“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, February 19, 2021

Charging Headlong And Brainless Into Madness.What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Commentary: Our Descent into Collective Madness?

by Victor Davis Hanson

These are crazy times. A pandemic led to national quarantine, to self-induced recession, to riot, arson, and looting, to a contested election, and to a riot at the Capitol.

In response, are we focusing solely on upping the daily vaccination rate?

Getting the country back to work? Opening the schools as the virus attenuates? Ensuring safety in the streets?

Or are we descending into a sort of madness?

It might have been understandable that trillions of dollars had to be borrowed to keep a suffocating economy breathing.

But it makes little sense to keep borrowing $2 trillion a year to prime an economy now set to roar back with herd-like immunity on the horizon.

Trillions of dollars in stimulus are already priming the economy.

Cabin-feverish Americans are poised to get out of their homes to travel, eat out, and socialize as never before.

Meanwhile, the United States will have to start paying down $30 trillion in debt. But we seem more fixated on raising rather than reducing that astronomical obligation.

We are told man-made, worldwide climate change—as in the now discarded term “global warming”—can best be addressed by massive dislocations in the U.S. economy.

The Biden Administration plans to shut down coal plants. It will halt even nearly completed new gas and oil pipelines. It cuts back on fracking to embrace the multitrillion-dollar “Green New Deal.”

Americans should pause and examine the utter disaster that unfolded recently in Texas and its environs.

Parts of the American southwest were covered in ice and snow for days. Nighttime temperatures crashed to near zero in some places.

The state, under pressure, had been transitioning from its near limitless and cheap reservoirs of natural gas and other fossil fuels to generating power through wind and solar.

But what happens to millions of Texans when wind turbines freeze up while storm clouds extinguish solar power?

We are witnessing the answer in oil-and-gas rich, but energy-poor Texas that is all but shut down.

Millions are shivering without electricity and affordable heating. Some may die or become ill by this self-induced disaster—one fueled by man-made ideological rigidity.

Texas’ use of natural gas in power generation has helped the United States to curb carbon emissions. Ignoring it for unreliable wind and solar alternatives was bound to have catastrophic consequences whenever a politically incorrect nature did not follow the global warming script.

In 2019, a special counsel wrapped up a 22-month, $35 million investigation into President Trump’s alleged “collusion” with Russia in the 2016 election. Robert Mueller and his team searched long and hard for a crime and came up empty.

Then Trump in December 2019 was impeached and acquitted in the Senate in early 2020. His purported crime was warning the Ukrainians about the Biden family’s quid pro quo racketeering.

After the revelations concerning Hunter Biden’s shenanigans not only in Ukraine but also in Kazakhstan and China, Trump’s admonitions now seem prescient rather than impeachable.

Trump had been threatened with removal from office under the 25th Amendment. He was accused variously of violating the Logan Act and the Constitution’s emoluments clause. His executive orders were often declared unconstitutional if not seditionary.

All these oppositional measures predictably failed to receive either public or even congressional support.

Finally, an exasperated Left decided to flog the presidential corpse of a now private citizen Trump.

It did so without a constitutionally mandated chief justice to oversee an impeachment trial in the Senate.  The targeted president was no longer president.

There was no special prosecutor, little debate, and even less cross-examination. In the end, the second impeachment was sillier than the first. But, like the first, the show trial also wasted precious time and resources in the midst of a pandemic.

But the height of our collective madness is the current cancel culture. Its subtexts are “unearned white privilege” and “white supremacy.”

In the name of those supposed abominations, mobs tear down statues, destroy careers, censor speech, require veritable oaths, and conduct reeducation training.

Stranger still, those alleging “white privilege” are usually themselves quite wealthy, liberal—and white. These elites count on their incestuous networking, silver-spoon upbringings, and their tony degrees to leverage status, influence and money—in a way undreamed of by the white working class.

Quite affluent and privileged minorities likewise join the chorus to call for everything from reparations to “reprogramming” Trump voters.

The most elite in America are the most likely to damn the privilege of those who lack it. Perhaps this illogic squares the psychological circle of feeling guilty about what they never have any intention of giving up.

If blaming those without advantages does not satisfy the unhappy liberal elite, then there is always warring against the mute dead: changing their eponymous names, destroying their statues, slandering their memories, and denying their achievements.

The common denominator with all these absurdities? An ungracious and neurotic elite whose judgment is bankrupt and whose privilege is paid for by those who don’t have it.

– – –

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won and The Case for Trump.


  1. A peek back into the time machine:

    ELEPHANT BAR: Wednesday, September 27, 2006
    But We Don't Need a Wall

    The Associated Press had this brief snippet earlier today:

    MEXICO CITY — Mexico's president-elect says murder and mayhem fueled by drug smuggling have overwhelmed the governments of the nation's capital and key states across the country.

    Felipe Calderon said the wave of bloodshed is ravaging state governments controlled by each of Mexico's three major parties. He singled out Mexico City, the northern states of Sinaloa and Tamaulipas, the southern state of Guerrero and his home state of Michoacan, as being especially hard-hit.

    "It seems to me that drug violence has overwhelmed the governments," Calderon said Monday in a radio interview.
    The article goes on to report that "people are gunned down with automatic weapons almost daily, and dozens of Americans have been kidnapped" and more than 1,500 people have died in Mexican drug violence so far this year. Drug gangs battling for control of smuggling corridors are blamed.

    The graft and corruption, murder and mayhem, kidnappings, carjackings are rampant particularly along the border and in Mexico City.

    Meanwhile, elsewhere in Latin America it's no better.
    QUITO, Ecuador (AP) - The leftist presidential front-runner in Ecuador said Wednesday that the devil should be insulted by comparisons to President Bush, whom he called a "dimwitted" leader who has done "great damage" to the world.

    Rafael Correa, speaking to Channel 8 television, referred to a U.N. speech last week by his friend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who caused an uproar in the United States by calling Bush "the devil."

    "Calling Bush the devil is offending the devil," said Correa, a U.S.-trained economist who leads 12 other candidates in polls ahead of the Oct. 15 election. He said "the devil is evil, but intelligent."
    And the Democrats in the Senate are blocking a fence while various groups forge ahead with the NAFTA Superhighway and the North American Parliament. It's all insane.

    Posted by Anonymous at 9/27/2006 04:54:00 PM

  2. Biden-backed immigration bill to let deported back in and amnesty for 20M

    by Paul Bedard, Washington Secrets Columnist | | February 18, 2021 01:50 PM

    A new Democratic immigration package backed by President Biden is already coming under fire because it would extend amnesty and citizenship to nearly 20 million immigrants, a population five times that of Los Angeles, and even extend an invitation to return to those recently deported.

    “It’s extraordinarily radical,” said former Trump adviser Stephen Miller. “You can’t even call it left-wing because it’s actually nihilist,” he told Secrets.

    And coming as millions remain out of work and with the nation still trying to end the coronavirus pandemic, it threatens the livelihood and safety of border states, said other critics.

    “This latest move would only further harm American workers already struggling from our health and economic national crises caused by the ongoing pandemic and our government's response. This new immigration bill will damage America’s safety, weaken our economy, and endanger our freedoms,” said Heritage Action Executive Director Jessica Anderson.

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    She said the plan would greenlight about 20 million immigrants on a path to citizenship.

    Biden's open-door plan has already sparked a new surge of 3,500 illegal immigrants to the border daily,

  3. Charging Headlong And Brainless Into Madness.What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

  4. So much silliness.

    Citing the cold weather in Texas as being counterfactual to global warming is silly. Take a look at the 'jet stream' and how it 'slipped down' to bring the cold air to Texas. While Texas is cold the Artic is warm.

    Even sillier is the notion that 'green' energy (10% of total power in Texas) was the cause of the power failure in Texas, State of freedom, it's own electricity grid, and oil and gas galore. No, failure to plan for operations in cold weather appears to be paramount. Wind turbines work fine in the north, where it is often cold. So does natural gas as well.

    The massive use of debt, and, more interesting to me, newly minted money, is interesting. Folks moaned how the past use of massive debt and money printing would lead to runaway inflation and the devaluing of the US dollar. It hasn't happened, yet. We've seen what look like bubbles (i.e. Trumps much touted high flying stock markets) but, so far, nope, hasn't happened.

    "Charging Headlong And Brainless Into Madness" - that certainly isn't new.

    1. Agreed. We hear that Bitcoin is now worth one trillion USD. At the current rate of expansion (5-7years) it will shortly eclipse the value of all sovereign currencies. How long before the US Treasury release a Twitcoin?

  5. In 2012 Bitcoin was worth $5. Today $55,000.

    Current global debt is a paltry $281 trillion.

    At the current rate of expansion, Bitcoin will eclipse $281 trillion in four years. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Bitcoin as a marker of value? - I dunno. Gold used to have that function. So too a McDonald's Big Mac.

  6. Bond yields appear to be rising. That may prick a few bubbles...

  7. Interest rates on the 30-year bond were down 75% from the period November, 2018 to March, 2020. Since that low, rates have edged up 115%. That seems like a major deal except it isn't because actual rates are ridiculously low.

    Big tech is going to take it in the neck.

    Long term. leveraged, fixed low rate, occupied residential real estate in Red states looks good to me.

  8. I’m staying in the big indexes, real estate (they don’t make it anymore) and my own mad money acct where I play with stocks. Swiftboat John can do his best impression of Al Gore and it will not alter my thought on Climate change, which has been happening since the beginning of time. Fucking hypocrites one and all.

  9. Let time that I checked the climate changes 4 times a year: summer, fall, winter and spring.

    Without continuous climate change we would not have any fossil fuels.

    Climate change. is necessary for species diversity.

    Greenland would not be called Greenland except for climate change.

    1. All that is fine and dandy but ignores the consequences of a steadily rising temperature caused by man made emissions.

    2. Ash you're correct. You have isolated a problem if not the problem. Let's highlight the "man made emissions" part. There is an obvious solution, less people. If your premise, which I mostly agree with is true, there is no acceptable and efficient method to correct that problem outside of total tyranny and horror.

      But, a big butt, I mean a real big wide ass massive butt, humanity has been around for half a cat's blink in time compared to Planet Earth.

      So, even if we reduced the volume of people to zero, we would continue to have prolonged periods of warming and equally long periods of cooling. We know that because there is a very narrow temperature band where life exists. Fortunately, the earth, so far, has proven to be stable and oscillates within a safe range to sustain life in general. Species come and go but life goes on.

      We have a better chance of adapting to the changes than stopping the changes. If we could stop climate change, the law of unforeseen consequences would kick in.

      Learn and adapt. Read more. Tend your garden.

    3. Yes, we need to adapt to the circumstances we find ourselves in but, eliminating ourselves from the planet would not advance our (humans) goal of existence. The data is clear that the tonnes of C02 that we inject into the atmosphere contributes to warming. Similarly we found that Fluorocarbons injected into the atmosphere caused problems in the ozone layer. We changed our Fluorocarbon injection rate and the Ozone layer recovered.

      There are other instances in history where we, as humans, modified our polluting behavior and improved our environment. We can do so as well with respect to carbon. We need not eliminate ourselves in the process but there will be some pain and dislocation as we modify our carbon spewing ways. Tending our garden is a good metaphor to use, being a Luddite isn't.

  10. Dude, we're back up and running! Nice one, Deuce!

  11. I know Sam. Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In! (SCENE - The Godfather: Part 3 MOVIE (1990)

  12. Now, there are four of us, mostly sane and always civil.

    You only need four people to play a damn good game of Bridge.

    The World's greatest sport has 11 on the team. Let's make the EB great again.

    Nice to see you all again!

    1. It would be nice if Quirk would drop by...

  13. When I look at the upper right corner of this blog, I wonder; where did 16 years go?

    Ideas, anybody?

    Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?