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Interesting Links: Jun 30, 2017

June 30, 2017 3 comments

Here are links to a few interesting articles which I came cross over the previous few days. All of them are about different facets of the ongoing slow-motion decline of contemporary liberalism, aka neoliberalism. Will post something original tomorrow.

The first link is about the ongoing demise of the apex era of neoliberalism, from the viewpoint of somebody in UK. You too might have noticed that the west seemingly went into a holding pattern sometime in the early- to mid-1990s and has only recently started exiting that era, including its foundation beliefs. The second one is about how the sequelae of the 2008 financial crisis slowly but irreversibly resulted in the loss of public faith in contemporary liberalism, aka neoliberalism. The author of that post makes the point that contemporary liberalism now has more in common with a failing cult or religion than anything with a worthwhile future. The third one is a recent interview with Ralph Nader where he describes how the many missteps and miscalculations by establishment democrats in their attempts to suck up to the rich and professional classes (as republican-lite) have caused irreversible damage to its future electoral prospects.

Link 1: The end of the Long 90s

For the last 30 years, what David Goodhart called “the two liberalisms” have prevailed, the economic liberalism of the right and the social liberalism of the left, “Margaret Thatcher tempered by Roy Jenkins.” The Conservatives concentrated on deregulation, union busting and privatisation, while talking tough, but avoiding any action on, on immigration, political correctness and traditional values. Meanwhile, Labour focused on a socially liberal agenda without attempting to roll back the economic gains of the right. It was almost as though a tacit deal had been struck; you can have diversity, minority rights and discrimination laws if we can have privatisation, deregulation and tax cuts. The effect was to take policies that were popular with the public off the agenda on the grounds that they were publicly unacceptable. This applied both to left-wing and right-wing policies.

Link 2: The Blathering Superego at the End of History

Liberalism is not working. Something deep within the mechanism has cracked. All our wonk managers, our expert stewards of the world, have lost their way. They wander desert highways in a daze, wondering why the brakes locked up, why the steering wheel came off, how the engine caught on fire. Their charts lie abandoned by the roadside. It was all going so well just a moment ago. History was over. The technocratic order was globalizing the world; people were becoming accustomed to the permanent triumph of a slightly kinder exploitation. What happened? All they can recall is a loud thump in the undercarriage, an abrupt loss of control. Was it Brexit? Trump? Suddenly the tires were bursting and smoke was pouring into the vehicle, then a flash. The next thing they could remember, our liberals were standing beside a smoldering ruin, blinking in the hot sun, their power stolen, their world collapsing, their predictions all proven wrong.

Link 3: Interview by Intercept with Ralph Nader on Failure of Democratic Party.

The Democrats began the process of message preceding policy. No — policy precedes message. That means they kept saying how bad the Republicans are. They campaigned not by saying, look how good we are, we’re going to bring you full Medicare [for all], we’re going to crack down on corporate crime against workers and consumers and the environment, stealing, lying, cheating you. We’re going to get you a living wage. We’re going to get a lean defense, a better defense, and get some of this money and start rebuilding your schools and bridges and water and sewage systems and libraries and clinics. Instead of saying that, they campaign by saying “Can you believe how bad the Republicans are?” Now once they say that, they trap their progressive wing, because their progressive wing is the only segment that’s going to change the party to be a more formidable opponent. Because they say to their progressive wing, “You’ve got nowhere to go, get off our back.”

What do you think? Comments?

Two Controversial and Funny Skits from Dave Chappelle’s Old Show

June 27, 2017 3 comments

Here are two of the more controversial but funny clips from the old Dave Chappelle’s show on Comedy Central. Even though it ran for only two full and one partial season (28 episodes total), the cultural impact of this show is such that most people in USA still remember it. I doubt that such a show would ever be approved nowadays, and not just because of the gratuitous and pretty clever use of the ‘n’ word.

Both of the clips I am linking to in this post are actually quite clever and still relevant. The first one (which is actually from the pilot episode) is about a black-hating black guy who happens to be blind and cannot therefore appreciate the irony of his popularity among what appear to be southern white supremacists who look suspiciously like the type of people at Trump Rallies in 2016. Then again, we have seen more than a few black republicans who fit this profile.

The second one (from the second episode of 2nd season) makes very gratuitous use of the ‘n’ word is actually a critique on the willing blindness of white people to their racism towards blacks. Setting it as a “Leave it to Beaver” style TV sitcom set in the 1950s makes it especially clever since so many older whites, especially the type who vote republican, see that decade as some mythical golden age- which it was most certainly not.

Clip 1: Clayton Bigsby: The Black White Supremacist – Part 2

Clip 2: The Niggar Family

Enjoy! Comments?

An Alternate Explanation for Murders of Black Men by Police in USA

June 24, 2017 22 comments

As many of my long-term readers know, more than a few of my older posts have touched on the issue of systemic racial discrimination in USA, especially as it concerns what is frequently described as the “criminal justice” system. In fact, I even wrote a short series about this issue in 2014. In that series, I made the point that murdering black men and women is, and always has been, one of the main functions of the “law and order” apparatus in USA.

In that series, I also made the point that USA as a country and society is simply too dysfunctional to fix the problem of extra-judicial (and judicial) killing of black people. The simple, if tasteless, reality is that a large percentage of white people are quite OK with treating black people as less than human. Of course, this won’t be a big problem in a couple of decades from now when the numbers and relative position of whites has irreversibly declined to the point that few will even care what they think or believe.

But the ongoing and irreversible decline of whites as a group in USA and rest of the world does not by itself solve the problem of “law enforcement” killing black people in USA. It is well-known that the race and gender of police has little connection with their willingness to kill or otherwise brutalize black people in USA. In other words, replacing a white cop with a black, brown or asian cop is unlikely to eliminate or even reduce the rates of extra-judicial executions of black people in USA.

But why has large-scale public exposure of numerous instances of police murdering black people in USA had little, to no, effect on their propensity to continue doing it? Why have all those large public protests had no worthwhile effect on the rate of police murdering black people, except perhaps to ensure that the family members of at least some of the murdered get monetary compensation? Why have all those appeals to the conscience of whites had no worthwhile effect on the status quo?

There are many reasons for public exposure having little effect on the continued predilection of police to murder black people in USA- but it mainly comes to the lack of adverse consequences. Police who murder, torture or otherwise abuse black people do not face any adverse consequences for those actions. Choking a black guy to death, murdering a black guy in front of his family, shooting an unarmed black guy from the back, murdering a black kid etc does not adversely affect the lives of police who did those things even if it is recorded on camera- sometimes from multiple angles.

To understand what I am getting at, here is a thought experiment. Do you think police would dare to murder Muslims of middle-eastern descent in USA at anything even remotely close to the rate they do for Blacks? And if not, why not? What makes police in USA and other western countries so hesitant to pull that shit on Muslims of middle-eastern descent?

Well.. there are two components to the answer for that question. Firstly, Muslims of middle-eastern descent are very highly organised AND they do not see their lives as less valuable than whites. Even Muslims from the poorest and most deprived countries in the middle-east do not see themselves as less human than whites in the west. In contrast to that, a majority of the native-born black population in USA appear to see their own lives as less valuable than their white counterparts.

But there is a second reason, which we don’t like to talk about. Whites in western countries understand that murdering Muslims from the middle-east has consequences, even if white western courts exonerated them. There is a reason why white Americans could not walk freely in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, even at the peak of their now failed invasions of both those countries. Turns out that people from that part of the world are more than willing to avenge the death of their relatives in any manner possible.

To make a long story short- it is very likely that police murdering Muslims from the M-E at even a fraction of rate of Blacks in USA would severely compromise the personal safety of themselves and their families. In contrast to that, police murdering black people in USA will at most result in more marches, prayers at some church and tearful interview with relatives on TV.

European whites did not get kicked out for good out of Asian and African countries after WW2 because they feared peaceful marches, prayer assemblies and tearful testimonies. American whites did not get kicked out of North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan because of nonviolent resistance by the local population. They had to leave those countries because the human and material costs inflicted on them by the local population (sometimes at great cost to themselves) was beyond their own ability to sustain those occupations.

What do you think? Comments?

Couple of YouTube Clips from a 2004 Comedy Roast of Trump

June 23, 2017 2 comments

Came across a couple of YouTube clips from the 2004 Friar’s Club Roast of Donald Trump. You might be surprised at how prescient some of the jokes turned out.

Clip 1: Jeff Ross Roasts Donald Trump.

Clip 2: Susie Essman Roasts Donald Trump

Enjoy! Comments?

More Thoughts on the Congressional Baseball Shooting: 17 Jun, 2017

June 17, 2017 19 comments

In a previous post on this topic, I made three observations about the incident in question. They can be summarized follows: (1) The shooting will leave Steve Scalise impotent and incontinent for years, perhaps for the rest of his life; (2) This shooting incident was politically motivated and has no real precedent in living memory, as far as the USA is concerned; (3) The Scalise shooting has elicited far more popular approval than condemnation.

But what does any of this mean for the future, especially in near term (weeks to months)? Is this incident the start of a new trend or an once-off aberration? And how will it shape, if at all, the political course of the country?

Let me begin by reiterating my prediction, from the previous post, that we are likely to see more of such incidents in the near future. Also, it is entirely possible that the next such incident might not even involve the use of a firearm. Furthermore, these future incidents are likely to affect elected democrats in addition to their republican counterparts. Having said that, let me now expand on the likely course of events that will lead down that path.

Throughout human history, a strong possibility of imminent death is the most important factor that will result in people targeting their rulers. As a corollary, highly autocratic regimes can remain in power as long as most people in that country are relatively safe and otherwise well taken care of. Most humans lack the willingness to fight for abstract causes like justice, liberty or honor- if they understand those concepts in the first place. They will however fight tooth and nail if they are, or perceive themselves to be, in mortal danger.

That is why almost every single large-scale uprising, revolution and civil war in history occurred in the aftermath of widespread and prolonged shortage of essential goods or something which imperils life of the average person. In other words, such movements (centralized or decentralized) occur only once it is plainly obvious to a significant percentage of the population that the status quo is beyond unsustainable. In other words, the previous order starts to collapse when people realize that their very survival and any hope for the future is dependent upon the old system (and its elites) dying out.

Major uprisings in recent history from the French Revolution of 1789-1799, European Revolutions of 1848-1850, Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864, Russian revolution of 1917-1923, the many post-WW1 revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe, the rise of Fascism in post-WW1 Western Europe etc were precipitated by severe and prolonged crisis- from natural and artificial food shortages to expensive prolonged wars that were bad for everyone except, perhaps, the elites. Conditions necessary for rebellion, revolution or just plain chaos require a prodromal period where the old system is exposed as utterly inadequate in facing new challenges while still capable of immiserating most people.

Based on what I have seen over the previous 18 odd years, it is my opinion that USA (in its current form) has entered that prodromal period sometime between 2005 and 2010.

Many of you might also have noticed that the previous decade has seen the widespread loss of any reasonable hope for a better future in USA. Pretty much every aspect of the lives of most people from education, jobs, housing, economic security has kept on going down. At the same time, the system has been unable to tackle emergent challenges from winning wars to protecting people from new threats. In other words, the status quo in USA has been revealed to be simultaneously immiserating and unable to face new challenges.

It is therefore not surprising that unorthodox political figures such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been able to quickly gather very large and fervent followings. The flip side this phenomenon is a rapid loss of any residual public belief in the competence and ability of traditional political figures. Indeed, one can make a case that the public now sees the very existence of traditional political figures as a useless and dangerous obstacle to making things work for them again.

To make a long story short, it is very likely that a very small percentage of the many millions of people in various types of dire situations in USA will start taking out their frustrations on those believed to be responsible for causing their problems. While many classes of people will be at the receiving end of this rage- from managers and administrators to bureaucrats, it is likely the high visibility and name recognition of elected representatives might make them more likely to receive it.

Elected representatives are also very likely to be seen as especially culpable for things such as cutting healthcare benefits, cutting social security and similar benefits and facilitating corporate abuses. It is therefore very reasonable to expect more incidents like that Scalise shooting in the near future. Also, it is quite apparent that most people have now come to enjoy seeing conventional politicians get their just deserts. To put it another way, the times we live are about to get a whole lot more exciting.

Might write more about this topic in a future post- based on reader feedback.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Thoughts on the Congressional Baseball Shooting: 15 Jun, 2017

June 15, 2017 16 comments

As almost all of you must have heard by now, a guy opened fire on some republican members of congress and lobbyists at a practice session for a “charity” baseball match yesterday. The shooter, named James Hodgkinson, was a 66-year man from Belleville in Illinois. While we do not yet know about the combination of circumstances which led him to shoot up republican members yesterday, it is very obvious that Hodgkinson had a long-term dislike for republican policies and ideologies. Idiots from both parties and their media surrogates are trying to paint him as some sort of violent leftist radical, even though there is not much to suggest that he was any more violent than tens of millions of other men in USA.

Some of you might wonder.. were his actions justified? My answer to that question is as follows: What you, or I, think about a particular action does not matter to someone who is determined to carry out that action. Hodgkinson had come there to shoot and kill as many republican lawmakers as possible regardless of whether he would survive such a course of action- which he did not. He was not seeking external justification or validation, so what we think about his actions is irrelevant to his carrying out those actions. It is therefore best to see this event, and other like it, as an example of one person finally going through a series of actions which they they had almost certainly contemplated in private for many years before acting on them.

I can almost hear some of you say.. but, aren’t you dodging the question of whether what he did was morally “right” or “wrong”? To which I say- morality is highly subjective. Consider the fact that one of the severely injured, a republican lawmaker named Steve Scalise, was involved in the recent vote to repeal “Obamacare” in the lower chamber of congress. As you know, repealing even something as shitty as “Obamacare” will result in the loss of medical insurance coverage for over 20 million people in USA- resulting in tens of thousands of excess deaths per year due to lack of timely and adequate medical care. He also voted against a bill to apologize for slavery in 1996 in addition to having a following among some of most regressive parts of the Louisiana electorate.

In other words, Hodgkinson is not a hero and Scalise is no MLK Jr. Incidentally, Scalise has in the past voted against making MLK Jr Day a national holiday, which is now ironic since both the cops who intervened to save him yesterday from a white guy shooting him were black. But enough of talk about an event which has already occurred. Let us now consider the likely future effects of the congressional baseball shooting on 2017.

1] As far as Steve Scalise is concerned, he is likely to be in a world of hurt for a long time to come. Though he was hit by only one bullet (most likely a 5.56×45mm), it went through his pelvis- from left to right. Given the wounding characteristics of that cartridge, it is safe to say that organs and tissues in that part of his anatomy have likely suffered severe damage- even if the projectile was a FMJ. To put it in simpler language, he likely has suffered considerable damage to his urinary bladder, rectum, prostate and a host of blood vessels and nerves in that area.

It is therefore a matter of speculation if he will ever experience normal functioning of organs in that region of his anatomy, or those connected to them. While medical technology, including the treatment of projectile injuries, has seen considerable advances over the last few decades- there are limits to what can be done- especially for injuries in certain regions of the body.

2] While Scalise is not the first congress person to be shot or even killed (in living memory), every single one of the prior attacks were perpetrated by people who were either in religious cults or not mentally stable. Congress critters at federal level in USA have, until now, not been shot or killed for their professed ideologies, voting record or policy positions. Such accidental immunity from facing the consequences of their actions, combined with an unnaturally high rates of incumbency, have allowed them to believe that they can get away with anything. The Scalise shooting is the first in what I suspect is a trend of “elected” officials in USA having the face the consequences of their beliefs and actions.

I am sure that some of you have seen YouTube clips depicting extreme levels of hostility towards politicians at recent townhall meetings across the country as well as the conditions which allowed Trump to defeat all of his numerous and far better funded professional politician opponents in the republican presidential primary. My point is that the era of apparent immunity of elected politicians in USA to popular outrage for their actions is now drawing to a close. In the future, it is likely that we will see more republican and democratic politicians at the wrong end of a gun wielded by a pissed off voter. Of course, congress critters will try to increase security levels for them, but that might prove less than effective and result in a further backlash against them.

3] Many of you might also have noticed that most of the MSM, alternative media and a lot of people on multiple social networks have not expressed any real concern about that event. In fact the prevailing sentiment seems to be almost one of surprise that it took so long to occur. Moreover, unlike previous incidents including the one in 2011 there are far fewer people expressing any real sympathy for the congress critter who got shot up. You can interpret this apparently odd public reaction in many ways. My personal favorite interpretation is that this apparently anomalous public reaction is based in the simple reality that USA has ceased to be a united and functional society.

While there are many reasons and much blame to go around for this current state of affairs, it is nonetheless clear that it mostly comes down to the system being unable to provide a decent life and environment for most people in USA. People simply don’t care about beliefs or systems which do not, or are unlikely, to improve the lives of those who care about them. Overt patriotism and the somewhat civilized politics in USA was predicated on the system delivering a decent life (or a realistic promise thereof) for most of its citizens. This also means that the outcome I alluded to in the previous point (2) is more likely than most people realize or are willing to accept.

To summarize, the shooting of Steve Scalise is a far more consequential event than most people realize right now. It is also an indicator of a pretty major shift in how many people in USA relate to the system of governance they live under. I also think that this event is likely to first of a new class rather than an unfortunate anomaly. While nobody really knows where all this will ultimately lead to, it is equally clear that the post-WW2 system/ consensus/ order in USA is on its way out- one way or the other.

What do you think? Comments?

Pedestalling of Women by American vs Non-American Men: 1

June 13, 2017 32 comments

While I am not a big fan or user of Instagram, it is an interesting social network to keep track of how people all around the world want to present themselves to others. Over the years, I have noticed an interesting, but seldom talked about, pattern that is most obvious if you don’t use Instagram as an active participant. The observed pattern can be summarized as follows..

Fairly mediocre looking North-American women who post even somewhat revealing photos of themselves on Instagram get far more positive comments from obviously male user accounts than even more revealing photos of gorgeous women from countries in Europe and South-America.

Initially, I considered that this discrepancy in number of online male admirers might be related to the total numbers of Instagram users across various countries. It is no secret that a significant percentage of the first bunch of large-scale users of some internet-based social networks such as Instagram do live in North America. However, I noticed that the geographical discrepancy between number of positive comments to revealing pictures of women has persisted over the years.

Therefore, the far fewer number of male admirers writing worshipful comments in response to revealing photos of women from other parts of the world is not an artifact of userbase composition. Furthermore many of the comments by ostensibly male accounts on photos of young, attractive, thong-bikini (or less) clad women living in countries outside north america are also far less worshipful of the woman (or women) in those photos.

Local men who comment on photos of thong-bikini wearing hotties in Brazil almost never sound desperate, eager to please or otherwise submissive. Similarly, local men who comment on photos of topless (or even less) continental European cuties lounging on the beach seldom write comments that come across as pathetic or worshipful. Curiously, a significant number of worshipful comments towards such photos are in English rather than he language of the country of residence for the women in those photos.

Instagram is however not the first social network where I have seen this pattern.

As some of you might know, Flickr was the best online photo-sharing network before the idiots at Yahoo screwed it up. Many (maybe 5-7) years ago, I noticed that most of the corny worshipful comments for beach vacation photo albums of European girls were written in English rather than German, French, Italian, Dutch etc. However, it was also obvious that the majority of viewers of those photos were local.

And this brings me to my explanation for this apparent discrepancy. Men in North America are significantly more likely to be, or act like, beta orbiters than men in most other parts of the world. They are far more likely to compliment mediocre looking women for a basically non-existent chance of having sex with them than men in other parts of the world. Their pathetic online behavior is therefore merely an extension of their pathetic behavior in real life.

But why would they do that? Are they stupid enough to believe that a woman who they have no realistic chance of meeting in real life will suddenly want to meet them and have sex with them. Perhaps there are a few who think like that, but they are clearly not the majority. In my opinion, it is far more likely that this peculiar online behavior is a reflection of how they have been taught to behave towards women when they were growing up.

In other words, the dominant pre-internet cultural trends in North America were (and to some extent still are) far more female-centric than those in other countries. A lot of men raised in North America still believe, at some level, that being beta-orbiters of women is normal. These men appear to lack any significant amount of self-esteem and appear to accept being abused, exploited and ignored by even mediocre women as “normal”.

Of course, as many of you know, this state of affairs has changed a lot in the previous decade. However, it is also clear that a significant number of men who still live in that mental world. maybe that will change, or maybe it won’t. In any case, there is not much you can do for people who believe in something that is is clear contradiction with observable reality.

What do you think? Comments?