Friday, September 15, 2023

Regime Change - Toward A Postliberal Future

I find the title of the book to be unnecessarily provocative. The word "regime" can be looked at as "a way of doing things", or "culture", or possibly "worldview"."Regime Change" sounds like the replacement of  authoritarian rule -- more like "revolution", which is what this book asserts that the "creative destruction" of Democratic Capitalism as implemented is effectively a state of revolution all the time, that needs to be changed. 

What we are witnessing in America is a regime that is exhausted. Liberalism has not only failed, as I argued in my last book, but its dual embrace of economic and social ‘progress’ has generated a particularly virulent form of that ancient divide that pits the ‘few’ against the ‘many.’

Confession! As I later read the 2nd link, I got confused about which linked article I pulled which quote from. The 2nd link is "better" asin having more depth ... lots of Strauss, Machiavelli, etc. 

I would recommend Deneen's last book "Why Liberalism Failed" to be read as a prelude to this one. They are somewhat like two volumes on our failed model of governance. 

I may have missed it, but I don't see that Deneen has adequately defined "mixed regime", which shows up a lot in the book. I'll try to define this fairly nebulous beast. It is a "stew" that combines democracy (rule by the masses), aristocracy(rule by the "elite" or "best") and monarchy (rule by a king/queen). Aristotle is often credited with being the first to dream it up, but l like much of ancient history, that may be apocryphal. No matter, referring to Aristotle will always give one the patina of intellectualism! 

To try to map the "mixed regime" onto the US, as the president being the "monarch", the senate (prior to the 17th amendment which elected senators by popular vote) being the "aristocracy", and the house would be the democracy. Imprecise at best. Very simply, the book would assert that we have attempted to drift toward democracy, while really ended up being an oligarchy, a form of "rule by the elite", in our case meaning the wealthy, the democrats, big media, big business, and the Administrative State as the "means" by which they rule. Increasingly even using organizations like the FBI to attack their political adversaries. 

 One of our many problems today is that the words we use have changed meaning over time. "Classical Liberals"  (Locke, Hayek, Friedman, etc) put pretty much all their faith in Capitalism, "Creative Destruction" and "a rising tide lifts all boats". Up until recently, I would have confidently accepted the label "classical liberal" because I believe that the rising tide of greater prosperity HAS lifted all the boats ECONOMICALLY. It certainly hasn't lifted them equally, but that is impossible ... the US has given people equal opportunity, there is no way to give them equal ability! 

Sadly however it is increasingly clear that the "Golden Goose" of Capitalism/Creative Destruction has killed the culture that it appears will now kill that creator of plenty (too much?) that Capitalism/Creative Destruction bequeathed us with. "Stuff" has created a "matter over mind/spirit" culture where most live lives of despair

The "liberals" of today, commonly called "progressives", want to keep all the economic progress, but "somehow" have it be "equal". 

Progressive liberalism has held that through the overcoming of all forms of parochial and traditional belief and practice, ancient divisions and limits could be overcome and instead be replaced by a universalised empathy. With the advance of progress, the old divisions – once based in class, but increasingly defined in the terms of sexual identity – would wither away and give rise to the birth of a new humanity.

Utopianism is a perpetual danger to mankind. The road to "perfection" in this world has proven over and over again to be the road to Hell. The ancient problem of the conflict between "the few and the many".  I agree with Anton: 

Deneen has our elites’ number, yet even in Regime Changs early pages I found myself disagreeing a bit. He maps the ancient conflict between the few and the many onto our present predicament in a way I find a little too one-to-one. What we face today is less the age-old struggle between rich and poor than a coalition (conspiracy?) of high and low against the middle.

Anton goes on to say:

Perhaps it’s more precise to say that in contemporary America there is not one “popular” or downscale class but two: one that benefits from, and hence is aligned with, the present ruling class and one that is hurt by it and thus opposed. These two humors of populares cannot unite because their interests are diametrically opposed: the former are not only direct clients of the ruling class but often direct beneficiaries of elite depredations against what the late Angelo Codevilla called the “country class.”

From the 2nd linked review: 

What is needed — and what most ordinary people want — is stability, order, continuity and a sense of gratitude for the past and obligation toward the future.

I believe that is what "ordinary people" SHOULD want if they think about it, but I'm afraid we are too far gone into meaningless distraction and consumerism for most to think about much of anything at that levl of cogence ... but the pessimism tends to be strong with me.  

 In 2016 we were introduced to the strange coalition. between the Bernie supporters and the Trump supporters. The elites hate both Trump and Bernie, thus they coronated Hillary, one of their own. Trump united the lower class people that wanted to get back to decent paying jobs and the lower middle class people that knew they were being screwed by the elite. A lot of the far left Bernie Bros just sat it out, but some were so mad at seeing Hillary coronated that they even voted for Trump! 

Deneen begins his book, “nobody can look at America and think it is flourishing.” I suppose one can always find someone to say anything, but the qualifier is decisive here and Deneen is exactly right. If you think America 2023 is in good shape, that is ipso facto proof that you lack sense.

So we are a divided disaster with a real lack of any idea of how to get back to something where there is agreement on working together for "the Common Good". 

We need to go deeper to understand a "way back" if such exists:

Indeed, very little, if anything, Deneen proposes would have been alien or anathema to the American Founders or their philosophic forebears. Deneen is well known for being one of a small (though perhaps growing) group of “integralists,” thinkers who wish to reintegrate not just religious faith but religious observance with political practice. To contemporary ears, that sounds profoundly illiberal. And perhaps it is—depending on one’s definition of “liberal.” But the same John Locke who is Deneen’s Bad Liberal #1 held that there is no conflict between religious liberty and government’s right to teach its own preferred religion. He even advocated government prohibition of open atheism. That position is not “liberal” by contemporary standards nor even in Deneen’s understanding.

For those of us with Christian belief, it seems some more study of the "integralists" is in order.

It is a worthy book, somewhat dense as any book on a topic so vast and complex is doomed to be. I highly recommend the review which is excellent ... it also points you off to other excellent important books to aid in comprehension of our increasingly obvious peril. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Mass Formation, Where Did Meaning Go?

Quite possibly the best hour for you to spend for this, or maybe a decade of years. 

Just ignore your Tucker Carlson bias (whatever that may be or not to be), Desmet does all the talking. 

The book is on order. 

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Iowa Has The Most Structurally Deficient Bridges!

Wow! That seems scary! 

Why did I decide to blog on it? Because "scary headlines" are what are pushed at us all the time, and they tend to have a political agenda, even if there may be neither anything political nor scary involved. 

If you read the whole article, you find: 

But despite the rankings, officials say drivers should not be worried.

“If there’s any concern about safety and the traveling public, they will either post a bridge for load, which means they’ll restrict the weight, or maybe truck traffic that crosses the bridge or in extreme cases, they may shut down a lane or the entire bridge,” ARTBA Chief Economist Alison Black said.

Officials say many cities may struggle to raise the money for necessary repairs, especially in rural areas.
I'm sure that headline will show up on a lot of papers in Iowa, and get a lot of political attacks on Republican officials.  Why are we so divided again?  While the article is "true",  I wanted to look at a little context, often missing in todays "headline news". The end of the article does give a hint ... 
Officials say many cities may struggle to raise the money for necessary repairs, especially in rural areas.

Iowa is blessed with a LOT of rural roads! Most people will read just the headline, and it will likely be endlessly repeated on social media.  

Why would Iowa have so many bridges? 

At least in NW Iowa there are mostly quite small bridges over the many tile drainage ditches. From my not super extensive travels around Iowa, this seems to be true for much of the state. A glance at this chart of where the defective bridges are at, shows that many of those states are in areas where there tend to be significant parts of the year that alternate between freezing and thawing, which means more salt as well as just the effects of the temperature changes. 

Minnesota and Wisconsin are an interesting challenge to my theory. Having traveled extensively in both states (grew up in WI, lived in MN for 40 years), one thought is that once they freeze, they tend to mostly stay frozen ... the frost doesn't tend to partially come out during the winter. 

Iowa has a lot more truck traffic than either MN or WI in rural areas.The above chart shows that neither makes the top 13 for number of bridges.

 Small dairy farms are pretty much replaced by multi-thousand cow herds, while in IA, the 23 million hogs are housed in 5,400 separate farms that need tending with big trucks. Why so many farms vs concentration?  Needing to knife in 10 billion gallons of hog manure demands a lot of dispersion, meaning a lot of 120,000 lb tank/tractor combinations running over mostly side roads with all those small bridges over tile drainage ditches.   

I don't really want to ramble on about the MN/WI rating possibly disproving my theory. Maybe they just really do have much better government, and Iowa is derelict. The main point is that the article doesn't really go to enough depth to tell much of anything beyond a ranking that causes attention to be focused. 

A lot of US infrastructure is in bad shape ... roads, bridges. canals. electrical grid, etc. About what one would expect in a rapidly failing nation, more focused on which bathroom to use rather than mundane things like infrastructure. 

Perhaps articles like this can "hide the decline", or at least divert attention from the federal government to red state governments. 

As I've often seen in Democrat writings in IA, the simple solution is to get rid of the hog farms! (while they enjoy their bacon. sausage on pizza, ribs, etc. Deep thought is often not a Democrat characteristic! 

I'm REALLY biased. I LOVE my pork and one year I worked for my brother in law as the team of 3 tank/tractor units running 24X7 pumped and knifed in a tiny fraction of the hog manure. A mere 50 million gallons. 

Friday, September 8, 2023

The Extinction of American Trust

This is mostly a "bookmark" for a solid chronicling of the many crimes of the Democrat Big Media lies and deceptions from 2015 to now. It is concise and like anything from Victor Davis Hanson (VDH), worthy of reading in it' entirety. A snippet: 

Yet the media can no longer hide the reality that the President of the United States [Biden] likely took bribes to influence or alter U.S. policy to suit his payers. Those two crimes—bribery and treason—are specifically delineated in the Constitution as impeachable offenses.

I pray that Victor is correct that the truth can no longer be hidden, but I fear not.  

A Google search with the string "percentage of americans that believe the media is trustworthy" gives you;

Just 7% of Americans have "a great deal" of trust and confidence in the media, and 27% have "a fair amount." Meanwhile, 28% of U.S. adults say they do not have very much confidence and 38% have none at all in newspapers, TV and radio.

OK, we don't trust the media. How about elections? 

In January 2021, shortly after the attack on the US Capitol, 59% of Americans said they had at least some confidence that US elections reflected the will of the people. That included 36% who were very confident that elections were representative of the public’s wishes.

Now, a year and a half later, only 42% have some confidence, and just 16% are very confident.

As I've often and recently commented on, those 42% that have "some confidence" must really not be paying attention. We have the worst election integrity in the developed world!  

Americans don't trust the media, and they don't trust the integrity of our elections, so at least a plurality of Americans are reality based. That is a bit of good news! 

HOWEVER, since our elections are not trustworthy, how can this be remedied?

The Democrats, likely to be in complete control after the 2024 elections that they are presently interfering with in plain sight,  using the politicized "justice" system to attempt to pick, (and possibly jail) the opposing presidential candidate, makes 2024 even LESS trustworthy! No hope there! 

The highly virulent and dangerous Electionyearicron variant is already being detected. Perhaps only 100% mail in ballots can save us from this terror? 

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Empire Of Pain

A book that gives a lot of opportunity to look at addiction, bias, human greed, government ineffectiveness, anti semitism, ongoing results of the Holocaust, family loyalty/disloyalty, corporate vs private ownership, how lawyers make a lot of money, how business works, creation and destruction of narratives, and much else.

It is a good book for those with a generally critical and especially self critical mind. For those whose worldview aligns with the authors, it will be pretty much pure enjoyment, For those of use whose don't, there will be challenges and soul searching. 

I could somewhat tongue in cheek summarize the book message as.
  • Never trust the FDA, (or any other government agency) of approval, disapproval, mandate, etc
  • Beware of Jews working hard to become wealthy to create a good name, and show their ability to rise from the Holocaust. 
  • If Jews are involved, the sins of the fathers should never be forgotten (unlike Germans, Kennedy's, etc) 
  • Big time lawyers that defend Democrats are absolved. Clark Clifford is mentioned, a VERY influential lawyer that defended the Sacklers, but there is no hint as to HOW "influential".
  • I believe everyone deserves legal representation, and bigger targets require stronger lawyer defence, and they understand they need to acquire it, and pay huge fees for it. 
  • In the case of Trump, "guilty until proven innocent beyond a reasonable doubt" (vs innocent until proven guilty ...) , lawyers pay a high price for defending even a president that the weaponized "justice" department will do anything to convict of SOMETHING (even while he is in office). 
It is reasonably well written, but there is a lot of ink spent on the negative soap opera of the Sackler family that seemed excessive. It instantly brought to mind the Kennedy family for me. and my reading the "Dark Side of Camelot" a long time ago. That book made no attempt at "fairness" either, as many books of this ilk don't, The only way to get anything like a clear picture is if there are multiple books on the same family, company, event, person, etc We all have an agenda, even if we don't want to admit it, and there is always something in the "closet" that can be brought out, sensationalised, or in the case of of information against your agenda, buried. 

Another personal bias. As a Christian,  I'm very pro-Jewish because my Savior is a Jew. Besides that, I have worked with a number of Jews and without exception I have been impressed with their dedication, intellect, and character.  

As I read the book, I kept wondering how many times I REALLY needed to reminded that the Sackler family was Jewish. So the review I chose is from The Jewish Insider . I find it to be a good review, and even though there were others out there that cautioned of the "odor" of anti semitism, the fact that this one didn't, led me to thinking that was less of a factor than it seemed to me. 

I found this quote from that Insider review to be interesting. 
JI: Is the implication that the Sackler family is kind of like a modern American drug cartel?

Keefe: No, I mean, I think [that’s] kind of pushing it too far, and I wouldn’t go that far. I guess this is what I would say: I’ve always been interested in the ways in which illegal drug organizations resemble legal businesses, and I became very interested in some specific ways in which legal Big Pharma practices sometimes resemble those of drug cartels — for instance, offering free samples to an addictive product. In the case of Purdue, they offered these coupons for a free prescription, and that’s something I know because I’ve looked into it at great length. When the Sinaloa cartel decided that methamphetamine was going to be their big new product, they started sending free samples to Chicago so that people would try it. But I think sometimes people get a little carried away with the rhetoric and they try and draw too precise an analogy there. Let’s remember, nobody’s suggesting that the Sacklers, or Purdue, had roving gangs of armed assassins, right? I mean, I think this is a business that did break the law and engage in crime. They pled guilty again in 2020, just a few months ago. So there’s illegality there, but it’s of a different category than the Sinaloa cartel, and I wouldn’t want to suggest otherwise.
Notwithstanding the quoted denial, the comparison to Mexican Drug Cartels in the book, especially relative to some of those drug lords losing all their wealth, while the Sackler family kept much of theirs, was brought up a few times. "Free samples for doctors", as well as trips, dinners, etc are a staple of Big Pharma. The idea that it was "special" with the Sacklers is just specious. 

 The idea that they "got away with it" even though their name has been erased on many of their huge philanthropic donations seemed like a special sort of "not getting away with it". The book made clear that their good name was very important to them. While very few of us outside the elite even have heard of the name, it's destruction was a major goal of the book and the research behind it. 

The laser focus on the Sackler family relative to their supposed "cause" of America's drug crisis was strange, along with the strong denial that our declining culture was not causal. I'm sure Oxy contributed, but it was far from "causal". Causality is notoriously hard to prove. Did someone die OF Covid, or WITH Covid? An important distinction depending on what narrative you want to push. 

Up until reading this book, I didn't have much interest in the origin of Fentanyl, just that it is an extreme problem killing 100K Americans a year at this point, heavily connected with the open Southern border -- although there is a strong push to claim the open border makes no difference. 

 Fentanyl, Where did it all go wrong? Turns out the FDA approved Fentanyl as well ... and again, my bias is involved. My wife needed Fentanyl to control extreme pain from having her spinal column expanded and rods  put in to save her from being paralyzed from the neck down. Should the FDA not have approved it because it could be misused and cause addiction? As much as I believe the FDA to be a corrupt inefficient agency primarily concerned with enriching officials via the revolving door to the drug companies, my answers is no. Inefficiency and corruption in government, private and corporate greed, and people unable to resist addiction are often the price we pay to get helpful drugs. We should work to limit damage, but not at the cost of killing ot submitting people to tortuous pain to protect the addicts. 

I wonder what percentage of people realize that the Nobel Prize is funded by the fortune of Arthur Nobel, the inventor of dynamite? Certainly the number of people killed by TNT and it's derivatives makes the opioid crisis look like nothing in comparison.  

Here is a list of the top explosives manufacturers. Certainly, there are MANY positive uses for explosives, there are also a lot of people killed by bombs of all sorts. Are the explosive manufacturers responsible? Should those companies be hounded like the Sacklers? Should the Nobel Prize be renamed? I say no, but other than being Jewish, why the Sacklers? 
Page 407, "In recent years , some observers have begun to suggest that the opioid crisis was actually just a symptom of a deeper set of social and economic problems in the United States, that suicide and alcohol related deaths were also on the rise, and that all of these fatalities should be understood as part of a larger category of "deaths of despair". 

On page 230 we see: 

"It is a particular hallmark of the American economy that you can produce dangerous products and effectively off-load any legal liability for whatever destruction that product may cause by pointing to the individual responsibility of the consumer".  

The removal of individual responsibility seems more to be a direction of Western civilization than uniquely "American". Naturally the author specifically points out guns ... indirectly asserting that gun manufacturers ought to be sued when their products are used for murder. The removal of personal or government responsibility, and moving it to external sources seems a large part of the books agenda,  

The idea that "deaths of despair" is somehow "caused" by Oxy because there seems to be a statistical correlation is quite naive. Basic statistics teaches the maxim "correlation is NOT causation"! It MAY be a hint, but often a poor one. Increased Ice Cream sales have a positive correlation with drownings. Ice Cream is fortunately not guilty of causation (lese it be banned!!), it is the fact that more people swim and eat ice cream on warmer days that leads to the correlation. 

Can there be a free society without individual responsibility? Should car companies, both domestic and international be held responsible because they produced cars that can exceed 200 MPH? People bought them, and people died. Increasingly, the companies that produce products are the targets of lawsuits because "that is where the money is". We are increasingly beset by paying large sums for insurance against litigation already ... the US legal system is the most expensive in the world, and that is a big contributor to why our medical system is expensive. 

Another admission of personal bias here. Both my wife and I have benefited from Oxy. The original reason for it's invention and approval by the FDA is that it's patented coating allowed it to be released over hours, thus avoiding the initial "hit" that was (and still is) considered a significant risk for addiction. The abuse of Oxy started out as people figuring out that by crushing the pills, they could defeat the timed release mechanism and get the "heroin rush" back. 

My wife's surgeon was especially outraged by her unwillingness to take Oxy for her pain because of fear of addiction based on the idea that "oxy is addictive". It is, if abused, it isn't if used as directed.

Much of the rancor against the Sacklers was their constant attempt to separate the family from Oxy, and their general arrogance (at least as portrayed by the author). In arrogant rich families of all races, religions, national origins, etc that is not at all uncommon. 

The Kennedy family immediately comes to mind, only because of the level their wealth enabled them to influence America. Joe made lots of money in correctly predicting the explosion of liquor sales in the US after prohibition investing accordingly, lots of real estate deals, sometimes shady with Mob connections. He also dabbled in Fascism.  
Kennedy thought solely in terms of economics. Although he said he cared about the fate of Jews and persecuted minorities, in the end he thought they would have to be sacrificed for the greater good of the United States and its allies. Like Hitler, Kennedy believed in a Jewish cabal, which had thwarted him and that was intent on instigating incidents that would draw America into a disastrous war. “To defeat fascism,” Kennedy argued in a memorandum, the United States would “have to adopt totalitarian methods” and strike deals with dictators.
The danger of wealthy privileged families is well known. That Teddy Kennedy was privileged enough to get away with murder. and the name still really didn't suffer, galls me the most relative to the Kennedys.  Perhaps Teddy being denied the presidency was enough punishment in that case. 

For many, the US has become an "Empire of Pain", somewhat because we have become lazy about questioning narratives, and enjoying our own biases without admitting them, even to ourselves. My deep bias is that "Culture Matters", and in our case, especially being "One Nation Under God". We lost God, and we have largely "gone under" as Reagan warned us. Without God, everyone really dies a death of despair. 

Like all technology, drugs are a two edged sword, as are wealth, power, ethnicity. We need to always understand that everything man creates has a dark side. 

Friday, September 1, 2023

What If Climate Change Is Real?

"When  all is said and done, more will be said than done". 

We are regularly admonished about the "Setted Science" of Climate Change. "Settled Science" is an oxymoron, because it is an inductive process of hypothesis, experiment, result, theory ... test, test. .Not even physics is "settled" by any means. The test case of monitoring the global climate over hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and beyond is beyond our technical capacity. 

Induction is true until it isn't. The Thanksgiving turkey theorizes that humans are benevolent creatures that care for turkeys. Each day, this theory is validated  for around 16 weeks. Then it is invalidated, and we have a nice meal with our family. 

 The rebranding of Global Warming to Climate Change is a superb example of the power of branding. Global Warming is a hypothesis/theory that can be invalidated by data. It is science, just not "settled". Unless our climate would become absolutely static (in which case we would all be dead), Climate Change is unfalsifiable, therefore if you follow the link, you will see it is more similar to a conspiracy theory than science. 

We can look at history though, and while history is certainly supportive of Climate CHANGE it is not supportive of warming caused by man. (other than stasis, everything in climate supports change). 

History would indicate that we are likely to return to the climate that results in glaciers a mile thick covering much of the populated Northern Hemisphere.  

Let's just go with the theory that any warming is being caused by humans though, and this time is different, the warming will be so extreme that human life will be wiped out. 

If we believed that, what might we do? A tiny bit of study will show where our current energy comes from. 

Doesn't look at all that solar and wind have any chance of being significant sources to curb our increasing use of fossil fuels, even though government and huge Western corporations keep pumping 100s of billions into these unreliable and grossly inadequate "green" energy sources, along with NGOs marketing against nuclear.  
As in many cases there is an obvious climate friendly solution to the issue if those in power actually believed there was some sort of "crisis". 

We have 83 nuclear navy ships with no deaths caused by that form of power. 

Why is this the state of affairs? It is unlikely that we can trust any agency, company, or "study" to give us an answer. Governments fund studies that "prove" their case for renewables and against nuclear. Fossil fuel producers manipulate data and encourage usage of their energy. etc

So we have to speculate: 
  • Through a combination of some events (eg Three Mile Island, Chernobyl),  media nuclear horror movies (The China Syndrome), and the fact that "nuclear" just sounds dangerous, public opinion is swayed. 
  • As Rahm Emanuel declared "Never let a crisis go to waste". In a crisis, all normal rules are suspended ... see Covid. For government agencies, "crisis" is a good thing. Especially if it isn't real, but most everyone believes it anyway. 
  • Since Climate change is a conspiracy theory, you can write papers, books, have expensive conferences, get PHDs, awards,  be seen as "a really good person", get a ton of investments in technologies that may not be viable at all or extremely dangerous and damaging to the environment (Lithium). etc, etc Hey, no rules man! 
We will know Global Warming is actually thought to be "real" by our "betters" when the investments in nuclear power and the marketing thereof outpace investments in "Green Technology" by orders of magnitude. 

OTOH, if it turns out that climate history is a guide, we will be in for a few millennia of good snowmobiling!