In a September interview with the Pentagon’s news agency last fall, Iris Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Arctic and Global Resiliences said Chinese leaders have “been trying to insert themselves into the Arctic.”
“So, we’re being very mindful about their activity and in wanting to ensure that our interests are protected in the region,” Ferguson said.
China seems to be very interested in what goes on here in the Great Land, although they have nowhere near the sea-lift capacity to land troops here, and so won’t find out one thing that aren’t betting on, that being a few hundred thousand heavily armed Alaskan civilians – but they sure as hell seem to want to know what assets we have up here. That’s disconcerting as hell.
I was never big on the Carpenters, but they sure sold a lot of records back in the day. Karen Carpenter’s sad 1983 death from anorexia nervosa received a lot of publicity, and for a few years instances of anorexia, especially among teenage girls, spiked. Some call this a ‘social contagion,’ when a few highly-publicized events, usually among celebrities, lead to a spike in instances of an emotional/mental disorder.
Back to the music, though. Karen and Richard Carpenter did have a light, easy style that was relaxing and thoughtful. While I was more of a head-banger – back in these days I was much more into Led Zeppelin, Foghat, Van Halen and the like – I’ve developed more of an appreciation of gentler music as I’ve gotten older. I do kind of like their song Rainy Days and Mondays, from their 1971 album, Carpenters. Here’s the official video, which presents kind of a touching photographic tribute to Karen to go along with her rich, butter-smooth voice. Enjoy.
Before we move on to the cube, let’s begin with the CW2 Square. The cube is best tackled in another step. Draw the square and label one axis Poorer to Richer. Label the other axis Darker to Lighter. Darker, for brevity, includes African-Americans, Hispanics and so on. Lighter refers to those of European ancestry. The two opposed meta-groups are the poorer and darker versus the richer and lighter, or whiter if you wish to be blunt. The richer/whiter have the power of their wealth, but counterbalancing that advantage is the fact that the poorer/darker have succeeded in wresting control of much of government power. This is so, even if most of their elected leaders are anything but poor or dark.
Note that these are really, really broad categories. In 1980 I may have been more optimistic that the racial angle would be far less significant than the wealth angle, but after a few decades of ever-more-strident race-baiting by the Left, I’m no longer so sanguine. But let’s move on to the cube, which is the part I really find interesting:
Now, let’s add the third dimension and shoot another axis out from the square to form the CW2 Cube. Label the third axis Urban versus Rural, or City versus Country if you prefer. This axis gives a geographical dimension to the meta-terrain, but there will be no convenient dividing line between the opposed sides as there was during the first civil war. It has frequently been observed that today’s red-blue political map is better understood at the county than at the state level. Even blue states like Illinois, California and New York are rural-red outside of their blue urban cores. Obviously, these urban cores are heavily populated but geographically small, with all that means to the electoral process today and to a possible civil war later.
So the opposing corners of the CW2 Cube can be seen as the poorer, darker cities versus the richer, whiter rural areas. Again, don’t quibble about outliers. Yes, there are a few rich, conservative African-Americans living in Wyoming, many poor white liberal Democrats in rural West Virginia, some rich conservatives in San Francisco and every other exceptional case imaginable.
Here’s the cube (click to embiggen):
Now look at how that falls out. Wealth, sure, color, sure, but also – and I think that now, in 2023, the bigger divide – is urban/rural. Too many in the big cities have started viewing us crazy rednecks who own lots of guns and live out in the woods as a threat, and too many of us crazy rednecks are increasingly distrustful of the big cities and their denizens – not to mention resentful when they wag their fingers at us and try to tell us how to live. Mr. Bracken continues:
Most of us live in the mushy, mongrel middle, far from the tips of the two opposite corners. But the centers of gravity of Civil War Two shall be as I have described: the relatively richer, whiter and more rural against the poorer, darker and urban. One can also propose many more axes of conflict than can fit on a cube, such as the religious versus the non-believers, socialists versus capitalists, statists versus individualists and so on. However, after you reflect upon the CW2 Cube, I think you will find that most of these extra axes can be overlaid parallel to one of the three already posited.
Bear in mind that this was written in 2010. Almost every aggravating factor that Mr. Bracken describes has gotten worse, not better, since then. The corners of the cubes have mostly drawn farther away from each other. The people in those segments are increasingly polarized against each other.
We always say “it can’t happen here.” I’m still thinking a hot civil war unlikely, although I’m thinking the odds of such a thing are increasing. But people in Bosnia in the Nineties thought the same thing:
After the fact, a common sentiment heard from urbane, secular Bosnians living in the Olympic City of Sarajevo expressed complete disbelief that a brutal, bloody civil war could have come to their modern European city and tear their lives apart.
But it did.
A parting suggestion to students of modern civil war is to read “Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia’s War” by the British journalist Ed Vulliamy. It’s currently collecting dust at your local public library, waiting only to be read.
Forewarned is forearmed.
It is indeed.
Mrs. Animal and I are indeed fortunate to have our rural home in the great Alaskan Susitna Valley. We know all our neighbors well. Almost all of them are hunters. Almost all of them are armed. We’re far enough away from any major city – even Anchorage – that the “troubles” won’t impinge us directly. But they will hit us indirectly, as we are dependent on the Forty-Eight for so many things, from manufactured goods to fresh fruit. Not to mention that our children and grandchildren are all down there, although not in major cities.
A second civil war would be catastrophic. It would be fought not on distant fields, not by massive armies maneuvering against each other in open country. It will be fought in the streets, in the towns, amongst us in ways no other war has touched us since the Revolution, and if similar conflicts are any indication – see not only Bosnia but also the Spanish Civil War – it will result in hatreds that will last generations. A second civil war would be the end of the United States as we know it, and it’s unlikely anything that arises out of the ashes will have any respect for individual rights and liberties.
I’d like to say the more we know, the better able we are to avoid all this. Problem is, too many folks either don’t want to know – or don’t care. As Yeats said:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
I’d rather not see that happen here. But I am aware of the possibility that my druthers may not be taken into account.
Over a series of tweets in late April, Ambassador Emanuel shared photos of himself and the American Embassy staff heading out—in full rainbow regalia, the new red, white, and blue—to join the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade. The usual celebration of civilizational collapse? All in a day’s work for our man in Tokyo.
But it was this tweet that started the firestorm: “Now is the time, now is the moment for Japan to be all that Japan can be. You could feel the energy in the air at @Tokyo_R_Pride. Today was a parade with purpose.”
Many in Japan were appalled. Not just at the sentiment, of course, or at the tone-deafness of a man who speaks zero Japanese inserting himself into a national debate he knows nothing about. After all, we know that liberal Americans consider themselves culturally superior to the Japanese. That was the entire premise behind dismantling the Japanese constitution and imposing a new one. Never mind that Japan has been a democratic country since the 19th century.
The linked article goes on from there in documenting the many ways Emanual is making a horse’s ass of himself. But then, that’s something Rahm Emanual has lots of experience doing.
Look, an ambassador is there to be his country’s representative, and to deal with issues between the two nations; in this case, the United States and Japan. Especially in this case, he is not there to engage in moral preening over that nation’s internal affairs. Japan is a fully modern nation, a functioning democracy and our best ally in the Pacific save perhaps Australia, and we have no business lecturing them on internal matters.
Should we expect Japan, an old culture with long-established traditions, to automatically hew to what we feel should be the right way to do things? No. Much as I love visiting Japan – I’ve done a lot of work there, spent months at a time in the Land of the Rising Sun, and I love the food, the people, the culture and how beautiful the country is in general – I could never live there. I’m culturally a red-state American, and I will live out my life in a place that reflects my values. And I would not presume to lecture my Japanese friends on their nation’s values, even though I disagree with some of them.
It’s well past time Rahm Emanual learned a new skill that would serve him well: Knowing when to keep his damn mouth shut.
Now then: National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson weighs in again, this time on the well-named Absurdities of Our Age; in a section on California’s fiscal stupidity he states:
How could a dysfunctional state like California even contemplate $800 billion in reparations?
The state currently faces a $31 billion annual deficit—and it’s climbing. The state’s $100 billion high-speed rail project is inert, a veritable Stonehenge of concrete monoliths without a foot of track laid down.
California’s income tax rates are already the highest in the nation. Its sales taxes, electricity rates, and gas taxes and prices are among the steepest in the country. And for what?
Crime, homelessness, and medieval decay characterize the once great downtowns of San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is now not safe to walk alone in any major California city after dark.
Shoplifting and smash-and-grab theft are no longer treated as real crimes. The result is the mass flight of brand stores from our downtowns and inner cities, with all the accustomed cries of “racism,” even as racist public prosecutors pick and choose whether to indict the arrested on the basis of race.
California infrastructure, once the best in the county, is now among the worst. Decaying and crowded freeways, inadequate water storage, and pot-holed streets are the new norm. Once robust gas, oil, mining, and timber industries are nearly inert.
The state’s public schools are dysfunctional. Once premier public universities are spiraling headlong into decline—junking scholastic tests for admissions, using illegal racial quotas to warp admissions, and institutionalizing racialized dorms and graduation ceremonies.
Read it all, obviously.
California, as I am wont to repeat endlessly, serves as an object lesson in the evils of one-party government (such examples are legion, but this is a relevant one at the moment) and every day they seem to descend farther and farther into lunacy. Oh, and the Democrats are fond of pushing California Governor Gavin “Hair Gel” Newsom as a Presidential candidate, in case you were wondering how the occupants of the Imperial Mansion could go from bad to worse.
But Dr. Hanson has much more to discuss than California. And he’s right in his assessment; the Imperial City is only a long step (maybe not that long) behind California in fiscal stupidity. We have mortgaged our great-grandchildren’s futures, and history will rightly damn us for it. Equal treatment under the law is a dead letter. Congress has been using the Constitution for ass-wipe since about 1860. The nation is “led” by a senile incompetent, and that faltering heartbeat is the only thing protecting us from having a cackling imbecile running the Executive Branch.
We could escape all this by returning government to within its Constitutionally defined limits. But nobody – nobody – in either major party is putting this on the table, and granted, it would involve unpacking a hundred and fifty years of unconstitutional malfeasance.
So, where do we go from here? Dr. Hanson doesn’t seem to have an answer. Neither do I. We live in interesting times, True Believers. Interesting times indeed.
A report by the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday estimated more than 468,200 residents left New York City between April 2020 and July 2022, accounting for a 5.3% decrease in the city’s population. The largest loss came between 2020 and 2021 when the population declined by just over 281,000.
Only three other U.S. cities saw worse percentages during the same time period, with San Francisco, California losing 7.5% of its residents, Louisiana’s Lake Charles losing 6.9% and Revere, Massachusetts losing 5.9%
Despite the loss of hundreds of thousands of residents, NYC remains America’s largest city by a long shot as more than 8.3 million people call it home.
And why is this happening? Well, look at where these folks are fleeing to:
The report also revealed that most of the people leaving the metropolitan areas are hunkering down in the Southern states. Nine of the country’s 15 fastest-growing cities are below the Mason-Dixon line, and six of them are in Texas.
Georgetown, Texas had the largest population boom in 2022, with an estimated 14.4% increase.
So, they are going from states where the government (especially in the recent COVID nonsense) is more restrictive and tax rates are higher, to states where the government is less restrictive and tax rates are lower.
This, honestly, should come as a surprise to no one. The concern, of course, is that these migrants will bring their voting habits with them, and in so doing plunge their new homes into the same kind of chaos they left in their former states. While there certainly will be some of that – my own former home of Colorado has gone completely off the rails in large part because of just this – there are also a fair number of people who left seeking political environments that are more friendly to what they already believe. It remains to be seen how much of each will land in these refuge states.
Back to New York: This is what high taxes, ineffective policing and constant racial pandering will bring to a major city. It’s no wonder people are fleeing. What I’m curious about is if the remaining people in the Big Apple will ever wise up.
You can tell it’s spring at last here in the Great Land when the sound of snow machine motors is replaced by ATV motors.
We don’t yet have a snow machine (in the 48 you call them snowmobiles) but we have two ATVs, a big six-seat Polaris Ranger for taking guests on tours, and a neat, agile little Polaris Sportsman that I mostly use for getting out in the woods after grouse or just indulging in one of my favorite activities – woods-bumming. If you like the outdoors and live up here, one or both of these machines is a hell of a handy thing to have.
This is Masayuki Suzuki, who does a lot of soundtracks for Japanese television and so forth, in addition to pure musical work. I’m not sure what genre he falls under, but these two songs are from the soundtrack of an anime called Kaguya-sama: Love is War, they’re kind of fun, and a little different than our usual servings. Enjoy.
Now then: I recently stumbled across a very interesting piece by Francis Menton over at the Manhattan Contrarian on understanding urban crime. It’s accepted that violent crime is a serious urban problem, but what’s not apparent, or at least not intuitive, is how concentrated most high-crime areas are. Read it all, but here are some highlights. As Mr. Menton points out:
What rural and suburban readers may be missing is an understanding of the extent to which serious and violent crime is concentrated in a handful of quite small areas. It is understandable that many people fail to appreciate this phenomenon, because it is difficult to find good information on the subject. The press almost completely misses the issue, when not intentionally burying it. The mainstream sources will not report on the concentration of violent crime in a few areas because they think (correctly) that accurate reporting on this subject will reflect badly on minority communities; and the conservative sources are afraid to appear racist, and are mostly happy to report city-wide crime statistics as sufficiently demonstrating the disaster of governance by progressive Democrats.
This much is, of course, accurate. While I live in a rural setting now (you don’t get much more rural than the Susitna Valley) and grew up in a rural setting (you also don’t get much more rural than Allamakee County, Iowa) I did live in the suburbs of Denver for many years, and have done business in a wide range of urban settings, from Boston to Shanghai. I don’t trust cities and never will, and while I understand part of that is sheer bias on my part, not all of it is – but what many of us don’t get is how much violent crime happens in a few small areas.
Mr. Menton adds:
Here are some more data on crime concentration by geographic location, this time from Chicago:
[I]n 2019, the United States had a homicide rate collectively of about five per 100,000. Chicago that year . . . was close to about 18 per 100,000. If you look at just the 10 most dangerous neighborhoods in that city, it was over 60 per 100,000. If you look at the most dangerous neighborhood in that city, which was West Garfield Park in 2019, their homicide rate was 131 per 100,000. If you compare that to the 28 safest neighborhoods in the city of Chicago that year, their collective homicide rate was less than two per 100,000 for some of those neighborhoods or for a good chunk of those neighborhoods, the homicide rate was zero per 100,000.
Chicago had 630 homicides in 2022, for a rate of about 24 per 100,000. I think you can be sure that most to all of the neighborhoods that had zero murders in 2019 still had zero murders on 2022. Meanwhile, if West Garfield Park had an overall murder rate of 131 per 100,000, and almost all of the victims were from the one-eighth of the population that are young adult men, then the murder rate among young adult men would be over 1000 per 100,000 — more than 1% per year. Over a ten year period, that would give a young man in that neighborhood around a 10% chance of getting murdered.
What Mr. Fenton doesn’t get into is root causes. In fact I haven’t seen anyone do what I would consider to be a robust root cause analysis for this phenomenon. Remember, root cause is always at the point where a person or group of people made a decision (or several decisions) and Mr. Fenton concludes with some bad ones:
However, I should note that Bessette’s piece in the Claremont Review also includes a review of another book titled “What’s Prison For? Punishment and Rehabilitation in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” by Bill Keller. Keller is the former executive editor-in-chief of the New York Times, and now working at something called the Marshall Project. On his examination of the current state of our criminal justice system, Keller reaches more or less the opposite conclusions from myself and Mangual. A few quoted by Bessette:
“Decriminalize such minor crimes as ‘low-level drug offenses’; divert some criminals to ‘mental health and addiction programs, or probation or community service’; . . . ‘raise the age at which accused youngsters are subject to adult punishment’ . . . .”
I guess that Keller has been reading the crime coverage of his old newspaper, which makes a point of hiding from the readers everything important about what is happening.
So, were I to conduct a cause analysis here, one of the first cause/effect chains I’d look hard at is the ‘urban policy’ path. We’ve seen these results time and again, in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, St. Louis and many other places. But I’d also (and Mr. Fenton doesn’t mention this) look hard at the educational pathway. Our big-city schools are failing, horribly, with some of them cranking out only single-digit percentages of graduates that are proficient in math and written English. That can’t help.
Add in the inexplicable growth of a toxic, brutal, misogynistic urban “thug” culture, and you have a recipe for trouble.
One thing supporting the ‘urban policy’ pathway, of course, is easy to find: New York under Giuliani. In the 90s New York was one of the safest major cities in the world, and that happened when Rudy Giuliani set the policy of vigorously pursuing career criminals and showing no tolerance towards petty acts of vandalism, theft and hooliganism that can lead to more serious acts.
Our major cities are melting down. I’m not sanguine about things turning around any time soon; Chicago just suffered four years of incompetent leftist leadership by an incompetent mayor, and reacted by kicking her out of office and electing an even more incompetent leftist, on the theory that if ‘progressive’ policies don’t work, then one just needs to ‘progressive’ harder.
A combination of Giuliani-like policies and education reform (and by reform I mean privatize, and if that means kicking the teacher’s unions to the curb, all the better) might save our major cities. But I don’t see any of that happening. America’s great cities are destroying themselves, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
California’s reparations task force voted Saturday to approve recommendations on how the state may compensate and apologize to Black residents for generations of harm caused by discriminatory policies.
The nine-member committee, which first convened nearly two years ago, gave final approval at a meeting in Oakland to a hefty list of proposals that now go to state lawmakers to consider for reparations legislation.
Bill Whittle points out that the first words of the Hippocratic Oath as “first, do no harm.” This is the defining principle of medicine. I’m at a loss to explain how any physician could see clear to remove healthy limbs, or eyes, or anything else. And I agree with Bill Whittle; any physician who will amputate a healthy limb or remove a healthy eye should be de-licensed and forbidden to practice medicine in the future.
This “Transablism” is a horror show. These people need psychiatric help, not surgical help. I really can’t add anything to what Bill Whittle, Scott Ott and Stephen Green have said on the topic in this video; so make sure you watch it through. Think on it. I’m not sure how much more damaged our society can become, when anyone – anyone – can think this is an acceptable course of action.
This could be, as someone once said, a “big effin’ deal.” Bonchie over at RedState had this to say:
In the biggest news to come out of the Supreme Court of the United States since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the Court has granted a review of Loper Bright Enterprises vs. Raimondo. In its deliberations, the court will deal with the question of whether to overrule the infamous Chevron Doctrine, a ’70s-era precedent that granted broad powers to the bureaucratic state to interpret vague, often narrow statutes with near zero accountability.
This would of course affect my own industry a great deal, but I suspect it won’t happen overnight; even if the Supreme Court follows the Constitution and rips the guts out of the bureaucratic state, it will take years for the necessary implications of that decision to trickle down. The libertarian in me loves this, even if the compliance-consultant side of me is a bit concerned about my living (yes, the irony of that is not lost on me) but as I say, it will take a while, and I expect I’ll retire before too much changes.
Warren Zevon was badly underrated. He made some pretty good tunes, and while he’s best known for the rollicking Werewolves of London and Excitable Boy, my favorite of his works (from the 1978 album Excitable Boy, in fact) was Lawyers, Guns and Money.
I’d point out that, in a just world, Hunter Biden would be singing a similar tune; except that his situation has not arisen from bad luck, but from bad judgement, and therefore his own damn fault.