Oh, Buck Up!

As some of you know, I’ve been reading about the Argentinian collapse.  To be plain, what I’ve been reading is Surviving The Economic Collapse by Fernando Aguirre.

Someone had mentioned it here years ago, in connection with my posts on the collapse.

So far the collapse he documented is what I saw in Portugal.  Only Portugal never got that far, at least while I lived there.  It seems to be straggling that way now.  In the middle there the EU took over, which changed things and even made them seem better for a while.  My brother told me that Europe injected billions into Portugal and that the amazing thing is that it didn’t do more.  Perhaps.  I don’t know.  I left thirty years ago, when things were iffy but nowhere near as bad as they are in Argentina and were in fact on a slight.

My visits back don’t count. The country feels dirtier and more dangerous than it did when I lived there, but I suspect it would anyway.  It’s sort of like I can no longer drink unboiled water there.  I might have been a kid there, and played in the dirt by the irrigation ditches, but I’ve been in the US for 30 years, and my body doesn’t recognize the local pathogens anymore.  On the other hand there are fairly impartial witnesses to rising disorder – including bars on windows and taller walls around the yards in the village.  And the fact that keeping your back door open all day is no longer normal.

At any rate, as I said, the “collapse” Ferfal describes is exactly the same I experienced, only harder and faster. Like me, he’s bemused by Americans who think when the economy collapses we go back to either the stone age or frontier days.  That’s not what either of us has experienced.  Things just get dirtier, shabbier, and more unreliable. The niceties of civilization peel away.  But we are not suddenly living in a Mad Max world.  We’re just living in our old houses with bars in the windows, three different kind of alarms and a way of shutting out doors so that burglars have to break in through three levels which gives you time to get the gun from the closet.  (Yes, guns are restricted in Portugal, but it seems like everyone has one anymore.  Look, radios used to be licensed and OFFICIALLY even in the seventies there were only two in the whole village.  Yet everyone had one.  Some people had two.  Any radio inspector (yes, that was a thing) sighted up at the entrance to the village, and all radios went to the attic or the priest’s hole, and everyone prepared their best poor face, “I wish we had a radio.  Best we can do is hold a wire to grandpa’s fillings and then crowd around with our ears to his mouth, to hear the soap opera.”)

But as I read his book and nod sagely along with things like “buy used jewelry now, because that’s easiest to trade with.  Gold coins advertise you have a hoard” and as I remember the massive flea markets of the late seventies in Portugal, and how my brother and his generation ransacked attics for things to sell because no one their generation had a job, I keep getting a feeling that things are also not right, things are… slightly askew.

Look, Ferfal is an educated man, and clearly he’s been on line and knows Americans.  BUT he’s not an American, and we are different.  We are the Aspergers kid of the international community.  Every country has a constitution, for instance, but we’re the only one who takes it seriously.  Every country has an history, but Americans, by and large (and yes, I know whence I speak) know more about their history and are more exact about it than anywhere else.

The first thing that impressed me about Americans was how seriously we took things – no, you took things.  I was not one of you yet, at least officially.  There were clubs for HOBBIES like sewing and hosting foreign students.  They were run according to Robert’s rules.  I couldn’t imagine that anywhere else.

Again, if you visualize the international community as a bunch of people, America is the Aspergers kid in the corner saying “You can’t do that, because the charter says—”

I don’t mean this as a criticism.  I am one of us, after all.  And by choice.  This taking things too seriously and too literally and not doing the wink and nod thing other nations do is both the cause of our glory and a lot of our problems.

It is the cause of our glory because we believe in the Pax Americana, and we view it as our duty, and like no other country since the history of ever, we do not take over and create an empire, while dressing it up in charity and civic duty.  We really do keep the peace of the seas and international commerce and we really do believe countries shouldn’t invade our allies out of what the heck, and…

The downside of it is that we often fail to understand – even our politicians – how other countries act.  We don’t get that no, throughout history, England felt no guilt at all for doing down France, just to keep France from getting too uppity and vice versa.  We fail to understand the basic chauvinism of other countries, even when being a patriot is a “bad” thing in most of them.  If you listen to conversations in the pub or in the home, they’re still sure their “race” (by which they mean nationality) is way better than all others, and they wouldn’t even consider this might be a stupid thing to think.

Americans don’t get those mechanisms.  We’re genuinely not that way.

At the same time, the fact that we don’t get other countries means we don’t get history, either.  The only place in the world who could come up with “Americans are guilty of everything bad” is right here. We take an ideal constitution seriously, and the principals of individual freedom, worldwide, so of course, we’re going to feel guilty when Real Politick causes us to support dictators or arm less than sane/pure insurgents.  And this, internalized through our academics, pollutes the mind of our young with self hatred.  Then the other countries go along with it, because, h*ll yeah, it gives them an excuse for why they fail.

All of which comes back to the crash.  I agree with Ferfal that the Argentine type crash is probably the closest to what America will be but… um… there are different factors.

There is the crazy American character which might make things much better – and in some places possibly much much better.  Remember the power outage on the Eastern seaboard? Remember hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people quietly walking miles and miles back home?  With no crime, no looting, no vandalism?

I can’t imagine that happening in any other country at any other time, unless in very small towns in mono-cultural countries like Sweden or Finland.

THAT is the measure of how perfectly weird we are.  Yes, not all locations could do that.  There’s New Orleans.  And Detroit.  But those stick out in the American landscape.

So – what if they gave an economic crash and no one noticed?

In many locations I bet you that’s just what will happen.

In others… Mad Max might be a best case scenario.

That’s one of the ways we’re different.  Yes, Ferfal talks about disparities of that kind, but no one who hasn’t lived in America can understand or see the sheer difference in culture even between adjacent cities.

I can’t tell you how our character will affect an economic crash (and if you don’t think an economic crash is coming, kindly do wake up) – because we’re different, and we haven’t fallen yet.  We can guess how it will affect it, but not  KNOW — all I can say is it will be interesting.

But there are other factors that make it even more complex.  In answer to someone ranting about the crash (on a thread about baby shower cakes.  No, seriously) Eric Scheie said he doesn’t think our crash will come that fast/abrupt, simply because of our position in the world.  We are THE economic/innovation leader of the world.  If other countries admit we’re bankrupt, then they’ll collapse.  (And please, do spare me Chinese triumphalism.  Chinese prosperity is dependent on us, like a suburb’s on a big city.  Sorry.  There is no there there.  Yes, I know the numbers.  And what in h*ll’s own name are doing believing the numbers a totalitarian regime puts out?  Didn’t the population statistics of the USSR teach you a lesson?)

That’s one factor.  As much as they hate us, we’ve been pulling the engine of civilization a long time and there simply isn’t anyone credible to take our place.  (No, this is not American triumphalism, either.  The reason we are the engine of this train is that the other countries swallowed the spider of socialism earlier, and faster.  Even in the “best case scenario” – the Scandinavian countries – the socialist model kills small business and individual experimentation and reduces the incentives for success.  Which in turn kills innovation.)  They don’t dare admit we’re running on thin air Merry Melodies fashion.  They are, rather, holding their breath, and hoping we don’t look down.

But sooner or later either it becomes obvious we’re no longer pulling the train, or we realize it ourselves.  And then—


We don’t know.  I don’t know, and you don’t know, and no one knows.

Things to take in account: when those erstwhile kept quiet out of interest or fear realize the hen house is unguarded, will we be attacked?  I’d bet on it.  I’ve for years now been sure we’re going to lose a city, maybe two.  But what happens after?  I’d have said the US will rise in outrage and defend ourselves, but will we?  The number of bots running around insisting “Benghazi isn’t a thing” scares me a bit.  How many of these are live and how many paid?  And how many simply stupid?

Part of this, of course, is that we’ve been so comfortable so long a lot of people are utterly stupid and divorced from reality.  And their courting of the inevitable punishment for stupidity touches us too.

Other things – this happened in other industrialized countries that crashed, too, but here we have more of everything – like, the fact that we have a lot of people whose ONLY education is Marxism, (No, really?  Various ethnic studies, social justice majors, you name it.  Even English and literature and history of recent vintage.) Not only don’t these people have any useful skills but a lot of the ones they have will be counterproductive in the real world.  Already are, really, but when things turn sour it matters more.

Will we get attacked?  Almost for sure.  Will be get invaded?  I doubt it, though I dare say some of the left radicals might want it.  (They did in the seventies, at least.)  Thank heavens, we are armed to the teeth as a nation and would prove a very tough chestnut for any foreign power.

Any country invading us would quickly realize we’re ungovernable (as our own statists keep finding out.)  You can break things and stop our prosperity, but you can’t control us.

Which brings us to another point – in many ways we’re … Odd.  We’re the most law abiding of people, but we can also say “to heck with that” and exist beside the law/behind it/around it.

I’m SURELY not the only one who remembers that in 1980, with taxes through the roof, everyone who got paid in cash had two prices, the cash price and the “official” price.

I think we’ll take to the grey economy with a gusto and verve that will scare even Russians, and invent new forms of it very quickly.  To an extent we already are.  Online trading services – I plan to do most of my Christmas shopping in those.  Used “like new” books for used “like new” games.  This year, that’s the best we can hope for – craigslist.  The list goes on and these are all American inventions.

And in the end, in the very end, that’s what I mean to say in this column.

First, don’t count us out.  We’re Americans.  Rising Phoenix-like from the ashes is what we DO.  It’s our individual story.  Most of us who came here came to build a new life because the old one had crashed badly – economically, emotionally or otherwise.  It’s our collective story.  Even those of us whose ancestors weren’t here at the time, are descended from the stock market crash and the Depression on our mother’s side, to paraphrase O’Rourke.  It’s also our character.  Mentioning O’Rourke reminds me that he talks about a restaurant (Russia? Poland?) where an American would set everything straight with a bottle of windex and a rag.  That is also to a large extent true.  Americans – self selected, having come here to start again or descended from people who did – look at messes and go “How do I fix this?”

This can be bad, but post collapse, it’s also good.

Second, stop assuming progressives have some amazing “planning foo.”  I refuse to approve comments that say “this Health care thing is all a plan.  We’re all doomed.  All of this is planned.”  Is it planned?  Oh, sure.  Is it working as planned?  Snort, giggle.  Seriously guy, if socialist plans worked here now it would be for the first time ever.  Remember the five year plans in Russia and China?  Yeah, that’s why Russia fed the wor… Oh, wait.  No it isn’t.  Yes our “progressives” believe that they have everything planned and can even lie to themselves that the plan is working PERFECTLY.

You’re not required to believe them.  In fact, if you feel inclined to, you should take an aspirin and a strong cup of tea.  This is the statist illusion – that things can be planned from above and will work perfectly, as delineated.  Real life is not like that, even in small, homogeneous countries, much less in our glorious mess of a homeland.

Their plans are both going forward and falling apart, and the fact that they’re blind to their falling apart side makes the whole situation very dangers, but it doesn’t mean they’ll reign in glory forever and ever amen.  Stop drinking their koolaid.  It’s probably laced with acid.

Third, coming from a country with an enormous depth of history (we keep trailing it on our our clogs) – badly studied and imperfectly known by the people in the country.  I found better books on Medieval Portugal in the US than in Portugal.  More of them too.  BUT just growing up in a village (yes, I am Miss Marple.  Deal) gave me insight into that history – I have to tell you that even if the progressives “win” it not only won’t be forever, it won’t even be as they expect.  Also, even if we enter in severe decline it won’t be forever.  Or probably for very long.

Look, when I was growing up in the village – at a time when EVERYONE kept their backdoor open unless it was the bitterest cold.  And sometimes even then, they just put a brazier under the kitchen table.  The common way to find out someone wasn’t home, was to open the garden gate, go around back, get into the kitchen and BELLOW their name – I was puzzled by broken glass on top of the garden walls.  And the fact that all the older – a hundred years or – walls were VERY tall (unlike the new ones, which were waist-high.) And I was puzzled by my grandmother’s insistence that the huge window in the kitchen MUST be covered by a thick board (with a bar across it) every night.

It was explained to me that when grandma was a little girl things had been utterly lawless and no one was safe in their own homes from home invaders and thieves.

Yet by my time, you were perfectly safe.  Yes, that was strong man rule.  Yes, because the strong man had the economic understanding of a small fluffy duck, it also made us poor as Job.  But we were safe, and literate, and the mechanisms of civilization operated.  Then came lawlessness, worsening again.  Perhaps ahead lies civilization without strong man rule?

Why not?  It could happen.  The English war of the Roses with the country riven and torn came before Victorian England.  Yes, many centuries.  But still.  It means we’re not witnesses to the apocalypse.  We only live in interesting times.

And besides, look, it’s not written anywhere that we must decline.  Yeah,the people at the top believe it and are trying to bring it about.  But even they are having a hell of a time getting us to crash.  How it must baffle them.

And come on – After fifty years of the socialists controlling education, they still have about half the votes (Less, if the fraud I saw is anything to go on, and the way they fight fraud indicates it is.)

EVEN in the fields they’re strongest in, things elude their plans.  Because… we’re Americans.  We don’t take direction well.

I am sick and tired of the whole “Witness to the Apocalypse” mode half of my libertarian/conservative friends are in.  I am sick onto death of their buying into the infallibility of the “progressives” plans and integrating all features into “they meant to do that.”

Please!  These people couldn’t tip piss out of a boot with instructions written on the sole.

Yes, they’re dangerous.  Their certainty and their incompetence makes them dangerous.  But they’re not a majority, they’re not half as smart as they think they are, and I’m going to predict right now reality is going to shock them even more than it’s already doing.

A crash might be inevitable.  Staying down after a crash ISN’T.

The future is not written anywhere.  It’s up to you to create.  We must be prepared.  We must be ready to pick up.  We must be ready to rise from those ashes and go forward.  We must — metaphorically speaking — make sure we have the windex and the rag at hand.

We have work to do, and none of it involves playing the lyre while Rome burns, no matter how pretty the flames and how romantic the prospect.

This is no time to go wobbly.




196 thoughts on “Oh, Buck Up!

  1. Brava! Be prepared for little bumpiness ahead, but the *future* is what’s on the other side of the bumpy bit 🙂

  2. Well, I am cheerful, at least a little bit – as that I am in Texas, which is all that America is, but quadrupled and on steroids, metaphorically speaking.

    1. I can’t help but be just a little obnoxious about living here in Texas.
      Just a little. (My folks often wonder why I don’t move back up to the intermountain west)

  3. This made me think of the intended insult of Europeans who called Reagan a cowboy … they didn’t understand that Americans consider that a compliment, and we didn’t understand why they said it in that tone of voice …

    I agree about the Chinese. They hold so much of our debt and we are the marketplace of marketplaces for their manufactured goods … they can’t afford for us to crash — they NEED us to prevent their own crash. The rest of the world, too, in lesser terms.

    1. re: the Chinese —
      When you owe the bank $10,000 you have a problem
      When you owe the bank $10,000,000 the bank has a problem

    2. Being from Texas and visiting Europe, I’ve enjoyed the sneering ‘cowboy’ BS a time or two. But far more fun for me are those in the midst of the sneerers who look wistful, and occasionally hopeful. They all hear the same slanted news, but those latter two groups see through it. And the hopeful ones? Nascent Americans.

        1. I saw some modern-day cowboys today … at the veterinarian’s office, 3 men sauntered in with their scuffed boots, work pants, large hats, and laconic attitude … looking to pick up their dog, who I’m sure is a vital member of their posse … it was an interesting dog that looked part retriever and part collie … then they left in a crew cab truck pulling a large horse trailer.

          1. Independent minded sort who gets things done, often on their own … yep … must be an insult.

            1. Manly. The type who goes and does things, instead of sitting home wringing his hands and talking.

              My guess is that when used as an insult it is maybe supposed to be either point to somebody as old-fashioned, or else naive, as in somebody who thinks real world works just like old movies. But since the image of ‘goes and does things’ is so strong it just doesn’t work as an insult.

              1. And cowboys are not generally known for mesmerizing flights of verbal grace and charm (although they can be eloquent), nor for sartorial splendor, nor for possessing multiple college degrees from Ivy League Universities.

                And then there’s the Dallas football team, which is an embarrassment to cattlemen everywhere. 😉

                    1. It’s OK Eamon. Hasn’t anyone told you that football is a religion in the South? It’s even stronger in AL because they don’t have a pro team. In a family where the wife favors Auburn and the husband Alabama, it is called “a house divided”. 😉

                    2. Grew up in Texas, so – not so much religion as air. Not being quite that dedicated I find the whole thing fun.

                      Regarding House divided: Those poor families where one kid goes to the University of Texas and the other to Texas A&M! They’ve got bumper stickers for that. 😛

                    3. I so don’t follow sports that I didn’t know about him.

                      Houston, Austin & Dallas are in a spitting match as to who’s the better city. Lots of Texans like to diss Dallas.

                    4. Oh, I’m in the metroplex, I just like to diss Jerry.

                      But we could talk about Dallas, too… 😉

                    5. I’m in Arlington, don’t get up your way often, but we might look at working something out. I was living in McKinney back before the Army (last century), and got down towards Plano on occasion.

                    6. But Sarah, I said football, not NCAA basketball! And yeah, Jerry Jones should have retired about the time that he “retired” Tom Landry. Go Broncos (or Packers, if a former employer of mine is around).

                    7. Houston has the worst climate, Austin has the worse liberals, Dallas has the worst highway system. And all three of them are better than anywhere outside of Texas.

              2. Doesn’t take orders well, mule-headed, independent, hick. Yep a real insult. Now if they really want to insult someone who thinks of themselves as a cowboy, call them a goatroper.

              3. Well, it has to be an insult. Otherwise, people who don’t go and do things might be lacking in a virtue. That smarts. So it has to be a vice.

                You might find this interesting.

          2. The same reasons that Yankee Doodle was supposed to be an insult song.

            I really don’t think the British were expecting us to take it and run with it the way we did.

      1. Almost everywhere in Europe, in addition to the sneerers, there are dedicated lovers of Country & Western music, Harley Davidson motorbikes, line dancing and all the rest. The same goes for Japan and probably lots of South East Asia. Of course these people are usually not the “intellectual elites” but they are often the small business owners and the sorts of people that keep the essentials of society working.

        1. Sparked a great thought: Those HD lovers gone radical bike builders, the hot rod lovers, shade tree mechanics of every stripe? American hobbies taking over the dirty-knuckle folks everywhere, that’s the next phase of cultural evolution.

          For me, the experience (as it were) of seeing a dead-serious, greasy-jeaned biker wrist deep in a ground-up build in JAPAN is unbridled joy.

          1. Sound pretty much like “American” traits to me… *grin* Guess that’s another reason we laugh when other folks call us “cowboys.”

        2. There used to be a bar in Rome, not far from the Spanish Steps, called the Cow-Boy. It was run by a Japanese man who adored Americans and had an insane spoon collection.

          Best night I’ve ever had in Rome, and that says a lot.

    3. Well, *some* Americans consider “cowboy” a complement. They liked W’s boots, too. But the Europhile (?) Americans were all so very embarrassed by it all. (Total tangent to that but… I think it’s probably more a feminization of thought than Us or Euro-centrism, that certain enlightened sorts simply can *not* comprehend the value of macho male chest-beating and posturing, you know, the millions of years of evolutionary development for male creatures to figure out who won without actually fighting? That.)

      1. Off on a tangent, Glenn Reynolds had some topics on two contrasting issues a while back: The surge in ‘manly’ jobs in the Dakotas (oil/gas boom) and the subsequent imbalance in the gender ratio and the bemoanings of Manhattanite women about the dearth of real men.

        His point being they’d created the metrosexual male, were dissatisfied with the results and didn’t even understand what was missing, and they’d never consider moving to the hinterlands to find eligible men. Besides, they’d be all <idirty!

        Feminism has wrought the great changes they sought and now they suffer for it. Is my glee bad?

        1. I guess I’m an outlier, I moved to AL for my man. I was a Margaret Thatcher and Jeanne Kirkpatrick feminist.

      2. ” I think it’s probably more a feminization of thought than Us or Euro-centrism, that certain enlightened sorts simply can *not* comprehend the value of macho male chest-beating and posturing, you know, the millions of years of evolutionary development for male creatures to figure out who won without actually fighting? That.)”

        And the parallel to that, you see the quiet guy tipped back in a chair over there in the corner? The one who never does any posturing? Leave him the heck alone, he doesn’t have to prove he’s a winner… unless you push him.

        1. Folks forgetting that pissing contests only work if both sides are playing the same game, and that folks who choose not to join them might not actually be easy wins, scare me…..

    4. I remember Bush getting a lot less grief about “cowboy” after he warned Hussein to get out of Dodge. Perhaps it dawned on some of them that it did not have the impact they expected.

      1. The payoff for all that Bush bravado was in Qadaffi giving up his nuclear program and coming in from the cold because Bush scared him and he didn’t want to be Iraq, round 2.

  4. Excellent post. Though an electoral plurality believes in Santa Claus, and the GOP gives Santa Claus disbelievers little reason to vote on election day, reality has a way of asserting itself. Reagan did not win the Cold War as much as the Soviets lost it. So, our masters will strut and rave, but we can choose to refuse to participate in the shipwreck.

  5. What economic collapse may bring about is political collapse. One thing about the US is the sheer size of this place. Our states are often as large as many European countries. If the money stops flowing to/from Washington, a lot of people will start to ask why we should even listen to what they have to say. Cities like L.A., Denver, Dallas, or NYC may end up wielding increased regional power and becoming independent. In such a scenario, the best we can hope for is a fractured US that gives nominal alleigance to some distant capitol. At worse, you’ll see regionalism combined with a scramble for resources and territory.

    1. I find it likely it will fracture, but it is likely at least the vast majority will restructure as a Confederation. Which I believe is more what our founders pictured when they drafted the constitution, a looser confederation of states/territories (regionalism) held together more by agreement than by the weak central government.

  6. I have this sense that already increasing numbers of people are turning their backs on Playland on the Potomac, looking at NYC with wary eyes, and thinking fondly about Saber Saws of Enormous Size and ways to detach Southern California from North America. The largest regional bank in my area started getting out of certain things back in February and has been slowly, quietly, but steadily realigning itself away from the coasts, while other smaller regional banks are buying back stock and building cash reserves. Ditto businesses. There are efforts to bring more small manufacturers into the region, pulling them away from the Coasts and (sorry Sarah) the Front Range. Its almost as if people are planning in some way, without precisely setting out with a mission statement and bullet-pointed plan, to develop a major grey economy on more than just a neighborhood scale. As you say, there’s something on the wind.

    1. SoCal isn’t the problem. Maybe Los Angeles, but once you get out of LA county it gets pretty normal… though most of the problem children of Los Angeles are now moving out to the Inland Empire (which is why is has one of the worst crime rates in the nation).

      1. True, but the Bay area is likely to self-detach (either due to geology or just out of spite). And folks from out of state tend to look at the entire LA region as a monolithic whole, sort of like the NYC to DC sprawl or Colorado Springs to Ft. Collins.

        1. Which isn’t fair. The San Gabriel Valley, for example, is pretty conservative. Orange County is a conservative hole (though it’s a weird conservative).

          One thing I never did understand: all the black and hispanic families there are anti-gay marriage, anti-tax, and anti-abortion. Yet they continue to vote Dem due to immigration reform and welfare. I just never understood the thought process behind that. You take those two things away and they almost have nothing in common with liberals.

          1. I guess in a warped way Gramsci was right. Although having scads of new “semi-documented migrants” would cause lots of problems, including reduced benefits and depressed wages, the economic Dems (as opposed to the Bay area cultural Dems/Progs) don’t see mass-amnesty as being against their economic and social interests.

            And I wager trying to convince them otherwise would be exceedingly difficult. I know someone who, if I tried to point out things that Rubio or Cruz (or Martinez of NM) are suggesting, would say “Yeah, but what do they understand? They’re Cubans or Latina by marriage. They don’t know what we Mexicans learned the hard way.” *shrug*

            1. Ted Cruz’s father was born in Cuba. He came to study in Texas, went back to participate in the anti-Batista revolution and then had to escape from Castro’s Cuba.

              Any socialism is noxious.

          2. The “problem” is exactly as Sarah describes it. “These people couldn’t tip piss out of a boot with instructions written on the sole.” Except most of the Liberal Progressive Democrats aren’t smart enough, even *with* instructions. It’s worse than the Metrosexual male, description.
            I “read” an article in SI(?) talking about a “hero coach.” He quit as a policeman, because *he “couldn’t stomach the thought of killing someone (for any reason).”* I know people on a professional LinkedIn group that tink. “Because I own guns, I’m a homicidal maniac.” There experience of “life” is so theoretical that they actually think that way. The only real questions is. “How many will die trying to protect these anti-life people?”
            CJ Cherryh posted a question about the “preppers” from Discovery channel, on FB last night. My comment was that the “smart” would not only never be on it, but have a standing/prone policy. “Come knocking (without your own supplies), and start dying.” They know how many they can feed, and for how long. I can joke that I’m qualified to write F/SF because I’ve had so many “real” jobs. Most of the skills I have, I rarely (almost never) talk about. And, it’s not just from fear of some glory hound prosecutor deciding I must be guilty of something. There are only two that have any idea of what/how much I know how to do.
            One of the things that the LI idiot criticized me for, is that I am willing to terminate a life if I have to. Yes, I’ll grieve that I took a Human Life, but I will do it. All I have done is to speed up the process of their dying. I will be protecting the people depending on me to do so, and they come first.
            I wish that Sarah was right about how slow the fall, and how “fast” the recovery. There are way too many that have about a 10% contact with reality. They have no idea how to cope with food that doesn’t come in plastic packages/cans. There are LPD’s who believe that a 40-50% die off is “survivable,” *for them.* They have so little understanding that they don’t understand. They will be among the first to go, because they depend on the other 99%, to cook their food, drive their cars, clean their houses, etc.
            The real problem is that much of the system is literally a “House of cards.” If the grid goes down, and it doesn’t come back in 2 days or less. “Katy, BAR the D___ door, and do it fast.” Four days, if they promise two, and it doesn’t happen.NOLA/Katrina is a perfect example of what happens when people _know_ it isn’t going to end overnight.The top 20 cities will go Nova (implode, then explode). “Pretty, it will not be.

            1. NOLA/Katrina is a perfect example of…NOLA/Katrina. People like to point to that event for various reasons and call it “the standard.” They don’t talk about the rest of the gulf coast after Katrina, or various other hurricanes, or the tornadoes, or the power outages from ice storms, or…

              They don’t talk about ’em because despite the dire prognostications, Americans usually figure it out. Look at Sandy, the issues there were about funding the rebuild, not surviving the aftermath. And mostly? Those folks got on with the getting on while the politicians whined about who gets what, when, where and how. ‘Cause that’s what politicians are for, and if you wait around on those twits to get anything together you’ll grow moss on your damp side. Pretty sure Sandy didn’t hit some hidden bastions of Red State thinking.

              Most people in complex societies are interdependent, that’s what makes complex societies. That’s a good thing, it allows for specialization which allows us all to go hurtling into the future. But being interdependent does not translate to being helpless.

              If it all came crashing down right now (it’s not) would people struggle? Yep. Would they have to spend a great deal of time learning/honing survival skills? Oh, yeah. Would they stand in place and die for want of government ice cream?? Nah. Human beings are resilient and adaptable. We’re cockroaches with higher thinking. Plug in that very special modifier “American” and we’re on the fast track to unstoppable.

              1. *chuckle*

                I can recall about twenty years or so ago, ice storm came through my little mountains and flattened the grid in several counties. Had this been a hurricane in a coastal state (similar level of damage, I think), we’d probably have gotten federal aid. Did we?

                Not per se.

                The dam was still functional, but substations were wrecked and some of the infrastructure was, well, just plain not there anymore. Snow like you’d see in Michigan on a bad winter, but down south. We weren’t ready for this kind of thing, that’s for sure.

                The National Guard got called up and got busy. They were on watch-on-watch-off for about a week and a half, I think, but the Guard is a tiny percentage of our population. They can’t be even close to everywhere at once.

                Speck’s a teeny place. Me and mine were without power for about two weeks or so, all told. Main part of the town got power back by about three days in (“got power” meaning rolling brownouts for a while- things got better after that first week). The rest got fixed as crews could repair lines and stations further out. There was a lot of fuel oil and gas heat (more gas than oil now, with prices what they are), so we stayed warm. Ish. We even kept water, somewhat, as the plant had a backup generator that kept them running even though it was at reduced output for a bit. We boiled some snow once or twice for stew.

                Water lines started busting after about eight days. No way really to prevent that at the time, I think. Getting those basements pumped out was a real joy, let me tell you.

                What I remember most about that time is being so danged busy I didn’t much notice the lack of things. I would more now, but that’s mostly the internet. Nowadays I can even charge my kindle sans grid power, so that’s not an issue (books good!). We have a lot of guys with plows on their trucks- I may be wrong, but I think the town council paid them for their time and diesel. Same with chainsaws. And shovels.

                I think most businesses in town only stayed dark for those two days. School stayed out for four, much to the disappointment of the little ‘uns. Oh, and the grocery stayed out for about four days, too. Nobody starved. No riots. Folks were complaining about his “taking advantage of a crisis” prices, but I think it was smart supply and demand prices, myself. Of course, that’s speaking as a man from a family that thinks canning is a religion…

                Point being, I don’t think anybody really knows what it will take to break this country. Hurt, yes. Slow us down, possibly (in the short term). But truly destroy? I just don’t see it happening. Those traits emily61 talked about upthread, “competence, individualism, and tenacity” are *endemic* to the American constitution (little c, in this case).

                It would get bad in some spots. The west coast just doesn’t have the water resources to do little farms on a big scale (more efficient to have big farms), so the individualistic streak is probably dimmer, survivability-wise, over there. Heavily built-up areas might see some friction.

                Most of us will tighten our belts and get busy, if and when that sort of thing happens. We see a problem that threatens our peace and calm, let alone our survival, our first instinct is “kick its ass!” That’s something even the wailers that bemoan the gov’t response to Sandy, Katrina, et al shares with the rest of us, they just don’t have the skills and the knowledge to respond effectively- so they go looking to daddy bureaucrat to fix things for them.

                I think if they knew *how* to respond, more of them than you’d think would. Sure there will always be the wretched, those who won’t do anything they can avoid through apathy and laziness. But put most Americans in a clear survival situation where they *can* make a difference, I’d say damn near all of us would pitch in.

                We don’t break easy. We have a long tradition of “getting stuff done.” Maybe, on a subliminal level, that scares some folks. Those that aren’t frightened by it, well, like our esteemed host said- Nascent Americans. *grin*

                1. I find myself wondering: am I playing Pollyanna? I don’t think I am, I believe in what I’m saying. But some days folks make me doubt.

                2. “. The west coast just doesn’t have the water resources to do little farms on a big scale (more efficient to have big farms), ”

                  I agreed with you right up until this point. I grew up on the West Coast, you need to get east of the mountains to get into the big farms. West of the mountains it is all little farms, and yes they have a problem with water resources, but the problem is an overabundance, not a lack. You have to get clear down into central/southern California coast to have anything sorta kinda like you describe, the vast majority of the West Coast is the exact opposite of that. As a whole the area does as you say have a dimmer individualistic streak survivability wise. But that is because of the concentration of urban areas and the resulting loss of common sense/brain function. The real problem is the urbanites that move out to live ‘in the country’ and want everything to function just like it did in their apartment complex in Seattle. In the event of a collapse they’ll either buck up and find something useful to do (whether that is mindless grunt work, or likely for a gal becoming the housewife she has always despised, or for those elderly/disabled capable of nothing else, simply keeping the house warm and providing a pleasant diversion, whether it be music or storytelling, etc. in the evenings) or be left in the cold.

                  In the event of a collapse we will see both a reversion to a harsher, more practicality based outlook and a resurgence in charity. This may seem like an oxymoron, but with the American mindset I see it as pretty much a foregone conclusion. Right now look around, Americans look down on those on the dole, we look down on those who don’t want to work and live off Uncle Sugar’s handouts, now look at Europe, they have a totally different work ethic (most working class Americans would call it a total lack of work ethics). Those healthy young people who are looking for a handout are going to get short shrift in a collapse. The old lady down the road though, whose arthritis causes weeding her garden to be torture though, she is liable to wake up to find the neighbors kids out there weeding it for her, and if she can scrounge up enough sugar to make a rhubarb pie, they’ll be back this evening to split and bring up her wood, out of affection for her rather than fear of dad’s belt.
                  And the single mother on the other side of her who’s telemarketing job disappeared, well she is likely to come over a couple times a week to clean the old ladies house, and if the old lady is willing to teach her how to sew and mend clothes, then she’ll be able to keep her daughter in food and clothes (even if hand me downs) by cleaning and mending for the lady down the road who is too busy helping her husband on the dairy to do it herself.

                  1. Most of my information on California and that side of the country comes from my sister the flaming liberal, so I’m not at all surprised to be wrong there. *grin*

                    Resources-wise, that’s a lot more promising than I’d thought. Harsher and more practical it may be, but that’s survival mechanics for you. Well, it may *look* harsh to the Seattleites and their fellow travelers, but their way doesn’t work to feed the masses of hungry people that’ll result from that collapse. Like you said, it’ll take work, and people working *together* to pull it off.

                    Europe, all I have to go on is reports from my friends in England, Germany, and the Czech Republic. “Work” and “ethic” they may understand, the older Germans and Englishmen I know do understand how those two words fit together. The younger generation… even the better ones I know come at this from a widely divergent viewpoint than most Americans.

                    “Work is for suckers” is more common. “Why work when you can go on benefits?” is also, depressingly common. I don’t see Europe dragging itself out, short of another disastrous war. At least not in the short to medium term. Yep. Things do not look good for them.

                    Thanks for setting me straight on the West Coast. I don’t get to travel much these days and, well, the few people from out there that make it to my little mountains tell such tales… *chuckle* Glad I’m where I’m at.

                    1. Once California ditches the Progressives, it can feed itself. There’s gravity fed irrigation all the way down to Sacramento, and once San Francisco stops emoting over snail darters, they can irrigate the southern part of the central valley as well.

                    2. Physically the land on the Washington, Oregon, and Northern California coasts is very self-sufficient. The fact that King County has the votes to run the whole state the way THEY think it should be run is why I left. But like Sarah in Colorado, I have run as far as I’m willing to, I like it here in Idaho and if push comes to shove I’ll just dig my heels in.

                      Molon Labe

                    3. If they ditched the progressives they probably wouldn’t have the population to NEED to irrigate the southern part of the central valley. 😉

                    4. I know you’re joking, but back when my ancestors moved here– about a century ago– California was a flippin’ miracle of exporting food.

                      That won’t go away entirely just because of a disaster. (Wouldn’t come back online in time to help the city, but … well, there’s a reason there are cities all along that coast…..)

                3. I hate to be in disagreement with your assessment. I really do. That said, however, I believe you shot it in the foot with one simple point:

                  Speck’s a teeny place.

                  That, in a nutshell, is the difference between what you experienced, and what will happen in a large metropolitan area. Those in small cities/towns are more cohesive in general, and more independent; more prone to handling things on their own. Large cities, with a large dependent class, don’t tend to be that way. People have said that NOLA was not necessarily indicative, but I think it was, for the type of person that became the problem. Now, it goes almost without saying on this site that I’m not talking about racial distinctions, but I’ll put it here in case of drive-by trolling: This is not about Race. This is a mindset thing.

                  The type of people who depend on Government to take care of them are the one who will cause problems, because they will be the ones to panic if they perceive that no on is taking care of them. They will also be the ones to take advantage of a power outage to loot and destroy.

                  People have pointed out the actions of the New Yorkers in the power outage, but that was a (mostly) one-day event. When we’re talking about large groups of normally dependent people, at some point, when no progress is visible (this is the important part – if there is discernible progress, it significantly mitigates the despair reaction), someone, somewhere, who is among a group of other people who are prone to over-reaction, will start wailing that it’s all over, that they’re never going to get it together, and “we’re all gonna die!!!”. And those over-reactors around that person will lose their heads and go out and steal and destroy, starting a self-feeding loop, which will consume the region heavy with government dependents, and spread from there, as they realize that without power, and with so many people, the chances of getting caught are very low.

                  The outer suburbs and rural areas may very well sit back and watch as Rome, er, um, New York/LA/San Francisco/Chicago/Wherever burns, but once a disaster becomes something that can’t be fixed for a while in a large city, it’s probably going to erupt.

                  1. So what your saying for the rest of us is, stock up on marshmallows and hotdogs, and then we can just sit back and let the problem burn itself out.

                  2. Apologies, but I still think this is an overly pessimistic assessment of the likelihoods. NOLA is best seen as representing NOLA primarily because it wasn’t really about the dependent classes and their awful behavior (even the awful behavior was limited to a small minority, as it usually is) it was about the incompetence.

                    The real problem with the dependent classes wasn’t their dependence, people need help in a disaster. It was that they believed in the government and assumed things would be handled. And that is where things fell apart. Local and regional government failed miserably. Through gross and continuing incompetence they made all of the wrong decisions and then backed those decisions up with force. They crippled themselves, and then insisted everybody else be crippled. The horror of the Superdome (which wasn’t, really) was a story of government failure, not dependent depravity.

                    All of this later abetted by FEMA’s reliance on an unwieldy central control structure which denies them the great advantages of operating in America. It was a cluster.

                    I’m not saying it won’t happen again, and in another city. Wherein the perfect constellation of events comes together with the strong gravitic pull of lousy governing it will. It’s just not the metropolitan response to crisis we ought be pointing too, because it’s more anomaly than standard.

                    1. The real problem with in NOLA was the idiot citizens elected a flippin’ Cable TV executive mayor!!!!!! What, did no proctologist stand for the office?

                    2. So… the years of living in NOLA and being aware of what I understand was rampant corruption and ineffectiveness… wasn’t an indication to those living there that government may have a problem responding to an emergency? Because they reacted so well when things were all working well…?

                    3. I’m really unsure of how to plug this into the argument I was making, and I don’t want to go off on an errant assumption.

                      If you expand your point I might be able to respond clearly.


                    4. I suppose what I’m saying is that people seem to have this trust in “the government”, and by people, I don’t mean Odds, I mean most people. There’s some sort of unspoken assumption that “those people” (meaning the local politicians, mayor, city council, sherrif’s office, etc.,) must have a plan, must have thought things through, must be able to make decisions and respond to emergencies – because we believe that’s sort of their job. It’s an assumption that in many cases does not bear much of a relationship to reality.

                      People need to be paying much more attention to their local government, and need to be much more on top of who those people are and what they are doing, because those people have a real impact on your life, and that’s something I think most people (including myself) could be doing a better job of. Because if and when it drops in the pot, it’s good to know if the people in charge of the local resources are competent, capable, reasonable and rational people, or if they’re ego-stroking buffoons. Or some mix of the two. (I’m sure there are effective and rational people out there who ALSO have gigantic egos.)

                    5. ” (I’m sure there are effective and rational people out there who ALSO have gigantic egos.)”

                      Yep, it’s called arrogance. Go look at a Marine if you want an example. 🙂

                    6. Arrogance? That is often a charge levied by the incompetent against the competent. Ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.

                      Is “arrogance” an inflated concept of what you can do (Obama) or is it a realistic recognition of your abilities (Bush 43*)? Shouldn’t we distinguish between unmerited arrogance and that which is merited?

                      *Can’t count the number of time I ROTFL over critics charging George W Bush with arrogance for not taking their advice.

                    7. IMNSHO, arrogance combines an accurate estimation of one’s own abilities with an overinflated sense of the importance thereof. I’m beginning to think there is a matrix of terms to describe the under- and overestimation of both aspects, but the minions just came home, and a suitable import duty must be levied on the comestibles they brought with them. Maybe later.

                  3. Ack. I think I misled ya, then, because we’re probably more in agreement than not. I also went through a similar scenario in the third largest city in my state at the time- the state that’s “most violent” in the nation at the moment. Things went fairly similar in many respects, save that I was living in an apartment complex at the time. It was an old one where we had no a/c and hellaciously good heaters, so most everybody kept their doors open for air circulation.

                    I agree that the large metro areas are going to have things different. And that the type of person that becomes a problem is a *much* greater percentage of the population. There were those that wailed and cried for intervention, and did the stampy foot thing when it wasn’t instantly fixing their specific complaint. Quite a few of those.

                    If there are enough worker ants, we can usually keep the grasshoppers alive in that situation. My time in the big city (well, big from my perspective) showed me there were a good many worker ants there… but many of them didn’t know how to handle a crisis like that. The grasshoppers didn’t do us any favors by panicking, either. That was the whole reason behind “they don’t know how to respond,” because it can look the same from the outside, but one is easily salvageable, the other is a lot less so when push comes to shove.

                    Certain areas are going to handle it better than others. I can’t speak for LA, but if something torches off another mob like the 90’s riots I think we can safely say they are already responding poorly, as a unit, to the crisis. I just can’t see that sort of thing happening in Speck, Big City, or any of the other places I’ve lived- different problems, different solutions.

                    I’m not trying to say bad stuff won’t happen- my fault if I implied that. Because it sure enough will. Emperor Mong is ever watchful and the Dread God Finagle and his mad prophet Murphy have an army of minions gleefully waiting for the chance to work their wickedness. Given that there will be, let’s say, interesting times ahead, we can either wail and worry, or accept the consequences and get busy.

                    Even in the worst of situations, there’s something that can be done. Remember those Koreatown shops that *didn’t* get looted during the 90’s riots? Not many do. The owners drove off the looters and protected their property with their own firearms. Or the folks who stayed to do what needed to be done after Katrina.

                    Crisis situations are usually portrayed in the worst possible light by the media. That’s what gets attention, which drives advertising revenue. Much as I might otherwise enjoy the idea of watching, say, DC self-destruct (save for a few historic landmarks), roast, and sink into the swamp, I can’t. Even when the situation is nearly hopeless, there’s always that chance to do some good. As long as that chance exists, I cannot justify letting it all burn.

                    On that subject, it may seem callous, but those who sit and whine for instantaneous solutions? F*sk ’em. Help those who aren’t contributing to the problem first. Support those who are doing something about the problem. Aid the helpless, the weak, the infirm, women and kids all. What’s left, if any, can go to the slackers.

                    I don’t believe in no-solution-set problems like this. Some solutions are ugly. Some are downright morally reprehensible. We *can* do something. And here the other day I was worried about taking the Athenian attitude too far… *chuckle* Somebody was listening just then, I know it.

                4. From what I’ve been hearing about the post Ike reconstruction in Galveston, they would actually be better off if the government stopped trying to help them.

                  They have the materials, they have the people, they have the will, but many of them still can’t get f’ing authorization to actually build anything, until the city meets this insane litany of Federal requests.

                  Apparently the feds want them to create a whole bunch of low income housing, but they aren’t willing to accept any of the housing on the market for it. No, they want the city to tear down a section or two and build high density low income housing, because the feds have decided that low income housing recipients need to live in close proximity.

                  Find wall, bang head.

          3. You take those two things away and they almost have nothing in common with liberals.

            Which is why the Dems run such over the top anti-Republican campaigns. By taking the “vote Republican” option off the ballot they ensure they get the “immigrant” vote. They also:
            a) talk “tolerance”, not Same-sex marriage
            b) talk “tax the rich”, but never define who “the rich” are
            c) talk “choice”, not abortion

            1. And “modern” is “stuff that we supported in the 60s when we were in college.”
              “Youth” is 30 or 35 and under.
              A married 19 year old with a baby is identical to a raped 12 year old.
              A Marine shot in Afganistan, a gang member shot by the woman he was trying to murder and a five year old that accidentally shoots himself are all identical examples of “gun violence.”
              “Bullying” is a problem. Oddly, this doesn’t include spitting on the kids in ROTC, or beating up geeks, but does involve objecting to the guy using the girl’s restroom sexually harassing you.

        2. Orange County & San Diego County are very different from LA LA land. San Diego especially. The presence of loadsa marines, sailors and defence contractors probably helps but I don’t think it’s the only reason.

          Somewhat OT: I had a not entirely joking conversation on Saturday with people about “what happens when a big quake hits the LA basin (7.5 + magnitude)”

          The general response was that the simple answer is most Angelenos will die. There’s no water, they’ve managed to close most of the local power plants and everything has to be trucked in. If the quake does a number on I5 north at the Grapevine, south in Orange County and I10/210 East (and it’s pretty much guaranteed that a combination of quake damage and panic induced accidents will do this) then there really isn’t any way to get massive amounts of stuff in by land.

          The second general feeling was “shrug”. Although that was tempered with a “but it’ll probably also hose us here in SD”. And there were comments of “well Camp Pendleton’s between us and the looters”.

          1. I hate to step in here, and shatter illusions, but if the right conditions are met, absolutely nothing in the greater Los Angeles area will survive the right disaster conditions, and that includes San Diego.

            The simple fact of the matter is that the area is entirely too isolated, the communications in terms of road, rail, power transmission and water supply are too fragile and lack redundancy. San Diego might survive for a bit longer, but the vast, sucking hole that the greater Los Angeles area would turn into will suck them down just as surely as it does Los Angeles.

            Anyone who studies the issue, and the historical past would take one look at what we’ve done in Los Angeles, shake their heads, and move somewhere else. I had the experience of going into some briefings offered my military Army Corps of Engineers bosses, which were putatively about the flood control measures that the civilian side of the Corps was working on in Los Angeles. As usual, many of us were looking at the “big picture” in terms of “How could we use this to screw things up?”, which is what the average Combat Engineer just does as second nature–“Large-scale vandalism and the wholesale destruction of public property…” being what our major brief is.

            Long story short? If the right conditions were set, and the right sequence of events were to take place, Los Angeles would become a giant roach hotel for disaster relief–Assets would go in, but they’d never, ever come back out, and the smartest thing to do would be to write the entire region off, once a certain tipping point was reached. Of course, nobody is going to have either the balls to do that, or the ability to recognize when that point of no return has been reached.

            Sad thing is, nobody seems to realize this, or has taken the necessary steps to try to ameliorate the issues, which if the right circumstances arise, will inevitably lead to millions and millions of deaths.

            My advice to anyone? Get the hell out of Los Angeles, or anywhere in the Southland. Things are not getting more robust, they’re actually becoming more and more fragile as time goes on. And, nobody is really paying attention to the trap that technology and “just in time” inventory thinking has set for people living in the area.

            The region should have a governmental level that looks at the overall picture–Where’s the water coming from, where’s the food stored, and how much fuel do we have on hand. As of the early 2000s, nothing like that was in existence, and to my knowledge, nothing has been put in place since then, either.

            One of the Army Corps of Engineer briefers was a man of like mind to my own–He’d done some work on “What ifs”, and did some extrapolating to what could happen in the worst-case scenarios. His models did not actually assume anything out of the realm of possibility, either. With an earthquake of the right magnitude in the right place, the Los Angeles basin becomes isolated from Northern California in terms of communications, including transportation, electricity, and water. Once that happens, on-hand supplies start to run down, and evacuation north becomes infeasible. At that point, you’re limited to going east along the I-15 corridor, or south to San Diego, which is not as reliant on things coming in from Northern California. Once a certain point is reached, in terms of water, fuel, and food consumption, you don’t the ability to evacuate out of the basin, and even then, where are they going to go? The Mojave?

            If you live in the area, the best thing you can do is be among the first to evacuate, and have contingency plans to be able to live well outside of the region–Like Salt Lake City, or Denver.

            If we had any kind of civil defense planning in this country, at least two cities wouldn’t exist in their current form. One would be New Orleans, and the other would be Los Angeles.

            Interestingly enough, I got a similar informal briefing from another Army Corp of Engineers officer that detailed the Katrina mess, where he predicted damn near everything that happened in that disaster. That was in 1994, and I found it quite disturbing to discover just how accurately he’d projected what would likely happen. He’d worked in that District office for about four years, and as a native of Southern Louisiana, the first thing he did after he figured out what the likely effects were going to be for what he was seeing, he managed to convince the majority of his relatives that lived near New Orleans to get the hell out. I’m sure they thanked him after Katrina, because that guy was damn near a Cajun Nostradamus. I remember watching the news for Katrina, and going “OK, if Major X was right, this happens next…”. And, it usually did. If anything, he’d been a bit overly pessimistic. He was predicting massive failures of flood control measures that didn’t appear, for whatever reason. Although, he was spot-on when it came to predicting that some of the pump stations would fail, and why. He’d observed and reported the corruption surrounding all that, but nobody in the political food chain was willing to do anything about it, due to the Democrats being in charge down there, and in the Executive branch, at the time.

            1. You aren’t either shattering illusions or discussing much that wasn’t discussed by the people I was with. If it’s a really big quake I’m going to do what I can to get on I-8 and head east.

              I have no desire to live here permanently, in part because of that lack of survivability. But it’ll be nice for a couple of years and is far superior to living in Sillycon valley which is my other realistic alternative at this point

            2. A financial crash will play out a lot differently than a natural disaster. If the PTB can keep the water, sewage and electric running “well enough” there will only be problems if the food deliveries don’t get to the stores and the Not-employed-for-various-reasons have _no_ way to pay for it.

              And frankly, I think the .gov will keep the social security system and the EBT cards funded for as long as they can. And the cities will have priority for food deliveries.

              While we do have a generational dependent problem, most people on public assistance are there short term. I suspect we’ll see a whole “gray” economy leaping into place. Pay in cash, below minimum wage for a lot of jobs. No paperwork, no deductions, no protections. We’ll all be “Illegals,” working under the table.

        3. Aside from its creepy mayor, San Diego is pretty nice if horribly overpriced, with a large share of nuts, fruits and flakes.

          1. No more feelthy Filner. They’re campaigning for his replacement now

            San Diego county is one of the few parts of California where ou get to see bumper stickers saying “peace through Superior Firepower” or “Gun control means shooting what you aim at”

            But yeah property prices are fairly silly. Something to do with the cliamte I imagine

            1. San Diego has the best climate and prettiest scenery in the country. I still adore living in Texas!

            2. Make it up to Humboldt and Trinity counties and you’ll see a lot more of those type of stickers. Although the long-time residents of those counties are leaving the state in a steady stream, and being replaced by those moving out of the Bay areas

      2. Way South SoCal has a honking big naval base and the Marines at fort Pendleton just up the road. There are a lot of liberals, but also libertarians.
        I have to admit having several carriers in town makes San Diego a tempting target. My child bride and I have been giving a lot of thought to Texas as the CA government is nuts.

        1. Please do consider Texas. No personal (state) income tax. Lower cost of living and housing esp. Large varied state. Not as pretty as CA but nicer place to live and a much much better economy. We also have military bases here too.

  7. Sigh. Submitted without additional comment about Americans “knowing” History, but with some slight emphasis:

    Socialist history curriculum strides toward Philadelphia schools
    By Cheryl K. Chumley
    Monday, October 28, 2013
    City council members in Philadelphia have given the go-ahead to a resolution to allow a socialist historian’s view of America, via his “A People’s History of the United States,” to be part of the public high school curriculum.

    The book, by Howard Zinn, looks at American history through the lens of the working people, and of women and minorities, and tracks the various social movements — including the advent of labor unions — that have shaped government reform and policy.

    The resolution passed by the local governing body stipulates that the book “emphasizes” the role of these segments of society, “not simply the version retold by those powerful enough to ensure history remembers their actions in a positive light, regardless of the truth,” The Daily Caller reported.

    The resolution still needs the approval of the superintendent and school board for the curriculum to be adopted.

    The resolution also states: “Council does hereby recognize the need for students to be taught an unvarnished, honest version of U.S. history that empowers students to differentiate between moments that have truly made our country great versus those that established systemic inequality, privilege, and prejudice which continue to reinforce modern society’s most difficult issues.”

    The book is controversial among conservative circles. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, for instance, spoke openly of his disdain for its content, arguing that the book did not belong in public school classrooms, The Daily Caller said. Mr. Daniels said of the book: “We must not falsely teach American history in our schools. Howard Zinn, by his own admission a biased writer, purposely falsified American history.”

    © Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC.

    1. Oh, hell. That piece of… poo. Can’t say I’ve read the full text (I refuse to buy it and give that pantywaister my hard earned funds), but I’ve skimmed it and read bits. The lack of first sources is damn near criminal in this kind of purported “history,” and cherry-picking your “facts” to fit an admittedly biased narrative makes for a continuing slant that approaches aircraft takeoff amounts of spin.

      If you are a conservative with low blood pressure problems, sure, read Zinn. If you have a room temperature I.Q., it may not disturb you. If your politics come intravenously through ABCNNBCBS without passing the forebrain “truth/bullsh*t” meter, it won’t cause much problems.

      If, however, you actually know anything about the Korean conflict, you’re probably going to be peeved. Or if you think My Lai was *not* characteristic of all armed forces interactions with the local population in Vietnam. Or if you, you know, actually *read history* and can tell with certain things are… missing. Even his fellow leftists don’t seriously consider him a historian.

      I know, I know, it’s wrong to speak ill of the dead. I apologize. His work, on the other hand, is deliberately misleading, biased, presents lies, fallacies, and calumnies as gospel, and is poorly documented for those most egregious claims. I think “Good Will Hunting” popularized it, and the people that get their history from movies rather than books, well…

      There are good and there are bad. But a good historian does his research *in depth* and this book does not. If you must read it, go forewarned with the knowledge that you *will* need the context he does not provide… if you want to have even the most tenuous connection to an objective truth, rather than the subjective one Zinn seeks to persuade you of.

      I don’t suppose this could be related to PT Barnum’s great wisdom,

      There’s a sucker born every minute.

      I prefer to add,

      And there’s ten cynics born for every sucker. We outnumber them.

      1. There’s always libraries. Sometimes a wise precaution.

        My last memorable one was I Wear the Black Hat, in which the author was trying to portray his moral failings as a deep insight into society. What can you say when someone describes how children like Luke Skywalker, adolescents like Han Solo, and really grown-up people like Darth Vader — and if you don’t finish the progression you’re not grown-up? Or who recounts an anecdote about the time he was admiring con artists in public, and a total stranger beside him erupted, because his own father had been one, and when he stopped being able to bilk little old ladies in his congregation, stole his son’s identity and ran up massive debts before vanishing and leaving his son with a ruined credit rating — and while he manages to speak decently, by his own account, he was THRILLED by the story of the father?

        I was glad that I got it from the library. (It does alert you to what the Human Wave must overwhelm.)

        1. What can you say when someone describes how children like Luke Skywalker, adolescents like Han Solo, and really grown-up people like Darth Vader — and if you don’t finish the progression you’re not grown-up?

          “Here, watch this cute video.”

          Or, more likely: “Grow up. Your obsession with not only how ‘grown up’ you are, but how those who agree with you are the only ‘real’ adults, just shows how incredibly immature you are.”

  8. You’re absolutely right! When I went to the doctor’s today, quarterly blood tests and mentioned the proposed rule changes by the FDA, they already had workarounds in place. It reminded me why I picked this doctor in the first place.
    Hopefully Texas will remain Texas and things will remain workable.

    1. When I was at the vets the other day my veterinarian told me, “with Obamacare going into effect I’ll be getting a lot more business, but it won’t be four-legs.”

      Hmm, I suspect that’ll be a ‘grey economy’ too. I’m pretty dang sure he won’t be claiming most of that income on his taxes. 😉

  9. Your comment about socialism not having worked anywhere, and your discussion of American exceptionalism, combine to give me a scary thought: What if Americans actually could make socialism work? I don’t seriously believe it’s possible—I’ve read von Mises’s Socialism and Steele’s From Marx to Mises. But it’s a rather horrifying premise.
    Or, perhaps, a premise for an sf story. . . .

    1. Americans are exceptional in ways and for reasons that make putting up with Marx’s dreary fantasies even less feasible. We don’t square circles we simply go around.

        1. I dunno. Any way we did it might be so odd it fails the Marxism test. I mean, “the workers own the means of production” is just employee savings plans buying company stock, right? Didn’t work out well for Enron employees, but . . . And the bourgeoisie? That’s what most of us aim toward. Small businessmen, professionals, the middle class. _Not_ the enemy, no matter how the vile progs in power think of us.

          1. I think in Marxist terms, you are not bourgeois unless you live entirely off of investments, without having to do any actual labor. That is, you have to be the industrial analog of a feudal landlord. Owners of capital who also work are probably more like petty bourgeois or something.

            Of course, “living off of investments without working” applies to a lot of retirees in the United States. You could even make a case for their being exploiters, given the redistributive effects of Social Security and Medicare.

            1. The bourgeoisie would have also included shopkeepers, people who invested their capital in trade goods and property, plant and equipment. For example, the Baker who owned the oven, ingredients and operating capital would have been of the bourgeoisie, as would the tinker, the tailor and the candlestick maker.

              Because these are the people from whom the Proletariat must buy necessities and beg credit there is a natural resentment (what percentage of people think they are overcharged for what they buy?) Also, because the customer generally does not see the work being done or is incapable of appreciating the skill and effort required to do the work the customer usually values neither that effort nor expertise.

              1. That’s not the way I understood Marxism. The version of it I encountered has those people as petty bourgeois, people who are neither of the working class (because they own something other than their labor) nor of the capitalist class (because they can’t live off their investments). In the long run, in Marx’s 19th-century dystopian science fiction story, they are destined to land on one side or the other, with most of them ending up as proletarians as a result of the continuing immiserization of the poor under capitalism.

                The United States frustrates people who think like Marxists partly because such a huge share of our work force and population is small proprietors who have to work as well as own and invest. I seem to recall self-employment including something over 10% of American working people. And those are exactly the people who are the worst fit to things like the ACA.

          2. Might research into WinCo, they’re employee owned.

            At what point does socialism end, and simple “lowest level possible”/subsidiarity start?

            I’ve thumbnail described “libertarian” as conservatism reverse-engineered by liberals– perhaps “subsidiarity” is socialism reverse-engineered by… um… someone sane-ish?

            1. I love WinCo! They opened a new one not far away back when the Oyster Wife and I were courting, and there were protestors out front (day laborers hired by the union, none of them union members) for a month or more with signs about how evil WinCo was because they weren’t unionized*. Made me appreciate the place that much more.

              * Not much point to unionizing when you own the place, eh?

              1. Winco is where I do all my grocery shopping, prices and selection are better than practically anywhere else. The only place around that even comes close is Costco, and after I got into it with their Customer Service (good enough to have a rather large audience before it was over) I informed them they would never get another dime of my money. Which isn’t strictly true, I like their coffee, and have friends or family pick it up for me when they go there, but I haven’t stepped foot in a Costco since.

            2. Historically I don’t think that’s accurate. What is now called liberalism started out as libertarianism (then called “liberalism” and now sometimes “classical liberalism”); but it got degraded, first by Bentham’s and Mill’s utilitarianism, and then by progressivism, until it came to mean nearly the exact opposite. But what’s now called conservatism (in the United States) is trying in large part to conserve American traditions that go back to the Constitution—and if you read the Constitution carefully, especially if you also read the Federalist and Madison’s notes on the debates, you’ll see how large a streak of libertarianism/classical liberalism there is in it. So both the American traditions grow out of libertarianism, on very different paths.

              Some of what I have in mind about the Constitution is Madison’s warning against “a faction which is a majority” as one of the greatest political dangers, as a threat both to the interests of the whole society (note that modern liberalism virtually defines the majority opinion as being the interest of the whole society!) and to the rights of individuals; Hamilton’s argument that the Supreme Court had the right to overrule Congress, not because it was sovereign, but because if there was a conflict between the will of the whole people as embodied in the Constitution, and the will of a majority faction as embodied in acts of Congress passed by their agents, judges charged with finding the law had to favor the whole over the part; and the provision that direct taxes must be in proportion to the population of the states, which came close to saying that all federal direct taxes must have every person paying the same amount—not even the same percentage, which is what extreme flat tax advocates go for now. Most of those ideas are no longer even part of the conventional political spectrum.

              1. Historically I don’t think that’s accurate.

                *grin* Wasn’t supposed to be, but I really wanted to bait someone into doing a nice and long like this.

              2. (Incidentally, I disagree that we were founded in any form of Libertarianism, but really don’t feel like rehashing it; stating it to avoid the internet phenomena of “but you didn’t deny it!” The “everyone is really libertarian” thing annoys me almost as much as the “nobody who doesn’t fit EXACTLY MY FLAVOR OF LIBERTARIANISM isn’t a libertarian” thing does, and I’ve been bitten by both!)

                  1. *holds up a white sign with 8.1 on it in large, black letters*

                    .2 points because layered sarcasm. *grin*

    2. What might work is a hybrid of minarchism and socialism, wherein voluntary socialism is practiced by some small communities/tribes (at the size where it’s still feasible), who are networked together in a federated system (which might have multiple levels), with authority and control always left at the lowest, most local level feasible. At that point the socialism becomes optional, which is the only way it could work anyway.

      Don’t know if that made any sense, but it seemed like a distinctly American approach to the question. Heck, if it’s limited to voluntary participation with just my clan/tribe, I could probably live with that.

      1. When you plug in the voluntary participation you invalidate socialism and create a cooperative system. Otherwise you’re veering dangerously close to Rousseau. And there are…problems.

        As an aside, I’m finding that all of the terms used to define voluntary association and trade are being corrupted by collectivist definitions. And I’ve even noted that collectivist is being diluted by sociologists (in their ongoing effort to destroy the simple understandings of human interaction we’ve lived by for so long). I want my terms back, nagdabbit!

        1. That “cooperative system” is what socialism meant to people like Fourier and Warren. Then Marx came along, labelled that “utopian socialism,” and peddled his approach as a New Improved “scientific socialism.” I’m no fan of the older version, but if you count how few murders it has to its credit it looks vastly better than what replaced it.

          1. I have no problem with other people running communes – if they want to run them and if they want to be there. Relatively asocial being that I am, I would run screaming until I reach minimum safe distance from the inevitable interpersonal drama.

            But when people are free to associate, they seldom do form communes. Communism/socialism/any-other-ism-that preaches an alternative to individual liberty is never about people who want to join an organization voluntarily, it’s always about people who want to control others.

            When capitalists complain about communists, they are complaining about the Orwellian police states, the superweapon obsessed armies, and the death camps, not the hippies or amish (annoying though the former sometimes are). When communists complain about capitalists, they cough up impenetrable word salads that amount (after heavy translation) to sneering at the tacky bourgeoisie drifting ‘aimlessly’ about their worthless undirected lives, and how they need something ‘greater than themselves’ to give them proper meaning. Their current masters (people they’ve chosen of their own free will to work with) must have tricked them somehow, the fiendish tyrants, and when we take over we can give them a proper non-empty goal when *we* direct their lives.

            1. PS – the workers owning the means of production – that always made me crazy. In a free-market country, there is no legal class distinction between a “worker” and a “capitalist”, and many workers do own their means of production. If you want to own a piece of equipment, however crazy-expensive, you can go down to a bank and convince one of these evil capitalist bastards to hand you tons of money (if he thinks you have a clue what you’re doing and that his investors (anyone with a savings account) will be able to get it back in 10 years).

              Never were the “means of production” easier to get than where the free market reigned. Never were the “means of production” further from people’s reach than in any communist police state, where copy machines and faxes had armed guards, personal computers, when they were allowed at all, need police first-responders on standby and were loaded down with spyware. Where nobody was allowed to own anything, and anything that people had was assigned to them as part of their “place”.

              If someone invented the magic star-trek replicator tomorrow, and people were allowed to own them (assuming you could stop them), it may cause changes to the economy, but it would be the ultimate triumph of capitalism, not communism.

      2. You just described what I had for the “Peoples’ Collective” (described as “Christian communist”) in _Crimson Skies_. 🙂

  10. This is an important reminder because I have a suspicion that we have a collapse. Itay even be a good thing when it all shales out. If the other side drives us off of a cliff we may be able to wake people up to the way things are.

      1. Yeah. Sorry. That’s what I get for posting from my phone. On break at work. With somebody sitting across from me trying to nag at me about the boss.

    1. I think we’re over the edge of the cliff already. We’re just so large and resilient that the cliff isn’t sheer; plenty of hand and footholds. All we have to do is cut the ropes that are dragging us toward the steep, deep drop.

      1. Yep – it’s Roman Britannia, but Legio XX has already been withdrawn, the mail isn’t really making it through from Rome regularly anymore, and the few remaining legions in Gaul keep siphoning off all the local auxiliaries, who never seem to come back. The question is, will the local local remnants of Roman civilization get their collective acts together and govern (and defend) themselves, or will they hide in the cellar and debate with each other why their requests for help from Rome were never answered when the Saxon raiding parties are burn down the village.

        [Why yes, I am in fact currently reading Marc Jones’ Cato’s Cavalry. Why do you ask?]

  11. I wish civilization would finally go and collapse already so I can go all Mad Max and have half-naked chicks in leather loincloths chained to my sand-rail with the machine guns before I’m too old to enjoy it.
    — Richard Chandler (10/6/05)

    These days, I think I’m too old to enjoy it.

    1. Maintenance costs’ll eat you alive. Do you know what it takes to keep a Master/Blaster happy these days? With inflation what it is, you’re looking at nearly four Bartertown’s worth of trade, a brace of Aunties in prestige, and that’s only if you have at least a Thunderdome and a half, and a whopping FIVE Humongouses in force projection to hold it all together. Seriously, just go Farnham’s. Fewer loincloth clad nubiles, but far less wear and tear. Scenery’s better, too.

      1. I liked Auntie’s outfit… can I dress like that even if I go Farnham’s? And have a couple of healthy looking young male protegees who like to wear leather around for scenery (no playing cougar, that sounds way too exhausting, but one can always enjoy a good scenery)? 😉 (although I have to admit that while leather jackets can be nice to wear, leather trousers or anything else that is tight and straight to your skin is far less so, however nice it may look on somebody with a tight body. Okay, I will just wear sweats, the guys wear leather?)

        1. They make ‘stretch leather’ pants, I can’t tell you how comfortable they are, but I saw them advertised in a martial arts magazine, so assume that they don’t do a lot to constrict your movements. (I suspect some of the leather worn by music performers on stage is of this variety)

          1. Yep, my knowledge is a bit behind times with that. The last time I wore anything leather which wasn’t a jacket it was a tight knee length skirt, and that was during the early 80’s, so a bit early when it comes to anything ‘stretch’. I tried on trousers then a couple of times, but figured they might be too uncomfortable.

            Okay, I did have one leather bodice when I started in the SCA, but that was of course always worn with something underneath.

            1. And that skirt – has any of the ladies present ever tried to jump over a puddle in a tight skirt which does go down a bit under your knees and does not have a slit on it, and is of material which has no give whatsoever, when you are in a bit of a hurry and forgot what you were wearing? 😀

    1. The excerpts on the Amazon page have some interesting tips that I hadn’t considered – like don’t walk around with an AR , you’ll get singled out by whatever authorities there are. Carry concealed pistols and knives instead.
      Makes derringers and other small pocket pistols make sense.

      1. His site is a lot of common sense stuff, once you think your way through it. Off the top of my head:

        Carry Concealed.
        Get trained by a professional in firearms and H2H SD.
        Look Poor (Dress, Vehicle, Public Lifestyle).
        Shutup about your business (OpSec).
        Layered security measures (reinforced doors, burglar bars, alarm system connected to your smartphone, big dog(s), fenced yard, etc).
        Be prepared to grease your local bureaucrat’s (LEO, Business Permit Clerk) palm.
        Be on alert for imposters (LEO, door-to-door salesman, etc).
        Be prepared to take to the curb or squeeze through a line of traffic, in the event of a riot or a possible fake police checkpoint.
        Know the right people (doctors, bureaucrats, pharmacists, LEO, etc)

  12. BUT just growing up in a village (yes, I am Miss Marple. Deal) gave me insight into that history – I have to tell you that even if the progressives “win” it not only won’t be forever, it won’t even be as they expect. Also, even if we enter in severe decline it won’t be forever. Or probably for very long.

    Folks my age should know this, too– I don’t know how many guilds I joined, ended up in the second-level leadership for due to being willing to do stuff, and then the folks who built them in the firstplace got tired and let the folks who insisted they knew how to run things take over…. Things to to pieces as these “experts” eat the seed corn and blame all the second level folks (who are doing more than they use to, it’s just the old leadership isn’t doing all the stuff that THEY use to and the new leadership never realized) for it going bad, there’s a rough spot, and then someone willing to do the hard work instead of being some kind of master planner gets together with the Samwises to build it back up.

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

    Unless the crash destroys the very character of the guild, it recovers; if it does destroy the character, you Samwises reform with the good-character folks. Sometimes that means you have a whole guild of Samwises, which while it makes for very good gardens doesn’t get you to mount Doom, but on the other hand it’s really good for keeping Gollem from taking over.

    1. You have just described the new anime series Log Horizon. MMORPG gamer politics writ large, being survived and dealt with by some very nice but very shrewd main characters. Vathara’s new fanfic dragged me into watching it and I’m glad, because it isn’t the Sword Art Online “ripoff” that many people were calling it.

  13. Fear it ?? Hell, I’m LOOKING FORWARD TO IT. We NEED some “Creative Destruction”. Yes, the medicine WILL be bad, but as MY great-grandma told me: “Taste Bad: Work good. . . .”

  14. Thanks, Sarah. Our side needs some backbone. No, not us. It drives me nuts to see some conservatives/libertarians giving up so much ground to the other side and then complaining that the other side controls all the ground. Quit moaning and DO something!

  15. The post sounds like the outline to a Baen novel, not that that is a bad thing. I could see it co-written by a few Baen authors. (Kratman, Ringo,etc). I would buy the E-Arc when you write it.

  16. Regularjoeski’s comment reminds me, Sarah, did I ever send you that novella about Beauty and the Beast on the Front Range? It’s set after the Crash of 2015 (the year the cities burned). It’s the story I asked if I could borrow part of your name for.

    Only 1000 words, but a lot of domestic disorder (briefly) corralled. Off to do battle with Bach.

  17. It isn’t enough the system Crashes — the Crash must occur while the Progs are running the show; for the next hundred years the word “progressive” will be (ironically) associated with Collapse and Failure.

    And if to ensure this the process must be… accelerated….

    (The next terror attack will be: Cargo-hauler airliners carrying ex-Soviet nuclear devices, flown into the traffic patterns of major cities’ airports, then detonated. Which will be a huge plus for Our Side: Most of the fatalities will be among Urbanite Leftists, crippling them in the electoral rolls; the “middle ground” will see the Left vanish, and realize they have to side with us in order to have any say in what’s coming next; next stop: Mecca. >:) )

    1. I’m about 30 minutes drive of Love Field in Dallas. I assure that most of my neighbors aren’t urban leftists. We’re suburban conservatives.

    2. Actually, I expect it to be cargo SHIPS, possibly also loaded with mildly-radioactive ore, to be the mother of all dirty bombs. Major coastal ports, which also tend to be Liberal Meccas. . . That still leaves us with SOME Liberal strongpoints: DC, possibly Chicago (no idea of the water traffic there), Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, and possibly St. Louis. . . .

  18. So a lot of what you label as American exceptionalism is English (Anglosphere whatever). The clubs and societies for everything, the general belief that nations and rulers should obey the same laws. All that. Think of Dr Monkey and his Scottish dancing in Flinders as an example.

    Of course we still do that whole hate the frogs thing (and disdain the wops, dagoes, spics, krauts …) but that’s entirely justified by their innate inferiority 🙂 .

    One thing that I have observed from the whole Eastern Europe reintegration thing is that nations that had basic respect for the law, solid institutions etc pre-1940 have bounced back far more successfully than those places that have almost always been ruled by one sleazy corruptocrat or tyrant or another since the Romans left. The Baltic states, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech republic, Slovenia are all doing fairly well and right now still have enough people who remember the ghastly horrors of communism that they are all pretty big on limited government to some extent.

    1. “American exceptionalism” means we are different. The *exception* to the rule. Not superior, not inferior, not exempt from the laws of physics. We are a nation that created ourselves from the primordial mud, which is why we can be Americans anywhere. And anyone, born wherever, can be an American as true as any other. (e.g. Our Gracious Hostess). As much as I love this land, it doesn’t make me American. Other nations are trapped by their history in their geography. Their governments are accretions of centuries and validated by tradition to which the memory of man goeth not to the contrary. We, on the other hand, went through the Gubbermints R’ Us store and picked out the bits we liked. “Oooh, ‘senate’ has a lovely classical feel, and it will look nice with the antique foundational laws we picked out from the bin. Hey, and that bit from the Iroquois Nations looks very handy, let’s add that. Hmm. We can’t let the Senate get top-heavy, it ruins the look. Oh, I know, we’ll have a larger group for proportional representation, like the House of Commons but we can’t call it that or we’ll get all kinds of grief about copying again. House of something. Representatives? Not very snazzy but we can come back and tart it up later. Oh, and can we get a 55-gallon drum of model glue to put this all together with?”

      And the rest is history…

      1. “American exceptionalism” means we are different. The *exception* to the rule. Not superior, not inferior, not exempt from the laws of physics.

        Well of course you aren’t superior. You aren’t English 😛

        But kidding aside, I agree with what you say. The fact that America is a self-made country is a major part of its strength.

      2. Reading Madison’s notes on the debates of the Constitutional Convention, about a year ago, was a very instructive experience. You see them thrashing around about how to solve various problems, and only coming on things that seem obvious and even inevitable after many pages of thinking about entirely different options. There are many different alternate history Americas to be found in those pages. What if, for example, they had set up the Council of Revision, made up of the president and the supreme court justices and maybe a few other people, with authority to vet a law for constitutionality before it went into force, and impose a nonoverrideable veto if it smelled? A lot of conflicts would have been resolved entirely differently.

        I was also struck by how troubled most of them were by slavery. They came up to the edge of banning it outright and letting Georgia and South Carolina walk (Virginia and maybe North Carolina would have stayed). Madison wanted an immediate end to the slave trade and warned that letting it continue for a decade or two would be ruinous (and the Civil War came pretty close to proving him right); Mason wanted to forbid the admission of any new states that weren’t free soil.

        But, above all, even the secondary figures, people like Gouverneur Morris and George Mason that history buffs know about and few other people have heard of, look like absolute giants next to just about any modern political figure. It’s pretty amazing that so new and small a country had that kind of leadership.

        1. One difference between contemporary politicians and the men drafting the basis for this government is that the latter were not politicians, not in our modern sense. These days politicians advance to leadership based on their ability to advance a partisan agenda, to put party above nation. By demonstrating their ability (and willingness) to recruit, develop, train, support, finance and elect members of their party the modern political leader acquires support from the only electorate that they care about: their professional peers.

          Absent their ability to get minions elected (and reelected) neither Newt Gingrich nor Nancy Pelosi become Speaker of the House.

  19. One note about the whole response to losing a city thing: We would rise up. You’re looking at the wrong people to rise up, though, when you’re concerned about it.

    The people that will rise up are the ones trying to make a living, keep their heads down, and hope they can leave something for the next generation that’s a bit better than what they had. They’re the core of the TEA Parties, the grassroots core at least, of soccer moms and tradesmen, office workers and housewives, and a fair sight more of the union members than you might think in some places.

    Essentially, it’s Walter Russell Meade’s “Jacksonian Tribe” that does the heavy lifting in those situations, and dictates foreign policy in wartime. They’re what drove the response to 9/11 in the first place (indicating that they tend to react first before fully thinking through little gems like the PATRIOT Act) and they’re what will wake up when almost any city gets hit.

    Incidentally, if you want to look at what a collapse of order in a place with an economic crash already having occurred looks like, New Orleans after Katrina is a prime example. Its why the rest of the Gulf Coast recovered a hell of a lot faster with a hell of a lot less noise and nonsense. NOLA was already really bad off when they got hit from a number of other factors. That’s why Sandy’s aftermath was so much less riotous.

      1. Depends on your definition of very bad. An argument can be made that Meade’s Jacksonian Tribe is really what tends to be meant when one refers to “American Exceptionalism”, and if so, their tendency to sleep for ages and then wake up to destroy anything that attacks them (kinda dragon-like in that respect) would preclude destruction in so short a period.

        Another way of looking at it, IMO, is that the very concept of American exceptionalism, as referred to in the latter half of the 20th century, grew out of almost a decade of very bad, progressive government followed by one heck of a war. I’m personally thinking that it falls under the heading of “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”, and The One doesn’t have the ability to kill us in that short a time frame.

  20. Dear Hostess, Really good positive post.
    Re the last one, I had to look up “Whitlow” – if you really have one you have my utmost sympathy. I’d never heard of one – aka felon. Must make typing a bitch.

    1. LOL. No, I don’t really have one. It’s a family joke. For whatever reason, our kids — who have no clue what it is — claimed to have one when they didn’t want to do house work…

      1. Glad to hear it – the wikipedia image was pretty gruesome, and the text was worse. I’ll keep it in mind as an excuse – “I can’t take out the garbage, dear, I’ve got a hell of a whitlow-“.

      2. The only reason I’d heard of it is that it was mentioned in “The Devil and Daniel Webster” as the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused the farmer in the story to sell his soul to the Devil.

  21. I don’t think we’re going to be invaded. There simply isn’t anyone capable of doing it. The true symbol of America’s military power isn’t the Abrams tank, the F-16, nor the aircraft carrier. It’s the C-17.

    What shocked the world’s military planners wasn’t how quickly we took down the Taliban once we started fighting, that matchup was as unblanced as the Ethiopians vs. the Italians at the beginning of WWII. It was the fact that we went from essentially zero presence in the region to a fully supported and supplied expiditionary force moving at will hundreds of miles from the nearest friendly base, and thousands of miles from US territory, in a matter of weeks. And we didn’t even break a sweat.

    We may be attacked, we may see some of the west coast cities (LA and SF/Oakland most likely) run by the larger gangs with foreign advisors, but there won’t be any significant “Red Dawn”-style occupation.

          1. Someone criminally uninformed. It would be a blood bath. You don’t f*** with Cajuns.They are nasty enemies.

            1. Dear husband’s grandma is a very nice Louisiana lady… whose family made the mistake of messing with her choice of mates. Her kids were in college before anybody spoke to anybody.

              Yeah, bad enemies.

              (TOTALLY naming the next girl for her.)

  22. Great column. I will link to this from my Old Jarhead blog. (www.tartanmarine.blogspot.com)

    Robert A. Hall
    USMC 1964-68
    USMCR, 1977-83
    Massachusetts Senate, 1973-83
    Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
    All royalties go to help wounded veterans
    For a free PDF of my 80-page book, write tartanmarine(at)gmail.com

      1. I don’t know that radios were ever licensed here, but you used to have to have a FCC license for a CB, just like you do now for a ham radio… worked just about as well at keeping non-licensed individuals from using one, to.

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