May 21, 2018

"Deportation bus" should be "Traitor bus" or "Exploiter bus" rounding up employers and slumlords who sustain immigrant colonization

In the GOP primary for governor of Georgia, a Trump-supporting candidate is driving around a "Deportation bus" as a publicity stunt to cater to voters who want illegal immigrants gone.

It's not a bad meme, but as usual for conservatives, it's focused on symptoms rather than causes. It's the employers of cheap labor who bring the immigrants into our country, along with their slumlord partners who enjoy higher housing prices with the higher demand that immigrants represent.

So it should be these greedy employers and slumlords who get targeted by political publicity stunts. Re-brand it as the "Traitor bus" that will arrest those who are illegally employing the illegals, and who are illegally housing the illegals -- to the detriment of Americans, who see their wages driven down, and housing prices jacked up as a result.

In more liberal or moderate areas of the not-so-red state, re-brand it as the "Exploiter bus" going after those who bring in hordes of third-world peasants to work in slave-like conditions for bum pay.

That is what a new generation of re-aligned populist-nationalist Republicans would do -- so of course they won't do any of this. But just as a lesson to any aspiring Gen Z GOP-ers, who will be working within the populist boundaries established by the upcoming Bernie revolution.

We know Williams has no intention to deport illegals because he shills for cheap immigrant labor for latter-day plantation owners right on his website. Naturally during this climate of failed re-alignment, there are no populist platform items, but there is one on agriculture: "Work with the Trump administration to reduce federal regulations that are burdening our farmers." Nudge nudge, wink wink. How many more millions of immigrants do these plantation owners need to widen their corporate profit margins, instead of hiring Americans at higher wages?

Williams is also a Mormon, the most globalist of religions in America these days.

Overall, a halfway decent attempt to gin up enthusiasm on the immigration issue before the mid-terms, but the voters need to hear promises of populism, not the stale old Reaganite framework that they rejected in the 2016 primary.

Giving America back to the Americans was always meant as a way to improve the American people's lot in life overall, by attacking America's own elite class. They're the ones who hauled in tens of millions of illegals, not to mention the legal immigrants, and they're the ones who have melted down the once prosperous economy-for-everybody -- both actions in order to enrich themselves and make the common people pay the costs.

It's not the '80s or '90s anymore -- give us populism or give us death.

Related: Use ICE to target employers and slumlords who cater to illegals, not the illegals themselves, to efficiently dry up the pool of immigrants.

Saudi Arabia's trajectory, at the end of its 200-year expansion

Having looked at the trajectory of Israel based on its coming to the end of the Likud era, along with its major sponsors -- US, UK, France -- also coming to the end of their own neoliberal eras, we turn now to the other actors in the Middle East. What stage of their own regime cycle are they in, how do these interact, and what does that portend for the short-to-medium term? We'll start with key player Saudi Arabia, and move onto others like Iran in future posts.

Saudi Arabia requires two posts, one covering its long-term rise and fall over centuries, and another covering a short-term rise and fall over decades. We won't do this kind of long-term survey for the other nations of the Middle East since none of them is in an expansion lasting centuries.

All of contemporary Middle Eastern history begins with the downfall of an old empire that ruled much of the region -- the Ottomans from Anatolia -- and their replacement as the expanding power by the Saudis of Arabia. No other group of people in the region has expanded their territory and influence over the past several hundred years, except for the Arabians.

That struggle began in the mid-1700s, when the Ottomans had nearly encircled the tribes of the Arabian Desert, controlling the Fertile Crescent to their north, parts of the Persian Gulf coast to their east, and the Red Sea coast to their west (the Hejaz). Getting encircled by an expanding empire of utter foreigners has a way of forcing fragmented people to unite for survival. Here's the Ottoman Empire in 1680:

From its founding circa 1750, beginning with just a small patch of land near Riyadh, the first Saudi state began pushing back so successfully against the Ottomans that by the early 1800s they had expanded to control most of the territory of modern Saudi Arabia. After further rounds of failure and success during a second Saudi state, the Arabians ultimately proved decisive in defeating the Ottomans in WWI, ending the empire for good. All that was left was a little more expansion and consolidation, and by 1932, the current Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded. From Wikipedia:

Expansionist states do not last longer than 200-250 years, and the Saudis began expanding during the second half of the 1700s. They reached their territorial peak in 1932, although at least they haven't lost any of it yet. As for their power and influence, however, that peaked under the reign of King Faisal, 1964-1975. That's a solid 200 years of tighter cohesion among the elites, further territorial expansion, and rising power and influence vis-a-vis others in the region and the world.

Since the late 1970s they have entered into a decline that will not reverse, as the original motive for their cohesion -- getting encircled by an expanding empire -- is a problem that has already been solved. With no reason to stay strongly united, they have devolved into competitiveness among themselves, which ultimately leads to state collapse. In that weak situation, they will get picked apart by the long-term power centers of the region -- Persia, Anatolia, and Egypt -- in a manner yet to be seen, though likely with Iran the main winner.

The Arabians have rarely been an expansionary power throughout history -- the last time was during the spread of Islam by Arabian armies, after they'd been encircled especially by the Persians (Sassanians) but also by the Anatolians (Byzantines). As they return to their historical baseline, that means fragmenting back into tribal confederations in the central part of today's territory (the Nejd). They will lose the Hejaz, where key cities are located (Mecca, Medina, Jeddah), as they almost never have controlled it over history. Likewise they will lose the Persian Gulf coast region that is rich in oil, predominantly Shia, and historically controlled more by Persia than by Arabia.

The US partnering with the Saudis during the Mid-20th Century was buying into their bubble at its peak, and we are being dragged down with them as that bubble has burst. For empires in decline, misery loves company. But that will fundamentally change during the next once-every-50-years paradigm shifts within the West, as Bernie in the US, Corbyn in the UK, and Melenchon in France want nothing to do with the moribund jihadist Gulf states. The sooner we cut our losses, the better.

Plame affair reboot disappointingly predictable, with libs enraged by doxxing of intel asset

An earlier post laid out the parallels between the Mueller probe and the Valerie Plame affair. Not necessarily in the facts, charges, or themes, but in the power dynamics.

The dumb liberal airheads think that the parallel is to Watergate or Lewinskygate, but those were both opposition presidents during their respective eras -- a Republican during the New Deal, and a Democrat during Reaganism. Congress -- the people who actually do the impeaching and removing -- was controlled in both houses by the dominant party for their era, and the balance on the Supreme Court favored the dominant party of the era (liberal during the New Deal, conservative during Reaganism).

Translation: Trump and his circle are in no danger. Instead, this is like the W. Bush admin during the Plame affair -- their era's dominant party controlling the White House, both chambers of Congress, and the balance of the Supreme Court. It was only a bit player in the dramatis personae who got indicted, not even on an underlying crime, and his prison sentence got commuted by the president anyway. The exact same will happen this time around.

But now the writers of this Plame affair reboot are just getting lazy -- not only making it similar in the power dynamics, but recycling the same old plotline from the original. Back then, it was the leaking of the identity of an undercover CIA agent (Plame), by a mainstream columnist for a corporate media outlet (Novak for WaPo), supposedly to retaliate against her husband's criticism of the admin's foreign policy (throwing cold water on the "Saddam is seeking uranium for WMDs" that rationalized the Iraq War).

The dumb liberal airheads got all up in arms about defending the sanctity of the intel agencies, who were under assault by the rogue Bush White House. They sought refuge in the arms of the Feds, who would bring down the rogue White House via their Special Counsel investigation. All of these false saviors were Republicans -- Comey, Fitzgerald, etc. -- but that didn't stop partisan Democrats from clinging to them, in the deluded view that the GOP Feds were "putting country above party," rather than it being a big gay slap-fight within the party.

Now the Mueller probe is taking a turn in this direction. A formerly anonymous spook who spied on the Trump campaign is about to be outed. Stefan Halper has already been described back in March by Ross at the Daily Caller, although not singling him out as a "Deep State spy within the Trump campaign". There were nameless descriptions of him in the NYT and WaPo over the weekend. All that's left is for a mainstream journalist for the corporate media to link the two overtly and publicly, and say what everyone already knows. That person will be the Novak of this Plame affair reboot.

The dumb liberal airhead media is already poised to denounce that journalist, and by extension the whole conservative media (corporate or fringe), as a reckless leaker of sensitive info regarding an undercover intel agent, with Halper being the Plame of this reboot. Halper, like all of the other major anti-Trump characters in this story, is a 100% Republican -- part of the big gay Establishment slap-fight, not a partisan witch hunt. The spying action he took, for which he will be doxxed, was to counteract the foreign policy of the admin -- getting along with Russia, something he was bitterly opposed to, just like Plame being against some version of invading Iraq (or a particular rationalization of it, anyway).

With there being absolutely nothing to the bogus Russian collusion angle of the Mueller probe, and the obstruction angle going down in flames, perhaps they will move onto this angle next -- the Trump admin has gone rogue in leaking the quasi-undercover nature of some spook, or at least retaliates against one of our sacred spooks! He's endangering the very safety and functioning of our intel agencies! Send in the over-zealous Feds to take him out before he does more damage!

This reboot could not get any more predictable and therefore boring. If you had not done so already, it's time to just change the channel. Nothing is going to happen, just like in the original.

At the same time, you also need to change the channel on the mirror-image hysterical narrative about the Deep State plot to take out Trump. That may have been plausible back when it was still up in the air whether or not Trump would do the unorthodox policies that got him elected. But after surrendering to the corporate globalist Establishment on every one of those distinctive promises, and only helping to implement the same old Reaganite bullshit that the GOP has been pushing for decades, Trump is no threat to the Deep State in any way at all.

Especially now that they've seen how much he just issues empty threats -- he only delivers on threats that align with the GOP orthodoxy, like exiting the Paris Climate Accords or the Iran deal, not on those threats that are at cross-purposes with the GOP orthodoxy, like exiting NAFTA or Afghanistan.

That doesn't mean he is not the target of a gay slap-fight within the Republican Establishment, targeted by Never Trumpers. But they have no power -- just an impotent Special Counsel who faces over-powering opposition from the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court, if push came to shove.

The best thing to do is just troll the Never Trumper faction of the GOP, and the dumb liberal airheads who are placing such Titanic quantities of false hope in the Republican spooks and Feds who are hounding Trump. Consciously refer to the Mueller probe as just another Valerie Plame affair that will come up just as empty-handed, and leave the wishful thinkers just as blue-balled, as the original. Remind them that the president will simply commute or pardon any serious sentences for mickey-mouse charges brought upon the bit players who plead guilty in order to avoid crushing legal fees for continuing to fight.

By taking the opposite approach -- taking the investigation intensely seriously, as though it were a mortal threat to our democracy's very survival, or at least portraying it that way to the public -- the Trump side only makes itself sound just as unhinged and retarded as the conspiracy theorists on the anti-Trump side. It will resonate with Fox News addicts and kneejerk GOP partisans -- but not with normal people. And since anything that Trump says will resonate with the partisans, his side needs to ignore what plays with them, and focus on what plays with those who are uncertain and discriminating.

Normies will go as far as agreeing that the whole probe is bogus, pointless, and time to move on, and that there is a Never Trump faction within the GOP that still wants to hound Trump. But not because he's anti-Establishment or unorthodox, and not that they're going to sink our democracy for it.

They'll agree that the Feds are not saints, including Comey et al. But the hysteria over DEMOCRAT CORRUPTION AT THE DOJ to bring down the anti-Establishment president, is such laughable BS by this point. First, they're all Republicans. Second, they're just an impotent faction within the GOP -- the bulk of the GOP politicians and politicos absolutely have Trump's back, after he surrendered to their Reaganite orthodoxy. He's obviously in no danger, 99% of his party's powerful figures will protect him, and the remaining 1% have no power to do outsized damage.

Only if he pulls out of NAFTA, removes the US from Syria, or deports millions of immigrants who the mega-farm landowners depend on for cheap labor, will the GOP no longer have Trump's back. Since he's not doing those things, he's in the clear. It's just going to be an annoying and boring narrative driven entirely by the dumb airhead liberal media -- not by any real power that the Special Counsel has.

So just ignore, or better yet, troll the shit out of them for how little power they have, and how empty-handed they came up last time the power dynamics were like this. Explicitly name the Valerie Plame affair. Pardoning Scooter Libby, on my advice from the first post, was a great first step, especially when Kellyanne Conway connected the dots for the clueless reporters. ("Many people think he was the victim of an over-zealous Special Counsel investigation.")

Otherwise, they'll alienate the normies who they want on their side of this mock battle, with their unhinged ranting about a Deep State trying to take out an entirely Establishment-enabling president.

May 18, 2018

The restless warm-up phase of pop music's 15-year energy cycle

The level of excitation produced by pop music, and felt by the audience, changes over a 15-year cycle, with three distinct phases. An earlier post looked at the manic phase, when excitation levels are spiking. Another post looked at the vulnerable phase, when the levels crash into a refractory period, where no spike is even possible.

This post will look at the final phase, which comes after the refractory period is over, and people can start to get excited again. Whether they do or do not, it's at least possible now. And those who are getting excited are not in a full-blown manic phase -- it's more of a warm-up to shift you out of your ordinary state, before you take on truly high-energy activity.

Dividing decades into an earlier and later half, the restless warm-up phase belongs to the early '60s, the late '70s, the early '90s, and the late 2000s. The survey here, as in the earlier posts, draws from the Billboard Year-end Hot 100 charts, to make sure they're representative of what was popular, and not cherry-picking.

If the manic phase is like a hard night of partying, and the vulnerable phase is crashing in bed until 2pm the next afternoon, this warm-up phase is after you've been shaken awake by someone else, or are starting to stir awake yourself, and you're still kind of groggy, but force yourself to go through the motions to make your body accept that it's no longer deep-sleep time, and is time to get ready for another high-energy night out later on.

The most distinctive feature of this phase is, not surprisingly, dance crazes. I don't mean music that is highly danceable -- but music with accompanying dances that are so simple, repetitive, and color-by-numbers, that even someone who's barely emerging from a refractory period can get into them. Even those who are just getting out of their emo mindset from the vulnerable phase can get social enough to do these dances.

These dances are so rule-defined that they have their own names, and a list of them shows that they do in fact occur mostly during the third phase of the cycle.

The early '60s had the Mashed Potato, the Twist, the Watusi, and scores of others -- in fact, there was a meta-song about this dance craze called "Land of a Thousand Dances," which first charted in '63 (although a more memorable cover charted in '66). The late '70s was the disco era, with the Bump, the Hustle, and the nameless yet still identifiable moves from Saturday Night Fever (from-the-hip, toward-the-sky pointing). The early '90s had the Running Man, the Cabbage Patch, the Tootsee Roll, and Jump Around. There were country line dance crazes like the Achy Breaky and Boot Scootin' Boogie. The Electric Slide went from fringe to mainstream. Although hitting the US a few years later, the Macarena was first released in '93. And the late 2000s had the Stanky Legg, Walk It Out, and perhaps the most elaborate pop dance routine ever, Crank That.

Some of these are all-purpose dances, while others are unique to the songs that created them -- the Loco-Motion of the early '60s, the YMCA of the late '70s, the Vogue ("strike a pose") from the early '90s, and the Cupid Shuffle of the late 2000s.

How do these novelty dances fit into the rest of the cycle? Well, when you're in a manic state, you can go on autopilot and just cut loose. When you're in a crashed state, you can't force yourself to dance even if you wanted to. In between, you've got to do warm-ups -- just like in gym class, these are highly simplified routines with a small discrete number of steps or motions, repeated over and over, to prepare you for some real coordination later on (an actual sport like football, tennis, or whatever). They serve to shift the body out of its languid state, to prepare for full-body spontaneous coordination later on when it really matters -- when everyone is all excited and feels like really letting loose.

Apart from waking up the individual's body, these routine-style dances get people out of their social awkwardness and sullen mood from the previous vulnerable refractory phase. If they're so simple, then everyone can do them. And if the steps are ritualistic, then everyone is going through the same motions, rather than doing their own thing, standing out from the group, and potentially being embarrassed. Only when folks are in a manic mindset can they "dance like nobody's watching" -- when you're just waking up from an emo period, you can't dance like that right away. You need to blend in with the crowd and keep the motions simple.

Beyond dance crazes, this restless warm-up period features lots of songs about dancing -- again, serving to wake people up and get them thinking about dancing, get them familiar and comfortable with it, and let them know it's OK, it's what everybody's doing now. When you're in the fully excited phase, you don't need a meta-song about dancing to direct your attention to that activity -- you're naturally going to go there.

Just to name a few examples, although most of those from the early '60s were named after specific dances, there was "Save the Last Dance for Me," "Let the Little Girl Dance," and "Dancing in the Street". From the late '70s, there was "You Should Be Dancing," "Dancing Queen," "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing," "Shadow Dancing," "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)," etc etc etc. From the early '90s, "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," "Pump Up the Jam," "Groove Is in the Heart," "Whoomp! (There It Is)," "Rhythm Is a Dancer," and the ironic counter-hit "I Can't Dance". From the late 2000s, most refer to specific moves, but there was also "Disco Inferno," "Dance, Dance," and "Just Dance".

These periods are also when songs refer to specific body parts involved in dancing -- partly to provoke the audience into a more excited state, but also to normalize a corporeal mindset (as it were), so that the recently-sullen don't feel so awkward when they go out to shake their booty.

Before the laissez-faire era of "if it feels good, do it" that began in the 1970s, the dance craze period of the early '60s didn't have salacious body part references, but there was "Finger Poppin' Time," "Snap Your Fingers," and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (not specifically about dancing, but that's the most likely context). By late '70s, there were more direct references: "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty," "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)," and "Shake Your Groove Thing". From the early '90s, "Baby Got Back" and "Rump Shaker". And from the late 2000s, "My Humps," "Hips Don't Lie," and "Ms. New Booty". (Fashion sidenote: that was the same period that girls wore sweatpants with words written across the butt.)

Contrary to this main trend of leading a series of warm-up exercises, this third phase also has a distinct trend of tortured and angsty rock music. It's not like the sullen, languishing, numb rock from the refractory period just before -- it's stirring awake, but not wanting to get up yet, and acting all cranky because everyone else is trying to drag you out of bed. Unlike the vulnerable phase where everyone's energy levels are drained, now these people actually could get more active and take part in warm-up exercises for the next manic spike, but they are inveterate downers and are choosing not to. They're consciously trying to hold onto the previous emo period. This gives their tortured downer-ness a deliberate, affected quality.

That would be the more self-conscious and angsty kind of rock from the late 2000s like Fall Out Boy's album Infinity on High, or My Chemical Romance's album The Black Parade. During the early '90s, that would be most grunge and alternative. From the late '70s, "Ballroom Blitz," "Barracuda," "Hotel California," "Because the Night" (covered and charted again in the next restless phase, 1993, by 10,000 Maniacs), and "Bohemian Rhapsody" (re-released to chart again in the next restless phase, 1992). Punk didn't chart in the US, but also from that period. From the early '60s, "Runaround Sue" (covered and charted in the next restless phase, 1978), "In Dreams," "Ring of Fire," "The House of the Rising Sun," and "Needles and Pins".

On a related note, this phase also has the highest concentration of sappy music coming from the singer-songwriter types. They're no longer in the woe-is-me mindset of the previous vulnerable refractory phase, but they're also not yet in a manic phase. Forcing themselves to get out of bed, and "going through the motions," for them means writing self-consciously positive songs. Warm-up exercises for singer-songwriters are going to be a little too on-the-nose in their sentimentality, and sound forced.

From the late 2000s, this includes Taylor Swift's early country crossover songs, "Hey There Delilah," "How to Save a Life," "Bubbly," and the insufferably twee "I'm Yours". From the early '90s, "Save the Best for Last," "To Be With You," "Again," "A Whole New World," "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)," and "Fields of Gold". From the schmaltzy late '70s, anything other than disco or rock -- "Dream Weaver," "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," "Nobody Does It Better," "Three Times a Lady," etc. Lots of early '60s sappiness, too -- "Take Good Care of My Baby," "Johnny Angel," "Duke of Earl," "Hey Paula," "It's My Party," and others.

This phase is the hardest to simply characterize because the excitable system is in a neutral state, meaning it could stay relatively unexcited, it could get a little excited but then quickly return to the baseline, or it could get so excited that it takes off into a manic spike. Several different outcomes are possible, and they all show up in the outcomes, giving the period an all-over-the-map feeling.

Once the manic spike begins, there's no room for sullen music; likewise when it's in a refractory period, upbeat cheerful music is not possible. Those two phases are more constrained in what they allow, and are easier to characterize.

Ultimately, though, what stands out the most is the trend toward waking up, warming up, and beginning the routine exercises, to prepare for the next spike.

To end with, here are a few examples of how varied the sounds during this phase can get, and how central dance music is. There's disco-punk from the late '70s, alterna-disco from the early '90s, and disco-(post-)grunge from the late 2000s (relevant lyrics from the chorus: "I want to make you move, because you're standing still").

May 14, 2018

Israel's trajectory, as 40-year era comes to end in multiple nations at once

Nothing says "end-of-an-era barrenness" like opening a cosplay embassy in Jerusalem. But it is not only the US that finds itself in the final stage of a long-lasting political period. Just like the Reaganites here, the Likudniks in Israel have reached the end of their cycle, which traces back to the same time as ours. Likewise the Thatcherites in Britain, the Mitterrandistes in France, and other regimes cut from the same neoliberal / neoconservative cloth.

This first post will look at the coming major changes within these four countries to evaluate the trajectory of Israel with respect to its main sponsors. A second post will look at the end-of-an-era sweeping changes that will play out among Israel's regional neighbors like Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.

* * *

Drawing on Stephen Skowronek's theory of political regime cycles, we can identify the last trailblazing administrations as those that kicked off the neoliberal revolution circa 1980, shifting out of the social democracy era that went back to the 1930s. Despite the minor push-back by the opposition during the occasional electoral upsets, the dominant factions have maintained the same paradigm for decades.

However, they are clearly entering their "disjunctive" stage where the dominant faction is trying to make major changes to the status quo that they themselves created, to adapt to new needs and desires. But they are so ossified from decades of easy victories that they only manage a schizophrenic, stop-and-start process of change.

Failing to deliver major change when it is so badly demanded, they will get thrown out and replaced by the old opposition, who will go on to become the new dominant party, delivering on the promises of change that the disjunctive leader tried to implement but could not, and enjoying a reign of many decades as the new agenda-setters.

Of these four nations, Israel was the first to begin the most recent cycle, stemming from the 1977 elections that ended the Labor Party's multi-decade reign and ushered in the Likud era. Britain followed shortly after in 1979 with Thatcher, then America in 1980 with Reagan, and finally France in 1981 with Mitterrand.

We see roughly the same sequence of nations going through their disjunctive stages, where major changes to the party's own status quo are promised but not really delivered upon.

First was Israel's election of 2015, where the Likud barely formed a coalition government by partnering with the Kulanu party. This new populist splinter party from the Likud is focused on reducing inequality, working-class welfare, cost-of-living increases, anti-monopoly, state influence into the economy, and other issues that would normally be verboten under a neoliberal government.

Next was the Brexit referendum of 2016, May barely forming a coalition government, and the corporate globalist Conservatives still dragging their feet on giving the populist-nationalist Brits the Brexit that they voted for.

Then of course Trump's historic upset victory, thanks to the candidate's promises to end globalist free trade deals, de-scale our military footprint, and expand the social safety net regarding healthcare rather than impose austerity measures -- none of which are happening.

Finally, the 2017 French election whereby the compromise candidate Macron had to cater somewhat to both the populist Left and populist Right, given the pressure of the Melenchon and Le Pen campaigns.

When these disjunctive governments fail to radically alter the status quo of the past 40 years, they will be removed from office, and the entire old way of running society will go out the window.

That means we are about to embark upon a period of profound disruption across the world, as these changing of regimes will rock the major countries all more or less at the same time -- just as profound as the changes of circa 1980.

* * *

As a client state, Israel must be worried about the seismic shake-ups under way in the major Western powers who are the guarantors of its prosperous and peaceful existence, such as it is. It must ignore the words and deeds from the late-stage leaders of the moribund neoliberal cycle in those countries -- Trump, May, Macron -- and focus on what the wave of the near-future bodes for Israel.

Here are some hints from the reactions to today's attacks on Palestinian protesters at the same time as the cosplay embassy was opening in Jerusalem, each of these figures representing the trailblazing new cycle that is going to sweep their nations in the next 5-10 years, and which will last for the next 50:

Translation: "France must condemn the massacres at #Gaza. The Israeli ambassador to Paris must be summoned to the Elysee to explain himself. Peace dies under the blows of #Netanyahu."

Bernie's response is important not only because his views will be shaping the next multi-decade cycle of a global nuclear superpower, but because he himself is Jewish. And yet he was the only one of the four major presidential candidates in 2016 to blow off the AIPAC conference, issuing instead a statement that blamed the Likud policies of expanding Israeli settlements into the Occupied Territories, while also blaming Hamas for violence. A totally different response from the genuflections before the Israel lobby delivered by Clinton, Trump, and Cruz.

Somehow I don't see the US, the UK, and France giving Israel such a free hand in the Middle East, propped up by billions of dollars in support every year, when the Reagan-Thatcher-Mitterrand era soon gives way to the Bernie-Corbyn-Melenchon era.

Bernie used to be an enthusiastic supporter of Israel -- back during its pre-Likud era, when he lived on a socialist kibbutz in the 1960s. Like Chomsky, he is most critical of Israel in its Likud-era incarnation, akin to America's Reaganite incarnation. For another multi-decade cycle before the Likud era, Israel -- like the rest of Europe and its off-shoots -- was governed by a paradigm of social democracy. Like the New Deal Democrats who ruled over that period in the US, the Labor Party ruled over Israel, before both were dethroned during the current neoliberal era that we are at the very end of.

* * *

The US and Israel were not allies during that New Deal / Labor Zionist period. During the First Arab-Israeli War of 1948, the US drove the Israelis out of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. During the Second Arab-Israeli War of 1956 (the Suez Crisis), the US sided with the Arab nationalist government of Egypt against Israel, whom the Americans drove out of its occupation of Egypt by financially threatening Israel's British enabler. During the Third Arab-Israeli War of 1967 (the Six-Day War), Israel blew up an American naval intel ship, the USS Liberty, just outside of Egyptian territorial waters. Finally, during the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 (the Yom Kippur War), the US remained largely on the sidelines, and gave limited military supplies to Israel, not wanting continued destabilization.

If we were not allies of Israel during the New Deal era, why would we be when the Bernie revolution moves us back into that kind of climate? It doesn't follow at all, especially given that the major priorities for both nations are going to see large-scale changes very soon, and those may diverge once again.

Certainly the Bernie crowd (not just the man himself) are cold toward giving Israel free rein. And the supporters of Corbyn and Melenchon feel the same way.

Part of this is due to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, which has been Israel's focus since the beginning of the Likud era. Before then, the Labor-era leaders were focused on fighting against and defending themselves from the entire Arab world -- hence the broadly named "Arab-Israeli" conflict. After the relative stalemate in the 1973 war, Israel learned that it could not stay in that paradigm indefinitely -- they needed to radically alter their foreign policy of the past many decades, and make peace with their Arab neighbor states, and focus instead on their immediate vicinity. Palestine, southern Lebanon, the Golan Heights in Syria -- and that's it.

The Western powers don't care if Israel mistreats Palestinians because that's not going to affect the price of gas. Indeed, the Palestinians have no leverage to strike back at all against the West, whether economically or militarily. If Israel fights against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, who cares? Even if Hezbollah wins -- who cares? It doesn't affect the Western nations economically or militarily -- unless Hezbollah expands throughout the region. But at first, nobody cared. Same thing with the Golan Heights -- nothing changes in the West whether Israel or Syria controls that area.

The West's main goal was to prevent Israel from destabilizing the region, when it was antagonizing the entire Arab world militarily. Once Jimmy Carter bribed Egypt and Israel into making peace with each other, followed by Bill Clinton bribing Jordan to make peace with Israel, everything was OK. Israel became our ally by no longer antagonizing the major Arab countries, so we didn't care if it caused trouble in its immediate vicinity where there are no consequences for us.

* * *

Of course, during the Reaganite / Likud era, the US and its allies intervened all over the Middle East -- but obviously they were fine with themselves destabilizing the region. It's only bad for the West if a non-Western country destabilizes a region, because that might turn out bad for us. If we are the destabilizers, won't we do so in a way that benefits us? That was the hope, at any rate.

But the reality is turning out the opposite -- our military interventions have created far more problems than the Reaganites and their allies ever imagined. Trump promised a major change on that front -- no more pointless wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Iraq War was a catastrophe that I was against, George W. Bush did not keep us safe on 9/11 anyway, and we've wasted over seven trillion dollars there with absolutely nothing to show for it.

And yet, his administration is doubling down on support for jihadist nations like Saudi Arabia, and doing their most to harm the anti-jihadist nations like Syria and Iran. Where he fails to deliver, the Bernie revolution will finally get us out of all these pointless and ruinous wars in the Middle East, and make peace with Syria and Iran.

During the Reaganite era, the Likud party has come to an alliance with the jihadists of Saudi Arabia, not to mention helping the jihadist opposition in Syria, which means the Likud will be on the wrong side of Western foreign policy when we undergo our next major regime shift with Bernie, Corbyn, and Melenchon.

If Israel continues to agitate for war against Iran, they will become even more opposed to the new priorities of the Bernie / Corbyn / Melenchon administrations.

That may be more likely than it seems right now. During the Likud era, Israel has not been much of a player in regional wars -- not like during the Labor era -- and has been harassing only its immediate neighbors. What if their shift out of the Likud era, and into an economically populist era, returns them to a more aggressive foreign policy? The new consensus might be that we Israelis need to make peace with the Palestinians by incorporating them into a one-state nation (albeit as second-class citizens), so that we can devote all of our energy to fighting against Iran.

If that's how their re-alignment turns out, they will really be on the wrong side of the US, UK, and France. The only thing that angers the Democrats more than Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians is their agitation for war against Iran. Since Obama's admin scored the Iran deal, even mainstream Democrats, not just the Bernie crowd, have come to see avoiding war with Iran as one of our most important goals. And when they become the new dominant party in the next few years, all bets are off for Israel continuing to be a top client state of ours -- and by extension, of the UK or France.

Those are the contours of the changes just on the side of Israel and its allies -- the next post will look at the other countries of the Middle East, and how their upcoming "new eras" will affect Israel's trajectory.

To clear out illegals, make ICE the enforcers of $25 minimum wage, targeting employers

Anti-immigration populists should be able to endorse the litmus test issue of "abolishing ICE," as demanded by the gang at Chapo Trap House, provided that the organization that replaces it becomes an armed enforcer of a $25 minimum wage, primarily targeting employers rather than workers. How could the Bernie crowd be against that?

We saw in an earlier post that ICE raids are ineffective at substantially shrinking the size of the illegal immigrant population because they create an untenable tension between major blocs of the GOP -- law enforcement and the labor-intensive sectors of the economy, whose greedy employers seek to cut costs and maximize profits by hiring cheap labor, meaning immigrants.

ICE will never be able to do their job to such an extent that it severely cuts into the profit margins of these labor-intensive sectors like agriculture and most small businesses (like a restaurant). They will be limited to occasional high-profile cosmetic raids to placate conservative voters, while leaving the illegal population basically unchanged.

And their raids only target the supply of cheap labor -- the immigrants -- rather than the demand for it -- the employers. That's backwards, since the endless demand for cheap labor is what continues to attract hordes of immigrants who supply that demand. Cut off the demand, and the suppliers of cheap labor -- immigrants -- will find no one to hire them. Unemployed, they will return home, or at worst go to some other country that does not police greedy employers like we are bound to do in a populist climate.

The surest and fastest way to clear out the illegal population, and to restrict legal immigration going forward, is to jack up the minimum wage, in effect outlawing cheap labor -- and thereby ending large-scale immigration de facto. If employers have to pay $25 an hour, they'll hire Americans rather than immigrants, to get more bang for the buck.

Likewise if we give any illegals amnesty, like the DACA people, all of the costs ought to be paid by the 1% -- cheap housing in elite zip codes, a jacked-up minimum wage paid for by employers in those zip codes, and so on.

Whoever brought the illegals here in the first place ought to be the only ones paying for their continued presence -- not the working class whose wages are being undercut, and whose housing prices are being bid through the roof, due to massive immigration.

Now of course the GOP won't go anywhere near those solutions, not only because they want mass immigration to continue supplying cheap labor, but because it would shift the paradigm away from "what's best for employers" to "what's best for workers".

Luckily, we're entering a period of gear-shifting out of the Reaganite paradigm, and into a Bernie paradigm. So the re-aligned Democrats can push these pro-working-class policies and not only attract populist voters per se, but also anti-immigration voters who understand the indirect yet no less massive effect they would have on immigration levels.

This has the benefit of making immigration, in the sphere of public debate, into an economic issue rather than a racial, ethnic, or national-origin issue -- much more palatable and politically unassailable. Whoever opposes it can easily be pilloried as just a shill for greedy employers who demand endless cheap labor, largely in the form of poor hordes of immigrants who they ruthlessly exploit by paying sub-minimum wages.

To further the re-alignment on immigration, ICE ought to be disbanded or re-branded, and given a whole new mission -- to threaten or actually use collective force in order to uphold the new jacked-up minimum wage laws. No good legislating them if employers are free to flout them. Arrest any employer who breaks the law, and seize their assets. If those assets suck, liquidate them for whatever you can, otherwise continue running the business but keep the profits for the government, with the proceeds going to pay down the debt, pay for the funerals of Americans killed by illegals, or whatever other pro-social purpose.

The new ICE could spend some small level of resources going after the immigrants themselves, since we also can't allow scabs to cross the minimum wage picket line. But that should be a far lesser role of theirs. Targeting the demand for cheap labor ought to always come before targeting the supply.

And unlike in a paradigm where the GOP is the dominant agenda-framing party, the new ICE could actually carry out these tasks in a paradigm where the populist Bernie Democrats are the agenda-framers. Their party is not controlled by the labor-intensive material sectors like agriculture, retail, and assorted crappy small businesses that fill up today's strip malls.

The new ICE would never have a reason to target employers in the sectors that control the Democrats -- Wall Street banks don't hire illegals, Silicon Valley doesn't depend on hordes of $5-an-hour immigrants, and neither does the corporate media cartel or Hollywood. These are all informational sectors, which are not labor-intensive and therefore not sensitive to the price of labor. They don't hire many people at all, since they scale up their operations without similarly scaling up their workforce or man-hours, and they pay handsome salaries to the lucky few.

The situation has gotten so out of control for so long, that somebody in the elite stratum is going to have to pay massive costs when we finally straighten things out. That will necessarily be those whose profits depend on cheap labor, meaning the material sectors who control the GOP. Fortunately, the coming turning of the multi-decade regime cycle is going to put into power the Democrats, whose elite sectors will not suffer massive losses when the minimum wage is jacked up by law, and enforced by teams of men with guns.

Democrat elites can breath a sigh of relief knowing that it will be their political and economic rivals who will go under when populism and de facto anti-immigration becomes the new normal, as Reaganism gives way to Bernie-ism.

And old school Trump supporters can rest easily, knowing that the immigrant population is going to come way down, however odd they may feel about the mechanism of change. Sorry, no epic raids with brown people dragged away in handcuffs, which may make for good right-wing theatrics, but which doesn't put a dent in the problem.

Instead it'll be live-streams of fat-faced cuckservative employers thrown into vans, while screaming that they didn't know -- I swear! -- that those Tagalog-only speakers were working at his place for less than $25 an hour. But right-wingers can always embellish on those images for their own meme warfare purposes. "Guess you should've hired Americans, then, bitch!"

May 13, 2018

Songs about physical exhaustion during the vulnerable phase of the 15-year pop music energy cycle

Earlier posts have outlined the traits of the manic, invincible phase of pop music's 15-year cycle in energy levels, followed by the mellow, vulnerable phase, and ending with a restless phase (post to come, but see comments in the second post). The restlessness leads to another spike in energy, and the cycle repeats. That spike cannot happen during the vulnerable phase, which is like a refractory period in an excitable system.

For example, when you're actively lifting weights, you're in an excited state. After some time, your muscles start to fatigue, and it's no longer possible to continue lifting even if you wanted to. They go into a recovery or refractory period. After awhile, they leave the recovery period, and it's more back to normal, even getting restless like they want to feel another work-out already. That leads to the next active work-out, beginning the cycle all over again.

With that basic model in mind -- an excitable system -- I've been keeping an ear out for symptoms of the current phase being mellow and vulnerable, unable to get as maniacally excited as the mood was about five years ago.

Ariana Grande has a new song on the radio called "No Tears Left to Cry," whose figure of speech struck me as a good example of being in a kind of refractory period. You couldn't cry again even if the stimulus were there that would normally cause you to cry -- you've simply run out of that physiological process. At some point, maybe she'll exit this refractory phase, and become capable of crying again, and after that, maybe go into a spike in crying activity, to be followed by another phase where she can't anymore, and the cycle repeats.

So I went over the Billboard Year-end Hot 100 charts, to see if that kind of figure of speech popped up more in the vulnerable phase -- and it did. Dividing decades into halves, the vulnerable phases were during the late '50s, the early '70s, the late '80s, the early 2000s, and the late 2010s. Here's what I found:

1958 - "Endless Sleep" by Jody Reynolds

1972 - "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All" by 5th Dimension

1986 - "All Cried Out" by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
1987 - "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" by Cutting Crew
1989 - "Close My Eyes Forever" by Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne

2002 - "One Last Breath" by Creed
2003 - "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence
2004 - "Numb" by Linkin Park
2004 - "Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day

2018 - "No Tears Left to Cry" by Ariana Grande

The common theme is being in a physiological state where you cannot be stimulated back into excitation. Your energy level has already collapsed, or is about to collapse, into a refractory period where just shaking you is not going to wake you up. Drained, worn out, spent, exhausted.

I left out figures of speech that don't imply a collapse, like just getting "weak" or feeling "breathless" around somebody. It had to suggest a terminal state, where only something extraordinary could wake them back up, if at all. Also, getting weak or breathless doesn't imply that you were on some kind of high before, and have plummeted into weakness or breathlessness. "Death" is another common trope that I ignored unless there was something specifically about collapsing suddenly in energy levels, rather than any other ways of dying.

So these images come to people naturally during a society-wide refractory period, but do they also pop up during the manic or restless phases? Not really.

"All Cried Out" did re-appear on the charts in 1997, during a manic phase, but that was a cover version rather than the original.

In 1980, between the restless late '70s and the manic early '80s, there was a song called "Enough Is Enough (No More Tears)". But the lyrics are not about having cried so much or so long that you're no longer capable of doing so anymore -- rather, about making the conscious deliberate choice to cut off the tears by choosing to get out of a bad relationship. Not really a refractory period.

And in 1993, a restless phase, there was a similar song named "One Last Cry" -- it, too, is more about choosing not to cry anymore by putting a break-up behind you after one last crying episode, rather than being all cried out and incapable of crying anymore.

Bonus example from the emo late '80s: although songs of this type may evoke sleep or even death, there's one that took a black humor approach to the "teen tragedy" genre of exactly two 15-year cycles earlier, during the emo late '50s, and made it about someone who has fallen into a vegetative state. While not a hit here in the US, it did chart in its native Britain.

May 12, 2018

No more crossover voters as Trump / GOP cuck on populism

If Trump only rallied the same people who voted for McCain or Romney, he would have lost the election just as badly as they did. Despite losing the popular vote, he swung enough Obama voters from blue states to win the Electoral College.

They were willing to take a risk on him since he campaigned as anything but the typical Republican -- populist rather than elitist, and isolationist more than globalist. That combination was right up the alley of Rust Belt voters who want to re-industrialize the dilapidated economy, who want to protect and enhance the social safety net, and who don't give a shit about "America's standing / leadership in the world".

The empty words of his speech yesterday on drug prices are just the latest example of abandoning the populist themes of his campaign. GOP partisans trapped in the Fox News bubble might not remember, but the moderates, Independents, and non-partisans who might tune into their competitor MSNBC got a vivid reminder last night when Chris Hayes & co. got to dunk on Trump for an entire segment.

And unlike the eye-rolling conspiracy theories that begin the evening shows, the later segments are sadly true enough -- they re-broadcast a detailed description that Trump gave to Joe & Mika during a town hall in February 2016, where he says our drug prices are sky-high because the government refuses to use its massive collective buying power (through Medicare D) to negotiate down the prices. He said other politicians won't tackle that problem because they're all bought off by the drug companies and their lobbyists, but not me -- I alone can fix, because I'm putting up my own money for my campaign. When I become president, I'm going to negotiate those prices down so fast it'll make ya head spin, and we'll save $300 billion a year.

He has supported single-payer healthcare for the better part of 20 years, and made it known on an hour-long episode of Larry King Live, when he was thinking of running on the Reform Party ticket in 2000. He still does: Michael Wolff recounts, in Fire and Fury, that during the healthcare discussions early in his term, the president asked the other Republicans bluntly, "Why don't we just have Medicare cover everybody?" The other GOP-ers pretended not to have heard such a heresy against Reaganism, which requires maximizing profits for the wealthy even if it impoverishes the majority. Medicare has minimal overhead and administrative costs because it's not profit-maximizing and does not pay its managers obscene salaries.

After surrendering without a fight on single-payer, Trump has wimped out even further by not even delivering on the promise of negotiating down drug prices. As a cosplay president, he acts as though his only role is to be an "ideas guy" who tosses out these heterodox policies -- but if they get shot down by the dinosaur GOP, well, hey, I tried. Maybe he'll bring up the ideas again and again -- but he will never wield power to force the GOP to carry out his orders, which come straight from the American people.

Indeed, as an utter novice in the government, he has no political capital other than the ability to mobilize the collective action of his supporters. But after more than a year of surrendering to the moribund Reaganite Establishment, he has allowed that support base to die off rather than cultivate it. Sure, he's still got the Tea Party and other partisan GOP people -- but just ask McCain and Romney how far that gets you in nationwide elections.

Using the government's buying power to negotiate down drug prices would have been the perfect chance to corral some of his alienated non-partisan supporters back into the fold -- especially during mid-term season when healthcare costs are such a major concern for voters of both parties. Nothing like a little unorthodox policy-stealing to leave the Dems with nothing left to run on other than "It's Mueller time!"

Mouth-breathing GOP partisans will support him no matter what he does, so it makes even less sense to cater to them. "What's that? -- Trump is transitioning us toward single-payer healthcare? Now that's my president! Looks like Barack Hussein Obama is just jealous that a Republican is going to give us Medicare for all! In your face, liberals!" Of course, if Trump pushes for the exact opposite policy, they'll hoot it up over that too. "No president of ours, especially not Trump, is going to lead us into the single-payer grave! Looks like Barrack Hussein Obama is just jealous that a Republican is going to thwart his backdoor plan for single-payer AKA Obamacare. Suck it, liberals!"

With the partisan mouth-breathers locked in no matter if he supports one policy or its polar opposite, he must cater to those who are issue-based voters, and particularly those who swung the election to him in a way that McCain and Romney could not manage. Not abortion issue voters, or gun issue voters -- but Medicare-for-all issue voters, terminate NAFTA issue voters, non-interventionist issue voters.

Instead he has wasted every opportunity to maintain and grow whatever goodwill he initially enjoyed from the other side, who were Independent Obama voters rather than partisan liberal Democrats. His approval rating was actually even-steven around his Inauguration, and I recall a good chunk of non-Trump voters saying at the time, "Hold on, give him a chance, let's wait and see, at least he'll be better than typical Republicans," and so on. After the first couple months as it became clear this would be a Ted Cruz presidency, that goodwill collapsed, and he has been underwater by about 10 points ever since -- sometimes a little higher or lower, depending on the events of the week, but nowhere near his initial breaking-even point.

That's true even for the conservative-leaning Rasmussen poll, where he began in the low-to-mid 50s, before falling to the low-to-mid 40s for most of the time since. During his recent upswing, he's still only in the high 40s, occasionally touching 50-51, but not higher, noticeably below his initial ratings.

How worrying should this be?

According to the American National Election Survey, among Trump's general election voters, 50% had already voted in the primary stage, and of those, 5% voted for Bernie Sanders (only half as many had voted for Hillary in the primary). That means 2.5% of Trump's total voters were Bernie voters -- not just Bernie supporters or sympathizers, but who were populist enough to actually cast a ballot for him, as opposed to other wimpy populists on the Dem side who voted for Hillary in the primary.

Trump's share of the vote in close Rust Belt states was about 48% -- MI, WI, and PA -- meaning that he got just over 1 of those percentage points from Bernie voters (2.5% of 48 points). In fact, Bernie voters probably made up an even larger share of his total in those states, since they were more Bernie-friendly in the primaries than was the nation overall. And he won all three of those states by less than 1 point. The only reason he won the election was by coaxing over these wary Bernie Democrats, not by pandering to the maxed-out Reaganite base.

He used to brag about that fact, which distinguished him from the other Republicans in the primary -- "I'm the only one who can get Democrats to cross over, folks. The Bernie people are really gonna like me on trade, that I can tell you."

Yet the only measure he's taken to appease these voters has been to "announce" tariffs on steel, before carving out exemptions for every major source of steel into our country, minus Japan. Even there, the admin's goal seems to be using that tariff threat in order to get back into the TPP, which is led by Japan. Trump left the TPP negotiations early, but has several times expressed the desire to get back into them, knowing damn well there is no good deal there for Rust Belt industrial workers. In other words, the admin's goal is to break one promise in order to break another promise -- to exempt Japan from steel tariffs in order to entangle the US back into the TPP.

Tariffs were supposed to be actually implemented, in order to force factories back into this country where they would be staffed by American citizens -- not the immigrants who Trump keeps insisting will be the only ones to get those jobs, in order to keep down labor costs for greedy employers. And if tariffs are to be only a threat, the concessions ought to benefit the working class and Bernie voters here -- not the 1% and other corporate pigs who have already sent so many factories and jobs out of this country.

The outcome is unsurprising -- ever-widening trade deficits. He rarely mentions the trade deficit anymore, and only offers vague promises to do better sometime in the future -- despite month and month, and soon year after year, of his administration fucking it up even worse than it was under Obama.

The partisan mouth-breathers may think that these wary Bernie voters who took a chance on Trump will ignore all of these actions taken to either blow them off or actively alienate them. They think a populist Obama voter is going to trap themselves in post-purchase rationalization since they can't take back their vote.

But if that were true, his approval ratings should have at least remained steady, and if anything gone up since Inauguration -- all the more time for rationalization to kick in, and with all the more anti-populist outcomes that ought to have created the cognitive dissonance needed to spur rationalization. We would see more, not fewer, Bernie surrogates in the media championing the admin's outcomes, or at least making excuses for them, or expressing sincere deeply felt hope.

Instead, his numbers with that side have tanked, and none of them are even expressing hope for things to turn around, let alone fervently defending him against his detractors. What is there to defend? -- putting more corporate rape back into the healthcare sector, intervening in more Middle Eastern conflicts, and announcing tariffs that never get implemented? They may not indulge in the phony Mueller probe bullshit, but they still don't support him overall.

And in the next general election, they won't have to -- Bernie supporters will get to vote for Bernie himself in 2020, rather than take a risk on Trump. The uncertainty of that gamble has been cleared up, and whether they blame Trump personally, the GOP writ large, the conservative media, or whatever else on that side of the political world, they have seen their risky bet fail to pay off. OK, no biggie, they'll just go with the more certain populist choice next time.

This is not to mention the easy dunking that anyone will be able to do on Trump about immigration. No wall, no payment from Mexico, illegal population size unchanged, illegal border crossings exactly where they were during Obama's second term, and so on and so forth. You'd think these criticisms will come from anti-immigration activists, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Bernie campaign uses this as another easy chance to dunk on Trump -- "Not that I actually support those policies, but it's yet another example of their broken promises, failure to deliver the goods, and total fragmentation of their party and administration. They can't get anything done to please their own voters -- only their corporate globalist donors."

Between the demoralized anti-immigration voters on the GOP side, and the "back to Bernie" populists on the Dem side, Trump will have little to show on election day 2020 except for the Republican rationalizers. Again, just ask McCain and Romney how much that army's worth in a nationwide battle.

May 9, 2018

Conservatives fumble Schneiderman: Blind to vacuous consent-based morality, sociopathy, and Social Darwinism

In a further sign of the total breakdown of the GOP and conservative movement, their response to the gruesome revelations of sexual assaults by New York A.G. Eric Schneiderman couldn't do any better than partisan dunking -- "What a surprise, liberal Democrat rapes again!" Partisan attacks are self-defeating because the other side can always snipe back at the other other side -- "What a surprise, lardass conservatives marching us toward nuclear war in the Middle East in order to keep gravy train going to missile-makers!"

The real answer to these kinds of stories is how empty and endangering it is to prop up a moral system on the hazy notion of "consent". Did Schneiderman's victims overtly declare their consent before sexual activity began, then verbally withdraw that consent as he was in the middle of slapping them around and spitting in their face? Or at least, did they use their body language to signal withdrawal of consent, say by struggling free, leaping out of bed, and running toward the door?

No? Well, then, it was all "consensual" -- and even if they didn't overtly declare so beforehand, at least it was implied at the outset, and they never clearly withdrew their consent during the acts.

Or perhaps they were simply paralyzed by fear, especially if their attacker was in a position of power over them -- either physically, owing to being a man rather than a woman, or socially, owing to his higher status. Or perhaps they were so caught off-guard that they were not so much fearful, as they were in a state of shock. In either case, being frozen and not knowing how to respond, other than maybe numbing themselves to the attack by going into a dissociative state.

And according to consent-based morality, if she has withdrawn into a dissociative state, she isn't objecting, and it's OK to keep doing what you're doing.

This is the dead-end of a moral system founded on the concept of "consent" -- it's not how real-life human beings interact, so it remains hazily defined and largely inapplicable when evaluating whether some act was right or wrong.

The truth is that acts are right or wrong regardless of whether anyone "consents" to them. Whether it is outright assault -- unprovoked striking, choking -- or degradation and humiliation -- spitting, belittling words, etc. Only libertarians are immune to the recognition of the second class of wrongdoing, which falls under depurification rather than harm or violence. Even liberals recognize some degree of taboo against debasing what ought to be elevated, polluting what ought to be pure, and making ugly what ought to be pretty.

These taboo acts are even more wrong when they are done in a context where one party assumed it was safe, only to be betrayed by the other party -- it is wronger to trick someone into letting down their guard in order to do wrong things to them, than to try to do those wrong things to them when they're only unsuspecting (and therefore more guarded than when they are trusting).

In an ordinary world, where people are socially connected to one another and where social news (gossip) travels quickly and broadly, once it got out that Schneiderman had degradingly sexually assaulted these women after tricking them into a vulnerable state, he would have gotten the overkill treatment by the community for such brazen anti-social behavior. Not just a swift death sentence, but with more degradation to his body than he had inflicted upon his victims -- bone-breaking, burning, beheading, etc. The agents of justice would have probably been the menfolk of the victims, or their close neighbors, or a neutral third party unaware of liberal morality.

In the modern world, especially a large anonymous urban metro like New York, sociopaths can blend into the faceless sprawling crowd, and the victims will have no one to turn to, being unrooted or uprooted from people who would actually give a damn about them if they were done wrong to, especially their extended family.

Conservatives have no way to even diagnose these pervasive problems, let alone come up with a treatment, because they have corrupted themselves into libertarian apologists for laissez-faire, deregulation, the law of the jungle, and Social Darwinism.

How can you square the idea that the weak and vulnerable ought to be protected from the strong and untouchable, with the idea that we're just supposed to let things happen however they're going to happen? No intervening -- especially not by the gubmint -- no rule-setting (regulation), no protecting. Each individual must pick themselves up by their own bootstraps and fend for themselves, including a 110-pound woman being slapped around, choked, and spit on by a man who tricked her into thinking he was normal.

There is no such concept as "abuse of power" (whether physical or social) in laissez-faire morality because this system supports "survival of the fittest". In the minds of conservative pundits, if you find yourself getting slapped around, choked, and spit on during sex -- maybe you should just carry a gun to defend yourself, or not make stupid decisions like getting in bed with a liberal Democrat.

Conservatives blind themselves to sociopathic behavior, which tricks its victims into letting their guard down, because they need to blame the victims (she made an obviously stupid / risky choice, rather than she got tricked by a con-man, or pressured by someone more powerful and overpowering). Libertarian morality exists to apologize for the abuses of the powerful, including by con-men -- notwithstanding the pro forma condemnation that libertarians show toward "fraud," which they are somehow never howling for to be punished.

If they were to agree to the existence of sociopaths and sociopathy, and their outsized influence on anti-social behavior -- especially the higher-ranking in society that they are -- they would be cornered into the choice of either defending unmasked Satanic anarchy, or surrendering their warped worldview altogether. Rather than face that untenable level of cognitive dissonance, they block out awareness of the problem to begin with.

For, once you agree to regulation and protection in one domain of life, like "what two (or more) adults do behind closed doors," you are led to apply that principle in other domains, like "how employers treat their employees". If a sociopath is allowed to trick a woman into bed, where he subjects her to choking, slapping, and spitting -- why is a sociopath not also allowed to trick a worker into thinking he's a well-meaning manager running a nice normal workplace, where he then subjects his employees to unpaid overtime, making them ask permission to take a piss, pays them whatever their illegal immigrant competition would accept in wages and benefits, and is always reminding them that he can fire them at any time for any reason if they ever feel like withdrawing their "consent" to being managed in those ways.

At this crucial turning-point in our social and political zeitgeist, the GOP, conservative commentators, and Republican voters, have totally dropped the ball. They are still busy defending the law of the jungle, and only slamming Schneiderman to say, "See, your tribe has criminals, too, not just our tribe, you hypocrites!"

It may be worse: I get the feeling that Republicans think that Schneiderman's behavior is only weird and embarrassing, so ha-ha for your side being caught with an embarrassing weirdo. Like, we GOP-ers are not here to kink-shame -- if you want to slap and choke a bitch in bed, not judging, not hating, but how embarrassing that the public found out! I don't sense their thinking this was profoundly immoral and requiring a death sentence.

They were supposed to be in a "re-alignment" toward communal solidarity, but have revealed themselves to be an ossified dinosaur party and movement that will get swept into extinction by a whole new paradigm, led by the Bernie revolution.

If conservatives want to prevent further degradation, they will abandon the sinking ship of their official movement, and climb on board the Bernie boats, to make sure they are steered in a wholesome direction.

Most liberal Gen-X and Millennial women can already sense how empty the consent model of morality has proven itself to be. They may not be able to articulate what's wrong with it, but they sense that it's just plain wrong to humiliate and subject others to degradation, especially if they're weaker, and especially if you've tricked them into letting their guard down -- regardless of some hazily defined and hard-to-verify notion of "consent".

They're struggling to latch onto a more solid moral system than the law of the jungle, and they are already staunchly opposed to Social Darwinism in the economic domain. If conservatives do not put aside their suicidal partisanship, the neo-Progressive Era will re-discover the moral system of solidarity, communal values, and the wholesomeness that it leads to, as it leads away from do-anything degeneracy. If conservatives cannot play a guiding role in that moral transformation, they are not only worthless -- they must be actively sidelined so that they don't get in its way.

It will fall more to the Bernie progressives to identify the material basis of these social ills -- such as anonymous urban environments, where people are rootless, driven to being uprooted from their families by the strip-mining of our once abundant economy in all but a few locations, and so on and so forth. They will also figure out how to mitigate and solve those material problems, by re-industrializing the economy, especially bringing such work back to revive small towns, where people and their families and communities can remain in place over generations, without having to scramble all over the map like Somali nomads in search of the few oases amidst their economic desert.

"Social-cultural conservatives for Bernie" will become more of a cohesive bloc the more that we slide from our Midcentury golden age, and harken back to it as the ideal -- an industrialized economy with strong labor unions, and a protectionist government, which supported small towns, healthy social relations, and a wholesome culture.

May 8, 2018

Ohio populists for Kucinich, and other primary discussion

If you're a populist in Ohio and are frustrated by the GOP refusing to follow the populist demands of their own primary voters from 2016, and instead running their standard slate of corporate elite Establishment types and Tea Party crazies -- you don't have to waste your vote on any of them in today's primary.

It's all the more galling since Trump himself intervened in the selection of the state GOP chair in January 2017, supposedly to elevate the populist-nationalist wing and kick out the corporate globalist Kasich wing. Well, over a year later, you wouldn't know the difference -- same candidates on offer as if the Kasich machine were still in charge. The party absolutely refuses to adapt to the demands of its own voters.

Meanwhile there's a real populist in the Democrat primary, Kucinich for governor. Ohio has open primaries, so anyone can vote for him.

Aside from being populist domestically (like favoring Medicare to cover everybody), Kucinich is a trade hawk and anti-interventionist on foreign policy, like the old Trump campaign, for which he was a quasi-surrogate on Fox Business. He wanted Bernie to win the primary, but once Crooked Hillary rigged the nomination, he said it's sad to say, but Trump is running better on trade and foreign policy than the Democrat.

He's not a hardliner on immigration per se, but his economic populism would eliminate immigration indirectly -- since the only reason immigrants come here is to meet American employers' demand for cheap labor.

Raise the minimum wage to $15, cheap labor becomes illegal, employers decide that if they have to pay a decent wage they might as well hire a good American rather than an immigrant, and immigrants return home when they can't get hired under the higher minimum wage.

That approach to draining the immigration swamp will not only stand a better chance with general election voters, it will target the true underlying source of immigration -- greedy employers' demand for cheap labor -- rather than superficial symptoms like the immigrants themselves. If you deport immigrants without blocking the employers' demand for cheap labor, they'll come right back at the behest of the employer class -- whose GOP puppets will refuse to build a wall or whatever else, lest that block the supply of cheap labor.

Enough of the do-nothing Republicans. It's time to support a real change agent like Kucinich for governor.

(Feel free to use the comments for remarks about other primary races today, like West Virginia, or primary season in general.)

May 5, 2018

Pop music cycle enters mellow vulnerability, after manic invincibility of 2013 era

What first drew my attention to the 15-year cycles in bouncy upbeat music was the contrast evident on the radio last year. They were still playing songs from the manic peak of the not-so-distant past of five years ago, alongside the much more mellow songs just being released. Now that those older manic songs have noticeably dropped off in airplay, and there's another year's worth of mellower songs, you can really sense how different the current mood is.

Rather than manic and invincible, the prevailing mood has shifted to mellow and vulnerable. Here are just a few examples from the 2017-'18 mood (compare to the songs in the first post on the 2012-'13 mood):

Looking back over previous cycles, this seems to be a recurring mood change. After the upbeat high-charging peak of 1997-'98, the next phase of 2002-'04 was more downcast and vulnerable. From the Spice Girls to Avril Lavigne in girl-pop, from the Backstreet Boys to John Mayer in sensitive-guy land, from Third Eye Blind to Linkin Park on the emo front, from Smash Mouth to Nickelback in alternative rock, and from Chumbawumba to Pink in the danceclub.

Some went through both phases of that cycle, with Christina Aguilera starting off with a sexualized techno sound in the late '90s ("Genie in a Bottle"), then switching to soft emo piano ballads by 2003 ("Beautiful"). In the current cycle, we see the same shift in Kesha from "Die Young" in 2012 to her new piano ballad duet with Macklemore, "Good Old Days". Daft Punk began upbeat with "Around the World" in '97, then mellowed out by 2001 with "One More Time". They took part in the current cycle's phases as well, starting with the high-energy "Get Lucky" in 2013 and mellowing out by last year in their collaboration with the Weeknd shown above, "I Feel It Coming".

Without going into so much detail for the time being, the same sequence of phases showed up in the earlier cycles.

After the manic peak of 1982-'84, the mood became more low-key and vulnerable by '87-'88 -- from new wave to power ballads, even within the same artist's career, such as the George Michael of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" to the George Michael of "Faith" and "Father Figure".

After the manic peak of 1967-'69, there was a major mellow-out by '72-'74 -- from the Monkees, Tommy James and the Shondells, and Sly and the Family Stone, to "Lean on Me," "Killing Me Softly with His Song," and "The Way We Were".

Although it would be hard to call any part of the 1950s "manic," the early half was still more upbeat, like the Ames Brothers and the Four Aces, compared to the lovesick teenager mood of the late '50s, like the Everly Brothers and Ritchie Valens.

Having established two phases of the cycle -- a manic phase, followed by a vulnerable phase -- that still leaves the third phase. My hunch is to call it "decadent," but that doesn't really relate to the theme of invincible and vulnerable. It's more like terminal, moribund, and giving-up. Some respond to the "giving-up" mood in a submissive surrendering way, others in an assertive decadent way, but it's all based on the cycle coming to an end.

That will have to wait for another post, but to preview things, just think of the music of the late 2000s, the early '90s, the late '70s, and the early '60s.

May 3, 2018

Democrat elites will concede on free speech etc. when GOP elites concede on climate change etc.

Although conservatives correctly complain about liberal Democrats abusing their control over the media sector to marginalize information that they don't want to be widely adopted, liberals can just as well complain about conservative Republicans abusing their control over the energy sector to marginalize energy sources that they don't want to be widely adopted. This generalizes to any abuse of power in any sector that one party controls.

See this post for the full analysis of which sectors of society use which party as their political agent to shape society in their own interests. But suffice it to say that the Democrats are the party vehicle of the finance, internet, and media / entertainment sectors (informational), while the Republicans are the party vehicle of the armed forces / law enforcement, energy, and agriculture sectors (material).

The elites of each sector have a quasi-monopoly on some critical resource in the operation of society -- funding, information, consensus shaping, force, energy, and food. As operators of a cartel, they can abuse their power, and the victims can do nothing within that sector but complain or numb out their awareness of the abuse.

One sector could mobilize against another sector, though, pitting its own distinct monopolistic strength against the other's. And given the society-wide scale of the battle, the sectors tend to form coalitions in order to maximize their collective strength and minimize the number of fronts that they do battle on. These coalitions of elites from various sectors are formalized as political parties, who carry out their ultimate battles in the political realm.

So it's not only that conservatives complain about liberal elites restricting conservative opinions from the consensus-shaping process that plays out in the mass media. They also complain about the entertainment sector's consensus portrayal of the abnormal as normal and vice versa, the (shadow) banning of conservatives from social media, the relegation of conservative sites to the distant results pages of search engine queries, and now the potential attempts by the big banks to no longer lend the money that would keep gun-makers' businesses operating.

On the other hand, liberals complain not just about the energy sector elites thwarting efforts to limit fossil fuel use, compared to more carbon-neutral energy sources, with an eye toward mitigating climate change. They also complain about the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, and cruel living conditions of livestock in factory-farms, about militarized police forces, over-zealous prosecutors, and a hawkish interventionist foreign policy.

One solution to this stand-off is de-escalation, whereby each side agrees to give relief to the aggrieved party in the sector where they themselves are in control, in order to get relief from the other party in the sector where they themselves are aggrieved.

The mass media could make conservatives 50% of the anchors, panelists, writers, and producers who shape consensus over crucial events -- provided that the military makes non-interventionists 50% of their general staff who shape our nation's posture of collective violence toward other nations. The big banks could provide no-interest loans or forgive existing debt for agribusiness, provided that they eliminated genetic engineering / chemical pesticides / factory-farming of livestock. Twitter agrees to stop banning conservatives, provided that the pharma industry yields to a Medicare-for-all healthcare system.

The other solution to the stand-off is a partisan battle of wills, whereby the overall victor (if not the 100% victor) will be the party that is the dominant, agenda-setting, framework-establishing one for its historical period. E.g., the Democrats during the Jacksonian period or the New Deal / Great Society period, and the Republicans during the Civil War / Reconstruction period or the Reaganite period.

Since we currently live in a highly polarized climate, the elites choose the battle of wills option. So far, during the Reaganite period that we are still in, that has benefited conservatives and Republicans over liberals and Democrats. Even if conservatives haven't gotten 100% of their demands during the Reagan period, their complaints about Hollywood, CNN, Twitter, and Wall Street amount to only 10% defeat. It is the liberals or leftists who have gotten only 10% victory, and 90% defeat, during our current period -- getting mostly nothing on the environment, labor unions, food production and consumption, and use of armed force (domestic or international).

But because Trump is an end-of-his-era president who tries but fails to radically alter his party's longstanding paradigm, we are about to shift into a new period led by today's opposition party, who will deliver the goods where the ossified dominant party had failed. Drawing on Stephen Skowronek's theory of political regime cycles, that means a populist, anti-globalist paradigm led by Bernie-affiliated Democrats.

Assuming the elites are still in the battle of wills mode, that means the overall victor will soon be the liberals and Democrats (maybe they will call themselves progressives), as conservatives and Republicans find themselves largely left out of society's operation.

It's in the interests of conservatives and Republicans to change from the battle of wills solution to the de-escalation solution. In that situation, they make concessions but also enjoy concessions from the other side. And since the shift from Reaganism to Bernie-ism has not yet been completed, the other side might be willing to hear out the idea of truce talks, while they're still temporarily the weak side.

If the conservatives and GOP keep pushing the battle of wills solution, thinking that they will not soon be on the weak side of a multi-decade political order, they will get shut out and shut down as completely as the liberals and Democrats have been during the Reaganite period.

And given that partisan polarization keeps rising, the next shift may be even more acrimonious and humiliating than the Reaganite period has been for its losers. Peter Turchin in Ages of Discord shows that polarization was only this high leading up to the Civil War. That suggests that, whether or not there is outright war, during the upcoming Bernie period the Republicans will fare like the Democrats did during the Civil War and Reconstruction period, and not merely like the Whigs did during the Jacksonian period.

With T-minus two years to the most seismic election since 1980, there are few conservatives entertaining the idea of truce talks, other than perhaps Marco Rubio's recent overtures on desanctifying the Reaganite vision of corporate profits uber alles. Trump of course pitched himself in 2016 as half-Republican and half-Democrat, but he's more of a moderate than a conservative to begin with -- and more importantly, nobody on his side is willing to follow that lead, instead dragging him over toward their conservative, partisan GOP side.

We'd like to believe that "there's still plenty of time left to change," and that "history does not always repeat itself," but the way things look now, the odds are that the GOP won't figure it out, and that the hardline conservative base will refuse to pressure their side's elites to make concessions to liberals in the sectors that they control (armed forces / law enforcement, energy, agriculture), even if it were matched by the liberal base pressuring Democrat elites to make concessions to conservatives in the sectors that they control (finance, internet, media / entertainment).

Civil War 2.0, here we come -- the goal now is to keep it as cold and bloodless as possible.

May 1, 2018

Catalysts of Korean unification in the past, to predict the peninsula's future

Having looked in part 1 at the causes of ethno-national unification in general, and the record on political unification vs. division within the Korean peninsula, let's see what forces have caused Korea to unify over history. We can then compare those forces to the current forces, in order to predict what will happen going forward. We'll start with the most recent period and work backward.

Joseon period (1400 - 1900)

The most recent unified Korean polity was controlled by the South, and lasted 500 years, roughly 1400 to 1900 (the Joseon kingdom). Recall that unification of one group builds in response to expansion by another, highly different group onto their territory.

It was the expansion of the Japanese into the Korean peninsula that largely drove the cohesion of the Joseon kingdom, with the southern region bearing more of the brunt and therefore leading the way in counter-Japanese cohesion.

Pirates from Japan began to harass southern Korea around 1350, and it got bad enough by the early 1400s that the nascent Joseon kingdom sent a naval expedition to wipe out the pirates' base on Tsushima Island, lying between Korea and the Japanese mainland.

That didn't stop them, and by the late 1500s, the whole peninsula was invaded by an army of over 150,000 commanded by the leader of a unified Japan. The northern part of Korea got back-up from Ming China, who knew they were next on the list if the Japanese took over Korea. That relegated most of the fighting to southern Korea, where civilian militias had to fill in for the lack of a large empire like China to help them out.

After a lull of peace, in the 1870s the Japanese used gunboat diplomacy to open up Korean ports to trade, with most of the targets lying in southern Korea. Things escalated until 1910 when Japan annexed Korea outright, and kept it until they lost WWII, when the Allied victors split it between themselves (Soviets in the North, Americans in the South).

Thus, from roughly 1350 to 1950, an expansionist Japan put incredible pressure on Korea, primarily where the peninsula lies closest to Japan. This made southern Korea more acutely aware than the north of the need to band together as one people, lest they be over-run by a people who were utterly alien to them.

The Japanese spoke a language belonging to a distinct family, their folk religion was unique, and their subsistence mode and growing civilization relied more on a maritime way of life -- making them seem, in the eyes of a sedentary Korean population, like a group of nomads, albeit ones who roamed by boat rather than by horse. They were like the Phoenicians or the Sea Peoples of the ancient Mediterranean who laid waste to sedentary agrarian societies.

During the Joseon period, the north did get invaded from Manchuria circa 1630, forcing the Koreans to pay tribute to the upstart Manchus of the Qing dynasty of China, and no longer to the Ming. Although this may have been a more humiliating single invasion than the Japanese occupation of a few decades earlier, the Manchus were not part of an ongoing expansion into Korea that was drawn out over many centuries, as the Japanese were.

As laid out in the first post, it is the "chronic" encroachments, rather than an "acute" strike, that cause the invaded group to slowly and steadily build its ethno-national cohesion. Even today, Koreans of either the North or South are more antipathetic toward Japan than toward China or Manchuria.

Goryeo period (900 - 1400)

Before the rise of the Japanese during the 14th century, the main threats to the Korean peninsula came from the north -- primarily the nomads from Central Asia and Manchuria, the most infamous being the Mongols.

These related groups spoke languages distinct from Korean or Chinese or Japanese, belonging to the Mongolic and Turkic families, which are similar to each other (whether due to descent from a common ancestor, or to contact-based sharing and influence). They shared their own religion, Tengrism, based on worship of the "eternal blue sky" that prevails across their territory, the Eurasian Steppe. In that environment, they followed a nomadic pastoralist way of life, herding livestock and traveling long distances by horse, not being tied down to the same plot of land to sow and reap agricultural crops.

That set up a meta-ethnic frontier between them and the people of northern Korea, separated by the Yalu River, the mountainous terrain, and the small area of the peninsula, all of which prevent Koreans from evolving into nomadic pastoralists.

Northeast Asian nomads had begun unifying during the second half of the first millennium, culminating in the Khitan Empire (or Liao dynasty) conquering much of northeast Asia from roughly 900 to 1100. Without missing a beat, another nomadic group took over -- the Jurchen, ancestors of the Manchus, who founded the Jin dynasty from roughly 1100 to 1200. They lacked the lands of Mongolia and further west that the Khitans had, but they still penned in Korea to its north and west. Then right on top of them, the Mongols broke out and invaded Korea over the middle part of the 13th century.

It was this chronic expansion of nomadic empires from northeast Asia that caused the Korean peninsula to unify during the Goryeo period. And because the threats were coming from the north, it was the more exposed northern Koreans who developed the strongest sense of solidarity needed to repel a common enemy, and they led the way in unification more than the southerners.

Ultimately the blow from the Mongols proved to be too much to withstand, and Goryeo was reduced to a vassal state of the Mongols (or the Yuan dynasty) from 1270 to around 1350. This weakened status of the northern-led kingdom, combined with the rise of Japanese threats from the south, led to the southward shift in the center of ethno-political gravity during the Joseon period that followed.

Contemporary parallels

Today there appears to be less of a threat coming from Korea's north and west, as the nomads of the Steppe have gone into hibernation after the raids of the Mongols and Turks. However, those Central Asian Steppe explosions break out at least once a millennium, and it's already been 800 years since the Mongols. But those are not happening now, so they won't play a role in building pan-Korean solidarity in the meantime.

The other potential major encroachment from that direction would be China, and they don't seem interested in taking over Korea. Their grand vision is the One Belt One Road initiative to link most of the Eurasian landmass economically, and the Korean peninsula -- both North and South -- is nearly alone among East Asian countries in its exclusion from that plan. China is more worried about Southeast, South, Central, and West Asia. But given China's general plans of expansion, it's still a possibility that will make Koreans want to band together to repel.

Instead, it will likely be Japan that puts the most pressure on Korean ethnic solidarity and political unification. Japan still views itself as superior to Korea, and will continue to act on that, even when the American empire leaves both South Korea and Japan. And China's ongoing expansion is likely to make the Japanese cohere more strongly in the contest for regional dominance. The natural starting point for such a counter-Chinese expansion by Japan would be into Korea, where China has historically had little political control. Japan would start with an easier battlefield on which to challenge China for regional dominance.

Squeezed between China and Japan vying for control over East Asia, the Korean peninsula will likely unify rather than remain divided. And given the stronger pressure coming from Japan than from China, a unified Korea will likely be centered more toward the South, as it was during the Joseon period. The northern-centered Goryeo period came before the rise of the Japanese, when the only threats were to the north and west.

Unless the Japanese vanish as a regional power, it would take one hell of a chronic invasion from China or Central Asia over the Yalu River to make the northern part of Korea the leader of a unified peninsula.

The next post will briefly look at periods in Korean history when the peninsula was divided (before 900), to show that they are not applicable to the present day.