The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Retard Parade of Western Politics Exemplified By Trump and Biden

We had a joke back in the Bush Jr. administration.

“Evil or stupid? Why not both?”

Bush Jr. was clearly mentally challenged. Cheney was supposedly smart, but he was the type of smart guy who winds up ordering the charge of the Light Brigade: great at internal politics, worthless at anything else.

Biden’s clearly senile (no, don’t even). Trump’s somewhat better, but still makes mistakes frequently and is often incoherent.. We used to sneer at the Soviet politburo of the 70s and 80s, but this worse.

But it’s not just about age. Macron is relatively young and a complete cockup, residing over a France which is constantly rioting. He’s gotten France kicked out of multiple African ex-colonies and proposes idiocy like sending the French Army to Ukraine. The German leadership are spinless morons who are shedding German industry because they won’t stand up to America, losing an advantage created by better men and women over a hundred years ago.

American policy forced Russia, which wanted to be part of the West, into a solid alliance with China, making China’s rise inevitable. The West deliberately sent China our industrial base, thus destroying the basis of our power.

We’re so incapable now that we cant even keep Yemen from shutting down shipping in one of the most important straits in the world. Drone tech should NEVER have been developed by the US military, because it was obviously a tech like gunpowder or the crossbow: it empowers any idiot to defeat extremely expensive military units and that’s what the US has an advantage in. It doesn’t have anything else: its soldiers are not, and never have been very good, just well equipped and numerous.

And then there’s climate change. “There’s a threat we know will probably end our civilization, but fuck it, let’s make it worse!”

This is true late Roman Emperor level dysfunction. Absolute morons getting everything wrong, capable of nothing but alternating between pandering to elites and making cruel shows of ineffective force, while the fall everyone with sense knows is coming storms forward from the horizon.

Of course, they do live in a world where they fuck underage girls and boys, grow bloated on bribes and pat each other on the back telling themselves that they are the greatest great leading the most powerful power that every strode the world. Trump shits into a golden toilet.

But this Emperor’s New Clothes crap. They’re idiots. They’re evil. And they’re presiding over the end of the European era and the induction of catastrophic climate change and ecological collapse while getting their asses repeatedly kicked by a bunch of tribesmen.


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  1. anon

    Americans has plenty of chances to vote for better presidential candidates in both the Republican and Democratic primaries in the last two decades. Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, Mike Gravel, Marianne Williamson, Ron Paul…We also had Green and independent candidates. Dr. Jill Stein is still running.

    None of these people were or are perfect and would have came with plenty of disappointments, but they would have surely been better than Obama, Trump, or Biden.

    Americans are too propagandized by mainstream media and caught up in the culture of celebrity to vote for better candidates. This is true of conservatives and liberals, even the ones who are progressive. Look at how many people are still enamored with AOC who is nothing more than a Twitter celebrity. I don’t know what will get Americans to vote out bad politicians and vote in better ones.

  2. bruce wilder

    well, we’re all retards now, and isn’t that by (faulty) design?

    seriously, aren’t we all being swept along in the flow of ignorance, stupidity and ugly pretense?

    the idea that either Trump or Biden are “real” in even a strained sense is preposterous. I give Trump some credit for self-awareness that he has been cast in a series for WWE and is engaged in kayfabe for the rubes. but, do we the rubes have any choice in the matter of what show is put on?

    being bored by the nonsense is not the same as being smart in any useful sense

  3. We’re in a feedback loop.
    It would be surprising if society wasn’t becoming more dysfunctional when we’re all being so poisoning that the Autism rate has gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 30, and chronic illnesses have gone from 7% to over 50%. The chemicals causing this aren’t selectively damaging certain individuals, they are damaging everyone.

    Ask yourself what possible reasons would make the medical industry, the government, and the media not care at all about stopping the greatest destruction of public health in history?
    The only time those entities talk about it is to lecture you how the “experts” say it has nothing to do with the chemicals they put into your water, food, and air. It has nothing to do with the heavy metals injected into children 70+ times. Nothing to do with those pills the medical industry sells based on a several month long study done by the drug manufacturer.

    ““The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” -1984
    “An efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the executive controls a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.” -Brave New World

    Is there any point where the populace recognizes that following orders is an admission of guilt?

  4. bruce wilder

    anon wrote something at the end of the protest thread about how university administrators are simply following the dictates of the flow of money. administrators were in an important sense conjured into cancerous growth in academic bodies by financial flows from student loan financing and status competition among a growing body of monied elites trying to get their children prestigious degrees

    the flow of funds into giant defense contractors flowing into retirement jobs for generals and think tank jobs for Kagans flows into perpetual, losing, pointless wars driven by the flow of funds into weapons development and procurement

    it is a general phenomenon.

    you can say, well, you could have watched this YouTube channel before it was demonetized and voted for Jill Stein (I did) or cheerled for more and better Democrats, or whatever, but the flow of funds was driving giant media conglomerates and Parties that survived and prospered on raising campaign funds to spend on propaganda and favorable media coverage no matter how false and idiotic

    the political machinery is driven by its engine which is fueled by the flow of money through countless administered valves and it accelerates along the path — it doesn’t mean anyone is steering it or concerned for its design or direction. the administrators at the countless valves are satisfied as long as the flow continues and it does.

    no one is on top driving or feeling responsible

    Biden and Trump are artifacts in a way, reminders that historically leadership was said to matter.

  5. Soredemos

    The only part I’ll push back on is the claim that American soldiers has never been good, just well equipped. That’s simply not true. It depends on the conflict, but there have been times when we’ve fought peer opponents and had to earn our victories. Early American involvement in WW2 was a steep learning process, but the US military learned rapidly. Remarkably actually, given how degraded it had become between the world wars. It’s not enough to just gloss over everything and go ‘oh they just out produced Germany’. Eventually, but it would take a couple years for that to fully kick in. On numerous occasions the US fought comparable German (and Japanese, in fleet battles) forces and won through genuine skill.

  6. Feral Finster

    Democracy, as a practical matter, is basically an exercise in passing the buck, in avoiding responsibility. Everyone in power claims to answer to and derive their authority from someone else, going ultimately back to “the people” who themselves do not directly exercise power, and who would find it difficult to exercise as a collective action problem, even if they had the formal authority to do so.

    What this means is that real power is often in the hands of unelected bureaucrats, who typically don’t even want to stand for election because they don’t want the voters to know what their programs are, much less to exercise any oversight. Robert Moses is the classic example here.

    Even that minimal level of scrutiny is too much for some, and real power is often exercised by people not formally part of any government structure. Corporate lobbyists or Robert Kagan come to mind.

  7. elkern

    IMO, the Big Question these days is whether the CCP can put up leaders with the sense and smarts to manage the decline of the USA/West in a way which (1) avoids a catastrophic WWIII and (2) gets us all to Carbon Neutrality sooner rather than later.

    Theoretically, it’s not too late for the USA to change paths – drop Military Keynesianism and build our own OBOR in the Western Hemisphere – but our political and financial systems have too much inertia for that to be “practical”. We are now The Empire, so we’re gonna fall. I just hope we don’t take Human Civilization with us.

  8. Jan Wiklund

    Brilliant! May I translate it and use it in Sweden – with some extension to Swedish idiocies?

  9. Ian Welsh

    Jan, by all means.



  10. Willy

    When the algorithm first sent me a video from minor league Youtuber Dusty Smith some seven years ago, I considered him little more than a foul-mouthed sophomoric stoned cynic. I mean, “Trash World, dumpster fire, everything fucked up all the time…” Not to mention his “Chud Watch”, “WTF?”, and “Religious Bullshit” sections. In his world, all the wrong people are getting rewarded while normal people hermit themselves to try and avoid the idiotic carnage going on all around them.

    Then I realized his stuff checks out. He presents actual video and statistical evidence with a pretty high batting average. Maybe Biden is doing some stuff in the right direction, closer to FDR than any of the Chud POTUS since, but he’s also such an Israel-sucking fuckup that he could well piss it all away to an idiotic orange psychopath.

    Back when I was an unrooted college student in the early 80’s, I remember a peer chastising me for not having “strong values”, and another for my succumbing to the “me generation”, and another not wanting to establish a “credibility gap” with me. Looking back… such quaint moral values the regular folk used to have.

    Today I consider most of my own conservative Christian family to be greedy, corrupt and stupid Chuds who couldn’t care less about what their Christ even said. It looks like “trickle down” does indeed work, but only the moral and cultural parts. Bruce Jenner used to be a national Wheaties box hero. Today as a geriatric, he can be seen touting Trump on Fox News while dolled up as a 30-something trollop, to be taken seriously.

    “Good God y’all”.

  11. Jan Wiklund

    But concerning drones, they can’t be that difficult to think out. Back in the 70s, I had an acquaintance who was in Guinea-Bissau and helped the PAIGC to take down Portuguese helicopters with toy aircrafts carrying dynamite sticks. He steered the toy to above the helicopter rotor, the rotor sucked in the toy and when it hit the dynamite stick the helicopter came down. The idea is more primitive, no computers, but basically similar.

    So anybody could have done it. I suppose the US military wanted to be first.

  12. nobody

    It’s not clear that today’s leadership class is any more stupid or venal than their historical predecessors. A hundred years ago, Europe’s leaders blundered their way into WWI for no reason, killing millions directly, eventually setting the stage for WWII and another tens of millions of dead. Thirty years ago, the west essentially repeated the mistakes of the Versailles treaty, this time with Russia, with entirely predictable consequences.

    As a species, we are hardwired to venerate morons, sociopaths, and sadists. This happens both across history and across cultures: in many ways Xi, Putin, and Trump are all pages from the same book. These are the people we select as leaders, and the consequences of this are as unavoidable as they are predictable. History is a loop of the same sociopolitical mistakes repeated ad nauseam, because this is who we are.

  13. Ian Welsh

    That there have been other periods with leadership as bad is obvious, that there has never been better leadership is a stretch.

  14. bruce wilder

    and better “followership” at times and places

    the national “People” of various states that emerged in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries were sometimes better and sometimes worse than we are now, but rarely more passive collectively

    to imagine that “it was always thus” is to deny the kaleidoscopic cyclicality of history

    I will also volunteer that the widespread wish that politics could be made automatic, a self-regulating system with a little or a lot of tweaking of institutional rules, which became a commonplace of a great variety of otherwise disparate ideologies after the Second World War, is partly responsible for making the erstwhile People’s of the West useless politically.

  15. mago

    Great post and comments.
    I read it over lunch and gave a sardonic snort and short laugh.
    Of course the situation is loathsome and toxic as the shit sandwich it is. Suffering shades of decay, Batman.

    Anecdotally, I knew a guy who got his 4F draft deferment when he replied to the question of whether he was a homosexual or not, “I don’t know anything about that doc. I just like to fuck little boys.”
    Such a response in these times might get you groomed for political office.

  16. different clue

    @Bruce Wilder,

    I would add the suggestion that the systematic over-and-over-again assassination of every better leader the Peoples of the US tried to select all through the 1960s helped train the Peoples of the US to give up on trying to be useful politically.

    Nowadays potentially better leaders are “virtually” assassinated as in the case of John Edwards and Bernie Sanders ( who was ratfuck-engineered out of potentially winning the DemNom twice in a row). And in the election between Bush and Kerry, Kerry deliberately threw the election at the end by undermining and shorting out Edwards’s preparations to take the Ohio “results” to court. That kind of thing , as well as Bush V Gore itself , tends to make a People politically useless.

    Of course that only helps explain the state of political play in the US. I don’t pretend to know anything about the state of surrender in Canada and Europe. Why did Canadians vote for the International Free Trade Conspirators Mulroney and Chretien, for example? Mulroney and Chretien did not lie about their support for the International Free Trade Conspiracy, the way Clinton and Obama lied about it.

    Those people who can imagine what a better future might be might well try assuring their survival in the present and once their survival is as assured as they can make it, spending any surplus time and energy they have, if any, on “living in the future ” . . . living in some small marginal ways today that would be valued and mainstream in the “better future” they imagine.

  17. Eric Anderson

    Now that’s my kind of screed, Ian.

    Feral Finster: ” What this means is that real power is often in the hands of unelected bureaucrats, who typically don’t even want to stand for election because they don’t want the voters to know what their programs are, much less to exercise any oversight.”

    Sure. But the art of being a successful politician is marshalling the careerists to produce optimal social outcomes. Someone always has to “do” the work. The executive decides who, and how, it gets done.

    I blame the interdisciplinary pile of rationalizations for everything wrong with capitalism we call the MBA. Here’s a short who’s who list of CEOs:

    Notice “where” the MBAs come from as well. These are the figures who “actually” run the U.S. The ones who direct the lobbying money … setting policy.

    If this gang isn’t the whole parade, they’re the most significant portion. Bush had an MBA btw. Trump too. One big club. You’re not in it.

  18. Jan Wiklund


    Idiocy among elites is institutional. I suppose it takes a lot of intelligence to get into a Senate, for example, but in an idiotic institution even the smartest turn into idiots. They can’t do better.

    Talking about the unusually intelligent government in Sweden in the 1930s, undersecretary of state Per Nyström simply explained it by the social origin of the participants. They had gone the long way through social movements, fought bitter struggles against adversaries, and been forced to sharpen their minds about essentials. In a political environment where all agree about idiotic policies one doesn’t have to. One just conforms.

    And I don’t agree about people being hardwired to venerate sociopaths. People are hardwired into conformism; we are social animals because cooperation on the average is more profitable than competition, so evolution favours it. We don’t venerate these people, we detest them, but opposition is very costly to organize.

    Karl Marx had a theory about why people voted for the obvious mountebank Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, and come to the conclusion that they had no means to call his bluffs. They were isolated into small villages or social coteries and no access to other stories than his or his equals’.

  19. Jan Wiklund

    PS: I have written a somewhat longer explanation at

  20. That those in charge are stupid and evil seems undeniably true, but we would have needed extremely foresighted and unselfish leadership to have dodged the catastrophe awaiting us. Take a look at the freely downloadable textbook Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet: Assessing and Adapting to Planetary Limits by Tom Murphy. Someone who once bounced laser beams off the moon to test general relativity theory has now concluded that it is extremely likely that modernity is doomed.

    He sums it up at

  21. Willy

    I saw a bit where a few major food manufacturers were bought by tobacco corporations, who transitioned into their unfamiliar new businesses by using their old pro-smoking subliminal seduction brainwashing techniques, to get commons addicted to their high-profit overprocessed and poisonous (slow release) foods. After rousing success, the other food makers had to do the same just to keep up.

    When enough of the intelligently competent figured this out, the food makers divided, conquered, and partnered with major health organizations to blunt that challenge, on top of all the usual bribing of corrupt public officials, and endless advertisements.

    I remember Mr. Yoshida’s Gourmet Sauce back when it was Mr. Yoshida’s Gourmet Sauce. It had been his family recipe. After Mr. Yoshida was persuaded to cash in by selling out to a major corporation, the taste might have remained roughly the same but the recipe dramatically changed into the typical overprocessed chemical crap. I sometimes felt like I was the only one who noticed.

    Anyways, a common mob ‘hit bottom’ is then required after evidence of all the damaged people becomes too obvious to just cover up with ‘repeat, repeat…’ diversions.

    It’s not us, it’s them – the 50+ percent who (for whatever reasons) cannot reason well enough to know that some “authority” may not be deserving of the title. Just because I could spot a stupid engineer, didn’t mean I could persuade common laymen that their title was undeserved and their idea crap. The common laymen rely on stuff like displayed confidence, flashiness of presentation, mob leanings, and trendy virtue signalling to make their decision, being incapable of cold hard disciplined logic which can yield emotionally unsettling results. And there’s an awful lot of them out there.

    We might need to learn how to compensate. Just dont ask me how. I’m still a layman with that shit.

  22. Feral Finster

    @Eric AndersonL “FSure. But the art of being a successful politician is marshalling the careerists to produce optimal social outcomes. Someone always has to “do” the work. The executive decides who, and how, it gets done.”

    Who said anything about successful social outcomes? Whoever the politicians are working for, it ain’t us plebians.

    That is why they don’t want to stand for election.

  23. Old Jake

    >> getting their asses repeatedly kicked by a bunch of tribesmen.<< Not hard enough. And of course that underestimates those tribesmen considerably. But as is usually the case Ian, yo have it correct.

  24. different clue

    Someone should do a retrospective research experiment. Of all the CEOs and other high level EOs at Boeing, what percent of them in the decades of Boeing’s march to greatness had MBAs? ( And if any of them did, how many of them were working degreed engineers first?)

    And then, of all the CEOs who have spent the decades just after Boeing’s aquisition of the Trojan Horse known as ” McDonnell-Douglas” slow-walking Boeing into the Tar Pit have had MBAs? And of those, did any of them have an engineering degree or do several years of engineering first?

    I read somewhere that the MBA as a degree was first invented at the Harvard School of Business. I also read somewhere why no smallish or medium business owner should ever hire a “Harvard”. And here’s why: Harvard teaches the “Harvards” that they are smarter than any business owner-founder who didn’t go to Harvard, and that the “Harvard” is always more qualified to run any business founded by a non-“Harvard”. So the “Harvard” will do just enough work to look good to the innocent trusting non-“Harvard” while spending all the rest of his energy plotting and conspiring to take the business away from the non-“Harvard” who founded it.

  25. mago

    I’m guessing that anyone reading this knows the retard meter just broke from excess input.

  26. Willy

    If you want to hire a self-important, self-entitled moron, then hire Harvard. Think Ted Cruz. Elise Stefanik. And yes, Bush Jr.

    As a freshman in a difficult math class I sat between two honors supergeeks I’d kinda-known back in high school. They’d wanted to get into an Ivy League school but had to settle for our local state U. While struggled a bit in that class, those two got easy straight A’s.

    In a couple other much easier classes, I sat next to another guy I’d kinda-known in high school. He’d never displayed anything unusual except for an unusual amount of mirth, and an ability to sleep in class after a night of hard partying.

    Guess who got into post-grad Ivy league schools? We’re talking about an MA from Yale and a JD from Columbia. Maybe it helped that both of party boy’s parents had been instructors at our university. I just looked him up. He’s a law professor now. A few of his vapidly mediocre online videos can be easily found. But at least he’s also still got that charming personality.

    The two brainiacs? One wound up doing insurance underwriting before quitting to go into writing sports bio paperbacks. Or maybe he got canned I dunno. The other one owns a one-man graphic design firm.

    Then there was this dishonest shithead asshole who used to bully me down at the paperboy shack, who got his MBA at the same state U and is now a VP for a regional bank. Another paper shack kid and U grad, always honest and reliable, currently manages a few volunteers helping Guatemalan villagers.

    I could go on for days. There seems to be a pattern here. Try it yourself. Wait a few decades, then do your own “So where are they now?” research project.

  27. StewartM

    Sorry don’t??

    Biden has by all accounts normal mental decline. Trump is clearly having early-onset dementia. I have had a family member with Alzheimers, and they exhibited behaviors far more like Trump than Biden (fits of incoherent rage, etc).

    Trump is far more mentally compromised than Biden now.

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