February 28, 2019

Dance music turns dissonant, spastic during refractory phase of cultural excitement cycle

During the current mellow, vulnerable phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, you might think that dance music would die off, as it belongs more fittingly to the previous manic, invincible phase when everyone is in a bouncy mood, or the upcoming restless, warm-up phase when dance fads will catch on to snap everyone out of their withdrawn emo mood.

People now are in that refractory period, recovering their collapsed energy levels, after so much excitation during the first half of the 2010s. How could they be in the mood to dance? How could they summon the energy to get their bodies moving even if they felt like it?

Although most people are not in any mood to dance, there's still a minority that is. It's as though the distribution for "feeling like dancing" and other high-energy activities has shifted in the direction of preferring low-energy stuff. The part of the distribution that is farthest toward the "wants to dance" direction has itself lost a lot of energy from the previous manic phase, but they're still clearing a threshold that puts them in the mood for dancing. The rest of the population has even lower energy levels, and doesn't even feel like it to begin with.

For the minority who are still looking for something to dance to, they will have to adapt to their currently lower energy levels, and more withdrawn and emo moods. The main response this causes is for their dance music to almost uniformly take on a minor key tonality, and to use rhythms that are spastic, herky-jerky, or stop-and-start.

That way, they don't have to be constantly possessed by the dancing spirit, which would exhaust their bodies during a refractory phase. If they're only breaking out and getting funky for a little bit at a time, and then there's a sharp drop-off, or a lull, or a simplistic toe-tapping rhythm, it keeps them from getting over-stimulated. Lulls punctuated by minor spasms, instead of a sustained engagement with a bouncy rhythm.

The over-the-top character of the rhythms during such periods may also be a self-conscious reaction to how low they sense everyone's energy levels are, as though they're over-doing it in order to shock people awake who are otherwise sleepy. During the manic phase, when people are more bouncy, they don't need such on-the-nose, overly complicated rhythms to entice them out onto the dance floor. It gives the dance music of manic phases a more natural, effortless feel, and those of the vulnerable phase a somewhat more contrived vibe.

To survey the dance music patterns across multiple instances of the vulnerable phase, we have to start with the second half of the 1980s. The vulnerable phase before that was the first half of the '70s, and there wasn't really dance club music to speak of -- Billboard's chart for that genre begins in 1975, when disco brought people into the warm-up phase.

The trend in the separate social mood cycle -- outgoing vs. cocooning -- had been rising in the outgoing direction since roughly the '60s, and would not turn around and go in the cocooning direction until roughly 1990, a trend that continues to today. These phases last for several decades, unlike the phases of the excitement cycle which last around 5 years.

Outgoing phases have higher energy levels, and cocooning phases more subdued levels -- regardless of what's going on in the separate cycle of cultural excitement. So, the manic phase of the early '80s was higher energy than that of the late '90s or the early 2010s. Likewise, the late '80s were higher energy than the early 2000s or the late 2010s, even though the late '80s were a refractory phase of the excitement cycle.

After the new wave and synth-pop music of the manic phase during the first half of the '80s, dance music in the late '80s was Hi-NRG and freestyle. The minor key was standard, and the spastic rhythms come off as frenetic because the overall energy level was at its peak due to its location in an outgoing phase of the social mood cycle.

"You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive (1985):

"Two of Hearts" by Stacey Q (1986):

"Point of No Return" by Expose (1985, 1987):

"Fascinated" by Company B (1987):

After the techno, rave, and Eurodance genres of the manic phase of the late '90s, the vulnerable phase of the early 2000s saw the rise of electroclash and other more emo forms of dance music. Again, the minor key is standard. And now that we're in the cocooning phase of the social mood cycle, overall energy levels are coming down.

So the spastic rhythms feature much more pronounced lulls, where it's nearly silent except for the simplest toe-tapping beat. Then it quickly gets worked up, explodes for a moment, and then right as you're ready to settle into a manic beat, it goes right back into a lull. I can't convey how frustrating it is to try dancing to these songs in a club, where you're just waiting around for what seems like a full minute, before the rhythm picks up again, and then only for a brief moment.

With lower energy levels overall, some of these dance songs don't even have an explosive moment -- it feels like they're going to, and it just fizzles out, like the latter two below.

"Sandstorm" by Darude (2000):

"Emerge" by Fischerspooner (2002):

"Seventeen" by Ladytron (2002):

"Strict Machine" by Goldfrapp (2003):

After the manic phase of the early 2010s, with its bouncy electropop and funk revival dance songs, those of the current vulnerable phase are far more lowkey. The minor key has returned as the standard. And being even further into the cocooning phase of the social mood cycle, energy levels are lower than the previous vulnerable phase of the early 2000s.

So, the spastic rhythms are not frenetic, they're more lumbering and herky-jerky, twisting randomly here and winding randomly there. At any rate, still a rhythm that you can't get sucked into for the entire song, but only in fits and starts. For what it's worth, this era's dance songs have a more tropical (or sometimes Middle Eastern) rhythm, echo-ing the Caribbean / Latin freestyle of the late '80s vulnerable phase.

"Lean On" by Major Lazer & DJ Snake (2015):

"Rockabye" by Clean Bandit (2016):

"New Rules" by Dua Lipa (2017):

"Say My Name" by David Guetta, Bebe Rexha, J Balvin (2018):

February 24, 2019

Right-wingers against the Venezuela coup, and coalitions based on feelings vs. outcomes

After the election of a Republican president who campaigned heavily on shrinking our military's global footprint -- including ending NATO, and leaving Japan and South Korea -- the anti-militarist Left has split into two camps.

One is relieved to see so many on the Right now calling for an end to imperial over-reach, and seek to ally with them across partisan lines toward a shared outcome -- less military adventurism by the Pentagon. This camp is represented by US Rep Ro Khanna, who responded favorably to an anti-imperial article by Tucker Carlson.

The other is panicked that anti-war sentiment no longer belongs exclusively to the Left. They may be nervous that a new group will give them competition for their material livelihood -- if they eke out a living on Patreon donations, and suddenly there's an interesting Right movement against imperialism, maybe Independents will drift toward that side with their donations.

But most folks on the Left don't make a living off of it. They are more worried about dirty outsiders corrupting the purity of their incestuous in-group. Because these people are not organized politically, it is more of a cultural lifestyle that they share with the other members. And so, they are defending their lifestyle turf from would-be invaders who would contaminate it with a different cultural lifestyle. It's akin to a small group of high schoolers who are fans of non-mainstream bands, who fear that their idols may make a hit song that would attract all sorts of normies, and try to police the borders of the fandom.

This camp is represented by the hosts of the Media Roots Radio podcast, Abby and Robbie Martin, who are desperate to prove that the anti-imperial Right does not really exist, perhaps outside a small band of libertarians. I draw attention to them because they're popular enough to get over 10,000 plays for a typical episode. They do good work covering current events per se, but veer way off course whenever it comes to their commonalities with the Right -- "Ewww, gross, no we're not, they have cooties, not like us!"

Tucker is their main target because he's by far the most outspoken on the need to realign the party system, particularly on war and empire, and has the largest platform and audience -- primetime Fox anchor with millions of viewers, not to mention scores of others who are a tier or so below in their following, who attach themselves to his brand ("I'm on the Tucker Right, not the neo-cons or Hannity bootlickers").

There's no dodge in that video -- he brings on a US Army colonel who explicitly says we should not intervene in Venezuela, regime change does not work, it'll just waste lots of our money, and the refugee flood will overwhelm our non-existent border. What other mainstream show has had a chyron that read, "America should not intervene militarily in Venezuela," quoting their guest?

Tucker does not push back, does not accuse the colonel of coddling dictators, does not fear-monger about the need to stop socialism / spread democracy, etc. Instead, the opening chyron is a dog-whistle against the neo-cons -- "Are we going to nation build in Venezuela?"

It's clear that Tucker is under orders from his Fox superiors, probably coordinating with the neo-con-hijacked White House, not to personally argue against the coup. But bringing on MacGregor, who he has hosted repeatedly in the context of not doing regime change or occupation, amounts to the same thing. He gives a primetime platform to the anti-interventionist colonel, and sets up softball questions about why the Fox audience should not want to see our military intervene in Venezuela.

This is obvious, and shows that Robbie Martin is lying by omission, in a desperate attempt to make it seem like Tucker is playing a long-game for the neo-cons.

Well, then, why doesn't Tucker just come out and say he's in favor of toppling Maduro? That would be the easiest thing in the world right now -- literally every other cable news host is doing so, along with just about every politician, and a good chunk of his viewers. He can say he's against interventions as a general rule, but an exception must be made in this case (because it's about socialism, it's too close to home, or whatever). He would enjoy immense signal-boosting from literally the entire political and media world, for allowing them to say, "Even the anti-interventionist Tucker Carlson supports overthrowing Maduro."

The fact that he has not done so, proves that he does not believe in that, and is not going to advocate for that. If he doesn't come out overtly against intervention, it shows that someone is keeping him from saying so overtly -- his superiors, and/or the Executive branch itself. So he broadcasts the case against intervention in Venezuela through his frequent guest, MacGregor -- BFD. That is just as personal of a decision, with the same effect on getting the message out there, as if he stared into the camera and said so himself.

Martin and his sister twisted themselves into knots on this topic during the most recent episode of Media Roots Radio, going so far as to call Tucker "pro-coup" despite him never advocating in favor of the coup.

Tucker may be under immense career pressure to not speak out against it from a first-person perspective, but the rest of the anti-regime change Right is not. I'll limit this survey to just Twitter people with at least 10,000 followers, to show that the same people who freaked out over Trump sending thousands of Americans to occupy Syria are staying consistent now that the focus is Venezuela. There may be others who are selective, saying stay out of Syria but do intervene against socialism in our backyard. But that is not representative of Right-wingers who are against our regime change wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

These people may be paleocons, generic dissident Rightists, Alt-Right, Alt-Lite, all the way up to white nationalists. But across this broad array, they would all affiliate with Tucker over any other cable news figures, would have already spoken out against our intervention in Syria, and do not consider themselves Leftists.

One of the earliest and most forceful opponents has been Jack Posobiec, someone who leftoids would dismiss as a MAGA grifter, and who gets called out repeatedly on Media Roots Radio as someone not to be worked with on anti-war issues. Search his tweets for Venezuela, and he was opposed early on, drew parallels to our failures in arming proxies in the Middle East, the failure to oust Qaddafi and put anything better in his place, highlighting Elliot Abrams' role in Iran-Contra, calling the effort "neo-conning," slamming Rubio over and over by name, and upbraiding a fellow Alt-Lite guy for wanting to invade Venezuela without volunteering for the army himself.

That's just what I found poking around various corners of the Right, and not dwelling too long. If I lowered the threshold to people with at least 1,000 followers, there would be tons more.

So, contra the desperate turf-defending claim about how the so-called anti-war Right is MIA during the Venezuela coup, they are just as visible and vocal as they were during our invasion of Syria, and in talking about the failures of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

But, they don't use the same motives or rationales as the Leftists in order to arrive at the same policy decisions. And in our depoliticized climate of hyper-competitive moralism, that is what truly matters.

The likes of Abby and Robbie Martin do not want to cooperate with those who share real-world outcomes like staying out of a coup, withdrawing forces from some country, shrinking the military budget, etc. Rather, they want to cooperate with those who share an emotional moral impetus -- to save the world, to help Third Worlders, to tear down anyone who could have been a jock in high school and shoved them into a locker (the troops), and so on.

In their view, it's bad enough if your motives for the same goal are different from theirs -- but truly untenable if your motives are evil, i.e. racist, bigoted, xenophobic, etc. So if you "don't give a rat's ass" what's happening to the Venezuelan people, one way or another, and that's the basis of your objection to regime change -- sorry, can't work with you. Your moral motives are tainted, and any policy you reach would reflect that poisonous origin.

But then how could that outcome be bad, just because it came from what you consider evil origins? Isn't it the same outcome you're seeking, albeit for motives that you consider just? How can the exact same outcome be both morally tainted and morally pure, stemming from two separate motives? It's a contradiction, and that causes cognitive dissonance -- either the people you thought were evil are actually good, or you thought you were good but you're actually evil.

To resolve this cognitive dissonance, they deny that the evil side is in fact pursuing the same outcome as they are -- that means the two sides do not share goals, and therefore the two sets of motives are leading to two separate outcomes, and my motives and outcome remains pure, while their motives and outcome remains tainted, just as I was hoping.

Facts don't care about your feelings, though. It's time to grow up and accept that people can arrive at the same desired outcome by coming from distinct motivations.

Assuming the larger goal is to achieve a certain real-world outcome, then the practical thing to do is form a political coalition with those who share that outcome, no matter their reasons, in order to wield enough power to change the world. That's why they say politics makes strange bedfellows. That is what one camp of the Left is doing -- Ro Khanna, Zaid Jilani, Angela Nagle, Michael Tracey, Anna Khachiyan, and others.

The other camp takes the opposite step -- to refuse any coalition that could actually win (i.e., needing both sides of the aisle), and to distance themselves from their own fellow Leftists of the coalition-building camp. That choice proves that their larger goal is not to achieve a certain real-world outcome like the end of a war, reduction in deployments, redirecting military dollars to healthcare, or whatever. It is something else: building emotional support groups based on shared moralistic motivations, and signaling these values to one another (and against the values of out-groups). In-group cohesion is formed around their feelings, not their goals for changing the world.

The anti-imperial Right understands this distinction, and does not mind mixing it up with people from different motivations, as long as the goal is the same. They will re-tweet Left-wingers, even those like Abby Martin who don't want anything to do with them.

The Right is not a place that people drift to in order to find emotional support -- not that there's no element of that in Right-wing circles, but it's not the main reason. They principally get involved in order to achieve certain outcomes, and they don't care who they have to work with to do that. The Left attracts those who have been so damaged that they seek out emotional support groups, and then they try to edify this as though it were building a political movement capable of changing the world, which it never has been nor will ever be.

In the near-term, the pragmatic Right and the non-hysterical Left will continue to put out feelers over shared outcomes, and will keep building the newborn coalition to wind down America's over-stretched and crumbling empire.

February 22, 2019

Digital robber barons can make Gilded Age 2.0 less chaotic by not pursuing open borders, which they don't need to profit anyway

Thinking more about the parallels between the coming Bernie realignment and the Lincoln realignment that led to the Gilded Age -- with the Reagan era paralleling the Jacksonian era -- it might not be so bad this time around regarding open borders and cheap labor.

Open borders is implemented by the elites to lower the labor costs for employers in labor-intensive sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, security / armed forces, and material services (retail, food, nail trimming, etc.).

Employers of non-labor-intensive sectors do not benefit much -- that includes finance, info-tech, and media / entertainment. They could have fully unionized workforces with astronomical salaries, and it wouldn't be a drop in the bucket of the employers' costs because hardly anyone works in those sectors -- because they are not labor-intensive, and don't require many employees in order to staff a national or international empire.

During the first Gilded Age, the dominant party (Lincoln's GOP) was mainly controlled by the soaring industrial manufacturing sector, the robber barons. Their factories were labor-intensive, requiring loads and loads more workers if they wanted to expand their operations and total profits.

They could have scrambled for existing Americans, and competed against one another by offering higher and higher wages to attract the limited number of them -- but since the industrialists were collectively organized into a quasi-cartel, and had control over the dominant political party, why do that when you can just conspire to open the borders and bring in millions of cheap-labor Europeans to work in those factories?

During the earlier Jacksonian era, the Southern plantation owners brought in millions of African slaves to be cheap foreign labor in their labor-intensive sector (agriculture). But during the Lincoln era, that big picture did not change -- only the source of migration (poor areas of Europe), the particular sector they were indentured into (industrial manufacturing), and the region of the country they flocked to (the industrial North). Thus, inequality and societal instability continued to widen from its already deplorable trend of the Jacksonian era.

This time around, though, the sectors of society who will be in control of the new dominant party, after the Bernie realignment, will be non-labor-intensive -- principally finance, but also info-tech, who control the Democrats. That means they will not necessarily throw open the borders, as the Reaganite GOP has done in order to get cheap labor for their labor-intensive patrons (agriculture and small-business material services, with manufacturing opting for off-shoring as the method of hiring cheap foreign labor).

Sure, tech companies will want some number of high-skilled immigrants from India and China to be coding monkeys, but there still aren't that many people who will ever be employed in the tech sector. It scales up infinitely and cheaply. Taking over a larger share of their market, and generating loads more profits, does not require them to hire loads more workers. Therefore, they have no incentive to truck in millions upon millions of immigrants to serve their own material interests.

Ditto for finance -- they will want a handful of skilled immigrants from around the world to work in Wall Street investment banks, but they hardly employ anybody, and never will. They, too, do not need millions upon millions of immigrants in order to expand their operations and profits.

So, the digital robber barons will not necessarily push for open borders the way that the industrialist robber barons did -- or the Jacksonian plantation owners, or their Koch Brothers descendants of the Reagan era.

The biggest obstacle is the tech titans who get involved in labor-intensive activity. One is Apple, which is more of a manufacturer (of the iPhone and other Mac products). But they have off-shored their plants, and will not be bringing immigrants here, where there are no plants. The other is Amazon, which has an extensive slave army in its distribution business. Amazon's main cash cow, however, is its informational business -- cloud services -- which does not require millions and millions more immigrants to expand, unlike its doodad delivery business.

For improving the lot of the working class, the best-case scenario is for the purely informational tech companies to wield power within their industry -- Facebook, Apple (assuming it does not build plants here), Netflix, Google, and Amazon's cloud but not delivery division. Of course the even more powerful finance sector will stay as highly informational as it already is.

That dominant coalition could be bargained with toward the goal of low immigration in order to boost workers' living standards in labor-intensive sectors, where most people will be working after all. Even giving them lots of skilled code monkeys from India and China would only be bringing in on the order of thousands, rather than millions, of immigrants per year. Give them that, in exchange for no immigration to the labor-intensive sectors -- i.e., all the rest of it. That would harm American IT professionals, but at the benefit of lifting up the entire American working class and much of the middle class.

If they want to leave opposition status, and realign the Democrats into dominant-party status for the first time since the New Deal, the tech and finance sectors will have to offer their leadership as the good elites, as opposed to the bad elites, during a time of soaring populism. Perhaps they get some cheap foreign labor for themselves, but it's still a 99% reduction of total immigration (which does not work as code monkeys or chart analysts).

That appeases both those on the Right who want it stopped for cultural reasons, as well as those on the Left who want it stopped for economic reasons -- and swing / Independent voters who want it stopped for both reasons. And they'll still be bringing in some immigrants, so they can play the reasonable tolerance card as well.

February 20, 2019

Bernie 2020 anthem adaptations: "I love it, I don't care"

To the tune of "I Love It" by Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX (2013):

- - - - -

I launched a socialist campaign since Reagan's views are gone
I crashed the party of the libs, I lol'd, I #LetItBern
I dragged your woke retarded rag that flatters billionaires
I crashed the party of the libs

I don't care, I love it
I don't care

I launched a socialist campaign since Reagan's views are gone
I crashed the party of the libs, I lol'd, I #LetItBern
I dragged your woke retarded rag that flatters billionaires
I crashed the party of the libs

I don't care, I love it
I don't care

You're in a hip zip code, we're in abandoned states
You want to change so slow, we'll have to just eat cake
You're speaking Clintonese, we gotta soak the rich
You're thinking STEM degrees, we need a New Deal, bitch

I love it, I love it

I launched a socialist campaign since Reagan's views are gone
I crashed the party of the libs, I lol'd, I #LetItBern
I dragged your woke retarded rag that flatters billionaires
I crashed the party of the libs

I don't care, I love it
I don't care, I love it, I love it
I don't care, I love it
I don't care

You're in a hip zip code, we're in abandoned states
You want to change so slow, we'll have to just eat cake
You're speaking Clintonese, we gotta soak the rich
You're thinking STEM degrees, we need a New Deal, bitch

I don't care, I love it
I don't care, I love it, I love it
I don't care, I love it
I don't care, I love it, I love it
I don't care, I love it

February 17, 2019

Ann Coulter and crew should campaign for Bernie, after failure of Trump experiment to revive GOP

One of the few politicians who immigration hardliner Ann Coulter repeatedly quotes, and only ever in a positive tone, is Bernie Sanders, who stated the obvious during the 2016 election season -- that open borders is a Koch Brothers proposal, meant for employers to haul in cheap labor to undercut the wages and working conditions of the American working class.

She has been getting more and more blunt on this issue, for example during a recent interview on talk radio, saying that "the Marxists are right" about immigration's anti-labor function. On Bill Maher's show, she also emphasized to the liberal audience that immigration is only costing the working class, while enriching the well-to-do with cheap labor, widening inequality.

The SJWs on the liberal side have no economic response to that, because they do not care about economic issues or foreign policy, but only social-cultural identity issues. For them, open borders is culturally tolerant, and closed borders is racist / xenophobic, end of story. For them, the impoverishing effect of immigration on our working class is immaterial. They believe that due to living in a rich country, American workers are privileged -- even the black ones -- despite living hand-to-mouth. So even if immigration slashes the workers' standard-of-living by half, meh, they were spoiled First Worlders living high on the hog to begin with.

Pitting these sides against each other is the only way for the less-immigration camp to win. They have tried to win by pointing to crime, IQ, cultural differences, etc., but have only lost more and more ground. At the grassroots level, liberals and Independents do not give much weight to those issues. And at the elite level, the GOP elites won't suffer any of those consequences, so what does it matter to them? Conservative critics of immigration have totally isolated themselves on this issue.

The only way out is to build a bridge to liberals or Independents who value matters other than crime, IQ, cultural alienation, and so on. Like those who want to see the working class do as well as in the Midcentury / New Deal era. And they have to build bridges to elite sectors that do not materially benefit from cheap labor -- namely, whose business models are not labor-intensive. That eliminates the GOP, who are controlled entirely by labor-intensive sectors (manufacturing, agriculture, military, and energy).

As odd as it may seem, big finance is a better ally in reducing immigration, since the big investment banks, hedge funds, and the central bank do not hire many employees, whether foreign or domestic, because their business model is informational. To expand their profits, they don't need to hire boatloads more employees. Their cost structure is determined by financial risks that blow up, like a debtor defaulting on a big loan, not how much they have to pay their small number of employees. Sure enough, back when we had closed borders during the New Deal era, big finance played the leading role in the dominant coalition (Democrats).

For the same reasons, Wall Street -- and the Democrat party that they control -- is also more amenable to raising the minimum wage. Financial services do not require boatloads of low-skilled laborers, so they won't be hit by a hike in the minimum wage. Walmart and McDonalds, on the other hand, will.

And jacking up the minimum wage, one of Bernie's signature issues, is one of the most effective ways to curtail immigration -- if employers have to pay $20 an hour, they will get the most bang for their mandatory 20 bucks and hire Americans, rather than Third Worlders. Once their employment opportunities dry up, immigrants will throw in the towel and return home -- without us having to round them up, fight their appeals in the courts, etc.

Nor would a higher minimum wage "kill jobs," but simply dry up the financing for those businesses that are not profitable at the high minimum wage -- and re-direct that financing to businesses that are, such as manufacturing, which we desperately need greater financing for in order to re-industrialize and lift the working class up out of shitty dead-end servant jobs.

Bernie may rail against Wall Street, but ultimately he would be heavily influenced by them if he were president as a Democrat. Just like Trump can rail against our military's foreign policy all he wants on the campaign trail, but any GOP White House will be controlled by the Pentagon. Bernie, even influenced by Wall Street, would be better at reducing immigration than any Republican including Trump, under whose watch illegal immigration has exploded to be far worse than under Obama, back to George W. Bush levels.

Aside from cheap labor, the GOP pushes open borders in order to fulfill the military's goal of being a globally integrated, multinational, multicultural empire. They are interested in establishing borders of the empire, not borders of the core nation-state.

Of course, any gamble could fail, and no one is saying Bernie as president would close the borders. But that is a far more hopeful scenario than relying on the GOP, including the failed experiment of Trump realigning the party. Rather than shrink our military footprint, he has expanded it. Rather than narrow our trade deficit, he has widened it. Rather than lower illegal immigration, he has raised it -- and that will only get worse after the massive amnesty he just signed.

Bernie led the way to pressure the Pentagon out of Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, and has expressed disapproval of our coup attempt in Venezuela (which would send 30 million more Latin Americans over America's non-existent border). He's compelled Amazon to raise their minimum wage to $15, and is the only major politician to identify and speak against the material basis of open borders, i.e. cheap labor for the employer class.

Aside from doing more to ultimately reduce immigration, Bernie is also the leading figure against identity politics on the Left. He may not come out swinging against it, but they will most definitely against him, and he will have no choice but to play the role of "let's call a truce to the culture war and focus on universal economic programs," since all the other Democrats will be exploiting id-pol as their comparative advantage. The fake news media in particular will be viciously attacking him on social/cultural grounds, non-stop throughout the election season. "Old heterosexual white male," "putting economics above culture," etc. If you want to support whoever the mainstream media wage their fake news wars against, that will be Bernie.

Hell, if all you want to do is own the libs, forget voting Trump or GOP -- libs don't mind that so much, since it gives them a comfortable and familiar Other to organize against and strengthen their in-group cohesion. But Bernie? Libs have gone apoplectic over him, and not in the theatrical, ritualistic way that they bad-mouth Trump, which gives them pleasure. Freaking out over Bernie gives them only dread and anxiety, since they see him as the enemy within who could undo their familiar liberal yuppie cohesion.

If conservatives are serious about defeating the SJWs, they will have to vote for Bernie and snuff them out from within the SJWs' own party. They have clearly failed to defeat them by voting for generic Republicans or even Trump. SJWs can only be defeated by refusing to take part in their game, and challenging them on a separate battlefield where they will get abandoned by their former coalition allies -- like improving the lot of the American working class. SJWs are hostile toward class issues, and will alienate their own liberal / Democrat allies by siding against the working class, and in favor of woke capitalism. That will leave them isolated, defenseless, and endangered as a political faction.

Ann Coulter -- and by extension, anyone who has treated the Trump phenomenon in utilitarian, rather than identitarian terms -- has been officially disavowed by the president and his team. They don't want to deliver for us when it was we who got them elected? Then fuck them. It's time for a major defection.

First we held the GOP hostage, and they shot themselves rather than give in to our meager demands. OK, next up, the Democrat party! Time to try saving that one for normal people, and Bernie's campaign is the only channel that effort can go through. Ann has said that her main goal, now that Trump and the GOP have signed such a terminal-decline amnesty bill, is revenge against the elites who have destroyed our country. Going pedal-to-the-metal for Bernie is the only way to get all of the hated groups in one fell swoop -- Trump-the-president, Trump's WH team, the GOP writ large, the Chamber of Commerce who controls them, the Democrat Establishment, the SJWs, and the braindead GOP cultists.

Every realignment of the party system depends on a large-scale switching of allegiances, otherwise the old dominant coalition would stay dominant forever. The last time around, it was the military elites and the Southern voters switching from loyal Dems to their new home in the Reaganite GOP. This time it must be working and middle-class normies in the Midwest, choosing not to get fucked over so hard by the GOP, and cast their lot with a new brand of flyover-friendly Democrat, in the campaign of Bernie Sanders.

February 14, 2019

Leftist congressladies will not campaign for Bernie 2020, reverting from socialism back to social justice-ism

This week Ilhan Omar, a Congressional freshman, decried the influence of the Israel lobby in DC, and predictably got smeared as an anti-semite by the shills for Zionism.

What was not predicted was her supposed leftist comrade, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, joining in the pile-on against her -- not only amplifying the consensus smear, but going further to police dissent from the Left, by scolding non-Jews against telling Jews what they can and cannot be offended by.

I.e., if you thought about telling Zionist shills to not equate the state of Israel and the Jewish people, you're just goy-splaining their feelings of ethnic victimhood. So, only Jews are allowed to debate the issue of AIPAC's role in DC, rather than the entire American citizenry whose government they are blowing millions of dollars trying to influence.

Ocasio-Cortez could have simply stayed quiet on the sidelines, for strategic reasons. Instead she lept off the sidelines to help Omar's attackers drive the shiv further into her back. With revolutionary friends like these, who needs status quo enemies?

All politics is coalitional, and if one of these "new faces for a new party" cannot even rely on others from their cohort for solidarity, then there goes their attempt to realign the party. Again, staying silent is one thing -- actively joining an attack on a friend is quite another.

And because the betrayal was public, everyone else now knows that this group of freshmen would-be realigners should not be taken seriously, if they can't even stick together. Why would anyone in the great big Establishment give them anything against the Establishment's interest, if the would-be realigners have no cohesion, and therefore no collective action potential to throw their weight around? Those who are divided, get conquered.

A different option from taking on the Establishment head-on is to throw in with some other figure or faction that has greater political capital, while still inclined toward realignment. Then it wouldn't matter that the newcomers have minimal political capital of their own to withstand attacks from the Establishment.

If the goal is wealth redistribution from rich to poor -- broadly construed, from taxation to re-writing trade deals to breaking up monopolies -- and keeping out of multiple global military interventions and occupations, there is only one faction for them to join -- Bernie Sanders'. None of the other declared or potential candidates is even close. That is, other than Tulsi Gabbard, but I think she's running just to raise issues, then drop out before voting begins, when she'll enthusiastically endorse and campaign for Bernie.

Can the same be said for the Three Amigas backed by the Democratic Socialists of America -- Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Rashida Tlaib? In recent interviews, all three have more or less openly stated that they will not get involved in the 2020 election on Bernie's behalf. With the rate things are going, maybe they'll go further and campaign against him. See the Appendix at the end of this post for the quotations.

Even though Bernie has not officially declared his candidacy, it's pretty clear that he will, and in any case endorsements could be stated conditionally. ("Assuming he does run, of course I'd love to do whatever I can to help him win the primary!")

For now, the rationalization they're giving is along the lines of, "Well, he was a good candidate at the time, and we appreciate that campaign, but that was then and this is now, so we need someone new." In practice, they mean someone with Bernie's commitment to economic populism and de-militarization of foreign policy, but who also checks off a bunch of masturbatory identity boxes -- not a heterosexual old white guy.

And gee, these new badass Congressladies are all branding themselves as equally populist as Bernie, but with higher diversity scores. It's not necessarily self-serving -- "Vote for me, I'm like Bernie only more diverse" -- but propping up the larger collective of like-identifying people ("populist feminists of color").

If they were working on his campaign in 2016, when he faced a greater uphill challenge in the primary, as a total unknown at the outset, let alone in the general when his party had been incumbent for two terms and no longer popular -- why aren't they willing to work on his campaign in 2020, when he's a nationally known and trusted figure, who faces a divided and weakened Establishment field, and who would face a deeply unpopular president of the rival party?

Their evasions reveal that the supposed socialist turn within the Democrat party, or the Left overall, has in fact been a reversion toward social justice-ism, in which material matters of economics and empire are given partial weight, while airy-fairy issues of social-cultural identity have de facto veto power.

As I detailed in a historical parallel here, the coming realignment will not resemble the New Deal but the Gilded Age.

The robber barons who controlled the Lincoln-era GOP had their own woke rationalizations -- "We're importing millions of foreigners to be wage slaves, not chattel slaves, and we're enslaving our fellow white people via Ellis Island, not racistly stealing more blacks out of Africa." On the foreign policy front, it was the White Man's Burden -- "Only greedy ethnocentric white racists would want to isolate themselves and withhold all of the white man's goodies from the Third World."

So, too, will the newly ascendant Democrat coalition become the party of woke capitalism and woke imperialism.

Appendix: Social justice-ists against Bernie


I am a horse-race hater. I hate them. I’m like, I’m like don’t ask me until the day before the New York primary is like, how I feel!

But I do think that obviously from — maybe not obviously but I think it’s pretty obvious like what we’re trying to do is is frame the debate and the conversation that are going to be happening in the next, that we’re going to be having in the next two years regardless of what that candidate is.

So, she might endorse Bernie when it's too late to affect her own state's important primary, which itself comes late in the primary calendar, dooming any chance that she could affect the bulk of the voting schedule. I wonder if she'll issue a proper tweet of her own, or just passively re-tweet someone else's endorsement, 30 minutes before the polls close?

Ilhan Omar

MH: OK, and on Bernie Sanders, are you team Bernie for 2020 if he decides to run again? Do you think he should run again?

IO: I actually believe that ship might have sailed.

MH: OK. You think there’ll be other progressive blood in 2020? Obviously, you think there should be someone with his platform running in 2020, at least?

IO: Yes, I do. I think there is an opportunity for new leaders to emerge.

MH: Is it Elizabeth Warren, that person, because that’s what it comes down to now, people say — any time you talk to lefties, it’s “Who is going to run in 2010 on the left? Is it going to be Warren or Sanders?”

IO: There are a lot of people that I’m excited about. I think I would be excited about a Warren candidacy. I’ve always thought of myself as part of the Warren wing of the party. I would be excited about Senator Kamala Harris running. I could see Senator Cory Booker thinking about it.

So, Bernie's ship might have sailed, but not the sturdy and sea-tested ship of freshman Senator Kamala Harris? As we've discovered this week, it is Omar's ship that has sailed.

Rashida Tlaib

MH: Fair enough. One last question: A growing number of Democrats are now launching presidential bids, a record number of women too. Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand just this week. Do you have a favorite candidate yet?

RT: No, I’m really focused on the shutdown...

MH: But it’s important. It’s not unimportant, obviously, who the candidate of your party to take on Trump.

RT: Of course it’s important but think about it, right now, there’s like more federal workers going to pawn shops to pawn off their goods because they’ve got to be able to make some sort of living. I don’t know. I’m so focused on that right now, and to be honest —

MH: But you were a Bernie supporter in 2016.

RT: Yes, but I —

MH: Would you encourage him to run this time? Even if you’re not coming out in favor of someone.

RT: I can tell you this is a man that has a tremendous amount of courage. He started talking about universal healthcare and supporting the right to boycott and the understanding that women deserve equal pay and all of those things and that’s something that I’m very passionate about. He has moved our country more and more towards these issues. That to me is real leadership and I support any of my colleagues who want to run but I hope they use that national stage, right now, at this moment, to get our government back up and running.

I notice this use of the past tense or present perfect tense in describing Bernie's noble role -- in the past. He "started talking about" this, and he "has moved" the country toward that. Not "is (still) moving" this, or "will do" that into the future. He was the John the Baptist to whoever will be the socialist Jesus -- and apparently Tlaib thinks that could be "any of" her colleagues. Who knows, any of them could be wealth redistributing Jesus, including Wall Street puppets like Corey Booker.

February 5, 2019

Imperial decline in US support for Venezuelan coup

Back in 2017 I, among many other open-eyed people, discussed Venezuela and Iran as possible next targets for the neo-con regime change faction.

That came after the Trump admin bombed Syria for the first time, revealing that the warmongers and interventionists were back in full control of foreign policy, against Trump's wishes and promises from the campaign trail. They had institutional power (the military-industrial complex) that he as a novice with zero political capital did not, so they won.

Mouth-breathers said it was a one-off cosmetic bombing, but as always the rationalizers of interventionism were dead wrong -- and now we've got thousands of Americans occupying northeastern Syria indefinitely.

The military and intel agencies floated a coup in Iran, trying to piggy-back on the mass protests against the government. But those protests were not looking to topple the regime entirely, only to make it respond to their grievances. The interventionists who Trump hand-picked to replace Tillerson and McMaster have been building up toward something bigger against Iran, but at the moment, they're putting it on the back-burner.

Instead, they're devoting their interventionism toward Venezuela.

As usual, it has nothing to do with how the government is running things, or material resources that could be captured -- it is only about nations whose leaders refuse to be incorporated within the US sphere of influence.

The military seeks to expand its territory and sphere of influence, not to loot places for their valuable stuff. It is never about oil -- we did not in fact "take the oil" in Iraq, as Trump complained. There's no oil or anything else that we're trying to loot out of Afghanistan now, or Vietnam before then, or North Korea before then. Likewise now in Venezuela, despite the large oil reserves there.

Rather, it is that oil wealth -- or some other windfall from material wealth -- allows nations to exist outside of the sphere of influence of the US, or other regional / global powers. It is this geopolitical independence that the US military wants to crush, and expand their pieces into another square on the great big global chessboard.

But in yet another sign of terminal imperial decline, they've chosen a completely hopeless project, much like in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Let's review the reasons why Venezuela will not enter the US sphere of influence:

It never has in the past, and that's a good predictor of never doing so in the future.

The US sphere of influence only included Central America and the Caribbean islands, not South America. Although we did support coups in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, these were endogenous processes that we merely provided help to -- we did not impose them from without. We have no ability to impose our will on South America.

Even within our historical sphere of influence, we have proven incapable of maintaining dominance. All those right-wing death squads that we did impose largely from without, in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua during the 1980s, failed to take over their societies. The Sandinistas and other economic nationalist peasant movements took over their governments. In the Caribbean islands, we lost the big one, Cuba, way back in the '50s and haven't come close to getting it back ever since. And we surrendered the Panama Canal -- an engineering marvel which we ourselves conceived, built, and maintained -- over 40 years ago.

Within our own regime cycle, we are in the disjunctive phase where the admin is largely ineffectual and sclerotic. We will probably not be undertaking a dramatic foreign adventure -- that belongs to the rising phase of the regime, like the proxy wars in Central America at the dawn of Reaganism, or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during Bush Jr. Or, for that matter, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam before the end of the New Deal under Carter.

But just because Carter's was a do-nothing, end-of-an-era administration, does not mean that it did not get itself into several foreign policy disasters. The main one was intervening in Afghanistan after the Soviets invaded, although more striking in the public's memory was the Iran hostage crisis. Boomers remember that disaster almost as strongly as the defeat in Vietnam, and it was just hostages who got released in a little over one year.

The disjunctive Trump admin, at the end of the Reagan era, may not get us into another Iraq War (too soon to tell), but it could still get us into other catastrophes just like Carter did. Syria, Venezuela, Iran -- anywhere that the neo-cons are looking at, could deliver the final blow to the Reagan era, just as the Iranian hostage crisis and energy crisis of the late '70s delivered decisive blows against the New Deal regime. Both of those crises traced back to regime change efforts, i.e. the CIA's overthrow of economic nationalist Mosaddegh of Iran in the 1950s, and imposing the Shah as our puppet.

If we are incapable of imposing our will in Latin America, especially in South America, then we would have to rely on one of our allies to take over Venezuela on our behalf. Historically, which regions have included Venezuela under their own sphere of influence? Not any of the Central American empires, nor the Inca empire. That eliminates Mexico and Chile.

The short-lived post-Columbian Brazilian empire included another country -- but it was to the south, Uruguay, not to the north, because the center of gravity in Brazil lies in the southeast, with nothing to do in the northwest on the Venezuelan border. And at any rate, the current leader of Brazil is from the opposition party, and therefore in a weak position to take on a large militaristic project, notwithstanding the efforts by extremely-online left-wingers and right-wingers to meme him into a fearsome fascist.

Venezuela did used to belong to the same polity as Colombia way back when, and that is the natural place that the warmongers are turning to as proxies. Still, after Colombia and Venezuela parted ways back in the 1800s, neither country has controlled the other one -- they are peers rather than a patron and a client pair.

Unfortunately for the regime changers, Colombia has been mired in a bloody civil war for many decades -- with the government, right-wing paramilitaries, and left-wing guerrillas, all of various factions, vying for control. Only in 2016 did the government and the main guerrilla group sign a peace agreement. Their internal societal reconstruction is just taking its baby steps, making a large-scale foreign military adventure impossible.

Venezuela, on the other hand, has been subjected to no civil war. There is an opposition movement, even a violent one, but it has not descended into total anarchy for the better part of 50 years, as it has in Colombia. It is a far more cohesive polity, and cohesive nations withstand attacks from fractured nations.

Moreover, the current leader is from the dominant party which realigned the system in the late 1990s -- begun by Hugo Chavez, and now carried out by his former vice president, Maduro. Political regimes last longer than just 20 years (more like 30-50 years), so Chavismo is not about to be snuffed out any time soon. There could be an opposition leader elected democratically at some time in the near future, but it will be someone who has made their peace with Chavismo, and only seeks to put a little variation on it.

To draw a parallel to the US, Chavez was like FDR in founding a new populist regime, and Maduro is like Harry Truman, a not so popular successor to the founder, but still someone who the population and the main elite sectors -- such as the military -- are supporting, as a figurehead for the broad regime. The opposition leaders, whether Leopoldo Lopez or Juan Guaido, are akin to the Republicans who wanted to dismantle the New Deal during the 1940s -- doomed to failure. They must find someone like Eisenhower who is willing to accept the dominant paradigm, and put their own spin on it.

Even if domestic or foreign agents manage to remove Maduro, what will that do? Assassinating JFK did not terminate the New Deal, and neither will removing Maduro terminate Chavismo. Regimes owe their strength to broadly diffused connections among collective entities (such as the military), not single individuals. Only when those collective connections have weakened so much internally within the dominant party, can the opposition dethrone them and institute a whole new regime.

So, the Chavista regime will withstand any attempts to destroy it by the domestic opposition or Colombian proxies of the US military. But that does not necessarily mean that this would be conclusively proven overnight -- just like in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the morons in control of our failing empire will seek "maximum pressure" diplomatically, indefinite military occupation on a large scale (either from our own military, or Colombian proxies), and economic destruction over many years or decades.

As in all of our never-ending streak of imperial failures after our peak power during WWII, we would only be visiting pointless death and destruction on people who will never obey us, while racking up another $10 trillion in debt -- which will only get directed to the deep pockets of the senior defense contractors and MIC cartels.

That will bring us one step closer to defaulting on our massive sovereign debt, or to printing shitloads of dollars to pay it off -- and they say hyper-inflation is only a worry in socialist Venezuela. Hyper-inflation and debasing the currency, in reality, is more of a problem for failing empires that have taken out debt to finance their obscenely expensive doomed adventures, regardless of whether these impotent empires were capitalist, socialist, or miscellaneous.

That's not even to mention the tidal wave of Latin American immigrants that will be sent hurtling toward our non-existent border. Do any of these right-wing dipshits giving a pass to the coup in Venezuela ("because it's socialist" or "because they're brown lol") realize that its population is over 30 million? It's not a dinky little island like Puerto Rico.

Destabilizing their society, as we did to Central America in the 1980s and since, both economically and militarily, will send millions more into America, and we know how well the good ol' GOP will do to deport them. The Republican small business coalition will be salivating at all that dirt-cheap foreign labor, and none of the millions will ever be deported. They would remain here, driving down wages and driving up housing costs for the American working class.

Foreign policy is not a symbolic act of choosing which team you affiliate with and root for -- it's about the real-world consequences of favoring this side or that side, or intervention vs. isolation.

Intervening in Venezuela would devastate both the local population and our own, while only the warmongering elites would profit -- not "the elites" in general, only the defense contractors. The financial elites will get destroyed as their mostly dollar-denominated assets become worthless after we hyper-inflate our way out of the ensuing war debt (tacked on to the existing trillions of war debt).

It's a no-brainer for us to stay out, and unfortunately that means our foreign policy blob will probably plunge us right into it, pushing us to the brink of imperial extinction rather than allow for a graceful and face-saving controlled demolition of our crumbling, condemned edifice of empire.

February 4, 2019

Super Bowl halftime reflects 15-year cultural excitement cycle, with vulnerable phase revival

When I heard Maroon 5 would be playing the Super Bowl halftime show, I suspected they would revive their early songs rather than their bigger hits over the past decade. In the second half of the 2010s, we have been in the same 5-year phase within a 15-year cultural excitement cycle as we were during the first half of the 2000s.

That is, the mellow, vulnerable phase that acts as a refractory or recovery period after a previous manic, invincible phase of rising and peak excitement. Next up will be the restless, warm-up phase when our excitement levels get back to baseline.

Sure enough, 3 of their 6 songs were from the first half of the 2000s ("Harder to Breathe," "This Love," "She Will Be Loved"), along with 1 from the late 2010s ("Girls Like You"), and just 2 from the first half of the 2010s ("Sugar," "Moves Like Jagger"), despite that 5-year period being packed with most of the hits of their entire career.

The guest rap songs were also either current hits ("Sicko Mode") or covers from the early 2000s ("The Way You Move"), with one from the late 2000s ("Kryptonite").

Hopefully the performance of "Girls Like You" with a full gospel choir during the Super Bowl will mark the turning point of the current emo phase. The wounded vulnerability levels are getting too much to bear, and that was so over-the-top, it may have given audiences the final dose of pop culture therapy that their #MeToo souls have been craving since 2015.

By next year, people will be getting over their torture porn, and start feeling restless again, as we enter a phase of neo-neo-neo-disco.