Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Visits the White House

The President received Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman today.

A few thoughts...
  • While friendly, there does appear to be a bit of tension. Trump speaks easily, but also is red in the face. It would seem that they both find the public meeting to be very significant.
  • Trump highlighted massive sales of US military equipment to Saudi Arabia, as well as substantial Arab investments in the US. Normally we wouldn't think highly of this, as Saudi Arabia has been a despotic regime and lately a terrible ally to the US. However, under the new leadership ISIS has fallen, who previously had received indirect support from SA. That fact, coupled with Salman's agreement to Trump's insistence that there will be zero tolerance for the funding of terrorism, would indicate that perhaps a new leaf has been turned.
  • The Crown Prince displays great respect for Trump. He's also quite young for his important position, and a bit green, judging at his frequent facial tells in response to Trump's speech.
  • Trump doesn't really know anything about military hardware. He is much more interested in the dollar amounts than the particular capabilities being sold.
  • The Trump leverage game is in full force. Why is Trump siding so heavily with Saudi Arabia in the cold war between them and Iran? Because he already has leverage with Saudi Arabia. They depend on us for military support, and the US controls the trade of their major export. (see more). If Trump wants to solve the Middle East political turmoil (and he definitely wants to be the guy that solved it) he needs leverage over all the major players. Siding heavily with Saudi Arabia tips the balance of power towards them and away from Iran, which translates into leverage over Iran. What a world of difference from Obama's program of diplomacy by dictate and bribe! Trump says: The Iran deal is coming up. It’s probably another month or so, and you’re going to see what I do. Expect miracles.
  • He says he'll meet soon with Putin, largely to discuss the ongoing arms race between the US and Russia, and that, whatever the outcome, the US must remain far more powerful than anyone else. That may seem like a strange way to approach arms reduction talks, but again he's establishing leverage. He's setting the expectation that Russia will have to come to the table with a strong offer to get the reduction of US arms spending that they are hoping for. This will certainly mean making certain geopolitical concessions that Trump desires.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Coloring By Numbers

My 4-year-old daughter has a coloring-by-numbers book. Each area has a number, and at the bottom is a legend that maps colors to numbers. She has learned to sound out the names of the colors so she knows which color crayon to use. It is proto-reading, and she is very proud when she colors the pictures correctly. Coloring by numbers is a wonderful way to teach a youngster how to color and to read, but the benefits pretty much stop there.

It would seem ridiculous to propose that we apply the same approach to running a society, and yet here we are. A pointed example is the recent bridge collapse in Florida. While it's not likely we'll ever see an exposé on the pitfalls of diversity-driven engineering by the establishment media, there seems to be plenty of evidence that diversity was the core ethos of the projects.

"Work Safely" - the value of platitudes
While it's unfortunate, any time we see an image of a perfectly blended rainbow of happy workers in a corporate setting, the natural reaction is raised eyebrows. Not because such diversity couldn't occur naturally, but because it is almost always forced. All such outfits are very open about their diversity initiatives. I've been surprised, as a software engineer, at how many firms are quite open during the interview process of their desire to hire more women. It would be a national outrage if they were telling their female applicants that they're more interested in hiring men. If the goal was really fairness, companies wouldn't ask for gender or race information at all, and make all efforts to nullify any sort of bias in the interview process. That is logically the optimal approach for building the most competent workforce. But they don't do that. They say up front they prefer one group over another. They're willing to sacrifice quality if the image isn't just right.

This is one of those cases where the libertarian argument breaks down completely. They argue that the free market solves all problems. A company that hires a subpar workforce will lose competitive advantage. Great theory, except that it is quite likely that the university was only willing to hire companies that were satisfactorily diverse. The free market is a myth. And in any case, what does it matter when you're the casualty of a botched construction job? Ten thousand tons of free falling steel won't be stopped by your equality bumper sticker. The downsides of a failing social structure affect everyone. When the cops can't stop crime and the public infrastructure becomes a death trap, we start looking an awful lot like a 3rd world country.

Clearly any approach other than hiring the best engineers based on their merit is a disaster waiting to happen. Not to be outdone, Canada's Prime Minister built his cabinet based on numbers. All genders and races are matched to the background demographics because it's $the_current_year. That means it is almost certain that some of the highest ranking officials in the Canadian government were not the most qualified. Think a bridge collapse is a tragedy? Wait until the broader social collapse. Running society in such a child-like fashion will eventually result in the deaths of millions.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Real News, Fake News...Either Way it's Russia

From The Conservative Treehouse, the blog you should be following if you aren't already: Intelligence PR Firm Gets Caught in Leak Trap – WaPo Runs Story of McMaster Firing…

Trump's team burned both the Washington Post and up to five leakers by luring them into running yet another fake news piece, this one about General McMaster being fired as National Security Advisor. This follows a long string similar articles that were run last year. When these "black hat hunting" ops succeed, they don't just flush out a mole, but they also give further evidence that the mainstream media outlets don't engage in one iota of fact checking when they get a waft of potential bad news for Trump.

Also burned are the social media liberals who don't realize the Washington Post is fake news and haven't observed the pattern of them running anti-Trump stories that are quickly contradicted. It's interesting to watch how both the fake news stories and the real news stories can always be construed as "proof" of their beloved Russia conspiracy theories. They follow on the heels of this little doozy from Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald this week.

Whether Tillerson is hired or fired, the answer is always Russia, Russia, Russia! Here are some of the top comments from the Reddit thread on the fake McMaster firing. Enjoy reading how the latest fake news "proves" the Russia conclusion.

The commenter can't believe it's real. Might want to go with your instincts on that one. Oh, you were saying something about propaganda and anti-intellectualism?

Everyone on Trump's team is a literal Nazi, until they get fired. Then they have "the respect of everybody." I'm sure McMaster will be an arch villain again by morning. And for my favorite one:

The answer to that one seems to be a resounding NO.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Anti-Trumpers May Destroy Social Media

Keeping with yesterday's theme, which was disagreeing with liberals actions but hoping they succeed anyway, we have this article today from the Chicago Tribune: A judge may soon decide if Trump should unblock people on Twitter.
Seven people who are suing President Donald Trump after they were blocked from his popular @realDonaldTrump Twitter account will soon have their day in court, in a case that questions whether government officials can impede critics online.
On Thursday, a federal judge in New York will hear oral arguments from a group of Twitter users - including a college professor and a police officer - who allege that the president violated their First Amendment rights. Trump blocked the users after they criticized him or his policies, sometimes using video clips and insults.
The Knight First Amendment Institute, which is representing the seven plaintiffs, will argue that Trump's Twitter account is a public forum, and that his actions violate the constitutional rights of the users. By blocking people because of their critical viewpoints, the plaintiffs' are stripped of their ability to participate in that forum, according to the Knight Center. What's more, the plaintiffs argue, other Americans are denied the ability to read and engage with dissenting voices, effectively distorting the shape of public debate.
This falls into the usual pattern of behavior from the left we've witnessed the past couple years: they will rush headlong into blunders in their zeal to "get Drumpf." What if the judge rules in the plaintiffs' favor? You can almost hear the gloating now. The smug late-night hosts strutting around like proud peacocks. The Twitterazzi basking in the glow of what they would treat as some sort of personal victory. They would have their fifteen minutes of fun, but such a ruling would be a godsend to conservative voices. It's worth repeating the key argument from the lawsuit:
Trump's Twitter account is a public forum, and his actions violate the constitutional rights of the users. By blocking people because of their critical viewpoints, the plaintiffs' are stripped of their ability to participate in that forum.
It's hard to understate the impact such verdict would have, when thousands of conservative voices have been stripped of their ability to participate in public forums. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the rest would be flooded with lawsuits overnight, backed legal precedent. Note that it's not even the official potus Twitter account at question, but Trump's personal account. That means any politician who had blocked users could be sued, or media outlets and reporters, universities, or corporations the blocked any dissidents...the possibilities are endless! Sadly, because it's his personal Twitter account, the judge is likely to throw out the suit. (But let's keep our fingers crossed.) If Trump has not banned anyone from the official Twitter account, he should immediately do so to bait the left into a glorious Pyrrhic victory.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sessions: No Successions

A showdown is brewing between the federal government and the state of California over immigration. Sessions has filed lawsuits against 3 recently passed California laws that contradict federal immigration law. The CA governor has replied with the normal tripe (that immigration laws are racist, etc), but has gone so far as to say that Sessions is "basically going to war against the state of California." Those are big words. Sessions affirms that immigration policy is the sovereign domain of the federal government, and that federal immigration laws cannot be nullified by a state that doesn't like them.

It's an interesting fight. We on the dissident right are generally principled, and we are generally opposed to the federal government. So what stance can we take on this issue without contradicting ourselves? The only answer is that our stance is nuanced. We support showdowns between the states and Washington, whatever the cause. And if it turns liberals Californians into states' rights activists, then that's even better. (Of course that stance will be limited, because they are not principled, and merely adopt whatever stance is immediately beneficial.

However, Sessions is correct. Immigration policy is a federal matter, and border defense is one of the few actions we can agree are fully in the federal domain. So that settles the question of what is. California is in the wrong, Sessions is right, but we like seeing the conflict anyway. But what about the question of what should be? Should California be able to make its own immigration laws? I think so. But that means we no longer enforce immigration at the federal level. Instead, it would have to be enforced at the state level. That would mean all kinds of annoying consequences, like having to go through a checkpoint to enter Kansas, and then another to leave on the other side. (I'm assuming no one actually drives to Kanas; they just spend a few bleak hours passing through on I-70).

But what it really means is a redefinition of what the nation-state is. Sovereign borders define the nation-state. California is saying it is no longer a part of the American nation. It is now its own nation, which consists of the various inhabitants that happen to reside on its soil. This is actually a far right stance, from what I can tell. It's what people like Richard Spencer advocate for, whom they describe as being the extreme of racist. He wants a state where people can define their own nation, rather than being told what the nation is. California is saying the same thing.

Governor Brown is correct but has it backwards: they are the ones declaring war by rejecting the notion of a sovereign American nation-state. It certainly is a cultural declaration of war. Just because we don't want what California wants, and Sessions is "our guy" and is in the right, doesn't mean we don't want California to push this fight. Here's hoping it gets really ugly.

Monday, March 5, 2018


One of the reasons this blog has been slower lately is I've been spending time on social media arguing politics, which is something I used to do a lot, but largely stop when this blog got going. Often I don't learn enough in these encounters to generate any blog content, except to make observations about how liberals reason.

It is obvious to everyone who stands outside The Cult that there is great irony that the left call us ignorant and hateful, and do so in a way that is very hateful and ignorant. It's psychological projection, scapegoating, and the Two-Minutes Hate all rolled in to one. They take their sins, cast them upon the other, and then viciously attack the other for being so sinful. It would all be quite amusing if it weren't for that pesky universal suffrage.

I think there is somethin deeper than scapegoating going on here. In a recent facebook exchange, which prompted me to write here, I replied to a meme & some commentary that made a blanket statement about Trump supporters. I asked for examples, which was met with the anticipated incredulity. After some exchange,  I listed a number of specific examples that would seem to contradict the premise. The response I got was that I was making overly broad generalizations.

It's a surreal thing, to have an interaction go a certain way, to have it right there in plain sight for anyone to view, and have the other party describe it as its complete opposite. You and I would never do such a thing: risk being easily contradicted and to look foolish. There's something that makes it possible for them to do so, and it has something to do with their disbelief in objective truth. That is, even though the argument clearly shows me pushing back on broad generalizations with evidence, that doesn't matter because the argument is just whatever one believes it to be. So they don't have that voice of caution which causes sane people to be very careful in their words to avoid contradicting themselves. In debate, the goal is to lead the opponent to contradict himself. But these people don't care. It's like if you pinned them in a wrestling match, and they concluded that they won because they pinned you. It's maddening, but interesting too.

I suspect there is something even deeper in all this. It's the frequency with which they proclaim the opposite of the truth. Not just something wrong, but extremely wrong. They do this all the time. We assume they are blindly allegiant to their ideology, and that they are projecting their flaws onto us. They are, but what drives them to do that? I'm quite convinced that there is something that drives them to the anti-truth. It's not that they have an opinion and can't grasp its inherent contradictions. The contradictions are the prize. There is something that drives them to anti-truth. The wronger, the better. They strive to make the truth false, and the false true.

Perhaps this is something that is already apparent to some of the readers, and I have simply been naive. I suspect that many Christians might nod along knowingly. It all feels very much like the eternal struggle between the forces of light and darkness. It's not strange that such a dichotomy might theoretically exist in the universe, and yet it is quite unsettling to experience it first-hand. I am becoming increasingly convinced that the meaning of life has something to do with some broader struggle between truth and anti-truth. Western tradition might be founded the acknowledgement of this, with its roots in Greek and Christian philosophy. The model still fits for the non-religious. Perhaps the universe is just a heat engine, and it's output is knowledge, or it's all a computer simulation...or whatever theory one might have. The eternal struggle between good and evil still remains relevant.

In our interactions with others, we aren't merely individuals connected in a web. We are also part of a front. On one side, the forces for truth, while the other side pushes anti-truth. Everyone is important. Take a step forward and the side for truth gains that little bit. Take a step back and it loses. Perhaps the meaning of life is quite simple. It is to see the forces of truth and light prevail.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

YouTube Discards Bombard

The purge of conservative voices from the major social media platforms continues. It's not just extreme right wingers being banned. Recently people have been banned from YouTube for criticizing the Florida students making the rounds in the media to advocate for gun control, or even just for criticizing CNN's coverage of it. There is no safety in being merely moderate. Anyone who isn't a line-toeing lefty is liable to see their accounts suspended, demonetized, or banned. There have been many examples.

Recently YouTube decided to ban Bombard's Body Language, one of my favorite channels. It's funny because I didn't even know for a long time that she was conservative, as she critiques Republicans and Democrats alike. Ambiguous conservatism is no defense from the purges. YouTube issued her a "third strike" and permanently disabled her account. And by the sounds of it, much of her content was only saved on YouTube and thus has been lost to the world.

Her channel was excellent. She critiqued body language from publicly viewable videos. Often her observations are enlightening, in that they become very obvious once they are pointed out. Hopefully she able to retrieve her content. She has a Patreon account and is now releasing content from her Vimeo account, which has about 400 followers -- a dramatic shift from YouTube where she had over a quarter million. I would highly encourage anyone to sign up for Vimeo and follow her there, and the rest of the conservative diaspora.

While these purges are annoying, even infuriating, there is a silver lining: this is how the established social media platforms will destroy their own market dominance. These corporations live and die off growth. How can they be growing when large segments of their potential user base are being turned away? Twitter turned so many conservatives away that it allowed breathing room for Gab to arise. Facebook lost a million users last quarter. Now YouTube is forcing serious content creators over to a competitor. People like Bombard may be paying a heavy burden in all this, but they are also the ones who have the power to really destroy the social media monopolies. Please support them.