Good article in the New York Times: Turkey is fighting a big Kurdish insurgency within Turkey's borders. The Kurds do not want to be ruled by the Turks any more than they want to be ruled by the Arabs or Persians. The Kurds have become more nationalistic and determined to achieve independence.
Turkey is, in theory, America's ally. I say in theory because in practice that's not really true any more. National interests of Turkey and the United States have diverged for a variety of reasons, notably including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the shift of Turkey away from secular nationalism toward Turkish Islamic nationalism. In Syria Turkey prioritizes the overthrow of Assad's government. But the United States sees ISIS/Daesh as the big threat because ISIS has carried out terrorist attacks in Europe. These attacks have been made possible, of course, by lax immigration law enforcement followed by Angela Merkel's insane invitation for masses of Middle Easterners to deluge Europe.
But back to Turkey: the Kurds do not want to be ruled by the Turks. The Turks do not want to give up a piece of their country (or at least the leaders of the Turks feel that way). How is this going to resolve? Are the Turks just going to grind down the Kurds and kill large numbers until they take back control of all Kurdish towns and cities?
Will Kurds flee Turkey for the Kurdish zones of Syria and Iraq? Will that enable the Kurds to capture even more of Syria and Iraq?
It is my impression that Kurds are more fertile than Turks. Will the Kurds eventually (thinking decades) be able to carve off a piece of Turkey to make part of Kurdistan? Also, will Kurdish Iraq remain a separate state from Kurdish Syria? Will the Syrian Kurdistan become more feminist and secular due to PKK influence?
In the short to medium term the United States has the problem that its interests and Turkey's interests are diverging in Syria. Factions that the United States wants to bomb are factions that Turkey (and even Saudi Arabia) want to support. Can Turkey prop up al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra Front against American or Russian bombing? What about Ahrar ash-Sham? It is supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia while allied with Nusra. Russia bombs it. Is the United States being ambiguous about it because American policy makers want to pretend that Saudi Arabia is our ally?
The only somewhat secular factions in Syria are Assad's government and the Kurds. Salafists dominate the remaining big players. What is the US position toward these Salafists? What do Washington DC players see as a winning scenario for US interests? It is really hard to tell. I wonder if they know themselves. I suspect not.
Hey, its totally unfair to claim that Bernie Sanders only likes Scandinavian socialism. Lets not do that any more. Here's why: When Bernie Sanders Thought Castro and the Sandinistas Could Teach America a Lesson
As mayor of Burlington, Sanders praised the regimes of Nicaragua and Cuba—claiming bread lines were a sign of economic health and press censorship was necessary in wartime.
What about Venezuela? As I see it Venezuela has a big upside: Suppose you want to do intermittent fasting to turn up autophagy (where your body tears down old worn intracellular components) as an anti-aging strategy. Well, you might not have the willpower to pull it off. Plus, you need to be able to concentrate on a full stomach at work. Well, food is hard to get in Venezuela and people are getting lots of extra days off to save electricity. Plus, just sitting in food lines takes many hours. These conditions are highly conducive to intermittent fasting.
What about the voters of Burlington Vermont? What's with them? I think they need to go live in Cuba or, even better, Venezuela for a few months. North Korea would be good too.
For me personally, it's resistance against what San Francisco has been, and what I see the country becoming, in the form of ultra-PC culture. That’s where it's almost impossible to have polite or constructive political discussion. Disagreement gets you labeled fascist, racist, bigoted, etc. It can provoke a reaction so intense that you’re suddenly an unperson to an acquaintance or friend. There is no saying “Hey, I disagree with you,” it's just instant shunning.
This guy makes the point that the election is about whether PC speech control will continue to go up under Hillary or get attacked by a sitting president. I'm much preferring the latter.
In August 2015 Friedersdorf published 30 views of Trump supporters. Lots of different motivations including strong opposition to political correctness. The sense that Trump will fight for his supporters looms large.
“Trump has never lied to me whereas all of the other Republican politicians (like McConnell & Boehner) have. They don’t fight for my side. Nobody fights for my side. Trump fights. Trump wins. I want an Alpha Male who is going to take it to the enemy. I am tired of supporting losers.”
For a long time the Republican base has been tools for the Republican elite. The base (and quite a few independents and Democrats) is sick of that. They want to back a winner who will work for them.
Another recent Friedersdorf piece on Trump is an interview with a gossip columnist who used to deal with Trump extensively back in the 1990s. The interview brings out Trump's extraordinary skill at managing the media and shaping his image. Hillary Clinton and her managers are clearly not in his league.
T.A. Frank has a couple of pieces in Vanity Fair that further explain Trump's appeal: The One Issue That Could Destroy Hillary Clinton (immigration of course) and Why Democrats Are Becoming the Party of the 1 Percent (because the 1% insanely favor open borders).
This has been a fascinating election so far. Populists came along with enough talent to motivate the disgruntled masses. Bernie Sanders has only limited skills at appealing to the dissatisfied. But they are sufficiently dissatisfied that he's made Hillary's job of getting the Democratic nomination much harder (it helps she's got something like negative charisma too). On the Republican side the master persuader is sucking in all the media attention and mobilizing a lot of people who wouldn't even vote normally (given that both parties are against them). So this election has just gone off in directions I did not foresee. Have a look at the links above if you want a better understanding of why this election is so different than normal.
Venezuela keeps getting worse. The Venezuelan people should rise up and overthrow the socialists. Venezuela is shutting down. The government stores that sell well below market prices create incentives that make the situation much worse. People are quitting productive jobs to work as black market traders. The government has damaged the economy in numerous ways and is run by paranoid Marxists who think the CIA is to blame, not their own destructive policies.
The opposition won a majority of the national legislature. But the government put people on their supreme court who vote to strike down laws passed by the legislature.
How would you like to live in a country where you get water one day a week? Where the government shuts down 2 days a week to save electricity? Where schools shut down part of the time to save electricity? This is crazy. But the Venezuelan people are still too foolish and have still not risen up to overthrow their government.
Socialism is failing in Venezuela. A socialist, Bernie Sanders, is running for president of the United States.. Bernie Sanders does not want to discuss the failure of socialism in Venezuela.
Andrew Sullivan complains at length about Donald Trump: America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny
It was increasingly hard not to see in Plato’s vision a murky reflection of our own hyperdemocratic times and in Trump a demagogic, tyrannical character plucked directly out of one of the first books about politics ever written.
On the other hand, Sullivan sees the intensifying craziness of the progressives.
For the white working class, having had their morals roundly mocked, their religion deemed primitive, and their economic prospects decimated, now find their very gender and race, indeed the very way they talk about reality, described as a kind of problem for the nation to overcome. This is just one aspect of what Trump has masterfully signaled as “political correctness” run amok, or what might be better described as the newly rigid progressive passion for racial and sexual equality of outcome, rather than the liberal aspiration to mere equality of opportunity.
He goes on to describe how the white lower classes are vilified by progressives who are much higher up in the status and income hierarchy.
Much of the newly energized left has come to see the white working class not as allies but primarily as bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes, thereby condemning those often at the near-bottom rung of the economy to the bottom rung of the culture as well. A struggling white man in the heartland is now told to “check his privilege” by students at Ivy League colleges.
Well Mr. Sullivan, the progressives are only getting worse. GOPe figures cower before the progressives and offer little substantial opposition to their insanity. I say a charismatic figure is needed as a weapon against the progressives and Trump is the only one who has arisen. Nothing less will fight back effectively and the insanity (e.g. open borders, and the latest Title IX insanity: little boys going to the little girl's lavatory) keeps getting worse. We can count on the MSM to take the side of progressives no matter how insane they get.
Sullivan complains that Trump supporters are violent. Wait a second. Opponents of Trump literally block roads to Trump rallies. Trump opponents try to disrupt Trump rallies. Trump opponents physically attack Trump supporters. The Trump supporters get angry about this and Sullivan ignores their legitimate grievances - morally delegitimizing them just like the progressives do.
Sullivan goes on to vent at length about Trump. He should put so much effort into venting against the progressives and propose another way to stop them. I think Trump is reasonable compared to Sullivan.
Kids who go off to jihad do crime first. If this is true the implications are very important.
But Martien Kuitenbrouwer, a former mayor of West Amsterdam, who has investigated radicalization for the past decade, said years of paying close attention to the Muslim community had yielded some valuable insights about who becomes an extremist and why. Criminality and jihadism “are part of the same stick,” she said. “Nearly all the kids who go to Syria have a background in crime.”
I'd like to see systematic gathering of evidence on this question combined with psychometric and genetic testing.
Biosocial criminality researcher Brian Boutwell argues that genes play a large role in causing criminal behavior. These kids who become jihadists are, on average, genetically different than kids from the same ethnic group who do not become criminals or jihadists. If we knew the genetic locations responsible for these differences we could predict who was more likely to become criminals or jihadists.
By contrast, blaming the behavior of children on parenting practices is usually wrong. Its what the parents gave the kids at the moment of conception that matters the most.
There's still a role for environment, at least for jihad. If the kids weren't raised as Muslims it would not occur to them to become jihadists. Though they'd still become criminals.
Kids who sneak off to Syria and get killed by Russian or American smart bombs or by Kurdish women fighters are kids who are lowering the future crime rates of France, the Netherlands, and other countries of origin.
What is happening in Venezuela is a horror story. Read it. Imagine a hospital that no longer has running water, let alone soap. In government hospitals the death rate of babies has risen over two orders of magnitude. Entrepreneurs are getting shafted. If your factory union forces you to buy toilet paper on the black market you'll go to jail. I think of Atlas Shrugged. Venezuela has become totally dysfunctional.
President Nicolás Maduro must be dumb. How else to explain the large number of appallingly stupid things the Venezuelan government does?
What I do not understand: Why haven't the Venezuelans risen up in revolt? Even though the lower classes are probably not bright enough to understand what has gone wrong I would at least expect them a lash out in anger sufficient to overthrown the government. But no. Not so far.
If I was king of the world I'd carve out a piece of Latin America for more talented Latin Americans and let them flee to this paradise while keeping out the rest of the population.
Likewise, sales at bunker builder Rising S Co. have never been better. They shot up 20% to 25% over the past two years for the radiation-resistant shelters, which can be sunk 33 feet underground and tricked out with gyms, greenhouses, and water filtration systems...
I do not buy the political instability argument for building remote second homes that can function off-grid. Maybe another Carrington Event is reason to prepare. Maybe a massive killer pandemic. But economic depression? Doesn't seem like a reason to move to a remote area even if the depression happens. There'll still be an economy and specialization of labor will remain a huge benefit of civilization. So I'm not seeing it.
"If it is a rebuilding, on what grounds do the NeverTrump forces think it will be rebuilt? As a neoconservative, functionally open-borders, slash-the-entitlements party? I am not sure, whatever happens in 2016, that there will ever again be a market for that product."
She left out "overthrow Muslim country governments" as a key part of the discredited product with "and pay to take in the resulting refugees" as another key part that is especially popular with the crazy woman who runs Germany.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is dismayed by the resulting populism. But Mitt chose open borders guy Paul Ryan as his presidential running mate. So fixing America has to involve changes that make Mitt Romney unhappy.
In another sign that our elites are not on the same side as us: Former Facebook workers say Facebook routinely suppressed conservative views. Consider what that article says the next time you think about using Facebook.
If Donald Trump wins this fall then not only will the Clintons and Obama's legacy be repudiated but also Dubya's as well. Their legacies are in need of repudiation. Hoping it will happen.
We are moving into an era where many colleges enforce ridiculous rules aimed at preventing assorted privileged groups from feeling offended by anything they see or hear. Piling on, the US Department of Education is shoving an interpretation of Title IX down the throats of colleges which makes the colleges throw out due process for accused students. So what about the realists who want to go to college to learn about and discuss reality in a legally fair environment?
Here is my modest proposal: Encourage non-leftist students to avoid the craziest colleges and go to the most rational colleges. We need groups to measure the extent of politically correct nonsense and due process violations at various colleges and universities and publish this info as scores. Then high school students looking to choose a college could consult such a list, avoid the most politically correct, places, and apply at the best places.
This will tend to make the most left-leaning colleges even nuttier than they already are. But rational-minded students would benefit from flocking together and creating intellectual environments where the truth and reason are highly valued.
Reactionary assumptions about human nature — the intractability of tribe and culture, the fragility of order, the evils that come in with capital-P Progress, the inevitable return of hierarchy, the ease of intellectual and aesthetic decline, the poverty of modern substitutes for family and patria and religion — are not always vindicated. But sometimes? Yes, sometimes. Often? Maybe even often.
Agreed. Turn away from Panglossian rah rah for your faction and you can understand and do a better job of predicting. A quick Google search confirms that Ross is familiar with Philip Tetlock's research on superforecasters. Wondering if reactionaries are overrepresented in the ranks of superforecasters.
Yes, both factions have far too much optimism about how the spread of their beliefs could make the world a better place. I think libertarians are especially guilty of this. They have a hard time realizing just how unnatural libertarian thinking is to most people.
Both liberalism and conservatism can incorporate some of these insights. But both have an optimism that blinds them to inconvenient truths. The liberal sees that conservatives were foolish to imagine Iraq remade as a democracy;
Really? Before the Iraq invasion major liberal commentators were saying that tribal Iraq with high rates consanguineous marriage and splits between Sunni and Shia and Arab and Kurd was not fertile ground for liberal democracy? I missed that commentary. Where is it? Since President Wilson the progressives have argued that liberal democracy is suitable and inevitable for a gradually enlargening fraction of the human race. At this point Hillary Clinton is hardly alone on the Left in holding a belief that the purpose of US foreign policy is to overthrow more regimes and democratize more countries. This has led to liberal support for the Iraq invasion, intervention in Syria, and the overthrow of the Libyan Colonel with many last name spellings.
Even today, what tabula rasa liberal is going to admit out loud that Iraq can't become a liberal democracy? Global liberal manifest destiny seems to be a core belief of Democratic Party POTUS candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Perhaps Ross hears more skepticism from liberals who trust he won't publicly reveal their heretical beliefs about human nature.
Western liberals are angry at Ayaan Hirsi Ali for saying mainstream Islam is misogynistic and hostile to non-believers. A very well funded Saudi lobby agrees wtih the Western liberals.
She notes that Congressional hearings held since September 11, 2001 have repeatedly cited the role of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in spreading an ideology that praises misogyny in particular and retaliation against non-believers in general, and yet there has been no discernible change in U.S. policy toward these nations. “It has gotten worse,” Ms. Hirsi Ali says of the Saudis’ role in fomenting fundamentalist Islam. “The Saudi lobby is so strong.”
Read the whole article.
Also read When Pieties Collide: Feminism and multiculturalism in Western Europe by Heather Mac Donald. She addresses the sexual violence by Muslim men in Europe and the Left's response to it.
When feminists were cornered into addressing the violence, they tied themselves into knots trying to change the subject back to their favorite topic: Western white-male patriarchy. “The problem of sexualized violence has already existed here for some time and can’t simply be ‘deported,’” said German feminist Anne Wizorek to Der Spiegel. “It cannot be allowed to become the standard in gender debates that only male migrants are considered to be those responsible [for sexual violence].” In other words, the New Year’s assaults were continuous with the routine terror inflicted by German men on German women. Actually, there was no precedent in Germany or the rest of Europe for mass peacetime sexual assaults, much less ones where the police merely look on. “I have never experienced such a thing in any German city,” a victim told the New York Times. But people who did name the attacks for what they were—a manifestation of Muslim misogyny and an alarm bell regarding mass immigration—were vilified as racists.
We need more populist rebellions. The establishment is rotten.
The state still employs two-thirds of Saudi workers, while foreigners account for nearly 80 percent of the private-sector payroll.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to reform the economy of Saudi Arabia because of the financial crisis caused by cheap oil. The state is bleeding money at a fast rate.
Okay, lets do some math on the Saudi labor market. The third of Saudis who are in the private sector are one fifth of the private sector. The Saudis employed by the state are another two fifths. So we have something like 80:60 ratio of foreigners to Saudis total overall in the Saudi workforce. Is there a viable way to transform this situation into a healthy economy?
It comes down to what the Saudi citizens are willing and able to do in the labor market. If they aren't all that willing or able then what? The government could go with a plan B that, at least in Saudi Arabia, might be viable: import even more workers but of very high skill. Create an economy of foreigners in some portion of the Kingdom that has high earning power and high productivity.
In theory this could be done while still maintaining an overwhelmingly Islamic populace since India has the most Muslims in the world and Saudi Arabia could try to skim the intellectual cream off the top of India, Indonesia, and a few other countries with large Muslim populations.
United Arab Emirates has a largely migrant labor force with natives in government and defense.
In 2013, the UAE had the fifth-largest international migrant stock in the world with 7.8 million migrants (out of a total population of 9.2 million), according to United Nations (UN) estimates.
It is amazing how far the UAE has gone with this strategy. Natives make up only 10-15% of the UAE workforce. The imported labor is overwhelmingly male and so doesn't reproduce much.
To make this sort of situation work you need a ruthless government with natives in the military and police very ready to crack down and do mass deportations of any protesting imported labor. You also need some viable industries that would get staffed by all the imported labor. But I'm not clear how, say, a manufacturing industry with an export focus could do better in Saudi Arabia than competing companies in, say, low labor cost India. How could Saudi Arabia make use of all that imported (and harshly treated) labor in a way that is competitive with companies in other countries producing the same sorts of goods and services?
I think the Saudi government is going to need to lower the living standards of natives because it is not going to find sources of wealth that can replace oil. But disappointments from declining living standards could easily lead to revolution. So can the Saudis maintain political stability over the coming decades?
The Left's tendency to see each group as a whole as either oppressors or oppressed makes them opposed to punishment of individuals who are in supposedly oppressed groups. Those who most intensely embrace this model of the world really should be collected together into their own countries separate from the rest of us so that the rest of us do not have to deal with the consequences of their views. Seriously, we need a divorce.
I'm reminded of Stephen Fry on political correctness. But I do not get the sense that he understands the root causes of the problem.
Who has a firmer grasp of what's going on? NYU moral psychology researcher Jonathan Haidt. Listen to this podcast interview by a Spiked editor: Jonathan Haidt talks Safe Spaces, microaggressions and campus fragility. Haidt said many humanities fields lost their ability to have meaningful debates in the 1990s and now social sciences are going thru the same process. Progress is not inevitable. In a different interview with Tyler Cowen Haidt looks at what we are seeing in the Republican presidential primary:
JONATHAN HAIDT: You have to see politics as occurring at multiple levels simultaneously. Just as at a university we’ve got psychologists studying individual experiences, we’ve got neurologists studying neurons, we’ve got political scientists and sociologists studying emergent phenomena, that’s what you have to do to study politics.
If you look at the history, if you look at the higher‑level constructs, yeah, it’s bizarre what’s happening. It’s unprecedented, and people expected the past to predict the future.
But what if the emerging social constructs of the Republican Party have been getting progressively out of tune with the moral intuitions and the psychology of the voters? I think that’s what we have seen happening.
The Big Sort (see Bill Bishop's book with this title) is one of the factors responsible for the decay of academia. The loss of intellectual diversity in academia allows a certain kind of moral sentiment to dominate with ridiculous effects. I do not see how this is going to reverse. The demographic changes driving it are still driving academia deeper into absurdity and away from truth-seeking.
What I think would help: if some small number of colleges signaled that they wanted moderate and conservative students (or conservatives just chose some colleges and overwhelmed applications for them) then some places in academia would exist that are not crazy. I think this is best started by people in the Right talking up a small number of colleges (preferably schools with good engineering programs so useful skills can be acquired too). For example, the right wing elite could flock to Dartmouth or CMU. Does another school come to mind as a good candidate to target?
We brought this on ourselves, and we are the terrorists, too. This is status signaling of a destructive sort. It is a shame the Western civilization is suicidal. But it is likely to remain that way unless something extremely bad happens.
Salon's response was presaged by Douglas Murray's essay: A terrorist attack has happened in Europe. Let the standard response begin…
I think Westerners who are sane need to think about how to form a Western country of only sane people and separate themselves from the fools. Of course this proposed country should have excellent border barriers.
A woman from Cuba describes what it is really like and argues you shouldn't say you want to see Cuba before it is ruined. I agree. I think you should see Cuba as an education into what communism does to an economy and a people.
The old cars are not kitschy; they are not a choice. It’s all they have. The old buildings are not preserved; their balconies are falling and killing people all the time. The very, very young girls prostituting themselves are not doing it because they can’t get enough of old Canadian men, but because it pays more than being a doctor does. Hospitals for regular Cuban citizens are not what Michael Moore showed you in Sicko. (That was a Communist hospital for members of the Party and for tourists, and I, for one, think Moore fell for their North Korea–like propaganda show pretty hard.) There are no janitors in the hospitals because it pays more money to steal janitorial supplies and sell them on the street than it does to actually have a job there. Therefore, the halls and rooms are covered in blood, urine, and feces, and you need to bring your own sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and mattresses when you are admitted.
Communism makes it happen. Michael Moore doesn't want to believe it.
Check out these photos from Cuba. A shabby place with people waiting for better times.
The cultural code of silence in the heavily immigrant district, as well as widespread distrust of already weak government authorities, has provided what amounts to a fifth column or forward base for the Islamic State.
Donald Trump is derided in the mainstream media for saying he'd put an end to Muslim immigration. But look at what the conventional wisdom of our sanctimonious rulers has given us. Belgium has a fifth column (even the New York Times admits it) of ISIS/Daesh supporters living safely and plotting with the help of a surrounding community that keeps its secrets. We should want these sorts of people living in our midst?
Our elites and the elites in Europe are grossly irresponsible, incredibly foolish, and deluded. These people rule us.
The human race did not evolve to handle the complexities that result from the jet airplane, mass media, and the internet. Wishful thinking, status signaling, and an averse to truths that cause discomfort give us increasingly dysfunctional government.
A decade ago, the federal debt was just 35% of GDP. It is now more than double that and projected to reach 86% in 2026. But that’s just the beginning. The annual budget deficit projected for 2026 is 5% of GDP. If it stays at that level, the debt ratio would eventually rise to 125%.
The electorate is heavily divided by race, ethnicity, gender, class. Lee Kuan Yew understood and would not be surprised by the result. the finer points of fiscal prudence is no longer in the cards. Entitlements will grow, not shrink. Democracy is failing.
Mr. Lee: Why should I be against democracy? The British came here, never gave me democracy, except when they were about to leave. But I cannot run my system based on their rules. I have to amend it to fit my people's position. In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion. Supposing I'd run their system here, Malays would vote for Muslims, Indians would vote for Indians, Chinese would vote for Chinese. I would have a constant clash in my Parliament which cannot be resolved because the Chinese majority would always overrule them. So I found a formula that changes that...
People aren't voting for the good of the commonwealth. The donor class chooses most of the candidates. We have deep racial splits where most issues (e.g. the federal debt) is not even a consideration. Identity is a much bigger consideration. I am way past thinking the dysfunction can be turned around.