November 20, 2017

Why do Democrat elites exploit subordinates more than GOP elites do? How can it be solved?

Almost all of these #MeToo accusations of sexual exploitation by male superiors over their female subordinates hail from Democrat-controlled sectors of the economy, primarily the media and entertainment faction of the elite.

The culture war view is that the Democrats are the liberal group, and liberal morality and values is more likely to lead its believers to sexually exploit other people ("do whatever feels good"), while conservative morality and values provides at least some degree of negative feedback over the sexual desires of its believers ("keep it in your pants").

But we've seen how unconvincing the focus is on culture, ideas, values, and beliefs, and are turning toward a cold hard materialist analysis of how society works. We reject the view that Democrats commit far worse sexual exploitation simply because of a difference in values. That field of moral psychology (Haidt) shows that liberals are concerned mostly with factors of harm and fairness, while conservatives are concerned with those, plus factors of authority, in-group loyalty, and purity.

And yet sexually exploiting someone goes right against the norm of "do not harm others" or "do not treat others unfairly," e.g. if they are lesser in status than you. If liberals committed worse offenses than conservatives due to values, it would have to be on something that violated norms of authority, in-group loyalty, or purity.

Liberals are more likely to sexually role-play as a nun and priest, I'm just guessing, compared to conservatives who would find that sacrilegious, whether they were religious or secular conservatives. But not sexual exploitation, which goes against the central -- and sometimes only -- norm of liberal morality, "don't harm others, do provide for their well-being".

The clue that material economic forces are at work is that this exploitation takes place within a career setting, where the woman is looking to advance her material status by climbing the hierarchy, or getting into the industry in the first place, while the man is well established in his wealth and power within the industry. He acts as an economic gatekeeper, whether he will be a direct employer (casting couch) or an indirect favor-doer.

The central split between the elite factions that control the Dems vs. the GOP is that Democrats represent the "informational" economic sectors that scale up easily, where profit growth and market share expansion are not dependent on the costs of labor and materials, while the GOP represents the "material" economic sectors that are physically constrained and are limited in their growth by man-hours. Dems represent finance, online tech, and the media / entertainment. GOP represents the military, energy extraction, and agriculture.

But don't both of those sides have an employment hierarchy where a low-ranker has to navigate patronage networks? And aren't there gatekeepers on both sides who could exploit their subordinates in order to allow access to the material flow of resources upstream of the gatekeepers?

Yes, and both sides will practice exploitation, even sexual exploitation, of subordinates. Both sides will be hit by accusations. Still, one side is going to show far worse behavior and be hit by far more, and far more damaging, accusations. Why?

Since the informational sectors don't rely on building up large numbers of employees and various layers of supervisors and managers, they have far fewer job slots necessary to operate at the same level of domination as a material-sector industry.

Going from a small-sized internet "farm" like when Google began, to the vast digital plantation that it has become, has not required it to hire orders of magnitude more digital "farm hands" or supervisors of those hands, or regional managers of those supervisors, etc. They can keep the same order of magnitude employees and managers, yet expand to dominate the entire global search engine market, and suck up all of the lucrative ad revenue going into that market.

With a literal farm that raises crops or supports the grazing of livestock, it is exactly the opposite. Or with expanding the scope of the military, or the scope of an oil company, or a manufacturing industry, or a chain of brick-and-mortar stores.

In informational sectors, the demand for labor is very low. And yet the supply is sky-high -- who these days is not looking for a job that lies within, or is dependent upon, the sectors of finance, tech, and media / entertainment? Especially with the explosion of the higher education bubble, where entrants into the labor market are expecting to get into a forward-looking info-age career.

In material sectors, the demand for labor is relatively higher because the top-level bosses cannot further expand their fiefdom without hiring more subordinates at all levels. Their corporate greed and authoritarian streak is equal to that of their info-sector rivals, but they cannot act on it to the same degree without going out of business. They rely far more on the cooperation of large numbers of subordinates, who cannot be exploited so badly or so shamelessly as they are in the informational sectors.

A media mogul like Harvey Weinstein can say, "Either you blow me, or you won't work in this industry at all," and back up that threat. He only needs one lead actress for the next big-budget film he's producing, and there are literally thousands or even millions of other women who would be willing to blow a fat ugly disgusting old geezer if it meant they'd get millions of dollars plus a shot at fame.

The same goes for the small handful of conservatives who are big media players. It's not about liberal or conservative, but the nature of their economic activity.

A woman who wants to open a fast-food franchise, or a hairstyling franchise, does not have to go to a small number of big-wigs and allow herself to be sexually exploited by them in return for permission to operate another store within their brick-and-mortar chain. The head honchos at McDonald's do not have just one spot opening up, a la the aspiring lead actress -- they have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of new stores they'd like to open up.

And material sectors offer no fame because they do not scale up to the national or international level easily, so nobody will know who you are just because you own a McDonald's or Great Clips franchise, whereas they very well might if you got a role in a Hollywood movie or a talking head spot on cable news. That draws fewer attention-seekers into the material sectors, making the supply of labor there less tolerant of bad behavior in exchange for a shot at fame.

Being physically constrained, firms in material sectors tend to be less monopolistic. It's harder to just declare or to buy off the government and get control over a larger fiefdom. You have to physically acquire it, physically staff it, physically provide raw materials and equipment, physically over-see its operation -- and physically defend it. Expanding the fiefdom of an informational firm usually involves abstractions like contracts -- legalistically acquiring a new plot through M&A, legalistically downsizing and consolidating the combined workforce, and defending its fiefdom in court.

More monopolistic firms can exploit their workers more, because where else are they going to work? There are only five corporations that control all of the media and entertainment sector -- and if Fox spins off everything except Fox News, the entertainment industry will only have four in total control. You either tolerate the exploitation from your media bosses, or you are out of the industry altogether and forever.

If you want to operate some kind of mass-appeal franchise from a chain, and locate the store in a suburban shopping center, how many hundreds or thousands of choices do you have? Supposing the representative from McDonald's demands sexual favors -- then you go with the zillion other fast-food chains, or with the zillion choices in hair salons, or clothing, or other retail. No BJ required to break into the "brick-and-mortar franchise" business.

So the widespread exploitation within Democrat industries has nothing to do with differing values or morality, but with the differing nature of their economic activity. Depending almost not at all on more man-hours in order to expand their fiefdoms, and with so many seeking employment, these easily scale-able and monopolistic informational industries can get away with more mistreatment of their workers compared to their elite rivals in the material sectors.

This also points to the solution of the problem -- it is not to try to teach the Harvey Weinsteins better morality, or give them sensitivity training. That targets values and beliefs, which are immaterial, as it were. These industries need to be broken up into more companies and de-scaled in the size of their fiefdom, which will cut down the gatekeeper ability of the corporate chiefs, as well as create orders of magnitude more jobs now that there will be dozens or hundreds of new media organizations of comparable size with each other.

It will also slash the profitability of each of the five media giants, giving them less wealth as well as less power.

We must radically change how these economic organizations are set up, if we want to change the behavior of their leaders. That goes for the material sectors, too -- they may be relatively less exploitative than the informational sectors, but it's not a high bar to clear to be less of a sex abuser than Harvey Weinstein.

Trustbusting must be a top priority in the new revolutionary age of the Trump-Bernie insurgency.

November 16, 2017

Why don't Democrat elites need tax cuts?

One of the sharpest divides between the Dems and GOP is tax policy, with Republicans never having seen a tax cut they didn't push for, and Democrats resisting the cut.

The standard story based on the different values and conceptual worldviews of the two parties is that Republicans argue on grounds of fairness that we must allow rich people to keep more of their money, whether annual income or accumulated wealth, while Democrats argue on grounds of providing for the citizenry that we must not cut taxes since that will deprive the government of funding for its public goods and services.

But, remembering that ideology is just a rationalization of crude underlying material interests, we reject that approach and ask instead -- why don't Democrat elites benefit from tax cuts, in the way GOP elites do? They don't ask for tax cuts because they don't get much out of them at a material level, not because they have a system of inviolable values that leads them inexorably toward that policy conclusion.

Democrat elites may get something out of tax cuts -- how could they not, when the rich pay most of the taxes, and all elites are rich? But they don't get as much as the GOP elites would, so tax cuts would shift the "balance of power" toward the economic factions that control the GOP. Societal control is a zero-sum game between warring coalitions of economic sectors.

So, what about the nature of their industries makes the GOP elite factions gain far more than the Democrat elite factions from tax cuts or tax reform?

Recall that the Democrats represent the informational industries that scale up easily, where the cost of materials and labor are not rate-limiting steps on profit growth or market share expansion. Finance, media, digital / internet companies. The Republicans represent the material industries that are physically constrained and are rate-limited in their growth by the cost of materials and labor. Military-industrial complex, agriculture, energy / resource extraction.

Rather than try to solve the problem at the general level first, let's start with a particular example and get some intuition. Consider the estate tax -- this is a tax not on income, but total wealth owned by a person. When this person dies and wants to pass that wealth on to others, it is taxed. Only estates valued at over $5 million are subject to the top tax rate of 40%, affecting only the top 0.2% of estates. So, only the incredibly wealthy are affected by the estate tax.

Still, why aren't stinking-rich Democrats calling to abolish the estate tax like their stinking-rich GOP rivals? Because the form of that wealth differs -- for an elite Republican, it may be a mega-farm in the Great Plains worth $10 million, while for an elite Democrat it may be a bank account with $10 million in it. One is material, the other is virtual. The material is particular and distinct, the virtual is general and fungible.

When it comes time to avoid the tax man, wealth in a form that is physically constrained will be harder to hide, while wealth in a form that is fungible and intangible will be easier to "move" out of the cross-hairs.

Tax laws are enforced by governments, and there is no government above the level of nations -- no international army that conscripts soldiers from the entire global population, no international IRS that levies taxes on the entire global population.

So "moving out of the cross-hairs" of the tax man means getting that wealth outside of the jurisdiction of the United States government -- or of the British, German, etc. governments. The safe spots that the global rich use to hide their wealth from their own government's taxation and other regulations are tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Swiss banks, and so on.

Yet some factions of the rich can move their wealth into bank accounts in the Caymans or Switzerland far more easily than other elite factions.

That great big farm in the middle of Kansas may be worth $10 million, but that doesn't mean they can literally uproot the farm, transplant it onto the physical land within the borders of some tax haven, pass it on entirely to their inheritors, and have it continue to serve as a form of wealth to the inheritors at a similar value.

Digging up a mega-farm, moving it over, transplanting it, etc., would cost more than the value of the farm itself. The climate of the tax haven might not be the same as where the farm came from, the host's subterranean geology might be hostile to the transplanted farm, and so on and so forth.

Even if the physical environments were a perfect match, how are the inheritors supposed to derive income or wealth from a farm that now lies in the Cayman Islands? Is it going to yield the same level of output, sold at the same prices, producing a similar income stream as when it was back in Kansas?

Maybe it was heavily subsidized by the government's farm bill back in the US, and since the Cayman Islands are tax-free, they don't have much revenue to direct toward farm subsidies. And then there's the cost of shipping their corn or soybeans to other countries, since the Caymans and Switzerland are not big enough in population to give a similar demand for corn or soy as there was when the consumers were the American population.

The farm also provided living space for the owning family to build large houses and keep a watch over the crop cultivation -- are the inheritors going to relocate to live in the Caymans in order to stay physically connected with their farm, and to check on its operation?

These difficulties in avoiding the jurisdiction of the tax-payer's national government will generalize from mega-farms in Kansas to all material sources of wealth -- an oil field in Texas cannot be shipped out and parked in the Caymans, and neither can a coal mine in West Virginia, or a defense industry factory in South Carolina (for reasons of national security, these are the least likely factories to be off-shored).

Because the informational sectors of the economy do not rely on material production, they don't own a whole lot of real assets -- some choice real estate for their corporate headquarters, a nice home or two, but not the very life-blood of their company, which are instead based on abstractions like contracts.

That means a far larger share of their total wealth is financial, i.e. stocks and stock derivatives, as well as some cold hard cash. It's not that material sector elites don't also own a lot of stock -- but as a share of their total wealth, it's smaller because of all the real assets in the mix (barrels of oil, head of cattle, soldiers under command, etc.).

And the easily scalable nature of informational sectors means that they are more globalist in supplying customers. Aside from some client states (including a few big ones), the Pentagon does not own or control the militaries of the rest of the world. The oil companies do not own or control the oil in oil-rich nations (those dreams died in the 1970s when all the Middle Eastern countries nationalized their oil fields). Nor do the mega-farms in the Great Plains own or control the farms in other countries.

They compete with the militaries, oil fields, and farms of other nations, but do not always wipe out the competition. Especially since the 1970s, the military and oil sectors have largely failed to take over their international competitors. The big farms have done relatively better, especially with NAFTA opening up the Mexican market to highly subsidized American agriculture that comes with low prices.

The informational sectors, however, have totally swamped their international competitors. They are not only the only game in town in America, but in most of the rest of the world. Google, Hollywood, Wall Street investors.

That means that a far larger share of profits will be earned abroad for informational sectors, and a relatively larger share earned domestically for material sectors. And since income in the form of profits is effectively taxed where it is made, the informational sectors can more easily avoid the IRS, which only has effective jurisdiction over profits made in America. And since the informational sectors are generally the only game in the entire world, they can bully foreign governments into not taxing them very much.

Given how lengthy the tax code is, this overview has only scratched the surface. But the basic intuition is pretty clear -- because the informational sectors are more global in operation, and hold more of their wealth in financial assets, it is easier for them to dodge the tax man in America. And even if they would benefit from a tax cut here, it would benefit their rival factions of the elite stratum even more, and tip the balance of power toward their enemies.

It has nothing to do with liberal or conservative "first principles," and let us never speak of "values" again when analyzing tax policy.

In terms of fairness, the material sectors do have a point that they are unfairly taxed compared to the informational sectors. But the solution is not to let both sides of the elite get away with abandoning their subjects -- it is to rein in the informational side and soak them as well as the material side. Break up these info-age monopolies so that they cannot earn so much profit abroad without having to spread that wealth around back home, and threaten to seize the assets located in America from entities who stash so much of their wealth in tax havens abroad.

November 8, 2017

Did Gillespie get any Bernie supporters? Populism or death, in the Trump era

GOP Establishment candidate Ed Gillespie lost the Virginia governor's race by nearly twice the margin that Trump lost the general election, showing that whether or not Virginia likes Trump, they really can't stand the same ol' Republican bullshit.

Perhaps the partisans have forgotten already, but you don't win elections by adhering to the same losing base. You have to either drive up the turnout of your existing base, or you have to convert people who voted for the other party last time. These are not kneejerk partisans you are converting, but the large chunk of independents.

Trump won the election by flipping Obama voters from high-population counties in states that have been blue for decades. These were largely white working-class, as well as the exceptions among college-educated suburban whites who aren't worthless yuppie parasites, and who don't want to see the working-class get flushed down the toilet.

According to exit polls, Gillespie did somewhat better than Trump among non-whites, but somewhat worse than Trump among whites -- and contrary to incessant propaganda, minorities are still in the minority in this country. Losing a small percent of a big number is worse than gaining a small percent of a small number.

Gillespie tanked relative to Trump among families with incomes of $50-100K, which is working and lower-middle class.

He did worse than Trump among Democrats, who are the largest group by party affiliation. He also did worse among liberals and moderates, although better among conservatives.

And although he did as well percentage-wise as Trump in the Appalachian west of the state, turnout was way down, giving the hill and mountain people less impact against the suburban Swamp dwellers in the north.

All this points to a failure to mobilize the Trump coalition -- the white working class, and anyone sympathetic to their plight (the shrinking pool of responsible steward elites).

According to post-election data, Trump won 10-15% of Bernie Sanders voters. See this analysis from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, as well as the American National Election Studies (web interface here). The ANES shows only 3% of Hillary primary voters going for Trump, and I couldn't easily find out what the CCES says -- but presumably small there too, given the Sanders-Trump voters not being Democrat partisans and not being big fans of Obama or identity politics.

If the GOP tries to convert the type of people who supported Hillary in the rigged primary, they will keep losing. They will do about 4 times better percentage-wise going after Bernie supporters, and since the popular vote was fairly even between Bernie and Hillary, the sheer numbers will be far greater as well.

Three of the Democrats who helped to sweep the VA House of Delegates were endorsed by the Bernie organization Our Revolution, in a state where Bernie lost the primary no less. So clearly the Bernie wing is energizing and turning out voters. Wouldn't it be nice if enough of those voters chose the Our Rev candidates for the House, but then the GOP candidate for Governor?

But -- who are we kidding? The Republican party is as likely to court Sanders supporters as Elizabeth Warren is to hold a pow-wow with Trump supporters.

Fully one year after the historic upset Trump victory, the GOP still refuses to re-align itself to be a populist rather than elitist party, or a nationalist rather than globalist party. So what if Gillespie spoke harshly about MS-13 and crime -- where was he saying that immigrants, legal and illegal, drive down wages for the working class, and drive up the cost of housing? Where was he saying that we need to pull our military out of most of the rest of the world and begin spending that money rebuilding America rather than rebuilding Afghanistan? Where was he saying that China and Mexico are eating our lunch on manufacturing vs. poverty-sustaining agriculture? ("All we send them is beef.")

He's a dyed-in-the-wool Republican corporate globalist sell-out traitor, so of course he's not going to go against the GOP orthodoxy on any of those issues, let alone all of them together like Trump did.

And on the populist issues, where was Gillespie saying that the government should pick up the tab so that poor people won't be "dying in the streets" because they can't afford a hospital bill? Or that we need to negotiate drug prices from Medicare D, and tell the drug companies who've "taken care of" our politicians to go suck it?

If you can't even muster the populism level of Eisenhower or Nixon, don't bother running. Stay home and just kill yourself.

Which is exactly what the Republican party is intent on doing -- riding out their terminal decline with as much phony honor as they can to numb the pain.

That goes for the would-be insurgents within the GOP, too -- if you're not going to say all the things Trump said during the campaign (re-jiggering NATO, Saudi Arabia is ripping us off, give the poor free healthcare, bring back manufacturing plants by the boatload), don't even bother running. Putting on a fig-leaf of wanting tougher "border security," even "a wall," is not going to cut it. Trump just got the ball rolling with toughness on immigration. It was a much broader theme of "America first" in every domain of society, from the military, to the economy, to the government itself.

If you're not for "America first" across the board -- what do you offer to weary independent voters? They will just choose the party of comfy stagnation rather than suicidal chaos.

Unlike most Trump voters, I was actually ecstatic last night that the GOP got clobbered all around the nation. They refuse to submit to the re-alignment, so they are officially a party not just without an electorate -- but actively hostile toward it. (See also George W. Bush insulting all Trump voters as racist bigots. We still need to send his ass over to the Arabian desert where he can get beheaded on video by his jihadist buddies.)

The more the GOP wastes, the more the New Second Party grows.

November 6, 2017

The sociology of GOP vs. Dem agendas: Control by material vs. informational economic factions

I think I've found a new big theme to start mining, the sociology of the GOP vs. Democrat parties from a materialist rather than idealist framework, from an institutional and coalitional rather than personalized framework, and from the perspective that most of the institutional struggles take place at the elite rather than the popular level.

It all began with this initial post about the Democrats being the Wall Street party and the Republicans being the Pentagon party, with discussion of other factions in each party's coalition, and with some abstraction about what unites the Democrat elites vs. what unites the Republican elites on an economic level.

The current post is a pause in the empirical case studies done so far, in order to clear things up and unify them at an analytical level, before continuing on with more case studies on why the two parties behave the way they do. All posts on this theme will be tagged "Dems vs. GOP," including those already posted. Click on that tag in the "Category Index" on the right-hand column, or on any post with that tag, to see them all.

Briefly, Democrat factions hail from economic sectors where output is not limited much by the costs of materials and labor, as "copies" can be made cheaply or freely, or where a service can be provided to larger and larger scales of customers while using the same number of employees to provide the service. They scale up easily. Let's call these "informational" sectors.

Republican factions hail from economic sectors where output is limited by the costs of materials and labor, where "copies" can only be produced by putting in more materials and paying for more labor. Reaching larger and larger customer bases requires hiring a lot more people to produce all that new output. They do not scale up easily. Let's call these "material" sectors.

The Democrat party has united the elites of the informational sectors, and the GOP the elites of the material sectors, each seeking to use the government as a means of bettering the material status of their own sectors. Because there is only a finite amount of government goodies up for grabs, and a finite number of national positions open for political puppets (1 President, 100 Senators, 438 Representatives), this makes the conflict zero-sum, so that the informational sectors seek to undercut the status of the material sectors, and vice versa -- not out of hatred of what the rival sectors do, or what they believe, but simply to keep the rival sectors from hoovering up more goodies via the state.

These patterns have only emerged over the past several decades, when most of the focus on the alignments of the two major parties has been on their ideologies and values -- Democrats coalescing around a unified set of liberal values vs. Republicans coalescing around a unified set of conservative values. That is a study of the culture wars, which I regard as an epiphenomenon on top of the underlying clash of coalitions at the level of material wealth and power.

While there may be nothing new about the materialist vs. idealist debate, the institutional vs. Great Man debate, or the oligarchic vs. popular input debate, it is new to apply them in the context of the contemporary Democrat vs. Republican parties -- their background and their agendas.

How often do you hear anyone discuss the Democrats as the Wall Street party and the Republicans as the Pentagon party? Usually it is all about liberals and liberalism vs. conservatives and conservatism, whether the discussion takes places in the media, academic social science, or random people arguing over the internet.

Framing the partisan conflict this way is materialist, identifying the material basis of the power or influence that the faction wields over the government (banking, military might). It is institutional, identifying the entirety of Wall Street and the Pentagon instead of disparate banks or military branches, let alone isolated individuals.

It is oligarchic, viewing the struggle as the elites of one faction vs. the elites of another, with little and infrequent input from the populace -- even when they're shouting their lungs out, as with the Trump voters who still have gotten little in return for voting for the Pentagon party (indeed the military has since gotten the American government even deeper in bed with the #1 source of radical Islam and Islamic terrorism, Saudi Arabia).

And it is coalitional, looking at the parties as a coalition of such elite economic factions -- the Democrats represent not only the elites of the banking industry, but also of the media / entertainment industry, and of the hi-tech industry. The Republicans represent not only the elites of the military-industrial complex, but also of the agriculture industry, and of the energy industry.

So that's where the view fits into the wider intellectual traditions in social science. What is new is the application to the current partisan conflict in the United States, and presumably the rest of the Western world -- although I'll only be discussing the country I'm familiar with.

But doesn't it sound darkly familiar that British Prime Minister Theresa May is covering up for her party's support of the radical Islamic regime of Saudi Arabia, as well as her party's role in sending radical Muslims from Britain over to Libya (via Syria) to topple Qaddafi -- only to see them return back to the UK where they go on to blow up Britons at politically neutral spaces like an Ariana Grande concert?

It sure appears as though the Conservative party is as controlled by the military elites over there as the Republican party is here, that both are deeply in bed with the Saudis for the same reason -- military expansion in the Middle East, with Saudis as allies -- and that both must cover up for their jihadist allies when they inevitably run amok, or cause Muslims in the US or UK to run amok.

From now on, I don't want to hear anything about liberals or conservatives, or liberalism or conservatism, as political forces (as emotional, moral, and psychological frameworks, it's fine). Liberals didn't bail out the big banks under Obama's tenure -- it was the Wall Street party bailing itself out. Conservatives didn't invade and occupy Iraq under George W. Bush -- it was the Pentagon party looking to expand its military footprint on the global chess board. And neither had any liberal or conservative ideological basis -- that was just the slapdash, post-hoc rationalizing of the pundit puppet class on behalf of the elites of their respective parties.

And the American people are sick of hearing about liberals vs. conservatives. Trump was lambasted by party elites for not being a true conservative, and he won over the Republican primary voters by responding to the charges with, "Who cares? Our country is a big fat mess, and we don't have time to argue about who's a conservative or not."

On the other side of the anti-elitist movement, Bernie was dragged by party elites for not being sufficiently multicultural, intersectional, and anti-gun. Despite the DNC rigging the primary against him, the party is starting to shift microscopically more in his direction (single-payer healthcare) than back toward the same old Clintonian crap. And he did that not by trying to prove that he really was more liberal than Clinton, but by arguing that class, elitism, and inequality were more pressing issues than who wants to abort the most babies.

Going forward, we should keep this basic framework in mind to analyze current events, to organize people around shared goals, and to identify the obstacles to those goals -- especially when it comes to which sectors of the elite are most opposed to the change.

This will also keep our expectations realistic for electoral politics. At the national level, we are not voting for an individual's agenda, but for the agenda of the coalition of economic elites that control the party of that individual. People thought they were voting for Hope and Change, and they ended up voting for the big banks. People thought they were voting for Drain the Swamp, and they ended up voting for the military-industrial complex.

That is not to downplay electoral politics, but only to temper our expectations, and make us look to organizing ourselves outside of the electoral system in order to put popular pressure on the warring elite factions. Generally the struggle is entirely among the elite factions themselves, but every once in awhile there is a populist uprising, forcing the elites to respond to the people below for a change. Our goal is to ramp up the pressure to such a level that they actually take us seriously.

When enough churches begin to organize against our military brass due to their being so deeply in bed with the jihadist nations, then the Pentagon will have no choice but to dial back their imperial ambitions in the Middle East. When enough labor unions organize against the big banks due to their getting bailed out while the workers go under water, then Wall Street will have no choice but to dial back their manipulation of finance laws.

When the churches and the unions turn up the heat from below at the same time, we will usher in a new Progressive Era that will purify all of the corruption and degradation wrought upon the general public by the degenerate laissez-faire elites of our latter-day Gilded Age.

November 2, 2017

Muslim immigration benefits GOP factions, not Dems

While it is welcome to hear Trump advocate for ending the diversity lottery in immigration, we must realistically assess who is behind the open-borders policy toward Muslims, and whether that makes it likely or unlikely that Congress will obey the President's orders (which also happen to manifest the will of the American people -- not that Congress cares about that part).

The key awakening of the Trump and Bernie movements was that questions of airy-fairy cultural values don't matter -- it is the cold hard material reality that matters.

Democrats didn't win elections because they championed liberal instead of conservative values in social-cultural domains -- voters simply saw them as the party that would impoverish and refuse to protect them in a slightly less callous fashion than the other party, who would throw the American people into poverty and absence of security with abandon.

Trump then turned around the GOP's presidential fortunes by convincing voters that he cared more about their stagnating and eroding material conditions -- on economics, immigration, and jihadism -- and would make those areas the focus of his presidency, not the same ol' culture war BS that we expect of Republican politicians.

An earlier post asked whether amnesty for illegal immigrants, largely Hispanic, would be suicide for the Dems or for the GOP?

We cannot answer that without a focus on institutional analysis, in other words which factions of the elite control the Dems vs. the GOP. The major split is the Democrat factions hailing from economic sectors that easily scale up -- banking / finance, media / entertainment, digital / hi-tech, etc. -- while the GOP factions hail from sectors that are more physical and physically constrained, like the military, agriculture, energy resource extraction, and so on.

For amnesty, it is clear how the GOP factions benefit materially from large-scale immigration, whether legal or illegal. The farms and small businesses, who are loyal Republican sectors, depend on cheap labor to thrive, since their economic activity is so labor-intensive. Importing hordes of servants from the Third World boosts the material standing of these GOP sectors.

On the other hand, Democrat sectors like the media, tech companies, and finance, are not labor-intensive and therefore do not derive a big boost in profits from cheap labor. Not that they don't make use of foreigners, but it's not the main source of their soaring wealth. That comes instead from the higher and broader reach of their company that is not very labor-intensive -- for example, a merger of two media companies, or the entry of a Wall Street bank or Silicon Valley tech company into a "developing nation".

So the Democrat factions do not benefit materially from open borders.

But wait! What about using those hordes of foreigners to vote Democrat and tip the scales irrevocably in the Democrats' favor? One problem: they don't bother voting, not even when they're eligible.

This moronic view crippled the GOP for the longest time, as they saw their electoral weakness tracing back to their lack of support from Hispanics, rather than the white working class who won't vote for the unabashedly elitist party.

Now that moronic view is going to cripple the Democrats, who also see their electoral success as owing to their dominance among ethnic minorities rather than the white working class.

The reality as revealed by the General Social Survey, from that earlier post on amnesty, looking at the 2012 election:

Among immigrants -- those residing outside the US at age 16 -- only 46% voted, vs. 71% of native citizens.

Among Hispanics -- regardless of race or immigrant status -- only 44% voted, vs. 73% of non-Hispanics.

Within the Hispanic population, only 28% of immigrants voted, vs. 51% of native citizens.

And that's among those who were eligible -- obviously the participation of illegals is even lower, since they'd be taking a greater risk in voting, and are more apathetic about America's political outcomes since they just got here and are only interested in stealing jobs, and maybe the occasional rape and murder, rather than steering the government's future.

Now let's turn to Muslims, another demographic group who the moronic Democrat Establishment views as an absolute lynchpin to its (previous) electoral success. They're only 2% of the population, and they're in safe blue states anyway, so right away we know they are the key to nothing. But even assuming they became as large as Hispanics and more broadly distributed...

Going back to the General Social Survey, in 2012 only 49% of those who were raised as Muslims bothered to vote, among those who were eligible. In 2008, it was 38%. In 2004, 53%. In 2000, 55%. Each of these samples is small (less than 50) because Muslims are so small in population, and the GSS is a representative sample of the population. Pooling them all together in a 21st century group, only 49% voted.

That is far smaller than the 70% and above rates of participation by natives and whites. And it's of a tiny slice of the population, sitting at only 2%. So it doesn't matter that they vote 85% Democrat, since that's only 85% of 49% of 2% -- Muslims deliver diddly squat for Democrats.

Of course, insulated tunnel-vision Democrats can't conceive of throwing Muslims under the bus because they're convinced that multiculturalism is what won them elections, contrary to all data. But once they've drunken the kool-aid, it can be hard to undo its effects.

The point remains, though, and at some point the power factions and the party itself will realize that they do not benefit materially from Muslim immigration, and if anything have sinking prospects at the ballot box from apologizing for every radical Islamic terrorist attack on the American people -- "think of the backlash against poor innocent Muslims!" Not the way to win elections with American voters.

Who does benefit from allowing in immigrants from the Muslim world? Why, the same GOP factions who partner with the jihadist nations and militias over in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. Namely the Pentagon brass, who prize the expansion of imperial borders over the safety of the core homeland.

They rely as all empires do on the cooperation of local elites in distant lands, and in the Middle East, they have thrown in with the jihadists like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, the Taliban (when they were fighting the Soviet Union), and so on and so forth. The military elite do not care whether their allies are barbarian jihadists who want to destroy America, as long as they will cooperate in getting the Pentagon and the CIA more pieces on the global chess board.

Of course, that never happens -- it is Iran rather than Uncle Sam who controls Iraq, after 30 years of our interventions in that country, and it is the Pakistani Deep State that controls Afghanistan, not us. But again, once people drink the kool-aid, it's hard to reverse the symptoms. The Pentagon still believes that bending over backwards for jihadists will get them more territory to control and patrol on the great big global chess board.

In the military leaders' minds, bending over backwards for its radical Islamic allies requires us to open our borders to immigrants from any Muslim-majority nation, as a costly and honest signal of our shared fates. In the early stage of the Trump administration, before the White House was hijacked in April by the Pentagon boarding party who pushed for further involvement in regime change in Syria, you might remember Iraq initially being on the list of countries barred from sending people across our border.

The Pentagon threw a fit and demanded that Iraq be taken off the list. Why? Because banning Iraqis would threaten the cooperation of Iraqis in Iraq with the American military presence in Iraq. Not that we're getting anything out of that presence, but still, that's what motivates the Pentagon -- keeping a "seat at the table," despite never getting anything. The GOP administration complied with the orders of its primary power faction, and Iraq was removed from the travel ban list.

You can bet that it was also the Pentagon, arms manufacturers and dealers, and defense contractors, who lobbied to keep true terrorist threats off of the list, like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The war machine is in bed too deep with the leaders of those two countries to put their citizens on a travel ban. To do otherwise would risk their cooperation in the attempt to put more territory in the region under Pentagon control (again, not that that has ever worked out favorably for the Pentagon).

The leaders of Muslim countries have a hell of a lot of leverage over the GOP factions like the military-industrial complex. If they want open borders for Muslim immigration, the GOP will have to deliver it or else feel the pain of the screws tightening from their Muslim allies in the imperial project over in the Middle East and Central / South Asia.

The GOP factions of oil and energy companies are also highly materially motivated to get in bed with jihadist nations like Saudi Arabia, or take over non-jihadist nations like Iran. But oil is lower-ranking than the military, and there's little oil and gas in Afghanistan.

What are the leaders of those Muslim countries going to do to hurt the Democrat factions? Refuse to allow Hollywood movies to be shown? Ban the local CNN International station? Kick out American investors from Wall Street? Not bloody likely. Hollywood and the media, social media companies, and Wall Street banks do not rely so crucially on those Muslim nations -- they have their fingers in pies all around the world, unlike the Pentagon which is concentrated so heavily in the Muslim world. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street wouldn't even feel it if Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia banned them from their country.

The only Muslim nation that the Democrat factions are eager to stay on the good side of is Iran, which is a ripe niche for Western financial investors after being cut off by sanctions for so long. They are a very large population, civilized, and fairly prosperous by regional standards. That was the motivation of the Iran deal -- material interest, not multicultural feel-good-ism.

But Iran is among the most moderate of Muslim countries, being Shia (radical Islam plagues only the Sunni side). They do not proselytize, and are not hell-bent on sending their own people or their co-religionists to infiltrate the US. When they use empty bluster as a negotiating tactic against the Dems, it's based on military strikes, not threatening to unleash hordes of immigrants into our country.

Mexico threatens the opposite, and does the opposite -- never any military bluster, but saying it would be a shame if they were to not police the hordes of other Central Americans pouring through Mexico on their way to El Norte. Mexico is a real threat, Iran is a fake threat.

In the long-term, and even the medium-term, it is cynical material interests that drive behavior, not airy-fairy values-oriented BS. Ideology is a rationalization of material motivations.

On both forms of material interests, whether wealth or power, the Democrat factions stand to gain little from Muslim immigration, whereas the GOP factions stand to gain a lot -- continued cooperation from Muslim countries in the Pentagon's imperial ambitions on the other side of the world, and depending on the country, preferred access for oil and gas companies.

That means the GOP presents more of an obstacle to ending the diversity lottery, banning Muslims from entering the country, and so on. It is in the grip of a power faction -- the Pentagon -- that would rather leave a festering open wound on the nation's honor and security after September 11th, rather than give Saudi Arabia even a rap on the knuckles in retaliation for their attack against us.

We've seen so far that Hispanics and Muslims don't vote, especially if they're immigrants, and this point will generalize to all ethnic minority groups who could be brought in by the diversity lottery.

Take Africa, to end the argument with. Among blacks raised in America, 77% voted in 2012, as opposed to 40% of all African immigrants, or even 52% of eligible African immigrants. (And African immigrants were a mere 6% of the black sample of the GSS respondents about the 2012 election.) Immigrants simply don't give a shit about our government's current or future workings -- as long as they get paid more money than back in their home countries, they don't care what else happens here.

Among the elite factions, the Democrats stand little to gain from such open-borders immigration policies -- not to mention antagonizing one of their key junior partner factions, the labor unions who will get decimated by cheap non-union labor. That's really not going to help Dems with the white working class in Rust Belt states.

The GOP stands to gain immensely, whether it is cheap labor for the labor-intensive sectors that make up the GOP coalition, or the military elite who want the cooperation of the sending nations in far-flung imperial adventures, or the oil and gas sector who want cooperation from oil-rich nations sending their immigrants here.

Now among the base, it is obviously the opposite -- Republican voters are far more opposed to open borders than Democrat voters are. If the citizens were to triumph over the politicians and the power elites of their own party, then the GOP would easily and eagerly ban Muslim immigration, kick out Hispanic illegals, and the rest of it.

But until more power is in the citizens' hands, and while power remains concentrated in the elites, the Democrats pose relatively less of a threat vis-a-vis immigration. They will buckle to pressure from below more easily, since their power factions don't gain nearly as much as GOP elites do. We do have the kool-aid effect to overcome with the Democrat multicultis, but that is an easier task than threatening the cold hard material wealth and power that the GOP elites derive from open borders.

GSS variables: vote12, vote08, vote04, vote00, relig16, reg16, race

October 19, 2017

Tax cuts are elites abandoning stewardship over society; Will commoners abandon acquiescence to elite rule?

Now that the same ol' Republican BS about cutting taxes is rearing its ugly head again, we're hearing the same ol' griping about how it's only fair to cut their taxes since they pay the vast majority of the tax revenues. The apology goes that, It's impossible to "cut taxes" without making it a yuge boon to the very wealthy, and of minimal impact for the working class.

But that assumes that the main goal is to lower taxes, and that the inequality aspects are incidental, which nobody believes. Everyone knows the goal is to make the rich richer, whether or not that benefits the middle class, and even if it won't benefit the working class at all.

By now the mask is off: the elites of our society refuse to provide for our protection and prosperity, i.e. to fund the government that provides these large-scale public goods, whether directly or indirectly by establishing the rule of law, regulations (especially over economics), and so on.

The Pentagon still refuses to defend our southern border, or any of our borders for that matter. They turned a blind eye to obvious terrorists who were training on our soil (Florida, run by Jeb Bush at the time) to blow us up on 9/11, and they have refused to exact the slightest revenge against Saudi Arabia, the nation that attacked us and that continues to be the #1 exporter of radical Islamic ideology (Wahhabism). They instead took us on a pointless and ruinous war in Iraq and Afghanistan, who did not attack us.

Our military elites do not want tax revenues to go toward protecting the American people, but toward trying to (and always failing at) extending the empire's borders abroad. The American people couldn't give less of a shit about whether or not we are in control of Afghanistan, but to the brass at the Pentagon, that is a very big deal -- another piece on the chessboard that they may come into possession of.

On the Democrat side, Wall Street still refuses to use banking as a means of building and sustaining the American economic ecosystem. As far as stockholders are concerned, America is only good for corporate headquarters and the executives who run them. Actual productive activity may take place in a foreign nation, or at best in a domestic setting but with an immigrant workforce that works for pennies on the American worker's dollar. That's putting aside that so much of the banks' activity is speculation -- gambling -- rather than productive.

Given our elites' clear contempt for the notion that they have a duty to protect us and help us prosper, it comes as no surprise to see them clamoring for paying even less for such projects than they already are.

Besides, cutting taxes won't dry up their funding for the elite-benefiting bubbles -- they'll just borrow another trillion from China in order to bail out Goldman Sachs or wage war in Afghanistan. Some future group of suckers down the line will pick up the tab for today's elite debtors, or maybe the country will default and suffer a massive credit penalty -- borne by those future suckers, not today's charge-a-holic elites.

No society has had the elites disconnected from the common people for very long. In pre-industrial, pre-democracy times, the elites provided protection by raising standing armies to defend against invaders, personally leading the charge into battle, and so on. They provided the land to live on and to raise food up out of for commoners, albeit with a decent chunk of that food going to the landlords and other elites.

This big chunk going to elites would not materialize without the participation of the masses in a stratified large-scale economy. The elites owe their elite status to the cooperation of the commoners. If the elites only relied on themselves, they would be dirt-poor commoners, too, with no status. A tiny number of people cannot produce what is needed for massive wealth and power. It is their connection to, and reliance on the labor of, their far more numerous subjects.

In return for propping up the elites, the commoners enjoyed a certain measure of protection and prosperity.

Otherwise, why would the vast majority tolerate elite rule? They could simply encircle the elites with their sheer numbers, march them up to the guillotines, and then that's that for the elites. They only go along with elite rule because they're getting enough out of it, enough to stay safe and to earn enough of a living to support their family. The relationship is normally one of symbiosis.

But once the elites begin to hold back on protection and prosperity, they become a big fat parasite on the poor host. Then it becomes only a matter of time before the host tries, by more and more desperate measures, to excise the parasite and begin healing.

Today's elites are so insulated by their constant in-fighting and hyper-competitiveness against one another, that they don't realize how despised they have become by the common people. And once that trust is lost, by continued abdication of their elite duties, it becomes impossible to win it back with just words and promises. They will settle for nothing short of a purge of the elites and a whole new group of leaders, a whole new vision of how society ought to work, and a whole new attitude toward their subjects.

That's why they elected the guy who campaigned against the "rigged system," who expressed frustration with both parties of leadership, and who promised to "drain the swamp" in the nation's capital.

The elites have responded by taking the people's ambassador hostage and running society exactly the way it has been run for the past 40 years. Draining the swamp is not happening (not just at a slower pace than we'd want, but the re-growth of the swamp), the nationalist project has been halted for the time being by the purge of Trump supporters in the national security apparatus, and it still remains to be seen if the populist themes will get any real action like gutting NAFTA and slamming 35% tariffs on corporations who fire Americans in search of cheap labor abroad.

Trump is only one man, with few supporters inside the government or elite factions, and who as a total outsider came into the White House with zero political capital. So we must blame the elites for all of the bad things that are still getting worse. And most people do. They see who the real problem is -- not Trump, but the GOP Congress, its donors like the Koch brothers, and its elite factions like agriculture and the military who insist on cheap labor and open-borders multiculturalism (which empires necessarily are).

The fact that the Republican Party could be pushing the biggest tax cuts for the rich in world history, during at time of populist rebellion among their own party's most hardcore voters, just goes to show how suicidal the party is. It may be beyond redemption at this point, to be replaced by a new second party -- not a permanent third party, but a new second party. It's only happened once before, but that too was during a climate of literal civil war. Maybe it's going to happen again.

Trump re-election theme: "The Republican party -- forget about it, it's dead, it's gonezo. We're going to repeal and replace the Republican Party -- and we're going to get much better policies!"

The Democrats are bound to hang on and ride this whole thing out. People thought after the election that it was the Democrats who were dead, and the Republicans who had become invincible and immortal. Wrong. The Republicans are still hell-bent on suicide, while the Democrats are at least adapting to the new climate. They're not as shrill about identity politics, framing their arguments against Trump / GOP as battling elitists, rather than racists or sexists or homophobes.

To reiterate: the Dems are going to ride it out rather than exploit Republican weakness to triumph like never before. Democrat voters are not as angry with their own party, and do not want to burn it all down like the Republican voters do to their own. That's because Democrats actually deliver for their voters, even if it's just bread crumbs -- better than absolutely nothing.

In this context, there's a big role for Rust Belt Trump voters to play in getting the Democrats to deliver more substantially on their issues that overlap with the populist agenda. "We voted for Trump, so if you want us to vote Democrat for House or Senate, you'd better propose a soak-the-rich tax policy." Otherwise, the Democrats can kiss Trump voters good-bye.

Obviously the Democrats' framing would not be "soak the rich" as though they were victims, but as making the elites give back to the commoners who are the basis for the elites' wealth and power. Otherwise we're going to see wild mobs chopping off heads in order to free themselves of the parasites, and nobody wants the war to escalate that far. They can frame themselves as the calm reasonable mediators between the two classes, and the Republicans as the "let them eat cake" party -- not a hard thing to do, since that's exactly how they're behaving, even after their own voters told them "populism or death".

While the Democrats peel off the populist half of the current zeitgeist, the new second party will peel off the nationalist half. The main faultline in the GOP today is insurgent nationalism vs. Establishment globalism. And since the GOP is already more of the elitist party on economics, they have nothing to offer the populist-nationalist movement.

After peeling off their specialty area, they have to not be so crazy on the other area, which is hard in such a polarized partisan climate. Democrats must say, "Yeah, we're open to closing the borders -- on the condition that American workers get more unionized." And the new second party must say, "Yeah, we're open to single-payer healthcare -- on the condition that only American citizens get access."

In the meantime, keep burning down the worthless, globalist-elitist GOP.

October 14, 2017

Is dystopia bright, lush, & harmonious or dark, bleak, & fractured?

The Blade Runner sequel may not live up to the visuals of the original from 1982, but that's not because they didn't try. The original was one of the first to establish the visual code for dystopian environments that remains to this day -- dark, bleak, and socially fractured.

Original director Ridley Scott laid the foundations for this aesthetic a few years earlier in Alien, although that movie did not rely on a fragmented social atmosphere; all the characters knew and trusted one another, and were part of an organized team.

Mad Max, also from a few years earlier, had the bleak and fractured atmosphere, but not dark.

It was Escape From New York and Blade Runner in the early '80s that really cemented the contemporary look-and-feel of dystopian environments. That continued through The Terminator, RoboCop, Total Recall, right up to today's re-boots and sequels like Tron: Legacy and Blade Runner 2049.

What did dystopia look like before Alien and Blade Runner? Bright rather than dark, lush vibrant and life-supporting rather than barren decaying and life-sapping, and suffering from an excess of social harmony rather than an excess of everyone looking out for Number One.

Here is a whirlwind tour through dystopian environments circa the 1970s:

Star Trek, 1968

Planet of the Apes, 1968

2001: A Space Odyssey, 1969

A Clockwork Orange, 1971

Zardoz, 1974

The Stepford Wives, 1975

Logan's Run, 1976

Logan's Run

The brightness is self-evident, and so is the lush and thriving state of nature -- or if it takes place in an urban setting, the clean orderly and well-maintained structures as opposed to more contemporary urban scenes of filthy crumbling ruins.

You might object that the social atmosphere was still atomized back then -- it would seem to contradict the premise of it being a dystopia if everyone got along happily. But it was the source of atomization that differed -- back then, the creators of these scenes pushed the idea that individuals lost their authentic connections to one another by mindlessly following the herd, going through social rituals whether each individual wanted to or not, and in general having social harmony enforced and regulated by some higher council rather than organically emerging from relations that were freely entered into by the individuals concerned.

In short, they were the libertarians' view of dystopia, where some council had gone too far in enforcing social harmony. Pushing these scenes as nightmarish came right as Western societies were moving out of the Great Compression, where the mindset was reining in your individual ambitions in order to maximize harmony, and into the New Gilded Age, where the mindset is letting individuals do whatever they want, whether or not that destabilized the larger groups that these egocentrists belong to.

The Seventies was the time of the Me Generation -- the Silents and the emerging Boomers who had grown up under Midcentury conformity, taken social harmony for granted, and begun to "liberate" their individual desires in ways that would break down social bonds and societal cohesion. The dystopias from the tail end of the Great Compression reflect that bristling at a moral order that they viewed as "conformity uber alles".

It did not take very long to see where this re-birth of the laissez-faire moral order would lead to -- a new Gilded Age, a new inequality, and a new ethos of Social Darwinism to rationalize the new material conditions.

If everyone is looking out for Number One, group-level structures will crumble as public goods are no longer paid for or maintained, and individuals will become isolated from one another due to the "use or be used" morality. As stewardship vanishes, so will environmental conservation and maintenance -- there goes all that lush and vibrant greenery.

The darkness not only suggests the hopelessness of a dog-eat-dog world, it heightens the sense of nobody is supervising what anyone is doing, as the very first step toward any degree of social regulation. If anyone gets to do anything they want, it is as if they are all acting under the cloak of night.

Contrast that with the libertarians' view of dystopia, where the overly bright spaces give an almost painful sense of being supervised under the spotlight of a council in charge of a Panopticon. You would feel more obligated to rein in your selfish tendencies if you felt you were being watched so powerfully by a group of norm-enforcers.

The sole exception that comes to mind of post-'70s dystopias is Demolition Man from 1993, which juxtaposes both sets of environments -- the bright lush overworld where councils go too far in enforcing harmony and prosperity, and the dark decaying underworld where urchins do their own thing in atomized poverty.

Of course the intended message from the creators was that the well-fed and bubble-wrapped dwellers of the overworld were cruelly oppressing the starving and vulnerable denizens of the underworld. But it can be just as easily understood the other way around -- that their own choice of moral framework determines the material conditions of the two worlds, not that one is imposing its will upon the other. You can either choose to rein in individual desires and be prosperous and safe, or you can choose to let people do whatever feels good and be poor and vulnerable.

Although not the intended message, this movie still shows a deeper awareness of the trade-off than the dystopias of the Seventies, where the bright lush harmonious world was uniformly loathsome and oppressive. They believed that a society could have both the prosperous and safe world of the Midcentury, while also allowing individuals to liberate their desires. They were libertarian utopians who denied the inherent trade-off between liberty and prosperity.

Later entries of Me Gen libertarianism at least admitted that the two conflicted, and that they would choose liberty over prosperity anyway. Here's the classic Dennis Leary rant from the underworld of Demolition Man, where he concedes that doing whatever you feel like at any given moment means choosing an environment where you "maybe starve to death":

Generally speaking, though, the contemporary dystopias have come not from apologists for laissez-faire but from Me Gen members who did not cast their vote for "do whatever" along with their cohorts back in the Seventies. Ridley Scott, John Carpenter, David Lynch, Paul Verhoeven.

They have more of an anti-yuppie attitude and long for a world with more order rather than more chaos, as exciting as chaos can sometimes be, because they value the group's well-being over the sum total of hedonism over all individuals. They come off more as New Deal Democrats than Reagan Republicans or Clintonian neoliberals. And whether they would admit it or not, they would agree more with the vision of how the world looks as delivered by Trump-the-candidate and Lou Dobbs than by Crooked Hillary and Rachel Maddow (being liberals, they would probably agree most with the view delivered by Bernie).

A future post will look at Surrealism, which shares a lot with the Seventies dystopias and also hailed from the Great Compression.

October 13, 2017

Less popular outrage over victims of Dems b/c they're more likely white-collar

It's only natural that the media would collectively do damage control for one of their own, as when Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is publicly revealed to be a serial sexual exploiter, and perhaps serial rapist.

But why isn't there more on the demand side for coverage of these practices in a major industry? All it would take would be a few journalists at a few outlets with even a few sources coming forward to break the propaganda cartel and meet that pent-up demand.

Even if more big-wigs in the media are outed and shamed for Weinsteinian exploitation -- whether in Hollywood or in the New York / DC media -- I still don't sense that much outrage at the popular level.

Contrast that with the revelations about similar longstanding patterns of sexual abuse by the Catholic church, the Boy Scouts, or public schools where adults prey on children.

The main difference seems to be that the victims in Hollywood are generally members of the elite -- and that their sexual exploitation was part of their induction into the Hollywood economy. If they want the roles, they have to let some disgusting slug have his way with them. If they don't want the roles, they can turn him down.

Now these aren't everyday blue-collar roles in the Hollywood economy that they're getting -- these roles will catapult them into elite status and wealth.

Most observers are going to see this kind of casting-couch exploitation as the actors and actresses sleeping their way into a job, or into a promotion, which nets them millions of dollars in wealth, as well as national and even international fame.

If, on the other hand, they had to sleep with some disgusting creep just to get a cashier's job in retail, or had to tolerate some fat hairy ugly boss feeling them up in the stock room, that would strike most people as real degradation and slavery. They're working class, they get very little out of it, and they don't have sustainable alternatives -- unlike actors and actresses who could make a decent living outside the entertainment or media industry.

The same goes for child victims -- now that would really nuke Hollywood, if the pedophile rings are finally outed and their ringleaders shamed. That is not consensual, not a calculated move to advance their wealth and status in exchange for degrading treatment, and not a career move they made instead of a number of well-paying alternatives (children can only make money by being in entertainment, not by being professionals or managers or stock market gamblers).

I addressed this in an earlier post about prosecuting pedophiles in order to delegitimize Hollywood. The casting-couch stories are not going to wreck Hollywood's moral credibility. Those reports mainly resonate with people who face similar pressures if they want more wealth and status -- other white-collar workers in the media / entertainment industry, and at most white-collars in general.

That might lead to a movement among media workers to seek better working conditions, like not having to let some slithering reptile touch you in order to get the job. But will it lead to a broader outcry from the public and fuel the anti-liberal side of the culture war? Not really.

The anti-pedophile stuff would, though, and that's why the media is far more dogged in doing damage control over that kind of sexual exploitation. A related post is only four months old, yet the offending tweet from a Breitbart reporter and the video clip embedded in it have already been removed from Twitter. They showed Al Franken at a roast of Rob Reiner, telling a story about Rob being molested as a baby and turned out by his well-connected Hollywood father, which was likely an outing in disguise of Rob himself as a serial pedophile in Hollywood.

But it's not just Hollywood that gets a pass for exploiting aspiring or actual members of the elite. Wall Street took rich people for a ride, yet nobody cares about Bernie Madoff's victims because they were just rich scum looking for a get-rich-quick scheme and got burned by the only type of person who would sell them such a scheme, namely a con man.

Silicon Valley replaces American computer coders with cheap foreign workers, either over in India or by bringing Indians here. Yet there is little popular outrage like there is about the decline of manufacturing in the Rust Belt. Again, the coders in Silicon Valley were more elite, and factory workers in Michigan and North Carolina more blue-collar.

This all traces back to the fundamental split between the Democrat and Republican parties, where the Democrats represent the power factions that are more cerebral, digital, and easily scale-able, while the Republicans represent the power factions that are more physical, labor-intensive, and less scale-able. These are differences at the material level -- how they develop their wealth and power -- and not at the ideological level.

Democrat industries scale up easily and are not labor-intensive, so their workers tend to be more elite. Republican industries are more physically rooted, so their workers will be some elite but mostly working-class (fruit pickers and ranch hands, policemen and soldiers, oil and mine workers, stock boys and cashiers at Walmart and McDonalds, and so on).

By their very nature, these two sets of industries are not equal when it comes to portraying their workers as being exploited. White-collar professionals who have to submit to casting-couch hiring practices are not as sympathetic as blue-collar workers slaving away at physically taxing labor.

Some culture warriors will try to score points asking "Where are all the feminists coming out against Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood?" But more to the point, where are all the women among the general public coming out in anger over how Hollywood actresses are treated?

This should be yet another reminder that gender plays little role compared to class, when it comes to collective behavior. As disgusting as Weinstein's behavior is, most women cannot put themselves in the place of Hollywood actresses who make millions of dollars and global fame on the other side of that revolting exploitation.

But some child who gets inappropriately touched or otherwise taken advantage of -- that's something that transcends class and gender. Working-class women would have no trouble relating to those kinds of crimes, and would threaten to destroy Hollywood if it came out that so much of the upper crust there have been serial pedophiles who have twisted and ruined people's lives before they even got started in adulthood.

The real culture war against Hollywood must target those kinds of crimes, which are far more heinous and would resonate with a far broader audience, and not the casting-couch practices that are less offensive and even then primarily to white-collar women.

Ditto for taking on Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and higher education -- expose their exploitation of naive and innocent young people, and they will have zero moral authority left. Not just sexual abuse of their workers, but financial exploitation of youngster consumers who don't understand how the world works.

October 9, 2017

Good news on immigration: Deportations up within interior of country

Finally some hard numbers via WaPo on the rising deportations from within the interior of the country -- AKA real deportations, not fake ones done by turning people back at the border.

From Jan. 22 to Sept. 9, officials deported nearly 54,000 immigrants from the interior, a 34 percent increase over the same period last year, and said that they expect the numbers to climb.

Total deportations during that period were about 143K, so real ones make up nearly 40%.

When they say they expect the "numbers" to climb, that means the count of those deported -- how could it not, as time goes on? Otherwise they mean the percent increase compared to Obama -- if it rose to a 45% or 55% increase or something, rather than 35%.

Other immigrations trends point in the other direction -- a narrowing of the difference compared to Obama over the last half year, since the Pentagon coup in April.

During the first several months of the administration, illegal border crossings were down 60-70%, but have doubled since April, so that whole period is only down 25%. That's still good news, but not the mind-blowing numbers from the early months, before the Establishment hijacking and purge of Trump supporters.

And that good news will only last a little while, as the Establishment stamps out even more of the Trumpists, and as the scare effect wears off in the minds of immigrants.

I expect the same month-by-month picture for real deportations -- a sharp rise compared to Obama during the pre-coup months -- maybe 90-100% -- and a gradual chipping away of that ramp-up during the post-coup months -- maybe 25% -- even if that still amounts to a 35% rise over the whole period.

Extrapolating into the near term requires this month-by-month picture. If the comparison to Obama has been fairly steady over the months, then we can expect sustained good-not-great news on real deportations. If, however, the comparison to Obama started yuge and has been muted by the stability-seeking Generals, the near term projection is for smaller and smaller gains over Obama, until the status quo ante is reached.

Also, even by recent standards, 54K real deportations is small. Obama's early administration deported nearly 4 times that many per year from the interior:

For now, immigration officials said that they are forging ahead with arrests, which are up more than 40 percent this year. But they acknowledged that sanctuary cities are making it difficult to increase the number of annual deportations to past levels.

From 2008 to 2011, which included part of President Barack Obama’s first term, officials deported more than 200,000 immigrants from the interior every year.

I'm upgrading the assessment of where immigration enforcement stands from not-hopeful to maybe-hopeful -- hopeful if we see data showing a sustained or even rising break from Obama, but back to not-hopeful if the majority of the gains were concentrated in a one-off event before the Establishment hijacking, and if things have been heading back toward how they used to be. That remains to be seen.

October 1, 2017

Upbeat bouncy music peaks in 15-year cycles, last peak in 2012-13

Have you noticed how emo, angsty, and nihilistic pop music has become over the past couple years?

The new big releases by Taylor Swift ("Look What You Made Me Do") and Katy Perry ("Swish Swish") sound like crappy rap/bling "music" from the 2000s, not the high-energy anthems of five years ago. I didn't even recognize that that annoying materialistic song about "If I were you, I'd wanna be me too" was by Meghan Trainor until I looked up who sang it -- totally different attitude from her cheerful debut of three years ago (again, the new song being more in the style of the 2000s, a la "Don'tcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?").

So I went looking through the Billboard year-end charts to see if I was crazy, and no I was not. In the hit songs of 2012 and 2013 there was a peak in tone that was cheerful, carefree, upbeat, and bouncy. I'm talking about the music more than the lyrical content. Several years before, several years after, they sound more melancholic or phlegmatic than they sound sanguine or choleric ("fiesty").

As much as I dislike music after the '80s and hardly ever write about it, even I recognized something was different around 2012-13 and gave credit where it was due. Here is a post from January '13 giving a rare shout-out to a contemporary hit, "Treasure" by Bruno Mars. As this phase was winding down by 2015, I also mentioned "Shut Up and Dance With Me" by Walk the Moon. I kinda liked "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake from last year, but evidently not enough to post about it. And this year, absolutely nothing.

Going back further in time, I noticed peaks of cheerful carefree music roughly every 15 years -- the late '90s, the early-mid '80s, the late '60s, and the early-mid '50s. Boy bands reliably show up during these peaks, while girl groups usually fall during the more melancholic and nihilistic phases. This left both the 1970s and the 2000s as decades without any concentrated peaks of cheerful wholesome music. But those many periods are the topic for future posts.

For now, a brief look-back at the last peak in case you missed it. I didn't know most of the titles or artist names of these songs until I went from the Billboard chart list to YouTube videos, but I do remember hearing most or all of them. If you were outside the home at all, they were playing on every retail store's sound system. I just thought of it as "H&M music" based on where I heard it the most.

Taylor Swift, "22"

One Direction, "What Makes You Beautiful"

Paramore, "Still Into You"

Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX, "I Love It"

September 29, 2017

After NatSec nationalists purged, econ nationalists now in cross-hairs of Deep State

When the Pentagon junta culminated a months-long purge by expelling Bannon and Gorka, that was it for the nationalists on matters of national security, the military, and foreign policy. Trump is now isolated in those domains regarding his America-first vision.

In a surprise move, junta member General Kelly has now pounced on Peter Navarro, who has nothing to do with national security, but instead has his own policy shop on trade. Aside from Trump himself, he is the one leading the charge to re-negotiate NAFTA for the benefit of American workers.

Navarro has not been fired yet, though he no longer operates his own shop -- Kelly has demoted him by making him answer to former Goldman Sachs President Globalist Gary Cohn, the chief economic advisor to the President.

The Pentagon and the Wall Street banks are the two most powerful oligarchic factions, and both face existential threats from the America-first movement. The Pentagon controls the Republican Party, and Wall Street the Democrat Party. Since the GOP sits in the White House, the Pentagon got the first crack at their nationalist enemies -- those who are anti-globalist on national security, the military, etc.

But now that those threats have been purged, they are happy to help out their frenemy faction of Wall Street in taking out the threats coming from economic nationalists. They're able to unite around the common threat of "crazy" America-firsters.

And it's not as if General Kelly doesn't know the President's orders on trade: see this article that reproduces almost verbatim a scene where Trump is upset that his economic advisors won't bring him tariffs against China. He expresses his displeasure to Kelly, as though the Chief of Staff were there to carry out the President's vision rather than to sabotage it. Kelly repeats it back -- Yes sir, I understand, you want tariffs.

So what does General Kelly do to help the President get his tariffs? He all but sacks the guy who is the biggest trade hawk in the White House. The Pentagon brass are not only our enemies on matters of national security, but now also on the economy.

This may also explain why it has taken Deep State so long to get around to purging Stephen Miller. An earlier post showed that they are taking out the most dangerous threats first, and that means whoever has enough political capital and influence to realize their goals. That put General Flynn first in line -- he has plenty of connections around Washington, at high levels. Miller was formerly an aide for Jeff Sessions in the Senate -- relatively lower on the food chain.

But it's also because Miller has focused more on economic nationalism (trade policy, immigration's effect on wages and cost-of-living) than on our support for jihadist nations who attack us like Saudi Arabia, or on getting along with Russia. That put him in line behind the security nationalists. But with Navarro's head on the chopping block, Miller's turn will be coming up.

What implication does this have for the NAFTA re-negotiation and other trade matters? Back when the trade team first released their guidelines and principles, I pointed out how little attention manufacturing and re-industrialization was getting. Rather, the goals were to scoop up even more goodies for agriculture and finance, who had already made out like bandits on the original deal.

Reminder: NAFTA gutted our manufacturing while boosting agriculture, and vice versa in Mexico -- they got our factories, we drove their farms out of business.

The whole point of Trump's tirades against NAFTA was that manufacturing uniquely makes working and middle-class people more prosperous, and that farming does not ("All we send Japan is beef"). He's correct. Agriculture made the average person poorer, shorter, and sicker. It was not until the Industrial Revolution completed itself that average people gained back their stature, health, and now had immense wealth on top of it. That also narrowed the inequality gap that had grown so wide under agriculture.

Simply put, if the NAFTA re-negotiations do not move our economy in the direction of re-industrialization, they will be a failure for the economic nationalists. We will never have a prosperous middle and working class by toiling in the Nebraska corn fields, and very few of us will be able to start our own farm-to-table boutique bistro to make a good living off of the foodie trend.

It's either manufacturing or poverty.

Just as we saw the globalists hijack the foreign policy, military, and national security domain, we may very soon see them hijack the trade and economic domain as well. We never thought we'd hear Trump join the "Assad must go" crowd, party with the Saudis, or send more troops to Afghanistan. If Navarro and Miller are purged or at best neutered by demotion, we may start hearing Trump say that the new NAFTA deal is not going to bring back many manufacturing jobs, but the wins are gonna be yuge for the farms.

"Folks, so what if we narrow the trade deficit through boosting beef exports rather than bringing back factories?" That'll go over real well in the Rust Belt that put him over the top.

As in the case of the globalist expansionist military, we know Trump won't believe a word of what they make him say. But what choice will he have when all of his potential teammates have been kicked off the field?

At this point, we can safely say that the nationalists have lost the first major game against Team Globalism, which came in two rounds -- the national security round, and now the economic round. But that doesn't mean that it's a one-off game. There will be future matches to even the score.

It looks like there will be one major battle every year in the ongoing war over globalism or America-first. The nationalists decisively won the battle of 2016, first in the primaries and then against all odds in the general election. Only the head-in-the-sand Panglossians can look at the first year of the Trump administration and believe that the nationalists have had the upper hand. Still, that could change in 2018 as campaign season heats up again, when the nationalists will have greater momentum from the general public.

To win in the future, we must be clear and honest about the present. Where are we being successfully attacked, by whom (individuals but more importantly groups and institutions), and who do we send and what do we have them do to repel the attack and then launch successful incursions of our own again?

Fortunately, a larger and larger share, perhaps even a majority of Trump voters have come around to this overall view of the state of affairs. No serious person any longer views Trump as a dictator, as omnipotent, as imposing his will, etc.

Totally mainstream figures like Hannity, Tucker, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, not to mention Breitbart / Infowars / Etc., have long ago woken up from the fan-fiction mindset, once the reality of the counter-revolution smacked us in the face. And therefore, so have their massive audiences, else they would be getting tuned out.

Fan-fiction and hagiography not only don't appeal to many Trump voters anymore (only a fringe was ever as hardcore as the meme warriors), that approach doesn't motivate them into action against the saboteurs of the America-first agenda.

It bodes well for the upcoming battle of 2018 that such a large chunk of Trump voters is thinking "Why the hell won't those bastards just let Trump do the job he was elected to do?"

September 27, 2017

GOP re-alignment uncertain: Challengers are cultural Right, not populist-nationalist

In the Alabama primary to replace Jeff Sessions in the Senate, there was no Trumpian candidate -- someone who would argue against our failed imperial foreign policy, or our trade deals that gut high-paying manufacturing jobs while boosting agricultural jobs that pay poorly (and that go to immigrants anyway). Someone who did not see The Gubmint as the problem. And someone who was moderate, agnostic, or uninvolved in social and cultural issues.

Both Moore and Strange were from longstanding factions within the Republican Party coalition, back to the Reagan era -- Moore from the junior partner, the Cultural Right; and Strange from the senior partner, the Chamber of Commerce.

The battle was more of a civil war between social-cultural conservatives and the corporatists who they feel have sold them out. The original deal was that conservatives would support the business leaders in exchange for wins on moral issues. But for over 30 years, the senior partner of the GOP has failed, then refused to try again, and now resorts to insulting the conservatives for continuing to ask for something in exchange for their electoral support. E.g., John McCain calling conservatives whack-a-doos.

The Trump movement is not a weighing in on the Cultural Right side of this breakdown of the old GOP coalition. It doesn't care about social-cultural topics, but not being committed flaming liberals, is therefore totally willing and open to cutting deals with conservatives if that's what it takes.

Rather, the Trump movement is aimed at repealing and replacing the senior wing of the GOP -- the one that controls the economy, the military / national security apparatus, and the government per se. The main themes of the election were re-industrialization rather than de-industrialization (trade), shifting foreign policy focus away from the Cold War (getting along with Russia, re-jiggering NATO, pulling out of Japan, Germany, and South Korea) and toward the threat of radical Islam (Saddam, Assad, and Qaddafi were preferable to jihadists sent from Saudi Arabia), and making America a country for its citizens rather than immigrants.

Some of those topics overlap with the conservative movement, like limiting immigration to preserve American culture, or getting out of bed with jihadist hotbeds like Saudi Arabia. But others cut against the conservative movement, like re-industrialization, the government caring for its citizens by providing free healthcare to poor people so they aren't dying in the streets, and getting along with Russia.

Enough of the conservative voters accepted this re-alignment to deliver Trump the GOP nomination, followed by the disaffected Obama voters putting him over the top in the general for similar re-alignment reasons. ("I don't care about banning Muslims from the country, but we need those factories to come back and re-build the gutted working class.")

This post from March of last year laid out the shifting dynamics of the GOP coalition in the age of the Trump movement.

The path of re-alignment is for the Trumpists to replace the Chamber of Commerce and the Military-Industrial Complex within the "governing wing" of the party, while the conservatives shift their support to the Trumpists in exchange for some cultural red meat ("Stand for Our Anthem") and hopefully this time some real results (the intent to repeal the Johnson Amendment and allow chuches to participate in politics).

So far, there have been no Trumpist wins during these special elections, or for that matter during the 2016 Congressional elections. Trump himself has failed to support the ones who have run, such as Stewart in the Virginia governor's race (where he damn near won anyway, and where Trump's support would carried him over the finish line), or Gray in the Georgia Congressional race. So far the winners have been Establishment types from the corporate governing wing of the party.

But even Moore's victory is from a Cultural Right warrior determined to wring some actual concessions out of the governing wing -- whether that continues to be the globalist elites or their potential populist-nationalist replacements. He is not a Trumpian himself with an economic and governmental focus, though he is willing to cut deals with Trumpians if that's who replaces the Paul Ryans and Mitch McConnells within the governing wing.

Looking forward to the 2018 races, most of the list of challengers to GOP incumbents also seem to be Tea Party types rather than Trumpists. They hail from red states where "anti-Establishment" means the conservative base vs. the corporatist rulers who haven't delivered on their end of the electoral quid pro quo.

The one exception may be Danny Tarkanian challenging Dean Heller in Nevada, a purple / blue state, but we'll have to wait and see where he comes out on trade, foreign policy, and healthcare (Trump is for single-payer).

There's nothing wrong per se for the Trump movement if conservatives challenge and defeat the corporate globalists. What matters is where they stand on the economy and the nature of government -- if their idea of a quid pro quo is to support lower taxes, de-regulation, free trade, and generally painting the government as the enemy rather than something to be taken over for the people's benefit, then they are still stuck back in the Reagan era.

If they can adapt to the Trump era, they will become more electable with disaffected Democrats ("I don't care if the Senator is culturally conservative, as long as he's going to slam tariffs on Chinese imports"). More importantly for their conservative movement, they'll actually stand a chance of getting something back from the governing wing if it's made up of Trumpists, unlike the Wall Streeters who have sold them out for over 30 years.

If, on the other hand, they become puppets of the Club for Growth, Koch Brothers, and other pseudo-conservative groups that buy off the candidates of the Cultural Right in order to direct them toward corporate globalist elite plans within the governing wing, then they will be less electable (may not matter in red states, but will in purple or blue states), and even if they took office in Washington, they would not be advancing the Trump movement of populism and nationalism.

At such an early stage, it is not possible to tell whether things are moving in the right direction. If Roy Moore can channel his conservative tendencies toward a trade war against the Chinese and against our #1 military ally being Jihad University (Saudi Arabia), then we will see signs of the re-alignment coming to fruition.

In the meantime, we need more Trumpist candidates who make their focus populism and nationalism in the domains of trade, economics, foreign policy, and immigration. If all that happens is Tea Partiers replacing the GOPe, it will only intensify the Republican civil war and dysfunction. We need Trumpists replacing the GOPe in a hostile takeover, to work out deals with the Cultural Right of the party.