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Obama in explaining terrorism recently said, ““We have to address grievances terrorists exploit, including economic grievances.”

And in explaining the Boston riots, he said much the same thing, i.e., “if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem.”

This is basic Marxism; economic conditions are the cause of beliefs, actions, and interests.

But is it right?  After all, we don’t see far poorer Chinese immigrants or Appalachian whites rioting like this in times of disorder or committing crime on the same scale in general.  And, we saw among the 9/11 Hijackers, quite a few who had advanced degrees, middle class backgrounds, and extended playtime in advanced societies like Germany and the United States.

This Marxist model is a bad predictor of future events, and thus a wobbly theory of how the world works.  It has some merit–people’s material circumstances often do affect their views–but it’s often wrong and incomplete.  It ignores other aspects of identity and alienation, and, worst of all, it lacks appropriate moral judgment of immoral behavior.

Like the old 60s view of common criminals that “society made him do it,” it’s a discredited, feel-good narrative and, in many instances, easily disproven. But, like most popular views on the “progressive left,” whether global warming or Keynesian economics, it requires massive government acquisition of wealth and power, followed by redistribution administered by people who think this way.  Results are completely secondary; indeed, every failure is followed by calls to “redouble our efforts.”

Here We Go Again

Kids Being Kids, 2015-Style

Well, a group of “youths” are rioting in Baltimore.  Outsiders, no doubt.  Baltimore was a scene of quietude and harmony until very recently. It’s unbelievable any locals would misbehave.

Indeed, enlightenment runs all the way to the top.  They even allow “riot zones,” or, as their mayor said, “It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on. We also gave those who wished to destroy, space to to do that as well.”  I guess this is the state of the art view on riot control; so much for the days of Mayor Daley and his “shoot to maim” orders.

I note that unlike evil Ferguson, Missouri, we have lots of black faces in the city and police leadership.  But there must be racism somewhere?  It’s the only explanation for these events.  Must. Keep. Looking.

Keeping it real for a moment, one wonders if Obama, Holder, and the media ever considered that demonizing white cops for several years running, exaggerating their misdeeds while downplaying the criminal misdeeds that attract their attention, ignoring the huge racial differences in crime that lead to more, ahem, youth encounters with cops, as well as an order of magnitude larger score of self-inflicted wounds within that community, and generally fanning the flames of discontent may have something to do with all this!?!  I doubt it.  We have to be sensitive, and give them–youths of indeterminate hue–their “space.”

Based on the excellent track records of David Dinkins, Harold Washington, Ray Nagin, and Birmingham’s Larry Langford, I guess this explosion of crime, fear, resentment, and mutual antipathy nationwide is just some fluke, totally unpredictable by more local encounters with Hope and Change.

Anyway, this whole situation is unpredictable and strange. We have never seen anything like it, and, but for the riot zones and the mayor’s and president’s moral clarity, Lord knows it would be worse.

ISIS is made up of bad people.  So is the leadership of Iran.  That said, which is the bigger threat? Is either a real threat to the US? It seems to me these two hostile organizations implicate two foreign policy goals that even an isolationist like me think are pretty legitimate:  we should destroy terrorists of global reach and we should stop nuclear proliferation.

With regard to Syria, Iraq, and even Iran itself, we have no dog in the Sunni-Shia fight.  I don’t care, and I think the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria too likely have some legitimate grievances, but so do the Shias, with regard to former or threatened Sunni control. There’s no obvious justice or American interest on one side or the other. We should limit our involvement in this fight for internal control of these nations.

Also, with regard to Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Egypt, the US is better off with a regime we can do business with, whether friendly or otherwise, as opposed to anarchy.  So, we should not get involved in trying to undo existing arrangements and should be broadly supportive of order over disorder.

We have mostly done the opposite of these common sense things:  undoing existing regimes in Egypt and Libya, inconsistently taking the side of Sunnis and Shias in internal fights that do not affect our interests, and generally betraying a lack of strategy.

Incidentally, the War Nerd makes an interesting point: Israel is firmly in the anti-Iran, anti-Shia camp, bombing Assad’s regime, threatening bomb strikes on Iran, and trying to get the US involved in the anti-Iran camp, even when our interest with regard to Iran is very narrow.  We don’t want them sponsoring terrorists, and we don’t want them to have nuclear weapons.  Beyond that, it’s a chimera to think we should take sides in every point of friction with that country and its neighbors, such as the current conflagration in Yemen, the current fight in Syria, and the like.  To the extent we do take sides, we have gotten involved in secondary matters and also taken the wrong side in Egypt, Libya, and Syria.

We should narrow our focus to the anti-terrorism and pro-stability goals outlined above, and that means a far more precise, limited, and sensible foreign policy in the Middle East and an avoidance of its byzantine complexity as much as possible.

Law and Order

It’s gotten really popular among liberals to be soft on crime again, and it’s even gotten fashionable among some so-called conservatives to join in on the fun, as if the government were the only threat we faced, as opposed to the more pervasive threat of a chaotic underclass.  These people are a force of oppression too, and we need government, and police in particular, to keep them at a dull roar.  And if Obama and Holder were a little more responsible, they’d realize they would save a lot more black lives by telling young people to do what they’re told at a traffic stop.  Instead, they imagine phantom racism, rather than seeing a pretty obvious reality:  that the chief force driving crime and shootings, including even unjustified shootings, is a culture of unjustified criminality and disrespect for all authority in the ghetto that is a very real threat to all of us and police in particular.

Never Trust Media

This South Carolina shooting looks pretty bad, but, then again, we know the media lies about everything, we know that most of these encounters involve serious criminality by the “victims,” and we know that there are things we do not know, based on the snapshot nature of video evidence.

In any case, Conservative Tree House has an interesting take on things, with video evidence that the officer may have been tased or attempted to be tased by the guy he was trying to arrest, which likely would justify a shooting, as if he were tased, he could be incapacitated, and shot with his own gun.  It’s a serious thing.

In any case, this is either a bad shoot, and I won’t riot if he’s found guilty.  Or it’s a clean one, and I expect rioting if he’s acquitted, regardless of the facts.  In either case, the media is lying by omission by hyping up these rare events and downplaying the dismal parade of black crime that occurs so frequently and depressingly, extending even to refusing to identify the race of on-the-loose perpetrators of crimes all the time lest we get a “misimpression” of reality.

Iran Giveaway

Obama and Kerry appear to be getting played bad by Iran.  While I favor a policy of strategic disengagement, to include removing troops from Europe, moving troops away from the DMZ in Korea, not taking sides in civil wars in Yemen or Egypt or Libya, ending funding to Israel and Egypt, and the like, there are a few things that are in our national interest, including open sea lanes, stopping “terrorists of global reach,” and preventing nuclear proliferation. Stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons implicates all three goals.

The deal, so far as I can tell, is not a real deal, does not have robust inspectors, is time-limited, and would supercharge Iran’s ability to sock away cash by removing sanctions.  It has no teeth, and the US was in the pathetic position of having France and others be the hardliners in the negotiation.

Obama’s motives are two fold.  One, like all Presidents, he is vain.  Recall Clinton’s attempt to recreate the rather impressive Camp David Agreement with the failed Oslo agreement with Israel and the Palestinian Authorities.  Obama wants to go down in the history books and he wants to be known as a peacemaker.  To his chagrin, he has been cajoled into wars in Libya, nearly one in Syria, and sucked back into Iraq because of his neglect of things after our withdrawal.  This is a last ditch effort.  In his stupidity, he revealed what this agreement means long term.  One gets the sense, even taking his goals at face value, his lack of real life experience is at work here; everyone knows, negotiations do not get very far if you’re not willing to walk away and move away from your non-negotiables, which we appear to have done here.

His other motive is his belief that the world is a better, safer, and more just place when there is “justice for the oppressed.”  That means insulting traditional allies, while opening up trade with Cuba, praising people power in Egypt even when it leads to sharia law, and generally weakening Europe and strengthening the land of his paternal ancestors, the Third World.  In other words, when it comes to America-hating Iran and similar places, he feels their pain to a fault.  Of course, this is a ridiculous view.  The Third World is generally a venal, violent, uncivilized and unproductive place, full of petty and power-hungry people who resort to war far more readily than Europeans, and who cannot run their internal affairs without massive corruption and inefficiency.  In other words, it is much like Chicago where Obama got his start, and it’s much like the Kenya of his father.  The West is not the cause of its problems, but the West best ignore the entreaties of voices on the left and right who would get us into that brier patch.  Instead, Obama wants us to get in there only to strengthen them and weaken us.  This is why the urban legends of “Obama being a Muslim” and “Obama being born in Kenya” resonate.  They’re not true, but they are plausible based on his behavior, attitude, and instinctual anti-Americanism.

The two terms usually go together.  One wonders if people give them much thought.  It seems mostly, like the litany of the Pledge of Allegiance, to go over most people’s heads, and is received as “good and nice things.”  But Freedom and Equality are opposites.  Freedom means the freedom to discriminate, the freedom to be unpopular, the freedom to hurt feelings, the freedom to associate (and not associate) with whom one wants.  And we’ve seen now the mask come off from advocates of gay marriage, whose totalitarian desire is not merely tolerance but rather to bludgeon, shame, and destroy all elements of the society that dare to hurt their feelings and a concomitant desire to obtain social approval and social acceptance and ostracism of their opponents.  We saw this earlier in the “outings” of those who supported California’s referendum against gay marriage, and we see it now with regard to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law (an analog to the 20 plus year old Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act).The left’s totalitarianism is nothing new, but it is startling in its current brazenness.

There seems an effort by the gay marriage movement to align itself with the earlier struggle for black civil rights which, by contrast, had a strong claim of justice on its side, particularly with regard to the effects of institutionalized discrimination in the form of Jim Crow laws and various forms of anti-black terrorism by supporters of white supremacy.  Those days are long over. And even then the movement went too far, in my view, by forcing associations among those where at least one party wanted to remain apart. Freedom does not mean the mirror image of those rules, however, which is what I would argue both affirmative action and forced association laws in favor of other civil rights, like gay rights, are.  The opposite of enforced discrimination is not enforced discrimination in favor of minorities, but rather the freedom of groups and individuals to associate or not with whomever they please.  The commitment to that principle is sadly lacking, whether in defenders of Indiana’s law, or otherwise.  And thus we have seen the equality principle supersede the freedom principle, that latter of which is the true genius of America’s legal regime. And, like attempts to enforce equality in Revolutionary France or Bolshevik Russia, we see the evidence of a totalitarian tendency that is an ominous sign of what is to come.

The only equality that matters is equality before the law, including an equality of freedom, but equality as a social goal undermines freedom and is totalitarian in nature.  It is half the organizing principle of the Civil Rights crusade of yesteryear, which included both the undoing of forced disassociation and the imposition of equal access.  That struggle too had totalitarian overtones, not least in the involvement of the federal government in social reengineering through school bussing, among other failures.  I am somewhat ambivalent, however, as the movement was limited, and it had a certain rough justice appeal due to decades of enforced anti-black discrimination.  As the groups and behaviors to which it is applied has expanded, the valuable and sustainable principle of freedom has been undermined. We now have affirmative action for newcomers, federal agents forcing religious institutions to violate their conscience, and a nationwide conspiracy against anyone that would dare to hurt the feelings of homosexuals.  Equality this may be–indeed, it is the logical outgrowth of this commitment–but it is anti-freedom in the extreme.

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