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    Welcome to Section 22 Week, Day 5

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 23rd February 2021 (All posts by )

    Welcome to the fifth Chicagoboyz post (Feb 23, 2021) in the “Section 22 Week” count down to the 24 Feb 2021 Bilge Pumps podcast with the Section 22 Special Interest Group e-mail list. Today’s post will include slides 61 through 72 of 82 of the Section 22 Powerpoint information packet.
    .
    These slides cover Section 22’s part of the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands called “Operation Olympic,” the last RCM flight of WW2 by the successor of Field Unit #6 that ended in tragedy, the “Defenestration”  (being “thrown out the window” of the official historical narrative of Section 22 by the American Joint Chiefs of Staff with the “Seventeen guys on an e-mail list” credits and resource links for further research for naval history academics.
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    The 82 slides worth of material being published in “Section 22 Week” are a “picture book highlights reel” of what the between 500 to 1000 men involved in Section 22 radio counter measures operations did between May 1943 and August 1945.  Tomorrow’s concluding post will include the back up slides explaining the role of the Mark III identification in the Pacific war and other elements not central to the Section 22 story but important to the war for the electromagnetic spectrum from March 1944 to August 1945.
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    Today’s “extra” involves the dysfunctional intelligence system inside World War II’s Washington DC that lead to Section 22’s “Defenestration.”
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    The following are screenshots from SRH-130, MIS Intelligence Processes Relating to Japanese, Science Branch Project No. 2528A, 14 Sept 1945.   This “SRH-130” was the smaller of the two documents with the “SRH-130” cover page at 83 pages vice the 975 of the other.  I’m going to use “Project No. 2528A” to refer to the smaller document and SRH-130 to the larger document.
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    First, see the conclusion on how effective the War Department’s G-2 Military Intelligence Division  (MID) electronics section that did “Scientific intelligence”  which was the official D.C. name for the radar intelligence Section 22 provided:
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    SRH-130 MIS Scientific Intelligence on Japanese Radar July 1945 - part 2, Tab A , pg 4 of 975.jpg
    Next, this is the recommendations section in “Project No. 2528A” where they list all the things they did wrong in WW2:
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    SRH-130 -- Everything the MID G-2 Science Branch got wrong in WW2.jpg
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    And finally this is the floor plan of the MID “Science Branch” from “Project No. 2528A” on VJ-Day to give you an idea of the scale of effort put into radar intelligence work at the War Department G-2 compared to Section 22 in Brisbane, Tacloban and Manila.
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    SRH-130 -- Science Branch maximum effort foot print VJ-Day.jpg
    The defenestration of Section 22 from the public eye in the immediate post-war makes a great deal of sense, given the level of effort demonstrated by that office plan .  Section 22’s offices in May 1943 Brisbane were larger than the electronics section you see above.
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    The War Department was facing Congressional accountability hearings & investigative reports for the Pearl Harbor intelligence failure.  That level of “Scientific Intelligence” performance about radar for the duration of WW2 cannot be in anyway excused, if the story of Section 22 in the SWPA was generally known.  There were assets to cover,  budgets to shield, and careers to protect.  So “out the window” of public acclaim and deep, deep, into the unaccountable hidey hole of decades long classification Section 22 went.
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    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, USA, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Helter Skelter Redux?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 22nd February 2021 (All posts by )

    The stated aim of that murderous freak Charlie Manson and his deranged family of dropouts and druggies in committing the brutal slaughter of seven people in 1969 was to incite a race war. The murderers deliberately left bloody graffiti at the murder scenes, attempting to frame the Black Panthers – yet another set of murderous and equally racist freaks active in that period. In Manson’s twisted vision, the Tate-LaBianca murders would set off a brutal race war; black against white, in which whites would be enthusiastically genocided. During this mayhem Manson and his followers would hide out in a vast underground city. They would then emerge to take command over what remained of society. Manson was a particularly noxious racist, unsavory qualities which were veiled by the last putrid remnants of the hippie commune culture, which let his cult family fly under the social radar as it existed in the afterglow of the so-called “Summer of Love” in the formerly golden state of California. (Jim Jones was another one of those super-organized racist-cult freaks of the era, whose’ commune was slightly longer-lasting and successful, until suddenly it wasn’t. Yeah, a supposedly race-prejudice-free socialist commune, with a white leadership cadre and mostly dead black bodies when it all came crashing down some years later.) Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Crony Capitalism, History, Human Behavior, Just Unbelievable, Leftism, Urban Issues, USA | 25 Comments »

    Welcome to “Section 22 Week,” Day Three

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 21st February 2021 (All posts by )

    Welcome to the third post in the “Section 22 Week” count down to the Bilge Pumps podcast with the Section 22 Special Interest Group e-mail list.  By way of background, the Section 22 ‘SIG’ started in March 2015 with myself as list administrator and later as the groups cloud drive guru. The list accomplished it’s goal of mapping the Australian, New Zealand and American archives for Section 22 materials in early 2020 with the publication of Craig Bellamy’s doctoral thesis.

    Since early 2020 my goal for the list has been to get this material wider visibility in the WW2 history community.  By posting Section 22 materials from that thesis, and other list research, consistently on Twitter, I earned the list an invitation to the Bilge Pumps naval affairs podcast on the CIMSEC web site.  That podcast is due to go up on their site 24 Feb 2021.

    Today’s post will include slides 30 through 48 of 82 of the Section 22 information packet.  This will include a spotlight on Section 22’s third Assistant Director, Cmdr. J.B. Jolley, USN reserve.

    Cmdr. J. B. Jolley US Navy Reserve, Asst Director Section 22

    Cmdr. J. B. Jolley US Navy Reserve, Assistant Director Section 22

    Commander J.B. Jolley USNR was with Section 22 early – at least from Oct 1943 from documents Craig Bellamy found in the Australian national archives.   Current Statement #48 dated 24 October 1943 states that USN submarines (unnamed, darn it!)  were being fitted with radar intercept receivers at that time.   Cmdr. Jolley then ran Section 22 for a short time before and during the Leyte campaign (from about 4 September 1944 until at least the 10 Nov 1944) until his health failed.  Yet that time, Section 22’s efforts under his leadership made its biggest contributions of WW2 and Jolley demonstrated a level of moral courage in his leadership that was unmatched in the Pacific War.

    Yet, despite much research, our list has never found Cmdr Jolley’s first and middle names to go with his initials.  This anonymity was part of the price Jolley paid for his moral courage as a leader, for he crossed Admiral Ernest King on the issue of Japanese radar tracking US ships and planes through their Mark III identification friend or foe (IFF) systems.

    See Jolley’s IFF procedure at this link — ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/r at paragraph 11. IFF PROCEDURE sub-paragraph f. which is named in slide 30 below. 

    Adm. Turner, CENPAC’s amphibious forces commander, did not include anything like it in his Iwo Jima or Okinawa attack plans.  And he knew far better…but did not want to draw Adm. King’s attentions.

    To understand the context here, you have to know that electronic IFF was the US Navy’s technological turf in WW2. The U.S. Navy had created an IFF system before WW2, but the UK’s Mark III IFF was chosen for the sake of Allied commonality. And with radar centralized under Adm. King, IFF was part of his personal fief. King’s actions in the “Great South Pacific IFF Visitation” in Jan – Mar 1944 versus Section 22 made the combat failure of the Mark III IFF a failure in the same class as the Mark 14 torpedo and his own very personal tar baby.

    Adm. King’s CIC magazine did not admit to what Jolley wrote into the Sept 1944 7th Fleet Leyte invasions until the March 1945 issue.  Far too late for the intimidated Adm. Turner to add Cmdr. Jolley’s technique into the Okinawa invasion plans.

    The combat failure of the Mark III IFF had to be made to go away…and it did…but that story is for coming “Section 22 Week” posts and slides.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, USA, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    A Sadly Revealing Story

    Posted by David Foster on 13th February 2021 (All posts by )

    A Houston physician named Dr. Hasan Gokal had a limited quantity of the Moderna covid vaccine to distribute.  The vial had been opened, and the vaccine would expire in six hours. He could either find 10 qualified people to administer it to, or just throw it away.  He chose the former course, rounding up 10 people, some of whom were acquaintances and others strangers.

    For that, he was fired from his job and criminally prosecuted.

    Officials maintained that he had violated protocol and should have returned the remaining doses to the office or thrown them away. According to Dr Gokal,  one of the officials startled him by questioning the lack of “equity” among those he had vaccinated.

    So, if he had just thrown away this scarce and valuable vaccine, he would have been just fine.  Because he used his judgment and took action, he lost his job and was prosecuted…the judge threw the charge out for its ridiculousness, but the prosecutor, whose name is Kim Ogg, has vowed to present the matter to a grand jury.

    We seem to be moving to a point in America today where the less you do, the better off you are: don’t use your individual judgment, don’t take action without bureaucratic approvals, don’t conduct informal conversations and don’t tell jokes.

    I am reminded of the Spanish naval official (see my post here) who in 1797 wrote a plaintive essay on the topic: Why do we keep losing to the British, and what can we do about it?

    An Englishman enters a naval action with the firm conviction that his duty is to hurt his enemies and help his friends and allies without looking out for directions in the midst of the fight; and while he thus clears his mind of all subsidiary distractions, he rests in confidence on the certainty that his comrades, actuated by the same principles as himself, will be bound by the sacred and priceless principle of mutual support.

    Accordingly, both he and his fellows fix their minds on acting with zeal and judgement upon the spur of the moment, and with the certainty that they will not be deserted. Experience shows, on the contrary, that a Frenchman or a Spaniard, working under a system which leans to formality and strict order being maintained in battle, has no feeling for mutual support, and goes into battle with hesitation, preoccupied with the anxiety of seeing or hearing the commander-in-chief’s signals for such and such manoeures…

    Thus they can never make up their minds to seize any favourable opportunity that may present itself. They are fettered by the strict rule to keep station which is enforced upon then in both navies, and the usual result is that in one place ten of their ships may be firing on four, while in another four of their comrades may be receiving the fire of ten of the enemy. Worst of all they are denied the confidence inspired by mutual support, which is as surely maintained by the English as it is neglected by us, who will not learn from them.

    I think Don Grandallana would recognize many of the behavior patterns in America today as being the same kind of thing that were so destructive to his country’s chances in battle.

    Note that Dr Gokal was questioned about a lack of ‘equity’ in his distribution of the vaccines. “Are you suggesting that there were too many Indian names in that group?” he asked.  Exactly, he was told.

    Time available for the vaccine distribution was strictly limited; Dr Gokal probably contacted patients and other people he knew and many of them were Indian.  Was he supposed to get demographic data for his county and ensure that the people he contacted matched the average statistical profile?

    I am also reminded of something written by historian AJP Taylor about the Austro-Hungarian Empire, cited in my post here:

    The appointment of every school teacher, of every railway porter, of every hospital doctor, of every tax-collector, was a signal for national struggle. Besides, private industry looked to the state for aid from tariffs and subsidies; these, in every country, produce ‘log-rolling,’ and nationalism offered an added lever with which to shift the logs. German industries demanded state aid to preserve their privileged position; Czech industries demanded state aid to redress the inequalities of the past. The first generation of national rivals had been the products of universities and fought for appointment at the highest professional level: their disputes concerned only a few hundred state jobs. The generation which followed them was the result of universal elementary education and fought for the trivial state employment which existed in every village; hence the more popular national conflicts at the turn of the century.

    We are now at the point in America where every possible decision and situation, down to the time-critical administration of vaccines, must be looked at through ethnic lenses. We may be heading for the same kind of creaky and rather dysfunctional society as was Austria-Hungary…and it’s quite possible that the actual outcome will be something much darker.

    Lead and Gold cited Sir John Keegan on British impressions of American GI’s who arrived in that country during WWII:

    Americans did not defer; that was the first and strongest of the impressions they made. European travelers to the United States had made that observation even in the eighteenth century, and it was made wholesale by British observers of the GIs. In a society which worked by deference, there were many who were shocked by the upstandingness of the individual American soldier. Enlisted men did not know their place, and their officers seemed unconcerned by the free-and-easy ways of their men. Many of the British, who had been taught their place well, found they liked the Americans for their casualness and admired a system of discipline which worked by getting things done. American energy: that was the second impression. 

    In America today, we seem to have lost much of that spirit.  Can we get it back?

     

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Culture, Organizational Analysis, Society, USA | 50 Comments »

    Back Stories and Suicides

    Posted by Ginny on 7th February 2021 (All posts by )

    Today, a friend complained of the death of a young man in Portland, of the heart rending interview of his father on Hannity. Some deaths are memorialized, mourned and others disappear from the headlines. Deaths in gang shootings in Chicago of toddlers are given less attention than those of victims of drug overdose in police custody. Not surprisingly, ceremonial ritual respect is given to a police officer killed in defense of the capitol, while the family of a young veteran, a woman whose business was destroyed by the covid lock down, is not. One an “insurrectionist”, the other a defender. Antigone might understand the distinction, if lamenting it. Creon certainly would. Another woman is trampled. Medical emergencies happen. Chaos.

    Later, suicides. Of those we speak softly, negation of life hard for strangers and even harder for families. I knew a mother who spent years denying her son was dead – long after she had buried him.

    For three suicides following the 6th, we ask, as we always do of these, why? We wonder about a back story? Would it help us understand the fences about the capitol, the vitriol of the impeachment?

    One was a rioter, a middle aged man, an officer in a bank, who had been charged by the police. Given the “everyone is an insurrectionist” rhetoric, being charged would make life difficult and being convicted? The proportions of why and what he did – and why and what was said, was charged – were important to him and might well be to us.

    Then, the two suicides of defenders, one of a Capitol policeman and the other in the Washington force. They had their reasons – but are they ones we need to understand as citizens or only as sympathizers? Policemen are often of an honor culture who feel keenly their responsibility to protect. A friend posited another reason: resignations and firings are likely (though responsibility for inadequate preparation does not appeared to be the fault of the police but rather of politicians – seldom members of an honor culture). My friend observed that when the airline for whom her husband had piloted for decades went into bankruptcy (along with their pension fund), several pilots committed suicide. Middle aged, they were unlikely to find work of the same kind and pay; they had (according to the financial planner who served the group) chosen to leave their families in a stronger financial place than the coming bankruptcy would. The planner’s responsibility was to ensure those wishes were fulfilled. (She clearly was glad her husband had not chosen that path although 15 years later they have not yet received the appropriate pension.) Protecting family, protecting reputation – those are motives. Most suicides are prompted (if partially) by clinical depression. Back stories can be sad, but need not be, really, our business. But, given the political machinations before and after that day, the back stories might be telling.

    This isn’t much of a post – I hope the comments are more substantive than it is.

    Some newsy discussions:
    For one, such responsibility was inherited – see CNN for what it is worth.
    And Politico gives both officer’s names.
    NBC gives details.

    2/8 – Adding links
    Banker
    Another on him
    The Financial Planner gives more information about Georgia’s employment; apparently he’d spent decades in finance and the order was because he had not “dispersed” when asked to by police. The difference between these arrests and those 4 years ago that protested Trump’s inauguration are telling and are not so much apples and oranges as some contend.

    Posted in Current Events, Elections, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Society, Terrorism, The Press, USA | 54 Comments »

    “You Play with My World Like it’s Your Little Toy”

    Posted by David Foster on 7th February 2021 (All posts by )

    Watching a series of European bureaucrats…pompous, arrogant, and extremely unattractive European bureaucrats…asserting the need for a global ‘great reset’, I was reminded of the above line from Bob Dylan’s song.

    In America, too, of course, we have politicians and bureaucrats demanding a Great Reset.  And Dylan’s song, of course, was directed at armaments manufacturers, not at world-resetting politicians and their operatives. Nevertheless, I think the phrase captures well the arrogance of those who believe they have the knowledge, insight, and authority to reorganize the lives of everyone on the planet.  And in their view of things, there isn’t any ‘my world’ for the individual; there is no sphere of individual autonomy and agency which is not to be made available for their interference.  It’s all their world.

    In 1931, a book titled The Conscription of a People was published by Katherine, Duchess of Atholl.  It was “a blistering, well-documented indictment of the savage collectivization of life in the Soviet Union.”

    The title of the book provides a perfect description of the worldview of the Resetters.  The entire population is to be drafted into an army, assigned to whatever battles and tasks their rulers..far beyond their ability to influence..think most fitting.

     

    Posted in Europe, Music, Political Philosophy, Russia, USA | 16 Comments »

    Narrowing Horizons

    Posted by David Foster on 31st January 2021 (All posts by )

    William Shirer, on his experiences in Germany during the early Nazi era:

    I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state. Though unlike most Germans I had daily access to foreign newspapers, especially those of London, Paris and Zurich, which arrived the day after publication, and though I listened regularly to the BBC and other foreign broadcasts, my job necessitated the spending of many hours a day in combing the German press, checking the German radio, conferring with Nazi officials and going to party meetings. It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one’s inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression on one’s mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime’s calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a café, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for the truth, said they were.

    Even though Shirer had plenty of access to outside news and information sources, and was well aware of Nazi lies, he still found it difficult to escape psychologically from the effects of the stiflingly-constrained information environment.

    Many of us have wondered how intelligent people–some of whom we may know personally–can fall so completely under the spell of the Democrat worldview, as it exists in its present ‘woke’ state…a worldview which is replete with ‘the most outlandish assertions,’ to use Shirer’s phrase.  But consider: if one gets one’s news from CNN, MSNBC, and even the traditional networks, and from newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times and their imitators…and one’s entertainment from mainstream movies and musical groups…and one works for a company, university, or ‘nonprofit’…then one is living within a highly uniform information and opinion environment. Yes, you might be exposed to the occasional dissident opinion on social media or directly from friends and acquaintances, but you will develop ‘antibodies’, inculcated by the approved sources, which lead you to dismiss such opinions as conspiracy theories, brainwashing by Trump, or something similar.

    It is, of course, much easier to find dissenting voices in 2021 America than it was in the time and place of which Shirer wrote.  (Shirer does say that ‘in those days, in the Thirties, a German listener could still tune his dial to a score of foreign radio stations’ without taking much risk…but most didn’t, evidently, or chose to disbelieve what they heard from outside sources.)

    The psychological drive to conform reinforces the controlled information environment and discourages explorations outside of it.  In my post Oxytocin and Conformity, I cited some research on how the ‘cuddling and belonging’ hormone oxytocin affects public and private conformity, and recalled one of the episodes of the TV series The World at War in which a German man spoke about the temptation to conform.  He had been strongly anti-Nazi, but admitted that he had felt a strong emotional pull to join the rallies and be a part of the the movement.  (He said it much more eloquently than the foregoing sentence would suggest)  I also cited a blog post whose author, after critiquing the craziness of the extreme “progressives,”  went on to say:

    I’m going to be very real with you for a moment, and take off my hat has a blogger, an author, and whatever else I may be, and just speak to you as a man.

    This could have been me.

    Does that surprise you? There was a time I skirted so close to falling under this spell, it would shock you. I felt the guilt, the social pressure, the desire for conformity. Despite the terrible weight such ideology carries on the mind, it is absurdly easy to fall into it. Every day we are assaulted by the agitprop. It is so easy to just say “yes, it’s all my fault, I will submit and obey.”

    It will bring momentary relief, because you will no longer have to fight a narrative that is bombarded upon you 24 hours a day. That mental effort is, itself, rather exhausting on the mind. But if you accept the chains, that is a far greater weight, one that will destroy you. The chains are seductive. They call, because of the enormous weight of social power behind them.

    The pressure is both great and subtle. Imagine a conversation about the weather, innocent enough on its own. A friend might say “wow, that global warming sure is kicking in today!” You’ve a few choices here. You can challenge him, but the immediate counter is likely to be something like “well, 99% of scientists agree, sooooo….” The implication, of course, is that you are stupid for disagreeing with 99% of scientists (whether or not there is any truth to that claim, either). You could remain silent because it’s easier. Or you could just give in, regardless of the truth of the matter, because it’s easiest. Meanwhile, if you counter your friend successfully, you may be down a friend by the end of the night.

    So whether or not a lot of folks believe this thing, soon consensus is reached, as much to peer pressure as anything else. Then it is, further, easier to agree on welfare, tax policy, affirmative action, black lives matter, social justice, etc… Each one has a superficial rhetorical argument which sounds nice, and which has enormous media programming and social pressure behind it.

    A thousand such chats happen every day, both in the real world, and the social media world. The sum total of which is designed to move you, via peer pressure and Weaponized Empathy, toward self-hatred, and intense personal guilt for things which you neither did, nor were capable of preventing.

    Soon a man might find himself agreeing with lunatic propositions that all Republicans are literal Nazis, and Donald Trump is worse than Hitler because… well, nobody really knows the reasons.

    Submission is always the easier short-term choice. Long-term, however, it just destroys a man’s soul.

    I am not asserting that the present-day Democrat belief system is identical to Naziism (although there are indeed some disturbing similarities as well as differences), or that the control of the information environment is as tight as what existed in mid-1930s Germany…but still, when you step back and look at all the ways in which a consistent worldview is being promulgated and views from outside that worldview are being suppressed, then the information horizons–especially for those people who don’t have a particularly strong need to think for themselves or willingness to challenge accepted beliefs–are narrowing at a pretty frightening rate.

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Science, Society, USA | 52 Comments »

    Comm Check

    Posted by David Foster on 20th January 2021 (All posts by )

    When the First World War broke out, a British cable ship set sail with orders to cut the German undersea cables.  Given the British control of the seas, the cables could not be repaired during the course of the war, and this led to a British dominance of communications with neutral countries–especially the United States.  While Germany was not totally cut off from the world–they had a powerful radio transmitter at Nauen–communication from the Allied Powers was more convenient and subject to British influence; war correspondents, for example, tended to file their reports from Britain.  In the opinion of many writers (here, for instance), this gave the Allied Powers a considerable advantage in propaganda.  (Also in message interception for purposes of espionage, of course)

    Availability of communications is of great importance in conflicts of all kinds. “Congress can make a general, but only communications can make him a commander,” is how the American general Omar Bradley put it.

    We have seen in recent how control of communications can influence political outcomes, with, for example, the playing down and outright banning of the Hunter Biden story perpetrated by both traditional and social media.  How many people would have voted differently had they been aware of this matter?  One survey suggests that the number would have been quite significant.

    And is it beyond the realm of the possible that certain ‘tech’ and infrastructure companies might go beyond the blocking of political communications with which they disagree and…actively or passively…block government operational communications that they don’t like?  See this post:

    The Department of Defense uses software created, delivered, and maintained by many of the same high-tech companies now engaged in shutting down online speech. If the titans of tech can pull the plug on public communications tools people have come to rely on, some observers fear, they might do the same to the Pentagon in response to a military action deemed unacceptable by San Franciscans.

    Something along those lines already happened with Project Maven, a major Pentagon initiative using Google algorithms to identify drone targets. The software was well under way when, in 2018, thousands of Google’s workers protested their company becoming a defense contractor. 

    Could companies, acting on their own opinions or in order to placate key groups of employees, really get away with refusing to supply urgently-needed capabilities to the government?  From the article:

    The Hudson Institute’s Clark says that if a tech giant withdrew access to services it had agreed to provide to the military, it would likely have to pay penalties for breach of contract. Such fines might make little difference to the bottom line of Big Tech. But the loss of cloud capabilities in the middle of a conflict could be disastrous for warfighters.

    During the Iraq War, the Swiss company Swatch refused to supply parts for the JDAM missile.  I don’t know whether litigation was filed by the DoD to recover damages. But the consequences of such refusals could well involve lives as well as money.

    (Gregory Sanders, a fellow at the Defense-Industrial Initiaves Group) says the Pentagon could always invoke the Defense Production Act “if a company pulled out of a service provision in a crisis environment in a non-orderly manner.” As the Congressional Research Service puts it, the act “allows the President to require persons (including businesses and corporations)” to “prioritize and accept government contracts for materials and services.”  But that isn’t a guaranteed strategy for success. “The quality of work you get when compelling an objecting vendor wouldn’t necessarily be the best, so DoD wouldn’t want to invoke those authorities needlessly.”  It’s well-known that ‘working to rule’ can greatly slow things down in activities of all kinds; much more so, surely, where creative thinking is a big part of the work to be done.

    H G Wells’ 1933 novel The Shape of Things to Come posits the emergence of the Air Dictatorship: global rule established by a technocratic group that begins with the imposition of a monopoly over global trade networks and especially control over the air.  Benevolent, rule, of course, as Wells saw it.

    Are we in danger of de facto rule by a Communications Dictatorship, or at least a Communications Oligarchy?

     

    Posted in Aviation, Business, Civil Liberties, Tech, Transportation, USA | 27 Comments »

    Feudalism in America?

    Posted by David Foster on 13th January 2021 (All posts by )

    Veronika Kyrylenko believes that we may be headed for a new era of feudalism in this country. I don’t completely agree with her analysis, but it’s a thought-provoking piece.

    See also my 2018 post Coupling, which makes the point that the expansion of connectivity–geographically and otherwise–has downsides as well as upsides. The downsides may well lead individuals to seek security and protection, even at the cost of autonomy and freedom.

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Society, USA | 35 Comments »

    Smashing the State

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 9th January 2021 (All posts by )

    There won’t be any surprises in this one for anyone who knows me at all well, but I’ll try to at least make it entertaining.

    My very first lasting memory of a news event with political content took place on the afternoon of Sunday 21 January 1968. A B-52 with four hydrogen bombs aboard took off from Thule AFB and crashed somewhere in the Arctic, location unknown.
    Ten days later, the Tet Offensive began.
    Nine weeks and one day after that, Dr King was assassinated.
    Nine weeks less one day after that, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.
    Twelve weeks to the day after that, I first saw real human blood shed live on television via cameras above the intersection of Michigan and Balbo as the Chicago police attacked demonstrators during the Democratic National Convention.

    I was eight years old.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Book Notes, Chicagoania, Christianity, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Health Care, Human Behavior, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Libertarianism, Management, Personal Narrative, Political Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society, Terrorism, USA | 42 Comments »

    Book Review: Year of Consent, by Kendell Foster Crossen

    Posted by David Foster on 5th January 2021 (All posts by )

    Year of Consent, by Kendell Foster Crossen

    —-

    This is a pulp SF novel from 1954, which has uncomfortable relevance to our present era.

    The story is set in the then-future year of 1990.  The United States is still nominally a democracy, but the real power lies with the social engineers…sophisticated advertising & PR men…who use psychological methods to persuade people that they really want what they are supposed to want.  (Prefiguring “nudging”)  The social engineers are aided in their tasks by a giant computer called Sociac (500,000 vacuum tubes! 860,000 relays!) and colloquially known as ‘Herbie.’  The political system now in place is called Democratic Rule by Consent.  While the US still has a President, he is a figurehead and the administration of the country is actually done by the General Manager of the United States….who himself serves at the pleasure of the social engineers.  The social engineers work in a department called ‘Communications’, which most people believe is limited to such benign tasks as keeping the telephones and the television stations in operation.  Actually, its main function is the carrying out of influence operations.

    One approach involves the publishing of novels which are fictional, but carry implicit social and/or political messages…via, for example, the beliefs and affiliations of the bad guys versus the good guys. Even the structure of novels is managed for messaging reasons: romance-story plots should not be boy gets girl…loses girl…gets girl back, but rather boy gets girl, loses girl, gets different girl who is really right for him.

    Some methods are more direct, although their real objectives are not stated.  One such objective is population control: If the fertility rate is running a little low, advertising is ramped up for a pill called Glamorenes, which are said to create the “rounded, glamorous figure of a TV star…remember–it’s Glamorenes for glamor.”  Actually, the real function of Glamorenes, which is top secret, is to increase a woman’s sex drive and expand the fertility window.  On the other hand, if the birth rate is running too high, the ad emphasis switches to Slimettes for women and Vigorone for men, both of which have a contraceptive effect.  The book’s protagonist, Gerald Leeds, is one of the few who is in on the secret, and when he hears a Glamorenes ad, he realizes that this is the real reason why his girlfriend, Nancy, has been acting especially affectionate lately.

    Few people, even at the highest levels of government, realize just how powerful the Communications Department really is.  “Even the biggest wheels only know part of it.  They think the Communications Administrative Department exists to help them–and not the other way around.”

    The computer known as Sociac (‘Herby’) accumulates vast amounts of data on individuals, including such things as shopping, dining, and vacation preferences. “Thus, when the administration wanted to make a new move, they knew exactly how to condition the people so that it would be backed. Or they knew exactly what sort of man to put up to win a popular election.” Telephone calls are tapped, but are rarely listened to directly by government agents; rather, they are fed directly to “a calculator” (perhaps a front-end to Herbie) and added to “the huge stock of intimate knowledge about the people.”

    Those individuals who resist the conditioning and are found to hold unapproved opinions–or find themselves to hold unapproved opinions–are said to have “communications blocks,” and good citizens will act on their own to request treatment for such blocks. The first level of treatment is the Psychotherapy Calculator, an interactive system which will help the patient change any objectionable opinions and behavior.  But in some cases, the PC determines that stronger methods are necessary, and in those cases, the patient is referred for a lobotomy.  The escorting of patients for mandatory psychotherapy and lobotomy procedures is done by a white-uniformed police force known as the Clinic Squad.

    Citizens are, of course, expected to report any instances of unapproved beliefs or actions.  When the protagonist’s girlfriend Nancy overhears one of her colleagues expressing sympathy for a man who is in serious trouble, she reports the girl immediately. (“For the moment I disliked Nancy,” says Gerald.  “Then I felt sorry for her.”)  Nancy herself is concerned that there may be something wrong with her, and has considered reporting herself for voluntary automated psychotherapy.  “If I did have (something wrong with her), I’d want to be purged of it quickly before it could make me do something awful like that poor Mr Shell”…Gerald notes that her hand was shaking as she lifted her glass to finish the drink.

    Gerald, the protagonist, works within the Communications Department…unknown to his superiors, he is a member of a resistance organization which aims to overthrow the existing system of government and to restore individual liberty. He must feign agreement when his immediate boss talks about how wonderful the system is and how misguided are those who oppose it:

    Never has there been more freedom anywhere than in America today.  We’ve done away with police and even prisons.  Crime has been almost wiped out since we recognized it as a social disease.  We’ve done away with poverty. There are fewer restrictions on people than ever before in the history of mankind.  For the first time they’re really free.

    Gerald reflects:

    Even if it hadn’t been dangerous, I wouldn’t have argued with him.  He believed what he was saying. His faith was the faith of a Torquemada backed by science.  There was no way to make him see that the social engineers had taken away only one freedom, but that it was the ultimate freedom–the right to choose.  Everything…was decided for them and then they were conditioned to want it.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Russia, Tech, USA | 16 Comments »

    Anchorites

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 29th December 2020 (All posts by )

    We are commanded by our so-called experts in this age of the Chinese Corona Crud, to live the enclosed life as a sort of secular anchorite, walled into our little singular cells, supplied by regular deliveries passed in through one narrow passage to the outside, and to spend our days contemplating the televised media worship of the narrative du jour through the window into the shrine of our authoritative masters. Or at least, those who call themselves our masters, although I am certain that’s not the term which they use for themselves. ‘Experts’, ‘scientists’ ‘elected* leaders’ – that’s probably how they term themselves, commanding us to stay at home, eschew social gatherings (although violent BLMAntifa protests are perfectly OK), church services, seeing a movie, getting sit-down dinner inside a restaurant, walking in a public park, hanging out on a beach … all through fear of the rampaging and almost-always-fatal Chinese Corona Crud. To add insult to the injury, those political leaders, to a man, woman and whatever, don’t seem to feel any need to observe their own dictates; traveling freely to their vacation homes, meeting up for holidays with family, going out to supper with friends to the French Laundry, getting haircuts, and omitting the wear of what I’ve begun to call the FFD (the F**king Face Diaper). Really, it’s as if they are getting their jollies out of flaunting their authority and privilege in our FFD’d faces. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Civil Society, Current Events, Predictions, USA | 33 Comments »

    Living in the Hate of the Common People

    Posted by David Foster on 9th December 2020 (All posts by )

    Someone at a social media site, who I will not dignify with a link, wrote:

    I think we need to find a way to stop the working class from voting altogether.

    This individual, who is in the UK and is obviously a furious anti-Brexiter, also wrote:

    Idiots and racists shouldn’t be able to ruin the lives of people who do well in life by voting for things they don’t understand. The problem in this country boils down to low information morons having the ability to vote.

    The above attitude reminds me of something written by that great historian and social analyst Harry Flashman, describing how people of his aristocratic class viewed the workers of the Chartist movement, circa 1848:

    You have no notion, today, how high feeling ran; the mill-folk were the enemy then, as though they were Frenchmen or Afghans.

    There are people in the US who have similar views of politics, only with reference to Trump voters rather than to Brexit.  Many Democrats, and especially ‘progressives’, assume and assert that Trump voters are ignorant people who are failing economically.  It is difficult for them to credit that there are quite a few Trump voters who are educated and thoughtful, and who in some cases are quite successful in career/economics terms…if such people exist, it is assumed that they must either be an insignificant minority or devious malefactors who are manipulating the ignorant masses in their own self-interest.

    An example of this attitude appeared on MSNBC back in August, with anchor Chris Hayes and Washington Post writer Dave Weigel avidly agreeing with one another about the characteristics of Trump supporters (of whom they don’t approve)…men without a college degree who have enough income to buy a boat (Hayes qualifies it as *white* men).  Personally, I tend to *admire* people who have managed to do ok or very well for themselves without the benefit of a college credential. (And anyone believing that a college degree necessarily implies that an individual has acquired a broad base of knowledge and thinking skills hasn’t been paying very good attention of late.)

    The snobbery we are seeing today is partly income-based. it is partly based on a faux-aristocratic contempt for people who work with their hands, and it is…more than any other single factor, I think…credential-based.

    Indeed, education-based credentials seem increasingly to fill the social role once filled by family connections.  In his outstanding autobiography, Tom Watson Jr of IBM mentions that in his youth he was interested in a local girl, but her mother forbade her to have anything to do with him because he didn’t come from an Old Family…the fact that his father was the founder of IBM, already a successful and prominent company, evidently wasn’t a substitute.  Such ‘really, not our sort’ thinking would today be more likely based on the college one attended than based on family lineage.

    Those expressing such attitudes exist in the Democratic Party in parallel with those who talk about their great concern for Working People. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, talked just recently about how physically tiring her work as a bartendress had been…and I don’t doubt that this was so…and asserted that Republicans don’t tend to have any experience doing such jobs.  Yet this same AOC posted a picture of her staring angrily at Joe Manchin–who one might think she would have considered as a possible ally on behalf of Working People–because he dared to question any Defund the Police policy.  And this same AOC helped ensure that Amazon, with the jobs it would have brought for those Working People, was not made welcome in her district.

    It appears that a lot of those to whom the we-care-about-working-people message is targeted aren’t believing it.

    (I’m not fond of the term ‘working class’, btw, it implies a fixed social structure and lack of mobility which is alien to American ideas.  The fact that Class terminology has become so common is a worrisome indicator.)

    Discuss, if so inclined.

     

    (classic song reference in the title)

     

    Posted in Academia, Britain, Education, Europe, Leftism, Society, Trump, USA | 134 Comments »

    Net Novostey v “Pravde” i net pravdy v “Isvestihakh

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 4th December 2020 (All posts by )

    The bitter Soviet-era joke about the honesty and reliability of their major news organs translates as “There is no news in Pravda and no truth in Izvestia” – Pravda (Truth) being the official newspaper of the Russian Communist Party, and Izvestia (The News) was the official government newspaper. Teasing out actual tidbits of accurate and relevant information from those two sources may have been the most popular indoor sport for decades among Russians, after chess, depressing novels and drinking heavily. Pravda and Izvestia told the citizens of Soviet Russia only what the top-tier authorities wanted ordinary people to know about – anything contrary to the interests of party and government was deliberately omitted. Any embarrassing civic disasters with a high casualty count, sexual peccadillos on the part of the Party elite, and serial killers on the prowl – news coverage of that kind of event or development was firmly squelched, as things like that just didn’t happen in the perfect Soviet worker paradise. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Elections, Leftism, Media, Politics, Russia, USA | 56 Comments »

    Reopening — III (Theory ∧ Practice)

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 27th November 2020 (All posts by )

    “We should act incrementally as prudent risk minimizers and pursue any effective no-regrets options. We do not have to wait for the formulation and acceptance of grand strategies, for the emergence of global consensual understanding, or for the universal adoption of more rational approaches.”

    — Vaclav Smil (Global Catastrophes and Trends: the Next Fifty Years)

    This post is an attempt at synthesis; those just grazing in (Midwesterners don’t surf) are directed to Reopening — I (Practice) and Reopening — II (Theory) for accounts of my earlier action and contemplation, respectively. For my third installment, I can do no better than lead off with a quadrant diagram of my own devising:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Bioethics, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Human Behavior, Management, Medicine, Miscellaneous, Science, Tech, Tradeoffs, USA | 28 Comments »

    In Accordance With the Prophecies…

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th November 2020 (All posts by )

    …the Schlichter prophecies, I mean, wherein the good Colonel Kurt S. postulated a political/geographic split of the United States along red-blue lines. In his bleak and blackly humorous vision, (carried out over a five-volume series) the middle portion of the States carried on with fidelity to the Constitution, free-range capitalism, and universal military service as an obligation for full citizenship. Meanwhile the east and west coasts as a so-called “People’s Republic” carried on under a selection of increasingly deranged and erratic progressive principles, turning into a dysfunctional combination of Portland’s CHAZ/CHOP, any PC-addled university you could name, Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe and Venezuela at this very moment. The series is meant to be grimly entertaining, but I’m beginning to believe that the split has already happened – not in the neat geographic manner (with some violent hiccups) outlined – but in a slower and murkier manner. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Leftism, Trump, Urban Issues, USA | 57 Comments »

    Hope and Fear

    Posted by David Foster on 15th November 2020 (All posts by )

    I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said “Liberals vote with their hope, conservatives vote with their fear.”  Of course the same car was also decorated with a Biden-Harris sticker.

    I think that the sentiment on the hope/fear bumper sticker was, if not 180 degree wrong, at least 170 degrees wrong.

    Take K-12 education, for example:  Conservatives see hope in a more open system with more options and more competition, providing not only hope for those kids attending the new alternative schools, but also hope for the public schools via the improvement sparked by competition.  Liberals and ‘progressives’, in the current meaning of those terms, seem happy to maintain the current institutional structure, which no serious person can believe will yield meaningful improvement regardless of how many dollars are dumped into it.  Their fear of changing the institutional arrangements that exist dominates any hope for possible improvement.

    Take manufacturing.  Conservatives, or at least the Trump flavor of same, see hope for reinvigoration and growth.  Liberals, generally speaking, do not.  More generally, ‘progressives’ tend to see the entire American economy–and America’s position in the world–in terms of managing the decline.

    Or take free speech.  As repeatedly documented here and elsewhere, there is growing hostility to free speech on the left.  And anti-free-speech views tend to be strongly associated with generalized fear.

    Peter Drucker (I think it was) wrote that before World War I, socialism was largely about hope, afterwards, it was about envy. He was talking about European socialism. In America, I think that the relative amount of hope in the overall “progressive” mix is a lot lower than it was in the FDR era or the JFK era.

    Regarding fear, I’ll note that it is a lot easier to disclaim certain kinds of fear–such as the fear of crime–when living certain neighborhoods (like the high-income area where I saw the bumper sticker) than in others.  Similarly for many other kinds of fear.

     

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, History, Leftism, Society, USA | 15 Comments »

    A Bridge Too Far?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 12th November 2020 (All posts by )

    The Daughter Unit – who is an even more die-hard conservative than I am – and I have been coming to terms with what happened last week, in the wake of the election. Not to put too fine a point on it, we were distressed, disbelieving, and horrified at how that has gone. And then we were both deeply angry. It’s an anger that I have trouble quantifying, when all is said, considered and done.

    Look, we’ve known for years about dirty deeds done with sheep and ballot boxes … especially the ones that show up out of the clear blue. LBJ notoriously got elected by a couple of those, early on. It’s also pretty strongly suggested that JFK got the 1960 election because of fraud at the polls, and Nixon didn’t want to make a big thing out of contesting it, because … reasons. Patriotic reasons, for which he never got any credit at all.

    But this latest is just too obvious. Too blatant. Too ‘in your face, and what are you gonna do about it, you lying dogface pony soldier?’ The roughly-reported evidence of ballot boxes appearing out of the blue in the wee hours, of so-called “glitches” transmuting Republican votes to Democrat, of Republican observers told to go home it’s all over – while the fraudulent counting goes on in a closed room. Goes on, and on, and on … Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Just Unbelievable, Leftism, Trump, USA | 115 Comments »

    The Multi-Front Attack on Free Speech (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 10th November 2020 (All posts by )

    (I don’t usually rerun posts that are less than a year old, but in this case…)

    Free speech…free expression generally…is under attack in America and throughout the Western world to a degree not seen in a long time. I think there are some specific phenomena and (partially-overlapping) categories of people which are largely driving this attack–I’ve written about this subject previously, here, but the situation has gotten even more serious since that post, and some of the important factors were underemphasized.  Here are the current fronts, as I see it, in the war (not too strong a word, I’m afraid) on free speech.

    The Thugs. As I pointed out in my post The United States of Weimar?, illegal actions against political opponents, ranging from theft of newspapers to direct assault and battery, have in recent decades become increasingly common on university campuses, and now are well on track to being normalized as aspects of American politics. Incidents of political thuggery are reported almost daily: just the other day, pro-Trump women at an upscale DC hotel were verbally attacked and apparently physically assaulted by members of a wedding party that was heavy on Democrat attendees; including, reportedly, some top officials from the DNC. A pro-free-speech film was reportedly interrupted by two men wearing masks. Interruption of movies they didn’t like was a tactic used by the Nazis prior to their obtaining official censorship powers. The film “All Quiet on the Western Front” was plagued by Nazi disruptions when released in Germany in 1930. And attempts to shut down dissident speakers on college campuses, such as this, have become so common as to now be almost the default expectation.

    The Assassins. These individuals go beyond the level of violence practiced by the Thugs, and make credible death threats they attempt to carry out against those whose actions or believe they view as unacceptable. The majority of threats and attacks falling in this category have certainly been the doing of radical Muslims; however, some of the more extreme ‘environmentalist’ and ‘animal rights’ groups have also demonstrated Assassin tendencies. At present, however, it is those Assassins who are radical Muslims who have been most successful in inhibiting free expression. Four years in hiding for an American cartoonist. But see also Ecofascism: The Climate Debate Turns Violent, how long until this justification and practice of violence reaches the level of justifying and carrying out actual murders?

    The Enclosure of the Speech Commons. Whereas the Internet and especially the blogosphere offered the prospect of political expression and discussion unfiltered by the traditional media, the primary social-media providers have taken various levels of controlling attitudes toward free speech; Twitter, in my opinion, is especially bad. Partly this is ideological; partly, it probably reflects their ideas about protecting their brands. Yes, there are plenty of ways to communicate online outside of the social media platforms, but their growth has been so rapid that a large proportion of the potential audience is not easily reached outside their domains. Note also that conversations that one would have been private friends talking at home, or over the telephone are now semi-public and sometimes made fully public. Plus, they become part of an individual’s Permanent Record, to use the phrase with which school officials once threatened students.

    The Online Mobs. The concerns of the social media providers about providing online “safe spaces” does not seem to have in the least inhibited the formation of online mobs which can quickly make life unpleasant for their targeted individuals, and even destroy the careers of those individuals. Decades ago, Marshall McLuhan referred to the technology-enabled Global Village; unfortunately, it turns out that this virtual village, especially as mediated through the social media platforms, has some of the most toxic characteristics of the real, traditional village. See my post Freedom, the Village, and the Internet.

    And the mobs do not limit themselves to attacks on the target individual: they frequently attack other individuals who fail to participate in the shunning of that target person. As an example:

    A few weeks ago, shortly after I left my magazine gig, I had breakfast with a well-known Toronto man of letters. He told me his week had been rough, in part because it had been discovered that he was still connected on social media with a colleague who’d fallen into disfavour with Stupid Twitter-Land. “You know that we all can see that you are still friends with him,” read one of the emails my friend had received. “So. What are you going to do about that?”

    “So I folded,” he told me with a sad, defeated air. “I know I’m supposed to stick to my principles. That’s what we tell ourselves. Free association and all that. It’s part of the romance of our profession. But I can’t afford to actually do that. These people control who gets jobs. I’m broke. So now I just go numb and say whatever they need me to say.”

    Increasingly, it’s not just a matter of limiting what a person can say, it’s also a matter of edicting what they must say.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Big Government, Business, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Education, Environment, Feminism, Media, Society, Tech, Terrorism, USA | 22 Comments »

    American Weimar or American Habsburg?

    Posted by David Foster on 3rd November 2020 (All posts by )

    Aaron Sibarium has an interesting article on the Weimarization of America thru the normalization of political violence and intimidation…it is a trend I’ve raised concerns about in the past, for example, here:  The United States of Weimar?  An article by Dominic Green, though, argues that Weimar is less of a threatening precedent for American today than is the Habsburg monarchy of Austria-Hungary:

    The Habsburg monarchy was riven with ethnic division, but:

    Where the Hapsburgs had nationalism, we have ‘identity’. Like the Hapsburgs, we have racialized nationalism within an imperial framework. The result is what English-speakers call ‘Balkanization’. You need only look at the history of the Balkans in the half-century before 1914 to see where our current path leads.

    I was reminded of a quote from historian AJP Taylor:

    The appointment of every school teacher, of every railway porter, of every hospital doctor, of every tax-collector, was a signal for national struggle. Besides, private industry looked to the state for aid from tariffs and subsidies; these, in every country, produce ‘log-rolling,’ and nationalism offered an added lever with which to shift the logs. German industries demanded state aid to preserve their privileged position; Czech industries demanded state aid to redress the inequalities of the past. The first generation of national rivals had been the products of universities and fought for appointment at the highest professional level: their disputes concerned only a few hundred state jobs. The generation which followed them was the result of universal elementary education and fought for the trivial state employment which existed in every village; hence the more popular national conflicts at the turn of the century.

    Taylor also noted that the ethnic conflicts were exacerbated by the government dominance of economic life. “There were no private schools or hospitals, no independent universities; and the state, in its infinite paternalism, performed a variety of services from veterinary surgery to the inspecting of buildings.” The present-day US doesn’t have that level of government dominance, certainly, but the degree to which many nominally-private activities are now government-funded (universities, healthcare)–combined with the extreme politicization of everything from coffee to football–is helping to drive those same behaviors of intergroup squabbling.

    Also from Dominic Green:

    Above all, the typical affluent young American, the sort who in a more stable time might have thrown in his or her lot with the bureaucracy or a management job in the Mittelstand, the corporate heart of the economy, now resembles no literary figure so much as Ulrich, the protagonist of Robert Musil’s 1913 novel The Man Without Qualities.

    Ulrich is a forerunner of our college-educated millennials: morally enfeebled, sexually frustrated, professionally stunted. He has acquired enough sophistication to see through the forms of politics and social life — ‘critical thinking’, as the imposters of our schools call it — but not enough conviction to act in a way that might improve his life by bringing him into authentic contact with ‘reality’, which he knows is somewhere out there but cannot touch.

    I’m reminded of some comments by the deposed German Kaiser and by the writer Goethe, 94 years apart…not sure how directly relevant these points were to the Austria-Hungary of the time, but they are relevant to America today:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Education, Europe, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Leftism, Society, USA | 16 Comments »

    Set Piece

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 2nd November 2020 (All posts by )

    I am increasingly convinced – especially over the last few months – that the national news media, with the assistance of a wide swath of academia and those in the business of providing entertainment, are and have been for years constructing a kind of stage set which in their minds represents America. Fake buildings, fake trees with plastic leaves, a painted sky backdrop, concrete boulders and buildings which are either three-fourths actual size or mere painted false fronts with curtains or blinds hung in empty windows. In front of these sets, between the fake trees and the concrete boulders, all sorts of improbable and gruesome things are happening – race riots, fiery car crashes, anti-capitalist social unrest, cartloads of dead from the Commie Covid Virus rolled through the streets, and meanwhile Joe Biden is an honest and upright long-serving member of Senate and former VP who never put a foot wrong, and Hillary Clinton is the most qualified and respected woman ever, Michelle Obama a glamorous and tasteful former First Lady, and meanwhile the whole United States is rancorous with race-hatred, and everyone who has ever attended regular religious services is panting to transform all society into The Handmaid’s Tale. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, The Press, USA | 6 Comments »

    Is Free Speech Too Exhausting?

    Posted by David Foster on 25th October 2020 (All posts by )

    A group of Duke Law students, demanding the disinvitation of visiting speaker, used the phrase ‘we are tired.’  Jonathan Turley remarks:

    Those three words sum up a great deal of the anti-free speech movement growing on our campuses. Students and faculty have grown tired of free speech. Opposing views are now treated as threats and intolerable for students.

    It does seem that a lot of people these days–especially, perhaps, people of college age–find it incredibly wearying and even threatening to be presented with any views that contradict their own.  Reading the above, I was immediately reminded of a remark that a young woman made (to writer Ida Wylie) during the Nazi era:

    We Germans are so happy.  We are free from freedom”

    There definitely seems to be a reaction against free expression going on in America today…how strong it is and how deep it goes remains to be seen.  But as one indicator, a survey by YouGov shows that 43% of those who identify as Liberals favor firing an executive who *privately* donated money to Trump, and 22% of those who identify as Conservatives favor firing an executive who privately donated to Biden…the numbers are 50% and 36% for *strong* liberals and conservatives respectively.

    What are the causes for the apparently-growing hostility toward free speech in the US?  Part of it, perhaps, is a hankering for security.  David Brooks suggests that:

    The values of the Millennial and Gen Z generations that will dominate in the years ahead are the opposite of Boomer values: not liberation, but security; not freedom, but equality; not individualism, but the safety of the collective; not sink-or-swim meritocracy, but promotion on the basis of social justice…Distrustful people try to make themselves invulnerable, armour themselves up in a sour attempt to feel safe… start to see threats that aren’t there.

    I’m not generally much of a fan of Brooks’ analyses and conclusion, but even a stopped (analog) clock is right twice a day.  Perhaps he has a valid point here?

    Another factor, I suspect, is changes in family structure.  Kids who are put in a day-care situation at a very early age may develop a lifelong or at least long-term tendency to identify with the group…whatever that group might be…more than those who are raised in a traditional family situation, and especially so if there is only one parent in the home.  As one data point, here’s an interesting article by someone who was raised in a collective situation in an early Israeli kibbutz.

    And perhaps the threats and realities of Islamic terrorism have also had an influence…for 20 years now, there has been a constant (if low-level) sense that ‘if you say anything that the radical Islamists don’t like, they may kill you.’  Has this led to a habit of speech-guarding that has been generalized into many aspects of life?

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Israel, USA | 38 Comments »

    The October Surprise

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 21st October 2020 (All posts by )

    So the concept of an “October Surprise” in an election year is so hoary a notion that pundits have evolved that name for it; a planned last-minute revelation before an election (usually of the presidential-variety) of something so scandalous and disreputable that it upends the expected campaign win of the candidate the ‘Surprise” is aimed at. The Rathergate – Texas Air National Guard memo, which Dan Rather and 60 Minutes unleashed on George W. Bush just before the 2004 election is the example which springs first to mind, and never mind that it was launched in September. It was still a desperate partisan attempt to upturn an election. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Predictions, The Press, Trump, USA | 29 Comments »

    A Very Revealing Bidenism

    Posted by David Foster on 16th October 2020 (All posts by )

    In an interview which has received surprisingly little attention, Joe Biden talked about the Democratic Party’s political strategy:

    Well, look what’s happened. Look what started to seep in, beginning and probably even with candidates during our administration. We stopped showing up at the Polish American club. We stopped showing up, and we all went to you, the really smart people. We had a new kind of coalition we were putting together. College-educated women and college men and boom, boom, boom and so on.

    One could conclude from this that Biden doesn’t see people of Polish descent as being among the ‘really smart people’.  I guess he probably never heard of Frederick Chopin, Marie Curie, Nicolaus Copernicus, Stanislaus Ulam, or the Polish cryptologists who made the first breakthroughs in deciphering the Enigma code. And Biden’s remark is another example at the way he jumps at the categorization of people…furthermore, he wants to ensure that people stay within expected roles of the categories into which he assigns them.  (“If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”) And this kind of categorization-obsession is characteristic of today’s entire Democratic Party.

    Back in 2011, I quoted AJP Taylor on the combination of the ethnic divisions and excessive centralization in the Austro-Hungarian Empire:

    The Austrian state suffered from its strength: it had never had its range of activity cut down during a successful period of laissez-faire, and therefore the openings for a national conflict were far greater. There were no private schools or hospitals, no independent universities; and the state, in its infinite paternalism, performed a variety of services from veterinary surgery to the inspecting of buildings. The appointment of every school teacher, of every railway porter, of every hospital doctor, of every tax-collector, was a signal for national struggle. Besides, private industry looked to the state for aid from tariffs and subsidies; these, in every country, produce ‘log-rolling,’ and nationalism offered an added lever with which to shift the logs. German industries demanded state aid to preserve their privileged position; Czech industries demanded state aid to redress the inequalities of the past. The first generation of national rivals had been the products of universities and fought for appointment at the highest professional level: their disputes concerned only a few hundred state jobs. The generation which followed them was the result of universal elementary education and fought for the trivial state employment which existed in every village; hence the more popular national conflicts at the turn of the century.

    The combination of the Dems’ categorization and their drive for government control would likely push the United States in the same direction–and already has, to some extent–although with even more fragmentation and resulting harm than with the case in Austria-Hungary.

    Not content with insulting Poles, Biden also said:

    All white guys are just basically, they don’t give a damn about women.

    …not clear why he restricted it to only white guys, but he also says “The people that don’t like equal pay are the people at the top of the heap,” so maybe he conflates “white guys” with “people at the top of the heap,” in a way paralleling his famos assertion that ““poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”  The pattern is that Biden has a very strong need to put people into demographic slots as their primary identities…and to keep them there…and in that, he mirrors his party.

    Biden’s remarks also demonstrate how focused the Dems have become on people who think they are really smart, and whose self-perceived smartness is a core part of their personal identities.  In his rambling and rather confused statement, he seems to also be saying that this has gone too far, that this focus is costing them votes and that there actually are some smart people out there among the great unwashed.  But the reality is, the Dems have indeed focused their brand on college-educated and upwardly mobile individuals, and people are going to be rightly suspicious of any sharp turns in this brand identity.  Especially given Biden’s refusal to grasp (or at least to admit) the seriousness of the economic competition from China, which a lot of people identify as having cost themselves, or at least their friends, their jobs.

    Writing in the WSJ, William Galston draws an analogy between the present political conflicts and the 1896 election between William McKinley and Williams Jenning Bryan:

      (Bryan) championed the interests of debtors against creditors, and of agriculture and small towns against industrial capitalism and big cities.  In his famous ‘Cross of Gold speech to the 1896 Democratic convention, he intoned: ‘Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again; but destroy our farms, and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.’  This Jeffersoniasm on steroids was a last stand against industrial production as the core of the US economy–and against the rise of cities as the center of American life.

    Galston continues: “Bryan’s defense of the countryside against the cities was focused and coherent, but it backfired.  He drove swing voters into the arms of the Republican Party.”  He argues that Donald Trump may turn out to be the William Jennings Bryan of our time, that “his relentless focus on his white working class base may short up Democratic support among minorities and drive suburban swing voters and college-educated women into the Democratic coalition…Over time, Americans with college degrees will increase their share of the electorate…When McKinley defeated Bryan, more than 40% of Americans worked on farms.  Today, even though farm production and exports have soared, only 1.5% of the workforce is in agriculture.  Manufacturing employment, which constituted more than 30% of the US workforce, in the 1950s, has declined to 8.8%, even as rising productivity allows industry to produce more with fewer workers…A new economy more focused on information and services is coming for reasons largely unrelated to public policy.”

    It’s an interesting analysis, but there are some problems with it.  For starters, it is quite inaccurate to assert that Trump has had a relentless focus on the white working class; he has focused on jobs and improved incomes for people of whatever ethnicity.  And I’d assert that the great increase in the share of Americans who have college degrees is not a future thing, but has already happened, and indeed has probably gone too far–there is beginning to be a reactions against the you-will-be-a-failure-without-college thinking, and a larger number of people are beginning to see that there are other respectable and reasonably lucrative career paths.  Similarly, the transition to an economy more focused on ‘information’ and ‘services’ has already happened to a considerable degree, and has resulted in too little emphasis on the manufacturing and resource segments of the economy…with dangerous implications, as indicated by a Chinese newspaper’s warning that China can  ‘plunge America into the mighty sea of coronavirus,’ by denying us pharmaceuticals and ingredients thereof.  And, as I pointed out in this post, we are also seeing offshoring in those information and services segments of the economy, and will undoubtedly be seeing more…with obvious impact on US employment in those segments. Galston also fails to note that the increasingly-obvious failure of Democratic approaches to governance and education, as seen major cities throughout the country, will surely have a long-term effect on political behavior of many people.

    Key points:

    –“Progressive” Democrats generally focus on putting people in demographic buckets as their core identities and keeping them there, and Biden reflects this view totally.

    –Democrats have long self-defined as the party for highly intelligent people, where ‘intelligent’ is defined largely in terms of educational connections, and this brand identity does set some limits on their appeal.  But Republicans, too, have a related issue which is limiting their appeal; there has to be more communication on why there are indeed highly intelligent people who choose to vote Republican and indeed for Trump.

     

     

     

     

    Posted in Leftism, Trump, USA | 42 Comments »

    Why I Like Ike

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 15th October 2020 (All posts by )

    Why I Like Ike. The Greatest of the Greatest Generation followed by the Worst of the Worst.
    —-

    Dwight D. Eisenhower served during the Great War, lived through the Great Depression, and led the Allies to Victory in WW II. But perhaps Ike’s greatest contribution was his leadership as President of the United States, ensuring the peace and building America’s infrastructure while imposing additional sacrifices on his generation to eliminate the WWII debt burden, the failure to do so after the Great War being the primary cause of the next. His hard won legacy of freedom and democracy has been completely squandered over the last half century by fiscally irresponsible Baby Boom politicians.

    The Clinton Administration cut the deficit every year, averaging only .8% of GDP, the lowest since the Eisenhower Administration, leaving the budget in what was predicted by many at the time to be a permanent surplus. But the deficit during the Obama/Biden Administration averaged 5.9% of GDP, the largest since WW II, increasing the outstanding debt accumulated over the centuries by 70% and now exceeds 100%, the level at the end of WW II. The CBO projects that under existing law, including repeal of the 2017 tax cuts in 2025, that will double again to 200% of GDP over the next generation as the $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities continue coming due. State and local governments face similar unfunded liabilities that they are prevented from borrowing to fulfill, so subsequent federal bailouts as currently demanded will add to these federal totals. This CBO forecast implies declining middle class/middle age after-tax incomes even as debt and deficits balloon.

    The Biden Plan

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    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, History, Politics, Public Finance, Tradeoffs, USA | 23 Comments »