Category Archives: Totty

Who doesn’t love pretty girls?

Rule Five Civilization Collapse Friday

Could Western civilization be on the verge of collapse?  It’s probably not imminent – but it could happen.  Excerpt:

The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.

Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end. Regardless of how well things are going in the present moment, the situation can always change. Putting aside species-ending events like an asteroid strike, nuclear winter or deadly pandemic, history tells us that it’s usually a plethora of factors that contribute to collapse. What are they, and which, if any, have already begun to surface? It should come as no surprise that humanity is currently on an unsustainable and uncertain path – but just how close are we to reaching the point of no return?

While it’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, mathematics, science and history can provide hints about the prospects of Western societies for long-term continuation.

The BBC article here points out the similarity of events today with the times of the fall of the Roman Republic, and that’s a fair comparison; but they (not surprisingly) get a few things wrong.  For example:

Meanwhile, a widening gap between rich and poor within those already vulnerable Western nations will push society toward further instability from the inside. “By 2050, the US and UK will have evolved into two-class societies where a small elite lives a good life and there is declining well-being for the majority,” Randers says. “What will collapse is equity.”

This widening gap in and of itself means little or nothing, except that it provides fat paydays for those in the business of promoting the politics of envy.  What matters is how that lower portion is living.  One of the things unique to Western civilization, at least the portion that still has more or less free markets, is that the it has produced the richest poor people in world history.  In the United States, for example, there is little or no abject poverty, only relative poverty.  “Poor” people in the U.S. have air conditioning, microwave ovens, cellular phones, automobiles and cable or satellite television – luxuries unheard of among the well-to-do only a generation ago.  And while this is the case, the gap between rich and poor really doesn’t matter a damn.

One more thing the BBC misses, and it’s a doozie; the BBC doesn’t mention the most virulently anti-freedom, anti-prosperity, anti-Western force afoot in the world today, that being fundamentalist Islam.

It’s amazing that the Beeb overlooks this – or maybe not, given their European location and the fact that Europe is well on its way to being assimilated into the Islamic world.   Maybe there is some self-preservation in play, although it’s more likely that it’s just run-of-the-mill political correctness.  But fundamentalist Muslims are the greatest existential threat the West faces today, especially for the slow-breeding Europeans.  Demographics, as they say, is destiny, and the destiny of ethnic Europeans appears to be to fail through apathy.

The article concludes:

“The question is, how can we manage to preserve some kind of humane world as we make our way through these changes?” Homer-Dixon says.

The biggest challenge will be dealing with the one thing – the one deadly, dangerous, civilization-destroying thing – that the BBC fails to even mention.

Absent that, Western civilization will go the way of the dodo.

Rule Five Failed Imperial Power Grab Friday

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for all the Rule Five links!

Andrew Sullivan is no fan of President Trump, and indeed probably voted for Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I in the last election cycle, but he isn’t one of the folks bemoaning every possible cause but the obvious one as to why she lost the election.  Excerpt:

Let us review the facts: Clinton had the backing of the entire Democratic establishment, including the president (his biggest mistake in eight years by far), and was even married to the last, popular Democratic president. As in 2008, when she managed to lose to a neophyte whose middle name was Hussein, everything was stacked in her favor. In fact, the Clintons so intimidated other potential candidates and donors, she had the nomination all but wrapped up before she even started. And yet she was so bad a candidate, she still only managed to squeak through in the primaries against an elderly, stopped-clock socialist who wasn’t even in her party, and who spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union. She ran with a popular Democratic incumbent president in the White House in a growing economy. She had the extra allure of possibly breaking a glass ceiling that — with any other female candidate — would have been as inspiring as the election of the first black president. In the general election, she was running against a malevolent buffoon with no political experience, with a deeply divided party behind him, and whose negatives were stratospheric. She outspent him by almost two-to-one. Her convention was far more impressive than his. The demographics favored her. And yet she still managed to lose!

“But … but … but …” her deluded fans insist, “she won the popular vote!” But that’s precisely my point. Any candidate who can win the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and still manage to lose the Electoral College by 304 to 227 is so profoundly incompetent, so miserably useless as a politician, she should be drummed out of the party under a welter of derision.

Here’s the real money quote:

And so I find myself wondering at odd times of the day and night: Why is Trump in the White House? And then I remember. Hillary Clinton put him there.

Well, partly.  Her Imperial Majesty was a horrible, horrible candidate who ran a perfectly clueless campaign.  Her entire appeal to the electorate was based on the twofold message “I have a vagina” and “it’s my turn, peasants!”  But you have to give President Trump some credit; he understood how the Electoral College works, he understood the wants and needs of a large and largely ignored voting bloc in the Upper Midwest – and he went after that voting bloc aggressively and relentlessly.

And now he’s President Trump.

I wasn’t a supporter of Trump early on; there were a host of candidates in the primaries I preferred.  But one thought that never fails to bring a smile to my face is the fact that Her Royal Highness Hillary I will never be President.

Of course, there’s another complication.  Wannabe-First Daughter-Again Chelsea Clinton-Whatever is rumored to be considering a political career.

After the 2016 election, at least 46.1% of the electorate decided they had had enough of the Clinton political dynasty.  With that election done past, it sure looked like time for Her Imperial Majesty and all her assorted kinfolk to finally fade from the political scene, ushered into obscurity by the incompetent Presidential campaign of the most deeply and fundamentally corrupt political figure since Caligula.

Let’s hope if Chelsea gives politics a shot, she flames out early and spares us another generation of self-entitled whining.

Rule Five Free Speech Friday

Heather Mac Donald thinks it’s time to stand up to campus bullies trying to squash freedom of speech on our nation’s campuses.  She’s right.  Excerpt:

Where are the faculty? American college students are increasingly resorting to brute force, and sometimes criminal violence, to shut down ideas they don’t like. Yet when such travesties occur, the faculty are, with few exceptions, missing in action, though they have themselves been given the extraordinary privilege of tenure to protect their own liberty of thought and speech. It is time for them to take their heads out of the sand.

I was the target of such silencing tactics two days in a row last week, the more serious incident at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, and a less virulent one at UCLA.

The Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna had invited me to meet with students and to give a talk about my book, The War on Cops, on April 6. Several calls went out on Facebook to “shut down” this “notorious white supremacist fascist Heather Mac Donald.” A Facebook post from “we, students of color at the Claremont Colleges” announced grandiosely that “as a community, we CANNOT and WILL NOT allow fascism to have a platform. We stand against all forms of oppression and we refuse to have Mac Donald speak.” A Facebook event titled “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascist Heather Mac Donald” and hosted by “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascists” encouraged students to protest the event because Mac Donald “condemns [the] Black Lives Matter movement,” “supports racist police officers,” and “supports increasing fascist ‘law and order.’” (My supposed fascism consists in trying to give voice to the thousands of law-abiding minority residents of high-crime areas who support the police and are desperate for more law-enforcement protection.)

Whether one agrees with Heather Mac Donald or not isn’t at issue here.  Whether one understands the importance of free expression in a free society is; indeed, a society can’t stay free without freedom of expression.

And the fact that this is taking place on college campuses (campii?) just makes this all the more intolerable.  The higher education system is supposed to be a bastion of free expression and free thought; instead, too many of our institutions of higher learning are bastions of “safe spaces,” “free speech zones” and totalitarian (yes, really) uprisings of intolerant shitbags trying to silence anyone who makes them “uncomfortable.”

But there may be some hope for all this.  Heather Mac Donald concludes:

…the students currently stewing in delusional resentments and self-pity will eventually graduate, and some will seize levers of power more far-reaching than those they currently wield over toadying campus bureaucrats and spineless faculty. Unless the campus zest for censorship is combatted now, what we have always regarded as a precious inheritance could be eroded beyond recognition, and a soft totalitarianism could become the new American norm.

Eh, probably not.

The students most likely to be taking part in these totalitarian uprisings are also most likely to be working on bullshit Underwater Ethnic Dog Polishing degree programs.  They aren’t going to be at the levers of anything except a Starbucks espresso machine.

Rule Five Judicial Extra Friday

A bonus Friday bit, this time on today’s expected Supreme Court vote.  Excerpt:

Democrats escalated their attacks against Judge Neil Gorsuch ahead of key votes set for Thursday, portraying him as an ally of the powerful and an enemy of the weak. Republicans defended him, accusing Democrats of trying to block Gorsuch out of frustration over Trump’s election victory.

“Democrats would filibuster Ruth Bader Ginsburg if President Donald Trump nominated her,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., naming one of the more liberal sitting justices. “There is simply no principled reason to oppose this exceptional, exceptional Supreme Court nominee.”

Democrats begged to differ, returning again and again to McConnell’s decision last year to deny consideration to then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, who was ignored for nearly a year by Senate Republicans after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Instead McConnell kept Scalia’s seat open, a calculation that is now paying off hugely for Republicans and Trump, who will be able to claim the biggest victory of his presidency to date if Gorsuch is confirmed as expected.

Proving once again that politics is a filthy business and the only way to win is to play rough, McConnell and Congressional Republicans have in both the Garland and Gorsuch nominations done precisely what Republican voters would want them to do; and Democrats, were the roles reversed, would have done precisely the same thing.  The main difference between the two nominees is that were Garland on the Court, he would have tipped the balance of the Court to the left; Gorsuch will leave it where it was before Scalia passed.

Of course, none of that really matters; it is the filthy business of politics as usual that is beind all this.  Both sides know it, and both sides engage in it.  But it would be nice if Schumer and Company would drop all the hypocritical bleating.  Elections have consequences, Chuckie; you guys lost.

Rule Five EPA Racket Friday

As if we didn’t already know this, John Stossel is pointing it out for us:  The EPA is a Racket.  Excerpt:

Regulation zealots and much of the media are furious because President Donald Trump canceled Barack Obama’s attempt to limit carbon dioxide emissions. But Trump did the right thing.

CO2 is what we exhale. It’s not a pollutant. It is, however, a greenhouse gas, and such gases increase global warming. It’s possible that this will lead to a spiral of climate change that will destroy much of Earth!

But probably not. The science is definitely not settled.

Either way, Obama’s expensive regulation wouldn’t make a discernible difference. By 2030—if it met its goal—it might cut global carbon emissions by 1 percent.

The Earth will not notice.

However, people who pay for heat and electricity would notice. The Obama rule demanded power plants emit less CO2. Everyone would pay more—for no useful reason.

I say “would” because the Supreme Court put a “stay” on the regulation, saying there may be no authority for it.

So Trump proposes a sensible cut: He’ll dump an Obama proposal that was already dumped by courts. He’d also reduce Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spending by 31 percent.

But here’s the real kick in the nuts:

Some of what regulators do now resembles the work of sadists who like crushing people. In Idaho, Jack and Jill Barron tried to build a house on their own property. Jack got permission from his county. So they started building.

They got as far as the foundation when the EPA suddenly declared that the Barrons’ property was a “wetland.”

Some of their land was wet. But that was only because state government had not maintained its own land, adjacent to the Barrons’ property, and water backed up from the state’s land to the Barrons’.

The EPA suddenly said, “You are building on a wetland!” and filed criminal charges against them. Felonies. When government does that, most of us cringe and give up. It costs too much to fight the state. Government regulators seem to have unlimited time and nearly unlimited money.

But Jack was mad enough to fight. He spent $200,000 on his own lawyers.

Three years later, a jury cleared Jack of all charges.

So, President Trump is pulling some of the EPA’s fangs.  That’s a Good Thing.

Here’s the deal; I’m something of an environmental nut myself, in that I like being out and about in the environment.  I like clean air, clean water, birds, chipmunks and trees.  I also remember the late Sixties, when some of our cities were unlivable due to the filth and you couldn’t eat fish (if you could find one) out of many of our major rivers because of the pollution.

But that battle’s won.

Here’s the problem with popular “movements” like the environmental movement, the civil rights movement, and countless others:  They can’t admit victory.  Thousands if not tens of thousands of people are making a damn good living whipping up outrage and planning the next round of ever-more intrusive legislation and regulation, and they have no interest in admitting they won (or, in some cases, that their grandparents won), folding their tents and going home.

But it looks like President Trump is willing to send at least 31 percent of them packing.

Rule Five Death and Taxes Friday

Holy shit!  It’s now costing taxpayers 6.1 billion hours and $234 billion a year in tax compliance!  Excerpt:

Taxpayers spend 6.1 billion hours a year just to comply with the federal tax code, according to experts at a Tax Foundation event on Monday.

Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, said that tax compliance costs taxpayers $234 billion per year in direct costs and lost productivity.

“The problem is the status quo—thinking that, well, if we don’t do tax reform this year it will just be that bad,” Sepp said. “No, the status quo is not the static quo—it’s going to get worse.”

“The paperwork burden inventory at the Office of Management and Budget related to Treasury is expected to rise by another 2 billion hours in the next few years,” he said. “One-third added to that, we’re looking at tax compliance costs of north of $400 billion a year.”

Sepp admitted that the failure of the Republican health care reform bill, with its projected deficit reductions, will make it more difficult for Republicans to pass a tax reform bill.

“This is the important point right now, it’s an especially important one in this current post-Obamacare repeal environment,” Sepp said. “We now have about a trillion dollars of baseline problem now that we didn’t think we would have before assuming Obamacare was going to be repealed.”

“That’s going to make tax reform a much tougher task,” he said. “It also means we’re going to have to find other ways of making every single simplification measure count, more so than it ever would have needed to count in the past.”

House Republican leadership withdrew the American Health Care Act on Friday ahead of a scheduled vote, following President Trump’s request that the legislation be pulled. Trump said tax reform would be the next item on the agenda.

A number of words come to mind; “obscene” is one, “insane” another, along with several less pleasant pejoratives.

So, what is the GOP leadership planning for tax reform, and how will it help this utter disaster?  Well, here’s the plan put out by Republicans on the key Ways and Means committee.  Some key items include:

  • Save time and money by making it so that most Americans can do their taxes on a form as simple as a postcard.
  • Consolidate the system down to three tax brackets, and lower the top individual income tax rate to 33 percent.
  • Simplify tax filing for families by creating a larger standard deduction and a larger child and dependent tax credit.
  • Cut taxes on small businesses by creating a separate, low tax rate of 25 percent for many on Main Street.
  • Cut taxes on savings and investment by allowing families and  individuals to deduct 50 percent of the dividends, capital gains, and interest received from stocks and mutual funds.
  • Provide a tax-free return on new investment by allowing, for the first time ever, full and immediate write-offs.
  • Restore American competitiveness by lowering our corporate tax rate from the highest in the industrialized world to 20 percent and shifting to a “territorial” system with more competitive rates.
  • Create more certainty by eliminating the death tax, which can take up to 40 percent of a family business’s assets if the owner passes away.

House Democrats are calling this cruel, unusual, mean-spirited, draconian, and lots of other things.  Here at the Casa de Animal we call it falling short of the mark.

Seriously, Republicans; you’ve been handed a historic opportunity.  Screw this up and you’ll likely receive the same sort of shellacking in 2018 that the Democrats got in 2010 and 2014.

Don’t blow it.  This isn’t the time for half measures.  Fix the damn tax code once and for all.  The entire damn tax code shouldn’t be more than twenty or thirty pages long.

Fix.  The.  Damn.  Thing.  Now.