Wasn’t one of the big complaints about the Iraq War that it was based on faulty intelligence that was itself the result (allegedly) of pressure from higher ups to reach a certain conclusion?  Well now it appears that high level CENTCOM commanders allegedly pressured analysts to say things were going swimmingly in the War on ISIS.  It all seems pretty unlikely that things are going great, as we’re not doing very much over there.  A bombing here and there, but not exactly a massive campaign. The whole area seems a chaotic, multifront war, where we are teamed up with Iran in Syria while we’re against them in Yemen.  We still have not picked a horse as to Sunni or Shia, nor should we necessarily.

It’s hard to win a war (or even know if you’re winning), if all the intel is “cooked.”  And it is a shameful day, if this is true, when uniformed military in a desire to look good and make the boss happy start lying and pressure others to lie.  I would not be surprised if this was all the result of hints and pressure from the White House, but I’m sure there is plausible deniability all the way around.  Alternately, we know from Iraq that the face-saving optimism by the military commanders can be expected ad infinitum, where victory is just over the next hill with a few more months and resources.  Victory parades and surrenders with treaty signings on the deck of the USS Missouri are pretty rare these days.  Even on a good day, at best we will be able to reduce ISIS’s ability to project power and, even then, it’s only one facet of the multi-headed monster that is Islamic extremism.

What the US lacks and has since 9/11 is a coherent, effective strategy to address that problem, which is the problem of which ISIS, al Qaeda, and Iran are all just different facets. Bush tried his “reverse domino effect” democracy-export policy, and that has proved a dismal failure.  In its stead, we have had partial withdrawal, whack a mole, and occasional enthusiasms against the forces of secular order such as Kaaddafi and Assad.  Not much genuine strategy going on there, and one of the most effective tools–cordoning off the area and not allowing them in the front door–is still treated as a metaphysical impossibility, even though its the least costly and most effective thing we could start doing.

The media and political elites’ false narrative about legions of malevolent white racists out there shooting unarmed blacks has, this week, triggered a black, mentally unbalanced grievance collector in Virginia, who made a macabre snuff film shooting two of his white former colleagues.

In addition to focusing on a non-problem in comparison to ubiquitous black violence, this narrative obviously can add grist to the mill for unstable types, and likely encourages greater violence and cruelty by ordinary criminals, who are encouraged by both black and white elites to think little of whites from the time they are children.

Mainstream American newspapers read like der Sturmer, with whites now cast as greedy, evil, hateful creatures, worthy of retributive violence.  And while we are warned repeatedly of the mostly imaginary risk of “backlash” after Islamic terrorism, there seems little concern for any backlash of the constant hatefest on whites, cops, and the history of America until the day before yesterday.  Is it any wonder that some people, on the margins, are encouraged to go nuts after these overhyped, and often demonstrably false narratives, whether about “gentle giant” Michael Brown, “honor student” Trayvon Martin, or “motorist” Rodney King?

Liberal elites and black elites suffer from several forms of moral dementia.  First, they make a cult of the criminal, when in fact, criminals should be marginalized.  Two, as part of this cult of the criminal, they create a narrative of a white oppressor class, whose demonization is nonstop.  Finally, they construct a willfully blind mirror image of reality becuase there is not a significant number of violent white on black attacks–by police or otherwise–whereas there is disproportionate black criminality against blacks and whites too. Indeed, it would be much higher, but for the strenuous efforts of whites, Hispanics, and Asians to avoid black neighborhoods.  There is a genuine black crime problem, and, instead, a visitor from Mars would think we live in a world of genocidal white violence against non-whites.  It’s a patently ridiculous lie.  And that lie is encouraging the marginalized to feel justified in committing the most horrible crimes.

As I wrote about ten years ago in a discussion of the Rwandan genocide:

When trying to understand the genocide in Rwanda, a second factor was hinted at but the film gave it short shrift: mass violence seems to be most primed to occur when a group perceives itself to be avenging an injustice or preventing impending violence against itself. The Tutsi victims of the Hutu formed the major constituent of a violent rebel group in 1994 Rwanda and had previously constituted the dominant ruling class. The extremist Hutu leadership sold their violence as a necessary measure to protect themselves from the repetition of Tutsi overlordship. There are parallels to the Nazi claim that it was the “Job of history” avenging the “stab in the back” at Versailles, or the Bolshevik notion that it was leading the proletariat in throwing off the yoke of capitalist oppression. In other words, the same pervasive victimology that the left pedals as the necessary condition for positive social change also can form the ideological basis of mass violence. In this sense, movies like Hotel Rwanda do a disservice to their audience’s education by presenting a one-dimensional account of the Hutu or any other group as a depraved and inexplicable force of evil: such explanations have more in common with the propaganda that leads to genocide than they do in helping us to understand and prevent such episodes. The icing on the cake was the heoric arrival of Tutsi rebels, who prevent a massacre of fleeing Tutsi refugees. The Tutsi rebels were fighting for the high principle that they should now be allowed to massacre the Hutu, no doubt.

Or at least the stock market.  Zero Hedge has a longish analysis here that is worth reading.  This is the money quote:

But make no mistake, the eventual outcome to all this is captured brilliantly in this quote by Ludwig Von Mises, the Austrian economist:

There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.

The credit expansion happened between 1980 and 2008, there was a warning shot which was soundly ignored by ignorant central bankers, and now we have more, not less, debt with which to contend.

I found the following short entry on the perverse incentives of the Federal Reserve kind of interesting too:

Imagine that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was a corporation, with its shares owned by the nation’s major pharmaceutical companies.How would you feel about the regulation of medications?  Whose interests would this corporation be serving? Or suppose that major oil companies appointed a small committee to periodically announce the price of a barrel of crude in the United States. How would that impact you at the gasoline pump?Such hypotheticals would strike the majority of Americans as completely absurd, but it’s exactly how our banking system operates.

I don’t have any real sage advice.  It doesn’t feel like the same kind of maniac situation we had in 2008.  Credit markets are tighter, and mass delusion about “this time is different” is not so common anymore.  Everyone’s a bit gun shy.  Even the “dumb money” has gotten out in droves this time.

That said, all the big debt overhang from various stimulation plans, bailouts, and giveaways has likely made things more difficult, as has the Fed’s multiyear 0% interest rates.  They have no real tools other than money-printing now.

In the short term, it appears a deflationary environment, and I’m glad that I moved a good chunk (more than half) of my 401K into cash (i.e., money market) back in June when the first whiffs of China’s internal crisis demonstrated themselves.  I’m not an investment guru and I confess a lot of uncertainty about markets, but one thing I think is crazy is the “buy and hold” non-strategy counseled by most investment “advisers.”  You always need to consider the incentives of anyone giving you advice; they have commissions, fees, bias, and a general interest based on their own personal positions in equities, as well as their training. Mass movement to cash (or Gold or AR-15s) is not in their personal interest.  That doesn’t mean they’re all lying frauds, but always be skeptical, think for yourself, and prepare for a range of possibilities.

“Buy low and sell high” is very different from “buy and hold.”  If you see the top of a peak, get out, and get back in on the dips.  Your timing may not be perfect, but riding the roller coaster down when you could cash out makes no sense.

I have to say I’m not confident that large growth will ever happen again.  Real growth has been anemic since 2008, and there are big structural problems–low skill workforce, large numbers of people out of workforce, globalization, high levels of indebtedness, little low hanging fruit, etc.–that don’t bode well for the future.

Days of Rage

I’m reading a great book now on the history of the far left terrorist groups in the 70s, including the Weather Underground. It’s called “Days of Rage.”

It’s a story about the way our higher education institutions are in the hands of anti-American radicals.  In a normal planet, Kathy Boudin, Bill Ayers, and Bernadine Dohrn do not get jobs at major universities.  All three have gotten such positions, and all three were involved in campaigns of terrorist bombing, some aimed at killing people, and some of which successfully did so.

It’s also a story about how strange is the place that Obama came from. Hyde Park’s leftist scene is not normal to America. Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorhn are not kingmakers in anywhere but a thoroughly strange university town that is totally out of step with the rest of America.   But that’s why he did and why it’s so normal in Hyde Park.

There’s a final piece to the puzzle that explains his failure to support police and instead to encourage rioters in the wake of Ferguson.  The “cops are oppressors of blacks” theme was the thread running through all of the main leftist groups of the 70s. Even the white groups–indeed, especially them–were all obsessed with Panthers and prisoners’ rights and fighting the man and hating the military and all the rest.  They were bamboozled by articulate hucksters like George Jackson and Eldridge Cleaver.  They spent their energies getting these schmucks released from prison, through organized breakouts and elite-fueled clemency campaigns.  Obama comes from that same world, the far left, and its high regard for these crooks, where most Americans take the side of the cops when people are breaking things and hurting people.  So, being of this stripe, he has governed in a diffident, uncertain, and anti-American way from the beginning, particularly on racial issues, because these are his roots, his core beliefs, the pure leftist themes which he worries about “selling out” from.

Anyway, it’s a good book, and it’s shocking how little the media has dug into these groups and Obama’s associations with them.  Everyone made fun of Sara Palin when she said Obama was “palling around with terrorists,” but Dohrn and Ayers were major players in these small groups, and Obama began his campaign for Illinois legislature in their living room.  They almost certainly were involved in the murder of a San Francisco cop, and yet these worthless people are still running free.

Is it any wonder our country feels like a country under enemy occupation?  It’s being governed from the very top by self-declared communist, anti-American radicals.

The media’s obsessive focus on “unarmed black men” killed by police–a whopping 24 in the year 2015 of the 60 total–is so ridiculous that it reveals all by itself the utter bad faith of the media and the ruling class.  This is a tiny number, accounted almost in every case by the bad choices of the person shot, and is itself a tiny fraction of the several thousand black men murdered every year, almost exclusively by other black men.  Indeed, it is a tiny fraction of the whites killed by blacks in a given year, which number 500 plus.

Do white lives matter?  Cops’ lives?

“Black lives matter” is a cudgel to demoralize whites, because black lives do not apparently  matter to black people in this country, as demonstrated by the killings themselves and , for the most part, deafening silence of black leaders at their own mass murder of one another and of whites as well.  

Preventing crime depends upon distinguishing, separating, and punishing  criminals, and black leadership, instead, pathologically identifies with criminals as victims of “society,” rather than as victimizers of both black and white society.  The collective flourishing of blacks as a community depends on a moral renewal, inculcating self-control and respect for authority, and a restoration of the family.  Those things are more difficult and less self-congratulatory than the Ta-Nehisi Coates style implication of all white society as a racist “system” deserving condemnation. But it would all be more honest. 

Here’s the facts, and they speak for themselves:

Trump’s appeal comes down to a few things, but more than anything else, its source is his refusal to speak in the idiom of the ruling class, and his willingness to speak to the Republican base about things they have repeatedly expressed concern about, which the mainstream leaders pay some minimal lip service too, and then forget as soon as they’re elected.  We hate political correctness, are concerned about the third world reengineering of America’s people, and think the ruling class could care less about our economic prospects.

Whether Romney or McCain or Bob Dole, none of the GOP’s front runners got this.  W did, indirectly, with his tough talk on Islamic terrorism.  Unfortunately, he got us involved in losing wars, forgot to close the borders, and the mainstream candidates are now forced to say both that we never should have gone to Iraq and that we never should have left.  It is a ridiculous position and a sad sign of a lack of intellectual depth.  Anyone paying attention should have learned something about the inconclusive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the all-too-frequent internal attacks since 9/11 by disloyal immigrants from the Middle East.

This piece by Angelo Codevilla went around a few years ago, and I missed it at the time, but it says something very relevant, namely, that the GOP voters are alienated, ripe for takeover by a third party, and are well aware that the mainstream GOP is as hostile to them as the more open and notorious haters of the Democratic Party.  I thought this passage particularly good:

Important as they are, our political divisions are the iceberg’s tip. When pollsters ask the American people whether they are likely to vote Republican or Democrat in the next presidential election, Republicans win growing pluralities. But whenever pollsters add the preferences “undecided,” “none of the above,” or “tea party,” these win handily, the Democrats come in second, and the Republicans trail far behind. That is because while most of the voters who call themselves Democrats say that Democratic officials represent them well, only a fourth of the voters who identify themselves as Republicans tell pollsters that Republican officeholders represent them well. Hence officeholders, Democrats and Republicans, gladden the hearts of some one-third of the electorate — most Democratic voters, plus a few Republicans. This means that Democratic politicians are the ruling class’s prime legitimate representatives and that because Republican politicians are supported by only a fourth of their voters while the rest vote for them reluctantly, most are aspirants for a junior role in the ruling class. In short, the ruling class has a party, the Democrats. But some two-thirds of Americans — a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all independents — lack a vehicle in electoral politics.

My concern with Trump, incidentally, is not what he’s saying or how he’s saying it, but whether he means it.  His ego and frequent shifts suggest there is something else afoot here, and, as I always say when candidates like him appear, the presidency is not an entry level job.  If he were serious about political power and political leadership, he would run first for some minor office and demonstrate his mettle and his values.  Politics is not business, or, rather, it is a serious business with a different logic from that of commercial business.  For starters, unlike the business’s narrow concern for profit and loss, it depends first of all upon an apprehension of what is the good one is seeking.  Indeed, it is too serious a business to leave in the hands of a loose cannon.  

Nonetheless, I find his presence and his tone bracing, and I find the ruling class’s horror at him notable for the consensus across Democratic, Republican, and media leadership.  It is all very telling.  I hope he accomplishes something worthwhile in the process beyond exposing (yet again) the cravenness of the ruling class.


I found this story powerful and striking in its sensitivity not least because it was written only one year after the conclusion of World War II. The power of the nuclear bomb is truly horrifying to contemplate and after the end of the Cold War Americans have become less aware of what a game changing weapon these are even while we sometimes forget China and Russia still possess them.

I’ve always been uneasy with the view that since these weapons hastened the end of World War II therefore they were justified. This kind of consequentialism that makes no distinction of combatant and noncombatant is part of the degradation of political thought through the decline of Christian influence and just war theory from our moral vocabulary. The weapons and their awe inspiring power could have for example been deployed against military targets. But as with the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo that limitation had long since been crossed and followed the example set by the deliberate mass killings of civilians by our enemies.

I don’t mean to suggest this is not a difficult question or that it was an incomprehensible or fully unjust decision or that the cause of national self defense was unjust. But it was a departure from the moral constraints that even bind nations at war. And true conservatism transcends on some level the ersatz substitution of true principles with bellicose nationalism. A nation such as ours ought to survive and has a right to so so. But its identity is inseparable from the principles on which it is founded and from which it’s people derive their strength. As in the total warfare of the Civil War the nation survived but part of its conscience was undone by the manner in which it fought its fight.


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