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 TeasersFred Reed Blogview

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An Introduction to Protracted Desperation
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A question that never ceases to fascinate is that of how life originated, and how and why it has progressed as it seems to have. The official story and de rigueur explanation is that that life came about through spontaneous generation from seawater. Believing this is the mark of an Advanced Person, whether one has the slightest knowledge of the matter. In academia researchers have been fired and careers ruined for questioning it. If you doubt that scientists can be ideological herd animals, as petty, intolerant, vindictive, and backstabbing as professors, read Heretic, by the PhD biotechnologist and biochemist Matti Leisola, who fell on the wrong side of the herd. Ths establishment’s continuing effort to stamp out heresy looks increasingly like a protracted desperatoon.

The other, more intuitive view of life is that of Intelligent Design. When one sees an immensely complicated system all of whose parts work together with effect and apparent purpose, such as an automobile or a cell, it is natural to think that someone or something designed it. There is much evidence for this, certainly enough to intrigue those of open mind and intelligence. Those of a philosophic bent may note that Freud, Marx, and Darwin are equally relics of Nineteenth Century determinism, and that Darwin wrote when almost nothing was known about much of biology. Note also that the sciences are tightly constrained and limited by their premises, unable to think outside of their chosen box. Others, wiser, wonder whether there are not more thing in heaven and earth.

The theory of ID is seen by the official story as a form of biblical Creationism of the sort holding that the world was created in 4004 BC. This is either wantonly stupid or deliberately dishonest. There is of course no necessary connection between ID and Buddhism, Islam, or the Cargo Cult. There are scientists who are not proponents of ID but simply see that much of official Darwinism does not make sense or comport with the evidence. Some IDers are Christians, which does not affect the validity, or lack of it, orf what they say. To judge by my mail, many people have serious doubts about the official explanation without being zealots of anything in particulr.

(For what it is worth, I am myself a complete agnostic. Faith and atheism both seem to me categorical beliefs in something one doesn’t know. ID certainly provides no support for the existence of a loving Sunday School god, given that in almost all places and all times most people have lived in misery and died in agony.)

To me, though, things look designed. By what, I don’t know.

Two difficulties affect the presentation of ID to the public. First, most of us have been subjected to thousands of hours of vapid “science” programs and mass-market textbooks. These tell us that doubters must be snake-handling forest Christian with three teeth. The second is that following the argument requires more technical grasp than most have. Trying to explain the question to a network-news audience is hopeless and makes those attempting it seem foolish.

Yet discussion has to be fairly technical to avoid degenerating into vague generalities. Following many of the authors requires familiarity with, or the ability to pick up quickly, such things as the nature of information, both in the Shannon sense of a reduction in uncertainty and of specified information as found in DNA and computer code. Some experience of programming helps as does a minor familiarity with organic chemistry and a nodding aquaintance with early paleontology.

And, alas, much of dispute turns on the mechanics of cell biology: DNA’s structure, codons and anticodons, polymerases and transcriptases, the functions of ribosomes, chirality of alpha amino acids, microRNA, protein folding, ORFans, developmental gene regulatory networks, Ediacaran and Cambrian paleontology (so much for 4004 BC BC), and similar technoglop, It isn’t rocket science, but it takes a bit of study to pick up. Most of us have other things to do.

The less one knows about cellular biology the easier it is to believe in spontaneous generation. Darwin knew nothing. Since then knowledge of biochemistry and molecular biology has grown phenomenally. Yet, despite a great deal of effort, the case for the accidental appearance of life has remained one of fervent insistence untainted by either evidence ofrtheoretical plausibility.

What are some of the problems with official Darwinism? First, the spontaneous generation of life has not been replicated. (Granted, repeating a process thought to have taken billions of years might lack appeal as a doctoral project.) Nor has anyone assembled in the laboratory a chemical structure able to metabolize, reproduce, and thus to evolve. It has not been shown to be mathematically possible.

This is true despite endless theories about life arising in tidal pools, on moist clays, in geothermal vents, in shallows, in depths, or that life arrived on carbonaceous chondrites–i.e., meteors. It has even been suggested that life arrived from Mars, which is to say life came from a place where, as far was can be determined, there has never been any. Protracted desperation.

Sooner or later, a hypothesis must be either confirmed or abandoned. Which? When? Doesn’t science require evidence, reproducibility, demonstrated theoretical possibility? These do not exist. Does not the ferocious reaction to doubters of the official story suggest deep-seated doubt even among the believers?

Other serious problems with the official story: Missing intermediate fossils–”missing links”– stubbornly remain missing. “Punctuated equilibrium,” a theory of sudden rapid evolution invented to explain the lack of fossil evidence, seems unable to generate genetic information fast enough. Many proteins bear no resemblance to any others and therefore cannot have evolved from them. On and on.

Finally, the more complex an event, the less likely it is to occur by chance. Over the years, cellular mechanisms have been found to be ever more complex. Darwin thought that in a warm pond, bits of goo clumped together, a membrane formed, and life was off and running. Immediately after Watson and Crick in 1953, the chemical mechanics of cellular function still seemed comparatively simple, though nobody could say where the genetic information came from. Today thousands of proteins are known to take part in elaborate processes in which different parts of proteins are synthesized under control of different genes and then spliced and edited elaborately. Recently with the discovery of epigenetics, complexity has taken a great leap upward. (For anyone wanting to subject himself to such things, there is The Epigenetics Revolution. It is not light reading.)

Worth noting is that that the mantra of evolutionists, that “in millions and millions and billions of years something must have evolved”–does not necessarily hold water. We have all heard of Sir James Jeans assertion that a monkey, typing randomly, would eventually produce all the books in the British Museum. (Actually he would not produce a single chapter in the accepted age of the universe, but never mind.) A strong case can be made that spontaneous generation is similarly of mathematically vanishing probability. If evolutionists could prove the contrary, they would immensely strengthen their case. They haven’t.

Improbabilities are multiplicative. The currents of exponentiation seem to be running ever more heavily against the monkey. If this is not true, evolutionists have not shown it not to be true.

• Category: Science • Tags: Creationism, Evolution 
A Twelve-Toed Analysis
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I’m trying to figure out politics. It’s slow going. I’m just a holler hopper out of West Virginia, and I guess I puzzle easy. Maybe you can help me.

I reckon America is pretty much a dictatorship now. It’s because one man, just one, does anything he wants to other countries and to us and everything else. I mean, he starts trade wars, to make everything cost more, which I don’t remember anybody voting for. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, though..He sends troops to Africa without telling anybody if he feels like it, which he mostly does. I guess somebody somewhere must want our troops in Africa, but I don’t know anybody who does.

Then he puts sanctions on all the countries he’s heard of, which probably isn’t many, but maybe has a map to find new ones. You know, like Nambia. He obeys Israel like it was his mother, and wants a war with Eye-ran so he’ll get campaign money in New York, and wants a fight with places like China, and Russia too.

Now that’s smart. I bet you wake up at night and think, Dear God, please let us have a war with China, so we can all melt into chicken fat or at least Walmart won’t have anything to sell. Think how much money people would save.

Me, I reckon he’s crazier than a bag of monkeys and, like they say in Alabama, ain’t got the sense God give a crabapple. Maybe that’s just me, though. The big question is do we get turned into pork rinds in a nuclear fry-up, or just starve in a trade war? We don’t know . I don’t guess it’s our business.

On one of those nature shows on TV I saw something about about the endangered Giant Yellow Crested Cockatoon and how it makes nests in cities. I don’t know why I thought of that.

It’s a funny dictatorship, though if you think about dictatorships. It’s a crafty one, not too ugly from inside, until the fry-up anyway, sort of like a movie about that guy Orwell if Disney did it. It seems like we’ve got freedom but no power. That’s really slick. Any mosquito will tell you it’s better to suck blood from something that doesn’t notice you’re doing it.

At the baptist church down the road, the preacher, he’s the Reverend McBilly Osfeiser, he says the End Times are about here. What he said was, “Verily I say unto ye, brethren and sistern, the Last Tribulation is upon us. for in Revelation chapter 8, verses 3-5, saith the Lord, “From the deeps of Sheol a creature shall arise, with the head of a carrot and the body of a man, and he shall smite the nations of the earth, even unto the Stromatolites and Erythrocytes, and none shall remain unsmited, and they shall smite him back, and the world shall end.”

Well, I think that’s what he said. Anyway, he might of said it.

But we were talking about our dictatorship. I was going to say, then there’s Congress, that’s neutered like somebody’s pet dog and only cares about itself. That’s just how Congress is. It’s hard to tell what it’s for anymore.

A lot of people in it don’t seem right in the head. There this woman named Elizabeth Warren who thinks she an Indian. Well, I think I’m a French Poodle. There’s as much evidence. I don’t know whether she wears feathers or anything, maybe a belt with scalps on it. Then there’s Nancy Pelosi, who can’t make her eyes point in the same direction at once. And there’s Maxine Waters, who sticks her tongue out at people like she want to catch flies. I figure with people like that, there ought to be room for a French Poodle. I could have a dog bowl for bribes and bark every little bit for authenticity.

Part of our newfangled dictatorship is the telescreen, television I meant to say, and the newspapers, that never talk about anything they don’t want you to think about. Well, what they do is every few weeks, probably on Saturday night when everybody is out drinking beer and not watching, they put in about a sentence and a half about one of Washington’s wars, with no pictures of dead kids spread around like marmalade on buttered toast. That way they can say they’re covering the wars. They know people don’t remember anything they hear just once if there’s no pictures. But if you tell them twelve thousand times that Russia is poisoning orphans in Utah, they’ll believe it, even if Utah doesn’t have any orphans, and they have to truck a few in so they can look poisoned. Then everybody’ll want a war with Russia. Then you can get more money from them to build aircraft carriers. Some German guy figured it out.

The government doesn’t want people to think too much. It might give them brain cancer. So once in a while they have elections like mixed martial arts or a really good bar fight, fun to watch but don’t mean anything. One rascal wins and people whoop and holler but afterward it’s hard to tell which rascal won because there wasn’t enough difference between them to shine light through. Anyway, they always do what the power and money wants.

In Mexico, the rascals give people a hamburger to vote for them. It’s a better system. I mean, a hamburger is better than nothing, which is what Americans get out of elections.

The reason Washington has to blow up the world is China. If what I hear is true, China is just full of people. I mean, they’re just all over the place. That would be all right, if they left it at that. But it turns out those squinty-eyed scoundrels are smart, too, and mostly engineers, There’s more of them than of almost any kind of people except may in India, and they study pretty much all day.

That might be all right too if they left well enough alone, but they don’t. They make stuff and sell it, and make money and the people that used to be pea-turkey poor have food and flat screens and China is getting rich. Washington doesn’t like that because it can’t figure out how to make money because it’s buying aircraft carriers and so it just prints money instead of having a real economy. It’s called counterfeiting and it seems like the rest of the world is catching on to it. So that’s why we got to have a war while Washington might still win, but most likely we’ll broil like beetles in a bug-zapper. So when it happens you’ll know why, but you’ll have to think fast.

How American Business Apparently Sometimes Works
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OK, book report time. I have just finished reading Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal. Good read, fascinating story. It is the saga of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, the miraculous blood-testing company of Silicon Valley. Holmes, formerly said to be worth $4.5 billion, ended up under criminal indictment for fraud as of 2015. I suppose many have heard vaguely of Theranos, as I had, but the actual story is astonishing.

Holmes, 19, drops out of Stanford to start a medical-instrumentation company. She is very smart, very driven, very self-confident, very glib, very cold-blooded, very manipulative, very willing to take risks, very pretty, and very ruthless. Everything about her is very. If the foregoing resembles the clinical description of a psychopath, there is a reason.

She also knows almost nothing of the sciences, and nothing at all of electronic or mechanical engineering, or of medical instrumentation. That is, she has no qualifications in the field. She is just very–that word again–smart and pretty and talks a swell show. And yet…ye gods and little catfishes, what she managed to do.

Her goal was to invent a medical blood-analyzer that could do a large number of tests on a single drop of blood from a pricked finger. It was a bright idea. If it had worked, it would have been a (very) big deal. This of course is also true of anti-gravity space shps and perpetual motion machines. Making it work required nothing beyond difficult mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, programming, microfluidics, and a few things that were impossible. She knew none of these fields.

But holy smack-and-kerpow, Batman, could she talk. Soon she had investment money pouring in. On her board she got–yes–Henry everlovin’ Kissinger and James Mattis (uh-huh, that one,) and former Secretaries of State and Defense and just about every heavy hitter except Pope Francis. More money rained down. I mean with people like that vouching for her, Hank the Kiss and Mad Dog Mattis, it had to be legit–right? She even managed to cozy up to the Clintons and Obama.

Meanwhile the wretched blood gizmo wouldn’t, didn’t, and couldn’t as it turned out, work. It was a metal box with inside it a glue-gun robot arm out of Jersey–I am not inventing this–that made grinding noises and could do only a few tests with wildly unreliable results. You might think of it as Uncle Clunk. Just the thing you want your life to depend on. And lives do depend on good lab results.(“OK, lady, Uncle Clunk says you got brain cancer. We have to remove your brain.”) Heh. Oops.

So Holmes, who could talk the bark off a tree, faked it. To be fair, she probably thought it would work or hoped it might and turned to chicanery only when it didn’t. Anyway, many of her deceptions were clearly fraudulent–well, clearly if you knew about them. For example, most of her results were obtained using commercial analyzers from outfits like Siemens instead of Uncle Clunk. Financial projections were wildly dishonest. Many employees quit over ethhical concerns–but they were bound by sharp-fanged nondisclosure agreements they had to sign to be hired. It was nonsense. Nothing worked. But nobody knew.

Thing was, across America there was a terrific will to believe. Her story was just too good to pass up. People wanted a female Steve Jobs, a girl to join the boys in a startup world of wunderkind guys like Gates and Jobs and Wozniak and Zuckerberg and all. There just weren’t any girls. Sure, a few, sort of, a little bit, like Marissa Mayer at Google, but Page and Bryn were the real starters-up. Holmes was beautiful, smart, so very appealing and just a dynamite entrepreneur. She had this astonishingly successful company.

Which didn’t have a product.

Note that most of the dazzling university dropouts who became billionaires are in software, not biological sciences. The few in hardware brilliantly put together readily comprehended pieces, like CPUs and memory chips. There is a reason for this. Programming takes a lot of brains and little knowledge. Medicine takes reasonable intelligence and lots of knowledge. Molecular biology takes a lot of brains and a lot of knowledge. A (very) bright kid can learn Python or C-plus-plus in a couple of months in mommy’s basement and actually be a programmer. It doesn’t work with complicated multidisciplinary computerized micro-fluidized gadgets involving robotic glue-arms. At least, it didn’t work.

I wonder why nobody thought of this. When asked for evidence, she ducked, dodged, lied, said the check was in the mail, and any day now.

The non-disclosure agreements saved her, for a while. All employees had to sign them. Her lawyer, who was also on her board, was the scary super lawyer David Boies. If you were a midlevel lab worker, and knew that reagents were out of date, that bad results were being hidden, that Uncle Clunk didn’t work–and said so, a savage law firm with unlimited funds and, as events proved, not a lot of ethics, would litigate you into sleeping in alleys. Consequently much was known, but little was said.

Meanwhile–this is crazier than Aunt Sadie, that we kept in the attic–she got freaking Safeway and Walgreens to bite on putting Theranos booths in their stores so customers could get quick finger-prick analyses for very little money. Both companies bought into this, and actually built the booths at considerable expense, without insisting on seeing proof of her claims. I wonder what she was thinking. The scam obviously was going to collapse at some point. And did.

A better question might be what her board members and the chain-store executives were thinking. They were bosses of huge corporations and presumably astute. How did she get away with it? I will guess. Most of those gulled were old men, or nearly so. Note that old men, powerful men, rich men, and famous men, are nevertheless…men. Holmes was a honey, slender, very pretty, well-groomed, appealing, smart, and maybe the daughter or girlfriend or mistress that her prey would have liked.

Andrea Dworkin. Finally, a cure for self-abuse. Would the old guys on Elizabeth’s board have been as smitten by Andrea?
Andrea Dworkin. Finally, a cure for self-abuse. Would the old guys on Elizabeth’s board have been as smitten by Andrea?

As the Wall Street Journal closed in, and Theranos got wind of it, things became ethically interesting. Holmes of course knew that Theranos was endangering lives, and had already established a lack of morality. Some of the board came to suspect and quietly bailed. The employees were intimidated, though several talked to the Journal anonymously.

But superlawyer David Boies and his associate Heather King among others at the firm knew. They tried every legal means, or maybe I mean lawyerly means, to block publication of the story. When federal regulatory agencies issued a long, detailed investigative report making it absolutely clear that Theranos did not even come close to legality, and was therefore endangering lives–Boies and King tried to suppress that too. Their success was not great as the Journal put the whole gorgeous taco online, but they tried. It is a curious fact, but a fact, that lawyers are often accessories to crime.

Anyway, great fun, great read.

• Category: Economics • Tags: Corruption, Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos 
With a Korean Preface
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I don’t get it. I know, I know, I’m just some mutt in Mexico with a computer, and easily puzzled. But…huh? Trump, we are told, pulled off a master stroke in Singapore. All the world reels at this astonishment. We see Talleyrand and Metternich rolled into one gorgeous taco. But…but….

Who did the doing, and who got done?

What really happened, as best I can tell: For years America’s relation with North Korea was its usual one of military intimidation: Submit, or we will forever keep you in poverty if we don’t actually bomb you into rubble, a point kept in North Korean consciousness by annual military exercises aimed at Pyongyang. OK. Business as usual. The Empire barks.

Then this kid Kim decides to build his own deliverable nukes, tell Washington to bugger off, and starts launches. Worse, or better depending on your viewpoint, he rants about turning the US into lava. Washington suddenly pays attention to the North as it never had before.

Cute, huh?

The part about the lava was, sez me, gifted diplomacy. Kim, no fool, couldn’t have actually envisioned attacking the US nuclear-wise. Ah, but: Gordon Liddy once said that if your behavior is unpredictable, and your response to provocation wildly out of proportion to the offense, no one will screw with you. Works.

Then this guy Moon gets elected Prez of the South on a platform of reconciliation and cuddling with the North. Kim thought this was peaches and the two of them started working on it.

The United States had nothing to do with this.

As part of hugs and kisses, the Koreas decided to field joint athletic teams in the Winter Olympics in the South. Gee willikers, Batman! What a concept! The world was, reasonably enough, charmed.

Trump had nothing to do with this either. In fact he was strongly against it. Recall that he told Vice Cipher Mike Pence that, when the joint team entered the stadium, to refuse to stand. Mike Kaeperpence obediently engaged in this adolescent prank. Trump was not in favor of peace, love, and–worse–unification.

Then Kim, as always a very smart cookie if an accomplished monster, invited Trump to sit down and talk. Kim did this, not Trump. Who was running the love-in?

So we then saw the seventy-two-year-old master of the most powerful, indispensable, exceptional nation in history, population over three hundred million, flying to Asia to see the thirty-something dictator of an impoverished country of twenty-five million.

Trump went to Asia, not Kim to the West. The symbolism can’t have been lost on eastern lands. Trump gushed about what a great guy Kim is. They were best pals. They would have each other over for dinner.

Net result? Well, things are lots better for the world. Already Russia and the Koreas have revived the idea of a gas pipeline to South Korea. But…wasn’t it Pompeo who said that nothing would be acceptable but total immediate denuclearization, grrr, bow-wow, woof woof woof? Didn’t happen.

The whole circus was driven entirely by the by the Koreas and, you can bet, China in the background. Such unwonted Korean independence is not popular with supporters of the American Empire, who need enemies, but how can you be against peace?

All very bad for the Empire, but good for America and, potentially, everybody else. Why? China doesn’t want American troops on the peninsula. Neither does the North. Neither does the South. No country likes occupation troops of another country, and another race, diddling its daughters and breaking up bars. If peace unfortunately comes, Korea–singular–is likely to suggest that Washington take its toys and go home.

Bad. Very bad. It would weaken Washington’s anti-Chinese wall of South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and, though shakily, the Philippines. See?

OK, Europoodles. In the struggle between Washington’s military and China’s economy, America’s European vassals form a crucial football. They have to be kept under American control. This is what NATO does. Left alone, Europe would contentedly buy oil from Iran and sell it airliners. It would buy Russian gas and sell stuff to Russia. The effect would be to loosen America’s iron grip on the throat of Europe.

This has to be stopped at almost any cost. If the European peninsula of Asia were to integrate itself into the rest of Asia, precisely what Beijing has in mind, the Empire would be over, over, over. America is a medium-sized country, China a big country, and Eurasia a gynormous, sprawling, motingaator behemoth. And it is all in one piece. Think railroads and pipelines.

Blocking trade with Iran is also important to Israel and the Jewish lobbies that largely control American foreign policy. Yet if these did not exist the Empire would still require the neutering of Iran and keeping the Poodles from trading with Asia. They might–horror–begin wondering why they needed NATO. They might begin looking to their own interests, not Washington’s.

Crucial question: Is there a likelihood that the Poodles will find the virility to go independent of Mother Washington? Historically they have been docile and obedient, good doggy, roll over. Now they yap fiercely, having discovered that America is not their ally but their owner. If by remote chance they decide to act in their own interest, methinks we will have moved into another world.

It is worth keeping in mind that neither America nor Americans have a dog in this fight. Trump, Israel, and the Empire do. No danger to America or Americans will arise if Iran buys airliners, or Europe buys gas, or Afghanistan does anything at all, or Venezuelans have enough to eat. The United States has been hijacked and is now used for the benefit of imperial loons and their allies.

The save-the-empire game plays out in much of the world as the US lunges about, strong-arming country after country to keep them in submission. Just now Trump is sanctioning, tarriffing, embargoing, invading, or bombing Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Canada, Europe, China, Turkey, Russia, Syria, Somalia, various African countries, and North Korea.

Some of these, such as Venezuela, can do nothing about it. Others, perhaps, can. Washington’s use of financial sanctions leads country after country to get out of the dollar in bilateral trade. Powerful alliances excluding the US spring up in response to Washington’s hostility: SCO, AIIB, NDB, BRICS and so on. Instead of encouraging trade with Russia and Iran, wooing them westward, Washington drives them together.

Think of an aging drunk, muttering, “I can whip any man in this bar.” But all at once?

Fred Reed is a retired news weasel and part-time sociopah living in Mexico with his wife and three useless but agreeable street dogs. He says it suits him.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, EU, North Korea 
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“Affirmative action” means hiring people because they can’t do the job well. Near-synonyms are “diversity,” meaning groups that cannot do the job well, and “inclusiveness,” which means seeking people who you know cannot do the job well. These underpin American society, and have ruined education. For some time the sciences seemed less susceptible to the prevailing enstupidation because mathematics would present an impenetrable barrier to the the insufficiently bright. This, astonishingly, is changing. The sciences are being dumbed down to–are you surprised?–spare the feelings of included affirmative diversity.

Which somewhat curiously brings us to international politics and an aspect of scientific schooling that does not appear in the mainstream press: Psychometrists, people who endeavor to measure intelligence, universally agree that the Chinese are more intelligent than Eurowhites. So are the Koreans and Japanese. Since for the most part psychometrists are themselves white, their conclusions presumably do not spring from racial chauvinism. The Chinese advantage is measured at around five IQ points. This is not great but makes a considerable difference at the high end of the distribution.

As a matter of observable–if, to many, unwelcome–fact, virtually all of the work in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in America is done by whites. Blacks contribute nothing and Hispanics, to date anyway, very little. For reasons of politics we must pretend not to notice. When a piano is falling toward one’s head, one may pretend that it is not, but not for long. The arrival of the piano will ensure this.

America’s prosperity and place in the world very much depend on invention and excellence in the STEM fields. Boeing sells airliners, and provides jobs to Americans, only because its airliners are technically equal to those of AirBus. A lowering of technical capacity will have unfortunate consequences for the country.

America’s whites number at about 200 million, the Han Chinese of China about a billion–five times as many.

Beijing understands perfectly that technological virtuosity is crucial to the country’s well being. It spends heavily, and successfully, on increasing China’s performance. Those who follow such things note the speed of the the advance. A fully developed China will be able to deploy several times as many researchers and engineers, these being at least as intelligent as America’s, on problems of its choosing. Numbers count. They will count more as time goes by.

This strongly suggests that, unless Washington starts a major war to prevent it, or China collapses from within, the future is in the East. It also suggests that the United States would be well advised to do all it can to maintain its competitiveness for as long as it can. Instead it seems to be committing imperial harakiri, deliberately lowering the quality of education in all fields at all levels.

America’s suicide note: How Identity Politics is Harming the Sciences, by Heather Mac Donald. It is long but well worth reading. It documents the systematic lowering of intellectual standards in the sciences to increase the numbers of women and underperforming minorities. This, as she makes clear at length, is strongly supported by the federal government. A few examples:

“Entry requirements for graduate education are being revised. The American Astronomical Society has recommended that Ph.D. programs in astronomy eliminate the requirement that applicants take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in physics, since it has a disparate impact on females and URMs….” (These are “Underrepresented Minorities.”)

“Mathematical problem-solving is being deemphasized in favor of more qualitative group projects; the pace of undergraduate physics education is being slowed down so that no one gets left behind.”

“A typical INCLUDES grant from October 2017 directs $300,000 toward increasing Native American math involvement by incorporating “indigenous knowledge systems” into Navajo Nation Math Circles.”

“The National Institutes of Health are another diversity-obsessed federal science funder. Medical schools receive NIH training grants to support postdoctoral education for physicians pursuing a research career in such fields as oncology and cardiology. The NIH threatens to yank any training grant when it comes up for renewal if it has not supported a sufficient number of “underrepresented minorities” (URMs).”

“Medical school administrators urge admissions committees to overlook the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores of black and Hispanic student applicants and employ “holistic review” in order to engineer a diverse class. The result is a vast gap in entering qualifications.”

Mac Donald goes on to tell of school after school accepting diversity with credentials well below those of real students, of schools dropping the GRE requirement because it makes obvious that in STEM fields women and minorities are not performing as desired. (“Minorities” always means “poorly performing minorities.” Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and so on don’t count.)

The comparatively young may be so steeped in such corrupted pedagogy that they do not know how the sciences were formerly taught. A description:

I went to a small Southern school, Hampden-Sydney College, of respectable but not astonishing credentials. I believe the pre-dumbing-down SATs were a bit over 1100. This was before social justice had replaced competence as a reason for study. Freshmen were expected to be fully literate and know algebra cold. Remedial courses would have been thought crazy. If you needed them, you needed to be somewhere else. In any event, if you had graduated from high school without being able to read, you were unlikely to learn.

Freshman chemistry at H-S–much like freshman chemistry in other schools I suppose–was not a cooperative shared learning experience that avoided unnecessary facts. It did not exist to avoid disturbing heartwarming but dim-witted minorities. It was–boom!–s-p hybrid bonding orbitals, resonance in benzene rings, the wave equation del-squared psi and a bunch of constants, probability densities, quantum degeneracy, equilibrium constants, Pivnert the ideal gas equation, the mathematics of a mass spec, the Krebs cycle, and endless problems: 2.4 grams of phlogiston anhydride are dissolved in 2 liters of 2,4-diethyl-polywannacrackerine. What are the products and the weights and molarities of each at equilibrium?

It was real chemistry, sink or swim, and most of us swam because we were looking at med school or graduate work. If there had been affirmative-action students–”students”–most of the material would have had to be eliminated. Mathematical illiterates do not balance redox equations or interpolate four-place log tables which, in those slide-rule days, we did.

Pop quiz. Take out a sheet of paper. Question: Are Chinese students, there or here, studying de-mathematized semi-chemistry for reasons of identity proportionality? Or are they, at every high-end university or elite high school in America, eating the white kids alive?

The same madness appears below the level of college. Walter Williams writing of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress in America: “Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math. Among black students, only 17 percent tested proficient or better in reading, and just 7 percent reached at least a proficient level in math.”


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Being as I am a self-appointed explicator of thing s Latin to Americans curious about what lies to the south, and has come north, I occasionally and in a scattershot and prejudiced manner try to offer a picture of life below the border. There is more to the place than narcos and MS-13. If I lived in Thailand instead of Mexico, I wouldn’t. But Latin America matters to America today as Thailand does not. So here goes.

Trigger Waning: Republicans and Nordic populations may find this column unsettling. It contains disturbing color and some of the images show signs of having escaped from an acid trip. Proceed at your own risk.

Recently Vi and I were in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas in southern Mexico and, wandering about in a sort of Brownian motion, found ourselves walking along a canal. We discovered a region frequented by grafiteros, street artists.These view unwatched walls as canvases, legal, semi-legal or just not policed. Using spray paint, they, well, paint. I suspect that the authorities fail to get into an uproar because the results leave the precincts more attractive than would bare walls. Vandalism it isn’t.

Anyway, I decided to shoot a few of them–that is, photograph the walls, not assassinate the grafiteros–and then, ideas exploding on me, to post some of them, along with links to such things Mexican and Latin-American as struck my fancy. It will not be well organized. It will, I hope, make the point that the southlands are not, musically, artistically, or culturally, as they are thought to be by many in the United States.


Spray-painted on someone’s back wall in Chiapas. Obviously the owner of the wall is not greatly upset since (a) the painting is still there and (b) it is difficult, though not impossible, to do something so elaborate without being noticed.

In Ajijic, where I live, on a wall along the malecón, a sort of cement boardwalk by the lake.

If you want to nuke Iran, this probably won’t appeal to you. Well, unless maybe you thought of it as Iran after being nuked. I liked it. But then, I don’t want to nuke Iran.


Chiapas again. This would appear to be a kid with a rabbit, next to a purple river. Or something purple anyway. Many of these are painted by youngsters, sometimes teenagers.

Yours truly with, perhaps, the artist’s girlfriend. Slightly out of focus, but we will have to live with it. Others may disagree, but I think doing this freehand with spray paint is pretty cool.


Proof positive that Mexicans are crazy. They are also not too afraid of color, perhaps because they were never exposed to the leaden skies of Northern Europe that seem to have draped everything in earth tones.

Musically Mexico and Latin America are richly varied. Genres run from classical to Spansh rap, not as foul as American ghetto gunch but with the same rhythms. Not all Mexican music is awful banda blaring from tit bars full of drunken Marines in Tijuana. Here are a couple of things I like. They deserve better speakers than a laptop is likely to have.

Huapango, by José Pablo Moncayo. Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, Mexico City, conducted by Alondra de la Parra.

Dnzón No. 2, by Arturo Marquez, with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas also under the baton of de la Parra, who gets around. She is the only conductor I have seen who actually seems happy while at it.


I’m not sure exactly what this is, but apparently it lives in trees.

Also in Ajijic, behind Farmácia Guadalajara. Paralleling Munch’s The Scream, it might well be entitled The Hangover.

This appears to be a womn contemplating the suckers on the arm of a very large octopus. It probably isn’t, though. Octopodes are rare in the mountains hereabouts.

The Camaleón, a bar in Ajijic, attracting a mixed crowd of Mexicans and gringos, running to oddballs. Are you surprised?

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, El Matador. Actually Argentine, but I liked it so here it is anyway. Definitely not for the average banker: See trigger warning above. “Matador” north of the Rio Bravo means, reasonably enough, “bullfighter,” but the word literally means “killer,” and the song is a protest against the murder of a journalist. It is characterized by the soughing and low energy usual in Latin music.

That wraps up today’s dose of Penetrating Cultural Insight. I hope that at least will enjoy it, and feel Insighted.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Art, Hispanics, Immigration, Mexico 
Brandishing the American Military
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Why did the Cockatoo-in-Chief renege on the Iran deal deeply prized by Russia, China, France, Germany, England, and the European Union? Why did he deliberately damage relations with Europe and cost American workers many thousands of jobs at Boeing among others? Why do all of this to hurt a country that poses no danger to the United States?


Israel, Israel. Israel. Israel.

Always Israel.

If Iran were a threat to the existence of Israel, things would be different. If Muslims conquered the Jews, they would presumably treat them as badly as Israelis, and very likely worse. It would be ugly in the extreme. To prevent this, use of the American military would be justified.

But Iran does not threaten the existence of Israel. It does threaten Israel’s dominance in the Mid-East. Iran is far larger and more populous than Israel, strategically located, and has vast amounts of oil. It is a large market for many European products. By contrast, Israel is small and has nothing anyone needs or wants. Left to itself, Iran would become the dominant regional power. It moves fast in that direction now with burgeoning trade with Europe in, among many other things, airliners. With economic influence comes political influence.

Consequently Israel does not want Iran to prosper. If it can, Israel will use the American military to prevent this prospering. It will destroy America’s relations with the rest of the world to prevent it. It is doing so.

As thinking people know, the twaddle about the Iranian’s development of an atomic bomb is just that–twaddle. The Europeans know this, which is why they are not alarmed. The US government know it, since the intelligence agencies have repeatedly said that Iran does not have a program aimed at producing a nuclear weapon.

But: Whenever the American government, or those controlling it, wants to drive the US into a war, it invents a frightening danger and warns of it over and over and over until a poorly educated public believes it: The Maine, the Gulf of Tonkin, Iraq’s WMD, the Iranian bomb. It’s a frightening world, Washington tells us. Things go bump in the night. Boo.

Where does Trump fit into this? Although his supporters offer him as a masterly statesman, biographies, which few read, show him to be profoundly ignorant, incoherent, narcissistic, weak, and easily manipulated. He loves attention and craves praise. He is also corrupt. As a businessman he danced just this side of the law in many shady real-estate deals. All of this is documented, but few will read of it.

Some will say that this isn’t true. Go back and look at the things he said during the campaign, the positions he was going to take before he was modified. He astonished people who worked in his White House not just by his lack of knowledge but his lack of interest in learning. We are ruled by a histrionic dwarf.

But, in a country with no checks and balances on presidential power, foreign policy is what he says it is, and America attacks whoever he wants it to attack.

So why did he ditch the Iran deal? There is of course anti-Jewish posting on the web to the effect that the Jews are manipulating the government to go to destroy Iran for the benefit of Israel. This doesn’t hold water, or only a little water. Surveys have shown that American Jews favor the Iran deal more than do other Americans. This probably is because they are more attentive and better informed than the notoriously clueless US public. (e.g. JStreet and WashPost.) But while “the Jews” didn’t sink the Iran deal, a comparatively small number of Israel-firsters did. These are the Neocons, warlike and heavily Jewish, plus the Jewish lobby AIPAC plus a few Jewish billionaires. Collectively they determine American foreign policy, and not for the benefit of America–which, again, has nothing to gain and much to lose by being manipulated into a war that does not matter to America.

Members of AIPAC are often accused of dual loyalty. I don’t think so, though it is the best we can hope for. They should recuse themselves, though of course they will not.

The assertion that America should fight only wars in the America interest will be called, sigh, anti-Semitism. It is not. Yes, there exists in some quarters an obsessive, grinding hatred of Jews. Historically this hostility has been common if not universal and has led to brutal pogroms. But it has nothing to do with war against Iran. The desire for America to have an independent foreign policy hardly suggests a Cossack mentality. There is no reason to let Israel and a small set of Israeli patriots in New York force policies much to the harm of the United States.

But this is not at all unlikely. In Washington–where I worked in journalism for decades–fear of Jews is so great that no one dares say what a great many are thinking. It gets ridiculous. I remember many years back interviewing in the Pentagon the general who headed the armor command, whose name I forget. In such interviews there is usually a babysitter present, often a major from public affairs, who tries to manage spin.

The general and I were chatting about tanks, in which we both had a technical interest. He commented that the Merkava, a home-brew Israel tank, was reasonably good but not in a class with the American M1. As inflammatory comments go, this was truly lame. Yet when I left, the babysitter came charging down the corridor to assure me that the general was not insulting the Israeli tank, the general didn’t mean, and the major hoped I wouldn’t think etc. It’s that crazy.

Whether Trump believes what he says about Iran’s imaginary lunge for a Bomb is not clear. In Washington it is routine to lie about this or that dreadful danger so as to herd the deplorables toward a desired folly–but is Trump herding or herded? He is clueless about things military and appears to have no grasp of technology. Geography is not his strong suit, as witness his invention of a country called “Nambia.” Netanyahu and the Neocons outclass him by a wide margin and apparently drive him like a truck.

If Trump were an American President, he would tell the Israelis to fight their own wars with their own military. Is he? Watch.

Fred Reed is a retired news weasel and part-time sociopath living in Mexico with his wife and three useless but agreeable street dogs.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Iran, Israel, Neocons 
Sanguijuelas, Garrapatas, Piojos, Capulinas, Lampreys
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A few thoughts on our disastrous trillion-dollar military:

It is unnecessary. It does not defend the United States. The last time it did so was in 1945. The United States has no military enemies. No nation has anything even close to the forces necessary to invade America, and probably none the desire. A fifth of the budget would suffice for any real needs.

“Our boys” are not noble warriors protecting democracy, rescuing maidens, and righting wrongs. They are, like all soldiers, obedient and amoral killers. Pilots bombing Iraq or Syria know they are killing civilians. They do not care. If ordered to bomb Switzerland, they would do it. This is the nature of all armies. Glamorizing this most reprehensible trades is just a means of usefully stimulating the pack instinct which we often call patriotism.

The militarily is America’s worst enemy. It does enormous damage to the United States while providing almost no benefit. Start with the war on Vietnam that cost hugely in money and lives, ours and theirs, with no benefit. Iraq: high cost, no benefit. Afghanistan: High cost, no benefit. Syria: High cost, no benefit.

The costs in lives and money do not include the staggering cost of weapons that do nothing for America or Americans. Do you, the reader, believe that you are safer because of the F-35? Do a dozen aircraft carriers improve the lives of your children? Will the B-21, an unbelievably expensive new thermonuclear bomber, make your streets safer? Then add the bleeding of engineering talent better spent on advancing America’s economic competitiveness. The country has many crying needs, falls behind China, but money and talent go to the military.

We cannot escape from the soldiers. The armed forces have embedded themselves so deeply into the country that they have almost become the country. America is little more than a funding mechanism for what clumsily may be called the military-industrial-intelligence-media-Israeli complex. Some of these entities belong to the military (NSA). Some depend on it (Lockheed-Martin). Some use it to their own ends (Israel), but the military is the central infection from which the other symptoms flow. Congress? A storefront, a subcommittee of the Knesset or, as P. J. O’Rourke put it, a parliament of whores. Factories, jobs, contracts, towns depend on military spending. If the Second Marine Division folded, Jacksonville NC would dry up and blow away. So would dozens of other towns. Without military spending, California’s economy would crash. Universities depend on military research funding.

The military has achieved its current autonomy by degrees, unnoticed. The Pentagon learned much in Vietnam, not about fighting wars, which it still cannot do well, but about managing its real enemy, the public. The media, which savaged the war on Vietnam, are now firmly controlled by the corporations that own them. Thus we do not see photos of the horrors committed by American aircraft bombing cities. While the existence of phenomenally expensive weapons like the B-21 is not quite suppressed, coverage is so slight that most Americans have never heard of it. This the Complex learned from the F-35 debacle. And of course Congress, thoroughly bought and wanting jobs in its districts, allows no serious opposition to anything military. Neither Congress nor the media point out the extent to which military expenditure dominates the economy, draining resources from civilian needs.

Why does the military not win wars? In part because winning is not in the interest of the Pentagon and those who feed on it. Wars generate profitable contracts for all manner of supplies and equipment. Either winning or losing ends the gravy train. For example, the war on Afghanistan of almost two decades has become an entitlement program for the arms industry, accomplishing nothing, killing countless peasants, and lacking purpose other than maintaining an unneeded empire and funneling money to the Complex.

How did the Complex free itself from civilian control? The crucial step in depriving the public of influence was the neutering of the constitutional requirement that wars be declared by Congress. The military thus became the private army of the President and those who control him. Then came the All Volunteer Army, which ended inconvenience to or mutilation of the children of people of importance, leaving the body bags to be filled by deplorables from Memphis or Appalachia or Mexico. America’s wars then became air wars and finally drone wars, reducing casualties to very few. The public, both ignorant and uninvolved, became acquiescent.

As I write, we wait to see whether Trump, and those behind him, will put America deeper into the Mid-East and perhaps war with Russia. If he does, we will read about it the next day in the newspapers. It will be expensive, dangerous, and of no benefit to anyone but the arms industry and Israel.

Despite the asphyxiating economic presence, the military keeps aloof from America. This too serves the purposes of the Complex, further preventing attention by the public to what is not its business. In the days of conscription there was a familiarity with the armed services. Young men from most social classes wore the uniform however ruefully and told of their experiences. Not now. The career military have always tended to keep to themselves, to socialize with each other as the police do. Now the isolation is almost hermetic. You can spend years in Washington or New York and never meet a colonel. Military society with its authoritarianism, its uniforms and its uniform government-issue outlook is not compatible with civil society. To the cultivated, military officers seem simple-minded, conformist and…well, weird.

Add it all up and you see that the citizenry has no say–none–over the Complex, which is autonomous and out of control. If the Complex wants war with Russia or China, we will have-war with Russia or China. Ask people whether they would prefer a naval base in Qatar–which most have never heard of, either the base or the country–or decent heath care. Then ask them which they have.

The military destroys America and there is nothing–nothing at all–that you can do about it.

Further, the Complex drives foreign policy, and in directions of no benefit to America or Americans. For example, the contrived fury against Russia. Why this? Russia presents no danger to America or anyone else. The Complex makes foreign policy for its own ends, not ours.

A rising Asia is challenging the America military Empire. The tide runs against the Complex. North Korea faced Washington down and became a nuclear power. The Crimea went back irrevocably to Russia. East Ukraine does the same. Iran got its treaty and becomes part of the world order. In the South China Sea, China ignores the US, which once was supreme in all the seas. The war against Afghanistan heads for its third decade and the war on Syria seems to have failed. Other things go badly for the Empire. The dollar is under siege as reserve currency. China grows economically, advances rapidly in technology and, doubtless terrifying to Washington, tries to integrate Asia and Europe into a vast economic bloc. The Complex beats the war drums as its fingers loosen on the world’s collective throat.

Washington desperately needs to stop the rollback of American power, stop the erosion of the dollar, block the economic integration of Eurasia and Latin America, keep Russia from trading amicably with Europe. It will do anything to maintain its grip. All of its remote wars in far-off savage lands, of no importance to America or Americans, are to this purpose. A militarized America threatens Russia, threatens China, threatens Iran, threatens North Korea, threatens Venezuela, expands NATO, on and on.

America has been hijacked.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Military Spending 
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Disordered thoughts on the National Cockatoo’s latest antics.

One: The aghastment and horrilation about the terrible, appalling, shocking etc nature of gas warfare is nonsense. There is nothing unusually hideous about the use of toxic chemicals. Hideous, yes, but not unusually hideous. Boring old workaday artillery, that nobody criticizes, leaves children watching as mommy frantically clutches at intestines spilling from her opened belly, leaves men without legs trying to drag themselves along until gushing femoral arteries end consciousness, causes traumatic brain injury that leaves its beneficiaries drooling and burbling for life. Poison gas can do no better.

The whole business of WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction, is two-thirds twaddle useful for herding dim publics. Gas has very seldom been used since the World War One days of Wilfred Owen, not because of its vileness but because it has not proved particularly useful militarily. Horribleness does not bother soldiers, who are amoral when they are not actually sadistic.

Biological warfare? It sounds, like, you know, really scary and all, but in fact is not militarily enticing because it is not controllable and can backfire on its users. It serves nicely, however, to alarm publics with minds of low voltage. We are most especially supposed to be frightened of anthrax. Since it is not contagious it is more in the nature of a poison and in any event hard to use.

Only three weapons of mass destruction exist: Nuclear explosives, artillery, and aerial bombing. Think Dresden, Hiroshima, Guernica, Falluja.

Two: Whoever wrote Trump’s speech for him–he obviously cannot put together two sentences with dependent clauses without wandering onto the far shores of incoherence–worked the moral-outrage pump hard. The gas attack, by whomever made, killed, eeek, squeak, seventy civilians and little children. More hamster-herding: git along little furry dogies. On many days in the Mid-East, the United States has killed more civilians than all the gas attacks real or invented in the entire war. The pilots, unprincipled as are all military men, know they are doing it, and don’t care. They get paid for their humanitarianism. By us.

Three: Something smells. The use of toxins, either by Assad in Syria or by Russia in West Pakistan–England, I meant, England–makes no sense. Assad had won his war and had no need of gassing a few civilians. He would have to know that it would give Washington a pretext for an attack. Which it did. Is Assad so foolish?

Similarly with the poisoning of what’s-his-spy and his daughter. Russia had nothing to gain and a great deal to lose, as we have seen. It is one thing to believe Mr. Putin capable of bad things. To believe him stupid is quite another. Note that Theresa May became hysterical before it was established that Russia did it, which has still not been established. The orchestrated expulsion of Russian diplomats by all the vassal states, also before anything definitive had been determined, was just too cute.

Hamster herding.

Four: Who had anything to gain by the gaseous adventurism Answer: The American Empire–not America, not Americans–and Israel. Both are desperate to keep Syria from surviving. Note that Washington has a history of lying the country into wars. The Maine in 1898, the Gulf of Tonkin, the imaginary WMD in Gulf I. Plus ca change, plus ca doesn’t.

Five: Syria is of no importance, at all, to America or Americans. It has nothing America wants or needs. It poses no danger to America. It is somewhere else. This lack of vital interest to America it shares with North Korea, Afghanistan, the Ukraine, the Crimea, the South China Sea, and all the other places where the Empire looks for war. Then why does Washington risk nuclear war by accident with Russia, which also poses no danger to America?

Because the Empire’s hegemony over the Mid-East, Asia, and the world weakens. The Empire totters. Syria is at the heart of the looming demise.

Things go badly, Empire-wise. Start with the war on Afghanistan, now creeping toward its third decade, and neighboring Pakistan. China invests heavily in infrastructure in Pakistan: The Karakoram Highway, the Karachi reactors, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the IP pipeline, Guadar. If–when—America leaves, Pakistan will become an economic client state of China, without a shot being fired. Afghanistan will quickly follow as China invests in its minerals. This is why Washington cannot leave.

Afghanistan borders Iran, which Washington maintains as an enemy at the behest of Israel. Iran borders Iraq, wrecked by the United States and sharing a religion with Iran. Without the threat of American military power, it could easily align itself with Iran and Asia. In Syria, Assad seems to have won unless the Empire doubles or triples down. Thus the contrived gassing of children and Trump’s missile attack. Turkey balances between east and west, and could easily decide that Asia is the future.

The Empire totters, wounded and dangerous.

Six: Washington’s approach to hegemony is military, relying on bombing and economic sanctions. This requires huge military expenditures that cripple the domestic economy and produces countless countries that would break with America if they could. By contrast, China’s approach is economic, smarter and much cheaper. It is China’s Belt and Road Initiative to integrate all of Eurasia into one huge trading block, excluding guess who, that has the Empire in a panic. How do you bomb a trade agreement?

Seven: Russia and China have adult leadership. Putin and Xi are stable, intelligent, and competent. Their interests are not Washington’s and they will do whatever is in the interest of their countries, but they are not stupid, ignorant, weak, juvenile, or crazy. By contrast, Trump is a loon, ignorant of practically everything, mentally chaotic, and easily modified.

Do you think this excessive? Ponder this luminous tweet

“Get ready Russia, missiles will be coming at Syria, nice and new and ‘smart’!”

This is not adult language. It is the taunting of a twelve-year-old. Nya hnya nya! Yet it is classic Trump. This man has absolute power to launch wars whose consequences we will have to bear. Is this not splendid?

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream….
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The obvious and intelligent course regarding immigration from the south is to stop further influx and assimilate those who are not going away and, being citizens, cannot be deported. Mr. Trump’s placing of troops along the border, if carried out, can quickly and practically accomplish the first of these, as his silly wall would not. This accomplished, the chief obstacle to assimilation, crucial to the well-being of the United States, will be something called the Alt-Right.

When I write about Latin America, response falls largely into two classes. First, those who are civil, interested, thoughtfully express various points of view or ask questions, all in a manner suggesting sanity. The second are those who say I am a race traitor and hate America, sometimes adding sexual insults directed at my wife, who is Mexican. These latter often identify themselves as being of the Alt-Right. The two groups are clearly different sorts of people.

If the Alt-Right wanted only to stop immigration, deport criminals, end affirmative action and so on, it would do no harm. Unfortunately it inveighs against all people of Latin-American descent, whose presence it regards as portending every kind of disaster known to man and perhaps some not yet discovered. Sites like and Breitbart News endlessly paint Latins as stupid, filthy, socially irresponsible, and unable to learn English. This does not bode will for the future of a country in which Latin and Anglo will have to live together.

In fact, the Alt-Right’s desired social catastrophes seem not to be materializing, which must be a cause for sorrow. For example California, with a very large Latin population, does not produce the required Anglo-Latin race riots, burning cities, or elections made interesting by racial vituperation. Brown and white appear to get along in disturbing peace. I guess you can’t have everything.

The problem with this apparently exhilarating hostility is there are in the US an absolute minimum of forty-five million legal Latins, mostly citizens, who show no signs of leaving and cannot be deported. Some policy more practical than fuming, hissing, and name-calling might be in order.

A characteristic of the Alt-Righters is a robust disregard for truth. Of course, this is equally true of their enemies on the Left, ideologues being identical psychological vessels into which may be poured any desired content. An ideology is just a systematic way of misunderstanding the world. Since the ideology is more important than correspondence with reality, truth is an ideal to be genuflected to while picking its pocket.

For example, I have read in Alt-Right sites like Vdare and Breitbart News for years that Mexicans in particular are filthy, throw trash everywhere, and leave their children in dirty diapers. They do not. Neither do Argentines, Peruvians, or Chileans, or any Latin-Americans I have seen. These stories are usually anonymous or vague enough to make verification difficult, at times clearly fraudulent, and those posting them seldom seem to have bothered with fact-checking. After all, it’s the spirit of the thing that counts.

Another common story is of Latin kids in American schools turning over desks, threatening teachers, and the like. These may be true–I have no way of checking individual schools, often not named–but they bear no resemblance to school children here in Mexico. Among other things I have followed my step-daughter Natalia from age eleven through various public schools urban and otherwise through high school and then through the Universidad Marista in Guadalajara. Nothing fits the Alt-Right’s description. I do know a Mexican woman who runs food-services at a school in LA. The kids, she says, are “no saints”–how many teenagers are?–but do not come close the the Alt-Right’s hopes.

The writers of this sort of thing could easily determine the truth of many their assertions by spending a few minutes with Google Images. Just put in Guadalajara or Chapala (where I live) or an agricultural town like Jocotepec or a mountain pueblo like Mazamitla and scroll in search of street scenes. (Here, Chapala plus neighboring Ajijic.) Look for the thick layer of garbage, dirty diapers, and used condoms. Similarly with the implications of stupidity. The CIA Factbook put literacy at ninety-five percent. A brief Google check for bookstores (“librerias”) would provide a list of thirty in Guadalajara, mostly very good. This does not absolutely prove anything, but might make one think.

In fairness to Breitbart, it may be that New York does not yet have internet service. Otherwise, one might ask why people vilifying Mexico and Mexicans have not done the easy research that would be done by an eighth-grader for a term paper. The two obvious explanations are lying, and gross intellectual incompetence. Since the owners of these sites are highly intelligent, out of respect I assume that they are lying.

It is interesting to see what the Alt-Right really is when its members are not disguising their sentiments. A while back I wrote a column suggesting that we should perhaps have a reasoned policy toward our permanent Latins, to include assimilation. Such columns invariably arouse fury. This one ran in the Unz Review, which allows commenting, and has drawn 447 comments to date when 80 is a more usual number. They represent the attitudes of the Alt-Rightists when they are protected by pseudonyms.

Note that the first comment seriously advocates killing the Latins. Not all the commenters are of this stripe, or belong to the Alt-Right, but…read a few and draw your own conclusions.

(The commenters express their own views only. The Unz Review, one of my favorite sites, is not of the Alt-Right. The owner, Ron Unz, lives in a heavily Mexican neighborhood of Silicon Valley and has repeatedly said that he finds them good people.)

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Alt Right, Hispanics, Immigration 
Fred Reed
About Fred Reed

Fred, a keyboard mercenary with a disorganized past, has worked on staff for Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times.

He has been published in Playboy, Soldier of Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harper's, National Review, Signal, Air&Space, and suchlike. He has worked as a police writer, technology editor, military specialist, and authority on mercenary soldiers.

Personal Classics
Not What Tom Jefferson Had in Mind
Sounds Like A Low-Ranked American University To Me
Very Long, Will Bore Hell Out Of Most People, But I Felt Like Doing It
It's Not A Job. It's An Adventure.
Cloudy, With Possible Tidal Wave