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The Case for Liposuction
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Today, God save the Queen, the country is in the hands of pathologically aggressive Cold War leftovers, in particular Mr. Genghis Pompeo. In light of his desire to get America into a war with Iran, plus the acrid whiff of desperation wafting from the White House, plus increased provocations against Iran, one may wonder about such a war being used to distract from Mr. Trump’s woes. At risk of repeating myself, some thoughts on said war.

A point worth considering is that wars (very) often do not go as the aggressors plan. We might consider this when pondering any martial eruption against Tehran.

For example, when Napoleon invaded Russia, he did not plan for Russian troops to march in the streets of Paris. Which is what happened. The American Civil War was supposed to last an afternoon at First Manassas; wrong by four years and 650,000 dead, equivalent to 6.5 million today. When Germany invaded France in 1914, it expected a short, victorious war of movement, but got a bloody four years of attrition war. Then it lost. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, their plans did not include American Gis diddling their daughters in Tokyo. Which is what happened. When Hitler invaded Russia, Russian troops drinking in Berlin was not among his war aims. When America attacked Vietnam, leaving with its tail between it legs was not a hoped-for outcome. When Russia invaded Afghanistan, it did not expect to lose. Which it did. When America invaded Afghanistan…you see the pattern.

Now, Field Marshall Pompeo seems to want a war with Iran, a country with eighty million people, a fine army, and massive missile forces within range of Israel and of much of the world’s oil supply. As an example of strategic brilliance, such a war would rank up there with drinking wood alcohol.

But this is not surprising. In fact, it is habit. Americans begin their wars by overestimating American capacities, underestimating the enemy, and misunderstanding the nature of the war they are getting into. Then they forget and do it again, world without end. General Pompeo seems prepared to respect tradition.

Why does the American military lose its wars? In part because it prepares for the wars it wants to fight, not the wars it does fight. The Navy in particular, important for a war in the Gulf, is designed to fight other navies like itself, which do not exist. It is essentially the Navy of WWII, upgraded. (Should the Japanese Imperial Navy come back it will be ready.) But a war against Iran would be, at least in the beginning, almost entirely an air war and, despite masturbatory fantasies of fern-bar Napoleons on Pennsylvania Avenue, air wars kill lots of people, last forever, and seldom produce victories.

Those ardent of air power always promise quick and cheap victory. Buffs of military history will think of Douhet, de Seversky, Mitchell. But it doesn’t happen. Years of bombing Hanoi and Afghanistan or, for that matter, of Germany and Japan proved neither quick nor decisive. The first two did not result in any victory nor the second two in a quick one.

Why does the military prepare for World War II? For several reasons. First, heavy armament, fast and loud airplanes, and Godzilla tanks appeal powerfully to male romanticism. Second, these things call to a man’s joy in cooperating with others in hunting packs. Third, modern weapons feed the masculine love for controllable complexity, screens, dials, computers, radar, reactors. Fourth, conservatism. When you have invested a lifetime and billions in anything as glorious as carriers and strategic bombers, you don’t want to give them ump

If you have watched night flight operations on an aircraft carrier, thirty knot wind whipping over the bow, endless dark ocean, an F-18 howling at mil power and then the cat shot…it’s Star Wars, baby, and men aren’t going to give it up.

American wars have failed in part because of a pattern perhaps first observed in Vietnam and since diligently repeated. America invaded with its usual hooha about saving the world from communism, terrorism, evil dictators, socialism, of bringing to the benighted dusky locals the precious values of truth, justice, the American way and perhaps of apple pie and virginity. Those being brought these things don’t see them in quite the same way. The Viets, sick of being invaded first by the French, then the Japanese, then the French again, had not asked for any of these precious offerings, perhaps especially virginity. To them the Gis were not saviors but just more goddam white invaders. They didn’t need any.

The Americans didn’t understand this. They still don’t. They believed their own reviews, which they largely wrote. In Vietnam the GIs were now in a country which most didn’t know where was. It was a country with a very different race, utterly different culture, utterly different religions, and speaking a language that not one American in a thousand spoke decently or, usually, at all. GIs came to detest the locals, whom they called gooks, dinks, slopes, zipperheads, and rice-propelled paddy maggots. Small town boys from Tennessee are not compulsively multicultural. They killed a lot of locals, sometimes for sport, that being the nature of counter-guerrilla war.

If Sitting Bull Pompeo tried to put American ground forces into Iran this is exactly what would happen.

In such wars the Americans, thinking that they are the good guys, start training the Viets (Iraqis, Afghans, Laos, Bodes, Kurds) to fight what the Americans think are the bad guys, meaning other Viets (Iraqis, Afghans, etc.) for the benefit of the invaders.

Take the phrase “preternaturally stupid,” and nurture it, give it a gym membership, high protein milk shakes, have it do lots of pushups, and it may get robust enough to describe the foregoing incomprehension. But probably not.

Predictably—very, very predictably, so predictably that only a West Point trained lieutenant couldn’t figure it out—this doesn’t fly with the locals. If the Chinese invaded your state and tried to get you to kill people in a neighboring state, would you be wildly enthusiastic? So our Viets (Afghans, etc.) fight poorly, desert to the enemy with their weapons, and take part in insider attacks while their local officers charge the Americans for nonexistent soldiers. And so, year after year, US officers say that with just a little more time, a little more money, they will get the Afghans to stand up for their country, which has nothing to do with it.

Why doesn’t the military learn? Because it is designed not to. If this is not literally true, it comes close.

To begin with, the military is an organization of the herd. It demands conformity, obedience bordering on the kinky, compliance, and a lack of expressed thought. It gets people who are comfortable with this. Those of more independence leave after their first tour.

Would you think it extreme to call them “weirdly ovine”? Ask yourself what you would think if your boss required everybody in your office to line up in a square with thumbs precisely along trouser seams, feet at a forty-five degree angle, staring straight ahead, while he inspected you to see whether you had dressed yourself properly. In this environment independent thought is neither encouraged nor tolerated.

 
Be a Miracle if it Don't
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Black militia at Stone Mountain. Cocky, heavily armed, outgunning the police. White militias have similar firepower. A fight is entirely possible. In downtown America.

Hoo-boy. She’s ready to explode, go high order. Smoking ruins, dead bodies, seething hatreds, and a country that can’t be put back together. It may not happen, but she looks ready.

No one is in charge in this collapsing shell game of a country. In Louisville hundreds of armed blacks threaten to “burn the motherfucker down,” meaning Louisville, if they don’t get their way. All cringe before them, with reason. They have guns. Larger numbers marched in Georgia, armed, ready to rock and roll. BLM says it will “go into the suburbs” to get Whitey. Who will stop them? Not the government. It fears them. Weimar Kentucky. An American Freikorps.

America today in video. Scroll down to the New York footage. It’s Planet of the Apes.

Gun sales are way up. A friend in Rhode Island went to a gun shop and found a long line outside. A columnist in Virginia was told that the other stores report long waitlists for prize arms, notably the AR 15. People are afraid, or fed up. They are arming. The spring winds.

There is no leadership, no one in charge. In Trump we have perhaps the weakest President in history, mouthy, preening, ineffectual, much talk and no action. He did nothing while the rioters looted, burned, and vandalized, then disengaged himself from the pandemic, leaving decisions to the states. Much cawing and gaudy feathers, but no bird inside.

Congress does nothing, one parry neutering the other and all bought and paid for by special interests, by Wall Street and the arms makers and the big corporations. Local governments submit to the rioters or stand aside as the burning goes on. This is not society. It is chaos.

To collapsing countries these usually comes a man on a horse. A man with a big stick. You know, 1789, 1917, 1933. That kind of thing.

The media encourage the rioters, inflame passions either deliberately or through partisanship. They have little idea what they are encouraging. It may seem strange to say that the media do not know what is going on—it is their business to know–but they don’t. They were blindsided by the Trump because they had no idea of conditions in the country, in Flint and Gary, in Wheeling. Today they do not know what is brewing out there, or of how much they contribute to it.

After all, nothing out in the great mysterious middle land affects them. Journalists in the Beltway Isolation Cage are rich compared to deplorables in in Gary, live in a city proof against recession. Their decisions are whether to go out for Turkish or Vietnamese, not how to pay the rent. They censor news they don’t like, suppress the seismic rumblings out there in a country they don’t really know. In censoring others they censor themselves. They cannot read stories they cannot write. For example, sickening racial attacks on whites. That would be racism. Perish forfend.

But race is just the most explosive part of an unfunctioning polity. Other things ratchet up the fury. Add economic decay and you get more anger, more pressure. People live paycheck to paycheck, maxed out on credit cards. They don’t have a thousand dollars, or five hundred, for an emergency. The young live in their parents’ basements because they can’t get jobs to buy houses and start families. People don’t see doctors because medical care is both costly and wretched. Student loans crush the young. Grade schools are propaganda mills; parents know it, but can do nothing. Retirement programs vanish as employers turn employees into independent contractors, avoiding the expense of benefits. People see no hope. This makes them dangerous. Watch.

And BLM wants to go into the suburbs to get Whitey. God help us. Then it will well and truly blow. BLM doesn’t know how many white men are sick of the chaos and destruction, sick of BLM. They quietly say, “Bring it on. Let’s settle it.” Laden words.

While these undercurrents grow, the media will chirp and lecture and say virtuous things. Then, boom.

No one is in charge. No one will tell the rioters “No” and make it stick. No one, yet. It can blow.

BLM is cocky, aware of its power, made overconfident by easy victory. It, and Antifa, have never met resistance. If things get really wild, though, they will. They will also find that food does not really grow in Safeway, and that a Safeway burned out does not necessarily return to be burned out again.

A country gets what it asks for, and deserves what it tolerates. Most of the social problems engendering chaos result from the failure or collusion of government. Other countries have good national medical care. America does not. Student loans are a calculated scam, just as credit card companies deliberately entice people to buy what they cannot afford and then charge them usurious interest. Retirement plans exist elsewhere. European countries have them. But the Pentagon and Wall Street get America’s money.

It’s gonna blow. Short of a miracle.

The deadliest question is how to accommodate blacks. One mustn’t say what everyone knows, that blacks are the least educable, least productive, most criminal, most violent, most dependent, and least assimilable of the population. If anything can be done about any of these, it won’t be, because no one is permitted to name the problem. No one is in charge.

As whites lose economic ground they will be less willing to pay for welfare, food stamps, free housing, and other charity. When a pie shrinks, someone will get less pie and, if the pie shrinks a great deal, some will get almost no pie. Meanwhile, gun sales are way up.

At least six cities had serious riots last night with the mob throwing bricks at the police. A thrown brick is a lethal weapon. It would be met with equally lethal force. Yet governments, mayors, city councils back away, back away, back away. If they stop, it is going to be ugly.

America does not control its streets. The mob does. Everywhere. Name another country that permits this.

If confronted by force, the white rioters, mostly young, will melt away. They are Snowflakes, Millennials, young, stupid, ignorant, having the most exalted time of a life boring before and soon to be again, Blacks, more virile, will not. If they do not, the resultant mayhem will make our starter riots like like a PTA meeting at Lake Woebegone. Then what?

Here we come to the joys of diversity. Cultures can be too different to live together. Whites and blacks have almost no common ground, little common history. Whites trace their history back to well before the ancient Greeks, through Rome, the Renaissance, Europe. Blacks had no part in this and, it seems, have no interest in it. Aristotle? Thomas Jefferson? Einstein? Madame Butterfly? Galois? FORTRAN? These might all have come from some remote galactic civilization.

There is no agreement, anywhere, at any level, over anything. Hardcore conservatives insist that the coronavirus is no worse than the common flu as hospitals report overwhelmed ICUs and epidemiologists cry the alarm. Blue states favor lockdown while red states open up. Libertarians peddle cockamamie conspiracy theories. Mask laws are ignored or fought over. China, South Korea, Singapore shut down, control the virus, go back to work. Not America. Nobody is in charge.

Nothing holds the country together. There is no social glue, no dominant culture. We have no shared history, language, dialect, ethnicity, or religion. Diversity turns the country into rubble.

 
The Horror, the Horror
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In the predawn coolness of five a.m., we made coffee, put the dogs in the CRV, and set out along the deserted carretera to Chapala, a few miles away, where we walk the beasts. The night was dark and empty as an anchorman’s mind and a drizzle splattered across the windshield. Fulu Miziki poured from the stereo, which is pretty good in a CRV. I wondered how a Southern country boy came to be driving with an exotic Latina and a carful of useless if agreeable street dogs in central Mexico. Life is strange, I thought with my customary originality.

Africa, a long and low slung pooch, sits between the seats and peers down the road like some sort of guardian. She appears to be the product of a midnight liaison between a Border Collie and a fire hose. We found her a few years back as an abandoned puppy with the world’s most godawful case of mange. The vet dipped her in some strange potion and she bloomed. Few things in life can really be counted on, but mange dip is one of them. You have to believe in something.

But Fulu Miziki. These are a street band in Kinshasa. See what the internet has done? Your children may be Facebooking with them. The masks suggest interbreeding between the Hindu masks of Bali and something stolen from the store room of a Beijing opera company. But damn, the Fulus are fine musicians and having a hell of a good time.

We got to Chapala, parked, and got the dogs out on the malecón, which is a sort of tastefully patterned cement boardwalk along the lake. The malecón shiny with the rain. Waves were breaking on the shore and no one was out except the street sweepers and a few early runners.

Anyway, Fulu goes to garbage dumps and finds things to make musical instruments out of (Yes, two terminal prepositions. I am a bad person.): bottles, lengths of bamboo, old shoes, and unoccupied skulls. Its schtick, it says, is to persuade Congoans not to leave trash around, but I suspect they just can’t afford high-end instruments. They are great fun if crazy as three monkeys in a bag and enjoying themselves splendidly. Why not? If the rest of the world is miserable what with the virus and American foreign policy, why should they be?

Now you may be wondering, “Why is Fred running on about mad dusky buskers in the everloving Congo for God’s sake when he could tell us tales of death and horror and epidemic in Mexico? The virus is getting tedious is why.

But it is dangerous. A conservative friend says that the face masks tend to clog up with moisture from breath and nasal effluents, and stop the flow of air, causing oxygen deprivation and brain damage, so that you end up a Democrat. He may be biased, though.

I suppose I should say that I write about Fulu to spread word of the oneness of man and to share heartwarming examples of the contributions of differing cultures to all that makes us human, and so on. This would be pure bullshit. Actually I seem to have a God-given talent for disgruntling almost everybody. I believe that one should exercise one’s gifts. In particular I like to horrify White Nationalists, WhyNats, who annoy me by writing sententious agitprop about places I rather like, such as India, China, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Ha. Fulu must seem to them like the nightmare rhythm section of a banned human sacrifice ceremony by midnight in the zombie-ridden outback of Haiti. You know, the kind where the hors d’oeuvres can only be made from the pituitaries of living humans.

Or maybe they are just a street band in Kinshasa. You can’t have everything.

(“WhyNat” is under patent protection as being almost as tediously ostentatious as “ChiCom” and may be used only with prior written permission.)

Write Fred at [email protected] Put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid heartless atuodeletion.

 
• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Africa, Music 
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A common topic around the web is whether automation will drastically increase unemployment. The usual scholarly answer is only a bit, and conservatives often insist that new jobs will always be found. Actually, automation has already created much joblessness. It continues to do so. We don’t notice because we have disguised the unemployment.

Consider. In 1850, everybody worked. In England, children notoriously were sweated in mines and factories and, in America, worked on their parents’ farms.

Then child labor laws took kids off the labor market, keeping them from competing with adults. Compulsory high school removed adolescents perfectly capable of doing many jobs of adults. College now keeps millions more in, usually, economically pointless idleness. We have over three million people in prisons. Large numbers live on welfare. The government factors none of these into the unemployment stats. If it did, the unemployment numbers would rise sharply.

Then there is makework. A great many governmental workers do little or nothing of use. This amounts to paid unemployment. Sometimes this unemployment is distributed: A hundred workers do useful work that thirty could do. Then there is the military. It produces nothing and, since the US has no military enemies, amounts to more paid unemployment. The arms industry uses more multitudes in building things of no use, such as ever more intercontinental nuclear bombers. For engineers, this is marginally more dignified than digging holes and filling them in. It is as much a jobs program as the Depression-era CCC.

Another phenomenon we see is the disimportantification (patent applied for) of work. In 1850, work done was genuinely important: growing food, without which we tend to be dead and not of much use in an economy. Then the farms automated and everybody went to work in factories, making cars and refrigerators. These were pretty important, but not as important as food. You can’t eat a refrigerator. Then the factories automated or went away and people became massage therapists, nail salon operators, psychologists, sociologists, consultants, or diversity counselors. Others ran massage parlors, restaurants, gymnasiums, or cutesy-wootsy boutiques selling unbearable kitsch. They were employed, but in occupations of ever-increasing triviality. We have gone from feeding people to rubbing their backs. How far can this go?

This buffering of the unemployed seems to be reaching its limits. In principle I suppose we might encourage our less and less literate college populations to become post-docs in Victims’ Studies, or to engage in the proliferation of ever more glorious aircraft carriers. Sooner or later, though, the pointlessness would become too obvious.

A recent event, laboraly speaking, was the eruption of women and immigrants into the labor market. The women had been buffered at home as housewives and mothers. Now, reasonably enough, they wanted to be biochemists and useless lawyers, like men. The immigrants had been in Mexico. Now they weren’t, and they wanted jobs.

What happens when you throw onto the labor market millions of Mexicans who cannot be buffered and women who do not want to be rebuffered? Easy. The oversupply drives wages down. The Mexicans do for five dollars an hour what had been done by whites for twenty. Women got generally the same pay as men, and did the jobs as well as men. But there were lots lots of them, which gave employers a negotiating advantage.

Wages went down. Some of the decline took the form of loss of benefits, so it didn’t always look like a pay cut. Retirement went away. Workers were turned into “independent contractors” meaning on their own for medical care and so on. Soon it took two people to maintain a family, not one as before. Now people live paycheck to paycheck, maxed out on credit cards, with no savings and little hope. This has produced joblessness, deplorables, Donald Trump, and riots.

Note that automation has ripple effects both upstream and downstream of the loss of jobs reported in the press. When a big newspaper goes all-digital, Weyerhauser sells fewer trees to make wood pulp, the newsprint factories lose orders, the truckers who drove the newsprint to the paper become redundant (as the Brits say), the pressmen get laid off who run and maintain the big four-color web-offset presses, the company that makes the presses lose orders, the people who delivered the papers to your door step lose their jobs, and so on.

Various considerations come into play here, methinks. Software and robots do not buy stuff. Today businesses will automate because the saving in wages raises profits. An aging population buys less stuff than a young one. If the population stabilizes or shrinks, there goes the demand for new houses, suburbs, roads to the, and shopping centers.

I read over and over of the young living in their parents’ basements because they can’t find jobs, or jobs paying enough for them to buy houses and start families, of people who will nevr be able to retire. Humanity being what it is, we won’t see this coming and somehow prepare for it.

Them is today’s cheery thoughts. Next time we will speak of the joys of bubonic plague, said to be hiding in Central Asia and ready to spring. Oh good.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Jobs, Unemployment 
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Oh sigh. Recently we heard much huffing and blowing over the Supreme Court’s decision not to illegalize the DACAns. These, you may remember, are Mexicans’ brought illegally into the country while children. Obama gave them a sort of amnesty and allowed them to work. Anti-immigration activists say these interlopers are criminals and should be deported instanter. This embodies the interesting notion that a two-year-old can commit a federal crime.

So what should we make of all of this?

Worth noting is that while the Court pretends to be an impartial judge of the law—“the law, ma’am, the law, and nothing but the law”—in viscerally fraught cases it acts more as a micro-legislature of last resort. Probably it shouldn’t. Certainly it does. In cases of vast emotional import, the justices rule with a moistened finger in the political wind. Thus Presidents try to pack the Court with people of their own party, exactly as in Congress, for the same reasons. It is a legislature.

For example, before 1900 it had occurred to no one, including the Court, that there existed a constitutional right to abortion, that pornography was protected by the First Amendment, that the same amendment forbade nativity scenes on the town square, or that separate but equal was verboten. Now all of that has changed. Same Constitution (almost). A lagging legislature, but a legislature nonetheless.

Activists opposing immigration argue that Obama had no legal grounds for enacting DACA and that Trump therefore has the right to end it. Now, there are those who do not believe that I am the country’s preeminent Constitutional lawyer. (What do they know?) However that may be, it seems to me that the Court’s arguments were contrived and unconvincing. If this be so, why did they vote as they did?

To dodge a bullet and to prevent a civil war. Call it practicality over principle

Consider. If the Court declared the DACAns illegal, all 850,000 of them would become deportable as illegal aliens. White Nationalists would scream for their immediate eviction. The law would be on their side. Trump, who has run hard on ejecting illegal aliens, would presumably sic immigration officials on the now-criminal DACAns. Unlike the usual illegals, DACAns are easily found.

How wise a time is ours for doing this? The country is explosive. Mobs of semi-anthropoid savages loot, burn, kill, topple statues, and so on. Much of the rest of the country, so far passive, wants to beat the rampaging two-year-olds until they can’t crawl.

At the same time, social discipline withers. Several states defy federal law on marijuana. Many jurisdictions—state, big cities, counties, towns, municipalities—avowedly refuse to help federal police deport illegal immigrants. Others de facto follow the same policy.

Now, what happens when the feds erupt into a popular restaurant and cart the head cook, Lalo, off in handcuffs? Or, at the local trucking company, Pepe, who is shift boss with seven years in the job and a valued employee? Or Lupita, in charge of food services at a high school in Los Angeles?

These questions do not matter to White Nationalists and their political appendages, who are a trombone of one lone note. “They aren’t white. Throw…them…out.” Some readers may think the throwing out a good idea. Others may not. From a purely practical point of view, the results would very, very likely be horrific.

All the recent protesters would erupt again, drawn by the exaltations of mob combat in a boring life. The universities would empty as one person into the fray, supported by the media and the professoriat. They would attack ICEi agents. Groups of roaring, bellowing, and shrilling young would form human barriers around workplaces.

Washington’s choice would be either (a) to accede again to the demands of the mob, abandoning any pretense to authority that it still has or (b) to assert itself by rifle butts or live fire. Shooting looters and arsonists once would have been regarded as reasonable and even advisable. The goofier of the politically correct might find this uncouth, but they do not own the store being burned. It might be one thing to shoot arsonists, but another to shoot shrieking co-eds. The only way to get defending white, middleclass students to give way would be to smack hell out of them Tear gas and such demonstrably do not work.

Hardcore conservatives and White Nationalists might say this was necessary to maintain the rule of law. They are probably right. But—here I speculate—the Court may well have thought it wiser to duck the question and punt. Squishy? Cowardly? Maybe. But safer in the short run.

And of course if the DACAns were made illegal, every night the media would show little Lupita and Juanito, third graders, weeping inconsolably because Daddy is being sent to Mexico, whose language he doesn’t know, and they will have nothing to eat and nowhere to go in Mexico, in Mexico, which won’t accept Mommy and the kids because they are not Mexican citizens. Etc., night after night after night. Most pols would squeak and gibber in support of the DACAns. So would very many decent people.

For White Nationalists and sympathizers, none of this would matter. The DACAns are brown. We know how to find them. Throw…them…out.

Lupita and Juanito are cute kids, speaking good third-grade English. The camera shows mommy crumpled on a couch, crying and crying and crying because those brutish ICE men are going to….

Trump wants to try this. Talk about a political tin ear.

Of course the justices, no fools, would see the absurdity of trying to throw 850,000 people across the Mexican border. Who would do the throwing? The military? The attempt would risk a mutiny by the many black and brown troops…and perhaps by their white barrack-mates. This would be a very smart thing not to find out. Would the troops kick in hundreds of thousands of doors to catch the new illegals? How would they find them?

Almost certainly, think I, Congress would react as if stung and do something to make them legal again. So why bother with the whole exercise?

The time to stop mass immigration is early on, when it is just beginning, not after sixty million have come and settled in. Remember that Presidential elections are decided by five or six percent of the vote, and Hispanics are eighteen percent of the population. Do you suppose that politicians have noticed? Add that blacks, another thirteen percent, wouldlikely vote with browns on matters racial. Given this, the likelihood of evicting the better part of a million people becomes imaginary.

Was the decision pusillanimous? Yes, I think. But arguably wise. Washington does not need another trial of strength with an omninational mob which would inevitably win, or else an armed response that would take Tian An Men Square look like a pajama party.

Write Fred at [email protected] Put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion.

Nekkid in Austin

Amazon review: “Essays on America, life, politics, and just about everything. The author chronicles among other adventures an aging stripper in Austin, dressed in a paper-mache horse, who had with her a cobra and a tarantula like a yak-hair pillow with legs and alternately charmed and terrified a room full of cowboys sucking down Bud and…. Fred was an apostle of the long-haul thumb during the Sixties and saw…many things. He tells of standing by the big roads across the desert, rockin in the wind blast of the heavy rigs roaring by and the whine of tires and dropping into an arroyo at night with a bottle of cheap red and watching the stars and perhaps smoking things not approved by the government. He tells of..well, that’s what the book is for. Join him.”

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: DACA, Donald Trump, Immigration, Supreme Court 
Nor, Many Say Quietly, Worth Saving
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What fun, what entertainment. And rare: One seldom sees the collapse of a landmark society in a rush of wondrous idiocy. Would I could sell tickets. Don’t look at it as a loss, but as a show, an unwanted but grand amusement.

The coup de grace in our ripening decadence is the current uprising purportedly, though implausibly, over racism. But never mind. The causes don’t matter. The deal is done.

Still, it is interesting to recognize that the protesters are, perhaps deliberately, confusing the incapacity of blacks with systemic racism. In truth, America has made the greatest effort ever essayed by one race to uplift another. Reflect: In 1954 an entirely white Supreme Court unanimously ended segregation. Later it found the use of IQ tests by employers illegal because blacks scored poorly, then found “affirmative action,” racial discrimination against whites, legal (hardly oppression of blacks, this). An overwhelmingly white Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Voting Rights Act the next year. A white President sent troops to Little Rock to enforce desegregation. There has been an enormous flow of charity to blacks: Section Eight Housing, AFDC, Head Start, hiring quotas, set-asides, sharply lowered standards in police and fire departments. We now have free breakfasts for black children, then free lunches, in addition to outright welfare. In aggregate they resemble a distributed guaranteed basic income. Which is interesting.

These measures sprang from the best of intentions. Most I think should continue. I for one do not want to evict blacks from public housing or have their children go hungry. Yet none of these programs has had its desired effect. The crucial academic gap has not closed, crime remains horribly high, illegitimacy verges on universal. This is a great shame. Blacks are decent enough people, likable if they don’t hate you, and phenomenally talented. But it hasn’t worked.

Nothing has worked. There is no indication that anything will. The great black cities are in something approaching custodial care.

You cannot solve a problem without knowing what it is. This we dare not know. Democracies, however approximate, cannot deal with chronically underperforming minorities.

They cannot even try. Anything that might help is politically impossible, and anything politically possible won’t help.

So, after the riots:

Social division will worsen after the riots. Racial hostility from blacks will not decrease because their conditions will not change. The rioters are getting their way now, and rule, but at the price of sowing hatred. At best we will have many decades of ugly rancor. At worst, we are winding the spring for another outburst.

Multiculturalism has not worked, quite apart from race, and will not. White Americans are not one people. The poor communications and bad roads that once allowed them to live almost separately no longer exist. In its writ-large form, trying to force West Virginia to accept the culture of Massachusetts will produce only anger.

The likelihood of amity between races is proportional to their agreement on values important to them. For example, the Chinese share (what once were) the white values of study, work, courtesy, and obedience to the law. That they eat with chopsticks and celebrate New Year on the wrong day doesn’t matter.

However, again for example, a culture that believes in female genital mutilation and utter subjection of women cannot live amicably with a culture that abhors these things. Black ghetto culture and white are immiscible in so many fundamental values that they will not live well together.

Some cultures can assimilate, for example East Asian and American white, Latino and American white. But, in addition to sharply different cultures, too many blacks live in sprawling, racially isolated urban centers with almost no contact with the outside world other than television.

Censorship will intensify, not just of communications and office chitchat but of books. Tom Sawyer will be pulled from bookshelves or—Amazon being the continental shelf—or bowderlized to remove the Nigger Jim and Injun Joe The Nigger of the Narcissus may survive because none of the blacks and few of the whites will ever have heard of Conrad. At least for the foreseeable future, firings for anything imaginably redolent of racism–saying “All lives matter,” for example–will be snatched at in a mixture of passive aggression and schadenfreude to result in firings. This is unlikely to have a happy ending.

Schooling: Watching great universities become sandboxes for unpleasantly righteous dimwitted brats galls, or does if one lets it. I don’t. Most of the protesters seem recently to have erupted from the drains of an educational system that has been in sharp decline for decades They, including the intelligent among them, appear historically not just ignorant but carefully misinformed, culturally pathetic, and intellectually laughable. (For example, a protestress interviewed by a British reporter as to what she thought of Churchill said she couldn’t really say because she hadn’t met him. How many in BLM can spell “Confederacy”? A statue of Ulysses Grant was pulled down in the belief that he was a Confederate general. May God preserve us.)

The, uh, redaction of culture will not stop with books. Classical music is too white, the sciences too white, mathematics a tool of oppression (meaning that blacks cannot understand it) and so on. We have created a nation of pampered and imbecile peasants.

Schooling will continue its plummet. Science departments probably will not be abolished. However, because they are too white, schools will recruit hopelessly unqualified black students and professors, standards will fall yet more, and mathematics will be played down even in astrophysics (this is being done). Extirpating racism will replace scholarship, already degraded by the retirement or death of those professors who knew what education meant. This will inevitably result in lowered American technological competitiveness and prosperity. There is no hope of preventing this.

The replacement of learned professors by aging detritus from the Sixties antagonistic to scholarship is not surprising. America has had strong anti-intellectual undercurrent since its inception. The degradation will not be noticed by the young as they have never lived in a world different from their own, with Harry Potter and Toni Morrison thought to be literature. A liberal education was once the mark of the cultivated, being deep in languages, literature, philosophy, the sciences, history, mathematics,. Universities once had, at least among the better students, a love of open minded curiosity, thought, and debate. No more. Future historians will notice the shift, but those within it will not. We are left with a nation of morons who will not know they are morons.

This too cannot be prevented. Jejune herdthink is now warmly espoused throughout the academy with children in grade school being primed for it.

The most—I dare not say “entertaining” for fear of lynching, but, well, perhaps “interesting” reforms will be those of the police, whether abolition, defunding to shift money to youth outreach and rehab (which don’t work) or replacement of police by warm and caring adults, will result in increased crime. We need not concern ourselves with whether and to what extent the police have been culpable in which cases. The changes will come anyway.

An intriguing question is what the nonviolent, non-racist, warm and fuzzy pseudopolice will do when they encounter violent criminals. Counsel them on social justice? I would love to watch.

 
Studies in Applied Stupidity
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This will be a disoriented essay. These are disorienting times. Perhaps the reader should prepare himself with a double shot of Wild Turkey throat sanitizer, or a doob.

I am still getting mail saying that Floyd’s death was due to underlying conditions. I see. By purest coincidence, he died of natural causes while hand-cuffed, face down, with cops kneeling on him. Nothing could be more natural.

Autopsies: Pick any two of three.

Anyway, all of America and much of the rest of the world has lost its everlovin’ mind. You probably didn’t think of this. That’s how this column is. Full of original ideas.

OK, the sacking of America. Peaceful protesters have a point, though they may not be sure what it is. Bless them. The looters and arsonists should be shot. Back when the country was mostly white and law abiding, it would have made sense. The burning of a family’store by urban savages should, obviously I hope, not be allowed.

But the pillagers are overwhelmingly black. Expecting them to behave as if civilized would be racist, and intolerant, and cultural imperialism, and discrimination, and just like Hitler. So they hunt and gather at will, shrieking in ebonics and streaming from stores with bags of booty. It is the same in every riot. No, most blacks are not looters. Yes, many are horrified by it. Yes, blacks are human beings and have feelings like everybody else, etc. It remains that looting and burning are a black game.

What politician is going to order the shooting of hundreds of black Americans?

Why always blacks? Depressingly, the most parsimonious explanation, consistent with all of the facts, is that blacks cannot function well in a modern society. They never have, anywhere, do not, and seem unlikely to. The underlying cause appears to be low average intelligence and, perhaps, poor impulse control. They interpret apparently inevitable failure as systemic racism. The very real fact of past mistreatment changes nothing. This will not improve because it cannot. What now?

Again, many blacks oppose looting. Al Sharpton says looters are criminals and should be punished. The rap artist Lil Wayne said it is unreasonable to think all police are bad. Here we see that good sense comes in a plain brown rapper, like pornography.

OK, to brass tacks. The proximate cause of riots is always that white men have done something bad to blacks, like kill them. If in fact sometimes they have not, blacks believe that they have, encouraged by the media. Martin Luther King, Rodney King (no relation), Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, George Floyd. The police are the customary agents of ignition. Technical details, such as guilt or innocence, do not seem to matter.

If policing blacks with white cops leads to burning cities, why keep doing it?

It’s like a man hitting his thumb with a hammer. Whackawhack. “Ouch! That really hurts!” Whackawhack. “Ouch! That really hurts” Whackawhack. “Ouch! That really hurts”

“So why don’t you stop?”

“…whut?”

And of course there is a lot of misbehavior by police, which until recently was seldom detected. Question: For a cop, what are the most terrifying words he will hear? Cancer? Pay cut? Doughnut shortage? No.

“Cell phone.”

This current ruction could be called, perhaps a bit too breathlessly, the first electronic world uprising. A cell phone video began it, went viral, and got picked up by the legacy media, which have mostly followed cellphone footage. The networks are too politically correct, too short on manpower, to compete with millions of iPhone videographers. When the Buffalo cops knocked an old man down and casually walked away as he lay unconscious and bleeding from the head, within hours the entire earth saw it. Violeta and I, in central Mexico, have watched live coverage of Washington on Australian television.

We are seeing (Fred said importantly) a new paradigm.

Now, applied stupidity. It would be easy to believe that the police are actually trying to spark riots. If you think idiocy is not normal with today’s gendarmes, consider Breonna Taylor. She, a black EMT, was in bed with her boyfriend after midnight in Louisville. The police, under a no-knock warrant, using a battering ram, with no warning, crashed into her apartment. Her boyfriend, wakened by the intrusion, thought the couple were being attacked by god knew who. Reasonably, he fired a pistol at them, hitting a cop in the leg. The cops responded by shooting Breonna eight times, killing her.

With a predictability that makes Congressional corruption seem a long shot, the police said that, actually, see, they knocked and announced that they were police.

The police are lying. First, you don’t get a no-knock warrant and then knock, calling out that you are police. Second, if the police announce themselves, a guy in bed with his girlfriend will get up and open the door.

However: What happens when police have done a cowboy battering-ram I’m-a-really-cool-SWAT-guy enhanced entrance, and then discover that they have killed a young woman? Easy. They suddenly remember that they knocked. Since they have killed the only other witness, they can get away with it.

Perhaps an autopsy report will say that she died of underlying conditions. Yes, of natural causes, by purest coincidence while being shot eight times. Happens all the time.

The Breonna murder, like the Floyd trophy animal technique, was inverse PR genius. There must be a manual on this. Can you think of a more preternaturally foolish approach to race relations? You don’t shoot the guy you are supposed to be arresting. No. You kill his girlfriend. What brilliant police work. Awesome.

Of course, blacks kill far more whites than whites kill blacks, whether cops or anyone else. but this doesn’t fit the desired narrative. The media hide the (extremely) lopsided kill ratio. Anyone interested in black-on-white murder might read Their Lives Matter Too, by Paul Kersey.

Sez me, there is only one way to end the recurring riots: Have white cops police whites, and black cops police blacks. Separate departments would further reduce antagonism. Let blacks decide whether and how they want to be policed and let them do it. Since the races don’t like each other and separate when allowed, semi -autonomous urban regions might be a good idea.

But this would not be the American way. When you have done something for decades that hasn’t worked, isn’t working, and isn’t going to work, why, keep doing it. Whackawhack.

If I were a goofy tooth-fairy liberal, I would probably say that the policy strives for diversity and inclusion. Which nobody seems to want, but what has that got to do with it?

At this point in our study of applied, and even inspired, stupidity, we will now Have Thoughts and Draw Conclusions. These will be obvious to everybody but I will package them as insight. Hey I’m a columnist.

 
DO I = 1,100; killburnloot CITY(I); LOOP
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It was murder, plain and simple. There are no contradictory witnesses, no he-said-she-said. It is on the video, with no lapses. The man on the ground is clearly heard imploring mercy, begging to be allowed to breathe. Onlookers also implore. The officer knows the man is choking, yet keeps choking him. No police protocol calls for kneeling on the neck of an unresisting and handcuffed man. It was murder. It probably was sadism.

The police said he resisted arrest. They were lying. The surveillance video makes it plain. (Apparently they didn’t know that they were on camera.)

So why were they not arrested? An arrest by police requires “probable cause,” defined approximately as “ an articulable reason for believing that a specific person is committing a specific crime.” Would not having clearly identifiable perps committing the crime on video, plus audio, provide an articulable reason?

This was not like the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, in which the cop was telling the truth, or Freddie Gray in Baltimore, in which what happened remains murky, or Eric Garner in New York, in which a grand jury voted not to charge the cop.

This time there is no doubt at all. Murder. The Minneapolis police killed him, one doing it and the others looking on. These three made no effort to stop what they could see and hear perfectly. In Minnesota, does this make them accessories? I don’t know. They were not taken into custody, suggesting that the Minneapolis police saw nothing wrong with it until the video surfaced. How many other things have they regarded similarly?

No excuse for the killing is possible. Floyd was arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill, which he may or may not have known to be bogus. It doesn’t matter. The law doesn’t allow the police to kill on suspicion of passing counterfeit money. Did he have a police record? I don’t know. Neither did the cops. It doesn’t matter. The law does not permit cops to kill for having a record.

White Nationalist sites, as for example Vdare, seek to justify it, which is impossible.

White Nationalists have a following because much of what they say is true. Blacks do in fact commit a great deal of crime. Blacks do in fact commit brutal racial attacks on whites, many of them (one of many dozens I’ll bet you have never heard of it. ) and the media do in fact hide them. Massive immigration does in fact cause massive problems. The endless trendy vilification of whites wearies. Affirmative action against whites in favor of blacks and Hispanics reasonably causes anger.

But White Nationalists in their sullen racial hatred, their lack of interest in right and wrong, are little better than Black Lives Matter–often slicker, more polished, but no better. When they defend clear murder, as they do in this case, they lose all moral authority and show themselves to be exactly what leftists say they are.

In Minneapolis blacks, as usual, showed themselves to be exactly what their critics say they are: violent, thieving, uncontrolled. Not all were thus of course, but enough always are. Don’t think so? Look at the video. They speak of justice, but always loot and burn. It is not clear how burning a store and stealing TVs contributes to justice. They will then complain that there are no stores in the neighborhood, and blame this on racism.

The protests were entirely justified. The looting and arson were not. Of course, as my wife pointed out, without the destruction nothing would be done. The government would have waited out peaceful demonstrations. Officials would say It wouldn’t do to jump to conclusions. It would take time to gather all the evidence, get the results of the autopsy. There would be a study, perhaps a commission, even a panel, and an in-depth investigation to get to the bottom of this tragic event. The crowds would dwindle as people had to go back to work. Case closed. Burning down a dozen or two of city blocks, while not excusable, does get official attention. Nothing else seems to.

Speaking of attention, the original cell phone video has by now been all over the world, along with the looting and incendiarism (though YouTube has disappeared it). It’s those damned smartphones. In a planet of videographers, the dirty linen is hard to hide. The riots, the arson, the lawlessness of both the cops and the American Uighurs they seek to control, the many tens of thousands in filthy homeless encampments on the sidewalks–these are as visible in Kathmandu and Guadalajara as they are in Des Moines: Breaking news from the throbbing heart of democracy, human rights, and exceptionalism. How must this look in civilized countries such as Finland, Norway, China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore?

Blacks complain constantly about the brutality of police. Does it exist? Yes. You bet it does. Obviously not all cops are brutal, some departments are worse than others, but it assuredly exists. I say this having spent nine years as police reporter for the Washington Times.

Cops are not stupid enough to beat blacks in front of a reporter, but friends on various departments have told me of many such incidents, so I have seen little brutality, (though a cop in Chicago did force an Hispanic guy to strip to the waist in freezing winter wind to try to make him confess to something he probably hadn’t done.)

Perhaps worse than beatings in leading to riots is the constant humiliation inflicted on blacks by cops. In case you want examples:

I was riding one night with the LAPD in South Central with two burly guys, mid-twenties, swatted out, 870 in the rack behind, nightsticks. A late model black car, a Buick or something on that order, rolled a stop sign. The cops pulled it. Immediately both doors of the squad were open, cops standing behind them, leveling pistols toward the offending car. The following is from old memory, but close:

“Show me your hands. Step out of the vehicle. Walk backwards toward my voice. Get down on your knees. Put your hands behind your head. Interlace your fingers.”

The man was in a suit. His wife was in the car. This, for rolling a stop sign on a deserted street. If this had happened to me, which it never would, I would spend the rest of my life wanting to kill every white cop on the planet.

Another? Riding on Capitol Hill, maybe two a.m. Streets dark and empty. Down an alley, visible by a light on the back of a building, we saw a black man taking a leak. Technically, urinating in public, a misdemeanor. Realistically, something every man has done and, late at night on a deserted alley, ignorable. Instead the cop subjected him to a humiliating tongue-lashing of several minutes, said he could arrest him, etc, while the man, maybe forty-five, said “Yessir, yessir, yessir.” What choice did he have? Cops can do anything on dark streets.

Or: In the black Austin district of Chicago, in a residential neighborhood, the cop I was with was in plain clothes, the car unmarked. He had stopped to talk to someone, nothing hostile but I forget about what. On the sidewalk an old black man, maybe sixty, walked slowly past and the cop said, “Hey, wait, I want to talk to you, “ or something similar.

The man didn’t hear and kept walking. The cop rushed over, grabbed him by the shirtfront, and shouted into his face, “When I say stop, you fucking stop, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?”

“Yessuh, yessuh, yessuh.”

 
What the government Doesn’t Want You to Know
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OK, every self-respecting columnist is writing about that wretched virus, so I suppose I have to. (Actually any self-respecting columnist is probably delusional. but never mind.) Columnists do what they are programmed to do, like bugs.

I think I’m supposed to say that the coronavirus is most perilous, and like the Black Death that is thought to have killed a third of Europe in 1348. Well, if a million people died in the US, it would be less than a third of one percent of the population. If we want to beat the Black Death we had better get cracking. So far we don’t even have a tenth of a million, though we are working on it. So we are at less than a tenth of a third of one percent.

I don’t know. I’m patriotic and all, and like to see America being a light to the world in pauses in bombing it, and setting an example. I don’t have much hope. Unless we start injecting Lysol like the Main Cockatoo says.

We will begin our discussion with a dose of sanity. If we can find any. It’s pretty scarce on the ground in this plague. I imagine dead bodies piled everywhere, whole hecatombs of them. (This column believes in up-town Greek words. It’s a toney column, after all. The trick is to throw them off casually as if you barely noticed. Don’t let the reader suspect that you have spent ten minutes devising a run-up to them so they look natural.)

Anyway, sanity. This miserable virus breeds all manner of conspiracy theories, most of them negligible. The Chloroquine Concealment story may actually persuade people to dose themselves with a drug they don’t understand. We have Pepe Escobar, a columnist appearing in Asia Times among several other places. He asserts that to his certain knowledge the French government is hiding a “cheap, tested” sure-fire cure, chloroquine. Yes, hiding it. The results of a French study, he says, show that chloroquine, a well-known antimalarial drug, is a cure.

So why are the French dying like mayflies in a bug zapper? Because the French government doesn’t want to save its people’s lives. And why this? So that Big Pharma can find a vaccine and get rich.

Saith Pepe, “… major collusion scandal in which the French government is helping Big Pharma to profit from the expansion of Covid-19.”

He is sure of this. And maybe also of poltergeists, though he hasn’t said so.

Chloroquine discovered in 1934, has been extensively used by large numbers of people for long periods. It is in the public domain. If it protects against the virus, Why not just put everybody on it en masse? Problem solved, no masks or ventilators need apply. No?

The tale has all the earmarks of the classic nutball conspiracy theory. It is fundamentally implausible (Macron is letting thousands of the French die and crippling the economy for the benefit of one industry, Big Pharma). It relies on blind sourcing and unsupported assertion. It requires the complicity of tens of thousands in the French medical community, none of whom spills the beans and saves thousands. Since chloroquine’s alleged effectiveness has been published on sites of large circulation, such as the Unz Review and Lew Rockwell, as well as being touted by Trump, it would seem not to be particularly well hidden.

Yet no country has jumped on this simple, cheap means of saving its population. it follows that...all the world’s governments are in on the conspiracy! Yes! The entire governmental earth.plots to make money for Big Pharma. And the media are hiding it, so they must be in on it. All bought off by Big pharma.

Why didn’t I think of that?

What I want to know is where the damned thing came from. On one hand it came from eating bats in Wuhan, for which there is no evidence so we will defend the story furiously. But actually it leaked from a Chinese germ-war lab, except that it was seen in California, like Elvis, before it appeared in China. Except those squinty-eyed rascals let it loose on their own people, because they’ve got so many they don’t mind losing ten or twenty million, hardly notice them, so it would spread to America and destroy the economy. Except, really, the Pentagon sent it to China with an athletic team–I guess it was going to play shortstop or something–to destroy China,

See? We’ve got the origin nailed down.

Now, as I understand it, the Head Witch Doctor in the White House for weeks kept saying, shucks, t’ain’t nothing, why, no worse than a head cold, just think about something else, folks, don’t worry your pretty little heads about a thing. Then it turned out the DOW didn’t have antibodies and dropped like a prom dress, and that was serious, so he went into hyperdrive and started blaming China for not saying anything for weeks, just like he didn’t either.

Here, a parenthesis. (See? More sky-brow Greek words.) Anyway, I’m never sure. Are tweets those email things, and twits the people who send them, or are twits the messages….?

What I can’t get a handle on is who the virus is dispatching to a Better Place. (I’m not religious, but almost any place would be better than New York in summer.) Yes, we hear that being morbidly fat doesn’t help, or having diabetes, or fifth-stage cancer, or being old, or already dead. Actually, we could have guessed as much. But what are the actual numbers? Of a thousand people infected, how many die? Of a thousand symptomatic people, however defined, how many die? What is the breakdown by age for otherwise healthy people? In short, now dangerous is the foul molecule to whom? Why don’t we know?

Easy. Because the US response has been chaotic, incompetent, unprepared, ridiculous, embarrassing, and ineffectual. Nothing that should have been stocked was. Because the First Source of Tweets is more interested in reelection than in the country. Because it turns out that the All-Galactic Omnipower, feared unto the Crab Nebula for is gaudy aircraft carriers and stupid bombers, can’t supply its people with face-masks–you know, little piece of cloth, two strings. Or just one stretchy string.

Actually, I have my own conspiracy theory. The virus was designed in a Jewish biowarfare lab deep under Manhattan to provide clients for the Rosenthal Happy Bye-Bye chain of morgues, and incidentally to supply an organ-harvesting network run by Mossad to do experiments on Palestinian orphans. But Bill and Melinda Gates heard of it and bought it to infect bats. These were sent to China under the influence of a suspended-animation drug invented by the Nazis. (This explains why Hitler has been seen at a donut shop in Buenos Aires.) Bill and Mel knew that the virus would come back to America where the lock-down would let the government impose totalitarianism, destroy our freedoms, and make everybody take vaccines and get chips implanted in their heads.

Ha! Escobar has met his match.

A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be”

Amazon review: “Another collection of Fred’s Fred on Everything columns, seditious, outrageous, inflammatory, evilly funny. Fred dislikes everything he is supposed to like, and likes everything he is supposed to dislike. He likes downscale bars, thinks bar girls are decent human beings, approves of dogs, motorcycles, and really loud blues. He detests wars, which he has seen several of, loathes ugly feminists with politically significant hairy armpits, believes that congressmen would serve well as skeet, and proposes to tie everyone on Wall Street to an anvil and drop it in a river. Obviously he is

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Conspiracy Theories, Coronavirus 
Totalitarianism for Dummies
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The genius of America’s totalitarian system of government is that it is not totally total, and sometimes not very totalitarian at all. It is just total enough. Truly total government–“Your papers, citizen,” stop-and-frisk, permission needed to travel from city to city–might spark revolt. By contrast, a sufficiency of totalitarianism, but not an excess, keeps the populace in adequate torpidity. Thus done astutely, totalitarianism is hardly noticed.

The founder of this philosophy was that rascal, Abe Lincoln. As we have all heard in what has become almost a cliche, he said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” He wisely did not add, “…but you can fool enough of the people enough of the time.”

Lincoln’s Principle of Sufficiency is the First Pillar of Practical Totalitarianism. The Second Pillar is reliance on the private sector for effectuation. This gives the government plausible deniability. For example, Google has all your email for decades back, This is annoying but not truly alarming. If the federal government (openly) collected emails, conservatives would shriek about…totalitarianism. But Google isn’t the government–is it?

The Third pillar: A press not too noticeably controlled, with enough apparent difference of opinion to simulate savage debate of ideas–without touching on any important ones. For example, Rachel Maddow rattles that Trump is a Russian agent while Rush Limbaugh, the Rachel Maddow of the Right, demurs furiously. This allows people to be excited and engaged without endangering either Wall Street or the military budget.

Hermetic control of information isn’t needed, and would be noticed. Most people get most of their news from the lobotomy box. Anything that doesn’t appear on the flickering screen doesn’t exist for most, and these are enough. It is thus possible to suppress information not by suppressing it, but by ignoring it.

We have now listed the fundamentals of American government. Now let us examine the use and intersection of these principles here and abroad.

China is typically offered as practicing the blackest totalitarianism, the implicit contrast being with the enlightened democracy enjoyed by Americans. For example, we are told that In China, everything you say or do is monitored. Obviously China is a most terrible place. Who could doubt it?

By contrast, in America, cameras are everywhere, all email is recorded, every bank transaction, credit-card purchase, who you called by telephone and when, and of course criminal records. Depending on location, traffic lights photograph your license number if you run a light (and for all you know, if you don’t), license-plate readers check for stolen vehicles and (perhaps) delete legal plates. Cell towers know approximately where you and Google Maps knows to within a few feet. Locations can be cross-checked with those of other phones to see who you were with. Now face-recognition comes along.

Since little of this is directly done by the federal government, we do not live in a surveillance state. After all, none of the entities involved would share their information with the feds–would they?

In China,we are told, there is no freedom of expression. Well, actually there is, as long as you don’t say the wrong things about the wrong things. In America we have freedom of speech. It says so in the Constitution.

Well, we have freedom of speech as long as we don’t say the wrong things about the wrong things. We all know what we can’t say and who we can’t say it about. In many places, certainly in the media where you might influence others, you can lose your job for saying things that upset blacks, Jews, feminists, homosexuals, LBGQXYZs, Hispanics, or Muslims. In the media you cannot say anything if favor of the Second Amendment, against abortion, about black crime, against the military budget or the wars. You cannot doubt accounts of such events as the Trayvon Martin adventure. On the web, sites can be and increasingly are “deplatformed” by the social media.

But as these are not formally part of government, we have freedom of speech. See? No unelected dictator decides what we are permitted to know or say. Mark Zuckerberg does.

This is very different from China in that…in that…wait. I’ll think of something.

Here we come to the Fourth Pillar of Sufficient Totalitarianism: Repetition, repetition, repetition. In Mein Kampf (now removed from Amazon) Adolf said that propaganda should not be entrusted to.intellectuals They are, he said, easily bored, like sophisticated ideas, and constantly want to change the message.

Instead, he said, keep it simple enough for the masses to understand, and say it over and over and over, and they will come to believe it. More precisely, enough will come to believe it. The rest don’t matter. This is much cheaper than kicking in doors at three a.m. and doesn’t arouse potentially dangerous resentment

RussiaGateRussiaGateRussiaGateChinaDidItChinaDidItChinaDidItIranIsEvilIranIsEvilIranIsEvilGoYoBeginningAndRepeat

We are told, over and over and over, that America is a democracy and virtually choking on freedoms. We are told three times in a half hour during the Super Bowl, that we need to buy a sandwich from Subway. Same principle, exactly. It works.

Here we come to the Bicephalous Monoparty, the stage set of American democracy. In this production, actors called Republicans and Democrats feign combat. It is like professional wrestling but without the dignity. By Instinct or prearrangement they avoid mention of things that might produce restiveness among the electorate: Wall Street, the military budget, corruption, corporate price-fixing, or Epstein’s ability to hang himself from a bedstead two feet shorter than himself. It is prettily done. By engaging the glands of the multitude with shiny political baubles–transgender bathrooms, making America great again–the avoid endangering larceny as usual.

And so, unlike China where democracy does not exist and people have no influence, we have democracy but no influence. This is much slicker.

For example, if you oppose the interminable wars, what party do you vote for? There are neither antiwar parties nor serious candidates. Who do you vote for if you want to cut the goiterous military budget? If you are against torture? If you oppose a militarily aggressive foreign policy?

Can you influence what your children are taught in school, what is in their textbooks? If you are against the ongoing enstupidation of education, or against the pulling down of statues? Against affirmative action? The list could go on.

Thank God we don’t live in China. Their government works, ours doesn’t, but at least we have our freedoms.

Write Fred at [email protected]. Put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion.

Nekkid in Austin

Amazon review: “Essays on America, life, politics, and just about everything. The author chronicles among other adventures an aging stripper in Austin, dressed in a paper-mache horse, who had with her a cobra and a tarantula like a yak-hair pillow with legs and alternately charmed and terrified a room full of cowboys sucking down Bud and…. Fred was an apostle of the long-haul thumb during the Sixties and saw…many things. He tells of standing by the big roads across the desert, rockin in the wind blast of the heavy rigs roaring by and the whine of tires and dropping into an arroyo at night with a bottle of cheap red and watching the stars and perhaps smoking things not approved by the government. He tells of..well, that’s what the book is for. Join him.”

 
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