Streetwise Professor

August 7, 2019

If White Supremacists Did Not Exist, the Left Would Have to Invent Them–and It Largely Has For Political Advantage

Filed under: Politics — cpirrong @ 6:14 pm

Are there white supremacists in the United States? Of course there are. There always have been. By every objective measure, however, white supremacism of the type epitomized by the 1920s KKK has declined inexorably since then, and true white supremacists are on the fringes of the fringe. Most are economically and politically marginalized–extremely so. I would surmise that the stronghold of white power is prison gangs. A stark contrast to, say, 1920s Indiana (not to mention southern states) where the KKK was chock full of people in upper social echelons, and was the premier political power broker in the state.

But to follow political commentary today–not to mention Twitter–you’d think that white supremacism is regnant in America, and that everyone to the right of Bernie Sanders is an incipient terrorist, ready to don a hood, pick up a torch, and join a group of night riders. When they are not planning a mass public shooting.

These assertions are at their most lurid in the aftermath of mass shootings. Even when at least one mass shooter is an admitted leftist. And although Trump is blamed for the rise of supremacism, long before Trump the left was in the habit of jumping to the conclusion that mass shootings were the work of their political enemies: remember Brian Ross claiming that the (deranged) Aurora, CO shooter was a Tea Party member?

This is political opportunism of the rankest sort. The left exploits (selectively) human tragedy on the flimsiest of evidence (and often no evidence at all) to tie all of its political enemies to the acts of a person who is almost always deeply mentally disturbed, and to the extent that politics figures into their acts, it is something used to construct an identity that is otherwise lacking, or repellent. Never let a crisis go to waste, you know.

The selectivity is important. The left inevitably draws broad, societal conclusions from the acts of madmen who are colorably racist: the acts of those who are express leftist opinions (such as the Dayton shooter) are passed over in silence, and there is no attempt to project their beliefs on millions of other Americans, let alone insinuate that millions of other Americans are complicit in their actions.

The logic that is employed–and I use the word “logic” guardedly–would do Sir Bedevere (he of the Python witch trial) proud. The left finds a point of commonality (e.g., an expressed opposition to illegal immigration) between a white supremacist and people not on the left, no matter how tangential, and asserts that this implies that the non-leftists share all of the supremacist’s beliefs.

Someone should explain Venn diagrams to these people. Or the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions.

I jest. They are not interested in being logical. They are intent on trampling logic to tar their political opponents.

It is the most despicable kind of McCarthyism, ironically adopted by those who claim to be the heirs of McCarthy’s enemies and victims.

More importantly, it incredibly corrosive and greatly exacerbates social tension and social conflict. Those who are lumped in with the deranged, and who know that even if they are not woke they are not racial supremacists, rightly feel under assault. Particularly because the invective is coming in torrents from those who occupy the commanding heights in media and politics, and because they know the invective is completely wrong and hence is being spewed in a deliberate attempt to intimidate or harm. Perversely (from the leftist perspective) this bolsters support of the left’s bêtes noires, most notably Donald Trump, precisely because he can fight back, and actually relishes doing so.

Yet they continue. No. They continually ratchet up the attacks, oblivious to the fact that their previous attacks have been wholly counterproductive and actually fed the beast they want to slay.

The whole situation is perverse beyond words. Driven to apoplexy by Trump’s election, and since then his survival, the left drives people into his camp and intensifies the support of those already in it with their unhinged attacks and their slanderous equation of anyone who does not endorse their agenda with retrograde racist throwbacks and mass shooters.

This has massively intensified the divisions in the country, and has created what can only be described as pre-revolutionary conditions heavy with the potential for widespread violence.

Two factors are at work here. One strategic, the other more tactical. The strategic one is the left’s will to power, which is the underlying driving force and overarching strategic objective. The more tactical one is identity politics, which the left has routinely employed as a means of rallying support and preventing the loss of key groups of supporters (notably socially conservative blacks and Latinos). Both of these are inherently divisive, and stoke social conflict which is already bad enough but could easily escalate into something far uglier than the ugliness we witness today.

And it’s only 2019. I shudder to think at what the atmosphere will be like a year from now, with an election looming.

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August 6, 2019

Do What I Say or I’ll Blow the Yuan’s Brains All Over This Town: Not a Credible Threat

Filed under: China,Economics,Politics — cpirrong @ 6:14 pm

The recent market tumult was precipitated by Trump’s announcement of new tariffs on China. But the effect of Trump’s action on the markets paled in comparison to the response to China’s retort: allowing the yuan to breach 7/USD. Today the market recovered some, because the yuan appreciated.

A couple of points. First of all, the yuan’s do-si-do demonstrates that it is a managed/controlled currency. Whether you call it a manipulated currency is a matter of semantics. It is not primarily moving in response to market forces, but instead to the dictates of the (laughably mis-named) People’s Bank of China, and hence to the whims of the CCP and Xi.

Second, and more importantly, although the move past 7 was clearly a threat by China to wage a currency war in response to Trump’s tariff gambits (and the market took it as such), this threat is not credible. It reminds me of this classic, but no doubt politically incorrect, scene from Blazing Saddles: “Drop it, or I’ll blow the yuan’s brains all over this town.”*

The threat is not credible, because like Cleavon Little’s cranium in Blazing Saddles, China would be hurt most if it carried through on the threat. Yes, a depreciating yuan would favor Chinese exports and offset (for a while, anyways) the effect of tariffs. But a weak yuan would wreak havoc on many Chinese firms that have borrowed in dollars. Given the dodgy state of the Chinese banking system, this could readily metastasize into a full-blown financial and/or currency crisis. It would also spark inflation and totally undermine the stated (but largely unrealized) goal of moving China towards a consumer-driven economy.

There are no doubt many (perhaps even a majority) in the US (and the West generally) who will be as stupid as the townspeople of Rock Ridge. I doubt Trump is one of them. Or if he is, I doubt he would lay down his guns: he’d be happy to see Xi pull the trigger. So I expect him to call the bluff.

One last thing. Framing the US-Chinese relationship in terms of “trade war” is stupidity befitting Governor Le Petomane. Trade is just one front in a far broader great power contest between a revisionist power and the status quo power. After decades of complacency, interrupted by spasms of romanticism, the US recognizes China as its primary strategic competitor and threat. The contest is being joined on many fronts, analogous to the Cold War. The main distinctions are that China is not nearly the same nuclear threat that the USSR was back in the day, but China is far more formidable economically than the USSR ever was. Hence there is an economic dimension to this competition that was largely lacking 1945-1991.

Trade is not the war. Trade is a weapon in a larger war.

*In fact, most of Blazing Saddles is beyond the pale today. There is no way it could be made in 2019. This is a sad testament on the utter inability of our alleged elite to see past the superficialities in order to grasp the true message of Brooks’ classic film. As a result, IDGAF if anyone gets the vapors over my reference to the most politically incorrect scene in a very politically incorrect–but brilliant–movie.

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August 3, 2019

Renewables Are Expensive Because You Can’t Stick ‘Em Where the Sun Don’t Shine (or the Wind Don’t Blow)

Filed under: Climate Change,Economics,Energy,Politics,Regulation — cpirrong @ 4:45 pm

I’m sure you’ve read articles claiming that the cost of renewables electricity generation is approaching that (or even lower than) the cost of traditional thermal generation. I am deeply skeptical of these claims even when evaluated on their own terms (which focus on generation costs alone), but find them particularly misleading because they ignore other costs attributable to the facts that renewables are intermittent and diffuse, and that the siting of renewables generation is sharply constrained because they are energy limited resources; the distribution of energy is dictated by nature; and typically is not closely related to the distribution of load.

In other words, renewables are costly because you can’t stick them where the sun don’t shine (or the wind don’t blow).

Case in point: Australia. As even Bloomberg (a tiresome renewables fanzine) reports:

Australia’s financing of cleaner power is slowing because the country’s aging grid isn’t being upgraded quick enough to accept new, intermittent generation and transport it efficiently to demand centers.

Although Bloomberg attempts to blame an old, creaky transmission system, this is misleading in the extreme. It would be far cheaper to upgrade Australia’s transmission system to accommodate thermal generation than it will be to build transmission to increase the fraction of generation coming from renewables.

This is true for at least a couple of reasons.

First, the energy-limited nature of renewables means that you have to site them where the energy is available–sunny or windy places. This imposes a constraint on the location of generation resources that is not relevant for thermal generation. With traditional fossil-fueled generation, you have more flexibility in trading off transmission costs with generation costs (including the cost of brining fuel to plants) than is the case with wind. This flexibility means that all else (notably the spatial distribution of load) equal, transmission costs are lower with thermal generation than renewable power.

Second, the intermittent and inherently more volatile nature of renewables generation increases the variance in the spatial distribution of generation. This variability in the spatial distribution of generation necessarily requires more transmission capacity per unit of load. This, in turn implies a lower average rate of utilization of transmission resources.

The basic idea here can be illustrated relatively simply. Consider a system with two generation resources. One is highly volatile (e.g., a renewable resource). The other is controllable. There is one load location. The transmission capacity from the volatile location to load must be high enough to carry the power when output is high (because the energy input is high due to the vicissitudes of sun or wind). The transmission capacity from the location with controllable generation must also be high enough to transmit enough power to fill the gap left when the renewable output is low.

Note that when renewable output is high, controllable output will be low and the transmission lines from the latter will operate at low capacity. When renewable output is low, the lines serving it will be operating at low capacity.

It’s possible to expand the example to include multiple variable, energy limited, but imperfectly correlated renewables resources, but the outcome is the same. You need more transmission capacity to deal with the spatial volatility in generation, and given load, higher capacity translates into lower average capacity utilization.

Thus, the problem that Australia is confronting isn’t a function of an old grid: it arises from the fact that increased reliance on renewables requires investment in new transmission capacity even in a system where transmission is optimized relative to (thermal) generation and load.

The need to maintain relatively underutilized transmission capacity to deal with the inherent volatility of renewables generation is mirrored by the need to maintain underutilized thermal generation capacity:

While new clean energy projects struggle to gain access to a congested grid, aging coal and gas-fired generators are being kept running for longer to maintain system stability. AGL Energy Ltd. said Friday it would delay the planned closure of its Liddell and Torrens A plants, both around 50 years old, to help the national energy market cope with peak summer demand, which has seen blackouts in parts of southeastern Australia in recent years.

Who knew?

Yet the renewables industry/lobby continues to flog the dogma that they will inevitably be more efficient:

Despite the challenges facing the industry, it’s not all doom and gloom. A number of coal-fired plants will be retired over the next decade and they will only be replaced by the cheapest cost of energy, which is renewables, Clean Energy Finance Corp. Chief Executive Ian Learmonth said in an interview.
“I’m hoping once some of these issues around the grid and regulations are settled that we’ll see another significant uptick in the renewable energy pipeline,” he said.

What costs is Mr. Learmonth including in his assertion that renewables are the “cheapest” source of energy? His statement that settling “issues around the grid” will lead to increased renewables investment suggests that he is ignoring crucial costs, because settling these issues doesn’t come for free.

It’s not as if the transmission issue is unique to Australia. It is present in every locale that has force-fed renewables. Germany is a prominent example. Wind energy is abundant in the North Sea, but believe it or not, there aren’t a lot of electricity consumers there (despite my ardent wish that Merkel and her ilk get into the sea). Major sources of load are in central and southern Germany, so bringing North Sea wind power to load requires massive transmission investments, which inevitably are not just costly, but politically difficult (Der NIMBY, anyone?). These difficulties inflate the cost.

Renewables boosterism operates in an atmosphere of serious unreality because it consistently glosses over–or ignores altogether–the costs arising from intermittency, diffusiveness, the energy-limited nature of wind and solar, and the caprices of nature that cause a mismatch between where the energy exists and where it is needed. When these facts are considered, sticking renewables where the sun don’t shine makes perfect sense.

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July 27, 2019

It’s Not “The Squad”: It’s the New Gang of Four

Filed under: China,Politics — cpirrong @ 5:31 pm

Someone (@jgibbons74) responding to one of my tweets regarding @AOC’s most recent demonstration of fatuity said that she reminded him of Madam Mao, Jiang Qing. This comparison is very apt. And it set off a series of connections in my mind. Jiang was the leader of the Gang of Four, the hard-core communists who were the driving force behind the insane and evil Cultural Revolution in China. AOC is part of a group of four hard core leftists who aspire at nothing less than a social and cultural revolution in the United States. (Fortunately, I can still use lower case letters.) They call themselves “The Squad,” but given their very real ambitions (about which they are quite explicit), and the historical antecedent in China, this appellation is far too benign and non-descriptive.

No. They really should be called The New Gang of Four.

And here’s the scary thing: I wouldn’t be surprised if they consider that a compliment.

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We Haven’t Seen the Rosenstein Letters, So We Still Don’t Know What Mueller’s (I Mean Weissman’s) “Purview” Really Was

Filed under: Politics — cpirrong @ 5:19 pm

The most telling thing to come out of the Mueller hearings is his admission that the Steele dossier, the origins of the FBI counterintelligence operation, and Fusion GPS were never part of his “purview.” When someone charged with finding a body studiously refuses to look in a particular place, you can be sure that (a) said person is either the murderer, or an accessory, and (b) where he refuses to look is exactly where the body is buried. Thus, as Kim Strassel writes, Mueller’s real task was to shelter his buddies in the Deep State. Mueller was an accessory after the fact, and his refusal to look at their actions is dispositive evidence that they engaged in myriad crimes before and after the 2016 election.

It is rather astounding to me that no one has picked up on one crucial fact: we still haven’t seen the Rosenstein letters authorizing Mueller’s (I mean Weissman’s et al) investigation, so we don’t know even at this late date exactly what his “purview” was. We need to see these, and stat, to determine whether Mueller was lying, and if not, to know that Rosenstein deliberately pointed Mueller away from Deep State operators (Brennan, Comey, Clapper, and their creatures like Mifsud and Halper and Downing; Hillary Clinton and her various flying monkeys (e.g., Steele and Simpson); and the DNC), and towards Trump exclusively. Which would mean that the Mueller investigation was merely an extension of this Deep State operation.

The hysteria about Russia continues. The most recent example is the freak out over Mitch McConnell’s torpedoing of bills allegedly intended to secure US elections: according to the establishment, this proves that Cocaine Mitch is a Russian mole. No really. That’s what they are saying. (Apparently these people are trying to do Joseph McCarthy a huge favor by making him appear measured, judicious, and sane in comparison to them when it comes to Russia. Ironic, given that the New McCarthyites have long excoriated McCarthy and the Original McCarthyism as evil incarnate.)

Yet given the ongoing hysteria, we still do not know its origin story. The Mueller testimony makes it clear that this is quite deliberate. The most likely explanation is that the hysteria was the creation of a political black operation. As Pogo said, we have met the enemy and he is us. Or at least, those who claim to be acting in the interests of us.

Yet we really haven’t met the enemy. Not conclusively, anyways. It is far too late in the day to remain so uninformed. So hurry up, Bill Barr. Time’s a wastin’, and every day that the crew behind the Trump-Russia hysteria escapes accountability, is another sin against the republic.

Clean the Augean Stables. Now. The stable boy (Robert Mueller) has made it plain that this is, what’s the phrase again?, oh yes: in your purview.

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July 24, 2019

Why Is It “Bombshell” Congressional Testimony Always Blows Up in the Faces of Those Who Call the Witness?

Filed under: Politics — cpirrong @ 3:03 pm

If you want to bet your life on a sure thing, put your money on “bombshell” testimony before a Congressional committee blowing up in the faces of the bloviating legislators who call the witness. Think Ollie North. Any of the Dan Burton hearings on Bill Clinton. And think Robert Mueller.

On the old show You Bet Your Life, Groucho Marx would ask a particularly hapless contestant “who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?” so they would at least get one question right. Nobody asked Mueller that question today. Probably because no one was quite sure whether he could answer it correctly.

Mueller stumbled through his testimony like an extra in Walking Dead. It was beyond embarrassing, and left no doubt that he was the Special Counsel In Name Only, aka the Titular Head of the Office of Special Counsel.

Astoundingly, he claimed no knowledge of Christopher Steele or Fusion GPS. Beyond his purview, you see.

Cue Sergeant Schultz.

Meaning that Andrew Weissman or some other equally loathsome lawyer was the real driving force here.

It was sickly amusing that at the 11th hour Mueller aide Aaron Zebley was allowed to participate in the hearing. It was sickly ironic that in a hearing that focused on obstruction of justice involved a lawyer who represented one of Hillary’s aides who smashed her Blackberry to bits with a hammer.

The entire thing never even rose to the level of farce. In so doing, it demonstrated the outrageousness of the entire Mueller investigation–pardon, I mean, Weissman investigation. It never should have happened and everyone involved with it should do penance for a thousand lifetimes.

But you know they never will, which is a telling commentary on the sad state of the American republic.

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July 22, 2019

A Hollow Nation: A Cockboat in the Wake of the American Man-of-War

Filed under: History,Military,Politics — cpirrong @ 7:13 pm

In 1823, France and Spain, supported by Russia, Austria, and Prussia, threatened to reverse the independence of the revolutionary states in South America that had broken away from Spain. The British prime minister, George Canning, proposed that Britain and the United States send a joint warning to the continental powers. US Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, rejected the idea:  “It would be more candid, as well as more dignified, to avow our principles explicitly to Russia and France, than to come in as a cockboat in the wake of the British man-of-war.”

How things have changed, in nearly 200 years. Talk about reversal of fortune. The UK now is the cockboat–if that–to the US man-of-war. It now faces humiliation in the Persian Gulf, having to admit after the seizure of a British-flag tanker by Iranian Revolutionary Guards that it hasn’t the means to escort other British ships, or to deter Iran from taking yet more.

A little short of 40 years ago, the British barely had the naval wherewithal to to overcome a third-rate power, Argentina, in the Falklands. Now it cannot even stand up to a fourth-rate (if that) naval power far closer to home, and in a region that had been at the center of British interest since before Adams opined that the US must assert its own interests in the Western Hemisphere. Such are the wages of decades of indifference to one of the primary duties of government: national defense. (Britain has proved increasingly deficient in performing the other as well: maintaining the public safety.)

As a result of its lack of capability, Britain is furiously signaling its desire to tamp down tensions with Iran. Which will only spur the Iranians on.

The United States has been trying to herd its alleged allies into an effort to convoy shipping in the Gulf. But despite all their imprecations against American unilateralism, and their fine words about the transcendent importance of alliances and the vital necessity of maintaining a rules-based international order, they would rather not, thank you very much.

Hollow words. Hollow nations. They deserve only contempt, not deference.

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July 21, 2019

Zip It, Fritz

Filed under: Economics,History,Military,Politics — cpirrong @ 5:59 pm

File this under “We didn’t bomb them enough.” (Maybe I should create a new category for easy reference.)

Item One: Angela Merkel expressed “solidarity” with Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaiba, and Pressley. She then proceeded to pontificate on her views of what makes America strong.

Item Two: The CEO of Siemens called Trump “the face of racism and exclusion.

To which I say: mind you own goddam business, Fritz.

Merkel has obviously let all the post-November 2016 bologna about her being the new leader of the free world go to her head. In fact, she is merely the de facto leader of the 4th Reich (who recently succeeded in installing her puppet as de jure leader), and one who has pigheadedly stuck to immigration policies that many Germans strenuously oppose: this no doubt explains her haste to chime in on an issue that is related to America’s immigration debate.

As for Siemens: where to begin? This company’s history is so sordid that its CEO (a successor to a long line of corruptocrats, and an accomplice to mass murder) should not dare to cast aspersions on anyone for anything.

Siemens was deeply enmeshed in the Nazi war economy. Its attempted justification for its conduct makes appalling reading. It attempts to distance itself from its role by claiming it didn’t make things that actually blew up, like bombs and such. It only made electronics. Which of course were vital to a technologically advanced war (e.g., vital components of V1 and V2 rockets, which did in fact blow up, causing thousands of civilian deaths).

It admits to using forced labor, but its description is extremely sanitized, and incomplete. This sentence is rich: “The fact that Siemens allowed people to work against their will during a time when the company was an integral part of the wartime economy of the national socialistic rogue regime is something that the company’s current top management and employees deeply regret.”

Allowed people to work against their will? That sentence is an oxymoron, and a disgusting one at that. And the description of the actual extent of forced labor, and the nature of the forced labor, does not do justice to the malignity of the company’s conduct, and its complicity in the Nazi regime’s atrocities. It talks benignly about moving production facilities due to Allied bombing, but manages to neglect mentioning that it operated these facilities at numerous death camps, including: Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Flossenberg, Gross Rosen, Mauthausen, Neuengamme, Ravensbruck, & Sachsenhausen.

The whole presentation is so dishonest as to make it utterly worthless as an apology, or even an acknowledgement.

That’s in the past, you might say. Well, post-WWII, the company hasn’t utilized forced labor, but has engaged in what is likely the most pervasive pattern of corruption of any large company anywhere in the world. Google “Siemens corruption” and the suggested search terms list a slew of countries: Argentina, Greece, Nigeria, Russia, China. It has paid billions in fines.

Like other German companies, it rushed to do business in Iran (the country that has pledged to finish the job German started), only to state regretfully that the Bad Orange Man made it impossible to continue to do so.

And, of course, Merkel holds Siemens in the highest standing.

Merkel’s and Siemens’ opinions about US politics and US society are gratuitously offered, and worth less. And considering the source, they have no business lecturing others. So zip it, Fritz.

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Twitter: A Shame/Honor Culture From Hell

Filed under: Politics — cpirrong @ 4:52 pm

Social scientists have identified three types of societies/cultures: shame/honor, guilt, and fear/power. They differ in the manner in which individuals regulate their conduct. In a shame/honor society, people evaluate their actions and regulate their conduct based on how it will be perceived by others: they seek to avoid being shamed by those in their society, and strive to be honored by them. In a guilt society, individuals regulate their conduct by reference to an internalized code of morals or justice: violating the tenets of this code self-induces negative affect and emotional/psychic punishment. In a fear/power society, fear of retribution by the more powerful shapes individual behavior.

A key difference between guilt societies on the one hand, and shame/honor or fear/power on the other is that in the former, the guilt mechanism affects behavior even when (or especially when) nobody else is watching, whereas in the latter, the mechanisms affect behavior only if somebody else is watching. Since trust relates to actions that cannot be monitored directly, guilt societies are more likely to be high trust than the other two. Moreover, since the enforcement mechanism in a guilt society is internal to the individual, and not dependent on external approbation or punishment, it can support a higher degree of individualism and individual autonomy.

So perhaps you are say, OK, prof–makes sense, but this is kind of out of the blue here. Well, there was a prompt, and is a purpose.

The prompt was a conversation over coffee with a Boston Baptist, a Texas Catholic (no I didn’t mix those two up), and a Turk. And no, we weren’t walking into a bar. Anyways, the Catholic said “I have to confess to telling a little white lie, and I feel guilty about it.” Well, the lie was about as innocent and harmless as you could imagine. But the mention of guilt sparked a thought: I know Arab society is of the shame/honor variety (see David Pryce-Jones, The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs), but I wasn’t sure about the Turkish, so I asked. The Turk responded that Turkey is a shame/honor society.

And that sparked another thought. Specifically, that Twitter is a shame/honor society of the most vicious sort. And when it is not a shame/honor society, it is a fear/power society.

The mechanism of social control on Twitter is vicious shaming of those who offend the self-appointed arbiters of discourse. This mechanism induces many either to avoid Twitter altogether, or self-censor to a considerable degree. (Many of those who are shamed suffer because of inadvertent remarks that they did not recognize would result in massive attack.) The “honor” part of Twitter (and I put that term in quotes for a reason) is that people signal furiously in order to obtain approbation from the crowd.

Twitter can shame even conduct that does not occur on the platform, e.g., the poor sod who had a grocery-line confrontation with an obnoxious harridan in Georgia. By this means, Twitter extends its shame/honor dynamic into society at large.

The shame/honor enforcement mechanism in Twitter is backed up by fear/power. The power is exerted by Twitter itself, with its shadow banning, and especially in its outright banning of those who offend it.

I unabashedly say that a guilt society with internalized rules that regulate individual conduct even when no one is watching is superior to the alternatives. (This wrongthink is no doubt a trigger for Twitter shaming, but IDGAF.) Not least because this is a necessary condition for individualism, individual autonomy, and a large scope for individual freedom.

And this is why I think that Twitter (and to a considerable degree Facebook, which is more power/fear than shame/honor) are highly deleterious, especially in the United States and other western countries, which (via Christianity, primarily) are predominately guilt societies. The shame/honor dynamic that Twitter creates, and extends beyond the platform itself, is socially corrosive and undermines the mechanisms that support high-trust societies, and those that extend considerable degrees of personal freedom and autonomy.

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July 17, 2019

Have “Issues” With the Gadsden Flag?: GFY

Filed under: History,Politics — cpirrong @ 6:30 pm

Post-Charlottesville, I have often stated that the war on American history would not end with Confederate generals, or Confederate privates. Every American historical figure is at risk. Recent evidence of this was the city of Charlottesville’s decision to end its observance of Jefferson’s birthday. But almost every day some American figure or symbol is being targeted.

Around July 4th, it was the Betsy Ross flag. Now it is the iconic “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden Flag. Why? Because apparently some white supremacist somewhere has embraced it.

I guess that makes the United States Navy a white supremacist organization. From 1980 to 2002, the Navy used a variant of the rattlesnake/Don’t Tread on Me symbol on the Navy Jack flown by the oldest commissioned ship in the fleet. Since 11 September, 2002, all ships in the Navy have used this jack. I guess that also makes the United States Naval Academy (one of my alma maters) a white supremacist organization: Navy sports teams have worn rattlesnake/Don’t Tread on Me-emblazoned uniforms since 2014.

The rattlesnake symbolism was widely employed in the years before the American Revolution. The rattlesnake does not strike unless threatened: the patriots/revolutionaries who used the rattlesnake iconography were telling the British that they would not threaten them if left alone, but they would defend themselves if Britain used force against them.

The Navy connection dates back to the Revolution as well. The first contingent of Marines marched under the Gadsden Flag–a yellow banner with a coiled rattlesnake and the legend “Don’t Tread on Me”–in 1775, and the flag was adopted by the first commander-in-chief of the Navy as his pennant in that same year.*

Indeed, the Gadsden Flag is arguably more representative of the Revolutionary spirit and ethos than the Betsy Ross flag. Which is why Americans who revere the ideals of the Revolution fly it and wear its emblem on their clothing. Or display it on their refrigerators: I have a Don’t Tread on Me Navy Jack magnet on mine.

But despite its deep connection with American independence, and the ideals of liberty, it’s now beyond the pale. Because white supremacy.

But here’s the thing: the progressive left defines white supremacy, and who is a white supremacist. And they define it to include anyone who honors the ideals of the Founding, the history of the Founding, and the Founders themselves.

Beto O’Rourke gave away the game: “The country was founded on white supremacy.” The obvious implication is that anything associated with the Founding is stained by the original sin of white supremacism. Therefore, anyone associated with the Founding is a white supremacist, as is anyone who believes that the Founding was on the whole a great boon not just for the American people, but for the world. And anyone who wears symbols associated with the Founding must be a white supremacist too.

So here is my response.

You have “issues” with the Gadsden Flag? Go fuck yourself.

You have “issues” with the Betsy Ross flag? Go fuck yourself.

You have “issues” with my “Come and Take It” shirt? Go fuck yourself.

I could go on. But you get the idea.

Perhaps you consider this intemperate and confrontational. I agree! It is intemperate and confrontational by intent. Just like the Gadsden Flag.

David French and his ilk argue that we must engage in civil discussion with the progressive left. This is a delusional attempt at appeasement: the Woken SS will never be appeased. They will pocket any concession you make today (well, Thomas Jefferson did own slaves, after all, so I guess we should consign him to the Memory Hole) and then proceed without even a thank you to their next target. And they will do so until every last vestige of the American past is similarly damned to oblivion and extirpated from our collective memory.

As O’Rourke’s remark reveals (and he has company, believe me), these people fundamentally hate and despise the Founding principles–and principals–of this country. There is no room for compromise here. There is no common ground. This is a fundamental conflict of visions.

This is about power and control. This is about them trying to shut people like me down and to shut people like me up–and if you read this blog, probably people like you too. And when somebody tries to shut me down or shut me up, I tell them to go fuck themselves.

If they’re lucky.

*The Navy Jack is probably a misrepresentation of the actual flag flown over the first ships of the Continental Navy. There is no doubt that Commodore Hopkins’ fleet flew a flag with the rattlesnake/Don’t Tread on Me symbols, but it was the Gadsden Flag, given to Hopkins by Gadsden himself. The uncoiled rattlesnake on a banner with 13 alternating red and white stripes was depicted in a 1776 British print of Hopkins, engraved by someone who had never seen either Hopkins or his ships. This print was used as the basis for a modern representation in the 1880s. John Adams and Benjamin referred to a South Carolina ships with a rattlesnake over 13 stripes.

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