02 — The singer and the song (cont.). Big political news this week was the new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff, who comes with the epithet "veteran journalist." The book isn't generally available yet, but advance copies have been going out for review.Wolff quotes many, many people across the past few months telling him how dysfunctional Trump's White House is, and how stupid and obnoxious the President himself is. It covers the 2016 election, too, with similarly negative quotes from insiders about what a Chinese fire drill the Trump campaign was. A lot of the most colorful quotes come from strategist Steve Bannon, who joined Trump's campaign in August of the election year, and was dropped from the White House staff in August this year. What should we make of all this? First, I haven't read the book. Second, I'd never heard of Michael Wolff before this week. Third, I'm not personally acquainted with any of the other players here; and since a lot of this stuff is personal, I'm just guessing from a distance about that aspect of things. So I can only comment at a high level of generality. Bear in mind, to begin with, that I'm the guy who once wrote a column titled "Journalists are scum." That was hyperbolic, of course. Some journalists are pleasant people. They do thrive on sensationalism, though, on applying bright colors to the dull gray areas of the public life — which means, in point of fact, most of it. I don't doubt that Trump can be obnoxious. He's a native New Yorker — Whaddaya want, jackass? He's also rich and successful. All rich and successful people are sometimes tempted to the point of view that the rest of us are losers who don't know squat. How often they yield to that temptation is a matter of individual personality. My own experience of rich and successful people is sadly limited; such as it is, though, it leads me to believe that a rich and successful person who never looks down on his un-rich, un-successful fellow humans as clueless losers, is a rare critter indeed, who probably belongs on the calendar of saints. And obnoxiosity at the Trump level is a generous obnoxiosity, tolerant of obnoxiosity in peers. Trump's world is one of dueling obnoxiosities: not necessarily personal, just business. Here's one of the stories we've heard from coverage of Michael Wolff's book. Quote from the New York Post:
Following reports that [Ivanka Trump's husband Jared] Kushner had tried to set up a private communication channel with the Kremlin, Bannon called Ivanka a [inner quote] "f—king liar," [end inner quote] in front of the President. Trump responded only by telling her [inner quote] "I told you this is a tough town, baby" [end inner quote] according to Wolff's book.End quote. That sounds true to me — very Trumpish, even though it goes against the grain of other things we've heard, and that Michael Wolff says, about the President's partiality to his children. That his children are, in their general sensibilities, metropolitan liberals seems to be one of the main points of contention between Trump and Bannon. In the matter of not suffering fools gladly, Bannon is easily Trump's match; but un-like Trump he regards all metropolitan liberals, without qualification or favor, as fools. Inevitably one finds oneself taking sides here: Trumpite or Bannonite. I'm going to declare myself, with a major qualification, a Bannonite. I like Bannon's strong nationalism and his skepticism of traditional postwar American conservatism, with its missionary globalism and its fantasies about private-enterprise healthcare provision. That's not to endorse the guy, who has played his hand badly. I don't think it's a coincidence that "Steve Bannon" rhymes and scans with "loose cannon." I'd add the same qualification to my support for Trump, though. The President does sometimes come across as coarse and ignorant. What I'm saying is that Bannon is a better Trumpist than Trump. I like Trumpism more than I like either guy. I dream fondly of a well-mannered, well-read politician of the traditional gray and boring type — a Coolidge or an Eisenhower — who is a dogmatic and unwavering Trumpist. I love the song, but I'm not crazy about either Trump or Bannon as singers. I want my politicians and their advisers to have the right ideas, but I also want them to be firm, cunning, and effective in making those ideas national policy and law. I want a gray, boring, politically skillful Trumpist. my prediction of two weeks ago. We shall end up, sometime before March 5th, with a bill giving amnesty to the DACA illegals in return for an end to the "diversity visa" lottery and a new paint scheme for the border posts.
04 — How serious countries do immigration enforcement. While we dicker around with legislation that panders to foreign scofflaws and tiny cosmetic changes to border procedures, serious countries enforce their laws.Exhibit A: Israel. The President of that country, Benjamin Netanyahu, refers to illegal aliens as "infiltrators." Israel's illegals mostly come from East Africa, Eritrea and Somalia. Five years ago the numbers had reached 60,000, bringing with them the usual elevated levels of crime. That's when Israel put up a big beautiful wall across the Sinai Desert, cutting infiltration from Africa to zero. The Israelis followed up with campaigns of expulsion. When sending countries refused to take back infiltrators, Israel just bribed other African countries to take them. Twenty thousand have now gone, forty thousand still to go. The twenty thousand seem to have been low-hanging fruit, the ones easiest to deport. Now it's getting harder; so the Israelis are getting more determined. The deal until recently was that illegals were offered $3,500 to go back to their own countries; or, if the home country was too dangerous, they'd be given a plane ticket to one of those bribed countries, said to include Uganda and Rwanda. Illegals who refused this deal would be put in prison. Now, though, the government is worried about prison overcrowding, so Netanyahu says they should just be forcibly expelled. Quote from him:
The infiltrators have a simple choice — to cooperate with us and leave voluntarily, along a respectable, humanitarian and legal path — or we will have to use the other tools available to us, also according to the law. I hope they will choose to cooperate with us. Every country must maintain its borders, and protecting the borders from illegal infiltration is both a right and a basic duty of a sovereign state."End quote. As Steve Sailer reported here at VDARE, the Israelis have even deported a guy from Kenya who claims to be a convert to Judaism. When opposition party legislators accused the government of racism, the Interior Ministry official responsible replied, quote: "Do you want half of Africa coming here?" That's a serious country with a real government looking after its citizens. Exhibit B: Japan. Japan is actually loosening up on immigration; but that's relative. They've set up a strict points-based system, like Canada's, for highly-skilled foreigners to get permanent residence. They are not such fools as to link it to a system of chain migration, though, with brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, uncles and aunts pouring in. And their performance on refugees is stellar. In 2016 they got 10,901 asylum applications. They accepted 28, a rate of 0.26 percent. Again, these are serious countries with real governments looking after their citizens. Look, listen, and envy.
05 — A Bernie for 2020. New York City's communist mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in to his second term of office on Monday this week. De Blasio was re-elected in November with 67 percent of the vote. That, however, was on a 22 percent turnout — an all-time low.The way it works is, when there are big issues making New York voters unhappy — crime especially — ordinary citizens come out and vote. Rudy Giuliani beat David Dinkins in 1993 on a 55 percent turnout. Absent those big issues, it's mainly city and state workers who turn out, much encouraged to do so by the public-sector employee lobbies (which I refuse to dignify with the name "unions"). And crime in New York City now is at record lows. Why is that? Quote from Fidel de Blasio:
We have brought police and community together like never before, we have dedicated ourselves to a vision of true neighborhood policing, and it works.End quote. That's just de Blasio blather. This mayor tried, in his first year in office, to neuter the city police force; but then two city cops were murdered by a Black Lives Matter activist and the NYPD rebelled against the mayor. He backed down, and the Department resumed serious policing. That's one factor in keeping crime low. Another, as Heather Mac Donald has documented, has been the reduction in young male American blacks in the city. To a first approximation, "crime" means young male American blacks. With the gentrification of old black neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant, there are now fewer blacks altogether; and the blacks New York City has are less American, more immigrant — Africans and West Indians. None of that is going to stop Vladimir Ilyich de Blasio taking credit, of course. He needs to take all the creidt he can, as he has grand plans for political self-advancement. He was in Iowa last month — you know, Iowa: the state that kicks off presidential primary voting. If you were a Bernie Bro in 2016 but worry that Bernie will be too old for 2020, here's a younger, sprightlier version of Bernie for you. Hizzoner made the point rather explicitly at his swearing-in ceremony on Monday. Who swore him in? None other than Bernie Sanders himself, the junior Senator from Vermont. Bernie is actually a native of New York City. He grew up in Brooklyn; but finding the borough not diverse enough to hold his attention, he moved to Vermont in 1968. Quote from Bernie at the swearing-in:
We're here to thank Bill de Blasio for leading this city, and making it one of the most progressive cities in the United States of America.End Bernie quote. Yes indeed, New York City is the Progressive ideal: Lotsa rich legacy Americans, lotsa poor immigrants to wait on them, and a small middle class mainly on the public payroll. Good luck with those political plans, Mr Mayor. I'm sure they'll go over real big in Iowa.
06 — Restless in Iran. I feel obliged to say something about these recent demonstrations in Iran, but I drag myself to the task reluctantly. I don't care what ahppens in Iran, and I can't see why any American should care.Seeking inspiration, I went to the smartest writer I know on Middle Eastern affairs, David Goldman at Asia Times. In a piece dated January 3rd David opined at length and at depth, drawing on his astonishing store of financial, economic, and political knowledge. The overall impression of the piece is that Iran is very badly governed. They have, for example, mismanaged their water resources, causing artificial droughts and shortages. Their military expenditures, mainly on the war in Syria, are far beyond what the country can afford. The banking system is insolvent; the pension and welfare systems are near collapse; unemployment and emigration are soaring. Iran's demographics are lousy, too. Quote from David: "Fertility since has declined to between 1.6 and 1.8, the lowest in the developing world." End quote. I was puzzled, though, to see David saying that, quote: "Iran is the first country to get old before it got rich," end quote. That's what everybody was saying about China ten years ago; so Iran's at best the second country with that distinction. You have to feel a bit sorry for Iran. They had a lousy twentieth century. They spent the first half of that century being kicked around by bigger, stronger nations: Britain, Russia, Turkey, the U.S.A. Then they had a quarter-century of crude autocratic rule under the Shah. The 1979 revolution put the mullahs in power. They'd barely got their torture chambers properly equipped, however, when the war with Iraq broke out — the war of which Henry Kissinger is supposed to have said, "It's a pity both sides can't lose." That war dragged on through most of the 1980s, with horrendous WW1-level casualty figures. It was followed with some democratization measures and attempts at reform, but the elections were dubious and the mullahs stamped on reform. It's a sad thing, to see a country in such a condition. I still can't see it's any of our business, though. Our neocons of course disagree. They can't wait to repeat their triumphs at bringing peace, stability, and prosperity to Iraq and Afghanistan. The rest of us have learned some humility from those adventures. A nation — especially a nation as old as Iran, which is 4,000 years old — is a very complex organism. For a foreigner, it's a lifetime study. Britain and America are cousin nations, but after forty years here I still bang my shins now and then against particularly American ways of seeing things and doing things. I've been engaged with China for most of my adult life, and married to it for 31 years, but I've barely scratched the surface of Chinese culture. So I wish the Iranians well from a distance, but I hope our own government will leave them alone to sort out their own problems. I'll register a note of skepticism, too, concerning the thing you often hear about that part of the world: that there's some old-fashioned history to be played out there, rival regional powers struggling for mastery over each other and their lesser neighbors. Iran's rival in this scenario is of course Saudi Arabia. Color me skeptical. These demonstrations in Iran look to me like angry young people wanting a piece of the post-industrial action: cell phones, designer boots, hedonism, celebrity culture, and jobs in air-conditioned offices. With those impulses bursting out, and fertility at below replacement levels, I don't see a replay of the great European wars over there. More likely, I think, is ructions in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates like those we are now seeing in Iran. We laugh now at Francis Fukuyama announcing the End of History twenty years ago. On a local scale, though, history can end: I don't see France and Germany going to war against each other soon. Yes, there's history to be played out in the Middle East; but mighty armies struggling for regional mastery? That kind of history? Nah, don't see it.
A cynic might conclude that the unstated goal is to make it possible for students of color to succeed academically by talking about nothing but color, thus allowing race to infect whole areas of inquiry to which race is irrelevant.End quote. "A cynic might conclude …" Well, I am that cynic. Because of the low mean IQ of American blacks, the proportion of them that can do real academic work is small, much smaller than the corresponding proportion for nonblacks. To see blacks present in the academy in such tiny proportions would, however, be distressing to liberal whites; so blacks have to be given make-work — fake pseudo-disciplines where they can get college credits for talking about their own blackety-blackety-blackness. "Communications," to judge from the contents pages of the Howard Journal of Communications, seems to be one of those disciplines. So remember: To be truly "woke," to be fully compliant with the latest release of Cultural Marxism, drop that condescending mask of color-blindness, shuck off that patronizing "white-centered civility," and open every conversation by "acknowledging the reality of the oppressed." Imprimis: Here's one for fellow opera fans. You'll recall the opera Carmen ends with the heroine, hot-blooded Gypsy girl Carmen, being stabbed to death by her jealous lover José That won't do in the present age, when women scurry about in constant terror of being assaulted by men. A new production of Carmen, opening this weekend at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino opera house in Florence, Italy, will therefore have a different ending. In this production, Carmen grabs a pistol from José and shoots him with it. I think there's a slippery slope here. What about the bullfighter Carmen's hooked up with? If I were running the Florence chapter of the Animal Rights League I'd be calling for him to get his comeuppance, too. So right after Carmen shoots José, the toreador comes crashing down from the flies stone dead, having been tossed clean out of the bullring by the triumphant bull … Come to think of it, how about the famous scene in La bohème where his hand meets hers as they're groping around in the dark, and he breaks into "Yout tiny hand is frozen …" How did he know she'd be receptive to that? There was no proper negotiation. I call that an unwanted advance. I want a new production where Mimi cries "rape!" … Item: Have you ever wondered why devout Muslim men wear those extravagant beards? Well, here's your answer. A Turkish preacher, a preacher of Islam that is, speaking on TV in that country, explained that men should wear beards because otherwise they might be mistaken for women. Quote from him:
If you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts.End quote. I dunno; there's something wrong with those people, just something not right … Item: Finally, Chelsea Clinton has denied being a worshipper of Satan. This followed Ms Clinton's having somehow got on a Twitter thread belonging to the Church of Satan. When she did a broadcast tweet wishing happy new year to everyone, the Church of Satan saw it and wished her happy new year back. That escaped from the Twittersphere and Chelsea had to deny she's a Satanist. "I am not a Satanist," she told us. Yeah, right!