February 4, 2016

Does racial insulation make whites get taken advantage of by other groups?

With Iowa temporarily in the spotlight, many on the uncucked right have mentioned how racially insulated the people of that state are, and in that region generally. Remember, Iowa is right below Minnesota, and most of that state lives close to its southern boundary.

Being so innocent of the realities of living around blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, Indians, and whoever else -- it's only natural that they should have such a naively welcoming attitude toward them. They don't know any better from experience. Right?

But why do they assume the best about outside groups, in the absence of any evidence one way or another? They could just as easily assume, as all human groups do, that outsiders are not to be trusted -- especially if we haven't had any experience with them that might get them off the hook with us.

So it's not simply insulation, but insulation combined with the non-human presumption that outsiders are just as wonderful as us insiders.

Compare the Scandinavians west of the Mississippi to the Scotch-Irish of Appalachia, who live here:

The map below shows racial diversity (where darker means more diverse). Appalachia from Knoxville TN on up north is one of the most homogeneous regions in the nation, even more so than the western Midwest:

Moreover, it has been this liberated from diversity since forever. It's not as though they used to have extensive contact with outside groups, but do not currently. Even the Great Migration of blacks out of the Deep South (the lowland South) after WWI did not affect Appalachia, aside from a handful of them taking up factory jobs in Pittsburgh. The migration took an eastern path up the East Coast, and a northwestern one up toward Cleveland, Detroit, and farther west into the Midwest. But they entirely skirted around the hills and mountains of Appalachia, where it must have been made clear that they were not wanted.

Having been so insulated from the realities of day-to-day living with the Tower of Babel, are Scotch-Irish hillbillies and Slavic steelworkers just itching to adopt Somali babies or welcome Mexican serfs into their workplace with open arms? Whadda yinz think we look like, a buncha jagoffs?

There's just something genetically different about the Nordic people compared to the Celtic and Slavic people. We see that back in their European homelands as well.

Ireland, Scotland, and Wales aren't over-run by foreign hordes, although the Saxon legacy of the English government has opened up England. (Saxons were from the Nordic area north of the Rhine.) Especially looking at the relatives of American hillbillies, the Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland. A little over a year ago, the NYT wrote an article titled, "In Northern Ireland, a Wave of Immigrants Is Met With Fists". Doesn't sound unlike the welcoming they'd receive in Wheeling WV.

And of course the Slavs from eastern Germany, Austria, and Hungary out toward Russia and the Balkans couldn't be more dismissive of outside races. (No, it's not due to historical experience with Mongols, etc., since none of the Slavs in America remember any of that history.)

Like the Celts and the Slavs, the Nords have had little direct experience living with Africans, Indians, Vietnamese, and whoever else. Yet they have the opposite presumption about outsiders as the Celts and Slavs do -- namely, that they must be just as wonderful as we are. It's the same mindset as the citizens of Little Scandinavia here in America. (If we thought or behaved otherwise, that would be mean. And we can't be mean, don'tcha know?)

What genetic distinction is there between the Nordic / Scandinavian groups and every other European group, including the Mediterraneans (who have had extensive experience living with Africans and Arabs, and who do not care for them)?

My hunch is that it's due to Scandinavians having the highest proportion of their genome coming from hunter-gatherers, while other European groups are more pastoralist and agriculturalist. (That's a fact; the link to their naivete is my hunch.) Hunter-gatherers are not free from violence, but compared to more advanced forms of making a living (pastoralism, agriculture, horticulture), they are incredibly more gentle, easy-going, egalitarian, and trusting.

But the Noble Savage is easily taken advantage of, especially if the other side is not hunter-gatherer and does not share the egalitarian ethos.

Like it or not, we don't live in a gentle hunter-gatherer world anymore, and to preserve our own group, we have to have heightened negative responses to the outside groups -- that's how they view and treat us, after all, since they're not innocent Noble Savages either.

When it comes to group preservation, sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. The trouble is: how do we communicate that to the egalitarian primitives? Someone with deeper insight into the Nordic mind, please chime in.

February 3, 2016

To restore American industry, regulate branding of third-world crud bearing Western names and symbols

One way to start making stuff here in America again is to put tariffs on the cheap foreign crud that floods our retail shelves. If the company that off-shores its production has to pass along a decent tariff to the consumer, Walmart and Target will stop carrying their junk -- why would consumers may about the same price for junk as for quality?

A separate path is one I haven't heard discussed before, but is crucial to pull back the veil about what exactly it is they're buying. Most people don't realize how shoddy the product is because, even if they search for the country of origin (and most of them do not), a tiny label reading "Made in China" gets lost on them because of the Western branding.

After all, the company making it bears a Western name, and so does the particular item. It's the Peckham model shirt from the Applecart and Morrow company, so it doesn't matter if the label says "Made in China". The worst is branding that is specifically American -- the All-American model power drill from the Uncle Sam Tools company, whose logo is a red white and blue flag -- oh btw, MADE IN CHINA.

These companies should not be allowed to fob off cheap third world crud on us, while deceiving us with Western branding (names, symbols, etc.). Hypothetically, consumers can inspect the country of origin, but again most do not, and in the cognitive dissonance between the tiny print on the label and the cleverly designed branding, their minds favor the razzle-dazzle over the strict facts. We might wish the human mind worked differently, but it does not, and we must base policy on how things really are.

I also don't see this coming from consumer protest groups, because again the consumers go through cognitive dissonance and resolve it in favor of the branding -- perceiving it as cheap third-world junk would undo their resolution and bring back that anxious feeling all over again. So leaving it to individual consumer demand would not do the trick either.

That leaves it, unfortunately, to some federal agency to regulate the presentation of consumer products. I wish nobody needed to do that, but then I wish we didn't have to enforce laws against dumping toxic waste into our water supply.

It would be akin to the regulation of food marketing by the FDA -- for example, you can't market or brand something as "chocolate" unless it has cocoa butter, the key ingredient. If the company uses a cheaper lipid like generic vegetable oils, they can't fob it off on the public as "chocolate" but "chocolate-y" or "made with chocolate" or "tastes kinda like real chocolate". True, the ingredient list would show consumers that cocoa butter isn't in there, but it requires too much effort to do a mini research project every time you want to inspect a common consumer good. Just summarize it so we can tell at a glance.

Country of origin is no less important of a summary for the quality, reliability, and durability of a consumer good. There's a simple reason why the maker off-shored the manufacturing -- to cut costs by paying for crappier labor and inferior materials, while charging the same price back home, with the consumer none the wiser -- or at most, apathetic, cynical, and passively accepting.

I don't see how an agency within the industry could do the regulating. Usually the insiders only regulate branding to protect native stuff and emphasize its quality. Here the goal is the opposite: to reveal foreign junk as foreign junk to dissuade consumers from wasting their money. No industry insider body would want to do that. Some kind of government agency seems to be the only sort of solution, a la the FDA regulating food companies from marketing "pink slime" as minced ribeye steak.

I'm also not committed to one way or another of regulation. The idea that sprang to mind was to make the branding names be consonant with the country of origin, or at least region. This is easy to tell in practice -- a shirtmaker that has everything made in Vietnam has to brand itself with a Vietnamese or Southeast Asian name. Not necessarily in the Vietnamese language, which we wouldn't understand, but something like "Vietnamese Elite Tailoring" or "Ho Chi Minh Clothiers" rather than "Rumptree and Cork". Likewise with imagery, no Union Jack flag logos allowed for something made in Vietnam.

Mega-corporations are at this point running a shell game with consumers about what product was made where, always making sure that the shells themselves look culturally familiar. It amounts to fraud and ought to be stopped.

More importantly, though, it would wake consumers up to just how much of the stuff that retailers stock their shelves with is simply third-world crap. Even without a tariff imposed on it, this would shift a lot of their purchases toward authentic Western producers. Compounded with a tariff, it would wipe out the retail junk market overnight. Pay more for lower quality? Pass.

Such a regulatory system would resemble the protected designation of origin laws for foodstuffs produced in Europe, where only authentic Asiago cheese can be labeled as such, protecting its makers from having some lower-quality imitation stuff benefiting from the original's reputation, which it did not create or cultivate, but is merely latching onto like a parasite. Similarly, Chinese tools that look like American tools should not be allowed to benefit from their reputation and prestige by being branded with American names and symbols.

The third-world junk on retail shelves does not come right out and say it's American -- in fact, in fine print on a small label, it says it's from Malaysia, Nicaragua, or wherever -- but the level of insinuation and deception with its branding makes it amount to the same as outright fraud.

Again putting the tariff issue aside, even if American consumers wanted to buy these things, they should be doing so without being misdirected by marketing sleight-of-hand. Aside from being wrong in the abstract, this kind of fraud is incredibly widespread -- it's hard to think of any manufactured good that it does not apply to -- and keeping American producers from making and selling the real, good stuff.

That the American makers of furniture, hardware, clothing, electronics, and all the rest of it, have been put out of business and their workforce either on the dole or working crappy service jobs, just so some liar with an MBA can get rich with their marketing shell game, is one of the most appalling disgraces of the modern era.

February 2, 2016

Evangelical betrayal of Trump came from right half of the bell curve, left half was solid pro-Trump

The recent upset provides a good occasion to point out that the airheads in Iowa and out West generally are above-average in IQ and education. Gelman et al showed that the red state vs. blue state culture wars are primarily fought among the better-off, who don't have to worry so much about basic economics and politics, and can indulge in their airy-fairy values contests.

Studies of the Tea Party members also find them to be more educated and wealthier than the average American, even if they're not 1% Ivy grads.

True to form, the entrance poll results in Iowa show that Trump did the best among those with no college education, and had lower support for each additional level of education. Rubio was the other way around, and was the winner of those with college or more. Cruz was in between, peaking with those who had some college, losing to Trump among no-college voters, and edging out Trump on college-and-beyond voters (though below Rubio).

Trump won handily among the non-evangelical voters, while Cruz won just as handily with the evangelicals.

Do not fall for the "what's the matter with Kansas?" narrative, which Gelman et al have already demolished. Not that there isn't something wrong with out-West states, but that it is driven by the right half of the bell curve whose battle over values comes in red-state and blue-state flavors, each of them eclipsing the fight for basic economic and political matters like a healthy economy, low debt, good incomes, solid borders, keeping the culture American rather than foreign / cosmopolitan, not wasting our military on video game shit in the Middle East, etc.

The lower-status folks vote primarily on those economic issues, and therefore do not show so much polarization around the country. They went solidly for Trump in Iowa, and they will do so everywhere else. Ending the culture war means restoring the franchise to the blue-collars.

It is not the left half of the bell curve that is to blame, as the IQ fetishists would have you believe. They want a "cognitive elite" uber alles? -- well then what else do you expect than voting for a non-American, Ivy slimeball with deep ties to Goldman Sachs?

This realignment election season is revealing a deep rift in the "alternative right" between populists and elitists -- both may want some form of nativism, but is it for the benefit of all classes, or for helping the strivers reach the elite and stay cushy once they get there, freeing them from having to take out million-dollar mortgages to avoid the brown hordes? Something that the blue-collar majority cannot afford to do, aside from having their jobs stolen by foreign scabs.

Newsflash: Iowa picks another loser. And now back to your regularly scheduled Trump domination

As I detailed back in October when Carson had temporarily taken over Trump in Iowa polling numbers, that state's caucus results are not informative about what happens with the national nomination. The polls had been close in the month leading up to the caucus anyway, so the slight advantage to Cruz is not a mind-blowing reversal of our expectations.

There have been 7 Republican caucus seasons that were up for grabs (meaning, there was no incumbent Republican President). Of those 7, only 3 of them correctly predicted the national results. The way things look now, they are going to lower that batting average to only 3 out of 8, since Trump so dominates Cruz et al everywhere else.

As for New Hampshire, they correctly predicted the outcome in 5 of those 7 times. The South Carolina primary predicted the outcome correctly in 6 of those 7 times, with the sole exception being local favorite Newt Gingrich winning in 2012. Trump is wiping the mat with everyone else in those states, including the local favorites.

He's going to bulldoze in the next two primaries, which are far more predictive of who gets the nomination, and the next one is only a week away. So just brush off the nattering nabobs of negativism for the next week, and it'll be right back on track toward the nomination, and then the general.

I wouldn't get too bent out of shape by all the what-if's about Trump's performance in Iowa. According to polling results at the caucuses, Trump won handily among those who showed up to caucus for the first time, while it was Cruz for those who had caucused before. These new-comers were fully 45% of everyone who showed up. Trump is indeed bringing out lots of new-comers, and he is picking up many more of them than are the other candidates. In states where masturbatory values-conservatism has no appeal, the droves of new-comers will be even more strongly tilted towards Trump.

Trump supporters have also made up their minds for a long time. Cruz won among those who made up their mind between a week and a month ago, and Rubio won among those who made up their mind in the last few days or the day of the caucus itself. Disturbingly 35% of the caucus-goers were from this fickle mush-head demographic that overwhelmingly went for Rubio, and nearly as much for Cruz, and not nearly as much for Trump.

The best thing the Trump movement can do is convince people who haven't made up their mind yet to STAY HOME for their primary. "Too many choices, maybe it's better to just sit it out on the sidelines and then go vote for real when it really matters in November and there's only two candidates to choose from, and who will clearly differ from each other." Or something to that effect. Wishy-washy airheads may swerve into the path of the Trump train, and we don't need any bumps on what should be a full-steam ahead victory.

It's important not to confuse two kinds of "unforeseen" voters -- those who typically do not participate in Republican primaries, but who have made up their minds for awhile now to vote for the breath-of-fresh-air candidate; and those who have a vague feeling that it's important to perform their civic duty by voting in the primary, but who will put off thinking about who to support until a few days before. These procrastinating conformist wimps will naturally blink when push comes to shove, and will go with the choice that's most respectable to public opinion.

Maybe a line like, "Hey don't worry, voting in the primary isn't like jury duty -- if you're just not feeling that into it, no one will blame you for waiting until November to vote".

The two areas where Trump could improve are in getting more in touch with his supporters ("ground game"), rather than hoping that they'll all turn out. In Iowa, it made no difference whether someone had contacted the voter about Trump or not, whereas Cruz gained five percentage points among those who had been contacted about him. Most people (just over 60%) fell into the "had not been contacted" category, but that still leaves a sizable minority who could be swayed one way or another by a phone call or a knock on the door.

And more importantly, Trump needs to ruin Cruz's reputation as an outsider candidate. In Iowa, half of caucus-goers wanted an insider, and half wanted an outsider. So this is a big group if they're won over. Trump easily dominates Cruz and Rubio with those who prefer outsiders (46 to 20 to 7 percent), but even 20% of their vote is too high for Cruz. If he could have stolen 10 points away from Cruz among that group, he would've easily won.

Not surprisingly, Trump has only 3% support among the half who want someone experienced in politics, so there's no point in trying to win them over. What he needs to do is more fully consolidate the support from those who want an outsider and are sick of business as usual.

Concretely, that means letting the Canadian birth issue go to the back burner, and focus more on Cruz's insider background from start to finish -- policy adviser for Bush Jr., wife works for Goldman Sachs, sweetheart loans totaling $1 million from Goldman and Citi, which he did not disclose, being in the pocket of Big Oil, fighting to quintuple H-1B visas on behalf of CEOs who want to outsource their white collar professional jobs, supporting amnesty, and so on.

Like a typical weasel, Cruz cynically aped the outsider positions only when it became clear that there was a second path toward the nomination, and he wanted to circumvent the in-fighting among the overt Establishment candidates.

The polls at the Iowa caucus show that Cruz does far better among those who want an experienced politician -- 35% among them, but also enjoys having it both ways with the 20% among those who want an outsider. (Rubio is the anti-Trump who only polls well with voters who want an insider.) Trump could point to that and say, "See, Cruz does nearly twice as well with the voters who want business as usual. My people are all from those who want a real change for once." Somehow, he has to cut off that support from the anti-Establishment voters, while allowing the pro-Establishment ones to keep on supporting him.

Emphasize that most of Cruz's gay slapfights are with Rubio, i.e. they're really both duking it out for Establishment favorite position, in more of a good cop / bad cop way, instead of Cruz being a sincere populist or nationalist.

Furthermore, hammer him over having the character traits of an unctuous used car salesman, seductive traveling salesman, snake oil huckster, etc. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing, a false prophet. He's the crypto-Establishment candidate.

And remind the outsider-preferring group that although Sarah Palin supported Cruz awhile ago before his views would become revealed, the First Lady of the Tea Party has endorsed Mr. Trump over her former protege -- for a reason. Trump is the real outsider, and a self-funding one to boot, not a Wall Street-owned sell-out like Cruz.

Obviously the Trump campaign has probably thought of most of this stuff already, but it's important to get this out there more broadly. Whether it's talking to people face-to-face, over social media, or anonymously in comments / forums / Twitter, we can give the Trump train the extra oomph it needs to roll over Goldman Ted.

February 1, 2016

Culture wars are dead: Jerry Falwell Jr. stumping for Trump, the Good Samaritan

A recent post discussed how Ted Cruz's failed attack about "New York values" shows that the culture wars are losing major steam. Not only the election but the political climate in general is now entirely about the nature of the government and the economy -- there is no room for appeals to social and cultural values, as there has been back to Jimmy Carter's emphasis on being a born-again Christian during his 1976 presidential campaign, and really ramping up during the '90s (gun control, abortion, etc. -- all very stale topics way past their consume-by date).

In fact, as Jerry Falwell Jr. has been pointing out while stumping for Trump, Jimmy Carter may have been a good born-again Baptist and Sunday school teacher, but he wasn't the best choice for President of the United States. (Search YouTube for "Trump Falwell" -- he has made several appearances already.)

It would have been unimaginable just 10 to 20 years ago for the Chancellor of Liberty University (evangelical Southern Baptist) to be endorsing a candidate who wouldn't receive an A+ on the evangelical report card. Today, we have him appealing to conservative Christian voters that they ought to put aside whatever concerns they may have about Trump's faith and religious life, and choose him because he's the best shot they have at preserving their way of life, at such a crucial now-or-never point in history.

In his stump speeches, Falwell gives the analogy of bringing your sick child to whoever the best doctor is that can heal him -- regardless of the doctor's personal faith. Separation of church and medicine. He also relates stories about putting the university that his father founded on a solid financial foundation, and that this required bringing in professionals who may or may not have shared his faith, but were the best ones for the job. Separation of church and accounting.

That may sound utterly ordinary for mainstream Christians or the not-so-religious, but it is a major reversal of the evangelical stance that "the personal is political" -- that it's not just a candidate's character that matters, but specifically how closely his religious beliefs and behaviors reflect the evangelicals' own ways. Falwell also quotes Jesus' admonition to "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's," explaining that this means separating religious from political affairs -- again, a major reversal of the message and mindset that the evangelical audience has become used to.

I'd go one step further and argue to evangelicals that Trump is like the Good Samaritan who helped the traveler who had been beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of the road, after the priest and the Levite (another religious official) had passed by without stopping to help.

The wounded traveler is the American way of life, and evangelicals are like the audience of the original, who were from a somewhat different tribe than the Samaritan helper. (Still, the Jews and Samaritans were highly similar cultures, sharing blood, language, history, land, and most of their religion.)

The priest and the Levite are those who are more concerned with maintaining their own personal ritual purity than administering aid to a dying crime victim, whose wounds and filth might defile them -- Republican "intellectuals" and politicians, Religious Right figureheads, and the leaders of the conservative values movement in general. Healing the sickly American way of life is going to require actions more than loud words and empty gestures, and handling a dying body will leave you with unclean hands afterward.

In Jesus' parable, it is not the traveler's spirit that is in danger -- it is his health, wealth, and security that the robbers have stolen from him, and they robbed him for material rather than religious motives. The priest and the Levite probably thought, "Hey, it's not a religious matter -- let the doctors intervene. And anyway, if we got involved, we could get physically and spiritually polluted."

Likewise, much of the American way of life has to do with secular and mundane matters like how our economy and our government operate.

Do we allow American companies to send our jobs overseas, while the executives make the profits right here? Do we allow anyone who wants to come into the country to do so, and even to gain citizenship? Do we allow technocrats in Washington to dictate education policy? And so on and so forth. If we allow the wrong choices to be made on all these matters, as we have for the better part of several decades now, then the American way of life will vanish into thin air -- religion or no religion.

Someone working as a latter-day serf at two part-time service-sector jobs, whose neighborhood is increasingly colonized by foreigners and turned into a Tower of Babel, is not going to live a truly American way of life, even if they continue to go to church on Sunday, say grace before dinner, and pray to God to forgive their sins. They will be living like a disenfranchised Medieval peasant, albeit a devout one, and with more dazzling devices to numb the pain. They will not be living as a free American citizen.

Restoring health and wealth to the American way of life is going to require getting our hands dirty with the workings of the economy and government. Evangelical candidates such as Ted Cruz would rather preserve their holier-than-thou purity than get anything constructive done to help the dying crime victim. Trump, the New Yorker, does not hail from the evangelical tribe, but he is going to do far more to bring the American way of life back to life. And he is truly acting more like a good neighbor to America than are the priests of the conservative movement.

January 30, 2016

Anthem for the 2016 revolution: "The Party's Over" by Trump Trump

Unlike the pop song parodies for the era of Trump, the lyrics from this one don't need any alteration. It fits perfectly already. From 1982:

There's a nice double-entendre for the Establishment Party being over, as well as the whole laissez-faire elitist feeding frenzy, and its debauched and hypocritical social world ("masquerade"). Young shitlord is disgusted by out-of-touch, unwanted, gray-haired decadents. Brushing off the "crime" of not genuflecting and having the love of the party, and a dismissively ironic use of the title "Lord" to address the dead man walking.

In typical new wave fashion, it uses syncopated bass lines and tribal drumming to get the muscles moving, though feeling more like a military march or combat exercise than carefree dancing. Unlike the uncontrolled mania of punk, an angry new wave song gradually escalates from a hypnotic trance toward a battering climax and crescendo, more like heavy metal. Punk provides a quick release of your pent-up anger, and appeals to escapists and shirkers who just want to get rid of their neurotic feelings and be left alone by the world. New wave and heavy metal harnass your energy and get you steadily more pumped up in order to go on the attack with it.

What better choice is there for descending upon the Republican Convention this summer to crush the cucks once and for all?

(The Sanders crowd could use this one too, but they're not assertive enough to resonate with music that can make you punch the air.)

- - - - -

The party's over
I never thought you'd stay
The love of laughter
My truth's no longer sane

The party's over
Much older than you'd say
This friend of no one
Time, creases on your face

Take a look at the kids
I've been losing track
This crime of being uncertain
Of your love
Is all I'm guilty of

The party's over
I never thought you'd stay
A style of reason
This life of masquerade

Take a look at the kids
I've been losing track
This crime of being uncertain
Of your love
Is all I'm guilty of

Take this punishment away Lord
Name the crime I'm guilty of
Too much hope I've seen as virtue
Name the crime I'm guilty of

Debates as Establishment rituals of hazing, casting couch, and purity tests -- which Trump refuses to submit to

I've never watched primary debates before, so I assumed they were just boring nitpicking that only policy wonks would care about. But having tuned in to all of the GOP debates so far (minus the most recent one that Trump skipped), a very different image jumps out -- they are painful initiation rites for those who are aspiring to join the Establishment at the highest possible levels. Certainly if they're trying to be President, but also if they're just trying to secure a VP slot, or a place in the Cabinet, etc.

To begin with, there is almost zero informational content to any of what the candidates say that has not already been revealed, broadcast, and chewed over ad nauseam by the time the debate takes place. And of course they don't actually debate each other, but at most engage in slapfights or smackdowns.

OK, that's what they are not -- what exactly does take place, then? By all accounts last night's debate was a purer example of how it's supposed to go, without Trump changing the rules of the game, although even the ones with Trump show what they're meant to be.

1. Loyalty oaths to the senior members / gatekeepers. That was made overt during the first debate, where the moderator singled out Trump for not pledging allegiance unequivocally to whoever winds up getting the nomination, to the boos of party hacks in the audience.

However, the main purpose of the question-and-answer format is to probe the ideological purity of the candidates. The debate planners in the Establishment (for whom the moderators are the attack dogs) allow for there to be an acceptable range of answers, rather than just one single answer. But if the answer falls outside the range of acceptability, that candidate is disqualified -- again, likely booed and jeered by the partisan audience, and smeared indefinitely in the Establishment's media / propaganda outlets.

This fundamental aim of the debates is anti-democratic, filtering out candidates who fail the Establishment's criteria of party purity, rather than based on what the grassroots voters believe is a good or bad response.

2. Dealing out pain to the initiates. Whether in the content or the tone of the question, the moderators are not just posing sober questions, they are trying to give the candidates a little slap in the face and see if they can take it. A good paddling, too, if they try to assert their dominance over the moderators (and by extension their bosses in the Establishment). The candidates are the pledges, and need to take whatever punishment the moderators dish out (which they promise won't be unusually cruel, but still might leave a mark).

The point here is to establish the authority of the party bosses over the candidates, in the most palpable way possible, aside from getting anally raped on live TV.

The moderators also bait the candidates into dishing out pain to one another, akin to making two frat pledges fight each other. It's not a real no-holds-barred kind of fight, it's understood that there are basic rules of not hitting too hard or below the belt. Here the point is for the party bosses to see who can withstand the most punishment from a group of peers, in addition to who can take it the best from higher-ups in a hierarchy.

Sometimes they even have lower-downs going on the attack, such as the would-be Trump assassins from YouTube at this week's debate.

Taking all of these tests into account, the bosses can see who has the best defenses in all three situations -- attacks from superiors, peers, and inferiors, all of which will take place if they get the job.

Trump has said that he finds it odd how friendly the candidates are with each other, right after having slung so much mud at one another during the debate. Perhaps part of the point of taking pain in this context is to build party solidarity -- engaging in a great big game of rough-and-tumble play, or getting into a food fight with your friends in the school cafeteria.

Sure enough, everyone said that the Trump-free debate was the most brutal free-for-all, and yet the candidates themselves said how great it felt and that this is how it's supposed to be. Trump wasn't playing by their rules, and went around knocking every one of them out, when their game is supposed to be only a mock-fight among friends and colleagues.

3. Doing the bidding of their paymasters if they want the job, AKA spreading wide on the casting couch, with cameras rolling and everything. Their Establishment donors -- except for Trump, who is self-funding -- pay them big money to do their bidding, and mainly that means advocating forcefully for the talking points of the donors before a national audience, without the donors themselves being visible.

This is what distinguishes the debates from a mere job interview, which also has elements of purity tests and hazing. There is a naked quid pro quo -- you advocate for my wants (and against my enemy's wants), and I'll give you a boost in getting the job you want.

Now, how has Trump's performance up-ended the whole thing?

First, he refused to pledge loyalty to the party unconditionally (only if they treated him fairly). Then he continually refuses to give answers within the acceptable range -- unashamedly stating he'll promote populist and nationalist policies, as opposed to the only permissible answers of elitism and globalism.

Second, he refused to take whatever beating was coming his way, let alone restraining himself from hitting back. By skipping the latest debate, he avoided having to run the nastiest gauntlet that the candidates have faced so far. And when he does get slapped by a moderator, he slaps twice as hard back, while not losing his composure, like squashing a mosquito that's just bitten you. ("Only Rosie O'Donnell!" :megyn kelly's wherever explodes:)

Third, he has been pressured by all manner of Establishment figures to tone down his rhetoric or moderate his positions -- and continues to do as he feels he must do. He has no moneyman puppet-masters, so he doesn't have to prostitute himself with casting-couch advocacy of his donors' interests.

The net effect of all these changes is what I first defined the Trump phenomenon as, back in July -- breaking the spell of conformity among an insecure group of onlookers (the voters), by pointing out that the emperor wasn't wearing any clothes. Geez, you're right! How could we have been so stupid?! Thank God somebody spoke up!

By now, conformity from the base with the elite of the party has completely unraveled, thanks to Trump demonstrating that the party elites have been saying down is up for the average American, and that backward is forward. "Excuse me, do me a favor and tell me which direction forward is -- it's forward, right? Wow, like, you don't gotta go to the Wharton School of Finance to figure that one out, do ya? Now let's get moving forward before we back over that cliff, okay?"

Trump's refusal to conform to the rules of the party's usual initiation rites has also prevented all the other Establishment candidates from building solidarity among themselves. Their rough-and-tumble team-building exercise has been ruined by Trump running loose and clothes-lining anyone who comes at him, and others pre-emptively. The candidates are not in safe sparring mode, they are afraid and running for their own safety. You really see that with Jeb, who flails like a frightened girl when Trump is on the stage, but who got into his element last night when it was just flag-football and he could not have suffered a hard tackle from the Trumpinator.

I think this is why the Establishment apologists and cuckservatives have freaked out the most about how he's treated the debates. If he floats what they consider a wacko policy, big deal, they mock him. If he uses a tough tone, big deal, they rib him for being brash instead of polite.

But when he throws sand in the gears of their rituals, it feels like a desecration. Rituals could not be more important in our lives, especially in the group context. They are felt to be sacred -- something you're not supposed to make major changes to, let alone take a great big piss on. Initiation and bonding rituals are key to group solidarity, so when such a powerful figure takes a wrecking ball to them, the members fear that their whole group will come apart for good. Forget their beliefs, policies, and so on -- they won't even be able to function as a team.

That's all for the better, as Trump will replace all these Old Guard hacks with his own team members who have certainly gone through their own initiation and bonding rituals. If the limp-wristed Republican Establishment can engage in play-fighting to build team spirit, just imagine how much more cohesive the rowdy Trump army is going to be.

All the more so because the Establishment has been caught with their pants down, trying to play their own friendly little game of flag-football while the Trump crowd advances ready for some full-weight tackling.

January 29, 2016

The "small government" impulse back East and out West

A commenter asks:

What do you think of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire often matching western states to an extent in being libertarian, small government, rural small towns? Maine and Vermont were the only states to oppose FDR in one year after all.

It's a good question, and highly relevant to the current electoral season. Trump is YUGE in New England, but much less so out West. (See the map in this NYT article, and some discussion in the comments of this post.) That right there says there can't be too much in common between the political sensibilities of New England and Texas / Utah / California.

First, there are almost no small rural towns out West -- the original settlement proceeded very fast because it was driven by get-rich-quick schemers pouring in searching for virgin niches to exploit. Lots of small towns implies slower population growth.

Most people west of the Mississippi either live in large cities or their surrounding suburbs and exurbs. The exception is the northern Plains, but those rural residents don't really live in small towns so much as family farms in wide-open town-free expanses. Sure, folks who live in Missoula have easy access to unmolested nature -- but they don't actually live out there. They live in a city or a suburb.

So the person out West who prefers lower population density doesn't actually want to be part of a tightly knit small town, but to be a rugged individualist (at most accompanied by a nuclear family). That means either an urban or suburban mountain LARP-er, or someone who lives in a remote area -- unattached to a broader network of other people and institutions.

The low-pop-density person back East longs for the cozy intimacy of an interconnected group of families and peers.

Libertarians would probably refer to this difference as "communitarian" vs. "individualist" libertarianism, but it seems like a false similarity since the core of libertarianism is laissez-faire. Small-gov communitarianism vs. small-gov individualism, is more like it (small-gov being a modifier, not the essence or substance, which are radically opposite).

Perhaps it's more useful to ask what the two groups want in place of a large state that intervenes and regulates their local area. Communitarians want a rich network of civic institutions and organizations that are bottom-up, where members regulate one another. These are the "third way" solutions that Elinor Ostrom surveyed in the undeveloped economies -- neither leaving things up to an unregulated market, nor having top-down state regulation or control. Their closest analog in the developed world would be those whose disappearance is chronicled by Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone -- labor unions, fraternal organizations, the PTA, and so on.

The individualists want more of a culture of honor solution. It's not as though there aren't any livestock herders back East -- but they aren't known for rustling one another's cattle, or getting into armed stand-offs with the government over grazing rights. The lawlessness and disdain for society is familiar from other cultures of honor around the Mediterranean and Middle East, particularly among nomadic pastoralists rather than settled agriculturalists.

There is another important difference -- over religion. New England communitarians are not very religious, spiritual, or anything like that. West of the Mississippi, the individualists may or may not be religious, but it's a decent possibility as opposed to non-existent. And their religion is feverishly apocalyptic -- understandable if their worldview lacks any man-made regulating forces, whether bottom-up or top-down, meaning that chaos and annihilation are always just around the corner. If there are no natural regulating forces, that can only mean that supernatural forces determine our outcomes. Divine intervention takes the place of man-made regulations.

In this way, the libertarians out West are similar to the Islamic fanatics in the anarchic Arabian culture of honor. White converts to Islam and ISIS sure seem more common out West than back East.

It also accounts for the out-West mania for the Old Testament, Israel, and "Judeo-Christian" values. The God of the Old Testament must be properly treated because he holds our fates in his hands, and we want to stay on his good side. That comes from the days when the Jews were just another bunch of Semitic pastoralist hillbillies, living in a mostly lawless environment. Likewise the folks out on the American frontier approach religion from the angle of propitiating the only regulating force in the world, there being no such forces down here on Earth.

Back East, communitarians are more non-religious. But to the extent that they are religious, it's more Christian than quasi-Judaic. The New Testament is more focused on man's relation to one's fellow man, usually from the point-of-view of reforming one's own inner character and actions. Divine intervention plays a minor role, and therefore so does propitiation (praying for God to intervene, offering him a sacrifice, etc.).

In a way the Christian movement was taking the first steps toward a bottom-up, man-made system of regulating our behavior so that we don't blow our society up, although the man-made system is treated as having a divine origin in the man-god Jesus Christ. This began when the Jews had settled down more into towns with more permanent civic groups and governments, compared to their more lawless days as nomadic herders.

Hence the Eastern communitarian's preference for mainline Protestant or Catholic churches, and feeling alien at a more evangelical happening.

Easterners also come from the historical core of the country, and feel more of a responsibility for tradition and stewardship, whereas the Westerners who hail from the rootless frontier shrug that off in favor of creative destruction, what they imagine is the outcome of laissez-faire. This is reflected in their church preferences, with mainline and Catholic churches having deeper roots and more codified rituals than whatever the trend du jour happens to be among evangelical churches.

That shows up in their feelings about government. The communitarians want there to be some kind of institution that preserves historic places, and that regulates the altering or destruction of existing natural and built environments. For individualists, nothing should get in the way of good ol' creative destruction and re-development, if that's what the individuals involved want (past and future generations do not get a say in the individualist / libertarian world).

There's more to say, but you get the idea. There really isn't much of a libertarian strain back East, certainly not in New England. Call them communitarians, civic cultists, descendants of de Tocqueville, or whatever you want, but they aren't rugged individualists or de-regulators. Although desiring a small government, they still want a rich system of social regulations in place, only locally and from the bottom-up, and connecting a tightly knit social network rather than isolated households run by the paranoid bunker mindset.

January 28, 2016

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, another loser in the decline of the culture wars (lede buried btw)

Well, having deflated the hype around the likes of Kat Timpf and Megyn Kelly, let's go right on ahead with Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the token conservative on The View for a decade, and more recently co-host on the Fox & Friends morning talk show. She was a shining example of the "values conservative" type, whose fortunes have evaporated now that conservatism is finally about nationalism and populism, not dead-ends like abortion, family values, and so on.

I want to be clear that I sympathize with audiences who want there to be values-conservative icons. We live in a pretty depraved world today, and it would be nice for there to be role models to guide us or at least serve as a standard we measure ourselves against. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to vet these models to make sure that they are who they say they are.

With matters like populism, we can simply check to see how much money they've taken from Wall Street banks, or whatever else. With moral values, the actions that provide proof are usually private and deeply held secrets -- or maybe they're not really there after all. But if there is damning evidence, it will probably be hard to uncover without devoting massive resources to unearthing it.

What we get instead is a contest to see who is holier than thou, each of the competitors striving to maximize their morality stats in order to draw in the largest crowd of eyeballs to sell to TV advertisers or book publishers.

In Hasselbeck's case, her schtick on The View (from 2003 to 2013) was standard cuckservatism of the 2000s -- protesting against abortion while accepting its finality, and shilling hard for the Iraq War well into the late Bush years. She still hadn't figured out which nationality brought down the World Trade Center on 9/11.

But those views were a dime a dozen back then. What drew in huge audiences of youngish and middle-aged women was the aggressive cultivation of her persona as a wholesome, traditional, yet hip mother-and-wife who could also hold down a career and look great on national TV every day. This lifestyle and persona appeal of hers continued into the transition to a more officially conservative venue, the Fox & Friends morning talk show, in 2013.

And then a strange thing happened -- late last year, she abruptly announced she would be leaving not just the show, but the network and the medium, indefinitely. I never watched Fox News, let alone The View, so I didn't think anything of it at the time (I did happen to be watching the morning show a little). If she stuck with The View for an entire decade, and now had a venue more suitable to her, why on Earth would she be leaving so early?

Her official reason was that she was entering a "season" where her kids needed her to be there full-time, and that she needed to give them "the best of me, not the rest of me". Again, not knowing anything about her career history at the time, I took that at face value. Nothing weird about a female conservative icon heeding the calling of domestic duties over career ambitions.

But if she was at The View for a decade, she likes not only having a career but being on TV. There's no way that desire would have stopped so suddenly in late 2015. She'd only just gotten going on her Fox career, having been there for only two years.

As for her kids, by late 2015 they were 6, 8, and 10 years old -- still needing maternal supervision, but not exactly in their most vulnerable stages of development. In fact, Hasselbeck kept working in daily TV production when her children were infants, and indeed while she was pregnant. A 2007 notice from People magazine said that while she would take some maternity leave, she would host the show right up until her due date. And of course she didn't end her busy TV career once she had one, two, and then three kids. As infants, toddlers, and schoolchildren, the three of them were growing up with a full-time working mother, which clearly did not bother her.

Why the sudden maternal guilt? There wasn't even a triggering event like another pregnancy, a crisis in the family, or something else.

Apart from hosting a daily TV show, she also wrote two books about the gluten-free diet in '08 and '12, when her children were infant to school-aged. This separate career track didn't cause her to reconsider how much or how little time her kids were getting from their mother. Building her personal media brand came first.

Then there's the timing of her departure from Fox: she bowed out during the Christmas / New Year's period (Dec 22), when the fewest possible viewers would be paying attention. If she's such a beloved icon, she should have waited until her fans were not so distracted by the back-to-back holidays to share their final moments with her. Maybe host the New Year's Eve celebration, and end on a high note.

This is also the most highly watched election season in recent memory, so it makes even less sense to bail now than during the relatively more boring seasons of the 21st century.

So why the abrupt and indefinite self-sequestering of a values-conservative icon? If this item from Blind Gossip is to be believed, she may have had an affair with a married man -- none other than the Donald himself. The item was reported on Aug 13, 2015:

Whether you love or hate this Presidential Candidate, he certainly gets people talking. One of those people is a female journalist from a large media company. She had an affair with the married Candidate. She has been talking to friends and colleagues about how worried she is that the story of the affair will break nationally and ruin them both.

Obviously the candidate is Trump. Because this came out one week after the first GOP debate where Megyn Kelly obsessively hounded him, almost every commenter at Blind Gossip figured that the journalist was her -- no wonder she behaved like a vindictive jilted lover!

But several pieces of the item don't really fit with it being Kelly. If she and Trump had an affair, and the news of it broke nationally, it would not ruin either of them. Trump's affair with Marla Maples during his first marriage is well known, and he has even said that those episodes are fair game in this election season (again, nobody cares about these topics this time around, so he exposes himself to almost no risk in being so frank about the affair).

Nor would it ruin Kelly -- it would certainly make for big-league awkwardness, but she has not built her personal brand on being the most moral family-values icon under 40 or 50. Her persona is being sassy, bossy, edgy, etc. -- not a traditional wife and mother with wholesome girl-next-door appeal.

Also, the word "talking" is used twice in the brief blind item, suggesting a talk show more than a reaction/analysis show like the Kelly File. In fact, the word "friends" conspicuously appears in the item as well, and Hasselbeck's talk show is called Fox & Friends. Before that she was on another talk show for a decade.

Certainly Hasselbeck would be ruined if it came out that she had an affair, with a married man, who was "notorious womanizer bla bla bla" Donald Trump. There goes her whole trad/con family values brand, and she's forced to eke out a living on the comic con circuit, signing autographs for nerds who bring pictures of her stint on Survivor.

The image in the blind item also looks a lot more like Hasselbeck, showing a newswoman who is more prim and proper, upbeat, and suppressing a grin rather than plastering it across her face like bossypants caricature Megyn Kelly would have done.

(The only other guess at Blind Gossip was Katy Tur, but she was openly Keith Olbermann's cohabiting sex doll, so she could not have been ruined by news of having a fling with Trump.)

Fearing that the intense scrutiny during this spectacle of an election season might turn up the frontrunner's affair with one of the hosts on a show that regularly interviews him, she decided to get out of the limelight as fast as possible, making sure to slather on the "doting mother" imagery for good protective measure before leaving.

Trump has already said that he could walk out into the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and his voters would still remain loyal to him. During one of the debates, Ann Coulter tweeted something to the effect of, "They can start aborting babies in the White House, as long as we fix the immigration problem once and for all". So even if this affair does get picked up by a more mainstream source than a gossip site, with more of the details and credible sourced filled in, it wouldn't even put a dent in Trump's momentum. "Seriously, you banged Hasselbeck? High-five bro!"

I'm putting all this out there to really hammer home the dead-end and corrupting nature of the values conservatism movement. Trump never campaigned on being for family values, anti-abortion, prayer in public schools, etc. Not that he is against all those concepts like the liberals are -- just that this election is not the time and the place for them. Pushing them has gotten us nowhere anyway.

But the movement sure was great for puffing up the status and bank account of icons like Hasselbeck who market themselves aggressively based on their wholesome holier-than-thou persona, while having affairs away from the cameras, not to mention letting someone else raise her kids while they're little, and then claiming her media departure is because her children need mommy by their side.

Who was she, anyway? A reality show contestant, an airheaded Bush cheerleader, and a self-aggrandizing gluten-free evangelist. Sorry, we may be desperate for moral icons, but not that desperate.

January 27, 2016

Persona strivers like Megyn Kelly make horrible interviewers and debate moderators

Now that Trump is skipping the Fox News debate for an event of his own to raise funds for the veterans, we won't have to sit through another two-hour event moderated by Megyn "Penis Envy" Kelly.

Some might identify her problem as being a careerist, but she's not really competing at being the best at some job. Her career is founded on a persona that she has crafted -- sassy, bossy, random/snarky, and dominatrix (revealing a lot about who her fans are). Her TV show and other media appearances are all geared toward promoting her personal brand in order to amass legions of groupies who can then be sold to advertisers.

Because her livelihood relies so much on crafting and promoting a persona, she can never act like a normal person or a professional in a setting where the focus is on someone else. With a professional interviewer, the focus is on getting answers from the interviewee -- remaining in the background, presenting an unassuming facade, gaining the subject's trust, and coaxing out responses when they're reluctant.

With a persona striver, the professionalism becomes inverted -- her groupies are tuning in to watch "Megyn Kelly doing an interview," regardless of who happens to be responding this time around. It's a performance of a character, rather than doing a job. Now the focus is on the interviewer, the emotional satisfaction comes from hearing not the responses but the questions (zingers, gotchas, effusive praise, etc.), acting like a hammed-up caricature, keeping the subject at arm's length and not caring if they trust you, and being bullheaded and failing to get a good answer when the subject is reluctant.

Moderating a debate is like juggling several interviews at the same time, so naturally a persona striver will pollute a debate even more than a one-on-one interview. We saw that big-time during the very first GOP debate, where Kelly led off by attacking Trump's character in a statement, rather than asking a good-faith question about some substantive issue.

Only trouble, Meg, is that we're tuning in to hear Trump's views on trade, immigration, terrorism, etc. -- not you doing your schtick. Everyone who saw it remembers Trump's effortless interrupting comeback about "only Rosie O'Donnell" did he call a fat pig, disgusting animal, etc. It totally deflated her would-be dominatrix interviewer routine. The rest of the cucks on stage may not mind getting slapped across the face before a live national audience, but Trump showed America that he wouldn't take the petty vindictive crap of some sassy lawyerette. His brand went through the roof, hers cratered.

Some of the other female moderators did a basically professional job -- Dana Bash, Becky Quick. But so far the best has been Maria Bartiromo during the Fox Business debates. Working for a business network, her focus is on the career world, not the lifestyle and persona contests that are more popular with those who are not / cannot rise to the top of their career path. She's just trying to get the answers that will resolve the uncertainty her viewers have over where some candidate stands on this or that topic.

She also behaves respectfully and charitably, and just a bit playfully, when other matter-of-fact interviewers come off as almost distant and therefore not trying to gain the trust of the subject.

We see how fine a balance it can be to behave "just a bit" playfully by comparing her to Erin Burnett on CNN. Like most Celtic people, Erin is a born instigator, but she lets it go too far most of the time, and savvy interviewees will sense that she's trying too hard to get them to reveal a secret. She always has this raised-eyebrow expression like she's playing flirtypants with the men or begging the women to dish on whatever juicy gossip they have. It's almost child-like in its not-so-subtle eagerness, and while that does lend a cuteness to her that is lacking among most TV news personalities, it keeps her from getting the most out of her subjects. More like, she's good at stirring up a food fight at the cafeteria table of her discussion panel.

Maria's more charming-and-disarming approach lets her get more from her interviews, and keeps her personality in the background where it belongs. We know she can be cute, too, but we don't need for it to become a performance. Only on occasion, when it will feel less artificial anyhow.

January 24, 2016

Bloomberg might run, revealing elite cluelessness and internecine competitiveness (good news for Trump, though)

Michael Bloomberg, the liberal former mayor of New York, is considering running for President as an independent, to be determined by March.

It's like the elites are trying to prove the points being made here lately.

First, it provides yet another example of how our era's hyper-competitiveness has destroyed the ability of an elite group to promote its own group interests, where instead each individual career striver is pushing for their own personal ambitions (or at most including their nuclear family).

The Republican Establishment can't unite behind a single non-Trump candidate to give the frontrunner a run for his money, because every non-Trump candidate refuses to drop out. They're driven by personal ambition rather than the survival of the Party in its pre-Trumpian form.

The Democrat Establishment can't unite behind Hillary -- not because of Bernie, who is not a fellow Establishment member, but because of the feuding between the Clinton camp and the Obama camp, and between the Clinton camp and other federal bureaucracies, both of which have influence over her chances of getting the nomination. They're letting the investigation move forward regarding her unsecure email server with the most secret kinds of information stored on it. If the Democrat Establishment were so united, the investigation would not be proceeding at all.

Now Bloomberg comes in and floats the possibility of running as an independent. He is a liberal who's deeply in bed with Wall Street, just like Hillary. He would be sucking votes away from her rather than from Trump, and everyone knows it. His action is therefore a liberal version of group-destructive competitiveness. Certainly if he does run, it will be a case of liberal cannibalism.

But even if he ultimately does not run, merely floating this possible third-party run and letting it stay out there until March, is enough to unglue a good amount of support from Hillary. Some pro-Establishment voters would prefer Bloomberg over Hillary, so when he's offered as a choice, they're going to latch onto him rather than her. When he decides not to run, they are not as likely to switch back to her again. In that case, Hillary would be their unambiguous second choice -- not very exciting or energizing to get out to the polls -- rather than someone they managed to rationalize as their first choice, in the absence of more appealing alternatives.

Apart from internecine competition within supposedly monolithic groups, Bloomberg's possible run shows how out of touch the Establishment has become. He sees his best chances if Trump or Cruz get the Republican nomination, and Sanders the Democrat nomination. Why? Because then Bloomberg would be the only Establishment candidate left standing -- and you can just imagine how wildly the Jewish brain begins firing at the prospect of cornering a market.

Sure, perhaps some Establishment-desiring voters would stick with Trump or Cruz or Sanders out of party loyalty, but all the rest of them would have to go through Bloomberg if they wanted their desires represented in the general election.

Trouble is, Mikey, that voters couldn't be more vocal this time around about their utter disgust with and anger toward the Establishment principles of laissez-faire economics, including open borders, globalism, and elitism rather than populism. Indeed, in the scenario that Bloomberg considers to be his best shot, this anti-Establishment zeitgeist would be precisely why Trump / Cruz and Sanders would have received their party's nomination.

At least that's what a normal person would conclude. A normal person would also conclude that Bloomberg's best chances would be if Hillary and Jeb won the nominations, and Establishment candidates were clearly in high demand, so why not try to jump on the bandwagon?

In the mind of the insulated elite, however, they would see the success of Trump / Cruz and Sanders not as guided by purposeful laws (away from elitism and globalism, toward populism and nationalism), but rather as two great big freak accidents. Not just random noise distorting the pure signal -- rather an inversion of the intended signal, as though a guitar meant to sound a high note but actually let out a low note. And that this kept happening on two separate guitars, being played by the two biggest bands in the nation.

In the NYT article, the phrase that Bloomberg uses to describe what's going on with the Trump / Cruz / Sanders upheaval is "haywire" -- it's not supposed to happen this way! Well, hell, if those two parties are going haywire, then all I have to do is offer business as usual, and I'll have a great chance at attracting all those who are dissatisfied with their usual party's machinery going all haywire.

The man literally cannot conceive of election outcomes being influenced by what voters actually want -- it's all supposed to happen in a way that's planned, coordinated, and dominated by elites, and the voters are just supposed to pull a lever for this pre-approved option or that one.

In fact, that's why Bloomberg has waited until now to seriously plan a campaign. Before, it was Establishment Democrat vs. Establishment Republican, and he would not have had a monopoly on the supply of Establishment policies. Now that Trump is poised to get the Republican nomination, and Sanders stands a decent shot at getting it from the Democrats (or at worst, Hillary takes a beating from Sanders and remains unappealing), Bloomberg spies his opening to corner the market on Establishment policies.

Too bad this chucklehead hasn't been paying attention to the trend in the demand for Establishment policies. He's like some eBay scalper from 2000 buying up all the Beanie Babies after the fad was dead, blindly dreaming of instant riches.

Finally, he paid top dollar for a bunch of quants to provide "detailed studies" of every third-party Presidential campaign. Big data, big waste -- like I discussed in this earlier post. This election has no historical precedent from the time that we have any big data to analyze.

His team is focusing most on the 1980 and 1992 third party campaigns, even though those are useless today -- opposite of today, in fact. Those belong squarely within the laissez-faire renaissance period, and we are decisively moving in the opposite direction. The rules that governed those worlds are of no use in navigating this uncharted territory we are sailing into now.

Not to mention the fact that third-party candidates are typically anti-Establishment, or at least the farthest away from the elite consensus du jour. Running a third party in 2016, when Trump is a perfectly viable choice, would be pointless to the kinds of voters who would consider "voting third party". The Trump movement might as well be a third party in today's world, and soon it will displace the neoconservative majority in a major party.

In the scenario that would get the Bloomberg campaign rolling the hardest, the two major parties would be fielding anti-Establishment candidates, and he would be the sole Establishment choice. That is the exact opposite of the relationship between major-party and third-party candidates in 1980, 1992, 1912, or whenever else. How dumb can the data junkies get?

"We analyzed terabytes of data to micro-map the Arabian Desert, and we are confident that the results will show us the easiest path up Mount Everest."

After decades of insulation from real political competition, today's elites could not be more mind-blowingly retarded. And the atomic cognitive dissonance when they crash hard will only embolden the triumphant populists, who will discover just how unprepared and atrophied the Other Side has truly become.

January 22, 2016

Jeb Bush: "But my mommy says I'm cool..."

Really bringing out the secret nuclear weapons on the campaign trail, Jeb gets his mommy to tell the whole school how nice her son is, and for that popular kid Donald Trump to stop being so mean to him.

If Jeb values his clan's honor at all, he'll kill himself before the primary votes remove all doubt of his failure.

Just yesterday we were discussing how Bush Sr. put his own family's dynastic ambitions above the good of the Republican Party and the entire nation by running for re-election in '92, when his administration couldn't have been more unpopular and out-of-touch with the Boomer-driven electorate of the time.

Fast-forward another quarter-century into the me-first era, and now the stubborn career striver Jeb is ruining any future even for his own clan (let alone the Party or nation), all because "It's my turn to run, Dad!"

Jeb's Aztec son grew up expecting an even more entitled station in society, meaning he'll act too retarded to gather the Establishment apparatus around his ambitions.

If there is a God in Heaven, this degenerate word-fumbling clan will all be taking drive-thru orders at a McDonald's in Pittsburgh, where the steelworkers in Trump's America will be making more money than the Bushies, who will be taunted over their stuttering and given swirlies forever and ever.

January 21, 2016

Hyper-competitiveness keeps elites from uniting against common enemies like Trump / Sanders

One major irony of our status-striving era is that the hyper-competitiveness of career strivers leaves them vulnerable to being conquered by those who are group-oriented rather than worshipers of individual ambition.

Quite simply, the strivers' overweening ambition prevents all of them from joining any other one of their fellow individualists who's come under attack by the group-oriented team. That would expose them to unknown risks -- catching collateral damage, getting caught in the crossfire, and so on -- with zero payoff to themselves, and a positive payoff to the fellow striver they helped out.

If their goal were to enhance the well-being of some greater group that they and the target belonged to, perhaps they'd make an individual sacrifice for the group. But if they're only looking out for #1, then no sacrifices will be made on behalf of others, even when under attack by a common enemy. "No, YOU take the enemy out."

It turns out that once the movement against unchecked individual ambition gets going -- which may take some time after the initial revolution of laissez-faire norms -- it does not even need to bother with the strategy of "divide and conquer". Pure individualists are already divided among themselves, and if the group-oriented team has gained enough solidarity, it is simple to conquer them.

We're seeing this most spectacularly among the Republicans, whose Establishment figures have been trying to figure out how to kick Trump out of the race by any means necessary. It's really simple, though -- order all but the most promising non-Trump candidate to fall on their swords, and suddenly there's a non-Trump candidate who's polling within the neighborhood of Trump himself. But that assumes that there is enough group-orientation among those Republicans, and enough willingness to sacrifice the individual for the Party.

The fact that only a few zero-percenters have dropped out, while guaranteed failures like Bush, Christie, Kasich, etc. are still in it to win it, proves how little today's career strivers are willing to jump on the grenade to save the platoon.

As it stands, Trump is dominating all of them, with over 30% to their 10-15% at the highest, and towards 1% at the lowest. This will lead at worst to a battle at the convention if he doesn't get a majority during the first ballot, and at best to a flawless victory.

On the Democrats' side, the principle is not shown in the fighting among the candidates. The former mayor of Baltimore is a non-entity. Sanders is doing pretty well, but he's not an Establishment figure driven by overweening ambition -- if anything he has demurred from going for the jugular about Hillary's endangering of national security by hosting the most secret intelligence on an insecure personal email server.

Rather, what is throwing real sand into the gears for the presumed heir is the current Democrat administration, who got into a big conflict with the Clinton camp during the 2008 season. They still don't care for each other.

They keep looking into how much sensitive material she had on that email server that foreign spies have almost certainly hacked into, and they haven't ruled out a criminal indictment. Those Establishment members are either under Obama's influence, or their own semi-autonomous lead bureaucrat's influence -- not Hillary Clinton herself, who is no longer Secretary of State.

It's no secret that the Obama camp and the Clinton camp hate each other, and here we see how mutual antagonism may sabotage any effort by the DNC to keep things running smoothly for Hillary. Obama lets the investigation proceed, Hillary threatens to pull strings to get back at the Obamas, or at the agency doing the investigating and leaking of info to the press, these targets of Hillary resent being hit back against and probe even more seriously into her criminal activity, and being an inveterate sociopath she cannot help but threaten and push back -- ultimately resulting in being indicted for compromising national security, and she's yanked out of the Presidential race.

There would be no enthusiasm for any Establishment stiff who they would try to replace her with -- Biden, whoever -- so Sanders could coast into the nomination.*

The fact that the Obama people have refused to squash the investigation / possible indictment against Hillary reveals how little solidarity there is among the Democrats, even as they face their greatest schlonging in electoral history.

Nor is she willing to bow out for the good of the Party, in the way that the sitting President Johnson was ordered not to run for re-election in 1968, on account of his policies destabilizing the social order, angering the elites who feared that business would no longer be running as usual if the President kept antagonizing everybody over his Great Society and Vietnam War programs. And since that was back during the Great Compression, before the Me Generation revolution of the 1970s, Johnson in fact withdrew from his re-election campaign in early 1968.

Only a generation later, so much had changed, and President Bush could not bring himself to withdraw from re-election, no matter how lame and frustrating his first four years had been, no matter how charismatic and popular the Democrat was -- requiring a Republican who could have out-Willied Willy -- and no matter how much of his thunder was stolen by Perot.

There's no honor among thieves, whether they've set up camp in the Democrat or Republican party. Provided that a movement of enforcers can band together against them, they will be driven and scattered to little fanfare. During a period of such hyper-competitive careerism, internecine status-jockeying among the thieves means that "divide and conquer" will have the important first half of the solution already taken care of.

* Not that he'd win the general against Trump -- no more so than William Jennings Bryan won against McKinley two times, and against Taft a third time. Remember that the nearest previous realignment seems to have been the 1896 election, with McKinley leading the Republicans out of the laissez-faire Gilded Age and into the Progressive era of pro-tariff economic nationalism.

January 18, 2016

With the flop of Cruz's "New York values" attack, an end to the elites' culture war

"Values conservatism" began rearing its ugly head in the mid-1970s, when Jimmy Carter campaigned in part on having had a born-again experience, a strategy that would've been unimaginable during the "I Like Ike" 1950s, when religious experiences and other cultural markers were kept to oneself and the emphasis was on stewardship of the nation. "Family values" were cultivated in the domestic kinship sphere of life, not legislated and enforced through the government.

During the same time, "values liberalism" has replaced concern for the material welfare of the American people with airy-fairy philosophizing about the "rights" of Sodomites to sham-marry each other, the non-rights of citizens to keep and bear arms, and so on.

After picking up steam during the Reagan years, this culture war exploded during the 1990s under Clinton-Gingrich. The rallying cry was "political correctness" -- were you against it, or for social-cultural sensitivity? Either way, it had nothing to do with the state of the nation, but with these distraction topics like gun laws, abortion, racial epithets, sexual jokes, Biblical beliefs, and on and on. The war has continued on during the Bush-Obama years, although not at the huge spike level of the mid-'90s.

These spikes appear to have a 20-year period of cycling, though, so we're due for another one, and indeed are right in the middle of it, with Trump leading the anti-PC charge.

This time, however, the topics and targets are radically different from the past 40 years of culture-warring. They are no longer social-cultural values, but political-economic policies -- deporting illegal immigrants en masse, building a wall to stop further illegals, barring Muslims from immigrating, threatening domestic companies with steep tariffs if they choose to off-shore their labor force, rebuilding our infrastructure rather than playing video games in the Middle East, and so on and so forth.

Trump has appropriated the "political correctness" term, with all its negative connotations for the other side, from a recent and familiar culture war, but has adapted it to his political-economic focus. This makes it easier for Republicans and conservatives to transition out of the older worldview and into the newer one. It doesn't feel so abrupt -- we're just continuing the war against political correctness, not launching a revolution against values conservatism (and by extension values liberalism).

Trump's current main rival, Ted Cruz, recently attempted to attack him for embodying "New York values" such as being more pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, less evangelical, etc., than the typical American community. Cruz proved unable to adapt to the current situation where the past 40 years are going into reverse -- he believed we were still carrying on the culture wars, rather than political-economic wars. At least, he expected the voters to still be in that mindset.

So far that barb has failed to resonate with very much of the Republican base, outside of the most extreme cuckservative corners, located west of the Mississippi -- hence the explicit targeting of a back-East city rather than an even more disgusting den of degeneracy out West, like Vegas or L.A. or San Francisco or Salt Lake City, what with their long history of gambling, marijuana, prostitution, pornography, and polygamy, and where new-age cults prevail over traditional churches.

Moreover, Trump's response was not to accept Cruz's culture-war framing and quibble with him about how little or how much New York passes an evangelical's test of values. He flipped the script to talk about political and economic strength -- cohering as a group of citizens after an attack by foreigners, rebuilding downtown Manhattan, and rebounding as an even greater urban colossus.

Trump's message was clear: the Republicans are now going to be the party of political and economic strength, resiliency, and stewardship, rather than holier-than-thou tongue-cluckers in a war over social-cultural values (in public, while shilling for globalist elites behind the curtain).

Trump's populist counterpart has, for his part, also quietly discarded his party's values-oriented fear-mongering about gun nuts, wire hanger abortions, and Bible-thumping home-schoolers. Sanders has instead, like Trump, focused on how to purify the corruption of the political system and how to restore economic greatness to ordinary American communities.

They do differ on how to achieve that, with Trump viewing the government as a bouncer for a bar that's become too rowdy for good business and for its patrons to enjoy themselves, and with Sanders viewing the government more as a great big helicopter parent to dole out free stuff out of unconditional love for those who are still growing up. But this difference is minor compared to their major splits with their respective parties over the social-cultural vs. political-economic nature of their worldview.

The Trump-Sanders realignment heralds a winding down of the conflicts among the elites, for that is what the culture war has been -- an elite affair. Andrew Gelman and co-authors revealed this in their book Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State.

At the lower end of the class pyramid, voters in both red and blue states were fairly close to each other, and voted primarily based on economic matters that would boost their material standard of living. At the apex of the class pyramid, there was a huge chasm between voters in red and blue states, with elite red-staters going to war for prayer in public schools, restrictions on abortion, and preventing gay marriage; and with elite blue-staters going to war for deviant sexual education in public schools, restrictions on gun ownership, and preventing bakers from refusing to make gay wedding cakes.

In Gelman et al's view, the wealthy already have their material needs taken care of -- not just economic well-being but physical security (low-crime areas, nudge nudge wink wink, in cha-ching zip codes). So they have more mental energy left to spend thinking about more airy-fairy topics that are not inherently political, and to draft these topics into a broader status war against elites on the other side of a cultural divide. The poor have more pressing matters to attend to, like making sure they have good jobs so they can pay their bills, and that their kids aren't going to go through school with a bunch of violent thugs or members of some hostile alien culture.

With widening inequality, the prospect of permanent indebtedness and physical danger within one's community is starting to hit closer to home for the middle class, which is being hollowed out by the elites, who are still very safe both physically and economically.

This would seem to be the proximate reason behind the shift away from philosophizing about values and getting down to brass tacks. Let the decadent elites flap their jowels about when exactly life begins and how intense of a born-again experience our leaders must have to pass muster.

Meanwhile, the bedrock of society is going to figure out how to re-glue its civic and political solidarity, and how to rebuild the dismantled economy. Not that there won't be disagreements about how to do that -- how much should we shut off immigration, how high should tariffs be to deter off-shoring, and so on -- but from this point onward, the airy-fairy culture war will begin evaporating off into outer space.

January 15, 2016

Trump as a re-born McKinley (with neo-Teddy Roosevelt to follow)

I've said that Trump's closest earlier incarnation was Teddy Roosevelt -- a populist Republican who gave rousing speeches and was fond of showing his sense of humor -- but I may have been off by one term. As far as their public persona and geographic origins, they're still peas in a pod, but Trump is Trump because of his positions not his persona.

As far as their role in politics and economics, the one who really started to turn the tide against Gilded Age laissez-faire chaos was actually McKinley, under whom Roosevelt had served as VP before the President's assassination by a bitter son-of-immigrants. [1] And like Trump, McKinley was not as enthusiastically Progressive as Roosevelt. At the very beginning of the reversal, populism is going to be moderate and tempered.

Since Trump hasn't been elected yet, it's too early to make detailed comparisons, so I'll just run through a quick list of similarities. (Quotes are from Wikipedia.)

First, both ran for President during a historical realignment of the party system. For McKinley, it was the shift into the Fourth Party System, or the Progressive Era, after the bitterly divisive Civil War and Reconstruction era. In Trump's case, it is out of the neoliberal / neoconservative Sixth Party System that has seen growing polarization, class war, and intra-elite competition since the mid-1970s.

Second, both campaigned on economic nationalism and making tariffs a respectable topic and tactic. [2] McKinley rode into the House of Representatives in the late 1870s by calling for protective tariffs, and by the end of his Congressional career, had achieved the McKinley Tariff of 1890. After assuming the presidency in 1897, he followed up by championing the Dingley Act, which restored tariffs after their moderate reduction in 1894 (under the Wilson-Gorman Tariff). By the 1909 Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act, the trend he began would culminate in a deep split within the Republican Party, peeling off the laissez-faire Old Guard from the insurgent nationalist Progressives.

Trump will not cause such a fundamental rift himself, since that takes some time to grow. But he will certainly be the first to inject economic nationalism into a Republican Party deeply steeped in laissez-faire ideology. And like McKinley, he will be advocating tariffs on their ability to strengthen domestic industries, rather than as a way for government to raise more money for itself. They see them as deterrents against economic imperialism from foreign industries -- they hope to never actually collect the tariffs because, in our case, the Chinese will think twice about dumping all their cheap crud in our country to begin with. The goal is to start making quality stuff here in America, thereby providing good jobs to those who produce the stuff, and using those higher incomes to afford quality stuff.

Third, both aimed to reconcile workers and business owners. As a lawyer before taking office, McKinley successfully defended (pro bono) a group of miners who had gotten into a fight with strikebreakers. That was in 1876, long before labor rights were popular, let alone among Republicans. This continued when he became the Governor of Ohio:

Although McKinley believed that the health of the nation depended on that of business, he was evenhanded in dealing with labor. He procured legislation that set up an arbitration board to settle work disputes and obtained passage of a law that fined employers who fired workers for belonging to a union.

This was during the 1890s, when politicians were beginning to tolerate labor rights, lest the economy and the polity be torn asunder by class warfare -- particularly in the wake of the Pullman Railroad Strike of 1894, after which the laissez-faire / company town model began to fall under suspicion.

Trump hasn't explicitly called for greater labor rights, but he's still in his campaign for the Republican nomination. All the calls for bringing jobs back from off-shored companies, restoring our manufacturing base, kicking out the illegal immigrant job-stealers here, and investing government revenues into re-building our infrastructure instead of playing video games in the Middle East -- it couldn't be a clearer signal to blue-collar workers, and a warning to business owners who don't mind ruining the entire society just to add a few extra zeros to their net worth.

Fourth, McKinley's path toward the Republican presidential nomination in 1896 sounds all too familiar:

[His adviser Mark Hanna], on McKinley's behalf, met with the eastern Republican political bosses, such as Senators Thomas Platt of New York and Matthew Quay of Pennsylvania, who were willing to guarantee McKinley's nomination in exchange for promises regarding patronage and offices. McKinley, however, was determined to obtain the nomination without making deals, and Hanna accepted that decision...

The bosses still hoped to deny McKinley a first-ballot majority at the convention by boosting support for local favorite son candidates such as Quay, New York Governor (and former vice president) Levi P. Morton, and Illinois Senator Shelby Cullom. [Compare to the regional favorite sons of the 2016 season -- Rubio, Kasich, Walker, Graham, etc.] ... Wyoming Senator Francis Warren wrote, "The politicians are making a hard fight against him, but if the masses could speak, McKinley is the choice of at least 75% of the entire [body of] Republican voters in the Union".

The main difference comes with the general election, where McKinley faced off against the populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan. This time around, it's almost certain that the populist (Sanders) will not get the nomination, and Trump will be running against a reviled and corrupt Establishment figurehead (Clinton). McKinley acknowledged that Bryan was the better public speaker and did not tour the country drawing the massive rallies that Trump does. Again, personality-wise Trump is closer to Teddy Roosevelt.

Fifth, however, McKinley like Trump was a huge hit among urban and industrialized regions, and less so in sparsely populated regions, particularly out West. Only now the urban industrial core has become the Rust Belt, so Trump is promising to make America great "again," while McKinley was promising to get the fledgling American industry out of the nest and flying on its own for the first time.

It's also unclear how similar his pick for running mate will be. In his first campaign, McKinley chose Garret Hobart, a close contemporary who had become rich as a corporate lawyer and successfully run for office in New Jersey, and who like many in the NYC area had been a lifelong Democrat -- before marrying into a Republican family. He largely agreed with McKinley's policies and was chosen to provide some geographic balance (McKinley hailing from Ohio) and some reassurance to East Coast business interests. As VP, he took a no-nonsense, activist role as the President of the Senate.

(Teddy Roosevelt was chosen as running mate during McKinley's re-election campaign, after Hobart had died of a heart attack in office.)

Trump already has the NYC businessman angle locked down (and by extension the Northeast in general), and the only swing states that boast -- or used to boast -- urban industrial centers are all in the old Northwest Territory, or the eastern Midwest (Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio). Trump could provide balance by choosing a Southerner, but there aren't any swing states to pick up down there. And as in the first Gilded Age, crossing the Mississippi River would be a bridge too far -- then you're getting into solid "values-oriented" cuckservative territory. The Trump movement is a shift of political power back East.

If history is any guide, Trump will go with someone close to the Great Lakes, and more likely from a state that entered the Union early through the Northwest Territory than later on through the Louisiana Purchase. That would still preserve the geographic balance of McKinley and Hobart -- just switching which one was from the Great Lakes and who was from the Mid-Atlantic. He won't be a local favorite son, either, but a low-key independent who may have been a solid Democrat not too long ago.

The only major dissimilarity under a Trump presidency would be the matter of territorial expansion and imperialism, where McKinley was operating when the United States still had plenty of room to expand, and the will to take it. Room to expand has been filled up, and we're mature enough of a polity / empire to not want to keep growing and growing. If anything, we wouldn't mind shedding the deadweight of territories like Guam and Puerto Rico, which we picked up under McKinley during the Spanish-American War. Hell, cut Hawaii loose while we're at it -- by now it's just another generic Pacific Island, not part of America (we see the kind of Presidents it produces).

Jettisoning the territories will happen soon enough, whether under a Republican who appeals to saving administrative costs, or a Democrat who appeals to national self-determination.

Aside from the matter of national expansion (and related to that, warhawk-ism), the Trump realignment is shaping up to be a re-incarnation of the McKinley realignment. Thus Trump is more of a harbinger than a realization of our era's re-born Teddy Roosevelt. Who that will be, we'll just have to wait and see.

[1] We're praying for Trump's safety, but if it should happen this time around, it would probably be a radical Muslim of recent immigrant background.

[2] From an 1892 speech:

Under free trade the trader is the master and the producer the slave. Protection is but the law of nature, the law of self-preservation, of self-development, of securing the highest and best destiny of the race of man. [It is said] that protection is immoral.... Why, if protection builds up and elevates 63,000,000 [the U.S. population] of people, the influence of those 63,000,000 of people elevates the rest of the world. We cannot take a step in the pathway of progress without benefiting mankind everywhere. Well, they say, 'Buy where you can buy the cheapest'.... Of course, that applies to labor as to everything else. Let me give you a maxim that is a thousand times better than that, and it is the protection maxim: 'Buy where you can pay the easiest.' And that spot of earth is where labor wins its highest rewards.

January 13, 2016

The No Pants Subway Ride in the broader zeitgeist, dissected postmortem

We've seen articles on this wannabe-happening over the past several years, but let's take a little time to dissect it. I'm judging from this slideshow of pictures.

First, it's clearly in a dying stage. The participants by now are a lot uglier, more people-ignoring, and SJW-ier (but I repeat myself).

The event began in the mid-to-late 2000s, when there was a more slightly more outgoing and fun-loving social climate. The participants were mostly attractive hipsters, the type who would have gone out to '80s night wearing American Apparel shorts. They cleared a bare minimum of fun-loving-ness and comfort in their own body.

Sometime in the past five years, it must have attracted the attention of the Slutwalk crowd. By now, they are the majority in pictures. They don't go out dancing, they feel awkward in their bodies (not surprising given how doughy are), and they aren't doing it as an ironic goof but as an overly serious pseudo-provocation. They're too busy staring down at digital screens or the blank pages of their Moleskine journal to make eye contact with the by-standers. And you can't be a public instigator without making eye contact with the crowd.

It doesn't seem like generational turnover, since the early-to-mid 20-somethings five years ago were still Millennials. In fact, the whole thing feels like a semi-risque slumber party of the type that might have taken place among high schoolers and college kids, back when they actually threw parties (a small get-together where everyone stares at phones or passively watches beer pong is not "throwing a party").

It's like the Millennials are trying to have some of the fun they were denied by growing up with helicopter parents and in an overall cocooning environment. But acting like a high schooler at your first party when you're actually 25 just makes you look more awkward. That ship has sailed, so you might as well try to have fun in a more mature way like going out dancing instead of showing up in public in your "undies" (as the kiddie generation refers to panties). In one picture, those "undies" are further infantilized by having a great big "Harry Potter" logo across the back.

But the infantilization gets worse: this year's event shows several parents who are participating with their children. One mother is even wearing one of those kiddie animal-head beanies with the long braids down the sides. In our stunted era, being a "cool mom" doesn't mean going out dancing at the disco, but dressing up like a kid for a kiddie no-pants subway ride.

Aside from Jerusalem, the Washington DC area has the ugliest young people of any major city. It has nothing to offer people whose orientation is more corporeal than cerebral, so it only attracts out-of-shape misfits who obsess over policy details. Say what you want about where New York has been heading, but there are still some things to do there, and it still manages to attract halfway attractive people.

In the New York of a few decades ago, though, nobody would have behaved this way -- throngs of nubile girls wearing panties out in public would have gotten raped. The violent crime rate was still rising toward its peak (1992), and young women had enough street smarts not to show off their figure in public in such an increasingly dangerous environment. Millennials could not be more naive, having grown up during the falling-crime period that we're in.

As it turns out, wearing skimpy and revealing clothing actually reflects lower libido levels. When real-life sex pervaded the atmosphere, women wore very baggy and boxy clothing to hide their figure from any unwanted attention -- and when libido levels were much higher, there was a lot more unwanted sexual attention out in public.

The contours of her torso were entirely obscured by a huge sweater, whose sleeves were also so baggy that you couldn't even see the outline of her shoulders or arms, and whose bottom fell low enough to also obscure her hips and buns (as they used to be called). Really the only outline she might have shown was her legs from a little over the knee on down. Pants were not skin-tight, but not baggy either.

The oversized sweaters, jackets, and coats of the '80s continued well into the mid-'90s (reaching its pinnacle in the sack-like overalls of the time), because women wanted to wait awhile after the crime rate had been falling to make sure it was safe to start wearing more figure-hugging clothing again, which began in the second half of the '90s.

This was no different from the baggy and boxy shape of the Jazz Age, another period when violent crime was on the rise, making young women street-smart enough not to invite unwanted attention while out in public.

Body-hugging shapes did not return until the Midcentury, when crime was falling and libido levels had mellowed out from their height during the Roaring Twenties. The iconic look for young women at the time was the "bullet bra" worn by the "sweater girl" -- someone naive enough to not think twice about parading her headlights out before the general public. Young women in the Jazz Age actually tried to de-emphasize their size -- don't want to risk getting raped, do you? But in the much safer 1950s, they didn't have to worry so much about that threat.

We can keep an eye on events like the No Pants Subway Ride to get a feel for whether the violent crime rate is edging upward or not. See also: jogging around a city, unaccompanied, in the evening, while wearing only a sports bra and booty shorts. Unfortunately it will be a lagging indicator, since exhibitionism will only decline just a little bit after the crime rate has begun to rise. By that time we will probably have official statistics showing a crime wave.

Nevertheless, women covering up will be independent confirmation that the threat of violence has begun to increase. Likewise, anyone who doubts that violent crime has really been declining just has to look at the behavior of those with the real targets on their backs -- and these days, early 20-something girls feel no danger parading themselves around without pants on the New York City subway. And in fact, they don't get molested or raped (ditto for slutwalks).

Believe what you want about official statistics -- the real-life behavior of those most directly and heavily affected is far more revealing (so to speak).