Archive for the 'Paradigm Shift' Category

2004 — the year of the litmus tests

Friday, December 17th, 2004

Like VDH and many others, we believe that morality has been stood on its head in much of contemporary liberalism. Liberals:

could start by accepting that the demise of many of their cherished beliefs and institutions was not the fault of others. More often, the problems are fundamental flaws in their own thinking — such as the ends of good intentions justifying the means of expediency and untruth, and forced equality being a higher moral good than individual liberty and freedom. Whether we call such notions “political correctness” or “progressivism,” the practice of privileging race, class, and gender over basic ethical considerations has earned the moralists of the Left not merely hypocrisy, but virtual incoherence.

To regain credibility, the Left must start to apply the same standard of moral outrage to a number of its favorite causes that it does to the United States government, the corporations, and the Christian Right.

1. Arafat
2. Iraq
3. United Nations
4. Nobel Peace Prize
5. Rathergate
6. SwiftBoatVets
7. Profiling at airports
8. Bush

There are many issues that are litmus tests for your paradigm for seeing the world. People seem to coalesce on one side or the other. The issues seem to be so much more clearly drawn than even in 2003. We’re very pleased with the clarity of the side we’ve chosen. What about you?

The future is like a whole different planet

Sunday, December 12th, 2004

We’ve linked to this speech before. It’s by Michael Crichton, and we saw it again at the Corner. You can see how it would be one of our favorites:

Let’s think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the horses**t? Horse pollution was bad in 1900, think how much worse it would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses?

But of course, within a few years, nobody rode horses except for sport. And in 2000, France was getting 80% its power from an energy source that was unknown in 1900. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan were getting more than 30% from this source, unknown in 1900. Remember, people in 1900 didn’t know what an atom was. They didn’t know its structure. They also didn’t know what a radio was, or an airport, or a movie, or a television, or a computer, or a cell phone, or a jet, an antibiotic, a rocket, a satellite, an MRI, ICU, IUD, IBM, IRA, ERA, EEG, EPA, IRS, DOD, PCP, HTML, internet. interferon, instant replay, remote sensing, remote control, speed dialing, gene therapy, gene splicing, genes, spot welding, heat-seeking, bipolar, prozac, leotards, lap dancing, email, tape recorder, CDs, airbags, plastic explosive, plastic, robots, cars, liposuction, transduction, superconduction, dish antennas, step aerobics, smoothies, twelve-step, ultrasound, nylon, rayon, teflon, fiber optics, carpal tunnel, laser surgery, laparoscopy, corneal transplant, kidney transplant, AIDS . . . None of this would have meant anything to a person in the year 1900. They wouldn’t know what you are talking about.

Now. You tell me you can predict the world of 2100.

Here’s one of our thoughts on a similar subject:

Here is the signal fact of our progress in the last century. If you were born in 1900, your life expectancy was in the forties, and GNP per capita was about $4000. If you are born today, your life expectancy in about eighty, and statistically, as an average American, you are ten times richer. In reality you are a hundred or a thousand times richer, if you factor in your ability to be in Paris tomorrow for $500, your ability to watch events from fifty years ago as they actually happened, etc. – not to mention that your toddler’s severe pneumonia can be reliably cured in 48 hours or so.

Only a little of this has to do with government.

Mostly it is because 90% of everything ever invented in the history of humanity was invented in the last 130 years, and 90% of that was invented by Americans. Milton Hershey invented the candy bar, Carrier invented the air conditioner for a tire plant, Sears invented catalogue distribution, Henry Ford invented cheap cars, some guys from Texas Instruments invented the transistor. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the invention and wide use of brand names, which communicate the quality and dependability of every product we buy. This alone deserves the Nobel Prize. And it was a large and growing market, the availability of risk capital, and protection of intellectual and personal property by the courts that made this possible.

2004 is the year Conservatism stopped apologizing — and Liberalism lost its self-confidence

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Conservatism started speaking up for itself in mainstream America on August 1, 1988 when Rush Limbaugh started the revolution that created the New Media, as we have written.

Since that time, most of the impact of resurgent conservatism has come from the bottom up, with increases in Republican representation at every level of government, as many have documented. The progress has been gradual but steady. And liberals have been the proverbial frog in the pan on the stove.

Until this year. Many things have happened in this remarkable year. For one thing, it’s the first presidential race since the birth of the New Media that the GOP candidate ran on a profoundly conservative agenda, as Fred Barnes said. For another, the New Media keep scoring knock-outs on the Old Media in fight after fight. The Old Media are like Mike Tyson, once great, now way past their prime, and so punch drunk that they don’t even know what’s hit them. And finally, there seems to be something going on in the culture. It’s not a good year to be Ron Artest, Janet Jackson, Scott Peterson — or Dan Rather, for that matter.

One of the problems that Republicans had when they gained a majority in the House of Representatives in 1994 was that they didn’t know how to act like they were a majority. It has taken a decade, more or less, for a sense of confidence to take hold. That’s understandable — our self-perceptions take a while to grow into.

One of the notable aspects of this year is the sense of shock that has overtaken many of our Democratic friends. They too have undergone a change over the last decade — to minority party status at every level of government — and they absolutely failed to deal with it. They thought it was an aberration, and were abetted in this false consciousness by the Old Media. Evan Thomas’ prediction of 15 points for the democratic candidate was not a boast: it was an honest prediction based on the way the Old Media saw the world.

When your worldview is shattered, it takes quite a while to get your bearings, if you ever do recover. Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions illuminates that disorientation. The political universe has changed, indeed, has been changing for fifteen years, and it will take our liberal friends a while to orient themselves. Their process of understanding what has happened is only beginning.

Democrats do not know how to be an effective minority party because they refused to believe they were the minority party. Hugh Hewitt correctly counseled caution in the Arlen Specter matter, because majorities have to behave like grown ups and avoid internecine warfare. We look forward to hearing from similar voices of reason on the left who can giude the Democratic Party to responsible opposition. A useful first step would be the denunciation of wing-nuts like Michael Moore by thought leaders of the party. We have a feeling we’re going to be waiting a while.

Is a revolt against the modern world promoting a return to paganism?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

Ralph Peters in an unusual column in USA Today:

Instead of returning to a “pure” Islam, the terrorists are building a blood cult, a deformed offshoot of their faith that revives the most primitive and grotesque of religious practices. Human sacrifice pervaded early societies, from pre-Columbian America through Europe and across Asia. Yet we have grown so accustomed to gentler forms of religion that the discovery of a ritually murdered corpse in alpine ice shocks us. When bones unearthed in the American Southwest bear the markings of ceremonial murder and cannibalism, the politically correct shout their denials. But the truth is that our ancestors bribed their gods with blood.

A paradox of this era of technological wonders is that its dislocations have conjured primitive impulses from the past. This is the great age of both satellites and revived superstition, of all-seeing sensors and blind faith.

This is a very interesting thought. 80% of evertthing ever invented was invented in the last 130 years, and 80% of that was invented by Americans. So maybe a return to blood cults and human sacrifice is the reaction of primitives to Conquistadors or Kodos and Kang.

We note the similar nuttiness among the affluent and ignorant of America. They don’t have a clue how a light bulb or a refrigerator work, but they have all sorts of theories about how global warming is causing hurricanes. Maybe it’s good that many of them are from the blue states, where weapons can be kept out of their hands.


We received some questions regarding our comment about the dominance of the US in the world of inventions. Precise statistics are hard to come by, but over 350,000 patents were applied for in the US in 2002, while the comparable figure for the UK is 30,000.

Watching greatness, according to Paul Johnson

Saturday, October 30th, 2004

George Bush is likely to be remembered as one of the top half dozen Presidents of the United States. Paul Johnson, via LGF:

There is something grimly admirable about his stoicism in the face of reverses, which reminds me of other moments in history: the dark winter Washington faced in 1777-78, a time to “try men’s souls,” as Thomas Paine put it, and the long succession of military failures Lincoln had to bear and explain before he found a commander who could take the cause to victory. There is nothing glamorous about the Bush presidency and nothing exhilarating. It is all hard pounding, as Wellington said of Waterloo, adding: “Let us see who can pound the hardest.”

Mastering terrorism fired by a religious fanaticism straight from the Dark Ages requires hard pounding of the dullest, most repetitious kind, in which spectacular victories are not to be looked for, and all we can expect are “blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” However, something persuades me that Bush— with his grimness and doggedness, his lack of sparkle but his enviable concentration on the central issue—is the president America needs at this difficult time.

Bush is a reminder of the moral courage it sometimes takes to do the blindingly obvious. He is a reminder of just how far the world will go to deny cruel realities. Imagine just how much better the world would have been if Hitler had been stopped before he invaded Poland. The world hates Bush just as much as it applauded Chamberlain after Munich. The dandies and the intellectuals all will the world to be the September 10 world. Because he is a mortal threat to their fantasy worldview, they would rather loathe him than see the truth.

Of the many great fault lines in US politics, Jimmy Carter may be the best

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

I think that John Kerry is the tall Jimmy Carter, from the world view to the micromanagement. Carter’s interview with Chris Matthews is a Rorschak test of where you stand on today’s foreign policy issues. The problem with the interview is that it’s so juicy you just want to quote the whole thing. So take a look at Powerline, Captain Ed, Tom McGuire and the Brothers Judd for starters.

Of all the laugh lines, Carter’s quip about the Revolution being our bloodiest war is the funniest. Then there’s this:

Well, I think almost any reasonable person who knew history would say that you can‘t go into an alien environment and force by rule of arms by forcing the people to adopt a strange concept.

As Tom McGuire said, what’s Japanese for ridiculous?

It’s a shocking commentary on the state of the nation that the Democrats are re-running the 1976 election this year and the Carter II is this close.

Searching for a “Tough Minded Liberal”

Saturday, October 16th, 2004

John Kerry bills himself as a tough minded liberal. Is a tough minded liberal one whose head can’t be sawed off by the Islamofascists because it has been proven impermeable to reality? VDH on the fantasy of just about everybody in the Democratic Party except Joe Lieberman:

We can no more reason with the Islamic fascists than we could sympathize with the Nazis’ demands over supposedly exploited Germans in Czechoslovakia or the problem of Tojo’s Japan’s not getting its timely scrap-metal shipments from Roosevelt’s America. Their pouts and gripes are not intended to be adjudicated as much as to weaken the resolve of many in the United States who find the entire “war against terror” too big, or the wrong kind, of a nuisance.

Instead, read the fatwas. You hear not just of America’s injustice in Palestine or Chechnya — not to mention nothing about saving Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo or Afghanistan of the 1980s — but also of what we did in Spain in the 15th century and in Tyre, Gaza, and Jerusalem in the 12th. The mystery of September 11, 2001, is not that it happened, but that it did not quite happen when first tried in 1993 during Bill Clinton’s madcap efforts to move a smiling Arafat into the Lincoln Bedroom and keep our hands off bin Laden. Only an American with a JD or PhD would cling to the idea that there was not a connection between Group A Middle Eastern terrorists who attacked the WTC in 1993 and Group B who finished the job in 2001.

As I’ve said before, it is irrelevant in a way if America elects a pacifist-in-chief or fantasist-in-chief. The bloodlust of the savages will continue and the war will go on with, for a time, one fewer participant. A delay in wiping out the enemy will be repaid, with dividends, at some future time. Point of black humor: those opposing the sensible policy of wiping the enemy off the face of the earth now will later claim, as in the Cold War, to have been on the winning team all along.

These witlings will wish that the photo and the negatives had been lost:

Courtesy of Powerline.

The world’s dividing line is: countries that fight for freedom, and those that don’t

Monday, October 11th, 2004

America is a an outlier among countries. Americans have been fighting and dying for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” mostly for people well outside their own self-interest, ever since the 1770’s. Only a third of Americans were advocates of the break from England, so they say, but that third did the hard work of fighting, dying and retreating down the East Coast to victory over Great Britain. About a million men in the little country died so that some other Americans could become free. We did the same thing in WWII. There’s been a lot of blood shed by Europeans too, but very little of it in the cause of freeing other men. America and her English-speaking brothers have been rare in the history of humans for what they have done, as we have noted below. Here, on the same theme is Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, and a columnist for The Washington Times:

Since the French Revolution in 1789, the European Continent has been soaked in blood and built on the bones of millions of soldier and civilian dead, thanks to the Balkan wars, the revolutionary wars, the mindless monarchs Wilhelm and Nicholas, the Hitler and Stalin genocides, and two utterly unnecessary world wars. Since the early 19th century, America became the destination of millions of European immigrants. Few Americans ever emigrated to Europe or Asia. On a small number of American draft-dodgers migrated to Canada during the Vietnam War.

Even more significantly, American military power was responsible for overthrowing these tyrannies: Nazism, fascism, communism, Eastern Europe, Saddam Hussein, Nicaraguan Sandinistas, El Salvador communists, Grenada and Japanese militarism. American military power prevented the takeover of South Korea by Kim Il-sung and the takeover of Taiwan by mainland China. The Truman Doctrine saved Greece and Turkey from Soviet aggression.

Without American military and economic power, we would have a different world today. And we did this in the spirit of 13 precious words of Alfred T. Mahan, the great U.S. naval strategist: “The objective of military power is to allow moral ideals to take root.” That’s why we’re in Iraq.

The European countries, by an large, have fought for their empire du jour, beggering each other in a millenium of zero-sum games. The Germans have been notable for their imperial aggressions. The French, for the last century, have found very little to fight for anywhere, even including their own freedom. How can we expect these countries to understand the American willingness to fight for freedom for others when so much of their near history has been a story or either subjugation or surrender, and never the sacrifice for liberty which is the legacy of America and the Engliush-speaking world.

And why on earth would we ever, in a million years and with a million Nobel Prizes, ever want to be like them?

How Berkeley Can You Be?

Sunday, October 10th, 2004

It’s the 40th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, and it’s not quite the same Berkeley.

The Serious

Mario Savio, a key figure who died a couple of years ago, was mistaken about a great many things, but he was both misguided and serious, as he made clear on 12/2/64:

“There is a time,” he said, “when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

Here are heirs to the original FSM: “MoveOn co-founder Joan Blades (on the left) sharing a panel discussion with International Answer co-founder Gloria la Riva (on the right). Quite a combination!” says Zombie, via Powerline. Commie alert:

The confused

Speaking of preventing the machine from working, this fellow appears to have a few gears that have stopped; we’ll take the Chicken Hawk over the Frankenkerry, thank you:

The uber-Berkeley

What’s a post about Berkeley without the Pink Man? We’ll only link to another pink man, Howard Dean, and you can catch his act yourself.

My name is Jack, and I’m a Kerry-holic

Monday, September 6th, 2004

There, I’ve said it. I’m going to try to go cold turkey, but I don’t know if I can.

My addiction

I became a Kerry-holic when I read the 6/1/03 Laura Blumenfeld article in the Washington Post, in which the magic hat appears for the first time, and my man composes poems for corvine-Americans. So deliciously weird.

Then I saw the Washington Post’s joint interview of the Bobsey twins, by Mark Leibovich, from 6/2/02. I posted my reactions, but please read the original article. Again, a very weird guy.

So I have not been surprised that it turns out that he is an extravagant serial fabulist. I knew there was something going on with him. And immdeiately I also knew that he would be a gift that keeps on giving, since these story-tellers never stop.

The Real Mystery is that he has been doing these things for 30 years, but it’s never been a problem

I re-read the 1970 Harvard Crimson interview. The guy today is the same as he was 34 years ago. Delete “Mendel Rivers,” insert “Dick Cheney,” etc.

Kerry hasn’t changed. He’s always been the same. The difference today is that he is not swimming with the current, but against it. Previously, in his senate career, Kerry was a liberal senator from a liberal state, who mostly voted the liberal CW, and whose press coverage came from the liberal media. I’ve called him the Purloined Candidate, because he’s been able to hide in plain sight for over thirty years.

It’s no wonder that both the candidate and the MSM are shocked, by the way, at what has happened in the last month. How could it be otherwise?

Unfortunately, the MSM have not yet hit bottom

Looking for the next train wreck in the life of a serial fabulist is fun, but it wears you out after a while. I certainly have reached that point. It has now been 35 or so days since the candidate has talked to the press, and we all know why. Even the campaign’s official biographer, who is at fault for much of this crisis, appears to have grabbed a life vest and jumped overboard, since official military inquiries have begun.

The MSM would be well served in the future to do tough opposition research on their own favorite candidates to prevent messes like this from occurring again, but they’ll have to hit bottom first, and they have not yet done so.

The Next Thing McCain and Feingold will want to regulate is the blogosphere

Monday, September 6th, 2004


The blogosphere is the greatest free opposition research tool ever devised by the mind of man. All candidates, and particularly those being lionized by the mainstream media will get a working over.

The nature of the working over will be that of a detective, a skeptical lawyer, researcher/fact checker, pschoanalyst, etc. Imagine a conference table with different working groups. They all have different personalities and expertise. But they have one thing in common: they like looking for inconsistencies that don’t fit the pattern that the MSM or the candidate is selling.

The blogosphere targets inconsistencies

There is a pattern and a flow to human thought (which is part of the reason there is so much synchonicity in the blogosphere, by the way). There are those of us who are drawn to looking for the inconsistencies in the pattern and flow.

Detectives use repetition of a story to find purposeful concealment as well as unnoticed or contrary details. Lawyers preparing for trial look for weak spots in the evidence and inconsistencies in witnesses’ and clients’ stories. Researchers look for unsupported and contrary facts to the ones they are given. Pschoanalysts use free association to spot the pebble in the shoe, the grain of inconsistency that can mark the pathway to self-discovery.

The current situation

Currently, the center-right portion of the blogosphere is on fire, because the Democratic presidential candidate has not been examined skeptically by the MSM. In the old days, who ever heard of a reporter taking at face value any assertion of a politician? If the press were 50/50 Dem/Rep, this problem would not exist, but it’s 12/1 just now.

Who knows how this will develop? I don’t, and I caution us all not to draw too many conclusions from the current presidential election. The MSM is just nuts on this one, the elite editorial boards so fired up by their thirst to be back in the driver’s seat that they have abandoned their bedrock role as skeptic.

Prediction? Maybe

I expect that at the conclusion of this election cycle, the elite media may endorse restrictions on the blogosphere. One theory to support the restrictions might be that the research and writing done, for example, by the high priced professors and lawyers at Hugh Hewitt, Instapundit and Powerline, ought to be considered a political contribution valued at a lawyer’s hourly billing rate. I’m not saying this would work, but hey — who thought that “Congress shall make no law” equals “McCain-Feingold?”


Sunday, September 5th, 2004


I was right about almost every prediction I made about the Iraq war, and reader Doug Martin has been kind enough to point this out to me. As I have written about at length, I divide perceptions of the world into Copernican and Ptolemaic. The good guys are the Copernicans, of course. Here’s the link, and now I will reprint it in full, but adding section separators.

My March 27, 2003 Entry — One week after the war started:

I have said, since the beginning of this blog, that there are several different universes of perception in the current era.


The Copernican view of this war, i.e. the correct one, I have argued, is approximately neo-con Republican. The view of Goldberg, Limbaugh, Hannity, Krauthammer, Sullivan, Steyn, Prager, Will, Kristol, Bennett, etc. Some may argue with the neo-con being applied to people who were never Democrats (or Jews), but you understand what I mean.

Their view is that the war will be relatively short, that it will be successful for the most part, that there will be many setbacks in post-war I raq, but that on the whole what will be is a million percent better than what was.


The Ptolemaic view is defined by that 50% of Democrats who are anti-war. They do not like American power, which they view as inherently arrogant, and in their secret hearts, they hope that this unpleasant America (whose personification is GWB) will be dealt many setbacks. They are Euro-elitists, men and women who do not much like the empowerment of the individual prole.

Progress versus setbacks

Right now, a week into the war, the division is clear: those who talk about setbacks and those who talk about progress.

The real story is progress. 100,000 Americans in Iraq, an encirclement of Baghdad, virtually no casualties, the sure doom of the enemy in less time than the Nazis took to conquer the French.

Prediction: The left will find a Quagmire

The phony story is setbacks. They are writ large and foolishly. An underguarded supply line! A failure to find WMD! An inadequate ground force! American atrocities! American friendly fire mistakes! A growing anti-war movement! France and Germany, and France!! Jesse Jackson! Vietnam-like quagmire!

The last is perhaps the best. The Q word is rarely used, but “setback” is the place-holder of choice until the real thing comes along in a few months.

Prediction of John Kerry’s campaign positions

The Ptolemy Brigade is strong and determined in its anti-Americanism. Once we have won a decisive military victory, it will turn its weasally attention into undermining the peace.

When it’s not perfect, it’ll be American Imperialism, American arrogance, American unilateralism, American incompetence, and the secret plots of Halliburton and GWB’s Skull and Bones friends. You watch.

Using Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” to understand the left

Sunday, August 29th, 2004


In 1962 Thomas Kuhn, then at Harvard, published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which quickly became one of the seminal books in the history of science. Kuhn argues that radical changes in thought often require, and create, a whole new way of seeing the world. He invented the term “paradigm shift,” to describe the phenomenon. Often, it is only when you have crossed over to the new paradigm do you see reality the way it really is.

One example Kuhn uses to illustrate his point is the Copernican Revolution. In 1500, the accepted view in the Christian world of western Europe was that the earth was the center of the universe, and that the sun and the planets revolved around the earth. The astronomer Ptolemy in the second century AD had worked out a set of equations for the movements of the planets and the moon based on the the earth being the center of the universe. Of course the set of equations describing the Ptolemaic universe had terrible problems since they were attempting to describe a universe that doesn’t exist.

In the early sixteenth century, Copernicus developed an alternative view of, and set of equations for, a universe in which the moon alone revolved around the earth, and in which the earth, like the other planets, revolved around the sun. His masterwork, De Revolutionibus, was published after significant delays, due to religious and scientific objections to his work. Copernicus finally received a copy of his book on May 24, 1543, the day he died.

Many people had a lot invested, professionally, culturally, religiously, psychologically, in the notion that the earth and man were the center of all creation, and so there was considerable resistance at first to the Copernican universe. Some scientists and religious leaders of the day were horrified at the universe Copernicus described, and adamantly defended their geocentric, Ptolemaic beliefs, refusing to accept the Copernican paradigm. Kuhn writes:

In a sense I am unable to explicate further, the proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in different worlds. (p. 150)

The transfer of allegiance from paradigm to paradigm is a conversion experience that cannot be forced….

Darwin, in a particularly perceptive passage at the end of his Origin of Species, wrote: “Although I am fully convinced of the truth of the views given in this volume…, I by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists whose minds are shocked with a multitude of facts all viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly opposite to mine….[B]ut I look with confidence to the future, — to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to look at both sides of the question with impartiality.” And Max Planck, surveying his own career in his Scientific Autobiography, sadly remarked that “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” (p. 151)

The Current Situation: The death of the Paradigm of Marxism and the USSR

In our day, a “scientific” paradigm has recently died, but its proponents have not come to terms with the death. The dead doctrine is dialectical materialism, defined by the Columbia Encyclopedia as the:

official philosophy of Communism, based on the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, as elaborated by G. V. Plekhanov, V. I. Lenin, and Joseph Stalin. In theory dialectical materialism is meant to provide both a general world view and a specific method for the investigation of scientific problems. The basic tenets are that everything is material and that change takes place through “the struggle of opposites.” Because everything contains different elements that are in opposition, “self-movement” automatically occurs; the conflict of opposing forces leads to growth, change, and development, according to definite laws. Communist scientists were expected to fit their investigations into this pattern, and official approval of scientific theories in the USSR was determined to some extent by their conformity to dialectical materialism (see Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich). Use of these principles in history and sociology is sometimes called historical materialism.

Under these doctrines the social, political, and intellectual life of society reflect only the economic structure, since human beings create the forms of social life solely in response to economic needs. Men are divided into classes by their relations to the means of production—land and capital. The class that controls the means of production inevitably exploits the other classes in society; it is this class struggle that produces the dynamic of history and is the source of progress toward a final uniformity.

Historical materialism is deterministic; that is, it prescribes that history inevitably follows certain laws and that individuals have little or no influence on its development. Central to historical materialism is the belief that change takes place through the meeting of two opposing forces (thesis and antithesis); their opposition is resolved by combination produced by a higher force (synthesis).

In the real world, Marxism has turned out to be a lot of windy claptrap, that when applied, as in the case of the USSR, led to enslavement of the people, suppression of the human spirit, universal poverty, and environmental disaster. Contrast this with our experience in the United States. Even today, more than a decade after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, America’s GDP is over $10 trillion while Russia’s is a measly $1.3 trillion, our per capita income is over 4 times theirs, and our lives are 15-20% longer (from the CIA Factbook).

America’s Paradigm: The Innovation Society

Some would call the American paradigm capitalism, and I suppse that’s fair enough, because the word has been in circulation a long time. However, it is an imprecise term, because America’s remarkable progress is due to intellectual capital much more than wealth. It would be more correct to say that America is the Innovation Society, though I readily acknowledge that innovation is often motivated by the desire to beat the pants off the competition and make as much money as possible.

I wrote previously:

Here are the signal facts of our progress in the last century. If you were born in 1900, your life expectancy was in the forties, and GNP per capita was about $4000. If you are born today, your life expectancy is about eighty, and statistically, as an average American, you are ten times richer. In reality you are a hundred or a thousand times richer, if you factor in your ability to be in Paris tomorrow for $500, your ability to watch events from fifty years ago as they actually happened, etc. – not to mention that your toddler’s severe pneumonia can be reliably cured in 48 hours or so.

Only a little of this has to do with government.

Mostly it is because 90% of everything ever invented in the history of humanity was invented in the last 130 years, and more than half of that was invented by Americans exercising their freedom and ingenuity. Milton Hershey invented the candy bar, Carrier invented the air conditioner for a tire plant, Sears invented catalogue distribution, Henry Ford invented cheap cars, some guys from Texas Instruments invented the transistor. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the invention and wide use of brand names, which communicate the quality and dependability of every product we buy. This alone deserves the Nobel Prize. And it was a large and growing market, the availability of risk capital, standardized accounting, and protection of intellectual and personal property by the courts that made this possible.

And it is not just inventions themselves, but the constant innovations in products, processes and organizations that lead to success building upon success. Microsoft is working on version 11.0 of Word, our PC’s can now have a gig of RAM and will have a terabyte hard drive in a couple of years, and a few years further, people will chuckle when they read this — how primitive we were. In my own company, through things that sound like buzzwords to you — Kaizen events, process re-engineering, six sigma, etc. — we have been able to cut production time in half on a thirty year old product we were already producing efficiently.

The idea that government creates wealth is so absurd that it should be laughed out of the room. Yet some still cling to this foolish and outdated notion.

My hypothesis

The left’s anger is about much more than George Bush. The diffuse nature of the anger, and its impenetrability to logic are strong indicators that this loathing goes well beyond the President.

Diffuse anger: Jonathon Chait hates his Texas swagger. Some hate his smirk or his Christian beliefs. Rush says that the left is seething because it is out of power. Charles Krauthammer has identified at least two psychological syndromes to describe the phenomenon.

Immunity to logic: If you have ever listened to even a half hour of talk radio, you’ll hear the leftie caller jump from rationale to rationale for his loathing of the president. If the host responds to “Bush Lied!” with an argument, the caller jumps to “imminent threat.” When the host responds, suddenly the arguments becomes “WMD’s,” and then Halliburton, My Pet Goat, and so forth.

I agree with the analyses of Rush Limbaugh, Charles Krauthammer and others, but I want to add someting else into the mix. It is easy to understand the many reasons Bush is an attractive focus for the left’s hatred. Yet if Bush vanished tomorrow, the left would move on to another object of its loathing.

I think the left descended into madness because its scientific Marxism, more properly thought of as a religion, has utterly failed. Its temple, the USSR, is in ruins. The Marxist professors and the Lazy Lefties of Hollywood and the Upper West Side have believed in a false god. Their god has failed them, and he is not coming back, no matter how fervently they wish it, if the electoral trends of the last ten years continue. They are like the remnant who continued to believe in the Ptolemaic universe, long after its has been shown that the earth revolves around the sun.

These people are living in the universe of the failed Marxist paradigm, and they rage at the Innovation Society that brought it down. They will stay that way until they convert to a worldview more consistent with objective reality, or until, as Max Planck said, they eventually die.

Here are some ladies who name the problem honestly:

Here are some examples that might make the black helicopter folks on the right look good by comparison:

And this is a picture that is revealing in so many ways:

More links to pictures here and here.


Meanwhile, both Darwin and Planck are vindicated in the Kerry daughters’ reception at the VMA, where they were booed by the hoi polloi of a younger generation that may not think it’s so cool to be an elitist weenie, a la jib-jab. Or maybe the kids just want to hear music, not politics. Either way, it’s a good sign for the future.

The Sixties are Ending, Thank God…and not a moment too soon!

Friday, August 27th, 2004

A number of important things of the sixties actually happened in the early 70’s, like the April 1971 March on Washington, in which the Democratic candidate through someone’s medals or ribbons toward the White House. For most of us, the sixties ended sometime between 1971 and 1973, when the spirit of the times became grim, with wage and price controls, the sad inevitability of a bad outcome in Vietnam, gas shortages, and the like.

The left, however, has never come to terms with the end of the sixties, and today the aging boomers are having their last hurrah. To the left, the sixties had two big themes, civil rights and anti-war, and these were playing out in their socialist world-view of historical inevitability.

Daniel Henninger gets it right in the WSJ:

Why didn’t John Kerry months back–if not years–find some gracious way to make peace with the John O’Neills of the world? Why didn’t one wise head among the Democrats point out the obvious difficulties of the Kerry candidacy once past the party’s primary voters? This is a man who would be running as both a hero of Vietnam and a famous accuser of the war’s heroes. This is an election, not a Shakespearean tragedy.

How come John Kerry never worked out, before the final leg of his long odyssey, a let-bygones statement, admitting the hyperbole (at the least) of his accusations of atrocity before Congress in 1971, honoring the service of colleagues who never felt obliged to apologize for Vietnam, but reserving his right to oppose that troubled war?

The reason for not doing so lies in something often asserted but little respected in our politics now–principle. Alongside support for the civil-rights movement in the 1960s, opposition to Vietnam forms the moral bedrock of the modern Democratic Party. John Kerry….is obliged to stand by his 1971 testimony as a matter of principle. Abandon that, and the party abandons him.

For the left, most of the last thirty years has been a really unpleasant aberration from the historial inevitability of the triumph of socialism and the transforming of the United States into a workers’ paradise based on Marxist principles of class struggle and historical materialism. People can get really angry when they believe history is literally on their side, pushing forward to a predestined outcome — and then they look around and find out that history is not doing its part. The Reagan presidency, the fall of the USSR, the incredible wealth generation of the last 25 years, clean water and air, Clinton’s welfare reform, and now: Republican control of government at virtually all levels under this moron Bush! It’s too much to bear. (Krauthammer had a great Weekly Standard piece on this two years ago.)

Charles Krauthammer, ever insightful, says of the current plight of Democrats: “With apologies to Dr. Freud, I propose the Pressure Cooker Theory of Hydraulic Release.” This means that Democrats have had to keep their real feelings bottled up since 9/11, and they just can’t take it any more. His point is well taken.

But I think there is something else going on too, something deeply unsettling to the left that has driven them mad. Their whole worldview is screwed up; it is out of kilter, it does not conform to objective reality. They are like the people who continued to believe in a Ptolemaic universe after Copernicus showed that the earth revolves around the sun. America is a good and generous country, the military is composed of outanding and professional men and women, people are better off economically than ever, and, if we don’t screw things up, things should continue more-or-less this way. This is deeply threatening to those on the Democratic left who believe precisely the opposite of what I said in the last sentence. They are living in bizarro-world America, and right now they are in the saddle at the DNC.

So right now we are in the midst of 1972-redux, the last presidential election of the sixties. We are in the midst of a phase that the Democratic Party has to go through to become a viable and perhaps majority party again. In one of my first posts in this space in 2002, I noted Al From’s prescriptions for Democratic Party success in 2004, and predicted that the Democrats would not go the moderate route. They would turn the volume up to 121, as Lileks says.

Well, the volume is way up there, and it looks to me like the left is going to get shellacked again as we re-fight Vietnam and 1972. If the socialist wing of the Democratic Party is trounced in 60 days, who will they turn to to pick up the pieces?

Thanks, Swiftboatvets.

The 2004 Presidential Election Will Answer a Very Important Question: Is There Any Democratic Party Majority in the United States?

Saturday, August 14th, 2004


The election of 2004 is about whether there is any Democratic Party national majority left in the United States today. John Kerry is in may ways the generic Democratic candidate, and his victory or loss will tell us a great deal about the future prospects for his party as it is currently governed.

The Kerry candidacy

Let’s start by stating that John Kerry is the man for his time in this regard: he is the generic Democratic presidential candidate. Hitchens nails it in the NYT:

[H]ow often have you met a self-described Kerry supporter?….The name Kerry is thus another tired synonym for ABB, or ”Anybody but Bush.” Shall we ”take America back” this November? In such a case, we would be taking it back to a fairly familiar version of Democratic consensualism.

The excitement the Democratic Party has is of a general nature, taking back the country and so forth from those nasty, greedy Republicans, that “crooked bunch” in Kerry’s words.

The most important map in politics: the Democrat media, money, megaphone

It should be no surprised that the Democrats are as jazzed as they are. Whether or not they are a majority, they are pretty close to being half the people. That’s a lot of people, and they have both an echo chamber and a megaphone in places like NYC, LA and DC. Crank it up to 11, and you’ll go deaf. My favorite map demostrates this. It shows that there are huge Democratic fundraising majorities in NYC, LA, and DC — the major media and government centers — and that the rest of the country is red, or pale blue.

The loudness of the megaphone obscures the Democrats’ decline

The Democrat trends have not been good for the last decade. As I posted two years ago, in an article by Sam Smith in the Progressive Review, the trends were bad even before the 2002 election. In the last decade, there was:

the disintegration of the Democratic Party itself. An analysis I did in 1998 found that during Clinton’s administration, the Democrats had lost:

– 48 seats in the House
– 8 seats in the Senate
– 11 governorships
– 1,254 state legislative seats
– Control of 9 legislatures

In addition 439 elected Democrats had joined the Republican Party while only three Republican officeholders had gone the other way.

While Democrats had been losing state legislative seats on the state level for 25 years, the loss during the Clinton years was striking. In 1992, the Democrats controlled 17 more state legislatures than the Republicans. After November 2000, the Republicans controlled one more than the Democrats. It was the first time since 1954 that the GOP had controlled more state legislatures than the Democrats (they tied in 1968). Among other things, this gave the Republicans more control over redistricting.

In fact, no Democratic president since the 19th century suffered such an electoral disintegration of his party as did Clinton.

The question for the Democrats is whether their fervor this year translates into enough electoral votes to retake the presidency and stop the red shift that has been going on for over a decade now. On this question, the situation appears to me to resemble, appropriately enough for America, the Super Bowl. The Fans of the Blue Team, the Sensitive Warriors, are the media, the elites, the campuses, the biggest cities, and the interest groups that depend on government. The Fans of the Red Team, the Compassionate Warhawks, include talk radio, Fox, the blogosphere, and fly-over country.

The point spreads are given by pollsters, many of whom, incidentally, have made side bets on the outcome. And the current political commentary sounds mostly like a pre-game show. In ABC’s The Note on Monday, it was Kerry’s to lose. In the Note on Tuesday, the message was: here’s how Carolina can upset the Patriots — wait, I mean here’s how Bush can win.

The media, and it appears, a lot of the pollsters, are rooting for Kerry to win. And they don’t care a whit about Kerry. Most in the media in fact do not like him. So what they are jazzed about is their own energy, and the feeling that maybe, just maybe, THE DEMOCRATS ARE BACK!

John McIntyre of the indipensible RealClearPolitics, has a fine distillation of the current thinking, both Red and Blue. It’s a must read. Among many fine points, he says that Ohio and Florida are key barometers of the feasibility of a Democratic win: if either of these goes Dem, the show is over for Bush. And if Bush takes them both, he probably wins in the electoral college. He says of polling:

Is it any wonder why the polls pick up angst and nervousness among the public? The mistake here is interpreting that angst and nervousness as a repudiation of President Bush and his administration. Maybe it is, but it is not inconceivable that by mid-late September when the public if forced to focus on the real choice between the leadership of George W. Bush and John F. Kerry, this race may appear to be quite different.

What perplexes me most about all the negativism over Bush’s chances is the failure to explain – even absent a decent bounce for Bush in the national polls in the next 4-6 weeks – exactly how John Kerry is going to get to 270 electoral votes. Again, don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that Kerry can’t get to 270 or beyond, just that given the current position the President is in, I think Bush has an easier route to 270 than Kerry.

From an electoral college standpoint, the race is somewhat easy to analyze because most states are going to follow the Bush-Gore 2000 results. Because of reapportionment, this year if all states stayed the same Bush’s total would rise to 278 from 271 and Kerry’s number would fall to 260 from Al Gore’s total of 267. (Late clarification: Officially Gore received 266 electoral votes, because of one abstention form the District if Columbia.) So the question for the Democrats is how does Kerry get to 270?

Let’s stipulate up front that if Kerry wins wins either Florida or Ohio Bush is more than likely finished. But if we leave aside Florida and Ohio for a second and assume they stay in the Bush column, suddenly Kerry’s path to 270 becomes very difficult.

I understand the confidence of the Democrats, but I think it is misplaced. I think I’ve stated well that in LA and NYC generally, and in media circles specifically, the Dems have both a megaphone and an echo chamber working. They are at a pep rally on steroids. But it is hard to see how this translates into a Democratic victory in eighty days or so. Bill Clinton got 43% and 49% of the vote in his two elections, and the current generic candidate is not the politican that Clinton is.

No trend over the past decade or current statistic tells me there is a Democratic Party majority in the United States. (Qualification: the current generic Dem/Rep or congressional question favors Dems at the moment, but Scott Rasmussen tells me that this will change after Labor Day.) I think that will be confirmed by a sizeable Bush victory in November. If I am wrong, I am wrong, and I will learn something from it. But if I am right, then a prediction I made two years ago about the emergence of a New Mainstream media, not including the NYT or WaPo, will, I think have been borne out. This will be particularly true since these political newspapers of record have chosen not to cover the most dramatic story of the campaign.

Throughout the history of capitalism, it has been the case that most companies do not change. They continue to do what they do the way they do it, even when that becomes unpopular. They create a market opportunity by doing so, and eventually some entrepreneur or other company comes along to exploit the unfulfilled demand. So, if there is a significant Bush win in November, I do not expect soul-searching at the Times, the Post, CNN or the alphabet networks. They will be puzzled and outraged, and look for dirty tricks as the explantion — even as their readerships and viewerships continue to decline. After all, everyone they know in New York, Los Angeles and Washington votes Democratic.

A dead girl, a live boy, and the mainstream media

Sunday, August 8th, 2004

During his 1983 re-election campaign, Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards confidently predicted victory by saying he couldn’t lose unless he was caught “in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.”

I don’t think the mainstream media would care if John Kerry were caught in bed with both.

Kerry is a fabulist. He makes up large portions of his life out of whole cloth, like his Christmas in Cambodia fantasy. Captain Ed has the Kerry quotes:

“I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real….” or

“Mr. President, I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the President of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia….”

“I have that memory which is seared — seared — in me….”

Kerry has peddled this fiction from 1979 to today, and there’s not a word of truth in it. Does anyone seriously expect the mainstream media to press Kerry on this? I don’t.

Because the question goes like this: what kind of a lunatic are you to make up outrageous lies about where you were on Christmas 1968, and then claim that the lie is a memory that is “seared” in you? Back on planet earth in our trusty DSM-IV, we call this kind of behavior evidence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The elite media will not ask this impolite but important question. They are too busy serving their higher goal of setting the universe aright by helping Kerry get to the White House.

Readers familiar with my thinking know that I believe that the Democratic base largely occupies a Ptolemaic universe, and that this universe is out of whack because Republicans are in power. They just can’t accept the fact that Americans by and large prefer evil, greedy Republicans from the local to national level. The Copernican Revolution in increasing Republican majorities is unacceptable. The universe cannot be this way, say the media.

So they will ignore the bizarre and unnecessary lies of the Frenchurian Candidate. Better to have a kook with a made-up past than the moronic evil genius Bush.

Jack Risko biography and Dinocrat contact information

Tuesday, February 10th, 2004

Google profile:

Jack Risko is President and CEO of Windstar Capital Advisors LLC, a firm specializing in managing, advising and investing in both growth companies and companies facing restructuring issues. He is also Chairman and CEO of AeroTrade Holdings LLC, a firm specializing in the sales, trading, and leasing of CFM56 and JT8D aircraft engines.

As a Turnaround and Growth CEO, Mr. Risko has twice bought unprofitable companies, turned them around, and increased sales 3-4x.

Accomplishments at NAC

Prior to our acquisition, NAC was an unprofitable company that specialized in mature aircraft engine product lines. Within 30 days of our closing the deal to purchase the company in 1995, NAC was mistakenly accused of being in violation of US Department of Defense quality regulations. This effectively halted the delivery of one third of NAC’s sales, which were subject to a government contract. That event caused a grave liquidity crisis as well as simultaneous DoD and DoJ investigations.

I became CEO shortly after these troubles arose. My team and I were able to resolve matters successfully by taking the following actions: Operational restructuring, ISO 9001 certification within six months, consultation with banks and major vendors, as well as ongoing dialogue with DoD and DoJ. This simultaneous multi-pronged focus on operations and customers allowed NAC to clear its name, triple sales from $53MM to $180MM, make an acquisition and restore profitability, all at the same time.

My team’s talents in the area of sales, operations and strategic planning paid off quickly. We did a $70M in sales acquisition from American Airlines and a successful IPO on NASDAQ within 24 months of assuming control. Shortly thereafter, NAC was sold to Rolls Royce.

Accomplishments at AeroThrust

NAC’s accomplishments drew the attention of Saab AB’s investment bankers. Saab’s subsidiary, AeroThrust Corporation was, in 2001, similar to NAC, unprofitable and bleeding. We closed the deal to buy the company on 11/1/01, which was a historically bad time in aviation. Over the next five years, we made great strides.

We tripled sales from $35MM to over $100MM by adding FedEx, SAS, Webjet, Spanair, Sriwijaya, Shandong, WestJet, and US Government contracts to our key accounts. We added approximately $20 million in net worth to the balance sheet, despite making heavy investments into R&D and product line expansion. In early 2008 we divided our high-margin leasing business and our low-margin Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) operations into separate companies, and set out to finance them separately, including doing an AIM offering in London. WR Hambrecht valued the company at the time at approximately $120MM.

The Oil Spike and the genesis of AeroTrade

In 2009-2010, in step with the global economic crisis, AeroThrust encountered the result of fleet changes at customers due to the oil price spike. 80% of our business was in the fuel-inefficient JT8D engine. After oil peaked at $147 a barrel, 80% of our market essentially vanished over the next two years, since airlines worldwide chose not to overhaul engines, but burn green time. Fleets of Alitalia, Iberia, SAS, and many others were either grounded or sold. Like KKR’s MRO company Aveos and many other MRO companies, we decided to exit the MRO business in 2010-2011, and to focus on the profitable leasing business we started in 2007. That became the genesis of AeroTrade.

Other Information

Mr. Risko has also participated as an early investor and/or CEO or COO in a number of e-commerce and technology firms including iSolve,, POGO Jet, and a number of other firms. In addition to start-ups, Mr. Risko also has extensive experience at the back end of the company life-cycle, and has advised companies in Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 situations.

Prior to these activities, Mr. Risko was a banker. He was an investment banker in M&A at Morgan Stanley and a commercial banker at Citibank in New York, serving the coal and steel industries. During his career in finance, Mr. Risko also headed US corporate finance for a major Canadian investment bank. Mr. Risko has a BA from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.



Emulating Ataturk

Saturday, December 28th, 2002

Maybe the Bush administration should have realized that Kemal Ataturk was onto something in his reformation of Turkey. We recognize the problems of Wikipedia, but here is a potentially useful precis of its article on the Turkish military man and reformer:

There are six fundamentals of the ideology. Secularism and reformism principles were accepted and entered into the constitution following the first four, and came to be recognized as unchangeable and sacrosanct shortly thereafter.

Republicanism Republicanism (Cumhuriyetçilik) is recognized as a republican regime for Turkey, was a change from the multi-national millet and later Ottomanism to the establishment of the nation state of Turkey…

Populism Populism (Halkçılık), is defined as a social revolution in term of its content and goals. This was revolution led by an elite with an orientation towards the people in general. The Kemalist reforms brought about a revolutionary change in the status of women through the adoption of Western codes of law in Turkey, in particular the Swiss Civil Code. Women received the right to vote in 1934…

Secularism meant separation of state and religion. Kemalist secularism is Laïcité (Laiklik), the absence of religious interference in government affairs…the Kemalist revolution was also a secularist revolution…The Kemalist principle of secularism was not against an enlightened Islam, but against an Islam which was opposed to modernization and democracy, the Islamists in Turkey are opposing this principle of Kemalism because its aim was the secularisation of the Islamic society.

Political power The political power is perceived as the only source of sovereignty and is the exclusive right to exercise supreme political (e.g. legislative, judicial, and/or executive) authority over a geographic region (Turkey), group of people (Turkish People), or oneself. The reach that position, the Caliphate was abolished on March 3, 1924. As a result of two pieces of legislation dating from 1931 and 1937 respectively the article stating that “the established religion of Turkey is Islam” was removed from the constitution and the principles of secularism and revolutionism added to the constitution in their stead. No Turkish politician can claim to be a protector of any religion or religious sect, which constitutes sufficient legal grounds for the permanent banning of political parties.

Active neutrality According to Turkish perception of the Laïcité, the Turkish state is to stand at an equal distance from every religion, neither promoting nor condemning any set of religious beliefs…Kemalism has to balance the space between different sects. A course in Islamic doctrine is compulsory in all elementary and high schools except those responsible for minority communities, which have their own religious courses (regulated and administered by the Ministry of Education). The balance in this Islamic doctrine is debated.

Revolutionalism (Devrimcilik), a principle that Atatürk formulated was the principle of revolutionism. This principle meant that the country replaced traditional institutions with modern institutions.

Nationalism (Milliyetçilik); The Kemalist revolution was also a nationalist revolution. Its aim was to create a nation state from a former empire. Kemalist criteria for national identity refers to a shared language, and/or shared values (defined as a common history and will to share a future). Kemalist nationalism was not xenophobic; membership is usually gained through birth within the borders of the state. Every citizen within the borders of Turkey is to be recognized as a Turk, regardless of such factors as ethnicity, religion, gender, race, sect, or philosophical belief.

Statism Statism (Devletçilik), Kemal Atatürk made clear in his statements and policies that Turkey’s complete modernization was very much dependent on economic and technological development. The principle of Kemalist Statism was interpreted to mean that the state was to regulate the country’s general economic activity and the state was to engage in areas where private enterprise was not willing to do so, or where private enterprise had proved to be inadequate, or if national interest required it.

A number of these measures would be good, or would have been good, if the administration had insisted upon them in 2003.