Author: pkaymcguire

A writer who's interested in the world's changing trends, namely the rise of East Asia/India as well as developments in energy policy.

Trump is President: Victory at any Price

So Donald Trump has won.

It is supposedly a massive victory for conservatism and a repudiation of leftism and Barack Obama. The Republican Party controls the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and the vast majority of this country’s state and local government apparatus. Mr. Trump will appoint at least one Supreme Court justice if not more. The Democrats may talk of “demographic destiny”, but Clinton failed to get the numbers from Hispanics and Latinos which Obama did and which she was counting on.

The Republican Party, against all odds, has prevailed. But at what cost? Because while the Republican Party may have won, they have done so by becoming a mirror image of the Left. Instead of embracing individualism and liberty, they have embraced a collectivism which will attempt to see the white race regain its domineering position in American society. Instead of embracing the free market and capitalism, they have embraced protective tariffs and rent seeking on behalf of Donald Trump’s constituents.

These decisions did not come in a vacuum. White working class voters broke overwhelmingly for Trump. It wasn’t because of “economic anxiety” or racism persay. It was because the Left has for years mocked those voters and called them racist, ignorant fools who were “voting against their real interests.” And the Left could barely hide how eager they were that those stupid white men would just go away and become irrelevant under the Hispanics the Left was so eager to let in.

But that does not justify what those voters did anymore than I would be justified in burning down a man’s house if he called me a Jap. Yelling “fuck you” as the voters intended certainly feels good, and it is nice to see media figures panic.

But what does that actually accomplish?

That question could be asked about much of Trump’s agenda in general. I have no philosophical objections to the Wall or the idea that America should protect its borders, and there is nothing inherently racist about such a scheme. But the Wall won’t work. It will be an expensive boondoggle proposed by a politician to show that he is Doing Something Big.

What will the wall accomplish?

It doesn’t matter, really. Trump occasionally has made little noises and sops in the direction of limited government, but he has chosen to harness the collective power of race in the same which the Democrats did to bring minorities to the polls year after year. He will use the powers of government to benefit his chosen race, which represents a massive blow to the idea of treating people as individuals and not as part of a social construct.

And just Trump will do that, because there is another, bigger way in which his victory represents a possible fatal blow for American conservatism. One of the biggest challenges which this republic has faced for years has been the constant rising and encroaching powers of the President in comparison to the other two branches. Congress is the body most talked about in the Constitution and the one which controls the purse strings, but the people now seem to think that it is nothing more than an advisory branch.

Look at how the press treats the House’s opposition towards Obama. Yes, the House has opposed Obama’s agenda. That is their job, and they are not obliged to listen to him. In fact, they are obliged NOT to do so if that is what their voters elected them to do. Instead, we have witnessed constant lambasting of what Congress has done for the past few years as they dare to limit Obama’s agenda. Republicans as a whole should have come away from the Obama years understanding that the executive power must be reigned in.

But they did the opposite. They nominated a man who does think he is the superhuman who can fix the government by himself. And his supporters voted him in because they believe he can do it. The liberal idea of “Only the Presidency matters” has successfully permeated the American consciousness, and now the American voters believe that we are electing a king.

And if you are such a fool that you think that a GOP Congress will make even the slightest effort to keep Trump in line after watching this campaign, note Sean Hannity’s remarks last night. Trump’s biggest media goon instantly jumped to declare that Paul Ryan will no longer be Speaker. The GOP leadership was already terrified into submission by the thought of being destroyed by his voters (never mind that those voters didn’t make any effort to actually knock Paul Ryan and other normal Republicans out in the primaries). Now that Trump has surpassed everyone’s expectations? He will say “jump” and Ryan and the others will say “how high?”

So who is to blame for the rise of Trump? Some will say the media, others will those who voted for him, others will say Republican leadership. But the answer is that this is on everyone. Left, Right, Center, whomever. The American people have failed to keep the Constitutional principles and republic which Benjamin Franklin observed that it would be our duty to protect.

I do believe, I have to believe, that American and this republic will survive Trump. But American conservatism will not. A legacy which goes back to men like Burke, Madison, and Tocqueville has at best embraced a facsimile of de Maistre and in reality has chosen to forgo ideology in favor of the raw thrill of “victory.”

100 years ago, Europe consumed itself in a war where they sought victory so desperately that one side ended up chaining itself to the power of the United States. That victory meant nothing then. And it means nothing now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on the “Death of Expertise”, Bias, and the Continued Importance of History

Before I begin, please read this great piece by Tom Nichols on “The Death of Expertise.” Nichols writes of how ordinary people in his discussions with him will

“whine that I’m defending the fallacious “appeal to authority,” they might then invoke the dread charge of “elitism,” and finally accuse me (or people like me) of trying to use credentials to stifle democratic dialogue.

Nichols argues that we live in a world where people sit on Google and Wikipedia for a couple of days and are convinced that they know just as much as people with PhDs. When we look at idiots like Jenny McCarthy who rails against doctors, or how being an “expert” in something seems to be a death knell in the political world, there is little doubt that Nichols is wrong.

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The Institute of World Politics lecture on North Korean Propaganda

This past Wednesday, the Institute of World Politics hosted a lecture on propaganda in North Korea. Jang Jin-Sung, a former propaganda poet within the North Korean regime, came to talk about his former country and the nature of psychological control.

There is a great deal about Jang’s comments which I believe most Americans need to understand when we talk about North Korea. Despite the harshness and misery of the regime, it does not rule entirely through fear or the point of a bayonet. The people of North Korea really do believe a great deal (though not necessarily all) of the tripe which is forced down their throats by the propaganda regime. In fact, the army does not govern North Korea as much as Westerners think it does. The Workers’ Party of Korea may no longer adhere to Communism, but they still are the most important organization within North Korea ( along with an organization called the OGD which I will get into below)

And that propaganda regime, according to Jang, is more restrictive than any other regime in history. He even compared Stalin’s cult of personality favorably to the Kims’ cult of personality – at least Stalin’s cult did not try to build the entirety of world history around the man. North Korea does. For example, Kim Il-Sung’s birth date, April 15, 1912, happens to be the same day on which the Titanic sank. North Korean propaganda claims that the two events are related, as they show the decline of the West in favor of the rise of the glorious Kim family and North Korea.

That is hardly the worst or the most absurd propaganda fact of the North Korean regime. Jang said that in contrast to the “socialist realism” famous in other Communist countries, North Korea practices “realist socialism.” Reality itself must conform to the socialist ideal practiced and preached by North Korea, and Jang all but stated that “doublethink” is applied in that country. It is not enough to ban culture which criticizes the Kim regime, or may import values incompatible with Juche. ALL art produced in North Korea must be officially produced and sanctioned by a North Korean Worker’s Party art division, and ALL art must praise the North Korean regime – no exceptions. The three leaders of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un must be the protagonists of any and all North Korean stories. While there may be other official protagonists, such characters are inevitably saved by the great North Korean leaders. On film sets, when the actor who plays the role of the North Korean Supreme Leader is in costume, everyone is required to treat him with the same respect that they would show to the Supreme Leader himself.

Jang also took some time to focus away from North Korean propaganda to focus on a secret North Korean organization called the Organization and Guidance Department(OGD) of North Korea. While Western media generally focuses on the Kim family, or sometimes the generals surrounding him, Jang states that the OGD are the real power in North Korea. The OGD controls all appointments to higher office in North Korea and runs North Korea’s StateSec. They are not loyal to North Korea or to Juche, but rather serve the Kim family and ensure that they maintain their grip on power. While he did not state so, my impression of Jang’s description of the organization would be to compare them to Martin Bormann, Hitler’s personal secretary who all but ran Germany during the final years of the Third Reich.

However, the OGD suffers from the limitation that no member of the OGD actually holds political office. It is an ingenious system for the protection of the Kims. Those who hold office do not have enough power to actually threaten the family, while those with power do not possess the public reputation to overthrow them either.

But the OGD and North Korean propaganda aside, there is one issue regarding North Korea which irritates me, and it definitely came up in the question and answer session following Jang’s lecture. While the North Korea is a cruel, vicious regime which the world would be better off without, there are far too many people who seem more concerned with the visceral abuses which the regime inflicts on their people or their ludicrous displays done for the purposes of internal consumption instead of actually trying to understand North Korea. North Korea is more than just a bunch of propaganda and prison camps, just like Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia were more than the concentration camps and the gulags. To understand a country, you have to figure out their goals and how they intend to pursue them. Purpose is more important than facts. While I cannot speak highly enough of Jang’s lectures and the truth he has helped bring to light about North Korea, truth is not a purpose in and of itself. It is the means which truth serves that matters.

If you are further interested in what Jang had to say, I have attached my notes/transcription of what he had to say in Wednesday’s lecture below.

Feb 4, 2015 – Propaganda in North Korea

ISIS is selling oil – or “why the heck does everyone care about Israel so much?”

In the latest news discussing the ongoing Iraqi conflict between the incompetent forces of Nouri al-Maliki, the Islamic State, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and so many other factions, one thing that has not been discussed is the importance of oil in the conflict.

If the Islamic State is to approach anything nearing an actual state, it is going to need oil to fund its grand ambitions. Obviously massive sanctions are in place to try to prevent ISIS from selling their oil, but recent reports indicate that ISIS in fact is making up to $1 million per day on the sale of black market oil and could make up to around $3 million assuming further campaigns against Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad are successful. The fact that ISIS has been able to sell their oil, while the Kurds are currently stuck in legal disputes with Baghdad and the United States over their right to sell oil, has meant that ISIS can buy heavy weapons and munitions which has enabled it to drive back the Kurdish forces in recent days. This is particularly concerning given that the Kurds appear to be one of the few native groups who possess the actual capabilities to stand up to ISIS.

This is just the latest turn of events in a conflict which possesses serious geopolitical ramifications for not just the Middle East, but for the world. The United States is stuck between wanting to help the Kurds and the fact that if America just abandons Maliki, it will concern other allies across the world who might view us as a fair-weather ally. Can the Islamic State buy time and power to become independent of the Sunni tribal leaders who form a pillar of their support and who have openly talked of turning on ISIS once Maliki is gone? Can Maliki continue to stretch the bounds of what it means to be an incompetent leader? What are the serious implications if ISIS emerges completely triumphant? These are at minimum interesting storylines which have real importance.

So why the heck does the media and the global population care so much not about this, but the recent Gaza conflict?

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A look at history: The Economist on Colonial India 100 years ago.

100 years ago, the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

The Economist recently re-published an article they wrote on Austria-Hungary’s declaration of the war. Needless to say, such a source is interesting from a historical perspective. As Britain debated whether it was wise to participate in yet another war, the Economist took a fairly anti-war stance. The Economist does note that while Austria-Hungary’s anger over the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was justified, the actions of the “Austrian Government” were “too stiff, too rigid, too relentless.” In discussing why Britain should stay out of the war, the Economist argued that the “commercial and working classes” would have little interest in fighting either France or Germany. Britain has no interests at stake in this continental squabble that are worth an European war. As a neutral power, they would be able to protect the interest of the smaller powers which would look up to Britain for protection instead of backing either Russia or Germany.

I believe that with the benefit of hindsight it is clear that the Economist was incorrect. Europe dominated by one power has, is, and will always be, a threat to the sovereign independence of Great Britain (something which their politicians could stand to realize sometime). Germany would have prevailed over France and Russia without British intervention, and the result would have been an Europe dominated by the Kaiser. Just as Britain fought Louis XIV and Napoleon to prevent French domination of Europe, it stands that it had to do the same thing to Germany.

The Great War aside, there was one paragraph in the article which I found of particular interest. When the Economist discusses the assassination of the Archduke, it takes a moment to compare the administration of Austria-Hungary in Bosnia to the British in India. In talking about both projects, the Economist states:

“In 35 years, law and order, and security and religious toleration, have been substituted for rapine, disorder, official tyranny, and religious persecution. Admirable roads and railways have been built, and industry has at last begun to reap its reward for the first time since the Roman Empire fell.”

It is quite interesting to see a respected magazine like The Economist talk of the British imperialist project in India in such glowing terms. I have no doubt that Marxist-Leninists would use this as just another example of how the working and commercial classes talked of spreading civilization to India in order to enrich the capitalist system. But I believe that it does show an example of how Britain was convinced of its civilizing mission in India. I will freely admit that I know absolutely nothing of the modern British educational system, but I am curious what they teach of the British colonization of India. Do they spend three-quarters of the time talking about all the terrible things Britain did, just like our American educational system at times seems to borrow from the corrupted altar of Howard Zinn when they talk of the Revolution and the Founding Fathers?

 

A personal report: “Remaking American Power” and the continued importance of Natural Gas.

On June 2, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the Clean Power Plan (CPP) to battle carbon emission levels. The EPA called for a plan which would cut carbon emissions from power plants, the biggest source of carbon pollution, by 30 percent by 2030. As expected from anything relating to the EPA, the proposal has been supported and attacked. The National Review noted the importance of coal to the global economy and pointed out America’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions. On the other hand, the Natural Resources Defense Council discussed the potential health benefits.

Today, the Center for Strategic and International Studies paired up with the Rhodium Group and released a study detailing the possible effects of the CPP. One thing that the report discussed is the fact that states like Texas and Oklahoma actually could benefit the most from the EPA’s proposal. Texas would have to work harder than every other state to reduce carbon emissions to acceptable levels. However, they would be able to compensate by increased national demand for natural gas. The report actually stated that Texas could earn around $17 billion from the plan, while coal-based states like West Virginia and Wyoming would suffer. The New York Times and the Huffington Post have already used this to castigate those states for their lack of support for the Clean Power Plan.

However, that was not everything covered in the report. In a presentation which was entitled “Remaking American Power: The Economic and Energy Impacts of Power Plant Emission Standards”, a few things that I observed today:

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