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Wednesday, September 04, 2019

The End of Globalists

Years ago, I marveled at my grandfather's lifetime, in which he witnessed all kinds incredible events. He was alive to see the first powered human flight, automobiles, the invention of radio and television, two world wars, medical breakthroughs, the fall of monarchies, the rise of republics, the first moon landing -- too many to list here.  It was a span of time I reckoned could never be duplicated in terms of its historic dynamics.

Clearly, that was a major underestimation, because the turn of this century is every bit as dynamic as was the turn of the last, if not more so.

It doesn't matter what your political viewpoint, the important thing to keep in mind is that things are happening and they're not little, insignificant events. The events of 9/11 in New York City were, metaphorically and literally, the starting gun of a massive shift in global activity. And if you don't know your history, you may not know what's about to happen, so here's how it likely will play out:

Just as the American national elections was a replay of the dynamics of 1984, you can pretty much watch the election of 2020 replay the election of 1980. The latter was a strong repudiation of the Jimmy Carter's agenda; the former was a landslide confirmation of 1980, with Ronald Reagan flattening Walter Mondale's struggling advocacy of Carter's agenda. By the late 1980s -- after the weakening of its stature on the world stage -- the USA had returned to a more conservative, prosperous economy and its traditional role as a world power.  It was hardly any coincidence that having held them for 444 days during the Carter administration, Iran released American hostages on the day Reagan was inaugurated.  The Iranians knew there was a new sheriff in town.

Anything there strike you as remotely familiar or similar to what we're seeing in 2019?  It should. Swap out Carter for Obama and Trump for Reagan and -- regardless of your politics -- it's playing out in a similar way:

The American economy never lost its global dominance, but it had diminished. That's no more.   American defense capabilities had diminished, but that's no more, either. Where foreign powers once bluffed and intimidated Carter and Obama, they now sit up and pay deference to Reagan and Trump.

Lest you think history doesn't repeat itself, consider that at the turn of the last century, European monarchies crumbled for the last time as republics rose up from revolutions. At the turn of this century, we're witnessing the fall of the European Union and the comeback of self-determined, independent nations. Brexit is just the first domino to fall; the rest are lined up to follow.

And it's the United States that -- once again -- is leading the way.

America has re-established itself as the marketplace where everyone wants to play.  The American dollar is the currency everyone wants to bank. And the American alliance is the partnership everyone wants to cement.  China, North Korea and Russia place far behind the enormous economic and political power that, despite its squandering, remains vast in its reserves.  The United States is once again at the top of its game almost as if Eisenhower never left.

Yes, there's a New World Order. It just isn't the one you've been told to expect. It doesn't leave much room for socialists, communists or green-eyed globalists with "one world" visions. What it does portend is even more incredible opportunities for American growth, investment and self-reliance for Americans and non-Americans -- assuming they're ready to get on board.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Niche Where Once Was Mass

A common chestnut among entrepreneurs is the advisory issued in the late nineteenth century, in which the Commissioner of the United States Patent Office, Charles Holland Duell, remarked that the office might as well be closed because "everything that can be invented has been invented."  That was then. This is now.  In my own lifetime, I've watched the number of patents issued explode. My own patent was tagged in the low two millions. Today, that number is multiple times that and climbing.

Times change. People change. Markets change. But very often, people miss the bigger picture, ignoring the fact that just as often, market dynamics change. Beyond products and services being invented or growing obsolete is a nuanced observation about the forces and behaviors that goes almost unnoticed.

Most people, for example, are somewhat familiar with the evolution of the mass market economy. Prior to the industrial revolution, most products were built by hand. The advent of machinery allowed more goods and services to be made more plentiful at lower costs, which spurred their consumption and created even more markets for goods and services.

That's pretty much the story from the mid-nineteenth century to the near mid-twentieth century, at which time a larger population, along with industrial and informational advances, took economic prosperity to the next level: mass production. After the second world war, everything from breakfast cereals to television sets to three bedroom tract homes were mass produced in huge quantities. Everything was more affordable for more people. And for the next half century, that's how it stayed.

With the new millennium, however, there was a subtle shift in the dynamics of the mass market economy. The rapid acceleration of information technology, coupled with the unprecedented reach of the internet, radically reshaped market dynamics with all but a very few people noticing.  That shift could well be called the birth of the Super Mass Market -- and it's not at all what you might think.

The Super Mass Market is one in which only a very few players can live. In essence, the entity grows so large and so quickly that it rapidly dominates and eliminates its competition. You know their names: Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft -- the usual suspects. Brands in the Super Mass Market like to preen themselves over their abundance of granular data about anything and anyone, allowing them to manage and manipulate just about any market they choose.  They seem insurmountable, but I'm here to tell you that they are not.

Just as the Super Mass Market ascended to its heights, another dynamic evolved right behind it, in which niche players leveraged their lack of size and reach to their own advantage.  Don't get me wrong, these are not your grandfather's niche players.  These are Super Niche entities who dwarf the old notion of niche marketers.  Yes, they're smaller than Super Mass Marketers, but they're far larger than the Mom and Pops of old.  Where they are alike is in their understanding they've no need to conquer the world -- just their own little corner of it.

While the Super Mass Marketers are all headed over the cliff (overgrowth, mismanagement, anti-trust and new legislation/regulation is not too far off), the less-heralded Super Niches are quietly avoiding the media's scrutiny, rejoicing in the Super Mass Marketers' stealing the spotlight and drawing the media's fire. The Super Niches run cleaner and leaner, too, making them more profitable investments as they avoid the risks of their larger brothers' bloat. They're not difficult to spot if you know where to look.

Back in the 1950s, the word to the wise was to "think big."  That's still valid.  Big is beautiful. Just don't overdo it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Death of Forgiveness

I keep a journal of thoughts and wisdoms I find profound. One of my favorites is, "Never forgive.  Never forget."  It's likely one of the reasons why some people find me unreasonably harsh, but I don't believe I'm cold nor cruel.

I prefer to think of myself as effective, someone who values both fact and feelings, but utilizes feelings as motivation to solve factual problems with factual remedies. That's why I don't believe in forgiveness. Forgiveness, to coin a phrase, is for suckers. Oh, it never used to be that way. But it sure is now. Not because forgiveness is no longer virtuous; it's just that there's no longer any virtue to be had.

Allow me to explain:

In case you missed it, the United States of America has undergone a magnificent transformation since about 1992. Lots of people are too old to care about it, and even more are too young to have noticed it.  I'm lucky. I'm just the right age to have lived through it. On Facebook, I'm summarily dismissed as just "another old white man," which contrary to its intent, I take as a high compliment. The reason I feel so honored has nothing to do with race or skin color.  It has everything to do with virtue.

See, I'm one of those guys who still believes in character, ethics and responsibility. The transformation to which I refer is mainly concerned with the notion of accountability.

Did I say "notion?" I meant to say extinction, because no longer do accountability and self-worth seem to be desirable characteristics. "Taking responsibility" has given way to "finding someone else to blame," and lest you think it the exclusive province of young people, let me assure you that isn't the case.  It started with boomers, when everything from class action lawsuits to those women with clipboards in the Human Resources department virtually assured that nobody was personally responsible for anything.

In those days, politicians passed laws and programs designed to "foster positive environments," which actually ended up shielding people from the rush of overcoming adversity and conquering fear, resulting in a nation where, inexplicably, people discuss a catalog of 57 genders while managing to keep a straight face.

As the country's ideals transformed from a nation of stalwart, self-sustaining individuals into a whining mass of video drones, the lack of personal accountability took its toll ever so insidiously. Because everybody left it to the other guy, nobody took it upon himself to care about anything. The only problem was that there never was another guy to take care of it. It was easy to pawn everything off on the government, but judging by the piles of human waste, used needles and derelicts on the streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Austin, New York, Chicago and countless other cities, that plan doesn't seem to have worked out all that well.

When people my age tell younger folks that "it never used to be like that," we're dismissed with ignorant retorts about human rights, racism and social justice. But nobody mourns the death of individual accountability.  Nobody seems to know that if bettering yourself your own life is part of your core beliefs, everyone and everything around you is much better -- at far less emotional and financial cost.

Forgiveness never works with slackers. It only works with people who are accountable for their behavior, because those are the only ones who realize their mistakes aren't worth repeating.  But to someone who lacks accountability, infringing on others isn't an error, it's a lifestyle with a simple life plan: Intrude on others, beg forgiveness, then do it all over again.

And that's why I never forgive anyone for anything. In my book, once was a goof, twice was a decision. And there are simply too many people who choose not to stop making the same bad decisions.

A while back, I noticed a tent pitched in my side yard. It contained three twenty-something drug-addicted bums and about twenty five freshly sniffed aerosol cans. The two men and one woman were filthy and high at seven in the morning. They weren't bothered by intruding on and stealing from another person's private domain. In fact, they were more than a bit miffed that I was evicting them.  I told them to leave. They didn't care. Fortunately, we still have cops in our neighborhood who do.

Some people would say I'm too harsh. That I should have given the bums some money and helped them out. Maybe one day, a long time ago, I might have. But now that so many people up and down the socio-economic ladder are so completely unaccountable for themselves, my reaction to those begging forgiveness doesn't run so much along the lines of "Here's a twenty."

Honestly, it sounds a lot more like, "Fuck you."

Sunday, April 07, 2019

There's No App For That

Unbeknownst to anyone under the age of thirty, there was a time when there was no digital technology -- and believe me, it was better.  I know.  I was there.

Ah, those were the good old analog days, before the internet's standardization ruined everything. Back in the day, everything from getting that job to dating that blonde revolved around genuine knowledge, fearlessness of risk and real time human interaction.  One could build his young life using no more than an idea in his mind and a twinkle in his eye. Technology? That stuff may have sent astronauts to the moon, given us Tang and pocket calculators, but it was no substitute for visceral, animal drive.

To grow up analog meant one had to actually know facts, data and history.  We explored and learned as much as we could, including how money and people work, because that's what gave us the edge over the other guys.  The last thing anyone did was sit in the dark all day watching a screen, because that wasted precious time. We wanted to be out there, searching, hunting and conquering opportunity.

Of course, things have changed drastically since then. An entire generation now really believes that making one's way in the world depends on where you click and which way you swipe.  Personal pride and a mastery of knowledge has given way to their weakening dependence on Google, and even the most menial challenges have apps to solve whatever issues perplex them, usually on a monthly subscription basis.

To keep this generation from feeling threatened by others' successes, the once-closed personal offices of my generation have been replaced by open, communal workspaces, where nobody monopolizes the views from those once-cherished corner office windows -- participation trophies for the workplace.  Modern floor-to-ceiling glass walls are sold as "luxurious," but actually enhance the peer pressure, communally intimidating anyone who might dare to invoke even the slightest right to privacy.

And so we have arrived at the point where the first internet generation has grown into post-collegiate adulthood, primed and ready for a lifetime of failure.

Just as we feared, our current young adults are woefully lacking in general knowledge, let alone the histories, cultures and sciences of America and the rest of the world, primarily because they've been raised to find answers rather than solve problems. The internet has taught them that pointing and clicking is better and faster than critical thinking.  What is now more important than Why and How. As such, many of them are completely helpless when the WiFi goes out, sitting blankly for hours with their phones in their hands, wondering how long it will be until service is restored.

It gets worse.

These young adults don't date, either. They never developed any social skills through real time human interaction, because the internet didn't let them.  All they know about dating are its apps, most of which produce nothing more than a quick hookup, a few moments of sexual gratification and an ever-growing bitterness toward the opposite sex.  Turns out that "Netflix and chill" doesn't translate into "happily ever after."

Hold on, I'm not done.

The job market is just as depressing, because companies allow algorithms to scan and reject resumés without any real time human interviews, which means the applicants' characteristics that drive human interaction have no way of being evaluated.  The result is that almost nobody gets a real job from Monster, or worse yet, LinkedIn, based on the single most important employment factor of all. And even if there is a real time interview, those on both sides of the table have absolutely no idea how to interact with each other.

If all this sounds awful, I assure you, it is.  But for all the hand-wringing, there is a silver lining:  A lovely sense of schadenfreude for silver-haired scoundrels like myself, watching in amusement from the sidelines, who always knew that the internet would fail us:

You see, we analog humans knew all along that there was no shortcut to owning and mastering one's own life.  We learned early on that if we were going to succeed, it would be because we took both the initiative and responsibility for ourselves.  We had no Google, because we didn't need it.  To have relied on some robot was an affront to our individuality and self-worth.  It still is.  We didn't buy into lazy, get rich quick schemes and never trusted those who offered them.

But the fools of the internet generation are different.  They know nothing of this.  They really believe that paying an algorithm to prepare and deliver their food and clothing is the way to go, because they really are that helpless and devoid of self-worth.

Of course, life has a way of sorting these things out.  Perhaps one day, the internet generation will figure things out, but when they do, they'll be far older than we were when we came of age.  Most will be married, maybe with kids, trapped as cogs in a gray, automated service economy where nobody accomplishes anything other than keeping the system running.

It's depressing, for sure. But all is not lost.

I submit that there will always be a few smart ones -- renegades, rogues and real assholes -- who will catch on to the scams of the man behind the curtain.  They'll figure it out quickly.  In fact, some already have.  You can tell who those kids are.  They're not the ones who are laughing with their social justice warrior friends.

They're the ones laughing at them.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Democrats' 2020 Nominee

At the time of this writing, there are well over twenty Democrats who have formally declared their intentions to seek the office of the President of the United States in the year 2020.  The list includes just about every size, shape, gender and color of human being in the catalog, but thus far, nobody seems to know who will emerge as the front runner.  At this point, I assume the higher-ups are panicked just trying to figure out how to cram everyone on to the same debate stage at one time.

The problem with Presidential prognostication is that too many pundits are basing their predictions on unreliable or just plain weird data.  Some use the same tactics they applied in high school to determine whose popularity would win the prom queen crown.  Others utilize the "packaging" approach, trying to stuff as many facets into one conglomerated individual in order to pander to the maximum number of voters.  Still more prefer the cynical strategy, in which "nothing ever changes" or "the Deep State political machine will choose its candidate the same way it always has."

As usual, I opt for another method entirely.

I submit that to really get a handle on 2020, forget what color the people are and start focusing on what color the states are.  That's where the first big clue really is.  One glance at this map shows exactly which states the Democrats lost in 2016, but thought they were going to win.  The so-called "purple states" -- which could swing either way -- is where the big battles are.  The Dems want to do everything they can to swing those states' Electoral votes to blue in 2020, so it stands to reason that a nominee from one of those states has an inside track.

If you buy into that argument, the Democrat nominee is currently eating his lunch in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina or Virginia.  Yes, there are more purple states, but with ten or fewer Electoral votes, they're minor players.

Notice I mentioned the nominee eating his lunch?  That's because even notable Democrats are spooked by the party's public shift to the far left and fear losing even more center-aligned Democrats to either an independent or President Trump.  So the second Democrat imperative is to recruit a middle-aged white man: First, in order to reassure the rank and file, the Democrats need optics that confirm the party hasn't gone over the edge.  Second, without conceding his successes, the Democrats want to wheel out their version of a kinder, gentler Donald Trump.

In case you were sleeping, this is why Howard Schultz is rattling the bars on his cage.

What about diversity, you ask?  Simple.  That's what Vice Presidents are for.  Roll up a non-white, female of questionable gender as your veep, limit her to one public debate and you're good to go.

Next, start eliminating the mathematical factors.  No member of the House of Representatives has made the leap to the Presidency in over a century.  No reason to think it would happen now, so scratch those names off your list.   You can also cross out any mayors or state politicians, because they're perceived as way too local and/or green.

That pretty much leaves the short list United States Senators and Governors. As you can see, only Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina have blue governors -- and they're all white men.

Ooooo, the plot thickens!

Look at those states' United States senators, and they're all white men, too.  Knock out the losers (Tim Kaine is too closely identified with Hillary and Ralph Northam is stained with black face) and the list gets pretty short -- if you're buying into any of this.

Okay, so maybe this isn't how it's going to play out.  But you have to admit one thing:  It makes more sense than anything else you're seeing from the Democrats these days.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Hot Chicks Will Destroy Socialism

Like anyone else, I have my own political viewpoints. I'd never ask anyone to agree with my own, for a number of reasons:

1.  I think it's rude to tell other people what and how to think.
2.  I think it's rude for other people to tell me what and how to think.
3.  Frankly, I really don't care what and how other people think.
4.  It really doesn't matter what and how other people think.

Okay, that last one probably sounds a bit presumptuous, but that's the one that's most important. Look, I realize I'm no longer a young man.  In fact, at this point, I may even qualify as a borderline antique.  Fine with me.  I'm totally okay with trading youth for experience, because if you pay close attention, life has a way of teaching you patterns that are, for the most part, totally and completely immutable, yielding wisdoms of the master sages.

That's why it never really matters what people think at any given moment. I know their opinions are going to change as they age and life starts beating the crap out of them with unforeseen events and circumstances that nobody saw coming, including deaths, diseases, accidents and girlfriends who got pregnant even though they swore they had taken their pills.

Oh, sure, when you're young, life is all about rejecting the old and exploring the new.  Your twenties are all about arrogantly defining who you are and to whom you're trying to sell it. Some tactics work; lots of them don't. And somewhere between the time they decide to reject their parents' values and the day they accept the late charge on their Mastercard bills, life begins to point and laugh at young people's attempts at self-direction.

Being young, poor and insecure, the easiest path for these kids to choose is usually socialism, which makes sense, since the majority of socialists in America are young people in their twenties (and early thirties) who haven't yet succeeded, accrued wealth or figured out how to make sense of their lives. In fact, about the only thing they have discovered, is that creating a successful life is far more challenging than how this week's Netflix movie would have them believe.

Success, as it turns out, is not a thirty-second montage.

Out there in the digital world, where virtue signaling is the currency in which young socialists trade, eschewing material wealth and demanding entitlements is the stuff to which young socialists can relate and fuels the charisma of pols such as Bernie Sanders.  After all, he's a socialist and he's old, which must mean socialism isn't just for young idealists.  An old socialist, it turns out, can be a very reassuring image to a young socialist, who still craves parental approval.

But I digress.

Since 2008, the socialist agenda has swelled along with the ranks of impoverished twenty-somethings who feel that sharing a little holds more promise than risking a lot.  But if history teaches us anything, it's that fads like socialism are doomed to fail, if only for one solid, basic, proven reason:

Hot chicks.

Don't laugh. History is on my side for this one.  And here's why:

Young people are not immune to the laws of nature. Neither are you. You can grow as big a man-bun as you please, but at the end of the day, women are viscerally drawn to masculine providers, not posers. The more a man can provide, the more women he can attract. This is why men build tall buildings and great bridges and foolishly lay it all at goddesses' feet.  Men, being the grunting savages we are, know that the more women we can attract, the higher quality woman we can win.  So we bulk up what we can, where we can -- usually in our bank accounts -- which unfailingly brings droves of incredibly gorgeous, talented, intelligent women within matrimonial striking range.

It doesn't take more than, say, one ten-year high school reunion before socialists in their late twenties meet up with their class members who've long since abandoned their socialist cause.  Most often, these are the hot chicks, with rich, older husbands in tow, who long ago traded their pussy hats and Bernie buttons for million dollar mansions, complete with three kids in private schools, two dogs who are walked by her live-in maid, and a leased limited edition Mercedes coupe.  One look at that three carat pear-shaped diamond on her hand tells Mitch, the sparsely-bearded former Sanders community organizer, that he's been hiking the wrong trail for the last ten years with nothing to show for it other than his father's wedding tuxedo that he borrowed for the occasion. In one instant, if he's paying attention, he'll have learned that nobody -- especially hot chicks -- chooses a flea-infested commune in Berkeley over a hot tub in Aspen as the more rewarding way of spending the rest of their lives.

Try as many drugs as you want; nothing wakes you up faster than the realization that life -- your life, in particular -- has been passing you by, made even more bitter by the fact that fewer and fewer people are sticking with your program and most are hopping the next train for their last chances of traditional happiness.  It happened to hippies in the sixties and it will happen to socialists just as predictably -- if it isn't already.

And that's why I don't worry about socialism at all. For the billionth generation in a row, nature wins again:  Women want the best providers. Men want the best women. Don't blame me if you find that sexist: that's nature's law, not mine.

Sure, Bernie likes to promise the nation's youth everything they could want.  But until he can deliver slender, curvy brunettes in high heels and string bikinis poolside, he doesn't have a chance.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Jeff Bezos is the Devil

You'd have to be a millennial Rip Van Winkle to not know who Jeff Bezos is.  The founder of Amazon is famous for becoming (at least as of this writing) the richest man on the planet.  Owning a digital empire that includes a vast retail operation, a national newspaper and even his own space flight program, Bezos has succeeded beyond anyone's wildest internet dreams.

He's definitely the most successful man on the planet. But I submit to you he is also the most evil.

Never mind his personal peccadilloes. That he's leaving his wife of 25 years for an aging ex-beauty queen holds no currency for me, moral or otherwise. The rumors swirling about deplorable working conditions of his thousands of employees doesn't interest me either, because I have no idea if any of those stories are based in fact.  No, what makes Jeff Bezos the most evil man on the planet is something altogether different:

Jeff Bezos is the man most responsible for the breakdown of human social interaction that's crippled us in more ways than you can imagine.  Allow me to explain:

Prior to Amazon, the quickest way to buy a book, special order a hammer or purchase a pair of shoes required two important factors:

1.  Time
2.  Human interaction

No matter what you wanted to buy, you had to move yourself to a brick and mortar destination, at which point your only choice was talk to a real person face to face.  That interaction required thoughtfulness, courtesy, clarity and quite often, a little casual humor.  It reinforced a bond or helpfulness and broke down barriers among strangers. Once that connection was established, the conversation usually resulted in one of two outcomes:  the salesman either had what you wanted in stock or if the item were not in stock, he'd order it for you.  At best, the transaction was completed in a matter of hours (by the time you returned home with your purchase); at worst, it would be weeks before the item arrived at the store for you to pick up, necessitating yet another trip.  For the record, you should know that along with commercial transactions, a substantial number of friendships, courtships and marriages got started this way.

Jeff Bezos destroyed all that.

Today, if you wish to purchase just about anything, you simply look at a screen, point and click.  For no fee, the item will arrive at your doorstep in a day or three.  For a few bucks more, it will arrive the very next day.  And if you order early enough in the day, it might just arrive before tonight's dinner.

No human interaction. No waiting.  Just quick, cold service that panders to your whims.

It all sounds wonderful until you realize that an entire generation has grown into adulthood lacking any sense of patience or communication skills.  People don't initiate relationships in real time any more; it's all done via text.  And texting isn't a dialogue.  It's a two-way monologue, a series of one-sided comments launched into the ether at no particular time for no particular reason, totally lacking the subtle vocal responses and timing cues that are essential to meaningful conversation.  Likewise, people have lost all sense of patience, demanding instant results and getting angry when their needs aren't immediately served -- or their texts aren't immediately acknowledged.

But it gets worse. More evil.

If Bezos's pioneering were strictly limited to the commercial sector, I wouldn't be writing this. But the fact is that his model has proliferated, permeating and polluting our social and political environment.  He has created a model which negates the need for human interaction, replacing it with a sense of selfish entitlement.  What he's sold as convenience has simply removed all human contact, increasing polarization, isolation and serious cases of depression.  Enhanced by the false notion of "luxury marketing" we end up with a society that turns to Siri instead of its friends, and insists on Peleton bikes in their living rooms instead of communing with other humans at the local gym.

Then people wonder why they end up single, alone and living with their cats.

It doesn't stop there, either.  Politically, the United States has always endured widespread factionalism. From 1776 onward, debate has raged throughout the land over policies and practices.  That's nothing new. What is new is the deeply-rooted divisiveness, because prior to this century, our social and political fabric was woven with far less self-interest and far more collective responsibility. We got along because we were all interdependent. That, I'm sad to say, is no more. Today, schools no longer teach the basics on which our society exists, choosing instead to "cater to the individual needs of each student."

And then you wonder why those kids just want to play video games in their parents' basements.

Today, thanks largely to Jeff Bezos and his irresponsible ilk, the very best of humanity has been undermined, reducing us to a bunch of isolated, miserable peons, each in his own little box wondering how he became so miserable in a world so full of promise. Nobody, it seems, is interested in anyone or anything beyond his own wants and needs.  It's heartbreaking and I blame Jeff Bezos for all of that.

Then again, while Jeff Bezos may have robbed us of our humanity, it's only because we've allowed him to.  If you don't take back your humanity, he remains the most evil man in the world.

But you're running a close second.