The Palpatine Desk Report: 3-31-21

In which America’s least favorite PubInt Analyst tries to describe what the wookie-baby is going on in the world.


  • The U.S. is slowly emerging from the Covid-19 nightmare under pressure of an all-court-press media blitz by China to try to shout down anybody who isn’t dumb enough to believe that this virus emerged from a local wet-market. Or rather, half the country is, and unfortunately, because of the way the pandemic was politicized, the divisions are starkly along “red vs blue” lines, with the “red states” opening up and suffering vastly lower social damage, unemployment, and mental health issues due to mandated lockdowns, with little to no appreciable difference in fatalities (except for the nursing-home issue, which we’re now finally allowed to talk about). I will of course, be de-friended by every “Blue” person I know over this one, but the facts speak for themselves: the Swedes won the argument. Lockdowns have proven ineffective across the globe, with common-sense social distancing, masks, and other sub-lockdown policies accounting for almost every improvement.
  • At any rate, we should be reaching herd-immunity levels soon. In my home state of TX, positivity is now sub-5%, meaning for every person a doctor sends for a Covid test, fewer than 1 in 20 actually has the virus. We still see heavy politicization of all media outlets on the subject, with the “Blue” side engaged in blatant “yellow journalism” and scare-mongering, and the “Red” side vaguely poo-poo’ing the notion that C-19 could be anything worse than a mild cold. As always, stay tuned for additional partisan stupidity, as people mindlessly parrot their favorite political media source as if they had the moral legitimacy of a church hymn.
  • In nicer news, lots of US news media are going broke again. This is a good thing, since the vast majority of outlets no longer even pretend to be about reporting factual news and can be more accurately described as propaganda-and-gaslighting outlets across the board. Even reputable sources such as The Hill are beginning to slide into journalistic incompetence. The sooner this runs its course and the hedge funds stop raping the entire sector so that actual journalism can return to the U.S., the better.
  • Biden’s governing as POTUS like a classic tax-and-spend liberal, whose policy priorities are gun control and admitting as many refugees through the southern border as can possibly be made to fit, on the grounds that they’ll possibly become Democratic voters and more appropriately, will definitely work for peanuts and help Wall Street keep labor costs low, even in the face of inflation. Is anybody shocked?
  • More interesting is the political party civil wars. For Team Red, Trump was a flawed messenger, but actually willing to fight, and that means he enjoys considerable good feelings, especially now that we know that a bunch of what we were told about the Jan. 6th Capitol Riots was egregious partisan bullshit (like the cop who totally didn’t get beaten to death with a fire extinguisher, or the timeline demonstrating that Trump totally didn’t egg on the protestors, or the way Parler was definitely not a hotbed of terrorism planning, but actually was able to “show the receipts” on many instances where they passed data on to FBI because things said on their service were fishy and/or not legitimate speech). Team Blue, meanwhile, is caught between the socialists who want to use Congress to seize property and have it run according to enviro-congressional mandate (one of which, the federal order that landlords cannot expel renters for non-payment, appears to have gone down in flames this week in court), and the neo-liberals who love it when socialists (cough I mean progressives cough) come out to vote for them so that they can keep their tribe in office but continue to more or less done what they’ve done for the last twenty years, which is team up behind the scenes with their Team Red Establishment Counterparts and figure out how to tilt the playing field to make Wall Street ever richer, and Main Street can go screw itself.
  • The Palpatine Desk gives 35% odds for US interest rates to go negative in the next three years. There’s a lot of also-ran tempests in teapots, but the big news that actually matters is that stagflation is here for real, and the CPI numbers are known to be a crock because they’re literally guessing at the prices of nearly a third of the items in the basket. If it feels like everything’s getting pricier than your paycheck, guess what? Everything’s getting pricier than your paycheck, and it’s going to stay that way until it gets so bad that we suffer The Second Coming of Volcker.
  • The Maoist Woke Mania has finally reached the U.S. military officially, with political affiliation now proffered as possible “political unreliability.” This is madness, and hopefully will go away soon. But with a couple thousand blatantly-underfed guardsmen occupying the Capitol in support of a fantasy rebellion narrative which has no clothes, who can say? It’s always the silly season in Washington, D.C., but this season is particularly silly.


  • France and Germany are screwing Ukraine again (and Germany is full speed ahead on Nordstream2 as usual). This comes as no surprise to anybody who’s watching. Nobody in “political” France or Germany gives a single shit whether Russia conquers Ukraine — they care about cheap gas and the chance to find any geopolitical partner who will help create a meaningful counterweight to the U.S. on the world stage. Any Crimean not in possession of a Russian passport is now being stripped of their property in preparation for expulsion (but it’s not like Russia’s a stranger to Soviet-style “demographic transformation” policites). Thus far, this appears to be succeeding, with Moscow having moved almost a quarter-million people into Crimea, while high tens of thousands have fled and/or been expelled.
  • Political Germany, which has never met a dictator it didn’t like, continues to raise the ire of many EU partners by simultaneously sucking up to Russia and China at the same time as it hectors the rest of the Union on human rights. Germany’s bet appears to be that it can play China until the latter implodes demographically in the early 2030s, while maintaining cordial terms with Russia at the expense of Germany’s eastern neighbors (about which Frau Ribbentrop cares nothing, as amply demonstrated during her 17 years as de-facto, if not de jure, Chancellor-for-life).
  • The Russian protectorate in Karabakh is now more or less solidified. Moscow is also dumping dollars as quickly as it can in favor of gold, which is the smart move if current situation remains unchecked, and will bite them in the butt if the U.S. fixes its interest rate problems. Smart money: Moscow’s calling this right. It needs to, because it’s growing ever more dependent on China economically.
  • China’s “water wars” continue, not only damming up water needed to go to south Asia, but also threatening to destroy Kazakhstan’s Lake Balqesh. Because why would you let the Ili carry water down into Kazakhstan when you have chemically-sterilized slave laborers working your cotton fields in Xinjiang? That’s okay. CCP is purchasing propery in Kazakhstan left, right, and center anyway, and those private purchases will be rolled over to the State in order to make them the next target for expansion once Xinjiang’s population is exhausted, or the state finally undergoes demographic implosion and the jig is finally up.
  • CCP Executive Summary: China continues to be a dick in almost every field of human activity, from the vast fleet of boats it’s using to harass other countries’ fishermen in their own home waters (which China claims, of course), to the constant hostile flyovers of Taiwan by CCP pilots, to the above-mentioned Water Wars, the genocides, mass-enslavements, supporting the Myanmar Coup, formally destroying Hong Kong’s political system, you name it. Given the chance to have friends or make enemies, the CCP, as always, comes down with both feet squarely on the latter, along with well-financed media operations intended to gaslight gullible readers into thinking they’re the good guys.
  • Lebanon is sliding into socio-political collapse. Again. Everybody (including the Lebanese) know it’s a failed state, but getting it to actual stability is a puzzle nobody seems able to figure out.
  • The Ever Given highlighted the fragility of the global supply chain, but it was already in really bad shape. Massive dislocations and slowdowns in ports, combined with Covid-19 and geopolitical issues, are straining “business as usual” in a major way. In some cases, that’s good (who really wants to depend on slave-labor cotton?), and in some cases, bad (who really wants your seasonal candy to arrive two months late?). Maersk has suspended bookings for the short term, and what this does for the global oil glut can be summarized as “nothing good.”
  • Continued draconian lockdowns have spurred riots, and there’s public musing that heavy social-control policies of that sort will extend into the indefinite near future in Britain, where there’s always strong political support for locking down the have-nots (this is the country that remained on enforced food rationing for five years after World War Two ended).
  • The last vestiges of the war against FARC may be dwindling out, depending on whether Colombia makes good on forcing them to the table. If so, the remaining holdouts will transform into drug gangs and vanish into political obscurity while engaging in drug and human trafficking, which won’t be considered geopolitically worthy as a topic.
  • Venezuela is ready to trade oil for vaccines. But they’re not getting a lot of takers, primarily because is backer Russia exports a few doses for show purposes, but cannot manufacture enough for its own population (and wants nothing to do with Western or Chinese vaccines). Anybody’s guess how that pans out, but with a glut in the oil markets, it’s a weak offer.
  • The rest of the industrialized world is also in bad shape economically, as each country tries beggar-thy-neighbor stealth inflationary policies. It’s a great year to plant a garden and get serious about it, because what happens in one nation won’t be confined there economically.

“The Palpatine Desk,” February 9 2021

In which we are all menaced by terrible-sounding nonsense and various tempests in teacups.



  1. Impeachment for Trump is now going on, and BOY is that going to be a fun piece of Kabuki Theatre. It’s mostly a ratings ploy and a way to play Reichstag Fire with the assault on the Capitol. (Full disclosure, I did not originally agree with that metaphor — I was wrong, as proven by the barbed wire and thousands of National Guardsmen standing around doing nothing so that the Democrats can have their very own “Green Zone on the Potomac.”) Like most Kabuki Theatre, this benefits the sordid and tawdry actors on both sides. The Republicans get to cry foul, particularly the more cult-like members of the Trump Machine (and if you lean Red and don’t realize that Trump has a cult-like machine…. well….) and the Democrats get to sell newspapers and media eyeballs to a political base suffering from “post-Trump Derangement Syndrome withdrawal” (the entire point of Trump Derangement Syndrome in the first place — selling NPR listeners and Team Blue Voters on the Apocalyptic Hitlerism of Trump and stoking them into a daily frenzy so that they could upgrade NYT and CNN from “near-bankruptcy” to “rolling in cash” at the mere cost of their journalistic self-respect). The Democrats cannot win on this without massive defections from the Republicans, which seems unlikely on the surface… but one can’t under-estimate the extent to which the Rockefeller Republicans haaaaaate Trump and want him gone. Will be interesting to follow (at a distance, in summary form).
  2. Environmental concerns loom large as AGW issues crash into physical current-stage realities: the left, broadly speaking, is pro-environment and also pro modern nuclear power. The activist left, however, despises nuclear for all the same reasons that environmentalists like Monbiot love it: it potentially creates lots and LOTS of clean cheap electrical power. Not what you want when you’re busy trying to overthrow capitalism in all its forms.
    The sticky widget here is that renewables are proving out to have terrible reliability issues, and while one can all look to California’s embarrassment of a power grid, the real issue is cold weather. Cold and cloudy winter weather is an obvious non-starter for solar, but it’s also frequently a problem for wind, too. I’m all for electric vehicles (have had my eye on Aptera for years, even though any electric car is still hopelessly out of my budget), but I live in Texas. Electric cars and solar panels are a very, very good idea here. Stuck in a Hudson-valley blizzard? You might want a fossil-fuel vehicle which can still start then it’s -10 outside. If you live in one of the places in the U.S. where electrical reliability is dropping to third-world standards, this is a real problem.
  3. Covid-19 continues to transform society, especially the work and urban-space environment. It’s not easy to characterize on a national basis, but it’s gradually becoming clear that the lockdowns have got to go, if only because of the massive damage to peoples’ emotional health. This is becoming a generational fight: Boomers (older, often retired, generally financially stable) tend to support lockdowns, where as Millennials, 20-somethings, and Teens (youngers, trying to get established, suffering massive unemployment) are seeing their businesses folk, employment vanish, and generally suffering massive crises-of-motivation. Gen-X tends to be split, but Roe v. Wade guaranteed that nobody much needs to care what Gen-X thinks.
  4. Various government bailouts are getting hammered out left and right (with the amusing instance of Romney, who along with Manchin embody each party’s ultimate bloodless weather-vane politician) managing to outflank the entire Democratic Party to the left with a proposal to flat-out pay people for having children as a federal replacement for feckless state post-welfare programs.
    Fiscal sanity? Oh, no no no. That’s not happening. Both parties are now fighting over which gets to more plausibly represent itself as the actually-populist party. In that environment, to quote the meme, “money-printer go ‘brrrrrr’ ” is the high-quality economic thought. And yet, a simple check is a great “we’re sorry for what our widespread Covid-related policy failures did to your lives” payment, and involves radically greater transparency than various bureaucracies, which have vastly greater friction than a simple direct payment. The Democrats, having just watched President Biden use executive orders to kill what will be about a million energy-sector jobs by the end of the year (unless overturned in court), desperately needs to show some skin in that game.
  5. American Journalism is trying desperately to figure out how to stay in business now that they no longer have “The Age of Trump(tm)” to prop up ratings and figures. There’s lots and lots of “punching down” in order to create little “gotchas” that can get people outraged…but not a lot of return to New Business Model.
  6. Airline manufacturers have finally figured out that Elon Musk’s rockets don’t just threaten to put people on Mars — it threatens to wipe out the air-freight industry, and potentially reduce demand for heavy-lift aircraft in general, because reliable sub-orbital flights beat air-freight every time, unless you’re shipping in the nose of planes which are already being used to transport people. Guess what isn’t much being used to transport people internationally right now with Covid-19’s mutations all over the place? Yeuppp. Expect increased “lawfare” against SpaceX and a sudden concern in D.C. over their safety record once K Street’s lobbying machine gets into full motion here. SpaceX threatens to upend a lot of apple carts, and the owners of said carts have very little to punch back with except lawyers, bought-and-sold politicians, and random bureaucrats.

How the political operators of Washington, D.C. encourages voters to see them.


  1. “Cordial cold war” confirmed by both Xi and Biden (though Xi hints that nuclear war is very much a possibility if the US prevents a takeover of Taiwan). Biden’s got problems here. He’s got deep China ties (the thing many folks forget about the “Hunter Biden laptop” issue is that nobody disputes the Biden family’s direct financial ties to large Chinese companies. Which doesn’t sound like a “thing” unless one forgets that China doesn’t have a private sector. Chinese businessmen work for the Chinese Communist Party and the moment they forget to dance to that tune, they wind up like Jack Ma — suddenly disappeared, surfacing months later only to issue grovelling apologies to “the Chinese people,” while Poo-Bear JinPing considers whether to have him executed for good or allowed to linger as a salutary example.
    “Strategic patience and intensified peaceful competition” is not the worst strategy that one can adopt in the face of those pressures (and the fact that, rhetoric aside, everybody cares about CCP’s genocides, but nobody cares enough to go to war about it unless or until it comes to them). The same birth-rate deficits which will start taking China off the map as a rising hegemon around 2029 also mean that global militaries can’t get anywhere near enough manpower to engage in Great Power Warfare for less than existential causes. That’s good news — for everybody except the people China’s busy murdering and enslaving wholesale. So “kick the ball down the road” while presenting a firm line on Taiwan and economic actions kicking the slats out from underneath the BRI really is one of the best plays the U.S. has on offer right now.
  2. Environmental concerns loom large across Europe, whether it’s Germany’s electrical grid going from one of the finest in Europe to “on par with Iraq” (on good days) and now facing killer winter storms which could bring down big chunks of the grid, to Crimea continuing to suffer severe water shortages, which not only threatens the kleptocracy running the place for Moscow, but which literally threatens to bring down the entire Crimean tourist industry.
  3. France and Germany are pushing back hard against U.S. social media companies’ absolute takeover of political speech. Not that they mind in the American political arena (they generally prefer Democrats because of their left-leaning stances), but they mind terribly the idea that they could wind up cancelled or deplatformed by American companies with no recourse to prevent it.
  4. B-1 bombers are being deployed to Norway to irritate the Russians, who have been sending bombers near Norway to annoy the Norwegians (and Swedes). Few analysts consider actual “kinetic” action likely unless Putin gets sick enough that he has no choice but to “throw a war” to prevent a succession crisis or coup. Still, that’s threat enough for the Scandinavians of late to be upping their readiness posture considerably.
  5. Myanmar continues to demonstrate that, like Pakistan, civilians aren’t in charge and never were. Like Pakistan, its generals enjoy just enough foreign support (in this case from China).
  6. Colombia will accept around a million Venezuelan emigres/refugees, thus relieving hunger and giving a huge number of people living in that hungry dystopia a new chance at life. It also hollows out Venezuela demographically, which bodes poorly for that country’s future.
  7. Bolivia’s government has been surprisingly competent for a “hard left” regime, but is suffering badly under Covid-19, and it’s not looking good in the medium-to-short term. Bolivian doctors are going on strike to try to get lockdowns. How that goes, with lockdowns now demonstrated to be ineffective (per WHO, even), is a great big question mark.

There are also lots and lots of “little moves” going on, but they tend to be pretty inside-baseball. Even a news junkie could be forgiven for giving most of the news a great big shrug this month unless directly affected by one of the bigger events.

The Palpatine Desk, Editorial: “We’re all Marxists Now (sorta)”

“I’ve never seen the guns like this. They can break shorts.” — Jim Cramer, CNBC, admitted market-manipulator

Some news items are bigger than their basic facts.

  • The killing of Soleimani indicated that the terms of engagement in the slow-simmering undeclared war between the U.S. and Iran (that the IRGC could kill Americans with impunity, but that Iranian nationals like Soleimani were off-limits, and that the U.S. would only strike at proxies) no longer applied, and that Iran would suffer personnel losses in future.
  • The hanging of Jeffrey Epstein in his cell (and the subsequent deep-sixing of nearly all reporting or meaningful investigation afterwards) woke the U.S. up to epic-level corruption (and victimization of young women) while simultaneously setting conspiracy theorists on fire. “Epstein didn’t kill himself” is still shorthand for “the media works for the powerful and not for us.”
  • The “Gamestop War” showed the average man and woman in America that the Banks would get protected at the expense of everybody else, regardless of whether it was Lehman & Wachovia being threatened by short-sellers in ’08, or hedge funds getting their asses handed to them for having made a dangerous bet…and worst of all, by the normies..

It also revealed that we’re all Marxists now. Not because we’re all into the Communist Manifesto, but that all parts of American Society clearly perceive Class to be the great division in society, and that Class War is the operative political conflict in America. Not race, not party, but the haves vs the have-nots.

Politically-aware parts of society have ranted about this for years, among Liberals, Conservatives, and Libertarians alike. While Leftists have gone straight at The Rich, right-wing populists have been just as quick to rail at the so-called Meritocrats and “Elites” who cheer when adherence to the ideology of the moment wipes out thousands of jobs. Most Americans charting these problems identify it differently. People may have yawned when politicians like Rand Paul and AOC “read the room” and spouted off on Twitter, but there was widespread fist-bumping when Tycoon (and meme-lord) Elon Musk joined in on behalf of “The Reddit Mafia”: people responded accordingly.

But if that meant Class War was over… no. It’s not an accident that “District One” cough I mean Washington, D.C. cough is so widely and correctly dissed by most Americans as being thoroughly owned by the big Banks and their enablers, who epitomize “predators, cronies, and rent-seekers galore.” Even leftists’ rants against Capitalism have gained significant nuance over the years — even left-leaners applaud small family entrepreneurs making a hustle with taco trucks, donut shops, hair brading, or craft fairs. Amazon? Not so much. Investment bankers? Well, as Matt Taibbi points out:

America’s banks just had maybe their best year ever, raking in $125 billion in underwriting fees at a time when the rest of the country is dealing with record unemployment, thanks entirely to massive Federal Reserve intervention that turned a crash into a boom….In other words, it was all well and good for investment banks and executives of phoney-baloney companies to gorge themselves on funhouse profits on a funhouse economy, but when amateurs decided to funnel just a bit of this clown show into their own pockets, finance pros wailed like the grave of Adam Smith had been danced upon.

America meme’d it hard, and some of the memes were truly endearing.

Others were, in classic form, rehashed memes updated to current events:

But the tone of most of them were savage, and the members made it very clear who they tought the villains were: the corrupt, crony bastards who, like the infamous “Vampire Squid” (Goldman Sachs) who collude between Wall Street and District One to transfer wealth from regular people to the fat cats, while hypocritically presenting themselves as the “meritocratic” guardians of wisdom, virtue, and propriety.

And then there were those who flat-out called it Class Warfare — and were applauded coast to coast regardless of affiliation:

And this is only a mild sample. The tone is clear, though. While Democrats and Republicans famously “fight over the 40-yard-line,” to quote former President Obama, the culture at large is well aware that the real fault lines are not liberal-versus-conservative, but populists-versus-THEM. The hypocritical, holier-than-thou, self-righteous, corrupt-as-fuck suits.

As “Space Peanut,” (now deleted by Redditor mods, of course) puts it:

This is for you, Dad.

I remember when the housing collapse sent a torpedo through my family. My father’s concrete company collapsed almost overnight. My father lost his home. My uncle lost his home. I remember my brother helping my father count pocket change on our kitchen table. That was all the money he had left in the world. While this was happening in my home, I saw hedge funders literally drinking champagne as they looked down on the Occupy Wall Street protestors. I will never forget that.

My Father never recovered from that blow. He fell deeper and deeper into alcoholism and exists now as a shell of his former self, waiting for death.

This is all the money I have and I’d rather lose it all than give them what they need to destroy me. Taking money from me won’t hurt me, because i don’t value it at all. I’ll burn it all down just to spite them.

This is for you, Dad.

Remember Robo-Signing? Space Peanut does. That was the housing collapse which happened shortly after yours truly left his (plankton-level) job in the bowls of real-estate investment in a bank you’ve heard of, because the blatant corruption was nauseating and well-known to everybody in the industry, and my only other option besides straight-up quitting was to try to act as a whistle-blower — and getting summarily crushed like a bug by the bank’s legions of lawyers.

Political Realignment isn’t over. The left won the Culture War. The right won the Economic Debate. Those who refuse to address systemic injustices are going to lose. And those who try to address systemic injustices with the worn-out and disproven tools of command economies and Maoist Thought Policing are also going to lose.

But it is not an accident that the dividing line of this event has nothing to do with Left or Right, and everything to do with Populists and Oligarchs. Those who read the loss of Trump and his pointedly (sometimes-)populist rebellion as a victory for The Establishment read things short-sightedly. “Resistance” to the cronies is scattered and marred by Washington DC’s highly-successful game of left-vs-right divide-and-conquer, but the general sense of systemic injustice and the trampling of “regular people” by the cronies is widely-embedded in our culture, in daily life, and in fiction.

The quote beginning this entry isn’t an accident. The cronies don’t mind the market being manipulated: they’re appalled that The Regular Joes can do it. The High Priest Vulture Elite stands on notice: Class Warfare is here, it’s here to stay, and the proles, to paraphrase Tolkien, have woken up, and discovered that

Who Speaks And Why They Speak

The greatest conflict of all the culture wars is not “whose opinion is correct,”
but who is entitled to have an opinion.

One of the things I see that aids and abets the “divide and conquer” media strategy is the “Who Speaks” problem. The simple version of this is easily stated:

  1. The so-called “Woke” use appeals to Justice via Intersectionalism to determine who has the authority to speak. This is nothing new in American culture. It’s not an accident that Critical Theory Intersectionalism has its cultural stronghold in Greater New England (see terms in Woodward’s hilariously-biased yet brilliant work) — it is simply a different flavor of the “Puritan Elect” who were deemed the good people and thus able to speak.
  2. The so-called “Patriots” use appeals to Justice via Traditionalism to determine who has the authority to speak. This is nothing new in American culture. It’s not an accident that “Patriotic Traditionalism” has its cultural strongholds in the areas of the country which defined themselves in opposition to Puritan Authoritarianism, defining “the common-folk” as the “plain and virtuous” people and thus able to speak.

Those two groups, in their historical or current incarnations, form the Lasting Fault Line of American social and political culture, but they don’t even constitute a stab at an exhaustive list. Look around and you’ll see a variety of sub-groups which play the same game. The Conservatives have the Tweed-Tea-and-Literary-Virtues Crowd, Liberals have their Hippies Run Craft Fairs And Are Made Of Pure Love Crowd… there are a gazillion “crowds,” each defining their ethos as that which has the greatest privilege to address any issue.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Culture Counts. You use a given lens to approach the issues of your world because that lens makes sense to oneself and serves as a common language that one’s peers understand.

What bothers me, however, is something else. The tribal divides are intensifying, and one of the greatest sources of conflict we see over and over again on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere, is the assignment of speech to a person. When somebody uses vocabulary which hints that they might not be “one of us,” there is a tendency to assume that they are therefore One Of Them, our favored political enemies in the Culture War.

Thus, if you say “Hrm. Trump really was vastly better at foreign-policy than anybody could have expected, and while I don’t favor his openly transactionalist approach, it’s very clear that the by-consensus strategy espoused by George HW Bush is exhausted and openly dysfunctional — we should consider engaging in more, rather than less, peace-oriented transactionalism in the future,” it will be assumed that you’re a Trump supporter, a conservative, an anti-Democrat (many voters are distinguished more by who they oppose than who they support), or all of the above. Words you have never spoken and ideas you have never supported will be assigned to you by assumption.

Similarly, if you were to say “Hrm. While economic growth was clearly sub-par during the Obama Administration, and I don’t favor his willingness to go along with using Federal bailouts to pick winners and losers from among the failing banks, saving the larger banks helped many retirees to avoid catastrophic results to their retirement savings. Given the degree to which perverse-incentives now practically define our savings-and-investment regime, this pragmatic approach really worked better than a more theoretically “fair” one would have,” it’s clear that I will be assigned motives and ideals regardless of whether I’ve actually spoken them.

The hedging, contingency, and nuance in both of those theoretical positions goes right out the window and we do violence to each others’ speech if we “run a filter” whose primary purpose upon hearing somebody speak, is not to understand their words, but to assign them a tribal identifier.

  • The rioters who took over the Capitol, smashed windows, and resulted in people getting killed do not “speak,” through their violent actions, for those who generally support Trump and have serious misgivings about this year’s electoral irregularities. Those “patriots” do not speak on behalf of everyone who considers themselves patriotic.
  • The upper-middle-class white kids rampaging around burning out minority businesses, throwing Molotovs at the cops, and generally trying to intimidate the communities around them do not “speak,” through their violent actions, for those who look upon DC as hopelessly corrupt and in need of deep reforms to heal obvious structural inequities in society, and who are particularly concerned about the way those structural inequities pile up the body counts among Blacks. Those “activists” do not speak on behalf of everyone who considers themselves activists.

Only one person speaks on behalf of you. And that’s you. And when somebody is speaking, only one person is speaking on behalf of them. We get much further, and cause less harm, if we listen to what they actually say, rather than assigning them rafts of paragraphs which we imagine them to believe.

Powerless Embitterment is a Weapon

Or, “Stop shitting on each other, you’re only making it worse.”

We’re in an embittered time. And lots of people I talk to have very good reason to be that way. Lots of unfortunate yet wholly-predictable things are happening, with conservatives and progressives loudly denouncing each other and being quite frankly enraged by what’s going on. And given that journalism nowadays is inseparably linked from “here’s your narrative, let’s enable it,” getting you good and damned angry is Big Profitable Business.

Which raises the bigger point. Divide et Impera (“divide and conquer”) is not performed for the benefit of the divided. We are literally torn apart by a left and right whose fundamental thesis statement can be summarized as “there are people who have different worldviews than mine, and I am childishly upset about it at the same time as I’m being reassured by all the wise people I look up to that I really should be angry about that!”

Get the idea now?

“Team Red” and “Team Blue” are factions. Their policies and platforms are incoherent at best. Neither gives a single damn what the average American citizen actually thinks, so long as they have issues which they can use to mobilize voters. That, not governing the country, is a politician’s core skill. Let’s look at what Democrats and Republicans have done here (and I am referring to the politicians and the party cadres, not voters. A voter is not the same as a Party Member):

  1. Immigration is a Mess. We have a variety of well-known solutions sitting right on the shelf which would ameliorate the situation, without Democrats putting children in cages and Republicans keeping them there. But as a political issue, it’s perfect: a large pool of people stuck in total legal limbo yet often provided privileges not available to actual citizens provides both dependable votes to the Democrats and dependable outrage to Republican voters. Meanwhile, the poor kid who came here at 3 remains unable to legally work forever unless he joins the military (sometimes not even then), for which not all people are suited, but what does Congress care about that kid? It’s not an accident that politicians in both parties ride their angry activists into office and then immediately disappoint them when they’re there.
  2. Healthcare is a hilarious wreck which makes the United States a literal global laughingstock. Both parties’ solutions are basically corruption-and-graft-filled giveaways to the private lobbyists attending them. The Democrats’ solution is to march to socialism just as fast as can be while ignoring anything which might cut costs, because that would irritate their masters on K Street (it’s not an accident that Hillary Clinton’s original proposal included actual jail time for doctors providing private care). The Republicans’ solution is to basically dunk on and diss on the threat of actual impoverishment for anybody who’s not part of the corporate structure who dares to get sick.
  3. Foreign Policy? Trump of all people looked like an FP genius compared to the “big brains” in both parties and at the State Department. Neither party has been able to so much as actually formulate a coherent foreign policy strategy for the last twenty-eight years (!!).
  4. (list goes on. People can and have written entire books about how much our political class sucks as lobbying Congress has become the single most-profitable industry in the country. Chances are, you think one of the two factions sucks a lot worse than the other one. Chances are, somebody’s making fat bank constantly reinforcing that viewpoint.

It’s not an accident that the average American regards politicians with utter contempt.

And yet, we tend to act as if their shills in the media are trustworthy sources of information, and allow them to push us into narratives where Othering our neighbors becomes not merely possible, but praiseworthy and in some places even mandatory. There are lots of places in this country where simply proposing that people act with noble intention regardless of which party they support results in instant social ostracization. Constant shitting on each other, and credulously reading, watching, and listening to media spouting what is effectively hate speech is becoming a major hobby for people who consider themselves sophisticated and would be mortally offended at the idea that they were brainwashed rubes.

And yet, there’s a reason for people to be embittered and thus susceptible to such messages. It’s getting harder and harder for the working class and lower half of the middle class to survive.

  1. Housing prices are psychotic, constantly bumped and supported by the Fed no matter how ridiculous the bubble, and backed up by an entire industry that sold the Boomers and Gen-X on the idea that a home was an investment and that a house’s value must therefore always rise in a way that qualifies as an investment. Meanwhile, guess what? Boomers who’d like to downsize can’t, because the up and coming people who’d like to start families can barely afford to rent apartments and definitely can’t get into houses unless both spouses are working full-time.
  2. Inflation is running rampant and quality of life at median income and below is getting worse and worse. (“Median income,” for those of you on the top of the heap, is “what most of you think of as poverty.”) Yes, on paper everybody’s getting richer. But “on paper” doesn’t count the fact that the Fed continues to play “printer goes brrrr” with the money supply. Stock millionaires may consider themselves wealthy (with stocks easily trading at 10x+ earnings, which is well known “prepare for crash” territory when the Fed isn’t acting like the fiscal equivalent of a heroin dealer), but in the meantime, your average novel is thicker than a box of cereal nowadays. Grocery prices are up, quality and quantity are down. That bag of sugar may cost the same, but you get a pound less. Meanwhile, the build-quality of goods at the lower price points is visibly inferior to those made fifteen years ago. Things simply break, early and often, and are manufactured in such a way as to make repairing them impossible.
  3. Opportunity is vanishing as the upper-middle-class puts a “size of your house” ring-fence around the school districts which don’t suck (not because they’re evil, but because they’re desperate to have school districts which don’t suck). So the country is divided between “those who should get a great education if they managed to duck and dodge and weave the goofy ideological b.s. that’s always coming with it,” and “those who literally don’t know how to write a coherent thesis statement with following paragraph and have literally never been taught the basics of critical thinking.” And lest you think it’s not that bad: it’s that bad. I taught community college — our primary job was “get Group Two into a position where they can aspire to hold down ANY job that will give them some social mobility and not leave them impoverished in dead-end jobs.”

Is it any surprise that people are frustrated and angry, as the political class singularly fails to solve anything, and their media enablers punch down, often savagely, at people merely for being frustrated or in a position where they need help? But what can you do? If you’re reading this post, chances are that you’re not part of the oligarchy that rules this country, are not a member of the political class, and have absolutely no ability to shape anything coming down the pipe from the corrupt nihilists in the Beltway who consider pitting the rest of the country at each others’ throats to be a profitable game.

But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. You can resist the lure of the divide-and-conquer game with a simple, if not always easy, strategy. Red Media makes a profit off of embittering its voting base and constantly shitting on Team Blue and its voters. Blue Media makes a profit off of embittering its voting base and constantly shitting on Team red and its voters.

So recognize that and refuse to play the game.

Become militantly wholesome and Never. Shit. On. ANYone.

That’s it. People around you are suffering. They’re getting shit on. They’re getting impoverished. They’re finding it hard to make ends meet, living in dread of getting sick, they’re in actual danger of having their careers and livelihoods and their children’s dreams impacted by things over which they have no control, and about which if they complain, the result is getting dissed, getting arrested, getting “cancelled,” or all of the above, and no matter how sympathetic and human they are, somebody is out there just waiting to shit on them — or on their surviving family members for having cared for them. Everybody with a point of view is getting victimized by giant media machines which specialize in shitting on people en masse. The people you’re inclined to diss on are every bit as much the targets and victims that the people you feel sorry for.

Don’t add to the stench. If you’ve been reading this and thinking “well that’s not me, it’s not me and mine doing all this bad stuff,” then don’t do the bad stuff. Don’t “punch down.” Don’t even punch up. Just don’t punch. And if your position in life means you must argue or fight or punch because you’re a lawyer or activist or whatever, punch like a boxer — give it your best while being gracious about how you take blows as well as give them. The person you’re contesting with may be the ally you desperately need down the road. And if you don’t know how to trade blows while still caring about the people hitting you…some of the kindest people you will ever meet are boxers. Go talk to a few. You can be a gimlet-eyed bad-ass knower of all the things and be unreservedly generous, kind, and sympathetic to people wearing different sets of shoes than you are. You know what’s really bad-ass?

When everybody is glad that you’ve arrived and everyone is sorry to see you go.

That’s bad-ass. And it’s a lot harder to pull off than it sounds. Throwing punches and getting mad is a LOT easier. Build people up, whenever you can, wherever you can. When somebody’s upset and has a beef? Listen. No matter how much your initial inclination is to diss on “the fact that they’re wrong.” The single edgiest, most-transgressive thing you can be right now is… Wholesome.

Dispatches from “The Palpatine Desk”

Or, News of the World, by America’s Least Favorite Political Analyst

Let’s play with ancient history mixed with a Star Wars metaphor. The ancient world was full of chroniclers at palaces recording juicy gossip and political moves, and many years later, that’s how, for instance, we know some of our spicier stuff about the Roman Empire. Now imagine there’s this guy who has to report on The Galactice Empire. He’s not Palpatine — that dork has actual power and does things. He’s just this guy trying to make sense on what the hell is going on for the rest of his buds. They’re not rebels, they’re not imperials, they’re just all the people caught in the middle going “what in the wookiebaby is going on?”

Various news media will have a “Russia desk,” a “Terrorism desk,” and all that. Given one of my favorite stock phrases as an armchair PUBINT analyst, I figure, “Palpatine Desk” it is. Because at the end of the day, most of this analysis can be summed up as “keeping track of global evil.” For a while I posted on Facebook, but I’m moving away from that, because there’s an awful lot of “gatekeeper syndrome” going on there as social media outlets stop even pretending not to be overtly partisan actors. As anybody who’s known me over the years can attest, I don’t easily fit into a partisan political bucket, and I detest gatekeeping. So without further ado.

1. You thought 2020 politics was toxic and awful?
Oh you sweet summer child.

The 2020 elections in America have come up with a situation that nobody foresaw. The Democrats gained absolute control of the federal government (foreseen), under interesting circumstances (unforeseen). “Interesting” here gets dicey to talk about on partisan media. Republicans will swear that the election was stolen. Democrats will swear that there is no such thing as electoral fraud, ever (unless Republicans win). The truth is somewhere in-between, and both parties are epic hypocrites. The difference here is that instead of solidifying gains across the House of Representatives and at the state level, as the socialists among the Democrats expected to do, Trump managed to lose the election while having strong state-level coat-tails. But two squeaker Senate runoffs which should have been easy layups for the Republicans got flubbed, and the Democrats wound up with the whole enchilada anyway, with the Democratic VP giving the Senate to them in theory, but Murkowski and Romney already giving it to them in practice (i.e., M&R were always expected to reliably defect to support Democratic positions, but the runoff loss means that all the committees and chairmanships now belong to Team Blue).

In practice, this means that the Democrats will proceed to do everything that they threatened to do previously when they thought they’d have “coat-tails,” while tinkering with the rules as much as possible to blunt the backlash. Fairly typical Team Blue stuff. Remove the filibuster, blast away as many executive order changes as possible, etcetera. We’ll also see High Impeachment Drama, because doing so will effectively prevent Trump from using the current Senate to help cement some of his foreign policy changes vis-a-vis Iran. Does this mean the President tried to launch a coup? Well, only if you’re a total rube who gets all their news media from a single source. Republican lawmakers came down hard against the rioters and terrorists at the Capitol the other day, somewhat catching some of their opposition off guard (the Democrats openly supported Antifa and BLM and gave them friendly media coverage all year, but apparently didn’t quite understand that with very few exceptions, the Republicans despise the “Proud Boys” groups and want nothing to do with them). What makes this interesting is, of course, the upcoming Midterms at the state level.

Here’s what The Palpatine Desk predicts:

  • 1. If you thought Trump spent money like a drunken sailor, you ain’t seen nothing yet. DC is going to spend like you’ve never seen before, and they’re going to overwhelmingly spend the money advancing special-interest causes as per usual. The Fed will happily contribute with more “money printer goes brrrrr.” Expect booms to District One (cough, I mean, Washington-DC/Northern-Virginia/Maryland) employment and a massive spike in domestic commodities prices which may or may not carry internationally.
  • 2. The Progressive Caucus will dominate DC for at least two years, holding potential removal threats over Biden’s head if he doesn’t want to go along. This means that “the Green New Deal Lite(tm)” has legs and the Democrats will start implementing it in sausage-slice measures. Not a great time to be an energy producer. The centrists have all the electoral power but none of the domestic support: see #7 below.
  • 3. Illinois and California will get “quiet versions” of the federal bailouts they desperately need, and the Blue Urban Wastelands will continue falling apart, as their fundamental design feature “let’s be a gigantic entertainment center for wealthy financials, techies, and creatives served by an urban underclass of impoverished coffee-slingers and janitors” simply stands no chance of surviving the accelerated move towards remote work brought on by Covid.
  • 4. Inflation is back for good. Right now on paper the U.S. looks like economic growth has been amazing over the last 12 years. But it’s all illusory value based on stock prices, which themselves have been constantly goosed since ’08 by Quantitative Easing. Those values have nothing to do with reality, and retail investors are going to get caught with their pants down when the next market crash hits. Of course, DC and the Fed have colluded to rig the economy so that mere savers get it right up the butt and are forced to become investors if they don’t want to be slowly impoverished by inflation. So guess how many grandmas on tight budgets are going to get killed on this? That’s right, all of them.
  • 5. Politically, the CW is that it’ll fall out like this. As one wag put it, “the Democrats will suddenly decide that there’s never an excuse to riot” (and will slowly and quietly wind down their Antifa/BLM brownshirts), “and the Republicans will suddenly decide that deficits matter, after all.” And most importantly, the rubes out there will think they actually mean it. What they’re missing is that nobody except rubes, NPR listeners, and a.m. talk-radio fans (but I repeat myself) are taking the major media outlets seriously any more. It used to be a scandal when an outfit like NYT or WaPo jettisoned its journalistic integrity in favor of cheap clicks, or when The Federalist did a 180 on all its principles to give air-cover to K Street. Not any more. Their credibility is gone, and the average man and woman holds major media in about as much respect as they do used-car salesmen, third-term-congresscritters, and the High Priest Vulture Elite of the United Nations.
  • 6. Average people in the U.S. will cut their lifestyle expectations dramatically in favor of “hunker down, get through Covid, and make sure at least we have jobs and can make rent.” A good chunk of that, of course, will happen because a lot of American’s aren’t making rent, but that’s a different story which will come out once meat prices go through their next inflationary spiral (coming soon to a discount grocery near you).
  • 7. Intraparty Wrangling: It’s too early to tell who holds the strong cards in each of the major party establishments, and whether the kleptocrats can hold their respective “centrist” grounds against the will of their voters. The Democrats, able once again to yank the rug out from under every non-anointed candidate in 2020, looks to be in the stronger position, if only because the Dems have the built-in advantage of being able to go as far left as they want without losing Democrats (as some writers have observed, if you ask progressives “what’s too far left for you,” the answer is usually crickets plus “how can you have ‘too far left’?”). The Republicans would love to be in this situation, but have less room to maneuver, because the far right (understood properly, not as it’s defined on The Daily Beast) is wildly unpopular and gets little support, and the Republican Party can’t jam a friendly kleptocrat like Romney or Jeb Bush down the party’s throats the way the Dems did with Biden without them simply staying home and refusing to vote. Right-wing Marxism is the order of the day for the average Republican now, who considers the entire political class to be their ideological opponents.
  • 8. Chevron Deference and the associated widespread abuses get to survive another eight years minimum, as neither set of political survivors see that as a problem (given that they’re all long-term DC hands who helped set C.D. up in the first place).

But wait, there’s more.

  1. Middle-East Peace is being achieved. Team Blue will try to make things nicer for the agreements with Iran, but that ship has sailed. Iran is now both an open and a de-facto ally to China now, and Biden will have no leverage in Israel, since the entire Arab world is basically closing ranks around Israel and against Tehran. (Tehran itself is in trouble, since it faces a restive population that’s sick of its adventurism and extremism, on the one hand, an IRGC more than willing to murder anybody in government who tries to moderate and as many protestors who dare to come onto the streets, on the other, and on the gripping hand, the slow realization that China wants the theocracy gone (without remotely enabling anything like democracy) and will happily use both violence and the purse to achieve it).
  • 2. As bad as the U.S. is going economically, the rest of the world’s major financial powers make it look clean and ethical, so USD may actually appreciate in 2021-22. The EU still hasn’t come to terms with its banking scandals, Japan is still suffering, and China could potentially be going gangbusters but nobody who’s awake trusts Chinese financial data. With Van der Leuven predictably moving the EU apparatus more towards China and less towards the U.S.
  • 3. China retains its status as “most hilariously evil global power since Genghis Khan,” as it is engaged in three slow-motion genocides, snark-brags over its ethnic cleansings, and in official legal terms has asserted its right to intervene militarily anywhere it has investments, declaring same core national interests. In other words, China has flat out told the world it will expand, and wherever it does expand, the people living there will slowly be removed so that “Han” Chinese can have their lebensraum. “Han” of course as the definer of Chinese ethnicity is about as accurate as “Aryan” for 20th century Germans, but don’t tell that to Beijing unless you want to disappear. Expect the CCP’s anti-Cantonese programs in southern China and Hong Kong (sic) to continue until Cantonese disappears the way “Shanghai-ese” and other known regional dialects have, and only Mandarin remains. The CCP knows exactly what it’s doing: its population is getting old and getting ready to crater. When that happens the CCP’s ability to play Mighty Han Empire will be gone, and it doesn’t want its leadership over China to be supplanted by “we have reason to be hostile” minorities which still (had) actual demographic growth (until the mass-murders and atrocities began). Don’t expect the holier-than-thou marketers at Apple, Nike, etcetera, to recognize their role in helping to fund these mass-murderers.
  • 4. The Caucasus should settle down for a while now that the people Who Watch Things Closely jockey between Turkish and Russian influence, with the Russians coming out notably ahead and Iran the very clear losers. The Russians only dreamt of having peacekeeping authority this solid a decade ago. Pashinian now openly admits that he thought he could impose a ceasefire upon the Azeris that would solidify the 1994 ethnic cleansing gains into international recognition, but there still appears to be little recognition that Russia basically played Armenia like a cheap fiddle to solidify its own authority as regional hegemon. The entire affair played out like a two-man con between Russia and Turkey at Armenia’s expense. The Armenians still consider themselves the outright virtuous victims in this whole affair, not because the Azeris were blameless, but because they don’t seem able to recognize the degree to which they themselves were the outright aggressors coming into 2020. Just because you’re Christian and nominally democratic doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the good guys. (I will of course lose every Armenian Facebook-friend I have for pointing this out…)
  • 5. World Peace is basically breaking out everywhere except where Russia, Iran, and China have their fingers in the pie (with a runner-up “spoiler prize” going to Turkey as it plays imperial games in Libya and Syria), as most of the smaller autocracies and totalitarian zones adjust to Covid, international changes, and the realization that just keeping their people fed and economically productive is going to be a problem for economies where wheat slowly becomes a luxury good. Pakistan remains one to watch, however, as the civilians-vs-military-vs-state-supported-terrorists slow motion civil war continues. Pakistan has no interest in China and India having a peaceful Himalayan border zone, nor in Afghanistan becoming peaceful and prosperous. Syria and Libya remain hot spots, largely due to Erdogan’s economically ruinous but geopolitically clever expansionist games.
  • 6. Major technological changes are incoming which will threaten many “standard assumptions.” Oil prices are likely to stay very low, but nuclear power is becoming a popular concept in Asia, particuarly southern Asia, which gives not a single damn about environmental protestors from Northern Europe. They need energy, they need a lot of it, and they need it to be clean. Modern nukes fit the bill. Similarly, the slow onset of sub-orbital civilian freight logistics will upend many supply chains.

It’ll be an interesting year with a lot of good happening so long as it can manage not to be strangled in the cradle by the High Priest Vulture Elite in the various political capitals.

On Anti-Thought

Any idea pursued too forcefully, or executed without sensitivity to the context in which the idea is to be implemented, regardless ofthe idea’s initial virtue or brilliance, is a recipe for creating irreparable harm.

In human society, as in bio-chemistry, it is the dose that makes the poison. The great difficulty during our Current Era, as in every era of Political Realignment in America, is that the so-called “Great Sort” has reduced us to such a maze of echo chambers that we can no longer distinguish the “dosage” of ag iven ideological filter upon our perception of any given list of facts.

Thus, any deviation from the “truth” expressed inside a particular echo chamber becomes such a violation of the Common Will (to paraphrase Rousseau), that it comes across as instantly extremist, and even verbally/textually an act of incivility or violence. Within the echo chambers, one thus finds, eventually, a simple unwritten choice:  Agree Vociferously, or Do Not Speak.

This is, needless to say, a terrible way to run our human affairs.  When an idea which ought to be examined or else even defended is instead asserted with religious sincerity or ferver as an absolute, it becomes an invitation to stop thinking.  The terrible price of the 21st century is how much exposure we’ve had to each others’ non-thought. One could go so far as to call the axiomatic litmus-test-demanding-compliance statements such as these “anti-thoughts.”

  • Thoughts are contextual. Anti-thoughts are axiomatic.
  • Thoughts have boundaries. Anti-thoughts demand universal compliance.

Breaking the power of Anti-Thought is a nearly insurmountable challenge. As with most cases of Anti-Thought itself, an attempt to break it on any widespread basis would be such a top-down imposition that it would itself become a continuation of the same…. and hence simply a new barrier to thinking.

“If there is any hope, it lies in the proles.” — George Orwell

Only the individual, bottom-up choice to eschew Group-Think and to seriously consider the merits and costs of ideas, contexts, and worldviews other htan our own can dilute the poison of the echo chamber.

  • The anarchist or libertarian should discover the virtues of egalitarian bureaucratic socialism, and not simply to dismiss those virtues when compared to their costs as an intellectual or rhetorical exercise.
  • The left-leaning cultural fascist should discover the joys of traditional cultures — and not merely by engaging in “exoticism pornography,” fetishizing only the Others around the globe, but traditional cultures within their own societies as well.
  • The traditionalist in turn discovering the deep wells of creativity inside the places where counter-cultural ideas and habits are allowed to flourish, discovering in turn where the discovered virtues can be used to advantage inside their own contexts without violating their own identities.

There will be no accolades for doing so. The world rewards ideologues and extremists, and the idea that “hey, those people we’re busy fighting tooth or nail because we perceive them as threatening Our Very Existence? They do X wayyyyy better than we do” is not going to make one friends. (Unless X is defined as “ugly political tactics we should probably adopt too”)

But it will help us to perceive the world around us more clearly, and to see patterns before they finish unfolding. In doing so, we can be ready for what’s coming, rather than holding our heads on the side of the road wondering “what the hell just hit me?”

And that’s to our advantage. Because the future is good, and it is even better for those who can appreciate it through many contexts, rather than a fixed axiomatic lens which will inevitably show wear, tear, and cracks.

Cults and Context

(In which Happycrow shoots his mouth off and once again cements his place as the least popular man in America)

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” – Friedrich August von Hayek

Traditional religiosity with its good and its ill is fading, and in its place spreads not rationality, but a thousand superstitious cults based on willful ignorance and the desire to find enemies.

We live in an era that embraces ignorance for the momentary advantage it gives in allowing its various partisans to devalue and dehumanize anybody who happens to belong to a different cult.

And the problem with dealing with cults is that cults survive solely upon jargon, and use it as their yardstick for identifying who’s in the cult, and who is an enemy to be sacrificed upon the altar of (self-)righteousness.

The cults have dominated the globe and scarred it for almost a hundred and fifty years.

1.  Marx spent years investigating labor conditions, writing romantic, idealized screeds regarding the travails of the working class and the follies of capitalism.

But in all his volumes of writing which we now call “Marxist economics,” it apparently never occurred to him that he needed to learn economics, or even what capitalism is and is not. His description of capitalism is a bad caricature of violence-backed corporatism. His “labor theory of value” is so obviously wrong that it can be debunked by any five-year-old with a preference for the really good dessert, rather than the one which merely took a long time to make. The lovingly hand-built Atari 2800 in a hobbyist’s garage won’t be out-pricing modern game consoles built on an assembly line anytime soon.

But for Marx’s cult, that simply meant that the entire world was wrong and needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. “Rebuilding” made a great tool for tyrants, madmen, and totalitarian thugs to erase a hundred million human victims from the earth.

2.  The next chapter was Keynesian “Economics.” Keynes’ theory of “animal spirits” or “consumer-sentiment-driven-demand” is just as woefully inadequate as Marx’s labor theory of value. In this case, the mistake was even simpler. Keynes, not being an economist, did not understand that “desire” and “demand” have different economic meanings. “Demand” does not mean that I would like to have something — it means that I am actively in the market to buy something and have enough money to purchase what I want to get.

That’s why supply-and-demand curves are never going away. No matter how rosy I feel about my economic outlook, if I can’t puchase a luxury car, the makers of that car had better not be over-producing on the assumption that I can.

His cultists live on today in the Federal Reserve, which is shocked that Americans have trouble saving, after having explicitly engaged in behavior known to repress saving. Now they are trying to sell the public on the idea that money is complicated, hard to understand, and can only exist with the strong and steady hand of government.

(Wrong. Money is the simplest thing there is, and arises without any central authority at all. Money is simply some item whose value lies primarily in the fact that people are willing to exchange it for other items. Gold. Salt. Cattle. Gummi-Bears. My Little Pony stickers.)

The public prefers to save for the future, both for emergencies and possible good things. So for the Keynesian cultists in the central banks, this simply means that the entire world is wrong, and the world must be FORCED to buy and to invest rather than to save.

Who knows what the late-21st-century version of The Cult Games will be? Probably something to do with coffee and lolcats.


Not exactly what DARPAnet was expecting its users to care about.

3.  The contemporary version of this is feminism’s slow movement from an egalitarian movement to a “Marxism of Gender.”

Originally, feminism stood for something very basic: equal rights and duties for men and women. The founding charter of the National Organization of Women? Strictly egalitarian and holding both men and women in high esteem. It has nothing to do with feminism today.

“NOTICE: This is a historic document, which was adopted at NOW’s first National Conference in Washington, D.C. on October 29, 1966. The words are those of the 1960s, and do not reflect current language or NOW’s current priorities.”

Yeah.  No kidding.

That lasted all of three years before being almost completely co-opted by Marxist hate-groups (the Redstockings were “Red” on purpose, and without irony), continuing the Marxist cult of class struggle. No longer an issue of creating equality between men and women, in all their individual glories, it instead insisted on the struggle between classes of imaginary “category-people.” God help the feminist who dares to deviate from whatever the current promulgated ideology — she will be erased from history as surely as the losing side from an Egyptian temple.

Which is a pity. Because Germaine Green, Julie Bindel, and others have had an awful lot of very important things to say over the years.  When you “no platform” somebody because they disagree with you, you are acting like a cultist who is horrified at the existence of a heretic.

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster…when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” – Friedrich Nietzche

Many of them are busy screaming at ghosts, believing the world to truly be an appalling and hopeless place because it fails to conform to their make-believe.

And its next chapter, the ongoing slog over Judith Butler and the alarmingly common-sensical notion that “Gender is performative.”  This is obviously true and readily-observable over time:  In the ancient Levant, masculinity meant collecting as many wives and having as many kids as possible.  In ancient Greece, being masculine generally meant being a pederast: having sex with little boys for fun, but with women for children. In 1950, being masculine generally meant that if you caught some bastard having sex with a little boy and beat him to death in order to stop that, your prison sentence was likely to be “time served” and the heart-felt thanks of the kid’s parents.

But like Marx, who wanted to opine about work without ever having had a job, or Keynes, who wanted to opine about economics without learning what “demand” means, today’s cultists want to take this common-sense, historically obvious concept without any understanding of either social or individual context and instead try to define “performative” as socially determined, rather than happening within a social context. And the left and right wings are equally guilty.

“Socially determined” implies socially directed.  Predictably, this means a lot of cultists telling everybody else how they should be “performing” their lives.

Cue “the Patriarchy.” It’s just as much cultist cant as the Labor Theory of Value or Keynes’ “Animal Spirits.” It’s certainly not the dictionary definition of Patriarchy.  To wit, does anybody think that Joe Six Pack’s testicles give him greater social and political power than Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, or, if you want real socio-economic firepower, Christine Lagarde?

IMF executive director Lagarde attends a news conference after a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels

My words determine the fates of nations.

Rather, it’s become a shorthand for “sexual business as usual,” and the tragedy is that as a short-hand, it devalues the idea that there are very good reasons for differences in those sexual and gender performances, including many that drive the cultists, right-wing, left-wing, and otherwise, NUTS.

“The Patriarchy” works for an awful lot of women, many of whom are continuing to have kids and pass their sexual and gender preferences to the future. There are an awful lot of women who do, in fact, like it when men check them out in passing. There are a lot of women for whom “sexy” is fundamentally reassuring, rather than oppressive.


And Andrea Dworkin wept.

There are a lot of women who LIKE pink sexy, pink, and sexy-in-pink. And there are a lot of women who like to show off their bodies to hugely-appreciative audiences.

In contemporary pop-culture terms, there are a lot of women out there who would far rather spend two nights with Tony Stark than a month with Captain America or the rest of their lives with Hawkeye. And others who wouldn’t settle for anything less than Hawkeye The Total Family-Man.

And there are a lot of folks who are not at all offended by dudes showing off, either.


Happycrow’s waifu will scrutinize this image closely. For research purposes.

But for some men and women, this is their vision of hell. “Business as usual” doesn’t work for them.

We’re biological machines. This holds true whether you’re steeped in the Marxist doctine of abstract collectivist group humanity concerned about “toxic masculinity,” or the most Bible-thumpy of all right-wing Bible-thumpers for whom “be fruitful and multiply” is a MANDATE for permanent baby-bumps on Mama and “don’t dare dream of working less than sixty hours to support that family” for Papa.

This isn’t what NOW was thinking of in 1966.  When did “different strokes for different folks” become heresy?

And as I’ve said elsewhere, we have to come up with ways to “solve for human heterogeneity.” It’s not going to be easy.  There are very good reasons for that heterogeneity. Each has advantages in different contexts. A wildly libidinous pro-sex person is more likely to reproduce successfully. Also more likely to transmit one or more horrifying social diseases. The asexual, less likely to do either. The future belongs to those who show up: “lots of kids” usually rules, but sometimes “one kid, reluctantly, but no disease” may totally be the winning formula.

The notion that “performative” means “individually mutable for the greater good” (as defined by either left or right) is, like the Labor Theory of Value or The Animal Spirits Approach To Economic Demand, laughably false. Social “performance” does not mean that we can simply pick up and put down sexual personae like actors on a stage.

If it did, we could presume that the sex-positive and the asexual could swap places at will without suffering from doing so. But you’re not taking a sex-positive person who hangs out in a “play” group on Wednesdays and Thursdays with her six closest friends and their guests, and denying her any and all sex without irritating her mightily. And you’re not taking an “ace” and throwing him into said “group play” without traumatizing him.

Neither can you take somebody in the living hell of completely failing to identify with their own sexual apparatus, and tell them, as many right-wing cultists do, “hey, those are your balls, just get over it.”  Saying “you’re not standard-model, therefore you shouldn’t exist and we don’t give a shit about your troubles” is no more excusable than advocating for all the cis-hets to go die in a fire. Both are predicated upon Othering people who deserve human empathy.

If a lot of people have problems with your preferred solution, that might be a clue that you should spend less time virtue-signalling and more time looking for solutions which can work for everybody.

  1. A trans-dude should be able to use the bathroom with which said trans-dude identifies without suffering a presumption of ill will.
  2. Parents should also be able to make sure that pedophiles can’t simply pretend to be trans-dudes in order to have easy access to prey on children.

This is a thorny problem with real, actually-legitimate beefs on both sides.  If your reaction to those two points above is to simply write one off as bullshit, you’re part of the problem.

And if, when you make arguments on these issues and the public response is scorn, incredulity, and guffaws, you’re either a genius ahead of your time…

“Wegener’s hypothesis in general is of the foot-loose type, in that it takes considerable liberty with our globe, and is less bound by restrictions or tied down by awkward, ugly facts than most of its rival theories. Its appeal seems to lie in the fact that it plays a game in which there are few restrictive rules and no sharply drawn line of conduct.” — RT Chamberlain

“Utter damned rot!” –WB Scott



….or perhaps you need to spend less time “virtue signalling” and more time trying to understand what it is people don’t like about what you’re saying, and why, so that you can actually improve your arguments. Stop acting like a Cult member arguing from identity. Your efforts are meaningless posturing unless they can convince people who disagree with your position that you have legitimate issues to address.

We should be looking for solutions that work for everybody. And when we get to “everybody,” that means ALL THE INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE, not “enable the categories of people I like, and to hell with all the rest of those bastards.”

Because only a cult sacrifices real people to appease imaginary category-people.  And if your take on the world is “I’m one of the Virtuous Few, and the World is Filthy and Wrong,” well, I don’t want to be dogmatic…but I’d recommend a combination of curiosity and decaf.

Brass Frog 2016 Video and Photo Links

I’m not all that media-savvy, so the only way I know how to handle all these files I’ve uploaded to my google drive is via links in a blog post. I can’t seem to get them to embed. Anybody who’s media-savvy is welcome to put these in more user-friendly form.

But if you competed at Brass Frog, I’m pretty sure I got you in stills or video.

Great Stick:


Assorted Stills:

How to Love Dipshits

It’s the Silly Season in America again, when the Wars of the Tribes grows most fierce and racism shows its unrepentantly ugly head.

No love is lost between the race of Blue People and the race of Red People.

During the Quiet Seasons, if you asked somebody “what do you think about Public Figure X,” the answer would, for most normal, sane people who are mere conscripts in the Wars of the Tribes, be “I have no idea. Tell me about Public Figure X and what he or she is doing or saying.  Also, is it worthy my time and energy to actually care about Public Figure X?”

During the Silly Season, all that is suspended.  During the Silly Season, the conscripts have a simple response:  “Public Figure X is the Other and I will believe anything I am told about this person by my alpha pack members.  To do otherwise is unthinkable and will result in my expulsion from the tribe.”

The Great Red Tribe and The Great Blue Tribe are not the only tribes, of course.  But their sickness infects everything. It infects things which it shouldn’t, which have nothing to do with Public Figures At All.


Everything you just read is a lie.

The Great Red Tribe and The Great Blue Tribe are, actually, quite small.  Oh, their influence is just as vast as one suspects.  That’s not the lie.  The lie is what the Tribe Members say to the Conscripts.  They say “you are part of the Great Belonging that is the Good Tribe, and We Must Come Together To Stop The Bad Tribe.”

The conscripts aren’t members of the tribe.  They do not gain the spoils of tribal victory, nor suffer the loss of their castles during tribal defeat.  They are, in fact, not a part of the daily life of the Tribes at all.  Only during Silly Seasons do the actual Members of the Tribes pay attention to the conscripts at all, in the great war of “we push harder with more conscripts.”

It’s a new invention for the Tribes.  They used to ignore the conscripts completely, and laugh about the idea that they should take part in The Life of The Tribes.  But the world changed and the conscripts were allowed to see the Tribal Life, and to take part in it.  Few did.  Most simply assembled when whistled for, every few years. The Members of the Tribes do not identify with the Conscripts — they do, in fact, self-identify as Other Than Conscripts, at all times.

Except the Silly Season.

The Conscripts are aware of the situation.  They are also aware of the flu.  Sadly, awareness of the flu does not equate to immunity to the flu.

I, personally, have a variation on the flu. It is called Clinton Derangement Syndrome.  Rather than simply looking at the Clintons and saying to myself “wow, that’s ironic: they do more damage to their own Blue Tribe than the Red Tribe does,” and then moving on in life, I have a shocking ability to actually care about what wretched pieces of scum I believe the Clintons and their allies to be.

I shouldn’t.  I have a life, and they are not part of it.  But memes are a form of meta-life, and they are highly, highly contagious.

I don’t hate sick people.

I am inoculated against some memes, because I have the Pythagorean Theorem.  I am inoculated against others, because I have Bastiat and a comprehension of emergent orders.  But I have no defense against others.  And neither do my fellow conscripts.  I’m infected, and, it turns out, a plague-carrier.

That I am inoculated against “bad economic ideas” does not mean that I am inoculated against any other variety of bad narratives.  I am, in fact, riddled with infectious and self-destructive narratives, such as “if my child doesn’t finish everything on her plate, I must finish it off rather than wasting food, even if said behavior is directly responsible for keeping me fat.”

No amount of sitting quietly in a corner will allow us to observe every narrative which infects us.  The Five Flavors Dull The Palate.

We need better narratives.

We learn things over time.  Collectively, and individually, and gradually, we learn lessons. How to crawl. How to walk.

Other things need to be learned.  I’m working on one called “how to be a valiant Conscript without being infected by The Madness of the Tribes and its Hatreds.”

It’s not easy. Every Tribal Meme on Facebook was originated by some Member of the Tribe thinking “lets go infect some Conscripts.”  It works.  I’m sick, shot through with memes that have nothing to do with me, and everything to do with The Wars of The Tribes.

It’s hard to love your enemy.

But it’s hard to hate somebody just because they’re infected.

Girls (and half-orcs) just wanna have fun


The Good Life

Insta photo editor1440206724945

Renders by the wifey.



Sabre: Remedial Cutting and Moulinets

Students with any kind of athletic background will find performing the basic cuts to be easy.  The problem for them is not that the cuts are difficult, but that they will be perceived as too boring to practice.  These students will believe that they have mastered basic cutting when they have not.

An alternate problem happens when a student has no athleticism upon which to draw.  Some students will not have engaged in “watch a movement mimic a movement” behavior since they learned to mimic their parents’ gaits as small children.  It is very important that these students not be left behind while other students are being held back until they can actually perform the cuts that they think they are performing.

This challenge should not be under-estimated: many individuals go through life not actually knowing where their bodies are in space.  If introduced to the joy of elegant movement, these students will often turn out to enjoy practice immensely, and to practice more diligently than their supposedly more-gifted peers.

Here is an alternate method for teaching the basic cuts and moulinets.

  1. The fencer holds the sabre forward, with the point high and to the right. The student then makes Cut 1. The instructor takes care to make sure that the cut is perfectly linear and does not wobble.
  2. Once the blade reaches the end of the cut, the blade should be pointing down and to the left. The student flips the blade over, and makes Cut 4, bringing it back to the original position. The instructor coaches the student to keep the cut purely linear, retracing the line of Cut 1.

The process is inverted for Cuts 2 and 3.

Though the classic targets of Cut 3 and Cut 4 are to the inner thigh, in this case, the student is made to perform the cuts at a higher angle so that he learns how to recognize the location of his limbs in space, and how to regulate his movements.  Usually the student will need to look at a target, thinking of bringing Cut 1 down into the joint of the neck and shoulder, and out of the ribs under the armpit, and vice versa for Cut 4.

Once the student has a reasonably-firm grasp of how to regulate his arm’s movement in space, keeping his cuts on the proper angle, you can introduce moulinets.  At this point the student is very likely to be frustrated because this cutting method fights the weight of the sabre, rather than using it to advantage. This is especially a problem for students who have never been graceful or physically powerful who are likely to wear out quickly.

We teach remedial moulinets as follows:

  1. Have the student start with the sabre forward, and make Cut 1. The student then proceeds to make Cut 2, repositioning the blade in order to be certain the angle is right.
  2. The instructor has the student make Cut 1 again.
  3. The instructor, standing closely behind the student, then physically assists the student in making a moulinet from Cut 1 to Cut 1, taking care to help the student feel the power generated by the moulinet.
  4. The instructor helps the student moulinet Cut 1 and Cut 2 while another student parries, making sure that the student can feel the cuts change from somewhat-awkward “line movement” to feeling more like hammer blows.

The moulinet is introduced to this student not as a way of transitioning between angles of attack, but as a way of gaining power in order to make an attack. This will allow even the smallest, weakest, and clumsiest of students to throw powerful cuts within a session or two.  The instructor physically assists the student in making these cuts so that the student can get a “body memory” of what the correct motion feels like.

Once the student has reached the stage where the basics of the cut can be performed, he or she can join the other students in practicing cut angles and blade alignment.

Common recurring problems and simple solutions: it is helpful to have raw materials for same handy.

Problem: Solution:
Student cannot distinguish edge from flat Provide student with wide cardboard sword/sabre to improve tactile awareness of edge alignment.
Student cuts a low horizontal and then up rather than making a rising diagonal cut Student has allowed cutting-hand hip to drift forward out of a correct On Guard position, affecting motion of lead shoulder.
Student shortens the cut, tightening the bicep Tie fabric gently around the elbow, providing the student tactile feedback.

Sabre: Counter-cutting

Once your opponent has come to close quarters and both of you are attempting to gain advantage over the other, it is very common for beginning fencers to lapse into a pattern of “take an action, return to guard, take an action, return to guard.”  This “act then reset then act” pattern is unavoidable when one is first learning how to put the various pieces of fencing together, but it’s hugely counterproductive when actually fencing. We want to take an action, and then continue taking action until we win the encounter.

A solution to this is counter-cutting, using attack as offense. We counter-cut specifically because many times our opponent will launch an attack when we are not on guard, and our blade is positioned somewhere else.    The point to counter-cutting isn’t simply not to get hit – we do not counter-cut simply to ward off the opponent’s blade!  Instead, just like our basic parries, our counter-cuts are intended help us achieve a point of advantage.

Counter-cutting achieves one of two things:

  1. Stopping the attack by striking the opponent
  2. Redirecting the opponent’s attack so that the attacker is left vulnerable

Here are various examples of ways which we can counter-cut:

Opponent: Fencer:
Cuts 1 Cuts 1 at opponent’s hand
Cuts 2 Cuts 2 at opponent’s forearm
Cuts 3 Cuts 2 at opponent’s wrist
Cuts 4 Cuts 4 at opponent’s wrist
Cuts 1 Cuts 2 and thrusts
Cuts 2 Cuts 1 and thrusts
Cuts 3 Cuts 4 and thrusts
Cuts 4 Cuts 3 and thrusts

And so on.  This is by no means exhaustive – for a fully-developed list of examples, see the synoptic tables at the end of the manual.

In the first examples, we are not simply standing still while attempting to cut the opponent. We are moving our body so that we redefine the geometry of the engagement (just like we do with basic parries), while cutting in such a way that even if we do not stop the blow outright, we deflect it onto an angle where it will not hurt us.

In the second four examples, we use the curve of the sabre to our advantage by cutting into the side of the opponent’s blade and pushing it past us.  To finish the action by thrusting into the opponent, all we need to do is return to On Guard, and the fighting geometry places the thrust for us.

What our system will never do is to assume that a counter-cut will stop the opponent.  For instance, our method explicitly defends the legs, whereas most systems either ignore the legs, or treat it as an invitation, “refusing the leg” by stepping backwards while striking at the opponent’s head.  This is fine for a sporting bout where the action is stopped on a hit. But what if the blow does not stop the opponent?  What if it misses, or the blow simply lands flat out of sheer bad luck?  What if fighting has dulled our blade, or his hat stops the blow?  Numerous historical cases exist where an opponent was struck several times in the head without being stopped.  In this case, nothing stops the opponent from simply continuing his attack with a thrust into our torso.  By actively protecting the leg, we ensure that this doesn’t happen.

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