2016 May 30 Monday
Turkey Fights Internal War With Kurds, Split With US on Syria

Good article in the New York Times: Turkey is fighting a big Kurdish insurgency within Turkey's borders. The Kurds do not want to be ruled by the Turks any more than they want to be ruled by the Arabs or Persians. The Kurds have become more nationalistic and determined to achieve independence.

Turkey is, in theory, America's ally. I say in theory because in practice that's not really true any more. National interests of Turkey and the United States have diverged for a variety of reasons, notably including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the shift of Turkey away from secular nationalism toward Turkish Islamic nationalism. In Syria Turkey prioritizes the overthrow of Assad's government. But the United States sees ISIS/Daesh as the big threat because ISIS has carried out terrorist attacks in Europe. These attacks have been made possible, of course, by lax immigration law enforcement followed by Angela Merkel's insane invitation for masses of Middle Easterners to deluge Europe.

But back to Turkey: the Kurds do not want to be ruled by the Turks. The Turks do not want to give up a piece of their country (or at least the leaders of the Turks feel that way). How is this going to resolve? Are the Turks just going to grind down the Kurds and kill large numbers until they take back control of all Kurdish towns and cities?

Will Kurds flee Turkey for the Kurdish zones of Syria and Iraq? Will that enable the Kurds to capture even more of Syria and Iraq?

It is my impression that Kurds are more fertile than Turks. Will the Kurds eventually (thinking decades) be able to carve off a piece of Turkey to make part of Kurdistan? Also, will Kurdish Iraq remain a separate state from Kurdish Syria? Will the Syrian Kurdistan become more feminist and secular due to PKK influence?

In the short to medium term the United States has the problem that its interests and Turkey's interests are diverging in Syria. Factions that the United States wants to bomb are factions that Turkey (and even Saudi Arabia) want to support. Can Turkey prop up al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra Front against American or Russian bombing? What about Ahrar ash-Sham? It is supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia while allied with Nusra. Russia bombs it. Is the United States being ambiguous about it because American policy makers want to pretend that Saudi Arabia is our ally?

The only somewhat secular factions in Syria are Assad's government and the Kurds. Salafists dominate the remaining big players. What is the US position toward these Salafists? What do Washington DC players see as a winning scenario for US interests? It is really hard to tell. I wonder if they know themselves. I suspect not.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 30 04:53 PM 
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2016 May 29 Sunday
Bernie Sanders Has Praised Castro, Sandinistas

Hey, its totally unfair to claim that Bernie Sanders only likes Scandinavian socialism. Lets not do that any more. Here's why: When Bernie Sanders Thought Castro and the Sandinistas Could Teach America a Lesson

As mayor of Burlington, Sanders praised the regimes of Nicaragua and Cuba—claiming bread lines were a sign of economic health and press censorship was necessary in wartime.

What about Venezuela? As I see it Venezuela has a big upside: Suppose you want to do intermittent fasting to turn up autophagy (where your body tears down old worn intracellular components) as an anti-aging strategy. Well, you might not have the willpower to pull it off. Plus, you need to be able to concentrate on a full stomach at work. Well, food is hard to get in Venezuela and people are getting lots of extra days off to save electricity. Plus, just sitting in food lines takes many hours. These conditions are highly conducive to intermittent fasting.

What about the voters of Burlington Vermont? What's with them? I think they need to go live in Cuba or, even better, Venezuela for a few months. North Korea would be good too.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 29 10:21 PM 
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Why People Support Trump

A 22 year old Trump supporter living near SF explains to Conor Friedersdorf why he's switched from Libertarian voter to Trump supporter:

For me personally, it's resistance against what San Francisco has been, and what I see the country becoming, in the form of ultra-PC culture. That’s where it's almost impossible to have polite or constructive political discussion. Disagreement gets you labeled fascist, racist, bigoted, etc. It can provoke a reaction so intense that you’re suddenly an unperson to an acquaintance or friend. There is no saying “Hey, I disagree with you,” it's just instant shunning.

This guy makes the point that the election is about whether PC speech control will continue to go up under Hillary or get attacked by a sitting president. I'm much preferring the latter.

In August 2015 Friedersdorf published 30 views of Trump supporters. Lots of different motivations including strong opposition to political correctness. The sense that Trump will fight for his supporters looms large.

“Trump has never lied to me whereas all of the other Republican politicians (like McConnell & Boehner) have. They don’t fight for my side. Nobody fights for my side. Trump fights. Trump wins. I want an Alpha Male who is going to take it to the enemy. I am tired of supporting losers.”

For a long time the Republican base has been tools for the Republican elite. The base (and quite a few independents and Democrats) is sick of that. They want to back a winner who will work for them.

Another recent Friedersdorf piece on Trump is an interview with a gossip columnist who used to deal with Trump extensively back in the 1990s. The interview brings out Trump's extraordinary skill at managing the media and shaping his image. Hillary Clinton and her managers are clearly not in his league.

T.A. Frank has a couple of pieces in Vanity Fair that further explain Trump's appeal: The One Issue That Could Destroy Hillary Clinton (immigration of course) and Why Democrats Are Becoming the Party of the 1 Percent (because the 1% insanely favor open borders).

This has been a fascinating election so far. Populists came along with enough talent to motivate the disgruntled masses. Bernie Sanders has only limited skills at appealing to the dissatisfied. But they are sufficiently dissatisfied that he's made Hillary's job of getting the Democratic nomination much harder (it helps she's got something like negative charisma too). On the Republican side the master persuader is sucking in all the media attention and mobilizing a lot of people who wouldn't even vote normally (given that both parties are against them). So this election has just gone off in directions I did not foresee. Have a look at the links above if you want a better understanding of why this election is so different than normal.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 29 08:33 PM 
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2016 May 28 Saturday
In Venezuela Suburb Brownish Colored Water Comes Once Per Week

Venezuela keeps getting worse. The Venezuelan people should rise up and overthrow the socialists. Venezuela is shutting down. The government stores that sell well below market prices create incentives that make the situation much worse. People are quitting productive jobs to work as black market traders. The government has damaged the economy in numerous ways and is run by paranoid Marxists who think the CIA is to blame, not their own destructive policies.

The opposition won a majority of the national legislature. But the government put people on their supreme court who vote to strike down laws passed by the legislature.

How would you like to live in a country where you get water one day a week? Where the government shuts down 2 days a week to save electricity? Where schools shut down part of the time to save electricity? This is crazy. But the Venezuelan people are still too foolish and have still not risen up to overthrow their government.

Socialism is failing in Venezuela. A socialist, Bernie Sanders, is running for president of the United States.. Bernie Sanders does not want to discuss the failure of socialism in Venezuela.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 28 08:38 AM 
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2016 May 17 Tuesday
Andrew Sullivan Complains About Trump

Andrew Sullivan complains at length about Donald Trump: America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny

It was increasingly hard not to see in Plato’s vision a murky reflection of our own hyperdemocratic times and in Trump a demagogic, tyrannical character plucked directly out of one of the first books about politics ever written.

On the other hand, Sullivan sees the intensifying craziness of the progressives.

For the white working class, having had their morals roundly mocked, their religion deemed primitive, and their economic prospects decimated, now find their very gender and race, indeed the very way they talk about reality, described as a kind of problem for the nation to overcome. This is just one aspect of what Trump has masterfully signaled as “political correctness” run amok, or what might be better described as the newly rigid progressive passion for racial and sexual equality of outcome, rather than the liberal aspiration to mere equality of opportunity.

He goes on to describe how the white lower classes are vilified by progressives who are much higher up in the status and income hierarchy.

Much of the newly energized left has come to see the white working class not as allies but primarily as bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes, thereby condemning those often at the near-bottom rung of the economy to the bottom rung of the culture as well. A struggling white man in the heartland is now told to “check his privilege” by students at Ivy League colleges.

Well Mr. Sullivan, the progressives are only getting worse. GOPe figures cower before the progressives and offer little substantial opposition to their insanity. I say a charismatic figure is needed as a weapon against the progressives and Trump is the only one who has arisen. Nothing less will fight back effectively and the insanity (e.g. open borders, and the latest Title IX insanity: little boys going to the little girl's lavatory) keeps getting worse. We can count on the MSM to take the side of progressives no matter how insane they get.

Sullivan complains that Trump supporters are violent. Wait a second. Opponents of Trump literally block roads to Trump rallies. Trump opponents try to disrupt Trump rallies. Trump opponents physically attack Trump supporters. The Trump supporters get angry about this and Sullivan ignores their legitimate grievances - morally delegitimizing them just like the progressives do.

Sullivan goes on to vent at length about Trump. He should put so much effort into venting against the progressives and propose another way to stop them. I think Trump is reasonable compared to Sullivan.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 17 06:14 PM 
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Criminal Kids Become Jihadists In Netherlands

Kids who go off to jihad do crime first. If this is true the implications are very important.

But Martien Kuitenbrouwer, a former mayor of West Amsterdam, who has investigated radicalization for the past decade, said years of paying close attention to the Muslim community had yielded some valuable insights about who becomes an extremist and why. Criminality and jihadism “are part of the same stick,” she said. “Nearly all the kids who go to Syria have a background in crime.”

I'd like to see systematic gathering of evidence on this question combined with psychometric and genetic testing.

Biosocial criminality researcher Brian Boutwell argues that genes play a large role in causing criminal behavior. These kids who become jihadists are, on average, genetically different than kids from the same ethnic group who do not become criminals or jihadists. If we knew the genetic locations responsible for these differences we could predict who was more likely to become criminals or jihadists.

By contrast, blaming the behavior of children on parenting practices is usually wrong. Its what the parents gave the kids at the moment of conception that matters the most.

There's still a role for environment, at least for jihad. If the kids weren't raised as Muslims it would not occur to them to become jihadists. Though they'd still become criminals.

Kids who sneak off to Syria and get killed by Russian or American smart bombs or by Kurdish women fighters are kids who are lowering the future crime rates of France, the Netherlands, and other countries of origin.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 17 04:10 AM 
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2016 May 16 Monday
No Medicines, Broken Machines In Venezuela Hospitals

What is happening in Venezuela is a horror story. Read it. Imagine a hospital that no longer has running water, let alone soap. In government hospitals the death rate of babies has risen over two orders of magnitude. Entrepreneurs are getting shafted. If your factory union forces you to buy toilet paper on the black market you'll go to jail. I think of Atlas Shrugged. Venezuela has become totally dysfunctional.

President Nicolás Maduro must be dumb. How else to explain the large number of appallingly stupid things the Venezuelan government does?

What I do not understand: Why haven't the Venezuelans risen up in revolt? Even though the lower classes are probably not bright enough to understand what has gone wrong I would at least expect them a lash out in anger sufficient to overthrown the government. But no. Not so far.

If I was king of the world I'd carve out a piece of Latin America for more talented Latin Americans and let them flee to this paradise while keeping out the rest of the population.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 16 03:14 PM 
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2016 May 10 Tuesday
Preppers Buying More Property

Sales are up for many kinds of prepper products.

Likewise, sales at bunker builder Rising S Co. have never been better. They shot up 20% to 25% over the past two years for the radiation-resistant shelters, which can be sunk 33 feet underground and tricked out with gyms, greenhouses, and water filtration systems...

I do not buy the political instability argument for building remote second homes that can function off-grid. Maybe another Carrington Event is reason to prepare. Maybe a massive killer pandemic. But economic depression? Doesn't seem like a reason to move to a remote area even if the depression happens. There'll still be an economy and specialization of labor will remain a huge benefit of civilization. So I'm not seeing it.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 10 10:21 PM 
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The Neoconservative Brand Is Dead

Peggy Noonan on the #NeverTrump neocons:

"If it is a rebuilding, on what grounds do the NeverTrump forces think it will be rebuilt? As a neoconservative, functionally open-borders, slash-the-entitlements party? I am not sure, whatever happens in 2016, that there will ever again be a market for that product."

She left out "overthrow Muslim country governments" as a key part of the discredited product with "and pay to take in the resulting refugees" as another key part that is especially popular with the crazy woman who runs Germany.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is dismayed by the resulting populism. But Mitt chose open borders guy Paul Ryan as his presidential running mate. So fixing America has to involve changes that make Mitt Romney unhappy.

In another sign that our elites are not on the same side as us: Former Facebook workers say Facebook routinely suppressed conservative views. Consider what that article says the next time you think about using Facebook.

If Donald Trump wins this fall then not only will the Clintons and Obama's legacy be repudiated but also Dubya's as well. Their legacies are in need of repudiation. Hoping it will happen.

By Randall Parker 2016 May 10 09:47 PM 
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