Friday, October 30, 2015

Community Vs Communism

hbd chick's long essay Community Vs Communism has her usual thoroughness and wit.  My own off-the-cuff thought was that socialism established itself in places that already had voluntary non-kin associations of support, such as Scandinavia; communism may be more of an attempt to shortcut the long slow development of such cultural supports by force.

However that socialism is limited to the nation only, and in those instances, the nation is essentially a tribe, an attenuated family where everyone looks like second cousins.  You will note that those in even (now) socialist countries who don't look like second-cousins - gypsies, Jews, Saami - did not fare well in the 20th C.  And the difficulties continue now, with different non-kin groups.  The Great Tent of Sharing may only be able to remain erect so broadly given the current state of mankind.

It is good for us to try and be better, certainly, and a Christian thing to share more.  Yet when things reach a certain stretch there seems to be a snapback response which may not be immediately visible but contains as much prejudice. I certainly see it in people who would cut their tongues out before they would make a racist or sexist comment, yet let drop amazing bigotries when speaking of their  competitor cultures in America.  Or also, who show off their superior morality by skipping over natural categories of caritas to visibly and obviously show that they love the unlovable more than you do.  CS Lewis wrote of this in Screwtape, of Christians who would make a show of forgiving Hitler while acting spitefully to the circle of friends and relatives they actually encounter every day.

With such snapbacks, the net result is more strife and hatred in the world, not less, because the hatred is invisible to the hater. The unforgivable sin, I think, is the one that cannot be confessed, because we have become so hardened in our own conscience that we cannot see it.

Boomer Youth Culture

I have read many theories on why youth culture changed forever after WWII - the growth of television, the first generation of teens to have money of their own, the ubiquity of the telephone.  I had never considered that the simple increase of time spent with each other, because of the increase in the average number of years of education, might be a cause.  People together naturally form ties, and bonds, and tribes, and cliques. Maybe that's all of it: human nature working as usual in a new situation.

There are flaws in the article, but I think Bauerlein basically gets it right.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hudson and Landry

I recall this from driving back from college in the 1970's. It was on a DC station. I remember "We are the Joy Boys of radio, we chase electrons to and fro..."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Should We Say Anything?

T99's point is well taken.  Easy to say Of course we should express our opinions. But let me be contrary for a moment. (Quelle Surprise, eh?)

Clearly, the wrong people are speaking up. We are awash with people who don't realise that no one asked them.

This gets tricky, on both fronts.  There are people who will resent me speaking up, because they expected in their entitled way to be unopposed.  I will often jump in simply because I discern that a person deserves some pushback.  These seem to be much the same people who are willing to insert their political or social opinions gratuitously, don't they?  The rules flow only in one direction?

Or maybe it's just me being a jerk. Nah, couldn't be. I once jumped on a person at Sunday School who pressed her point by beginning her counter-counter-argument with I don't mean to attack the sincerity of anyone's faith, but... by interrupting "Of course you do.  That's your whole point, and I resent it."

I think we should be alert to giving offense, and asking ourselves whether whether it is worth it.  The cheap virtue signalling that I object to are most often people who have not actually thought what it would be like to hear their words.  They are plumping up their virtue at the expense of others.

There is nuance and context, situation to situation. All very amusing to contemplate, but not to discuss.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Gandalf Quote

“Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.

Cheap Virtue Signalling

This is the followup to Monday's post about virtue signalling in general.

Chiefs of police tend to be more supportive of gun-control measures than the rank-and file officers, who trend in the opposite direction.  I have strong opinions on the subject myself, and I think one side of the argument is simply wrong. But in both groups have in some sense paid for their opinion.  I cannot imagine disagreeing in anything but a polite, even deferential and listening manner. Even if they get irritable and condescending about the issue with one such as I, I don't much mind. They earned it.

Similarly, I knew a woman who worked in a battered women's shelter who held simply ridiculous ideas about what would be helpful going forward to reduce violence against women, including a lot of age-inappropriate verbal exercises in a school curriculum virtually dedicated to social change rather than, say, reading or geography. She was not only impassioned, she was pretty insulting about what the evil motives must be of the people who disagreed with her. She viewed just about any contradiction as an endorsement of abusing women. Yet my discussion with her was not at all confrontational. (Okay, maybe I was just afraid she would beat me up verbally and I cowered. So sue me.) Her ideas might have been loco, but her anger was not irrational.  She had seen too much pain and given too  much of herself to expect complete dispassion from her.

In contrast, we all know people who signal virtue who are doing it entirely at the expense of others - The big ones would be people who say hateful things about mothers receiving WIC benefits who are themselves spongers; OWS youth blaming their student debt on an unfair system that allows a 1% to exist; officers of non-profits trying to raise funds by demonising others. But I think cheap virtue signalling is even more common than that.  It is common among relatives, among the everyday folks we work with, go to church with, and receive emails from.  My cousins and nephews who leaped to the conclusion that Ferguson cops must be racist (the subsequent report declaring them racist actually had data showing the opposite), contrasted with those who leaped to the opposite conclusion just as fast.  Dylann Roof couldn't find a co-conspirator in Charleston.

People jump on these bandwagons to show what good folks they are.  It costs them nothing, and it tears down others who may be innocent. It's evil.

I describe these situations to illustrate that virtue signalling is not an entirely bad thing.  In my first post I asserted that we are always signalling a dozen things, which is one of the efficiencies of human interaction.  Donna B noted a difference between positive and negative virtue signalling, which is not quite what I'm thinking but overlaps.  Grim pointed out that when we are aware of signalling, the only decent thing to do is be very careful about it, even consciously stepping away from it.  I heartily agree, but know from my own life that there can be layer upon layer of self-deception here. There is an entire class of wealth which understates itself in what used to be Puritan humility but is now a type of pride. Even in spiritual matters, there are those who equate worship understatement with Christian humility, and enthusiasm with pride and Phariseeism. They have a point, and emotionally I am myself drawn to that.  But I have to admit that Jesus doesn't seem to share my opinion. (Luke 19:40)

Virtue signalling is perhaps never fully justified. Yet even the best of us do it even as we undo it. I will leave the spiritual solutions to your own spiritual directors and advisors.  We do this, but we hope not to, and in some places we are by grace free of this sin of the Pharisees*. God grant that we become free of it in all things.

Yet what about our public, political selves? When we express virtually any opinion we are short-cutting to a statement about ourselves - that we care about fairness, or the poor, or the future of America, or women, or the working man, etc. We can't very well stop saying what we believe, or genralising from specific events to larger trends. It is often a good thing to take a public stand.

But what does this stand cost you?  The idea that some "others" who you seldom cross paths with will disapprove of you is not really a cost.  It is a pretend cost.

I submit that others get outraged more when you attempt to take away their cheap virtue signalling than when you contradict their knowledge that is earned. And that applies to us as well. The modern PC mantra is "check your privilege."  I think it's more important to check your cost.

*BTW, while some Pharisees were of course deep hypocrites and dangerous, many of them must have been decent religious people attempting to keep the law by finding loopholes, much as we do in our day.  Jesus did not exempt them from his charges. That is why, when reading the scriptures, it is best to think of the Pharisees as "us," not "them."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie

McDonalds wants to be a "progressive burger restaurant."

That's the end of McDonalds.  It's big, so there is a lot ruin in a company, as Adam Smith might have said.  It might even morph into something with the same name that has elements of the old fast food style but is essentially different.  The fries, due to popular demand, will be the last to go.

Howard Johnson's ruled the highway landscape of my childhood.  28 flavors of ice cream, and the rest rooms passed my mother's sniff test.  It was enough, and it looked like they would go on forever.

Oh yeah, pie.  McDonalds used to have these deep-fried pies - apple and cherry, at least. When are those making a comeback?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Arrows of Causation

More marriage, less poverty. Well, good.

However, there is a third possible arrow of causation here: that the type of people who marry may also be the type of people who work.   Creating incentives to marry may not lead to more workers, and creating incentives to work may not lead to more marriage.  I would hope that there would be at least some gain, but there's no guarantee of that.

What would be most interesting is finding that one actually is a strong driver, allowing us to make a dent in one by encouraging the other.  The Scandinavians try to encourage people to have more children with incentives for childcare, maternity and paternity leave, and generous subsidy. I'm not sure that's working out as they hoped. 

Two Interesting Articles.

Over at Fare Forward again, a review of Accidental Saints, one of this year's supposedly controversial books among evangelicals. I had liked the review well enough already, but liked it better when I saw it was by a recent William and Mary grad who now lives in Dallas. These days I wonder if any good thing can come out of Williamsburg, so it was gratifying. The yong woman's regular site is here.  It does strike me as odd to read the old sermon coming back about accepting the shabby and the countercultural. It was common enough to be trite in the 70's and 80's, and I keep thinking that is the evangelical reality.  It isn't, of course.  The independent evangelical churches are about as respectable looking in the congregation as the mainstreamers, the only difference being the rougher looks of some of the worship bands and maybe some youth pastors.

It is too easy to say that the church has rejected the outsiders and won't acknowledge them.  That is the stereotype, but I think it is still more often the beatniks who are rejecting the squares.  A certain type of rebelliousness in the young is still admired among evangelicals.  Groups self-select without much meaning to and even when they make concerted efforts not to.  Counterculture churches get started when there are enough people to man them.  When there aren't, the respectable people go on, trying to remind themselves to reach out, not very successfully. Then they get blamed for being exclusive.  It's not untrue, but it is less than half true.

The tone of this next article bothered me a bit, oversimplifying the arguments of its opponents, I think.  But it raises an aspect of cultural change in the church I had not thought of.  Catholics do not permit the divorced to partake of the sacraments, though they can participate in other parts of congregational life. There is growing pressure to change that, pointing to the need to minister to and not unnecessarily offend those remarrieds who are trying to bring up children in the faith in a hard world. Those advocates point to those remarrieds who are living something close to a penitent and pious life.  The article condemning Country Club Catholicism points out that such an approach favors the rich and respectable and those of good appearance.


The folks who rushed to condemn the Boycott Star Wars tweets are collectively much more dangerous than those they criticise.  They can only have bothered because they believe there are enough of these trolls that America is in some sort of danger of being influenced.  They have thus quietly fed their hatred of everyone they disagree with and indulged their self-righteousness.

I am hopeful that this second group who thought it vital that they show everyone how opposed they are is also small.  But I know some of these by name, and some names surprised me. People are getting whipped up to fight imaginary enemies here.  That seldom works well.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Against Type

I have made several comments over the years about the style or personality difference between conservatives and liberals, especially among the extremer versions of those persuasions. In short, I have generalised that conservatives are more defensive, more knock-this-chip-off, while liberals are more aggressive and even violent.  BSKing notes that this may not hold across all issues, as anti-taxers, fringe and mainstream, are somewhat different from prolifers, fringe and mainstream.  She gazes across the fields of her relatives and acquaintances and sees also antiwar and free-staters that seem similar. She wonders too, from more limited but still interesting data, if types of personality disorders gravitate one way or t'other in politics. 

I still marvel that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have such similar #1 and #2 views (reversed in order) but use such different rhetoric to express them.

I'd be interested in the collection of anecdotes you guys have in this area. Odd results can lead to new understandings, remember.

Dahncing Kveen

Virtue Signalling

We are signalling all day - we signal how much education we have and how smart we are; we signal health, religion, availability, attitude to work, region, profession; we not only signal wealth, but our attitude to wealth (as in Earl's link on the subject of class and understated wealth under "Buddhist Ethics"). We signal with clothes, with buzzwords, with cars and hairstyles and references to what media we follow. While our initial response when we are reminded of this is to deplore it, signalling is efficient.  It did not grow up out of nowhere in the human condition.  It is a shortcut expression of who we  are.  As it is a shortcut, others can also learn it and fake it. But that does not invalidate signalling per se. It merely adds a layer of complexity to separating signal from noise. We will see through some ruses.  We will be taken in by others.

There is layer upon layer here, worthy of painful contemplation. In affecting to care not about wealth we may be quietly saying we care very much.  Writing a blog post about signalling is a way of signalling we are more objective and above all that. If we show we see the danger of hypocrisy even in that, we can take signalling to a one-and-half gainer-with-a-full-twist of candor/hypocrisy, leaving the reader to guess whether the essay is all quite humble or quite arrogant.  As I just did.

We signal virtue as well, and we do it all the time.  This is more problematic. When we signal that we have a good quality like generosity or honesty we are taking a shortcut.  We may not actually be generous, we may have merely found a phrase or an action which makes us believe we are generous, which may fool others as well.

On some cynical days, I believe that 99% of all politics is mere virtue signalling, that we don't actually care much what happens to the country or the poor or the Syrians or Hispanic women, we just care about what people think about us, and perhaps about Our Tribe.

The other days, I think it's 100%.

Side Discussion:  In our discussions of May We Believe Our Thoughts (MWBOT) a few years ago, and my intermittent comments on whether altruism actually exists I have already covered whether I really believe we are only reactions, or whether free will and reason enter into the picture at all.  In short, I believe that because we are all aware of better and worse moments in ourselves, and better and worse examples in the rest of humanity, this implies that however low the level of freedom/altruism/virtue is in the human personality, it is clearly worse in some places and persons than others.  Therefore the best of us have some non-zero amount of these qualities. If some wretched humans go to 0.0 and some others are better, they must go to 0.1.  To claim that they are merely disguising their virtue or freedom under deeper and deeper levels of evasion is to grant the point. If there is mixture, there is something to mix. End Side Discussion.

But for the moment, let us grant that all political statements are 99 or 100% affectation for the purpose of virtue signalling.  Several values are up for scrutiny here, but those are details for the reader to play with.  If you look at the political posts people put up on Facebook, or the articles they link on their sites or send to you, take a completely cynical approach for the time being. They may not know that they don't actually care about the issue, but they don't.  They are just virtue signalling: they care about the poor or the taxpayer more than you.  They really, really care about all things, and everybody, and everything, not like those selfish others who care only about themselves or their group/class/tribe.

Let me show you that this is true.  The gun rights people have a dead solid argument in their favor: the proposed gun buying-and-using restrictions haven't improved things where they have been tried.  But they don't use that argument.  Instead, they use culture-war arguments that signal what sort of person they are, and more importantly, what sort of evil people their opponents are.  On the other side, there are intelligent people who can certainly understand the simple point that overall homicides are the key issue, not gun homicides.  But no matter how many times it is pointed out, they still revert to postering how few gun homicides they have in Europe. They are not much caring about death - certainly not the deaths of black people in American cities - they are showing how they cosmopolitan they are, and how much they admire Europe.  Because it also has more socialism than us, and it suggests Junior Year Abroad, and the wealth and sophistication to travel, and all the other extras that come from saying I Heart European Stuff.  Very SWPL.

Or, at a much more basic level, they are saying "You like killing things.  I like keeping things alive.  Because I'm a better person." Rinse, repeat for abortion, taxation, welfare, immigration, etc.  Look first to the signalling.  Pretend that no rationality exists, and everything your read and hear will actually make more sense. Readers alert to guilt will worry that I am going to suddenly going to turn this back on you with one of those speck-log admonitions. I am actually cautioning against that at present.  Jesus may know you are going to be hit by a bus before you can get to that and force you in that direction, but I am going to assume you are not, because statistically you can't all get hit by buses that soon.  I think you can only learn this lesson the easy way first, by applying it to your political enemies, and perhaps to allies who are sorta jerks.

Consider: If we cared about saving lives or saving money or saving the environment or saving the world we would be far less likely to get upset so quickly, because it would be a rather dry, rational argument of the pros and cons of various approaches. Yet we get furious almost immediately instead.  Why?  Because we resent it when others use virtue signalling on us, and we try to use it back.  Or, we resent when they try to steal our virtue-signalling from us by nefarious logical means.

So indulge this pleasure, because I think it is the quickest way to understand the politics around you.  I, the Assistant Village Idiot, absolve you because it is the best way to see the obvious. The candidates speaking are not those who represent our better natures, they are the ones who express our hypocrisies best.  They actually care the least about the downtrodden and oppressed. But they know better than the rest how to look that way.

Start with the people you really disagree with, who you sniff out at fifty meters are trying to virtue-signal when you suspect they don't actually care. Don't just hate, analyze.  What are they getting from this posture?  What are they claiming or defending from attack?  If you feel up to it, move on to those sites you go to sometimes, or even to me or my sidebar.  Do not apply this to yourself.  That will lead to hopeless muddles and dead ends.

I'm not setting this up as a trick.  (Though I am certainly capable of that.)  We will go to one other place before I leave you to your own devices. For now, observe the virtue signalling in others.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Notice to Europeans

Blogger tells me I have to give some notice or other about cookies to Europeans.  I can't make heads or tails of it.  My stats page tells me that pageviews from Russia are a distant second to my US hits, and a short list of Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland and the like vie for an even more-distant third.  I can believe that Australia and the UK might provide the occasional visitor on the basis of chance encounters with the name, but I can't fathom that the others would be anything but spamming companies.

Yet I figure I should ask, just in case.  Any Europeans out there among the readers?  And do you know what it is I am supposed to warn you about? I come in peace.  I mean you no harm.

Team Colors

It was about 20 years ago that my brother was describing for me on the phone his occasional lighting gigs for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and some of the players he encountered. They were surprised to run across a lighting guy in LA who actually knew something about hockey. Interesting, certainly, but I rather scoffed at the artificial, Disneyfication of the team. That they had chosen the then popular color combination of black/teal/maroon especially irked me.

"I mean, what are they going to do when those colors are no longer in fashion?" I snorted.

"They'll just change the team colors," my brother countered.

I was dumbfounded.  Flummoxed. I eventually managed to say "That would never occur to anyone in New England."

Monday, October 12, 2015

Buddhist Ethics

Stunning self-honesty and candor from an American Buddhist.  "Ethics" is Advertising. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. Trigger warning (that is going to be endless fun to write): Christians may not like parts of this all that much, but I think the observations are just.

Via hbdchick


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Some Other Things

A few links that may be of interest.  I have referenced the dialect survey before, but this one is shorter and in quiz form, which is fun. The more complete survey is here. I was equally in the Boston-Worcester-Providence dialects.  I would have thought I would be a touch more northern, with Portland or something in NH.  However, I did spend the first few years of my life in Western MA, so that may have moved the dial just a bit.

I am very big on correcting the popular impression of the Puritans, and this article from Fareforward about the Puritan virtue of sympathy is good.  Fareforward seems to be a magazine written by Christian students at a variety of prestigious colleges.  I hadn't heard of it before, but saw it referenced at First Things.  An even better, and certainly more complete, corrective of our view of Puritans is the first section of David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed.  As I have given away too many copies of that book, I ordered a used hardcover that I intend to keep.

The controversy about the cross on the water tower in Wilmore, KY has interested us becase that is where my two oldest sons and daughter-in-law went to college.  Asbury College and Seminary are an enormous part of the small town.  My initial interest was in the slanted reporting, which said that the Freedom From Religion Foundation had "asked" the town to remove it. That may be technically true, but as a lawsuit in Tennessee was referenced, that seems disingenuous. Since then, I have also come to wonder why people have to travel to places they care nothing about in order to bend them to their will.  Have they no lives?  I don't find that conservatives go to Provincetown or San Francisco to complain about people gay there.  The notable exception, Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist, was a Democrat, so perhaps that is significant.  The evangelical style is different. They are very big on getting national or state versions of everyone hitting the "like" button for Jesus, or The Family. Well, there's more to be said on that, and evangelicals do like to interfere in their own ways.

Guns N' Arguments

I seemed to have switched over almost entirely to FB, though I take an unfortunate blogging approach to it, linking articles and making short comments.  I suppose it forces me to edit and be concise.

Nonetheless, I still feel the urge to make a more complete argument at times.

Gun control came up again, because there has been another shooting.  Since then, there has been yet another. You will note that Bethany over at Graph Paper Diaries on the sidebar has a statistics-based post, which has already gotten pushed down the list, but is worth reading.  Most of you have likely also seen the Volokh essay from the Washington Post which she links internally. (If not, it shows zero correlation between strictness of gun laws and homicide rates.) For the record.  I don't own a gun, and other than the occasional BB gun at another kid's house, my only experience with firearms was .22 caliber target shooting at summer camp. Archery was the only thing I was worse at. Hunting was not part of my family culture.  My grandfather went back once a year to Nova Scotia to hunt with his brothers, and perhaps he hunted for food around Westford MA before I was born.  My father shot varmints away from Grampa Wyman's garden, I think.  I have no desire to take up any of the shooting sports.  As I live in NH, my current need for self-defense weapons is slight. Four of my five sons shoot, none often. I have less than zero dogs in this fight.

My simplest formulation is that the government has to show compelling overriding interest in order to take away a right. That evidence just doesn't exist. There are a lot of bad arguments that look like they are relevant, but just aren't. I agree that yes, background checks, waiting periods, and outlawing weapons of warfare sound like they should reduce violence.  But they don't. It is actually weird to read comments sections on the issue, because there are lots and lots of people who just know that particular laws will reduce mass shootings, because of some pretty odd reasoning. I will note in passing that locking up all disgruntled loners is not really a mental-health strategy. There are way too many, and it would be a pretty intolerant society.

If you find a gun law that actually reduces homicides, I'm all ears.

This is all complicated by the fact that the pro-2nd Amendment rights people also make some bad arguments, and make them loudly. Nothing convinces some liberals faster than a conservative making a stupid argument.  The need to be associated with the thinking of experts, and wise folks, and the Best People trumps everything else.  Wherever we're going, it's not there.

For example, references to Obama/Democrats/Liberals wanting to confiscate all our guns is not helping their case.  It is true that there are a not-insignificant percentage of citizens who would indeed like there to be no guns. But that doesn't mean anyone will come to your house demanding you hand your firearms over, Bucko. Not gonna happen, so conjuring that image makes you sound paranoid. As a practical matter, there will be continuing pressure to make it harder to get guns by restricting some people. Similarly, guns will be taken from others for reasons, often good ones, though not always. Taxing the hell out of them might be tried. But it won't be confiscation, because, well, we won't call it that.

I note that strictness in gun laws seem to follow in places that already have low homicide rates.  They may be a result of less violence rather than a cause. Western Europe had low rates of internal violence - a level of cooperation which also allowed them to engage in warfare against others very effectively. So after WWII, in their horror over all things shooting, they passed more and more restrictive laws about guns. But their homicide rates did not drop dramatically after that, just the same slow decline they had been seeing for years.

The big number differences between wealthy nations, and between American states are deeply tied to black-on-black crime and to different groups of any type living cheek-by-jowl. That latter has been observed worldwide among tribes that are of the same race but see themselves as different. England and Ireland, for example.  France and Germany. Tutsis and Hutus. Sunnis and Shias.  That this would be present in the US among people who don't even look like 2nd cousins should hardly be surprising, but apparently it was upsetting enough for Harvard's Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone) to hide his research for four years, so that people like me wouldn't coming to any wrong conclusions. Looking at the numbers, I would say that Americans do pretty well, compared to everyone else in the world.  But when disparate groups are in contact, violence rises in both groups.

As to the former, I don't know why.  Conservatives like to point to the breakdown of the black family, which co-occurs, but that's been elusive to prove. Income, education, employment - all sound like they should be factors, but they seem weak at best. There may be something genetic, but that's been more of a process-of-elimination answer, and I don't think we've eliminated all the possibilities. Even at that, it may only mean that there is a greater percentage of low-impulse control individuals, whose anger is potentiated by bad circumstances, leaving the greater percentage of African-Americans about like everyone else, with the greater burden of having to be in close contact with more bad actors. 

I also note that not all African tribes are especially violent; there are European tribes which are more violent than others (There's that Hajnal Line showing up again); Native tribes differed greatly in violence, and my loose understanding of Asian history suggests differences there as well.  But for whatever reason, the numbers are simply there, an 8x higher homicide rate, that doesn't occur in the Netherlands or Switzerland.  Take out those two factors and the American rates are the same as European - and the European rates are climbing.

I had a thought that more armed middle-aged black people would be a excellent, and were more of a thing in their culture. Yet I sense that in African-American culture there is enough horror of violence and wanting to distance oneself from that whole way of living that complete renunciation of guns is more emphatic.  But I'm just guessing here.

Monday, October 05, 2015


You will note that I have said little or nothing about what the US should do in the long stretch of territory from Bosnia to Pakistan.  This is because I have no idea what the hell we should do. I sense at some primitive level that Obama has erred enormously in giving away wars that we actually won at great cost in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But as to what he actually should do in a positive sense, or what we should absolutely avoid doing, I throw up my hands.

I fear that the only solutions will be the Asian ones, where one or more tribes is simply eliminated forever. It is perhaps easy to step back and say "We are not called to this.  The US or the UN is not the World Enforcer. Let it go, it is not our battle."  Intellectually, this is what I believe.  But there are real children, real fathers supporting families, real teachers... real fishermen and shopkeepers and farmers and barbers and midwives and breadbakers in all of this.

Sometimes we must embrace the evil that is least bad in foreign affairs.  Yet I cannot even say what that is. Save them all. Kill them all. Ignore them all.