March 25, 2017

Trump, 1999: "I'm quite liberal, and getting much more liberal, on healthcare"

For the past week here we've seen that Trump's big-picture vision for healthcare has always been single-payer. To appreciate just how deeply committed he is to this form of healthcare, watch this interview with Larry King from 1999, when he was forming an exploratory committee about running for President under the Reform Party that Ross Perot founded earlier in the decade.

The entire interview shows how little he has changed, so we can be sure what he's expressing right before potentially running for President is what he has totally committed himself to. Although most of it will sound uncannily familiar, listen to this exchange on healthcare:

Larry King: Patient's Bill of Rights. You mention healthcare as one of the social issues. You for it?

Donald Trump: I think you have to have -- and again, I said I'm conservative, generally speaking I'm conservative, and even very conservative. But I'm quite liberal and getting much more liberal on healthcare and other things. I really say, What's the purpose of a country if you're not going to have defense and healthcare? If you can't take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it's all over, I mean it's no good. So I'm very liberal when it comes to healthcare. I believe in universal healthcare. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better.

LK: So you believe, then, it's an entitlement of birth.

DT: I think it is. It's an entitlement to this country, and too bad the world can't be, y'know, in this country. But the fact is it's an entitlement to this country if we're going to have a great country.

LT: So you are for this measure?

DT: I am for whatever it takes. We have the money, the fact is that the world is ripping off this country. Germany is ripping us off big-league, Saudi Arabia is ripping us off big-league, France -- I mean, they're the worst team player I've ever seen in my life. You look at what's happened -- Japan for years, I mean we're like a whipping post for Japan.

He goes on to say that if we negotiate fair trade deals, we'll have more than enough money pouring into our economy that we can lower taxes and still provide goodies like universal healthcare.

If everything else he says has stayed the same, we have to conclude that he still feels this way on healthcare. Trump the impulsive flip-flopper is just a media fabrication (a projection of their own temperament). From these ancient interviews, we know he is strategic, cautious (won't run unless he could win), and committed to where he stands on what he thinks are the most important issues facing the nation.

Populists will breathe a sigh of relief that Trump has always had his sights set on single-payer, while conservatives will have to "trust Trump" as he pitches the system that every other rich country enjoys, with far better health outcomes at far lower prices.

Corporate propaganda has so thoroughly brainwashed conservatives about healthcare, where single-payer is the apocalypse, so admittedly the Trump team has their work cut out for them. On the other hand, he will easily draw in moderates and liberals who have been crying for single-payer for decades.

With the Congressional Republicans forever torn between moderate vs. high levels of sociopathy on entitlements, this provides Trump with the first real opportunity to "pivot" toward the center.

Hopefully Pelosi and Schumer vote against single-payer, putting them on the record as phony sell-outs, and allowing Trump to rake in even more former Obama voters during his re-election. Although perhaps they will vote for, and try to spin it as having won over even a Republican President on healthcare, and from a minority party position.

March 23, 2017

Trump never forgets: R's blocked negotiating drug prices under W. Bush

The only position on healthcare that Trump has consistently taken is an overall lean toward single-payer.

However there is one specific thing that he keeps hammering home, and that is the absence of negotiation on the prices of prescription drugs, despite the US government being the largest single buyer (Medicare Part D).

"Who da hell would buy wholesale and pay retail?"

He knows it's because the drug companies and insurance companies have bought off the politicians, and has said so often on the campaign trail. Some politicians are "incompetent," but probably they're "taken care of" by the lobbyists.

If the federal government threatened to walk away from a certain supplier for charging too much, that company would lose access to nearly half of all dollars spent on healthcare in the US (i.e., what the government covers) -- a sector that accounts for nearly 20% of our GDP. We have their balls in a vice, and all we have to do is squeeze.

Trump knows that when Medicare Part D was signed into law by W. Bush in 2003, there was an explicit provision in it that there would be no negotiation of prices on prescription drugs. This was back when the Republicans still thought that championing corporate rape was a long-term winning strategy.

That law went into effect in 2006, and by 2007 the Democrats who barely controlled the House decided to push back in a follow-up bill that would have required the Secretary of HHS to negotiate drug prices.

It passed the House without a single Democrat defection, along with a couple dozen moderate Republicans. But most House Republicans decided that corporate rape was still the winning strategy, and voted against. When it reached the Senate, the only Dem defector was Harry Reid -- a harbinger of how disastrous Obamacare would turn out. And although 6 Republicans voted in favor, 41 of them did not, and it was killed by filibuster 55-42.

Of course, even if it did barely pass, Bush would have vetoed it and withstood an override challenge. So the Democrats were just posturing, trying to score populist points with voters, while assuring donors and lobbyists that there was ultimately nothing to worry about. That's how Obamacare played out, when they actually had the chance to make their wishes come true with a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate and one of their own in the White House.

Still, why did Congressional Republicans allow themselves to be branded as the party of corporate rape in healthcare? Out of sheer partisan polarization? Well congratulations, geniuses: if the other party knows that you're going to reflexively naysay any of their policies whatsoever, all they have to do is make an insincere gesture of populism, and without thinking you'll make yourselves the proud sworn enemies of the American people. Gee, how do we explain your abject pathetic failure in the next year's elections?

(Thankfully that shoe is now on the other foot. "Wouldn't it be great if we got along with Russia to fight Islamic terrorism?" IMPEACH THE KREMLIN-PUPPET TRAITOR!)

The utter failure -- indeed the fanatic insistence on not negotiating prices for something that you are by far the largest purchaser of, is so offensive to the common sense of a businessman like Trump, that he must have been howling for all of them to have been fired. The vote was reported by the media, so it's possible he heard about it ("I never forget").

Rather than be rewarded for populist gestures, the moderate Republicans have been slowly voted out, and only one of the Republican Senators who voted to negotiate drug prices is still there -- Susan Collins of Maine -- while many of the naysayers have easily held onto their seats. Same story in the House.

Fun fact: hardcore libertarian Ron Paul was one of the few Republicans in favor of negotiating prices. There may be a fault-line there to hammer on, where libertarian-leaning Republicans will have to prove their basic business sense.

Unfortunately, the list of "Republicans for corporate rape in healthcare" included those who would become major figures of the Trump era, other than the man himself -- Leader McConnell and AG Sessions from the Senate, and from the House, VP Pence, Speaker Ryan, Leader McCarthy, and worst of all HHS Secretary Price.

Since Trump has single-mindedly focused on negotiating prescription drug prices for Medicare, he has to know his point-man in the Cabinet has the wrong voting record on the issue. It's one of the first things he would've looked into.

It makes me think Trump is planning on digging up this corpse of a voting record and shaming the Congressional Republicans if they don't fall in line behind negotiating drug prices, if not yet full-on single-payer.

"What da hell kind of business sense do they teach you guys when you show up first day on Capitol Hill? ... Or maybe you were being taken care of by the drug companies' lobbyists? I dunno, folks, you think maybe that happened? Oh nooo, nooo, that never happens, especially not with the principled people in this room..."

If the majority of Congressional Republicans from 10 years ago were merely going against the idea out of partisan polarization, they can now safely go along with it since Trump is pushing it.

And since Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, et al. already voted for it then, they'll have to either go along with it again, or face a bloody revolution from their constituents, who want nothing more than universal healthcare. They would have to worry about far more than a tweetstorm from Trump -- he would camp out on their home turf, inflaming the rage of local liberals about how he's promising cheap drug prices and Pelosi and Schumer are getting in the way and going back on their voted promises from just 10 years ago.

He's got enough leverage over both sides to make it happen, although it would be easier to pass with a bare majority in the Senate. Ideally some other topic would force the nuclear option first -- no way McConnell would use it first for a populist cause.

Once he gets citizens used to the idea that we're going to use our collective bargaining potential to get killer deals and enjoy a higher standard of living, it'll soften them up to a gradual move toward single-payer. That could be his major issue for re-election -- "better than ever before" because we've never had a first-rate healthcare system like the other rich countries have for decades now.

March 21, 2017

Price transparency for healthcare is not a problem in single-payer

A major concern that people on the Right have raised about fixing the healthcare system is the lack of transparency in pricing.

The drug companies and hospitals don't have a menu posted like they do when you walk into a McDonald's, and if you try to press anyone there for the information, they either do not have it or will refuse to give it to you. Perhaps you'll only find out how much something cost after the fact and they've stuck you with the bill for a $20 cup of orange juice. Then you either pay it, or pay the various costs of fighting off a collection agency, or pay the costs of filing for bankruptcy.

The exact same drug by the same manufacturer in the same quantity may cost orders of magnitude more in America than in another first-world country. We don't know how much it costs here before we get the bill, and we certainly don't know how cheap it is to buy in other countries.

This opacity allows the healthcare providers to drive up prices, just as we've seen over the past several decades.

But is the lack of transparency in pricing a cause or effect of our terrible healthcare system?

The argument on the Right assumes that if we could make prices more transparent to the customer, it would go a long way toward bringing down expenditures. They would now have the information needed to shop around, play competitors off against each other, and so on.

The trouble is that people do not want to even think about prices when it comes to healthcare. Five years or so ago, the libertarian autists at George Mason economics were discussing this aspect of rising healthcare costs. Some of them (Hanson, I think) pointed out that people are in a different mindset when it comes to things like life and death, so they don't apply the same behaviors to navigate their way through healthcare decisions.

If our health is sacred and taboo, especially on the insides of our bodies where we can't really see what's going on, we just aren't going to "go there" and view it like a mundane mechanism. To the human mind, the body is not like a car with its parts and systems, so we aren't going to ask multiple health providers for quotes, ask which provider has the best reputation, haggle about the price, and so on.

It's part of the sacred realm where mechanisms and price haggling are not allowed. So we just accept whatever it costs to get better, and hope it won't cost too much.

Parishioners, sitting in the pews on Sunday morning, are not wondering if the Church scored a killer deal with whatever furniture makers made their pews. They aren't thinking, Is all that money in the collection plate going to waste because the leaders didn't negotiate a good deal on the pews? It's part of the sacred architecture, and is beyond questions of pricing when you're in the worshiping mindset.

So, even when you experimentally give people the kind of information about healthcare that they'd need to shop around, they tend not to make use of it. Those facts, figures, and spreadsheet calculations put them into the profane mindset when they're facing decisions about something sacred like their health.

This will remain a problem as long as the recipient of price information is the end consumer of healthcare. If it's a close friend or relative, it reduces to the same problem. They're too emotionally invested in their loved one's sacred health to even think of getting into the profane haggling mindset.

Single-payer systems solve this problem by making the national health boards the recipient of price information. First as an opening offer, then lowering it through aggressive negotiations by the national board. The board could also demand to see the recent or long-term history of prices for various things -- are prices going up disturbingly quickly?

These board members are in total bean counter and negotiator mode, as they are not the end consumers of healthcare goods and services being considered. Occasionally they'll be using the public system, but not at that moment for those services being examined. This allows them to keep a much cooler and rational mindset while considering prices, and trying to get a better deal from the providers.

It's no different from how those pews got purchased for the Church -- somebody somewhere in the organization looked at how much there was in the budget for pews after the collection plate had been sent around, then they sent out a request for bids to manufacturers, inspected their track record for quality, played them off each other, and negotiated a decent deal. Nobody in the sacred services had to know anything about it -- and would not want to know.

So, relying primarily on a single-payer system not only allows all the isolated little taxpayers to pool their resources and throw their collective weight around at the negotiating table. It also allows them to not make serious financial decisions when they're in sacred mode, where price is no matter, sending it off instead to someone who will be in profane mode.

You could always try to get someone else to haggle on your behalf, while not pooling resources with anyone else to do so. But then you'd have as many hagglers as patients -- why waste all those resources, when it can be consolidated into a specialist team that haggles on behalf of the entire population? Especially when a national haggler can make a more serious threat by walking away, compared to an individual haggler.

Nobody in the first world knows what most of the prices are for their healthcare services -- whether they live in America where they get raped, or in the other rich countries where they do not. Somebody other than the end consumer is thinking about prices, if anyone is at all. So price transparency is not a necessary factor in explaining why our system sucks, and fixing that problem would not be sufficient to deliver good healthcare outcomes at low prices.

The more you look into it, the more reasonable the single-payer system is, whether Canada, Australia, England, France, or wherever.

March 18, 2017

Trump for single-payer healthcare, by letting both parties prove their plans are catastrophes?

First, let's note that Trump would have to be suicidal to want his name or political brand to be tethered to the fate of the Republican reform of Obamacare.

Without 60 votes in the Senate, there can be no true, substantial repeal of Obamacare nor replacement with entirely new things like selling insurance across state lines. Even if the Senate lowered the bar to a simple majority to pass substantial legislation, there would be enough defecting Republicans (3 would be sufficient) to prevent the bill from landing on the President's desk.

So the only possible outcome is a superficial reform of Obamacare, and since the structural weaknesses of Obamacare are deep, the reformed version would also implode in short order.

Because the Republicans in Congress would have been the last to have touched the healthcare system, they would be easily blamed for its implosion. "It may not have been a perfect system, but at least Obamacare didn't fall to pieces -- you can thank the Republicans for fumbling the pass, causing the healthcare system to shatter into a million broken pieces."

That's why the Democrats and the media are not pushing that hard against Obamacare 2.0 -- just trash-talking the lack of cohesion on the other team, and trying to brag about how great their own plan has been. But not pulling out all stops as they do when Trump threatens something they truly love, like proposing the Muslim ban.

The enemy wants us to be the last party to be seen on camera handling the healthcare system right before it imploded, so that they can own all of the upside of Obamacare (covering the uninsured) and none of the downside (destined to implode). The Party of Stupid will face the opposite fate -- owning none of the upside (they showed heartless obstruction toward covering the uninsured) and all of the downside (their fault it broke if they touched it last).

Fortunately our President is not that stupid, and actually campaigned on not being the typical stupid Republican with typically stupid Republican solutions. He knows damn well how deadly it would be to own a reformed healthcare system that was still destined to implode because not enough votes in the Senate could be garnered in order to pass true, substantial "repeal and replace".

Nor is Trump, like Congressional Republicans, addicted to losing. And taking the blame for Obamacare's inevitable demise would be the ultimate own-goal.

I'm not the blackpill type, and yet I couldn't see what Trump's longer-term goal could have been, given his apparent support for the GOP's healthcare legislation. I didn't want to rush to publish a downer post about how Trump is being led into the abyss by Paul Ryan et al. Then I ran across this from Daniel Horowitz at Conservative Review:

If this bill does not bring immediate relief, and in fact exacerbates the death spiral, the private market, along with GOP political capital, will be dead by 2020. The new regime will never be in place, especially not during the reelection of President Trump. We will either have a massive bail out or a single-payer system by that point.

Of course he says that like single-payer is a bad thing, and why Trump must reverse course. But then Trump is not an ideologue about single-payer, which the True Conservative (TM) crowd never tired of reminding us during the GOP primary. Take this example from February 2016 at Independent Journal Review (going after the closeted gay young Republican audience): "5 times Donald Trump praised socialized healthcare", with examples going from the late '90s through 2015.

Like Horowitz, he wrote that post like it's axiomatic that single-payer is a bad thing, and that's why no true Republican can vote Trump over Bush, Rubio, Cruz, et al.

Trump has never railed against single-payer, only saying it could have worked in an earlier time but not now, when the country is not that different from 2000 when he was praising it in detail. He used to note how much healthier Canadians are, while paying less, even when you control for demographics. He has recently said he "doesn't want" single-payer, but he's not a puritanical ideologue, so perhaps that only means he'll accept that outcome while not being the biggest fan of it.

And it's also possible that, yet again, Trump is playing dumb and letting his enemies destroy themselves, so that he can get his way easily in the aftermath.

The Democrats are bought off by the drug companies, insurance companies, and healthcare providers, so like hell they would ever advance single-payer on their own. Also, they're such kneejerk partisans that, as Trump keeps saying, they'd vote against their own utopia if Trump were the one who gave it to them.

They are easy to dispatch, by pointing out what a disaster Obamacare had always been and would have continued to be. Skyrocketing premiums and deductibles, shrinking choices, etc. -- those began long before the Republican Congress' attempts at reform.

It's the Republican opposition to single-payer that would prove more difficult. He did not defend the idea against True Con types like Ted Cruz during the primaries because he feels like abstract hypothetical debates would not drive the point home to the voters. Trump can point to the better health and lower costs for Canadians and Australians, but then Lyin' Ted can respond that America is different, we can't go for totalitarian government-mandated socialism in healthcare, and so on and so forth.

Trump would get bogged down in pointless debating, and have little to show for it. He might pick up some sympathetic Democrats in the Senate, but he would alienate many more Republicans, not to mention turn off Republican voters for whom single-payer is an abstract taboo topic.

By letting the Republican Establishment -- both the corporate wing and the libertarian wing -- have their way with the reform of Obamacare, Trump can make the case that he's been not only open to their True Con ideas, but has actively encouraged them. He looks like a negotiator in good faith, not an infiltrator and usurper of the Republican orthodoxy. More importantly, he doesn't turn off legions of Republican voters.

But since any version of Obamacare is destined to fail, Trump can let the Republican Establishment prove directly that their plans are just as disastrous as the Democrats'. It will no longer be a hypothetical debate -- I gave you guys in Congress the chance to come up with something great to replace Obamacare, and this is what happens? Folks, it looks like we can't trust the Establishment's plans for healthcare, no matter which side of the aisle it's coming from.

Then with Obamacare / Ryancare having imploded, Trump can use the emergency atmosphere to propose a bold new direction to lead us away from the failed policies of the past from both parties. "We're going to look into" a system like Australia's -- it's not going to be exactly like that of any other country, but they seem to be doing a lot better than we are, so we're going to look into what they're doing that we are not.*

Trump loathes the endless wheel-spinning of adversarial debate (he's not a lawyer), and prefers to Socratically prove that your so-called genius plan is a total horrorshow -- by letting you go right on ahead with it. Then when it blows up in your face, we'll do something different or even the opposite, and get a much better result. It's an experiential take on arguing from a reductio ad absurdum. You're so against single-payer? OK, you're such geniuses, hit us with your best shot in the opposite direction. Gee, that was an utter disaster -- looks like single-payer it is.

If Trump can lead the charge to push for a bold new system after Obamacare / Ryancare implodes, he might just be able to pick up enough liberal Democrats in the Senate to pass 60-vote legislation, or failing that, rope the Republicans into an Australian system in order to preserve what little credibility they will have after passing failing legislation. At that point, they could lower the bar to 50 + Pence, and afford a few defections. Even if an Australian-style system cost him 5 Republicans who think single-payer is tyranny, he would only need to pick up 3 sympathetic Dems like Bernie to hit 50.

Trump has been saying all along that the best thing politically is to do nothing, let Obamacare implode, and then its creators will come begging to the negotiating table.

But then Trump must be thinking the same about the worthless do-nothing Republicans as well -- let them finally get Presidential approval for their discredited corporate / libertarian plans, and then when it blows up and they face losing the Congress in mid-terms or in 2020, they will come begging for Trump to give them a winning replacement -- like the Australian system he has already had in mind for several decades. They will have no choice but to go along with it, and will be rewarded when voters see better quality at lower prices in their healthcare.

Finally, for the Americans who may have ever had a kneejerk reaction against single-payer: ask yourself why your counterparts outside of America are not agitating to destroy their own single-payer system, and why they either make fun of us or take pity on us for not enjoying such a system? They are otherwise 100% on board with the populist / nationalist movement led by Trump and others. So why aren't they harping on "socialized healthcare"?

Probably because it isn't that bad, and at any rate is better than what we have here -- admittedly not a very high bar to clear. As much as they gripe about their own system, they'd never want our own system, unless they're very rich. For everyone else, "how they do it outside America" sure looks like it gets better results at lower prices.

The working-class voters who put Trump over the top, in particular will not have a kneejerk reaction against single-payer. Not that they're kneejerk in favor of it either, like well-to-do progressives. They're simply willing to give it a try, after so many failures of conventional thinking.

Let this be a corrective to the previous post about not expecting much populism in domains where there is not a natural angle about globalism vs. nationalism. If Trump can let both Establishment sides prove their policies are garbage, he's got carte blanche for a bold new populist solution.

* I think Australia would be the best example to point to, since the Republican voters and politicians do not have a kneejerk association of Australia and the Australians with wimpiness, socialism, tyranny, etc. It would be poison to use France or Sweden as the example, for branding reasons only. It would be easier for them to accept a system that is 90% single-payer and 10% private healthcare, since they have no preconceived notions about Australia's healthcare system, but have dystopian views of "European" healthcare due to lobbyist propaganda here in America.

And certainly he would brand it with something other than "single-payer," which is too toxic among Republican voters. He's an expert brander, though, so whatever the phrase is, it'll sell.

March 10, 2017

Don't expect populism (healthcare) unless it is part of nationalism vs. globalism

Early on in the Trump campaign, I discussed how the nationalist focus would take precedence over the populist focus. That's how it unfolded during the previous incarnation of where we are now, the shift away from the Gilded Age and into the Progressive Era -- from laissez-faire and open borders to closed borders and economic nationalism.

See earlier posts here and here about income tax and the minimum wage, both of which only took off during the New Deal, after the nationalist goals had been largely achieved during the Progressive Era.

The basic logic is that the government will only be able to deliver populist outcomes when there is a high level of civic cohesion, which requires a nationalist rather than globalist focus. When millions of foreigners were pouring into the country during the Gilded Age, the founding stock Americans did not want to blow taxpayer money on subsidizing their job competitors and cultural replacements. Only when the Ellis Island people were assimilated (to the degree they were) did the founding stock feel OK with using the government to provide nice things to "all Americans".

History cannot be reversed, for example going from the neo-Gilded Age back to the New Deal. It can only run through phases of a cycle. If it goes A-B-C-D, you cannot go from D "back to" C. You have to run through A and B all over again before you find yourself in C again. This is what we ought to expect regarding the rebirth of populism and nationalism. The pure populist phase comes after the nationalist phase.

Concretely, that means we should not expect much to improve in healthcare, which is more of a pure populist battle of the general public against the greedy mega-corporations that control pharmaceuticals, insurance, and hospitals.

Trump is making major gains on economic nationalism, for instance stopping the TPP dead in its tracks and threatening big companies to bring back their manufacturing jobs and plants rather than exploit cheap labor abroad. If they refuse, they side with the anti-American side of the anti vs. pro American fault-line -- putting them in league with those who want open borders even for violent gangs and terrorists.

Already without a stiff tariff being levied, many big players are moving production back to America so that they do not run afoul of the nationalist movement. They would rather have a decent profit than no profit, if sky-high profits are no longer possible because of public hatred of off-shoring and the government now willing to act strongly on behalf of such nationalist fervor.

And it's not only the senior management at big companies who are bending to the nationalist will -- Trump can threaten any Republican in Congress with their job if they side with greedy globalist corporations over the American worker and middle class. All he has to do is launch a broadside on Twitter and roll into their home district or state -- and poof, there goes their career. No Republican can take the anti-American side, when Republican voters have chosen nationalism as their primary focus, so they will gradually come around to tariffs and other measure to re-patriate manufacturing jobs.

But what is the pro vs. anti American angle to healthcare? It's not as though white Americans have pathetic healthcare for their money compared to other white Westerners because we're being taken advantage of by foreigners or foreign governments. It's an entirely domestic battle between sociopathic big corporations and isolated citizens who have no weight to throw around at the bargaining table.

The Trump administration and the Trump movement will have little success in trying to spin the healthcare battle as one between America-first vs. globalist camps. Likewise, Trump will not be able to bully Congressional Republicans very much by painting them as anti-American, in the sense of globalists callous to the needs of their countrymen, for siding with the greedy corporations rather than the people. And given that it's the corporate lobbyists who pay Congress' salaries, they have every motive to obstruct pure populism in legislation.

There are some Democrats and Independents in Congress, such as Bernie Sanders, who would align more with Trump than the Congressional Republicans would on pure populism. However the numbers are not that great, and could be off-set by defecting corporate elitist Republicans. In general, though, there is such a high degree of partisan polarization that Trump has to choose either the Democrats or the Republicans to work with, being unable to build a big coalition between the parties. And since the Democrats are sworn enemies of Trump, they will not be the side in Congress that he works with.

Trump could only get pure populist outcomes from executive orders and the federal agencies (e.g., antitrust division of Justice Dept). If it involves actual legislation in Congress, including substantial repeal and alteration of existing laws, populism will have to wait until we achieve the nationalist goals and build a greater civic cohesion. It's conceivable that on some economic matters -- tax cuts on the ill-gotten wealth of our parasitic elites -- we will get worse outcomes in the short term.

My advice is to temper expectations about matters of pure populism, and focus more on the "intersectionality" between nationalism and populism. Issues that lie along the fault-line of America-first vs. globalism is where we currently hold the leverage against the enemy.

February 24, 2017

"Buy American" needs a filter button on all e-commerce sites

How hard would it be to sign a simple executive order to require all e-commerce sites, who are selling to Americans, to include a filter button that would only return results that were made in USA?

To see just how desperate the retailers are to hide where your cheap crud is made, eBay allows you to filter search results by all sorts of traits -- item's location, condition, material, color, and so on and so forth. The only thing they don't let you filter by is country of manufacture.

They already have this information, displayed under "item specifics" if you click on a particular item. They just don't want you to be able to wipe out all the items that are not made in USA (or England or Italy or wherever). You have to click on each item, scroll down to the "item specifics" box, and see where it was made.

Other online retailers are the same: they specify whether it's made in USA or "imported" on the page for a specific item, but they do not allow you to filter out the imported stuff at the first stage of search results. The case of eBay is so egregious because they have over a dozen traits to narrow down your search -- except for whether it was made to high-quality first-world standards, or to garbage standards in the third world.

Cheap airheads will never use the button, and that's fine. But people already interested in buying American need it, and a good share of those who never thought about it would say, "Huh, I guess where something is made is important enough to deserve a search filter button". Then they'll understand about high quality vs. low quality, which they would otherwise not weigh in their decision.

Retailers have been at the forefront of destroying the manufacturing sector, and pushing cheap disposables (which is therefore more costly over any period of time). They need to be broken up, taxed, and humbled in any way possible. Allowing consumers to filter out cheap third-world junk at the push of a button would work wonders toward that goal.

Related post: Don't let third-world items be branded with American names and symbols, especially longstanding iconic ones, which amounts to fraud.

If an American company wants to manufacture in China, then the brand they sell it under must be recognizably Chinese -- or not first-world, at any rate. Names and symbols are not magical, and do not alter the substance of cheap junk made in Indonesia, Bangladesh, El Salvador, etc.

February 17, 2017

"Shadow" government purged as immune system is re-activated

I'm preparing a longer post on the so-called shadow or deep institutions that supposedly control what really happens in this country, and how such a worldview made conservatives into an utterly impotent group (and by the same token, how they render the liberals and globalists impotent against the Trump agenda).

For now, here's a quick reminder of how powerful the solid government is over its shadow:

While Rex Tillerson is on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, his aides laid off staff at the State Department on Thursday.

Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed.

You may remember the Seventh Floor Group (capitalized for ominousness) from a Wikileaks release just before the election:

One revelation in the documents came from an interview with an unidentified person who suggested that Freedom of Information Act requests related to Clinton went through a group sometimes called "the Shadow Government."

"There was a powerful group of very high-ranking STATE officials that some referred to as 'The 7th Floor Group' or 'The Shadow Government.' This group met every Wednesday afternoon to discuss the FOIA process, Congressional records, and everything CLINTON-related to FOIA/Congressional inquiries," the FBI's interview summary said.

Shadow schmadow.

The big change unfolding now is from weak government to strong government (another topic deserving its own post), and the foundation of strength is a robust immune system -- otherwise you will get colonized and compromised by parasites.

Now that the immune system of the body politic is being switched back into the "on" position, all of these opportunistic infections are going to clear right up ("you watch"). They only thrived on such a defenseless host, making their skill / influence / power more illusory than actual.

Although it had been an increasingly more common worldview, now the concept of a shadow government will only find belief among the hardcore conspiratorial minds, with leftists viewing it as their deus ex machina ready to come to their rescue, and rightists dreading it as a mostly unmovable obstacle in Trump's way.

Normal people are going to start laughing about anyone ever believing in such a thing.

February 11, 2017

High energy winning music du jour

Now that the public reverence of victimhood has begun to sober up, the bright cheerful music we feel nostalgia for will no longer strike a bittersweet, ironic note as it did during the Obama years. Now it only harmonizes with our daily mood of never getting sick of winning. Now it will be the Leftists with good taste who feel this music bittersweetly and ironically (more their thing anyway).

Ultimately that will be good for the Leftists' mood -- listening to upbeat music as escapist micro-"resistance" -- rather than constantly wallowing in aggro / emo / pitying / mock-macho music. But given the soaring levels of partisanship, they may put tribal loyalty over both national cohesion and personal well-being.

Hey, your guys' loss!

Vicious Pink, "Ccccan't You See" (1984)

February 3, 2017

Rioters target free assembly, not speech, to prevent rival team's pep rallies

Now that left-wing rioters have shut down non-liberal speaking events at UC Berkeley and NYU during the past week, and recalling their shutting down a Trump rally in Chicago last March, it's necessary to understand what this phenomenon is, and what it is not.

To begin with, it is not about free speech, which is a right to convey statements to an audience, whether the statements are informational or opinion-based. Speech is about communication, and typically the media through which people communicate.

The speakers who have their events shut down can, and do, convey their beliefs and opinions through communications media, reaching larger audiences than they can with a real-life face-to-face talk. And those who disrupt these in-person talks never bother trying to subvert the communications media -- Fox News on cable TV, Rush Limbaugh's radio program, Breitbart's website, and so on.

It is not even about a broader thing called free expression, although that gets a bit closer. Expression includes things beyond statements, such as wearing clothing that identifies you as a member of Group A rather than Group B. But "expression" is, like "speech," too individualistic in focus.

Rather, the target of the rioters is the right to free assembly. Form a gauntlet outside of the meeting place, set a car on fire on the way to the meeting place, detonate a bomb inside of the meeting place -- and most people will shy away from attending such a meeting.

Note that the attendees are not a random sample of the population, but those who already largely agree and identify with the speaker. Unlike free speech, where a diverse and curious audience may be giving the statements a hearing, free assembly is meant to strengthen the existing social, cultural, and emotional bonds of a group.

It is "preaching to the choir," which makes no sense if we thought the point was free speech, open debate, convincing unpersuaded minds, etc. But if the meeting is a kind of pep rally for Team Us, then it makes perfect sense. Anyone who joins after attending is not a skeptic who has been convinced by argument, but someone who resonated with the group-high ("collective effervescence"). If they showed up curious but unaffiliated, they were already mostly persuaded and wanted to see what kind of feeling of belonging the group had to offer.

Free assembly can be twisted into an individual right -- for a particular person to congregate with his fellows in some group -- but the natural interpretation is that it is a right of an entire group to manifest itself somewhere, sometime, for some purpose. It wants to pump itself up, get the members resonating on the same wavelength, and come away from the gathering stronger and more unified.

Denying the group to gather in this way is not meant to restrict their communication about beliefs and opinions, but to weaken the group by leaving its members feeling more isolated than unified. Collective action by such an atomized "group" will not be possible, and the assembly disrupters will be able to push their own agenda as a team with ease.

Thus, the battle over speaking events belongs to the realm of coalitional conflict, and we observe all the signs of a low-level war, e.g.:

1. Physically it resembles a turf war, where a gang is claiming control over some area within public space, kicking out the public and daring them to defend it.

2. Hence the common battle cry: "Whose streets? Our streets!"

3. Disrupters dress similarly, often to the point where it looks like uniforms (a la the Black Bloc), to enhance group solidarity.

4. Disrupters display and rally around a standard (red-and-black flag, Circle-A flag, etc.), to enhance unity of origin and purpose.

5. If the other side is wearing emblematic clothing (MAGA hat) or carrying a standard (Trump sign or flag), the disrupters make it a high priority to capture these emblems and conspicuously destroy them, to weaken group morale of the other team.

6. Collective force is the name of the game, and that is not the disrupters "lowering themselves" to using force, or "hiding behind" their numbers -- that's precisely how one team takes over and defends a territory from another team or from the entire rest of the public.

In their own bizarro-world way, they think of themselves as, and are acting as though they were, a vigilante posse that is breaking up a riotous mob -- namely, Trump supporters going wild at a Trump rally, or whatever it may be. They are everything they accuse the police of being, just directed at a different target -- members of a rival political group, rather than law-breakers.

What then is the solution?

In the short term, if we do attend these events and there is no expectation of the government protecting our right to free assembly, then it would be necessary to beat the disrupters at their own game. See footnote.*

However, this stop-gap solution is not what we're after -- it would be faction vs. faction conflict, and nobody in the general public wants to see that or participate in it, even if they support our side.

What we, and the general public, would rather see is the monopoly on legitimate force being brought to bear on the assembly disrupters, whether it's the local police, National Guard of the state, or federal troops from the US Army.

Obviously those guys are already well trained in coalitional conflict, from the mindset to the behavior -- uniforms, flag, moving in formation, covering each other's back, and generally using collective force to shut the other group out of the disputed space.

And, those guys would be excited and grateful to get to use that training and specialization for a good purpose -- and how much less ambiguous is it, which side is right when one is trying to shut down free assembly for a group of normal citizens?

They would be less inclined to go overboard, being neutral enforcers of the law, whereas a mob of Trump supporters could easily go into overkill mode on their hated enemies.

Most importantly, the signal to the rest of society is that there is law and order, not just a faction of righteous citizens vs. a faction of degenerate citizens, fighting it out in the streets as though we were some anarchic third-world shithole. That gives the shut-down of the shut-downers a legitimacy that allows the rest of the public to support it, and even cheer it along.

That will be a crucial point to make when/if Trump ever has to send in federal troops, or exercise federal control over a state's National Guard (totally legal) -- that the alternative to sending in law enforcement is sending in nobody, in which case either a group's free assembly gets shamefully shut down, or the assemblers form their own counter-mob and we've got factional violence sprawling out of control in our major cities, like it's Medieval times again.

* Assemble and move as a group, if not necessarily in formation. Dress similarly, almost to the point of uniforms. Carry a standard that must be defended. Make an effort to capture their flag, swipe their face masks, and the like. Chant "Whose streets? Our streets!"

And even throw them the occasional punch, kick, shove, etc. Their goal is not to beat the attendees to a pulp, and neither is ours to kill them all on the spot (in which case both sides would simply bring guns). It is merely to demoralize them by showing that we can fuck around with them and they can't get us back as good as we're giving it to them.

You might think about being "outnumbered," but if the Trump supporters (or whoever) are a good size, that's all that's needed. Most of the physical confrontation will be face-to-face, so all their extra numbers far away from the target are wasted. Their ability to mess with us mano-a-mano is a saturating function of their group size.

So even if they had us outnumbered 10,000 to 1,000 -- a unified mob of 1,000 Trump supporters can still shove its way through a mass of 10,000 shitlibs.

There will be thousands of the enemy who will not even have a line of sight to the Trump supporters, let alone be able to get close enough to shout at them, throw something at them, or hit them. Because we will not be killing them, or they us, it's not like the extra numbers are a reserve to replenish those who are fallen.

What is that critical mass on our side where their extra numbers are useless? I don't know. Maybe it's 50, 100, 1,000, but something big.

January 31, 2017

Armed forces rule, lawyers drool

Time to re-visit two posts from a year ago, with the battle between rogue members of the judiciary trying to stump the Trump, and the Supreme Court nomination being announced.

First, a reminder that the Supreme Court cannot enforce its decisions, not even with the US Marshals.

Black students in Little Rock, AR found that out the hard way in 1957 when the Governor called out the National Guard (state militia) to block them from entering the white school buildings, even though the Supreme Court had unanimously ruled years earlier that segregation was unconstitutional. The only thing that integrated them was the US Army, who Eisenhower sent in to trump the state-level militia.

Click that link and look at the pictures -- you have never seen the uniformed and armed soldiers, with their military vehicles, occupying the Central High School campus, nor escorting the black students into the buildings while holding M-16s. That would give you the wrong impression about what ultimately backs up policy, so the media and schools have swept them under the rug and pushed a narrative about the decisions rendered by some bunch of judges.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court pick is not that big of a deal for major issues, which will either be enforced or non-enforced according to the Executive branch's orders.

Second, a reminder with pictures of the teams of uniformed men with guns who got the illegals out of the country back in the 1950s during Operation Wetback. The Supreme Court did not try to get in their way, but then how could they have?

The upshot: Trump holds all the cards here, not just as the Commander-in-chief of the military, but as one who went out of his way to enlist the "generals' generals" on his side before, during, and after the election.

Even if a blue-state governor got the funny idea to call out the National Guard to oppose Trump, they'll get a bitter reminder that Guardsmen are under dual state and federal control. If the National Guard in California had to choose between President Trump and anti-American Governor Moonbeam, which side do you think they'd obey?

There is major trolling potential for the administration, if they did have to send in troops to enforce the law, to point to Eisenhower desegregating the schools in the Deep South. Not to make the accusation that "Democrats are the real racists," but to cause the Left to melt down when deporting illegal immigrants is likened to desegregating public schools. "Y'know, the law is the law, and ultimately the laws get enforced by law enforcement."

Is there any major counter-weight on the other side? No. They have zero support within the police departments, border patrols, or any branch of the military, when it's such a black-and-white choice to make.

We will know there is something to worry about when the Left tries to infiltrate the Army and organize the rank-and-file from within, as they did during the Vietnam War. Michael Albert once said that the Blackstone Rangers, a yuge black street gang, even tried to infiltrate the Chicago Police Department to organize the rank-and-file cops. I couldn't find where he said that, or other confirmation -- but it was the Sixties, so just maybe.

As for now, the Left are going out of their way to alienate all normal people, especially anyone who wears a uniform or carries a weapon as part of their job.

It's unclear to me whether they will prove capable of trying to organize the rank-and-file from within the armed forces. Back during the Vietnam era, there was no partisanship, and the Leftists had no trouble violently revolting against the Democrat Johnson administration that had won in a landslide in 1964 against uber-Conservative Goldwater. And the "all in it together" mindset let them get over their prejudices against anyone who joined the Army, the better to relate to them and get them onto the anti-war side.

Today's climate is the opposite, with partisan polarization like we've never seen in our lifetimes. The military and police will be lumped in with the Trump administration and the evil Republican Party. They won't try to meet the cops or soldiers half-way, gain their trust, and so on, to try to woo them away from the Trump agenda, and leave Trump standing without strong military support.

Today's Leftists are so puritanically partisan that merely thinking about relating to a cop, man-to-man, would be an unforgivable stain on their moral scorecard. Fraternizing with the enemy. And infiltrating a tailgate gathering outside a sports stadium, packed with Trump voters to woo away from their hero, would be sharing a meal with the ritually unclean.

The Left appear to be so hell-bent on antagonizing their nemesis that we won't just see the "dogs and firehoses" of the Vietnam era -- we could see deportations back to the home countries of the agitators, as we had during and after WWI. How many of these Soros-funded protest organizers do you think are non-citizens?

We could see President Trump using the Alien Enemies Act to deport these foreign rabble-rousers, in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson -- or even imprison all residents from that hostile nation, in the tradition of FDR and Harry Truman.

Another major difference with the Sixties, and like the Teens -- today's anti-government protests are so corrupted by foreigners agitating against our own country's nationalism, which looks cynical and pro-whatever country they're from. With the Vietnam protesters, they were arguing over which Americans were right about what American values were. "Peace is patriotic," etc.

Now it looks more and more like a group of foreign scouts trying to open up our defenses so that their countrymen back home can march in and take us over.

I don't think that's going to play in Peoria.

January 28, 2017

Anti-terrorist ban targets weak countries first, then strong ones

Why is terrorist hotbed Saudi Arabia being exempted from the travel ban, while relatively safer countries like Iran are included?

If you look at it from an engineering standpoint, it looks backwards. The ban ought to apply more forcefully to countries that pose a higher risk.

But in the real world, we can't just wave a magic wand and immediately ban Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Turkey, which have wealthy, powerful lobbies in our own country who have compromised key figures at the national level (John McCain being the most egregious example -- the Saudis only love Crooked Hillary Clinton more).

Trump is a pragmatist dealing with real-world relationships, so first he's going after the countries that have no way of retaliating against us, and which do not have powerful lobbies for defense. Failed or anarchic states like Libya, Iraq, Somalia, etc.

Who knows how long it will take to get around to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but based on how swiftly the Trump team has been moving since before the inauguration, we should not expect them to keep kicking the can down the road.

Notice that he did not include peaceful states like Jordan and Lebanon, let alone more powerful allies like Egypt, with whose leader he's struck up a good relationship.

He could also be using the ban on visas from peaceful Iran as more of a negotiating tactic, since he's long promised to re-negotiate the Iranian nuclear deal, or at least show them that they can't taunt us and seize our sailors without any consequences.

You should only address the need to move from weaker to stronger terrorist-prone countries with those who are arguing in good faith about "Why Trump's ban gets the risks backwards". Michael Tracey types. If it's just an idiot trying to play gotcha games, then just ridicule them by saying, in a whiny voice, "Anyone who doesn't wanna get blown up by terrorists is an Islamophobe!"

In general, we will see the pragmatic Trump administration begin with what is easy to solve, and progress toward harder tasks later. Hence deporting the violent criminal illegals first, and getting around to DACA illegals afterward.

Some have said that Trump has come out all guns a-blazing on multiple fronts, but they have all been easy tasks to go after -- repeal disastrous Obamacare, deport violent illegals, de-fund sanctuary cities, ban travel from anarchic Middle Eastern countries that can't fight back, and so on.

As the tasks get harder and harder, we probably won't see such a multi-front war against Establishment lunacy. Banning travel from Saudi Arabia will be easier if Trump and his supporters have more time to build up the revelation about their role in 9/11, Salafism (still not a common word for the American public), and so on. More details could come out from the 9/11 Congressional report.

Then after we knock that one out, we can move on to another difficult task, like birthright citizenship, which will also take awhile for the administration and its supporters to build the case against it (not desirable, not in Constitution), and how outta-whack it has made the country.

Trump may not need "political capital" since he did not get into office thanks to politicians. But he does need voter capital, and voters are only already aware of so many problems, and already howling for solutions to so many of them. Trump will not have to schmooze and woo politicians, but he will have to inform the general public on the role Saudi Arabia plays in spreading radical Islam, the absence of birthright citizenship in the Constitution -- indeed, in any other country's laws -- and the like.

The good news is that Trump is the world's most expert explainer to a general audience, so at worst the pace slows from a major win every day to every week or month. Still plenty of time to deliver on the campaign promises, and more.

I'm not a believer in 50-dimensional chess theory whenever something appears to be going the wrong way. That's Panglossian wishful thinking. In Trump's case, though, it may simply mean that he's putting the easy tasks first and tough tasks later. I don't want to hear any 50-D chess explanations about why Saudi Arabia should not be on the travel ban list -- it's just dealing with our problems in increasing levels of difficulty.

January 21, 2017

Despite women's march, non-white women turning against white women for voting Trump

Don't be fooled by the mass temper tantrum being staged this weekend: feminism / women's rights / etc. could not be any lower in importance right now, when it's more about race, ethnicity, nationality, and so on.

After the election showed a majority of white women voting for Trump, non-white women (who will always be 99% Democrat partisans) are reacting by tossing out concerns over women's issues and lashing out at "them white hoes" through collective blame and guilt by association.

Reminder that even if you confess to white guilt, the non-white feminists will still rub your face in your collective guilt (and their own collective innocence and bravery), in other words never accepting your confession or penance. You're just supposed to grovel forever.

Can't let the occasion slip by without using it to slam Bernie supporters and further divide the Left:

At least the pretty girls are not so easily cowed by the feminist herd. Here's one Bernie babe:

Since women's issues have not been on the minds of voters, or the plans of politicians, during the entire electoral season, these tantrum-throwers will have nothing to organize around. Building the wall, making illegals leave, bringing industries back, building up the military, etc., offer no way for feminists to inject themselves into the national conversation.

Although when the shit hits the fan over sanctuary cities, we may be wishing that our worst problems were a handful of cat ladies complaining about why nobody listens to them.

Liberals and leftists are in for a rude awakening about how their decadent luxury issues (anything relating to sex) will be dropped like a hot potato, now that the President is going to get tough on bread-and-butter issues. And it's too late for them to re-train in other issues, so they'll be left with nothing to say. The handful of leftists who don't like closed borders will either be in agreement with Trump over economic policy (if honest) or defend laissez-faire globalism and prove they're worthless sell-outs.

Not a good time to be on the Left -- you might as well board the Trump train.

Obama, the ignorable placeholder president

With that guy now officially being the ex-President, I'll re-post a one cheer for Obama take from about a week before the election. Perhaps it'll generate more discussion now that he's formally out, and Trump formally in.

tl;dr -- The Republicans were going to lose in 2008, so the real choice among possible worlds was President Barack Obama or President Hillary Clinton. Obama is a narcissist, but Hillary is a sociopath. And Obama had no larger crony network, unlike Clintonworld.

If the GOP wasn't going to give us a Trump candidate back then, at least we wound up with the lesser of two evils from the neoliberal side.

I don't remember writing about Obama ever before the past election season, and a search of posting history here confirms that. The few times I did, it was about Obama as one of many presidents -- like generational patterns among presidents. Never really about his policies, or effects on the country or world.

In fact, the one time I did back in '08, it was to condemn both him and Bush for trying to sell "the uninsured" as poor citizens, when it included illegals as well.

There are going to be lots of "see ya, wouldn't wanna be ya" remarks as Obama gets lost, but I wouldn't personalize it that much. The problems of his years were far more general and driven by grassroots changes, making Obama mostly a reflection rather than powerful cause of what we don't like about the past eight years.

And it would have been worse under Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

At any rate, the Trump victory is not just going to undo the past eight years, but the past 30 or 40. It's a once-a-generation re-alignment, and our desire to kick someone's ass on the way out the door should be directed at the entire neoliberal and neoconservative practices of the past couple generations.

If it were to be personalized, remember that our main enemies over those many decades have been the Bush dynasty and the Clinton dynasty, both of which have now been thoroughly eliminated from future participation.

After them, Obama has mostly been an ignorable placeholder of a president. Most Trump voters have already forgotten all about Obama, because there was never anything there to remember in the first place.

I wonder if that will anger Obama's groupies even more? -- that we aren't going to elevate him to arch-nemesis status against Trump. At worst, he's just going to be some annoying talking head who occasionally pops up on cable news, and we keep asking when is he going to go away?

Only the bitter hardcore True Conservative types will keep thinking and seething about him, but this group has already shrunken so fast in relevance. Nobody wants to keep hearing about how Obama did this or that -- we want to focus on whose Establishment ass Trump is kicking today, and which industry is re-locating back to American shores this week. Much more uplifting than worrying about some meaningless presidency.

January 17, 2017

Will Trump era make pop music great again?

An earlier post looked at how TV producers are already accepting that their programming will have to adapt to the Trump zeitgeist, whether they like it or not. This parallels the last time the media elites took notice of the Midwest, after Nixon and then Reagan turned the entire map red.

In perhaps another example of how culture is downstream from politics, Billboard looks at how the big acts in pop music may react to the new political realities:

Whether you believe the arguments that difficult political times create great protest music by firing up the punk in all of us, there's no doubt that the upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump is likely to unleash a barrage of heated anthems. Already U2 revealed that they have re-thought releasing their long-simmering Songs of Experience in favor of possibly going back into the studio to write tunes inspired by the current times.

Eminem weighed in back in October with his scathing eight-minute "Campaign Speech," which we can only hope is a first taste of be a precursor to his ninth full-length studio album. Singer Amanda Palmer recently said she thinks Trump is going to "make punk rock great again," but we'll have to wait and see if she's right.

Of course, punk rock was before Reagan and Thatcher, but don't expect this moron to know basic history. They can't even blame Nixon or Ford -- its anti-musical nihilism was a reaction to the larger sense of stagnation and doom during the Jimmy Carter years. Once Reagan and Thatcher took over, nihilistic punk and decadent disco fused into new wave, canceling out the worst aspects of both and producing a cautiously novelty-seeking tone that characterized the Eighties.

Another major change was away from the tortured urban beatnik in folk rock (Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel), and toward heartland rock, with its non-ironic tribute to common people and everyday life outside of elite cities. Everyone knows John Cougar Mellencamp's wholesome vignettes in "Jack and Diane," "Pink Houses" ("Ain't that America?"), "Small Town," "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.," and so on. But just a year before the Reagan landslide, his first hit "I Need a Lover" was about the gritty city -- a winking celebration of faceless "human jungles", druggies, and empty promiscuity.

Still, I don't think we're in for a revival of the '80s atmosphere, as awesome as that would be. Reagan had the whole country on one side, so musicians really had no choice but to appeal to whatever it was that was resonating politically. The 2016 election is closer to 1968, when re-alignment was just beginning away from the New Deal / Great Society and toward Neoliberalism / Neoconservatism. It wasn't a landslide for Nixon, so musicians could go against the political winners and feel supported by a large chunk of the population.

It was also nearing a time of growing civil unrest, which according to Peter Turchin goes in roughly 50-year cycles -- which means we're due for another peak around 2020, after the last one around 1970. That kind of atmosphere naturally encourages musicians to act up more, whether the whole country is on their side or not.

So if anything, pop music is headed in a counter-cultural direction which middle America will largely tune out. And yet without the rising-crime and outgoing social behavior that characterized the mood in 1970, the coming counter-cultural moment will not be as exciting or thrilling, even for the participants.

On the plus side, we may get another "Sweet Home Alabama" in reaction.

January 13, 2017

The media landscape: A guide to the coming collapse and re-alignment events


During the otherwise uneventful lame duck stage, seismic changes are striking the media ecosystem and the intelligence community. They are inter-related, with the deep state operatives feeding BS to the media in an effort to delegitimize the incoming Trump administration. The over-arching narrative is that "Russia hacked the election," a meaningless phrase if altering vote tallies is not involved, but a phrase intended to muddy the waters about how legitimate of a President the next one will be.

This media-spook coordination came to a head with the publication of risible "intelligence reports" that were not verified or even seriously looked into. Any idiot could tell that it was pure BS, but good ol' BuzzFeed and CNN both ran it into mainstream coverage, where it became a fake news story du jour.

Trump savaged both of them during a press conference, and praised those who did not run with it. That's the interesting thing here: only some organizations went with it, and others refrained. Usually the media behaves as a monolith when it comes to trying to delegitimize Trump -- hosting pundits who act aghast when Trump brags about the size of his hands, hounding him to release his tax returns, etc.

When there is variation in their behavior, it reveals fault-lines within the media world that might otherwise not strike us. That may tell us what will rise and what will fall during the Trump era.

Notably, Fox and MSNBC did not take part in the charade. While Fox has been doing worse than historically, it is not in free-fall and is still the leader in cable news. On the liberal side, MSNBC is on the ascent, while CNN is dying. This has been going on for a long time, with cable news fueling the rise of networks with emotional approaches (Fox, MSNBC), and extinguishing those with informational approaches (CNN).

This was covered in an earlier post, although I would amend the term "ego validation," for what is provided by the emotional networks, to "tribal validation". They are about pushing your emotional buttons about group or tribal superiority over rival groups or tribes, not individual superiority over other individuals.


What's surprising is not that CNN acted one way and Fox / MSNBC another way -- it's that BuzzFeed joined CNN. BuzzFeed makes no pretensions to seriousness, whereas CNN stakes its brand value on seriousness. Why is a purveyor of clickbait trash in league with a network that goes out of its way to portray its anchors as sober figures with lofty values?

It is because BuzzFeed, like CNN and unlike Fox / MSNBC, takes an informational rather than emotional approach to its content and its audience. Its clickbait invariably takes the form of factoids, or listicles cataloging a bunch of things. They are meant to add to the knowledge, if it can be called that, of the audience, rather than to push emotional buttons as strongly as possible to validate their sense of tribal superiority.

And if you look at the target audiences of CNN and BuzzFeed, they are more egocentric and atomized than those of Fox and MSNBC, who derive their superiority from group-level affiliations (liberal tribe, conservative tribe).

CNN is a propaganda outlet, acting as a Ministry of Information to spread Establishment narratives. It offers its consumers a sense of individual superiority over individuals for being more in-the-know than others, regardless of group or tribal membership.

BuzzFeed makes no pretense at crafting grand narratives from its information, but its factoids and listicles do make it a lower pop-cultural form of Ministry of Information. How in-the-know are you about Things Only '90s Kids Appreciate about Disney Movies? Or, 9 Floral Prints to Rock This Summer? Or, 17 Positions to Try for Mind-Blowing Orgasms? Etc. You compete against other individuals over who is more in-the-know on these topics, rather than your tribe vs. some other tribe. (We'll cover tribal clickbait in a bit.)

The fact that CNN and BuzzFeed jumped on this story, while Fox and MSNBC avoided it, means that it acted as a novelty-value factoid (for BuzzFeed's clickbait audience) or as a factoid that belongs to a larger narrative about how Trump is compromised by being a puppet of Russia (for CNN's propaganda audience).

MSNBC is not primarily a propaganda outlet -- in the sense of constructing informational narratives -- so they can avoid this piece of BS. MSNBC is about validating the tribal superiority of liberals, and that doesn't require publishing this particular fake news item. They have many other ways to push the emotional buttons of liberals, without publishing obvious BS, whereas CNN almost has to run with a factoid like this since it fits in with their informational approach, constructing a propaganda narrative about Trump being compromised due to something Russian.

Notice that it was BuzzFeed and not Huffington Post that served in the trash role. But then Huffington Post is like a clickbait form of MSNBC, not of CNN. It is geared toward validating the tribal superiority of liberals, and its listicles are about 8 Ethically Problematic Things Trump Said This Week on Twitter, or 11 Environmental Problems That Will Get Worse Under Republican Rule, and so on. It is more clickbait-y than MSNBC, hence all of the gossip / sex position / foodie novelty items on HuffPo that do not clog the arteries of MSNBC.

Like MSNBC, HuffPo could avoid this obvious BS and cheerlead for liberals in many other ways.


This differing behavior among the mass media who are all anti-Trump, has led us to a model of the media landscape based on two dimensions, aside from the liberal-conservative dimension:

First, is the approach informational or emotional? This dichotomy was already studied in the earlier post linked to before. Informational approaches appeal to egocentric audiences, while emotional approaches appeal to tribal audiences. Interest in information and egocentric focus characterizes the autistic or systemizing end of Baron-Cohen's spectrum, while resonance with emotions and tribal focus characterizes the empathetic end.

Second, are the items in the output linked and ordered into a larger whole, or are they intended to be mostly disconnected factoids with no hierarchical structure? This is how general or specific their vision is. CNN arranges its factoids into a larger propaganda narrative, while BuzzFeed makes no connections or grand narratives across its myriad listicles. Fox and MSNBC take many examples of why conservatives or liberals are superior and weave them into a larger narrative about tribal superiority, whereas the output at HuffPo is more like one damned reason after another for why we're better, and not as grand and mythological in its pretensions.

The nature of clickbait will be explored in another post.


Looking forward, we see that the main casualties will fall on the left column of that matrix, those whose approach is informational. If your whole appeal is making your audience more in-the-know, and what you told them is revealed to be pure BS, there goes your credibility.

There is no corresponding factor of credibility among the emotional-tribal outlets. They're judged by how good they are at whipping up their tribe through daily pep rallies.

Even within the informational side, those that are specific / clickbait will withstand the fallout from fake news better than those that are general / narrative. In the hyper-specific model, any given factoid isn't closely connected to any other, whereas in the general propaganda narrative model, one piece of the whole being infected raises the possibility that the whole damn thing is infected.

Especially if the source of infection is an unreliable or fake source, as in the latest case. Any idiot can string together a listicle for BuzzFeed, so no one assumes that if one item is proven wrong, the same author has produced other listicles that could be similarly compromised. In a propaganda outlet, one unreliable source has probably informed numerous items within an entire narrative, making the audience more likely to turn skeptical toward the whole story when just one piece is proven to be BS.

So, sites like BuzzFeed will prove more robust than CNN at being accepted by the public and influencing their worldview and behavior. Fortunately for us, BuzzFeed has no larger narrative that it is pushing, so it getting more attention than CNN is still a win for us in the information war.


What, if anything, will fill the vacuum left by CNN? There is no conservative or moderate version of CNN to expand its territory in that quadrant of the matrix. Fox and MSNBC are qualitatively different in being tribal and emotional, not presenting facts to inform people about what's going on in important topics. BuzzFeed and HuffPo are clickbait, not meant to string items together into a larger coherent story about current events.

For the short term, we will enter a truly post-factual era, where most "news" is opinion-based cheerleading for the audience's tribe.

Perhaps after some time, an entirely new organization will fill the void left by CNN -- informational in approach, and ordering its items into general stories rather than clickbait. It would be more moderate, and would have to be more populist and nationalist than CNN, since CNN's shattered credibility stemmed from it being so stubbornly elitist and globalist (publishing pure BS from the elitist-globalist CIA), during a re-alignment toward populism and nationalism.

The individuals who staff this new organization may come from existing outlets that practice other modes of journalism, where they feel uncomfortable ginning up emotional energy or writing listicles. They just want to report on what's going on in important matters, and doing so in a more coherent narrative form than thematically related tweets. Somewhere that Michael Tracey would fit in.


Getting there, the most important policies to pursue are busting up the media monopoly, which would not only deal the coup de grace to CNN, but would prevent the re-formation of another in its place. Only a mega-giant in the communications sector can take on the role of Ministry of Information.

Even if there were a thousand little wannabe CNNs, they would have to compete over audiences and have to distinguish themselves from one another. Some would be less propagandistic on issue X, others would be more honest on issue Y. Some would cover issues that were being censored by the others for propaganda reasons.

That's the worst-case scenario, which is still a quantum leap beyond where we are now, and does not take a sophisticated complex solution -- just sledgehammer the media monopolies.

December 29, 2016

Sibling rivalry remains worse for generations raised in hyper-competitive era

One major change brought about by the status-striving phase of the economic cycle is intensified sibling rivalry. It's "just another" form of hyper-competitiveness, but one that threatens a core institution which is supposed to be beyond the effects of economic cycles.

No matter when you observe them, Baby Boomers have basically gotten along with their generation-mates within their kin groups -- siblings, cousins, and so on. And of course they got along with their parents, aunts and uncles, etc. Their bonds with these individuals were formed during the accommodating phase of the cycle, up through the 1960s and even into the '70s, which were a transition ("Me Generation") between the New Deal / Great Society era and the Reagan Revolution.

They do rib each other here and there, engage in "a little friendly competition" over inane crap, but overall the roots show from the pre-striver era, and they get along with one another.

The quality of these interactions takes a noticeable drop with Gen X, and really flatlines once the Millennials become involved.

For Gen X, relationships with cousins are distant and awkward, though well-meaning rather than hostile. Similar well-meaning awkwardness among siblings. They reflect the lack of time that X-ers made for others during their proto-careerist adolescence. As with any secular trend, it's worse for the later than the earlier members.

For Millennials (who in this context appear to begin with 1982 births), family gatherings bring out only aggressive egocentrism. They're rehashing what is familiar from their upbringing during the era of high-stakes childhood, especially since the 1990s. In well-adjusted families, this constant status-jockeying may appear less hostile, while in dysfunctional families it will take the form of endless sniping and baiting.

It's not the cathartic "getting it all out there" kind of battle within the family. That has an end goal -- clearing some kind of emotional clog in the system -- which once reached, brings satiety to the participants, who go back to normal for awhile. The oneupsmanship over the most petty shit has no goal other than to draw out the contest into another round. Without any satisfaction to resolve the drama, the gathering ends abruptly and awkwardly with the tension still hanging around undissipated.

These generational differences have been stable, from what I've seen of my family's home movies, at least back to the 1960s. Little Boomers weren't tearing each other to shreds back then, and do not do so now. Once you see home movies from the '80s, it's apparent how even as small children the X-ers and later the Millennials would move family gatherings step by step closer to sibling rivalry death matches.

At this point, it's no longer possible to believe that we will change things directly, and drop our hyper-competitiveness with our siblings. The best we can do is try altering the social climate toward one of accommodation rather than me-first. Making public displays of being sick and fed up with steel cage matches over nothing could at least signal to the next generation that they'd better not continue the practice. Pre-emptive shunning of social behavior that poisons the family.

Getting that message across broadly will probably take another generation or two, but it's happened before, so it can and will happen again.

December 21, 2016

Is the next Star Wars trailer out yet?

Here was my take on the Star Wars pop cultural experience as of 2016, back when the trailer was released for Rogue One (with links to three earlier posts as well). Nothing about the theatrical release has changed my take.

I haven't heard people reciting memorable lines of dialog, re-enacting key scenes, and so on, as though Rogue One were actually memorable, rather than just another forgettable and disposable chunk of pop culture junk food.

I didn't see The Force Awakens, and won't be seeing this one either. This is more to look at how the general public and Star Wars fans themselves are treating the franchise.

Two key paragraphs from before:

What's new to observe with the release of this trailer is just how forgotten The Force Awakens has become, not even three months after its release, and even among its hardcore nerd following. Facebook was filled with spazzy Star Wars shit for a few weeks when the new movie came out, but then... nothing. No quoting favorite lines -- evidently the dialog was forgettable. No references to favorite scenes -- evidently all visuals were forgettable. And no gushing over favorite plot points or themes -- evidently the entire narrative was forgettable...

Like I said, the real drama now takes place across the trailers -- one prolonged masturbatory anticipation, brief climax when it's out in theaters, and hardly any resting period before the next obsessive anticipation. Nerds don't want to enjoy the actual experience, they want to geek out over forecasting what it might be like (reminds me of how they behave in another domain of life).

Star Wars has taken on an almost religious quality for its fan-base, which includes larger and larger swaths of the population nowadays.

So, why continue adding to the Star Wars Bible? It just keeps diluting and weakening the impact of the original movies. Enough of this continuing revelation from one false prophet after another.

Midwits liken religion to an opiate of the masses, but that misses the feeling of satiety that religious people come away from each religious experience with. They're "full" for awhile, until they get hungry in awhile, then they'll take part again. They aren't constantly on the brink of withdrawal symptoms, searching for ever greater dosages to bring about the same painkilling effect.

Rather, this is what the cult of Star Wars has degraded into -- a bunch of anhedonic depressives being supplied by Hollywood with pop cultural opium, as quickly and as regularly as their movie-mills can churn the stuff out. Unlike an actual religion, its practitioners feel no joy, satiety, communion, or community -- no more than a crowd of drug-addicted strangers who file into the same crackhouse to get their fix.

Here's to hoping that in the more prosperous and point-having lives we will begin to enjoy as Trump returns America back toward normality, the general public will no longer treat movies, even supposedly sacred ones like Star Wars, in such a degrading way. And, Hollywood will no longer be supplying them with this Force Awakens / Rogue One kind of crap anymore.

December 20, 2016

Divided Establishment can't even unite around anti-Trump EC votes

In yet another sign of how divided the Establishment remains, there were five faithless electors who chose a Republican -- and these five split their votes among three people (Colin Powell, Ron Paul, and "Tiny Bites" Kasich). Could they not coordinate enough to concentrate their votes into a single individual, for maximum effect?

It just goes to show how hyper-competitive the elites still are, leading to internal fragmentation. Each Trump hater wanted to broadcast their own unique personal style of hating Trump, to show that the other Trump haters are just a bunch of posers who are not as artisanal in their Trump hatred.

The same mentality kept the anti-Trump forces from posing a serious challenge during the primaries. None of the other candidates wanted to fall on their sword for the greater good of the group, and none of the voters wanted to bite the bullet and cast a ballot for the one agreed-upon rival to Trump.

In contrast to these suicidally selfish Establishment types, the society-oriented figures all coalesced around Trump, whether they agreed 100% or not. Ditto his voters. The populist-nationalist movement is strongly united.

It's a misnomer to call the strategy "divide and conquer," when it is really "conquer the divided".

Even the anti-Establishment Left couldn't agree on their protest electoral vote -- of the two who managed to vote for a Democrat, one was Bernie and the other was some Native American activist at the Dakota Pipeline protest. That is just a trendy topic of the past several months, and will be replaced by something else before long. It doesn't have the brand recognition among lefties and liberals, let alone the wider society, that Occupy Wall Street did, for example.

The rest of the Democrat faithless votes were intended to go to Bernie, which is more coordinated than the "boo Trump" Republican votes. Still, one of two that succeeded is like getting a My Chemical Romance tattoo in 2006. It's actually going to be in the historical record -- some random activist from a trendy protest du jour, rather than the figurehead of the movement during the entire primary season and whose name will be associated with it for the near future.

December 19, 2016

Les Miserables at Inauguration?

From Blind Gossip:

While there are reports that nobody wants to perform at Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration, that is not true.

In an interesting turn of events, we just found out that the producer of one theatrical show is currently negotiating for their entire cast to perform at the Inauguration!

There are a few details that still need to be worked out in the contract, but it looks like attendees would be treated to more than one musical number from the show.

Although the show’s producer was quite antagonistic towards Trump during the past year, it looks like that is not stopping them from putting the show first!

By the way, this is definitely NOT about the cast of Hamilton! ...

[Optional] Which song from a musical would you most like to hear Donald Trump sing?

The clue is in the optional question, playing on "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from Les Miserables. He's already used that song at a rally in Miami in September, where there was also a projected image of "Les Deplorables" in the style of the play's poster art, with revolutionaries at the barricades.

That was a hit even with the reporters, who will be in too good of a mood to say anything bad during the Inauguration.

It'll also force the elitists to reveal their contempt for middle America and middlebrow culture, as well as how silly and trivial their "highbrow" alternatives are -- getting lectured by AIDS-rotted diversity hires LARP-ing as the founding fathers? Somehow I don't see that playing at the Vienna Opera House...

Another example of culture being downstream from politics!

December 17, 2016

Culture is downstream from politics: TV shows adapting to Trump era

The Hollywood Reporter writes about how TV executives are struggling to make their programming relevant in the age of Trump. They don't know anybody who voted for Trump, and none of their current shows has an even accidental chance of reaching Trump voters. Either they get with the times, or they're effectively off the air.

They're not changing everything abruptly in an attempt to pander, as though pleading for them not to vote Trump next time as long as we keep our promise to make TV shows that aren't all about degenerate cosmopolitans. It's described as more of a shift in tone, toward hopeful and optimistic and away from snarky and cynical. You can smell the feel-good family-friendly sit-coms from here, making the 1980s great again.

This is a good example of how pop culture follows changes in the political and economic realms, rather than the other way around. Andrew Breitbart is frequently quoted to the effect that culture needs to change before politics does ("Politics is downstream from culture.") Here is the summary from a representative post at RedState:

Culture matters. Withdrawing from it is no answer. If you want to change the future of the country, you need to engage the culture and not just expect that the kinds of citizens who vote for your values can be summoned from the hills.

The Trump phenomenon has proven this theory wrong, since he ran exclusively on economic and political topics, ignoring culture (other than to complain about "Why are they remaking Ghostbusters? Are they incapable of making good new movies?"). "Despite" this stance, and despite not altering the cultural foundations of the country, he did indeed summon voters from the hills in Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Hampshire.

Losing observers from both sides try to reduce cognitive dissonance by chalking up Trump's popularity to being a reality TV star, which goes to explain why his counterpart in the other party enjoyed his own success against all odds. Trump, like Bernie, achieved as much as he did thanks to his stances on the issues, not on personality or fame.

The entire cultural realm had long been, and still remains united against Trump the man, Trump voters, and the Trump agenda. Bernie had some cultural supporters, but not as big as Hillary did, and they did not cut ads for him or introduce him, as though his young supporters needed their candidate to be validated by cultural figures they already care about.

As mentioned in the post about who puts out conspiracy theories and why, the idea that politics is downstream from culture is part of the conspiratorial worldview. After decades of defeat, Republicans and conservatives began to attribute their failures to the Democrats and liberals invading and taking over the major cultural institutions -- schools, churches, the media -- and using this strategic position to influence or brainwash the general public into believing liberal bromides and voting Democrat reflexively.

How did those people explain the heyday of conservatism during the Reagan years? It's not as though the 1980 landslide against all odds had followed the defenestration of liberals from academia, the media, and the Mainline churches, where they have been in control since forever. It was not an attempt to analyze or explain, but to soothe their pain by shifting the blame to external hostile actors instead of their own smug leadership, sell-out politicians, ossified think tanks, and disgraced cultural figures such as the televangelists of the 1980s.

Returning to mainstream TV shows, which came first -- Nixon's defeat of Humphrey, or the release of All in the Family? Archie Bunker arrived to television a full two years after Nixon's first inauguration. A key demographic in the Nixon coalition was working-class whites who were sick of the excesses of the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, whether these were rural Southern whites or urban white ethnics.

In 1968, both groups had been loyalist Democrats for generations, but the influx of the Civil Rights movement antagonized them enough to defect at least temporarily (for white ethnics) or permanently (for white Southerners).

The Democrats were apoplectic that such large chunks of their New Deal coalition had been so effortlessly poached by the GOP. It couldn't be because the Great Society policies were failures -- it was because... uh, well, let's explore who these Nixon voters are in sit-com format, contrasting them with their liberal Democrat children. Maybe by portraying them halfway sympathetically and "feeling their pain," we can bring some of them back into the fold.

But culture has minimal influence over politics, so no, these groups did not come back to the Democrat party until a generation later with Clinton in '92, after the Bushies had alienated most of the Nixon and Reagan voters.

It was the Democrats' version of thinking that politics is downstream from culture. It's just that the Dems control the media, so they can translate that mindset into cultural change more than the Republicans can when it's their turn to blame culture for their political failures.

Another show in the vein of All in the Family was Family Ties, wherein liberal Jewish media executives tried to explore the nascent conservative and yuppie phenomena, as the liberal Boomer parents struggle to understand their uber-Republican son Alex Keaton. Nixon did not run as a conservative, but as a pragmatist, law-and-order, liberal-moderate. Reagan's landslide was even more unforeseen to Democrats in the media than was Nixon's, and provoked greater panic to figure out what went wrong.

Family Ties debuted nearly two years after Reagan defeated an incumbent Democrat, again showing that culture follows politics and economics. The producers hoped to pull the Alex Keatons at least halfway toward the liberal Boomer generation, but they resisted and remained GOP loyalists -- although it's worth asking if he would have voted for Trump? Maybe. But maybe Alex P. Keaton put yuppie elitism over party loyalty and voted for Clinton. (Many such cases! Sad!)

Since these political re-alignments tend to have a strong geographic pattern, the TV producers have hinted at portraying the lives of people other than coastal elites, and exploring what makes working-class and middle-class whites in flyover country tick.

I looked through Wikipedia's lists of major TV shows set in various states to see when the last time they actually devoted attention to Trump country. It looks like it was after Nixon's first win, and lasting through the Reagan-Bush years. They had taken parts of the Midwest for granted during the New Deal / Great Society years, when so much pop culture focused on coastal cities (or the Old West). Suddenly they became obsessed with the Great Lakes region, and Chicago in particular, to try to figure out who these defectors were.

Chicago plays such a central role because after Democrat loyalty during the New Deal and Great Society eras, Illinois became Republican from 1968 until 1992 -- and they did not do that without the support of metro Chicago. Wisconsin went Republican in '68, '72, '80, and '84. Even Minnesota went Republican by 6 points in '72. Michigan was a little late to the party, but stayed Republican from '72 until '92. Indiana and Ohio were also heavily Republican during this period, but they were not defectors from the New Deal era, when they were still fairly Republican.

Here are the major TV shows set in the Midwest during the Nixon-Reagan-Bush years, where the locals are portrayed sympathetically, there's a strong sense of place, and the regional culture and economy are not sneered at for not being elite and cosmopolitan.


Mary Tyler Moore Show - Minneapolis
Happy Days - Milwaukee
Laverne and Shirley - Milwaukee
Bob Newhart Show - Chicago
Good Times - Chicago
WKRP in Cincinnati - Cincinnati


Roseanne - Chicago
Married with Children - Chicago
Family Matters - Chicago
Life Goes On - Chicago
Family Ties - Columbus


Home Improvement - Detroit (began before Clinton)

Shows from the Clinton era onward, like That '70s Show or Parks and Recreation that are set in Wisconsin or Indiana, feature liberal cosmopolitan elites doing a mocking blackface performance of flyovers, or portraying the liberal cosmo elite-wannabes stuck in flyover country.

The media elites even became interested in the blacks of flyover country (Good Times, Family Matters), which we still haven't seen despite a two-term black President whose political career began in Chicago.

Outside of the Midwest, the liberal media elites tried to understand other newly Republican areas, such as Connecticut. It was more of a swing state during the New Deal and Great Society periods, but was solid GOP from '72 until '92. The hit '80s sit-com Who's the Boss? set up an intercultural dialog between an urban blue-collar Italian from Noo Yawk working as a live-in housekeeper for a suburban professional WASP (portrayed by a Jew) in Connecticut.

The star of that show, Tony Danza, had also starred on Taxi, set in Manhattan during the dingy stagflation era of the late '70s and early '80s. Even when the media elites did cover the Center of the Universe back then, they focused on everyday blue-collar life at work, rather than the conspicuous leisure of cosmopolitan yuppies that began to characterize Manhattan reality and cultural portrayal during the Clinton years and afterward.

So perhaps in the Trump era, not only will we see a more sympathetic portrayal of whites in the Midwest but in working-class coastal areas, too. If the past is any guide, though, don't expect any of this to be visible until about two years into the strange new times. Right now the media elites are still in the denial and anger stages of grief.

If formerly shrill Civil Rights hippies and Jews can make family-friendly WASP-y sit-coms like they did in the Reagan-Bush years, they can change their tune during the Trump years as well. Unlike the Democrat party itself, the creators of pop culture need to appeal to the mainstream, which has now revealed that it doesn't give a shit about conspicuous leisure, elite degeneracy, and identity politics.