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I was initially skeptical that the Donetsk People’s Republic separatists could pull off this shootdown, speculating it was the act of trigger-happy, that is negligent and mistaken, Ukrainian or Russian air defense crews.  Now it appears there is some evidence that a single SA-17 launcher, which apparently has organic tracking ability in the form of its “TELAR” vehicles, may have shot down the airliner.  The inability to determine it was a civilian airliner likely was related to the crew’s inexperience with this sophisticated weapon system, coupled with some confusion over the extent of civilian air traffic over the area owing to the closing of the Donetsk airport.

There is a lot of overheated rhetoric regarding this incident. It is not terrorism. Terrorism requires intent.  If I run over an old lady because she darts in front of my car, it’s not terrorism or even a crime, it’s just a tragic accident.  It might result from my negligence or not.  But that doesn’t make it terrorism, any more than errant US bombs that killed Iraqis were “terrorism.” In wars we call this collateral damage.  Maybe it is good we are all reminded what this looks like up close.

It’s worth noting who else has done this sort of thing over the years.  America shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988 from the USS Vincennes. Israel did in the 70s against a Libyan airliner. France may have shot down an Italian airliner in this matter in 1980.

Let’s consider some first principles.  America has no business in getting involved in a Ukrainian civil war over control of Eastern Ukraine.  Russia may or may not be supporting the rebels, but this to has nothing to do with us. Ukraine is understandably concerned to preserve its territorial integrity, but its current regime is the outcome of a violent coup, where the coup leaders quickly scrapped an agreement they reached earlier this year and found thugs from Pravy Sektor and other groups in charge.

Russia, wishing to be a respected as a civilized world power would be well served to permit neutral observers to investigate the crash.  Candor about events would help its standing, even if its intelligence services or others had some tangential responsibility for this tragic event. Perhaps Russia had more to do with the manning and training of this SAM crew, but, judging by the results, it appears just as likely they over-confidently thought they could figure it out from reading the manuals and the like.  In any case, this is a sad situation, but it would become a ridiculous situation if this event somehow became widely thought to be a terrorist incident and cause for additional counterproductive Western opposition to Russia.

O Lord our God arise, Scatter her enemies, And make them fall:

Confound their politics, Frustrate their knavish tricks,

On Thee our hopes we fix:  God save us all.

-Excerpt of God Save the Queen

While war is a terrible thing for the innocent, there are degrees of innocence and degrees of concern.  My first concern is for my family and my countrymen.  Is it not to the advantage of the Western Christian world that the crazies of Shia and Sunni Islam, each with equally crazy fanatic branches of a mostly violent tree, fight one another, destroy their monuments, and turn their attention away from Europe and us, the “Great Satan?”  This was indeed the situation from 1980-1988 during the Iran-Iraq War, where terrorist incidents continued, but none on the scale of 9/11 and with most jihadi tourism focused on the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

In other words, why do we think we’re smart enough or that it’s even in our interest to end the Sunni-Shia fighting in Syria or the fighting of Sunni-Shia fighting in Iraq.  Indeed, even if the Sunnis of ISIS win, would they not be more deterrable, more easily managed, and more easily hurt when they purport to run a nation state than if they are an amorphous, stateless entity like al Qaeda.  After all, governments can make mistakes and become unpopular, and being unable to keep the lights on because of US retaliatory bombing matters more for a government than a mere gang.

America does not need to pick sides between Shia and Sunni extremists in the Middle East.  It is in an inherently thorny and complicated problem with no obvious right and wrong side.  Instead, as with so many other foreign policy issues, strategic disengagement and repairing our own financial house and improving our military readiness at home is more directly in our interests and more easily achieved than solving this three dimensional chess game that is Middle Eastern sectarian fighting.

Much of modernity involves the liberation of mankind from constraint.  These include the constraint of birth, religion, familial obligation, family reputation, sex roles, sexual preference, race, national origin, but also the constraints of nature itself. Our once short and unpredictable lives are increasingly free of restraint through modern science and its fruits.  We live longer, with less pain, and with more wealth distributed more widely than in prior ages, and many of the purposes of traditional morality seem to have been rendered obsolete, as they mostly were concerned with preventing the harms now avoidable through science and technology.

The modern state exists alongside modern science as the engine of this major shift in human concerns.  Whereas once the rules of thrift, prudence, and constraint prevailed, along with unavoidable obligations to one’s parents and children, we now live in a world with a fairly effective government-provided social safety net, complete with rent subsidies, food subsidies, supplemental income, retirement income, free health care, and the like.  There is little risk of starvation or impoverishment, even with our significantly impaired economy.   The worst case scenario for the most unproductive today in America is usually a life of leisure with the income equivalent of $40k a year or so.

Traditional sexual roles and traditional sexual morality have been, in a way, the most resistant to change.  A stable, two parent marriage remains the ideal even today, and other lifestyles such as single motherhood, divorce, lifelong bacherlorhood, and the like retain some vestigial stigma.  But this ideal too has unravelled, and it has done so in about two generations.

Where the 19th Century saw the elimination of the traditional aristocracy and the 20th saw the elimination of many of the health and economic constraints that fostered traditional and austere morality, marriage only began to receive hammer blows in the late 1960s through the sexual revolution.  Far from being simply the eccentric expression of hippies at Woodstock and elsewhere, the revolution was an outgrowth of a broader quasi-Marxist ideology of women’s “liberation” and included the loosening of divorce laws, the emergence of the government-subsidized “welfare queen,” and the coupling of these phenomena with the fault-free provision of child support from men.  These events coincided with the invention of the birth control pill in the early 1960s and the liberalization of abortion laws that culminated in the Roe v. Wade decision.

At the same time, the narrative of sexual morality shifted from one focused on procreation and social obligation in the premodern era, to one of romantic love in the 18th and 19th centuries, now to one of base, animal coupling.  As the song says, “we ain’t nothing but mammals, let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.”  In short, all of these revolutionary changes combined to loosen women’s sexual desires from once-severe economic consequences and to recast the fulfilment of those desires as a social good.

The old morality emerged from a combination of women’s naturally greater selectivity in sexual partners and the practical need of a mother with children for financial support and social respectability.  It was not so much that people in the past were better or made of different stuff, rather, they were responding to very different social and economic choices.   Women remain the chief gatekeeper of relationships, and their mate choices were very different when concerns for minimal financial well being were omnipresent.  For the same reason, the contours of those relationships were very different, as well.

Of course, that structure did not occur automatically; it was drilled into the heads of young women by their mothers and fathers, as well as their churches and the impact of the laws.  Marriage was held up as a high ideal, and it was surrounded with pageantry and various social and legal privileges to make it appealing to everyone involved. Even with the risk of financial and social ruin, women’s primitive desire for a certain type of man–physically masculine, independent, roguish, unreliable, masterless–often worked contrary to a woman’s financial and social interests.  Bad boys, then as now, had their appeal, particularly to the immature and those with short time horizons.  But this natural instinct was opposed by these various social and legal and economic forces.

Today, the economic aspect of the equation has been nearly completely suppressed, as have the harms to reputation for oneself and one’s offspring.  Birth control and abortion do much of the work, by allowing sex without procreation and without the economic constraint and reputational harm of an “illegitimate child.”  Disease also remains only a modest impediment, avoidable or reduced to a nuisance in most cases by modern medicine.  And if a woman feels her own procreative urge, the financial burdens of unwed motherhood have been lessened considerably by both the welfare state and the prevailing rules in the family law courts.  Even without resorting to state resources, she can often obtain funds from the father in the form of child support, with or without marrying him, and even in the case of a female-initiated divorce suffused with her own adultery and abuse.  After all, it’s for the children!  And even if she can’t identify the father or retains some loyalty to him or he is completely broke or in prison, she can obtain food stamps, section 8 vouchers, and a variety of other government benefits.  In short, women’s mate choices are rendered more and more purely the product of a woman’s primitive hypergamy, her id, that is her untutored desires that grow from million year old biological processes that were designed to ensure survival of the species on the steppes of Africa.  And those choices cause social costs to a very different social environment which magnify themselves over time, because those choices exist within a complex feedback loop involving men, the state, the economy, and much else.  We see a greater degree of resentful sexless men, harried single moms, sullen and uncivilized children, and a lack of procreation among the most talented, who are lassoed by the modern state (and the modern regime of student loans) to work hard to create resources for those actually having children.

In the current milieu, much cursed and observed by the “manosphere” blogs, men no longer are rewarded for being “good providers.”  It’s a superfluous role. Indeed, much of the “liberation” of women and sex has been accomplished by greater economic and other constraints of men, men for whom their natural advantages in strength and drive are rendered irrelevant by the cubicle-heavy knowledge economy.  And the men most burdened by this are those least rewarded. This change and its consequences has been one of the chief observations of Charles Murray in his new book, Coming Apart.

Morality and mores are fragile affairs.  They involve restraint and constraint of our primitive instincts.  It is for this reason that so much of the more primitive world remains very concerned to channel sex into one respectable channel: lifelong, procreative marriage.  Those societies simply cannot afford not to, and this system has proven the most durable and fair over time. The feminist left has for a generation or two campaigned to put this ideal into disrepute, and it remains vitally committed to the welfare state, the anti-father family law system, and “women’s reproductive choices,” because those are the three pillars upon which the entire edifice stands, an edifice that is rewarding to certain careerist “high t” women, to groups that want to demoralize and eliminate the traditional majority, and to those who administer and dole out the financial rewards of the anti-family and anti-father mega state.  I suppose, in all candor, it is also rewarding to certain slatternly women and a handful of socially successful (but not necessarily economically successful) alpha men too, at least as long as the system can last.

It is not so obvious the old regime can be resurrected.  The economic incentives are all off, and the structure of democracy gives all the parasitical classes a vote, regardless of their conflict of interest with the societal good as a whole.  But, at the very least, the uneven system that rewards a handful of socially useless “bad boys” and their paramours can be constrained. We can stop the bleeding. The start of this is identifying the problem, calling it by name, and focusing restraint upon what economists call the “cheapest cost avoider.”  

If not lifelong marriage, at least let’s restore a system that does not punish men who most reward society.   And that means doing something that would be unpleasant and arguably unfair.  In short, we should eliminate the entire apparatus that fosters the bad choices that lead to legions of single moms, fatherless children, and what used to be called more accurately “broken homes.”  We should get rid of child support for female-initiated “no fault” divorces, we should get rid of all child support for out-of-wedlock births, we should eliminate food stamps and Section 8 and family leave and all the other things by which single moms and their choices are encouraged.  We should ban abortion and eliminate birth control for the unmarried, not merely because it is wrong in the eyes of Catholics and others, but because it is anti-civilization and anti-family.

Conservatives love to point out that illegitimacy is bad for society, producing crime and disorder and economic impacts on the entire society. But the single moms and the choices they make and the incentives they face are largely absent from this account.  The focus is all on the bad, irresponsible father, as if women have no moral agency and are immune to shaming.  In fact, as evidenced by the anti-slut-shaming hysteria, women respond to little else.   Ancient societies knew that ostracizing “bastards” and their mothers was not entirely fair, of course, but they also knew that some women may not do something in their own interest, particularly when caught up in romantic and hormonal hysteria, but that these same woman often would do such a thing for the benefit of their offspring.  Indeed, they knew that shaming these women and their children was the best and most surefire way to keep a lid on things, even though, as with every form of social pressure and ostracism, it may not be entirely fair in a cosmic sense.  As Edmund Burke observed of the once stern English race, “We know that we have made no discoveries, and we think that no discoveries are to be made, in morality.”

So long as women have few financial incentives to favor men who are pro-social, pro-commitment, and able to be a provider to any children they may have, the proliferation of behaviors that reduce marriage to a province only of the upper class will continue.  This trend will, if unarrested, quite simply destroy civilization.  And the tripartite feminist achievements of birth control (of which abortion is just a subpart), dragooning men to finance this operation in the family law courts, and disproportionately taxing the higher earning of two parents families to finance the welfare state are the chief culprits behind this state of affairs.

In short, to restore the family, conservatives must declare war against all of these arrangements and incentives that are, in practice, anti-family and anti-civilization.

One gets the distinct sense of a pincer movement by the very rich and the very poor against the once plentiful middle class.  One gets the TARP and the other WIC, EBT, and all the rest.  This depressing piece on the rise of “oligarchy” hits a lot of the right notes, in all their depressing melodies:

Wall Street grandees, many of whom should have spent the past years studying the inside of jail cells for their misbehavior, are only bothered by how to spend their ill-gotten earnings, and how not to pay taxes on it. The Obama Administration in concert with the Congress , have consented to allow  the oligarchy to continue paying capital gains taxes well below the income tax rate paid by poor schmuck professionals, small business owners and high-skilled technical types.

In this, both political parties are to blame. Republican fealty to the interests of the investor class has been long-standing. But Obama and the Democrats are also increasingly backed in their “progressive” causes by the very people — Wall Street traders, venture capitalists and tech executives — who benefit most from the federal bailouts, cheap money, low interest rates, and low capital gains tax rates.

Large financial institutions also have benefited greatly from regulations that guaranteed their survival while allowing for increased concentration of financial assets. Indeed in the first five years of the Obama Administration the share of financial assets held by the top six “too big to fail” banks soared 37%, and now account for two-thirds of all bank assets.

“Quantitative easing,” the government’s purchase of financial assets from commercial banks, essentially constituted a “too big to fail” windfall to the largest Wall Street firms, notes one former high-level official. By 2011, pay for executives at the largest banking firms    hit new records, just three years after the financial “wizards” left the world economy on the brink of economic catastrophe. Meanwhile, as “too big to fail” banks received huge bailouts, the ranks of  community banks continues dropping to the lowest number since the 1930s, hurting, in particular, small businesspeople that depend on loans from these institutions.

This tilt towards of the financial elites, as Elizabeth Warren has noted, occurred during both the Bush and Obama Administrations. “The government’s most important job,” she remarks, “was to provide a soft landing for the tender fannies of the banks.”

 

Obama has deliberately not enforced immigration laws and now it is coming back to bite him as young people come en masse from Latin America, aided by Mexico, which allows the pass through of Central Americans, so long as they don’t stick around Mexico.  Obama, after promising amnesty, now says, “hey, it’s dangerous for your kids to come here.”  Oh really.  Well, Obama and the rest of America is learning that things are a little different down there.  Adulthood doesn’t start at 21 or 25 or whenever Americans begin to stand up for themselves.  It might be 13 or 15.  Time to get to work.  Lots of Latin immigrants have a fifth grade education or less.  If you can hang drywall or mow a lawn, you can work and make a relatively good living in the US, even as an illegal.

Of course, we need no more poor people in this country, nor those whose kids and grandkids will likely be poor too.  We need fewer workers, which would lead to more higher paying jobs.  And this state of affairs is impossible to create with the wage pressure of an artificially expanding labor supply by people whose commitment to investment in human capital as societies and individuals, is nearly nil.

IRS Crooks

One thing you learn quickly in litigation is that when people “lose” documents it is often self-serving, and the law punishes that by, essentially, presuming the facts in the worst light possible under the rubric of spoliation.  The IRS revelation that Lois Lerner’s emails to outsiders have all disappeared is the latest sign of this criminal administration’s brazen contempt for the American people.  Peggy Noonan hits all the right notes in her latest piece on the subject.  Consider what happened under her leadership:  ordinary Americans organizing themselves to protect their interests were hounded, audited, and otherwise abused for standing up to this administration. This is not the American way.  It may be the Chicago way, but Chicago has been a corrupt one party cesspool filled with foreigners and un-American patronage politics for 100 years.  

Truthfully, Obama should be impeached; he is showing complete contempt for law, for the American people, and for any sense of restraint.  The only time he shows restraint, as in his foreign policy dealings, one always gets the sense he is calculating his actions in the way to bring maximum disrepute to America and to weaken it and its people even further.  

Iraq Melts Down

Iraq is melting down, and this is an unfortunate thing for its people.  But one thing it is not is a sign of Obama “squandering victory” or some such. Neocons always want to rewrite even the very recent past.  They want intervention, they want it always, and they think we’re all too stupid to remember what disasters they have led us to.  

Iraq has been in a low level state of civil war since we left.  Occasional bombing campaigns in Baghdad and elsewhere were not uncommon.  Their now-somewhat-capable military has kept things to a dull roar, but the best measure of a country’s level of violence, “Would you visit as a tourist?,” is decidedly no.  

Note that the al Qaeda affiliate taking over Mosul is also the group fighting Assad in Syria, which these same neocons said we should have bombed and destroyed last fall.  Do these people even have coherent thoughts?  It does not appear so.  Indeed, Obama is incompetent in nearly every area.  But Iraq’s internal security is not his job, he cannot control things there any more than America could when it had 135,000 troops in Iraq, and its destiny is ultimately something it will have to determine on its own.  We should maintain friendly relations, and we should strike al Qaeda wherever we find it, but we should be under no illusions we are or can be responsible for Iraq’s internal security.  Indeed, the most irresponsible thing we could do for its security would be to attack Assad and further embolden these multinational al Qaeda crazy people, just as bombing Iraq would allow jihadists to tap into Iraqi nationalist sentiment.  

But for neocons, the answer is always more war and more occupation, everywhere, all the time. 

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