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  1. A good point. We are broke. That's why we have to borrow money to finance everything we spend it on. If it turns out that Mr Obama was right, then hats off to him. It's part of being a truly intelligent person to be able to change your views, learn from others, etc. So, a discussion/debate about the advisability, or otherwise, of yet more government spending, has to include a more-encompassing debate about what we're spending it on now, and how it might be financed without bankrupting our grandchildren. For instance, it might turn out that spending money on a real jobs program for the unskilled layers of society, actually saves us money in the future, because we will not have to spend money on welfare, drug rehabilitation, prison, etc. Or it might not -- there is always the possibility that such a program could just turn into a jobs-for-the-boys boondoggle. But I'd like to see some debate about it. It might turn out that we can save money elsewhere: do we really need to pay literally trillions of dollars to 'stabilize' the whole world -- spending two or three times as much, per capita, as all the other advanced countries? Do we really need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on an 'Africa Command' (based in Germany, of course, not in Africa, where our soldiers help sustain the German economy every time they buy some wiener schnitzel.) As for Mr Trump. He will eventually be gone, one way or the other, just as Mr Eisenhower, Mr Kennedy, Mr Johnson, Mr Nixon, Mr Ford, Mr Carter, Mr Reagan, the first Mr Bush, Mr Clinton, the second Mr Bush, Mr Obama, were here, agitated or delighted people for a few years, and then were gone. But society and the state remain, and, unless we fix them, the problems we face remain. I have no interest in exchanging insults with people with whom I don't agree. If I wanted to make conservatives feel unhappy, I have more than enough ammunition. If I wanted to make liberals angry, that's no problem. But what's the point? Doing that is sort of like playing a shoot-em-up video game but without sound or images. Perhaps fun for a few days, but eventually it becomes boring, and you never 'win' because there is an endless supply of conservatives and liberals, and, being human, they will commit follies to be laughed at. In the meantime, the US is set to become, for the first time in many generations, the world's SECOND-largest economy, the world's FIRST largest being a Communist dictatorship, which is quite comfortable with government intervention in its economy (and others). In the meantime, those young men, white and Black, who fifty years ago would have gotten jobs as steel workers, rubber workers, auto workers, etc etc are now told they need to learn PHP and CSS ... which they cannot do. Maybe they can become long-distance truck drivers or delivery van drivers, or taxi drivers, but ... oops, a robot will soon be doing those jobs. So maybe they can join the 'service sector' as nursing-home care assistants and waitresses. As this happens, expect more disruptive, violent behavior from this layer of society, of which mass killings Nicholas Cruz-style are only the most dramatic manifestation. Anyway, I think this is a problem worth discussing.
  2. Note also: the traditional family is fading away among whites, especially in the lower classes. This phenomenon has been the subject of several books, in particular Hillbilly Elegy, by the conservative writer J.D. Vance. It's a book well worth reading, if you want to get an idea of what's happening to the family and some hints as to why it's happening. For the symmetrical Black phenomenon, which occurred a generation earlier, look at When Work Disappears, By William Julius Williams. I do not say that the loss of good blue-collar jobs is the only determinant here. No doubt the 'sexual revolution' of the 60s played its role, by eliminating social disapproval of sex and childbearing outside wedlock. [And how we young men of that time appreciated this change!!!] (The academic theorizing of lunatic ultra-feminists was more an effect than a cause of this ... just as young men became unconnected to steady, financially-rewarding work, so a major part of the academy became unconnected from reality.) The only question of interest, as usual, is 'What Is To Be Done?'. Conservatives, of which I am one, need to look again at the role of the state here. Reflex responses to the idea of 'government-provided jobs' -- i.e. that they are always a dreadful interference with the free market -- may not be the right one, in this situation. It's always dangerous to go directly from general abstract principles, to immediate tactical decisions. The United States has had, since the end of WWII, a Keynsian permanent government-stimulus to its economy, in the form of massive defense spending. Might it be in our interests now, to undertake something similar, but in the civilian sector?
  3. Let's say that the 'traditional' nuclear family (which supplanted the really traditional extended family) is found the least, where it is needed the most: among lower-class Blacks. (And I don't think feminist indoctrination had much to do with it These changes, which are occurring very widely, are in response to something happening much deeper and more fundamental than scolding by academic ideologues -- the latter are more an effect of these deep changes than they are a cause, although there is no doubt a dialectical relationship.) We're not going to change that, and we're probably not going to change the drift of young people towards not getting married. In the middle-on-up layers, this is not so terrible ... going the other way, it is. So we are either going to have to live with it, or try to come up with ways of replacing the functions of the traditional family. I have no idea how to do that. If the US had infinite money, I would experiment with making the local school more of a total Community Centre, with free 24 hour a day quality childcare, well-stocked libraries, computer rooms (censored), etc. But I know we need to spend our money on more aircraft carriers, airplanes than can fly backwards, not to mention little expenditures like the few million dollars a year it takes to pay the salaries of the 200 soldiers in Germany working for 'Africa Command'. [I mean, imagine what a mess Africa would be in if the US military didn't have an 'Africa Command'. Absolutely vital, I'm sure.] So ... we live with it. This means trying to help everyone possible to attain the living style of the intelligent young people taking up their well-paid jobs with Google and similar big corporations. Don't pay any attention to their scolding lectures about how the rest of us are all racists, homophobes, etc ... just watch how and where they actually live, and try to emulate that. You can be sure they live as far away from urban ghettoes as they can, and in 'gated communities' or the equivalent, if possible. Their workplaces and probably their private schools will be protected by armed men. They're much more intelligent than their white racist Republican-voting social inferiors, and we would all do well to pay them the compliment of imitation.
  4. And I suspect there is a serious overlap between 'mental illness' and 'upbringing, influences, etc', i.e. 'the environment'. I wouldn't argue with the proposition that 'character can often be adjusted through changing the environment'. In fact, I'd leave out the qualifying 'often'. And we have to be careful about that term 'mental illness', by which I take it you mean 'internal' biological factors that are not the fault of the individual. I'm sure these are real, but we are at present so deeply ignorant of how the brain/nervous system works, that we can mainly just speculate. [In 1965, a mass shooter went up into the University of Texas tower and killed 13 people, including a casual acquaintance of mine, firing over open sights (and NOT using a scary-looking assault rifle). (He was a former Marine and knew his business, and would no doubt have passed any conceivable background check.) An autopsy revealed a small brain tumor, but no one has been able to show that this was the cause of his behavior, which, as I recall, remains unexplained. In any case, we could no doubt eliminate a lot of criminal and sub-criminal behavior, if we could provide the right environment: two loving parents who apply the right mixture of unconditional love plus discipline, no serious financial worries for them, ie. stable employment at a decent wage, no surrounding bad examples to model on [read Judith Rich Harris's The Nurture Assumption for an eye-opening review of how important the peer group is in shaping behavior], a school that doesn't tolerate bad behavior and teaches real knowledge [for those interested, have a look at a unique educational experiment going on in the UK, among children mainly from deprived backgrounds: http://mcsbrent.co.uk/ ] I recently read a paper supposedly demonstrating that 'impulsiveness' has a genetic link, but that impulsive behavior can be overcome if you're raised in the right environment. So the question is, how to provide the 'right environment'? We know that the effects of the admirably-motivated 'Head Start' program fade out after a few years, unless the program is continued. If you are the child of a single mother who is a drug addict, living in a neighborhood surrounded by similar people ... what program can we imagine that can overcome that? Children raised in such a toxic environment are going to have a massive cultural deficit, and it's ridiculous to blame schools for not overcoming it. And this is just the 'easy' cases: I think that most of the mass shooters came from rather more complex backgrounds. So, yes, not easily addressed. (Just like the problem of dealing with, if you wanted to, all the literally several hundred million firearms in the US.)
  5. And what do you think about Question 2?
  6. Here'are two questions for both sides to answer, which, I hope, gets at the bottom of this debate: 1. Should young men who make threats of lethal violence, or who commit non-felonious crimes, or who threaten or assault other students in school, or who threaten their teachers ... should they receive punishment, or counselling, or what? Let's agree that there are degrees of all of these, that whether it's a first-time offense vs a repeated one, that other aspects of the situation have to be taken into account [did his mother just die? did his teacher tell him he was incorrigibly stupid and ugly? did the fellow he punched steal his girlfriend the day before?] ... but having agreed that, what should happen to someone who falls outside the first-time, mitigating circumstances, etc area? Is the school obligated to keep him on? Should the police overlook it when he's caught with a knife? To put it concretely: does there come a point when the person involved has to face serious unpleasant consequences for his behavior? 2. Whatever regimen you propose in answer to (1), should it apply equally to everyone, regardless of their race?
  7. One other point about Left and Right and intelligence. 'Liberals' vs 'Conservatives' as a useful analytical category is a very time- and country-specific one. It is most applicable to the US, in the post-war period. As very general terms -- meaning 'eager to make big changes to the status quo' and 'not eager to make such changes' they can be applied to other countries and periods, but with very different political implications: thus 'conservatives' in post-Soviet Russia yearn for the return of Communism, or at least an equivalent strongly authoritarian/nationalist sysgem, and 'conservatives' in Iran, for the retention of the Islamic Theocracy [cheered into power by the Left at the time on the grounds of its 'anti-imperialism'], whereas 'liberals' in both countries want them to become liberal democracies similar to Europe and the US -- the notional goal of mainstream American foreign policy for the last 30 years, most vigorously carried out by neo-conservatives. [The stated goal of most conservatives, and certainly of the 'neo-' variety, is the spreading of 'liberal democracy', not 'conservative republicanism'. Interesting.] But in general, societies divide along tribal lines (in a word, race, sub-race or religion). If a country is unfortunate enough to have serious diversity, with no single tribe having overwhelming power -- usually held in proportion to its proportion of the population, except where there is a large cultural difference between tribes, which allows a numerically-small tribe to dominate a larger, more backward, one -- such countries tend to be very tense places, with especially nasty civil wars in their pasts and futures, or even going on at the present. Where this is not the case, or not strongly the case, societies divide along classical Right and Left lines: the Successful vs the Unsuccessful. And in general, the Successful are more intelligent than the Unsuccessful. Thus, if, in Germany in1925, you had sampled the IQ of the Socialist- and Communist=supporting miners, dockers, steelworkers, etc., and matched it against the landowners, businessmen, professionals, white-collar workers [the mainstay of Nazism a few years later] ... you would have concluded that Conservatives are more intelligent than Leftists. (Despite the fact that the intelligentsia, not tied to a superior place in the economic system, often tends towards radical utopianism, which is usually a project of the Left.) But their Conservatism didn't come from their superior intelligence, it came from their estimation of their material interests, and whether these were best served by non-socialist parties or socialist ones. American politics is a bit crazy, because we have in the US neither straightforward tribal divisions, nor straightforward economic ones, but a mixture of these, with the added issue of 'culture' ... the latter is ultimately a question of material interests but not directly. However, I suspect this is a historically passing phase, a kind of 'luxury' allowed by America's swiftly-declining position as world Top Dog. If the Left's insistence on 'identity politics' continues, we may see the white population matching the ethnic minorities in beginning to think openly in terms of their own racial interests. The needs of the Cold War, and the horrible example of what happened to the Germans when they did this, has meant that a large effort has gone into educating Americans that their multi-racial country has transcended tribal politics, and that thinking in terms of "my people" where "my people" are whites, was absolutely taboo. (No other ethnic group adopted this, of course.) If this changes, it will not be pleasant. The future is going to be VERY interesting. (Get your AR15 and plenty of ammo while you can.) A footnote: if we manage to seriously wreck the advanced countries of the world in this century, it will be a tragedy beyond all the lost lives. We are right on the verge of becoming the subjects, not the objects of history. Let the scientists continue their work for a few more decades, and, for example, the issue of 'intelligence' and what groups have more of it than what others, will be moot: all our children will be given the 'genes for intelligence', as well as the genes which control other desirable human behaviors, such as non-impulsiveness. Just avoid a big war.
  8. Intelligence is a valuable thing, no question. It's unevenly distributed among social classes and tribal groups around the world, but how much of that is due to 'evolutionary' (ie genetic) causes, and how much is due to a myriad of social influences, is an open question. (Not an open question for most liberals and the Left, however: there, it is a matter of passionate purely religious faith that all peoples have equal potential intelligence, and any manifest differences in intelligence are due to racism or sexism or capitalism or .... something, anything but nature.) However, intelligence is not the same thing as wisdom. Nor is there one wisdom for everyone. For example, some of the very most intelligent people in Europe (and, to an extent, the US), believed strongly, in the 1930s, that a wonderful new society of social progress and equality was being built in Stalin's Russia. A pro-Soviet attitude was more or less the default among European intellectuals. Were they stupid? Couldn't they read? They were not stupid, and they could read, probably in several languages ... but raw intelligence by itself is not enough to come to an understanding of reality. (Not to mention that in pre-Hitler Germany, the Nazis were popular on college campuses, where the upper-middle class students felt threatened by Germany's Socialist and Communist working class, but, like all young people, were open to radical ideas.) And ... it may have been the case that for some people, a Communist transformation of their country would have benefitted them personally. It's probably pretty galling for someone with a PhD in literature to have to teach high school, while his classmate who went into business becomes wealthy. Under Communism, the resentful teacher could expect to the see the tables turned. And today, if you're a well-educated young person headed for a cushy job with a big corporation, who can afford to buy a nice house or rent a posh flat in a gated community or an exclusive area of town, the social realities of living next door to immigrants from the Third World won't affect you, unless you hire them to be nannies or to clean your toilets. It's a different thing for your social inferiors further down the economic scale. You benefit from globalization, but they may not. For you, playing around with drugs and a liberal attitude to sex is harmless -- some psychedelics, some casual hook-ups -- further down the social ladder, drugs mean crystal meths and ruined lives, and a relaxed attitude to sex means single mothers with no support form their long-gone impregnator. This is the real reason for the popularity of fundamentalist Christian churches out there in 'fly-over' country: they provide solid anchors for people who want to lead normal lives. So all of you very intelligent liberals ... try, for a few minutes, to put yourself in the place of the conservative lower classes you despise. They're not really conservative because they're too stupid to parse the late John Rawls' Theory of Justice, but because they judge that the things the intellectual class believe in (or pretend to believe in) threaten their well-being. And they probably also how many people with a degree in Feminist Anthropology could install fibre-optic cable or fix an air-conditioner or deliver a lamb at 2 am. Or ask yourself this: would the world have been better off if the desire of the French intellectuals to see France go Communist had been realized, or was the real intelligence located among the French peasantry?
  9. Doug1943

    For any old Hippies here

    When you're young, you're idealistic and naive. Today I can't believe how naive I was when I was in my teens and 20s. Even fairly extensive experience of the real world and real people, in the Army and in military prison, didn't pull many scales from my eyes. With respect to the Doors, and music in general: I find the music of that period absolutely wonderful, magical ... but ... I wonder if it was because I was young. I still today feel very nostalgic when travelling in the countryside of California, Oregon, and the West in general ... very powerful emotions which I cannot explain to friends who were not there. 'Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.' But then ... America was King of the World, and despite not being able to impose its will in Vietnam, it was a country most of whose inhabitants had little to worry about. Things have changed radically since then, and seeing the internal moral decay, the downward economic spiral, coupled with the rise of China, which will inevitably push the US into second place (at best), not just economically but militarily .... I wonder if future generations will view post-war America as a lost Golden Age.
  10. Doug1943

    The New Democrat Party

    Understand that when a supporter of Israeli expansion says "anti-Semitic" they mean "critical of hard-line Zionism". It's exactly the same cheap rhetorical trick as when the Left says anyone who opposes race-based Affirmative Action is therefore "racist". What you need to ask about anyone smeared as "anti-Semitic" is this: do they support the right of Israel to exist? If not, there may be some truth to the charge. But if they do, then you've uncovered another lying smear.
  11. This is an article from last year by Gary Younge, an editor of the British leftist newspaper, The Guardian. The view from Middletown: final thoughts on Trump's victory After a month in Muncie in the run-up to the election, I won’t claim to have predicted the election result. But it wasn’t a complete surprise, either Wednesday 16 November 2016 13.28 GMT Last modified on Wednesday 23 November 2016 17.07 GMT The Guardian has today published my last despatch from Muncie, Indiana from where I covered the US presidential elections. Younge has a far better understanding of American politics than many of the Lefties posting here. Gary Younge editor-at-large The Guardian
  12. He makes the Lefties here look like raving patriots. He begins by reviewing the Ken Burns' series on Vietnam, now being shown in the US. There are plenty of objections to this series so far from the conservative side, but here is the ultimate Leftist view. ============================================================================================================================================================ September 22, 2017 The Killing of History by John Pilger One of the most hyped “events” of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way”. In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism”, Burns’ “entirely new” Vietnam war is presented as “epic, historic work”. Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam. Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans”. Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives. I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings”. The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of “false flags” that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971. There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans — it is difficult to watch the film’s jumble of “red peril” maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences. In the series’ press release in Britain — the BBC will show it — there is no mention of Vietnamese dead, only Americans. “We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy,” Novick is quoted as saying. How very post-modern. All this will be familiar to those who have observed how the American media and popular culture behemoth has revised and served up the great crime of the second half of the twentieth century: from The Green Berets and The Deer Hunter to Rambo and, in so doing, has legitimised subsequent wars of aggression. The revisionism never stops and the blood never dries. The invader is pitied and purged of guilt, while “searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy”. Cue Bob Dylan: “Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?” I thought about the “decency” and “good faith” when recalling my own first experiences as a young reporter in Vietnam: watching hypnotically as the skin fell off Napalmed peasant children like old parchment, and the ladders of bombs that left trees petrified and festooned with human flesh. General William Westmoreland, the American commander, referred to people as “termites”. In the early 1970s, I went to Quang Ngai province, where in the village of My Lai, between 347 and 500 men, women and infants were murdered by American troops (Burns prefers “killings”). At the time, this was presented as an aberration: an “American tragedy” (Newsweek ). In this one province, it was estimated that 50,000 people had been slaughtered during the era of American “free fire zones”. Mass homicide. This was not news. To the north, in Quang Tri province, more bombs were dropped than in all of Germany during the Second World War. Since 1975, unexploded ordnance has caused more than 40,000 deaths in mostly “South Vietnam”, the country America claimed to “save” and, with France, conceived as a singularly imperial ruse. The “meaning” of the Vietnam war is no different from the meaning of the genocidal campaign against the Native Americans, the colonial massacres in the Philippines, the atomic bombings of Japan, the levelling of every city in North Korea. The aim was described by Colonel Edward Lansdale, the famous CIA man on whom Graham Greene based his central character in The Quiet American. Quoting Robert Taber’s The War of the Flea, Lansdale said, “There is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbours resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.” Nothing has changed. When Donald Trump addressed the United Nations on 19 September – a body established to spare humanity the “scourge of war” – he declared he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people. His audience gasped, but Trump’s language was not unusual. His rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, had boasted she was prepared to “totally obliterate” Iran, a nation of more than 80 million people. This is the American Way; only the euphemisms are missing now. Returning to the US, I am struck by the silence and the absence of an opposition – on the streets, in journalism and the arts, as if dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground. There is plenty of sound and fury at Trump the odious one, the “fascist”, but almost none at Trump the symptom and caricature of an enduring system of conquest and extremism. Where are the ghosts of the great anti-war demonstrations that took over Washington in the 1970s? Where is the equivalent of the Freeze Movement that filled the streets of Manhattan in the 1980s, demanding that President Reagan withdraw battlefield nuclear weapons from Europe? The sheer energy and moral persistence of these great movements largely succeeded; by 1987 Reagan had negotiated with Mikhail Gorbachev an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that effectively ended the Cold War. Today, according to secret Nato documents obtained by the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zetung, this vital treaty is likely to be abandoned as “nuclear targeting planning is increased”. The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned against “repeating the worst mistakes of the Cold War … All the good treaties on disarmament and arms control from Gorbachev and Reagan are in acute peril. Europe is threatened again with becoming a military training ground for nuclear weapons. We must raise our voice against this.” But not in America. The thousands who turned out for Senator Bernie Sanders’ “revolution” in last year’s presidential campaign are collectively mute on these dangers. That most of America’s violence across the world has been perpetrated not by Republicans, or mutants like Trump, but by liberal Democrats, remains a taboo. Barack Obama provided the apotheosis, with seven simultaneous wars, a presidential record, including the destruction of Libya as a modern state. Obama’s overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government has had the desired effect: the massing of American-led Nato forces on Russia’s western borderland through which the Nazis invaded in 1941. Obama’s “pivot to Asia” in 2011 signalled the transfer of the majority of America’s naval and air forces to Asia and the Pacific for no purpose other than to confront and provoke China. The Nobel Peace Laureate’s worldwide campaign of assassinations is arguably the most extensive campaign of terrorism since 9/11. What is known in the US as “the left” has effectively allied with the darkest recesses of institutional power, notably the Pentagon and the CIA, to see off a peace deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin and to reinstate Russia as an enemy, on the basis of no evidence of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. The true scandal is the insidious assumption of power by sinister war-making vested interests for which no American voted. The rapid ascendancy of the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies under Obama represented an historic shift of power in Washington. Daniel Ellsberg rightly called it a coup. The three generals running Trump are its witness. All of this fails to penetrate those “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics”, as Luciana Bohne noted memorably. Commodified and market-tested, “diversity” is the new liberal brand, not the class people serve regardless of their gender and skin colour: not the responsibility of all to stop a barbaric war to end all wars. “How did it fucking come to this?” says Michael Moore in his Broadway show, Terms of My Surrender, a vaudeville for the disaffected set against a backdrop of Trump as Big Brother. I admired Moore’s film, Roger & Me, about the economic and social devastation of his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and Sicko, his investigation into the corruption of healthcare in America. The night I saw his show, his happy-clappy audience cheered his reassurance that “we are the majority!” and calls to “impeach Trump, a liar and a fascist!” His message seemed to be that had you held your nose and voted for Hillary Clinton, life would be predictable again. He may be right. Instead of merely abusing the world, as Trump does, the Great Obliterator might have attacked Iran and lobbed missiles at Putin, whom she likened to Hitler: a particular profanity given the 27 million Russians who died in Hitler’s invasion. “Listen up,” said Moore, “putting aside what our governments do, Americans are really loved by the world!” There was a silence.
  13. Doug1943

    A Favorite Steve Bannon Author

    A bump, just so late-arrivals get a chance to read this very interesting piece.
  14. Doug1943


    Why was the Iraq War fought? Not because Bush or anyone else thought Saddam was working on nuclear weapons. The fact is, no one knew for sure. No doubt he would have, if he could have. But the economic sanctions probably prevented him, and the evidence available to Bush was very much on the side of his not having an effective program for nuclear weapons development. So why did Bush invade? Simple: the people running American foreign policy finally work up, on September 9th 2001, to the fact that militant Islamism was a genuine threat to the West. These people were not just occasional bomb-planters, but were sophisticated, wealthy, persistent and above all ... popular with large numbers of Muslims around the world. However, they didn't have a state. If they did, it could be engaged in a conventional war and defeated. But how do you defeat a shadowy network with supporters all over the world, including in the advanced democracies themselves? What the Bush regime was finally convinced of was, ironically, a liberal view of the problem. Back during the Cold War, especially in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Communism had a fair amount of sympathy among young Third World intelligentsia, like Che Guevara. They saw it as a way to rapidly modernize their backward countries, which didn't seem to be developing much under capitalism. (Third World economic development has accelerated rapidly since then, and pro-Communism has faded into insignificance.) The American response to the danger of Communism in the Third World was two-pronged: mainly military, often via CIA-manipulated proxies. But the US also encouraged land reform in some of these countries, like S Korea and Taiwan and S Vietnam, and, after Carter, was officially on the side of free elections in American-supported dictatorships. However, this was very low-key, and always done through the resident dictators. Liberals -- or, more precisely, leftwing liberals -- tended to be very critical of this approach. They believed that we had to address the social circumstances that turned people to Communism: we had to promote democracy, social equality, economic development. As it turned out, the liberals were factually wrong: the American mainly-military, hardline, Reaganesque approach was enough. Communism collapsed under the weight of its own inefficiency, helped along by Reagan's pushing them into increased arms spending that they could not afford. (The Soviets were already spending about 25% of their GNP on defense, compared to our 5%.) But how to deal with militant Islamism, which shared many of the features of Communism: militant, armed opposition to 'imperialism', along with the promise of a just society, redeeming national/racial pride. The military approach wouldn't work, because these people had no states. Enter the neo-conservatives, who are mainly ex-liberals. They proposed 'draining the swamp' that bred Islamists. Invade Iraq, make it into a democracy, using its great oil wealth to fund economic development .... and young Muslims would find new outlet for their ambitions: a strong, growing Muslim state that was also a democracy. Could it have worked? Some people think so: see Squandered Victory by Larry Diamond: From the Publisher's description: I don't know whether Diamond is right, or even if he is right in theory -- a different approach could have resulted in a stable democracy -- whether the US is capable of carrying it out in practice. (You might benefit from having your appendix removed, but if the surgeon is an incompetent butcher who kills most of his patients, then you shouldn't try that option.) But most people on the Left opposed the war, and most on the Right supported it. (There were exceptions on both sides.) In general, the Left didn't oppose the war because they had made a sophisticated analysis of the Iraqi situation and decided that 'draining the swamp' wouldn't work. Rather, the Left is in general opposed to the waging of war by the advanced democracies, which they see as capitalist imperialist powers and not real democracies at all. And in general, the Right (with the exception of the neo-conservatives) didn't support the war because they had made a sophisticated analysis of Iraq and decided that 'draining the swamp' was a plausible strategy. Rather, the Rigth always supports any war waged by its government. As it turned out, the Left's position, whatever its motivation, was the one which seemed to be confirmed by events. As in Vietnam, you can make a case that had we stayed, thrown all our efforts into achieving our goals, we could have won. But speculation, even plausible speculation, is feeble in the face of events. Today conservatives are confused about foreign policy. Few of them are eager for more wars, but their basic instincts remain. Thus we find conservatives criticizing Obama for helping to overthrow Gaddifi and for not helping (enough) to overthrow Assad. But there is no coherent conservative foreign policy. Nor is there a coherent liberal one. It's a scary world, military strength seems to be very very important, but ... how to use it? And then there is China ... a hundred times more of a threat than North Korea, but neither liberals nor conservatives can face reality on the Chinese issue. So we will continue to live in Interesting Times.
  15. Doug1943

    White Privilege Checklist

    What Fred (of Fred On Everything) thinks about this issue: Are White Men Gods? (II): Getting the Facts Straight Posted on June 25, 2015 by Fred Reed I find Cornel West, a black professor, complaining of White Supremacy, which he believes our black President needs to remedy. Obama, he says, is “[African-American slur]ized.” “A [African-American slur]ized black person is a black person who is afraid and scared and intimidated when it comes to putting a spotlight on white supremacy and fighting against white supremacy,” West said. I would like to explain to Professor West a few things about this dread supremacy: We have White Supremacy, Professor, because for 2500 years we, whites, have produced the best minds on the planet, the greatest flourishing of the arts and sciences ever seen, the most complex and organized societies. We have White Supremacy, whatever exactly it may be, because we have been the earth’s most successful race. No other has come close. Deal with it. We put probes on Mars and invented the thousands of technologies needed to do it. We developed the symphony orchestra, the highest form of musical expression. We invented the airplane, the computer, the internet, and tennis shoes. Putting it compactly, we invented the modern world. A degree of privilege, however you may conceive it, goes with the territory. A product of white engineers. When you can do this, come back and talk to me. Blacks may not have the background to grasp the extent of our achievements. Still, permit me a brief and very incomplete list of things white people have done or invented: Euclidean geometry. Parabolic geometry. Hyperbolic geometry. Projective geometry. Differential geometry. Calculus: Limits, continuity, differentiation, integration. Physical chemistry. Organic chemistry. Biochemistry. Classical mechanics. The indeterminacy principle. The wave equation. The Parthenon. The Anabasis. Air conditioning. Number theory. Romanesque architecture. Gothic architecture. Information theory. Entropy. Enthalpy. Every symphony ever written. Pierre Auguste Renoir. The twelve-tone scale. The mathematics behind it, twelfth root of two and all that. S-p hybrid bonding orbitals. The Bohr-Sommerfeld atom. The purine-pyrimidine structure of the DNA ladder. Single-sideband radio. All other radio. Dentistry. The internal-combustion engine. Turbojets. Turbofans. Doppler beam-sharpening. Penicillin. Airplanes. Surgery. The mammogram. The Pill. The condom. Polio vaccine. The integrated circuit. The computer. Football. Computational fluid dynamics. Tensors. The Constitution. Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Aeschylus, Homer, Hesiod. Glass. Rubber. Nylon. Roads. Buildings. Elvis. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. (OK, that’s nerve gas, and maybe we didn’t really need it.) Silicone. The automobile. Really weird stuff, like clathrates, Buckyballs, and rotaxanes. The Bible. Bug spray. Diffie-Hellman, public-key cryptography, and RSA. Et cetera. Computers, invented by us. We are not the only ones who can design these monsters. The Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, and Indians can do it, and they have my respect. But–Babbage, Turing, Shockley, Shannon, Boole, von Neumann–we invented computers. People who count on their fingers should maintain a discreet silence. As a race, Cornel, we are happy for you, for anyone, to enjoy the benefits of our civilization, but that is exactly what it is—our civilization. It has become a global civilization because others among the competent—again, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Koreans—have found it to be in technical matters superior. It came from us. They, I note, do not complain of White Supremacy or White Privilege. They are too busy making computers and money. Now, Cornel, I have often heard blacks demanding reparations for slavery. All right. I agree. It is only fair. I will pay a half-million dollars to each of my slaves, and free them immediately. I am not sure how many I have, but will try to give you an estimate in even dozens. Further, I believe that all blacks are entitled to a similar amount for every year in which they were slaves. However, I think you owe us royalties for the use of our civilization, which can be regarded as a sort of software. There should be a licensing fee. After all, every time you use a computer, or a door knob, you are using something invented by us. Every time you sharpen a pencil, or use one, or read or write, you infringe our copyright, so to speak. We have spent millennia coming up with things–literacy, soap, counting–and it is only fair that we receive recompense. The accounting burden would be excessive if we tried to distribute royalties in too fine a granularity, such as three cents per use of a boom box or a Glock, so we should probably use a bundled approach–so much per year for use of the wheel, refrigerator, and television. The amount could be deducted first from reparations payments and then automatically from EFT cards. A white man’s kraal. We started building them around 1137. Now, Cornel, it isn’t that we whites want to be supreme. It is just that we haven’t been able to help it. It isn’t our fault that we produced Newton, Archimedes, Einstein, and all those mutants. They are just birth effects, things that happen to even the best families. You have to play the hand you are dealt. A little sympathy would be appropriate. These gentlemen, hardly distinguishable from the Julio-Claudians, are probably from Papua-New Guinea. I propose to give them a trial subscription to White Supremacist culture. An essentially identical culture, differing only in detail. (Mission Control) What I think, Cornel, is that if you want the advantages of success, you have to succeed. We have. It is chic to say that whites are now headed for the dust bin of history. Maybe. If so, historians of the future will say, “Damn! That was some really fine dust, wasn’t it?”