2015 November 27 Friday
Sam Harris on Islam, Jihad, and the regressive Left

Worth reading in full:

These people are part of what Maajid Nawaz has termed the “regressive Left”—pseudo-liberals who are so blinded by identity politics that they reliably take the side of a backward mob over one of its victims. Rather than protect individual women, apostates, intellectuals, cartoonists, novelists, and true liberals from the intolerance of religious imbeciles, they protect these theocrats from criticism.

Meanwhile, ISIS has female sex slaves and fills mass graves with Yezidi women too old to be sexually attractive and also launches terrorist attacks in Europe using Angela Merkel's open borders to infiltrate more killers. The West's intellectual elites have gone mad.

As Harris points out, without Islam there is no terrorist attack suicide cult.

According to Greenwald and the rest of the regressive Left, one can criticize religion in general, but any special focus on Islam must be motivated by bigotry or “Islamophobia.” And on that assumption, many of these people think it’s fair to slander and demonize anyone who does focus on Islam—even a true Muslim reformer like Maajid Nawaz. Maajid is a former Islamist, who now runs a counter-extremist think tank in the UK. And yet for merely entering into a dialogue with me about the prospects of spreading secular, liberal values in the Muslim world, he was branded a “native informant” and a “porch monkey” by Greenwald’s colleague at The Intercept, Murtaza Hussain, and a “lapdog” by Reza Aslan’s employee, Nathan Lean. These people are simply desperate to shut down dialogue on what is fast becoming the most important political and moral question of our time. Everything they do in this area is dishonest and destructive.

Read the whole thing. He addresses most of what is wrong with the response of Western progressives to Islam's problems for us.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 27 11:01 AM 
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Salon Hates Thanksgiving: A Sign Of The Times

Sam Harris thinks Salon is irredeemable. Great interview of Sam, mostly on Islam, jihad, and Western values. Salon parodies itself for Thanksgiving: Our #blacklivesmatter Thanksgiving: Race, terror, Trump and political correctness collide at Thanksgiving. Progressives signal their contempt for us:

In many ways, Thanksgiving is a celebration of gluttony, sports, nationalism, militarism and waste. While some of the poor and homeless may be fed for a day, the institutions and structures that create income inequality and joblessness remain untouched. The day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday.” It is a festival of consumerist excess and greed.

I am reminded of the season 19 South Park episodes. They are oriented around political correctness. Watch "Safe Space" or "Naughty Ninjas".

Other relevant reading: Jonathan Haidt's essay The Yale Problem Begins in High School. The pressure on college administrators and white male students to confess to evil thoughts reminds me of Maoist struggle sessions. Will the use of Maoist tactics expand in colleges and workplaces?

The PC war has shifted to Princeton will calls to erase Woodrow Wilson's name from their campus. But some resistance has popped up against some of the #blacklivesmatters demands: Princeton students stand up to political correctness. Some of the students want to retain their right to free speech. How quaint and 18th, 19th, and 20th century. However, the Princeton students for free speech are small potatoes as compared to all the things wrong with how our intellectuals think about the world.

This essay asks rhetorically if all revered figures in US history should eventually get erased from monuments and city names. Attempts will certainly be made.

Where will the impulse to purge the past of its sins end? Should Washington, DC, named after a slave owner, adopt a new title? Should the Jefferson Memorial be torn down? Or what about the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars or the Wilson research fellowship that Johns Hopkins University, where Wilson taught for years, bestows upon promising undergraduates?

My own reaction: We have to get used to the idea that our civilization is splitting. We have people living in the same country who do not belong in the same country. Incompatible values. There is no way to resolve these conflicts in values within the borders of the same country short of one side dominating and the other side being marginalized.

The social justice warriors will go as far as they can. Watch for promotion of self criticism in schools and workplaces.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 27 10:08 AM 
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2015 November 26 Thursday
Sweden Finding Limits To Pathological Altruism

The innumerate Swedes have discovered the hard way that the number of people who want to move to Sweden is really really big. Sweden has slammed the brakes on allowing large scale immigration. The government can not afford to house and care for them all. Sweden is cutting its foreign aid budget 20% in 2015 and more in 2016 to pay for the Middle Eastern and African immigrants. See Sweden's self-inflicted nightmare. What's amazing is that the New York Times published this piece.

What is also amazing: The Swedish government is now making a change that has caused it in the past to denounce the Swedish Democrats party for advocating the same thing. The Swedish Democrats are denounced by the other parties as "neo-fascists". That's a pejorative term that progressives use in place of "rational and reasonable".

By Randall Parker 2015 November 26 04:21 PM 
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2015 November 24 Tuesday
Rojava Syria: Kurdish Region Most Secularly Radical In Middle East

Abdullah Ocalan's conversion to the beliefs of Vermont philosopher Murray Bookchin has resulted in the most peculiar political movement in the Middle East. The Rojava region in north east Syria grants women a level of political power that is amazing by Middle Eastern or even European standards.

A secular political philosophy can be nutty and still be a large improvement over what normally passes for the basis of government in the Middle East (clan loyalties and Islam). So Rojava is actually a light in the political darkness in its part of the world. I hope it survives and flourishes.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 24 10:42 PM 
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2015 November 21 Saturday
Most Americans Feel Like Strangers In Their Own Country

The people are more honest about their declining positions and political marginalization than I would have expected.

More than half of Americans, 53 percent, say they “feel like a stranger” in their own country.

The growing list of counties where median wage has peaked is a signal that the interests and fortunes of the upper classes have pretty well detached from those of the middle class. I expect this trend to continue. I also expect the use of racial preferences by the Democrats to grow due to demographic changes. This will deepen the split.

We are becoming a low trust society. Diversity is fueling that distrust. And yet our elites want more of it, even in a way that boosts risk of terrorism.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 21 08:30 PM 
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Why Milo/Nero Opposes Muslim Immigration

Milo Yiannopoulos explains why as a gay man he's terrified of Muslim immigration.

The Left’s wilful, suicidal ignorance about Muslim culture is at odds with virtually every one of their cherished social justice prescriptions. They look for sexism in “mansplaining” and flirtatious remarks, yet turn a blind eye to a culture where the only acceptable role for women is head-scarfed housewife.

They see intolerance in Halloween costumes, yet ignore the regular atrocities of cultures that mass-murder each other over regional, tribal, and sectarian differences. They think conservatives who disagree with their definition of gay marriage to be bigots worthy of social ostracism, yet welcome into their midst a culture that wants to execute queers like me.

Angela Merkel supports bringing in people with low levels of religious tolerance. Death for apostasy has double digit percentage support throughout the Middle East.

Taking the life of those who abandon Islam is most widely supported in Egypt (86%) and Jordan (82%). Roughly two-thirds who want sharia to be the law of the land also back this penalty in the Palestinian territories (66%). In the other countries surveyed in the Middle East-North Africa region, fewer than half take this view.

I'm really opposed to letting people into the West who enemies of our values.

You can follow him on Twitter.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 21 07:09 PM 
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The Terrorist Threat Could Be Slashed Quickly

Check out a dozen people and policies who whose omissions and commissions have helped make Molenbeek a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists. The Schengen zone for open movement of people is listed as one of the causes. They left out weak external border controls.

The most important thing to understand about the Islamic terrorist threat in Europe: It could be very rapidly and greatly reduced. How? Get rid of the jihadists in Europe. First, stop The Camp Of The Saints migration wave. Then deport the known 5000+ jihadists known to security services in France and some thousands more known jihadists in other European countries. My guess is that about 30,000 deportations would slash the risk of terrorist attacks by at least an order of magnitude and probably much more. Thousands of lives would be saved.

Additional steps would help. For example, the mosque preachers who deliver messages that create the fundamentalist mindset would need to be deported too to reduce the local production of new jihadists. Also, radicals getting deported could be offered money to identify other closet radicals. Also, siblings could be offered citizenship buyouts. Also, criminals in radical neighborhoods convicted of crimes could be given the option of deportation with a cash award. This would reduce the supply of people who are at much greater risk of Islamic radicalism.

The biggest problem with the terrorists is the circumscribed list of options that liberals are willing to use to deal with them. Expand beyond that circumscribed list (in other phrasing, expand the Overton Window) and it quickly becomes very easy to solve the problem. Stay within the liberal play list and the problem can only get worse.

For many problems we face today options that solve them are not allowed. Why is that? Will the rise of internet forums of discussion which are not controlled by the mainstream media gate keepers cause a large enough shift in public opinion and a large enough organized grassroots expression of anger that growing problems will be fixed?

By Randall Parker 2015 November 21 02:51 PM 
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Ban Many Activities To Enable Open Borders

A convenient starter list of activities we will need to ban in order to enable Open Borders.

WAASMUNSTER, Belgium — The Belgian authorities halted public transit, canceled soccer games and warned citizens to avoid shopping centers, airports, train stations and concerts in the Brussels region early Saturday, warning that the capital was vulnerable in the wake of the

If people live out in the country, get home delivery rather than go to stores, and generally stay away from crowded places then the risk of terrorist attacks from Open Borders would go down substantially.

Perhaps it would be possible to retain team sports matches, just without audiences in stadiums. We could all watch them remotely. Ditto for rock concerts.

I am thinking virtual reality goggles will become more valuable with Open Borders. You will be able to escape into virtual reality to meet up in dense online communities without risk of getting blown up. Virtual rock concerts. Virtual clubs where virtual guys will pick up virtual girls. We could even have simulated air flights so that you could still have the feeling of air travel to distant exotic lands without the risk of getting our airplane blown out of the air by Islamic jihadists.

Since our elites want Open Borders and seem quite determined to make them happen no matter what our interests are in the matter I think we need to start thinking about a radical reordering of society to enable their insane new world order.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 21 10:48 AM 
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2015 November 15 Sunday
Terrorists Draw Support From Their Communities

Maajid Nawas on support that terrorists draw from their communities.

And no insurgency is sustainable, or even possible, without a level of residual support for its core ideological aims among the core communities from which it draws its fighters.

As I've argued, terrorists lie at the tail of a distribution of people with varying degrees of sympathy, shared values, shared beliefs, and willingness to help or ignore. If you can understand that then a bunch of liberal beliefs about terrorism look absurd.

Molenbeek Belgium is giving us a signal. It is an indication of wht hte rest of Europe could become. The signal is coming from other parts of Europe too.

Jihadism has well and truly taken root among an entire generation of angry young Muslims. This is particularly the case in Europe, where thousands have left to join ISIS.

Therefore European leaders are crazy to dig an even deeper hole for their peoples with the current policy about Muslim migrants.

Consider the reasoning in this paragraph. Because the attackers are mostly born in Europe he thinks it does not make sense to become anti-immigrant. After all, the first generation won't be that radical. Only the second and later generations. This is crazy reasoning. The first generation will have babies. Those babies will become more radicalized than their parents. What then? What lies in store for Germany?>

For now, my guess will be that these attacks will only aid the anti-immigrant rhetoric of France’s far right, sweeping xenophobes to prominence, further polarizing communities, which for good or for bad, will only sustain the process of radicalization even further. This is so despite the fact that France has taken hardly any Syrian refugees, and Germany, which has taken hundreds of thousands, has yet to be hit as hard as France has. European born and raised jihadists have so far posed the biggest problem, not immigrants.

20 years from now the children born from the current immigrant wave will feel what about European people as compared to Muslim people?

What about in Arab countries? Take a look at the key role that al Azhar university in Cairo plays in teaching young Muslims beliefs that turn them into Jihadists. They are getting their ideas from the mainstream of present day Islamic academic thought.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 15 07:39 PM 
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2015 November 14 Saturday
Counterterrorism And More Security Can Not Solve Terrorism

One hears a lot about intelligence failures in stopping terrorists. Most of this amounts to political points scoring. It is not constructive. It is not honest or competent. We can't detect every attempted terrorist attack no matter how hard our security agencies try. Unless every bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, bus, car, office, tennis court, computer, and a large number of other places are bugged and every single human conversation is listened to by artificially intelligent computers lots of terrorist attack planning will take place undetected. Even if we wanted our governments to do extremely invasive monitoring they couldn't monitor us with sufficient invasiveness. The governments lack the staffing, AI computers, and monitoring equipment sensitive enough to pull off the needed level of monitoring.

John Schindler explains:

The number of “watchable” suspects, meaning potential terrorists who need monitoring by the security services, in France alone exceeds 5,000, according to Paris. “We’re overwhelmed, and it’s getting worse daily,” was how a senior French intelligence official explained his situation to me recently.

Those are 5,000+ that French security services know about. The problem will get bigger as the Muslim population grows in France, Belgium, Germany, and other European countries. We will see more attacks.

We have a fundamental problem with security: We need people to be civilized. We can not entirely impose security from above. No state security apparatus or local law enforcement agency can substitute for the need for a civilized populace. If even one one hundredth of one percent of the population decides they want to be terrorists we will get attacked many times.

This is why distributions matter. Some liberal-minded people point to many Muslims they know and say "they don't want anyone to be terrorists" and they can be correct the vast majority of the time. That doesn't prove that Islam does not cause terrorism and it does not get us out of the problem with having terrorists whose motivations are caused by their Muslim beliefs.

To understand the problem with Islamic terrorism we need to look at the distribution if effects of Islam on what people believe, support, and do. Consider: It takes an outlier to go on a suicidal killing rampage. A much larger number of Muslims support terrorism in their stated beliefs than actually provide material assistance to terrorists. The ones who provide assistance is a larger set than the ones who carry out attacks. Out of those who will carry out attacks an even smaller number will do suicide attacks. So those suicide attackers are an indication of a much larger number of people who are embracing beliefs that make the attacks possible. They are part of a distribution and not simple isolated outliers.

Since I do not want to live in a society where even 1 in 10,000 or 1 in 100,000 want to commit terrorism I object to political elite and media elite rhetoric that asserts that Islamic terrorist attacks have nothing to do with Islam. These attackers are not random outliers who embrace a heresy. They are within the normal range of what we can expect from Muslim believers. Muslims are far overrepresented among the ranks of terrorists in countries around the world. The West has a problem with Muslim terrorism and so do the Muslim countries. I'd prefer to isolate the problem in Muslim countries until such a time (assuming this ever happens) when Islam goes thru the kind of reformation that makes terrorism cease to occur at higher frequency in Muslim countries.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 14 05:36 PM 
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Unconfident Civilizations And Terrorist Attacks

John Schindler on the latest Muslim Jihadist terrorist attack in Paris:

Even if all such weapons and explosives could be stopped from entering the EU tomorrow, there remains the problem that Europe has so many would-be jihadists already. The number of “watchable” suspects, meaning potential terrorists who need monitoring by the security services, in France alone exceeds 5,000, according to Paris. “We’re overwhelmed, and it’s getting worse daily,” was how a senior French intelligence official explained his situation to me recently.

Suppose a civilization was confident in its beliefs and moral legimitacy. Suppose it felt it had an absolute right to defend itself. What would it do? This is obvious: For starters it would deport at least those 5,000 people who are known to harbor Islamic terrorist sympathies, to have contacts with ISIS and Al Qaeda and with similar organizations. Say these people have no right to live in Western civilization, that their values are incompatible with Western civilization. Toss them out. Buh bye!

But France suffers from (and even was the home to many of the creators of) beliefs that hobble and paralyze it. French intellectuals have crippled France's capacity to defend itself from people who should not even be allowed to step on its territory. The Overton Window in France (and Belgium, Germany, Sweden, etc.) is far from solutions that would cut the risk of terrorist attacks by orders of magnitudes. I do not expect this latest attack to shift the Overton Window all that much in the direction of effective solutions. After all, the Charlie Hebdo attack obviously didn't do it. The intellectual rot is too deep.

Western countries are wealthy and powerful. This has enabled our intellectuals to detach their ideas from reality and self indulgently promote ideas quite harmful to their host societies. I think the incentives for them still weigh far too heavily in the direction of tearing apart and attacking the societies that feed them. Their roles are destructive to the cause of free societies and they are enablers for our enemies.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 14 09:49 AM 
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2015 November 12 Thursday
America Used To Be Able To Build Stuff

A story from last year about how long it takes to build stuff in America makes me wonder if this has to stay messed up.

Regulations required the bridge's operator to study things like the impact of construction on Native American tribes that passed through the area more than a hundred years ago. In all, more than 300 groups were consulted.

The regulatory process took four years, the same amount of time construction on the 5,800 foot span is expected to take.

In America a lot of things broken by politics stay broken no matter how much they cost. Can we ever escape from what the politicians and their donors have done to mess up the country?

It is stunning what politically broken infrastructure spending mechanisms have caused: multiples higher costs.

Towering among giants is New York City’s East Side Access project to join the Long Island Rail Road and Grand Central Terminal at cost of $3 billion per kilometer by the time it’s finished in 2023. Beyond East Side Access, New York has two more projects (the Second Avenue Subway and No. 7 Line extensions) in the $1.5 billion to $2 billion per-kilometer range.

To put these numbers in global perspective, New York’s Second Avenue Subway will cost roughly eight times more than Tokyo’s Koto Waterfront line and 36 times more than Madrid’s Metrosur tunnels on a per-kilometer, purchasing power parity (PPP) basis.

But this is not strictly a New York problem. Outside of New York, there are three more US projects in the top 12: Boston’s proposed Red-Blue Line Connector, San Francisco’s Central Subway, and Los Angeles’s Westside Subway Extension.

Here are 7 ways the US government drives up the cost of infrastructure projects. Here are some bigger and smaller reasons.

Some possible areas of investigation include mismanagement of contractors, legislative and political interference, ostentatious architecture, onerous procurement rules (including, paradoxically, low-bid rules), time-consuming environmental reviews, prevailing-wage agreements, duplicated administrative functions, bans on certain types of revenue generation, strong rights for private property owners, aldermanic privilege, and political fragmentation.

Interestingly, none of the likely culprits are innate production factors - the high cost of land, the high cost of materials, and the high cost of labor. Land, materials, and labor are costly in the United States, but no more so than, say, Tokyo. And, as a 2011 Economist article helpfully pointed out, the $3.4 billion spent on the Calatrava-designed transit station at the World Trade Center would’ve paid for the entire Second Avenue subway line if we paid what Tokyo pays for a mile of subway tunnel.

Also see Why is it so expensive to build a bridge in America? and an article on inefficient spending practices by state departments of transportation: More Money Won’t Fix U.S. Infrastructure If We Don’t Change How It’s Spent.

It would be great to fix all this stuff and then crank up the spending to get great infrastructure repair and expansion.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 12 08:31 PM 
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2015 November 07 Saturday
Arab Sunni Allies Shift To Bombing Houthi Shiites In Yemen

The United States government can't find a moderate Syrian Arab Sunni opposition to back on the battlefield against Sunni ISIS caliphate fighters. Only ethnic Kurds, Iranian Shiites and Lebanese Hezbollah Shiites show any stomach for serious fighting. But it has gotten even worse for the Obama Administration: America's ostensible Sunni Gulf Arab allies have shifted their air forces toward bombing the real enemy: Shiites in Yemen.

Think about it. America just can't find not obviously religiously zealous Sunni Arabs who will battle much more religiously zealous Sunni Arabs, even more so when there are Shiites to fight. That's true in Syria, Iraq, and the Gulf Arab states. There's a lesson to be learned here but it is a lesson that first Bush and now Obama seems determined not to learn. So America's foreign policy remains a failure in the Middle East.

We were so much better off when Saddam, Assad, and Muammar ruled unopposed in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Religious minorities were safer in the Middle East. Europe did not face The Camp Of The Saints. Lots of now dead American soldiers were still alive we we didn't have a few hundred thousand soldiers with brain damage from improvised explosive devices. Oh for the good old days.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 07 12:45 PM 
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Thilo Sarrazin Says Migration Wave Into Europe Easily Stoppable

If our elites want something one of the ways they argue for it is to pretend there is no way to prevent it (e.g. massive immigration). Some are lying. Others are useful idiots for the liars. Some times the unpreventable could be prevented extremely easily and some prominent figure who is willing to admit the emperor has no clothes stands up and says so. In the case of the large and growing migrants waves flooding into Europe the guy saying the emperor has no clothes is German politician Thilo Sarrazin.

Die Zeit: So what would you do?

Thilo Sarrazin: I would capture every ship. Even if it were a not merchant ship, I would set its passengers ashore at the exact spot on the African coast where they started and destroy the boat. You may be sure — after six weeks, no more of them would start out and there will be no more boat refugees.

He's right. He points to the British naval blockade of Germany in WWI using technology of 100 years ago as an argument for how easy it would be. Today the Europeans could use large numbers of cheap drones to sweep across bodies of water. It would not be hard at all.

Sarrazin says the media cows people into silence.

Die Zeit: Do you believe that a majority would support the policy you describe? Germans’ willingness to help speaks against that.

Thilo Sarrazin: I believe that a powerful, opinionated pressure on this question has been created by the emotional and completely one-sided reporting of the media, above all television. I have the impression that most people no longer have the self-confidence to express their feared and opinions. I can only say one thing: There is a great, unexpressed rage and a very great frustration which is by no means limited to Saxony.

Its not limited to Germany either.

This problem is going to escalate. If the Europeans do not do as Sarrazin suggests the rate of migration will go up by an order of magnitude and then by another order of magnitude. Hundreds of thousands of people per day is certainly possible given the billions of people who would like to move from poorer to richer countries. Even the New York Times admits the mass migration crisis can get much worse.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 07 12:17 PM 
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2015 November 01 Sunday
Afghans Headed For Europe

Word of Angela Merkel's welcoming stance is having its expected result. People are leaving Afghanistan heading for Europe. Current rate works out to 1 million per year.

About 3,000 Afghans are now coming into Iran every day illegally. From there, they continue to Turkey, where they board boats to the Greek islands of Lesbos or Kos and then cross the Balkans to Northern Europe.

This will drive much higher chain migration as Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, and people from assorted African countries send money for their relatives to come in even larger numbers. Border barriers would stop it.

The Gray Lady thinks it may get worse. Of course it will get worse. Way worse. Border barriers could stop it. But the elites are opposed.

By Randall Parker 2015 November 01 12:41 PM 
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