January 31, 2017

Armed forces rule, lawyers drool

Time to re-visit two posts from a year ago, with the battle between rogue members of the judiciary trying to stump the Trump, and the Supreme Court nomination being announced.

First, a reminder that the Supreme Court cannot enforce its decisions, not even with the US Marshals.

Black students in Little Rock, AR found that out the hard way in 1957 when the Governor called out the National Guard (state militia) to block them from entering the white school buildings, even though the Supreme Court had unanimously ruled years earlier that segregation was unconstitutional. The only thing that integrated them was the US Army, who Eisenhower sent in to trump the state-level militia.

Click that link and look at the pictures -- you have never seen the uniformed and armed soldiers, with their military vehicles, occupying the Central High School campus, nor escorting the black students into the buildings while holding M-16s. That would give you the wrong impression about what ultimately backs up policy, so the media and schools have swept them under the rug and pushed a narrative about the decisions rendered by some bunch of judges.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court pick is not that big of a deal for major issues, which will either be enforced or non-enforced according to the Executive branch's orders.

Second, a reminder with pictures of the teams of uniformed men with guns who got the illegals out of the country back in the 1950s during Operation Wetback. The Supreme Court did not try to get in their way, but then how could they have?

The upshot: Trump holds all the cards here, not just as the Commander-in-chief of the military, but as one who went out of his way to enlist the "generals' generals" on his side before, during, and after the election.

Even if a blue-state governor got the funny idea to call out the National Guard to oppose Trump, they'll get a bitter reminder that Guardsmen are under dual state and federal control. If the National Guard in California had to choose between President Trump and anti-American Governor Moonbeam, which side do you think they'd obey?

There is major trolling potential for the administration, if they did have to send in troops to enforce the law, to point to Eisenhower desegregating the schools in the Deep South. Not to make the accusation that "Democrats are the real racists," but to cause the Left to melt down when deporting illegal immigrants is likened to desegregating public schools. "Y'know, the law is the law, and ultimately the laws get enforced by law enforcement."

Is there any major counter-weight on the other side? No. They have zero support within the police departments, border patrols, or any branch of the military, when it's such a black-and-white choice to make.

We will know there is something to worry about when the Left tries to infiltrate the Army and organize the rank-and-file from within, as they did during the Vietnam War. Michael Albert once said that the Blackstone Rangers, a yuge black street gang, even tried to infiltrate the Chicago Police Department to organize the rank-and-file cops. I couldn't find where he said that, or other confirmation -- but it was the Sixties, so just maybe.

As for now, the Left are going out of their way to alienate all normal people, especially anyone who wears a uniform or carries a weapon as part of their job.

It's unclear to me whether they will prove capable of trying to organize the rank-and-file from within the armed forces. Back during the Vietnam era, there was no partisanship, and the Leftists had no trouble violently revolting against the Democrat Johnson administration that had won in a landslide in 1964 against uber-Conservative Goldwater. And the "all in it together" mindset let them get over their prejudices against anyone who joined the Army, the better to relate to them and get them onto the anti-war side.

Today's climate is the opposite, with partisan polarization like we've never seen in our lifetimes. The military and police will be lumped in with the Trump administration and the evil Republican Party. They won't try to meet the cops or soldiers half-way, gain their trust, and so on, to try to woo them away from the Trump agenda, and leave Trump standing without strong military support.

Today's Leftists are so puritanically partisan that merely thinking about relating to a cop, man-to-man, would be an unforgivable stain on their moral scorecard. Fraternizing with the enemy. And infiltrating a tailgate gathering outside a sports stadium, packed with Trump voters to woo away from their hero, would be sharing a meal with the ritually unclean.

The Left appear to be so hell-bent on antagonizing their nemesis that we won't just see the "dogs and firehoses" of the Vietnam era -- we could see deportations back to the home countries of the agitators, as we had during and after WWI. How many of these Soros-funded protest organizers do you think are non-citizens?

We could see President Trump using the Alien Enemies Act to deport these foreign rabble-rousers, in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson -- or even imprison all residents from that hostile nation, in the tradition of FDR and Harry Truman.

Another major difference with the Sixties, and like the Teens -- today's anti-government protests are so corrupted by foreigners agitating against our own country's nationalism, which looks cynical and pro-whatever country they're from. With the Vietnam protesters, they were arguing over which Americans were right about what American values were. "Peace is patriotic," etc.

Now it looks more and more like a group of foreign scouts trying to open up our defenses so that their countrymen back home can march in and take us over.

I don't think that's going to play in Peoria.

January 28, 2017

Anti-terrorist ban targets weak countries first, then strong ones

Why is terrorist hotbed Saudi Arabia being exempted from the travel ban, while relatively safer countries like Iran are included?

If you look at it from an engineering standpoint, it looks backwards. The ban ought to apply more forcefully to countries that pose a higher risk.

But in the real world, we can't just wave a magic wand and immediately ban Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Turkey, which have wealthy, powerful lobbies in our own country who have compromised key figures at the national level (John McCain being the most egregious example -- the Saudis only love Crooked Hillary Clinton more).

Trump is a pragmatist dealing with real-world relationships, so first he's going after the countries that have no way of retaliating against us, and which do not have powerful lobbies for defense. Failed or anarchic states like Libya, Iraq, Somalia, etc.

Who knows how long it will take to get around to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but based on how swiftly the Trump team has been moving since before the inauguration, we should not expect them to keep kicking the can down the road.

Notice that he did not include peaceful states like Jordan and Lebanon, let alone more powerful allies like Egypt, with whose leader he's struck up a good relationship.

He could also be using the ban on visas from peaceful Iran as more of a negotiating tactic, since he's long promised to re-negotiate the Iranian nuclear deal, or at least show them that they can't taunt us and seize our sailors without any consequences.

You should only address the need to move from weaker to stronger terrorist-prone countries with those who are arguing in good faith about "Why Trump's ban gets the risks backwards". Michael Tracey types. If it's just an idiot trying to play gotcha games, then just ridicule them by saying, in a whiny voice, "Anyone who doesn't wanna get blown up by terrorists is an Islamophobe!"

In general, we will see the pragmatic Trump administration begin with what is easy to solve, and progress toward harder tasks later. Hence deporting the violent criminal illegals first, and getting around to DACA illegals afterward.

Some have said that Trump has come out all guns a-blazing on multiple fronts, but they have all been easy tasks to go after -- repeal disastrous Obamacare, deport violent illegals, de-fund sanctuary cities, ban travel from anarchic Middle Eastern countries that can't fight back, and so on.

As the tasks get harder and harder, we probably won't see such a multi-front war against Establishment lunacy. Banning travel from Saudi Arabia will be easier if Trump and his supporters have more time to build up the revelation about their role in 9/11, Salafism (still not a common word for the American public), and so on. More details could come out from the 9/11 Congressional report.

Then after we knock that one out, we can move on to another difficult task, like birthright citizenship, which will also take awhile for the administration and its supporters to build the case against it (not desirable, not in Constitution), and how outta-whack it has made the country.

Trump may not need "political capital" since he did not get into office thanks to politicians. But he does need voter capital, and voters are only already aware of so many problems, and already howling for solutions to so many of them. Trump will not have to schmooze and woo politicians, but he will have to inform the general public on the role Saudi Arabia plays in spreading radical Islam, the absence of birthright citizenship in the Constitution -- indeed, in any other country's laws -- and the like.

The good news is that Trump is the world's most expert explainer to a general audience, so at worst the pace slows from a major win every day to every week or month. Still plenty of time to deliver on the campaign promises, and more.

I'm not a believer in 50-dimensional chess theory whenever something appears to be going the wrong way. That's Panglossian wishful thinking. In Trump's case, though, it may simply mean that he's putting the easy tasks first and tough tasks later. I don't want to hear any 50-D chess explanations about why Saudi Arabia should not be on the travel ban list -- it's just dealing with our problems in increasing levels of difficulty.

January 21, 2017

Despite women's march, non-white women turning against white women for voting Trump

Don't be fooled by the mass temper tantrum being staged this weekend: feminism / women's rights / etc. could not be any lower in importance right now, when it's more about race, ethnicity, nationality, and so on.

After the election showed a majority of white women voting for Trump, non-white women (who will always be 99% Democrat partisans) are reacting by tossing out concerns over women's issues and lashing out at "them white hoes" through collective blame and guilt by association.

Reminder that even if you confess to white guilt, the non-white feminists will still rub your face in your collective guilt (and their own collective innocence and bravery), in other words never accepting your confession or penance. You're just supposed to grovel forever.

Can't let the occasion slip by without using it to slam Bernie supporters and further divide the Left:

At least the pretty girls are not so easily cowed by the feminist herd. Here's one Bernie babe:

Since women's issues have not been on the minds of voters, or the plans of politicians, during the entire electoral season, these tantrum-throwers will have nothing to organize around. Building the wall, making illegals leave, bringing industries back, building up the military, etc., offer no way for feminists to inject themselves into the national conversation.

Although when the shit hits the fan over sanctuary cities, we may be wishing that our worst problems were a handful of cat ladies complaining about why nobody listens to them.

Liberals and leftists are in for a rude awakening about how their decadent luxury issues (anything relating to sex) will be dropped like a hot potato, now that the President is going to get tough on bread-and-butter issues. And it's too late for them to re-train in other issues, so they'll be left with nothing to say. The handful of leftists who don't like closed borders will either be in agreement with Trump over economic policy (if honest) or defend laissez-faire globalism and prove they're worthless sell-outs.

Not a good time to be on the Left -- you might as well board the Trump train.

Obama, the ignorable placeholder president

With that guy now officially being the ex-President, I'll re-post a one cheer for Obama take from about a week before the election. Perhaps it'll generate more discussion now that he's formally out, and Trump formally in.

tl;dr -- The Republicans were going to lose in 2008, so the real choice among possible worlds was President Barack Obama or President Hillary Clinton. Obama is a narcissist, but Hillary is a sociopath. And Obama had no larger crony network, unlike Clintonworld.

If the GOP wasn't going to give us a Trump candidate back then, at least we wound up with the lesser of two evils from the neoliberal side.

I don't remember writing about Obama ever before the past election season, and a search of posting history here confirms that. The few times I did, it was about Obama as one of many presidents -- like generational patterns among presidents. Never really about his policies, or effects on the country or world.

In fact, the one time I did back in '08, it was to condemn both him and Bush for trying to sell "the uninsured" as poor citizens, when it included illegals as well.

There are going to be lots of "see ya, wouldn't wanna be ya" remarks as Obama gets lost, but I wouldn't personalize it that much. The problems of his years were far more general and driven by grassroots changes, making Obama mostly a reflection rather than powerful cause of what we don't like about the past eight years.

And it would have been worse under Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

At any rate, the Trump victory is not just going to undo the past eight years, but the past 30 or 40. It's a once-a-generation re-alignment, and our desire to kick someone's ass on the way out the door should be directed at the entire neoliberal and neoconservative practices of the past couple generations.

If it were to be personalized, remember that our main enemies over those many decades have been the Bush dynasty and the Clinton dynasty, both of which have now been thoroughly eliminated from future participation.

After them, Obama has mostly been an ignorable placeholder of a president. Most Trump voters have already forgotten all about Obama, because there was never anything there to remember in the first place.

I wonder if that will anger Obama's groupies even more? -- that we aren't going to elevate him to arch-nemesis status against Trump. At worst, he's just going to be some annoying talking head who occasionally pops up on cable news, and we keep asking when is he going to go away?

Only the bitter hardcore True Conservative types will keep thinking and seething about him, but this group has already shrunken so fast in relevance. Nobody wants to keep hearing about how Obama did this or that -- we want to focus on whose Establishment ass Trump is kicking today, and which industry is re-locating back to American shores this week. Much more uplifting than worrying about some meaningless presidency.

January 17, 2017

Will Trump era make pop music great again?

An earlier post looked at how TV producers are already accepting that their programming will have to adapt to the Trump zeitgeist, whether they like it or not. This parallels the last time the media elites took notice of the Midwest, after Nixon and then Reagan turned the entire map red.

In perhaps another example of how culture is downstream from politics, Billboard looks at how the big acts in pop music may react to the new political realities:

Whether you believe the arguments that difficult political times create great protest music by firing up the punk in all of us, there's no doubt that the upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump is likely to unleash a barrage of heated anthems. Already U2 revealed that they have re-thought releasing their long-simmering Songs of Experience in favor of possibly going back into the studio to write tunes inspired by the current times.

Eminem weighed in back in October with his scathing eight-minute "Campaign Speech," which we can only hope is a first taste of be a precursor to his ninth full-length studio album. Singer Amanda Palmer recently said she thinks Trump is going to "make punk rock great again," but we'll have to wait and see if she's right.

Of course, punk rock was before Reagan and Thatcher, but don't expect this moron to know basic history. They can't even blame Nixon or Ford -- its anti-musical nihilism was a reaction to the larger sense of stagnation and doom during the Jimmy Carter years. Once Reagan and Thatcher took over, nihilistic punk and decadent disco fused into new wave, canceling out the worst aspects of both and producing a cautiously novelty-seeking tone that characterized the Eighties.

Another major change was away from the tortured urban beatnik in folk rock (Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel), and toward heartland rock, with its non-ironic tribute to common people and everyday life outside of elite cities. Everyone knows John Cougar Mellencamp's wholesome vignettes in "Jack and Diane," "Pink Houses" ("Ain't that America?"), "Small Town," "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.," and so on. But just a year before the Reagan landslide, his first hit "I Need a Lover" was about the gritty city -- a winking celebration of faceless "human jungles", druggies, and empty promiscuity.

Still, I don't think we're in for a revival of the '80s atmosphere, as awesome as that would be. Reagan had the whole country on one side, so musicians really had no choice but to appeal to whatever it was that was resonating politically. The 2016 election is closer to 1968, when re-alignment was just beginning away from the New Deal / Great Society and toward Neoliberalism / Neoconservatism. It wasn't a landslide for Nixon, so musicians could go against the political winners and feel supported by a large chunk of the population.

It was also nearing a time of growing civil unrest, which according to Peter Turchin goes in roughly 50-year cycles -- which means we're due for another peak around 2020, after the last one around 1970. That kind of atmosphere naturally encourages musicians to act up more, whether the whole country is on their side or not.

So if anything, pop music is headed in a counter-cultural direction which middle America will largely tune out. And yet without the rising-crime and outgoing social behavior that characterized the mood in 1970, the coming counter-cultural moment will not be as exciting or thrilling, even for the participants.

On the plus side, we may get another "Sweet Home Alabama" in reaction.

January 13, 2017

The media landscape: A guide to the coming collapse and re-alignment events


During the otherwise uneventful lame duck stage, seismic changes are striking the media ecosystem and the intelligence community. They are inter-related, with the deep state operatives feeding BS to the media in an effort to delegitimize the incoming Trump administration. The over-arching narrative is that "Russia hacked the election," a meaningless phrase if altering vote tallies is not involved, but a phrase intended to muddy the waters about how legitimate of a President the next one will be.

This media-spook coordination came to a head with the publication of risible "intelligence reports" that were not verified or even seriously looked into. Any idiot could tell that it was pure BS, but good ol' BuzzFeed and CNN both ran it into mainstream coverage, where it became a fake news story du jour.

Trump savaged both of them during a press conference, and praised those who did not run with it. That's the interesting thing here: only some organizations went with it, and others refrained. Usually the media behaves as a monolith when it comes to trying to delegitimize Trump -- hosting pundits who act aghast when Trump brags about the size of his hands, hounding him to release his tax returns, etc.

When there is variation in their behavior, it reveals fault-lines within the media world that might otherwise not strike us. That may tell us what will rise and what will fall during the Trump era.

Notably, Fox and MSNBC did not take part in the charade. While Fox has been doing worse than historically, it is not in free-fall and is still the leader in cable news. On the liberal side, MSNBC is on the ascent, while CNN is dying. This has been going on for a long time, with cable news fueling the rise of networks with emotional approaches (Fox, MSNBC), and extinguishing those with informational approaches (CNN).

This was covered in an earlier post, although I would amend the term "ego validation," for what is provided by the emotional networks, to "tribal validation". They are about pushing your emotional buttons about group or tribal superiority over rival groups or tribes, not individual superiority over other individuals.


What's surprising is not that CNN acted one way and Fox / MSNBC another way -- it's that BuzzFeed joined CNN. BuzzFeed makes no pretensions to seriousness, whereas CNN stakes its brand value on seriousness. Why is a purveyor of clickbait trash in league with a network that goes out of its way to portray its anchors as sober figures with lofty values?

It is because BuzzFeed, like CNN and unlike Fox / MSNBC, takes an informational rather than emotional approach to its content and its audience. Its clickbait invariably takes the form of factoids, or listicles cataloging a bunch of things. They are meant to add to the knowledge, if it can be called that, of the audience, rather than to push emotional buttons as strongly as possible to validate their sense of tribal superiority.

And if you look at the target audiences of CNN and BuzzFeed, they are more egocentric and atomized than those of Fox and MSNBC, who derive their superiority from group-level affiliations (liberal tribe, conservative tribe).

CNN is a propaganda outlet, acting as a Ministry of Information to spread Establishment narratives. It offers its consumers a sense of individual superiority over individuals for being more in-the-know than others, regardless of group or tribal membership.

BuzzFeed makes no pretense at crafting grand narratives from its information, but its factoids and listicles do make it a lower pop-cultural form of Ministry of Information. How in-the-know are you about Things Only '90s Kids Appreciate about Disney Movies? Or, 9 Floral Prints to Rock This Summer? Or, 17 Positions to Try for Mind-Blowing Orgasms? Etc. You compete against other individuals over who is more in-the-know on these topics, rather than your tribe vs. some other tribe. (We'll cover tribal clickbait in a bit.)

The fact that CNN and BuzzFeed jumped on this story, while Fox and MSNBC avoided it, means that it acted as a novelty-value factoid (for BuzzFeed's clickbait audience) or as a factoid that belongs to a larger narrative about how Trump is compromised by being a puppet of Russia (for CNN's propaganda audience).

MSNBC is not primarily a propaganda outlet -- in the sense of constructing informational narratives -- so they can avoid this piece of BS. MSNBC is about validating the tribal superiority of liberals, and that doesn't require publishing this particular fake news item. They have many other ways to push the emotional buttons of liberals, without publishing obvious BS, whereas CNN almost has to run with a factoid like this since it fits in with their informational approach, constructing a propaganda narrative about Trump being compromised due to something Russian.

Notice that it was BuzzFeed and not Huffington Post that served in the trash role. But then Huffington Post is like a clickbait form of MSNBC, not of CNN. It is geared toward validating the tribal superiority of liberals, and its listicles are about 8 Ethically Problematic Things Trump Said This Week on Twitter, or 11 Environmental Problems That Will Get Worse Under Republican Rule, and so on. It is more clickbait-y than MSNBC, hence all of the gossip / sex position / foodie novelty items on HuffPo that do not clog the arteries of MSNBC.

Like MSNBC, HuffPo could avoid this obvious BS and cheerlead for liberals in many other ways.


This differing behavior among the mass media who are all anti-Trump, has led us to a model of the media landscape based on two dimensions, aside from the liberal-conservative dimension:

First, is the approach informational or emotional? This dichotomy was already studied in the earlier post linked to before. Informational approaches appeal to egocentric audiences, while emotional approaches appeal to tribal audiences. Interest in information and egocentric focus characterizes the autistic or systemizing end of Baron-Cohen's spectrum, while resonance with emotions and tribal focus characterizes the empathetic end.

Second, are the items in the output linked and ordered into a larger whole, or are they intended to be mostly disconnected factoids with no hierarchical structure? This is how general or specific their vision is. CNN arranges its factoids into a larger propaganda narrative, while BuzzFeed makes no connections or grand narratives across its myriad listicles. Fox and MSNBC take many examples of why conservatives or liberals are superior and weave them into a larger narrative about tribal superiority, whereas the output at HuffPo is more like one damned reason after another for why we're better, and not as grand and mythological in its pretensions.

The nature of clickbait will be explored in another post.


Looking forward, we see that the main casualties will fall on the left column of that matrix, those whose approach is informational. If your whole appeal is making your audience more in-the-know, and what you told them is revealed to be pure BS, there goes your credibility.

There is no corresponding factor of credibility among the emotional-tribal outlets. They're judged by how good they are at whipping up their tribe through daily pep rallies.

Even within the informational side, those that are specific / clickbait will withstand the fallout from fake news better than those that are general / narrative. In the hyper-specific model, any given factoid isn't closely connected to any other, whereas in the general propaganda narrative model, one piece of the whole being infected raises the possibility that the whole damn thing is infected.

Especially if the source of infection is an unreliable or fake source, as in the latest case. Any idiot can string together a listicle for BuzzFeed, so no one assumes that if one item is proven wrong, the same author has produced other listicles that could be similarly compromised. In a propaganda outlet, one unreliable source has probably informed numerous items within an entire narrative, making the audience more likely to turn skeptical toward the whole story when just one piece is proven to be BS.

So, sites like BuzzFeed will prove more robust than CNN at being accepted by the public and influencing their worldview and behavior. Fortunately for us, BuzzFeed has no larger narrative that it is pushing, so it getting more attention than CNN is still a win for us in the information war.


What, if anything, will fill the vacuum left by CNN? There is no conservative or moderate version of CNN to expand its territory in that quadrant of the matrix. Fox and MSNBC are qualitatively different in being tribal and emotional, not presenting facts to inform people about what's going on in important topics. BuzzFeed and HuffPo are clickbait, not meant to string items together into a larger coherent story about current events.

For the short term, we will enter a truly post-factual era, where most "news" is opinion-based cheerleading for the audience's tribe.

Perhaps after some time, an entirely new organization will fill the void left by CNN -- informational in approach, and ordering its items into general stories rather than clickbait. It would be more moderate, and would have to be more populist and nationalist than CNN, since CNN's shattered credibility stemmed from it being so stubbornly elitist and globalist (publishing pure BS from the elitist-globalist CIA), during a re-alignment toward populism and nationalism.

The individuals who staff this new organization may come from existing outlets that practice other modes of journalism, where they feel uncomfortable ginning up emotional energy or writing listicles. They just want to report on what's going on in important matters, and doing so in a more coherent narrative form than thematically related tweets. Somewhere that Michael Tracey would fit in.


Getting there, the most important policies to pursue are busting up the media monopoly, which would not only deal the coup de grace to CNN, but would prevent the re-formation of another in its place. Only a mega-giant in the communications sector can take on the role of Ministry of Information.

Even if there were a thousand little wannabe CNNs, they would have to compete over audiences and have to distinguish themselves from one another. Some would be less propagandistic on issue X, others would be more honest on issue Y. Some would cover issues that were being censored by the others for propaganda reasons.

That's the worst-case scenario, which is still a quantum leap beyond where we are now, and does not take a sophisticated complex solution -- just sledgehammer the media monopolies.