That’s where the “chemical weapons” aspect of the El Ghouta attack comes in. The SAA has been killing Sunni civilians in huge numbers, to the absolute best of its ability, for more than two years. And that hasn’t really bothered anyone except other Sunni Muslims, other members of the same extended family.
The reason we were all fine with those deaths is that they were carried out with the kind of weapons we like and trust: Aircraft and missiles. One constant for war news across my whole life is that nobody minds what you do as long as you do it from a fighter jet. It’s amazing.
Great article. It is a useful dose of demythologizing red pill. One of his excellent observations: The complaints about civilian casualties in Vietnam (notably Phan Thi Kim Phuc running from a napalmed village naked with a burned back) were just a rationalization for college kids who did not want to fight there. More generally: there is lot less care for others than people and governments pretend to have.
Hegemons get to define what is morally legitimate.
There are three factors that determine how much artificial world outrage a massacre sets off. First, the obvious one: Who committed it? Second: What technology did they use to commit it? Third: Who were the victims?
So then hegemon elites battle over what to define as morally legitimate in order to open up and foreclose options.
I understand why Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia wants to overthrow Assad's non-Sunni regime to replace it with Sunni rulers. But I do not see how US interests are served at all by letting the Sunni majority mistreat Shia, Kurds, Alawites, Christians, and other minorities of Syria. What is our upside? Nothing I can see. I can't even see why neoconservatives see an upside for Israel. My guess is that since the neocon record of miscalculating Israel's interests is so bad that they are again wrong on that score.
One big upside of Obamacare: taxpayer subsidies to farmers (in the form of state-provided medical care for poor people) will go down. The farmers are not happy about it
The effects of the law could be profound. Insurance brokers and health providers familiar with California’s $43.5 billion agricultural industry estimate that meeting the law’s minimum health plan requirement will cost about $1 per hour per employee worked in the field.
Note that this does not fix the medical care subsidies for their kids or of (much larger) medical care subsidies in their old age.
Growers claim that paying the full cost of farm labor is unacceptable. I claim subsidizing wealthy growers thru taxes in unacceptable.
The minimum compliant health plan for employee coverage under the new law will cost about $250 a month in California’s growing regions, according to insurance brokers, and includes a $5,000 deductible for medical care, although insurers cannot charge co-payments for preventive visits. “It’s unacceptable,” Mr. Herrin said of the cost.
What Obamacare will do: speed up the development and deployment of robots on farms. Robots will replace the poor unskilled masses. Plan your life accordingly.
From the Christian Science Monitor: Low turnout at Egypt's protests highlights Islamists' disarray.
From McClatchy: Muslim Brotherhood leadership fading amid government crackdown.
Still more said they were too afraid to go down to the streets and confront the security forces or ordinary Egyptians who hold the Brotherhood responsible for the country’s political crisis.
Will Syrian's civil war end in a democracy? The odds seem against it. Though Iraq's illiberal democracy is still there the larger trend is running against it: Inevitable Triumph Of Liberal Democracy Halted 15 Years Ago.
For now the authoritarian regimes remaining in the MIddle East could survive. Many secularists in countries like Saudi Arabia and Jordan have got to understand now that if they join with Islamists and overthrow their governments the Islamists will rule and the secularists come out worse in the end.
In the longer term the Islamists could still end up taking over all the Middle East. Why? The battle of the womb. Simply put, the most religious segments of Middle Eastern societies are making the most babies.
What I want to know: Will Middle Eastern countries fall back into the Malthusian Trap in the 21st century?
We can see some of the effects in one of the best scorecards for keeping track of trends in implementing liberal democratic values: the annual survey by Freedom House. That scorecard tells us that if there is, or was, a trend toward more liberal democracy, it has flat-lined for at least the last 15 years or so, since the improvements in the years immediately following the collapse of the Soviet empire. The proportion of countries that are free, that are not free, and that are electoral democracies are all essentially the same as they were in the mid-1990s.
I think demographics doom liberal democracy. The smarter among the liberals aren't making many babies.
Really, I am not making this up. A McClatchy piece explains: You are not allowed to get trained in how to lie. The natural liars in high government posts don't want the competition.
WASHINGTON — Federal agents have launched a criminal investigation of instructors who claim they can teach job applicants how to pass lie detector tests as part of the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on security violators and leakers.
Amazing comments in the article. Read the whole thing.
My reaction: The state wants compliant subjects whose motives are easy to discern and manipulate.
J.P. Morgan bank economists are not bullish on America. This bodes very poorly for the welfare state. Only a rapidly growing economy can produce enough wealth to enable growing tax revenue to pay for all the promised entitlements. Slow growth means the entitlements will have to get cut down.
As computer advances enable employers to automate the work of lower intelligence workers I expect productivity of the remaining workers to rise. We've got to reach the point where dummies become such a small portion of the labor force that those who work have IQs well above 100 on average. The exodus of lower IQ workers from the work force will cause a measured rise in the average productivity of those still working. Rising productivity will be trumpeted. But growing and increasingly unemployed lower classes will become a big problem.
As robots and computers destroy more jobs my expectation is that businesses will move their robotic factories to a few low population countriesin order to reduce taxes.
A ParaPundit post from a few months ago: Greek Economy Shrinks 19 Quarters In A Row So Far. The Greeks have now reached an even worse milestone: 20 quarters (5 years) going down and still counting.
The 24% contraction since 2008 is similar to the US Great Depression contraction of 27%. So the Greeks will probably surpass the worst US economic contraction some time in 2014 or 2015.
You might think that central bankers and economists know how to avoid economic contractions that severe. But Greece gave up having its own central bank when it joined the Euro zone. The entry into the Euro zone also emboldened northern European banks to irresponsibly loan the Greek government far too much money. The Euro enabled a double whammy: bigger bubble and less control of the aftermath.
Title for a Daniel Larison piece in The Guardian: Unless Obama cuts aid to Egypt, he'll be seen as endorsing coup and crackdown: The US has already taken sides in Egypt – and support for the military will be taken as moral support for its bloodshed.
Seeing this headline I immediately hit Ctrl-F and typed Israel. The first reference to Israel was in the comments. Disappointing. Only one of the commenters (who had too big of an ax to grind to explain clearly) got close to explaining the point of US aid to Egypt: bribe the Egyptian deep state to stay at peace with Israel. This policy goal overrides many (all?) other considerations.
The ferocity of the attacks by security forces on Islamist protesters in Cairo this week appears to have been a deliberate calculation of the military-appointed government to provoke violence from the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, a number of Arab and Western historians of Middle East politics said Friday.
Did the Egyptian military take a big risk? How assured are they of prevailing? Is this going to work? How big and motivated are the factions for and against military rule? Do you see clear indicators of which side will win? NY Times coverage doesn't provide enough clues. Found a good media source on the balance of power in Egypt? For example, will Egyptian soldiers stay loyal to the state? An NY Times report argues that civil strife is intensifying. But reports of civilians siding with the military suggest it is more than just the military and police against the Muslim Brotherhood. If the military has as many civilians on its side as the Muslim Brotherhood has then the Muslim Brotherhood will lose.
“I admit we feel deep bitterness for the biased coverage of media and news agencies, and the question here is where are the stories of the churches that have been burned?” said Mr. Hegazi. “Where are the reports of the police officers and soldiers who were brutally killed and mutilated?”
Gulf monarchies pledged $12 billion in aid for Egypt as soon as the military took over. That swamps US $1.5 billion aid.
The interesting twist here: The US wants the Egyptian military to prevail for the sake of Israel. The Saudi royals want the Egyptian military to prevail because they do not want spreading Islamist political extremism to threaten their hold on power.
So here's my question: Have the events in Egypt and other "Arab Spring" countries shifted thinking of American foreign policy elite thinkers away from promoting democracy in the Middle East. Does the US now see more shared interest with Saudi Arabia and the Egyptian military? Time to put the democracy genie back in the bottle?
Will the Egyptian military eventually allow elections on training wheels where candidates are vetted as not being too Islamist? Turkey's military played this game for decades, overthrowing governments that crossed the line on religiosity. Is this Egypt's future? Also, does the Egyptian military recruit officers and enlisted men only from less religious families? How do they assure loyalty to the military ahead of loyalty to the mosque?
My take on Mormonism: Mormonism is better than other sects of Christianity because Mormons behave better than most (all?) other Christian sects. Mormonism causes people to work harder, stay married, put effort into raising their kids, and generally be an asset rather than a liability. That is way more than you can say for secular liberalism. A Washington Monthly piece about Utah and the Mormons sums up the confusion of the liberal mindset: Why Is Utah So Great? It’s conservative, but beating everyone on the societal indicators. By Ben Florsheim
Study after study ranks it at or near the top in various categories of well-being, including access to clean water and employment satisfaction; some such surveys have Utah leaving runners-up in the dust. It recently had the lowest rate of child poverty and the fourth-highest child well-being, though it slipped in those categories as well due to the economy (while other states intervened when child well-being was at risk during the recession, Utah coasted).
Why? Why or why? I can think of a few big reasons, one notably missing from the article.
Here comes the most amazing demonstration of the delusion of left-liberal minds of our era. The key word here is despite.
Yet it posted leading numbers in earlier years despite having the second-lowest benefits for children through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, low Medicaid eligibility, and lowest-in-the-nation education spending (among other states who score highly in well-being rankings, these are extremely unusual characteristics; the study that ranked Utah highly also reported the overall conclusion that “child well-being is strongly related to higher state taxes and robust entitlement programs”).
Child well-being is very high in Utah and Utahns have little need for social programs. Why does that seem so incongruous to liberal welfare state supporters?
To be fair to Ben Florsheim, he does pick up on the importance of religious belief and also on the lack of diversity in inducing responsible behavior and in creating healthier societies. Now, the exact details of the religion matter in terms of the impact on behavior. Mormonism seems to be the best religion (at least so far) in causing people to behave in ways that make them less likely to become parasites.
The Muslim Brotherhood managed to kill at least 43 police. Possibly the death toll is much larger. The Muslim Brotherhood puts it at 2200 dead as the Egyptian military attacks public areas where the Muslim Brotherhood has set up camps.
The United States gives the Egyptian military $1.5 billion per year to stay peaceful with Israel. The US government has to pretend that the Egyptian military did not stage a coup against democratically elected president Morsi.
The Daily Mail has a large set of pictures from the Cairo street battles. I get the sense looking at the pictures that deaths in the thousands seem more likely.
So here is what I want to know: Is Egypt teetering on the edge of civil war? Or will the Egyptian military successfully suppress the Muslim Brotherhood?
My guess is that a year of Morsi rule has effectively split the secular off from Muslim Brotherhood and so the military has both its own resources plus support from a sizable fraction of the public. Before overthrowing Morsi the Egyptian military met with secular opposition leaders and plotted to create the conditions to justify Morsi's overthrow. This was a triumph of the Egyptian "deep state" which very likely sabotaged the Egyptian economy and reduced public safety services in order to create opposition to Morsi.
A Wall Street Journal piece in Egypt, written from an American elite perspective, totally misses the point.
The relationship between the U.S. and Egypt's military government is breaking down, diminishing Washington's influence as the country's leadership violently routs its opposition and narrowing the Obama administration's options.
Breaking down? The illusion is breaking down. US influence on Egypt has always been pretty limited. What should the American government expect the Egyptian military to do when its power is threatened? Follow Uncle Sam's instructions? Why, pray tell? The Turkish military held back and look what that got them: neutered by Islamists. The Egyptian military is going to act in its own interest. The Egyptian military Uncle Sam has to look the other way because the overriding goal governing US policy toward Egypti is to protect Israel. As long as the Egyptian military is going to remain in power and will not attack Israel the government of the United States has got to look the other way and pretend a coup is not a coup.
The headline of a UMich Ann Arbor press release: Smart enough to know better: Intelligence is not a remedy for racism.
ANN ARBOR—Smart people are just as racist as their less intelligent peers—they're just better at concealing their prejudice, according to a University of Michigan study.
"High-ability whites are less likely to report prejudiced attitudes and more likely to say they support racial integration in principle," said Geoffrey Wodtke, a doctoral candidate in sociology. "But they are no more likely than lower-ability whites to support open housing laws and are less likely to support school busing and affirmative action programs."
So if you do not support making suburban kids go on bus rides to schools where the classes will be disrupted and they'll get beat up you are racist. Similarly, if you are opposed to racial preferences against white people you are prejudiced. Such are the workings of the typical liberal sociologist mind. Not surprising really. I expect sociologists to spout errant nonsense. Does that make me prejudiced against sociologists?
Research paid for by your tax dollars.
Wodtke presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. The National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health, supported his research.
If we oppose being discriminated against we are trying to protect our privileged social position?
According to Wodtke, the broader implication of this study is that racism and prejudice don't simply come about as a result of low mental capacities or deficiencies in socialization. Rather, they result from the need of dominant groups to legitimize and protect their privileged social position within an intergroup conflict over resources.
This is a view of society as fiefdoms and gangs. No mention of producers. No mention of more and less productive people. Effort? The sociologists paint a picture of the successful as people who are just successful at winning power and taking from others.
Sociology is detached from reality. Psychometrics, by contrast, has connected so well with what is real that the other social sciences mostly ignore it.
When then asked by panelist Steve Sebelius whether he meant ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”
Since the US population is going to become poorer and less able to afford their own health care I expect pressure for a single payer system will grow.
If this comes to pass this look north to Canada to get a sense of what this means: Once a general practitioner in Canada refers a patient to a specialist the average wait time is over 4 months.
The nonpartisan Fraser Institute reported that 46,159 Canadians sought medical treatment outside of Canada in 2011, as wait times increased 104 percent — more than double — compared with statistics from 1993.
Maybe Americans will be allowed to buy health care services at the front of the line in Canada while Canadians will be able to do the same in America.
The trend toward traveling to cheaper places to get surgery done will accelerate if the United States enacts single payer health care. My very strong advice: save more for your old age so you can buy medical care that your government won't fund. Also, you will be able buy the newest treatments before they are widely available.
Read this McClatchy piece on the rapid growth in part-time work and the puny growth of permanent work.
“Over the last six months, of the net job creation, 97 percent of that is part-time work,” said Keith Hall, a senior researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. “That is really remarkable.”
As you would expect part-time workers are poorer.
In 2012, one in four involuntary part-timers lived in poverty, whereas just one in 20 full-time workers lived in poverty.
Do not trust unemployment rates. From June 2012 to June 2013 the unemployment rate dropped from 8.2% to 7.6%. Sound good? The employment rate only rose from 58.6% to 58.7%. More people are giving up on getting jobs than are finding jobs. The American economy is employing 4 million fewer full time workers than it did at the start of the last recession.
In December 2007, at the start of the start of the Great Recession, there were 121.7 million full-time jobs and 24.8 million part-time jobs. In November 2010 (at the time he was writing) there were just 111.1 million full-time jobs but part-timers increased to 27.6 million. Today, there are 117.7 million full-time jobs (a decline since the start of the recession of four million) while part-time jobs have grown by 2.6 million, to 27.4 million. Simply put, full-time jobs are being replaced by part-time ones.
Obamacare health insurance mandates for full time workers bears part of the blame for the decline in full time jobs.
Manual laborers are getting replaced with robots. In manufacturing jobs have only grown for college grads with especially sharp job growth for those with graduate school study. Manufacturers would rather higher engineers and scientists who can develop robots and computer automation systems. Manual laborers? Not so much.
My standard job advice for my readers: Develop more and more valuable skills. You are either going up or going down the economic escalator. If you think you are holding even you are most likely going to start going down. Become more valuable or lower your living standard to save for your poorer future.
Okay, what do you think of the girl fashions of Japan? Ama (Sweet) Lolita, Gothic Lolita, Punk Lolita (I like it), Classic Lolita, Wa (Japanese) Lolita, grotesque Guro Lolita, and masculine girl (at least by Japanese standards) Ouji or Prince Lolita. Ouji on a really feminine girl would be attractive.
I like that the Japanese have a fully industrialized society and yet are still so different than Westerners in interesting ways. Can you think of any attractive subcultures which American girls are creating?
Neither Cos Play (costumes from fiction) nor Visual Kei hold much appeal. Though Cos Play encompasses such a potentially range of fictional characters that the appeal depends heavily on who the girl tries to look like. Mori Girls dress in a supposedly earthy style (I guess by Japanese standards) but which is fortunately feminine while only Ganguro is really unattractive and Kogal is so simple it depends on the attractiveness of the girl.
A web site, japanesestreets.com, shows lots of fashion disasters rather like hel-looks.com does for Helsinki Finland. But you can find some gems. Minori has created a pretty alluring look. Kurebayashi achieves a weird little girl look. So does Shioka. Erina does something which looks like it goes way beyond Versailles. Or am I underestimating the quality of clothing worn by Marie Antoinette? I like Honda's cute get-up.
Japan's incredibly low rate of crime (e.g. a murder rate of 0.4 per 100,000) enables a very highly urbanized population to live in close quarters. The Japanese have attributes which allow for very highly civilized and industrialized cities. In safe environments subcultures can flourish.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — As foreign fighters pour into Syria at an increasing clip, extremist groups are carving out pockets of territory that are becoming havens for Islamist militants, posing what United States and Western intelligence officials say may be developing into one of the biggest terrorist threats in the world today.
In the Middle East we do not get to choose between dictatorships and liberal democracies. But the believers in the biggest secular religion in America continue to act like they offer a vision of a society that has universal appeal. I think they can't imagine how large numbers of people who aren't Republicans could possibly disagree with their vision.
The Illinois state employee pension plans are the most underfunded at the state level. Illinois looks like a place to avoid. The taxes will go up and state services will go down.
A CNBC.com analysis of more than 120 of the nation's largest state and local pension plans finds they face a wide range of burdens as their aging workforces near retirement.
Click thru and look at their graphs and tables.
The sorts of people who can generate the incomes (and therefore tax revenues) to pay all these liabilities are becoming rarer. Of course this means the Republicans are road kill. But the demographic ascent of the Democrats into power will give them something like command of the Titanic as it hits an iceberg. In fact, the Democrats decided to head for the iceberg as their sure fire way to get permanent control of the ship.
Have you thought about your life raft?
So I return to my pet thesis: the problem isn’t that Republicans aren’t being responsive to the interests of their voters. Rather, the real political problem is that the core Republican electorate looks less and less like the country as a whole (i.e., the core Republican electorate is less dependent on transfers, more likely to be a part of married households, and more likely to be privately insured), and this makes it harder for GOP policymakers to craft policies that are responsive to the interests of swing voters.
So there's really nothing that can be done about the decline of the Republican Party. As virtue and ability decline in the electorate so does the republic.
The main role of the Republican Party should be to slow the rate at which new forms of parasitism become enacted into law and regulation. Really, slow the rate. The poor, less skilled, less educated, less responsible, more impulsive, financially extravagant, less prudent are on the rise. They will demand, with increasing fractions of the vote, to get more from the prudent, skilled, hardest working, and biggest savers will be made to pay for them.
The tabula rasa blank slate mythology is alive and well in the Obama Administration with a proposal to spend $75 billion on early childhood education even though it does not deliver any lasting benefits.
The most credible recent study of pre-K outcomes, the federal Head Start Impact Study, found only small differences at the end of the Head Start year between the performance of children randomly assigned to Head Start vs. the control group, e.g., about a month’s superiority in vocabulary for the Head Start group. There were virtually no differences between Head Start and the control group once the children were in elementary school. Two other recent studies of pre-K programs by the federal government using rigorous random assignment designs (see here and here) produced similar findings, i.e., impacts on school readiness ranging from null to small. A piece here last month examined the association across the 50 states between the number of children enrolled in state pre-K programs and later academic performance. The association was positive but modest, suggesting that 4th grade achievement in reading and math across the nation would increase by no more than about a 10th of a standard deviation if state pre-K enrollments increased dramatically.
This is one of the many costs of the Left's denial of the findings of psychometrics research. This denial has corrupted many parts of our society including mainstream political discussions, tests used to hire government employees, tested used for college admissions, and labor law over what constitutes unfair treatment in the work place. The costs of the denial keep rising.
I do not expect the denial to end until most of the genetic variants that contribute to IQ are identified and quantified.
That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology…. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
That's from a New York Review Of Books essay by James Bamford on the NSA. Bamford has written a few books on the NSA: The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, and The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America's Most Secret Intelligence Organization.
Will America remain a free society? Look at the Obama Administration's willingness to selectively use the power of the IRS and FEC against the American Right. It is a sign of things to come.
Greg Cochran looks at why the spying agencies can get so much money from Congress: The politics of the military-intelligence complex. Short answer: Lots of inside the beltway people can get jobs in intelligence agencies. They do not have to be competent at what they do. Secret and very poorly done work is hidden from the public. We spend big money per terrorist.
A conservative estimate is that we’re spending a million dollars per year per terrorist, maybe more – that’s not even counting Iraq and Afghanistan.
Though if a larger fraction of NSA employees and CIA employees were competent then there'd be fewer competent people to work in the private sector.
Do not borrow lots of money to go to an expensive college and study a worthless major. Your fate if you do: living back home with your parents because student loan payments are too high to afford rent. That's especially likely to be the case if you study a worthless major.
Uncool majors: Anything you study that forces you to move back home after college. Understand the extent to which college costs have become unmoored from quality of services delivered. Read this: College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students. Your better alternatives: online learning, the cheapest state schools, the most valuable engineering majors.
The only kids who should be stuck living with their parents are the ones with IQs not high enough to enable them to compete. And actually, the college educated are overall less likely to be living with parents. But the ones that have bachelors degrees and still are at home chose wrong majors or saddled themselves with large debts. Even 29% of employed Millennials are living with their parents.
In 2012, 63% of 18- to 31-year-olds had jobs, down from the 70% of their same-aged counterparts who had jobs in 2007. In 2012, unemployed Millennials were much more likely than employed Millennials to be living with their parents (45% versus 29%).
A Pew Research trend analysis shows that within each of these growing demographic sub-groups — the unemployed, college students and the unmarried – a higher share of young adults were living in their parents’ home in 2012 than in 2007.
Avoid a lower class fate. This is extremely important today as the ratio of incomes from the top to the bottom has soared and probably will continue to rise. With automation gutting demand for low skilled jobs the prospects for the least skilled are getting dimmer every day. Plus, most of the work is part-time as companies maneuver to avoid Obamacare costs. Get lots more skills if you are able.
On the bright side, the lower classes are so large and growing that if you can't be bothered to save yourself from poverty you won't be lonely at the bottom. Plus, you will be able to find lots of politicians, liberal media, and sociology professors who will tell you it is not your fault.