Camouflaged Elites

Camouflaged Elites, by Victor Davis Hanson.

Even in the mostly egalitarian city-states of relatively poor classical Greece, the wealthy were readily identifiable. A man of privilege was easy to spot by his remarkable possession of a horse, the fine quality of his tunic, or by his mastery of Greek syntax and vocabulary. …

Throughout history, the elite in most of the Western world were easy to distinguish. Visible class distinctions characterized ancient Rome, Renaissance Florence, the Paris of the nineteenth century, and the major cities of twentieth century America.

A variety of recent social trends and revolutionary economic breakthroughs have blurred the line separating the elite from the masses.

First, the cultural revolution of the 1960s made it cool for everyone to dress sloppily and to talk with slang and profanity. Levis, T-shirts, and sneakers became the hip American uniform, a way of superficially equalizing the unequal. Contrived informality radiated the veneer of class solidarity. Multimillionaires like Bruce Springsteen and Bono appear indistinguishable from welders on the street.

The locus classicus is perhaps Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg, who wears T-shirts, jeans, and flip flops to work. …

Second, technology has done its part to dilute superficial class distinctions. The nineteenth-century gap between a rich man in his fine carriage — with footman and driver — and someone walking three miles to work has disappeared. The driving experience between a $20,000 Kia bought on credit with $1,000 down and a $80,0000 Mercedes paid in cash is mostly reduced to the superficial logo on the hood and trunk. …

For a hundred dollars, a man can go into Wal-Mart, buy Chinese-made slacks, a dress shirt, tie, and shoes, and look basically like a Wall Street investor with an ostensibly similar $10,000 imported Italian wardrobe. Brand names, and not always quality, are what we pay for.

Third, the classes often live their lives in close quarters to one another. Walk a Manhattan sidewalk, and try to guess who has a credit line of $10 million and who has one of zero. Take a transcontinental business class flight — who paid $5,000 for it and who saved up his frequent flyer miles for a year to travel in style? The guy in the jogging outfit and the girl in a business suit have no real clue of where the other falls in the social hierarchy. …

Over the last three decades, technological breakthroughs have rendered old Marxist theories of endless class struggle somewhat stale. Consider how smartphones give someone on public assistance infinitely more access to global knowledge and entertainment than did the million-dollar mainframe of a few decades ago. Consider that even the poorest in public housing have hot water and a refrigerator — and that their water is just as hot and their fridges just as cool as the water and fridges in a fancy Upper West Side apartment building. The vast majority of Americans take for granted access to clean water, electronics, cheap food and clothing, and shelter. For most of human history, securing such goods was the major challenge of being alive. That’s no longer the case. …

Visible class distinctions of the past were a result of pride in achievement and old-fashioned snobbery. But their practical effect was to warn that the interests and agendas of the elite were not always the same as those of the public. Today’s billionaire hipsters blur these ancient distinctions. But just because a Master of the Universe looks like us does not mean that his dogged pursuit of tax exemptions, offshoring and outsourcing, and vertically integrated monopolies is in our interest.

Men In America: Fatherless boys are a terrible danger, but unmarried mothers are a vital part of the left’s electoral strategy

Men In America: Fatherless boys are a terrible danger, but unmarried mothers are a vital part of the left’s electoral strategy.

Boys raised without fathers are a terrible risk. The breakup of families is the largest public health problem today.

Unmarried mothers are a large part of the leftist electoral coalition — 74% of unmarried mothers voted for Obama. Hence, the left and media never criticize unmarried mothers, and instead put marriage in a bad light.

Unmarried motherhood is a disaster, especially for boys. It would appear that divorce, unmarried mothers, and the welfare state that makes them possible really are wrecking society — especially for males. Maybe the progressives went too far.

A distinguished US law professor is publicly shamed for pointing out truths about race preferences

A distinguished US law professor is publicly shamed for pointing out truths about race preferences, by Heather MacDonald.

The diversity imperative demands dissimulation and evasion. The academic-achievement gap, the behavioral differences that produce socioeconomic disparities, and the ubiquity of racial preferences must all be suppressed in public discourse, since they undercut the narrative that white racism is the driving force in American society. This dissimulation was on display last week at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, when Dean Ted Ruger announced that law professor Amy Wax would no longer teach mandatory first-year law courses at the school. …

Ousting Wax from her first-year civil-procedure class has been a desideratum of the academic Left since she published an op-ed last August celebrating bourgeois virtues like the work ethic, respect for authority, and sexual temperance. Wax was deemed a “white supremacist” for suggesting that not all cultures were equal in preparing people for participation in a modern economy. …

At Penn’s law school, Wax said, she didn’t think that she had ever seen a black law student graduate in the top quarter of his class, and “rarely” in the top half. …

The Law School Admissions Council collected 27,000 law student records in the early 1990s, representing nearly 90 percent of accredited schools. After the first year, 51 percent of black law students ranked in the bottom tenth of their class, compared with 5 percent of white students. Two-thirds of black students were in the bottom fifth of their class. Only 10 percent of blacks were in the top half of their class. … Twenty-two percent of black test-takers in the LSAC database never passed the bar exam after five attempts, compared with 3 percent of white test-takers. …

Ruger’s stated reasons for demoting Wax were that she had violated the confidentiality of students’ academic records and had put her impartiality regarding black students into doubt. The confidentiality charge is the only facially plausible one. Though Wax mentioned no students by name, and was speaking generally, to state even a provisional recollection that no black student has graduated in the top quarter of his class does allow an inference about the grades of all black law students. But if making such a statement is a punishable offense, then there will be a serious chilling effect on any discussion of the negative consequences of affirmative action.

Some facts are simply unmentionable in US colleges today, and that will spread throughout the West the way things are going.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Bolton In, McMaster Out: Trump Announces John Bolton as Next National Security Advisor

Bolton In, McMaster Out: Trump Announces John Bolton as Next National Security Advisor, by Kristina Wong.

Bolton last served in the George W. Bush administration as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton is a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a frequent Fox News commentator. He has also been a regular guest on Breitbart News Daily.


Bolton has been called a “war hawk” and is an advocate for regime change in Iran and North Korea and has repeatedly called for the termination of the Iran deal. …

Bolton has been a strong critic of the United Nations for much of his career. In … 1994 … he stated: “There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that’s the United States, when it suits our interests and when we can get others to go along.”

He also stated that “The Secretariat Building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” …

When pressed on the statement during the confirmation process, he responded, “There’s not a bureaucracy in the world that couldn’t be made leaner.” …


hat-tip Stephen Neil

Western Media Narrative on Russia’s Election Written in Advance

Western Media Narrative on Russia’s Election Written in Advance, by Srdja Trifkovic.

In the mainstream Western media there will be two types of reports from Moscow. They have been written already, and only need to be supplemented with a few percentage figures related to the actual vote before publication.

One type of report will assert that the Russians are, collectively, a hopelessly manipulated multitude. The Russian people support Putin in such high numbers because they have been effectively brainwashed. … They have succumbed to the hysterical propaganda of the Russian regime about some baseless outside threats and imagined enemies on all sides.

Another type of report … will focus on the claim that the Russian regime is autocratic, tyrannical even, that it clamps down on all forms of dissent, that it prevents authentic opposition leaders such as Navalny to take part in the campaign. In short, it is a regime which resorts to brutal repression to prevent any form of free expression of the will of its subject citizens. The accent of this narrative is less on the Russians’ supposed succeptibility to manipulation, more on their being oppressed.

What both narratives have in common is their categorical denial of any legitimacy to the Russian political system.

It is not possible to counter [these views]. It is high time for the Russians to understand that they cannot appease the Western elite class which controls politics, the media, the academe… The problem is not in some ongoing misunderstanding, it is not that they don’t understand Russia. The problem is that many member of the Western elite class understand Russia very well, and therefore they viscerally hate Russia’s guts.

Their hatred of Russia — and I use that word very carefully and deliberately, because it adequately depicts the score — has two aspects. One is geopolitical, the other cultural.

Geopolitically inspired animosity towards Russia harks back to the nineteenth-century “Great Game” with the British. Already during the Crimean War, in the mid-[1850s], the entire repertory of the Russophobic discourse was already in place: Russia is a backward, dark, Asiatic land, inherently incompatible with the European civilization.

The mantle of Britain’s geopolitical role has been inherited by the American global empire. It now provides the paradigmatic example of a thalassocratic, oceanic power which seeks to squeeze and contain the Eurasian heartland.

St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow

In cultural terms, the problem is that the ruling Western elite is totally absorbed by an abiding hatred of its own civilizational and spiritual roots. Its members find it utterly unacceptable that Russia refuses to succumb to their postmodern principles. In their paradigm, to have any form of grounding in the soil, any sense of connection with one’s ancestors, any regard for the continuity of one’s national culture and tradition . . . is simply verboten.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Prince Philip fears son Charles would DAMAGE monarchy if he became King, new book claims

Prince Philip fears son Charles would DAMAGE monarchy if he became King, new book claims, by John Chapman.

The astonishing claim is made by investigative journalist Tom Bower in “Rebel Prince: The Power, Passion And Defiance of Prince Charles,” which hit bookshops yesterday.

Mr Bower claims Prince Philip, 96, poked fun at his 69-year-old son at a private dinner party with friends in Mayfair.

Amid laughter, Philip apparently explained that the reason for his and the Queen’s longevity was to keep Prince Charles from the throne.

The author says: “At 91, he said, the Queen was in robust health and, he implied, could well live for another 10 years. Charles would have little opportunity to damage the monarchy if he was king for only a brief period.”

The pair have a strained relationship but royal watchers will be amazed at Philip’s alleged indiscretion. …

In Rebel Prince, Mr Bower claims Philip “did not hide his scorn for his son’s achievements and vision and showed little confidence that Charles could impress himself upon history as an exceptional king”.

Charles, a landowner “hankering for a forgotten world”, could not unify 21st-century Britain, it is claimed.

His willfulness could cause “a constitutional crisis which would jeopardise the monarchy’s very existence”.

Charles’s sons William and Harry do not escape scrutiny either, with Mr Bower claiming Buckingham Palace regards the trio as “pursuing their own celebrity interests at the expense of quietly fulfilling the Royal Family’s traditional duties”.

All three “performed half-heartedly…during moments of national celebration and crisis”, he said.

Assessing his sometimes strained relationship with his eldest son over the decades, Philip once concluded: “He’s a romantic and I’m a pragmatist. That means we do see things differently.”

Sounds about right.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Facebook Advertisers Start Pulling Out

Facebook Advertisers Start Pulling Out, by Tyler Durden.

Facebook advertisers have threatened to abandon the platform in the wake of a massive data harvesting scandal which began after it was revealed that an app created by two psychologists – one of whom Facebook employs – gathered data on over 50 million Americans and then sold it to political data firm Cambridge Analytics and several others, who used it without consent. …

The scandal is pushing some Facebook advertisers to consider dropping the platform, reports The Times

ISBA, a British group of advertisers that spend hundreds of millions of pounds a year on Facebook, demanded answers. It is understood that some of its 3,000 brands, which include those of the consumer goods companies Unilever and P&G, will not tolerate association with Facebook if it emerges that users’ data has found its way into the hands of brokers and political campaigners without authorisation. Sources close to the trade body said that if the company’s answers were not satisfactory, advertisers might spend their money elsewhere. ISBA will meet Facebook executives this week.

Others, such as Mozilla – the company behind the Firefox browser – have already pulled out, or as it said have “pressed pause” on Facebook advertising. In a scathing post, Mozilla said that “when Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps, we’ll consider returning.” Until then, “Mozilla will advertise elsewhere” …

Meanwhile, Facebook shares remain under rising pressure – falling approximately 8.6% in three trading sessions and down again on Thursday premarket as investors – particularly “ethical” investment funds – reconsider their decision to hold the increasingly radioactive company. …

It’s not just Obama’s team and Cambridge Analytica — tens of thousands of apps could be harvesting Facebook data (from The Times):

Yesterday Dr Kogan, the Russian-linked Cambridge academic who obtained the data of 50 million users by offering “personality quizzes” before selling the data to Cambridge Analytica, told the BBC that “tens of thousands” of apps could have done the same thing.

A Facebook whistleblower told MPs that the company had ignored his warnings and lost control of users’ data by giving easy access to developers. Sandy Parakilas said that when he worked at the company in 2011-12 “personal identifiable data was basically allowed to leave Facebook”. He told MPs that he had warned executives that poor safeguards could enable foreign powers or data brokers to harvest data.

Now that right wing (i.e. non-PC) politicians are using Facebook’s data against the globalist left, suddenly it’s a big issue. The media told people Obama and co. used it in 2012, and it was merely considered clever and progressive.

Intelligence: Russians Really Are Different

Intelligence: Russians Really Are Different, by James Dunnigan.

One of the advantages of having NATO members on the Russian border is that now NATO has intelligence agencies in those former parts of the Soviet empire regularly contributing to NATO knowledge of what is going on in Russia. As a result the American, and Western European, intel agencies are finding insights about Russia and contacts inside Russia never before (1991) available. …

The East NATO analysts report that Russian boasts of renewed military power are very exaggerated and that Russian public opinion about their government, especially among young Russians who were born after the Soviet Union collapsed were at the same time willing to accept the return of a police state government but at the same time far more hostile and outspoken about government policies they felt hurt them personally. These young Russians are particularly hostile to military service and expensive overseas military operations. At the same time the young Russians are patriotic.

At the same time there is some push back from Western Russian experts who make a living depicting Russia as a growing military threat. The East NATO experts refute that with firsthand knowledge of what is going on in Russia and, if challenged, can go into classified meetings armed with compelling proof of the “eastern” analysis.

The East NATO analysts point out that Vladimir Putin, the former KGB officer who has run Russia since 1999, is seen as a fraud when it comes to claims that corruption is being eliminated and the Russian economy is coping with the lower oil prices and economic sanctions Russia brought down on itself for invading Ukraine in 2014 and declaring Russia once again confronting a hostile and aggressive NATO. That was the official Soviet view of the Cold War conflict. Many Russians don’t believe it but go along with the propaganda because Russians, above all, want peace and order. Most Russians are reluctant to support any radical economic change and accept that Western sanctions as an excuse for continued lack of economic growth.

But old habits die hard. For decades the Western intel agencies officially went along with the official view that Russians backed their governments aggressive attitude towards the West. The East NATO analysts point out that this myth plays into the Putin propaganda about a need to revive the Cold War. The Russian people remain apathetic and the majority accept the government propaganda about success at keeping the economic policies that are not improving living standards but are also not causing catastrophic collapse.

The government controls all mass media and managed to suppress widespread knowledge of the minority that is campaigning for change and more accountability for corrupt government officials. The Russian government regaining control over most of the economy has not made the economy more efficient, but it has eliminated potential political opponents in for the form of wealthy and politically active business owners.

Russians, more so than most Europeans, are actually very risk averse.

People are nearly always much the same everywhere. We just prefer to be left alone to go about our lives, to go about our own business. We will fight to defend our own society, but rarely have much interest in invading other lands — unless stirred along by strong state ideology/religion.

China responds to Trump tariffs with proposed list of 128 US products to target

China responds to Trump tariffs with proposed list of 128 US products to target, by Nyshka Chandran.

China’s commerce ministry proposed a list of 128 U.S. products as potential retaliation targets, according to a statement on its website posted Friday morning.

The U.S. goods, which had an import value of $3 billion in 2017, include wine, fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts, steel pipes, modified ethanol, and ginseng, the ministry said. Those products could see a 15 percent duty, while a 25 percent tariff could be imposed on U.S. pork and recycled aluminium goods, according to the statement. …

The decision to target $3 billion in U.S. imports is significant, “but it’s not a lot in terms of the total U.S.-China relationship,” said economist Tony Nash, who is CEO and founder of data analytics firm Complete Intelligence.

Chinese imports from the U.S. are expected to hit $172 billion this year, he pointed out. …

Trump signed an executive memorandum on Thursday that will impose tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese imports. “This is the first of many” trade actions, the president said. The new measures will primarily target certain products in the technology sector where Beijing holds an advantage over Washington. …

That followed Trump’s executive order earlier this month that imposed broad duties on foreign aluminum and steel imports

World stock markets swooned last night.

Pro-Life US High School Students Plan A Walkout

Pro-Life US High School Students Plan A Walkout, by Doug P.

The level of student activism following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, caused some on the pro-gun control side of the argument to call for the voting age to be lowered.

However … the liberal opinion of high school walkouts could do a one-eighty VERY soon, and here’s why:

The Saudis Take On Radical Islam: The crown prince charts a course toward moderation, which prevailed before the 1979 attack on Mecca.

The Saudis Take On Radical IslamThe crown prince charts a course toward moderation, which prevailed : before the 1979 attack on Mecca. By Adel Al-Toraifi. This could be big.

The year 1979 was a watershed for the Middle East. Iranian revolutionaries overthrew the shah, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and Sunni Islamic extremists tried to take over the Grand Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Islam’s holiest shrine. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hadn’t been born, but he is fighting the ghosts of 1979 as he dramatically reforms the kingdom.

The attempted takeover of Mecca was a defining event in my country, mainly because of what happened next. Saudi rulers, fearing Iran’s revolutionary example, decided to give more space to the Salafi clerical establishment in hope of countering the radicals. Traditional Salafi preachers are neither violent nor political, but they hold a rigid view of Islam. Their legal rulings and attempts to police morals made the kingdom increasingly intolerant, setting back the gradual opening up that had occurred in the 1960s and ’70s. …

The combination of the brotherhood’s political outlook and the rigid Salafi doctrine injected a virus into the Saudi education system. That virus allowed Osama bin Laden to recruit 15 Saudis to take part in that terrible deed on Sept. 11, 2001. We Saudis failed those young men, and that failure had global implications.

The Salafi clerics and Muslim Brotherhood imports also worked in concert as they were given unsupervised access to private donations to fund mosques and madrasas from Karachi to Cairo, where they generally favored the most conservative preachers.

The policy makers’ idea was simple: Give the political Islamists and their Salafi affiliates room to influence educational, judicial and religious affairs, and we will continue to control foreign policy, the economy, and defense. Saudi rulers were handling the hardware, while radicals rewrote the nation’s software. Saudi society, and the Muslim world, is still reeling from the effects.

There has been a policy reversal, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman:

Meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017

Crown Prince Mohammed … is clear about the problem. “Political Islam, whether Sunni or Shiite, Muslim Brotherhood or jihadi Salafist, has damaged Muslim nations,” he once told me. “It also gives Islam a bad name. Therefore, it is the role of Muslim countries to face these evil ideologies and groups and to stand with our world allies in the West and East to confront them once and for all.”

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed have already ushered in some head-spinning changes. The crown prince has led the effort to roll back the powerful religious police. These self-righteous moralizers no longer have the right to stop anyone on the street or take matters into their own hands. They have been effectively marginalized.

The king and crown prince have granted women their long-awaited rights to drive and attend sports. Women are no longer required to wear headscarves. I expect to see more women appointed to senior positions in government, even at the ministerial level. Once Saudi Arabia unleashes the potential of women, there is no telling how far we can go.

Glenn Reynolds:

I can attest that when the Saudi money hit northern Nigeria, the Islam there went from a rather mellow Sufi variety to, well, Boko Haram. Even if all that happens is the Saudis stop funding and promoting radical Islam worldwide, that will be huge.

Remember, after the Soviet Union folded, all sorts of “grassroots, authentic” terrorist movements dried up along with the Soviet funding. Something similar could happen here.

No wonder Trump is going pro-Saudi and anti-Iran.