Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Information War is Real

It is possible to agree with the general conclusions of an analysis but still have major grievances with the specifics of those conclusions as well as many of the assumptions made by the investigators. Kate Starbird's work, as described in the Seattle Time's recent article UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it is such an example. Let's start with the conclusions and work backward to the premises.
Starbird says she’s concluded, provocatively, that we may be headed toward “the menace of unreality — which is that nobody believes anything anymore.” Alex Jones, she says, is “a kind of prophet. There really is an information war for your mind. And we’re losing it.”
Generally speaking and read without context, this paragraph is perfectly true. Jones really was a prophet when 22 years ago he became so convinced that there was an Infowar waging for your mind that he coined the term as his website's domain name. She is also correct in her use of the phrase menace of unreality. Not only are we headed toward the menace of unreality, but we're already there and have probably been there for a long time. The only difference is we're moving from an era where there was the belief in the availability of objective media sources to an era in which the existence of objective reporting is widely doubted.

It's all a fine conclusion up until the very last sentence. And we're losing it. We? Who's we? Her research team? They aren't media producers; they're analysists. By we she clearly demonstrates that she has already made value decisions within the domain she alleges to be examining with scientific rigor. The phrase "And we're losing it" should be interpreted as, "By the way I'm incredibly biased so all my results should be taken with extreme caution." To her benefit, at least she told us she is biased. Most researchers in the field do not exhibit such carelessness honesty.

We implies a them. To Starbird them is alternative media. And alternative media is anything that promotes an alternative narrative, and in particular a government conspiracy hypothesis to mass shootings. From her upcoming paper due to be published in a computational social science journal:
We collected data using the Twitter Streaming API, tracking on the following terms (shooter, shooting, gunman, gunmen, gunshot, gunshots, shooters, gun shot, gun shots, shootings) for a ten-month period between January 1 and October 5, 2016. This collection resulted in 58M total tweets. We then scoped that data to include only tweets related to alternative narratives of the event—false flag, falseflag, crisis actor, crisisactor, staged, hoax and “1488”. The latter term, which has symbolic meaning for white supremacists, appears often in tweets related to false flag narratives. This final alternative narrative collection contains 99,474 tweets. 
Note that the paper doesn't really have anything to do with the article. The article talks about (the implicitly preferred side) losing an information war to alternative media sources. The paper is a graph analysis of a narrow segment of alternative media based on a small number of tweets. The broad conclusion certainly doesn't follow from just this narrow study. And in fact, the study itself makes a similar conclusion about itself.
In this research, we utilized a systematic approach to map the alternative media ecosystem, deriving the network from tweets about alternative narratives. However, this approach has several potential limitations, as the resulting network is defined by a relatively small number of users (1372), likely shaped by the activity of automated Twitter accounts, and biased towards conspiracy theory domains due to the underlying theme of the tweet data (alternative narratives about mass shooting events). The network analyzed here therefore does not represent all of alternative media, but a particular subset of that ecosystem.
The article's synopsis of the journal submission just doesn't follow.
Starbird argues in a new paper, set to be presented at a computational social-science conference in May, that these “strange clusters” of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web of surprising power and reach.
How can they say anything about the "surprising power and reach" of a subset of alternative media tweets? Powerful compared to what? These are being looked at in isolation. There is no comparison made. They would have had to have conducted a similar analysis for mainstream narratives to do so, or at least to have given some context of the selected tweets in relations to the larger ecosystem. But actually they did do the latter. In the methodology they mentioned that out of the 58 million tweets caught in their keyword dragnet, 99,474 were chosen as portraying an alternative narrative. So the study found that only 0.17% of the collected tweets conveyed an alternative narrative and yet the article uses that as evidence of surprising power and reach. Talk about fake news!

The same goes for the "strange clusters" observation. The paper's relevant use of the word cluster is as follows.
The graph shows a tightly connected cluster of alternative media domains (upper left)—suggesting that many users are citing multiple alternative news sites as they construct alternative narratives.
Referencing multiple sites...how strange indeed!

Despite the non-sequiturs let's assume the assertion that alternative media is growing in power & reach is accurate. I believe it is accurate. Assuming they make the scientific case that the trend exists (which they haven't, at least not in the linked paper), then the following question to ask is Why? Why are people leaving us (the mainstream media channels) for them (the alternative media)? She offers a hypothesis.
Starbird is publishing her paper as a sort of warning. The information networks we’ve built are almost perfectly designed to exploit psychological vulnerabilities to rumor.

“Your brain tells you ‘Hey, I got this from three different sources,’ ” she says. “But you don’t realize it all traces back to the same place, and might have even reached you via bots posing as real people. If we think of this as a virus, I wouldn’t know how to vaccinate for it.”
This is all starting to resemble the analysis I did recently in The Most Ironic Thing You'll Ever Read, where the investigators make commentary that would be highly trenchant if they simply applied it to themselves. Starbird mentions psychological vulnerabilities; do you suppose she's familiar with the concept of psychological projection? Because, while it may be true that the them exhibits the characteristics she describes, the us shows it in spades. Look at the PissGate debacle. The entire mainstream media exploded with the story, with literally all major outlets covering it. And they all referred back to a single source: a Buzzfeed article that provided a fake intelligence report. If "strange clusters" are the problem, there is a much larger and more significant one to be examined: the us. But it would require some level of scientific objectivity to realize that us is in fact a cluster itself.

Why are people leaving us for them? Psychological vulnerability is one hypothesis. But it ignores the possibility that psychological vulnerability is what causes people to cling to the mainstream narrative to begin with. What if people are abandoning the mainstream not primarily for emotions, but because they don't trust the mainstream media to give them truthful information? It really is as simple as that. The examples are endless. Here's my favorite example, from mainstream election polling.

Oops!

The alternative narrative said it for months: the polls are wrong. They're oversampling Democrats (+16 in some polls!) based on false assumptions, like believing that Hillary would get the same turnout from blacks that Obama got. The "fake polls" narrative was labeled as conspiracy by analysists like Starbird. Well, they were wrong; we were right. Why would anyone trust mainstream polls after that? Wouldn't they be foolish to continue to believe them and not seek other information?

Another example was given by Starbid in her paper.
Almost all [alternative media domains] hosted articles referencing “pedophile rings” of high-powered people around the world.
What a perfect example of why people would go to alternative media. Sure, there's not proof of these rings, but there's lots of evidence, and the mainstream media avoids it like the plague. There are have been hundreds of arrests made since Trump took office with barely a mention of it in the press. (Besides the GOP state senator who headed Oklahoma's state campaign for Trump, of course. They made sure we knew about that one.) But mostly they go underreported. We're talking sex slaves being freed from cages kind of stuff. Should be a big deal. The suggestion of high-placed pedophile rings is not outlandish: they get caught all the time. The British Parliament had a huge scandal when a pedophile ring was busted there. Dennis Hastert was Speaker of the House for 12 years. Bill Clinton, most notorious for his sexual misconduct, used to ditch the Secret Service so he could fly on the plane of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein to his private island in the Caribbean. How naive do they think we are? That is why people go to alternative media. Because the mainstream is frankly not doing their job.

In an information vacuum people will try to find answers one way or another. It's exactly why there are so many 9//11 conspiracy theories: the government didn't provide adequate answers. There was no proper investigation of the crime scenes, no trials, and the government investigation was a joke that didn't even mention the collapse of building 7. Any leads that suggested an uncomfortable conclusion, such as insider trading prior to the attacks that traced back to the US, were abandoned. It provided more questions than answers. Of course there were conspiracy theories, whether or not a conspiracy really took place. (Well obviously someone conspired to do it.) For there not to be conspiracy theories in light of such a flawed mainstream narrative would imply widespread intellectual laziness on the part of the citizenry. If the promoted hypothesis is lacking, alternative hypotheses will arise. If you don't want widespread false conspiracy theories you must provide a valid and defensible hypothesis.

The article focuses on a particular conspiracy theory: that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a part of a sinister plot to impose gun control on the country. And that conspiracy theory comes with a cost.
How disgustingly cruel it is to the survivors to have the stories of those deaths altered and twisted for commercial or ideological ends.
Fair enough, but let's apply the same standards to both sides. The Trump-Russian conspiracy theory is just as short on evidence as the Sandy Hook conspiracy. There is none. There is no compelling evidence that Russia hacked the DNC computers, and there is none that they gave documents to Wikileaks or that Trump's people had any involvement in it. What are the costs? For one a deterioration in relations between the world's only nuclear superpowers. And second an increasingly fractured civil divide in this country which is pushing towards violence. And third, simply that the president can't do his job properly with this nonstop fake scandal news. Compare that to being insensitive to bereaving parents. The costs aren't even of the same order of magnitude. One is unfortunate, the other is a threat to the security and stability of our nation. Yet these people so concerned with the propagation of false conspiracy narratives are only focused on the small one.

The article concludes.
Starbird sighed. “I used to be a techno-utopian. Now I can’t believe that I’m sitting here talking to you about all this.”
Perhaps this is progress. Techno-utopian is the standard liberal position. Arguably it is synonymous with progressive. Both see society as linear and working towards a continuously improved future. This is in contrast to the conservative who hesitates to abandon time-tested societal institutions, and reactionaries who see society as cyclical. The roughly linear progression of technology fits nicely into the progressive worldview. But she's realizing that technological progress isn't bringing the utopia of prophecy. Her observations are correct, but her conclusions are one dimensional. She sees the shortcomings of the other side but can't see that they are far outweighed by those on her own side. We rationally expect that, because leftist utopias always become bloody nightmares, smart liberals will see the pattern, see that the utopia is not materializing, and then back off on their aspirations. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen. Starbird and her colleagues are far more likely to double down and demand aggressive action against the impediments to progress. In this case, they will seek to suppress the alternative narratives however they can, even though they only arose because of the massive failures of the mainstream narrative. In short, they will do everything possible to eradicate the symptoms of societal distress rather than the causes.

The information war is real. Those who have lost faith in the mainstream narrative are unlikely to ever regain it, and the mainstream acolytes will do anything in their power to punish the traitors. Civil wars always start as infowars. The battle lines don't magically arise. Once the ability to reach consensus through arguments is lost, then everything becomes a political battle, which is where we're at now. And once the involved parties believe they can no longer settle disagreements through the political process, violence becomes inevitable.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bipartisanship: Is He Crazy?

As mentioned on this blog, RinoCare was doomed to failure because it was released as a liberal-compromise bill where (a) leverage was not established by leading with a conservative offer and (b) there were no liberals to compromise with. They all voted no. They didn't care what was in the bill. They were going to vote no to anything the Republicans put forth.

As this whole thing settles it increasingly appears that Trump is not leading the issue well. Why was he so supportive of the bill? Some hoped it was a political coup to oust the traitorous Ryan. Yet Trump is now defending Ryan. What should happen seems obvious: pass the conservative legislation. In fact one Alabama Congressman has proposed a one-sentence bill to do just that. Instead, Trump is now suggesting that the answer is bipartisanship. Is he out of his mind? They already proposed a very liberal-friendly compromise bill and got zero votes for. He has Republican majorities in both houses and the answer is bipartisanship? Let's see how much the liberals like it, keeping in mind that the more they support it the worse it probably is.

From NPR's article Reality Check On Trump Calling For Bipartisanship On Health Care:
The fallout from Friday's Republican health care bill collapse is still trying to be understood.
That's what passes for an opener when you write in the politics section of a left-wing news org. An ability to even open with a coherent sentence is not so important as being a mindless ideologue. The fallout is trying to be understood? Like an angsty teenager?
Right after the bill was pulled, President Trump teased that he wanted to work with Democrats and believed a bipartisan bill would be possible. But it wasn't clear if that was just talk. On Tuesday night, he may have taken the first step to trying to reach across the aisle. "I know that we're all going to make a deal on health care, that's such an easy one," Trump told a bipartisan group of senators gathered at the White House. "I have no doubt that's going to happen very quickly."

Speed is relative. The Trump-Paul Ryan health care bill was fast-tracked and collapsed in 17 days. It took President Obama more than a year to pass the Affordable Care Act, with more members of his own party in the Senate than Republicans have now.
Obama didn't get his bill passed with bipartisanship. Not one Republican voted for it. He had more senators and, most importantly, they passed it in an overnight session on Christmas Eve when most had gone home for Christmas. The lesson is don't rely on bipartisanship, and don't play fair!
It was a staple of every Tea Party rally through that election cycle, so it is unlikely the GOP base shrugs its collective shoulders and moves on the way Trump promised to do Thursday and Friday — and wait for Obamacare to "explode."

Waiting for the law to fall apart puts Republicans in a terrible bind. Trump could get it left, right and center. If the Trump administration doesn't work as hard as it can to implement and administer the law, and you start seeing reporting from unnamed career officials verifying that, it very well could mean the Trump administration is blamed for harming real people's lives.

That would enrage not just Democrats, but independents and some Republicans.
Hey it's a clue. They're advising Trump shouldn't just let Obamacare die under it's own weight, which is a strong hint that he should. Also note that he might be blamed for harming "real people's lives." So they're willing to actually admit that the core of Obama's legacy is a pile of garbage just so long as they can blame it on Trump. Remember the foremost objective of the left is to weaken Trump at all costs, even if they have to sacrifice some of their own to do so.

Next up is the Washington Post with Trump says coming up with a bipartisan health-care bill will be ‘so easy.’ It won’t be. At least we can agree on the title.
If Trump does make a real effort to come up with bipartisan legislation, it would have to look very different from the Paul D. Ryan-designed American Health Care Act to stand any chance of passing. And is Trump really likely to move that far away from what congressional leaders in his own party want?
The bi-partisan bill would have to look very different from RinoCare. That's funny, because the whole problem with RinoCare was that it looked a lot like Obamacare. So are they saying the replacement shouldn't look anything like Obamacare? Just what are they advocating for here?
It’s hard to say what Trump’s endgame is here. It’s possible he could come up with a plan that satisfies moderates in both parties, even enough to pass a bill. That would be a big step forward for a president who has found it difficult to work with Congress so far — and has an outright hostile relationship with Democrats.
A hostile relationship with Democrats who have been calling him Hitler and worse for over a year and are calling for his impeachment because of a fake Russia narrative -- go figure. But the point is valid. There is no way Trump can get a single Democrat vote out of them with anything short of single-payer healthcare.

Time ran with the headline President Trump Wants Democrats Help With Health Reform.
Schumer said Sunday that Trump must be willing to drop attempts to repeal his predecessor's signature achievement, warning that Trump was destined to "lose again" on other parts of his agenda if he remained beholden to conservative Republicans.
Well there you go. The only way to get Democrat votes will be to continue the Democrat policies untouched. But that's no surprise. The Republicans already offered Repeal In Name Only and the Democrats balked. They won't support anything even nominally in the vein of repeal. Only if Trump reneges on major campaign promise will these guys come to the table. And he expects votes from them? And spare us on the threats that they won't support the other parts of Trump's agenda if they can't agree on healthcare. They aren't going to support anything he does ever! Look at how they're trying to block Gorsuch, the same guy the Democrats unanimously (including Schumer himself, and Obama, Clinton & Biden) approved to the federal circuit a decade or so ago. They will obstruct everything Trump tries to do no matter what it is.

The Tribune ran with Bipartisan health care plan could be road to redemption for Trump, the last article we'll look at and also the stupidest.
In an ideal world, Donald Trump would realize that Republicans did him a favor by failing to pass that health care bill.
Yeah and in an ideal world Democrats would realize Ryan did them a favor by offering up the most liberal-friendly deal they're going to get with both houses held by Republicans.
No president in modern history is more suited to bring the parties together than he, a political neophyte who fits into neither party's mold and who has nothing to lose by trying on both suits and figuring out which one fits.
Sure if the media wasn't running 24/7 hit pieces on Trump. There's no way anyone could bring unity in this hysterical environment. If half the public didn't think he was a treasonous Russian puppet then I would agree with her assessment: he is the most qualified for the task.
The smart thing to do would be to try to recruit the powerless Democrats and make them allies. If you really think about it, many Trump voters want the same things in a health care bill that the Democrats are pushing for. But they would never admit having anything in common with the party of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The smart thing is to recruit powerless Democrats who despise him as allies? Wow. And no, I know you live in a bubble, but I promise you we don't want the same things the Democrats are pushing for. They want maximum government involvement in healthcare. We want minimal. We want the exact opposite of what you want. I suppose we'd agree that we want cheaper healthcare that isn't tied to employment. That sounds like a place for common ground. But the high costs and employment dependency were caused by government interference in the first place, and only exacerbated by Obamacare. They insist on more of the poison that has made us sick.
If Trump invited Democrats to the table along with most Republicans, he could basically sidestep the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, which will only be happy if health care is offered in a free marketplace with no public financial assistance.
It sounds so easy. Except that Schmuck Schumer already told us that to accept the invitation to the table means not repealing Obamacare. So they're going to lose a lot more Republicans than just the Freedom Caucus. The article concludes:
In order to step up and be a great leader, Trump would have to put his pride aside. He would have to acknowledge his unpopularity and embrace it.

The American people might never forget the bigotry that he has helped to cultivate in our country. But if he came through for us and fixed the health care system, we could move past the hatred.
"Trump needs to unite the country by putting aside his pride and embrace his unpopularity and damn I've tried to hold back but he and his supporters are just nothing but hateful bigots." This is how they call for unity!

Frankly, the more I see of the healthcare debacle the less I give a shit about it. We aren't going to get the government out of healthcare, and we aren't going to get single-payer socialism with Republicans in charge. We're stuck in some sort of pareto minimum at the intersection of corporate charitibility and government efficiency. In the big picture this is a disaster that probably can't be saved. Healthcare costs in the US are nearing $10,000 dollars per person per year, or $40,000 a year for a family of four. The average tells a different story than the median here, but from the perspective of funding the average is what's important. The problem is the cost. It doesn't matter how you shuffle it around. There aren't enough billionaires to pay for it. And we're entering into a very perverse system where the only people who can afford healthcare are the very rich or the poor who are getting it for free. The people actually paying for it, the middle class families, have such steep premiums and deductibles that they are, in practicality, the sector of society without healthcare. How long can it last that the people paying for it are the ones not benefiting from it? Not long, I'd wager. At this point our best bet is to let Obamacare run its course, let the government bankrupt itself, and hope we don't bankrupt ourselves because nearly any disease diagnosis in the family will be monumentally expensive.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Only the Right can Critique the Right

In Trump Invades Syria While Liberals Obsess Over Microwaves I showed that the strongest condemnation of Trump's aggressive military actions in the Middle East was coming not from the anti-war left, as should be expected, but from anti-war conservatives and libertarians like Ron Paul. The post also concluded that the only hypothesis to explain leftist responses to Trump's foreign policy was that the left doesn't control its own narrative. I'm sure individuals on the left would love to attack Trump for war-mongering, but they've generally not engaged in that direction of attack because the corporate media has not established that narrative. Instead, they've been wholly distracted by the narrative that the elites want to have in play: that Trump is a fascist, that he's racist, that he's a Russian-aligned traitor who hijacked the Democratic process, and, more recently, that he's incompetent; the latter being almost a breath of fresh air from the irrational hysteria.

And so it continues today. The Ron Paul Report issued a rebuttal against allegations that Steve Bannon talked negatively about libertarian politics and called them unrealistic. The issue boils down to whether politics and culture are intertwined or orthogonal to each other. The libertarians make a good case that politics should be a matter of building a stable social framework that allows for personal & economic liberty, with cultural processes playing out on top of that. Ideally, it shouldn't matter at all what the culture is. But I tend to side with Bannon on this one, for reasons described in When They Go Low, We Go Low. On the one hand, yes, politics and culture would best be separated. On the other hand, you have to meet your enemy in the theater in which they give battle. It would be nice if conservatives didn't fight cultural battles in the political arena. But that is the primary objective of the left: to centralize political power and use it to enforce their preferred cultural norms (which is the destruction of Western culture). If conservatives allow the left to co-opt state power as cultural leverage then it won't matter much what they do in the non-political cultural realm. Just like it doesn't matter much if states-rights advocates restrict themselves to states' issues if the left just overrides them with its expanded federal powers.

Do you see what has happened here? Commentators on the right issued a thought-provoking rebuttal to comments from the right. The rebuttal was in the form of a rational argument that made some good points. Readers can adopt those arguments or provide countering arguments, as I have done. The rebuttal enlivened additional rational discourse. The left could not possibly do this. All they can really do is call Bannon a racist, sexist, xenophobe, etc. They are effectively limited to name-calling. Even when they make a stab at rational discourse, it can only be some half-baked attempt at logic used as a platform for the purpose of name-calling.

To test the theory, I went to Google News, typed in Bannon, and picked the first article, which was The alt-right Leninist from the New Statesman. Before we address the logical merits of the article (which will be brief), let's analyze just the opening paragraph. Remember the claim is that the article is just a rack for hanging insults or reminding the reader of other insults the subject may have received.
  1. fringe [event] which gave a platform to right-wing thinkers deemed too extreme
  2. trademark uniform of an open-necked shirt, boxy jacket, and rumpled chinos
  3. self-satisfied swagger of a game-show host
  4. revealed a flash of malice
  5. before jutting out his chin and nodding his head, like a brawler preparing to exchange blows
The entire opening paragraph is just one long insult. That is very different from the rational rebuttal rendered by the libertarian right. The article continues. Just to cherry-pick some more of their verbiage:
  1. ruthlessly ambitious
  2. chief manipulator and mastermind
  3. penchant for blowing things up
  4. bully
  5. nasty human being
  6. monster
  7. white-supremacist
  8. anti-Semitism
  9. misogyny
  10. Islamophobia
  11. contentious policy decisions
  12. author of dystopian inauguration address with vision of American carnage
  13. the most dangerous political operative in America
  14. evil overlord persona
  15. Darth Vader
  16. Satan
  17. overgrown hair, pasty complexion and dishevelled clothing
  18. a whitewashing rebranding of old-fashioned white supremacy, or white nationalism
  19. appearing to condone paedophilia
  20. racist
  21. anti-Semitic
  22. white nationalists, anti-Semites, and homophobes
  23. vitriolic
  24. bully
  25. propaganda outlet
  26. whorehouse for Trump
  27. fringe right
  28. an effective sycophant
  29. asking leading questions and pontificating
  30. boasts
  31. the Rain Man of nationalism
  32. inspiration for the Italian Fascists
  33. divorced three times
  34. doesn't like Jews
  35. Prince of Darkness
  36. reckless
  37. controversial
  38. attack-dog instincts
What do all those points have in common? For one, they're all irrelevant to the arguments being made. And what arguments are being made? As far as I can tell, there are none. I assumed there would be some amount of analysis, particularly to clear up the apparent contradiction between the title and subtitle. Lenin didn't want to destroy the state; he wanted to become the state. If the contradiction stems from Bannon himself, then that is certainly a matter to inspect.

But the author doesn't really inspect anything. The whole thing is a pseudo biography meant to serve a single purpose: it provides an excuse to write negatively about Bannon. There is no rationale in the entirety of the piece; it's just dressed-up name-calling. Nor is there ever an Oxford comma. The author couldn't be more useless.

The opening paragraph was just a condensed soup of personal jabs. Here is the closing paragraph in its entirety.
It is not clear where he might end up, should Trump no longer serve his interests, but this much is evident: the right-wing Leninist is unnaturally good at getting what he wants and to where he wants to be.
Besides it being so grammatically tortured it would never survive even rudimentary proofreading, notice that it doesn't really conclude anything. It doesn't wrap up or re-iterate any arguments because none were made. Also, note what appears to be the thesis. Out of the name-calling list, a favorite was chosen: Leninist. That became the title, it was slapped into a quick & sloppy closer, and voila - thesis!

This article was not a particularly awful one cherry-picked for analysis. As I said it was the top hit for Bannon in a Google News search. Is it representative of what passes as analysis from the left? Yes, I'd say it is. If you want a critical analysis of the right, look for sources elsewhere on the right. The leftist media is completely useless at even it's primary function: critiquing the right.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Healthy People Can't Legislate on Behalf of the Sick

Another beaut from social media

Apparently, these men aren't qualified to legislate on national healthcare, because healthcare also affects women. The general principle must be this: officials cannot properly make healthcare decisions of which they are not directly affected.

 I also note there aren't any leukemia patients. How can these healthy men possibly legislate on leukemia when they don't have it? I don't see anyone morbidly obese, or in a wheelchair, or toting a colostomy bag. In fact, because it's really impossible for any subset of Americans to represent every unique ailment in America, the only way to settle the issue is with a national referendum, is it not?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Stop at their Worst Argument

If you're like me, your are prone to argue, and maybe just a little aspy. So it's very tempting to push arguments to their logical conclusion. Ideally it should go something like this.
  1. You make a claim
  2. They make a claim
  3. You provide evidence
  4. They provide evidence
  5. You demonstrate how their claims are faulty
  6. You dismantle their arguments that your claims are faulty
  7. They concede your claims are the valid ones
This like, NEVER happens. It really doesn't. Even if they believe you're correct they'll never say so. Logical arguments ignore the very real effect of the human ego. Your approach should be to sow seeds of doubt, and to leave your opponent looking weak.

If you're effectively dismantling their arguments, they will normally start to throw anything they can at you: primarily illogical and emotional assertions. The natural instinct is to go for the kill. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. As we use to say when I was a kid


Finally you can rip your opponent's head off!! Refuse the temptation to do so. You have already won. It won't get any better for you; you will only get into the mud and risk looking petty, obsessive, and cruel. Remember no one is going to change their mind in the middle of a debate. The best-case scenario is to let them say something particularly awful or stupid and leave it right there. That's what people will remember. That's what will linger. You don't want the last impression to be you autistically desconstructing arguments in a debate you've already won.

You're goal should be to force your opponent to say something absurd and end the argument right there. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

If it Ain't Communism, It Ain't Christian

I see these kinds of posts all over on social media.


As far as I know, Christianity is about personal salvation, not a protocol for governance. Maybe they're thinking of Islam. Whenever a conservative does do something in line with Christian values, the left screams about separation of church and state. The most futile thing a conservative Christian could do is spend anytime wondering what liberals will think of their actions.

In this example, the left is irate that Christians would dare stand against state-mandated charity. This makes sense if you're a liberal. The commandment "Thou Shalt Not Steal" does not apply here, because no one ever got wealthy except by oppressing someone else. Hard work and frugal habits are a myth. Because Jesus advocated a lifestyle of aiding the oppressed, any Christian must thereby support policies of wealth redistribution. According to liberals, you can't be both a conservative and Christian. But they would say something like that, wouldn't they.

RinoCare: Better News for People Who Like Bad News

Ryancare, which I talked about here in RinoCare: Good News for People Who Like Bad News failed yesterday. That was indirectly predicted here on the post Appeasement is Futile, by pointing out that Ryan was making a big mistake in opening with the liberal plan, when Democrats aren't going to vote for it anyway and it will risk losing conservative votes. And that is exactly what happened. Conservatives weren't having it and the liberty caucus killed it. Good for them. That's exactly what they should have done.

The failure of RyanCare is the best possible outcome for the Trump team. Of course liberals are calling it a massive defeat but that's okay. Let's list the political downsides for all the routes the healthcare process might have taken.

Nothing proposed. Republicans didn't pursue any healthcare reforms.
  • Trump supporters furious that their elected officials did not pursue a major campaign promise
  • Liberals condemn Trump for not carrying through on his own promises
Conservative, free-market healthcare reforms passed.
  • Liberals condemn Trump for humanitarian crimes against the poor
RyanCare passes.
  • Republicans now own a national healthcare plan similar to Obamacare
  • After the inevitable failure of the so-called "free-market solution" socialists will be able to honestly claim the free-market approach doesn't work
  • Liberals condemn Trump for humanitarian crimes against the poor
Legislation fails
  • Liberals condemn Trump for not carrying out his own promises
I struck out the condemnation from liberals because it is the same in all cases. Thus even considering their reaction to Republican healthcare measures is an exercise in futility. As you can see, the outcomes with the fewest negative outcomes are if proper conservative healthcare passed or if proposed legislation failed. You might say that there is an additional negative to the latter case, because failed legislation that Trump supported is a failure in itself; it's inherently negative. However in this case the downside is falling more heavily on Trump's opponent. Most Republicans blame Ryan for the failure.

Liberals are gloating that this is an epic fail, but let them. Remember, they were going to condemn Trump no matter the outcome, so it doesn't matter. This is the best case scenario. I hope Obamacare drags on for a few years and fails on its own. Trump has not failed his campaign promise. If worst comes to worse he can just do nothing during the remaining 7 years 300 days of his presidency and watch the thing collapse on itself.

Update: Scott Adams has an interesting take on it: Trump has been promoted from Hitler to incompetent along the arc of his story to national hero.

Friday, March 24, 2017

How Will the Dictatorship Arise?

William Briggs had an interesting post, in the context of democracies always pushing left towards socialism. (A subject this blog discussed recently.) Briggs suggests that history provides us the following universal tenets of democracies.
  1. If the push for socialism is successful there will be great resentment by the former oligarchy and upper classes. The socialist regimes respond by propping up a dictator to fight threats to the new government.
  2. The anti-socialist forces themselves might prevail under the leadership of a strong dictator.
  3. Dictators do not generally step down, out of fear for their own safety.
And that is it. Those are the only paths. Democracy inevitably yields to dictatorship in one way or another. Good times makes weak men, which leads to bad times. The democracy inevitably turns into a tool of socialism to coddle the weak, and in doing so becomes weak, divided, and ultimately destroyed.
In ancient Greece the examples of democracy turning into dictatorship after a phase of socialism were so numerous that the Greek thinkers felt justified in regarding that sequence as almost a law of nature.
All well and good, but where does that leave us? Our leftward push is obvious. The central consolidation of power is undeniable. We are lurching towards socialism. Our time as a democracy grows very short. But in which way will we acquire a dictator? Will authoritarian socialism take hold, or will it be countered by an opposing autocracy?

Our situation is somewhat different to what described by Briggs. In the standard model it a struggle between elites & peasants; bourgeoisie and proletariats. The underclass clamor for socialism, and the standing elites resist. This dynamic, we are told, was common even in the democracies of ancient Greece. Our situation is somewhat more complicated, as our elites are allied with the socialists; with the middle class being the main counter-revolutionary force. Today's left is an alliance of corporate capitalism, elitist cronyism, and Marxism. (Mainstream Republicans tend to share the first and second influences, to some degree at least). But perhaps our situation is not so unique, as it sounds a lot like the Roman Empire where the major path to power was to acquire wealth through military conquests and spend it to bribe the citizens for political support. It would seem that we fit the trend, but the model of top versus bottom conflicts is a bit too simplistic.

One cannot avoid noting the parallels between the historical process and our own political environment. Socialism and centralization of power are the core drivers of the Democratic party. They want centralized policies and programs for everything. Healthcare, abortion, marriage laws, bathroom regulation; all these should be decided in Washington. One of the things I find most annoying about my own blog is that I'm constantly analyzing at the national level. That is not my preference. I would much rather be fighting battles at the state and local levels, but the left wants to fight all its battles at the national and even global level. As explained in When They Go Low, We Go Low, we have to fight on the fronts that are presented to us. You must defend where you are attacked. If we don't meet our opponents at the national level they will own it, and our state policies won't matter too much. Not only do they fight for centralized power, but they agitate for socialism at every opportunity. The entire political philosophy consists of identifying oppressor/victim relations and redistributing wealth in response.

Trump was clearly elected on a wave of reactionary resentment against the left's agitations. The dynamic to which all democracies must succumb is displayed clearly today. The questions are how close are we to dictatorship, and which side is further along that path? It is interesting that virtually all liberals believe Trump to be something of a dictator, although he has yet to say or do anything to indicate a push for autocracy. He is the first person in ages to really fight against the great leftwards push. Do people instinctively understand that the schism between the leftists and reactionaries is what leads towards dictatorship? Do liberals understand that now that there is a strong reaction against their socialist agitation that dictatorship is the likely end result, or are they just calling him a dictator in the same way they just label all conservatives as tyrants and racists and all that? Trump is not propping himself up as dictator and has made no indication that he desires to. He wishes to restore national sanity. He wants to walk us back from the precipice. I've said a number of times that he is likely to be the last chance for conservatives and reactionaries to see desirable changes made from within in the system. And yet there's a paradox here. By finally empowering someone with the ability and determination to restore the republic, we might actually be exposing the fault line that will soon destroy it.

The liberals are further along the path towards autocracy. That is not meant as a partisan attack. Being further down the path is not inherently bad, and if things start to really break down I will likely be one advocating for the right to push towards autocracy before the left can beat us to the punch in their endless drive towards communism. A leftist dictatorship is always the worst-case scenario. The trend can be seen in their selection of a candidate. For the first time was a presidential candidate who was clearly above the law. Massive corruption and criminal allegations follow her around like a shadow. As head of state, she helped arm Islamists to violently overthrow inconvenient regimes. She disregarded any rules and laws that were inconvenient, even with matters of the highest national security concerns. And perhaps most damning, we were delivered proof that she and her party rigged the election against her more democratic (and more leftist) opponent. Despite decades of accumulated evidence, the left came out in massive support. The endorsement for dictatorship could not be clearer. They want a leader for whom laws and rules do not apply.

After the election, the left continued to display their anti-democratic colors by widely condemning a process that could lead to the rise of Trump. Both during and after the election the left engaged in widescale anti-democratic activities, by actively committing violence against their political opponents in an effort to gain political advantage through brute force and intimidation. The question isn't really whether or not the left is further down the path to autocracy, as it is quite clear, but how close they really are to the tipping point. I suspect they are dangerously close, and that the next time they achieve power may be the last. It would be in our best interests to see that it doesn't happen.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trump Traps & Integrity

If an investor was either very brilliant or very lucky, how would you tell the difference? Could you? Does it even matter?

If a general won battle after battle, seemingly by luck, at what point would we start calling him a great general?

Early during the primary run our local radio guy observed that Trump was either lucky or brilliant, and he couldn't tell which. He had a few examples to refer to. Most I've lost down the memory hole, but the one that sticks out was when Trump declared that 9/11 would not have happened under his watch. It was a dangerously bold play for anyone, let alone a Republican candidate. The media jeered wildly at the audacity and absurdity the pronouncement. After some delay he revealed that he had predicted in his own book that New York would face another terror attack similar to the first World Trade Center bombing. The was a big political win for him. Not only did he generate huge media buzz factor, but those who attacked him ultimately lost in the battle of public perception. Was Trump very lucky? Was he really just so reckless with his words and fortunate that someone was able, days later, to find backing for his statement? Was Trump really so clueless that he didn't even remember his written prediction, and thus couldn't immediately defend himself with it, as most people would have done? Or was the whole thing a ruse; a classic bait, wait, and ambush?

Let's assume the incident was an intentional political stunt. Such a maneuver would require 3 steps:
  1. Lay the bait
  2. Wait for an enemy to be lured
  3. Close the trap at the right moment
Clearly the incident of his 9/11 comments fit this pattern. If it is indeed Trump's technique (and there are a number of other examples of his behavior fitting the pattern) then he controls 2 out of the 3 steps. He lays the bait. He closes the trap. But he can't control who will enter the trap or when. Like any good trapper he'll try to operate in such a way as to effect the best outcome, but ultimately the prey must walk in of its own free will.

Of all the perplexing events of the past year the most astounding, perhaps, was watching the media and his other opponents walk into his traps again and again. At some point they had to catch on. But they didn't. They didn't because they believed they were very smart, and he was outrageously incompetent and dumb. They just couldn't fathom that he was leading them around (although there were occasional moments of clarity). It was a near-sighted presumption. Trump was a highly successful businessman, a highly successful television personality, now a highly successful politician. How far do they think luck can go? And as mentioned before: does it matter whether or not he was just lucky? If his life has really just been a decades-long streak of good fortune, why did they assume it would suddenly change on their watch?

With all that said, let's look at the big story happening right now. And this thing is big. It is looking quite likely that there is going to be "smoking gun" proof that the Obama administration spied on Trump, both during and after the election. This is looking to be bigger than Watergate except there won't be any pardons this time. But that's not the subject at hand. (I'm sure we'll be talking a lot on that issue in the coming days and weeks). What I really want to focus on is how Trump plays his cards and, even more importantly, how his opponents keep letting themselves be played.

The whole incident started with Trump's tweets that Obama had wiretapped him, which came out in a flurry on a Saturday morning. Or is that the beginning? Was that Trump's leading move? The media responded to the tweets predictably; with loud condemnation and even ridicule. The allegations were indeed very bold, very serious, and there should have been a critical response by the media; that's their job. But there was more than just objective skepticism. From the onset the media did not treat Trump's claims -- that his predecessor engaged in serious abuses of power to obstruct the democratic process -- with the gravitas that the situation might demand, but with scorn. And ridicule. Why? Yes they hate him and they're political hacks. We know that. But why would they immediately assume the claims to be absurd? Not as a matter of morality or intellectual honesty, but from the perspective of not again falling for one of Trump's traps and looking like a sad pack of amateur jerks. This was soon after the Russian dossier, the most ludicrous political story ever run by major media outlets. There was reason to be cautious, but they weren't.

I suspect this is because of the platform in which Trump made his accusations. He did it through Twitter. Something that really troubled me after the election was that Trump, for a while, continued to make seemingly petty tweets, for instance complaining about SNL's sketches. Surely he of all people should know that he was only doing them a favor by giving them so much attention. The only theory I could come up with was that Trump was accustomed to being the head honcho. When Trump the CEO complained, those in his employ were sure to quickly return positive results for their demanding boss. Perhaps his ineffectual complaining was just a habit. But here's another theory.
Hypothesis: Trump's tweets were intentionally amateurish to lower the guard of his opponents.
What if Trump intentionally sprinkled his Twitter feed with outlandish commentary that would train his enemies not to take them very seriously? It would fit into his pattern of behavior. Think of his appearance early in the primaries, with the ridiculous orange-toned fake tan, complete with a sunglasses effect. While some people saw it as a publicity gag, a way to stand out from the crowd, there was also another element to it. One of the most frequent names we heard them use against Trump early on was "clown". A stunning rebuke! Unless that was the effect he wanted. No only did they lend him more than his fair share of the spotlight, but no one would suspect he was carefully plotting ambushes against anyone foolish enough to take the bait. This is all a hypothesis, so I will venture a prediction.
Prediction: we will encounter additional behavior from Trump that is seemingly bizarre until you consider that it is intended to lower the guard of his opponents.
This is something of an open-ended prediction (we can't just interpret every gaffe as a strategy play) but this should at least allow for some future analysis of his behavior. If true this implies an additional step to the bait & wait technique: condition your opponent before laying the bait.

Back to the story. Trump's enemies fell for his wiretapping tweets hard. They aren't just calling him names. They're calling for impeachment. Most mainstream media outlets have gone on the record to call him a liar. Many Democratic politicians have gone on the record to call him a liar. They have competed with each other to have the most prominent position within Trump's lure. Now all he has to do to slam it shut is to produce evidence. It's so easy if he has integrity, and has evidence as he claimed.

Integrity

Let's talk about that word a minute. The Air Force describes integrity as doing what you should be doing even when no one is watching. That is a decent interpretation, although it falls a little heavy on the side of obedience. I would phrase it as acting in accordance with your own values and the morals of your society. Or to really water it down, doing the right thing. That's super subjective but we get the idea.
Tenet: integrity is safety when dealing with Trump
I suspect that Trump values people who maintain integrity and despises those who forego it. I suspect he takes personal pleasure in burning people when they could have easily avoided the traps through personal integrity. Let's look at some examples of people who have been, or are about to be, burned by Trump.

The media has been burned by Trump too many times to mention. Each time they could have avoided it by simply doing their job of honest and objective reporting, coupled with fair analysis. That's their job, and if they did it properly they'd never look like a pack of raging assholes like they do today with this Russia narrative which should end up finishing off any remaining amounts of plausible credibility they may have had.

The Democrats could avoid being burned by not making every single facet of their existence a matter of trying to weaken Trump. You know, like doing their jobs, governing, and representing their constituents. They could have avoided being burned in the election, not by preventing collusion with Trump and Russia (lol), but by not being repeatedly revealed as totally unethical, corrupt, and criminal. It's really that easy. Stop breaking the law assholes!

The Rinos turned their backs on Trump whenever it seemed politically expedient to do so. Trust me this burns Trump up more than anything else. He will exact his revenge on any of them if he ever gets the chance, even if it takes years.

Michael Flynn would not have been fired by Trump if he had been honest.

James Comey is probably about to get burned in a way that will surely cost his job, perhaps his liberty. All he had to do was (a) do his job right to begin with, and (b) not go out of his way to make it look like Trump was lying. He could have said, "I can't comment" when asked about Trump's statements, like he did everything else. But no, he lied to try to damage Trump. Did Trump lay a trap for him? Trey Gowdy's questioning leads me to believe he did. He (and some others) asked some very specific questions about the unmasking process before the bombshell allegations by Nunes came out. Do you really think Trump didn't know what was going on when he made his tweets, and that he has had no interaction with leading House Republicans?

Barrack Obama & friends might have a world of trouble coming their way. All they had to do was not commit egregious abuses of power. It's as simple as that. They were more interested in political power plays than in making ethical or even legal decisions. It is the crux of tyranny. Not only did the power plays fail, but they are now subject to massive blowback from it. Take a minute to think of why they were wiretapping Trump to begin with. Why are these things done? Why do states abuse surveillance capabilities? It is always to find incriminating evidence they can use to blackmail or destroy their opponents.

Imagine this. You're a powerful Democrat in the Obama administration. You're corrupt as hell. Every time there is an email leak or secret recorded video your team gets exposed for doing something shady, unethical, corrupt, or illegal. Since no one is leaking damaging information on your opponent, you decide to get even by using the state power at your disposal to spy on them to find their shady dealings so you can ignite scandals against them for corruption similar to your own. That's it. That's the master plan. Just collect all their communications and get ready to start broadcasting all the inevitable scandals as they start rolling in.

But what if your opponent actually has integrity? What if he is not highly unethical and generally does what he says he's doing? What if there is simply no scandal to be found? Do you think Obama's shady cronies even considered such a possibility? What would you do, if you've thrown all your eggs into that basket and nothing hatches? You create a scandal! That's what all this Russia fiasco has been. The Democrat-media machine was primed to run with a Trump scandal. Nothing was discovered, so Russia it was, reality be damned. But now it is all blowing up big for them.

This whole ordeal is amazing, and it's way better than anything I've ever scene on TV or the big screen. Power plays, intrigue, and an underlying moral to the story. There will be so many books written about the current timeline. I look forward to reading them for years to come.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Most Ironic Thing You Will Ever Read

The New York Times produced a real gem today, titled Why People Continue to Believe Objectively False Things. I'll include some snippets, but you should read it for yourself. On the face of it I should enjoy such an article. Finding truth, railing against those who promote falsehoods, and venting complete exasperation with all the people falling prey to the falsehoods are the premiere themes of this blog. Nothing would please me more than a change of direction of massive news organizations like the New York Times towards honest truth seeking. Let's dig into it a bit.
Today, President Trump is sticking with his own facts — his claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him during the election — in the face of testimony to the contrary by the F.B.I. director, James Comey.

When asked about the accusations Mr. Trump had made on Twitter, Mr. Comey told a Senate committee on Monday, “I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the F.B.I.”

Mr. Trump’s claims may appear to his opponents to have been embarrassingly debunked. But social science research suggests that Mr. Trump’s alternative version of reality may appeal to his supporters.
The issue at hand is politics, which is a fair one for this kind of subject, but at first blush this does read like a cheap political hack job wrapped in the guise of honest analysis. Note the key words here: facts, objective truth, version of reality. The assertion is that because of Mr. Comey's statements, the fictitiousness of Trump's tweets is cold, objective, reality-based fact. That's not the conclusion most people would come up with. Comey's testimony is certainly evidence to support the case against Trump, but it's not conclusive. What if Trump was wiretapped by another organization of which the FBI has no oversight? What if Comey was doing what so many politicians do and using weasel words to convey a message without technically saying it. He specifically makes reference to Trump's tweets, rather than general surveillance. Perhaps he's found a way to justify his statements by making an unusual interpretation of the tweets, such as an overly literal take on the word "wiretapped." That's not a wild theory: Bill Clinton quibbled over the definition of the word "is" while under oath before a grand jury, and famously narrowed the meaning of the phrase "sexual relations" to one that fit his immediate needs (lol, immediate needs). And, just maybe, Comey is outright lying. In any case his testimony still leaves the probability that Trump was creating his own facts at significantly less than 100%. That is to say, the author's example of Trump not using real facts is itself not a real fact. Let's continue.
Partisan polarization is now so extreme in the United States that it affects the way that people consume and understand information — the facts they believe, and what events they think are important. The wiretapping allegations could well become part of a partisan narrative that is too powerful to be dispelled.

Mr. Trump, perhaps unconsciously, has grasped a core truth of modern politics: that voters tend to seek out information that fits the story they want to believe, usually one in which members of the other party are the bad guys.
We've now transitioned from a cheap political hack piece to the most ironic thing you'll ever read in your entire life. Truly an achievement in itself. The article is written by two columnists, one calling himself a political scientist, the other a lawyer (who should theoretically have learned a thing or two about objective truth and how to filter it out of bias). This power-packed intellectual duo have just expertly described themselves in the most stunning display of psychological projection I have ever encountered. They assert that political partisanship is driving people to create a powerful political narrative driving them to create facts where the other party are the bad guys, immediately after taking the first testimony they could find to support their preferred conclusion, dismissing any of the numerous reasons to hedge against that information, and anointing the evidence as cold, hard, objective, irrefutable fact. Yes that summary is a mouth full. I had trouble summarizing without just rewriting their own paragraphs.
Prediction: there will never again in the course of human history be a more profound example of psychological projection than this one produced by the New York Times.
I challenge you to find a more pure example. I'd sincerely love to see it. The closing paragraph:
The question of whether Mr. Obama wiretapped Mr. Trump has now been answered clearly and strongly in the negative. But the myth, and its effects, seem likely to continue unless Republicans denounce it more forcefully.
The article, which the title would indicate is a general critique on public perception versus objective truth (a topic I love), ends with the specific conclusion that the falsehood of Trump's claims are themselves a matter of factual, objective truth, and all that remains is for the bad guys Republicans to take responsibility and subdue the propagation of a dangerous & false political narrative. A fair request, if the assessment was reasonable. There is just one other thing though.


On the same day this was published, the very same day, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, the same committee to which Comey gave his testimony, announced the existence of conclusive proof of surveillance of Trump and his transition team.* On the very same day that these arbiters of objective truth informed us the matter was beyond settled. Can you imagine yourself taking such a lofty and public position of superiority and having it almost immediately shoved in your face as 100% backwards? Do these people have no shame? If I was ever that swiftly and directly contradicted on just this measly blog I would immediately shut down the site and commit seppuku. But these "journalists" will not face repercussions for being not just as wrong as possible, but as wrong as possible in the most ironic way possible and with the worst timing possible. The New York Times could not be any worse at journalism if it tried.



*I can see the counter argument already from the kinds of people who believe what they read in the New York Times. They'll say, "we'll you're just believing the testimony of one guy over another, and picking the one you prefer." The difference is that Comey has no way to prove his claims. He can't prove he doesn't have evidence. To prove a negative like this he'd had to turn over the entirety of FBI documents to the public. Of course that will never happen. It may be possible to prove he was wrong, such as if an insider supplies evidence to contradict him, but we can't verify his statements as truthful. Nunes, on the other hand, merely has to supply the evidence he claims to possess. That is very easy to prove, and it is highly unlikely that he would have blasted this to the media and took it directly to Trump (perhaps unprecedented in itself) and risked completely torpedoing his career, Trump's presidency, and the recently empowered Republican party without conclusive, provable, and damning evidence.

Prediction Confirmation: Pipeline Sabotage

In Scorched-Earth Environmentalism Pt II I predicted
The protesters trashed the camp, have now torched the camp (which caused burns to 3 children, one seriously) and are praying that the grounds will be contaminated by oil leaks. I will be surprised if we don't see outright sabotage on the pipeline.

Prediction Status: Confirmed

The Washington Times reports in their article Vandals sought for burning holes in pipeline as Dakota Access poised to flow oil this week
The $3.8 billion project is expected to begin running oil this week, as authorities investigate two separate incidents of vandalism in Iowa and South Dakota involving holes torched in pipes located at above-ground valve sites.
No oil was flowing through the pipes, but if there had been, the consequences could have been disastrous, said Brigham A. McCown, former acting administrator of the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
“If they had tried to utilize a torch to burn through the sidewall, they would have likely ignited the oil inside and been killed instantly,” said Mr. McCown, now an infrastructure consultant. “This is a serious safety issue and cannot be justified under any basis. Those responsible should face severe criminal penalties.”
The prediction was made to test the hypothesis that the activists are more interested in scoring political points against oil companies, to the extent they are willing to cause the same environmental catastrophes that they are pretending to stand against. We don't know for sure they were activists, but it doesn't make sense for the oil companies to sabotage themselves, even to make a point. So I'll make an additional prediction:
If the saboteurs are discovered, they will be authentic activists, not false flag vandalism. 

Sweden's Adorable Defense Preparations

In response to a perceived Russian threat, Sweden is readying its old network of nuclear bunkers. Do the Russians pose a serious threat, are Swedes just falling for the anti-Russian hype from America, or are they doing what many ruling classes do when faced with internal dissent: focusing attention on an outside enemy?

I went to a Big Ten university with a weak football program. (I realize that doesn't help narrow it down much.) Our school had a rival: Michigan. Muck Fichigan! went the rallying cry, and every year before the match people donned t-shirts proudly proclaiming Ann Arbor is a Whore! The peculiarity around all of this is that Michigan didn't perceive us to be their rival. No, their rival was Ohio State. There was something a bit nutty but simultaneously adorable about our fans getting all riled up for a game that the opponents just saw as a mundane W to be added on their path to the BCS.

Sweden thinks Russia is their rival, but what do Russians think of Sweden? Do they think about Sweden at all? Why would Putin want Sweden anyway, a country headed fast towards internal cataclysm? If I was a Swede I'd probably want Putin to come in and knock some sense into people. In fact, I wonder if that isn't the goal of Putin's aggressive posture to begin with: to toughen up his European neighbors before they become so weak they just give up their countries to foreigners, which would not play well to Russia's long-term security prospects. Putin talks routinely about the need for western nations and Russia to work in collaboration against threats to global civilization. (He doesn't say Islam, but that's what he means.) 

At this point there is almost a hubris to Sweden pretending they are a real country that anyone outside of 3rd-world hellholes would want to invade. And even those refugees have to be bribed with generous state welfare benefits. Swedes perceive themselves as a humanitarian superstate, a cultural jewel that the crude Slavs would love to hold in their clutch. In reality they are merely engaging in scorched-earth tactics on a national scale to deprive any would-be invaders of any overall benefit. And could there possibly be any greater example of r-selected rabbitry (as described by AnonCon) than a nation who invites masses of foreigners to graze on their social services and responds to threats of predation by literally burrowing into the ground?

Erdogan Reminds Europe Who is Boss

The recent post Genocide You Can Just Wish Away on this blog discussed Erdogan's threats to unleash Muslim migrants into Europe. It's interesting that most white people in those countries don't dare speak that Muslim immigration as having a less than positive effect on their countries out of fear of being labeled a racist and yet Erdogan - the great secular leader of Turks - sees mass Muslim migration to Europe as something so harmful to those countries that he uses the threat of it for political leverage.  At first it seemed Erdogan's statements may have been a gaffe. (Remember a gaffe is when a politician accidentally speaks the truth.) Perhaps he misspoke, or spoke in a passion, and wishes to walk the comments back.

Nope! He's doubling down, this time threatening that Europeans won't be safe anywhere in the world. (Note to liberals: when he says Europeans he is not referring to the Turkish migrants living in Europe that you call Europeans. He means ethnic Europeans. White people). The nearest major Muslim country to Europe is now threatening direct violence against Europeans wherever they live. If you compose Erdogan's two statements, they constitute an explicit threat to send people into European borders to commit violence. A foreign leader sending people into another country's borders to commit violence? That's a mouthful. If only there was a way to sum that all up in a single word.

Do most Europeans view Erdogan's threats of violence against Europeans in their own homelands as threats of war, or at least as terrorism? No way! Democracies don't go to war any more, they say. Also because all cultures are equal, there is no reason for war. They'll probably take the opportunity to remind us that the only reason there are Muslim immigrants in Europe in the first place is because Western society is the root of all evil. I imagine a conversation between a typical post-rational (i.e. liberal) European and a Muslim immigrant going something like this.
European: Welcome to our country. I am an ally.
Immigrant: Fool, I am your enemy, and the West is the enemy of Islam.
European: Don't worry I'm not Islamophobic. Here is some money.
Immigrant: In two generations Islam will rule this land.
European: All who live here are Europeans in our eyes. Did I mention I'm not racist?
Remember the more the immigrants or their leaders get away with threatening and bullying their European hosts, the more belligerent they will become.
Prediction: As long as Europeans don't respond strongly to intimidation, threats like these will increase in both amplitude and frequency.

Endangered Species Act Endangers Species

Everything the government tries to help, it harms. They try to help poor people, and they trap them into a pit of government dependency. They try to increase access to healthcare and education, which drives the costs so high they are unaffordable. They try to stop the scourge of hard drugs on America, and they create a violent a & dangerous black market underworld. I struggle to find examples where this isn't the case, where the federal government actually makes things better.

And so with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is nightmare legislation in a democracy full of well-meaning people who think with their hearts rather than their heads. This one is really too easy. All they have to do is start some television ads or facebook memes with sad looking animals and anyone opposed to the ESA is worse than Hitler. And even more so if that person is Trump.

The reality is that in many ways the ESA harms the recuperation of endangered species because it makes hosting them a nightmare for landowners. Let's look at an example. Ben Cone inherited 8,000 acres in South Carolina. His family had purchased the land in the 1930s when it was in poor condition and had been heavily deforested for timber harvest. Over the decades the family reforested the land and put in food plots to entice game animals. In 1991 he was informed that an endangered species - the red-cockaded woodpecker - had taken up residence in his forest and that over 1,000 acres of his land would be off-limits for most uses. He was not reimbursed for the loss of economic activity on his land, nor was reprieved of expenses such as paying taxes on it. 

In their effort to help the bird, the government had made hosting endangered species a financially crippling effort for landowners. Cone now had 1,000 acres contaminated by the nuisance, and 7,000 still free to use. What do you think he did? What would you do? Naturally, he began to deforest the remaining land to make it less hospitable to the woodpecker. What other choice did he have? If the woodpecker had taken over all 8,000 acres his land would be worthless. The effect would be no different than if the government had simply confiscated his land to begin with. The net effect of government action was to deny 7,000 acres of habitat to an endangered species, and harm the landowner who had provided them a habitat to begin with. Why would anyone support such a program? 




Because of this.




Monday, March 20, 2017

Republican Contradictions

The great challenge of Trump's presidency is quickly approaching. It is not building The Wall, or repealing Obamacare, or fighting the various establishment power blocks. It is navigating the debt ceiling. On one hand it shouldn't be a big deal. It was only an issue under Obama because Republicans in Congress fought him over it. Trump has both houses of Congress, so one would think that Republicans would be able to fund their own budget. To fail to do so seems extraordinarily self-defeating. But it is logical as it only exposes some core contradictions within the party.

Foremost, Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility, yet they don't tend to be very fiscally responsible, not in Washington at least. That's a pretty big contradiction, and a lack of integrity. A general distrust of Republican integrity is what allowed for the rise of Trump to begin with. Trump himself has railed against Obama's doubling of the national debt, yet is proposing big spending coupled with big tax cuts. He vows he can do those things and avoid a spiraling debt situation because his leadership will drive a resurgent economy. It not wise to outright dismiss Trump, the exemplar of achievement despite all odds, but it all does sound something like a fairy tale.

Another contradiction is that the Republicans have unified power in Washington, but are not that unified. Congressional leaders like McCain and Ryan have betrayed Trump at every opportunity it was politically expedient to do so. Others are not actually conservative, and won't vote to take away any federal benefit that might cause them political harm. So we have a Congress that says it's conservative and fiscally responsible, but isn't; who wants to fund it's own agenda but is afraid to lose face for not backing the claimed fiscal responsibility it doesn't really have; and who should do so any way to support the Republican president whom they also frequently betray. That's a lot of contradictions. And it makes it impossible to predict anything.

If the Republicans can overcome their own self-contradictions, and it turns out that Trump is an excellent president except that his policy program tends to push the federal government even closer to bankrupty, well then maybe that would make him a perfect president.

Comey: Russians Unusually Loud

There was a joint hearing today before the House Intelligence Committee with the FBI and NSA directors. A lot of people are analyzing this, but there are a couple things I noticed that don't seem to be getting picked up much.

First, both men - Admiral Rogers in particular - casually asserted the significance of Russia taking the unprecedented step of releasing so much unaltered information during the election. Clearly they're talking about the Wikileaks, so have I missed something? Last I knew there was no public evidence to support the claim that Russia was the culprit, and Wikileaks broke it's typical silence on such matter to refute it. So how do they know? Did some investigation conclude that it was Russia? Clearly it's not some ongoing investigation, otherwise Comey would defer like he did on all other questions pertaining to specific investigations. (And he certainly wouldn't be logically inconsistent, would he?)

Second, Comey offered the interesting observation that the Russians had been uncharacteristically noisy in their cyber activities. He expressed that it seemed they didn't even seem to be making an attempt at discretion, and offered a couple of hypotheses as to why they would be so brazen.

So wait a minute. Two weeks ago we learned that the CIA not only possess a vast arsenal of cyber tools which they can use to frame Russian hackers for their actions, but they lost control of that arsenal. And in the same timeframe, he is surprised that the Russians suddenly started to act unusually imprudent? This brings us back to the same question: how is he so confident Russia was the culprit?

Also a reminder that what's being accused here is that Russia acted to rig the election by revealing proof that the Democrats rigged their own primary. It's an interesting timeline to say the least.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Liberals Openly Advocate for Importing Votes

Keeping a blog is satisfying when you've gone on the record (in a sense) with some idea or argument, and then evidence roles in to support it. Encountering evidence that corroborates multiple posts is a zenful experience that normies just don't get to enjoy. Here's something that ties together two unrelated but recent posts.

Why Democracies Drift Left showed the when the leftist party has run out of potential voters on the left to enfranchise, it will seek to import foreign voters.

Genocide You Can Just Wish Away talked about the intentional genocide of white people in their own countries. 

Salon did me the favor of supporting both arguments with an article titled Everyone’s wrong on immigration: Open borders are the only way to defeat Trump and build a better world. They are explicitly arguing for a flood of immigrants so that liberals can regain political power. There is no possible confirmation of the first post listed from this blog.

To the second post, perhaps the Salon article falls short of explicit corroboration. They don't advocate for fewer white people overall, although they do implicitly argue for fewer white people as a percentage. As a thought exercise, if a nation starts out with 100 million of race A, and you import 100 million + 1 of race B, is it genocide? No, I guess not necessarily, but you have just deprived a nation of its self-determination. That's surely some crime. Think of it this way. Mexico has 120 million people. 60+ million in the US voted for Trump. Add in their families and you're easily over 120 million. Scenario: Trump loses the next re-election. Trump supporters surrender the country as lost and start migrating en masse to Mexico. What would liberals call that? Neo-colonialism? National gentrification? Invasion? They certainly would consider it to be immoral and criminal, and you can be sure many would call it genocide.

Either way, thank you Salon for proving that liberals are Fake Americans who want to import foreigners for the purposes of short-term political gain.

How Will We Ever Have Anything Good Without the Federal Government?

It has come to my attention that nothing good is possible in this world if it is not directly supplied by the federal government. For instance,
  • Millions of people will die if the federal government does not provide healthcare. 
  • If the federal government does not provide 3% of Meals on Wheels funding then old people will starve. 
  • No one will help out if they aren't bribed directly by the federal government.
  • If the government does not fund the arts then no one will create, enjoy, or purchase art.
  • If the NOAA is defunded there will be no one left to produce fraudulent climate studies.
  • Millions of American girls will be forced to deliver deformed fetuses resulting from incestuous rapes if the federal government does not directly fund abortions.
  • Without federally funded media corporations Americans will have no access to news or information.
  • Without a heavily funded state department America's track record of excellent diplomacy will come to a screeching halt.
As it becomes increasingly obvious that everything good in life comes directly from the federal government, I can't help but develop a deep appreciation for the plights of our fore-bearers. For instance, my parents went through school before the creation of the Department of Education. It is heroic that they ever learned to read and write without the direction of a central bureaucracy.

As we go forth let's keep in mind that nothing good comes the private sector, let alone the non-federal tiers of government. There are no solutions to social and personal misfortunes except for those provided by the federal government. Thus any funding cuts are a direct assault on American's standards of living and, in many cases, morally equivalent to murder.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Genocide You Can Just Wish Away

One of the things we crazy right wingers talk about is white genocide. Genocide doesn't have to mean widescale violence; it could be anything that leads to a great reduction or elimination of some genetically defined group. Mass sterilization would be just as genocidal as mass murder.

There are two forces at play with white genocide. One, the white reproduction rates are critically low. No one else can be blamed for that. The other is the intentional displacement of whites by other groups. It's perfectly natural of course. Whites did it to the native Americans, and such things can be traced back as far as there is a written record. We assert that the immigrants to the West, particularly the Muslims, have the long-term mindset of replacing white people. They don't want to become Europeans, they want to become Europe.

These statements are invariably met with derision. In America white people are not permitted to air racial grievances. We are told we are crazy conspiracy theorists, or even white supremacists. When we provide evidence to support our claims, such as testimony of some Imam claiming Islam will own Europe in 50 years, were are told that is a fringe opinion. As always, any action from a Muslim that liberals don't like is refuted as "not representative of Islam." What that phrase really means is, "an aspect of Islam liberals prefer to ignore."

The question arises: how mainstream would advocacy for white genocide have to become in order for acknowledgement of it to be mainstream amongst whites?
Prediction: the majority of whites will not acknowledge white genocide until it is already too late
 So what would it take to convince whites? What about polls that showed the majority of Muslims want to replace them in Europe? That sounds convincing right? Except polls already show things, such as 54% of European Muslims believing the West is the enemy of Islam. If you don't trust that survey, there are numerous others with similar results. White liberals don't acknowledge any of them, and call you a racist if you do. I don't think polls showing that 75% percent of European Muslims call for white genocide (a fictional statistic) would cause much of a dent in public perception over here.

What if mainstream Muslim leaders called for white genocide? We're always told the pro-genocide sentiments are a cherry-picked and irrelevant minority. So if a major Muslim figure advocated for white genocide would that sway anyone?

We will soon fine out. Recip Erdogan is the nominally secular leader of Turkey, the only Islamic state in NATO. A small portion of Turkey is in Europe, millions of Turks live throughout Europe, and there is some talk of them gaining admittance to the EU. Do you think if Erdogan of all people advocated for white genocide in Europe it would register with white liberals?

We will soon find out. Because Erdogan has done just that.
"Go live in better neighborhoods,” he said. “Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you."
That is open promotion of white genocide. He is calling on the millions of Turks in Europe to outbreed and replace the native population. The statement is just as genocidal as if he had called on Turks to kill as many white people as they can. I predict this statement for Erdogan will go almost unnoticed in the West. A couple liberal news orgs are picking it up. Vox has covered it and states:
Anti-immigrant nationalists shudder at the idea of a swiftly growing and more powerful Turkish — and Muslim — population in Europe. And that’s exactly why Erdo─čan encouraged it.
Clearly a swiftly growing and more powerful Muslim population is only of concern to anti-immigrant nationalists, not the enlightened European liberals, who apparently have no concerns for open calls for white genocide. It's not like he's calling for actual violence, right? (Even if he was they'd rationalize it away).

The Telegraph and the New York Times have both picked it up, with a surprising lack of spin. From the Times:
Mr. Erdogan is not the first authoritarian leader of a Muslim country to suggest that birthrates could alter the demographics of the West. Already, Muslims in Europe are younger than other Europeans and the number of Muslims on the Continent has been increasing steadily, according to the Pew Research Center.
It can only be a good sign that liberal outlets such as the Times, who religiously promote the Narrative, would abstain and give a sober overview of the subject, but I remain pessimistic overall. It takes the media a couple days to settle on a unified narrative.

Lessons in Leverage: the Cookie Jar Parable

In Appeasement is Futile we saw how Trump inherently knows to establish and maintain leverage at all costs. This isn't some unique Trumpian insight. Every good businessman or diplomat understands the concept. And not just that, every good parent understands it as well. Maintaining leverage over the inherently tyrannical toddler is the only way to maintain good order in the house. Every other approach is futile.

As a parent, I have supreme leverage over my daughter: I am the sole source of everything she wants. If she wants a cookie, she has to go through me. If she refuses to eat her dinner, I tell her, "if you don't eat your dinner you don't get a cookie." This almost always achieves dinner compliance. If she's misbehaving I tell her to knock it off or she won't get a cookie. This is infinitely more effective than just telling her to knock it off.

Imagine if I left the cookies where she had easy access to them. She wouldn't need to go through me, she could just get a cookie whenever she wanted. My leverage would be destroyed. Dinners would become unmanageable. Not only that, but the cookie eating itself would become a problem. Cookies aren't healthy for the kid in large quantities. I would find myself struggling to reduce her intake. I would have to beg, plead, and bribe her to eat fewer cookies. Maybe I let her stay up late if she stops eating cookies. Now she is extracting concessions out of me. She has the leverage because she has access to the cookies, but I want to control her cookie-related behavior.

Clearly only a fool would hand over cookie access control to the child. And yet that is just what the European countries have done. The great leverage a country has over foreigners is they control border crossings. The history of humanity consists of groups defending and expanding their borders. Europe, suffering from a serious cognitive disease called liberalism, has decided that it is inhumane to perform border control. They have decided it is unconscionable do what countries have always done: defend their borders with the explicit threat of lethal force. The West is now squeamish at anything hinting of preserving their ethnic & cultural heritage. So instead of doing their own border control, they have asked foreign countries to do so for them. They have asked Turkey to hold Europe-bound migrants for them, and in return have paid them great sums of money and promises of EU admittance. I first wrote about this in August of last year.
After a fake military coup, Turkey is fast becoming an Islamist dictatorship. Merkel has bribed and begged Erdogan with money and promises of EU membership if Turkey will do the job of protecting Europe's borders that Europe refuses to do itself. So an Islamist dictator now has enormous leverage over Europe.
They have handed over the cookie jar. They have outsourced the one thing that makes a state a state: border control. Turkey now controls who enters Germany, and Merkel must beg and bribe to get politically acceptable outcomes. Erdogan, who doesn't suffer the debilitating effects of late-stage liberalism, understands the leverage he has been gifted and is now exercising it.
One year after it collected $3 billion for the migrant deal, Turkey has just voided the agreement, and the next step would be that Turkey is about to flood Europe with refugees currently held inside Turkish borders. And since by some estimates Turkey currently harbors over 2 million potential migrants, Europe’s refugee situation is about to get far worse.
When you give up leverage, you give up control of your house, business, or country. When we say that western leaders - Merkel in particular - are the worst leaders in world history, we have very good evidence to back our claims. Never before has the national policy been to hand over all leverage of the sovereign state. It's not something that's ever been attempted in world history, and the current experiment will not last long.