Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Stakeholder State

I suppose I have a professional obligation to the historians of the future to have some thoughts on impeachment.  These are they.  As with lots of stuff here, it’s more disconnected thoughts than an essay, so make of them what you will.

In a way, I’m glad the Dems were dumb enough to impeach the President.  For one thing, it reemphasizes a life lesson that, like all truly useful life lessons, is lethally easy to forget.  I’m not a gambling man, but you can bet the farm and the kids’ college fund on the phrase “surely they’d never be dumb enough to ____.”  The very fact that you find yourself thinking “they’d never be dumb enough to ____” is a guarantee that they are, right now, at this very instant, ____.

More importantly, though, this is the logical endpoint of “democracy,” and now everyone gets to see it firsthand.  In theory, democracy works by channeling competing vices.  If men were angels, no government would be necessary, James Madison said, but since they’re not the best we can do is incentivize bad people to do good things in pursuit of their own selfish interest.  It’s a nice thought, but it can only work (if, indeed, it can work) in a culture like Madison’s, in which public men are concerned about their dignity, honor, and posthumous reputation.

Obviously none of those hold in Current Year America, since they were all invented by the Pale Penis People, and even if they weren’t, they can’t matter to atheists anyway — one only defends one’s dignity and honor if one believes he’ll be called to account for them, and who’s going to do the accounting?  There is no God, and as for the bar of History, what could that possibly matter to a cultural marxist?  To them, as to their Puritan forbears, “history” is really soteriology.  The past is nothing but a catalog of freely chosen error.  For the fanatic, “history” begins anew each dawn, because why study endless iterations of Error when you already have the Truth?

You could offer Pelosi and Schiff places on Mt. Rushmore if they called off “impeachment,” and they’d just stare at you googly-eyed…. well, ok, I realize that Schiff’s always googly-eyed, and Nancy’s facial muscles haven’t been able to move since 1986, but y’all get the point.  To the fanatic, who is in possession of the full, complete, and eternal Truth, the only thing that matters in this world is power.  It’s as true for Pelosi as it was for Oliver Cromwell.

So why not “impeach” the President?  If you’re sure you’re going to lose the next election anyway — and as blackpilled as I am, I’m pretty sure a concussed orangutan could beat any one of those goofballs — why not try to shoot the moon?  It’s not like you’re going to face any personal consequences, because not one of the so-called “opposition” has threatened to impeach anyone from the “other side.”  Which, since that’s the first thing any honest opposition would do, means that Schiff and Pelosi will walk away scot free, ready willing and able to do it again (they’ve already all but announced that if this fails, they’ll impeach Trump again if he wins in November).  They’re all, Democrats and Republicans alike, playing Washington Bingo, which is the Glass Bead Game for retards — nobody really knows what it is or why anyone bothers, but it keeps them occupied in nice cushy offices, with weekends in the Hamptons.

Democracy always devolves into ochlocracy, as some Dead White Male said, but since the last Dead White Male died centuries before Twitter, he didn’t realize that ochlocracy was just a pit stop on the way to kakistocracy.

“Democracy” only works — if, in fact, it does work, which is a very fucking open question — in a stakeholder society.  When Madison and the boys pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to each other, they meant all of that literally — Washington could well have died a pauper, Alexander Hamilton ordered his cannon to fire on his own house, and so on.  They had skin in the game, which is why they were so public-spirited — if they screwed up, they personally would have to live with the consequences.  These days, of course, getting “elected” — or even selected to run for “election” — is a free pass to Easy Street.  The rules apply only to the plebs, and only so long — and, insh’allah, the day is soon coming — as we have to pretend to let them “vote” on stuff.

So, sure — why not “impeach” him?  “Convict” him, too, for all I care — I’ve already seen all three rings of the circus; I don’t need to see them again, every six months, for the next four years.  It’s not a question of if we descend into open police-state thuggery and / or civil war; it’s a question of when.  And since everything I wrote above continues to apply, the Democrats’ next step is obvious.  “Impeachment” didn’t work?  Time to go to the gun.  Bernie Sanders’s goons are already talking about putting us in gulags.  Warren’s and Biden’s people have better opsec, but you know they don’t disagree with the sentiment.  And since they’re convinced that nothing bad will ever come to their neighborhood — and they have every reason to believe this — why not give Antifa some real weapons and a nudge?

 

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Arguing with God

Thomas Hobbes blamed the English Civil War on “ghostly authority.”  Where the Bible is unclear, the crowd of simple believers will follow the most charismatic preacher.  This means that religious wars are both inevitable, and impossible to end.  Hobbes was born in 1588 — right in the middle of the Period of the Wars of Religion — and lived another 30 years after the Peace of Westphalia, so he knew what he was talking about.

There’s simply no possible compromise with an opponent who thinks you’re in league with the Devil, if not the literal Antichrist.  Nothing Charles I could have done would’ve satisfied the Puritans sufficient for him to remain their king, because even if he did everything they demanded — divorced his Catholic wife, basically turned the Church of England into the Presbyterian Kirk, gave up all but his personal feudal revenues — the very act of doing these things would’ve made his “kingship” meaningless.  No English king can turn over one of the fundamental duties of state to Scottish churchwardens and still remain King of England.

This was the basic problem confronting all the combatants in the various Wars of Religion, from the Peasants’ War to the Thirty Years’ War.  No matter what the guy with the crown does, he’s illegitimate.  It took an entirely new theory of state power, developed over more than 100 years, to finally end the Wars of Religion.  In case your Early Modern history is a little rusty, that was the Peace of Westphalia (1648), and it established the modern(-ish) sovereign nation-state.  The king is the king because he’s the king; matters of religious conscience are not a sufficient casus belli between states, or for rebellion within states.  Cuius regio, eius religio, as the Peace of Augsburg put it — the prince’s religion is the official state religion — and if you don’t like it, move.  But since the Peace of Westphalia also made heads of state responsible for the actions of their nationals abroad, the prince had a vested interest in keeping private consciences private.

I wrote “a new theory of state power,” and it’s true, the philosophy behind the Peace of Westphalia was new, but that’s not what ended the violence.  What did, quite simply, was exhaustion.  The Thirty Years’ War was as devastating to “Germany” as World War I, and all combatants in all nations took tremendous losses.  Sweden’s king died in combat, France got huge swathes of its territory devastated (after entering the war on the Protestant side), Spain’s power was permanently broken, and the Holy Roman Empire all but ceased to exist.  In short, it was one of the most devastating conflicts in human history.  They didn’t stop fighting because they finally wised up; they stopped fighting because they were physically incapable of continuing.

The problem, though, is that the idea of cuius regio, eius religio was never repudiated.  European powers didn’t fight each other over different strands of Christianity anymore, but they replaced it with an even more virulent religion, nationalism.  It took two devastating wars to finally put that iteration of religious mania to bed, but since bad ideas never die, virulent nationalism was replaced by cancerous globohomoism.  Cuius regio, eius religio, and since every member of every Western government that matters is a globohomo fanatic…

I trust y’all see where this is going.  Just as there was no arguing with a Puritan about Calvinism, or a Nazi with lebensraum, or a Communist about History (in practice, about the inevitable triumph of the Soviet Union), so there’s no arguing with a globohomoist about the poz.  And like Calvinists, and Nazis, and Soviets, they won’t stop until they’re ground down to utter exhaustion, because they can’t stop.  There’s no possible compromise with Antichrist.

Things are moving very fast now.  There’s no violence at the big 2nd Amendment rally in Virginia yet, but the day’s not over.  And even if it ends peacefully, God willing, the next one won’t…. and there will be a next one, of course.  There’s no chance in hell that the globohomoists will wise up and learn the lessons of history, because for the fanatic, there is no history.  Nor is there any such thing as an honest mistake.  The past, all of it, is one long catalog of freely chosen error, and the only lesson worth learning from it is that your enemies must be exterminated, lest their errors persist to corrupt a new generation.

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“Bipartisanship”

Like the college guy with the hot girlfriend who becomes habituated to demoralizing, degrading, bankrupting insanity, so the American people with politicians.  Whatever “representative government” is supposed to be, it sure as hell ain’t this.

Army combat veteran and Congressman Max Rose (D-NY) has released a statement breaking party lines to oppose Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s War Powers Resolution.

That’s it.  That’s the news.  That a Democrat is voting other than Nancy Pelosi wants him to vote.  The Left considers this a huge betrayal, while the Right is hailing it as some kind of big victory.  My analysis is more Kent Brockmanesque — I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, democracy simply doesn’t work.

The context — “Nancy Pelosi’s War Powers Resolution” — doesn’t matter at all.  That’s not to say it isn’t a serious issue, worthy of real debate.  We could start with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the War Powers Resolution.  The latter replaced the former and is still in effect, at least theoretically, though it’s hard to see how much American military action since 1973 is covered under it.  But that would require some thought, and some historical literacy, so let’s talk about what “everybody knows.”

For instance, everybody knows that if Obama had taken out Soleimani, the same folks who are currently freaking out would be ecstatic.  The only thing that moistens the thighs of the Media-Academic Complex more than a live terrorist is a dead terrorist cruise-missiled by a Democrat president.  The Bin Laden raid was a gross violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, but it’s still the first thing Lefty brings up when he wants to sound tough.  (Soleimani, not that it matters, was tooling around a combat zone wearing the uniform of an avowed US enemy).

So, too, everybody knows what would’ve happened if the Republican House had brought a “war powers resolution” to the floor limiting Obama’s freedom of action:

Again, there are real, big, important issues at stake here — can Pakistan send commandos into New York if they find out a guy on their hit list is living there? — but none of them would matter in the slightest to the “debate.”  The content doesn’t matter.  At all.  Only the form.

Let me put this as clearly and calmly as I can: This is gibbering insanity, and yet we conduct all our political affairs this way. This “war powers” nonsense pales in comparison to sham-peachment, for instance, where we’ve got Nancy Pelosi crowing that “we’ve been working on this for two and a half years,” when the so-called “crime” he’s being “impeached” for happened — if it happened, which of course it didn’t — in 2019.  “High crimes and misdemeanors,” they announced almost from the moment the last vote was counted, will be whatever they need them to be.

Then look at the fallout. A lone Democrat, NY rep Jeff Van Drew, voted against “impeachment.”  And then he switched parties.  Think about that for a second.  What could “representation” possibly mean, when the Party requires such lockstep loyalty that you have to abandon it to vote against it on a matter of grave historical consequence?  The removal of a sitting US president is bound to have grave, global ramifications, for years… and yet, both sides all vote in lockstep, to the point where any dissenter actually has to go over to the other, lockstep-voting side.

So, too, with the “trial,” whenever that actually happens.  Here too, everybody knows that Pelosi is only delaying the transmission of the articles of impeachment — which is unconstitutional in itself, as if that has ever mattered — in order to bribe, cajole, threaten, intimidate, or otherwise sweet-talk a few “Republicans” more than just Snowe, Murkowski, and Pierre Defecto.  Again, think about that.  We know how these clowns are going to vote, regardless of the evidence.

Again, this is a situation of the utmost consequence.  You’re gonna be in the history books for this, one way or another.  Short of actually voting to declare war on China or something, this is probably the most consequential action a Senator could ever be expected to vote on…. and yet, we all know how it’s gonna go.  Is there anyone, anywhere, so naive as to think that, say, Martin Heinrich (D-NM, a guy I picked at random) is going to break ranks?  Or that however Pierre Defecto ends up voting, it’s based on anything other than who offered him the sweetest deal?

THIS. IS. LUNACY., and yet, everyone in America simply accepts it as given.  We even clap for “bipartisanship,” for pete’s sake, like the good little trained seals we are.  As far as I’m concerned, the actions of our “representatives” are the strongest possible argument for divine-right monarchy.  At least when the Duke of This schemes with the Earl of That to assassinate the King because the King awarded the Duke’s mistress to Baron The Other Thing, they’re being no better than they ought to be.  “Democracy” asks everyone, voters and representatives alike, to be better than they ought… and then cheers when they turn out to be worse scoundrels than we thought.

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The Pleasures of Ketman

The Z Man’s column today talks about grifting.  In the comments, there’s lots of speculation as to what the grifter gets out of it.  After all, there are lots of grifts — a commenter mentions three-card monte — where the daily take is no better, and probably worse, than you’d get from a McJob.  But for the grifter, doing something, anything, that isn’t a payroll job seems to be half the point….

I suggest that the answer is something like something like ketman.  It means “paying lip service to official ideology while secretly subverting it.”  It’s a sour sort of pleasure, but believe me, it is a pleasure.  I did it for years.

I got into the higher ed biz fully intending to practice what Milosz calls “aesthetic ketman.”  I loved my subject, but my subject was recondite enough, I figured, that I could keep the SJW bullshit to a bare minimum.  I don’t remember what they called “intersectionality” back then, but whatever it was, I’d just make a few brief nods to it, then get on with my work in relative peace.  Throw a few quotes from Foucault, Judith Butler, Gayatri Spivak, and the like in my dissertation intro, and that was that.

The problem, though, is that the sour pleasure of ketman is addictive, and like any addiction, you need to keep upping the dose to feel the same effect.

My first few years in grad school, anyone who cared to look could’ve easily spotted me as a secret shitlord.  For one thing, I was the only guy in the whole damn town who actually looked happy.  For one thing, professing is a 24/7 job — that’s “24 hours a week, 7 months a year,” and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  All that free time is lovely, especially in a college town with 24-hour everything and scads of scantily clad undergraduate eye candy.

But more importantly, there’s the pleasure of ketman.  So long as I make a few radical noises, I can get you sheep to believe anything I say.  I used to tell people I studied transgendered potato farmers in the Kenyan uplands.  I told this obnoxious girl from the Gender Studies department my dissertation was on resistance strategies of Eskimos in the Waffen-SS.  I cited Alan Sokal’s hoax paper on the social construction of gravity in every seminar taught by a radical feminist, and no one ever called me on it.  Anyone who thinks I’m kidding obviously hasn’t been on campus in the last 20 years or so.  It was fucking hilarious….

….for a time.  And then it got sad, then nauseating, because I eventually realized I was no different from the fools who swallowed my bullshit.  It doesn’t matter if you’re being exquisitely ironic when you tell a room full of freshmen that “gender is a social construction.”  They can’t recognize irony anyway, and even if they could, parroting the phrase “gender is a social construction” is still required to pass the class.  More importantly, what if they did recognize it?  I’m up there thinking I’m a shitlord, speaking truth to power to anyone smart enough to figure it out, but all they see is another fat, middle-aged sellout parroting nonsense.  If I were serious about my shitlordery, they think, then I’d quit.  But I don’t quit, which must mean my so-called “principles” are worth… what?  We’ve already established you’re a whore, madam; now we’re just haggling over the price.

Ketman fails on its own terms, I guess I’m saying, because there’s no way to use The System without The System also using you, and economies of scale being what they are, The System always wins.  But until you figure that out, ketman lets you go on being a happy cog in the machine, because you’re really sticking it to the rubes…

Either way it ends in disillusion.  It’s like the Revolutionary’s Dilemma: even if you believe your own bullshit, you come to hate the people who believe in you.  They’re either dumb sheeple who’ll believe anything, or they’re even dumber sheeple who are too stupid even to grok that.  The only way out is to approach ketman not as a survival strategy, but as an identity.  I couldn’t… but then again, I had a choice.  The people Milosz describes didn’t, so go read the book if you want to see how it turns out.

 

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Complexity

Like most big ideas, “evolution” was in the air long before Darwin published Origin of Species in 1859.  They used to at least mention Jean-Baptiste Lamarck back in high school biology, for instance, though I doubt they bother now (with biology, I mean, since it’s just a social construction).  An interesting guy, Lamarck – a decorated soldier, a physician, and a talented naturalist, as well as an evolutionary theorist.  There were giants in the earth in those days…

If they remember him at all, most folks vaguely recall that Lamarck said something about giraffes.  As Lamarck postulated the heritability of acquired characteristics, that was the stock example of “Lamarckian evolution” — Mama giraffe stretches her neck to reach leaves on a high branch, so Baby giraffe is born with a slightly longer neck.  Lamarck was wrong about the physical aspects of that, but he must’ve been on the right track when it comes to behavior.  After all, one of the standard objections against Darwin (back when we acknowledged that there are some, I mean, and why do you Jesus freaks hate science?) is that lots of very basic animal behavior simply can’t have “evolved” via natural selection.

Sparrows, for instance, “instinctively” build nests, but unless sparrows were simply designed to build nests — heh heh, of course not, silly Bible-thumpers — then at some point in the evolutionary chain an individual proto-sparrow must’ve figured it out.  And it’s a complicated behavior, too, so it’s no good postulating that some proto-sparrow with OCD just happened to pile sticks up, and luckily that made a “nest,” and the “nest” helped the OCD sparrow survive a die-off, and so now all sparrows build nests.  I don’t know how much “consciousness” (as we humans understand it) we can attribute to sparrows, but while the imperative to build a nest must be instinctive, the actual nest-building process is surely a conscious act…

But hey, whatever, behavior’s heritable, score one for Lamarck.  Ol’ Jean-Baptiste had another idea that’s worth revisiting.  He observed that Nature — capital-N, we’re in the 18th century here — tends hard towards increasing complexity.  Which seems obvious, right?  Even the simplest organic life we know — plankton, stuff like that — is just one small piece of a vast, complicated system.  And when you look at the evolutionary history of any given organism, increasing complexity is the rule.  I’m not gonna say it’s universal — I barely squeaked by high school biology, and that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — but I certainly can’t think of any examples of decreasing complexity off the top of my head.  I can think of a million examples of increasing complexity, though, both physically and behaviorally.

Lamarck, then, postulated a Force — capital-F; again, 18th century — which he called “the Complexifying Force,” that drives this trend in organic life.  As much as I naturally recoil at this “Force” stuff — both the Georg Hegel and George Lucas versions — it sure seems right, so I’m going to go with it.  And since the point of studying History is to apply stuff to other stuff, I wonder what the Social Darwinists would make of all this?

I suggest that human organizations, too, are effectively organisms, obeying the same basic organic laws.  That’s either hippie bullshit or blindingly obvious, depending on your perspective — it sure as hell isn’t an original thought — but again, as always, folks don’t seem to follow it up.  Organizations display learned behavior.  More importantly for our purposes, organizations are subject to Lamarck’s Complexifying Force.  Any organization of sufficient size instinctively starts going outside its core competency.  We like to joke about “get woke, go broke,” but it doesn’t have to be strictly political.  Take any business you’re familiar with.  I guarantee you, once it got past a certain size, its managers started droning on about “corporate responsibility” and whatnot.  I’m not saying that’s bad — it was great back when George’s Local Plumbing used to sponsor your Little League team, America would be a lot better off if we got back to that — I’m just saying it’s true.  It’s as predictable as sunrise.

As business, so government.  Small towns are actually a better illustration of the principle than big cities, because they’re small enough to easily study.  Small town governments, without exception, do a whole bunch of shit nobody ever asked them to do, and don’t do a whole bunch of things community members actually need.  It’s not ideological, since tiny burgs in Flyover Country that are redder than red are just as goofy and inefficient as college towns on the coasts.  This is the Complexifying Force in action, since governments, too, are organisms…

Indeed, if you really want to Lamarck that shit, you could postulate that the more sclerotic the bureaucracy, the more characteristically “organic” it becomes.  Stripped-down organizations that consciously try to stay in their lanes — e.g. startup businesses — are nearly machine-like in their focus.  Since government doesn’t really have a lane — even the best government is essentially reactive — they start at a disadvantage, and as they grow (as they always do), their “organic” tendencies grow more and more pronounced.  It isn’t long before you end up with the EU, writing strict regulations on the curvature of bananas and commissioning big expensive studies to find out if you can officially call feet-reeking cheese produced outside the the actual city of Limburg “limburger.”

For the record, all of this is just some meandering thoughts on an interesting episode in intellectual history.  It has no application to dissident politics whatsoever.  I’d never suggest, for example, extrapolating that, since our pozzed organizations are all thoroughly organic, they might react like organisms do to viruses, or cancer.  The “viruses” not being secret shitlords in their cubicles, of course, because c’mon, that’s really stretching a metaphor.  And “be the cancer” is a seriously crappy rallying cry anyway.  All of this is baloney, and I think Lamarck would agree.

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Why So #Woke?

contrariandutchman asks an interesting question in the post previous.

How come all the great bureaucracies are now controlled by people who want to work toward wokeness?

Since we’ve lived with it for so long, it hard to get our heads around just how bizarre “wokeness” is.  Living with the Left is like that one relationship we all had back in college, with the hot-but-psycho chick.  You quickly get habituated to the insanity (the “hot” part helps a lot).  Then one day you look around and realize that no one in his right mind would ever live like this.  The past few weeks / months / years seem like a fever dream.  Wait, she did what?  And I was ok with that?

Even we dissidents, who consider ourselves fully aware of the Left’s insanity, can use the occasional refresher — not least because we unconsciously assume that the Left’s real weirdos are Internet People, or academics.  But they’re not.  Unplug completely over the weekend, then turn on prime time tv.  It’s the Star Wars cantina scene, and it’s everywhere.

Why on earth, then, would anyone choose this?

I’m going to point y’all, with reservations, to a site called Face to Face.  Specifically, this post.  The reservations are: The author apparently started out as a PUA (he was linked on the now sadly defunct Chateau Heartiste) with a thing for the barely-legals; he develops these unhealthy fixations on Leftists (e.g. Bernie Sanders as the savior of Heritage America; this “Aimee Terese” Twitter person); he’s apparently some kind of academic, so his off-the-rails posts are really off the rails (e.g. the Bernie-love, his insistence that Trump will decline the 2020 Republican nomination).  In other words, it’s a Vox Day-type site — you can find a lot of good stuff there, but only by filtering it through the author’s increasingly…ummmm…unique personality.

The linked post is gold, though.  The quick and dirty version is: Since the goddamn Boomers will never, ever retire — they’ll keep patting themselves on the back for Sticking It to the Man until they’re lowered into their tie-dyed, patchouli-reeking coffins, even though they’re all hedge fund managers and live in McMansions — the subsequent generations had to find a new area in which to compete for social status.  Thus lifestyle striving for Gen X, and persona striving for the Millennials.

For Gen X, think of my personal candidate for “everything that’s wrong with the 90s, all in one place,” the 1994 movie Reality Bites.  Don’t rent it unless you’re current on your blood pressure meds.  It’s four of the 1990s’ most insufferable people (Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo) quipping about being slackers.  Well, except Stiller (also the director), who plays the grasping, uptight, sold-his-soul-to-The-Man yuppie foil to the other three.  Stiller is the Gen Xer who chose to compete in the oversaturated career arena; he’s cartoonishly evil.  The rest of them hang out in coffee houses, polishing their image.  They’re lifestyle competitors.

For Millennials, and whatever we’re calling the upcoming generation (“The Lobotomized Snowflake Posse” is my suggestion, brevity be damned), well, just look at social media.  Even lounging-around-Starbucks lifestyle competition is out of reach for people who went $100K in the hole for a Gender Studies degree.  The only currency they’ve got is effort — hey, didn’t Karl Marx say something about that? — so Twitter becomes their full time job.  Xzhe with the most followers wins.

And now we’re back in the realm of academia’s fucked up incentive structure.  The road to tenure takes only left turns, you’ll recall, because only “original” “research” gets published, and since Shakespeare ain’t writing no more sonnets, the only way to be “original” is through radical politics.  As above, so below — since nobody’s going to upvote or retweet a sentiment like “Things are pretty much ok the way they are,” social media becomes little more than competitive #wokeness.

So much for the persona strivers.  But that doesn’t really answer contrariandutchman’s question, because our lavishly compensated FedGov flunkies actually can compete in the lifestyle and career arenas.  Acela Corridor parasites are The 1%, on any measure that makes sense to anyone in the real world.  Why are they all #woke?

Here again, academia provides the answer.  But first, let’s talk about David Brooks, the “conservative” infamously aroused by Obama’s perfectly creased pants.  There are few sillier people than David Brooks, but “take wisdom where you find it” is my motto (well, that and “mihi dare vinum”), and he really knocked it out of the park with Bobos in Paradise.  No, seriously.  A “Bobo” is what Agnostic from Face to Face would call a lifestyle striver, but a rich one.

A Bobo, in other words, is a Gen Xer who could compete with the Boomers on their turf… but since he also took the Boomers at their word when they went on (and on and on and on and on) about Sticking It to the Man (an all too common generational failing), the Bobo sees the Boomer’s luxury car / vacation home / trophy wife conspicuous consumption as unbearably gauche.  So instead, the Bobo spends $500 on a can opener because it’s good for the environment or is handcrafted by paraplegic Brazilian Eskimos or something, anything, so long as it a) obviously costs a shitload, and b) has some kind of Save-the-World rationale attached to it.

Academia reinforces this.  Lots of Gen Xers went into the ivory tower for precisely that reason.  Y’all know that the average professor hauls in nearly $200 large, right?  The median income for an American worker in 2019 was approximately $46,800.  I was in History, not math, but even I can see that the eggheads take home over four times what the average Joe makes.  Which sets up another lifestyle contest.  When you’re a) richer than sin, b) surrounded by a caste on slave wages, and c) ideologically committed to seeing yourself as The People’s Champion, the only way out is to live Bobo-style.  Sure, sure, I have a $500 can opener… but Maricela the cook is really empowered by using it, because it was made by transgendered aborigines Of Color.

And since those Bobos are middle aged now, they’ve indoctrinated two generations of students with this garbage.  And those two generations also came up with social media, so now you’ve got the heady combination of lifestyle and persona striving.  That’s why the DC crew do what they do.  Competitive #wokeness is the only way to go… and since they’ve got their $400-manicured mitts on the levers of power, we all get to be the bit players and stagehands in the big Broadway show that is their special unique wonderfulness.

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Working Towards the Deep State

All guild professions are blind to their own worldview, but holy guacamole are academic historians bad even by those pathetic standards.  Let me give you an example.  Bear with me, it gets relevant towards the end:

Sir Ian Kershaw was broadly right about how the Third Reich operated.  He says Nazi functionaries were “working towards the Fuhrer.”  In other words, the Fuhrer — the idealized, mythologized leader, not Adolf Hitler the individual — made it known that “National Socialism stands for X.”  Hitler was famously averse to giving direct orders, so that’s often the only thing big, important parts of the government had to work from — the Fuhrer’s* pronouncement that “National Socialism means X.”  It was up to them to put it into practice as best they could.

This had several big advantages.  First, it’s in line with Nazi philosophy.  The Nazis were Social Darwinists.  Social Darwinists hold that “survival of the fittest” applies not only to humans as a whole, but to human social groups as well.  Any given organization, then, must exist to do something, to advance some cause, to reach some goal.  Ruthless competition between groups, and inside each group, is how the goal works itself out (you should be hearing echoes of Hegel here).  The struggle refines and clarifies what the group’s goal is, even as the individual group members compete to reach it.  The end result gets forced back up the system to the Fuhrer, such that, dialectically (again, Hegel), “National Socialism means X” now encompasses the result of the previous struggle.

With me?  If that’s too abstract, think of the murder of Thomas Becket.  “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”  Or, if you prefer, the more “correct” version, which is actually a better illustration of the principle: “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?”  Now, was that Henry the man speaking, or Henry the King?  The man, I submit, didn’t actually know what he wanted — his grief at Becket’s murder was real — but it was pretty clear what The King wanted.  And, of course, the King had to deal with the fallout — Henry the man could rend his clothes in private, but Henry the King had to take real, big, consequential actions as a result.

As with philosophy, “working towards the Fuhrer” fit well with German military culture.  Auftragstaktik is a fun word that means “mission-type tactics.”  In practice, it delegates authority to the lowest possible level.  Each subordinate commander is given an objective, a force, and a due date.  High command doesn’t care how the objective gets taken; it only cares that the objective gets taken.  Done right, it’s a wonderfully efficient system.  It’s the reason the Wehrmacht could keep fighting for so long, and so well, despite being overpowered in every conceivable way by the Allies.  The Allies, too, were constantly flabbergasted by their opponents’ low rank — corporals and sergeants in the Wehrmacht were doing the work of an entire Allied company command staff (and often doing it better).

Consider the career of Adolf Eichmann.  In the deepest, darkest part of the war, this man pretty much ran the Reich’s rail network.  Say what you will about the Nazi’s plate-of-spaghetti org chart, that’s some serious power.  He was a lieutenant colonel.

The final great advantage of “working towards the Fuhrer” is “plausible deniability.”  Let’s stipulate Atrocity X.  Let’s further stipulate that we’re in the professional historian’s fantasy world, where every conceivable document exists, and they’re all clear and unambiguous.  It’s be a piece of cake to pin Atrocity X on someone… and that someone would, in all probability, be a corporal or a sergeant.  Maybe a lieutenant.  What you wouldn’t be able to do is trace it up the chain any higher.  Everyone from the captain to Hitler himself could / would give you the “Who, me?” routine.  “I didn’t tell Sergeant Schultz to execute those prisoners.  All I said was to go secure that objective / defeat that army / that National Socialism means fighting with an iron will.”

And now, at long last, the point: Kershaw really deserved that “Sir” for “working towards the Fuhrer.”  Lots of subsequent historians have done outstanding work with it.  But since the whole point of studying History is to relate stuff to other stuff, why in the world haven’t we applied this insight to other governments?  I know that the Nazis are a unique, one-off evil to the hoi polloi, but c’mon, people, we’re professionals.  Surely there are some other groups that work like this?

I know, I know, the current head of the American “government” is Donald Trump, and as much as the Left loves comparing him with Hitler, he’s no dictator (more’s the pity).  But see above: “The Fuhrer” is a role, not a man.  So let’s change the names.  Call it… I dunno…. “Working towards #Woke.”  That explains a lot about American government in The Current Year, no?

As every student of World War II knows, at some point the decisions of Adolf Hitler — the individual man — became pretty much meaningless.  For convenience’s sake I’m picking February 2, 1942 (final surrender at Stalingrad), but it doesn’t really matter much, since after that events were going to take their course.  In 1942 he could still move some real divisions around, but effectively that “Hitler finds out about” scene from Downfall was his everyday reality.  The Fuhrer was still in complete control, but Hitler the man was all but powerless.

So, too, with the American government.  It doesn’t really matter who the President is.  Obama, obviously, was more #Woke than Trump, but did Obama have any more control over “his” bureaucracy than Trump does over “his”?  Does anyone?  I don’t think anyone has photoshopped Nancy Pelosi into that “Hitler finds out about” scene, but that’s pretty much all I could think about while watching the “impeachment” sham.  How the fuck did it ever come to this?  Which department head over at State decided to let some fat Ukrainian-Jewish lieutenant colonel run our foreign policy?  (Jesus, history really does repeat itself as farce).  Who in the Hoover Building gave mid-level nobody Peter Strzok the authority to work on an “insurance policy?”

The answer, of course, is: No one.  Just as “The Fuhrer” is a myth created dialectically by individuals “working towards” him, so #Woke is an animating philosophy that constructs itself as it goes by the individual actions of bureaucrats.  Only Obama’s sheer goofy laziness kept him from finding that out the hard way.  Had he actually done any presidentin’, he would’ve quickly discovered that the bureaucracy wants what it wants, and if it wants something different than its putative “leader” wants, well, too bad for him.  There’s a reason all the “Obamacare” legislation was written by Prudential….

Extend it further.  Robert Conquest famously said that all organizations not explicitly, constitutionally right-wing will eventually become left-wing.  Which is funny, but false, since the explicitly, constitutionally right-wing ones do too (hello, National Review!).  The reason for this is that the Social Darwinists were right: When you come right down to it, organizations, like people, recognize no higher imperative than the continuation of their own existence.**  Right-wingers acknowledge at least the theoretical possibility of eliminating organizations that no longer serve any other identifiable purpose.  Left-wingers don’t, so everyone in every organization is functionally a Leftist where that organization is concerned.

Extend it further yet.  A startup business exists to make a profit.  Get it past a certain point, though, and behold Social Darwinism in action — profits don’t matter; continuing in existence does.  Past a certain further point, and organizations develop a mind of their own, usually miles out in left field.  So you get the Rise of Girl Skywalker.  E.g. Carly Fiorina.  Remember her?  WordPress doesn’t (it puts a red misspelling squiggle under “Fiorina”) but for a brief moment there she was Teh Tech Hotness.  She ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground faster than a pissed-off kamikaze on meth… and parlayed that into a Presidential bid.

That HP still exists, sort of, as an organization is immaterial, as is the fact that industrial plants with the “HP” logo on them still churn out the occasional computer.  The point is that in a rational world, Carly Fiorina couldn’t get hired as a janitor, for fear that the push for “full female representation in sanitation engineering” would make all the building’s toilets simultaneously explode.  And yet, she ran for President, and more than a few fools actually voted for her.

Organizations are what they are.  It’s the culture that matters.  Our culture is #WokeAsFuck, so our organizations must be, as well.  Kershaw identified something real and valuable about human organizational behavior, but since historians are all idiots — and Leftists, but for once the Venn diagrams don’t completely overlap — nobody applies it outside that tiny niche field.

 

 

 

*I’m deliberately conflating them here — to make it clearer how confusing this could be — but in talking about this stuff the terminology is crucial.  Adolf Hitler, the man, played the role of The Fuhrer.  What Hitler the man wanted was often in line with what the Fuhrer role required, of course, but not always.  This is one of the footholds Holocaust deniers have.  Did Hitler-the-man actually put his name to a liquidation order? No.  Did Hitler-the-man actually want it to happen?  Unquestionably yes, but like all men, Hitler-the-man vacillated, had second thoughts, doubted himself, etc., and you can find documented instances of that.  But The Fuhrer very obviously wanted it to happen, and it was The Fuhrer that motivated the rank-and-file.  The man created the role, but very soon the role started playing the man…
**If you don’t want to give Social Darwinists any credit, Hobbes said basically the same thing.  His whole “social contract” schmear is based on “fear of a shameful death.”
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Mating Behaviour in the Human Female

People seem to enjoy it when I rag on college, and modern romance.  Since it’s the frozen ass-end of winter and maybe fourteen people read this thing anyway, might as well give the people what they want.  But first, check this out.  It’s a nearly decade-old piece from a sadly defunct site called The Last Psychiatrist, answering the burning question “Are all drug reps hot?”

I get asked a similar question a lot.  When people find out I’m retired from “higher” “””education,””” if they’re anything but rabid Leftists they usually ask me a series of questions:  Why are professors such hypocritical assholes? and Is there really any point to ___ Studies? and Why do they pay the football coach umpteen zillion dollars a year to never finish higher than third in the conference?  If the questioner is a man, though, and we’re out drinking, after a few martinis they always get around to:  But what about…. you know… the girls?

Where to start?  Since there’s no avoiding prurience here let’s get one thing out of the way up front.  This is TLP, not me, but it holds for coeds, too:

These people are prone to two errors.  A psychological one: fetishization; and a biological one: mistaking for beauty what is merely youth.

Taking the second first: I made the same mistake.  I came to the ed biz later than most, having had a “real” job back in my other life, so when I first got to grad school I was amazed at how hot the girls were.  Like everyone else I was a TA for Intro to Studies 101, but unlike everyone else I must’ve gotten the “sorority girls only” section, because every single chick in it was a knockout.

Now I’ll cop to being a little slow on the uptake, but I’m not that dumb.  So I started looking a little closer — purely in the interests of science, you understand — and it wasn’t long until I realized that yeah, what I thought at first was smokin’ hotness was just youth.  Back in the office I’d been surrounded by women who were equally attractive,  but not equally young.  A few years in a high-stress job puts a lot of miles on you.

But the other, fetishization element came into it too.  Not like that, get your minds out of the gutter, let me explain:

I don’t think it ever really was, but if “coed” was a fetish its days are long past.  In a country where the vast majority of people have at least a semester or two of college, not even “sorority girl” really moves the needle much.  Rather, all the “fetish” stuff comes from the other side.  After spending oh-god-sooooo-many hours getting harangued by the HR ladies about “sexual harassment,” even the most cynical teacher finds himself wondering what he’d do if some slinky young thing really did show up at office hours, close the door, and declare she’ll do anything to pass the class…

Which never happens, of course.  I’ve never even heard of it, and I taught at lots of places, for many years, among male colleagues (and a lot of lesbians) who were desperately horny losers.  The reason is twofold.  The first, and most obvious, is that even if some girl really is that mercenary / sociopathic — and y’all have me on record, at great length, describing what little sociopaths modern kids are — there’s a much simpler alternative available: Straight-up bribery.  But notice that’s the one thing you never even hear suggested, though it’s the easiest thing in the world.  TAs get paid peanuts; I don’t know how low the bidding could’ve gone, but having seen the squalor in which lots of my fellow grad students lived, twenty bucks doesn’t seem unreasonable….

But no, not even the goofball Hollywood parents busted “bribing” their kids’ way into places like USC offered a straight quid pro quo transaction.  Their scam was, in fact, bizarrely elaborate….

Which is the “fetish” thing.  College is more than a closed system; it’s its own ecosystem, its own world.  Everyone is deeply invested in it, while they’re in it.  I have no doubt that the thought “Maybe I should’ve slipped him a Benjamin” has occurred to more than one of my former students… long after they’ve graduated.  And believe me, the thought “I would’ve taken it” has occurred to me more than once… long after my retirement.  But at the time?  Fuhgettaboudit.

Even though we act like everything we do is a straight cash-for-services transaction, we can’t possibly acknowledge this obvious fact, lest we find ourselves wondering just what the hell we’re doing there in the first place.  Snowflake knows she’s going to get her A if she gripes far enough up the chain of command, just as the prof knows he’s going to buckle when the Dean (or whoever) finally calls.  So why not just skip the rigamarole?  Like the man said, we’ve already established what kind of people we are; we’re just haggling over the price.  So why not just say “Fifty bucks buys you an A?”  Hell, why not just say “Blow me for an A?”

Again, this never, ever happens.  I’ll tell you what does, though: Teacher-student relationships.  I’ve never even heard of a professor having a one-night stand with a student, but I personally know people — plural — who have lost their academic gigs, not to mention the rest of their lives, by having an affair with a student.

I get it, I really do, when you reduce the whole thing to raw hormones.  Honestly, I could understand — not condone, certainly, but understand — some geeky loser getting fired for propositioning a student.  As the other man said,

Look at it this way. Considering the type of people you are and the environment you’re in, you have to admit the strong possibility this may be the only chance you ever have, in your entire lives, to have sex.

Are we not men?  And yet, as I said, that never happens.  Adultery does.

I usually only tell this to guys after a few additional martinis, but the truth is, pretty much any professor who isn’t redlining the autism spectrum has had the chance for a relationship with a student.  Not “a chance to sleep with;” a chance for a relationship with.  That there’s sex involved in both cases is incidental.  Again, it’s the fetish thing, and if you wanted proof, the most ironclad evidence I could give you would be the pictures of the profs involved.  Just do a google image search on “professor” and you’ll see what I mean.  No girl in her right mind would want one of those goofballs.  Ergo — Latin!! — the girls who very obviously did want them weren’t in their right minds, and again, any prof who isn’t far up the spectrum has seen one.  There’s a certain cast of face, a certain set of the eyes, a certain glint in the nose ring that just screams D-A-D-D-Y I-S-S-U-E-S of a very particular sort, and you don’t have to teach more than a semester or two before you encounter it.

Ironically, I’d bet #MeToo and the rest of it actually result in more, not less, of this behavior.  Like I always say, today’s blue-haired, nose-ringed slam poet is tomorrow’s obergruppenfuhrer, and one of the main reasons I say it is that I’ve been around a LOT of college people.  Shrinking violets who need “safe spaces” everywhere very obviously long to knuckle under to power, any power.  Goofy losers who suddenly find themselves with a lot of power naturally start carrying on like Heinrich Himmler.  Put them together in the closest possible proximity, in a place explicitly designed to shield them from the real world, and, well, you figure it out.

Once again, and as always, thank god for retirement.  Happy New Year, everyone.

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Will *This* be on the Test?

Over the holidays I, like most people, had to deal with a dumbass family member of the opposite political persuasion.  Lots of them, actually, since my people are blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth types — voting Democrat is in their DNA.  You know the kind I mean.  Half of them still think it’s 1935 and only that nice Mr. Roosevelt is keeping the revenuers from foreclosing on Pappy’s farm.  The other half have a photo of the Pope and JFK hanging in the kitchen, and still marvel at how nice His Holiness was, letting St. John XXIII be in the picture like that.  The kind of folks who voted for Obama, in other words, to prove how racist they weren’t… and meant it.

Because I’m a reasonable, accommodating, go-along-to-get-along kind of guy, I let them all give me their pitch.  But since that amounted, in its entirety, to #OrangeManBad, I did what any competent historian would do: I went to the primary sources, which in this case are the various candidates’ campaign ads.  This is the stuff they most want me to know about them and their brand.  I’m not going to link to the ads — I love y’all, but I’m only going through that torture once.  Look ’em up yourself, or just take me at my word….

Elizabeth Warren promises heap big free shit, of course, but also to pass “the biggest anti-corruption measure since Watergate.”  Which is an interesting way of phrasing it, since “Watergate” was the name of the scandal, not the name of a piece of legislation, but forget it, he’s rolling.  I’d guess that our intrepid law professorette is referring to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which is the only significant anti-corruption legislation I remember coming out of Watergate, but for obvious reasons she don’t wanna go there — after umpteen-many weeks of sham-peachment, even the lowest-info rubes are starting to cotton to the fact that the Democrats’ foreign corrupt practices are at the heart of everything.

“Corruption,” indeed, seems to be the touchstone for a lot of the Dems’ campaign ads.  You know, for folks who are supposedly running against each other — that is, trying to make the case as to why you should vote for xzhym over all the other fightin’ fightin’ White septuagenarians — they all have remarkably consistent message discipline.  Even no-hopers like Tom Steyer bang on about it in their spots.

Steyer, in fact, is the guy who got me thinking about standardized tests in the first place.  I know, I know, that’s a [record scratch] moment if ever there was one, but bear with me.  Steyer has an ad where he touts his business acumen as the reason he can “expose” Trump on the economy — Trump is “a fraud and a failure,” Steyer proclaims.  See here, from Steyer’s “gosh, is it 1998 already?” official website.

Again, that’s an, ummm, interesting approach.  I seem to recall Hillary trying the ol’ “Trump’s casino went bankrupt!” thing back in 2016, and while I realize that History begins anew each dawn for the Left, it can’t have escaped so financially savvy a guy as Tom Steyer that a) “Trump’s casino going bankrupt” and “the economy of the entire United States” aren’t synonyms, and b) the aforesaid economy of the entire United States is the best it has been since at least the end of World War II, if not the best ever.

I know, I know: the best on paper.  But I saw a survey recently on Ace of Spades or someplace that something like 80% of Americans are hopeful on the economy these days, which according to all the canons of political “science” means the Dems might as well not even bother running a candidate.  And you don’t have to be Sun Tzu to realize that attacking an enemy at his strongest, most fortified point is a bad idea.  And yet, here we are….

Admittedly Steyer is a no-hoper, polling around 1% nationally.  And that’s as reported by CNN, which means — what with the margin of error and all — that his support is effectively zero.  But “corruption” and “the economy” seem to be the talking points of the day — Warren and Biden and Buttigieg are out there banging away on them, too.  It’s like they can’t help themselves….

See also: The Media and the Left’s (BIRM, of course) mighty morphin’ outrage over the Iraq Embassy attack.  In less than 24 hours, we’ve seen their criticism of Trump go from “not forceful enough!” to “way too forceful!,” with them cheering all the while for American casualties to make Trump look bad.  Like the “corruption” and “economy” tactics, it’s simply flabbergasting that anyone, anywhere, would think this will work.  Not even “history begins anew each dawn” can save them here, since it’s the same people saying diametrically opposite things within the space of a few hours.  There’s simply no explanation, save one:

Standardized tests.  As the “smart” ones, Liberals have gone all-in on making good grades in school.  Which, as everyone knows, these days means “gaming the test” — find out what teacher wants to hear, and repeat it verbatim.  There is, and ever can be, only one right answer to all possible questions; “education” is the rote memorization of the Correct Answers.  Trump is a Republican, and therefore the economy must be terrible.  He’s a businessman, and businessmen are all shady operators, therefore corruption must be a thing.  He’s a Republican, so any military action he takes is too much, while any military action he doesn’t take is too weak.  It’s just standardized test mad libs, over and over and over again.

And there’s a better than even chance one of them will end up President this year.  Happy new year!  And if that’s not enough to bring you down, remember that I taught college for years.  Do you know how many of my former students went on to med school, law school, nursing school?  Yeah.  Suicide is painless….

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2020 Predictions

I don’t really do these, but lots of folks do, and their predictions have occasioned some thoughts.  E.g. this, from the Z Man:

This [the primary fight between Sanders and Buttigieg, the last two Dems standing after the early voting] will be the great shredding of the Democrat coalition. Blacks are not all that fond of Sanders or Buttigieg. The remaining working class whites are not fond of these two either. The donors who run both parties will not want to see Sanders top the ticket, so they will swing hard for Buttigieg. What will become clear to the various tribes of the Democrat party is they are not all that important to the party. They will learn what conservatives are starting to learn about the Republicans…

I don’t know if he’s right about the Sanders / Buttigieg matchup — see below — but I think he’s dead-bang on about this being the year that the Left’s rank-and-file learn just how little they mean to their Democrat masters.

The Left, being so much more ideological, always has better message discipline; this gives them an appearance of unity that the “Right” never manages.  Combine that with their obvious fondness / longing for Bolshevism, and we assume that the Democratic Party works like the Communist Party.  It doesn’t, of course — guys like Soros call the shots, and it’s painfully obvious that 99.5% of the Rainbow Coalition mean less than nothing to guys like him.  I doubt there’s a Republican out there, no matter how cucked, who would really in his heart of hearts object to a total moratorium on immigration… and yet, immigration is the one thing members of the Republican Party would endure any torture rather than address.  So, too, will rank-and-file Dems discover that feminism, homosexuality, and the rest of the “progressive stack” — all so dear to their nose-ringed, genderfluid hearts — mean exactly squat to The Squad when power’s on the line.  Money talks, bullshit walks, as they say, and 2020’s the year the money on the Left tells the Left’s bullshit to take a hike.

Which will be true no matter which candidate the Dems end up fielding against Trump.  My money’s still on Elizabeth Warren.  The Z Man seems to believe that the Dems’ donor class is turning against her, and I’ve seen reports to that effect on places like Ace of Spades (what with the New Year’s hangover and all, I’m not going to google it right now).  I’m not so sure.  The Left know better than anyone exactly how much their talk is worth, and Warren has had zero problems selling out to Wall Street in the past (again, no hung-over googling, but feel free).  Crazy cat ladies are by far the most animated part of the freakazoid coalition, and crazy cat ladies love Elizabeth Warren (novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius).  She’s also a professor, which means she’s stupid in proportion to her ego — that is to say, dumber than a sack of hammers.  She’ll do whatever the money boys tell her, so long as they flatter her (the easiest thing in the world; see “massive ego,” above).  Why risk running a senile Jew or a mincing twink when you can you can run Hillary II: Parkinson’s Boogaloo?  They’ll take the path of least resistance…

…or maybe not.  Z Man also said somewhere (for the last time: hung over) that he, like everyone else, didn’t think the Dems would be stupid enough to actually go through with impeachment… and yet, here we are.  The most frustrating thing about studying History, I’ve found, is the constant reminders of how stupid people are.  And since Historians are a subset of “people” — and far from the brightest subset, to boot — we’re constantly reminded of how dumb we ourselves are.  Because, of course, it’s an unfailing law of human behavior that the phrase “surely they’d never be so dumb as to do ____” is a guarantee that they are, in fact, right now doing ___.  Reading Z Man’s predictions, I found myself thinking “Surely they’d never be so dumb as to risk running the screaming queen mayor of a crime-infested shithole burg against Trump; there’s only so much massive voter fraud can do.”  Ergo — Latin!! — Z Man’s probably right.  All hail President Buttplug.

Or maybe not, since the other fill-in-the-blank for “surely they’d never be so dumb as to” is Coonman’s gun grab up in Virginia.  Z Man pooh-poohs it, and in my blacker moments I do, too — all those super-patriots and keyboard commandos talk a good game, but when the guys with the badges come calling, they’ll make France’s performance against the Wehrmacht look like fucking Thermopylae.  Oh, sure, they’ll file suit, which as Z Man notes means it’ll be tied up in the courts for years, only to be dropped without a peep a few years later.  And meanwhile only the Feds are armed….

…but maybe not.  After all, as I said, the whole thing is stupidity squared in the first place.  Why risk it?  It’s not like VA’s gun owners are doing anything the Dems don’t want them to — it’s a blue state, after all, and getting bluer by the minute.  Hell, the Republicans didn’t even bother to contest a lot of races last time.  Even the vanishingly-small chance that some citizen might take a shot at the black helicopters makes actually going for the guns the stupidest possible thing for Coonman to do…. and there you have it.  Get ready for the Great Virginia Gun Grab of 2020.

We shall see.  We’re about to learn why “may you live in interesting times!” is a curse in Chinese.  Après nous, le déluge.

 

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