Monday, May 31, 2021

Andrew Sullivan on Critical Race Theory

Once upon time Western civilization had an Enlightenment. In principle, though not especially in fact, the Enlightenment pretended to reject the dogmas and superstitions of religions, to replace them with what are now called liberal values.

Of course, liberal values bespeak liberalism. They are not conservative values. They are not even the values we associate with empirical, that is, with scientific reasoning. This is the case even if Andrew Sullivan confuses the value of free speech with that of empirical reasoning. Even if we are talking about that great British value, free trade, the point is not to have an endless negotiation, but to make a deal, to transact business. If, as Sullivan puts it, the liberal enlightenment values free and open debate, regardless of where it ends up, then it does not value empirical thought.

If one is going to talk about the Enlightenment one ought, off the top, distinguish between the Enlightenment of British empiricists like David Hume and Adam Smith with the Enlightenment of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant and the great French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. For a more thorough exploration of the differences, I recommend Arthur Herman’s book: The Cave and the Light.

He suggests that Western idealism-- which might have something to do with liberalism-- arises from Plato and especially from Plato’s cave. The assumption is that we never knew things as they are, but are condemned only to know things by their appearances.

From this we arrive at a modern version whereby there is no such thing as, for instance, an American experience, but there are different ways different people have different lived experiences of America. By the calculus of this idealism, all experiences are equally valid. And this means that we are consigned to a multicultural dystopia where national unity and patriotism are reactionary relics.

The tradition of Western empiricism comes to us from Aristotle, a philosopher who did not begin with ideas and theories, but who began his thinking with facts and objects that we could observe directly. From there we form hypotheses and we then test the hypotheses against experimental or experiential facts.

The difference is clear enough, and relevant enough. If a detective comes upon a crime scene and begins with a theory about who must have done it, then collects only the evidence that proves his theory, the better to persuade you, he is practicing idealism. If, however, he begins with an open mind, collects evidence, formulates a hypothesis and then tests it against other considerations, he is a practicing empiricist.

Eventually, the empiricist arrives at a provable theory, where the facts demonstrate the truth of the theory. Or do not. The idealist cares mostly about persuading you to believe what he believes. He does not test his hypothesis because he does not need to do so. He doesn’t care whether the facts prove his case. He cares about whether you have joined him in his cult to his theory, that is, in current parlance, in his oppression narrative.

Unfortunately, Sullivan confuses these issues. Empirical reasoning does reach an endpoint. Similarly, political debates reach an endpoint where policy is enacted and where people judge its value according to whether it works, that is, by pragmatic standards. Of course, this does not mean that the enacted policy was a final answer, but it does not mean that there is no ultimate authority. In empirical thought, reality decides. Experiments decide. Opinion becomes far less relevant when we are dealing with science.

Allow Sullivan his word:

The genius of liberalism in unleashing human freedom and the human mind changed us more in centuries than we had changed in hundreds of millennia. And at its core, there is the model of the single, interchangeable, equal citizen, using reason to deliberate the common good with fellow citizens. No ultimate authority; just inquiry and provisional truth. No final answer: an endless conversation. No single power, but many in competition.

Sullivan suggests that the end result does not matter. But, of course, it does. If the government institutes a new set of economic policies and the economy fails, the markets crash, inflation runs amok-- you will quickly understand that the end result does matter. If we cannot agree on what does or does not work, we are quickly going to become dysfunctional.

Sullivan says:

In this open-ended conversation, all can participate, conservatives and liberals, and will have successes and failures in their turn. What matters, both conservatives and liberals agree, is not the end result, but the liberal democratic, open-ended means. That shift — from specifying a single end to insisting only on playing by the rules — is the key origin of modern freedom.

He adds that critical race theory rejects liberal values. Nevertheless it embraces idealism and holds that its vision of an equitable distribution of goods and services must come to pass in the real world. If it does not like the result of its experiments, then the fault lies with those who hold power. As James Madison stated clearly, the promise of American equality-- being equal in the eyes of the law-- does not mean and has never meant that everyone should be equal in all ways. To imagine such a basis is to distort empirical thought.

My central problem with critical theory is that it takes precise aim at these very core principles and rejects them. By rejecting them, in the otherwise noble cause of helping the marginalized, it is a very seductive and potent threat to liberal civilization.

Critical race theory sees civilization in terms of a power struggle, between whites and blacks. One understands that theories of power derive, in large part, from everyone’s favorite syphilitic philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. One notes, in consonance with Sullivan’s thought, that defining human relations in terms of a power dynamic relieves us of the duty to think rationally about anything whatever. 

If it’s all power dynamics, we can forget about persuading anyone of anything. We are going to beat it into them. We are going to force them to believe what we want them to believe. In this case, we are not only talking about the oppression narrative, but also what has been called identity politics.

Sullivan explains critical race theory.

It begins with the assertion that these are not ways to further knowledge and enlarge human freedom. They are rather manifestations of white power over non-white bodies. Formal legal equality, they argue, the promise of the American experiment, has never been actual equality, even as, over the centuries, it has been extended to everyone. It is, rather, a system to perpetuate inequality forever, which is the single and only reason racial inequality is still here.

Of course, if you believe in the great Platonic Ideal of equality, no human institution can ever embody it fully. If you do not understand that America never promised to make everyone equal in all ways, you will have taken a step away from this swill.

Sullivan continues, confusing liberal values with empiricism.  Still, he makes clear that critical race theory has nothing whatever to do with facts or with empirical truths:

Claims to truth are merely claims to power. That’s what people are asked to become “awake” to: that liberalism is a lie. As are its purported values. Free speech is therefore not always a way to figure out the truth; it is just another way in which power is exercised — to harm the marginalized. The idea that a theory can be proven or disproven by the empirical process is itself a white supremacist argument, denying the “lived experience” of members of identity groups that is definitionally true, whatever the “objective” facts say. And our minds and souls and institutions have been so marinated in white supremacist culture for so long, critical theorists argue, that the system can only be dismantled rather than reformed. The West’s idea of individual freedom — the very foundation of the American experiment — is, in their view, a way merely to ensure the permanent slavery of the non-white.

And then there is the 1619 Project, this tissue of lies, distortions and disinformation. In truth, critical race theorists do not care about whether it is true or false. They are peddling a narrative and judge people on how deeply they believe it. It is presumably a sign of more complete acquiescence if we believe something that is manifestly untrue:

The 1619 Project is a case in point. It doesn’t just expose some of the hideous past we’d rather forget. It insists that “white supremacy” is the definition of the United States, that its true founding was therefore 1619, that its core principle from the get-go was not freedom but slavery, that slavery is the true basis for American wealth, that the police today are the inheritors of slave patrols, that only black Americans fought to end slavery, and so on. It insists that the Declaration of Independence was “false”, not merely imperfectly implemented, and designed to obscure the real project of racist oppression. And its goal is the dismantling of liberal epistemology, procedures, ideas and arguments in order to revolutionize what cannot by definition be reformed.

CRT tells us that personal identity matters more than arguments themselves. It’s a throwback to Nazi book burning, where the value of someone’s work was about the ethnicity of the author, not about the quality of the ideas:

It insists that what matters is the identity of the participants in a debate, not the arguments themselves. If a cis white woman were to make an argument, a Latino trans man can dismiss it for no other reason than that a white cis woman is making it. Thus, identity trumps reason. Thus liberal society dies a little every time that dismissal sticks.

In the end we are no longer living in a nation, but we are living in fictional world, the kind conjured by the 1619 project, where the only thing that matters is how well we have been indoctrinated in anti-racism. As for competing in the world economy, excelling in science or technology, the fools who concocted these theories have no understanding of such matters. Their concern is their own personal power, their own self-aggrandizement, and, by the by, covering up the fact that they have not done anywhere near as well as they should.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Competing against China

Hating China has become de rigueur in today’s America. Everyone is on the train. Some people are so agitated that you would imagine that they want us to invade Shanghai. And everyone believes that since China is evil, we will inevitably win out in the civilizational clash with China. 

Obviously, the Biden administration has decided that the best way to compete is to spend the country into bankruptcy. And to train our children in anti-racist woke ideology. As everyone with a lick of sense knows, our social justice warriors will never compete against armies of computer engineers. One notes that the American children who can compete against their Asian peers are invariably Asian-Americans. Obviously, the educational establishment is trying to dumb them down, to what end, God only knows.

Then again, we have democracy and democracy is the most superior form of government. And yet, when democracy produces leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you should not be too surprised to see that countries around the world are not emulating the American example. For reasons that remain mysterious they do not want their countries to be run by bug-eyed buffoons. Go figure.

Among those who assesses the facts on the ground is David Goldman. Writing in the Asia Times Goldman occasionally tries to shed the light of reason on the current state of play in the latest clash of civilizations. 

You may know that I have no expertise whatever in 5G technology or the future of semiconductors, but Goldman does. I find his analysis to ring true, especially since the tone is so contrary to the ranting that more often passes for discourse in our declining republic.

You will recall that the Trump administration slapped sanctions on Chinese companies. They want to put those companies out of business. They had the chief financial officer of China’s largest company, Huawei, arrested in Canada. They imposed tariffs and so on, the better to punish China. And then they wonder why China is not more cooperative or why it is forging a closer alliance with Iran.

Anyway, here is Goldman’s assessment of the state of play in 5G:

Chinese manufacturers have installed about 5,000 private 5G networks and will add tens of thousands more this year as 5G broadband enables Fourth Industrial Revolution applications, according to mainland industry leaders.

China already has 70% of the world’s installed 5G base stations and 80% of the world’s 5G smartphone users.

The global chip shortage and US sanctions against Chinese telecom equipment firms such as Huawei and ZTE have slowed China’s 5G buildout to some extent but 5G infrastructure already covers all of China’s major cities. 

China will add between 500,000 to 800,000 new 5G base stations to the 792,000 in place at the end of February, according to industry sources. 5G’s impact on productivity as well as profitability will come from downstream applications, not the network buildout as such. 

“It doesn’t make any sense for the West to pour billions of dollars into alternatives to China’s 5G technology,” one Chinese executive told Asia Times.

“It’s too little too late, and it focuses on the wrong areas. Trying to invent an alternative ecosystem isn’t going to work. I would have expected the United States to say, ‘Let’s transform industry, let’s be more competitive.’

If you are like me, the only thing you know about semiconductors is that there is a worldwide shortage. This is impeding manufacturing and industry. As for the nitty gritty of the problem, Goldman explains aspects of the semiconductor war that others more often ignore:

The speed of further 5G buildout will depend in part on China’s ability to manufacture chips with transistor gateways of 28 nanometers or less, according to a semiconductor industrial executive. Most observers believe that China has mastered 28 nanometer process node production and will be able to fabricate most of its own requirements by the end of 2021.

To emphasize, the end of 2021 is merely a few months away.

Media attention has focused on the newest chips with gateways of 7 nanometers or less, which power high-end smartphones, crypto mining workstations and other high-powered devices. But the workhorse of semiconductor applications is the previous generation of chips in the 14 to 28 nanometer range, which will provide the bulk of chip demand during the next five years, especially for wireless connectivity.

Although US carriers offer what they call 5G service, the American version provides download speeds barely above the older-generation 4G LTE broadband, at around 60 mbits/second. The average speed in China is five times higher, at over 300 mbits/second.

In other words, what passes for 5G in America is vastly slower than what is already installed in China. Put that one in your pipe, and puff on it.

Consider the practical consequences. Consider them in terms of the current supply chain disruptions, in large part a function of the fact that our major ports, especially on the West Coast, are not at all as automated as Shanghai. The latter is run by robots, controlled by a 5G network. Our ports are far slower-- about a fifth as efficient, but then again, they have unionized workers, all of whom will never allow the ports to be automated, their jobs replaced by robots. Obviously, the Biden administration will never invest in such infrastructure:

Private networks support industrial robotics as well as “smart” logistics, including automation of major ports. A 5G network supports the automation of the Shanghai Port, which handles 44 million containers per year, compared to 8 million containers at America’s largest facility in Long Beach, California, where more than twenty ships are waiting offshore to unload.

China opened its first 5G-enabled fully-automated port a year ago in Xiamen, with automated cranes stacking containers on driverless trucks. Shanghai’s Yangshan port began fully automated, 24-hour operations in August 2020.

It’s not just ports.

In late 2020, Shandong Energy Group began operations at an automated coal mine controlled by a 5G network. 

Automated warehouses, autonomous vehicles and drones promise to transform e-commerce, with firms like Alibaba and JD Logistics offering same or next-day delivery from computer-controlled storage facilities where packages are sorted and sent by drones or autonomous vehicles.

JD Logistics’ $3.2 billion IPO launched in Hong Kong this week, promising a new level of productivity in delivery. JD still depends on 200,000 delivery personnel but its warehouse management makes Amazon look primitive.

By contrast, Western companies are still evaluating whether they should install private 5G networks to support factory automation, according to a 2020 report by the Capgemini Research Institute. Some German companies, including Audi and BASF, are testing private networks.

In May 2021, Ericsson installed a private network for Airbus, Europe’s premier manufacturer of civilian aircraft, but the network will run on 4G until the 5G network is launched next year. In Silicon Valley, Hitachi and Ericsson have built a 5G research network.

With few exceptions, Western investment in enterprise 5G networks is tentative and experimental, while China’s factories, mines and ports have put 5G into full operation.

Goldman concludes:

The critical difference between 5G and older broadband isn’t speed, but rather carrying capacity and latency (speed of response). Industrial operations require near-instant response time among machines controlled by the network, and 5G, which reduces response time by a factor of ten, opens up possibilities for industrial automation that formerly were unimaginable. 

If you still believe that diversity is our strength and that we are going to compete more effectively by being more inclusive and more democratic… I have a bridge to sell you.

Kamala's Long Weekend

Let’s see. It’s Memorial Day weekend, when we honor those service members who have died for our country. And yet, Kamala Harris, fresh from her failure to do anything to stem the migrant invasion on our Southern border, fails to honor those who died for our country. Speaking of bad form, she posted a glamor picture of herself with a large grin-- that's for all the suckers who took her seriously.

One thing I can promise. Kamala Harris will never be president of the United States-- unless something happens to Creepy Joe. I will now predict that she will never be elected president.

The Daily Mail reports:

Vice President Kamala Harris has been accused of 'disgusting' disrespect by members of the military after tweeting 'Enjoy the long weekend' ahead of Memorial Day without mentioning fallen soldiers.

The post included a candid photo of herself smiling and comes hours after she posted a tweet praising Midshipman Sydney Barber who made history as the first black woman to serve as Brigade Commander at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Harris also spoke at the U.S. Naval Academy's graduation and commissioning ceremony on Friday during which she called the United States military 'the best, the bravest, and the most brilliant.'

However, critics were quick to point out that her tweet failed to mention the reason for the long weekend is Memorial Day - a federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May honoring soldiers who died while serving in the military.

Of course, we honor the achievement of Midshipperson Sydney Barber and we were all happy to see a black veteran take the helm of the Defense Department. And yet, since Lloyd Austin’s first action as Secretary was to purge the counterrevolutionaries in the ranks, we fear that he will squander the opportunity. Turning the troops against each other is hardly the best way to enhance readiness or to deter aggression. It does not tell the world that you earned what you have, and does not signify that you want to unite, not divide, the nation.

Of course, no one is more woke than Kamala Harris. So, in addressing the graduating class of the Naval Academy, she used woke pronouns and opined about solar power. From the New York Post:

On this Memorial Day weekend, what does Vice President Kamala Harris decide to talk about in front of the Naval Academy’s graduating class? Solar power.

“Just ask any Marine today, would she rather carry 20 pounds of batteries or solar panels, and I am positive, she will tell you a solar panel — and so would he,” she said.

Pathetic pandering to the radical left. 

Then, the New York Post continues:

China is spending its time taking over the South China Sea, bullying Hong Kong, Taiwan and John Cena, pushing its influence into Africa, preparing for the next century.

Kamala Harris wants to make sure our soldiers are carbon neutral.

This isn’t the only example. Just months into the Biden-Harris administration, the CIA was lampooned for a recruitment video that stressed terms like “intersectional” and “cisgender” instead of, say, keeping Americans safe from terrorist threats.

China, Iran and Russia are thrilled. While we worry about sensitivity training, they are pushing boundaries around the world. They are laughing at us.

Sobering thoughts for the Memorial Day weekend.

Who was it who claimed that the Democratic Party was singularly lacking in patriotism? The sad part is, radical Democrats do not even pretend any more.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Biden Paper Trains the Press

It isn’t exactly news, but the Biden administration has been receiving fawning press coverage. The White House press corps has been completely corrupted. It is the propaganda arm of the Biden administration. One might express surprise at the complete absence of integrity, but at this point one is seriously beyond surprise. One is numb.

Anyway, Matt Taibbi, in a Substack column that is available only to subscribers, has coined the perfect metaphor for press coverage of the Biden administration. He declares that Biden has paper trained the press. 

Taibbi writes:

Joe Biden is cruising, in a happy-place few politicians reach. Outside of a few grumpy right-wing outlets he faces almost no hostile press questioning, political threats within his own party are minimal, and his approval rating, if one believes the latest Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, hovers at an astonishing 64%.

Biden has the press paper-trained to a degree we haven’t seen in modern times. Not even at the height of the media’s drooling love affair with Barack Obama — a phenomenon I confess I was part of — did we ever see such enthusiastic, reflexive backing of White House messaging. The Biden press even reverses course on a dime when needed, with the past weeks being a supreme example.

For a time Biden echoed Obama’s claim and declared that his presidency was going to be transformative. But then, Biden stopped talking about being transformative, so the press did the same:

But all that’s happened is that the moment the Biden administration stopped talking about being “transformative,” the White House press quietly did the same, in silent recognition that they’ll all be selling a different product for a while.

Taibbi concludes that it was not just that Biden ran a good campaign. He had the full and complete backing of the press corps, a press corps that merely repeated his campaign talking points. And, let’s not forget the in kind campaign contributions made by social media, like Twitter:

One of the underreported stories of the 2020 race was that Biden’s handlers somehow ran quite a smart campaign, even as their candidate pooped his drawers and disintegrated mentally on an almost daily basis. They leaned into social media mockery of their candidate, realizing there was an untapped reservoir of Democrat voters who loathed the Twitter discourse far more than most reporters understood, then shifted in the general, and now are shifting back again. The effectiveness of their rhetorical approach has been astounding in its consistency, but there’s only so much credit to give. When you’ve got nothing but friends in the press gallery, everything works.

Joe Biden Brings Decency Back to the Presidency

Creepy Joe Biden. No one failed to notice that our president has had a bad habit of sticking his nose in women’s and even girls’ hair. The acts were clearly non-consensual, typical for someone who has a hair fetish. Since women’s hair is saturated with pheromones, the act is not asexual. In truth, it resembles a simulated rape.

Of course, media bias being what it is, precious few media outlets reported or even considered the message that Creepy Joe was sending to men and women.

If any other man assaulted an underage female in that way, he would be in some very serious trouble.

In truth, for the first few months of his presidency, Biden has been keeping his bad habits under wraps. The reason-- his handlers have kept him under wraps.

But, yesterday, Creepy Joe decided to go off script at a naval bases,, and offered some remarks about a young elementary school aged girl at a ceremony. The Daily Mail has the story.

The Commander-in-chief, 78, went off-script to point out the 'elementary school- aged' girl as he delivered an address at Joint Base Langley-Eustis ahead of Memorial Day. 

'I love those barrettes in your hair, man,' the President said to the girl, who was sitting at the side of the stage

I tell you what, look at her, she looks like she's 19 years old, sitting there like a little lady with her legs crossed,' Biden bizarrely continued. 

The girl's mother had reportedly introduced Biden to the stage prior to his speech. Her full name and age have not been publicly released. 

Best not to reveal her age, though the truth is, to complete your moral outrage assume that she is around 8-- maybe younger, maybe a bit older. 

The story has been reported in the Daily Mail and the New York Post. One understands that the mainstream media will ignore it completely. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

The Tight Labor Market Hits Las Vegas

 The tight labor market hits Las Vegas (via Almost Daily Grants):

Does New York City Have a Future?

The question is burning through every New Yorker’s brain: will the city come back? Will New York ever return to its glory days or will it remain a worn out hulk, filled with drug addicts, the homeless and an ever increasing crime rate.

In a long and comprehensive and excellent article for City Journal Nicole Gelinas offers a balanced assessment of the problem. (via Maggie’s Farm) This means that she, like most sensible New Yorkers, remain skeptical but optimistic.

Apparently, the beaten down New York residential real estate market is showing signs of life, because rents have been reduced across the city. And yet, the people who are moving in are young people, recent college graduates. The people who moved out were people with families. The latter constitute the city’s tax base. The former do not. Take it for what that’s worth.

I was especially attuned to her analysis since she is writing, for all intents and purposes, about my neighborhood, midtown Manhattan. And she remarks that New York City’s future depends largely on whether or not the large office towers in midtown remain empty. For now, there are signs of life-- the animal spirits are beginning to stir-- but it is too soon to tell.

Gelinas explains the importance of midtown Manhattan:

For six decades, Gotham has relied on midtown Manhattan as the physical, economic, and fiscal center of the metropolis. From 34th Street to 60th Street, from Third Avenue to Eighth Avenue, 236 hyper-dense blocks across just 2.5 square miles (less than 1 percent of the city’s landmass) support jobs, wealth, and tax revenue—not just for the city but for the entire tristate region. In terms of dense, successful downtowns, nothing quite like midtown exists elsewhere in the United States. The global models that come closest are London and Tokyo.

Her reporting was focused on the state of midtown two months ago, before, that is, the virus was defeated by the vaccines.

As of mid-March 2021, midtown was a ghost town, all but empty for an entire year—something unthinkable before the pandemic struck in March 2020. Despite the Manhattan real-estate industry’s best efforts, most office workers have chosen to work from home, all the time, using little more than laptops and WiFi. Their employers have allowed, and even encouraged, them to do so. Tourists, too, who round out midtown’s transitory population, have stayed home because of strict international border closures, a reluctance to travel domestically during the outbreak, and the shuttering of almost all entertainment options.

Midtown depends on office workers. It is not a very residential area:

The loss of foot traffic has frozen midtown’s ecosystem. With its tiny residential population—about 28,000 people, compared with 132,000 on the similar-size Upper West Side—midtown cannot support itself. Chain coffee shops like Starbucks and Pret A Manger have severely reduced their hours or closed completely. Chain retailers like Godiva and the Gap have left behind papered-up vacant storefronts. Many small independent restaurants still have year-old hand-lettered signs from last March taped to their doors, promising to return in a few weeks. A pedestrian can walk for blocks at rush hour and encounter only a few other people, mostly construction workers, security guards, and adventurous regional tourists, compared with the throngs of bankers and lawyers who once made Fifth and Sixth Avenue sidewalks more congested than the city’s streets.

The city needs a new infusion of tourists, as well as office workers:

What happens next? Provided New York’s elected officials keep the city safe—and that’s no guarantee, given a troubling new crime wave—the tourists will return when the entertainment venues reopen, and, in fact, regional tourists have gradually been returning as the weather has warmed. New York has withstood short downturns in tourism, and it can do so again. The much bigger challenge for New York’s future governor and mayor is persuading office workers to come back. For the first time in recent urban history, they, and their employers, have proved that they don’t need the city. A threshold exists beyond which the costs of agglomerating employees in an urban district—high rents, high taxes, and long and expensive commutes—is not worth it. To lure workers back, New York will have to offer better-quality public services, from mass transit to lunchtime park space, than it did before the pandemic.

Even the best-designed strategy for midtown might not succeed. But it’s far too early to admit—and thus assure—defeat, and give up on a matchless, and hitherto invaluable, central business district.

Naturally, Gelinas has some recommendations for solving the problem. Obviously, someone has to do something about crime and homelessness. One begins to wonder whether the city and state governments might have been allowing the problem to metastasize during the Trump presidency-- because it would make Trump look bad. And one wonders whether their newfound concern might just be a reaction to the potential political fallout in the next elections:

How can New York tip the scales in favor of return? First and most important: ensure quality of life. Returning workers or tourists don’t want to be intimidated by the drug addicts, mentally ill individuals, and vagrants who now haunt key transit stations. “The city and state have to work together to improve the street experience,” says Moss. “We have a homelessness issue that has to be dealt with thoughtfully, creatively, and effectively.” Barth concurs. “We need active champions in the public sector—screaming from the rooftops that New York is open for business,” he says. “One of the reasons New York blossomed [was that it] benefited from its status as the safest big city in the world,” a brand that the city “could sell in Paris, Moscow, Shanghai.”

To counterpoint the Gelinas analysis, I will add a few remarks from the Daily Mail. Its reporter too has been out in New York’s streets.


Here are a few of the denizens of the Big Apple, as only the Daily Mail can describe them.

In Times Square, the most densely tourist-populated place in the United States, a mentally disturbed man known as Mr. Kim begs cops to kill him. 'I want to die. You have a gun? Shoot,' he pleads. After the officers demur, he picks up a plank of wood and starts smashing it against the Pele soccer shop.

On Sutton Place, one of the most affluent residential areas in the city, a lone man squats on the sidewalk, intently reading a paperback novel next to a shopping cart that contains his worldly goods. He begs for cash with a sign saying he has lost everything. 'Trying to survive,' it adds.

In Greenwich Village, a well-dressed man leaves his office  minding his own business when a menacing character attempts to sucker punch him. The 6'4' suit ducks the punch, shrugs and walks away.

At Harlem's famed 125th Street, at 2pm on a sunny May day, a middle-aged man sleeps off whatever he needs to sleep off on a bus stop bench outside a sneaker store, unaware that his naked backside is exposed for the world to see.

Scenes from the sidewalks of New York:

These scenes come from across Manhattan as it struggles to get back on its feet after the coronavirus pandemic cut off its lifeblood of tourism, sent many of its wealthiest residents scurrying to places as diverse as Vermont and Florida and upped the ante on homelessness, mental illness and crime - particularly random assaults and stabbings.

Things are so bad that even Gov. Andrew Cuomo is noticing. People no longer feel safe in New York City:

'New Yorkers don't feel safe and they don't feel safe because the crime rate is up. It's not that they are being neurotic or overly sensitive - they are right,' Governor Andrew Cuomo declared on Wednesday. 

'We have a major crime problem in New York City. Everything we just talked about, with the economy coming back, you know what the first step is? People have to feel safe.' 

Other city officials are more optimistic, talking up Gotham once again. 

'The ship has turned. We are headed towards recovery,' Chris Heywood of NYC&Company, the city's official tourism organization, told

It feels a bit repetitive to keep citing crime statistics, but here are a few:

In 2021, almost every type of violent crime is on the rise in New York City. According to recent figures from Compstat, the NYPD's data gathering unit, crime is up 30 percent city wide. 

And serious crime has shot up. Over the past four weeks murders in the city are up 67% from 27 in the same period last year to 45. Rapes are up 25%, robberies 54%. Shootings have risen by a staggering 130%.  

You will be happy to know that Mayor Bill de Blasio hasn’t noticed. He is too stoned. Who was it who said that we get the political leaders we deserve.


BLM's Anti-Semitism

Now that Patrice Cullors, sometime Marxist and leader of Black Lives Matter, has retired from activism, it is worthwhile recording what she said at Harvard Law School.

That she called for "the end of Israel in 2015 is not surprising. We all knew that BLM was an anti-Semitic organization. The more salient point is that when she did so, at Harvard, no less, no one much noticed or cared. Anti-Semitism is acceptable in certain circles, and certain people are not to be called out on it. Keep in mind, this occurred during the Obama administration.

Natalie Winters reports:

Unearthed by The National Pulse, the clip comes from a panel entitled “Globalizing Ferguson: Racialized Policing and International Resistance” hosted by the prestigious law school’s Human Rights Program.

Cullors, who recently announced her resignation from the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Global Network Foundation, explicitly called for “the end” of Israel at the event:

“Palestine is our generation’s South Africa, and if we don’t step up boldly and courageously to end the imperialist project that’s called Israel, we’re doomed.”

“We could have a whole conversation about the settlements that we witnessed and the stories of murder and death at the hands of Israelis and Zionists,” she adds before describing Palestinian solidarity as “crucial” to the BLM movement.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Harry and Meghan Saga Continues

Nothing is quite as pathetic as a prince of the British royal family throwing it all away in order to become a Hollywood celebrity. When you marry a third rate actress, what else can you do?

Fair enough, Harry’s great uncle, King Edward VIII threw away the crown in order to marry a Baltimore divorcee, but at least David, as he was called, did not move to Hollywood. 

But, Harry was not finished. Now he has emerged in a series of interviews with Oprah to lead a crusade against mental illness. You might think that this would be a useful contribution to human civilization. You would be wrong.

The young and naive prince, commonly considered to be a functional idiot-- as was, incidentally, his mother-- has inadvertently shown people the way to mental illness. 

After all, what has he shown the world. He has betrayed confidences. He has betrayed his family. He has denounced and bad-mouthed his father. He lied to his grandmother, the queen. It was an expert lesson in burning your bridges, assuring that you can never go home again. He was also breaking his ties to the only world he knew, to the people he grew up with, to the friends he has made over the years.

Harry accused his family of neglecting him. He accused them of smearing his wife. And he accused his father of allowing him to suffer.

I cannot think of any more destructive action. Harry is now lost and alone in the Hollywood fun house. Anyone who emulates his appalling example will compromise his mental health by breaking his ties to other people, whether friends, family or colleagues. Harry has shown himself to be someone who cannot be trusted. He is now lost. No sentient individual should cheer his exercise in self-immolation.

As it happens, according to famed British writer, Julie Burchill, Harry was doing it to avenge his mother. One might say that his mother, a woman who was to the manner born, but who seemed to want more fame and celebrity than to perform her duties as Princess of Wales, was both sinned against and sinning. 

Diana certainly washed her dirty linen in public. She flaunted her relationships and denounced her husband and his family. She contributed to a worldwide epidemic of bulimia.

No one forced her to do so. She had done sufficient therapy to have learned how to undermine mental health. As for Harry’s claim that the royal family was averse to therapy, Diana herself consulted first with Jungian therapist, Alan McGlashan. It was not notably successful, though rumor has it that Prince Charles underwent treatment with the same doctor. If you want to know what is wrong with Prince Charles, aside from his upbringing, consider that he underwent notably useless therapy. For her part Diana also consulted a cognitivist for her bulimia. Since the therapy seemed to be effective, she quit. She ended up with noted feminist therapist Suzie Orbach, and then she died.

Anyway, Burchill is well informed and sufficiently caustic to grasp the truth about Harry and Megan. Since the young couple seems to aspire to becoming the entertainment, why not be entertained.

Burchill begins by saying that the young couple tried out a “grabdication.”

I called out ‘The Grabdication’ early on, with a nod to a previous member of the British monarchy - a king-emperor rather than a prince - who gave it all up for the worldly charms of an American divorcee. On hearing of the temper tantrum she reportedly had over being denied an emerald tiara and having to make do with a mere diamond one, I supposed that Meghan Markle was keen on grabbing a few baubles, the perks of marrying a man whose grandmother has the world’s best jewellery collection. When she led her husband to the showbiz capital of the world in search of *privacy* I figured that she was the only actress ever to sleep with a prince in the hope of winning the approval of some powerful Hollywood frogs to grab back a better acting career than on her first try. But the Grabdication isn’t about fame or fortune or fancy trinkets. It’s an act of passive aggression by proxy, played out on the stage of international media, in which for reasons we can only guess at a pair of quite average people feel a compulsion to frame their love story as that of two pure souls taking on the might of the British Empire - which became a Commonwealth of mutual respect many decades ago, anyway.

Two consummate mediocrities trying out for a role in a new drama-- revolting against the British Empire.

When the stars align and two personality disorders collide, the outcome of falling in love can be anything but benign; contemplating The Wonder Of Us, we may feel that normal standards of behaviour are for ‘the little people’. Think of the ‘Heavenly Creatures’ who, believing that their families were out to get them, got the fatal blow in first, or Bonnie and Clyde. Of course Meghan and Harry haven’t committed violence - with the exception of their assaults on the English language, murdered every time they open their therapy-mired mouths. But with each new show-and-tell, they add to the longest and most lucrative temper tantrum ever, Harry’s new show (off) for Apple TV focuses on ‘mental illness and mental wellness, inspiring viewers to have an honest conversation about the challenges each of us faces’ and is called ‘The Me You Can’t See.’ Even the title is a joke; not since Madonna repeatedly shoved her pubic bush in the public’s face in the 1990s has a celebrity stalked the masses so relentlessly. What about our privacy?

Burchill is quite right to call out the Sussexes for making themselves a public spectacle. She explains that Harry and Meghan have formed a cult of two:

And the first thing cult members do is turn on their families. It was amusing when Meghan cut ties with her awful lot for being snitches. But what Prince Harry is doing to his family is in another league altogether. As I said, Britons have felt embarrassed on behalf of their queen due to the behaviour of her family. But this is the first time many of us have felt bemused and, to an extent, horrified by the way she is being treated by one of the parasites who pass as her loved ones.

So we are witnessing, if we are unwise enough to watch the shows, people who suffer from unspeakable privilege, pretending to be victims:

It is not reactionary to prefer privileged people who know they are privileged and as their part of the bargain refrain from complaining over equally privileged people who deny it and claim fellowship with the wretched of the earth. The old Windsor motto ‘Never explain, never complain’ has become ‘Explain and complain all the way to the bank with your hundred million dollar deal from Netflix.’

Both Harry and Meghan are obviously lying. Buchill counts the ways:

While ‘recollections may vary’ there is not a lot of ‘systemic racism’ in my country, but there is a man who once dressed up as a Nazi for fun and who called a fellow soldier ‘Paki’. As a fervent disciple of therapy, one hopes that Prince Harry is familiar with the word ‘projection’ - the practice of taking emotions or traits one dislikes about oneself and attributing them to others. There was no ‘secret wedding’ three days before the big one which cost the British taxpayer around £30 million. Did baby Archie’s first words really include ‘Grandma Diana’, ‘drive safe’ and ‘stay hydrated’? What came next - ‘Free Palestine’?

All things considered, people had felt some measure of sympathy for Harry. The prince managed to squander it all in his Oprah interviews. They were, as Burchill describes them, just what the therapist would have ordered. As good a reason as any to be skeptical about therapy culture and its claims on the nation’s psyche. And she notes that this emotional solipsism is quite contrary to British tradition:

But all the goodwill the nation felt towards the prince was used up by the time the Queen buried her husband in April. After that Oprah interview the month before in which the royal family were condemned for both racism and for making Meghan so unwelcome that she considered suicide, we presumed that Harry had ‘got it all out now’. The English traditionally think of dwelling on one’s emotions as being quite like vomiting - unpleasant, but probably the best thing once in a while, so that one can quickly move on. As he walked solemnly behind the coffin of his grandfather - born in exile on a kitchen table and a refugee at the age of 18 months, with no open arms of Oprah waiting to welcome him to a strange land, giving up his career, his religion and his name in order to devote his life to walking two steps behind his wife without complaint in the name of duty - we all hoped that the nasty fuss might be laid to rest. But Harry was just getting started. Last week on ‘The Me You Can’t See’ the prince used his platform to accuse The Firm of ‘total neglect’ ‘bullying me into silence’ and being bequeathed ‘genetic pain’ by his father. We can only imagine what’s waiting for us after the warm-up.

How will things work out for Harry in America, now that he has begun by denouncing the first amendment? One presumes that he was trying to clue us all in on precisely how stupid he really is:

Will the Americans tire of Harry? With breathtaking insensitivity considering that the USA fought a war against colonisation by the British monarchy in order to become a free nation, he has already criticised the First Amendment - the right to free speech. The irony of a man masquerading as an enlightened citizen in order to plead for the divine right of kings - and princes - not to be criticised will not have passed unnoticed in his new home. And surely the sight of the world’s most privileged people spilling their guts as the series progresses will strike any sensible person as little more than sly self-interest; these days, the new aristocracy of show business say ‘Yes, I live a life millions envy - but look at my pain’ and get to keep their cred in their gated communities. If Marie Antoinette was around today, she could claim she had bulimia - ‘Let me eat cake’ - and she’d keep her head in a milieu where any mention of mental health gets a gold in the Victim Olympics.

Speaking for her fellow countrymen and women, Burchill explains that the British will never forgive Harry for what he has done to the Queen. One notes that Burchill is not exactly a royalist:

Harry may well face disapproval in his new homeland soon; here in Britain, he will never be forgiven for what he’s done. Because he’s done it to the Queen; the 95-year-old woman who sat by herself at her husband’s funeral in order to observe the same social distancing her subjects have practised for the past year, walking on alone, opening Parliament as usual because democracy is a serious thing. Even life-long republicans like me respect her. For a man who speaks ceaselessly of the evils of bullying, this nation wonders how long a grown man can use the death of his mother as an excuse for lashing out at his grandma.

As for the other winner, emerging unscathed, her head held high, commanding respect from the British nation, she is, of course, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.