(Last) Weekly Roundup: A Gilded Seat For The Unraveling Edition

It was very popular in midwit circles, for a while, to talk about “the end of history”. A remarkably stupid man wrote a remarkably stupid book about it. There was an even more stupid song on the topic. “Right here, right now… watching the world wake up from history.” Perhaps you’ve heard the song used to sell you Pepsi or Truvada or Dogecoin.

The idea behind “the end of history” was based on some remarkable naivete regarding human nature. It stated, more or less, that the arc of history bent inevitably toward liberal democracy, and that therefore all societies would move inexorably in that direction until they reached the blessed state of liberal democracy, at which point there would be no more broad change in that area, and therefore no more “history”. Like “climate science”, this was ex post facto theorizing based on the relative stability of the United States and the Western democracies between 1960 and 1990, coupled with the seemingly-inevitable-in-retrospect collapse of the Warsaw Pact.

Let’s consider 2021 to be a massive comeback for the idea of plain old history, and I’m talking George Foreman, or possibly Michael Jordan, levels of comeback here. It is happening on the periphery of the civilized world, where a puppet Afghani “democracy” simply vanished like fog in the face of a few thousand men with worn-out AK-74s and the will to use them. It is happening in the very center of today’s civilized world, as China uses technological methods to tighten the grasp of its Uniparty on internal dissent even as it prepares to do whatever it wants internationally.

As for America, the place where history was the first to end? Why, it’s simply… unraveling. This past week, I’ve had a front row seat from which to watch the process.

It was an eight-day plan, relatively simple:

* Fly to San Francisco and drive to Monterey for the “Monterey Car Week” of Quail, Concours d’Lemons, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and so on.
* Drive down to Los Angeles.
* Pick up some press motorcycles.
* Ride them around the state a bit.
* Fly home.

Ah, but nothing is all that simple nowadays. Thousands of flights are getting canceled on a weekly basis. Southwest’s pilots and staff, normally the happiest and highest-compensated apples in the bunch, are preparing to picket their employer. I was rapid-fire rebooked three times in a row on my Delta itinerary from CMH to SFO before settling on the last CMH -> ATL -> SFO run of the day. I arrived to find that my rental car was gone. “The situation is kind of bad.. we’re just having people go out in the lot and take something,” a Hertz woman told me, after I waited half an hour to get her attention. “If there’s a car out there, take it.” There were three cars left in the lot. My luggage, the motorcycle helmet and Kevlar pants, was scheduled to arrive six hours after my actual arrival, twelve hours after my scheduled arrival. I ended up going back for it the next day.

Monterey was jam-packed with rich people in six-and-seven-figure cars… all of whom were looking for a meal. Nobody wants to work in California. Can you blame them? The rent has been waived and Uncle Joe’s COVID Bucks are rolling in. Going to work for Monterey Car Week would mean: paying five dollars or more a gallon to drive your irreplaceable car somewhere, then paying to park it, then dealing with the insane demands of people who have become massively wealthier over the past eighteen months as the always-expanding lower class has been redeployed into service as their Uber Eats drivers, Doordash people, Amazon delivery crew, and so on. Every restaurant on the peninsula had empty tables, which further enraged the McLaren owners standing outside and looking in. but it wasn’t because of COVID. It was because nobody wanted to work.

A rare Mercedes 540K won Best Of Show at Pebble Beach — it was called the Autobahn Kurier. There was a brief attempt by the automotive press to raise outrage about this. Jalopnik, The Drive, and other usual social-media suspects vigorously stirred away at the OMG NAZI CAR angle but in the end they were defeated by a curious side effect of the American bifurcation, namely: most people are so poor or culture-disconnected now that they don’t care who won Pebble, and the people who are in a position to care are also utterly immune to manufactured outrage.

For the record, it’s a gorgeous car, very similar to the hundred other gorgeous cars there. The Pebble Beach crowd has a very strong attachment to 540Ks, but I don’t think it’s because they are all secret Nazis. I think it’s because the 540K is probably the alpha pre-war car, or close to it, and this is a pre-war crowd.

The new Countach was revealed at “The Quail”. Tickets for “The Quail” were something like $1100 each. Somehow I got in. I talked to the product director. He mentioned that all 112 examples (of the car, not the tickets) have been sold at the asking price of $2.6 million. Why even show the car at all? Why give interviews? We all know why: to affirm the folks who have already signed up. This is journalism-as-PR at its logical end state. We’re not even tools to sell a car. We’re tools to reinforce an existing purchase decision.

For the record, the Countach is lovely and I think the people who criticize it are missing the point. Lamborghini didn’t build the original Countach for the purpose of eventually gratifying the sensibilities of the weeaboos who own and/or like the cars now. They built the Countach for high-testosterone rich dudes to misbehave in. The new Countach will be delightful for this purpose. Even better than an Aventador, largely because it costs more and is rarer. After a week in Monterey, I had the distorted idea that Aventadors were America’s best-selling car. You’d see them lined up at a gas pump or valet line, over and over again.

Down the coast I went, past the five-dollar gas and the empty restaurants. The roads were still crowded. Picked up the motorcycles and hit the back roads. Los Angeles may still have dead-stopped freeways at the current employment level, but inland California has become a wasteland. We’d stop at diners with three people working and four people eating during the “lunch rush”, ride through towns with no discernible human activity going on and recently-applied boards on every window. On 58 between San Luis Obispo and Taft, there’s a section where you can’t get any food or fuel for 72 miles. There’s a warning sign. It was time to take photos, so we put the bikes in the middle of the road. For more than 45 minutes, we didn’t have to move the bikes. Finally, a new-ish Forester rolled through, faces pressed to the glass to observe our odd behavior. Then nothing, until it was time to leave.

People were talking about Afghanistan, when we saw people. How the United States had left hundreds of aircraft, trucks, brand-new MRAPs. Blackhawk helicopters. A few Embraer ground-attack planes. Well, they say, the Taliban is too stupid and unsophisticated to make ’em run. Yes, these stupid and unsophisticated Taliban, who didn’t bother to read The End Of History and therefore just kept making history. But even if the average fedayeen can’t maintain an A-29 Super Tucano, I’m pretty sure he’ll know what to do with the tens of thousands of M4 assault rifles left brand-new in crates for him. If you’re an American citizen, possession of a so-called “Class III machinegun” built after 1986, like a current M4, will land you in pound-you-in-the-you-know-what federal prison. If you’re a member of the Taliban, the US Government just bought you a nearly unlimited supply of them, with taxpayer money. Location, location, location.

I had dinner and spent the evening with a car-racing friend. He has a penthouse condo facing the Capitol Record building. A $77,000 Ducati Desmodici RR as an ornament for his living room. A 300-pound, six-foot-four black man who was the embodiment of pure silver-tooth-capped menace stood between me and the front door. I established bona fides and he relaxed at not having to spend somewhere between six and ten seconds of his valuable beating my ass into the quartz-flaked sidewalk. “Oh, you a rider,” he said, admiring my Kawasaki Z900RS. “Let me show you mine.” He dug out his phone to show me that he owned a purple Electra Glide converted to “bagger” style. “You see how I ride. I’m out on these streets all the time. We should meet up. Hey man,” he growled at a shambling, crooked fellow literally sans culottes of any kind, “get the f*** away from that trash can, that ain’t your trash.”

In my friend’s condo, I leafed through medical journals and admired a six-figure stereo system as his utterly perfect, two-decade-younger girlfriend poured me a Ketel One. “We only have Diet Coke for a mixer,” she apologized. The windows were open; the air up here was clear and cool. On the street eleven floors down, dollops of discolored human waste graced the stars of Hollywood and Vine. A long extension cord took an electricity from somewhere to a pop-up tent city filled with people who were screaming at passing traffic.

Of course there were delayed flights on the way back. I was lucky and would only have to walk between adjacent gates for a connecting flight that was in the final stages of loading. Other people were pleading or crying into their phones even before the jetway connected to the door. It was a relief to be back in Ohio. It feels significantly more normal here. The future always starts in California; in the past that’s felt like a curse but now it’s a temporal generosity.

What’s in that future? Why, just the resumption of history. If the 2016 election showed the ability of minor fame to overcome peerless political acumen, the 2020 election showed… what, exactly? That future contests would be bare-knuckle showdowns between “voter suppression” on the red side and Al Franken-style “found ballots” at national scale on the blue? If that is truly the case, then our liberal democracy is irretrievably broken. What’s next? Curtis Yarvin and others are openly discussing a return to monarchy. The Chinese have a Party that chooses its leaders in secret and elevates them without opposition. That’s essentially a monarchy, at least it looks like one from down here on the ground.

Our current leader, elected of course in the safest and most secure election of all time, does not appear to have tremendous interest in solving these problems. You can’t blame him for the fact that the United States was involved in “the graveyard of empires”, but you can certainly lay the Saigon-style disarray of the retreat at his doorstep. The press isn’t all that interested in pressing him on the subject; why, he’s #ourguy! Most of President Biden’s attention appears to be focused on getting people to wear masks again, but how critical is that in a country with runaway commodities costs and a workforce that doesn’t seem all that interested in showing up for work?

We are starting to see the arrival of Soviet-style shortages. A major automaker just told its dealers that there would be no more allocation until October. Prior to this, there had been no cars on the lots, but the dealers were still making a buck taking orders for next month’s cars. Now you can’t even do that. Pretty soon, getting a new car will be a matter of whom you know. If you have a friend somewhere, you’ll be able to get an allocation.

There’s a chicken shortage. A meat shortage. Fuel is more than half again as expensive as it was in January. I saw a lot of half-empty shelves in California. Sooner or later they will be all the way empty. In any inflation economy there’s a point where you are better off not shipping goods because your account will go negative while they are in transit. You sell bread at the wholesale level for ten dollars but by the time it lands in a shop it costs you twelve dollars to produce a loaf of bread, so what do you do with the next batch?

The answer to all these problems is semi-obvious: the government cancels all spending programs, removes all incentive for able-bodied people to stay at home, and then waits six months for the ship to right itself. We are not Weimar Germany and we are not Venezuela. We have the world’s reserve currency, no pressing external obligations, and a young workforce. The problem is that there is a religious obstacle in the way: the religion of COVID-19, whose adherents practice the sacraments of the vax and the mask, and the dogma of which prevents everything from factory work to rent collection. Our fear of a disease that kills one in five thousand non-Boomers is singlehandedly accelerating the reappearance of history.

We will reach a point where the tattered fabric falls apart. It may tear at the California power grid, or in the fast-rushing but fragile current of food and supplies that keeps the island of Manhattan viable for its inhabitants. Standing here at the self-proclaimed end of history, we are accustomed to seeing these failures with the lens of 2008: that is to say, a pseudo-catastrophe that mostly serves to knock a few dozen million people out of the annoying middle class and into the pool of available Uber Eats drivers. But that’s an ahistorical viewpoint. No doubt many in Rome felt the same way, seventeen hundred years ago.

To quote noted bandleader (and ripoff artist, apparently) George Clinton, we are standing on the verge of getting it on. We are preparing to resume history. With a vengeance.

* * *

Last week, for Hagerty, I wrote about another trip. This week… well, I didn’t write anything! AND IT FELT GREAT!

124 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: A Gilded Seat For The Unraveling Edition”

  1. John Van Stry

    And this is why I got out of California 3 years ago. The writing was on the wall and it was writ pretty damn big.
    If people think things are bad now, well, this is only the beginning.

    Reply
  2. Harry

    First, on the Super Tucano video, I was amazed that the ground controller wasn’t wearing earmuffs, these things aren’t incredibly loud, but not quiet at that distance either. Foamies ain’t enough. Should have gone over that in the morning briefing. No wonder they collapsed.

    Second, I am not disagreeing with your theses for the article, but I would like to defend Fukuyama from some of your bile. His thesis would allow for the events in Afghanistan. The idea of the end of history isn’t the end of incompetence. I am guessing your read the same NR article I did last week saying it didn’t foresee what has happened in China.

    In short, Fukuyama is wrong on many counts, but interestingly so. Not so much stupid.

    I look at Fukuyama similarly Kimberle Crenshaw, it is very interesting and we are all better off for having these thoughts, exploring them, and dismissing what doesn’t work or isn’t useful. It is worth knowing that GM discriminated against blacks at one point, did something to fix it on the assembly lines, and benefited black men, then further analysis shows they were discriminating against black women in a secretarial capacity is worth knowing. Knowing doesn’t automatically present a course of action, but it is good to know.

    Fukuyamas thesis is an interesting way to think about how the great philosophical struggles of the preceding 300 years played out politically up until that point. It is like an academic version of Philip K. Dicks The Penultimate Truth.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Not much argument from me on what you’re saying, but Fukuyama’s sin is at the very least a sin of hubris. In the introduction linked from the article, he spends a lot of time masterfully defeating straw men with no small amount of satisfaction.

      Reply
  3. Bon Ivermectin

    Thanks for posting on a Saturday…I know that this is a free blog, but that’s much better than on a Monday.

    My needs are probably different than your needs, but what cab / bed are on that truck?

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      My Silverado? It’s the crew cab with a 6.5 bed… which is fairly rare in Chevy-world, almost all of the ones you’ll find on a lot are the five-foot-and-change bed.

      Reply
  4. Newbie Jeff

    I work in the airline industry. From firsthand experience, I can confirm that the country’s airlines are in a kind of “new normal”, perpetual crisis mode. Not to sound dramatic, but I don’t think we’re far off from a fatal accident. The causes are all of the previously-mentioned culprits: labor shortages, unpredictable demand that explodes or vaporizes at the whim of the US government, ballooning fuel prices, management teams more focused on “fighting for voting rights” than running a functional airline…

    I think a lot of people – especially those who either don’t depend on air travel for a career or as a necessary mode of travel – are probably quick to dismiss whining over the state of our airlines… “first world problems!”, they might say. Like Starbucks running out of chai latte or your $80k truck backordered due to production delays…

    …but if such problems are pervasive and systemic, and solutions are unlikely (“the new normal!”), to the point that first world convenience and luxury no longer exist on a large scale, there’s a glaring yet logical conclusion here: you no longer live in a first world country. Running a safe and functional air transportation system, mass producing automobiles, and coffee shops that have supplies in stock are features of a first world country, and we are not. We’re more like Afghanistan… a bunch of warring tribes, no functional central government, and a totalitarian horde who demands ideological conformity and decides how you’re going to live your life.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      Remember the good old days when flight attendants were young and pretty (coffee, tea, or me?), and when seat spacing was such you could actually sit comfortably even in coach (and most of your fellow passengers weren’t 50+ lbs overweight and bulging over into your space), and the planes were exciting new designs and likely less than 5 years old, and you didn’t get charged extra for a snack, or to bring a bag along on your journey? Remember the less diverse world where passengers didn’t need to remove their shoes, and grandmothers and WW2 veterans didn’t get the 3rd degree and full body searches prior to boarding so as not to offend the two 20 something year old Muhammads with non-US passports who were also trying to board? Remember when airlines hired pilots based on experience and ability rather than diversity and inclusion criteria (same for air traffic control)? Remember when ticket prices were so high that your fellow passengers were all upper-middle class or above, which meant there were few people traveling with screaming infants, and few people getting on board stinking of pot and BO, and a no crazy people on board who tried to kick out windows or open pressurized doors during flights, because most such ill-behaved and smelly people couldn’t afford tickets and had to take the bus instead? In fact, about the only thing about modern flying that is better than the good old days is that smoking is no longer allowed during flights.

      Reply
      • D Stanley

        The deregulation of airlines in 1978 is what started the trend we see today. A race to the bottom of air fares and service.

        I flew for a reginal airline for 8 years, both as first officer and captain in a BE1900D turbo prop and a CRJ, Canadair Regional Jet.

        The CEO of our airline was a stock market trader who used the airline as his investment vehicle. His teenaged daughter legally owned a commissary company that supplied his airline with snacks and drinks. His teen son legally owned a tire company that supplied the airline with airplane tires. His wife owned several other companies that did business with the airline. No conflict of interest there.

        Pilots, flight attendants, crew trackers, dispatchers, A&P mechanics, gate agents, and rampers, more and more were hired largely based on diversity and quotas, not based on experience or knowledge, skills, and abilities. The airline had code share agreements with major airlines and flew under their names (“____ Express”), but still flew under it’s own operating certificate.

        The flight attendants we flew with usually fell within four unofficial classifications, 1) 19-30 yr old cute women, 2) gay and lesbian, 3) 40-60 yr old chain smoking thrice divorced women, usually pissed off at all men, and 4) elderly retirees who wanted to get out of the house and travel the country and enjoy their jobs – they were a fun group to fly with!

        The 4 and 5 day trips, with multiple legs each day, wore us down. And the commute got really old to and from home if we lived in a different town from where we were domiciled. The chief pilot (and reginal chief pilots) wanted to back the pilots but were under pressure from management to push us out of the airline and into major airlines, as senior pilots made more money per flight hour than junior pilots. So if we had more than 5 years seniority, the airline made our lives hard. If we had 10 years seniority, management looked for any excuse to get rid of us. We made too much money then. The ALPA pilot representatives could only do so much. If management violated our pilot contract, we could and would file a grievance, but in the end, ALPA couldn’t get much more from the airline other than an “assurance” that the violation wouldn’t happen again. Only to have it happen again, and again…

        We did lots of “camping trips” in the airplane if we spent the night for less than four hours in a location (all contained within a shift of no more than 8 hours flight time and 16 hours duty time). If, for example, we came into Eugene, OR for 4 hours and 1 minute in the middle of the night before our next departure, then the airline had to supply us with hotel rooms. But if the departure time changed to 2 minutes earlier to where we were only on the ground for 3 hours and 59 minutes, then we no longer got hotel rooms (which happened alot). We kept the APU on and slept in the plane.

        Oh it was all legal. On paper, we all got a minimum of 8 hours rest between shifts, but flew many trips on the backside of the clock, followed by day trips, followed by night trips (at least when flying at night, ATC wasn’t as tense with us and we could usually fly fast and direct to our destination). It was all legal on paper but our circadian rhythms were way off. Always tired and out of it.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          Thanks for sharing your experiences. Makes me wonder how an airline might do that put shareholders and customers first by hiring the best employees and suppliers and treating them decently, and firing them when they don’t perform well at their jobs. I guess there just isn’t much kickback money for the CEO from running a business that way. As for the flight attendants, I guess I don’t fly enough because I’ve seen plenty of groups 2 and 3, but the only ones I have seen in recent times from group 1 are flying Eastern European based airlines where the job is still seen as one of status and glamor.

          Reply
          • JMcG

            A friend used to fly 74s for Singapore Airlines. They hired stewardesses at 18 on a five year contract. If they did well, they got another five year contract. That was it. They only had uniforms up to size 2. If you got bigger than that, you were out.

          • stingray65

            The last regional jet I was on had a flight attendant that must have squeezed into a size 22, because she had to “suck it in” to make her way down the aisle.

    • Drsmith

      Exactly this plus infinity – best comment explanation yet. So, the real question is why – simply cause they hate us, or is there more? That is what I’d like to know

      Reply
  5. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Not only a new vehicle shortage, but the same on used vehicles. The result is prices on used cars/trucks are getting stupid. Last year I bought a 2001 F-350 Lariat, crew cab, diesel dually with 84K miles, for $17,750. I’m using it, not advertising it for sale, and was offered just last week $26,000 for it. Problem is, what would I replace it with? Same thing with the “short bus” I bought in January this year for $3200 from the original owner. 2001 Windstar passenger van, 3.8 V-6, basic van, not many options but 18,500 original miles. I put new tires on it, they were date coded from 2010, new battery and thats it.I didn’t NEED a mini van, wasn’t really looking for one, but for that money and miles, I jumped on it. I don’t use it much, 2/3 of the miles it has accumulated since January were put on by friends I let borrow it due to them having breakdowns of their own vehicles. Just for shits and giggles I hit Carvava up for an offer; $5,100. Based on that offer, I suspect if I advertised it I could probably get close to $6K for it.

    Crazy times.

    Reply
    • Fred Lee

      It’s been a good year to have been previously profligate. We had extra cars and I had about 8 extra bicycles.

      I’ve spent the last 3 months liquidating all of the above. For ridiculous prices

      Reply
    • stingray65

      As I noted in my comment to Tom’s electric Volvo review, the only good deals and plentiful supply these days on new or late model used cars seems to be vehicles that government is telling us we need to buy to save the planet, which is electrics. Funny that there are not more people who want to spend $60K on a compact cross-over that have drive 200 whole miles before needing a 30 minute to 7 hour recharge.

      Reply
    • John C.

      It is fun to read your comments DDM, especially those rare ones unrelated to me. When Armageddon comes, you are going to be the guy sitting pretty with all those mason jars full of cash buried around your shot gun shack. I hope you will have the right currency in them. Cripto sounds like a billionaire plot to keep the price of gold down until they amass enough of it. The paper dollars of ZOG or the paper pesos of Central America might not be looking so goo., But what do I know, after all I drive a Volvo that I have decided to keep around longer given the current supply situation. You know, a measured, sensible reaction. It just would not have come to me to “jump on” the sad old minivan a big, poor, white trash family could use in the hope you extract a little more of their blood and toil for it.

      Reply
      • Dirty Dingus McGee

        Don’t flatter yourself by thinking I give two shits about what you think John C, because I don’t. I keep my peso’s/crypto/fiat dollars in circulation, not in Mason jars. I DO have a fair amount of precious metals stored, just not the ones you would think are precious. As for the shotgun shack, I would prefer to move to one before a condo on River St with the turd knockers that inhabit that area.
        I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that I was looking to ” extract a little more of their blood and toil for it” by being curious what Carvana would offer for the van that a ” big, poor, white trash family could use”. Unless maybe your kinfolk are needing a new whip? I will say that 2 of the folks that have borrowed it, one a young father and his family whose vehicle was totaled by a wrong way DUI driver, were grateful to have the use of it for a few weeks while dealing with insurance companies and/or vehicle breakdowns

        By the way; I think I’ve figured out what the “C” stands for in your name; Clavin. As in the younger, previously unknown brother, of the renowned know it all Cliff.Clavin.

        (sorry Jack. he decided to poke the bear so I decided to poke back)

        Reply
  6. Bon Ivermectin

    Perhaps more noteworthy than Afghanistan:
    https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/08/13/dhs-issues-new-national-terrorism-advisory-system-ntas-bulletin

    Under the Biden-Harris Administration, DHS has increased the development, production, and dissemination of intelligence and other actionable information central to countering threats in the current environment. DHS has established a new, dedicated domestic terrorism branch within the Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A). Further, DHS has established the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) to help build local prevention frameworks to provide communities with the tools they need to counter terrorism and other targeted violence.

    In February, Secretary Mayorkas designated combating domestic violent extremism as a National Priority Area for the first time in FEMA grant programs. As a result, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments are required to spend at least 7.5 percent, or a minimum of $77 million, of their DHS grant awards toward combating this threat. 

    These initiatives are taken in concert with the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Domestic Terrorism Strategy which highlights the whole-of-government approach being take to enhance the analysis and distribution of actionable intelligence to stakeholders; prevent domestic terrorism recruitment and the mobilization to violence; disrupt and deter domestic terrorism activity; and confront long-term contributors to domestic terrorism.

    So as the government abandons the War on Terror abroad, the WHOLE OF GOVERNMENT now turns against US Citizens.

    Reply
    • MD Streeter

      They already have an entire army of “informants” and other associated acts working on entrapping people into kidnap plots and riots on federal property. It’s amazing (but not at all surprising) that they claim they need more.

      Reply
    • stingray65

      That is not really fair. The WHOLE of GOVERMENT is only turning against US citizens who believe there are reasons to be suspicious about the 2020 US election (only about 60% of the population), and/or who believe that mask mandates and lock-downs do more harm than good (only about 50% of the population), or who have problems being forced to get jabbed with a rush-job vaccine that doesn’t seem to work since you still have to wear masks and follow lock-down rules (only about 50% of the population), or who think national borders should be maintained and that US citizens should have more rights and benefits than illegals (only about 70% of the population), or who believe school children should be taught math, literacy, and real science and history rather than CRT and other Leftist indoctrination lessons (only about 70% of the population). So if you vote Democrat, support CRT in schools, believe in open borders, get your vaccination and double-mask, and are proud that Joe Biden is calling the shots, or are a person of color/transgender/homosexual/illegal you have nothing to worry about with regards to the US Government.

      Reply
      • gbk

        I wouldn’t say that folks on the left don’t have to worry. The NY Governor having outlived his usefulness has been shown the door and I’m convinced that Biden will soon be deposed and our first black Asian Indian woman President will come in to rescue all those poor women enslaved by those beastly fundamentalist Muslims. When the time comes don’t you dare vote against our new President either….she will be the hero (heroine? Dare we say that?) of our new enlightened global society.

        Reply
    • LynnG

      Bon,
      No need to worry, speaking as someone who saw how DHS/FEMA operated from the inside you have to consider two facts. First, there are two large groups within DHS/FEMA First, those dedicated employees that are on the front lines, and second those employees that work inside the beltway. The first group overall tend to be dedicated to their jobs and do the best they can given the leadership and resouces (think Boarder Patrol, First Responders). The second group for the most part are looking out for what they can get out of it (promotions, power, time in service). I have more then passing knowledge of the second group as I worked with the inside the beltway group when I lead a great team of about a 1,000 people out in the field. My Division Director at HQ so liked working with people that he had his secretary order up a surplus FEMA trailer and put it in the parking lot and move his and her office furniture out to the trailer so he would not have to deal with people. He then had all of the field directors/supervisors report to his deputy, who had two methods of management (screaming at his field directors until he foamed at the mouth, or demanding reams of paperwork for already approved projects and then shouting directions to issue stop work orders until he reviewed all the paperwork). I quickly learned to a: keep DC management out of the loop to the maximum extent possible or b: hang up the phone when they called… If not, no work would get done and most importantly my team would would have suffered.
      Therefore Bon, if history is lesson, I am sure that what ever Biden or better yet his underlings are planning, first and for most the inside the beltway group will see what is in if for them (promotions, opportunities, …) and then after all the perks have been divied up they will put something in place to say they are protecting the homeland from its own citizens….
      This comes with one footnote, a small subset within the second group could for a better term be classified as skinheads. They are government employees that make G. Gordon Liddy look like Mr, Rogers, these government employees have to be keep at bay at all cost because they are dangerous….. and more so if they are in powerful positions…..

      Reply
  7. Josh Arakes

    So many thoughts, so much I’ll just leave unsaid.

    We sold our house this spring and moved on base, in part to cash out and in part because base life is less crazy than what life was like in our (nice) suburb.

    We did buy a 2006 Lexus LX470 with 103,000 miles on it this week and proceeded to do more off-roading with it the first day we owned it than it had likely seen in its entire life. Amazing vehicle and not a speck of rust on it.

    Oh, and I saw Jesus Jones in concert when I was in high school and the played the aforementioned song. Don’t judge me, tickets were free.

    Reply
  8. JMcG

    Well, two years after the Berlin Wall fell, we were hip deep in Iraq. A few years after that, we were chest deep in the former Yugoslavia. I’m still surprised by that one, to be honest. What a horror show. Remember “accidentally” bombing the Chinese embassy?
    Then there was the little unpleasantness in Rwanda which featured half a million killed by being hacked to death with machetes. If my timeline is correct, that was right after we got run out of Somalia after our guys were kinda, sorta rescued by Pakistani! peacekeepers. I don’t think that led the various Rwandan factions to worry about a Ranger battalion interfering with their bloody work.
    Meanwhile, the Russians, after having their country raped by Harvard MBA -guided oligarchs, spent the nineties in a horrifying little war in the Caucusus.
    I think Israel spent some time in the Lebanon back then as well. It all kind of runs together now.
    We bombed an aspirin factory in the Sudan in what, ‘98? That was the first time I ever heard of Osama Bin laden. We actually committed an act of war against a sovereign nation to distract from that scumbag Bill Clinton and his dalliance with Monica Lewinski. Remembering the interference that our press ran for their boy, I can only imagine what they’re covering up for that drooling idiot in the White House and her husband.
    Then came the election of 2000. Then, less than a year later, 9/11.
    That’s an awful lot of history in the 12 years after the Berlin Wall was demolished. A reunited Germany is swamped with refugees from the “history” of the last 30 years.
    I honestly dread the next thirty.

    Reply
  9. Ice Age

    “My life fades, the vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos, ruined dreams, this wasted land. But most of all, I remember the Road Warrior, the man we called Max.

    To understand who he was you have to go back to another time. When the world was powered by the black fuel, and the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel. Gone now, swept away.

    For reasons long forgotten two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel they were nothing. They’d built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped.

    Their leaders talked and talked and talked, but nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. The cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men.

    On the roads it was a white-line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice. And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed.”

    Reply
    • Disinterested-Observer

      Billionaires and politicians to normal Americans: There has been too much violence. Too much pain. But I have an honorable compromise. Just walk away. Give me your children, the real estate, the money, and the whole country, and I’ll spare your lives. Just walk away and we’ll give you a safe passageway in the wastelands. Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.

      Reply
  10. Eric L.

    Man, so much has happened this week I’ve been checking the site every few hours, dying to know what you’d choose to write.

    This is the best weekly roundup in a while, because it’s the only one that paints our Current History like the third or fourth chapter of a William Gibson novel. That LA description… ugh, so good. Why do we power tent cities? Why do people like your friend still live there, rather than on some private acreage in Rancho Santa Fe or those hills southwest of San Fransisco?

    Your bit about the “WARNING: NO FUEL FOR 75 MILES” reminded me of my July roadtrips. Our exfiltration route from the state took us up the 15 through Vegas, where you get off on US 93 and continue on to the 318 to Ely, NV. I drove it once during the day and the second time through the night. A surprisingly busy two-lane highway during the day that is utterly deserted* after sunset. But the austere terrain? It’s surprisingly beautiful. You pop up on a surprise lake(!!) and protected waterfowl area. You drive past some astonishingly massive mountains (12K ft!) with epic prominences, looming over the not-quite wasteland; dust devils; cows and irrigated grasslands; and loads of OHV areas. I’ve never seen anything like it. After spending ~20 hours driving through their land, and thinking about the previous 18 months history, I understand why people choose to live out there.

    *Deserted. Rural central-Nevada. See what I did there? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    Reply
    • Eric L.

      Actually read the article this time.

      1. Hungry hippo is hilarious. Hahaha, nice burn!
      2. Are you guys always so serious when you’re jumping and steezing? I’m constantly hooping and hollering on the trail, that’s a key part of making it fun!
      3. I was in Park City, UT a few weeks ago. Couldn’t get any riding in, but the sheer number of lifts and GMC Denali Suburban XLs with Kuat NVs bristling with Yetis made me jealous. Pedaling around in the forests at ~9.5K feet looks like fun. Oh, and we saw the new Bugatti thing scrape trying to leave the Waldorf-Astoria! Beautiful sound–the engine, not the scraping plastic. The 40-something owner was trying not to embarrass himself in front of his buddy in the Rolls Cullinan, but those curbs must be steep for the snow melt. And after the valet gave him directions to drive around the back of the hotel and leave via the blue-collar entrance. Tsk.

      Reply
      • Jack Baruth Post author

        My son is deadly serious about riding his bike. Not sure how good or bad that is…

        We will likely get out to Park City when the lifts open for 2022. I want to make the kid hike to Delicate Arch while we’re at it.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          What I can’t believe is how smooth and steady the video is over the jumps and washboard stuff – is it the bike suspension, the camera mount, or some stabilization software in the camera or editing program that provide the smooth ride?

          Reply
          • Jack Baruth Post author

            That’s the infamous “HyperSmooth” of the GoPro 7… while my Guerilla Gravity is a fairly smooth ride, and I’m a remarkably steady rider for a 49-year-old with a dinner plate’s worth of metal in his body, the GoPro itself throws a lot of stabilization at the image.

  11. Widgetsltd

    Notably absent in the above spiel was any mention of the danger to democracy posed by the Tucker Carlson types who advocate for a Viktor Orban style “illiberal democracy” such as they now have in Hungary. Authoritarian, Christian nationalist right-wingers are just as much of danger to democracy as communists (although Marx would not recognize what China considers communism.)

    Reply
    • JMcG

      Nope, communism is the all-time uncontested world champion at cold-blooded mass murder of our fellow humans. In a walk. If tens of millions of broken eggs with only a couple of omelets on the plates of the party elite are what you’re looking for – communism is your only man.

      Reply
    • stingray65

      You are so right about the Right. Imagine the dangers posed by a politician who actually does what he promises and looks out for the citizens of his own country first. Imagine the dangers posed by a politician who thinks national borders are worth defending, and isn’t happy to take in thousands of “refugees” with low IQ, no ability to speak in the local language, who practice the world’s most violent and repressive religion, and who will overwhelm the welfare programs while paying no taxes. What a crazy world we live in when an elected official can be such an idiot as to shut down needed victim study programs at taxpayer funded universities, and believes people who think they were born in the wrong body are mentally ill rather than heroes. I bet that crazy Hungarian and his Fox News supporter also think that cheap and reliable energy are important for the national welfare rather than spending trillions to convert the economy to the power sources of the Roman Empire. Crazy stuff – I’m sure glad the dead, illegal, felon, and phantom voters made sure to vote 2 or 10 times each to ensure we wouldn’t have any of that crazy Right wing stuff her in the USA.

      Reply
    • John C.

      I just hope that people like Jack’s friend with the motorcycle in their living room and diet coke in their free flowing booze, but no rings on their finger and no children in their bedrooms, will not be inspired by Tucker’s accurate, I visited in 2019, take on Hungary and move there. Then the architecture will again turn brutal, the fantastic meat and potatoes family food will be replaced by street noodles and kababs, the soon to be pretty young wives will be distracted into whoring, the now hopelessly single Magyar and Hun young men will be in homeless tent cities, the old commie worker blocks having been repurposed for generic hipsters. Jack’s friend and his cohort are even more dangerous to Hungary than the Muslim horde that would likely just pass through as they did before on the way to richer Vienna. The last time the Muslims past through they strangely left a (nearly) permanent cohort of Jews. I expect that would also repeat.

      Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Those people ran this country from 1820 or so to 1960 and I don’t recall the democracy collapsing as a result… but what do you think an Orban typa dude would *do*, exactly? Close the borders? Shut OnlyFans all the way down? The last time a Christian government killed citizens for apostasy was the nineteenth century.

      Reply
      • stingray65

        You are right Jack, but remember those Right wingers who ran the country from 1820 to 1960 didn’t have Tucker Carlson on their side, which is probably the only reason the country didn’t go Fascist.

        Reply
      • Widgetsltd

        1820 to 1960, huh? Women were not allowed to vote for the first hundred years of that time period. Black folks were actively prevented from voting by various strategies (poll tax, literacy test, etc) until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. So I suppose that you’re saying that democracy was working pretty well for white dudes within that time period.
        https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=100

        Reply
        • stingray65

          Not that I think it has turned out well because I think only people with skin in game (net taxpayers and military) should be allowed to vote, but it was Republicans (those Right Wing fascists) who gave women and blacks the vote, and it was Democrats (those virtuous champions of the people) who enacted the poll taxes, and used all their resources to slow the passage of women’s voting and civil rights legislation.

          Reply
        • Panzer

          “LoOk wHat HAPPeneD bAcK tHen, EvERYtHinG wAs bAaaaaad FOr thE BlACk pEoPle aNd tHe WaMenS, sO tHat MeAnS EveRyThinG BaCk tHen WaS bAaaaaaD”

          I can’t get over how brain dead you on the left really are, to make the assumption that just because the past had its shortcomings, therefore we have nothing positive to learn from our ancestors, and that nothing was better then as if you and the rest of us are doing such a stellar job in the here and now.

          This assumption is nothing more than a rehashing of Marx’s assertion that his genius was the inevitable next stage of human development.

          Stupidity doesn’t even cover it.

          Reply
          • Jack Baruth Post author

            Oh make no mistake, ten years from now we will be eating bugs and only receiving electricity three days a week as roving gangs of Blantifa give random children the “necklace” treatment but a certain percentage of people will be like OMG PRESIDENT FOR LIFE HARRIS HAS PRONOUNS IN HER BIO

          • hank chinaski

            Allow me to retort.
            Their genius is in their results: they run absolutely everything. The right owns nothing.

            For instance, yet another murderous Weatherman (this one the biological father of the criminal’s best friend DA in SanFran) has been sprung (by Handsy Andy on his way out the door). The Donald is sitting on $250M raised post election. Does he spare a dime as seed money for a ‘Bail Project’ for his own supporters languishing in the Bastille? Lol, no. Hell, it may have been the plan all along: kill a few chickens to scare the monkeys.

      • Widgetsltd

        I just sold the literacy test and poll tax short, though. Although both were clearly intended to suppress/eliminate black voter turnout, plenty of poor and/or poorly educated folks regardless of race or gender were ensnared. As intended. We can’t have the “wrong” citizens voting. Right?

        Reply
        • Jack Baruth Post author

          Basing your opinion of a country’s greatness based on who can vote seems a bit reductive. Everyone in Bolivia can vote. Nobody in China gets a vote.

          I think you should have to be a property owner and literate to vote. Otherwise it’s just larceny via the ballot box. If that means that a bunch of black women who own property are voting and a bunch of white men who have nothing are not voting… that’s the way it turns out.

          Reply
          • Daniel J

            I still completely disagree about owning property to vote. Anyone who “rents” is effectively paying taxes on such property. Here in my state, cars count as property, as property taxes are collected on cars, boats, and motorcycles every year.

            I know people who rent who are far more involved in their community than someone states away who “owns” property in said state.

            I also think that voters should be required to vote locally before voting nationally, as local politics are far more relevant to everyday life in America than who’s the president. As we have seen with this pandemic, who runs the state and cities has far more control than who’s president.

          • stingray65

            Daniel J – the better idea is only net taxpayers get to vote. If what you pay in income, property, and sales tax exceeds what you get back in terms of welfare payments (including SS), government job salaries (except military who can be put in harm’s way), government pensions (except veterans), EV/solar panel tax credits, Pell Grants, agricultural subsidies, etc. then you get to vote. The Net could be calculated over the time period since the last election so the year to year fluctuations would be averaged out. I suspect that party policies would change drastically if only the people paying for the programs get to vote.

          • Ice Age

            I think one should have to be at least 50 years old to vote, because the young will tear down the fence without asking why it’s there.

          • Widgetsltd

            You hold up 1820-1960 as some sort of Golden Era in which the people who ran this country were doing a fine job, and democracy was protected. During the first hundred years of that time period, far greater than 50% of the adult citizens were not permitted to vote. We needed a literal act of Congress in 1965 to stop state and local authorities from impeding certain citizens’ right to vote. What the hell kind of democracy is that? Allowing only property owners to vote enshrines the power of the capital-owning class and subjugates the working poor. It’s not a side effect, it’s the whole point: to leave the poor powerless. It’s only a short step to the “make them go back to work!” and “there should be no minimum wage!” rhetoric that we hear today. But hey – my wife and I have greater than 50% equity in our house. Each of us has a goodly sum in our various retirement accounts. I own at least three cars free-and-clear. So we’re property owners. Nobody’s out to take our votes. I hope.

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            I didn’t say that “democracy was protected”. I said that the country was in good shape. There’s no evidence that this country was ever intended to be a traditional Athenian democracy where the 6 out of 10 people in this country who pay effectively zero taxes could vote on being given money from the public treasury.

            One could be forgiven for noting that the more “voting” we get in America, the more the country falls apart.

          • silentsod

            Saying Congress needed to pass laws to grant citizens their right to vote certainly suggests the de facto reality of voting in this country, certainly for the majority of the existence, not being a right. Should we allow rapists the vote? They’re citizens and we currently curtail their participation in society. If you are a hardliner and say yes, good on you for sticking to your principles. If no, then we agree not everyone gets to vote and now we’re negotiating terms.

        • silentsod

          One of the classic questions facing democracies for all time has been who should get the vote. Traditionally the answer has been to curtail voting to a subset of people because having anyone vote carries a number of dangers and downsides.

          Surely, you’re aware that Greek philosophers were discussing this problem thousands of years ago and it has been hashed and rehashed in the brief history of this country with radical democracy being embraced eventually.

          I’m all for denying, say, childless harridans the right to have any seat at the table when it comes to discussing what should be done for children. Same for people voting themselves housing, stipends, etc when they have no buy into the system.

          Reply
    • silentsod

      Illiberal democracy may be the best pattern. What makes the nation thrive is not modern libertinism but the proscription of behavior to build a particular culture and society.

      IOW, limiting people allows them to flourish rather than flounder.

      Reply
    • hank chinaski

      The vitriol expressed for leaders like Orban, Salvini, Putin, or Trump who have the gall to advocate for their own citizens is telling, and DJT was ultimately forced to hedge it by shilling Platinum Plans and for a certain racial theocracy. To do so reminds some folks of youknowwho, who did it so well, for a time.

      The descent from Constitutional Republic to liberal democracy, aka mob rule, is just that, and the results are telling. See also, vaxx passports vs. voting criteria.

      Reply
  12. -Nate

    The back roads of California have indeed been blessedly empty , I’ve been having great fun driving my old slow vehicles flat out on them .

    So far no problems getting fuel, fed or Motel rooms .

    Even Los Angeles commuter traffic isn’t bad ~ Friday I hit the Harbor Freeway in South Central L.A. at 06:00 and was in Pasadena in less than 30 minutes . I can remember taking two plus hours on this same drive not too long ago .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • JMcG

      God bless them. I was heavily involved in contract negotiations several times over the years. It was quite an education. We (the Union) brought an offer on medical benefits to the table around fifteen years ago. It retained the level of benefits we had previously enjoyed, but at a significantly reduced cost to the employer. It was a written offer, good for the life of the contract. The benefit level was good, but not great- an 80/20 split between employees and the company.
      The exact quote from the other side of the table?
      “We are no longer comfortable with providing that level of benefit to our work force.”
      Corporate America won’t be happy til we’re back to the days of Matewan. That’s what all the talk of gun control is about.

      Reply
      • JMcG

        Imagine! Being paid enough to put food on the table! What’s next? Perhaps new clothes instead of something from Goodwill. It’s amazing how much people despise their fellow American workers.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          The strike does not seem to be about wages, but complaints about working too many hours due to high demand and the company’s supposed “unwillingness to hire”, which is a strange reason to strike. Has anyone considered why the company is unwilling to hire in order to solve its short-staffing situation? Could it be union contracts that make it difficult to fire people when staffing needs change or due to poor job performance? Could it be Covid bonus payments to the unemployed who have decided they would rather stay home and eat cookies rather than go to work and make cookies? Did the union support “closed border”, “fair-trade deal”, and “cheap energy” Trump or “open border”, “defer to China”, and “shut down US oil jobs” Biden? Does anyone think that a news story from Vice or any other mainstream media source is going to give the straight story about union demands and management responses?

          Reply
    • Panzer

      Staying at home collecting covid bucks so the economy burns to the ground and inflation makes living costs unaffordable is not the answer.

      Making the corporations pay Americans American wages in exchange for protecting their capital under American rule of law rather than having it at the mercy of China’s communists – That’s how we get a better deal for American workers while preserving the dynamic private sector that has made our country a superpower.

      Oh wait, we did have that approach for a few years.. but the prez who led it wrote some mean tweets, so we got rid of him 👍

      Reply
      • John C.

        Be careful Panzer not to write mean tweets about dear Jacinda. She won’t buy twice that you were confused and thought she was baby Trudeau’s wife

        Reply
        • Panzer

          Credit where credit’s due, Jacinda and her party are that rare example of leftists in 2021 that actually somewhat care about the real working class.
          Her administration is gradually increasing the minimum wage and they have also been consistently in favour of strict border and immigration policies. They recently reaffirmed that the focus on immigration policy will be to bring the best and brightest rather than cheap expendable labour.
          However, her government is planning to introduce CRT into the schools so that in 15 years we too, will have our society burned to the ground every time a police shooting occurs.
          That’s why i plan to vote against her next election which I believe is next year.

          Reply
          • John C.

            I visited in 2018 and would have sworn you already had CRT. The only history talked about was Maori history. Good luck if you were a fellow like me who wanted to learn more about Captain Cook or Abel Tasman. Even the ANZAC Memorial in Auckland was all about alleged Maori participation when the real story was they were excluded from the then draft and so were typical loser no shows.

        • Panzer

          We didn’t have a draft up until almost the end of the war, and Maori served with distinction alongside Europeans.

          They were -not- ‘typical loser no shows’

          Yes, there is an emphasis on the Maori aspect of our history, but it hasn’t come across at the expense of the European history of New Zealand – yet. See my original post.

          Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      Or maybe, just perhaps, leftists like you have dominated so many American institutions over the past two generations that a large percentage of the population doesn’t understand that you have to put money in the bank before you can withdraw cash from the ATM.

      As for working like a dog, I like to camp in the Upper Peninsula and one of my favorite campgrounds is not far from Fayette, a ghost town that is now a state park. It was formerly a company town, owned by Cleveland Cliffs Mining Co., where they operated an iron smelter. Once refined, the molten iron would flow out through troughs and sprues into molds for 100 lb bars of “pig” iron (so called because the bars ands sprues looked like piglets suckling from a sow). Once the iron cooled enough to handle, men hoisted the bars on their shoulders and carried them to waiting wagons.

      Compared to shlepping 100 pound bars of hot iron for eight hours a day, one suspects that the Nabisco workers have no idea what it’s like to work like a dog.

      The true minimum wage is zero. If an employer cannot leverage the employee’s labor to make a profit, there’s not going to be a job.

      The brings to mind a question, why should a company have a larger moral obligation to the people who supply it with labor than it does to the people that supply it with all the other things it needs like finished and raw materials, utilities, etc.?

      Which brings up a further question, how is the value of something determined, by the labor put into it, or by the price someone is willing to pay?

      Reply
      • John C.

        It is much easier to feel no connection to the guy lifting the hot pig iron and making you rich when you are not like him. It doesn’t really matter if the master is the wondering Jew, Honda man fresh from Japan or the Nabisco guy in Ireland. You understand that your grandkids will not be still interacting with his, so you know screw the loser, daddy needs a Genesis.

        Reply
      • JMcG

        This brings to mind another question. Why should a nation have a larger moral obligation to those who are born within its borders than to those born elsewhere? Why should a person have a larger moral obligation to the country of his birth and to his fellow citizens than to another country or to the citizens of the world?
        Why should I stop to lift a finger to assist the victims of a car accident which I had no part in causing? Or to the victims of an accident which I, in fact, caused?
        Hurray for me and f**k everybody else is a hell of a way to live.

        Reply
        • Newbie Jeff

          “Why should I stop to lift a finger to assist the victims of a car accident which I had no part in causing? Or to the victims of an accident which I, in fact, caused?”

          Because every time you people stop to “help” a car accident you cause another thousand fucking car wrecks… it has nothing to do with “f**k everybody else”, it’s a simple understanding of how functional societies work and why the dysfunctional societies of history didn’t work…

          Reply
          • JMcG

            My rhetorical question was made as a response to Mr. Schreiber. It’s often not clear which responses go with which comments. I hope that provides some context.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          This deserves a larger discussion, but: there are only two ways for a modern society to distribute its efforts. Either it focuses on what can be done for its own people, or it allows itself to be guided by pure random emotion.

          How many people in the world would like to live in America? My guess is that the number is on the order of six billion. A sane society would have a thoughtful and restrictive policy on how to choose among those six billion. What we do now, instead, is create a situation where we take the people who catch our fancy at any given time. Somalis! Guatemalans! Afghans! Mexicans! There’s no rhyme or reason to it. And the consequences are hugely destructive. The majority of murders in my hometown come from the Somali community. Why are they here? At some point our government went through a fad for importing Somalis. Nothing more complex than that.

          Reply
          • stingray65

            “The majority of murders in my hometown come from the Somali community. Why are they here?”

            The correct answer is that some local NGO charity, church, foundation agreed to sponsor a Somali community in your hometown. I think a lot of charitable giving and church membership would change if the supporters knew their contributions were going to support often illegal immigration of “refugees” into the US. Those caravans of “refugees” from Central America are not getting bussed and fed on their way to the border and “educated” on what to say to the border patrol by kind Mexicans, but are part of an organized efforts by Catholic charities and a lot of other mainstream religious institutions who think it is their obligation to bring the world’s welfare cases to the USA.

        • Ronnie Schreiber

          I’ll gladly address your questions after you answer mine.

          Why do the providers of labor to a company have a greater moral claim to that company’s funds than the providers of other essential goods and services?

          A related issuse is price controls. If the providers of labor are guaranteed by the government to earn a certain wage, shouldn’t the providers of other goods and services also be guaranteed minimun pricing?

          Again, how is the value of anything determined? If it’s the labor that goes into it, why should a car depreciate in value as it ages?

          Reply
          • John C.

            The providers of goods have their own employers on which to rely. An employee just has the top boss, who since much as been given, much is expected. It does however fall apart when of seperate tribes. Notice Motown under Barry Gordy versus after he sold out to other tribes.

          • Ronnie Schreiber

            I know you want to blame Jews for it but Motown effectively died long before Gordy sold the catalog to MCA (now under the UMG umbrella). Motown stopped being Motown when Gordy closed down the Detroit studio (without even notifying the house band, the Funk Brothers, who were a major part of the “Motown sound”), and moved to Los Angeles because he wanted to get into the movie business using his former lover Diana Ross as a star vehicle.

            It’s important to remember that Motown’s first hit, by Barrett Strong, written by Gordy, was Money, That’s What I Want.

          • John C.

            Interesting, I thought that was an original Beatles song, though the bending over backwards to sound black should have given it away and not just being young and trying to find themselves.

            You are deflecting though, Gordy took better care of his people of his tribe than the not black alphabet soup that he sold to. The finishing schools the artists and joint, respectable tours were strategic investments Gordy understood his artist’s background required, The demise of the Funk Brothers and the similar Wrecking Crew was the dubious change in recording early 70s from whole orchestras recording together to each instrument recorded individually, ala the Electric Light Orchestra being one guy overdubbed to infinity. Industry wide. The move of Motown to LA was to make girlfriend and important Motown asset Diana Ross a movie star, still helping his people, though not the right move. He was getting rich and his people were properly pushing for a bigger share, the Miracles becoming Smokey Robinson and the to give the standouts a little extra. All over under the alphabet.

  13. hank chinaski

    An Affie exit could never, ever go any other way. Right on cue the military industrial complex is bawling like a baby that’s had its pacifier taken, and may get it back. Joe is taking the shit end of the stick to legitimize his ‘retirement’ and replacement with (maybe) heels up Harris as inner party hijinks ensues.

    The good news: the USSR collapsed only 2 years after their exit. Tick tock!
    Frankly, I like the cut of the Tali-bros jib. Recall that Franco used Moroccan moors to help kick the Republicans (heh) out.

    Reply
  14. Crancast

    Have not commented in a long while, but have really enjoyed the hot takes on finances-economy-taxes.

    A reference point from the DC Metro area. Two counties with the highest vaccination, err booster, rates in the entire US are in the DC Metro (1 in MD, 1 in VA), greater than 85%. If factoring in those who have had COVID and kids under 12 not able to get the booster but not impacted either, these communities should be leading the way for return to normal. And yet, the mask mandates returned. Once we get into the cold-flu-COVID winter season, some form of lockdown seems likely. If these communities, two shinning stars in the US and World based on ‘science’, cannot or refuse to return to normal, the end game is what exactly? Ride the fear wave for as long possible?

    A funny thing happened this week. The MD county had the county fair, masks indoors required and outdoors highly encouraged. Now, the fair had been on a downward trend for years. This week, record numbers, minimal masks. Super spreader event week if there ever was one. Fear is still winning, but the tide is turning ever so slowly.

    Jack – is there a Mach-E GT review coming any time soon? Or a Hummer EV review? A GTPE is headed my way, three weeks out.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      Outside of CDC workers and teachers union members, I thought blacks had the lowest vaccination rates in the country, and isn’t DC 50% black?

      Reply
      • Crancast

        DC Metro includes DC, MD, and VA. The area is one of the most diverse demographically in the country. Both of the counties are west of DC proper. African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to opt-out and the local booster advertising and penalties are geared to those demo’s.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          DC Metro diverse? Are you joking? It is 98% Leftist, and the 2% who aren’t won’t admit it because they don’t want “peaceful” protesters burning down their home/business or having the IRS/FBI/DOJ sending in a SWAT team to investigate their “subversive” activities.

          Reply
  15. Cleek

    Expect schools to open under the new normal and to close “for the sake of the children” sometime in early October. The closure will be ~ a week after the “butts in seats” student count is complete and the federal/State monies are accordingly paid out (lump sum) to the school districts.

    Reply
    • Crancast

      Exactly, I’m betting on an early Thanksgiving break till March 1. Many schools are handing out the Chromebooks and remote materials pro-actively undercover to start the year.

      Reply
  16. Booty_Toucher

    This post really hits home. I’m a Bay Area native, resident, and homeowner (blissfully, in the nice part of the Bay). Life is 1000% less frustrating visiting my wife’s family in Columbus, Ohio. Even during the peaks of summer or winter. California unban/suburban areas have unbearable traffic, embarrassing homeless encampments, insufferable progressive political judgment, inexcusable taxes and attempts at wealth redistribution, abysmal service, absurd acceptance/encouragement of lazy freeloaders, and ridiculous costs of living. We do have beautiful open space, amazing weather, and high wages/property values. I’m also OK with our embracing masks and vaccines that make my family safer, even if some of the public narrative is questionable and the government is overly questionable. Also, I disagree that Biden is getting a free pass on Afghanistan. Even the liberal media and some politicians have been critical of the withdrawal.

    Reply
  17. bullnuke

    My youngest son and I took a trip from OH-10 out West around 20 years ago in my then mostly-new ’99 F350 7.3/6MT. I needed to get out of the house for awhile, had no real destination planned, and wanted to show the boy more than field of corn (now, ethanol) and flat land. He was bored until I said, “Hey, man. Want to see some big heads?”. Up to Mt. Rushmore we went and, after staying the night in the Badlands National Park (we went through the gate after closing and spent the night there free seeing the sunrise – fantastic view!) and arrived at Rushmore before opening, getting in free because a white XL Ford looks like a maintenance workers vehicle and we were waved on in. Only my son and I, with an actual maintenance worker using an electric floor machine, were on the balcony overlooking the “big heads” in the morning light. Once again, awesome. “Hey, let’s go see where the aliens landed and played a bunch of musical tones.”. Off we went, down to Wyoming to Devil’s Tower. Across Big Wonderful toward where I spent three of my formative years training folks how to operate nuclear reactor plants in the middle of the desert West of Idaho Falls, ID. Eh, restricted area as always, but he got to see South Butte which was used as a target for proof testing 16″ battleship cannon during WWII. From there, up to Bremerton, WA, to see the Naval Hospital where he was born in ’85. Then, time to come home – I had to take him through Southern Utah over Hell’s Backbone near Escalante – another fantastic view and sketchy gravel road. After leaving Escalante we did the old trick of watching the bag of Doritos, packed and filled in Columbus, expand and explode in the back seat as the altitude/pressure changed in the climb through Utah. Over thru Colorado via I-70 through the Eisenhower Tunnel (the boy was amazed that my diesel, thanks to Mr. Turbo, was leaving folks behind during the climb out of Vail). And home. The now 36 year old still remembers and owns that truck.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      Good story, but I bet cousin Eddie and the kids are still unhappy you didn’t stop on your trip out west, and it seems you missed the world famous house of mud. Did you happen to get passed by any super models driving a Ferrari?

      Reply
  18. Ronnie Schreiber

    For the record, it’s a gorgeous car, very similar to the hundred other gorgeous cars there. The Pebble Beach crowd has a very strong attachment to 540Ks, but I don’t think it’s because they are all secret Nazis. I think it’s because the 540K is probably the alpha pre-war car, or close to it, and this is a pre-war crowd.

    I grew up in the 1960s, when Corvettes and E-Type Jaguars reigned and it took me well into adulthood before I gained an appreciation for pre-war cars and in particular cars from the 1930s. If that’s the case for someone who collects Social Security, imagine how most young people feel about cars sold before their grandparents were born.

    The Pebble show is considered to be the most prestigious car show in the world but the judges wimped out by picking the Benz. I did a piece for the Hagerty Pebble site on Best of Show winners and there have already been a few 500K and 540K cars that have won overall. Maybe, for the sake of the hobby’s future, the Pebble concours should have two Best of Shows, one pre-war, to make sure rich entrants like the Kellers that won this year can still take home a trophy, and one post-war, to show that automotive technology and style didn’t end in Sept. of 1939. The last post-war car that won was in the 1960s.

    As it was, the fact that two of the four finalists this year were post-war was considered revolutionary. I think it would have been great if the Ferrari Tri Posti won.

    FWIW, for the first four years of the Pebble Beach Concours, most of the entrants were either new or late model cars. It wasn’t until Phil Hill’s Pierce Arrow won in 1955 that a pre-war car won. Since then only two post-war cars have won.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      The interesting question is the size and the age demographics of Pebble Beach crowd, entrants, and judges. If the crowds are thinning and dominant demographics are silent generation and early boomers who are aging out of hobby then there will likely be some movement to put more emphasis on post-war cars to maintain interest. On the other hand, if some new money and fresh blood are making significant inroads into the crowds and entries and continue to show interest in the old stuff, then changes will be slight. To a large degree the pre-war stuff maintains its status because it is viewed as art with the large number of artists (both car brands and custom coach builders) and extravagant styles and technology (i.e. 20 foot long 2 seater coupes and roadsters, 7 seat open cars, V-16, V-12, and straight 8s, supercharging, FWD) that were never matched in the post-war austerity of Europe or the mass-production focused USA and disappearance of independent automakers and coachbuilders, and true art never goes out of style.

      Reply
      • John C.

        In any hobby, at the very high end you will find collections that have passed down through generations but are being continued and expanded partially as a monument to a patriarch. There are for example very few female postage stamp collectors but two of the world’s most bespoke collections are in the hands of women who are continuing the collections of their father or grandfather.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          Females also collect stuff, but just different stuff like dolls/stuffed animals, antique/designer furniture, vintage designer clothing/shoes, and alimony and homes from ex-husbands.

          Reply
  19. yossarian

    My on the ground update from nyc is that people here are starting to lose it. Zombies on the street everywhere. You now have to have the jab to hold a job unless you are a teacher but the teacher’s union is threatening to send my kid home for ten days, if any one of the hundreds of people she comes in contact with tests positive. Vaxxed kids can stay in school. It’s a mad mad world.

    Reply
    • Eric L.

      Yo, check the news. The nameless god the world’s been worshiping the past year? HE HAS A NAME! Comirnaty®! Your mayor waited 10 minutes to order one of the largest employers in the country to fire all un-mRNA injected teachers and staff. No more semi-weekly negative tests. The first few dominoes fall slow, then they come fast and heavy, yossarian.

      Reply
  20. -Nate

    FWIW, Pebble Beach is a nice place to visit, I highly recommend it, I don’t go when there’s any events .

    Diet anything is, IMO nasty ~ in his pre teen years my son developed an affinity for diet Coke, go figure .

    Some years back I heard about ‘Coke Black’ (maybe blak ?) and in spite of warnings I bought a bottle of it and forced my self to drink the entire thing .

    Ew .

    Taste is a very subjective thing ~ I love Moxie and Vernor’s .

    I heard on the radio that Mountain Dew (AKA “Rocket Fuel by Cabbies and long haul drivers) is now available with alcohol (?) as soon as I see it in my local 7-11 I’ll try it .

    For cleaning /de-rusting gas tanks Phosphoric Acid is much better, faster and cheaper .
    I had a five hour go round with a rusty and dirty Honda Motocycle gas tank yesterday, I managed to not damage the paint and got all manner of rust and I don’t know what crud out if it, whew .

    _DILUTE_ the Phosphoric Acid before putting it in the tank ! .

    -Nate

    Reply
  21. CJinSD

    I just read your Countach editorial today. The disappointing thing about the new Countach, other than the lack of a gated manual transmission, is that it is a rehash of the old Countach. Can you imagine Marcelo Gandini tracing a fifty year old design? His Muira was a revelation. Just about the time people were coming to grips with such an original and beautiful shape, he dropped the jarring and unique Countach; a car appropriately named for an exclamation. And here we are a congressional career later looking at Lamborghini trying to pull themselves out of a styling funk by copying what they were doing the first time Beijing Joe was elected to the Senate. It’s absolutely pathetic, and a reminder that Italy is no longer a significant style leader.

    Reply
    • John C.

      CJ is really on to something here. Think of how much Lambo changed in the 10 years before the original Countach, and then think of the 50 years since. Are not all the manufacturers from everywhere that made cars 50 years ago badly trying to regain that magic from 1970? You may argue Japan, but look at them today.

      Reply
      • CJinSD

        Lamborghini’s original intention was to build GT cars that were as reliable as his tractors. The Muira was a project built by his young engineers and shown as a bare chassis, perhaps intended for racing that he wanted no part of. There was so much demand for a mid-engine Lamborghini that he had to rush it into production, skinned by the gifted Marcelo Gandini. At that point Lamborghini automobiles were no longer realizations of Ferruccio’s ambition. Since then, Lamborghini has been passed around from hapless owner to hapless owner. FL’s ambition to build good cars has long been forgotten, and the young men who made the cars exciting despite him are long retired. I suppose I shouldn’t be disappointed that they’re using a replicar to cash in on the pedocrats’ infrastructure liquidity.

        I’m not sure what Japan has to do with this. What are they doing today that relates to what they were doing in 1970, or 1974? Honda was barely a car manufacturer then. Subaru doesn’t even want people in the US to remember that they were WRC contenders fifteen years ago. Toyota dropped the Land Cruiser from our market, leaving the Corolla as their last long-running model name. Except now it does what Darts and Chevelles did back then rather than trying to surprise buyers of minimally-viable-product imports with excellence. Nissan? They thought about trying to rekindle myths about 510s and 240Zs before deciding to become the Japanese Hyundai instead. Mazda’s claim to fame was putting rotaries in everything. They haven’t figured out what that would mean today, and anyone who might have cared probably has given up and scrapped their inoperative RX8s by now.

        Reply
        • John C.

          FL sold the last shares of his namesake the year the Countach came out, unmistakably giving his opinion of the vacuum cleaner cars. I wonder if the design features of the original V-12 reflected any of his ideas of what a super car should be or he was just functioning as a check writer to make reality what Bizarinni already had in mind?

          Reply
    • hank chinaski

      It did what it was supposed to do. It’s a franchise reboot to lure the fraction of GenX Countach poster owners now wealthy enough to buy the thing. If they had charged 2x much for 1/2 the production, they would have sold out too. On the bright side, they didn’t put the name on a combover (thanks, Tom) like Ford did with a certain pony car.

      An idea for a viral video: Talil-bros doing donuts and slaloming around bomb craters on the Bagram airstrip in a new Countach.

      Reply
      • CJinSD

        They did put the Lamborghini name on a CUV, and it is one of the sillier ones I’ve seen on the street.

        If not for a few tire issues in the past, I wonder if the Mock-E would be called an Explorer.

        Reply
  22. Panzer

    Yeah.. that Countach article further reinforces to me that you and Harris are the only two people worthy of calling themselves Auto-Journalists in 2021

    Reply

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