Monday, October 27, 2008

The Trans-National Elites and the Populist Response

Recently, Winds of Change put up a post asserting that Obama's probable victory in the race for President signals a new model for electoral success. Boiled down to it's essentials, the post argues that trans-national elites have become fed up with America, American patriotism and populism, and are making themselves heard by telling America what to do, how to do it, in an auction available to the highest bidder. This is similar to posts by "Wretchard" at the Belmont Club arguing the same thing.

The essentials are proposed as this:

  1. Media Support that suppresses any reporting of illegality in fundraising or anything else by Obama.

  2. Vast Monetary advantage by tapping the global pool of (illegal) foreign contributions from trans-national elites, including Saudi, Pakistani, Hamas, and Hezbollah/Iranian money.

  3. Government funded vote fraud and mass-rallying organizations (ACORN).

  4. Intimidation and bullying ala The Coming Thugocracy

This model, that of a trans-national elite, taking steps to control the US Presidential election, does seem to describe what Obama's campaign really is. There are other data points. San Francisco columnist Mark Morford describes Obama as a "Lightworker", a near-parody of the WB series "Charmed" "White Lighter" characters.

Here's where it gets gooey. Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.

There could be nothing more trans-national than this statement above. A more stunning repudiation of nationalism, America, and populism could not be imagined.

Then there is the Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jonathon Valania, who argues, seriously, that White people should not be allowed to vote because they are "racist" and won't vote for Obama. Or Barack Obama, who noted:

I’m not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me.

You could not invent the more perfect, elitist, yuppie, trans-national statement, hostile to the people and where most of the majority population lives.

This is standard stuff in Europe. Where trans-national elites run most of Europe, save for Putin's Russia, and parts of Eastern Europe, and Italy. In places like the UK, or France, or Spain, or Germany, or Sweden, elites suppress nationalism, nationalist feeling, any measure of populism, and push the agenda of the trans-national elite, who form a sort of new "Medieval Priesthood" who try to tear down national institutions and national feelings, not to mention the national peoples themselves, to construct a new trans-national "peoples of the World." It is why you see considerable effort to replace native European populations with that of North African or African populations, and Dutch or Swedish politicians stating that they eagerly await the day when natives are a minority and Islam rules the land.

In most places in Europe, even places like Spain or Ireland, this sort of trans-national elitist politics works, because transfer payments from places like Germany and the UK allows trans-national elites to dispense various goodies, usually in the form of welfare payments or "free" government services to enough voters to assemble a winning coalition. This is why, even as European nations become overwhelmed with immigrants, who have declared de-facto independent states where natives dare not tread and the law does not apply (such as the UK's decision to allow Sharia Law to have the full force of Common law in Britain), governments responsible get elected and re-elected. While trans-national elites disparage unifying symbols such as flags, national symbols, national history, voters don't punish them. They have their goodies, and for now, that works.

Obama's probable victory is merely a transfer of the successful EU model, of trans-national politics, to America. However, the elites who make up the trans-national elites do have weaknesses, ones that make them vulnerable, and likely to create a world-wide backlash.

First, it's useful to note where trans-national elites do not hold sway: Italy, Austria, Russia, and parts of Eastern Europe. Russia was simply too corrupt, violent, and inherently nationalistic for the trans-national elites to hold sway. It's laughable to think that someone like Mark Morford, or Jonathon Valanian, much less Barack Obama, would face down a hardened KGB killer like Vladimir Putin, or any of his crew. In places where violence rules, and guns trump money from afar, trans-national elites are like Medieval Priests confronting marauding Vikings. Helpless.

Eastern Europe was of course, too poor, corrupt, disorganized, and chaotic for trans-national elites to give enough patronage money for local elites to build electoral alliances. The same holds true for Austria and Italy. Italy is quite instructive — notoriously corrupt, plagued by inefficiencies, no one expects anything from the government, and tax evasion and payoffs are a way of life. Indeed, the Lega Nord and other right oriented political groups are successful there, as in Austria, because people are concerned about influxes of immigrants. In Italy, the flood of North African, and Balkan (mostly Roma/Gypsy) illegal immigrants, has not been balanced by successful payoffs or patronage/welfare payments to enough voters to create a winning coalition. Meanwhile, Italians, Austrians, Poles, Bulgarians, etc. are not about to abolish their nations for some hazy notion of "citizenship of the world" and certainly not without lots of money flowing to lots of voters and people.

This was the same problem facing the Catholic Church's Medieval priesthood. While most of the educated, literate, and money-controlling people in Europe were Priests, Bishops, and Archbishops, they could not form patronage networks to rival that of the Kings, at the head of feudal patronage organizations. Significantly, the Priests could field no direct armies, or put men under arms themselves. The history of Europe from the 1100's onwards is a steady consolidation of power by Kings creating nations, and a long slow recession of international power by the Catholic Church.

The Kings of Medieval Europe could not match the production of wealth that the Catholic Church's Monasteries produced. The Kings could not produce the large amounts of educated, loyal to Rome, and absolutely required functionaries that the Church alone provided. But the Kings could create alliances to seize said Monasteries and distribute the wealth among themselves and barons, such as Henry the VIII. Or found universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of Paris, to create their own, loyal, literate functionaries. Because while the Monasteries were a huge source of wealth, they could not be defended. Defending the wealth required men under arms, something the Church was never able to produce.

In the same manner, the "Obama Model" of media in the tank, illegal foreign money (not reported by said in the tank media), voter fraud, and thug tactics has a weakness.

By moving entirely outside the media, through building grass-roots organizations, populists can control their message and use it create wedge politics, particularly through using nationalism and populism. This would include such things as various social events, private insurance, entertainment events, and so on. Particularly as the global economic crisis makes the ability of trans-national elites to provide welfare payoffs to broad slices of the electorate very questionable. In addition, populism and the notion that trans-national elites are "traitors" to the nation, putting the interests of illegal immigrants and various minority groups ahead of the nation and native majority have proved quite successful. Italy's Berlusconi, to use one example, used precisely this message to win election and stage a comeback after having been written off as politically dead.

The more that Harold Myerson of the Washington Post writes about how America must "Abolish Whiteness" by such gems as this:

In a year when the Democrats have an African American presidential nominee, the Republicans now more than ever are the white folks' party, the party that delays the advent of our multicultural future, the party of the American past. Republican conventions have long been bastions of de facto Caucasian exclusivity, but coming right after the diversity of Denver, this year's GOP convention is almost shockingly -- un-Americanly -- white.

The more the trans-national elites take this direction, the more they can be attacked with impunity as the enemy of the nation, it's traditions, and most importantly, it's majority. When Barack Obama's favorite Catholic priest Father Pfleger calls 401K plans "racist" and Obama's advisors write of plans to tax 401Ks to pay for "redistribution" of wealth, from Whites to Blacks, as part of a "reparative" measure to atone for slavery and segregation, this is a golden opportunity for identity politics. As per the 2000 Census, the population breakdown is 75% White, 12% Black, and 13% Hispanic. Now, while Whites may have declined relative to that Census, it will be only marginal, and the majority of the nation is still overwhelmingly White. It is not good politics to attack the White Majority, without offering ala Britain or France, lots of "free" services and transfer payments to make those attacks palatable. It's worth noting that both France and Britain are having political problems now that their budgets are being stretched by too much resources devoted to minorities, and not enough to the natives.

In some ways, the McCain campaign is the last gasp of the "old" Republican Party, before the coming wave of identity politics. It is unlikely that future Republican nominees will play "nice." Explicit appeals to identity politics and questions of fairness will be the rule. The new populists, in the US and elsewhere, will remind the White majority that the alternative favors immigrants and minorities in spending decisions, and policies. The media, in the tank for the trans-national elites, because they are trans-national elites themselves, will be bypassed. In favor of grassroots organizations. Offering entertainment, social events, celebrations of national traditions and holidays, parades, and likely insurance, and other "benevolent association" benefits that tie people to the populist organizations and offer an alternative from government run programs that will by definition be oriented towards trans-national elites and minorities.

Moreover, it's easy to point to all the foreign money and paint the trans-national elites and the media as traitors to the nation, and enemies of the majority of the people. It is a simple matter to show the intimidation and thugocracy of minority-oriented governments, be it an Obama thugocracy, or that of a Sarkozy, or Gordon Brown Sharia-compliant regime, and make the case that the majority, made second-class citizens or worse in their own nation, have no other alternative but the populists. Even more effective, offer money "seized" from Affirmative Action programs, or minority-oriented programs, to be spent on the majority. One such proposal would be to end Affirmative Action and guarantee any citizen (but exclude foreigners) "free" College tuition for a "B" average in High School.

This is the equivalent of the Kings and Barons seizing the Monasteries. There is a lot of money and property that the trans-nationals have, and they don't have much power to defend it. While their power, like that of the Medieval Priesthood is considerable, it is not unstoppable. And it is likely to produce a Nationalist, Populist backlash all around the West as the opposition sees the "rules" and devises an end-run around them, taking advantage of the weakness.
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Friday, October 24, 2008

NBC's Chuck: Men, Romance, and Female Empowerment

Fans of NBC's "Chuck" (Mondays, 8 PM Eastern/Pacific) know that it is one of the more insightful looks at modern romance, love, and relations between men and women to come out of Hollywood in a long time. Certainly, "Chuck" is the only Hollywood production that reflects our Science Fiction World, with massive changes in how men and women relate, driven by the Pill, the Condom, and anonymous urban living, far from family and friends and stable neighborhoods. The series is, of course, as light as a souffle, and amusing but not profound. That in itself is what makes "Chuck" so revolutionary — it is the only Hollywood production to spill the beans on "female empowerment" and how it affects most men.

Which is to say, create a very few winners, and mostly losers.

"Chuck," some episodes still watchable on or NBC's own website, shows what happens when society tilts radically to unrestricted freedom of choice, absent any social controls, for both men and women. Both lose, though in different ways, and loneliness, distance, and unhappy isolation results. While superficially a fun, spy spoof, "Chuck" is all about a modern man looking for romance and career, in short a family. Detailing his frustrations as he is continually derailed in that quest, despite his best efforts.

Unlike the half-hearted, clownish attempts by Judd Apatow, or the comedy "Wedding Crashers," the title character of "Chuck" (played by newcomer Zachary Levi) does not fear commitment or chose slackerdom out of any real motivation. Rather, he's unable, in a status-heavy world, to attract any significant and lasting interest by women, after his career opportunities were derailed, and he found himself in retail hell, hilariously depicted as a Best-Buy spoof "Buy More" retail outlet (itself constantly in competition with nearby "Large Mart.") Chuck's problem is that in a world of empowered females, he's the head geek of the "Nerd Herd" at the "Buy More." Hardly attractive despite his good qualities.

The series opens, in a "Mission Impossible" style spoof, in harsh contrast, black and white cinematography. Chuck and his friend, uber-slacker and bad influence Morgan Grimes, are attempting to escape his bedroom, when Chuck's sister, Ellie, interrupts, and everything switches to color and normal contrast. It's Chuck's birthday, and his sister, with whom he lives, has invited all her attractive, female doctor friends. Chuck wants to leave, as he explains, because he knows he'll be a wallflower even at his own party, and he knows very well his sister's friends will have no interest in him. Ellie's boyfriend, "Captain Awesome," so named because every thing he does is "awesome," tries to coach Chuck in the finer parts of conversing with attractive women. To no avail. Chuck explains to a friend of his sister's noting he went to Stanford, and asking after sexy Big Man on Campus, Bryce Larkin, that Bryce had been his friend, framed him for cheating and got him kicked out of Stanford, stealing his one and only girlfriend, Jill. Inter-cut with the explanation are shots of said Bryce, breaking into a secret facility, downloading all sorts of secrets and blowing up a computer. Bryce escapes, sends an email loaded with the secrets, and is shot just after the email. Chuck, everyone long since having abandoned him, at his own party, goes back to his bedroom to play computer games. Noticing the email from Bryce, he opens it, and sees a series of hypnotic images that implant all the nation's secrets into his brain. This is the set-up for the series.

Eventually, Chuck finds himself with a "pretend" girlfriend named "Sarah," a beautiful secret agent played by Australian import Yvonne Strahowski. Sarah is the ex-partner and lover of Bryce, who was himself a secret agent for the CIA. [Yes, it's fantasy.] Also on board to protect Chuck and the secrets he alone now holds, is NSA agent John Casey, played by the excellent Adam Baldwin ("My Bodyguard," and Firefly/Serenity) and played with brilliant, comic timing, a tough secret agent frustrated by going undercover as Chuck's co-worker at the Buy More.

What's interesting is how the attitudes of everyone around Chuck changes when they think he has a girlfriend, and a beautiful and intelligent one at that. All of a sudden, his sister has new respect for him. His co-workers, at the "Buy More," marvel at him. His uber-slacker buddy, Morgan even thinks he himself can become more than what he is (a man with "mad work-avoidance skills.")

Chuck himself of course, was derailed in life. Intelligent, but not exactly risk-seeking, he was on track to become a software executive in Silicon Valley. Now, as a guy kicked out of Stanford, for cheating (he was framed by his friend Bryce to stop his recruitment into the CIA, out of Bryce's fear that Chuck lacked the aggressiveness to survive), he's drifted into subsistence living and depression at the retail hell of the Buy More, populated by slackers, idiots, and petty tyrants. Until of course the secrets in his brain, which he alone possesses, and can access only randomly, prompted by outside stimuli, brings the beautiful, aggressive, and tough secret agent who has to play his girlfriend, while carrying a major torch for her in-and-out of her life ex-partner and boyfriend, Bryce Larkin.

Chuck's protector, Sarah, is a very empowered woman. Tough, aggressive, often engaging in physical combat, with a take-no-guff attitude and often hilariously humorless approach (Strahowski is a very funny straightwoman), Sarah is the closest thing to Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Wonder Woman currently on TV. And while it's clear that she likes and in her own way respects Chuck's intelligence, and bravery, as an ordinary, though smart guy, involved in the bizarre spy world she lives in, it's not enough for her to really fall for him. Even though she does indeed have feelings for Chuck, whenever her former partner and on-off boyfriend Bryce reappears, it is not enough to compete with the aggressive, high testosterone presence of uber-macho Bryce. Sarah is the ultimate tough female workaholic, who is often lonely, and unable to relate to anyone but her on and off boyfriend Bryce, and that on only a superficial leve.

Chuck is a very odd show, it's as if Buffy the Vampire Slayer were remade, and "Xander" was made the star, with Angel a bit player who comes in and out to remind the hero of just where he sits in the world of female empowerment. Which is not very high, indeed.

In fact, comparing the show with the two shows most like "Chuck," which would be "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and 1980's sci-fi comedy "Greatest American Hero" is instructive. In the latter, the hero "Ralph Hinckley," is a put-upon, mild mannered teacher of at-risk kids (played by unintentionally hilariously over-aged twenty-somethings channeling the Dead End kids). Given a super-hero suit by aliens that turns him into a, well, superhero, he has a girlfriend (the always excellent Connie Selleca). Who is a smart, competent lawyer. With the help of super-conservative, often funny, veteran FBI agent "Bill Maxwell" (played expertly by Robert Culp), all three tackle various villains and bad guys to save the day. Written by TV legend Stephen J. Cannell, and presaging many of the squabbling hero devices he used to great effect in the "A Team" the show "Greatest American Hero" was in one very important respect, far different than that of "Chuck."

"Ralph Hinckley" already had a girlfriend. His life was complicated by the arrival of the suit, and the responsibility of the powers it gave him, not to mention that he lost the instruction manual and could use them only inexpertly. But he already had a middle class life, even his own home, and merely wanted to hold on to that life balanced against his reponsibility. He didn't need super powers to get his girlfriend, even though she was a lawyer, and a skilled one who made good money, more than himself, at that. He already had the life he wanted BEFORE his superpowers.

Meanwhile, Buffy's own life was centered around various vampires, ordinary guys like Xander, no matter how brave, just could not compete. Not even the "Captain Awesome" like super-soldier "Riley Finn" could keep Buffy's affections against a vampire, once he lost his super-soldier abilities. Even Xander himself lost the affections and love of his girlfriend to one of Buffy's vampires, and very pointedly, all the ordinary men were nothing but props in Buffy's female empowerment. Which echoing many of the female-oriented vampire novels and TV series, was all about a "special" girl using her "unique" powers of sex appeal and "goodness" to "tame" some dangerous, powerful, bad-boy vampire, and live outside of society. As detailed in the post Vampires and Women, this is the basic plot-line for the "Twilight" series to the HBO Series "True Blood" based on the "Sookie Stackhouse" novels.

In the world of Cannell's 1980's show, "Greatest American Hero," female empowerment meant, well earning a living doing whatever one wanted, and being treated with respect. Selleca's character, "Pam" was often the brains of the trio, and within the storylines, given just as much insight and importance as the others. Her relationship with the hero "Ralph" (played by William Katt) was complicated by the arrival of the suit and it's responsibilities, but it was an adult one, and traditional. Ralph's relative lack of money, status, and power as a High School teacher didn't matter to her before the suit's arrival, and her attitude towards him didn't change after the suit entered their lives. She viewed him as the same man before and after he had superpowers. You could not have a more traditional, middle class attitude, towards the relationships between men and women. Based on respect and love, not power.

Move to the late 1990's and early 2000's, and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The dirty secret there was that female empowerment meant actual powers, and living outside society's strictures, just like all the other vampire fantasies aimed at women. One of the dominant themes of the show was a rejection of middle class values, rather than it's protection (as in the Cold-War era "Greatest American Hero.") Buffy, particularly after the show left her outside any real social controls (her mother died, she dropped out of College, she lived in her own closed world without any interaction with ordinary people), cared only about her relationships with vampires, power for it's own sake, and pointedly chose men based on their power and social dominance, rather than character, compassion, decency, loyalty, etc. Unsurprising, since her vampire boyfriends lacked any of those qualities. No matter, Buffy didn't care about that, merely power. A view shared by all the other female characters regarding men.

Now, move to 2007 (when"Chuck" premiered). Chuck, no matter how brave, smart, loyal, compassionate, and insightful, still can't achieve a steady relationship. Crushed when he's kicked out of Stanford, and his girlfriend Jill dumps him for Bryce, he drifts into Buy More and spends years there. It takes literally gaining "superpowers" for him to have any chance at even the illusion of romance (as opposed to the reality), and while the beautiful, and literally empowered secret agent who pretends to be his girlfriend likes him and even admires him, it's clear she'd rather "let's be friends" with him than want him as a boyfriend. That status is reserved for Chuck's arch-rival and former friend Bryce. Who is everything Chuck is not: heedless of personal risk, good at fighting, indeed enjoying it, and a natural with women, confident of his attractiveness to them.

Which gets to the heart of the matter, how female empowerment has changed. Rather than merely a matter of income and personal equality, wishing to be treated as equals, female empowerment in popular culture, seems to be a function of living outside the old social rules and indeed society as a whole, and choosing the most socially, physically, dominant men. Which leaves most men outside, stuck in the "let's be friends" zone. Even with the nation's secrets in your head.

"Sarah" herself lives alone, in a ritzy hotel room, in a downtown high rise. A far cry from the homey, ordinary, middle class tract house of "Greatest American Hero's" Ralph Hinckley. She drives a fancy car, while hero "Chuck" drives the company "Nerd Herd" car, complete with corporate paint job. Her life is lived anonymously, "Sarah" is not even her real name, and the hero "Chuck" knows next to nothing about her. Her past is a subject she's made clear is very, very closed to him. And far from the casual equality of the main characters in "Greatest American Hero," Chuck Bartowski, who has all the secrets, struggles to prove himself again and again to the spies who protect him, Sarah, his pretend-girlfriend, and John Casey (a hilarious echo of Culp's character in "Greatest American Hero," right down to the Reagan worship).

Chuck's sister asked Sarah, unknowingly, how a girl could choose Bryce over Chuck (referencing Jill, Chuck's only genuine girlfriend). And as the show makes clear, it's easy. Sarah, like Buffy before her, lives a largely anonymous life outside of normal society. While it's clear she envies the emotional closeness Chuck has to his sister and his friends, along with their mutual support, she relishes the absolute freedom her anonymity gives her. Freedom to be anyone, and do anything, since any people she knows can be dropped like excess baggage for the next mission. Only fellow uber-spy Bryce is her equal in fighting, in penchant for taking risks, for subterfuge, and courting danger, willingly. Chuck cannot compete, and in the anonymous life Sarah leads, has little to offer. When everything is done, she will go on with mysterious, dangerous missions, and Chuck will be left behind at the Buy More.

Interestingly, the Alpha and Omega of men around Chuck are his slacker buddy, Morgan, and his prospective brother in law, "Captain Awesome." A fellow doctor, alongside Chuck's sister Ellie, "Awesome" has a splendid physique, is often exercising, and is enamored of high-risk adventure sports like whitewater kayaking. He is however, very careful never to embarrass Chuck or Morgan, both obviously less successful than himself with women, and offers helpful, positive advice to both whenever he can. Awesome is just as impressive as Bryce, but mindful of how advantaged he is compared to the men around him, and shows a compassion that Bryce, engaged in danger even more than Awesome, lacks. Meanwhile, Morgan spends most of his time avoiding work, and his girlfriend Anna, a rebellious slacker type herself, often has to encourage Morgan to stand up for himself. It's clear in the antics at the "Buy More" that Chuck, regardless of formal authority, is the only thing keeping the store running, amidst the slackers and idiots found in the retail hell. Boss "Big Mike" retreats to his office to eat dough-nuts and sleep. No one else shows any leadership, and it's up to Chuck, reluctantly, to keep things running and often, bail out his slacker buddy Morgan, who's work avoidance has him often in trouble. At home of course, it's the fake relationship with his protector, who must dial down her aggressiveness in her role as the "girlfriend" that makes Chuck more respected by his sister, and Awesome. Both assuming that Chuck, in a relationship, plans to move out of retail and into something more reflective of his intelligence and possibilities. Viewers are shown, over and over, that Chuck even at the Buy More, just can't help doing a good job.

Chuck is clearly shown to have leadership potential, just not leadership in the style of Bryce Larkin (a clever play on the poet Philip Larkin, notorious for his dalliances). Unlike Bryce, and like his prospective brother-in-law, "Captain Awesome," Chuck is careful not to embarrass or humiliate his often idiotically clueless co-workers. Unlike either Bryce or Awesome, Chuck spends his days in tedium relieved with boredom, in the retail hell that is the Buy-More strip mall store where he works. Even with his potential obvious, and his technical and leadership skills applied in odd ways to his covert missions with his handlers, Chuck still doesn't fit in with his more experienced fellow spies.

In part that's a stylistic choice, a departure from the Cannell 1980's team of oddballs, but it is also a commentary on the more challenging environment of the post-modern, Science Fiction world of today, as opposed to the certainties of the 1980's. Female empowerment leads not to demands for equal respect, treatment, and pay, but for well, more power, and more powerful men.

It is made clear, to the viewers and Chuck, that while he would like to have a relationship with his protector, she demands the kind of man, that he literally cannot become, and that he has no future with her, since he does not want to be a spy, even if his lack of guile and being just exactly what he is, an everyman, gives him protective coloration amidst the hardened killer enemy spies he deals with on missions. Chuck cannot become his arch-nemesis Bryce, his attempts at a cool spy persona are played for laughs, and he knows that the very empowered female who is his protector demands an even more empowered man. A man both higher in status and importance (i.e., a cool "real" spy not a real life member of the "Nerd Herd") and just as if not more so, able to deal out violence and take risks.

In this, "Chuck" is a good exploration of our Science Fiction world. Author Richard Whitmire, and his site "Why Boys Fail" explores the gender gap in College. Fully ten percent more women graduate from college, and that's a reversal of the 1980's generation. Indeed, the empowered women of today's college age face, outside elite schools like Harvard or Yale, about 10% or more women than men in their schools. This means far fewer educated men in their peer/age group. Meanwhile, the competition for for women ages 20-30 is fierce. Boys outnumber girls in births, by about 105 to 100. While not having the horrific gender-specific abortions that characterize China or India, with the resultant "Bare Branches" and "excess" men who will never find wives, numbering about 40 million alone in China, nevertheless the better medical care resulting in far fewer infant boy's deaths, has led to a gender imbalance of around 117 to 100.

Let's put that in simple terms. That means for every 117 boys, randomly selected, there will be only 100 girls in their age group. Let us ponder that for a moment.

Now consider "Chuck" and his predicament. In College, he was able to find a girlfriend, despite being smart. Which is a turn-off to women, associated as it is with lower testosterone, unless men demonstrate, like Chuck's rival Bryce, high testosterone by doing athletic things and undertaking lots of risky behavior that signals higher testosterone, despite the smarts. The science blog Gene Expression has a link to several studies showing how higher IQ in men is associated with much higher rates of virginity. Everyone knows women do not like smart men. The technical term for these guys are nerds. They do not like them due to lack of testosterone, and this can be a problem. Chuck while in Stanford, was able to find a smart girl, who shared his interest in old text-based computer games, and have a relationship with her. As soon as he was kicked out of Stanford, she dumped him for Bryce. Ever afterward, Chuck like most guys outside of college, had no real ability to find and meet a girl he could form a relationship with.

It's interesting that both Ellie and "Awesome" are doctors, it's easy to see how their romance began, meeting in the same hospital where they work. Chuck works in a Buy More, lacks any status or power, and doesn't have any opportunity to meet women. Even if he did, he still works at the Buy More. Chuck doesn't take the kind of risks, as a matter of course, that impress women. He's not a band member, or an amateur X-games athlete, or anything like that. He likes computers and technology, and that's it.

The problem for men Chuck's age is that after College, the ability to meet women of similar background and interests is severely limited. Many like Chuck have the same sort of dry spells, after College. Instead of an institution that serves to bring men and women of the same age and interests together, they face brutal competition. Perhaps not a Bryce Larkin, lurking around, but men ages 22-40 all competing for the same group of young women, ages 22-30. The women who are out of college, in the workforce, and have men in their twenties and their thirties both competing for their favors. Made worse of course by the changing demographics that produce about 17% more boys than girls for each peer group.

All these factors, combined with the urban, highly mobile, and anonymous living make the demand for men far more like Bryce, than like Chuck. It's the world of female empowerment. Which makes losers out of guys like Chuck.

And intriguingly, the same dynamic makes losers out of women like "Sarah Walker." Sarah is portrayed as lonely, her boyfriend is often away, and she lacks any real emotional support. The excitement of the Alpha Male that her boyfriend Bryce provides, comes at a cost. No emotional support, no social network, no everyday life. Not much of a future, either, since his highly charged testosterone risk taking will last longer than Sarah's beauty, and ability to influence her male targets, which is a big part of her abilities as an agent. She is of course, unable to break away from a lifetime of habits, and cannot resist her old boyfriend, Bryce.

But Chuck's dilemma, how to compete with the Bryce Larkins (he really can't) in a world of empowered women demanding just such men, is instructive. As more and more men and women live apart, for far longer, and romance becomes not commonplace, but rare, how will society change? Perhaps part of the reason for the high rate of divorce is that men and women get married far later, when women have run through their string of Bryce Larkins, and obviously "settle" for the "nice guy" who well knows he is the last, not first choice. Both with too many partners, and not enough connections through shared intimacy of physical and emotional, during their key twenties. In a rush to have one child before infertility becomes irrevocable. Unable to spend time bonding together when both are at their peak attractiveness.

Perhaps also, the rise of single motherhood by choice, with women seeking their own Bryce Larkins on their terms, as absent fathers, and choosing lives of isolation, lead to more guys like Chuck on the outs. Absent even a pretend relationship with a beautiful secret agent, instead living the life of say "Jeffrey," the aging singleton of the Buy More stash. Intriguingly, Chuck's series suggests that Chuck's years-long tailspin is due to despair. Despair of finding any girl, and therefore just drifting through life at the Buy More.

It's telling that the main drama of today, as opposed to the 1980's, is simply finding a mate. A sad comment on how isolating modern life has become, and how lonely the current model of female empowerment really is, for both men and women.
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Return of the 1970s

While "that 70's Show" has long since ended it's run, the 1970's in America's cultural and political life never ends. In my post Obama's America: Is it Jonestown? I explored one aspect of the return of the 1970's, the eerie similarity between the People's Temple and eventual suicide and the Obama cult. Certainly, Obama echoes also many unattractive aspects of Jimmy Carter's Presidency, from supine surrender to Jihadist Islam in Iran and elsewhere, to an emphasis on a never ending apology for America and her existence, to a "sweater and tire gauge" approach to energy policy, and anti-nuclear hysteria.

But it is in the economy and culture of America where the 1970's are making a roaring comeback.

First, in the economy, many of the same factors, that is soaring inflation, particularly in gas and food prices, coupled with declining wages and high unemployment, bring to mind the "stagflation" of the 1970's, and anger with a bipartisan elite that will not fix the problem. Gone are the heydays of the 1990's, and even the early 2000's, when advertisers sought ever smaller niches for luxury or specialty goods. Gone too, are the discretionary spending on consumer goods, including electronics, computers, and various status symbols. Instead, most of consumer spending (and advertising) is focused on "value." Good gas mileage cars, cheap and healthy food, budget friendly consumer items. Ford, Chrysler, and GM are slashing advertising spending on TV, leaving networks scrambling to sell their spot market inventory to other buyers, at deep discounts.

High gas prices make discretionary travel by consumers a thing of the past. Gone too are spending on custom rims for cars, and other status-mongering displays. Starbucks has closed 600 stores, and will likely close more, as consumers stop spending $4 or more for a latte. Declining wages, economic uncertainty, fear of future layoffs, as companies plan massive budget cuts ($500 million next quarter for NBC Universal alone), amidst high gas and food prices naturally lead to a stagnant consumer economy.

Movie attendance is down, way down, and only inflated ticket prices and a few mega-hits such as "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight" have produced profits of any kind for movie studios. Meanwhile, infusion of investment money from outside sources has dried up among Wall Street's meltdown. In an economic downturn, $12 ticket prices for movies make them a once a year event, not a weekly one.

But it's in culture where we can see the return of the 1970's the most. While TV is filled with warmed-over X Files derivatives, such as "Fringe" and "Eleventh Hour," complete with dark, brooding 1990's Vancouver location shots and plot lines, one series stands out.

Which is, ABC's "Life on Mars," which at it's heart is the examination of the cultural battle to impose PC on the old, White Male dominated world. Based on the British series from 2006-2007, it features a modern day policeman from NYC, Sam Tyler, hit by a car and in a coma, imagining he is in 1973, or perhaps has traveled back in time, or both, or neither. The very ambiguity is post-Modern, from the era of today, rather than 1973. But, ironically, the main character Sam Tyler encounters, lead cop Gene Hunt, shows what is wrong with the modern era of PC.

Played by the dean of modern NYC-based method actors, former "Bad Lieutenant" star Harvey Keitel, Gene Hunt tells Tyler that his aim is to get thugs and bad guys off the street, and says, "When my time is done, people will he has been here, of that I am certain." In pursuit of this aim, Hunt will rough up suspects, intimidate witnesses, and ignore calls for a lawyer, to find his own brand of justice. Hunt and the nearly all male precinct ignore the contributions of "Annie Norris," played by Gretchen Moll, the lone female policewoman relegated to clerical duty. Casual sexism and un-PC expressions of the same, along with disregard for minorities and gays, also abound.

But what stands out is with all the lack of modern forensic technology, evidence, and scientific support, how EFFECTIVE Hunt and his crew are, unbound by the rules of political correctness and excessive legalism. Ironically, the character of Hunt, in the British version, became very popular, despite the original version's penchant for casual, minor corruption and brutality. Of course both shows, the British and American versions, are obsessed with pushing the "correctness" of the PC line, as opposed the result oriented good old boy world of 1973. Much in the same way of AMC's "Mad Men," the audience is invited to have contempt for the bygone world before PC, yet the audience in both cases actually LIKES the world before PC.

What stands out is how crippling the effects of PC have on getting anything done. Without computers, cell phones, DNA analysis, or other modern technology, Hunt and his team get results. It's striking how large the cultural appetite is for throwing out PC, in favor of getting results.
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Obama's America: Is it Jonestown?

On Nov 17, 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan, and several members of his party were shot to death in a Guyana airstrip, by members of Jim Jones "People's Temple" security force, before they could leave in several planes. Also killed with Ryan, were NBC Cameraman Bob Brown, NBC Reporter Don Harris, and People's Temple defector Patricia Parks. Following news of the shooting, and knowing that Guyanese authorities would be forced to act, charismatic and "racially transcendent" leader Jim Jones ordered a mass suicide, with poison Kool-Aide. Among the dead were infants, as well as their mothers. A needle-less syringe was used to squirt poison into the mouth of a one-year old infant, by his mother. In all, 909 People's Temple members died from the mass suicide, their dream of a revolutionary, socialist, "start from zero" society over, in violence, murder and suicide.

Is Jonestown the future of Barack Obama's America? It might well be.

The fatal flaw in what blogger Ed Driscoll calls the "start from zero" impulse is that all alternatives to the tried-and-true tradition of American representative, republican, constitutional democracy are inferior. Even worse, socialism inevitably degenerates rapidly into "Big Man" societies with a Jim Jones figure at the helm. Not all or even most socialist "Big Man" societies commit suicide, but the slow-motion devolution (ala New Wave band "Devo") into social and economic misery is clearly apparent. North Korea's "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il, complete with creepy songs idolizing him as a demi-God, might as well be Barack Hussein Obama, who also has children singing creepy songs idolizing him as a demi-God. Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Kim Jong-Il all rule with an iron, and likely hereditary hand, nations that are as separate and removed from international trade as possible, with starvation amidst plenty the rule, and worship of the leader as a God-King a facet of every aspect of life.

The Left, and Barack Hussein Obama, largely approve of these "revolutionary" societies because the Left, and Obama, wish to "start from zero" to "remake" society in their own, perfect image. While Christian beliefs have largely vanished from the Left, and certainly Obama himself, debased, "Volk Christian" ideas such as a mutated Calvinism, describing the predestined "saved" and "damned" and the idea of cleansing society from "the original sin" of "racism" hold sway over the deepest beliefs of the Left and Obama. Indeed, Obama himself explicitly holds himself up, like Jim Jones before him, as a "savior" for America, and the World, from the original sin of racism. Explicitly promising, just as Jim Jones did, to transform, in every aspect of daily life, not only America, but the world. Both Jessie Jackson, and Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, have seconded that notion, publicly stating that every aspect of life in America and the World will change under Obama, as both are "redeemed" from "racism" and remade in Obama's image.

The parallels between Jim Jones, who had similar things said about him by Jerry Brown, and Walter Mondale, in the 1970's, is uncanny.

Moreover, G. K. Chesterton's supposed saying that those who cease to believe in God do not believe in nothing, but rather anything, seems proved without a doubt. Indeed the corollary is that those who reject Christianity and it's general rules and value system, seem to embrace a debased and "Volk" version of Christianity absent the restraining aspects of tradition and custom.

But why do so many, otherwise sane and sensible people embrace "Big Men" and the obviously insane ideas of completely transforming society to "end racism" and indeed, consider "racism" (in the narrow sense of anti-Black, Hispanic prejudice by Whites, rather than the other way around) the most important problem facing Western Societies? In addition, why do these attempts to "start from Zero" always end in failure? Is this failure, violent suicide or grinding, miserable poverty, the future of Barack Hussein Obama's America?

First, the embrace of "Big Man" and "start from zero" politics. The West is wealthy, filled with people who have material belongings unimaginable just generations ago, but mostly socially isolated. Great material wealth, amidst grinding loneliness and social anxiety. Job centers are not in the small towns and villages of the past, or even regional centers like Toledo, or Cleveland, or Scranton PA. Rather, they exist in great coastal megalopolis regions, that include outlying suburbs. Most of the jobs in the US, and nearly all of the socially prestigious jobs lie in the NYC, LA, Seattle, Miami, Chicago (lakefront), and San Francisco metro areas. What characterizes life in these metro areas, is long and socially isolating commutes from suburb to the city, or suburb to suburb. Lack of any social mediating institutions such as Churches, volunteer organizations, neighborhoods, and extended nuclear family support network. Gone are the aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and so on that provide comfort and support to isolated middle class men and women.

People have no meaning in their life. Often, they remain single well into their thirties, or beyond, and lack the discipline and fulfillment that family life and responsibility bring. Meanwhile, the most dominating influence in their lives remain not intimate and supportive social connections to other people, in high-trust networks, but rather the top-down communication of the extremely liberal and idealistic media, in all it's forms, constantly preaching the flawed nature of Western society, and the need to "start from zero" to remake everything in the image of perfection. Which is itself not new, Plato, idealizing the distant Persian Empire, also wished to "start from zero" by installing a Philosopher King, and emulating the Spartan practice of raising children away from their families in cohorts, creating loyalty to the State.

Human beings are the most intensely social animals in existence. It is not for nothing that solitary confinement is considered a very tough prison sentence. Humans need social connections, it is critical to their survival. Meanwhile, Western society is built upon creating only the most minimal social connections, to facilitate rapid social and technological change. This creates a very fast-paced, constantly changing society, that in adopting and accelerating technological and social change, has few peers. But Western society's great weakness is loneliness, so it's no surprise that lonely men and women seek a charismatic "Big Man" to give their lives meaning, and transform society into a far more intimate and connected version.

Jim Jones and Barack Hussein Obama both take advantage of the deep social loneliness inherent in the West, and the desire to fill up empty lives with transcendent meaning, in the post-Christian era. All the other cults and crazy religions, from the Heaven's Gate suicidal cult, to the Branch Davidians, to UFO and Crop Circle believers, stem from Western society's great weakness. Among them, belief in "magic" of either a supernatural leader (Obama, Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite) or aliens or spirits or such, replacing the absent family and traditional religion. It's no surprise that the socially isolating West regularly produces leaders and followers who wish to destroy it. Particularly since comparatively great wealth allows people to afford such desires. Those struggling for existence focus on the next meal, not issue of loneliness and social isolation.

The idea of "racism," by which is usually assumed anti-Black or Hispanic prejudice by Whites alone, rather than anti-White racism by Blacks and Hispanics, as the "original sin" of the West is fairly obvious. The people promulgating such cults are themselves post-Christian, and thus their entire intellectual landscape is formed by Christian ideas and theology, though devoid of actual, real Christianity. The rantings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, against "racist" America, in his million dollar church, after which he retires to his exclusive, multi-million dollar mansion in a gated community, ought to produce gales of laughter from any sensible person. As would Louis Farrakhan, deeply implicated in the murder of Malcolm X, and raking in millions in the manner of disgraced televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, condemning a society that provides him wealth unimaginable by the greatest Pharaoh or Roman Emperor. Nor is, of course, Jeremiah Wright so filled with hatred against Whites that he is against affairs with married White women.

For Black practitioners of "anti-racism," the White guilt and rush by White elites to prove their "enlightened" status by falling all over themselves to endorse the agendas of said hustlers, is nothing more than an easy con. Obama, Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, and Louis Farrakhan have all made millions off this scam. But why do otherwise sensible Whites fall for this scam, since it's easy to see how much a scam the whole thing really is?

The answer is that far too many Whites have fairly (racist) ideas of Blacks, and to a lesser extent Hispanics, as "authentic" and critically, possessing social intimacy and connections they lack. Nearly every White reporter describing Black churches will comment on the "authenticity" and critically, the "warmth" of the services. Which are objectively, no more "warm" or "cold," no more "authentic" or "inauthentic" than similar services by White churches, such as the Baptists or Pentecostals. This harkens back to the criticism by Spike Lee of the Magical Negro in films such as "the Green Mile," or "Legend of Bagger Vance," or "Radio," in which various "magical" Black characters appear and function solely to create a spiritual and emotional renewal in "uptight" and repressed White protagonists. Lee's point that the Black characters are cardboard cutouts, with no spiritual or emotional lives themselves, or concerns beyond the White characters, is well taken. By any objective means, Blacks are no more "authentic" or connected socially than any other group of people in the West. They too, suffer social and emotional isolation, no less than their White peers. Indeed, if one looks at the rates of crime, single motherhood, and other social ills bedeviling the Black Community, all of which have risen dramatically over the last forty years, one can argue that Blacks are merely the canary in the coal mine of Western society, and far from being redeemers, are themselves in need of serious social renewal by a return to traditional mores and values and connections of the Judeo-Christian West.

Which points out the fatal flaw of "start from zero" efforts, whether it is in North Korea, or Cuba, or Venezuela, or the People's Temple, or Barack Hussein's America. The problem bedeviling Western society is NOT racism: by all objective, measurable means, anti-Black and anti-Hispanic racism does not exist in any meaningful form. Instead, most of the NFL is black, with most positions "reserved" by White and Black coaches alike to Black Players. The number of anti-Black violence incidents in the US during the last ten years can be counted on one hand, while that of anti-White violence by Blacks is substantial. The Duke LaCrosse case, like that of the Tawana Brawley farce, was a gigantic hoax created by anti-Western media, eager to find original sin where there was none in a post-Christian era. Meanwhile the racially motivated, Black-on-White, horrific rape-murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom are not unusual at all. The Bureau of Justice Statistics Page has a detailed breakdown of crime in the US. Black-on-White violent crime is approximately 17 times that of the reverse, and White-on-Black sexual assault is not even measurable.

Solving "racism" by Whites is a problem that does not exist, and thus focusing on the non-existent problem prevents real problems from being fixed. The real problems of the West are a lack of connections, values, traditions, and rules to both moderate totally independent and socially isolated people, and give meaning and values to their lives. The West is very, very strong in changing constantly, but that change is itself a weakness, since it requires loneliness and isolation. Going back to tribal "authenticity" is as stupid and silly as believing Aliens lurk behind the Hale-Bopp comet, waiting to take the castrated "saved" away to a new world. Instead, the social problems of the West, and particularly America, can only be solved by a more adaptable Judeo-Christian set of rules, and critically, mediating institutions that bring people together, in neighborhoods, voluntary associations, Churches, Synagogues, and the like. With rules, boundaries, limitations, but also a life filled with the social connections humans need to survive.

What then, is the future of Barack Hussein Obama's America, should he win (as is likely) the Presidency? Is it mass suicide? Grinding poverty under Big-Man-ism? Will Aliens arrive to whisk us all off to outer space and utopia?

Likely, the answer is a long, ugly, brutal struggle for political dominance, and a revival of Jacksonian politics, with both good and bad. Middle and working class Whites who have social connections, go to Church, or Synagogues, have a family, and particularly extended families, have no need for Barack Obama's new "People's Temple" devoted to erasing "white racism" and creating a "start from zero" Big Man society. They only lose, stuck in their existing socio-economic status, if they are not moved down to provide opportunity for Blacks and Hispanics. "Joe the Plumber" illustrates this nicely. He himself has ambitions to rise in wealth and status. This indeed is what America was founded upon, and remains the "American Dream." Sarah Palin in her rallies touches on this, saying she has no apologies for America or the American Dream.

About half the country falls into this category: working and middle class White men and women with families, who seek not social transcendence from a lonely, media-dominated social environment, but economic advancement. Advancement impossible if resources are devoted to "spreading the wealth" by taking money and opportunities away from the White majority (about 75% of the population) to simply give to Blacks and Hispanics, with a Big Man controlling every aspect of social life, including social mobility. The White working class knows it will lose under Barack Hussein Obama's Big Man society, and the White Yuppie class and Blacks and Hispanics know they will win. But long term, the ability of the family oriented White working and Middle classes to resist the new People's Temple that Barack Obama and his followers seek to build is strong.

"Joe the Plumber" may not have been shot like Congressman Ryan, but his brutal degradation in the Media and by Obama and Biden, with every aspect of his personal life dragged through the mud for asking "the One" a question that was answered honestly (and thus embarrassingly) is similar in tone to the reaction of David Koresh or Jim Jones. Long term, the only solution to this political struggle, which will not end with Obama's victory, is either total revolutionary violence, ala the murder of Congressman Ryan, or "revolutionary suicide." Under the Big Man regime of Barack Hussein Obama and his cult-like followers, expect both.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Barack Obama's Hidden Columbia Years

Barack Obama's time at Columbia, from 1981 to 1983, remains a mystery. He is known and remembered from his time at Harvard Law School, from 1988 to 1991. He is known and remembered by his classmates and professors at Occidental College, from 1979 to 1981. As well his time at Punahou School from fifth grade through High School.

It is only his time at Columbia, a mere two years, that remain hidden and unexamined. Why? Very likely, because Obama has something politically embarrassing to hide.

There are various theories floating around. One, put forward by Tom Maguire at Just One Minute proposes some sort of embarrassing involvement, however tangential, to the bombing campaign against the visit during that time to NYC by the South African Rugby team, the Springboks. The Weather Underground including Bill Ayers were involved in that bombing campaign. Bombs were set at JFK Airport, though no one was injured (thankfully).

Others have advanced depressive episodes, perhaps including treatment and/or hospitalization. Obama's first autobiography, "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," hints at episodes of depression, as well as teen age drug use. Others have speculated about drug use continuing into his College years, including at Columbia, and perhaps even selling drugs.

While this possibility cannot be excluded, I personally don't think it's likely. While it is true that Obama has confessed in both his first autobiography and speeches subsequent, to frequent drug use as a teen, his personality seems both censorious and abstemious. Rather, as documented by Stanley Kurz, Barack Obama's main aspect has not been getting high, but rather has been radical, anti-American and anti-White separatism.

In 1995, Obama as head of the Annenberg Challenge, openly repudiated integration and assimilation for Blacks and other minorities, instead embracing radical Black Nationalism and Separatism. His actions in disbursing the money backed up his rhetoric, all the money went to radical, anti-assimilationist organizations that taught not science and math, but racial grievances and angry, radical, separatist agendas.

No one remembers Barack Obama at all in his two years in Columbia University. That itself is suggestive. This fact indicates that he was simply not around to be remembered. At least not among student organizations, themselves of the radical and hard-left persuasion. Or his fellow students. Obama, atypically, seems to have taken no part in the social life at Columbia University. Not a single classmate can recall him.

While it is possible he was part of the Ayers bomb-throwing squad, it seems far more likely that he was elsewhere. That the reason Obama was not remembered was that he was not on campus much, except for class and exams, and that his social life did not include the mostly White campus radicals, or the mostly White Weathermen. But rather a different organization far off campus, that offered something else to Barack Obama. A sense of belonging.

Obama, by his own admission in "Dreams," says he consistently sought out the most radical, separatist, angry, and anti-American groups on campus. The Black nationalists and separatists, the gays, the feminists, and so on. What group, active in New York City at the time, offered even more radicalism, a sense of fellowship, "authenticity," and a connection to his abandoning but idolized father?

The answer is the Mosque.

All over the West, in Europe as well as America, many isolated, lonely, angry, radical, and non-White men seek out answers, fellowship, and meaning for themselves. Many find themselves at Mosques, most of which, according to the US State Dept., are funded by the Saudis and operate in the Wahabbist tradition. Men such as Mohammed Atta, or perhaps such as the twenty year old Barack Obama.

If Obama spent much of his time at a Mosque, in the company of devout, radical Muslims, it would explain why no one at Columbia, including his contemporary radical fellows, involved in anti-Apartheid protests, along with other issues, can remember him. It would explain both his life-long affinity with Islam (of which he has spoken and written favorably many times) and his ability, demonstrated on camera, to recite in Arabic the Muslim call to prayer. Such exposure, between 1981 and 1983, would account for his calling the Muslim call to prayer "the most beautiful sound" he has ever heard.

It would also be perhaps fatally embarrassing to his campaign for President. Particularly, if his associates from around that time later came to be indicted for various terrorist activities, such as the 1993 WTC bombings or the infamous "Bridge and Tunnel" plot of the "Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman, a rival to Osama bin Laden's lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahari, and founder of the Islamic Group. Omar Abdel-Rahman is currently serving a life sentence in the Federal Prison system at the Butner Federal Correctional Institution, for his role in that plot.

Such an association does not mean of course that Barack Obama is necessarily a Muslim, or a terrorist, but would be fatal to himself and the Democratic Party if revealed, in a political sense. Even if, as polls indicate, Obama wins the election and becomes President, he would be subject to removal by impeachment and conviction if such associations existed and were publicly revealed. Democrats, seeking political survival, would be sure to vote accordingly just as Republicans did during the Watergate scandal. Naturally, the opportunity for blackmail by said associates, if they did exist, would be enormous.

One could expect all sorts of concessions, to the Islamic world, and to terrorist Jihad groups in particular. Domestically as well as internationally, and concessions moreover sure to provoke a furious counter-reaction.

Naturally, it would be in the best interests of the nation for any such rumors to be either proved or disproved. Obama, unlike McCain or Palin or Biden, has a two year gap in his record about which almost nothing is known. He himself, in his autobiography, talks about that period very little, while discussing other chapters in his life extensively. No friends or associates from that period can attest to his activities or state of mind.

It would be good to know about Obama's activities either way. I am not optimistic, however, given that the puzzling lack of knowledge about Obama's two years at Columbia speaks to some sort of activity and social life oriented away from the campus and student social life.
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Obama's Lead With Working Class White Women

Currently, Barack Obama has a lead over John McCain in the race for the Presidency. A recent Wall Street Journal story shows that this lead is entirely due to Working Class White Women. Concerns over the economy, and a negative image of Sarah Palin, produced by the Media, as "lower class" have convinced Working Class White women to vote for Obama. For the moment.

However, lingering concerns about Affirmative Action and it's unfairness, remain, and WILL poison Obama's chances of governing, should he win the Presidency as expected. A very strong backlash potential exists, for Obama and the Democrats, and victory paradoxically could produce their doom.

Obama's wavering margin of victory rests on voters like Marla Hightower, of Kokomo Indiana.

"I feel like a white female or a white male has fewer opportunities than the black man or the black woman because of all the special treatment and special programs they have gotten," said Marla Hightower. "If Obama is elected, what's going to happen?"

This concern is real because under the Affirmative Action regime, Whites ARE discriminated against, and because of demographics, are constantly declining in both absolute and relative numbers. Fewer White children relative to Hispanic (or really, that of Mexican Immigrants, both legal and mostly, illegal) children are born each year, and of course the wave of illegal immigration brings millions of new, mostly Mexican people inside the United States every year. Fewer Whites in both absolute and relative numbers means each White person bears more pain, in lost opportunities and overt discrimination.

It's worth noting that Affirmative Action has never existed in the West, in either the US or Europe, during a prolonged recession or depression. Indeed, the history of lingering depressions suggests ugly racial strife, as desperate men and women try to hold onto jobs in a labor market flooded with people willing to work for anything. The AFL worked hard during the Depression to exclude Blacks from the railroads, and the Roosevelt Administration, dependent on White labor support, did not object. Affirmative Action with a rapidly expanding economy, and an overwhelmingly White populace, is radically different from hard times where people are desperate for work, and to hang onto their jobs.

It is absolutely true that Affirmative Action discriminates against middle and working class Whites, to benefit Blacks and Hispanics (who are, practically speaking, Mexican origin). This discrimination has been held Constitutional, but has never been politically tested during a lingering recession/depression.

When, not if, White Working Class women get the "first fired, last hired" treatment during hard times, they will turn on him with a fury. Now, they may not be able to vote him out of office, right away, but they can vote out Democrats for Republicans in the next Congressional election cycle, two years from now. This treatment is inevitable, because Obama has no experience in balancing the competing interests of Working Class Whites, with that of the radical, grievance-based Black Nationalists and Yuppie White radicals that make up his electoral base. Even more importantly, neither does his team. Figures such as David Axelrod, Samantha Power, William Ayers, and John Lewis have no experience leading winning coalitions of the majority White Working-Middle Class. Let alone leading them during hard times.

Michelle Obama had a view of how politics work:

"The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more."

Telling Working Class White women, after the election, that they will have to give up their piece of the pie so someone else can have more, is not going to be winning governing politics. Particularly during hard times.

The Obama electoral coalition is fragile. It is based, mostly, on Blacks, Hispanics, White Yuppies, College kids, and Working Class White women. The latter have serious doubts about Obama, but lack confidence in McCain's ability to manage the economy. Obama's coalition, and that of the Democrats, could come crashing down. The WSJ story notes that Working Class White Men still support McCain, 58% to 34%, unchanged despite the economic meltdown. Working Class White Men don't like Obama, which is unsurprising given that Dems are organized against them, in political agendas. Particularly Affirmative Action.

A continued economic downturn could provoke massive political fights, as Working Class White Women turn on Obama and Democrats, in alliance with Working Class White Men. Affirmative Action demands that Whites get fired first, in layoffs. Obama and the Democrats, particularly if they win big victories, will be expected to "fix" things. Layoffs of Whites first at factories and other employers, to protect Black and Hispanic jobs, will create only enemies.

Obama's strategic weakness is that he and the Democrats have depended on patronage, in Black and Hispanic communities and organizations, and have not successfully promoted various goodies and handouts to the White working (and middle) class. Who still form the demographic majority of the nation. Neither Obama or Dems have the experience to manage shrinking revenues, in an extended recession, much less avoid punishing the majority White population.

Indeed, Obama's political career, plagued by doubts among Blacks that he is "Black enough," and resulting in the decades long embrace of Jeremiah Wright, Trinity United, Louis Farrakhan, and other anti-White Black Nationalists/Separatists, particularly in regards to the money doled out to Black Nationalist and Separatists during the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, as documented by Stanley Kurz, in the National Review, shows an inability to abandon radical, anti-White politics even when it is to his advantage.

The one point in Obama's career, when he had millions of dollars of money to dole out, shows he chose radical, angry, Black Nationalist/Separatist groups promoting grievance studies and anti-White sentiment.

Obama's ability to govern the United States, during hard times, is not encouraging. If anyone thought the Bush Administration's fights with the Left over Iraq and Afghanistan was going to be a fun time, just wait until White workers are fired first.

The Jessie Helms "Hands" ad will return in some form. Because long-term, the Democrats strategy of building their minority plus yuppies will not be able to refrain from punishing the majority of the population. They just can't help it.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Bailout — Failure of the Elites and the Populists Part 2

In my prior post The Bailout, Energy, and Nukes — Failure of the Elites and Populists Part 1 I discussed the failure of the elites to address anything significant, buoyed by nearly 60 years of economic good times and the ability to avoid making hard decisions.

But why haven't the populists been able to push aside the elites, and have their way? Culture 11 points out that the populists can only block measures, but lack the strength to pass their own measure and sweep away the elites who oppose them. Why?

It's helpful to look back on the last two gasps of populism, in California. Examining the history of Proposition 13, and Proposition 187, tells us a lot about why populism has failed.

Proposition 13 was the result of the California governing elites failing to control the growth of taxes, often forcing retired people out of their homes, as they became unable to pay ever-increasing taxes. Taxes, that in the aftermath of the Serrano v. Priest decision, were distributed equally to all school districts in California. Middle class families, though, could see easily that they could be forced out of their homes by taxes that had no limit. There was a large pool of angry, afraid, mostly White homeowners eager to limit the ability of the politicians to tax them out of their homes.

But Proposition 13 would have gone nowhere without both leaders, and widespread support. Howard Jarvis, retired newspaper man and small time manufacture, and Paul Gann, provided the leadership, including the grass-roots organization, the Taxpayers Association. The foot soldiers of Proposition 13, however, were mostly middle class, middle aged homeowners. Who reasonably feared being taxed out of their homes, in a time of flat or declining incomes and inflationary prices for almost everything.

California in 1978, was still a middle class, mostly white, state. Filled with people who mostly trusted each other, and participated in civic organizations like the Taxpayers Association. Populist political reform does not just happen, and requires both leaders and a "deep" organization to provide voter contact, phone banks, walking precincts, and the like. As well as elect supporters of populist programs and initiatives, and defeat opponents.

"Diversity" undermines this ability to form civic bonds, as Robert Putnam showed in his latest research. As he notes, in San Francisco and Los Angeles, only 30 percent of people trust each other, whereas that figure rises to 70-80% among North and South Dakota. The difference? The Dakotas are overwhelmingly white, and middle-working class white at that. Diversity, as Putnam's study shows, makes people hunker down. Distrust each other, the media, people of their own race, other races, and less volunteering. The website Volunteering in America shows that cities that are ethnically and racially homogeneous have much higher rates of volunteering. Minneapolis and Salt Lake City are number one and number two, respectively, in rates of volunteering (39, 37%). Los Angeles is at the bottom, at #44, with only 22% of the population volunteering.

The California of 1978 more closely resembled that of Salt Lake City or Minneapolis, than the "diverse" city it is now, with everyone hunkered down, allowing the elites to move unopposed.

By contrast, sixteen years later, while Proposition 187 passed, easily, with almost 60% of the vote, State Senator Art Torres called it the "last gasp of White America in California." He was proved quickly correct, as the courts found the political courage to overturn the measure, without facing populist fury, as Rose Bird was in 1986, when she was recalled (along with Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin) from the California Supreme Court over her opposition to the death penalty and other anti-crime measures.

The difference between 1978's populist wave and 1994's populist wave is diversity, made worse by the lack of married couples, and a declining middle class. The Volunteering In America study has an interesting set of numbers: volunteering peaks between age 35 to 54, the prime years for people to get married, have children, and become homeowners. Suburban homeowners volunteer more than urban renters. President Clinton's defense cuts devastated the Defense Industry in Southern California, causing many jobs to be lost as defense contractors consolidated. High paying jobs went away, and with them, many defense workers, who migrated to lower cost states such as Utah, Colorado, or Arizona.

In California, after Proposition 187 passed, outlawing public services to illegal aliens (very popular among a citizenry seeing themselves marginalized in their own state, by foreign nationals, there illegally and consuming most of the public services), politicians felt no heat in continuing to oppose it. Unlike Jerry Brown, who had opposed Proposition 13 as Governor, and upon it's passage immediately set about to support it, seeing the power of the populists, California Governor Gray Davis ended the state's appeals of court decisions overturning the proposition.

Lack of a large, robust, volunteer organization, leaders, and in particular low-level volunteer leaders guaranteed that Proposition 187 would be defeated. The same happened with California Proposition 209, prohibiting state institutions such as the University of California, from considering race, sex, or ethnicity. Yet Affirmative Action remains alive and well in all institutions, roundly ignored by political elites and the bureaucrats who follow them. Predictably, there are more lawsuits involving White and Asian students who allege a defacto Affirmative Action system discriminating against them in admissions to the University of California.

"Diversity," plus the high cost of housing in places like California or the Chicago Metro Area, or the New York City metroplex, where water or deserts limit the housing stock, chases away much of the middle class, and makes what limited middle class that exists far less likely to cooperate to preserve populist gains through the initiative process. Throw in declining marriage rates as women making their own money prefer to forgo marriage altogether in favor of first, the single life, then single motherhood, and you have a very good explanation of why populism has failed.

Not just in California, but across America. The "Taxpayer Revolt" that swept the nation in the late 1970's could not be replicated in today's America, filled with isolated, ultra-hip yuppies jocking for position, power, and status in an endless mating dance (think "Friends" where the show never ends). Across Europe, the same conditions — limited housing stock in job centers like London, Paris, and Amsterdam, endless yuppie consumerism in relationships replacing middle class marriage and family, and most of all lots of alien immigrants that introduce "Diversity" and massive distrust, have limited sharply the ability of populists to sweep out elites who resist populist measures.

This has done elites no favors. Joe Biden, a Senator for 36 years, has no new insights into the world of nuclear proliferation, and rising energy prices threatening in tandem the fundamental power of the West. For that matter, neither does Barack Obama, heir to a tired, worn-out 1960's radicalism, that was rejected by the people in the 1970's and replaced by Ronald Reagan decisively in 1981. Nor, arguably, does John McCain have any new ideas on the subject either. Only Sarah Palin, an outsider, with no connections, and a tradition of populist reform, has new ideas. Drill for oil in the US now for well paying blue collar jobs, and better energy independence. It won't solve everything all at once, but is an adult approach instead of wishing for a magic wand. It's no accident of course, that Palin comes from "Last Frontier" Alaska, a place where populism still reigns, and it was possible for an outsider like herself to actually sweep from power her own Party's sitting governor in a populist wave. Alaska's affordable housing, and good paying blue collar jobs speak for itself in that regard.

This suggests, strongly, that any new ideas, and leaders, and grassroots organizations will come out of the Mountain West: Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming. Places with a largely homogeneous, White, and middle-working class population. Able to build large trust networks, and volunteer organizations. With people mostly married, in un-hip and un-trendy cities like Boise, or Salt Lake, or Bozeman. It's where the next Howard Jarvis, and Proposition 13 will come from.

All those other places? Too single, too hip, too isolated, and too distrustfully diverse to make a difference.
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The Bailout, Energy, and Nukes — Failure of the Elites and the Populists Part 1

Recently, the Website Culture 11 noted the failure of the populist forces to affect the debate significantly on the Wall Street Bailout, $700 billion and climbing. But what is just as notable is the failure of the elites to head off the danger, and provide any means to fix the economy in the first place. America, and the West, face a crisis: their elites are incapable of action, stasis-loving, and incapable of being removed by the populists.

The cause of the crisis, like so much else, is demographics.

First, the elites have been in power for a long time. Take say, Harold M Ickes, former White House Chief of Staff for Bill Clinton, and son of FDR's Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes. Or perhaps TV/Movie writer-producer Joss Whedon, son of Tom Whedon, "Golden Girls" and "Benson" writer-producer, and grandson of John Whedon, writer of "The Andy Griffith Show" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show." There is also John McCain, son and grandson of US Navy Admirals, and CNN's Anderson Cooper, grandson of Gloria Vanderbilt.

Politics, entertainment and media, finance, and corporate executives suffer from stagnation. Sons and daughters of inter-connected elites, occupy most of the limited slots available, the problem getting worse, not better. A good example being the contrast between Jack Welch, son of a railroad conductor and housewife, who received his MS and Phd from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his successor as the head of GE, Jeffrey Immelt, son of the manager of the GE Aircraft Engine Division, Dartmouth BA and Harvard MBA.

Connections, of course, always matter, but they matter the most when the slots in executive power of one sort or another are limited, and advancement is through these connections, not producing value to organizations by means of new politics, new products, or new entertainment.

Part of this stagnation and interlocking, nepotistic networks, is due to the extraordinary success and wealth created in the post WWII period. The chart below, found on the St. Louis Federal Reserve Website shows how GDP simply exploded after WWII, particularly from the mid 1980's onward, despite the recessions (the shaded areas).

A rising economy can make even the most incompetent strategy seem worthwhile as fools and shrewd operators alike are buoyed by a rising economy. As Furious D notes on his website, Hollywood has a habit of making it's own production system even more costly, by constantly cheating it's creative people out of residuals. What Furious D calls a "self-fulfilling idiocy," where creative people, knowing they will be cheated out of residuals, demand the same monetary value up-front in salaries. A strategy so idiotic, and guaranteed to cause problems, that only an inbred elite, unchallenged by others, would follow it. Because a rising economy has fueled an increased appetite for entertainment, along with all other consumer goods. Even periodic recessions have not dampened this appetite, and looking at the growth curve, it's easy to see why.

But even more important, there have been few challenges to the establishment, allowing outsiders and non-connected people to move into the elites, and challenge established ways of doing things and long-held conceptions. In Hollywood, the current TV and Movie production models, with their high capital requirements and limited pool of distributors, have shut out those who would challenge orthodoxy, and as a side-effect, made films and television very, very liberal. In finance, in large corporations, and in particular, politics, the same people sit in "safe" positions, year after year. Joe Biden, for example, has been in the US Senate since 1972, a total of 36 years. A certain set of assumptions shared by Liberals oozes around all these institutions, like a toxic cloud: the US Military is generally bad, or incompetent, or war-mongering, or all three; Third World peoples and dictators are "noble savages" who want to "resist" US technology and modern industrial life. Christianity and Judaism are hopelessly corrupt, while other religions, including Islam but also Animism, Voodoo, etc. are spiritually enlightened and "pure." Certain "pure" White protagonists in movies and television show their spiritual superiority by throwing over the established, existing belief structure of Western Judeo-Christianity in favor of the more "authentic" native beliefs.

At it's worst in entertainment, this produces the sort of film or television production that Spike Lee dubbed "the Magical Negro" where a "magical" yet somehow crippled Black character (such as Michael Clarke Duncan in "the Green Mile" or Will Smith in "Legend of Bagger Vance") appears magically to save or spiritually enlighten a conflicted White protagonist.

The only directly bad short-term outcome with entertainment elites being stuck in amber, unchallenged by newcomers lacking connections, and hungry, is bad entertainment. In politics and business, however, it is deadly. Hollywood will eventually face, through high-speed internet connections, a global English speaking talent pool, and various cheap portals, productions like Felicia Day's The Guild that will eventually grow to direct challenges to their profits. At worst, Time-Warner and GE stockholders will lose money, probably lots of it. When the future of the US automotive industry or Wall Street is question, however, not to mention the US economy, that's a different story.

Energy prices, as shown in the graph below from WTRG have a fairly direct relationship to recessions, given how large an input energy costs are to the basic needs of a global economy, in the US or in Europe: production, transportation, etc. all depend on cheap energy, as does consumer spending. Dollars spent to travel to work and back, and heat and cool houses cannot be spent on consumer goods like televisions and DVDs, or durable goods like houses or cars.

However, if the theories about peak oil are correct, even with a global recession or depression, oil will not become significantly cheaper. Even worse, "Global Warming" fears can restrict oil and fossil fuel substitutes, creating a world of expensive energy under cap and trade schemes that only make money for middlemen and subtract rather than add to economic efficiency. Much of the post-war boom was fueled by cheap oil, the micro-computer revolution (increasing efficiency), and far better transport networks, including global ones, that made the costs of manufactured goods far lower and more affordable.

The elites grew up in a time of near uninterrupted economic growth, and cannot literally conceive of anything that could challenge it. People such as Barney Frank, or Charles Dodd, or Chuck Schumer, or Barack Obama, cannot literally conceive of the notion that the US government may not be able to bail out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, long term, and keep it's other obligations, because the economy might cease to grow constantly as it has in the post-War era, and might even contract. They cannot understand that the money just might not be there. That the government could be broke. Hence the irresponsible, non-serious approach to the economic crisis and the bailout. Words by Schumer and others to spark panic, pork-laden approach to the bailout, and tacking on all sorts of things to radical groups like ACORN and La Raza, in the billions, in a time of crisis.

The two greatest challenges that the US faced in the post-Cold War era, after 1991 when the USSR fell apart, has been securing a cheap global supply of energy, to keep the global economic system in place, and creating deterrence for itself and it's allies against nuclear proliferation and use of nukes by non-state actors.

Over and over again, new sources of energy, be they coal, oil, nuclear power, or wind farms off Martha's Vineyard (killed by Ted Kennedy), have been delayed, stopped, or hobbled by elites who simply assume that cheap energy will always be available. As the US and the world imports more of it's oil from the volatile Persian Gulf, cheap isolationism and moralizing overcome the US's real interests in keeping oil flowing, cheaply, from that vital region, including Iraq. Meanwhile, no new significant oil refineries have been built in the US since 1979, and drilling is severely restricted. Since Three Mile Island in 1979, no new nuclear power plants have been built.

Meanwhile, no strategy for dealing with the threat of nuclear proliferation by failed states. Pakistan is a nation where raw sewage floats by on the street in front of the Presidential palace during monsoons. A set of squabbling tribes, factions, and various jihad organizations, with a flag, Pakistan also has 100 + nukes. Under fairly dubious control, by the jihad-riddled Pakistani Army. Delivery by shipping container, is a real possibility, to places like Copenhagen, or New York City. With Iran racing towards nukes, the problem only gets worse. Once Iran has nukes, everyone else in the region will get them too.

Nuclear proliferation won't stop by negotiations, or sanctions, or anything else. Even military invasions at this point are likely useless, since there are simply far too many nations that want and are developing nuclear weapons. The basic technology is 63 years old, well understood, and merely a matter of time and money. Nations such as China, Russia, and North Korea, not to mention Pakistan, will sell to those who have the cash.

This is particularly dangerous since various factions can gain power by attacking the US. Khomeni gained absolute power in the aftermath of the Tehran Embassy hostage crisis, and shot his opponents. A small price to pay for Saddam's war. A mindset that Jimmy Carter and his administration never understood. But one evident in Osama bin Laden (who hoped to raise an exile Jihad Army to take over Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of 9/11), the "Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel Rahman (the 1993 WTC bombing mastermind and convicted of follow-on attacks), and many others.

The Washington elites refuse to even consider that nuclear destruction of US or allied cities (such as Copenhagen, home to the Danish "Mohammed" cartoonists) is a real threat. Even Rand Corporations Bryan Jenkins, in a recent Wall Street Journal article, was quoted as saying he felt that any threat to the US from nuclear proliferation was "remote." When for forces aligned with Osama bin Laden, it is merely a question of suborning the guardians of Pakistani nukes, and smuggling one or two out of the country, to New York City or other places. Something difficult, but no more conceptually difficult than 9/11. After all, the nukes are already built!

Which comes to the real failure of the elites. Our leaders, throughout the West, have not faced serious challenges, and either been re-invigorated, or swept away and replaced with new blood, in generations. Difficult measures, which require domestic and foreign losers and winners, are avoided because nearly 60 years of uninterrupted good times have allowed the path of least resistance.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were allowed to fester, financing bad loans with government guarantees, because tackling the problem would have produced political pain, and there was little perception of long-term political disaster. Oil prices have been allowed to rise, and futile fantasies of "green" energy that has no environmental or social costs predominate energy policy, despite the clear link to US domestic and international prosperity and cheap energy. No new sources of energy to replace oil and gas have been created, and US and international dependence on the volatile Persian Gulf region only increased,while moralizing dominates the discussion of our forces there. Elites even now wish to abandon Iraq, now that it's oil production has been secured for the West, and give the Iranians defacto control over Iraqi oil production. Part and parcel of a campaign that produced both the statement by Barack Obama that he would like to see gas at $10 a gallon, and lack of any response by his rival John McCain, or the press.

But just as bad, and perhaps even worse, is the failure to articulate a set of policies designed to deter attack by forces essentially "hijacking" existing nuclear arsenals. What does Al Qaeda need to build it's own nukes if it merely "borrows" a few from Pakistan's existing arsenal, either without the government's or Army's knowledge, or with tacit backing by factions inside either one. How does the US deter Iran from using Hezbollah to nuke ourselves or an ally, to advantage one faction over another?

The seriousness of the situation, the equalizing effect of nuclear technology, allowing tribal leaders, or Revolutionary Guard faction leaders, the ability to decide if New York City and six million Americans live or die, simply has not been grasped by an inbred, aging, and fundamentally unserious and incompetent elite.

In my next post, I will explain why the populists have not been able to sweep the elites out of power.
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