Streetwise Professor

December 3, 2018

Robert Mueller Deals More Collusion Crack to the Desperate Media Addicts

Filed under: Politics,Russia — cpirrong @ 7:35 pm

Last Friday, the Russia collusion crack addicts took another hit, supplied by their main source, Robert Mueller.  The Special Counsel announced a plea deal with Michael Cohen, in which the disgraced Trump fixer admitted that he had lied to Congress about his contacts with Russia regarding a potential Trump business deal.  According to the plea, Cohen was reaching out to the Russians well into 2016, after the time when Trump’s nomination appeared likely.

OMG!!!! THIS IS IT! TRUMP IS DONE! COLLUSION HAS BEEN PROVED! HE WILL HAVE TO LEAVE OFFICE! TOP OF THE WORLD! THERE IS A GOD! I CAN SEE HIS FACE!

Dudes, put down the pipe and check into rehab. Though to be honest, there’s nothing that can fix your addiction.  You don’t have a monkey on your backs: you have Bushman.

As is almost always the case with these pipe dreams, the media hot take is 180 degrees from reality.  Rather than showing Trump’s deep connections with Russia, and his obligation to Putin, it shows the exact opposite. Namely, it demonstrates that even as late as 2016 Trump had absolutely NOTHING going on in Russia, but was still begging for the opportunity to talk about business opportunities. (Or at least, his flunkies were.)

Indeed, to indicate just how  how much nothing he had going on, Cohen sent an email with an offer to Putin’s PR flack, Dmitri Peskov.  But wait! It gets better!  Cohen didn’t even have Peskov’s private email address, so he sent it to the address used for general press inquiries.  And to add insult to injury Peskov didn’t respond.  In fact, nobody responded, not even an intern saying “Thank you for your inquiry.”

In other words, Cohen rated the same response as Peskov probably gave to Nigerian princes offering the opportunity to make a vast fortune, in exchange for a little help.  That being no response at all.  He might have even given offers from Nigerian princes more thought.

Just as the Trump Tower meeting demonstrate beyond cavil that Trump had no deep connections in Russia, this farce demonstrates that Trump was not even remotely a player.  To use a Rumsfeld category, this represents evidence of absence.  Overwhelming evidence. If Trump was in deep with Putin prior to January, 2016, one of his flunkies wouldn’t have been sending plaintive pleas to a public email address.  And if Putin was hot to collude, there would have been an answer.

It’s not that complicated.  But then again, I’m not on crack.

Further, to the extent that Trump encouraged the outreach: (a) it’s kind of embarrassing, and (b) it’s hardly the actions of a man who thought he had the remotest chance of becoming president.  In fact, it screams the opposite.

If Cohen and the other person involved in attempting to gin up Trump business in Russia were acting on their own hooks, it would suggest they didn’t rate The Boss’ prospects too highly either.

The worst thing about this entire affair is that Trump relied on low-lifes like Cohen and Sater.  This hardly speaks highly of him.

So yet again, Mueller has delivered the collusion junkies a short term high in the form of a guilty plea to a process crime that does not get him any closer to proving that Trump colluded with Putin (or anyone else in Russia), let alone proving that he committed a crime (collusion per se not being illegal).  Indeed, this latest  “bombshell” merely proves yet again that when it comes to Donald Trump and Russia, there’s no there there.

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November 29, 2018

The Incident in the Kerch Strait: Validating Existing Lines of Conflict, Rather Than Portending a Forcible Shift in Those Lines

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — cpirrong @ 7:45 pm

The big news over the weekend was the Russian firing on, ramming of, and seizure of several Ukrainian naval vessels attempting to transit the Kerch Strait.  Most of the news coverage has been hopelessly inept, especially with regards to the background and legalities.  This piece from Defense News is the most coherent and thorough that I’ve read.

My quick take is that given international maritime law and the 2003 Russia-Ukraine agreement on the Sea of Azov, Ukraine is right de jure–especially in light of the fact that no major nation acknowledges Russia’s seizure of Crimea.  But Russia has the upper hand de facto.  As the expression goes, possession is nine-tenths of the law.  Russia has seized possession of both sides of the Strait, and has the military force to enforce that possession.  And it did.

Russian justifications for their actions are risible.  But their explanations of so many actions are risible.  That may be the point: “we say this bullshit that you know is bullshit and we know is bullshit to let you know we don’t give a shit what you think.”

As the Defense News article states, Ukrainian naval vessels had transited the Kerch Strait in late-September without Russian reaction.  But this time it was different.

Why?

Presumably in part because the September foray embarrassed the Russians, who have been ratcheting up interference with civilian vessels since that happened.  Moreover, as many have suggested, Putin may be looking to bolster his patriotic bona fides.  He certainly can’t be doing it to attract international favor, because the opposite has happened.

This raises an interesting thought: if Putin really thinks he needs a domestic political boost so badly that he is willing to draw international opprobrium (note that Trump canceled a meeting with him at the G-20 over this) to get it, what does that say about his domestic political position? Or at least his concerns about it.  A tsar confident in his domestic standing wouldn’t feel it necessary to incur the cost of such a provocation.

Not that the cost is likely to be that high.  The Germans, in typical fashion, harrumphed about how horrible this is, but in the same breath said “Nordstream 2 is a go!”  But the episode probably makes any sanctions relief even less likely.

Revealed preference suggests two alternatives: (a) Putin figured that sanctions relief was extremely remote in any event, so the cost wasn’t that high, or (b) Putin actually doesn’t mind sanctions despite their evident toll on the Russian economy.  With regards to (b), note that sanctions often work to the advantage of those in power (e.g., Saddam, the Mullahs).  Pieces like this suggest that might be a real possibility.

What was Ukrainian president Poroshenko’s rationale?  He was likely appealing to his domestic audience, although a humiliating capture of a part of Ukraine’s pitiful remnant of a fleet hardly seems calculated to boost his re-election prospects.  Perhaps he was hoping for this very outcome, in the expectation that it would lead western countries to rally to Ukraine’s defense.  If so, he’s rather clueless.  It’s not as if the US and EU are unaware of Russia’s continuing predation against Ukraine: they’ve clearly acquiesced to the current status quo of frozen conflict, and the events in the Kerch Strait will not change that.  Poroshenko likely threw away a few ships and a couple of dozen sailors for nothing.

But in some respects, this is not surprising.  The Ukrainians are the Sovok Palestinians: they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, and routinely self-inflict gaping wounds.

His declaration of martial law in parts of the country in the aftermath is highly weird, and raises questions about his real motives.

Does the incident portend a renewed Russian military assault on Ukraine?  I doubt it: it is more of an enforcement of existing redlines, rather than drawing new borders.  If the cost of bashing around a tugboat and a few minor combatants is bearable, the cost of a major move on the ground is a different matter altogether.

So the upshot is something like this.  The incident will not result in substantial increases in help for Ukraine.  It deepens and cements Russia’s isolation.  It is unlikely to portend a major escalation in the conflict.  In other words, it confirms and reinforces the status quo of a frozen conflict, rather than representing a new phase in the war.

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News for Barry: You Didn’t Build That

Filed under: Economics,Energy,Politics — cpirrong @ 9:59 am

Hard as it is to believe, it appears that Obama has become even more supercilious since his departure from the Oval Office.  All of his sneering grandiosity was on display during a visit to Houston.  (I hope you are sitting down for this: I didn’t attend!)

Being in Texas, Obama felt that he should be thanked for the dramatic growth in US oil production: “You wouldn’t always know it, but it went up every year I as president. That whole, suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas—that was me, people.”

I’m wracking my brain here, trying to recall something he said some years ago.  Oh yeah, I remember now: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.”

Barry: you definitely didn’t build that.  Yet you claim credit anyways.  You remind me of the rooster that believes the sun rises because he crows.

Long-time commenter Howard Roark noted to me on Twitter that the “you didn’t build it” remark was arguably the worst of his many execrable utterances.  That’s probably true, and he makes it all the worse by claiming credit for building something which he had less than bupkis to do with.

Obama also claimed credit for the economy’s recent performance.   He noted, in essence, that the first derivative in GDP was positive during his term, so that he is responsible for the first derivative being positive now.  Apparently the man who is so smart that he can apply the theory of relativity to constitutional law doesn’t understand second derivatives.  Economic growth has accelerated markedly under the Trump administration, and has achieved 3.5 percent growth, something that Obama dismissed as an impossibility when he was criticized for the anemic 1-2 percent growth rate in the aftermath of the Financial Crisis (when one would have expected growth at a rate above long term trend, not below). (I love the title of the linked paper, by the way.  Hilarious!)

But Obama was done.  After claiming credit for building everything, he shared his deep thoughts on identity politics:

“Which is why, by the way, when I hear people say they don’t like identity politics, I think it’s important to remember that identity politics doesn’t just apply when it’s black people or gay people or women,” Obama said. “The folks who really originated identity politics were the folks who said Three-Fifths Clause and all that stuff. That was identity politics … Jim Crow was identity politics. That’s where it started.”

He’s largely correct that Jim Crow and “all that stuff” was identity politics.  But rather than using this to show that identity politics is fundamentally wrong, he uses it to somehow validate its current incarnation.  It happened before, so you can’t criticize it now.  Two wrongs make a right.   You did it to us, so we get to do it to you.

Please go away.  So we can miss you.  Except that I won’t.  But go away anyways.

 

 

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November 27, 2018

The Overlords of the Overton Window

Filed under: Economics,Politics — cpirrong @ 8:28 pm

Facebook, YouTube, and in particular Twitter have been bingeing on banning of late.  The targets of these proscriptions have been anything but random: those who do not perform proskynesis before the current gods of the left.  This means that conservatives and libertarians are disproportionately affected, but even some who do not fall into those political categories are at risk.

The environment has become so hostile that at least one prominent figure, Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds, a law professor, of all things), has said “you can’t fire me, I quit!” and left Twitter.  Others less prominent have made similar decisions, and others have self-censored.

In essence, the operators of social media platforms present a Hobson’s Choice: You can censor yourself, or they will censor you.  The end result is the same: systemic biases against expression of certain political, religious, and socio-cultural opinions on the most widely used social media platforms. Twitter, Facebook, and Google are the Overlords of the Overton Window, and largely dictate the range of acceptable public discourse.

The Overton Window has always existed, but what is acceptable to express has heretofore been the result of a more decentralized, emergent process.  There was give-and-take.  There were actually multiple windows, and entry and exit were easier.  There was no centralized authority who could dictate what was acceptable: what was acceptable emerged.

What is disturbing, and positively Orwellian, about the Window today is the aggressive role of an extremely ideological, self-appointed set of censors who face little competition and who largely can control access to the means by which opinion is now expressed.  The centripetal force of virtual social networks give exceptional power to those who control access to those networks. By conditioning access on adherence to their views, the psychopaths who control these networks (and tell me honestly that you don’t believe that Zuckerberg and Dorsey are psychopaths) can coerce acceptance of their beliefs.  The technology of networks tends towards monopoly, and those who control these monopolies exercise disproportionate control over the expression of opinion, belief, and thought.

That is, traditionally the Overton Window was more consensual.  It is now increasingly the dictat of a narrow and insular set of individuals who by the whims of competition in network markets have achieved considerable power.

One of the most explicit examples of how this operates relates to the issue of transgenders–an issue you that probably was so obscure to you that it never penetrated your consciousness until recently.  Twitter has recently banned people–including someone who would best be described as a hard-core feminist–for challenging this newly decreed orthodoxy.  Twitter has just announced a policy of banning people who “misgender” (e.g., call individuals with testicles “he” though they identify as women) or “deadname” (e.g., use the name Robert to refer to someone born with testicles and named Robert by his parents, but who now identifies as Roberta).

This is revealing on several dimensions.  First, it reveals that social media has an Animal Farm-like hierarchy.  Female feminists are pretty high up on the hierarchy, but somewhere below transgenders.  So if a female feminist transgresses the transgender norm, she becomes a non-person.  Better stick to attacking those lower in the hierarchy, like straight white males!

Second, a marginal (and arguably minuscule, in terms of numbers) group is sanctified, and obeisance to that group becomes a litmus test for acceptance, and freedom from attack/banning.  Question the sanctified, and you are a non-person, and anathematized.

The marginal and extremely unconventional nature of the group is extremely important to the process.  Who cares if you affirm that ice cream is great?  But affirming that the extremely marginal and unusual are great does not come naturally, and indeed, it is costly to those of a more traditional bent.  It is also costly because it takes some effort to figure out what you are supposed to affirm, especially since it is outside your realm of experience.

But the cost is the point!  You have to pay the cost in order to avoid ostracism.  To demonstrate your fealty.  Bending the knee is deeply symbolic precisely because people naturally rebel against it.  Because it is psychically costly.  Those with strength of will are ostracized, and those made of softer stuff validate the beliefs of the overlords by worshipping their gods.

This is the way that cults operate.  Acquiescing to bizarre beliefs and engaging in bizarre rituals demonstrates fealty to the cult.

And don’t think that this will end when all users of Twitter and Facebook get their minds right and adopt Mark’s and Jack’s dictated opinions regarding transgenders (which are likely purely instrumental).  At such point, transgenders become totally useless.  Totally. New tests of loyalty and conformity will become necessary.  A new group will be sanctified.  I shudder to think what it will be, but I guarantee it will happen.  And at that time transgenders will become as irrelevant as past causes célèbres, e.g., gays.  (Don’t hear much about them anymore, do you? Old news.  Hence not useful.)

One often-heard viewpoint expressed by usually conservative and libertarian people is that this is, if not OK, something we have to accept because it is not the government that is imposing restrictions on freedom of expression.  These are private individuals in control of private entities.

This is seductive logic, but it is extremely defective because it ignores objective realities.

The concern about government restriction on freedom of speech is that it has a monopoly of force that it can use to overawe and oppress.  Further, government restrictions on speech reduce accountability of government, and therefore undermine checks on its power.

We should have similar grave concerns about private individuals and private enterprises that utilize their right to control access to near-monopoly platforms to overawe and oppress.  Further, these are intensely political entities whose controlling personalities desire to exercise political power, preferably with limited or no accountability.

The line between public and private that is often drawn here is completely imaginary.  No, these are not government entities.  But they are entities that desire to exercise great influence over the government, through various means. and to exercise control over individuals in ways governments have only fantasized about.  (The symbiosis between Google and the government of the PRC is not an accident, comrades.)

Checking their power is therefore completely consistent with a belief in the primacy of individual liberty.  Indeed, given the steady erosion in limits on government, shackling those who exert disproportionate influence on government and the political process is all the more vital to those who champion individual freedom.  (This is exactly why Facebook and Twitter and Google should be the LAST entities you want determining what is, and what is not, acceptable political speech, and what is fake news, and why the insistence by politicians that they do so is the bootleggers-and-baptists problem from hell.)

Those who care about individual liberty must strive to reduce the power to coerce, regardless of whether that coercive power is wielded by a government, or an individual, or a non-government entity.  Coercion is the thing.  Not the identity of the coercer.

Further, as I’ve noted several times before, the classical liberal/limited government tradition has recognized the dangers of private monopoly, and has constrained it through the imposition of open access and non-discrimination requirements.  If such requirements are justified for innkeepers and stagecoaches and railroads, they are more than justified for social media platforms, especially given the public goods nature (in the strict economics sense of the term) of their output–something that cannot be said of innkeepers and stagecoaches and railroads.

So, echoing Lenin, what is to be done?  One thing is clear: direct approaches are fruitless.  If Glenn Reynolds censors himself, that just saves Jack Dorsey the trouble.  The end result is the same: Jack wins.

A la Liddell-Hart, Fuller, or Sun-Tzu, an indirect approach is necessary. I’m not sure what that approach should be, but these military thinkers (no, that’s not always an oxymoron) have identified key aspects of it.  Identify the enemy’s center of gravity (and we should indeed view these people and companies as our entities).  Then don’t attack their strong points, but find their blind spots, their vulnerabilities, and strike at those.  Find the back door to the center of gravity.

And in thinking through the problem, don’t get hung up on false distinctions between public and private.  This is only to play into the hands of those who want to dominate you.

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November 25, 2018

There Is a Great Deal of Ruin In a Nation, Venezuelan Edition (With Broader Lessons)

Filed under: Economics,Politics — cpirrong @ 8:03 pm

Igor is not pleased with Maduro’s Venezuela, which is stiffing him:

The head of Russian oil company Rosneft (ROSN.MM), Igor Sechin, flew to Caracas this week to meet Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and complain over delayed oil shipments designed to repay loans, two sources briefed on the conversation said on Saturday.

The visit, which was not publicly disclosed, is one of the clearest signs of strain between crisis-stricken Venezuela and its key financier Russia.

Over the last few years, Moscow has become Venezuela’s lender of last resort, with the Russian government and Rosneft handing Venezuela at least $17 billion in loans and credit lines since 2006, according to Reuters calculations.

State oil company PDVSA is repaying almost all of those debts with oil, but a meltdown in its oil industry has left it struggling to fulfill obligations.

Sechin and a large delegation of executives met with officials at PDVSA in a Caracas hotel this week. Sechin also met with Venezuela’s leftist leader Maduro, and chided him over oil-for-loans shipments that are behind schedule.

“He brought information showing that they were meeting obligations with China but not with them,” said one source with knowledge of the talks.

Two things strike me about this story.

First: Hahahahaha.  Suckers.

I remember vividly snickering at those who thought the Chinese and Russians were sooooo smart to extend credit to the Venezuelans..  How this was a geopolitical masterstroke.

Really?  How’s that working out?  Obviously not well.  Ask Igor!

Tell me again how it is GENIUS! to lend money to a country that is imploding because it is in the thrall of an insane crypto-socialist ideology.  Venezuela’s trajectory was obvious at the time the Chinese and Russians thought they would lend it money.  Seriously: lending to socialists is hardly ever a paying proposition, and lending to Bolivarian socialists was certainly so.

But by all means, keep pouring money down ratholes! Be my guest!

Second.  The Venezuelan experience demonstrates the truth in Adam Smith’s aphorism about there being “a great deal of ruin in a nation.”  The torment of Venezuela is extreme.  The populace lives in utter penury, which only grows worse by the day.  The inflation rate is currently in the 6 figures, and is on track to reach 7 figures late by the end of this year, or early in the next.   This is Weimar-Hungary-Zimbabwe territory.  Crime is rampant.  Human degradation is everywhere.

Yet the Maduro regime is largely secure.  It maintains the loyalty of the security forces, and this has deterred a serious popular uprising.   Indeed, the economic catastrophe is not causing Maduro to relent: to the contrary, it spurs him to crack down even more intensely.

This situation has been developing for years.  Indeed, you can pinpoint the decisive moment, and it relates to Sechin’s current target–national oil company PDVSA. In the aftermath of an abortive US-supportive coup in 2002, Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez responded to opposition within the company by purging the technically and managerially competent, and replacing them with loyalists.  What was once one of the most competent national oil companies in the world began its descent into failure, and the entire country followed in its wake.

There is a broader lesson here: Smith’s dictum, empirically validated in Venezuela, implies that expectations that economic pressure on rogue regimes will lead them to moderate their behavior, or result in their overthrow, are chimerical.  Rogue regimes respond to pressure and economic failure by intensifying oppressive measures.  By doing so, they can survive for a very, very long time.

The problem of coordinating opposition against a steely regime is difficult to overcome.  Usually, such regimes fall only when they attempt to respond to popular discontent through “reforms” and a softening of repression (cf. Gorbachev in the USSR).  Hard men like those in Venezuela or Iran understand this lesson, and have no intention of relaxing their grips.

That is, economic failure, whether internally created (as in Venezuela) or the result of internal dysfunction exacerbated by external pressure (as in Iran or North Korea) almost never results in the collapse of repressive regimes.

This is not to say that economic sanctions or other forms of economic pressure are not justified.  It is just that the expectations for such acts must be realistic, and the goals chosen accordingly.  Realistically, economic pressure can reduce the capabilities of rogue regimes to wreak havoc outside their borders.  It cannot truly threaten the existence of these regimes.

Since there is so much ruin in countries–especially highly repressive ones–expecting to change them by ruining them is futile.

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November 24, 2018

The Most Annoying and Pathetic Geopolitical Entity Ever? I Think So!

Filed under: Cryptocurrency,Economics,Politics — cpirrong @ 7:59 pm

There may be a more annoying geopolitical entity in history than the EU, but I’ll be damned if I can think of one.

In recent weeks, a group of northern EU states centered on the Netherlands have formed the “Hanseatic group” to represent their positions, regarding the Italy situation in particular.  This has outraged the French and the Germans.  In response to the blonde upstarts, French economy minister Bruno le Maire lashed out:

Speaking at a dinner with his Dutch counterpart Wopke Hoekstra in Paris on Thursday, Bruno Le Maire said he was “not comfortable” dealing with the Hanseatic group — eight to 10 countries that have agreed common positions calling for more national responsibility and stronger rules in the eurozone.

“Let’s imagine that France tries to create a club of the southern countries with Portugal, Italy, Spain — what would be the reaction of the other member states? Do you think that it would be a positive one? Do you think it would improve the situation of Europe?” Mr Le Maire told the Financial Times.

“I am not comfortable with the idea of creating new circles, new clubs, new leagues within Europe. If you want to create new divisions between the north and the south, or the west and east, you will never have France on your side,” said Mr Le Maire, who has spearheaded French ambitions to reform the eurozone in a partnership with Germany.

Some Franco-German initiatives, such as a blueprint for a eurozone budget, have met resistance from countries led by the Netherlands. The group has also advocated tougher enforcement of budgetary rules and moves towards debt restructuring in the eurozone to be agreed by EU governments next month.  (Emphasis added.)

Did you catch that?  Franco-German ambitions to reform the eurozone–OK!  Lilliputian resistance–BAD!!!!

When the hypocrisy was pointed out, Bruno a dit non! non! non! C’est totalement différent!

When asked whether the Franco-German alliance was not a “club”, Mr Le Maire said: “That is totally different. This is not a club. This is what is at the core of the European ambition: peace between France and Germany. This is at the core of the European Union.”

So, is M. Le Maire suggesting that absent the EU, jackbooted Germans would soon be marching in the shade along the tree-lined French roads?  If he is, that’s quite the insult to Germany, non?  But if he is, he is utterly delusional: to quote Patton, the post-post-modern Germans couldn’t fight their way out of a piss-soaked paper bag, and what’s more, have no desire even to try.  They’ve found alternative means to achieve dominance over the continent, and the French are now their (junior) allies in that endeavor.  A key part of that strategy is divide-and-conquer, and “clubs” like the Hanseatic one threaten that gambit.

Germano-French ambitions extend beyond Europe.  They want to leverage their dominance in the EU to a position of world influence.  Fortunately, here their efforts have proven again and again to be laughable.

A particularly juicy example is the hilarious efforts of the EU to set up a special purpose vehicle to facilitate trade with Iran in defiance of US sanctions, pour epater le bête orange.  They have made grandiose announcements.  Only one problem: European companies don’t want to touch this with a ten foot pole.  Make that two problems: no European government wants to touch it either:

So up to now the commission has been unable to find a home for the SPV. Not even a post restante address. No EU country has offered to host it. The sad SPV has been wandering between railway stations and airports, without a nationality, a bank account or even a real name. If I passed it on the street, I would put a euro in its hat.

Har!

And as I’ve pointed out since the day of the announcement, it is an utterly pointless exercise because it addresses every issue except the one that matters: secondary sanctions.  Once the US seized upon this mechanism, any attempt to circumvent sanctions by avoiding the dollar became utterly pointless: do a barter deal, or a Euro deal, or a Venezuelan crypto bolivar deal with a sanctioned Iranian company, and the Treasury will still hammer you.  So, if you want to do all your biz in cryptobolivars–knock yourself out! But if you want to do any business with the USD at all, think twice about dealing with a sanctioned entity by an SPV or any other way.  And pretty much every European company has decided that one thought is sufficient.

M. Le Maire seems to be getting a glimmer of a clue that the EU is a geopolitical lightweight:

“I’m not sure the Hanseatic League would be in a position to face the competition with China and the US”, he said. “If we are creating closed clubs, alliances within the EU then we run the risk of losing time and weakening our common project.”

Bruno. Dude: the EU is not in a position to face competition with China and the US.  This is proven daily.

So under German-French “leadership” the EU is likely to lurch along like it has been for years.  Compensating for their inability to achieve their vaulting global ambitions by beating up on the EU’s smaller members.  Annoying.  But in the end, risible and pathetic.

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November 23, 2018

The Looming War on Thanksgiving

Filed under: Civil War,History,Politics — cpirrong @ 12:47 pm

Attacking Columbus day? Confederate monuments? Old news!  The new hotness is attacking Thanksgiving.  Yes, the criticism can best be characterized as a swell today, but after long experience of observing the dynamics of these things, I expect that it will become a tidal wave next year, or the year after.

The grounds of the attack: it is a racist celebration.  Here is one particularly angry example of the criticism, but it differs from other things I’ve read and heard more in atmospherics than substance:

Nobody but Americans celebrates Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity.

We at [Black Commentator] are thankful that the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy. Then we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for the blessings of humanity’s deliverance from the rule of evil men.

Thanksgiving is much more than a lie – if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the “flaw” in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events – subsequently revised – were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England. The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise – Act One of the American Dream.  African Slavery commenced contemporaneously – an overlapping and ultimately inseparable Act Two. The last Act in the American drama must be the “root and branch” eradication of all vestiges of Act One and Two – America’s seminal crimes and formative projects. Thanksgiving as presently celebrated – that is, as a national political event – is an affront to civilization.

In a nutshell: Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday.  America is uniquely evil.  Therefore, in the coming Year Zero, Thanksgiving must be expunged, “root and branch.”

I will agree that Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday.   Everything after–appalling tripe.

First, to say that “[t]he near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise” is a lie and a libel.  Few things of that era are as well documented as the genesis of the voyage of the Mayflower, and the intent of those who sailed on it across storm tossed seas to an exceedingly uncertain shore.  The Puritans were people of intense religious feeling, suffering from intense religious persecution in their native England.  Decamping first to Leiden in the Dutch Republic, they decided to establish a New Jerusalem in a land outside of the control of the secular and religious authorities who persecuted them.

This was an inwardly-directed, insular, and arguably cultish group that was obsessed with inner salvation and communal adherence to strict religious principles.  It was the antithesis of a band of imperial adventurers and would-be conquerors: such a label might apply to the settlers of Jamestown, but not Plymouth.  There was not a Cortez among them.  They wanted to be left alone to pursue their vision of religious perfection.  Further, their settlement was founded based on a rather democratic and egalitarian document, the Mayflower Compact.

As a small band clinging to a precarious foothold, they posed little threat to Native Americans and intended to pose no such threat.   The initial relations with local tribes were mainly friendly.  Interestingly, competing tribes sought to cultivate their support in inter-tribal struggles.

As it turned out, their initial communitarian (bordering on communist) ideals turned out to be utterly impractical, with common property and communal labor leading to near obliteration by starvation.  The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of survival.  A genuine gesture from a sincerely religious people.

Being quicker learners than modern-day socialists, they jettisoned their Bible-inspired economic model, embraced private property and private labor, and within a few years of landing were becoming increasingly prosperous. During this period, relations with the native peoples were largely peaceful.

Continued religious persecution in England led other dissenters to leave their homeland for the New World.   Eventually the population growth, and the somewhat different ethos of these latter day Puritans, led to conflict with native tribes.  This culminated in the mid-1630s with the outbreak of the Pequot War.  But even that conflict is impossible to represent honestly as a conflict between grasping Europeans and persecuted natives.  Instead, it grew out of inter-tribal conflict, and in particular the aggressive imperialism–there’s really not a better word for it–of the Pequots.  In this war, the Puritan settlers were basically another tribe, but one with greater military capacity.

The Pequot War culminated in the Mystic Massacre.  Notably the Puritan attackers of the Pequot’s Mistick Fort were joined by Indian allies (the Mohegans and Narragansetts).  The attack against the fortification was almost a disaster, and in their desperation to escape the attackers set fires that spread, eventually consuming most of the fort and killing most of the Pequots trapped in it.

Like all history, this history is complicated.  Attempting to jam it into simplistic narratives intended to advance present-day political agendas necessarily does great violence to the truth, and leads to bitterness and conflict rather than understanding.

To make the Puritans emblematic of every American transgression does violence to the truth.  In particular, to tar them with the stick of slavery is particularly wrong.*  Moreover, to celebrate their laudable accomplishments, and their humble appreciation of God’s sparing them, does not excuse them or their followers from their failures and sin.

The modern holiday also attempts to appeal to the better angels of our nature (to quote Lincoln).  Consider Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

It is clearly aspirational, and even acknowledges “national . . . transgressions,” for which it asks forgiveness in Christian fashion.  It also appeals for strength to be better as a people.

Or consider Lincoln’s, proclaimed during the depths of a Civil War:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

It also acknowledge’s America’s “sins,” and “our national perverseness and disobedience,” and calls for “humble penitence” therefore: read in context, coming as it did the same year as the Emancipation Proclamation, it is evident that Lincoln is referring to slavery.

In other words, from the outset in Plymouth or subsequent declarations in 1789 or 1863, Thanksgiving was anything but a chauvinistic celebration of a haughty people.  To the contrary.  It was an appreciation for the bounties that Americans had reaped, bound with a recognition of human (and national) failures to realize ideals, and a commitment to do better.  It is more gratitude and humility, than chauvinism and haughtiness.

This is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and why I for one will push back at the swelling progressive attacks on it.

*One of my direct ancestors, Samuel Fuller, was a Mayflower passenger and a survivor of that first horrible year.  His parents, Edward and his wife (whose name does not appear in the records), were not so lucky, and died soon after they stepped off the boat.  Samuel was taken in by his uncle, also named Samuel Fuller, and survived to the ripe old age of 75, dying in 1683.

It is possible that Samuel Fuller was the only slaveholder among the Mayflower Puritans.  His will bequeaths an Indian named Joel to his son.  There are no other similar records of slaves, Indian or otherwise, held by these Puritans.  Slavery in Massachusetts Bay colony probably dates from the time of the Pequot War, but was relatively marginal there through the mid-18th century.  There were fewer black slaves than free blacks in Massachusetts in this period.   And of course, the descendants of the Puritans formed the core of the American abolitionist movement.

 

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November 21, 2018

Yes, But He’s *OUR* Bastard: Trump’s Transactional Realpolitik in Action

Filed under: Energy,Politics — cpirrong @ 1:38 pm

So Franklin Roosevelt* allegedly responded to Sumner Welles’ statement that Nicaraguan dictator Anastacio Samoza was a bastard.  Despite Samoza’s odiousness, Roosevelt put up with him because it advanced American interests.

Trump might as well have said the same about Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Arabia yesterday.  Despite the hue-and-cry over the Khashoggi murder, Trump made it clear that he has decided that US interests are best served by sticking with our bastards in Riyadh, rather than engaging in moralistic virtue signaling.

As I wrote before, there are no good guys in the Middle East generally, and KSA in particular.  Since there are no George Washingtons waiting in the wings to replace MbS, I can say with metaphysical certainty that any replacement would be as bad, or worse, insofar as brutality is concerned.  More to the point, it is almost as certain that any replacement would be less supportive of US interests that MbS.  This is particularly true now, given the leverage that the murder has given Trump.

So our choice is: (a) a thug who has largely acted commensurately with American interests, and who has mitigated KSA’s longstanding hostility to Israel, or (b) a thug who may be far more hostile to American interests.

This is not a hard choice to people who exist in reality.  Which largely excludes most of the political and media class.

Further, will those who beat their chests in indignation please specify what would happen the day after the US destabilizes the Saudi regime?  After all, the US record in intervening in Middle East regimes is so great, right?  It always works out swell, no?

And as horrible as the Khashoggi murder was, let’s see things for what they are.  Contrary to his latter-day pose as a crusader for reform, he was in effect a middling character in Game of Thrones who was on the losing side in an internal regime struggle.  You can guarantee had his side prevailed, someone on the other side would have met a grisly death too.  The main remarkable thing about Khashoggi’s death is we know about it.  Pretty sure that there are a lot we don’t know about, and wouldn’t know about, regardless of which of the zillion princes wound up on top.

A friend remarked that maybe there are some princes in KSA who would not act as brutally as MbS were they in charge.   To which I replied: probably so, but immaterial.  Any such softer figure would not prevail in the internecine struggle for power.

Trump’s remarks and the underlying policy choice reflected his transactional approach.  MbS is someone he can deal with.  He has negotiating leverage.  He has used it.  Hence the boasts about lower oil prices, which has spurred people who never gave a crap about the US oil industry before to clutch their pearls about the impact of this on US oil companies, because, well, they have to find a way to criticize Trump.

The most remarkable thing about Trump is that in contrast to Roosevelt, who justified siding with Samoza in private, Trump said he was standing by our Saudi bastard in public.  This demonstrates another way in which he differs from conventional politicians.  Yes, he lies and bullshits repeatedly, but he also tells blunt truths that most politicians would conceal, or wrap in vaporous clouds of hypocrisy.  That’s kind of refreshing, actually.

*This remark is also attributed to Truman.

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November 18, 2018

File Under “Duh”

Filed under: Climate Change,Economics,Energy,Politics,Regulation — cpirrong @ 7:25 pm

The IEA points out the obvious:

Driving electric cars and scrapping your natural gas-fired boiler won’t make a dent in global carbon emissions, and may even increase pollution levels.

Higher electrification may lead to oil demand peaking by 2030, but any reduction in emissions from the likes of electric vehicles will be offset by the increased use of power plants to charge them, according to the International Energy Agency’s annual World Energy Outlook, which plots different scenarios of future energy use.

Substitution electrical motors for internal combustion engines involves a substitution of one fossil fuel for another?  Who knew?  WHY WASN’T I TOLD????

Further, especially when it comes to countries outside the EU, Canada, and the US, this will result in a substitution towards coal, electrification will involve a substitution of higher-CO2 intensive fuel (coal) for lower CO2-intensive fuel.

But, but, but . . . renewables! Right?

Of course, Bloomberg feels obliged to quote a green fantasist:

“Electrification is a necessary part of deep decarbonization because it is relatively easy to decarbonize the power sector,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, a senior analyst at Greenpeace’s air pollution unit. “But electrification only helps if the power sector moves rapidly towards zero emissions.”

Zero emissions power sector.  “Relatively easy to decarbonize.”  Apparently, Greenpeace does not require drug tests.  Or perhaps, they do, but if you test negative you’re fired.

What is the cost of zero emissions power sector? (Anything is “easy” if cost is no object.)  Even far smaller renewable penetration (Denmark, Germany, California) results in substantially higher electricity costs.  Costs which fall extremely regressively, especially if implemented no a global basis, but upper middle class types who populate Greenpeace and Green Parties etc. couldn’t be bothered thinking about that.

Furthermore, there is no proof that renewables scale, and indeed,  basic considerations and basic economics strongly suggest they will not and cannot.  Renewables are diffuse and intermittent, and as a result maintaining reliability is costly, and this cost increases at an increasing rate the larger the share of renewables in the generation mix.

But, but, but . . . . batteries!

Batteries have been the subject of intense research for decades, and costs are falling, but again there are serious doubts that they can scale sufficiently to make zero emissions power even remotely attainable.  Indeed, batteries perhaps can handle diurnal variations in renewable power production, but handling the massive seasonal fluctuations in power demand is another matter altogether.

Further, from a lifecycle perspective, it is by no means clear that electric vehicles reduce CO2 emissions.  What’s more, the monomaniacal focus on CO2 ignores the other environmental and economic consequences of renewables generation, including profligate use of land, blended birds, the pollution created by extraction of minerals used in batteries and motors, and the pollution caused by the disposal thereof.

These issues always bring to mind James Scott’s Seeing Like a State, which shows that “high modernist” projects envisioned by alleged elites invariably result in catastrophe because they inevitably impose simplistic, low-dimension measures on complex, high-dimension systems.  Unintended consequences usually strike with a vengeance, and even the intended consequences fail to materialize.

The massive re-engineering of society required to de-carbonize is in many ways the zenith of high modernism, and is destined to produce a nadir of consequences, even compared to some of the other disasters that Scott examines.

The IEA’s caution should be heeded.  But it will not be.  Those Who Know Better will plunge ahead, until it becomes clear that they in fact know very little about what they imagine to design.  Alas, they will not bear the costs of their conceit.  The Lesser Thans will, and the lesser you are, the greater the costs will be.

 

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November 12, 2018

Bugger Off, M. Macron, and Take Your Buddies With You

Filed under: History,Politics — cpirrong @ 8:02 pm

Trump’s blunt statement that he was a nationalist has set off paroxysms of rage from the usual quarters.  This culminated with French president Macron intoning (under a monument to French national pride and military conquest–but we’ll see that’s just a sliver of the hypocrisy) that “patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism.”

Upon reading this, my initial reaction was: bugger off, froggie.  Here’s my more considered reaction, though I have to confess it pretty much arrives at the same conclusion, only with bigger words 😉

Macron, and most of the other people European and American who have seized on Trump’s remark, are playing a slippery rhetorical sleight-of-hand.  They are trying to equate Trump’s use of the word with European-style blood-and-soil nationalism, which in the 1930s fueled fascism, and contributed to conflict–but not to the degree that Macron and his ilk claim.

This is categorically false, and in fact a slander.  It is clear that by “nationalism” Trump means putting American national interest first. Moreover, Trump’s assertion relates primarily to means, not goals.  He views collective international organizations to be an impediment to, and at times inimical to, the advancement of American interests.  He believes that a more transactional, bilateral approach better achieves American goals, and that collective organizations (even Nato, not to mention the WTO or UN or whatever) are beneficial only to the extent that they lower the transactions costs of the US making deals that benefits it.

That is, the antonym to Trump’s nationalism is globalism.  It has little if anything to do with ethno-nationalism of the blood-and-soil variety, as Macron and others ceaselessly insinuate.

You can disagree with Trump’s belief that a more unilateral, transactional approach is more beneficial to US interest than alternatives, but at least it is bluntly honest, as opposed to the hypocrisy of the EUropeans, as epitomized by Macron.  For they too want to advance national interests, but do not have the heft to do so as individual nations.  So Germany and France in particular have found that the most effective way to leverage their national interest is through collective organizations, such as the EU, Nato, and the UN, which they then tart up as high-minded humanitarianism.

In other words, the US is Gulliver, and the European Lilliputians are incensed and frightened that under Trump Gulliver-America is no longer willing to remain tied down.  So spare me the condescending lectures.

The Macron et al criticisms are false and slanderous as well because they grotesquely mischaracterize American nationalism–perhaps because the Europeans are projecting their own failures on us.  As many have pointed out over the years, American nationalism derives from a creed and an ideology, rather than ethnicity.  To confuse American nationalism with European nationalism is a category error.

American nationalism has assumed an ethnic or religious tinge primarily during times of large-scale immigration from countries and regions with cultures (political, social, religious) that were feared to be incompatible with American ideals of liberty and democracy.  Those fears usually turned out to be overblown, precisely because the United States has proved uniquely able to assimilate people from about everywhere, many of whom rapidly and eagerly adopted American identity–something Europe has never done, and continues to fail to do.  (Small illustration.  As a kid I was in a Civil War reenacting unit.  I was struck that most of the men in this group had eastern European names, and had no possible family connection to the Civil War, let alone the Revolution or the Mayflower.  But they were enthusiastic about the Civil War and American history, and all were vocally patriotic.)

So the sneering criticisms of Trump’s avowed American nationalism emanating from Macron et al are a mixture of ignorance, slander, and advancement of national self-interest by multi-lateral means.  Which is why he–and they–can bugger off.

Another point.  Why should we trust the judgment of soi disant international(ist) elites? Especially when their prescriptions have varied wildly over time.

Note: national self-determination was a bedrock Liberal Internationalism 1.0.  Look at Wilson’s 14 Points, one of the foundational documents of liberal internationalism: points VI through XIII–that is, more than half–were dedicated to nationality questions.  Furthermore, the thrust of these points was that ethnic nations should have their own states, or at least a major voice in the states in which they perforce lived as minorities.  Further, the post-WWI settlement created ethnicity-based nation states in Europe, and embodied the principle in colonial areas given mandate status.

This component of liberal internationalism was in part based on a view of right: the oppression of ethnic groups by multi-national empires (Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian in particular) was considered a grave injustice.  It was in part based on pragmatic considerations. A major contributor to the outbreak of war in 1914 was the efforts of teetering multi-ethnic empires to maintain control over increasingly restive ethnic minorities.  Hell, the reason that Austria-Hungary felt compelled to strike at Serbia was that if it didn’t, it would encourage the Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenians, Ruthenians, Poles, and on and on to attempt to break away.

The belief that national self-determination would reduce the risk of world war was a very reasonable conclusion.  Wars between empires are dangerous and bloody.  Wars between empires are more likely when said empires are rent by ethnic turmoil–especially when Empire A deems itself the big brother and protector of an ethnic group in Empire B.  Yes, little national states may be prone to conflict, but such conflicts are localized and unthreatening to continental or world peace.

It’s also interesting to note that the idealization of nationalism on the left has deep roots, notably the Romantics of the 19th century (who had influence on the early-20th century internationalists): think of Byron and the Greeks.  The 1848 revolutions–often lionized by the left–had a decidedly nationalist thrust.

But what about the inter-war years, culminating in World War II?  Didn’t ethnic nationalism set the stage for it?

Europe did not have a nationalism problem, generally speaking.  It had a German problem, as it had had since 1870.  To generalize about nationalism and national self-determination from Germany is another category error.  Germany is its own category both intellectually/psychologically (Adenaur: “Germans are just Belgians with megalomania”), and due to its economic power.  Fascist Romania–no big deal.  Fascist Germany–very big deal.  (Which is one of the reasons why today’s Germans want to condemn nationalism generally, in order to obscure their uniquely malign historical legacy.  Another reason is that by keeping down the Poles, Hungarians, etc., Germany can achieve dominance by means other than panzers and the Shleiffen Plan.)

Liberal Internationalism 2.0 is the inversion of Version 1.0.  It is predicated on the abnegation of national identity, based on the claim that pursuit of national identity and interest will cause the next general conflagration.

In brief:

Liberal Internationalism circa 1918: Poles, Hungarians, Slavs, etc. should have their own nation states in order to prevent war.
Liberal Internationalism circa 2018: Poles, Hungarians, Slavs, etc. should subordinate their nation states to the EU in order to prevent war.

So what is the claim to authority based on, given this 180 degree turn?

Let us also remark on the ahistorical cluelessness of Version 2.0.  The reason that Macron and Merkel and all the other EUputians are particularly vexed by nationalism is that a majority of Poles, Hungarians, and English, and large and arguably growing minorities of Italians, Swedes, and yes, French, and yes!, even Germans, do not want to subordinate themselves to a supra-national, supra-ethnic government under primarily German domination.  (Hey–sounds kind of like the Austro-Hungarian Empire, no?) Their response to this is not to attempt to accommodate the desire for some national autonomy, but to crush it.  THAT is a subtext of Macron’s remarks.

But again redolent of Austro-Hungary (and the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman) these attempts to assert central (imperial) control over national groups only stoke more resistance.  This could not be more obvious.  Hell, even Merkel’s agonies are directly attributable to her mulish refusal to accommodate national sentiments within her own country, but she and her ilk insist on doubling down on Moar Europe, not realizing that the refusal to accommodate is a far greater threat to their dear project than Poles or Hungarians wanting to do things their way.

Merkel and Macron never tire of lecturing us about the Lessons of History, and in this just-past centennial of the end of WWI, about the Lessons of the Great War.  Before lecturing us any further, they should have a séance with Franz Josef and see how the suppressing national sentiments thing works out.  Sort of a Ghost of Christmas Past moment, if you will.  Or they should contemplate more honestly the sources of their current problems–like the Ghost of Christmas Present.  They really don’t want to see Ghost of Christmas Future.

In sum, the contretemps over Trump’s avowed American nationalism is just more bleating from a failed and failing elite who have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.  What’s more, for those bleating the loudest–Marcon, Merkel, and their lot–entities like the EU are just a way of advancing national interest through other means.  It is not an intelligent criticism.  Anything but–it is deeply ignorant.  Further, it is not a principled criticism.  Anything but–it is hypocritical to the core.

 

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