“Democracies Don’t End Well”

That pearl of wisdom, democracies don’t end well, came from none other than renowned political philosopher Rob Schneider.  I came across this nugget in my twitter feed about two and a half years ago from a radio interview that Rob Schneider was doing to promote a stand up bit in Philly.  I moved it into long term storage and only recently had time to go back and look at it; to remind myself why I was saving it in the first place. Long time readers of this blog may know that one of the first posts I did when starting this blog was a review of Rob Schneider’s then new TV show, ¡Rob!  The review wasn’t exactly a kind one and the show lasted only 8 episodes before mercifully being put down.  However the review I wrote lived on.  For years, it showed up as my second most popular post (beaten only be the one I wrote on my first time with a male dental hygienist) and low carb frozen Lean Cuisine meals.

But getting back to Schneider’s observation; no, it’s by no means original.  In fact in an earlier age (meaning virtually every other time period until the modern era) it was considered a truism.  Other thinkers had expressed the same thought.

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”  Alexander Fraser Tytler

Of course, this wasn’t merely an enlightenment sentiment.  The ancients thought much the same thing.

Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.”Plato

The founding fathers were explicit in their disdain for democracy.  They intended to create a Republic, not a democracy.

“Democracy is the most vile form of government. … democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property: and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”  -James Madison

“We are a Republic. Real Liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.”  -Alexander Hamilton

“A simple democracy is the devil’s own government.” –Benjamin Rush

Can you imagine a contemporary American political figure making such an observation in public?  He would be outside the bounds of decent conversation.

That’s unfortunate because now seems like a good time to have a public conversation about it. I’ve never, in my life time, seen the Democrats in general and liberals in particular, reject the outcome of an election and plot to overturn it.  Starting with the rubric of fake news, the Russians-did-it, Calexit, The attempted Electoral College coup, boycotting the inauguration and now CNN gives a step by step guide on how to assassinate Trump and keep Democrats in charge.

This is CNN.

If ever there was a news story that perfectly expressed the wish that the heart makes over at CNN, it’s this one; explaining how they could  overturn the election and keep the Democrats in power for the next four…ah who am I kidding?  To keep them in power forever.  In fact, I was very nearly holding my breath until the inauguration was over, thinking that a CNN cap wearing assassin might try to do some damage.

We’re in uncharted territory here.  Half the country, including its major institutions such as the media and academia, flat out rejects the results of the election.  The last time Democrats rejected the results of a Presidential election we had a civil war.  Although I don’t see one on the offing yet, the precedent being established here is a dangerous one.

For all of his flaws, Obama was not the guy to tap his scepter and decide to remain in power “for the good of the country.”  But  we’ve just raised a generation of snowflakes whose political identity has been inculcated in an environment in which every authority source in their world (the media. social media, and academia mostly) have spent the past two months telling them that the election was illegitimate and concocting schemes to try to subvert it.

So would the next Democratic President (and there will be one) give up power to a non-establishment Republican?  Or establishment one for that matter? Would the country follow him, or reject him as an American Caesar, trying to overturn a Democratic government?  There is every reason to think that our peaceful transfer of power days are coming to a close.

Well Mr. Franklin, and Mr. Schneider, we’ve had a Republic, and it looks like there is a possibility we won’t be keeping it after all.

Giffords Anniversary: It’s Gotten Worse Since Then

On this day in 2011, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot and seriously injured by a crazed gunman.  As the anniversary that kicked off one of the most vicious media smear campaigns in recent media history, probably unrivaled until 2016 when Donald Trump became “literally Hitler,” it’s worth looking back and just how corrupt the media can be.

The day following the assassination attempt I wrote a post about the absolute insanity that erupted from the left/main stream media in the wake of that shooting.  I went back to read it to see if, 6 years later, it still holds up.  It does.  Just a brief excerpt:

“With the Tucson shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle  Giffords, the mainstream media  and the leftie blogosphere wasted no time in drawing conclusions and blame for the shooting:  The Tea Party, Sarah Palin (of course!) and the climate of heated political rhetoric.  Of course, any examples used are borrowed strictly from the right.  Although I heard comparisons to Timothy McVeigh, for a bombing that occurred in 1995, I’ve yet to hear mention of the Discovery channel gunman, who actually credited a left political agenda to his rampage; when that occurred only last September.

But… that’s the nature of our biased news environment.  It’s so ubiquitous that most viewers wouldn’t even question that Tea Party inspired heated political rhetoric is at root of this shooting.  Why should they?  Every Sunday morning news show I watched today asked that same question.  Any soul searching required will be requested of the right, not the left.  Their overheated political rhetoric is just fine.  Of course the new media and the internet make that more difficult to pull off.   Now, there are multiple voices.  People aren’t limited to what the big three networks think are the right questions, and what they think of as newsworthy. 

And the Democrats have been fairly explicit on where they want to put the blame for this shooting:

One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.

 “They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.””

Of course the whole thing got started off by Paul Krugman’s infamous post at The New York Times:

“A Democratic Congresswoman has been shot in the head; another dozen were also shot.

We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She’s been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that “the whole Tea Party” was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” list.

Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.”

At the time that post and all the subsequent reaction seemed unprecedented, but now of course, particularly after the past election season and current soft coup attempts by the media, it seems business as usual.  We have a new phrase to describe the Jared Loughner-Sarah Palin connection: Fake News.

It was an issue of great personal eye opening disappointment for me as well.  As a long time science fiction fan, I grew up reading the likes of Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle.  They were generally right leaning libertarian types, with a lot of rugged individualism thrown into their stories, although their stories were nonpolitical. I read of course left leaning science fiction writers as well, such as Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Kim Stanley Robinson, Joe Haldeman, and Fredrick Pohl. These guys told great stories and didn’t let their personal politics get in the way of that.  So I just didn’t expect the world of science fiction to so reflect the utter debasing of our political discourse.  I expected it to be above that.

Well it turns out it isn’t.  Or it least these days it isn’t.  I used to be a regular reader of SF author John Scalzi’s website Whatever.  At the time, I thought it would be fun to be on a site with other science fiction fans, but the Giffords shooting quickly disabused me of that.  The comments from Scalzi on the shooting can best be described as Krugman lite.  In other words: despicable.  I can understand Krugman being Krugman, but I honestly and naively expected Science Fiction writers to be better than that.

They’re not.

Now days Scalzi gets a lot of mockery from the Alt Right on their sites.  It’s richly deserved.  And Scalzi, Krugman, and the media in general have only gotten worse.  So far, there is no bottom.

A Couple of Quick Economic Fixes

With Donald Trump’s ascension to the throne taking of the oath of office imminent, I thought there were a few quick economic fixes that the upcoming Trump administration might be open to that the outgoing Obama administration never would have been.

Stop paying interest on bank reserves

The Fed should reduce or eliminate the interest rate it pays on the roughly $2.5 trillion of banks’ excess reserves. There may have been some good economic theories prior to the financial crisis as to why we should pay banks to not lend money, however the practical effect of that is that banks have far less incentive to loan out money than it did.  So no surprise, it’s now harder to secure business loans.  From the banks point of view, it’s a win/win.  They either don’t loan out money for a small interest rate, or loan the money out for a larger interest rate. If the practice of paying interest by the FED on excess interest vanished, banks would keep less cash on deposit at the Fed. The liberated funds would probably flow mainly into the money markets, but some would probably find their way into increased lending—which would give the economy a little boost.

Restore the Taylor Rule

In 2013 Carnegie Mellon Professor Allan Meltzer testified at a Congressional hearing that in its “100-year life the Fed has produced “only two multi-year periods [1923-1928 and 1985-2002] during which inflation was low, real income and employment fluctuations were modest and recessions were mild.” The common denominator in those two periods was a monetary rule, first the “gold-exchange standard” and later “the Taylor rule.””

Well there is little chance that we’re going back to the gold standard, but the Taylor Rule is much more likely. The Taylor rule states that, “for each one-percent increase in inflation, the central bank tends to raise the nominal interest rate by more than one percentage point.” Locking in a rule like that again, might provide a little bit more stability to both the markets and the banking system.

Corporations repatriate overseas funds via tax free loans to the government

One of the Trump economic plans to bring home overseas profits from US corporations involve allowing US companies to repatriate profits back to the US by paying just a flat 10% or tax instead of the usual 35% US corporate tax rate. That’s not a bad idea, but there is another way to skin that same cat that also works into financing another Trump idea, the 1 Trillion dollar infrastructure proposal.

Instead of charging the 10% fee on returning corporate profits, let the companies offer the government long-term, no-interest financing in lieu of cash. Although an interest free loan to the government benefits more than just financing infrastructure, if you are going to spend money for infrastructure, doing it with no interest loans is not a bad way to do it.

Switch emphasis of Small business administration to new businesses

Economic research has shown that small businesses, just by virtue of being small businesses, don’t add to job growth, new businesses do. New businesses account for 3% US employment but 20% of new jobs.  So it seems that should be encouraged. Switching the mandate and focus of the Small Business Administration to focus on new companies (the type that are more likely to generate innovation) seems a better bet if you want to generate jobs than just keeping small businesses small.

Granted, these are all small scale ideas, but a good economic environment is made up of a lot of factors, some big, some small. The more little tweaks that are made to the overall economic environment of the country, the better.

 

 

Predictions for 2017

Given how well I did with my 2016 Predictions I thought I would give it another go and see what I thought would be likely for 2017.

At least 3 terrorist attacks in Western Europe resulting in double digit casualties.  Why?  Because Muslims will continue to be Muslim.

Angela Merkel wins the Nobel Peace Prize.  Because that is exactly the kind of retarded thing the Nobel Prize Committee would do.

Most of the ObamaCare (ACA) legislation will be repealed.  I say most because there are a few items that may be either too politically popular (keeping kids on their parent’s plan until 26) or were already part of Republican replacement plans (pre-existing conditions).

The FED will raise interest rates by at least three-quarters of a point.  The FED just recently raised the short term interest rates by a quarter of a point, the first increase in 2016.  This strikes me as a totally political decision, since Janet Yellen was a target of Trump and I’ve no doubt she’ll raise rates at least another ¾ of a point in 2017 in hopes of stalling the economy to punish Trump for his impertinence.

Articles of Impeachment against Donald Trump will be introduced in the House.  Why?  Because the Democrats are already talking about that now.  Waiting until Trump is President is merely a formality.

There will be at least one assassination attempt against Donald Trump this year. When the media has been promoting the “literally Hitler” meme for the past year, would it be surprising that some earnest liberals take the Dead Zone option and try to take Greg Stillson out?

Marine Le Pen will be elected President of France.  Although Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission predicted an establishment deal to elect a Muslim political party winning the Presidency of France, in real life the current populist uprising may hit the French shores quicker than you can say The Camp of the Saints. Brexit, Trump, and the constant Islamic terrorist attacks may cause a public revulsion where people will just say, “enough.”  In some ways, that would be a bigger deal than Trump winning the Presidency.  The French establishment has been fighting populist nationalism a lot longer than the American GOP-Democratic-Media alliance.  So if that goes, dominos will fall all over Europe with dismal prospects for the EU.  That would slide in nicely with another prediction of mine, that the EU will be mostly undone by 2020.

Not really a prediction, more of a certainty, but every foreign policy decision made by the Trump White House will be called either idiotic or ignorant.

Did Russia Hack the Election?

In the continuing post election fake news trend, “Russia hacked election” gets over 45 million hits on Google. Russian hacking as been going on for quite a while and it would be no surprise that the Russians would want to hack both political parties. They are bad actors on the world stage and they are adversaries. However, just a couple of points:

* The hack allegedly occurred in the March-April time frame. Long before Trump was assured of the nomination and when almost every talking head, poll, and jackass was proclaiming it would be impossible for him to win. So the intent could hardly be to help Trump.

* The Wikileaks data was not a hack; it was an inside job according to the people who would know, Wikileaks. Assange has said this for months.

* That doesn’t mean the Russia hack didn’t happen, just that it’s not the source of the Wikileaks material. This makes sense as I would imagine that Russia would rather keep that info close to the vest rather than devalue it by releasing it.

* So Russian hacking (which is a big issue) and the Wikileaks data dump, seem to be unrelated issues. I’m open to new information on this, but when the CIA refuses to brief Congress on the issue, forcing a cancellation of a scheduled hearing, my BS meter goes off.

* Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote by 2.8 million votes.  So, in what sense was the election hacked?  Were the Wikileaks disclosures designed to only affect certain counties in 4 or so States?  Good Grief…

I honestly have a hard time believing anything the media says anymore; particularly when they are trying as hard as they have been to push this narrative. It’s like the #fakenews nonsense. Simultaneously every major newspaper and every major news network suddenly made this non story of fake news a 10 day long major blockbuster.

My Prediction:  Now that the Electoral College Debacle is over, the next fake news spasm will be “conflicts of interest.”  Stay tuned to your local fake news media outlet for further coverage.

Kathleen Parker Crossing the Rubicon

On December 19th the Electoral College votes for President.  This is the real Presidential election, so believe it or not, it’s still not over. And until it is, we’re going to be subjected to #nevertrump antics to keep pulling out last ditch efforts to rewrite the election. To that end, electors are getting death threats and many more are being tracked down for intimidation efforts.  This seems to be rather unprecedented and I can’t recall electors being under quite this much pressure, even during 2000’s Bush-Gore slugfest.

Enter “conservative” columnist Kathleen Parker.  As a card carrying member of the establishment, her version of conservatism is s showing “growth” by rejecting bit by bit, conservatism.  However the rise of Trump and the establishment reaction of #nevertrump gives an opportunity to give a clean break.  Give it a few years and formerly conservative columnists will be cranking out columns indistinguishable from their leftist counterparts.  Did George Will write this or Eugene Robinson?  I can’t tell any longer.

But worse than the ideological evolution of #nevertrump is the frantic nature of it, as Parker demonstrates in her column, “The Electoral College Should be Unfaithful” in which Parker argues that faithless electors should overthrow the results of the election:

“Most important among the founders’ criteria for a president was that he (or now she) be qualified. Thus, the electoral college was created as a braking system that would, if necessary, save the country from an individual such as, frankly, Trump.”

That’s not why the founders added the Electoral College.  They actually remembered that the United States is a federation, not a unitary country.  But we’re talking hysteria here so never mind…

“It is worth noting that 50 former Republican national security officials and foreign policy experts co-signed a letter saying that Trump would be a “dangerous president.” Do we simply ignore them?”

Yes we do.  These are mostly Bushies who have been wounded by Trump’s rejection of their Iraqi Invasion.

“At least one Republican elector, Christopher Suprun, has decided to pay heed. In an op-ed in Tuesday’s New York Times, Suprun, a paramedic in Texas, outlined all his reasons for not rubber-stamping Trump, saying he owes a debt not to his party but to his children. He urged others to join him.”

Suprun may not be the greatest example of principled opposition.  In his Op Ed, he listed Trump’s attacking of Saturday Night Live as a sticking point with him.  Talk about a superfan!  But Suprun seems more like a ringer as his PR firm is the one founded by communist and former Obama administration green jobs czar Van Jones.  So maybe not the best example to use…?

“Electors are scheduled to meet Dec. 19 in their respective states to cast their final ballots. If there are 37 Republicans among them with the courage to perform their moral duty and protect the nation from a talented but dangerous president-elect, a new history of heroism will have to be written.  Please, be brave.”

So there you have it.   A call to overturn the elections, but I wonder, oh fair Kathleen, what will that “bravery” cost the country?

The odds of this are extremely low of course, but think what it would mean to have electors threatened, bribed, or intimidated into changing their votes so that it alters a Presidential election?  Whoever the electors anointed as President would have no legitimacy, and Trump supporters who always thought that the “establishment” would never let a real swamp draining reformer into office would be vindicated.  But the damage would exceed whatever happened over the next four years.

It would be a permanent scar on the body politic. Presidential elections would become meaningless since anyone who can get to the electors can anoint the next President.  When governments lose all political legitimacy, crazy things can happen. With the Soviet Union, and the Eastern Bloc nations, it was relatively peaceful.  For Yugoslavia, it was not.  But in any case, our government would lose legitimacy. To paraphrase Hemmingway, gradually, then suddenly.

So a warning to Parker and other shortsighted pundits, who on November 4th insisted that everything will be fine no matter who wins, and now want to overthrow the government, once you pull out that particular string, it will never go back in.

 

 

 

 

 

Anand Giridharadas in Fear

Our old buddy Anand Giridharadas was back on Morning Joe, and boy how the tables have turned. I wrote in October how New York Times writer Giridharadas, on a Morning Joe appearance, couldn’t wait for the post election score settling with his arch enemy, white men.

“I think the people who went that way and that Trump movement and perhaps supported things about women they don’t actually support or supported things about bashing Muslims that they don’t in their deepest of hearts support, need to think about the fact that globalization and all of that was hard on everybody. It wasn’t just hard on White guys. For some reason, women lost their jobs in globalization, Black and Brown people lost their jobs in globalization, and managed not to lash out. I think there needs to be a reckoning, frankly, with white manhood in this country.”

But now the tables have turned, and with a Trump victory, Giridharadas has gone from a Brownshirt inciting a Caucasian Kristallnacht to shivering in fear in a Dutch attic.  Enjoy:

When Joe Scarborough has to be the voice of reason, “Hitler is not coming back,” then you know that someone’s gone off the deep end. But however much I’m enjoying the schadenfreude of Giridharadas having a special snowflake breakdown on television, it serves as a reminder that however much he now fears internment camps, Muslim banning, and all the rest, he’s the type of person who either thinks that you have your hands on his throat, or he’s going to have his hands on your throat.  If the tables had been turned, and Hillary had won, he would have been the first one urging internment camps and whatever final solution he feels appropriate to handle that pesky white male problem.

Demography is destiny and eventually the Democrats will be back in power.  And when they are, there will be Anand Giridharadas and others like him urging on their own pogrom.