter informing them that their article has been accepted for publication, and will therefore be read by … an average of ten people. Yes, you read that correctly. The numbers reported by recent studies are pretty bleak: – 82 percent of articles published in the humanities are not even cited once.  Of those articles that are cited, only 20 percent have actually been read. Half of academic papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, peer reviewers, and journal editors. All of this is very unfortunate. Ideally, the great academic minds of a society should be put to work for the sake of building up that society and addressing its problems. Instead, most Western academics today are using their intellectual capital to answer questions that nobody’s asking on pages that nobody’s reading. What a waste.

What a waste?  What a laugh! The problem, however, is those who end up being published also end up believing their research and theory, etc. has been validated.  And that sense of validation leads them to push their pet theory even further and to introduce it, at least on a limited basis (like their humanities department) to receptive ears – after all, it’s been peer reviewed (given the lack of intellectual diversity among “peers” in academia, you can imagine the bias involved).  In the humanities we’ve seen the result in some of the looniest ideas concerning gender and sex and race bobbing to the surface in universities and influencing/encouraging SJWs to adopt and act on them.  Thus the circus we now observe within the universities in this country.

I’m certainly not attempting to blame all of that on the fact that no one but “peers” read these articles, but it certainly has to have had some influence.   When you’re pitching to an echo chamber, you hear what you hope to hear and are encouraged to put it action somewhere (like, uh, academia).

I heard that Steven DenBeste passed away recently.  If you’re not familiar with the name, Steven was one of the original (if not “the” original) bloggers with his blog the USS Clueless.  And he helped influence and launch a thousand other blogs and establish the form as something to be taken seriously.  If you’ve never heard of him or read him, do yourself a favor and google his blog and enjoy.  He passed on way to early and will be missed by all of us old time bloggers and blog readers.

I think it is clear to everyone who can candidly assess Obama’s foreign policy that it is a huge (and dangerous) failure. Take the “Pacific Pivot” as an example.  The latest defection?  Malaysia, who just gave China an order for patrol boats.

Najib’s overture to China is spurred in part by anger over U.S. Department of Justice investigations into the country’s scandalous sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB. That controversy has damaged Najib’s international reputation and sent him straight into Beijing’s arms, as China has helpfully agreed to buy the fund’s power assets. Now, that gesture is starting to pay off. China and Malaysia started joint military exercises last year, and reports suggest that Najib will sign agreements on high-speed rail and port projects during his trip to Beijing.

The Malaysian pivot to China is especially embarrassing given President Obama’s clear efforts to court Najib. In 2014, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Malaysia in nearly 50 years; later that year, Najib was the president’s golf buddy during his vacation in Hawaii. Yet that personal outreach cannot disguise the fact that the promises of the Obama administration’s pivot, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), have failed to come through. Like Duterte, Najib has apparently made the calculation that Beijing has more to offer than Washington—and unlike Duterte, this decision cannot be dismissed as the impulses of an anti-American demagogue.

DOJ will go hammer and tongs after a foreign entity but when confronted with a highly placed politician who has (per the FBI) clearly broken the law?  Yeah, not so much.

That said, the Pacific looks more dangerous than ever since Obama took office.  And Europe.  And the Middle-east.  And …

Really?

Earlier today, the D.C. City Council voted to allow physician-assisted suicide. But the debate isn’t over. The Washington Post reports that “the council must still hold a final vote on the bill, possibly as early as Nov. 15,” and that the mayor, Muriel Bowser, must decide if she’ll sign or veto the bill.

I get that people want to end their lives because of pain, etc.  But physicians?  Whatever happened to “first, do no harm?”  Make it legal if you must, not that anyone bent on suicide cares much for laws, but why involve physicians?

In case you missed it, that big yellow thing that hangs in the sky everyday is at it again.  Check out this news:

The sun has been completely spotless on 21 days in 2016 and it is currently featuring just one lonely sunspot region.  In fact, on June 4th of this year, the sun went completely spotless for the first time since 2011 and that quiet spell lasted for about four days.  Sunspot regions then reappeared for the next few weeks on a sporadic basis, but that was followed by several more completely spotless days on the surface of the sun.  The increasingly frequent blank sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an even greater number of spotless days over the next few years.  At first, the blankness will stretch for just a few days at a time, then it’ll continue for weeks at a time, and finally it should last for months at a time when the sunspot cycle reaches its nadir.  The next solar minimum phase is expected to take place around 2019 or 2020. The current solar cycle is the 24th since 1755 when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began and is the weakest in more than a century with the fewest sunspots since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906.  One other note, the weak solar cycle and the expectation for continued low solar activity this upcoming winter is an important factor in this year’s colder-than-normal Winter Outlook for the Mid-Atlantic region.

The weakest cycle in a century promising a “colder-than-normal” winter for the world (China’s forecasting the same). Science. However, you can bet that somehow this unseasonably cold winter will be charged off to the ravages of man-made “climate change”, unless it is a warm winter which, of course, will be charged off to man-made “climate change” as well.  Ideological religion.

Meanwhile in the Socialist paradise of Venezuela, government has a solution to the food shortage.  Urban farming!  No, really.  And you know it’s going to work because they’ve even established a ministry to ensure it does.  No fooling – the Ministry of Urban Agriculture.  And the ministry has announced that there’s plenty of land for all city dwellers:

When the project was presented in February, the newly created Ministry of Urban Agriculture announced that 12,000 square kilometers — about 4,600 square miles — would be planted in the first 100 days. The government promised to invest $300,000 in seeds, equipment and educational projects, and to help with logistics.

Eight months later?

Eight months into the project, only 21 square kilometers (about 8 square miles) of land have been cultivated, according to the ministry.

On target with the Great Stumble Backwards!  Seems the Socialist big government blue model has to be reestablished every generation or so to prove it isn’t the people in charge that are the problem (although they are a problem) but the flawed model that defies human nature instead.  Bernie doesn’t approve this message.

And some things never change.

~McQ

 

Lyin Ryan Lochte – What’s the big deal?

Heh – big hullabaloo, American gold medal winning swimmer tells a lie.

Ryan Lochte – “champion swimmer caught in a rip-tide of self absorption”, ” telling a fraudulent tale late night robbery”, facing indictment for fraudulent police reports. “The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members,”

How upsetting! 

August 5th, 2016 – Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 255,000 in July, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.” – Employment Situation Summary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I’m going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” – William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States.

– “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.  If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.  The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold.” – Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States

– “We do not pay ransom for hostages. We didn’t here and we won’t in the future.” – Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States, Iran cash payment of $400,000,000 dollars.   (Cash, small unmarked bills please….)

Private Email server” “30,000 personal emails were deleted” “server was allowed and no permission was needed“- Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former United States Secretary of State, Democrat candidate for President.

I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”  Hillary Clinton, Bosnia visit.

Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. ”  – Hillary Clinton – Benghazi embassy attack

Extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya. As offensive as this video was and, obviously, we’ve denounced it and the United States government had nothing to do with it. That’s never an excuse for violence.” – Barack Obama – Benghazi embassy attack

I’m proud of my Native American heritage” – Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts

Apparently, lawyers, somewhere in the halls of the Justice Department whose identities are unknown to this Court, decided unilaterally that the conduct of the DHS in granting three-year DACA renewals . . . was immaterial and irrelevant to this lawsuit and that the DOJ could therefore just ignore it. Then, for whatever reason, the Justice Department trial lawyers appearing in this Court chose not to tell the truth about this DHS activity. The first decision was certainly unsupportable, but the subsequent decision to hide it from the Court was unethical.” – State of Texas vs United States of America – DACA

“I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as he was leaving and spoke to myself and my husband on the plane, our conversation was a great deal about grandchildren, it was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix.” – Loretta Lynch, Attorney General of the United States concerning a ‘chance’ meeting with Bill Clinton the day before Hillary Clinton Email server investigation is concluded.

 

eh, I’ll stop there, there’s more than enough left unmentioned to fill Hillary’s completely ethical and legal email server disks to overflowing.

 

So, what’s the problem with Lochte and his behavior? Why the big deal?

I’m assuming Lochte is just getting some street cred and experience for an eventual run for political office as a member of the Democratic party sometime in the future.

and I’m assuming whatever he runs for, he’ll get elected.

 

 

 

Vote Properly, You Virulent Racist!

It’s been interesting watching the commentary about the British electorate’s choice to Leave the European Union. In many ways it reflects the pre-Brexit arguments of the Remain camp, which was essentially that all right-thinking people should vote remain and that those who didn’t were just racists and nationalists. That sort of analysis has even leaked into supposedly non-political outlets like Jalopnik, one of whose stories about Boris Johnson’s checkered career as an automotive journalist began with this:

Boris Johnson, the flop-haired ex-mayor of London, has been an outspoken supporter of Brexit, or however you call the thing where old scared racist people in the UK want to keep brown people out of their country and think that ditching the shitshow that is the EU is going to help them with that.

Well, there you go. A perfectly condescending dismissal of any idea that leaving the European Union had any intellectual support at all.

Less blunt was the New York Times, who began an article about the residents of Sunderland, a strongly Labour constituency in northern England that voted overwhelmingly for Leave, thusly:

Sunderland stunned the country when voters overwhelmingly opted to leave Europe in Thursday’s referendum, by 61 percent to 39 percent. It was a far higher vote for Britain’s exit than pollsters had predicted, and it was the first sign that Prime Minister David Cameron’s gamble on staying in the bloc had lost.

Sunderland’s citizens seem to have voted against their own interests. Not only has the city been a big recipient of European money, it is also the home of a Nissan car factory, Britain’s largest, and automobiles produced there are exported, duty free, to Europe.

The citizens of Sunderland seemed not to have been impressed by this or other advantages, such as:

They can swim at the Sunderland Aquatic Center, a £20 million project with an Olympic-size pool that the European Union helped finance. They can send their children to the sleek, modern Sunderland University campus, which also received union financing.

European Union money also helped establish Sunderland Software City, a business center that offers support and advice to aspiring software entrepreneurs.

Sounds great, except…

However splashy these projects may be, they remain largely inaccessible to Sunderland’s working class. Many cannot afford the £30 monthly fees at the Aquatic Center, and people in the nearby Washington neighborhood said they had never set foot inside.

As for Sunderland University, the tuition, which the government recently raised, is too much for many young people.

The article goes on to note that Sunderland has one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK.

So, how is voting Leave a vote against their interests? Well, let’s hand wave our way past that question, which, really, no right-thinking person would ask.

No, on second thought, let’s not, though to properly unpack this, we have to consider many things.

There’s a growing sense, not only in Great Britain, but in the US as well, that the elites, or the political class, or whatever you’d like to call them, are incompetent and have been leading us astray. And the response from elites is to call those criticisms illegitimate. Those doing the carping are assumed to be racists or nationalists, both of which, of course, are unpleasant, dirty types of people. Both the UK’s Leavers and the US’s Trumpers share some commonalities. Among them are skepticism over free trade and free immigration; concerns that elites dismiss as foolish and uneducated. And, of course racist.

But perhaps the Leavers weren’t so concerned with brown people because they were brown, but because they were concerned at seeing buses being blown up in London, British soldiers being beheaded in broad daylight in the High Street, and dozens of children being raped for years in Rotherham. Perhaps, the British people have come to wonder about immigration because many immigrants seem less interested in becoming British than they are in making Britain more like the Middle East. And, maybe, just maybe, the Leavers prefer to live in Britain, in the free and modern culture that has developed over the last 1,500 years, rather than go back to live in the year 692. Maybe they wouldn’t be any more interested in living in the 13th-century culture of Richard the Lion-Hearted any more than they are in living in the Dark Age culture of Middle Eastern immigrants.

When people come into your country from elsewhere, they don’t do so simply as fungible economic units, but as real people, who bring along cultural and political ideas that may conflict those that are traditional in your country. It is almost at the point where elites cannot even conceive of an argument that implies the superiority of one culture over another, so they dismiss this argument as nationalism and nativism. But, the thing is, a free society that continually imports immigrants who have no interest in individual liberty, religious freedom, and political pluralism, will eventually have none of those things. The problem isn’t race. It’s culture.

National sovereignty means something. At the very least, it means that the people of a country have the absolute right to restrict immigration to the sort of people that will, in their judgement, benefit the country, and, once the immigrants arrive, to force them to assimilate to the country’s national culture more than the country accommodates the culture of the immigrant. No obligation exists, in any sense whatsoever, that requires the people of a country to allow entry to immigrants who desire to transform the country into something different. It is entirely legitimate to reject calls for sharia in the UK, just as it’s entirely legitimate to be upset by seeing political protestors in the US waving Mexican flags or wearing “Make America Mexico Again” hats, explicitly letting us know where their primary political allegiance lies. Nor is it illegitimate to wonder why such people are in this country, and not in the corrupt shithole of a country that they so obviously prefer, yet so oddly fled.

Even on an economic level, questions of culture and country aside, people know whether they are better off today than they were 20 years ago. That’s true whether you’re an unemployed shipbuilder in Sunderland, or a textile worker in North Carolina, where about 650 textile plants closed between 1997 and 2009. A carpenter in Norwalk, CA, where low wages due to nearly uncontrolled immigration from Mexico and points south have made it impossible to raise a family on a tradesman’s salary, can see it happening, just as a plumber in Lincolnshire can see his wages drop as an influx of Polish tradesmen pour in.

One of the interesting demographic results of the Brexit vote was that people over 50 years of age were overwhelmingly in favor of Leave, while people under 30 just as keenly supported Remain. The standard explanation, as Jalopnik presented it, is simply that older people are reflexively racist against “the brown people”. Conversely, I submit that the older people have a breadth of perspective that enables them to judge what the country was like prior to submitting to the EU, compare it to the country’s situation today, and determine whether the result is an improvement. They’ve seen industry leave the north of England and an influx of immigrants who either don’t seem all that interested in becoming British or whose arrival has depressed wages for working people. Apparently, they’ve decided that’s not the Britain they were promised in 1975 or the one they want to leave to their children. Perhaps their children disagree, but those children have never had the opportunity to learn that things could be different. Indeed, they’ve been constantly taught the opposite by an education system and popular culture that characterizes Euroskepticism, as well as skepticism about free trade and unrestricted immigration, as aberrant and racist.

Now, it may be true that free trade is a net benefit. But even in the best of circumstances, such as assuming that NAFTA and the WTO are actually free trade agreements—a dubious assumption1—the benefits of free trade are widespread and diffuse, while the closure of textile plants and steel mills leave highly visible victims and long-term job losses for certain communities. That’s a political problem, not an economic one, and it’s one that elites haven’t addressed well. As a result, it’s biting them in the ass, whether it’s an unexpected Leave win for Brexit or an unexpected presidential nomination for Donald Trump. Remember, the Leave vote won even in the traditionally Labour-voting constituencies of northern England. Either working people don’t understand what’s going on in their own lives, or the promises of the elites haven’t been born out by their actual experience. Which is more likely?

But let’s go even further. Even if you could prove that, on balance, free trade is an unquestionable economic benefit, people might still prefer to be measurably poorer if that’s the price that must be paid to maintain their traditional social and political cultures. (This has even more relevance in the case of the EU, because the EU actually has power. Imagine if NAFTA had an unelected Commission in Ottowa or Mexico City that could impose laws on the United States.) Perhaps people don’t regard their economic interests as important as their national or cultural interests. It doesn’t matter what elite opinion thinks the people’s most important interests are. In a democratic society, ultimately, it only matters what the people think they are. People get to determine their own priorities, and not have them dictated by elites. The people get to answer for themselves the question, “In what kind of country do I want to live?”

Of course, I would argue that we don’t have truly free trade or, increasingly, a free economy in the United States. The Progressives  always look at the rising income inequality and maintain that it’s the inevitable result of capitalism. That’s hogwash, of course, and Proggies believe it because they’re dolts. But the problem in this country isn’t free trade—we have precious little of it—or unrestricted capitalism, since we have precious little of that as well. The issue behind rising income inequality isn’t capitalism, it’s cronyism. Income isn’t being redirected to the 1% because capitalism has failed, it’s happening because we abandoned capitalism in favor of the regulatory crony state and its de facto collusion between big business/banking interests and a government that directs capital to favored political clients, who become “too big to fail”. It doesn’t matter, for instance, whether the president is a Democrat or Republican, because we know the Treasury Secretary will be a former—and future—Goldman Sachs executive.

Indeed, what we call “free trade” nowadays isn’t the Theory of Comparative Advantage in action. It’s corporations being allowed to ship jobs to low wage countries overseas to offset the cost of regulatory burdens in the US that restrict competition from new entrants to the market. That works great for large corporations.  Not only do they get to offset the regulatory costs by overseas production, but slower job growth in the US flattens domestic wages, too, and sends millions out of the labor force altogether. For working people, the biggest financial rewards from the current “free trade” regime seem mainly reaped by large business and banking interests. Again, people know if their own lives are better or worse than they used to be, and if the promises of elites have been born out by their own experience.

The game is increasingly stacked against small business. We’ve made it harder and harder for working people to start or stay in business, restricted their access to finance and capital, and forced them to knuckle under to onerous regulatory burdens. Even with flat middle class wages keeping labor costs in check, the regulatory burden restricts small business formation. As a result, working people have begun begin to feel trapped. They see no way to improve their lives and they can see their own incomes stagnating—as middle class incomes have, in fact, been stagnating for at least 20 years.

Add to that the additional downward wage pressure that everyone agrees is the inevitable result of increasing the supply of labor through large-scale immigration. Then top it off with immigrants refusing to assimilate to culture of the host country in seemingly greater numbers. Now you have all of the necessary elements for a political revolt by the people the elite see as the rubes and hayseeds in flyover country. Rather than foreseeing and trying to ameliorate the results of these trends, the elite have chosen to ignore them at very least, or dismiss them with contempt at worst.

Most people, most of the time, are perfectly happy to let elites run the country. After all, it seems to make the elites happy to run run things, and as long as they’re reasonably competent at it, and do it reasonably unobtrusively, no one much seems to care. But when elite competence is compromised by faulty ideology and cronyism, people become unhappy. And when the elite response to complaints is dismissal or insult, political problems begin to bloom. People begin to think about politics. They begin to do things. It is no coincidence, as our Soviet friends used to say, that the last decade has seen the rise of the TEA Party, the Occupy Movement, and the Trump phenomenon. People of all political stripes are becoming unhappy.

I think we’re about to watch the elites start paying a price for their incompetence, inattention and contempt. Euroskepticism is on the rise elsewhere in Europe. If EU membership were put to a popular vote in the Netherlands, Spain, or Sweden, there is a good chance that Leave would win there, too. Indeed, it’s possible that a vote to leave the EU might even win in France, the nation for whom creating and strengthening the EU has been the primary policy goal for 60 years.

Perhaps the “Vote Remain, you virulent racist!” PR campaign for staying in the EU needs a bit more thought.

So, too, does the idea that Donald Trump supporters are all rubes and hayseeds. However much we might dislike the messenger, and Trump is certainly dislikable, and however slim his personal characteristics make his chance of winning the current election, the fact is that his message has gained much more ground than most thought possible a year ago. The key elements of that message are the same ones that resulted in a Leave vote in the UK. In the hands of a more astute politician, how much more effective would that message be?

I leave it to you to ponder the answer to that question.

___________________

1 By the way, free trade doesn’t require agreements and treaties. It just requires that government not interfere with trade. If there’s a treaty involved, you can be virtually certain that some industry is being protected.


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Punching back

Resolute is a forest products company.  It is one of the largest manufacturers of newsprint in the world.  It has also been the target of a lengthy campaign by Environmental Non Government Organizations (ENGO), like Greenpeace.  At first, when approached by the ENGOs, Resolute cooperated and thought it was part of a cooperative effort.  But, like all good shakedown artists, the ENGOs continued to defame Resolute while insisting on more and more draconian measures be met by the company as new provisos in their “agreement”.

Resolute finally had enough:

On May 31, Resolute took a page from the ENGO’s playbook and, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, filed a civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) suit against Greenpeace and a number of its associates who, though they claim to be independent, act cooperatively. The RICO Act intended to deal with the mob as a loose organization, or “enterprise,” with a pattern of activity and common nefarious purposes, such as extortion. (Greenpeace has asked the Justice Department to use the RICO Act to investigate oil companies and organizations that sow doubts about the risks of climate change.)

The 100-page complaint alleges that Greenpeace and its affiliates are a RICO “enterprise.” According to the Resolute news release, it describes the deliberate falsity of the malicious and defamatory accusations the enterprise has made and details how, to support its false accusations, “Greenpeace has fabricated evidence and events, including, for example, staged photos falsely purporting to show Resolute logging in prohibited areas.” The suit also calls Greenpeace a “global fraud” out to line its pockets with money from donors and says that “maximizing donations, not saving the environment, is Greenpeace’s true objective.” Additionally, it cites admissions by Greenpeace’s leadership that it “emotionalizes” issues to manipulate audiences.

In the U.S. lawsuit, Resolute is seeking compensatory damages in an amount to be proven at trial, as well as treble and punitive damages.

I’ve got to say I’m really glad to see this.  This ENGO scam has gone on far too long and in many cases has had the tacit backing of the government, or elements of the government.  As the article notes, the discovery portion of this suit will be interesting since it will likely uncover many things the ENGOs would prefer stayed unknown to the general and easily duped public – well, at least the part of the public they’re able to dupe into contributing to their “cause”.  Their “cause”, it seems, has become shaking down companies. Even one of the original founders of Greenpeace acknowledges what they’ve become and he minces no words doing so:

Patrick Moore, one of the original founders of Greenpeace, is disappointed that the group that originally wanted to help, is now an extortion racket. He told me: “I am very proud to have played a small role in helping Resolute deal with these lying blackmailers and extortionists.”

We’ll follow and report.  Hopefully this is the beginning of a large and needed pushback.

~McQ

 

Science vs. “science”

Megan McArdle touches on one of the great political truths of today:

Ask a Washington dinner party full of moderately well informed people what will happen with Iran over the next five years, and you’ll end up with a consensus that gee, that’s tough. Ask them what GDP growth will be in fall 2019, and they’ll probably converge on a hesitant “2 or 3 percent, I guess?” On the other hand, ask them what’s going to happen to the climate over the next 100 years, and what you’re likely to hear is angry.

How can one be certain about outcomes in a complex system that we’re not really all that good at modeling? Anyone who’s familiar with the history of macroeconomic modeling in the 1960s and 1970s will be tempted to answer “Umm, we can’t.”

And that’s sort of the root of the problem, isn’ t it?  The “science” of “climate change” is based in modeling “a complex system that we’re not really all that good at modeling”, just as in years past economists attempted the same thing with similar results.

So, how is the inability to capture all the variables, even variables of which little is known at present (and, dare I say it, some unknown) and put them in a model and claim … “science”.  Seems to me its a guess at best.  That’s certainly what economists found when they tried to model economies or even parts of economies.  The number of variables is just too vast and the knowledge of those variables is imprecise at best.

McArdle goes on to talk about the experience of economists and how models have pretty much been put in their place in the “dismal science”.  They’re aids, but they’re certainly nothing to bet your career or economic policy on.

Somehow, however, that’s not been the case with climate models – even when they’ve been shown to be horribly inaccurate time after time (in fact, not even close and have such a tenuous grasp on the mechanics of climate they can’t even reproduce the past).

That’s not stopped those who proclaim the “science is settled” from attempting to vilify and condemn those who disagree.  Money grafs from McArdle:

This lesson from economics is essentially what the “lukewarmists” bring to discussions about climate change. They concede that all else equal, more carbon dioxide will cause the climate to warm. But, they say that warming is likely to be mild unless you use a model which assumes large positive feedback effects. Because climate scientists, like the macroeconomists, can’t run experiments where they test one variable at a time, predictions of feedback effects involve a lot of theory and guesswork. I do not denigrate theory and guesswork; they are a vital part of advancing the sum of human knowledge. But when you’re relying on theory and guesswork, you always want to leave plenty of room for the possibility that your model’s output is (how shall I put this?) … wrong.

Naturally, proponents of climate-change models have welcomed the lukewarmists’ constructive input by carefully considering their points and by advancing counterarguments firmly couched in the scientific method.

No, of course I’m just kidding. The reaction to these mild assertions is often to brand the lukewarmists “deniers” and treat them as if what they were saying was morally and logically equivalent to suggesting that the Holocaust never happened.

And that’s where we are.  McArdle ends with a plea for sane and objective discussion but in my opinion, that ship sailed when we saw state Attorney Generals band together to prosecute “deniers” under the RICO statutes.  Of course that doesn’t change the science or “science” but it does make it much more difficult to dial back the rhetoric.  There is a reason for that:

The arguments about global warming too often sound more like theology than science. Oh, the word “science” gets thrown around a great deal, but it’s cited as a sacred authority, not a fallible process that staggers only awkwardly and unevenly toward the truth, with frequent lurches in the wrong direction. I cannot count the number of times someone has told me that they believe in “the science,” as if that were the name of some omniscient god who had delivered us final answers written in stone. For those people, there can be only two categories in the debate: believers and unbelievers. Apostles and heretics.

This I wholeheartedly agree with and the actions of those who believe in man-made climate change constantly validate my position. This has moved well beyond objectivity and rational discourse.  It is into the realm of religious belief.  It is interesting which side of the ideological curve tends to believe the “science” presented and to agree with the oppressive sanctions offered to silence those who disagree.  The same ones who will tell you they’re “progressive”.  For those of us who read a bit, we know the history of “progressivism” and what is happening on the “progressive” side of this issue is exactly what you’d expect from them.

Now apply that knowledge to other “progressive” ideas and policies and you’ll soon understand what their end game looks like.

~McQ

Another chapter in “WTF”?!

Seems college isn’t about college anymore – at least at Oberlin.  The shot:

recent piece in The New Yorker examines the effects of a new wave of student activism at Oberlin College, a small, private liberal arts institution in Ohio, and it’s pretty eye-opening.

According to writer Nathan Heller, Oberlin is “at the center of the current storm” of activism on college campuses, with students heavily involved in issues including classroom diversity, safe spaces, racial inequality and social injustice.

Due to the intense focus on those issues, many progressive students are dropping out.

They claim that their activism is getting in the way of their studies, and other students, the faculty and the administration have made it impossible to live on campus.

The chaser:

Heller spoke to self-identified “Afro-Latinx” student Megan Bautista, who said that she was upset that the school refused her demand to erase any grades below Cs.

“A lot of us worked alongside community members in Cleveland who were protesting (the death of Tamir Rice in the fall of 2014 – ed.). But we needed to organize on campus as well—it wasn’t sustainable to keep driving forty minutes away. A lot of us started suffering academically.” In 1970, Oberlin had modified its grading standards to accommodate activism around the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings, and Bautista had hoped for something similar. More than thirteen hundred students signed a petition calling for the college to eliminate any grade lower than a C for the semester, but to no avail. “Students felt really unsupported in their endeavors to engage with the world outside Oberlin,” she told me.

But that’s not the real world even if it is the world the students feel they need to embrace.

It’s funny to me.  You go to college and you essentially make a commitment to that college to take classes you choose and to perform well enough to get a good grade.  Then … squirrel!  Suddenly that commitment is put on the back burner as you discover a new and more important one.  Well, more important to you.  The old, “I want my cake and I want to eat it too” selfishness of a child who has always gotten their spoiled way.

And who is supposed to suddenly change the rules because you’ve decided on this new commitment and thrown over the old one?  Oh, yeah, the institution you made the previous commitment too.

Students should feel “really unsupported” by the school because they’ve reneged on their commitment to the school. Why should the school feel obligated to support them if they don’t feel obligated to their commitment to the school?

Mature folk actually know the right answer to that question.   The immature?  See above.

Maybe they should offer a Maturity 101 course for these children.

~McQ

“Pawternity” leave the next goal of the entitled generation

It seems, this week, that I’m all about proving Shark’s point that “every time I think we’ve reached peak stupid, something new comes along to prove me wrong.”  Well here you go, Shark, the shot:

Bringing my adopted cat, Jameson, home with me in 2014 was one of the happiest days of my life.

Having to go back to work two days later was one of the worst.

While the rest of the country is hung up on the necessity of maternity leave — or even the newly coined “meternity” — one group continues to be overlooked when it comes to paid time off from work: new pet owners.

“Paw-ternity” leave is already a reality in the UK — the US pet-insurance provider Petplan found that nearly 5 percent of new pet owners in the UK were offered time off to care for their four-legged kids. (Not surprisingly, the UK is also light-years ahead of the US when it comes to maternity leave, offering up to 39 weeks of paid leave for new mothers.)

It’s time for the US to hop aboard the “paw-ternity” train. It’s not just because I want to stay home and cuddle on the couch with my new feline (which I do). When I adopted Jameson, he was 6 years old and had spent the previous year of his life in an animal shelter. He was suffering from several health problems after being neglected by his previous owner — and was skittish, nervous and uncertain about why he was suddenly being transported to a strange new home.

And the chaser:

Many pet experts agree that new pet owners should try their best to clear their schedule for the first few days following a new animal’s arrival. Not only can pets benefit from the comfort of being cared for by a loving parent after spending time in an animal shelter, but they require attention to be properly housebroken and trained so they don’t become a public nuisance.

Dear silly young woman who seems to think her choices should be paid for by others.  If you want to stay home with your new pet, companies have a thing called “vacation days.” You might have heard of them.  That’s right, you’re paid and everything.  And it isn’t like you can’t plan this sort of thing out.  You know, “hey, I have 10 days of vacation saved and I want a new pet – perfect, I’ll take vacation and stay home with it”.   Then you can housebreak the little nipper and prevent it from becoming a public nuisance at the same time.  See how that works?

What doesn’t work is this sort of demand that others take up the slack and pay your for time off just because you’ve made a choice that has absolutely nothing to do with them or your work.

But we all know the real bottom line here.  The equating of pets with children gives the entrée into demanding the same sort of treatment that new mothers get.  Because, you know, going to the pet store and pointing to a cat in a cage is just the same as carrying a baby for 9 months and then bearing the child.  So let’s face the truth.  You want time with your pet but you don’t want to spend your vacation days to do that.

What does that make you?  Well mostly a spoiled and entitled child who will one day live in a ramshackle house with 100 cats, living on a pittance of Social Security (because you had difficulty holding on to work) and rail against the world for not giving you the time you demanded when you only had one.

~McQ

Cheerleaders must conform!

Still fascinated by all of this.  This mossy little sub-culture that suddenly sprouted all these oversensitive and whiny little crybabies in the one institution where they ought to be trying on their big boy and girl pants fascinates me.  Kind of like a bacteria culture fascinates a bacteriologist. And besides, what’s to say about Trump and Clinton?  A con man and a crook are likely to be the nominees, brought to you by … “democracy”.

Anyway, now, apparently, there is hell to be paid at the University of Washington because the “cheer team” (what we used to call “cheerleaders”) offended some of the overweight and pasty womyn who populate gender and feminist studies.  They apparently had the gall to notify those who were interested in the “cheer team” what was expected.

Cheerleaders, it turns out, are expected to have a certain look.

“U-Dub” students (hey, that’s just one letter away from U Dumb!) were unloading on social media, crying to counselors and fleeing to safe spaces after the cheer team posted an infographic describing the look to strive for if you’re planning to try out for the squad. (In the routinely craven manner of all universities, the UW spirit program ordered the graphic removed and called in nine tons of smelling salts for those affected.)

I repeat: The graphic was aimed only at young women seeking to be cheerleaders. Pasty-faced Womyn’s Struggles majors attending rallies in shapeless sweatshirts, and black-clad Emily Dickinson fans emoting agonized coffeehouse verse were not the target audience.

So, the graphic apparently “offended” the “uninterested” (i.e. those who had no intention of joining the cheer team but had no problem whatsoever passing judgement on their methods) to the point that they became interested because …

“I can’t believe this is real,” Jazmine Perez, the student government’s director of programming told the Seattle Times. “One of the first things that comes to mind is objectification and idealization of Western beauty,” she harrumphed.

[…]

Signe Burchim, a UW senior, added, “I think it’s really upsetting and kind of disheartening the way it’s basically asking these women who want to try out to perform their femininity — but not too much.” She said men would never be subjected to such a message while trying out for a sport.

The worldly Signe Burchim, UW senior, and person with so much knowledge of what goes on out in the real world absolutely and positively knows this to be a fact … well, according to her woman studies prof.  Men are never asked to meet the standards of some group or team they would like to join (I assume there are men on the “cheer team”).  Ever.

As for Ms. Perez and her attempt to make this about race, sorry, a swing and a miss.  As the NY Post points out:

Contrary to Ms. Perez — who reminds us that college is a place where you pay $50,000 a year to unlearn the obvious — female beauty standards like facial symmetry and waist-hip ratio are pretty much universal. But here’s the thing she missed: The graphic made no demand that cheerleaders be pretty. Everything illustrated has to do with styling and presentation, not your actual attractiveness. And no, it isn’t racist: Race is nowhere mentioned or implied.

Tailoring your look to a group’s standards is how almost everything works. You don’t show up to play baseball in a scuba suit. You don’t show up for a business meeting in board shorts and flip-flops, unless you work in Silicon Valley, in which case you don’t show up in a tie and wingtips. And you don’t wear Goth makeup, “Born To Be Bad” tats and fishnet tights to a cheerleading tryout — unless you’re doing a performance art piece, which might actually be funny.

If you want to be a cheerleader, your hair should have “volume” and your eyelashes should be “false,” because that’s how cheerleaders roll. You don’t like it? Fine, do what everyone who feels the same way has been doing for decades: Sit in the bleachers, roll your eyes, make snarky jokes and stew in your jealousy.

But hey, these precious snowflakes have learned that almost anything that doesn’t make them feel happy is likely to have something to do with the patriarchy, racism, sexism, miscegenation, white privilege or some other yet to be identified shortcoming of the dominant culture.  Don’t believe they learn it at school?  Check out this email from a professor at the University of Missouri before it all went in the ditch:

Dr. Tim Evans, an associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathology, writes to his colleagues: “I applaud the support provided to our protesting students who, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with them, are using what they have learned in the classroom and putting it to practice.”

If what Dr. Evans says is true, what a profound disservice the faculties of these schools are doing to their students.  As I’ve said any number of times, they’re letting the inmates run the asylum, and make no mistake, given the level of this sort of nonsense now ongoing at various schools, they more closely resemble asylums than they do institutions of higher learning.

But there’s a backlash building and the University of Missouri is only the tip of that iceberg.  Parents recognized the inmates were in charge and pulled their kids or decided against sending them to that university.  Money talks, SJW BS walks.

It is indeed going to be both fascinating and entertaining watching how this all finally sorts itself out.  But I can’t at all help observe it all with glee as the very people who taught and enabled this generation of whiners and crybabies are the first it consumes.

~McQ

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