Monday, September 26, 2016

You Might be Right Wing if…

According to German magazine Baby & Family (and as reported by Breitbart), you might be right-wing if…

…your family is “inconspicuous, blond, cute and engaged”
…your family is “nice and dedicated”
…your family seems normal.
…you meet with other parents in the playground.
…you put their children in daycare
…you have children who are “very obedient” and might not talk much.
…you instill self-confidence in your progeny.
…you hope that your “offspring will later confidently carry their ideology into the world”.
…you teach your own values
…you teach values that are “strongly geared at Germanic customs and traditions”.
…if there are usually no American logos on the parents’ clothing.
…if your daughter has “accurate braids and long skirts”

Is right-wing bad, dangerous?

…such people are just as dangerous if not more so as gangs of Nazi skinheads.


In Germany you might be right-wing if you are…German.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The War Party

I learned of the following from the recent interview of Stephen F. Cohen by John Batchelor:

WASHINGTON — The agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry announced with Russia to reduce the killing in Syria has widened an increasingly public divide between Mr. Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who has deep reservations about the plan for American and Russian forces to jointly target terrorist groups.

On Tuesday at the Pentagon, officials would not even agree that if a cessation of violence in Syria held for seven days — the initial part of the deal — the Defense Department would put in place its part of the agreement on the eighth day: an extraordinary collaboration between the United States and Russia that calls for the American military to share information with Moscow on Islamic State targets in Syria. (Emphasis added.)

Consider the brazenness of the italicized statement – the “Commander-in-Chief,” as represented by his secretary of state, cannot even command those over who he is supposed to be in chief. 

Consider that the New York Times did not challenge the statement.

As if to demonstrate that the Pentagon’s “reservations” had teeth, a few days later, the US military mistakenly bombed the Syrian army, killing dozens and wounding scores more – an event to which the US has admitted fault. 

Shortly thereafter, the US accused Russia of bombing a UN aid convoy – an event for which Russia has not admitted fault and for which the US has offered no evidence (to my knowledge), but providing evidence would seem simple enough to do given the 24 / 7 surveillance of the entire region.

Reuters news agency quoted two US officials as saying two Russian Sukhoi SU-24 warplanes were in the sky above the aid convoy at the precise time it was struck.

“There are only three parties that fly in Syria: the coalition, the Russians and the Syrian regime. It was not the coalition. We don’t fly over Aleppo. We have no reason to. We strike only Isis, and Isis is not there. We would leave it to the Russians and the Syrian regime to explain their actions,” said Capt Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. (Emphasis added.)

Well, the US strikes only ISIS except when it doesn’t….

As if to emphasize the split within the war party:

The White House and state department said they could not confirm the allegations….

We do know who was responsible for bombing a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital recently.

It is becoming more blatantly obvious who is and isn’t in charge in the US government.  If this wasn’t obvious in November, 1963, it cannot be ignored today.

Well, except by the New York Times.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The New York Times Just Guaranteed a Trump Victory!

Believe it or not; I read it myself in the Gray Lady of newspaper records (or some such nickname).

Don’t believe me?  Straight from the editorial board of that august fish-warp…err…journal:

Hillary Clinton for President
Our endorsement is rooted in respect for her intellect, experience and courage.

The editorial board goes on to list one hundred problems in the world, problems which – they believe – Hillary is eminently qualified to solve.  The Times editorial board neglects to mention that Hillary’s fingerprints are to be found behind precisely 98 of those 100 problems (yes, I counted…not).

The editorial board does not spare a pointed attack on Hillary’s untrustworthy character:

Similarly, Mrs. Clinton’s occasional missteps, combined with attacks on her trustworthiness, have distorted perceptions of her character.

See?  It’s all one big distortion!

Anyway, there you have it. 

Trump wins.

Freedom for All?

Indulge me….

Salvation is being saved or protected from harm or being saved or delivered from some dire situation.  In religion, salvation is stated as the saving of the soul from sin and its consequences.

The [Calvinist–Arminian] debate centers around soteriology, or the study of salvation, and includes disputes about total depravity, predestination, and atonement.

Christians influenced by Jacobus Arminius, such as Methodists, believe that while God is all-knowing and always knows what choices each person will make, he still gives them the ability to choose (or not choose) everything, regardless of whether there are any internal or external factors contributing to that choice.

Arminius argued that depraved, sinful man can choose his own eternal salvation.

Calvinist Protestants embrace the idea of predestination, namely, that God chose who would be saved and who would be not saved prior to the creation.

Calvin argued that depraved, sinful man cannot choose much of anything when it comes to eternal salvation.

So where is bionic headed?

Freedom is for Everyone

Just as Arminians believe about salvation…

So it has been suggested at this site, and often suggested by libertarians generally.  It is laughed at by others – even by advocates of libertarian theory.

Are some cultures, as opposed to others, predisposed (or pre-destined if you will) for being accepting of a generally libertarian society?  Are some cultures more conducive toward peaceful cooperation than others?  Or are all – no matter culture, background, upbringing, lifestyle – equally constitutionally fit toward freedom and liberty, all in equal portions?

My Point

I was challenged several months ago on this topic.  Are all cultures equally predisposed toward liberty?  Is a libertarian society possible absent first realizing proper cultural soil?  If not, what implications can be drawn from this?  This was in the context of immigration – why let in people who have no clue and no desire to move toward freedom?  How will this advance the possibility of realizing a libertarian society?

The struggle for me has come from my focus on the individual:

[Methodological Individualism] amounts to the claim that social phenomena must be explained by showing how they result from individual actions, which in turn must be explained through reference to the intentional states that motivate the individual actors. It involves, in other words, a commitment to the primacy of what Talcott Parsons would later call “the action frame of reference” (Parsons 1937: 43–51) in social-scientific explanation. It is also sometimes described as the claim that explanations of “macro” social phenomena must be supplied with “micro” foundations, ones that specify an action-theoretic mechanism (Alexander, 1987).

I have slowly been moving away from not really even thinking about the issue (libertarianism can sprout in any soil vs. the right soil – culture – is a necessary pre-condition), toward concluding the latter.  This week may have finally solidified my intellectual move.

The implications inherent in my moving toward this view are significant, and some quite difficult for me to fully embrace.  Not least of all is one very personal implication….

I was once strongly challenged (you might say rebuked) for my assertion that labelling people in groups is the first step toward genocide, a topic not too distant from my heart.  “You are being politically correct!!!!!” came the call.  After years of chewing on this, I have slowly come to understand the meaning of this rebuke.

In any case…culture perhaps determines the possibility of achieving a libertarian society; some cultures are more conducive toward achieving such an end than others. 

It struck me how this position is philosophically consistent with my view about salvation.  Not that this matters much….

Now I am rambling.  Enough said.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Intelligence Without Wisdom

What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

-        The Intellectual Yet Idiot, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

President Obama gave a speech at the United Nations yesterday.  I could probably stop here….


But let’s press on.  It is a speech overflowing with intelligent sounding words that reflect a total – and even corrupt – lack of wisdom; it is a speech that fools no one in the room (it isn’t really meant to, as they are more or less in on the game), and is fooling fewer and fewer people who will never be invited into the room – people like you and me:

From the depths of the greatest financial crisis of our time, we coordinated our response to avoid further catastrophe and return the global economy to growth.

A financial crisis created by the same “we” who coordinated the response that resulted in “growth” in every corner of the globe except for the corners occupied by, well, most of us.

We’ve taken away terrorist safe havens….

Except for where “we’ve” created them, like Syria, Iraq, Libya, France, Germany, Belgium, the United States….

…strengthened the nonproliferation regime…

Except for the trillion-dollar nuclear “modernization” program announced by you-know-who.

…resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy….

The single, reasonably positive, foreign policy action of the United States in the last several decades.

We opened relations with Cuba…

Is it appropriate to take credit for stopping your abuse of your wife?  Does this deserve an atta-boy?  Can you give yourself a pat on the back for this?

With these supposed positives come a few negatives:

Around the world, refugees flow across borders in flight from brutal conflict.

Conflict brought on by the “global force for good.”

Financial disruptions continue to weigh upon our workers and entire communities. 

Wait a minute.  I thought you took credit for…let me get the exact quote…“return[ing] the global economy to growth.”  What happened?  And in just a few short paragraphs?

Across vast swaths of the Middle East, basic security, basic order has broken down. 

What do Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, and Afghanistan all have in common?  Ah, yes.  They are all being made safe for democracy by the world’s exceptional nation.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Les Deplorables

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?

-          Les Misérables

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said on Friday that half the supporters of her Republican rival Donald Trump belonged in a “basket of deplorables…”

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan voiced concern that the U.S. economic and political system could be undermined by what he called “crazies.”

The deplorables…the crazies….

While I will not vouch for the character of every single Trump supporter (or whoever it is to whom Greenspan refers), the derogatory remarks by these two stalwarts of the current system are pointed in the wrong direction.

Central banking, unending wars, revolving door between Washington and New York, crony trade deals, big-business-favoring regulation, ever increasing price inflation and taxes, stagnating wages, unemployment, ever-increasing indebtedness – personal, corporate and government, lack of ability to save for retirement.

It is against these which the deplorable crazies are revolting.  Many may not articulate it this way – not even Trump – but there it is.

And the source of these?  I suggest the two of these characters look in a mirror as a starting point; from there, they can trace to the roots of their belief system.

Greenspan blames the rise of populism for the rise of the so-called “crazies.”  It would be more accurate to blame progressivism.  The funniest line from Greenspan?

…Greenspan traced the rise of populism in the U.S. all the way back to 1896, when William Jennings Bryan gave his “Cross of Gold” speech at the Democratic Party national convention opposing the gold standard.

While a slightly different slant, one can certainly point to the elite opposition to a gold standard as the prime facilitator of many of the issues causing such angst in the masses.

More from Greenspan:

“I hope we can all find a way out because this is too great a country to be undermined, by how should I say it, crazies.”

The country was undermined, and one can point to many events from 100 years ago as the beginning of the end: central banking, progressive taxation, going abroad in search of demons to destroy.  All enabled by and enabling of the system that Greenspan now laments might be “undermined.”

The system will be undermined – either by choice or by (economic) force.  On this, Greenspan makes his one true statement:

“Politically, I haven’t a clue how this comes out.”

Nor do I.  But one thing is certain: it will “come out.”

Monday, September 12, 2016

Walter Whiffs

Regarding paying library fines, Walter Block replies:

…if you don’t pay a private library fine, you’re a criminal. If you don’t pay a fine from a public library (which shouldn’t exist in the first place) you are a heroic Ragnar Danneskjold.

Maybe, maybe not.

Ragnar is a bad example; not at all applicable in the manner which Walter suggests.  I will come to why after Walter swings and misses two more times.  First, a follow-up from the questioner, MW:

Walter, You wiffed that one. If one considers the “library card” to be an agreement / contract between the borrower and the library, then one is obligated to honor the terms. It does not matter if said library is government owned or privately owned. There is an agreement in place with a penalty clause for late return of borrowed materials. The only morality involved is the honoring of the agreement. If you absolutely do not like (or hate) the library owner, then do not patronize said library. Regards, MW

The questioner understands libertarian theory better than does Walter in this case.  First, Walter’s reply:

…we’ll have to agree to disagree.  In my view, there are no valid contracts with robber gangs. It is entirely legitimate to sign a contract with one of them, and not honor it. You see governments as legitimate institutions.

There is so much gray area on this topic that it is unfortunate that Walter stooped to that last sentence.  My point is not that government is a legitimate institution, but that the puritanical contradiction is in the very first step – agreeing to take a library card (even walking on the premises).  In other words, Walter assumes much – and incorrectly – by making this accusation.

In any case, this can be Walter’s view, but this doesn’t mean it is the only possible libertarian interpretation or even that it is well-grounded in libertarian theory. 

Walter goes on to cite a passage from Rothbard – a passage that does not inform regarding the question.

So, what about Ragnar?  He recovered stolen property from those with whom he had no previous agreement.  Ragnar did not first agree to provide security for the government ship before he “recovered” the property from the ship.  Now, Walter might say this is OK; but it is a different scenario than the one presented via the library card.  As the questioner points out, the book borrower agreed to certain terms before borrowing the book.  There is a contract (and more on contracting with the government momentarily).

Further, Ragnar returned the retrieved stolen goods to the original owners – the individual taxpayers, proven via tax returns.  Walter proposes no such thing.  Instead, Walter proposes further damaging the property that – while not “owned” by the public library – is certainly owned by someone.

Is there something libertarian in this?

As to “It is entirely legitimate to sign a contract with one of them, and not honor it.”  Why?  On what basis?  I suggest it is a dangerous game for libertarians to suggest that voluntarily agreed-upon relationships are not valid.  We cannot pick and choose which voluntary agreements are to be honored…or not.  (While not directly on point, I have addressed this issue here.)

Let’s take this a step further.  What the government possesses is stolen goods – on this, we agree.  This would include books at the public library.  Once stolen, they remain stolen until returned to the rightful owner.  In other words, the borrower is borrowing stolen books.

Let’s play this out with Walter’s salary – earned at a public, taxpayer-supported, university.  Walter is certainly in receipt of stolen goods.  I guess it is OK for me to take Walter’s wallet next time I see him, move into his house, take his car for a spin around…oh, Texas.  I might even hack into his financial accounts and initiate a transfer or two – after all, I paid the taxes to support his salary.

How about Walter’s students walking into his office and taking the books from the shelves, his computer from his desk, all materials from the drawers?  Why not?  What about burning down his place of employment?  After all, the public-university does not “own” the buildings.

Walter might argue – and this time properly cite Rothbard (as I recall) – that a position such as teaching at a university is OK even if government funded, because it is both a) a profession that would surely exist in a free market and b) the government has created a virtual monopoly for those who choose to teach (I am not going to look for the cite).  He might then argue that because of this, the buildings should not be damaged either.

The same applies to a public library.  Precisely the same.

Of course, the question touches on some gray areas, as does Walter’s work as a professor in a publicly-funded university.  There is only one completely principled answer, and MW has pointed it out:

If you absolutely do not like (or hate) the library owner, then do not patronize said library.

After all, merely checking out a book places the borrower in receipt of stolen goods – stolen from the taxpayer who paid for it.  At which step of the process does “violation” occur?

Therefore, the same can be said of Walter in his chosen profession.  There is only one perfectly principled answer: don’t teach at a publicly-funded university.

Walter, apply your interpretation of libertarian theory: quit your job.