Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Optimism of a Twilight Patriot

 

I began writing the Twilight Patriot blog in February of 2019. While the landscape of American politics has changed a bit over that almost-three-year period, my opinions about my country’s past, present, and likely future have remained fairly constant.

Sometimes, I voiced those opinions by criticizing the same things that most Right-wingers criticize: the size of government, a welfare state that disincentivizes work and thrift, the dictatorial role of SCOTUS. Sometimes, I criticized things that the Right used to approve of, but has since soured on, like military adventurism, or the dismantling of America’s industrial plant in favor of cheap imports.

Sometimes, I took positions that are heretical on the Right: ‘Global warming is real,’ I said, ‘and President Trump is only pretending to care about the border wall.’ And sometimes, I simply sounded alarmist: ‘Inflation is two or three times worse than the official numbers say, and the US military has grown so weak that even third and fourth-rate enemies can prevail against it.’

And I made a consistent set of predictions: The American Empire was going to continue its process of decline and fall. It didn’t really matter which party won the next election; neither party would make the changes that really mattered. In a little while – historically speaking – the United State would be a third world country, with third world levels of poverty, inflation, unemployment, political dysfunction, crime, and military ineptitude.

And I was saying all of this before the re-engineered bat virus, the five-month-long nonstop race riot, and the attempted coup.

I was talking decline and fall before the Afghanistan route, before the police and the military started using vaccine mandates to purge out their less conformist members, before… well, you get the point.

But there’s another curious thing. If you follow political commentary for a while, you’ll notice that whenever a big crisis happens, or seems likely to happen, a lot of people start talking doomsday scenarios: The coronavirus is going to kill >10% of the people who get it, causing a total collapse of the government in the process. Or the vaccines are going to do the same thing.

Or the Floyd Riots will be the permanent end of law and order throughout the United States. Or some other imminent event is going to cause the world as we know it to roll over and die.

When Qasem Soleimani was killed, I heard people saying it was going to spark World War III – but it didn’t, and a few days later, the excitement had died down. For years before the 2020 election, people on both sides of the aisle were insisting that if the Democrat won in a way that Trump’s base believed was unfair, we would have a civil war on our hands. Then Trump lost, and most Republicans did indeed believe that Biden had cheated… but one hour of LARPing does not a civil war make.

So we were left in the great in-between. We’ve seen, over and over again, that our civilization is not on the track of upward progress. It is not even maintaining a comfortable status quo. But in most people’s imaginations, the only alternative to those things is instant apocalypse, and we’re not getting that, either.

Just a gradual decline and fall, a slow slide into third world conditions.

It is a disappointment. We Americans feel that our nation is so unique that if it doesn’t keep progressing onward and upward indefinitely (to the point that we eventually learn how to make people immortal, or colonize outer space, or what have you) then it at least deserves to go out with a uniquely memorable bang.

But here I am, predicting that neither of these things will happen. Just a slow slide into the mud. ‘Look at the situation in Mexico,’ I say. ‘Look how the people are getting poorer and poorer, and central authority is weakening, and many of the rural areas are being divided between warring militias and gangs. That will probably be our future, too. Hopefully, our technology will decline quickly enough that our overlords don’t get a chance to set up a universal surveillance state like in China.’

And then, as if I wanted to make my readers go ‘huh?’ one more time, I say that I don’t find this depressing, that it’s far from the worst future we could have, and that there’s a lot of room, in the future that I’m sketching out, for hope, optimism, and plans to rebuild.

In large part, this is possible because of my fundamentally religious worldview.

Generally speaking, religious people – in other words, people who have hung their hopes of ultimate victory on something less feeble than human beings or institutions built by human beings – have no reason to hide from the reality of decline and fall.

In the Western religions, this is because the material world, and everything in it, is transient, and irreparably marred by mankind’s sins. We are only here on earth for a brief moment – ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust,’ and all that – and if we happen to live in an age of worldly decline, it shouldn’t be a source of sorrow to us, only another reason to serve God faithfully and lay up our treasures in Heaven.

The Eastern religions conceive things a bit differently. In their view, the world itself may well have no beginning and no end, but everything in it lasts for only a brief moment amid the eternal cycle of death and rebirth. Each of us has lived many lives already, and will live many lives in the future, and the way to wisdom and happiness lays in recognizing transient things for what they are, enjoying them while they last, and refusing to cling to them when it’s time to leave them behind.

Since Twilight Patriot is not a religious blog, I’m not going to comment on which of those two overarching philosophies I find more convincing. Suffice it to say that people who follow either of them will have an easier time weathering the storms ahead than the materialists who lean, for their sense of meaning and purpose, on the frail reed of human progress.

If you’re a regular reader of Twilight Patriot, and perhaps even if you aren’t, then you probably admire a lot of the same people as I do: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, the Marquis de Lafayette, Frederick Douglas, Winston Churchill, etc.

Men like that can only exist during times of adversity. And with that in mind, is it really depressing for me to say that America’s future will involve regression, fragmentation, poverty, violence? Nothing else could toughen up the soft, effete, atomized people who presently live here into the kind of men and women who can do great things. As in nature, so with mankind – some trees can only take root in in the ashes left by a fire.

George Washington and the other founders grew up in a country that was poorer, more violent, and more technologically primitive than the country we live in today. Because of my conviction that history is cyclical and that progress is never permanent, I am free to believe that America may yet produce a thousand Washingtons. Is that really such a bad future?

But what does that mean for the here and now? It means that each of us – each of us who desires to in some way be a part of building the next great North American civilization – should be eager to score a win against the system.

And we can win against the system by detaching ourselves from the system.

Whenever some American kid realizes that America’s days as the nonproducing consumer among nations are numbered, and decides to learn a trade that involves working with his hands instead of pushing numbers around, that’s a win.

Whenever a trad wife gives birth to three or more children, and raises them up in such a way that they imitate her decision to make family a bigger priority than the pursuit of wealth, that’s a win.

Whenever someone opens the town newspaper, reads a letter like this one, and is dissuaded from disfiguring his or her child’s mind with ADHD medication, that’s a win.

Whenever an American couple refuses to send their children to woke public schools where race hatred and gender dysphoria are taught, that’s a win.

Whenever someone grows his own food, and builds or at least repairs his own house, car, appliances, furniture, etc., rather than relying for those things on an increasingly dysfunctional global supply chain, that’s a win.

Whenever someone finds a way to work for himself, taking payment in cash and/or barter when possible,  and depriving corporate and government middlemen of the chance to skim off of his labor, that’s a win.

Whenever someone realizes that the fossil-fueled economy is going to wind down over the next few generations, and acts on that realization by making a hobby out of preserving the technologies that are appropriate to a more primitive world – technologies like sailing ships, home-built radios, letterpress printing, or traditional glassmaking, to name a few – that’s a win.

Acts of resistance against the state can be wins, too, but we need to be realistic about our expectations in this regard. People who do not have the courage to seek asylum abroad when their own children’s genders are changed by court order do not have the courage to repeat the events of 1776, or even 1989. Which is why the only kinds of resistance that I expect will be done, successfully, during the next few decades are the small and local kinds.

Our side does not have a path to nationwide victory – indeed, in times like these it makes little sense to speak of of “our side” at all.

My favorite metaphor for the collapse of American civilization is the Blind Men and the Elephant. Just as the six blind men, though feeling different things, all knew that they had grasped onto some part of a large animal, a lot of the people living in the United States in 2021 can feel that their country is falling apart. But because we each feel only some aspects of the rolling collapse, it is easy to quarrel with one another about the real nature and causes of it.

Yet in our quarreling, we’re often all partly in the right. The people who think that the sexual revolution was a mistake, and those who think that treating petroleum as if it’s a renewable resource is a mistake, tend to be political enemies… for now. But the collapse of the gasoline economy, the re-agrarianization of America, and the disappearance of the technologies that make it easy to manage venereal diseases will, I think, bring each around to the other’s point of view.

None of this is going to be easy or pleasant or quick. There is, at this point, no turning back from the future that America has earned for itself. We will not get continued progress, nor will we get instant apocalypse; just a long, slow, multigenerational decline into third world conditions – into impoverished, violent, and politically repressive conditions – followed by an opportunity to rebuild. Or rather, several opportunities to rebuild, since by that time the United States will almost certainly have fragmented into multiple pieces.

So that, then, is what optimism means for me. It means looking at the situation as it is, with its challenges and opportunities, and choosing to meet the challenges manfully, and act on the opportunities.

It does not mean believing that one’s political party has its act together when the evidence suggests that it does not. Nor does it mean insulting the founders by saying that the constitution we have today is, for the most part, the same one they established, and that our country can be saved if only we protect said constitution from future assaults, when in reality the old constitution has been dead for a long time, and ought to have been given a decent burial already.

And once you admit that dead things are dead things, you can focus on the real challenges of our time: disengagement, survival, and rebuilding.


Saturday, November 20, 2021

Documentary Review: Cartelville USA

 

A few days ago, The  Daily Caller released its first investigative documentary: Cartelville USA. The film is short – only 36 minutes – and you can watch it here with a subscription or free trial. There is also an interview on the Federalist Radio Hour with the directory, Jorge Ventura, which is nearly as long as the documentary itself.

In case the title doesn’t already give it away, the topic of Cartelville USA is a string of communities in the California desert that have been taken over by drug cartels. The cartels grow marijuana in hoop houses on land that may or may not be theirs, using slave labor and stolen water. They pack heavy weapons and gun down whoever looks too much like a rival or a threat, and generally do as they wish.

“These drug cartels are wreaking havoc on the entire antelope valley, and nobody is talking about it,” says the narrator near the beginning of the film. “This is the cartels. We are very very close to driving down the freeway, and seeing bodies hanging from the overpasses. That is what's coming.”

Ventura’s disturbing look into the growing power of drug cartels on this side of the border caught my interest because it has two important political ramifications: one short-term and the other long-term. But before I discuss those in detail, a summary of what I learned from the documentary is in order.

The setting is, for the most part, in rural Los Angeles county, though it extends into neighboring counties as well. The inhabitants are, for the most part, old, working-class conservatives who settled there in their twilight years to get away from bustle of city life, only to be rudely surprised by what is going on. And you can tell that something is deeply wrong from the get-go by the fact that most of the people Ventura interviews (the sheriff and Congressman Mike Garcia being notable exceptions) have their faces blurred to avoid recognition.

Ventura and his crew reveal how a combination of Mexican, Chinese, and Armenian organized crime syndicates are growing marijuana in hoop houses in the California desert. Some growers own the land or are in league with absentee landlords, while others are just squatters. The hoop houses, complete with lights and irrigation systems, can be set up in just a day or two, and even when police get a search warrant, the law usually allows them to take only the marijuana plants, while leaving everything else, so the whole enterprise carries surprisingly little risk.

Labor is provided by illegal aliens brought from Mexico or China and forced to work by their traffickers; water is simply stolen, often from fire hydrants.

Most Californians are unaware of the severity of the problem: in their minds, since their state already legalized marijuana, they shouldn’t have to worry about this kind of thing anymore. “People just shrug their shoulders,” says Ventura. “Who cares, it's just pot, like, why are we even wasting our tax dollars fighting this issue?”

Yet Proposition 64, which passed in 2016, was in many ways a half measure. While Californians can now legally grow weed under some circumstances, there are enough licensing requirements, regulatory requirements, and production limits to ensure that it’s still much more profitable to do it illegally – and that’s before you add in the fact that, due to federal law still frowning on everyone involved in the cannabis trade, no money earned by selling the stuff can be deposited into a bank account. Then tally up the costs saved by using stolen water and forced labor, and it’s easy to see why working outside the law is still the most profitable option.

The ultimate takeaway from all this is that things that Americans are used to hearing about on the other side of the border are going to be start happening on our own side, too, if enough people don’t wake up to the gravity of the situation.

Or, as an interviewer from The Federalist put it when he began querying Ventura: “The Cartels generally know you can kill as many Mexicans as you want in Mexico, you can slave-trade as many humans as you want from foreign countries, but you don't mess with Americans, [or] Americans start to freak out. It seems to be one of the very few remaining ideas of Pax Americana in the world as cartels know that's bad for business. But you worry that might be changing?”

Yes, Jorge Ventura does worry that might be changing.

Now, I promised at the beginning that I would discuss two lines of political ramifications – one short-term and one long-term – of the situation in Antelope Valley.

The immediate takeaway is that the leftists who govern the United States in general, and California in particular, are completely blind to serious national problems – even problems with high human costs born largely by the people they claim to care about the most – when those problems don’t fit into their political worldview.

If you’re a Democrat, then one of the ways you prove to your party’s base that you’re a good Democrat is by going soft on crimes involving politically sensitive classes of people: in this case, Hispanics and illegal aliens. (And it is of no consequence that Hispanic people who have to deal with these crimes up close –  like Jorge Ventura and Mike Garcia – are often vehemently opposed to your nonchalance).

The same goes for reporters in the mainstream media. If you work for the New York Times, CNN, NPR, or the like, you will not advance your career by drawing attention to the fact that the wide-open border and the lenient attitude toward crime that gave rise to “Defund The Police” has nasty consequences for poor people and racial minorities.

It is rather disturbing that this has become a partisan issue; after all, in a healthy republic, defending the lives and property of one’s countrymen would be something that all office-holders feel strongly about. But at the moment, it isn’t, and unless more voters start supporting people like Mike Garcia instead of the rabble who talk about defunding the police, we’re going to get more of the same.

One can argue, quite convincingly, that the road to Cartelville USA starts with the kind of politicians who are willing to let BLM burn down police stations, and then say that the important thing is that none of the “protestors” were harmed by the cops.

As for the long-term ramifications: if the US Government doesn’t somehow get put into the hands of people who really, really want to turn things around – and by now, a turnaround is looking increasingly unlikely – then we are looking at the beginning stages of state formation.

This is a concise way of saying that, the longer this goes on, the more and more the cartels will take on the attributes of being governments in their own right. They will hold undisputed sovereign authority over their territory and its inhabitants, they will make and enforce laws, they will collect taxes, the will wage war and, if victorious, they will dictate the terms of the peace treaty, just like their counterparts already do in Mexico.

Perhaps you are familiar with the Battle of Culiacán, fought in October of 2019, in which 700 Sinaloa gunmen, wielding 50-calibre rifles, rocket launchers, grenades, and armored vehicles, defeated the Mexican National Guard, seized control of a city of 700,000 people, and demanded that the Mexican government release the imprisoned son of the Sinaloa Cartel’s leader or else face a massacre. President López Obrador complied, as many people expected him to; he had, after all, run for office on a platform of rapprochement with the drug cartels.

America’s Culiacán moment is still a long way off – decades away, in my opinion – but the longer politicians ignore events like the ones that Jorge Ventura is trying to bring to light in Cartelville USA, the closer that moment gets.

This essay was originally published in American Thinker.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Why I Changed My Mind About Chinese Hegemony

Early last year, I wrote an essay here at Twilight Patriot entitled “Why I Don’t Fear Chinese Hegemony.” My basic premise was that (1) China has zero chance of militarily occupying any part of the United States, and (2) China’s environmental and demographic decline will prevent its coming period of economic dominance from lasting as long as the era of American dominance that is winding down right now.

Now, I still think those premises are true, but I’ve also come to believe that the conclusion I drew from them – that US citizens like myself shouldn’t worry about Chinese hegemony – is incorrect. Granted, I still don’t think the Chinese Communist Party is the biggest threat to American liberties – our country’s internal problems are, for the time being, more serious.

But I do fault my past self for not anticipating the ways that (1) economic power can be turned into political power, and (2) Chinese corporate oligopolies, when properly coordinated by the CCP, can be used for global plunder. (One of my wakeup calls on the second point was hearing from a friend who works in global supply chain management that shipping containers have become way more expensive than usual this year due to what’s probably a deliberate squeeze by the three Chinese companies that make almost the whole supply. Multiply this by a thousand and you might start seeing how the new economic system that’s rising around us is going to work).

As for turning economic heft into political power, a few stories will be instructive. Perhaps you saw the news last week about how Boston Celtics games have been removed from Chinese media after Celtics forward Enes Kantor made a video about the oppression of Tibet? As China is the NBA’s biggest emerging market, it would be naïve to think that Kantor isn’t in for an unpleasant word from the Celtics’ owner and/or manager.

Or perhaps you remember back in May how the actor and WWE wrestler John Cena was cajoled into telling his Chinese fans that he was “very sorry” for calling Taiwan a country? “I made a mistake,” he said, “It’s so so so so so so important, I love and respect Chinese people….”

When China is the world’s dominant commercial power, and also cares deeply about the ideological purity of those it does business with, it is only natural that the tendrils of the Chinese Communist Party will reach across the ocean and strangle freedom of speech in distant lands.

Despite the minor embarrassment of Covid-19, Chinese power and prestige are rising steeply. And let’s be honest here, even Covid isn’t as wholly-Chinese a problem as some naïve Americans like to think.

Were the Chinese scientists in the lab from which the virus probably escaped doing things that would have been illegal in the United States? You bet. But you’ve also got to remember that the experiments were funded by American government money, while American virologists like Antony Fauci were talking up the need for “gain of function” research and downplaying its hazards.

Basically, what we are looking at is a joint Sino-American snafu. It is definitely not a case of the innocent USA being bitten without reason by the Chinese Communist Party.

But such is the changing of empires. The bumbling incompetence of the declining empire paves the way for a new empire to arise. The Chinese have always known this.

Also, when you look at its history and culture, you’ll see that domination is China’s destiny – in the past, regional domination, and in an increasingly-likely future, global domination.

In name, the People’s Republic of China is a socialist/communist country. But the slogan “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” makes more sense if you read it the other way around: Traditional Chinese statecraft, with a thin veneer of socialism painted on the outside.

Communist rule in the Soviet Union and its satellites collapsed when their economies failed, and the mismatch between the utopian promises of communism and its dreary reality led their governing elites to lose faith in the communist worldview.

But this is a poor model for China’s future, because China has been headed away from that situation since the 1980s, when Deng Xiaoping’s reforms restored China’s traditional form of political economy: a semicontrolled market economy led by authoritarian nationalist scholar-bureaucrats.

The fact that, for nearly two millennia, this system made China the wealthiest and most technologically advanced civilization in the world (with Europe’s recent period of dominance being brief in comparison) should clue us in to its durability.

I put little stock in Western dreams that China’s populace will someday rebel in pursuit of the Euro-American ideal of personal freedom. While China’s history includes a long tradition of insurrections against governments that have failed to govern well (or that have lost the Mandate of Heaven, as the Chinese say), China’s concept of what a government should be doing in the first place is different from the Western version.

The typical Chinese man wants his family to be well-fed. He wants to have a fair chance at prospering in his trade. He wants his country to be free of bandits and marauding barbarians (i.e. Huns, Mongols, British). He wants to avoid being robbed by nakedly corrupt officials. Deprive him of those things for long enough, and insurrections will boil up – this is what happened over and over again during the period from 1839 to 1949 which Maoists call the Century of Humiliations.

Starvation was common. Peasants were frequently robbed of everything they owned by landlords and other corrupt authorities. Barbarians were trashing the country.

The underclass responded in a variety of desperate ways. Some left everything behind to become “coolies” and work at low wage jobs in places like Singapore and California. Others climbed out of poverty by making their daughters become prostitutes, or turning their sons into court eunuchs (and since they often couldn’t afford a professional castration, they would do the job at home, with household tools – i.e. a father would say to his eight-year-old son: “take your clothes off and lay on the bed while I get my razor.”)

And from time to time, the peasants grew angry enough to launch rebellions – also an act of desperation, especially when you realize that, apart from World War II, the two bloodiest wars in recorded history were the successful uprising against the Ming dynasty in 1644, and the failed Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864.

The Chinese will rebel when things like what happened during those awful years are allowed to go on for too long, and they have the Confucian Classics to teach them that they are right to do so. But in ordinary times, they are conformists, and they care little for democratic government, freedom of speech, racial equality, or the right of minorities to practice eccentric religions.

Right now, by all historical standards, China is prospering. Life for most Chinese is good and getting better. Wages are up, social mobility is up, China is dominating the barbarians, and so forth. Most Westerners believe the Chinese are wrong to be content with this, but most Chinese do not care.

Now, one of the tragedies of China is that the Han Chinese majority aren’t the only people who have to live in a country shaped by Chinese values. The Chinese system of government, at its high points, is strong, efficient, and ruthless. And when the Chinese are able to, they expand their civilization as far out into their surroundings as they can.

The Miao, Tibetans, Mongols, and Uighars are just a few of the ethnic minorities who have had the misfortune of being caught under the treads of the expanding Chinese civilization. And unlike the Han, these people have little recourse to insurrection, so long as the ordinary Chinese, who vastly outnumber them, are content. Because while the Mandate of Heaven may be lost, it can never be split.

Hence China’s intensely negative attitude toward Uighar and Tibetan separatists, or its willingness to go to great lengths to make sure that other countries do not treat Taiwan as a full sovereign. This attitude toward “breakaway provinces” can be seen all over Chinese history, when the establishment of multiple kingdoms after a dynasty fell was never followed by lasting peace between them, but by near-constant warfare, which could continue for more than a century if that’s what it took to reunite the realm.

So what does this have to say about the future?

Well, since China’s power is rising, and the United States is rapidly losing the ability to keep the Chinese at bay, we can expect them to go on a conquering spree.

Taiwan will be an early target, and for a variety of reasons, I’m not optimistic about its chances of survival. Then will come a century or so of Chinese hegemony. I do not think China is interested in directly conquering most of the world, anymore than the United States was during the “American Century.” But the global dominance of American culture will end.

Washington’s habit of fomenting regime change in distant countries will likely be taken over by Beijing (leading to different kinds of regimes being changed) and China will also be free to instigate wars over oil and other natural resources. The continued expansion of the “One Belt One Road” program will lead to more and more infrastructure throughout the world being owned by China – and thus to more and more profits flowing back to the motherland.

This is the future that the collective West is heading towards, unless we work up the courage to oppose Chinese hegemony, and work it up fast.

This essay was adapted from an article published in American Thinker.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Drafting Women, or How America is Ruled by Moderate Republicans

The last few weeks of news in America seem to have been dominated by the consequences of our ruling class’s decision to go all-in with its nihilistic crackdown on unvaccinated essential workers, along with the predictable trail of doubletalk – does anyone really believe that Southwest Airlines’ decision to cancel 28 percent of its flights last weekend was due to weather?

Then there is the woke cultural revolution in the universities, the global supply chain breakdown, the Democrats’ attempts to endlessly relive the events of 6 January through litigation and congressional hearings… I could go on and on.

With all this happening, one can almost be forgiven for overlooking the new version of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) as it quietly works its way through Congress. ‘Almost’ is the key word here, because if the current NDAA passes, then this will be the year that the government finally gets around to making women register for the draft.

Both the full House and a Senate committee have passed preliminary versions of the NDAA that make women eligible for conscription. Now all that remains is for a reconciled bill to be passed through both chambers and sent to President Biden’s desk – something which, if recent patterns hold, will be finished sometime in December.

Support for the measure is quite strong: Democrats are all in favor, and Republicans are split down the middle. For instance, only five out of thirteen Republicans voted against it in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The list of Republicans in favor of drafting women includes the usual centrists like Liz Cheney, but it also includes people like Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who won his Senate primary last year by running to the right of Jeff Sessions, and who sided with Donald Trump during the election-certification brouhaha. (Something tells me that Tuberville was never much into sexual equality when it came time to choose football players for the college teams he coached – apparently, there are still some American institutions where results matter more than wokeness, it’s just that the military isn’t one of them.)

The House Freedom Caucus has sided against the bill, but Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus are a minority. Meanwhile, the Republican Conference has issued its members a summary of the bill that describes it as “one of the most important bills we will pass in Congress” and flaunts several of the bill’s upsides, without even mentioning the draft provision.

Such is the way of moderate Republicans. They pretend to oppose whatever radical new thing the Left is preparing to do, and then as the Left gets closer to doing it, the opposition gets quieter and quieter, and then the thing gets done with bipartisan support, and then the Republicans talk long and loud about why you need to vote for them so they can stop some other thing that the Left is preparing to do.

So why did I subtitle this piece “How America is Ruled by Moderate Republicans?”

Because when you have one party that’s for rapid leftward change, and another party that’s either for slow rightward change, or for just maintaining the status quo, and both parties develop moderate factions... the moderates will be for slow leftward change.

The country does not move left as fast as most Democrats would like (which is why the Left’s activist base feels powerless) but it still moves left.

And moderate Republicans are the gatekeepers. Democratic policies move from idea to reality the moment that moderate Republicans get behind them.

When you’ve learned to see moderate Republicans as America’s true rulers, a lot of things in politics start making more sense.

For one thing, the role of monied interests becomes clearer. Moderate republicans reliably serve as lapdogs to the financial elite, which is why they typically side with Democrats on illegal immigration (corporate America likes cheap labor) and the sexual revolution (the plutocrat class is pro-abortion and pro-LGBT), and also why they are pro-war (wars benefit the arms industry).

On environmental issues, the Democrat/money-Republican alliance is a mixed bag. These people will never tolerate a carbon tax (which would be bad for the lifestyles of the people with private jets) but they will look the other way while the radical Left makes endless use of administrative and judicial activism to harass and hobble the American coal/oil/gas industry. The end result is that nothing actually gets done to reduce fossil fuel consumption, but a lot gets done to make sure that the resulting jobs go to Arab or Russian oilmen instead of to Americans.

Rule by moderate Republicans also explains the direction of constitutional law over the last 52 years. Ever since 1969, GOP appointees have been a majority on the Supreme Court, with the size of that majority fluctuating between five and eight (!) seats. Yet during that time, the federal judiciary has created and defended the right to abortion, consistently supported illegal immigration, and pushed through the LGBT agenda almost singlehandedly – imposing everything from GSAs at high-schools to rewritten sex discrimination laws to same-sex marriage itself at times when each of these developments was still a non-starter with the voters.

For a politically astute conservative, the following names are synonymous with “traitor.” Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, John Roberts. But to whom are they traitors? Not to moderate republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and Bob Packwood and John Sununu, who were instrumental in getting them onto the Supreme Court.

John Roberts is an especially good example of the kind of judge that moderate Republicans like. He started his career firmly on the Right, clerking for William Rehnquist and then working as a staff lawyer in the Reagan administration. But then in the 1990s, with the Republicans out of office, Roberts did pro bono work for gay rights activists. This should have been a red flag – not because the gay rights movement’s goals are always bad, but because its legal strategy, which boils down to ‘use tortuous interpretations of the constitution to exclude ordinary voters from the lawmaking process’ is unprincipled.

This isn’t the only indication Roberts gave that he would end up as a turncoat; there were plenty more. Nonetheless, he managed to win the good graces of America’s ruling moderate republicans by working for the Bush campaign in Bush v. Gore. (This is another thing to remember about moderate Republicans – despite their willingness to advance left-wing policies, they are generally happy to see their fellow Republicans win elections, perhaps because they know that such wins often don’t mean anything in terms of policy!)

Rule by moderate Republicans means that Democratic agendas keep advancing on the backs of Republican electoral victories. Think of the legalization of abortion by Nixon judges, the preservation of abortion rights by Reagan judges, George W. Bush producing No-Child-Left-Behind and Medicare Part D as his signature legislative accomplishments, Donald Trump failing to get his border wall through the RINO congress, or every recent budget showdown ending with a bunch of moderate Republicans peeling off and caving to all of the Democrats’ demands.

Drafting women is only the latest development.

By now, it’s really past time for the Republican base to become less gullible. People like Liz Cheney and Tommy Tuberville need to be held accountable. If you have Republican representatives or senators, call them and let them know what you think about the new NDAA.

If they vote for it anyway, then vote against them in the primaries. Yes, I know that beating an incumbent in the primaries is a long shot, but if there’s going to be a change, that’s where it needs to start. (I am proud to say that the first political campaign I worked on as a young man was an attempt to unseat John McCain).

After all, the alternative to this is just more rule by moderate Republicans.

Friday, October 8, 2021

People Notice When Elites Lie

 


I’m going to try to explain what’s going on in America right now by drawing a connection between two news stories. On the surface, they don’t seem to have much to do with each other, but when you really think about them, it’s obvious that there’s a common thread.

The first story comes from way back in November of 2018, when President Trump complained about an “Obama judge” on the 9th Circuit ruling against his asylum policy. Trump’s comments angered Chief Justice John Roberts, who gave a speech saying:

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

To which Trump responded by tweeting: “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country....”

For the Deep State and its sympathizers, Robert’s statement was a dignified and erudite defence of the institutions of liberal democracy, while Trump’s tweet was a crass attack on said institutions.

But ordinary Americans, who aren’t emotionally invested in keeping up the illusion that all is well on the banks of the Potomac, saw something different. They saw John Roberts telling a lie, and Donald Trump telling the truth.

Everybody knows that most of what the upper level of the judicial system does is politics by another name. They know that, most of the time, Obama judges, Trump judges, Bush judges, and Clinton judges rule differently on politically charged questions. And a large portion of the American people decide who to vote for in presidential elections based mainly on what kinds of judges they want the next president to appoint.

And yet John Roberts has the audacity to tell these people that none of this is true, and that all judges are really just doing their best to enforce the same laws in an impartial way.

And then, right after this creature of the Deep State (not even a Democrat, but a moderate Republican) has told his lie, Donald Trump does what most politicians won’t do (including Republicans) and tells the truth.

And then, over the next few years, when Trump’s base continues to believe Trump’s statements in preference to those of the media, the regulatory agencies, Anthony Fauci, the “moderates” in Congress, or whoever, the elite classes and the plutocrats and the mainstream press continue to act surprised, as if there is no reason for anybody to take Trump’s word over theirs about illegal immigration, or the origin of the coronavirus, or hydroxochloroquinine, or election fraud.

Except that there was a reason that the Deplorables listened to Trump instead of the mainstream voices. It is because the mainstream voices have been lying to them for a long, long, time, without even trying to be subtle. Eventually, the Deplorables noticed, and decided to trust someone else.

Now for the second, and more recent, news item, in which we see our self-appointed betters growing impatient with plain lying, and moving on to censorship, as exemplified by YouTube’s decision, about a week ago, to ban all content questioning the efficacy of covid vaccines.

You know who questions the efficacy of covid vaccines? Scientists. Anyone who’s been following the news for the last year or so knows that, while most scientists studying the vaccines believe that their efficacy is well above zero, there have been all sorts of disagreements about how well they actually work: do they prevent serious symptoms 90% of the time or only 70% of the time? Do they work at all against the Delta Variant? Do their effects fade with time? Is a third dose necessary? Will people who already have natural antibodies get any benefit from the vaccines?

All of these questions have been debated by the scientific community, and attentive news-watchers know that there isn’t a settled consensus. Which should surprise nobody, as the vaccines are new, and approved for experimental use only. At this point, it’s good that scientists aren’t all thinking the same thoughts, because that means that at least some of them are doing their jobs.

However, the people who run this country (and, let’s be honest, at this point the government agencies and the big corporations are all run by the same left-leaning plutocrat class) have decided that the Deplorables aren’t allowed to know any of this.

These people know that the Deplorables don’t trust them anymore. So they have to rely on censorship, because they can’t just make their case with logic, and say things like: ‘We all know that the science isn’t fully settled yet, but most of the evidence indicates that the vaccines work most of the time, and your chances of getting harmed by a vaccine are small compared to your chances of getting harmed by the virus, so we’re recommending that you get the shot. But if you don’t, we won’t try to punish you or shame you, because we still believe in liberty.’

That’s the sort of argument that might have worked fifteen years ago. It doesn’t work today, because the Deplorables know that the people saying it have their heads so far up their own rear ends that they either can’t see, or don’t care about, the obvious untruth of statements like “we do not have Obama judges or Trump judges.”

So instead they rely on coercion and censorship. Science takes a backseat to politics, just like it did way back in the spring of 2020, when scientists did a bunch of studies on the efficacy of cloth masks, most of which suggested that they didn’t work, and then dropped the whole topic like a hot rock once it became apparent that most of the people who didn’t want to wear masks were those nasty Trump voters.

So when upper-class liberals are left banging their heads on the wall and saying: ‘Why do these people keep on trusting Donald Trump, even after the events of January 6, and why won’t they believe the FDA when it tells them not to treat Covid with horse-deworming pills, and why are hospitals having to shut down because so many of their employees – medical professionals! – are willing to lose their jobs rather than get the vaccine?’

And the answer is that all this is happening because people notice when the elites lie. They notice when the elites engage in censorship. And they don’t un-notice. Also, once they’ve stopped trusting you, they won’t start again just because you want them to. Instead, they’ll trust somebody else, even if, in your (now-irrelevant) opinion, that somebody else is the worst person in the world for them to trust.

This article was originally published at American Thinker.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

How the Covid Shutdown Trashed Madagascar

 

For the upper-class Americans who have made a life out of manufacturing public opinion, the question of whether or not to respond to the Covid pandemic by shutting down most schools, churches, and small businesses for what has now been the better part of two years can be answered with an easy, “Yes, of course.”

The same goes for the comfortable classes of Canada, Australia, Europe, and the other wealthier countries of the world. As these people see it, whether you’re for or against these shutdowns has always been a simple reflection of whether you want more people or fewer people to die of Covid. For the most part, they don’t look at the situation through a lens of cost-benefit analysis.

Which they can afford to do, since they’re part of a social class that pays few of the costs. But for people who are part of the lower classes, or who own or work at one of those millions of small businesses that has gone under so far, the situation looks very different.

Protip: When there are two sides to an argument, and one side wants to compare costs and benefits, while the other side sees it as a simple moral question where the only thing to ask is “do you want people to suffer, or not?” the first side is usually in the right. This goes for single-payer health care, “non-violent policing,” covid lockdowns, and a whole host of other matters where the Left has discarded common sense in favour of ideological purity.

The more reasonable half of the American populace knows that, for most people, going a year or two without steady work is a bigger threat to their well-being than a mild respiratory virus whose average victim is older than the national life expectancy. They know that, among other things, poor people don’t live as long as rich people, and they don’t appreciate being pushed further down the ladder for the sake of the virtue-signalling of managerial-class flacks who work at secure, well-salaried positions in government, academia, medicine, law, or journalism and who have little skin in the game.

Chances are, though, that by now you’ll have heard more than enough about how the United States’ bumbling response to the events of the last few years has left the working poor with the raw end of the deal.

What you’re less likely to hear about is the view from the real bottom – the way that the global shutdown has impacted people in countries like Madagascar. Naturally, the fragile economies of the third world have been hit very hard by the rolling shutdowns of the last two years. And while the global-cosmopolitan chattering class that authored the shutdown doesn’t look on the peasantry of Africa and southeast Asia with the same white-hot hatred that it has shown toward the “Deplorables” in its own corner of the world, it more than makes up for it with straight-up ignorance and indifference.

I have chosen Madagascar as the topic of my article because it makes a good case study; in reality there are dozens of impoverished countries experiencing largely the same things. As for Madagascar itself, its history is a mixed bag: while Madagascar benefits from a lack of serious ethnic and religious violence, a series of coups since it gained independence from France in 1960, and a back-and-forth whiplash between capitalist and socialist political systems, has led to an almost-complete lack of economic development, making it one of the poorest countries in the world today. Madagascar’s main industries are agriculture (vanilla, coffee, sugar), fishing, textiles, and tourism.

When the global shutdowns hit, tourism well-nigh disappeared, and the labour market collapsed among textile-makers and other small businesses. In the northern half of the country, where the year-round rains are good for agriculture, the standard of living (already very low by global standards) took a big blow, but most people muddled through. In the south, which is a desert, it’s different story.

You can read about the situation here and here and here. The poverty in southern Madagascar has gotten so bad that most children are not in school. Some families have taken to selling off their kitchen utensils to get money for a few last scraps of food. Women and children are spending their days wandering along desolate country roads and foraging for the fruit of feral prickly pears. The authorities have estimated that somewhere over a million people are severely malnourished. And so forth.

Because the situation in Madagascar has been exacerbated by a severe drought, most news sources have taken to blaming it entirely on climate change. But the problem is that southern Madagascar was arid to begin with, and never could supply most of its own food needs anyway. The usual way to make a living there has long been to farm in the rainy season, and go into the cities looking for work during the dry season.

But now, with most businesses shut down, people don’t have that option. So they’ve ended up opting for desperate measures like spending their days gathering brushwood onto carts and trying to sell it to other people who are usually as poor as themselves. Or taking all their kids out of school and sending them on long treks into the parched wilderness in search of prickly pears.

The upshot is that while Covid remains a minor concern in Madagascar – fewer than a thousand people have died of it so far out of a population of 28 million – medical teams are now prowling the country to diagnose malnourishment by measuring the upper arms of small children. “Use of the MUAC bracelet is standard practice for a malnutrition screening,” a news article explains, “when the tape shows green, that means the child is doing well.”

This what its like to be on the bottom when the people in the global-cosmopolitan ruling class have their way. These affluent liberals love to pretend that the issue they’re focused on at the moment (slowing down covid transmission by any means necessary) is the only issue that matters, to neglect practical cost-benefit analysis in favor of moral preening, and to do their best to ignore the consequences in the lives of people less well-off than themselves. And when the consequences can’t be ignored anymore, they blame them on something like climate change instead of their own policies.

People need to wake up to what is going on. Whether it’s the plight of small business owners and wage-laborers here in America, or the even deeper struggles with poverty which the people of Madagascar are facing half a world away, the basic theme is the same: the lockdowns have gone on too long, and the decision-makers of society need to wake up and realize that there are things other than viruses that can make life worse for those less fortunate than themselves.

This article was originally published at American Thinker.