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Trump Gets It

What people don’t get about Trump and the reason he keeps winning is that he cares about all of the people that the Ruling Class do not care about.  He’s cared about them since the 80s, has spoken up for them.  He understands their anxieties, passions, prejudices, and problems.  Yes, he’s a super rich guy.  But he has human sympathy and connection with ordinary people, and this is evident from many things, not least his untutored, authentic manner of speaking and his expressions of sympathy and solidarity for cops, blue collar workers, and soldiers.

While the Left has lately pretended to have patriotism, let’s not forget they’re the ones “taking a knee” and doing other things that are anathema to ordinary people.  And for those of us who are a little older, the shameful, hateful, and fanatical anti-military and anti-American rhetoric against the Vietnam War still echoes today.

Trump’s dust up with this Rodeo Clown looking Congresswoman, Frederica Wilson, will, like so many other things, prove the fundamentally anti-fragile nature of his appeal:  attacks make him stronger and frequently backfire.

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The Vegas Massacre–whose horror is manifest–got me thinking about the appropriate limits on the Second Amendment.

To me one useful lens is “checks and balances.”

Machine guns, magazines larger than 30 rounds, belt fed guns, nuclear weapons, tanks, artillery, armor piercing ammo, etc. probably tip the scales very much against large unarmed crowds and law enforcement and only marginally improve the main purpose of the Second Amendment:  allowing the people collectively to resist an oppressive government and to protect themselves from one another.

We need something like an arms control principal among ordinary people vis a vis the government and vice versa.  We should aim for parity.  A single person with a machine gun can do a hell of a lot of damage.  More so with bombs.  A single person with an AR-15 can do some damage, but a cop or civilian with a handgun or their own AR-15 can stop them reasonably quickly.  Without semi-automatics, the people would be hobbled in any attempt to resist the government.  It is powerful, but not too powerful, to do the job, and it does the job best when wedded to a unified group of people within our broader nation.

Rights of all kinds–speech, guns, protections of the criminally accused–break down in disunified, diverse communities.  Without some prepolitical common understanding and sense of community and mutual loyalty, the costs of these rights–and they all have costs–will begin to increase compared to the benefits.  The scope in which they’ll be exercised begins to run aground.  Freedom of religion among the founders meant various stains of Christianity and Judaism.  Not politicized Islam.  Free speech meant pamphlets, books, plays, not internet porn.  Firearms meant ordinary weapons of the infantry, which were somewhat useless when not employed by a group, not the ability of a single person to kill hundreds en masse on an industrial scale.  Gun rights also meant a reciprocal obligation to serve in the militia, uniting the people with law enforcement and military.  Like the jury system, this give a sense of the ordinary people to law enforcement through the posse commitatus system.

So that’s something of a theoretical approach that I think provides some guidance on limits.  I personally think the current law (minus perhaps “bump stocks”) is appropriate.  Higher burdens for machine guns, which already exists, make some sense.  If they were as available as ordinary arms, I expect the spree shooters would have a much higher body count.  I have no problem with background checks, as dangerous criminals and severely mentally ill people should not have guns.  And, while everyone on the right ragged on Hillary for her silencer comments, I think she has a point.  This and similar shootings would be harder to stop if the person had silencers.  I’m not sure their widespread availability is a net positive.

I do think the left’s dismissing out of hand the ability of armed people to resist the government is incredibly ignorant.  Our military has been unable to control Afghanistan because so many people there with basic AK-47s have resisted our sophisticated military.  If enough people were so united against the government at home, it would grind to a halt.  Law enforcement is used to and only really equipped for operating in a 99% permissive environment at present.  As we saw in the Chris Dorner episode in California, when it’s actively resisted it can accomplish little.  In such a case, firearms have an additional important purpose of preserving personal safety in times of disorder.

Gun control proposals strike me as profoundly unserious on the whole, ignoring ordinary violence, the likely continued availability of guns to criminals in the time of a ban, and the prospect of not-so-civil disobedience if they’re confiscated.  Banning guns, confiscating guns, and employing gun control upon the 99% of law biding gun owners would create massive resistance, violence, resentment, and problems.

Outlier events like Vegas and Sandy Hook are horrible, only partly preventable, and obviously very damaging for our sense of safety amid our historical freedoms, including gun rights.  And while there’s no doubt sufficiently motivated people could do much the same with homemade bombs and cars, guns present an undeniable independent risk too.  We should consider the balance of harms based on the two basic purposes of the Second Amendment, which are relevant today.  There’s something silly about saying cops are racists and oppressing blacks and others and, by the way, only they should have guns.  I don’t buy the former point, but among right and left, a certain amount of fear of the government, or what it may become tomorrow, makes sense. A Constitution is, above all, a limitation on government action, even though such limits are sometimes costly.

Ordinary semi-automatics, so-called assault weapons, seem to keep things in balance. Widespread availability of more powerful weapons like machine guns seems to enable crazies to do far more damage than usual, and seem unnecessary relative to the needs of the organized community to resist the government.  So a higher hurdle for such weapons–which is the case under existing law–makes a lot of sense.  They simply throw the scales so far out of whack, and their corresponding benefits, even for the Second Amendment’s purposes, are minimal.  This is the old NRA and GOP position–enforce the laws we have–and it makes sense and it’s defensible politically.

Take a Knee

While the Steelers criticized Army Veteran Villaneuva for standing during the anthem as an offense to team unity, do these players not understand when they disrespect flag and anthem for their particular grievances that a lot of people consider it disrespectful of unity of the team that is our country?

The left is such a transparent joke. One minute they say that confederates are all traitors to our amazing USA and that their monuments should be defaced. Then it’s the USA is racist and its symbols deserves no respect.

Minorities need to decide if they want to be loyal to the country or not. Increasingly it looks like “or not” with the Malcom X/Marxist view ascendant. Obama of course with his leftist racial agitation had much to do with this.  Don’t forget Trayvon and Officer Crowley and his mealy mouthed speech after the Dallas police massacre.  Trump is a reaction to that among all of the people who simply are sick of it.

I think there is an elephant in the room, easily visible in the media, movies, and music of our black neighbors:  a lot of blacks are angry, alienated, and don’t particularly like white people or America, which they see as a white country.  Sports fans pretend they have something in common with these mostly black  guys on the field, who do have a lot of athletic skill, but really have nothing in common with their fans.  When these protests happen, it exposes the huge gulf in values and outlook between fans and player. And as the fans get wise to how much contempt they and their value system are held by the players, some will just decide not to support or watch the game as much.  After all, you need food, clothing, and shelter.  You don’t need to spend hours on end watching pro football. The players, whose precarious position depends on the fans’ support, may find this entire exercise very costly for their enterprise and individual fortunes.  No one wants to pay money to have someone spit in his face.

These protests are useful for making clear what was always pretty obvious to me, but which our media, sports figures, Hollywood movies, TV, and the simulated “racial healer” version of Obama presented to the country in 2008, are all designed to obscure.

Loyal Americans of any race should be treated well and with respect.  But disloyal Americans of any race should be ostracized and made to feel the contempt, pressure, and standards of the majority.  In this sense, as “divisive” as Trump’s remarks regarding the NFL may be, they are the most useful and necessary type of division:  he is dividing the loyal from the disloyal, real Americans from those who simply live here.

Web Round Up

Looks like the globalists are winning the White House war on foreign policy. Some good observations here and here.

Hurricane Harvey has devastated Houston, a city I lived in briefly about 10 years ago.  While the evacuation decision appears to have been a mistake–at least for people in flood plains–it’s not as simple as it looks.  My observations on that day and my attempted evacuation are here.

Steve Sailer notes that immigration has been a huge part of the paving over of Houston, which makes it more vulnerable to floods and impossible to evacuate.

The Kakistocracy Blog has a good point on why Republicans foolishly fail to distinguish ordinary businesses and monopolistic leftist behemoths, who aim to hurt conservatives and everything they hold dear.  It’s increasingly obvious why European Conservatives had a dimmer view of capitalism than Americans.  It’s also obvious that the libertarian bent of Silicon Valley is now coming to a close, replaced by ordinary leftism and its campaign against all things labeled “hate,” whether hateful or not.

Jim Kalb has a useful article on the defects of our education system, namely its implicit assumptions about what is and isn’t important, how life ought to be lived, and what values should prevail.

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As long as you adopt a liberal standard of the good–commitment to equality as being the most important moral value–then you will always lose the bidding war with the left.  You’ll say stop at confederate monuments, and then they’ll say you’re defending slaveowners by defending Washington and Jefferson.  We’ve seen this constant moving of the goal posts in many other contexts.

Liberalism is a crucible and it reduces everything in it to a single moral value to the exclusion of all other concerns, including honoring talent, bravery, courage, loyalty, and one’s ancestors.  The narrative on the confederacy has changed from a tragic war of brother against brother and a post-war-consensus where we honored the bravery of the southern soldier as part of national reconciliation, to one where racism=bad=confederates=Nazis=off-to-the-gulag.

Real conservatism must begin by rejecting the liberal equality principle as the principle scale of values.  It’s a false, ideological notion of the good, and it has always and everywhere led to greater extremes.  As a factual matter, men are not equal, these inequalities grow organically, and a healthy society recognizes and channels our different talents, stations, and roles in a healthy direction that supports the common good.

So I really don’t care who was or wasn’t racist back when racism was the basic assumption of most people.  Most people everywhere believe something like everyone else around them.  It’s perfectly normal.  And most people everywhere, then and now, prefer their own kind and want their group to succeed.  I also refuse to care because the left uses it as the camel’s nose under the tent.  We have to reject the excessive concern with this au courant sin. It’s not the most important thing in life.  We live in a country with over a million abortions a year and gay marriage.  Is that somehow better than the generation that fought World War II and also didn’t want school bussing?  I don’t think so.

Political violence is an extreme measure for extreme times.  It is not always to be condemned–we wouldn’t condemn the Boston Tea Party I hope–but in a society with legal means of redress and free speech, it is unnecessary.  Indeed, it is a heckler’s veto often enough, and obviously the costs of open political warfare can be enormous.  The guy in the Dodge Charger appeared to be doing something far more sinister than protecting himself, at least from what I could tell on the widely circulated videos.  I see no reason to defend him.  Let the legal system take its course.

But when people are not allowed to speak and are actively oppressed and harassed, sometimes that’s the only language that is left to them.  The media has painted the Alt Right gathering as a bunch of neo-Nazis. It has a sliver of truth to it, but it is not a description done in the service of truth.  It is a description designed to dehumanize them and to legitimize violence against all of them, Nazis or not.  Remember the whole “punch a Nazi” thing after Richard Spencer, one of the organizers of this march, was punched during the time of the Inauguration.  This is why Trump’s original and legitimate condemnation of both sides led to  media conniption fits.  The critics believe the Antifa violence is somehow morally superior to the counter-violence of its right wing opponents.  But why?  Can’t Americans engage in free speech, even “racist” free speech?  After all, a deliberately provocative decision to take down the statute of the heroic Robert E. Lee, a man who did much to heal a divided nation, unlike so many of those now calling to destroy the memory of him.

Leftist extremists, until now, faced little counter-violence.  They terrorized World Trade Organization meetings, small academic conferences, Charles Murray’s speeches, and many Trump rallies, one of which they shut down in Chicago.

This dominance of public spaces, in which the Black Lives Matter movement also took a role, freaked out the embattled middle class.  The bullying was profoundly un-American.  And anxiety about status, about violence, about open hostility to them and their future had a lot to do with Trump’s rise. Many on the right, including me, are immune to the frequent invocations of the terms “racist” and “Nazi.”  These words mean, for many of us, simply a hate term thrown around against someone you disagree with.

But that does not mean one should actually become a real Nazi and embrace their rather alien symbolism.  The populist or nationalist right has a large, normal constituency.  It wants normal things like to live in a sane, safe country, where their children are not sacrificed on the alter of multiculturalism.  The movement and its leaders should not indulge in deliberate efforts to live up to the caricature that exists in the minds of the far left.

As we saw in Charlottesville, the left still calls the shots, by and large, and that’s why the police stand down when leftist violence occurs.   But, more important, a great many people in the middle find the nationalist message appealing.  They don’t won’t forever wars in the Middle East, jobs outsourced to China, and elites promoting increasingly decadent nonsense to their children.  There are other more effective ways to get the message out to this group–podcasts, small gatherings, subversive humor, the internet–that do not involve deliberately offensive symbolism and people and goals.   In other words, we are better off with more Pepe the Frog, and less Daily Stormer Nazi Larping.

The “Alt Right” started as a nationalist criticism of the “Chamber of Commerce” identity-free version of the GOP which was peddled by the Jebs and Rubios of the world. As an old school Pat Buchanan paleoconservative, it mostly sounded all right to me.  But if it becomes a synonym for neo-Nazis, not just in the minds of critics, but in actuality, complete with torch lit parades, it will run off its natural supporters.  This is why I find Richard Spencer’s whole schtick both weird and counter-productive.  The Alt Right’s natural supporters are legion:  they are the nationalist, embattled middle class.  These are people whose fathers and grandfathers fought actual Nazis.  These are the people that voted for Trump.  But they won’t ever go for a movement that fails to recognize that nationalism in the service of global domination and mass murder, that is Nazism, loses its legitimacy.

Identity politics are now a fact of life, and it is to be expected certain whites have gotten in the game, but politics are not naturally so.  Identity politics flow from a multicultural society, which in our case is an artificial creation of the 1965 immigration laws.  Most nationalists, including me, favor monocultural societies, where political and national borders are coextensive.  The way to eliminate identity politics and to have a politics of ideas is to have a less diverse and more unified society.  There is minimal identity politics in Japan, China, and Iceland for this reason.  There used to be very minimal identity politics in the US until the 1960s immigration reforms coupled with the rise of Marxist multicultural theory.

The one exception to this unity was the black white racial divide.  But blacks were truly a minority, but 10% of the population as recently as 1960.  There was an appeal to the broad American sense of fair play by the black civil rights movement, and its work was largely completely by the early 1970s.  Voting discrimination ended, formal discrimination was outlawed, and everyone was supposed to be treated the same.  When the reality that no amount of “equality of opportunity” could undo other forms of inborn inequality, as well as extensive social problems, the advocates of fair play split into those who said a fair system of procedures was enough (most Republicans) and those who thought equality of results should have happened automatically and that the failure for that to happen was proof of systemic, hidden racism (most Democrats).

So identity politics, such as we see every day and in high relief in Charlottesville, are regrettable, but to be expected.  It is unreasonable to expect whites to engage in unilateral disarmament when everyone else is tribal and out to hurt our group, sometimes quite explicitly so. If nothing else, calling certain features of the dominant national discourse “anti-white,” when they are objectively so, is a perfectly good thing.  But there is no reason to get weird about it.  We mostly want to be left alone, allowed to flourish, to have things stay roughly the same, and not to have ourselves turned into strangers in the country our ancestors bequeathed to us.

 

 

I’m not too jazzed about the latest dust up regarding North Korea, and I do think a combination of Trump’s bravado and the foreign policy establishment’s desire to save face–or as they would call it, preserve America’s credibility and to keep the faith of our allies–have in combination a lot to do with how we got here.  That is, it’s something of a perfect storm between the Mattis/McMaster desire for stability, the consensus fear of nuclear proliferation, the neoconservatives’ mania for American credibility, and Trump’s loose “Fire and Fury” rhetoric analogous to Obama’s “red line” in Syria.

What is going on exactly?

Well, for starters, our leaders have painted us into a corner with North Korea and have shown little interest in doing something useful prior to their acquisition of game-changing nuclear weapons.  I wrote about  as the problem developed: “We got on the wrong road with Clinton’s bribery deal (brokered by Jimmy Carter) which the North Korean’s promptly ignored. Upon resuming production and other threatening gestures, George W Bush responded by tough talk and little action, putting the Korea problem on the backburner while the war in Iraq spun out of control. Now, seeing a new and apparently even weaker president in office, the North Koreans have made a gambit for bigger payoffs and leverage.”

In addition, as with Syria, there is an increasing problem that the “international community” (i.e., the United States) can’t seem to control events the way it once did.  And this is only a problem if you think the U.S. should maintain a “unipolar” world, that is, to call the shots everywhere and anywhere with little effort at prioritization, a task only realistic if you imagine, wrongly, that we have unlimited resources and extensive intersets in such far flung locales as Crimea, Africa, Yemen, the South China Sea, and Libya.  Iran has thumbed its nose at us, after obtaining literal planeloads of cash from President Obama.  Syria is still run by Assad after a failed U.S. funded rebellion, and the U.S. has sensibly decided to call its regime change plan quits.  Iraq was taken out of business in 2003, but North Korea keeps on trucking, occasionally acting like a rogue nation, and, most important of all, it has bought itself regime change insurance in the form of nuclear weapons.

To state the obvious, this is not a simple problem.  The first Korean War should remind us that even the America that had recently whooped Japan and Germany might find a conflict on that mountainous peninsula difficult and costly.  In my earlier discussion after North Korea’s first apparently successful nuclear test, I wrote:

I don’t think this is a situation where someone can say Obama has an easy move, even if he were not so naive about the limits of diplomacy. There is a serious risk of conventional war on the Korean peninsula. North Korea clearly will not abide by its commitments not to develop nuclear and ballistic missile technology. China may finally snap into action because of concern about North Korea’s volatility, but so far it has done little, and it’s the key to keeping North Korea in line, along with credible nuclear deterrence.

Our toothless response to North Korea should expose to the whole world why war against would-be nuclear powers can only really take place before they go nuclear, and that preemption, for all the flaws of execution in Iraq, still should be part of the tool kit. After a country goes nuclear, most of the options are taken off the table.

Consider this. Blockade? They nuke Japan. Bombing? They nuke Japan and shell Seoul. More bribes? They feign compliance and up the ante.

Trump is in little better position than Obama was.  Now that North Korea has more and better nuclear weapons, along with more advanced missile capability, it has a doomsday option against the U.S., South Korea, and Japan if we try a conventional attack, in addition to its substantial conventional capacity to wreak havoc upon South Korea.

This is a useful time to remind Trump of his campaign mantra: America First.  Does a murderous, unstable, poor, but otherwise isolated North Korea threaten America? Does our continued presence on the South Korean peninsula do the U.S. any good?  Even if North Korea is a threat, is the cost of defanging it worth the cost?  As I wrote during the Bush presidency in 2006:

For conservatives, we must remember our NK policy must be about the US and its interests. Our concern for our allies in the region is about us too, it’s not (or at least should not be) charity. We’re all big boys and girls and can team up when necessary and when we have common interests. South Korea in particular gives the US significant manpower assets in dealing with NK. Japan gives us significant basing capability, plus its high technology capability enhances our military power. We should not abandon these countries, because they help us to address NK and have similar interests. However, we should embrace a longer term commitment to these regimes’ rearmament. It is an anachronism that both spend so little on defense relative to their economies and rely instead on the US military.

We are inundated with Munich analogies.  We’re told we must stand up to bad regimes or the world is a less safe and stable place.  And that is sometimes true.  But it’s also true, as in the First World War, that a desire to punish a bad regime and to follow an earlier commitment mechanically can be more costly than the alternative.  And there are times, as in the Cold War, where strategic patience, containment, and waiting things out is less costly than the alternative, in that case, the destruction of the world in a nuclear holocaust.  

There are not many terribly good options with North Korea.  That nation and its leaders have shown a certain willingness to cooperate with other hostile powers, engage in rhetorical escalation, and impose significant privation on their people so long as the regime leaders are taken care of.

Here, as in Syria, Trump the President has taken on different advisers and a different, more worrisome tone than Trump the candidate.  But this deviation is towards the mainstream of the Republican Party, the foreign policy establishment, and the “Deep State” that he supposedly aimed to fix.   He and his advisors, regardless of this consensus, should be asking as a matter of common sense:  can we do anything useful to North Korea and is that something in America’s interest?