Informational autocrats

That is a new and important paper by Sergei M. Guriev and Daniel Treisman, here is the abstract:

In recent decades, dictatorships based on mass repression have largely given way to a new model based on the manipulation of information. Instead of terrorizing citizens into submission, “informational autocrats” artificially boost their popularity by convincing the public they are competent. To do so, they use propaganda and silence informed members of the elite by co-optation or censorship. Using several sources–including a newly created dataset of authoritarian control techniques–we document a range of trends in recent autocracies that fit the theory: a decline in violence, efforts to conceal state repression, rejection of official ideologies, imitation of democracy, a perceptions gap between masses and elite, and the adoption by leaders of a rhetoric of performance rather than one aimed at inspiring fear.

Again, here is my related Bloomberg column from June 18.


Seems to be happening in some democracies also.

'You're fired!'

But in all honesty, Silvio Berlusconi demonstrated how to do this 25 years ago. The advantage of the autocrat is that generally, they own the media already - or at a minimum, have no problem terrorizing the media into submission.

Old fashioned autocrats might need to intimidate the media. But the new style rulers do not. The media fall over themselves to fawn on Obama's trousers or Hillary's "qualifications".

The US equivalent of Putin is not Trump - although Trump is a lot like Berlusconi who wasn't particularly autocratic. The US equivalent is the hopelessly incompetent and yet worshiped Hillary and to a lesser extent Obama. Or Blair in the UK.

Money simply cannot buy coverage like they had. Nor can threats.

'But the new style rulers do not.'

In Berlusconi's case, as the owner of basically all of Italy's broadcast media apart from the government owned RAI, he just needed to intimidate his employees.

'The US equivalent of Putin is not Trump'

Who ever said that? A former KGB agent clearly has more experience in media intimidation than Trump could ever muster.

'wasn't particularly autocratic'

Berlusconi was an autocratic as he could get away with it, which seems to describe Trump as well. Though obviously, what Berlusconi could get away with is likely the sort of thing that Trump only dreams of - like bunga-bunga parties (which seem to have included at least one underage prostitutes). 'A century later, the term bunga bunga became popular again as part of a joke on the internet. This joke was then narrated by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at his dinner parties (in a version which featured, as prisoners, former ministers from the centre-left opposition party led by Romano Prodi).

This expression was then frequently quoted by the Italian and international press during the 2011 investigation surrounding Silvio Berlusconi's underage prostitution charges, acquiring a quite different meaning as "an orgy involving a powerful leader"; it was allegedly taught to Silvio Berlusconi by Muammar al-Gaddafi, who was also the unwitting originator of the phrase Zenga Zenga.'

'Money simply cannot buy coverage like they had. Nor can threats.'

Like the way that the birth certificate forgery was hushed up, right? Until a man not intimidated by the media put his reputation on the line - a man whose selfless duty to the providing his version of the truth was rewarded in the end by becoming president, actually. A position from which he continues to display exactly the same fearless regard for the truth as he did in the past.

That is just a great line - basically all except for RAI. The largest broadcaster in Italy. Fifteen TV channels and 7 radio channels. Over a third of the audience. Yes, apart from the largest broadcaster in Italy, why it is almost as if he had a monopoly.

It gets better when you claim you were not implying Trump was autocratic. Just wonderful really.

Berlusconi was not autocratic about anything. He jailed no one. He imposed no state of emergency. He did not call the troops out on to the street. He murdered no one. He suspended no laws. He didn't actually break any laws either - the Deep State just wanted him and harassed him until they could get some bullsh!t technicality.

The Birth certificate is a great example. How much investigation did the media do? Roughly nil. The media made sure it was a toxic subject no one else would go near. But why did Obama lie and claim to be from Kenya for so many years? That is an interesting question. But not one the media has the slightest interest in investigating.

Just as the media continues to cover up for Obama on things like the Khailidi tapes.

'Yes, apart from the largest broadcaster in Italy, why it is almost as if he had a monopoly.'

You do know that Berlusconi was the prime minister of Italy, right? And you do know who just happens to have the single largest influence on RAI, right? Some background - 'For the past thirty years, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s family has controlled Italy’s top three national TV channels, known as the Mediaset empire. As head of government, Berlusconi has also maintained a tight grip on the “public service” national broadcaster, Radiotelevisione Italiana (Rai). Together, Mediaset and Rai control roughly 90 percent of national audience and advertising revenue shares.

To get a rough idea of the decline since Berlusconi entered politics in the early 1990s, imagine the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation already owns one of the UK’s top networks, Sky Television, also buying controlling shares in ITN and Channel 4, finding a way to become Britain’s Prime Minister, and then systematically dismantling the independence of the BBC. That’s basically what has happened in Italy.'

'It gets better when you claim you were not implying Trump was autocratic.'

Actually, I directly stated that Trump was as autocratic as he could get away with.

'He didn't actually break any laws either '

He broke a number of laws - which his supporters (at least according to one Italian I know) considered one of his most attractive traits, as they fantasized about being able to live the same way. Tax laws, building laws, corruption laws, prostitution laws - Berlusconi seems to have been able to break laws with both regularity and impunity.

'the Deep State'

No, the Mafia seems to have had no real problems with Berlusconi. Oh wait, you probably meant something else, didn't you?

'How much investigation did the media do?'

Why should the media investigate something so blatantly made up? Maybe the media needs to investigate the believably credible charge that you are actually a deep state troll attempting to discredit anything in any way affiliated with the Kochs.

So your usual long, mostly irrelevant cut and paste from somewhere else. With just one issue at dispute - how close was Berlusconi's control over RAI? Well some of us can remember the Berlusconi years and RAI's demented, almost CNN-like, obsession with the man. So I don't think it was very close.

But there is an easy way to prove it. RAI was well known for being Left Wing (actually it used to be more fairly divided among the Big Parties). It is very Left Wing now. So in the Berlusconi years he must have purged all the management and half the stars. Right?

Name six.

'So in the Berlusconi years he must have purged all the management and half the stars. '

Why would he need to purge anyone? As Prime Minister, he was fully entitled to name whoever he wanted to positions involving the supervision and running of RAI. You are aware of the fact that Berlusconi was Italy's longest post-war serving prime minister, right?

He was not, actually. He was not a strong Executive like the American President. He could not just fire people. Nor could he appoint anyone. You live in Europe.

The RAI is governed by a nine-member Administrative Council. Seven of members are elected by a committee of the Italian Parliament. The other two (one of which is the President) are nominated by the largest shareholder: the Ministry of Economic Development. The Council appoints the Director-General.

But are we now in agreement that Berlusconi came to power with a relentlessly anti-B state broadcaster and he fired no one?

Not very autocratic was it?

See the WIKI material below which completely contradicts your claim. See firings below and evidence of control.

I still don't get why you are using two names. Sure, Berlusconi criticized three men by name. So what? Did he fire them? It seems not.

On 18 April 2002 Berlusconi said "L'uso che Biagi -- come si chiama quell'altro...? Santoro, ma l'altro... Luttazzi -- hanno fatto della televisione pubblica, pagata coi soldi di tutti, è un uso criminoso. E io credo che sia un preciso dovere da parte della nuova dirigenza di non permettere più che questo avvenga."

So what happened to the three:

Enzo Biagi began a controversy with the RAI, and initially his show, Il fatto (The Fact) was moved to a late time, then moved to the channel Rai Tre and in the end cancelled. Feeling himself mocked by the RAI, he decided not to renegotiate his contract with the network. The contract expired on December 31, 2002.

Biagi continued to criticize Berlusconi in Italy's leading newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, and was defended by the direction of the newspaper in an argument with Berlusconi.[2]

He reappeared on television on May 26, 2005, when he was interviewed by Fabio Fazio for Che tempo che fa of Rai Tre.

Biagi's show wasn't doing well and he stormed off in a huff. He was back on RAI in 2005 - while B was still in office so it can hardly be argued that B blacklisted him.

Michele Santoro sued for wrongful dismissal and was back on air in 2005. Hard to say much about this but there is no evidence of Berlusconi firing him.

Daniele Luttazzi is still not welcome at RAI. So whatever he did was much worse than annoying Berlusconi. They would have given him a prime time slot for that after B was gone. His serial plagiarism may be the reason.

So I asked for six people. Perhaps you have one. Still not very autocratic. Obama got more rodeo clowns fired.

Trump got Comey fired for investigating him. Sounds like an autocrat for me.

'He was not, actually. He was not a strong Executive like the American President. He could not just fire people. Nor could he appoint anyone.'

I am not really sure how to put this, but the Prime Minister is the person who has the power to control the Italian Parliament (if 'control' does not satisfy you, please select another word that adequately reflects the power relationship of a prime minister to Parliament), including members of committees. And as Prime Minister, of course he is the one who decides the persons in charge of the Ministry of Economic Development.

No, the Prime Minister does not have the power to control Parliament. He is the man who commands the confidence of a necessary number of members of Parliament at this time. So no, he cannot order a committee to do what he wants although he can argue that they should do what he wants.

You clearly do not know how Parliamentary system work.

Nobody knows how Parliament works. On the other hand everybody knows how to turn on my wife. They must think me to be a cuck. Oh wait, I am!

This greatly warms my cuckold heart ... and my wife's loins!

You offer nothing to support your claims.

Here is more:
"Berlusconi's extensive control over the media has been widely criticised by some analysts,[7] some press freedom organisations, and extensively on several Italian newspapers, national and private TV channels by opposition leaders and in general opposition parties members, who allege Italy's media has limited freedom of expression. However such coverage of the complaint in practice put under discussion the point of the complaint itself. The Freedom of the Press 2004 Global Survey, an annual study issued by the American organisation Freedom House, downgraded Italy's ranking from 'Free' to 'Partly Free'[8] due to Berlusconi's influence over RAI, a ranking which, in "Western Europe" was shared only with Turkey (as of 2005). Reporters Without Borders states that in 2004, "The conflict of interests involving prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his vast media empire was still not resolved and continued to threaten news diversity".[9] In April 2004, the International Federation of Journalists joined the criticism, objecting to the passage of a law vetoed by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2003, which critics believe is designed to protect Berlusconi's reported 90% control of the Italian national media.[10]

Berlusconi owns via Mediaset 3 of 7 national TV channels: (Canale 5, Italia 1, and Rete 4). To better understand the controversies over a conflict of interest between Berlusconi's personal business empire and his political office, it is necessary to look at the structure of governmental control over State television.[according to whom?] Under the law, the Speakers of the two Houses appoint the RAI president and board of directors. In practice, the decision is a political one, generally resulting in some opposition representatives becoming directors, while top managerial posts go to people sympathetic to the government. It was normal to have two directors and the president belonging to the parliamentary majority, and two directors who are opposition supporters. A parliamentary supervisory commission also exists, whose president is traditionally a member of the opposition. During the tenure of Mr. Baldassarre as RAI president, the two opposition directors and the one closer to the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats left over internal disagreements that mainly regarded censorship issues. RAI continued to be run by a two-man team (mockingly nicknamed by the opposition the Japanese after the Japanese soldiers who kept fighting on in the Pacific Ocean after the end of World War II).[citation needed].... Berlusconi's influence over RAI became evident when in Sofia, Bulgaria he expressed his views on journalists Enzo Biagi and Michele Santoro,[13] and comedian Daniele Luttazzi. Berlusconi said that they "use television as a criminal means of communication". They lost their jobs as a result.[14] This statement was called by critics "Editto Bulgaro".

The TV broadcasting of a satirical programme called RAIot was censored in November 2003 after the comedian Sabina Guzzanti made outspoken criticism of the Berlusconi media empire.[15] Mediaset, one of Berlusconi's companies, sued RAI over Guzzanti's program, demanding 20 million euros for "damages"; in November 2003 the show was cancelled by the president of RAI, Lucia Annunziata. The details of the event were made into a Michael Moore-style documentary called Viva Zapatero!, which was produced by Guzzanti."

Here is the link:

Berlusconi's extensive control over the media has been widely criticised by some analysts,[7] some press freedom organisations, and extensively on several Italian newspapers, national and private TV channels by opposition leaders and in general opposition parties members

So your evidence for Berlusconi's autocratic monopolistic control over the media is the enormous amount of criticism he received in the Italian media, especially RAI?

You know, I think there may be a contradiction in your approach.

Why are you using two names?

If you think I am using two names, you must have a split personality disorder.

Don't make accusations you can't support to distract attention.

Just ignore him. He suffers from Obama Derangement Syndrome and is a fanatic of the Trump cult-of-personality. Its the weekend, turn off the internet and go grab a beer and let SMFS stew in his own insufferable, self-righteous juices.

Why the hell would you conflate the mafia with the deep State? Since when is the mafia part of the State in any capacity?

Maybe you should ask an Italian - the ones I have talked to seem to feel that Mafia and the government can be difficult to separate at the best of times.

Remember, this comment thread is basically talking about Italy. And unlike in the U.S., where it often seems politically incorrect to say that the mafia exists, for Italians the mafia seems to be just another part of Italy in their eyes.

So Much,

You are conflating the number of regional stations with the share of market and are excluding governmental public broadcasting.

"For the past thirty years, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s family has controlled Italy’s top three national TV channels, known as the Mediaset empire. As head of government, Berlusconi has also maintained a tight grip on the “public service” national broadcaster, Radiotelevisione Italiana (Rai). Together, Mediaset and Rai control roughly 90 percent of national audience and advertising revenue shares."

Read more here:

My wife is a like a doorknob. Everyone gets a turn!

Man SMFS some of your stuff is so blatantly shameless I picture you giggling as you type it. Poe's Law and all.

Trump did not spy on and jail journalists. But Obama did. Trump has not broken on the law - or imposed illegal Executive Orders. But Obama did. Trump did not give guns to Mexican drug gangs to undermine the Second Amendment, but it looks like Obama did. Trump has not set the FBI on his domestic political opponents in an effort to over-turn an election. But it sure looks like Obama did.

Just this week we learn that Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch arranged their famous tarmac meeting. The FBI knew about it beforehand. Despite everything that Clinton and Lynch have claimed since. So what did Bill want to talk about that required setting up a secret meeting? The media won't ask because they still worship the Cult of Personality.

As I would guess do you. Which is why you cannot see the authoritarianism of the Obama years.

Of course none of that silliness is true, and you have not even a bit of proof of any of it. Might as well be claiming the moon landing was faked or Bush ordered up 9/11

DACA was illegal. About this there is no dispute. The Courts have said it was illegal. As a law professor Obama presumably knew it was illegal. Either way, it was an illegal executive order.

Therefore at least one of the things I said is true. Therefore your statement is wrong.

And if you do not want to believe me when I said Obama spied on journalists, believe that well known Right Wing Fringe publication, the New York Times:

So that would be two things I said that were true. You know, I can do this all day.

Trump's definitely an autocrat. Definitely.

I'm definitely a cuck. Definitely.

Don't get mad just because Obama loves freedom and liberty. Trump is an authoritarian who deserves to go to jail for his many crimes against the American people.

SMFS comes out with some crazy stuff sometimes, but he's right on with that post. What do you object to?

Well, as one example, he says "Just this week we learn that Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch arranged their famous tarmac meeting."

When I set my google news search for the last week, there are no new stories. When I broaden it to the last month there is one "hit," but no new news of "arraigned meetings"

BTW though, how ridiculous should it be, looking back, that two American officials can't meet and talk, when Americans meeting with Russian spies is the new standard "what, why worry?"

Trump meeting with Putin with no translator, no aide, no witness, no other American in the room. "No problem!"

Bill Clinton talking to Loretta Lynch for a few minutes. "OMG they are trying to bring down the world order!"

Page 203 of IG Report says Loretta Lynch-Bill Clinton tarmac meeting was planned via Secret Service, FBI

Nobody trying to take the world down, but it does show collusion between the head of an investigation with the husband of the suspect. An investigation that might change a US presidential election.

Maybe you need to expand your information base.

Your link doesn't even use the word "collusion" it only referred to it as a meeting. Your need to spin is failure.

You have been played. That is not what the actual page 203 says at all.

You said it up like it's some big pre-planning, but at the most it was minutes *and* a missed connection.

The Deputy Chief of Staff said that she had “zero knowledge” that former President Clinton was there before she saw him approach the plane. She stated, “And if I had knowledge, I would not have been in that van. I would’ve...stayed on the plane and got everybody off.... No heads up or anything.” The Senior Counselor said she asked everyone in the van if they knew that former President Clinton was going to be there, and they all said no. The OPA Supervisor said that he later learned that former President Clinton’s Secret Service detail had contacted Lynch’s FBI security detail and let them know that the former President wanted to meet with Lynch.

Lynch, Clinton, and all their minions have claimed it was a coincidence and that they did not plan it.

But the Secret Service set it up with the FBI beforehand. So it was not spontaneous. It was not a matter of missed connections. And Lynch and Clinton are lying.

A real press would ask the obvious questions.

HDS is a terrible disease isn't it?

No doubt. But nothing I said is untrue. And a real press would be asking some questions.

Just as a real press would be asking why Manafort is being kept in solitary 23 hours a day.

Republicans like Manafort and the 25 Trump cronies are in jail because they all committed crimes. Duh. Dems like Hillary and Obama aren't in jail because they are innocent. Trump is being investigated by Mueller because he has some shady dealing that could put him in prison. Is any of this so hard to understand?

"imitation of democracy"

for instance, we have a personal right to keep and bear arms in the bill of rights, but we tell people that it doesn't mean anything

Yes very hard to get a gun in the US. Thanks for breaking this story wide open.

It's easier to kill a baby than to buy a gun.

For law-abiding Americans, "getting a gun" is harder than it needs be.

In August 2017, I bought (it was on sale) a 19th century-technology hunting rifle. It was a two-day process: pages of papers to read and sign, ID's, FBI check couldn't be completed b/c FBI was too busy. If I was employed (I'm retired), it would have cost two vacation days. Earlier, I couldn't buy the (on sale) the gun in CT. I live in NY. The closest Bass Pro Shop is in CT. Lucky I called first. In CT I can't buy a 19th century hunting rifle b/c I would first need to obtain some sort of CT gov ID card.

"Nobody needs an assault rifle!" Wrong! Nobody needs a horde of totalitarians telling him/her what he/she doesn't need.

Pretty easy to do both, although the Newtown kids were a little older than babies.

Not really.

Long ago, I decided not to annoy myself arguing "What about the children!" with people that support murdering 63 million babies.

If you can wave that issue away, then it isn't an important issue to you is it?

Last time I bought a rifle I walked in the store and ordered the rifle. A few minutes later after the background check, I got the rifle.

Maybe there is something in your background that caused the delay.

/// "In recent decades, dictatorships based on mass repression have largely given way to a new model based on the manipulation of information."

... Nonsense. The basics have not changed since the 1920's/1930's. Communications technology has advanced, but P.J. Goebbels would still be quite comfortable in most any national capitol today.

The Gold-Standard of tyrannical Information-Manipulation/Control is government control of the nation's education system + compulsory attendance laws. This is the status quo in U.S. and most "democratic" nations.


"Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his
hands and at whom it is aimed. " -- Joseph Stalin

"Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have
sown will never be uprooted. " -- Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

But it was uprooted. The second quote is obviously wrong, so why post it?

It collapsed under its own weight, it was not uprooted. Same with Venezuela, voters still vote for socialism until the whole country crashes.

I like the American way better. Vote for plutocrats until the whole economy crashes. No wait, not better.

Many have sown their seeds with my wife. Such is the life of a cuckold.

You left out the most famous quote in this regard, though the attribution is disputed (unlike the fact of his sainthood) - 'Give me the child for his first seven years, and I'll give you the man.'

The odd thing is, in all three cases, it is obvious that the quote is wrong. We do not live in the sort of Catholic theocracy that Saint Ignatius of Loyola undoubtedly hoped to participate in restoring, nor is the Soviet Union still around - though it does seem as if KGB training holds a powerful sway over those that receive it.

It took a very long time for Loyola's education system to become undone. And The Soviet Union won the Colder Cold War - not the fighting part or the government part but the battle for heats and minds. The voters might reject Communism but the educated loved it and still do. Lenin is more important in American universities than Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Lincoln combined.

'It took a very long time for Loyola's education system to become undone.'

??? There are still Jesuit schools, particularly in the U.S. -

'And The Soviet Union won the Colder Cold War - not the fighting part or the government part but the battle for heats and minds.'

??? Tell that to all the East Europeans brought up under the guidance of Lenin and Stalin's insights into education.

'Lenin is more important in American universities than Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Lincoln combined.'

You are truly delusional. And that is not meant as an insult, but as honest observation.

He's not delusional he's a stridently obvious troll.

True. The typical public school monopoly Young-Einstein would shriek "Jefferson and Washington owned salves," "Hamilton is a Broadway play about liberal saints,"; and "Lincoln was a Democrat;" and can't decide which bathroom to use or spell the word, "Liberty."

At least, you used (not really original) "delusional" instead of "Nazi!" or "Racist!"

Always a possibility, of course. But he is exceedingly sincere in some things (defense of people writing fantasies in their journals of what they would do with children now that they are out of jail, for one example). And what you may consider trolling, I consider to be roughly Jordan Peterson level obsession with those 'post modern neo-Marxists.'

Of course, easily half of what he writes here is removed, so it is possible we have a different view of his style and various obsessions. Whether such wholesale removing is evidence of trolling is another question entirely.

What do I write here that gets removed? I do not keep a close eye on the moderation but I can't recall the last time something was deleted.

They used to delete everything I said - no matter how polite - in response to Nathan claiming Whites joined the Army for the sole purpose of going to the Middle East and shooting women and children as part of the Christian war on Muslims or something. And when I suggested that perhaps his belief that people were beaming messages into other people's brains and giving them schizophrenia was not healthy. Well, OK, that is a lot I suppose.

The texts from a couple of days ago related to claiming the Republicans are blameless for being racists, as all the real racists are Democrats, comes to mind.

Basically, responding to what you write is often a good way to waste time, as a number of your comments tend to disappear.

I have gone back over the past week. I can see nothing that has been deleted. If you are referring to the thread where you quoted Lee Attwater using the N word, nothing I said seems to have been deleted.

An entire block is gone, including what you wrote within it.

Zizek, the darling (until recently and in the teeth of his weird Marxianized Christianity) of the academic left has written an awful lot about Lenin. To my knowledge he’s never mentioned Hamilton or Lincoln. (Everyone on the left has mentioned Jefferson and his slaves.) Marx is considerably more prominent on the nation’s university syllabi than say Paine or Tocqueville.

Slavoj Žižek is Slovenian, and of the three places he seems to be affiliated with as a professor, two are European.

Why should he make any particular mention of either Hamilton or Lincoln?

'Marx is considerably more prominent on the nation’s university syllabi than say Paine or Tocqueville.'

Including those found in the GMU econ dept, by the way. There might be a less than sinister explanation for that, of course. Or maybe the GMU econ dept faculty are scared of baseball bat toting blue haired students.

Today's Right has singlehandedly made Marx relevant and hip even.

America has universities that were founded by Jesuits. Perhaps some are still run by Jesuits. But none of them in particularly religious much less Catholic. This week has been one of those Jesuit schools being told to stop punishing a professor who merely objected to a Teaching Assistant refusing to even engage with a student who did not think that marriage between two men was a good idea. The Jesuits still have their name on the front door, but the Staff have been assimilated by the Leftist Borg.

You are constantly here pointing out how different the East Germans are to the West Germans. The Wall came down and East Germany no longer exists but one of the things that is guaranteed in life is that you will be proudly boasting of how transformed East Germany was by the Soviet education system. So I have no idea why you object when I point out the obvious.

You are truly delusional. And that is not meant as an insult, but as honest observation

I will treasure your words. They mean a lot to me. But I am not wrong. Look at who academics cite. They do not cite Locke. Because his ideas are dead. They do cite Marx. Because his ideas are not. The West won the Cold War on paper, but in reality they lost it. The ideas of the Soviet Union have won. As can be seen in any university in the West. When they cite the need to repress Right wing voices to allow more perfect free speech, that is not Mill, that is Lenin.

'but one of the things that is guaranteed in life is that you will be proudly boasting of how transformed East Germany was by the Soviet education system'

??? East Germany broadly followed the German education system, including apprenticeships and the Abitur. It is true that the school form was more than a bit different, as the East German school system resembled the American school system much more closely than the West German system did.

'Look at who academics cite.'

Yes, American business schools are always citing Lenin, as are American engineering schools, medical schools, law schools, etc.

'The West won the Cold War on paper, but in reality they lost it.'

We won it. Just ask Putin, who is still trying to cobble together the semblance of the former Soviet Empire.

You regularly boast of the collapse of Christianity in the East and the fact that East Germany has been fundamentally transformed by the Soviets. You can hardly mention with CSU even briefly without proudly rolling out the example of the East.

Business schools may be an exception but social justice is coming to Engineering. Neither of which were much influenced by Locke so your point is irrelevant even if it were true.

Putin is dealing with the ruins of the Soviet Union. I did not say that the Soviet Union won on the ground. On the other hand gangs of blue haired students are roaming the campuses of America with baseball bats threatening academics who show up for work and are not Good Thinkers. I am pretty sure Locke would have something to say about that.

'You regularly boast of the collapse of Christianity in the East'

No, I point out that East Germans have an American style disgust for the state being involved in religion. This being in marked contrast to the Bavarians, who have recently passed a law requiring crucifixes in all government buildings. I am a big fan of the 1st Amendment, most especially the idea of banning the idea of state supported religion.

Of course, if you feel that the American government should now require the placing of crucifixes in all public buildings is a good idea, who would be surprised?

'On the other hand gangs of blue haired students are roaming the campuses of America with baseball bats threatening academics who show up for work and are not Good Thinkers.'

This is the sort of thing that leads to some choosing between delusional or Poe's law when looking at a comment.

I'm a cuck everybody. A great big cuck.

...the quotes are valid. Catholic & Marxist ideologies are far from being the only ones in play. In America the dominant secular religion at all levels of government is Pogressivism -- and it controls 95% of the American formal education system.

People still play with Pogs?

People still play with my wife. Why? Because I'm a cuck.

To Hazel Meade and Anonymous,

I know that you probably won't care about my views at all. But I have been catching up on my MR posts, and I just want to say you 2 are extremely crazy deranged people.

Not quite as nuts as that Brazil fellow, but roughly in the same range. I just wanted you 2 to know that. Get well.

And that clockwork_prior comes close to. Although in his case, it just seems to be an unhealthy obsession with some organisation funding GMU or something.

So maybe not outright crazy, but certainly seems unhealthily obsessed.

If you wanna take on the regular commenters, you have to become a regular commentor and respond to their points.

This kind of drive-by personal attack is pointless. Why should anyone here care about the opinion of someone who spent 3 seconds to pile on with nothing personally at stake and no arguments to make?

Oh no, I have no interest in taking them on. Just wanted to state that they are apparently mentally ill, and see what is the general take on them.

Apparently, quite a few people cared enough to respond.


It doesn't do you any good, it doesn't advance an argument, to call people names. Address an argument with reason and facts.

Oh no, I have no arguments to advance. No dog in the fight, so to speak.

I am simply commenting that these 3 people seems to be borderline insane.

i could be wrong, but i think the brazilian guy is practicing a certain mode of internet trolling.

agree on the others.

Still mentally ill though? I mean what kind of a crazy person devotes that level of insane effort to troll a minor website for no profits?

I mean, what is the point? No fame, no money, nothing basically.

If you get Hazel away from immigration and imaginary racism, she's quite a good poster. We probably all have at least one topic we are off on.

Not me. Aside from cuckoldry, I don't know much else.

Could be. I don't track which of her posts are crazy specifically, so I don't know.

Hmm. I think she kinda crosses the threshold for that though. There should be a limit to the crazy level, even if it is confined to one or two topic.

Not really. She's a libertarian female engineer, probably based in the western United States - take your stereotype for that and you can now predict her every comment more or less without reading (assuming you have basic intelligence). That's it.

Her knowledge of economics is confined to fairly basic classical ideas and her variety of life experience is introverted and limited, so not much interesting anecdote.

If you have the same ideology, you'll probably "Yay, my side" when she comments, but you're not going to see any new and challenging ideas.

I think she goes way beyond that though. You are still describing a fairly normal human, whereas I grouped her with the crazies for a reason.

My diagnosis of the folks you mention (especially Anon and clockwork) is Asperger’s (little professor syndrome) plus OCD. It is quite incredible to see the volume of posts containing almost nothing but variations of 2 or 3 ideas. They really must be spending most of their retirement years on this site, weird. I wish there were a filter.

Check with wiki below, he might be able to help you out with that filtering idea.

Yup yup, and that is exactly what prompted me to post this OP as well. They must really be nuts.

And I did ask about the filter as a MR feature before as well, something easy and pre-installed by MR.

I assume they were more varied originally, but eventually settled into a loop of "Things that get a large volume of countercomments"; trolls and propagandists generally don't respond with their full armoury of ideas and imagination, but write posts guaranteed to dominate the volume.

Hence clockwork's "Mercatus delenda est" and "Anglo-America delenda est".

Better insane than a cuck like me!

A complementary argument is made by Kathleen Belew, the author of a new book: the white power movement here arose from a radical reaction to the Vietnam War. According to the author, "a radical disillusionment with a governing elite that oversaw a losing war led some veterans (and others who did not serve but who were shaped by the war) into a militant rejection of the government, refracted through the lens of racism. Used, betrayed, discarded, these veterans would eventually take up arms against their own country, bringing the war home in defense of white America". I says it's a complementary argument because it too depends on propaganda and willing accomplices in the media. The power of propaganda cannot be overstated, whether in an authoritarian dictatorship or in a putative democracy: people will believe anything if delivered by the right messenger and if it reinforces whatever negative views they may have against certain groups, whether they are Jews, blacks, Muslims, immigrants, or that popular but ambiguous "elites". But I'm not convinced of the argument that the white power movement is a product of "a radical disillusionment with a governing elite that oversaw a losing war". If it were, Donald Trump would not be the hero of the white power movement, for his administration is chock-full of the same people who led us into the Iraq War and are once again fomenting another foreign war, be it in Iran or North Korea, to be fought by the same underclass of mostly white Americans from the heartland. It's the propaganda that works. Here's a review of Belew's book:

I was convinced that the underclass of white America from the heartland would reject the Republican Party following the catastrophe of the Iraq War, the lives lost, bodies maimed, men and women used and then discarded, all for a senseless war that only succeeded in opening the Gates of Hell. But I was wrong. And Belew is likely wrong about the Vietnam War. Those who suffer the most in our losing wars are most susceptible to propagandists offering excuses that pin the blame on the malfeasance of ambiguous "elites". In Vietnam as in Iraq, it was the "elites" who wouldn't allow the military to win the war. The propagandist promises that he would banish the "elites" and win. Donald Trump: "I think I could have stopped it [9/11] because I have very tough illegal immigration policies, and people aren't coming into this country unless they're vetted and vetted properly."

"Those who suffer the most in our losing wars are most susceptible to propagandists offering excuses that pin the blame on the malfeasance of ambiguous "elites"."

Who if not the "elites" should be held to blame for the malfeasance responsible for Vietnam and Iraq? And not so "ambiguous" at all, the government elites...elected pols and their appointees.

"...these veterans would eventually take up arms against their own country, bringing the war home in defense of white America"

rayward, Iraq was looking pretty damn good in 2007. It's fall was an unforced error on the part of the Obama administration that had effects throughout the middle east. Not sure why the underclass still supports the left.

"Iraq was looking pretty damn good in 2007"

This is why Trump got elected. Heck, Obama too.

Seems like a big improvement. If it seems like your political leaders are competent and you don't feel afraid or oppressed, then really what more can you ask for?

Your question is certainly on-point (unlike the comments of the usual cast of bloviators). From TC's column linked above:

"I, for one, only wish to live under a vibrant democracy. Democracies do more to protect human rights, they avoid the very bad outcomes of tyranny more easily, and they handle political succession more smoothly."
"At the end of the day, I cannot help but notice America’s governance innovations have not been nearly so effective, and that is one reason why liberalism seems to be in retreat. America, and that extends to Washington too, is wallowing in a long, ongoing productivity slowdown."

This is the Chinese consensus which replaced the Western Democratic liberal consensus that had faced down communism and fascism. Believe me this brings me no joy. The most vigorous supporters of this change seem to work for the New York Times.

Money and brains have voted with their feet. It is easier, more profitable to deal with authoritarian regimes than highly regulated Western governments with a tradition of the rule of law. Even the bright spots are characterized by mutually beneficial private/government arrangements such as military or financial, or enclaves of unregulated activity such as high tech. Which also by the way has all the ugly trappings of authoritarianism, and the tools that the East German Communists only dreamed of.

Sri Lanka is instructive. China solved a problem that had gone on for decades in weeks. It is Western democracies who can't deal with disruptive insurgencies.

I still think that democracies will prevail simply because of the tools that exist to permit authoritarian governments to fully express their paranoia. The easy economic gains from abject poverty to moderate prosperity will run out.

What will change the situation is burning through the resources built up post war, forcing countries to function within their means. The deregulation of the US economy contrasted with the reregulation of the Canadian economy will hopefully provide a useful contrast.

Isn't this crowd psychology? A tactic used in both autocracies and democracies. Our press releases/briefings, talking points and MSM can be just as pernicious. Operant conditioning of the masses.

"Crowd psychology", "operant conditioning"? It's just marketing. We're all constantly exposed to it and we accept what we prefer and ignore what we don't.

Interesting to ponder that multinational corporations can pour unlimited funds into US political campaigns, PR campaigns, media, foundations, academia, and think tanks.

So who controls public discourse in the United States? Why is there so much discussion about "global security" in the United States when our founding forefathers suggested avoiding foreign entanglements?

Ben, Don't despair: we live in a pluralistic society where many people have access to information; we have social norms; we interact with people and obtain different information from them without fear of retaliation or punishment; we can speak freely; and we have a free press which is rewarded if they uncover something that merits attention.

What we have to worry about is complacency and simply accepting what one person says as true without doing our own research and thinking it through.

I do not find any evidence to justify your optimism.

We are at the point where everything is a Rorschach test.

Some see discrimination and racism, some see justice.

Asians at Harvard vs blacks and the criminal justice system.

Some see the establishment attempting to nullify an election, others see a Manchurian candidate.

“Doing your own research” misses the point. Two people can look at the same document and come to completely different conclusions.

Time to double down on federalism and devolve power to the states.

Hmmm, Do you propose that your state begin negotiations with North Korea? That it collect social security taxes and determine whether a product is a pollutant or harmful to you.

Given what we have we have to act responsibly and vote.

Not one of the items you list breaks down on party lines, has anything to do with state power, or is the cause of half of the country living in terror of the other half and vice versa.

Neither party has a clue on what to do about NK.

Social Security remains a third rail.

I don’t see either party doing anything remotely useful about pollutants. At all. And no, every stream and creek in the US should NOT be under federal jurisdiction. And Congress cannot cede its regulatory authority to the executive.

I guess I'll make the point clearer: You cannot devolve powers to the state for certain items. Like social security. Like North Korea. Like Supreme Court appointments, etc.

I agree. We need a federal government. Immigration, national security, SS/Medicare, EPA, etc.

My point is that the more federalism we accept the lower the stakes. If we can lower the stakes back to boring nuts and bolts issues the entire country is better off.

I want to go back to the world where nominees for the Supreme Court pass 90-10. Because the stakes are low.

The current version where control over the federal government and the executive apparatus is "life and death" is a nightmare.

I am sure you agree to some extent.

I do. Thanks for clarifying.

It is very good news and a major improvement compared to before.

Does anyone have a link to a script that would filter out certain people? The new site seems to have broken the old killscript. I find it hard to read the comments as a result of certain regular posters.

"Controlling information" at a time when through social media it has never been easier for anybody to express his or her opinion. But this is better to admit that a lot of these populist "autocrats" reflect with their policies the views of their populace.

The other [aA]nonymouses have done well above.

My cynical observation would be that while tyrants have become performance oriented, populist "democrats" have moved from that goal. Instead they push a "trust no one" line in which performance is a claim, maybe true, maybe not. Trust no one.

For example, Trump falsely claimed a day or two ago that wages were rising “for the first time in 18 years.” They’ve been rising for years. What's the purpose of the lie? I think the cynics had it right, that the lie is to bind his supporters to him more tightly. To make them debase themselves and dedicate themselves to each new lie that comes around the corner.

18 Inaccurate Claims From Trump’s Montana Rally

BTW, this is also good:

and by that I mean bad, for the Republic. At this point it is not really that unlikely.

Thanks for posting that twitter link, I didn’t know Evan McMullin was still around. Based on your post and the commenters to his tweet my diagnosis is paranoia. And please don’t respond that paranoids have real enemies, that’s a cruel denial not at all in the interest of the patient.

I will respond in a totally serious way, which does not actually make contact with your tangent.

It is established by all the security services *and* the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee that the Russians did interfere in the US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

(For anyone hiding under a rock, a link.)

This does not mean that this has to be a full blown "Manchurian Candidate" situation. It is possible that Russia was just messing with us, and then Trump won, and fell into their lap.

In that reading, Evan McMullin is not saying this is a full and flawless conspiracy. No, maybe Putin got lucky, and now, based on his having 'A Very Particular Set of Skills' he knows how to handle the situation, and Trump.

From that link: "Trump considers it a forbidden “friendship” and confides in Putin, who stokes Trump’s grievances for Putin’s own benefit."

As I say, maybe Putin and Russia just got lucky that way.

For anyone hiding under a rock, Russia did try to get Trump elected when it looked like he had no chance. Then they also paid for anti-Trump rallies when it looked like he did. Russia's motive was to sow discord in the election.

You have made remarkable progress. I look forward to what you will admit next year.

By the way, for every normal American with an ounce of dignity here, I have a question.

If you had been aided even "accidentally" by the Russians and elected President of United States, would you consider it normal to immediately be their friend?

On what planet, in what galaxy, would you consider it a normal request to meet with the president of Russia with no other Americans present? That is you request a solo meeting with the foreign and corrupt power which aided your election. You'd think that you would want lots of witnesses to say that everything was above board.

A little throwback on that "immediate" part:

May 19, 2017, Washington — President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

The best defense is probably that Trump himself is in complete denial, but that feeds back to the idea man with "special skills" could manage him.

OK, I will respond to the tangent. Isn't it funny that listening to all the intelligence services, and the Senate oversight, is considered "crazy" by the crazy?

That is one tight box they've climbed into.

Hey wait a minute, we already tried the crazy angle. Remember when you guys had me ask Prof. Bandy Lee of Yale to compile over 2 dozen experts’ insanity diagnoses in “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”? Admittedly no 2 diagnoses were the same and many of the experts sounded a little -ahem- paranoid but I liked it. Now are we going down the angle that he’s not crazy, he’s a moron (totally manipulated by Vladimir)? I’ve always said “he’s an idiot” but I’ll need to get another bunch of IQ experts for this.
P.s. I wonder if Bandy can classify me as having a mental disorder for writing thousands of texts (and gosh knows how many emails) to Lisa? The disability payments would help a lot.

The guy who spins like a bad compass on North Korea being good and North Korea being bad, and talked to all the people he wasn't supposed to about invading Venezuela last week, is completely sane?

That's what we're going with?

For that matter, the sanity of official communications like these:

"The Rigged Witch Hunt, originally headed by FBI lover boy Peter S (for one year) & now, 13 Angry Democrats, should look into the missing DNC Server, Crooked Hillary’s illegally deleted Emails, the Pakistani Fraudster, Uranium One, Podesta & so much more. It’s a Democrat Con Job!"

Sounds like the cold stone sober truth to me. Even if expressed a little emotionally.

What do you object to in that tweet? It is much worse than a Democrat con-job.

Maybe Trump should admit to his high crimes and misdemeanors. That would be the best use of his tweets.

If there is a human being beneath that troll,

I looked in the article but couldn’t find a comparison to President Obama saying to President Medvedev to tell Vladimir “After my election I have more flexibility”. No worries, I expect the slant would be that the former US President was a genius who was playing Putin, whereas the current US President is a cretin who is being played by Putin. Got it.

Considering Trump's geopolitical moves, I'd say he got played. Trump thinks he's playing chess but he's barely understood tic-tac-toe.

You sound really brainy so I bet you nailed it. Like you I’m really impressed with the results of all those previous US diplomats and statesmen. Best deals in the history of the world.

I had a premonition that somebody would trot it out that old Obama line. Here is the problem with it: Do you know the old saying "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me?"

You are perverting it pretty badly, mixing up the chronology. You are saying because Obama was fooled first, Trump should get a free ride for being fooled second, with that example in plain sight.

Also good reading:

I would not say that is a lock on collusion, in the sense of fully informed conspiracy, but it does show that these Knuckleheads were mixed up pretty bad with Russia.

Oh and the same week that Trump pray s

Oops, brushed the submit button.

The same week that Trump praised Putin for the nth time, an nth foe of Putin was found killed.

How many times have you been fooled?

Wow, Putin sounds really bad, he sure had me fooled.

He has somebody fooled.

Donald J Trump I believe is an example of an informational autocrat. If you look at his Twitter feed, he's clearly "manipulating information" or as we non-academics call it, making stuff up. I'm surprised no one here has made this obvious connection so far.

No one made the obvious connection that my wife having a roll in the hay with a battalion of other men makes me a cuck. Well, that I am. A cuck.

"artificially boost their popularity by convincing the public they are competent."

Sounds like a certain person in the White House.

124 comments in and this is the best you can think of? Come on, get with the program.

Complaining about the truth is a strategy. It is not a great strategy, but it is a strategy.

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