Monday, November 21, 2016

The Man on a Horse, Poor Folks and Morale

1.IMHO Richard Rorty made good predictions for the wrong reasons. If I understand the review's synopsis Rorty predicted that the poor and working classes would become alienated from a Republic run by elites for economic reasons - Nafta, the decline of unions, etc. First of all only the white working class became disaffected. Other identity groups stuck with the 'ruling class'. Second of all, while there was economic suffering, the drivers of the 'revolt' were more cultural. New gender norms, environmental purity standards and a general elite denigration of whites as well as the working class persuaded them that they were its victims.

2. Rorty predicts a strong man or "The Man on the Horse" will lead these disaffected to overthrow the constitutional order. But the last time a strong man overthrew the legitimate constitutional order in an Anglo Saxon country (UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) was in 1066 when Duke William of Normandy beat King Harold at Hastings. Our culture doesn't do dictatorships and there's no indication that it's going to happen now. We're just seeing human nature play out. It's a bit like say a man...yeah...a man who when his affections are rejected by a woman walks off muttering darkly "she'll be sorry she blew me off" fantasizing about dread scenarios to make himself feel better.  Eventually the loser, I mean losers will get over themselves.

3. The US Does have a strong history and tradition of successfully defying attempts to impose tyrannical rule by King George (13 original states) and by Santa Ana (Texas and California). Indeed when Santa Ana demanded that the Texas National Guard give back their cannon (preparatory to his invasion to subjugate texas) this was the first revolutionary flag of the Republic of Texas - we've always been gun nuts. And people in places like TX are far better armed today as well has having the loyalties of a significant share of the military's experienced combat arms.

4. Rorty is partially right about poverty. But there are two approaches in the US towards poverty: the California High-Low Materialist approach and the Texas favor the working classes Morale approach. They differ as to what they think the poor's primary problem is. I'd be happy to bore you about it if you like.

Thanks for sending me the piece, it was interesting.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The light in your eyes

You called and we talked the other day,
it seemed we had so much to say.
But the depth of your heart dwarfed my puny thoughts
and I'm not sure I can live up to your ways.

You're as deep as a diamond and as bright as the sun.
As strong as a pillar, as sweet as true love.
When I'm talking to you I forget where I am because
I get lost chasing the light in your eyes.

You love playing music and taught it to me
but my play-play-playing marred your beauty.
But the strength of your soul swamped my puny notes
and I'm not sure I can live up to your ways.

You're as deep as a diamond and as bright as the sun.
As strong as a pillar, as sweet as true love.
When I play with you I forget where I am because
I get lost chasing my dream of your eyes.

You're coming to see me and I get quite scared
in a way that about women I never have cared.
I don't know exactly why but all I know is that
I want to lose myself in your eyes.

You're as deep as a diamond and as bright as the sun.
As strong as a pillar, as sweet as true love.
When you come to see me I don't know what I'll do.
Except get lost in your eyes, your deep, diamond eyes.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Us Cats IV-2

Us cats play and climb,
back and forth, top to bottom.
purring purring, purrrr.

Us cats rolling on.
Playing, fighting is so fun.
Bite my neck. Hold on.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

You can't own hearts

All my life I've been searching for pebbles.
Some of them pretty, some of them plain.
I picked them up all the same.

I'd peer at them and ask
"What are you to me?"
They'd tell me nothing that I wanted to be.

So I'd stick them in my pocket,
Or toss them in the sea
None of them meant very much to me.

Until one day a I found a stone that caught my eye.
I just had to have that pebble.
Or else I would die.

You can't own him and he can't own you.
Love is about giving, love is about truth.
And the only thing you can keep of any man,
Is the sweetness of his love and the touch of his hand.

So I picked it up.
I held it so tight.
This was the stone for which I would fight.

I took that pebble home
Said it was mine.
Put it on a pedestal that was so very fine.

 I found that pebbles aren't owned.
(Much to my dismay.)
Or possessed or ruled in any other way.

You can't own her and she can't own you.
Love is about giving, love is about truth.
And the only thing you can keep of any woman born,
Is the sweetness of her love and the touch of her hand.

So she kept me In her pocket
And used me in her way.
Until the day I fit no more and she tossed me far away.

That tossing created ripples,
great waves of pain.
So I swore that I'd never pick up pretty pebbles again.

But of course I lied
Because I can never look away
From all the many pebbles that come pebbling my way.

Searching for the special ones
that threaten waves of pain.
To see if it hurts when I hold them again.

You can't own hearts and you can't own souls.
Love is about giving, about becoming whole.
And the only thing you can have of any woman or man,
Is the sweetness of their love and the touch of their hand.

I've loved a lot and I've lost even more.
And the only thing I've learned,
Really the only thing I know. Is...

You can't own hearts and you can't own souls.
Love is about giving, about becoming whole.
And the only thing you can have of any woman or man
Is the sweetness of their love and the touch of their hand.

Yes the only thing I've learned, the only thing I know, 
is that you can't own hearts and you can't own souls.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

A Bill and Hillary Clinton Parable

Anna Foster adjusted the photograph of her husband and children and sighed.  As the first woman and first black Chief Counsel for BigCorp, she was used to tricky situations but this was ridiculous.

"So why don't you lay the whole scenario out for me" said, Richard "Rick" Sanchez, her lead outside counsel and Partner with Smith, Jones and Lopez, the white shoe New York firm that handled most of Bigcorp's legal issues.

"Well you remember the Bill Winton case? You know, the guy that was Director of Contracting who was caught sexually harassing and abusing women employees, interns and contractors?"

"Yeah, ugly case. But I though he'd left the company at the end of that year and then was convicted of perjury in connection with one of the civil cases that he got hit with, right?"

"Right. Well this is about his wife, Hillary. She was a Contract Administration Manager underneath him during that time - I don't know why she didn't divorce him, Lord knows I would have."
"Go on", Rick said cautiously.

"Well anyway she was a top performer and the CFO really like her. So when Bill took the package he wanted to elevate her to the top job in contracting. Fortunately we talked him out of it because besides the bad optics, she didn't have the requisite legal training - we've always required the person in that role to be a trained lawyer due to the tricky contract interpretation and negotiations needed."
"Yeah that makes sense, you put that fast track guy Barry wosisname into that role"

Anna nodded "Yeah because Hillary cut a deal with the CFO.  If she would go get her law degree, then when she was done, Barry would go on to some International assignment and she could slide right into the Director slot. Now there was no formal promise but it was understood so long that she did well at school, she'd be top dog.  And crucially it was known publicly."

"So how'd she do?" Rick sighed, absentmindedly flicking imaginary lint off of his knee.
"She did great but it's what she did after school hours that's at issue."
"Whaddya mean 'after school hours'? Did she have a part time job?", Rick leaned forward.

Anna sighed "Well sort of.  You see once she got to Yale some of our largest contracting partners - vendors, customers, distributors started wining and dining her and her husband. And - evidently this was her or Bill's idea - they began inviting one or both of them to their offsite meetings at resorts, providing all expense paid trips for them."
"Hmmm, I don't like where this is going."

"Well it gets worse. They'd go to these events - during the week when Hillary had class, Bill would go - and they would be asked to give a few remarks to the 'troops' of these companies about 'contracting'. And here's the kicker: they were paid between $2,500 and $3,500 dollars "Honorarium" for their talk.
"Wow, five to seven grand an hour? I'm going to have to raise my rates." Sanchez exclaimed. "So of course you didn't rehire her, did you?"

Anna got out of her chair and walked over to the window, she turned and said "we did rehire her. As a matter of fact she's now our new Director of Contracting"
"Where did Barry go?"
"He's doing some make work thing over in the Golf Products division, you know these fast trackers".
"Don't I though.  So you're telling me that the CFO rehired her and put her in the Director's job even after all of the payments and luxury vacations companies gave her?  How much money are we talking about here?"
"At least $400 grand and possibly much more and that doesn't include the freebies".
"Holy cow!!" The woman who took upwards of a million dollars in payments and vacations many companies took her up on this?"
"Well over a hundred - all of them major hundred million dollar and above contracting parties with BigCorp.  Every single company with a billion dollar annual relationship had her speak, some of them two or three times."
"What did she say to them"
Anna's brow wrinkled:  "She won't say, she says they are private meetings and are none of our business". But it gets even worse."
"How could that be possible?"
"You remember Bill, her husband and first Bigcorp executive ever convicted of a felony for things he did while in office?" 
"well she's 'hired' Bill as her co-Director.  We're not paying him of course and we don't want him in the building for obvious reasons but she has him travelling to all the major contracting players - you know the ones that bribed them - doing what she's calling 'partner outreach and relations'."
"You mean shaking them down for more?" Rick questioned with a shocked look.
"No, not likely. That would be illegal rather than just incredibly sleazy, I think what he's doing is gathering requested favors that they owe these companies for the consideration they've already received." "But I can't prove that", she added.
"OH. MY. GOD what a mess" 
"Your'e telling me, I'm thinking of resigning in protest" Anna said quietly.
"What? give up the job you've worked your whole life to achieve?"
"Yeah. But I achieved everything I've got by playing by the rules and if BigCorp is going to be run by people like this I don't want to be a part of it. Because it's inevitable that an organization that would knowingly tolerate this kind of corruption has got to be riddled with many other criminal activities. 
I've gotten wind of some but I don't have the resources or the political position to hold all of these......these...Gangsters accountable. I hope I can count on you as a reference?"
"Sure, although after I tell our managing committee about this, my job may be on the line because there's no way we can afford to do work for such a corrupt institution."
"I understand completely"

After what seemed like an eternity of silence Rick stood up and said brightly: "Well" I think I'm going to go get drunk, care to join me?"

"No I'll stay here. Happy drunking."

Anna sat back down in her chair and toyed with her family's pictures again. She had given her life to Bigcorp and now it was all turning into a corrupt lie. She brushed away tears and taking a deep breath called out to her EA to come in to review her resignation letter.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Ode to Karen on the day of her birth.

Oh Karen! Mighty Twin!
It is your birthday once again!
Your age advances as does the regard
of those who fell for you so hard.

Oh Karen! It is thee we beseech
because you are a helluva peach.
We lift our glasses to toast you on high,
it is your praises that we do cry.

Oh Karen! Sister of noble Kathleen,
who looks so much like you it must be seen!
So it can be said that God has made
two perfect creatures in one short day.

Oh Karen! One of a kind!
We look and say 'what a find'!
We are honored to sing your praise
and to wish you a happy birthday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Note to EU-Philes: We told you so, you fucking idiots.

I like Nick Cohen.  Particularly this piece where he quoted Robert Conquest. And I think if I were to write a piece about the EU today I'd use the same title:  "We told you so, you fucking idiots". As a matter of fact, I thnk I will.

But I'm afraid he's lost it on Brexit (he's a little more rational here but he plays the Norway card stupidly).  But I love his moxie. Nick argues that Brexiting is in fact a moral crime.  He does so by insulting as many people as he can think of as if he were shit faced drunk. So, rather than fisking an hysterical drunk, I'm going to take the high road and evaluate this EU thingy that 'everyone who's anyone agrees is just the best thing ever and if we leave our economy will collapse or at least the euros will be mean to us at Gstaad and Cannes and we can't bear the thought of that.  After all we've spent our whole lives trying to be the cool kids and not be dorky English and we're not going to give up being invited to French parties just because some assholes voted the wrong way"  but I really shouldn't paraphrase Twisted Nicky like that.

So let's just lay out a scorecard on the EU's basics, shall we?:

Free Trade: Pretty much everybody that's anybody on any side (including Trumpikins no matter what sewer gas he's belching today) agrees two thumbs up, way up. Particularly within Europe because of its fragmentation and the good Ricardian comparative advantage matchup. Particularly the 'make shit, do shit' divide whereby people in gloomy northern places make everything and then go south to cope with the stress of making all that stuff and let the laid back southerners rob them blind to buy more shit. Oh, and lest anyone get confused: the Swiss, Norwegians and other non EU bits of Europe have this deal and so will a Brexited UK, unless the Euros decide to go for actual depression rather than just their standard Euro quality stagnation - and no, the UK is not Norway).

Monetary Union: 'Oh my fucking God what a disaster'. Even Paul Krugman says so (of course this is post hoc Paulie so who knows what his un ergoed propter hoc was).  I note that there were (pace Cohen) 'thousands' of experts saying the UK was making a 'terrible' mistake and that the Euro was going to 'conquer' or 'eat' or at least do something nasty to the dollar.  Those thousands of experts are such scamps!

Immigration: "The German race is the master race they go oom papa oom papa", wait, that's Spike Jones and that was old 'n nasty Der Fuehrer Germans not today's Der Frauhaus Germans. But it's as if EU immigration policy has become a way for Germany to get back at the rest of Europe for being so beastly to it for shifting the Jewish Question back to Palestine where it belongs. And the cool thing about it if you listen to the UN it's die Juden that are driving all these Muslims into Europe (and crazy, don't forget crazy). Only the smart ones don't want to be in "Europe" they want to be in "London" and tens of thousands of them cluster around the Chunnel desperate to escape beautiful France for wildly expensive and plodding London. The upshot is that England has experienced the highest rate of immigration of any European nation since the Visigoths told the Romans "we dig this place so we be hanging wit you" back in the 400s. And judging from the 1400 documented rapes of underage girls covered up by the police in the single town Rotherham (ignoring the other 'immigrant' grooming rings in all the other towns) the benefits have gone to the City boys and the downsides to the cloth capped, forelock tugging provincials that everyone is cursing. This isn't all the EU's fault but who's going to blame voters for what they see with their lying eyes?

The Socio-economic Triumph of the Administrative/Intellectual class: 60 percent of UK law is now made in the European Union. Not by elected parliament but by apparatchiks in the European Council or is it the Council of Europe - or maybe the European Commission - so many C's so little accountability. Much of this is just annoyingly pedantic - like saying that not only must you accommodate metric weights and measures (as the US has for decades) but  you must ban all other forms of measuring and counting - but also lots of 'anti discrimination'  legislation, social standards (some of which the UK has wriggled out of), the shape and size of bananas (a bigger deal than you would think, particularly to Germans), banning GMOs, invasive commercial regulation and other 'progressive' obsessions that intermittently sweep down from Scandinavia like blue northers. This is what is called the "Triumph of Progressivism".

Foreign Policy: One would think that the creation of the European Superstate would translate all of Europe's economic power into immense geopolitical power and that the world would quake in their wake. But the opposite has happened: a Europe that pretended that the EEC kept the peace when it was really American boots on the ground now has graduated to pretending that they're studmuffins of power just like 'merica. So they go into places like Bosnia or the Ukraine and go 'pew pew' with their fingers and the locals, not understanding that they're just playing, actually shoot back.  So they scurry home loudly demanding that Americans do something.  They've semi dissolved all of these nation states to the extent that they are almost completely disarmed without creating a loyalty to the dear old (pedantic, oppressive, self righteous, undemocratic) EU. As Gomer Pyle would say "surprise, surprise".

So now we have a "Europe" where the Eastern Europeans and the Finns are quaking at the thought of a wounded and dying Russia deciding to take them 'with' while the Southern Tier are just expanding their game of 'loot the stressed out northerners' to see how much more they can get until the scam ends, while the French pout, the Irish max out their "Hey America we're the only part of the EU that's rational, speaks English and won't tax your ass off so put all of  your assets here" - which works for such a tiny place and then there are the Scans - Norway clipping coupons, the others living semi detached except for the terrified Finns. And there's Germany who seems to be doing swell, finally getting the sock puppet Europe they've always wanted.

And outside of England, Germany and the Scans, the thing is an economic and demographic black hole.  The Euro area hasn't grown in forever and faith in the future is so low that native populations are cratering to be replaced by Shariah-ites. By contrast the offshore Anglo Saxon world is much richer and actually growing. The common English hear about it from their friends and relations there, can see so on the telly and when they vacation in Orlando or NYC. And these chaps haven't a single EU membership to their names....nothing but free trade and your bog standard global agreements. Hmm. But the experts, the thousands upon tens of thousands upon hundreds of thousands of experts who expert for the EU or its component elites say that 'the EU is swell as hell' and anybody who's anybody agrees - upon pain of losing their friends, their status, their job, their kids' admission to Oxbridge.

Indeed the only high status people who could possibly support Leave were people who had already made their break with the establishment and had nothing to lose. Which is why Nick's charming semi-ad hominem (list your enemy's sins but not your own in the hopes that people who don't know much about English politics will swallow it hook line and sinker) works so well:  "But everyone who's anyone knows that Boris and Michael are such cads and bounders and just not the right sort, don't you know. To the sound of modern upper class English twits what-whatting accompanied by sitars amid a miasma of patchouli and roasting beef shawarma.

"Bloody lower orders don't know their place."

Author's Note:
Indeed, it's only when you remember that the formation and life of the "Union" has been during the most prosperous and peaceful time in the history of the world - that it's only 24 years old and it's already in intensive care - do you realize that this bizarre pseudo-heffalump imagined and created by chaps who by and large have never done a damned thing in their lives has no chance of surviving a real, honest to gosh existential crisis.  This is the League of Nations re-imagined as an apparatchik racket that is going to continue to go phhhht because it is the most fragile thing that's ever existed and no one will fight for it. Ever. So the UK is just getting out before the panicked rush.

PS: I attended school with some of these guys and worked with many of them as Partners and staff.  Nice guys, but like all of us, their judgement is impaired by their appetites and their regnant snobbery which is concentrated in a small parochial environment like London.