Worth a gander

  1. Zero hour for Generation X
  2. Confederate flags and Nazi swastikas together? That’s new.
  3. America at the end of all hypotheticals
  4. What’s left of libertarianism?
  5. Factual free market fairness
  6. Thinking about costs and benefits of immigration
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BC’s weekend reads

  1. the Kurdish bourgeoisie is against separatism (kinda, sorta)
  2. Qatar waives visas for 80 nationalities amid Gulf boycott
  3. doesn’t Pakistan already suck? Isn’t that why this is happening in the first place?
  4. Similar moves are open to someone living in Pakistan. But those are different contexts than France or the US.
  5. I read this twice, very carefully, but am unconvinced (the use of stats is amateurish)
  6. The music was acid house, the drug: Ecstasy.
  7. The Plastic Pink Flamingo, in America [pdf]

Communism and reading

Below is an excerpt from my book I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography. You can buy it on amazon here.


My parents pro-Americanism must have been displayed often because faith in Communism was on the ascendancy during the miserable post-war years. That was when a significant fraction of French public opinion became mindlessly and reflexively anti-American, seemingly forever. Yet, rampant anti-Americanism hardly interfered with American cultural influence. The first movie I saw was a Charlie Chaplin, the first cartoon, Snow White. Every week, when I had been good, I had my copy of Mickey Mouse Magazine (“Mikay Mooze”), although there were excellent French and Belgian children’s periodicals. One of the best French-language children’s periodical had a Far-West serial, “Lucky Luke” that still amazes me for its historical and geographic accuracy. Somebody in the France of the fifties was an attentive student of Americana. Made-in-America action hero comics were forbidden fruits though. To this day, I don’t know why they were prohibited. Perhaps my mother thought them “vulgaires,” like many other things. Later, the first music I paid attention to was jazz.

Movies played a big role in shaping my world-view. I did not develop a sense for what was an American movie rather than a French movie until I was about fifteen. My real second language was thus the extremely bad, stilted French dubbing of American motion pictures. The dubbing is awful to this day. When the hero shoots the bad guy in the gut with a “Take this, you motherfucker!” it comes out in French like this: “This will teach you a lesson, mean man.” All dubbing is done in France by people who don’t know English well, I suspect. The same dozen voices are used over and over again. The dubbers are immortal, it seems. You might say that I was brought up in good part by a curiously distorted Hollywood.

The trade offs of Hillary vs Donald

An interesting thing to talk about is whether one ought to support the Donald or the Hillary. And it’s my impression that those who are marginally in favor of Donald and vice versa do that with a completely different view on the risks associated with either of them.

People who favor Hillary have something like this in mind:

Hillary will continue with the status quo that started with George W. Bush (especially foreign policy) and continued under Obama (who added domestic trends such as Obamacare). Trump, on the other hand, is a complete wild card who will transform the (fragile) political institutions we have into something of an even more authoritarian system. And having an authoritarian figure with his fingers on the red button just seems like a very bad idea.

People who favor the Donald are seemingly thinking something like this:

Hillary will continue with the status quo that started with George W. Bush (especially foreign policy) and continued under Obama (who added domestic trends such as Obamacare). Trump, on the other hand, will be such a weak politician that he will get almost nothing done. Even in his own party, he is so unpopular that he won’t get executive discretion even if he asked for it. He won’t be able to achieve anything and he might even get impeached. But regardless, he will be an overall failure of a politician, and that’s a good thing relative to the trend that Hillary started.

I could be wrong, of course, but this seems like the trade off that people are making. We know, with a reasonably high certainty margin, what kind of policies Hillary will favor. Trump, however, is a complete wild card. Some people think the wild card will accomplish very little (and thereby show a high confidence in the current workings of the American governmental system), so therefore he is preferable to Hillary. Other people think he will accomplish a lot (and thereby showing very little confidence in the current workings of the American governmental system.)

I think this trade off is basically right: where you stand on Hillary versus Trump depends on your view in the likelihood they’ll achieve what you think their plans are. Which of these have the correct view, I do not know. But it’s an interesting question nonetheless.

BC’s weekend reads

  1. Racism in Brazil, and American academic imperialism
  2. A quick lesson on race and class in Brazil
  3. Unlike Their Parents, Black Millennials Aren’t A Lock For Clinton
  4. The Rise of the Libertarian Technocrats
  5. Property versus Democracy
  6. Our Friendly Visitors

Another Race Riot

Note: This is written for my overseas readers mainly. If you live in the US, you will probably find that you already know most of what I am writing about.

A couple of days ago, a police officer shot to death a black man in full daylight in Charlotte, North Carolina, very much the Old South, former home of abject slavery.

This is happening in the last months of the second administration of the first black American president, after more than seven years of his being in charge. “Being in charge” is an exaggeration of sorts though. The President of the United States exercises no constitutional authority over local police forces (or state police forces). His federal Department of Justice only has jurisdiction when a violation of civil rights is at stake and only over that specific putative violation. Homicide is not in itself a civil rights violation. It’s true that Pres. Obama cannot pick up the phone and tell the Charlotte police what to do or how. Yet, Mr Obama is responsible to some extent although indirectly for the violence, an idea I will develop below.

Cop kills black man: familiar story, right?

I forgot to give you important information. The police officer who did the shooting is black and a woman. She answers to a black police chief. He is squarely in charge of training officers and making rules for their behavior, including their use of firearms. The Chief of Police is appointed and answers to the mayor of Charlotte. The mayor is a white woman and a prominent Democrat. She is assisted by a city council of eleven, four or whom are black. As far as I can tell, there are zero, or one, or two Republican city councilors. The rest are Democrats.

The police says the victim had a gun. His family says in was sitting in his car reading a book while waiting for his child to come out of school. Disturbingly different stories, for sure.

There have been three nights or protests in Charlotte, that quickly became riots, with demonstrators throwing heavy objects at police officers and much destruction of property. One demonstrator was shot, apparently not by a police officer. And, of course, there was much looting of stores. It’s nearly always like this: One young black man dies, fifteen young black men acquire brand new mountain bikes.

Watching the riots on TV, I notice something that television channels and printed press journalist don’t comment on: Some of the most aggressive rioters are young white men who seem to me to know what they are doing and who are not distracted by broken store windows. I should use the word cautiously but they seem to me almost professional in their approach to rioting. The white young rioters are not mentioned I think because they cannot be fitted in the prevailing liberal narrative: It’s a race riot, it’s a demonstration against racial injustice by black people who have just had enough. How about the young white guys? Irrelevant, they are just lovers of justice who happen to be there. Yet, I can’t claim that I recognize any of them on TV but there are young white men just like them in every race riot I have watched in the past two years. If they are absent the first day, they are plainly present the second day and the next few days.

The show on my TV looks a bit like a movie because it’s not well connected to reality, the reality that everyone knows: On the whole, young black men don’t die because cops shoot them, they die because other young black men kill them. They also kill the occasional child and lately, even a young mother pushing her baby carriage. The percentage of violent deaths of black men at police hands that are legally unjustified, must be minuscule. No one in Chicago demonstrates against this continuing mass killing by African-Americans. I think blacks and whites alike don’t because it would contradict the main, tired old liberal narrative: Injustice and racial oppression are the source of all evils in American society.

Young black men kill one another in gang wars for turf (for possession of a piece of ground.) The turf, the ground, is an important asset in the retail sale of illegal drugs. I would be curious of what would happen if Congress decriminalized all drug sales to adults and if a rational president signed the bill into law. I would bet that young black men’s death rate would plummet by 90% in a few weeks. I have no explanation as to why this is not done. It’s not as if the 40-year old so-called “War on Drugs” were working in reducing drug use!

After seven+ years of Obama, the economic gap between whites and blacks – however you measure it – has increased. African-Americans are worse off in relative terms than they were under Pres. Bush. This is no surprise to me. It’s a Democratic administration. The worst place for a black man to live in America is in Democratic-ruled big cities. It begins with Chicago, a Democratic city for 85 years. And then, there is Detroit, a war zone with no war. All this being said, we must not forget that most African-Americans lead lives that are both normal and peaceful, in crying contradiction to the narrative of continued racial oppression. There is a large minority of young black men however who have never had a job, who don’t look for one, who may have never known a person with a job except teachers and cops.

Democratic politicians have been promising salvation in the form of “social programs” paid for by those who do work. They have done so for fifty years. They have not implemented them, or the programs have done little good, or even worse. It’s time for a revolutionary new idea, one that’s very old, in fact. When there is rapid economic growth, employers compete for labor, even for the labor of the inexperienced, even for the labor of those usually seen as unemployable. Black Americans in ghettos need the same thing that all Americans need: vigorous and fast economic growth. This may be hard to believe but the United States has few problems that could not be solved by ten years of 3.5% annual GDP growth.

There is no sign of a search for economic development in the Democratic presidential candidate’s program. Donald Trump, by contrast, promises to reduce taxes and to rid business of many regulations. Historically, it’s usually enough to produce growth. Black Americans need less abstract “justice” and more of a fair chance. The left wing of the Democratic Party hates the very idea.

Voting For Potty-Mouth Trump

I think Donald Trump has the attention span of a two year-old and the potty mouth of a six year-old reared by an indulgent grandmother who is also hard of hearing. I also think he is deeply ignorant on a very important issue (international trade) and I disagree forcefully with him on another (illegal immigration from the south). Finally, I believe there is little chance that a President Trump’s foreign policy would reverse the Obama precipitous decline of the US on the world stage, which I think is dangerous for Americans.

Not a pretty picture overall. So, it takes serious concerns for a dedicated, generally well-informed rationalist like me to vote for him. Here are the reasons why I will.

First, Trump has already told us whom he would appoint for the Supreme Court which sets the life conditions of American society for a generation or more. All his potential appointees are fine by me. It’s not difficult to guess that no Clinton appointee would be acceptable, not one, zero. Any of them would facilitate the creeping abrogation of the US Constitution we witnessed under Obama.

Second, I am certain – because it’s difficult to imagine otherwise – that a President Trump would try to stop and reverse most the climate change cult nonsense and relegate it to the level of a private religion where it belongs. His administration would allow an energy revolution sufficient in itself to rekindle economic growth. I see no prospect of normal economic growth under a Hillary Clinton presidency. (I mean 3% per year and over.) She has said herself that she would continue Pres. Obama’s paralytic policies.

Third, through the example of his sheer verbal brutality, Trump would lift some the yoke of political correctness. This is not a superficial or a light reform. I believe that political correctness actually paralyzes Americans’ criticality on nearly all issues. (Examples on request.)

My last reason is Democratic candidate Clinton of course, even if I leave aside every single one of the leftist policies she is likely to try to implement. Mrs Bill Clinton is still bought and paid for. The fact that I don’t know exactly by whom or by what only makes it worse. (Someone who would not braggingly share her $250,000 a shot speeches with the public is unthinkable to me.) On that account alone, if I had to choose between H. Clinton and Al Capone for president, it would be a toss-up. We know what interests Al was serving, after all.

There is worse: Her lies about her lies, her lies that have zero chance of being believed have become a proof that she is delusional, at least part of the time. By contrast, Trump ‘s untruths are like those of a little boy who can’t help himself from opening his mouth before he talks.

Presidential elections are not only about the presidency, of course. They give the winner’s party a confirmation of the validity of the principles it proclaims and of the policies it embodies. This is obviously true for well defined policies such as Obamacare. It’s true, more subtly, about cultural policies both explicit and implicit. Seven and half years of Obama administration have established firmly – with Big Media complicity – the language of envy and the spirit of beggardliness in American political discourse. Public speech is now built around platitudes, clichés, half-truths, and big lies repeated so frequently that they have become truth, Goebbels-style. The new liberal language is disgusting but completely predictable and thus boring. It’s also a form of child abuse. (Individuals who were 10 during Pres. Obama’s first campaign are now 19. They have never known public sanity.) As for Demo principles, there aren’t any. I count my blessings!

Donald Trump on his part, is his own buffoon. He is only an epiphenomenon. His objectionable traits are not part of a cultural movement. He is not contagious. There is zero chance the Republican Party, or the conservative movement are going to adopt his crudeness. Neither could if they tried.

I am angry about this cultural deterioration because I believe that in the long run what people do, what they accomplish collectively, is strongly constrained by culture. The contemporary American left-liberal culture shackles the imagination, and by doing so destroys many possible futures. Again, the Obama/Clinton conceptual swamp is vastly more of a lasting threat to America than the childish vulgarity and the ignorance Trump displays so frequently.

Being on the side of Trump often puts me in embarrassing company, I admit. But being on Clinton’s side would place me knowingly in vicious company. It would also range me squarely on the side of an intellectual class that has spent decades consolidating its collective blindness and its collective deafness about the reality of the world. It’s a class I know well because much of it lives in universities. There is no doubt that Trump as president is a big gamble. But Clinton is no gamble at all; her evilness is predictable.

Sometimes, to be a man of conscience, you have to gamble. That’s what I plan to do, on my behalf and on your behalf.*

* Public persons often contribute unwittingly to me finding my bearings: If Harry Reid, the corrupt real estate and proud deliberate liar loudly condemns Trump, there has to be something right about supporting Trump.