NꙮW WITH MꙮRE MULTIꙮCULAR ꙮ

Open Thread 76.75

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit, the SSC Discord server, or the Cafe Chesscourt forum.

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959 Responses to Open Thread 76.75

  1. Said Achmiz says:

    I made this:

    https://www.readthesequences.com

    It’s Rationality: AI to Zombies (a.k.a. “the Sequences”), in an easy-to-read and mobile-friendly web format.

  2. Salentino says:

    What is the general opinion here regarding psychedelics? Are they capable of life-changing PTSD-curing results as claimed by MAPS and other organisations?

    • WashedOut says:

      I can offer my personal experience with psychedelics and some [citation needed]-inferences based on some reading on the subject. I have no direct personal experience with PTSD or any mental disorder.

      The most potent psychedelic I have experience with is taking acid, which i’ve done twice. It was an extremely powerful experience and one I don’t think my brain can handle going through again. I clearly felt that my brain had been altered even after the trip ended, and even now (about 5 years later) I attribute noticeable changes in my personality to the trip. I used to be very introverted and harbour a distaste for humanity which bordered on nihilistic. My personality changed – lower in neuroticism and higher in openness (measured subjectively).

      The reading i’ve done around MDMA is that in controlled studies participants were one standard deviation higher in openness after taking the drug. I’ve done MDMA plenty of times also, and can vouch for these effects, although your mileage may vary.

      As an engineer/scientist I took a very formal approach to experimental drug use and kept detailed logs of my real-time experiences. If you’re interested I can summarise these experiences for you, but if I understand anything about psychedelics is that the effects are highly dependent on your state of mind going into the trip, so again YMMV.

      Regarding PTSD, I’ve heard from clinical psychologists that people with PTSD tend to need to develop a very sophisticated concept of “good and evil” in order to overcome their condition. Jordan Peterson has a lot to say on this subject, and his lectures are available on youtube. Perhaps psychedelics would pull different levers to clinical therapy, instead working by alleviating the anxiety component as a result of lowering neuroticism, which as I said earlier has been my experience.

      • Salentino says:

        Thank you. That was a very interesting comment that people with PTSD tend to need to develop a very sophisticated concept of “good and evil” in order to overcome their condition. I hadn’t heard that idea before.

    • Cheese says:

      TBH it has been a while since I looked at the literature but I don’t recall the MAPS-papers necessarily claiming life-changing results. So full disclaimer here that i’m pulling a lot of half-remembered shit out of my arse. However from what I recall they tended to acknowledge the low n and blinding difficulties, in the papers that is, not necessarily the pop-sci literature reporting on it.

      I think the results were fairly encouraging in terms of effect size but there’s the matter of very, very low n’s. The biological and psychological mechanisms seem to make a lot of sense so really it is just a matter of waiting for replication in a larger group.

      From a personal perspective I tend to think that certain psychs have a lot of potential in that respect, and I think that in the proper context they could be useful. I struggle to see them as a ‘cure-all’ which is claimed by a lot of the weird units that tend to advocate for immediate application. But in terms of lowering barriers in very difficult psychotherapy, yeah fully on board with them as potential adjuvants. Specific to MDMA, I think that the literature around potential harms has gotten a touch stronger over the last ~5 years, but i’m still personally happy with occasional moderate recreational use. LSD/psylocybin wise, i’m not as familiar with the research but I think there’s reasonable potential there for use in a similar manner. Not as standalone therapy however.

      • Salentino says:

        Thank you. I have read that LSD is very safe, psylocybin also very safe. My own experience was with iboga, which is definitely considered not very safe! However, this may be due to the fact that it is most commonly used to help heroin addiction, and so many of the people who take are already in very poor health.

        Personally I found it ‘miraculous’ in terms of how well I felt afterwards. I didn’t believe it was possible to feel so good, and realised afterwards that I had normalised levels of anxiety and angst. I attribute some of this to an experience I had during the trip where I relived a traumatic childhood incident, and witnessed it leaving my body (in a very physical sense). This effects of this change have been permanent too, as in a few years later I still feel those benefits. And all this from a single session.

        Rick Dobbins of MAPS talks about the importance of “coming out” about psychedelic usage, making the comparison to public attitudes towards homosexuality changing over a short few decades through the normalisation of celebrity coming out. I still sense a taboo over discussion of drug usage among many of my peers (possibly because it is illegal!)

    • I’ve taken LSD, 2CB and Psilocybin via mushrooms about 15 times in total.

      The first two can lead to extremely intense experiences that are impossible to put in words. You sort of feel like there is this new way of perceiving world/having feelings/being conscious.

      I can definitely see how this kind of experience forces someone to reevaluate their choices in the same way that some events make people flip on the God question. People usually try to infer too much from their trips and treat them like mystical prophecies when they are largely just very surreal dreams.

      So yeah, I guess it can have life-changing effects in a similar way that any emotionally extreme event can. I think it is less likely if you are rationally grounded and realise that, for example, the shared consciousness you experienced was just an illusion and not an aspect of reality that is normally hidden.

      I didn’t not expect such extreme long lasting changes. However, the experience definitely convinced me how fragile rationality is, how a small amount of chemical can make all of your models unusable (temporarily). After taking it, I appreciate a lot more that people are just slaves to their chemistry, e.g. some people cannot help being too emotional because of hormones.

      In a way I probably am more open to crazy ideas. In the sense that I understand how someone can be 100% sure that aliens built pyramids or whatever. During trips I temporarily believed pretty mad things. Importantly, the experience did not convince me to start believing these things. Only to appreciate what cognitive failure can lead to those beliefs. Many LSD-taking people do become religious (i.e. evidence resilient) on silly issues — but it might that it’s just tapping in their inclinations to believe things without evidence — I imagine many transformative religious experiences would be able to make them behave this way.

      Mushrooms are insignificant in comparison.

      With all that said people react very differently to LSD (from my observations). My trips are always algorithmic, often about recursions or weird loops, universe actually being a simulation and me having strong evidence for it, consciousness being the only thing that actually exists or me being a Boltzmann brain, etc. Usually introverted philosopher-types particularly enjoy psychedelics (enjoy is probably a wrong word, the experience is not guaranteed to be pleasant (cf.
      MDMA) — it is usually interesting…)

      Overall, I do think it makes you appreciate some things more. I tend to treat it as a crazy roller-coaster ride rather than a transformative experience with some subconscious goal.

      PS. The times I was most scared in my life was on psychedelics. I still feel slightly agitated when I try to recall the particular feelings I had. Not sure if an extreme trip could actually trigger PTSD in someone.

      • Salentino says:

        Thank you, that was a fascinating answer. As you can see in my reply to Cheese above, my experience of healing with psychedelics (iboga in my case) amounted to quite a bit more than merely reevaluating my choices – it was a deeply felt cathartic release. I’ve actually had cathartic physical emotional releases before during various body-based therapies, but this was so profoundly strong, and with immediate impact on daily felt sense of self. Afterwards I described it to people as a sense of rebirth, as though I had somehow “reset” years of accumulated experience and trauma, if that makes any sense.

    • J Milne says:

      I’ve taken large doses of acid twice, having ~8-12hr long trips, and small doses about 5 other times when going to music events. I’d like to add to what others are saying about it causing permanent changes in the way you think. I did not know this before taking it, and probably wouldn’t have taken it if I did. That’s not to say that I regret it, but it’s something that would make me resistant to my partner deciding to take some.

    • Personal opinion: If you self-classify as being at all of the type neurotic/anxious/stressed/depressed (really, any negative neuro-traits). Strongly consider just abstaining from these types of drugs. And I double this recommendation for research chemicals or synthesized chemicals. You have no idea who synthed your chemicals, and ingesting them is already risky enough.

    • biblicalsausage says:

      It would not surprise me if someone found LSD useful for PTSD. I found it useful when I was struggling with pretty serious depression about five years ago. I don’t know if I’m better because of the LSD — causality is hard to establish — but I felt like I experienced something like seeing through the unnecessary obsessive negative mental chatter I used to struggle with. My life has been a lot better since then.

      On the other hand, I’m not saying it’s necessarily a great idea. I tried it a few more times and found the later trips terrifying. I didn’t find them destabilizing afterwards, but it’s not impossible for me to imagine LSD having a negative effect on mental health. I decided not to touch the stuff any more as a result. Now I meditate instead. While meditating is not usually a mind-blowing experience the way LSD was, my (incredibly unscientific) impression is that the positive sorts of insights available with LSD are available through meditation.

      Of course, your mileage may vary. If I ever have a major depressive episode again, I don’t think I’ll mess with psychedelics. My plan is to go find a psychologist or a psychiatrist if I’m ever in a mental crisis again.

      I’ve been fine so far, but I do know that statistically the odds of a recurrence are high for depression.

  3. thepenforests says:

    [copied from the last thread]

    Any estimates for what the equivalent page length for Unsong might be if it were a book? Just a rough estimate would do, based on word count or whatever. For that matter, even the word count would be helpful.

    (I keep track of every book I read in a spreadsheet, and I can’t stand to leave a column blank)

    (Also: holy crap Unsong was amazing. Congrats Scott!)

  4. bean says:

    Today is the 101st anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, and as such, I will be writing the first of what I expect to be several posts on it. (Series index)

    Jutland: Strategic Background
    The Battle of Jutland, the greatest clash of dreadnoughts in history, was fought on May 31st and June 1st, 1916. This was the titanic clash of the British and German fleets that both sides had been waiting for since the outbreak of war.

    At the beginning of the war, both sides had known that the primary use of seapower would be to interdict the enemy’s trade. The British did this by declaring a blockade, and searching any ship that tried to enter the North Sea, while the Germans initially dispatched commerce raiders against the British. These were quickly hunted down, which lead to the switch to submarines.

    The British blockade proved very effective, and the restrictions it imposed on the German economy were vital to the eventual Allied victory. However, it relied heavily on converted merchant ships to do the actual inspection, and they would have been easy prey for the Germans in the event that the British fleet was destroyed.

    The primary German force was the High Seas Fleet, based in Wilhelmshaven, on the North Sea coast of Germany, to the west of Denmark. The British based their main body, the Grand Fleet, in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland, while their battlecruisers were based out of Rosyth, not far from Edinburgh, in southern Scotland. They were positioned there to make it easier to intercept any attempt by the Germans to repeat their earlier battlecruiser raids on the British coast. These raids were often covered by the entire High Seas Fleet, in an attempt to trap detachments of the British fleet, wearing it down until it could be defeated in battle. So far, the Germans had done fairly minimal damage to the British coast, and had been unable to bring the British fleet to action. The British had likewise been unable to do significant damage to the Germans, the biggest ship lost so far in the North Sea being the German semi-battlecruiser Blucher at the Battle of Dogger Bank. Everyone was getting tired of running aimlessly around the North Sea, and wanted action.

    While the advantages for the Germans in the event of a British defeat are obvious, there would have been substantial advantages to the British in the event of a victory, too. There had long been advocates of a ‘Baltic Strategy’ in the RN, the idea of landing a force on the Baltic coast of Germany. However, it had been considered too risky with the German fleet still active, capable of either appearing behind them in the Skaggerak or transiting the Kiel Canal and coming from the side. That said, the main advocate of the Baltic Strategy was Jackie Fisher, who had many ideas, some very good (HMS Dreadnought) and some very bad (HMS Incomparable). A more likely result would have been the British running convoys through the Baltic to St. Petersburg, which would have greatly increased the British ability to supply Russia. The follow-on effects of that (and the potential for early British intervention in the Russian Revolutions) are massive, but outside the scope of this post.

    Jutland: Forces and Commanders
    The prime British battle force was the Grand Fleet, under the command of Admiral Sir John Rushworth Jellicoe. Jellicoe was one of the RN’s leading gunnery officers who had served, among other posts, as the second-in-command of HMS Victoria, a senior officer in the relief force raised during the Boxer Rebellion (during which time he was badly wounded), Director of Naval Ordnance (and one of Dreyer’s leading supporters in his battle with Pollen) and Third Sea Lord (the officer in charge of ship and equipment procurement). On the outbreak of War, Churchill appointed him to command of the Grand Fleet. Jellicoe was a cautious officer from a middle-class background.
    The Grand Fleet itself had 28 dreadnought battleships at Jutland, out of the 32 assigned to it at that time. (3 of the remaining 4 were in dry dock, while the last, Royal Sovereign, had been in commission only 3 weeks.) There were 6 ships with 15 in guns, 1 with 14 in, 11 with 13.5 in and 10 with 12 in, a total broadside of approximately 400,000 lb.

    The British Battlecruisers were a separate unit, under the command of Vice Admiral Sir David Richard Beatty. Beatty was a very different man from Jellicoe, flamboyant, ambitious and obsessed with his own legend. He had risen rapidly through the ranks, and distinguished himself in the Sudan, fighting in the Battle of Omdurman. He also took part in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion, and was wounded, although not as severely as Jellicoe. His career afterwards was somewhat less distinguished, as he turned down a post as second-in-command of the Atlantic Fleet on the urging of his wife, which nearly forced him to retire. His career was saved by Churchill, who had met him in the Sudan, and who put him in charge of the battlecruisers.
    Under normal circumstances, Beatty would have had 10 battlecruisers, but he went into action with only 6. One was in drydock following a collision, while three others had been detatched for gunnery training. To replace them, Beatty had been given the 5th Battle Squadron, composed of four Queen Elizabeth-class battleships, the most powerful ships afloat. They were capable of 24 kts, as opposed to 21 for most of the British battleships and 25-28 for the battlecruisers. (These 4 are also counted as part of the 28 that Jellicoe had, as they rejoined his fleet partway through the action.)

    The main body of the High Seas Fleet was commanded by Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer, a torpedo specialist known as ‘the man in the iron mask’ for his strict discipline. His career was less colorful than those of his British opponents, and he was the third wartime commander of the High Seas Fleet, after his predecessors, Friedrich von Ingenohl and Hugo von Paul had been replaced for being too cautious.
    He had only 16 dreadnoughts, along with 6 pre-dreadnoughts brought along to bolster the fleet. This was all of the ships available to him, although they suffered in comparison to the British fleet, having a total broadside weight of approximately 200,000 lb, and no guns larger than 12 in.

    Like the British, the Germans separated their battlecruisers, into a force called the I Scouting Group under Franz von Hipper. Hipper, another torpedo officer, was unusual in that he had avoided almost all formal military schooling and staff positions during this rise to Flag Rank. He had become friends with the Kaiser, which helped a lot. He was placed in command of the I Scouting Group in 1913.
    The Scouting Group itself had only 5 ships, like their battleship brethern, somewhat underarmed relative to their opponents, but significantly better protected.

    • Vermillion says:

      I’m really looking forward to this series, thanks for writing it up Bean!

      • bean says:

        You’re most welcome.
        On a meta note, it seems like every time I write something up and thing ‘this is good, and will get a good discussion going’, I get next to no response. When I write one that’s OK, I get lots of comments. I should probably assume that the former is a result of me doing a good job of writing and answering all the questions preemptively, but it’s a lot harder to judge that on the internet than in-person.

        • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

          For what it’s worth, I read every single post with pleasure. I don’t hardly comment on the website at all, though. Just assume every post of yours comes with a gushing fount of praise from me, at least.

        • Dissonant Cognizance says:

          Keep in mind the 90/10 rule, or whatever the actual name is, where you have 10x more silent lurkers than commenters.

          I, for one, eagerly devour these posts every OT but can never think of anything to contribute to the discussion.

          • bean says:

            It’s not even that, so much as the fact that my predictions on which posts will produce discussion are so bad.

        • gbdub says:

          FWIW, I liked this write up but didn’t respond because my questions about Jutland were more about the later phases of the battle and I didn’t want to spoil it.

    • habu71 says:

      Has anyone here listed to Dan Carlin’s version of Jutland?
      It was really good.

    • dndnrsn says:

      (I think probably the reason here there is/was little discussion is that this is obviously a “setting the stage” post – there’s not much to discuss, but I’ve got one dumb throwaway line)

      So, the big event that everyone was looking forward to as important turned out to be an ugly, confusing stalemate. It’s almost as though it was a metaphor or something.

  5. rahien.din says:

    One of the reasons why I like coming here is because of all the conservative voices. I’m more of a classical liberal myself and in the hypercurated bubble that is built for/by each of us, I’m exposed entirely to left-leaning voices.

    I have conservative friends and family members IRL, but it’s hard to engage them in a serious discussion without “winning” being a feature thereof. Some of them are genuinely (and endearingly) befuddled when they find I believe certain liberal things, despite being smart and conscientious (at least insofar as they think I am). It’s a serious barrier to learning more about genuine conservative thinking : either I am the opponent, or it is baffling how I could be on the opponent’s side.

    I want to learn more about modern conservatism. To that end, I want to ask specific questions, and I’m hoping you will answer. If there’s an obvious follow-up question, or I need clarification, I will ask other questions. Otherwise, my default setting is shut up and listen. I will try this out several times in culture-war-permitted open threads.

    I would ask two favors, because if this erupts into a massively multiplayer online mutual blowtorching, I will not learn anything and might get banhammered. Firstly, Red Tribers : I think it would be easiest to learn from conservative ideas allowed to stand on their own, without resorting to mere opposition to liberal ideas (though, obviously, if I ask what you don’t like about a certain liberal idea, that’s unavoidable). Second, Blue Tribers : I hope you will let any responses stand on their own, without any attempt to rebut them / pick a fight / sneer / etc. Even if you think something is flat wrong, please try to hold your peace in my subthread.

    First two questions :
    1. What would you like me to know? Plain and simple. I will ask this every time.
    2. A consistent message from my conservative friends (and from conservative media) is that Obama’s presidency was a disaster for the country. Which of Obama’s policies, philosophies, doctrines, etc., do you think have been harmful and why?

    • sidewalkProf says:

      Disclaimer: I grew up and was educated in a heavily liberal area (Massachusetts) so while I identify to the best of my ability as conservative (leaning libertarian), I’m not a prototypical conservative (and lack several of the stereotypical qualities, such as being deeply religious – I’m pretty comfortably ignostic/indifferent to religion.) That all said, I’m passionately in favor of your efforts to hear different viewpoints from your own, so will offer what I can for you to take or leave.

      1. Willpower is weak and incentives are strong. A well-understood system that incentivizes “correct” behavior is always going to be more successful than a well-intentioned but poorly understood system (with inadvertent but inevitable bad incentives.) I’d much prefer a super simple {tax plan/regulatory code/etc} – even one with obvious disadvantages, or inequality! – than a complex one, because it means
      A. We will actually be able to pinpoint the source of problems with it and talk effectively about them, rather than needing to debate extremely complex details of subtle third-order effects. (Yes, third-order effects still exist, but IMO become less important in the fact of very straightforward and large first-order effects.)
      B. Learned people have a much lower threshold of understanding to engage with the law, and can therefore more easily note definitive mistakes.
      C. Both A and B contribute to greater efficiency in updating existing laws.
      In short, I’m for an active iteration approach, rather than a just-keep-stacking-until-we’ve-plugged-all-the-holes approach.

      2. Like I said, not a prototypical conservative – while I disagreed with some of Obama’s policies, I thought he was obviously a well intentioned, reasonably pragmatic and intelligent person with intent to help the country as much as he could. I largely disagree with his approach to problems more so than their existence – global warming clearly exists and should be worried about, but I disagree with his attitude that assumes a bunch of contentious points, such as
      A. It’s possible for humans to mitigate global warming at this stage to a level of effect that matters
      B. The costs of global warming (appropriately discounted to the present) are sufficiently high that it truly is in my (and my countrymen’s) best interests to invest significantly in preventing it.
      C. The correct solution to global warming has nothing to do with recognizing we fucked up and getting off the planet. (This is probably more of a nutjob-geek attitude than a conservative one, but what the hell.)
      I could comment on other disagreements but they start to rapidly turn into something like “Obama/liberals argue this, which I think is nonsense”…I don’t mean those comments in an offensive way, but per your guidelines will refrain. Feel free to ask about specific values/policies/etc though and I’d be happy to respond!

    • John Schilling says:

      Libertarian here, not conservative, but we often get lumped into the same bucket.

      On #2, the most harmful of Obama’s polices has been the one where all of his allegedly good polices were paid for with trillion-dollar budget deficits, resulting in a twenty trillion dollar national debt. And this isn’t a generic complaint against liberals and/or Democrats; Bill Clinton gets full marks for being the only US president in the past forty-plus years to have even briefly balanced the budget. Well, OK, half marks – congress had something to do with that, as did a generally favorable economy. Barack Obama, by comparison, borrowed more money than every other US president in history combined.

      Anybody saying that this isn’t “real” debt because “we owe it to ourselves” or because it is denominated in US dollars and we can print as many of those as we like or any other such thing, is a con artist or the willing victim of a con artist. That is real debt. And it is owed to real people, who expect to be paid in money they can use to e.g. buy retirement homes in Florida at approximately the current market price. Any clever scheme we come up with for not paying them what we owe them, will have catastrophic effects.

      We have, as a nation, been living far beyond our means by paying – not for “investments” but for day-to-day expenses – on the national credit card. That card has, for the moment, an extremely low APR, but the rate is subject to change without our consent and the credit limit is undefined. Come the day when we hit that limit, the very best we can hope for are sudden austerity programs on par with what the EU has been trying to impose on Greece. More plausibly, the US government will insist that the laws of economics can be told to go away, and learn Venezuela-style that they cannot.

      So tell me all about the great things Obama has done, about how his stimulus plan brought us recovery from the crash of 2008 and how the ACA brought health insurance to twenty million Americans and whatnot. These are all good things. They’ve made life unambiguously better for many people. They are all going away. They are probably going away in your lifetime. What replaces them, will be a nightmare far worse than what we had before Obama, and it will hit hardest the very people Obama imagined he was helping.

      Closely related, would be the Obama doctrine of “You Didn’t Build That!”, the attitude that all good things stem from the direct action of the Community as channeled through the State. First, because it directly justifies the State’s trillions of dollars in deficit spending. Second, because it creates a culture of dependency that makes it all but impossible to steer away from that catastrophe and will make it much harder to recover. And third, because even in the interval when the State’s credit rating will still pay for such things, the State can only ever deliver them in evenly-spaced rectangular grids. That never ends well. For those of us who are round pegs being forced into square grids, it doesn’t even start well.

      • On #2, the most harmful of Obama’s polices has been the one where all of his allegedly good polices were paid for with trillion-dollar budget deficits, resulting in a twenty trillion dollar national debt.

        So what is the expected outcome of Obama not bailing out the banks and stimulating the economy?

        • John Schilling says:

          Depends on what he decides to do instead, but the Panic of 1873 (US edition) is a reasonable expectation for riding out a bubble-collapse with relatively little deficit-financed “stimulus”. It hurt, but it ended – and it ended with the US economy poised for a generation of unprecedented economic growth.

          Also: While the expected outcome of not bailing out the banks can vary, the expected outcome of bailing out the banks is constrained: Your banking industry will be dominated by the sort of banks that needed bailing out, and you’ve just thrown away the best opportunity you will ever have to change that.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Precisely. That these banks had gotten “too big to fail” is why they ought to have been knocked down rather than propped up.

          • Also: While the expected outcome of not bailing out the banks can vary, the expected outcome of bailing out the banks is constrained: Your banking industry will be dominated by the sort of banks that needed bailing out, and you’ve just thrown away the best opportunity you will ever have to change that.

            Allowing banks to collapse is high variance and the worst case scenario — one thing going down after another in a domino effect — is very bad indeed, and those are two very good reasons for bailouts. Trillion dollar bailouts are absolutely terrible things except when compared to the alternatives.

            Precisely. That these banks had gotten “too big to fail” is why they ought to have been knocked down rather than propped up.

            If you think that having very large financial institutions is and thing, then the rational way to deal with it is to prevent it happening on an ongoing basis, rather than wait for a crisis, then refuse to mitigate the crisis.

            (Drinking is bad, so what I should do is drink loads, and go into hospital with some kind of acute organ failure–that’ll teach me not to drink!).

          • Alex Zavoluk says:

            If you think that having very large financial institutions is and thing, then the rational way to deal with it is to prevent it happening on an ongoing basis, rather than wait for a crisis, then refuse to mitigate the crisis.

            Except bailing them out will make it vastly more difficult to prevent it from happening again, because the banks themselves have no incentive to not be as large as possible. In fact, they can effectively mitigate their risk by taking more risks and becoming larger, because that increases their chance of being bailed out!

            You *have* to let institutions fail in order for the market to work.

          • John Schilling says:

            @AncientGeek: So, basically, we need to give your guy and your chosen political philosophy a ten trillion dollar blank check, because the alternative is “high variance” and could be really bad? Never mind the historical cases where it wasn’t all that bad; they weren’t exactly the same and this time might be different?

            I am unconvinced.

          • hlynkacg says:

            …rather than wait for a crisis, then refuse to mitigate the crisis.

            I see it more as a case of drinking is bad so let’s not waste a perfectly good liver transplant on an unrepentant alcoholic when we can use it to save someone’s mother who’s dying of cancer.

            If you’re worried about the people harmed by the bank’s collapse, give the money to them not the bank. Seriously dude, which one of us is supposed to be the “leftist” here?

          • Except bailing them out will make it vastly more difficult to prevent it from happening again, because the banks themselves have no incentive to not be as large as possible/blockquote>

            You speak as though you can’t control the size of banks, through, you know legislation and stuff.

          • Nornagest says:

            You speak as though you can’t control the size of banks, through, you know legislation and stuff.

            How’s that working out for you?

          • IrishDude says:

            @TheAncientGeekAKA1Z

            You speak as though you can’t control the size of banks, through, you know legislation and stuff.

            As if politicians know the optimal size of banks…

            Markets can control the size of banks too. If banks get too big to be responsive to customers, they’ll lose business to smaller more nimble banks. If being too big leads to financial insolvency, then smaller more financially responsible banks can buy pieces of the failed bank.

            As Hayek said, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

          • @Nornagest,

            Well , the countries with stricter regulatory regimes were less affected by the 2008 meltdown, so OK I guess.

            @IrishDude

            Hlynkgca seems to know.

          • Nornagest says:

            Well , the countries with stricter regulatory regimes were less affected by the 2008 meltdown, so OK I guess.

            I was following the markets pretty closely at the time, and I remember Europe being hit harder and staying in recession longer than the US, mainly thanks to cascading bailout crises.

            But maybe you have something else in mind, in which case let’s hear it.

          • Well , the countries with stricter regulatory regimes were less affected by the 2008 meltdown, so OK I guess.

            I was following the markets pretty closely at the time, and I remember Europe being hit harder and staying in recession longer than the US, mainly thanks to cascading bailout crises.

            In Canada the banking system was … a system of large financial institutions whose size and diversification enhanced their robustness.

            When European and North American banks teetered on the brink of meltdown in 2008, requiring bailouts and extraordinary central bank intervention, Canadian banks escaped relatively unscathed. History explains why, according to co-authors Michael Bordo, Angela Redish, and Hugh Rockoff in Why Didn’t Canada Have a Banking Crisis in 2008 (or in 1930, or 1907, or …)? (NBER Working Paper No. 17312). Starting in the nineteenth century, Canada and the United States took divergent paths: Canada set up a concentrated banking system that controlled mortgage lending and investment banking under the watchful eye of a single, strong regulator. The United States allowed a weak, fragmented system to develop, with far more small (and less stable) banks, along with a shadow banking system of less-regulated securities markets, investment banks, and money market funds overseen by a group of competing regulators.

            “[T]he stability of the Canadian banking system is not a one-off event,” the authors note. “In Canada the banking system was created as a system of large financial institutions whose size and diversification enhanced their robustness…. In the [United States] the fragmented nature of the banking system created financial institutions that were small and fragile. In response the [United States] developed strong financial markets and a labyrinthine set of regulations for financial institutions.”

            Leftist

            It’s more pragmatism versus ideology than left versus right.

            Note that the US experimened with no-bailout letting Lehman collapse

            ou want to let big institutions fail? Okay, look at what happened when Lehman was allowed to go under in September 2008. (The Treasury and Fed insist there was no way to save the firm, though I wonder if they would have devised one had they not gotten tons of grief six months earlier for not letting Bear Stearns collapse.)
            Lehman’s collapse froze short-term money markets, making normal finance impossible. A run on money-market funds began when the Reserve Primary Fund, an industry pioneer, said it was “breaking the buck” because of losses on Lehman paper. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were about to fail because hedge funds and other “prime brokerage” customers began yanking their cash in response to prime brokerage assets at Lehman’s London branch being frozen.
            The federal government (including the Fed) had to front trillions of dollars and guarantee trillions of obligations — a total I calculated last year (see “Surprise! The Big Bad Bailout Is Paying Off”) at more than $14 trillion — to stop the panic.

            Note also that letting insolvent institutions collapse was the norm before the `1930s, so you are calling for the wheel to be uninvented.

          • I see it more as a case of drinking is bad so let’s not waste a perfectly good liver transplant on an unrepentant alcoholic when we can use it to save someone’s mother who’s dying of cancer.

            You are saying there is some sort of alternative financial system waiting in the wings for their chance?

            If you’re worried about the people harmed by the bank’s collapse, give the money to them not the bank.

            Allowing a domino effect to happen and then bailing out every one affected is much more expensive than propping up the first domino. I know that’s hard to believe when the cheap option is 12 digits…

        • James Miller says:

          “So what is the expected outcome of Obama not bailing out the banks and stimulating the economy?” Bond and stock holders in investment banks lose lots of money. Hedge funds take control of the profitable bits of investment banks. Much less moral hazard in the economy. America is richer, ex-politicians looking for jobs on Wall Street are poorer. Obama gets only around $100,000 per financial market speech.

        • Mr Schilling..could you explain to me why people go to all the expense of building multiple redundant systems into aeronautical vehicles….I ,was previously under the impression that it was something about avoiding unlikely but catastrophic scenarios…..

    • James Miller says:

      1) Government officials are just as likely to act in their own self-interest as business people are, but while Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand of the marketplace usually pushes business people to act in ways that benefit society, no such force acts on politicians. Most voters know so little about what is actually going on that Democracy is not much of a force pushing politicians to act in the common good, consequently it’s generally better to have decisions made in the marketplace than the political arena.

      2) He greatly increased the real national debt by increasing government health care obligations. Unless technology saves us, the United States government is not going to be able to keep its entitlement promises and will have to cut back on welfare and transfers to senior citizens.

      2) Obama looked at Western Europe’s experience with low skilled Islamic immigration and decided it was an experience that the United States should replicate.

      • Government officials are just as likely to act in their own self-interest as business people are, but while Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand of the marketplace usually pushes business people to act in ways that benefit society, no such force acts on politicians. Most voters know so little about what is actually going on that Democracy is not much of a force pushing politicians to act in the common good, consequently it’s generally better to have decisions made in the marketplace than the political arena.

        There’s a third option: elected politicians consult with experts, base most of their decision making on that, and only loosely follow the electorates wishes. In other words, you are criticising theoretical direct democracy, not actual indirect democracy.

        • Creutzer says:

          Except they don’t do that all that much, and why would they?

          • Don’t do that much where? Maybe they don’t in the US, bu then the problem would be “US anti-intellectual”, not “democracy bad”.

          • James Miller says:

            TheAncientGeekAKA1Z ,

            The problem is incentives. As Creutzer said, what incentive to politicians have to follow experts?

          • Creutzer says:

            They do it even less in Europe compared to the US, as far as I know. Clearly, democracy fails to incentivise them effectively to do it.

          • Aapje says:

            @Creutzer

            I strongly dispute that. The EU pretty clearly is run by people who consider themselves experts and who strongly resist democratic correction to their goals.

            For example, most referendums about major decisions involving the EU resulted in the EU oligarchy losing and yet, in most cases the results of these referendums was ignored.

            As an aside, my objection here is that many of these ‘experts’ are extremely ideological and ignore a lot of evidence. The ‘people’ may be less intelligent on average and not very capable of deciding what ought to happen, but they are often very capable of recognizing that the elite is ignoring some major factors. Many of the experts live in ivory towers and this makes it easy for them to ignore major downsides that don’t affect their ingroup.

            IMO, the optimal system is one where experts make policy, but they are corrected by the people. IMO, this is now evident in how economic expert organizations are now somewhat abandoning their simplistic views that more pure capitalism is good. My perception is that this change resulted from them observing that more and more people rejected their ideology and that without the ‘rage against the machine,’ they would not have thought to even examine these downsides.

          • Alex Zavoluk says:

            > For example, most referendums about major decisions involving the EU resulted in the EU oligarchy losing and yet, in most cases the results of these referendums was ignored.

            Political, social, and/or industrial elites are not the same as policy subject-matter experts.

          • albatross11 says:

            I suspect a lot of the trick here is that politicians choose which experts they want to listen to, based on what sorts of advice they’d like to receive.

          • Aapje says:

            I would argue that the ruler class tends to develop groupthink. For example, every Davos meeting seems to be dominated by a new fad.

            Ultimately, truly rational and perfect experts don’t exist and someone needs to pick the ones to listen to, as albatross11 argues. These experts can be very wrong (hello, Soviet Russia).

            Finally, political decisions often involve judgement calls, where there is no objective correct answer and/or where different terminal values have to be balanced. Technocrats have a tendency to portray their terminal values as objectively correct goals.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Where are we to find these angels in the form of consultants to govern us? Suspiciously, on most political topics where there’s an “expert” opinion one way, there’s some other bunch of “experts” with the opposite opinion, usually divided along those same political lines.

          • Kevin C. says:

            Or that driver of regulatory capture where all the experts in an industry are present or former members of that same industry?

          • What is regulatory capture supposed to be worse *than*? Voter ignorance? Handing everything over to business leaders wholesale, as per libertarianism? Or handing eveything over to a single monarch-CEO?

          • James Miller says:

            TheAncientGeekAKA1Z

            “What is regulatory capture supposed to be worse *than*? Voter ignorance?” We are going to have both. The way to reduce the harm is to give the government less power over the economy. Or, long-term, clone Lee Kuan Yew and make him dictator.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            What’s wrong with handing everything over to business leaders? They are, after all, experts.

          • Aapje says:

            Business leaders are only experts in a specific domain and even there, their expertise is not fully rounded.

          • “What is regulatory capture supposed to be worse *than*? Voter ignorance?” We are going to have both.

            To some extent, but not all quantities are equal.

            The way to reduce the harm is to give the government less power over the economy

            Ie, give businesses more power, ie create a situation that is regulatory capture writ large.

          • What’s wrong with handing everything over to business leaders? They are, after all, experts.

            If there is nothing wrong with that, there is nothing wrogn with regulatory capture, which only a lite version of the same thing. But the problem in both cases is cui bono.

          • random832 says:

            Ie, give businesses more power, ie create a situation that is regulatory capture writ large.

            The argument I normally see is that the main harmful effect of regulatory capture is that large businesses (which have the resources to survive in such an environment) will tend to encourage the government to create an impenetrable maze of regulations in order to discourage competition from smaller businesses. This means that reducing regulation does not, in fact, “give businesses more power” in so far as “businesses” refers to large businesses that benefit from difficult regulatory environments.

          • IrishDude says:

            @TheAncientGeekAKA1Z

            The way to reduce the harm is to give the government less power over the economy

            Ie, give businesses more power, ie create a situation that is regulatory capture writ large.

            Businesses get power from consumers, so reduction in government power gives more ultimate power to consumers to shape the economy. The key to the biggest businesses on earth are ones that focus on providing the consumer the best value for their dollar. See Amazon’s original shareholder letter from 1997:

            “Obsess Over Customers

            From the beginning, our focus has been on offering our customers compelling value. We realized that the Web was, and still is, the World Wide Wait. Therefore, we set out to offer customers something they simply could not get any other way, and began serving them with books. We brought them much more selection than was possible in a physical store (our store would now occupy 6 football fields), and presented it in a useful, easy-to-search, and easy-to-browse format in a store open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. We maintained a dogged focus on improving the shopping experience, and in 1997 substantially enhanced our store. We now offer customers gift certificates, 1-ClickSM shopping, and vastly more reviews, content, browsing options, and recommendation features. We dramatically lowered prices, further increasing customer value. Word of mouth remains the most powerful customer acquisition tool we have, and we are grateful for the trust our customers have placed in us. Repeat purchases and word of mouth have combined to make Amazon.com the market leader in online bookselling.”

            …and the shareholder letter from 2017:

            “True Customer Obsession
            There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.

            Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.

            Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.”

            There’s a reason Amazon is one of the biggest businesses in the world, and it comes from putting consumers’ preferences first.

          • I’ve heard the sermon, I just don’t believe it.

            The argument I normally see is that the main harmful effect of regulatory capture is that large businesses (which have the resources to survive in such an environment) will tend to encourage the government to create an impenetrable maze of regulations in order to discourage competition from smaller businesses. This means that reducing regulation does not, in fact, “give businesses more power” in so far as “businesses” refers to large businesses that benefit from difficult regulatory environments.

            Govco’s lost he ability to influence govt in favour of exercising its powers directly.

          • Nornagest says:

            Dude, I get it that you don’t like corporations, but regulatory capture has a meaning and “corporate power” isn’t it. It describes a very specific failure mode arising out of the interaction between large corporations with influence over lobbying or standards organizations, and the regulatory environment. Take away the regulatory environment and you might not like what’ll happen next, but it’s not regulatory capture by definition.

          • In further news, the Catholic church can save your soul, the Communist party can create paradise on earth, and Scientology can give you superpowers. According to their respective press releases.

        • You are ignoring the first half of the first sentence of the comment you responded to:

          “Government officials are just as likely to act in their own self-interest as business people are”

          What makes it in the self-interest of a politician or bureaucrat (or voter, for that matter) to act in the general interest, in a world where voters are rationally ignorant?

          • Ignorance of apriori means of obtaining good results is quite different from being unable to recognise good things once they have happened. Poeple do have the latter ability.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            Ignorance of apriori means of obtaining good results is quite different from being unable to recognise good things once they have happened.

            I’ll grant you that post hoc ergo propter hoc might be an improvement over the various folk theories that people use to form their opinions about the government now. Then again, it might not be.

          • Post hoc ergo propter hoc, as you calling, is also how people judge the performance of CEOs.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            To the extent that how people judge the performance of CEOs matters*, it becomes a question of how well post hoc ergo propter hoc works on them, as compared to government officials. I think the answer is “a good deal better”, since the former have a lot more control over what their company does than the latter have over what their country does. (Long may it remain so!)

            The other big difference in the two situations, I’ve already alluded to: people do not in fact generally apply post hoc ergo propter hoc to the government. Much of the rest of this subthread is evidence of that: blaming regulators for the financial crisis, far from being something everyone does as a matter of course, is something that never even seems to have occurred to most of us.

            *People forming opinions about CEO performance and acting on them arguably plays less of a role in keeping capital out of the hands of the bad ones, than does the fact that their companies lose money and thus have less capital to put into them.

      • Sandy says:

        2) Obama looked at Western Europe’s experience with low skilled Islamic immigration and decided it was an experience that the United States should replicate.

        I’m not sure how true this is for the simple reason that America doesn’t get as much low-skilled Islamic immigration as Europe does, for purely geographic reasons. Obama did, however, hold a few practically Trumpian views on illegal immigration in his autobiography that he apparently abandoned once in office.

    • commenter#1 says:

      Really more of a grey-triber but consistently vote Republican, so:

      1. Confirmation bias in the media/academia is greater than commonly acknowledged. It’s less that what the media says isn’t true than that it picks to report stories that confirm the preferred narrative.
      And to agree with the incentives point – “If men were angels, men would not need government.” – Federalist Papers. A lot of liberal economic policies seem to not think through second order effects.
      I tend to agree with most liberal social policies but I think open immigration is naive. Immigrants carry their culture with them. Some of those cultures don’t mesh well with the 21st Century.

      2. I don’t think Obama’s presidency was a “disaster” for the country in the slightest. But neither did he accomplish much. He had the (once in 3 generations) chance to truly rein in the financial sector, and instead bailed them out. The idea that it was either bailing them our or a second Great Depression is a false binary. The government could have easily bailed out the customers/counterparties of the government and not bailed out the stock/bondholders.
      He wasted that opportunity on Obamacare, which wasn’t a pressing issue for the country. This policy, which did accomplish some nice goals such as eliminating lifetime reimbursement caps, ended up creating unsustainable exchanges.

      And he needlessly got us involved with the Arab Spring. His administration got caught up in the excitement about replacing military dictatorships with Arab democracies and failed to calculate that “the people” would vote in theocrats not secular liberals. Thankfully, the Spring has died down.

      None of these are disasters for the country, and I don’t think he was a bad president. I’m very pleased he winded down our involvement in Iraq and increased CAFE standards. I believe he is given many more accolades than he deserves because he was the first black president and the media likes that story and the role they played in getting him elected.

      • rlms says:

        “His administration got caught up in the excitement about replacing military dictatorships with Arab democracies and failed to calculate that “the people” would vote in theocrats not secular liberals.”
        I don’t think that’s what happened. The only country that really turned democratic, Tunisia, elected a secularist government. The problem with the Arab Spring is that Syria and Libya ended up in civil war, and Egypt is pretty unstable. But even in those cases, the official elected Libyan government was secular, as is the current Egyptian government (although its Sisi’s 96% share of the vote is obviously dubious, as he came to power through a coup and banned Islamists from standing for election).

        • Salem says:

          That’s exactly what happened in Egypt. Egypt wasn’t at all unstable until the people voted in theocrats.

          • rlms says:

            It had a revolution just before Morsi was voted in, so I don’t think he started the instability.

          • John Schilling says:

            Egypt was a special case in that the Army was going to be holding a coup sometime in the 2010-2015 timeframe in any event and the masses of chanting protesters just gave them conveniently-timed cover. But going straight from the last designated military strongman to the next would have negated all that good PR, so the army “allowed” the people to elect an MB president who would crash and burn and make it OK for the Army to take over again.

          • Salem says:

            rlms – By that notion, every nation affected by the Arab Spring was unstable by definition. It’s extremely unhelpful.

            Egypt had been stable (in a bad way) for decades. Then, a sudden revolution turned over from a military dictatorship to a democracy, cheered by the Obama administration. The democracy elected a theocrat, and things did not go well. The army then launched a coup – also cheered by the Obama administration. Those are the facts.

            I don’t blame Obama in the least for supporting the Arab Spring, but do blame him, strongly, for supporting Sisi, so I don’t agree with commenter#1’s moral affect. But he is entirely right on the facts.

            John – I would be interested in why you think the Egyptian Army was about to hold a coup against Mubarak. Just general age/succession, or something else?

          • John Schilling says:

            Just general age/succession, or something else?

            Specific age/succession. Since the fall of King Farouk, the dominant political entity in Egypt has been the Army. The Army’s function is to defend the security and glory of the Egyptian state, and to run a commercial empire that greatly enriches the senior officer corps. The function of the civilian government is to handle everything else in a way that ensures nothing interferes with the Army. To that end, the generals delegate one of their own to trade in his uniform for a three-piece suit and serve as president. If there are political benefits to pretending Egypt is a democracy, meh, we’ve got control over ballot access and the mass media and ultimately the vote-counting.

            That’s how Hosni Mubarak came to power, but by the end of his tenure it was generally believed that he was grooming his son Gamal to succeed him, changing the de jure and de facto rules of succession to favor that son. A son who had never served in the military, and who believed that the purpose of Egypt’s civilian government was to actually govern Egypt, to institute economic reforms and to rein in the kleptocratic military.

            To the Army, that is at best a breach of faith by the elder Mubarak and a direct threat to their political and commercial interests. At worst, it is a de facto restoration of the hereditary monarchy they had to overthrow within living memory. Either way, the pre-Spring assessments I was seeing all indicated that a coup was highly likely and only the exact timing was uncertain. But the elder Mubarak was getting pretty elderly, so it was going to have to be soon.

          • rlms says:

            @Salem
            Yes, every nation affected by the Arab Spring (or at least the ones that experienced significant change) was unstable. If the situation preceding a revolution isn’t unstable, what is? See my reply to commenter#1’s second comment for more clarification of my position: I’m not saying that supporting opposition to Mubarak was sensible. But the problems are the general potential that every revolution has to turn into civil war, and the Egypt-specific problem that any regime change needed the approval of the army.

            But I disagree with the idea that fighting for democracy was inherently pointless because the Egyptians would just elect an Islamist who would seize power. They did (very narrowly) elect an Islamist, and he did try to seize power. But there was massive opposition to this, and he failed. Obviously the army’s coup was the main cause of this, but in a counterfactual universe it seems plausible that the attempt would’ve failed anyway.

            Why do you blame Obama for supporting Sisi? Do you think he’s worse than Morsi and Mubarak?

        • bintchaos says:

          sry– Tunisia elected a majority islamic gov first and then accepted the “secularism or we burn the country” argument of the opposition.
          Or the argument might have been “secularism or the US burns the country” –either would have worked.
          It amuses me that the commenters here think the Arab Spring is over… it continues in warfighting, refugees, terrorism, and general human suffering.

          • rlms says:

            What are you saying, that the majority of Tunisians are actually Islamists and the secularists only won through threats and trickery?

            If you are including the Syrian Civil War as part of the Arab Spring, I’m pretty sure most commenters are aware it is ongoing.

          • bintchaos says:

            more like polite bullying than threats or tricks.
            its called compromise.
            and not just Syria– terrorism, civil wars, islamic insurgencies all continue.
            Muslims want/deserve self-representation…it wont stop.
            I don’t think its cost-viable to suppress 1/4 of the worlds population with TeamUSA police power.
            The youth bulge in african demographics will present jihadists with a depthless pool of youth recruits.
            we are looking at an African Spring thats going to be an order of magnitude worse than the “Arab Spring”.
            Maybe we should just call it what it is– The Islamic Spring.

          • rlms says:

            Yes, there was compromise between the significant group of Islamists and the slightly larger group of secularists. That’s great! Democracy is still good, even if people with opinions you don’t like sometimes get power. The important thing is that the Islamists peacefully relinquished power. As it happens, in this case the Islamists are pretty moderate. If I can avoid viewing the 1960s UK (with its laws against blasphemy and sodomy) as an incomprehensible alien evil, I can definitely deal with people who do things like running disproportionately few female candidates. But even if Ennahdha were a Taliban clone willing to work within democratic system, that would still be pretty good.

        • commenter#1 says:

          I think you’re right on Tunisia but there are some other data points that I think you may be overlooking:
          1. The current Egyptian government is stable, but it is the result of the secular military overthrowing a democratically elected theocrat (Muslim Brotherhood). The Obama administration was actively against the military dictatorship.
          2. Saudi Arabia actively suppressed the Arab Spring uprisings both in its own territory and its neighbor Bahrain. Granted it’s a little more complicated because both governments are sympathetic/supportive to theocrats and the uprisings they were suppressing were Shia populists.
          3. Libya was a more or less stable secular dictatorship. Actively intervening to overthrow the government is what helped spark/exacerbate the massive refugee crisis in Europe today.
          4. Syria is similar to above.

          • rlms says:

            Sure, I’m not saying that the outcome of the Arab Spring in Libya and Syria (Egypt is more debatable) was good, obviously the short term impacts are pretty terrible. I’m arguing that your characterisation of the Arab Spring as overthrow dictatorships->democracy->Islamists elected is incorrect. In Tunisia, it happily went dictatorship->democracy->secularists (or more accurately a close balance of power). In Libya it went dictatorships->5 seconds of democracy->civil war. In Egypt it went dictatorship->democracy->narrow Islamist victory->coup->secularists. Syria didn’t get through the first step.

            I think my main objection is the implication that there is overwhelming support for Islamism in the relevant countries (which implies that regime change is pointless if you think democracy will inevitably lead to Islamists who being elected and getting rid of it). Attempting regime change from relatively reasonable dictatorship to democracy is often a bad idea for other reasons (civil war being the big one), but if you can somehow guarantee you will end up with democracy it is probably good (presuming you share my beliefs about the benefits of democracy).

          • bintchaos says:

            Problem with your analysis is that secular democracy will never “take” in majority muslim populations where the consensual rule of law is sharia.
            Even Sisi has to headfake Islam to stay in power.

          • rlms says:

            What would make you say secular democracy had taken? Clearly the election of a secular party isn’t enough. If say a lack of popular explicitly religious parties, that counts out e.g. Germany.

            US presidents have to headfake Christianity.

          • commenter#1 says:

            @rlms You make good points. I’m just skeptical of democracy in the Arab world leading to positive outcomes.

            I remember the claims of how we were going to unleash the democratic impulse in Iraq and how that would lead to compromise and a happy pluralistic society focused on material gain. Instead we ended up with a sectarian riven society that is only holding together due to the common threat by ISIS. And at the same time we enabled Iran to become a regional hegemon leading an empowered Shiite block.

            Also I remember the claims about how letting the Palestinians vote would force them to moderate. Instead, we get a de facto terrorist state in Gaza and polling data that Hamas would probably win a fair election in the W. Bank.

            And then there’s Turkey (which I know is not Arab). But because the West has held “democracy” up as a good in and of itself, we let Erdogan and the Islamists neuter the military, and then turn a secular Republic into an increasingly religious state. It would probably have been better to support the military in another coup.

          • rlms says:

            @commenter#1
            I think Iraq is an example of “military intervention generally doesn’t get you democracy, unless you’re willing to go all the way to colonialism”. If there had been a mass popular movement against Saddam, things might well have gone better. Palestine is a special case. I don’t think there are any short term solutions possible there. But equally, I don’t think Hamas with a democratic mandate are much worse than Hamas without one. Regarding Turkey, I think the West recognises that Erdoğan is pretty autocratic. I’m sure people sometimes spin favouring him over other factions as pro-democratic, and maybe it even is so in relative terms, but I don’t think he’s a good example of democracy leading to more Islamism. It’s more like the Islamist autocratic faction having more power than the other autocratic factions leads to more Islamism.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @rlms

            With respect to Iraq, no mass movement was really possible because there are no masses, but many separate tribal groups. There never was an “Iraqi” people, it was just lines drawn on a map by the British and a dictator to keep them in line. The nation-state is kind of an evolution after an awful lot of work and blood goes into joining/conquering/intermingling similar tribes.

          • Matt M says:

            There never was an “Iraqi” people, it was just lines drawn on a map

            This is probably true of the vast majority of legally recognized “nations” in existence today.

          • Aapje says:

            @Matt M

            Yes, but Western culture includes the notion that might does not make right, that minorities deserve equal opportunity and treatment to the majority and that minorities deserve a substantial level of tolerance even if their idiosyncrasies are disliked by the majority (one example of this is freedom of religion).

            Note that these elements didn’t always exist in the West, but they resulted from people getting really tired of war and suffering caused by different oppressive regimes each attempting to make their kind of oppression dominant.

            Most of the Middle East is clearly not this far and the only clear exception, Lebanon*, is only so because it is a nation of minorities and no group had the opportunity to oppress the other. Even so, the detente is fragile, as it is mainly based on the lack of opportunity to oppress, not on a shared ideology that dictates that no group should abuse their power, even if they could.

            Personally, I would favor if we could convince them to adopt these elements of Western culture, rather than have them experience all the war and suffering that the West went through. As far as I can tell, the understanding that most Arabs have of Western history doesn’t go much further than the crusades and other narratives where Europeans are portrayed as evil enemies of the Arabs, rather than an understanding of how European thinking evolved.

            * Lebanon also happens to have the highest GDP of all Arab nations that don’t overflow with oil.

          • Matt M says:

            Yes, but Western culture includes the notion that might does not make right

            Really? Then what are we celebrating on July 4? Why is there a border between the US and Canada? What makes Americans different than Canadians? The fact that people on one side fought and won a war and people on the other side didn’t.

            Why is Texas within the current US borders? Why isn’t the confederacy its own nation? Because people fought, somebody won, and the leaders of respective parties (usually with some good old fashioned foreign meddling and manipulation) signed a treaty saying “These people are now in X nation and these people are now in Y nation”

          • Aapje says:

            @Matt M

            Rejecting ‘might makes right’ is not the same as rejecting violence.

            The values I described can be in conflict with each other, requiring you to break some of them. People often don’t live up to their ideals anyway. So you still have Western nations violate these ideals, but usually, they use rationalizations that fit the ideals to justify this.

            I think that it matters that they have these ideals, even if they sometimes/regularly violate them, because it puts pressure on nations and their citizens to strive for this ideal. This matters. In general, I think that our society is quite fragile and it is trust that keeps our dense and very interconnected societies from degenerating into societies like Russia and Iraq.

            You can think of these ideals as the norm not to run red lights. People still run red lights sometimes, but they do it far less than if the norm didn’t exist and this outcome matters a lot.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Really? Then what are we celebrating on July 4?

            That the British thought might made right and hopelessly outmatched Americans disagreed.

          • Matt M says:

            That the British thought might made right and hopelessly outmatched Americans disagreed.

            Well the hopelessly outmatched Mexicans and Confederacy DIDN’T win, so there’s that.

            With the exception of Israel, can you point me to a single nation that is currently having its existing borders questioned under this logic that might doesn’t make right?

            Or do we live in a lucky coincidence wherein the winner of the war also happens to be the morally just and correct side 99% of the time?

            (and the fact that the 1% exception just so happens to be the only war Jews have won since King David is a whole different conversation entirely)

          • Jiro says:

            With the exception of Israel, can you point me to a single nation that is currently having its existing borders questioned under this logic that might doesn’t make right?

            Ukraine. (Where “existing borders” means “borders after being forcibly changed by Russia”.)

          • The Nybbler says:

            With the exception of Israel, can you point me to a single nation that is currently having its existing borders questioned under this logic that might doesn’t make right?

            Russia.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            Britain, too.

          • rlms says:

            China (Tibet).

    • Matt M says:

      1. What would you like me to know? Plain and simple. I will ask this every time.

      Many conservatives hold opinions based on their life experiences, and I’m not referring to things like “parents took me to church where I learned that homosexuality is an abomination,” I mean things more like “I’ve personally observed people trade their food stamps for 25 cents on the dollar so that they could buy meth” or things like that.

      • Wrong Species says:

        The biggest failing of progressives is their view on human nature. They think that everyone will be just like them if given good opportunities. No, jihadis aren’t just budding leftists waiting for a better economy. And yes, there are plenty of people who are poor because they make terrible life decisions. If you give people an incentive to be a scumbag, at least some will take it. And the welfare state, despite being a good poverty fighter, does just that.

        • Doesn’t that have an equal-but-opposite flipside? Not everyone is so stupid that they can;t be trusted to make good decisions without a heavy superstructure of thou-shalt-nots.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Are you suggesting liberals/leftists are not in favor of a heavy superstructure of thou-shalt-nots?

          • Garrett says:

            This is a very good point, but leads to an obvious follow-up: How do you tell the difference between the two prior to giving them benefits?

          • I am certainly suggesting that of liberals , properly so called.That you could write such a sentence indicated how messed up US political vocabulary has become.

      • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

        Matt, I think you’re making an important point, but that particular example might not be the best possible choice, because it isn’t obvious how the observation leads to a meaningful opinion. (At least, my immediate reaction was, “… and?”)

        • Matt M says:

          …and therefore, welfare programs should be reduced/abolished, taxes should be reduced and made less progressive, whatever

          I think you can reduce a LOT of political debates to a basic assumption by one side that people who are poor are poor due to bad luck and circumstances beyond their control, and assumptions by the other side that people who are poor are poor because they’ve made bad decisions and deserve their fate.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            Huh. Does anyone really take either version seriously? Surely the only reasonable assumption is that some people are poor for the one reason, some for the other, and some (probably most) due to a combination of both?

          • Reason or polarisation: choose one.

          • lvlln says:

            …and therefore, welfare programs should be reduced/abolished, taxes should be reduced and made less progressive, whatever

            This part is where I don’t follow. Even if literally every poor person you ever saw in your life were provably trading food stamps at 25% value or less in order to fund their meth addiction, we’re talking about a non-random sample of <0.1% of the poor population in the USA, and I don't believe one can draw meaningful conclusions about the behavior of the larger population based on such a sample. I think this would provide some justification for reducing/abolishing welfare programs within your town depending on the circumstances (i.e. if the # of poor people you've seen behave this way represents a significant proportion of poor people within your town). Basing political prescriptions about states and nations with millions of people based on your life experiences with some non-randomly-selected thousands of people seems like a very bad idea that should be stamped out.

            As a leftist, I do think it's important to do a better job acknowledging that many conservative opinions come from life experiences, but I'm thinking more along the lines of the pace and flow of political change over the decades, or realizing more fully the fragility of our peaceful society through experiences of situations where society broke down.

          • keranih says:

            @ Ivlln –

            Even if literally every poor person you ever saw in your life were provably trading food stamps at 25% value or less in order to fund their meth addiction, we’re talking about a non-random sample of <0.1% of the poor population in the USA, and I don't believe one can draw meaningful conclusions about the behavior of the larger population based on such a sample.

            …I think that this is poor logic – you can certainly make inferences about a group as a whole based on a characteristic shared by every member of that group that you’ve personally met – and that it’s how humans human, and that if you swapped around the group X in question, you would have a very hard time convincing a majority of people on the left of the accuracy of the inference.

            Having said that, based on my experience, it’s about 25% that trades all or part of their ‘restricted use’ EBT over the course of a year. The fraud is rampant.

            I don’t have a workable solution, either. People like to push a UBI, but in a nation of 350 million people there are at least 350 people who are the one in a million who will literally find a way to spend it all on crack or meth in the first month and leave their kids starving in filthy clothes in an unheated apartment, and we do NOT have a good way to solve that.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @keranih,

            […] there are at least 350 people who […] will literally find a way to spend it all on crack or meth in the first month and leave their kids starving in filthy clothes in an unheated apartment

            Aren’t those kids are going to be starving in filthy clothes in an unheated apartment either way, or perhaps homeless? Perhaps because I’m not part of the culture under discussion, I don’t understand the way in which the UBI could actually makes things worse, rather than just not making things any better.

          • Matt M says:

            Even if literally every poor person you ever saw in your life were provably trading food stamps at 25% value or less in order to fund their meth addiction, we’re talking about a non-random sample of <0.1% of the poor population in the USA

            This is completely and totally missing the point.

            The point is that many conservatives expect that their “lived experience” will be treated as legitimate. Citing statistics at them is the wrong way to engage. Telling them that the thing they saw is irrelevant because it only represents 0.0001% of poor people will simply get you nowhere.

          • Aapje says:

            @Matt M

            Is your argument that conservatives are exceptionally incapable of understanding that you always have to accept some downsides?

            Ultimately, Utopia is impossible, so evidence of problems caused by policy A is never sufficient evidence that this policy is worse than policy B, which will inevitably have it’s own downsides.

            Whether A > B depends on whether the upsides – downsides of A are better than the upsides – downsides of B.

            PS. It is a far argument that proponents of policies have a tendency to pretend that the downsides don’t exist or are less significant than they are, but this seems to be a universal truth, not particular to progressives trying to convince conservatives.

          • lvlln says:

            @keranih

            …I think that this is poor logic – you can certainly make inferences about a group as a whole based on a characteristic shared by every member of that group that you’ve personally met – and that it’s how humans human, and that if you swapped around the group X in question, you would have a very hard time convincing a majority of people on the left of the accuracy of the inference.

            Can you justify the part I bolded? “It’s how humans human” seems to be a terrible way to justify it – yes, humans tend to ignore statistics and go along with whatever intuition they gain from their personal experiences which are almost always filtered through loads of confirmation bias. This doesn’t mean that this behavior is likely to lead to true conclusions. We’ve developed other, non-intuitive & non-instinctive behavior specifically for drawing true conclusions, and inferring about a group based on one’s experiences with individuals one has personally met isn’t one of those.

            And it’s true that the left is just as bad at this as the right is. Admittedly, as little as 5 years ago, I didn’t think that way, but I’ve been disabused of that notion. In fact, I’d be open to the idea that the left is even worse, as much of it has seemed to disavow statistics and empirical science as useful ways to learn things about the world, in a way far more explicit & emphatic than how the right has disavowed it through support of various things like teaching Creationism in schools.

            @Matt M

            This is completely and totally missing the point.

            The point is that many conservatives expect that their “lived experience” will be treated as legitimate. Citing statistics at them is the wrong way to engage. Telling them that the thing they saw is irrelevant because it only represents 0.0001% of poor people will simply get you nowhere.

            Can you explain what it means to treat a “lived experience” as “legitimate?” If it means acknowledging that the experiences one lived through actually happened and had meaningful impact on one’s worldview, that’s just fine and something that the left definitely should take more of an effort to doing to the right, as well as vice versa.

            But if it means agreeing with the legitimacy of that impact on their worldview, that’s where I stop following. For instance, if literally every time a specific woman sat in the subway her space were encroached by a male next to her spreading his legs too wide, I’d be sympathetic to her complaints and agree that it sucks that that’s been happening to her. But if she started some mass male shaming movement because her experiences lead her to believe that males spreading their legs too wide in the subway was a common or widespread problem, I would call that entirely unjustified. To justify the movement, she would first have to conduct some studies to figure out how common this behavior was and how it differed between demographics – and the studies would have to be replicated by a couple independent sources.

            Likewise, reducing/abolishing welfare could have strong justification based on studies that show the fraud or abuse to be unacceptably high (obviously “unacceptably high” is a subjective line, but we need some way to accurately determine where we are relative to any given line). But what can’t ever justify it is one’s own lived experiences, because those lived experiences cannot inform one about the rate of fraud or abuse. If treating those lived experiences as “legitimate” means acting as if non-trivial empirical claims about reality inferred from those lived experiences are valid or worth listening to, then no lived experience should ever be treated as legitimate. Again, I think the left has just as big a problem with this as the right, and I think there’s a strong argument to be made that the left has an even worse problem.

          • albatross11 says:

            But of course both are partly true. Being poor (unemployed, homeless, divorced, a single mom, in prison, sick) is *correlated* with making bad decisions, but also with lots of other stuff, and there are large helpings of both luck and the sort of social variables the left usually cares about involved. (For example, you’re probably a lot less likely to wreck your life with your bad choices if you’re white and well-off than if you’re black and poor.)

          • Nornagest says:

            It’s not like “well-off” springs fully-formed out of Zeus’s head, either. If you managed to make it to adulthood without getting yourself into prison or teenage pregnancy or a massive amount of credit card debt or something, all of which are basically prerequisites for wealth, you’ve already got some evidence of having your life basically together.

            If your family’s truly rich, you have some ability to escape the consequences of your bad decisions, but not many are. Even for white people.

        • Deiseach says:

          (At least, my immediate reaction was, “… and?”)

          And – you get people on the front line/the ground who have the experience saying “Nice idea, but put it into practice and this is what’s gonna happen”. The socially progressive with the impressive job titles say “Oh no no no, this is gonna be great!” And then some people trade their food stamps for meth, so you’re left with not alone kids going hungry (which is what the food stamps were supposed to prevent) but now the parent(s) are probably declining in health and ability to take care of their family or themselves even faster, which will mean (a) probably taking the kids into care (b) possibly parent(s) in and out of emergency rooms for overdoses/picking up infections, in and out of rehab programs, and oh hey here comes jail time!

          It’s not “everyone is stupid and needs the Nanny State to supervise their lives for them”, it’s “some people do make stupid choices and giving them more freedom only results in more stupid choices, and not alone is this clearly visible and predictable beforehand, it could be ameliorated by not doing this great new thing you want to do”. There are people who game the system, and part of that is getting naive and gullible social workers (who are often the gatekeepers to getting goodies) on their side and persuading them that they are just simply unfortunate and all they need is a helping hand. In my job in social housing, there were plenty of instances of “canny client has social worker wrapped around her little finger, social worker will blindly take her word for it that black is white, social worker goes to bat for client with every bit of authority and arm-twisting she can muster, we’re the bad guys – along with other agencies that don’t immediately bend over backwards to give client what she wants when she wants it – and the net result is canny client uses what social worker gets her for her own use and benefit and the kids (for whose benefit all the resources are allegedly being obtained) are someone else’s problem”.

          Eventually the naive and gullible young social workers do wise up, but then they get burned-out, leave, and a new crop of fresh out of training with all the latest socially progressive buzzwords graduates replace them. Rinse and repeat.

      • cthor says:

        Bit off topic, but…

        Has anyone here tried buying food stamps to get massive discounts on their groceries? What are the downsides? (Ethical concerns notwithstanding.)

        Google says the street price is closer to 60-70 cents on the dollar. 25 cents sounds way too good to be true.

        • keranih says:

          There are occasionally sting operations to find EBT fraud. I think it’s far more likely that the convenience store will refuse you because they suspect you of being a cop than for you to be caught by the cops, but you never know.

          Fifty cents on the dollar is what I’m familiar with.

          (No, have not tried it – just sat on the porch and watched the neighbors do so.)

    • bintchaos says:

      im hereditarian left and i got a lot of insight from reading Arlie Hochscild’s book.
      https://www.amazon.com/Strangers-Thhttps://infoproc.blogspot.de/2017/05/nytimes-in-enormous-success-scientists.htmleir-Own-Land-Mourning/dp/1620972255
      I asked a conservative friend once what conservatives wanted from liberals…
      he said (direct quote) “to respect us even when we are wrong.”
      If i can piggy-back on your excellent questions and civil manner– and ask a question to conservatives here– do conservative elites hold a lot of different opinions from the conservative base?
      fwiw

      • Wrong Species says:

        And also to not automatically assume we are wrong on everything.

        • bintchaos says:

          oh pardon– the context was in a discussion of climate science.
          the quote was about conservatives being wrong on scientific fact.
          In the book i recommended, the author, Ms Hochscild goes to live in Lousiana for 5 years, in attempt to scale the “empathy wall”.
          Here is a review–
          https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/books/review/strangers-in-their-own-land-arlie-russell-hochschild.html?_r=0

          • On the “respect us even when we are wrong.” I’ve argued for a long time that most people on both sides of issues such as evolution or climate change get their views from third parties they trust, not from actually knowing enough about the evidence and arguments to form their own opinion.

            That view was supported some time back in an online exchange on climate change where it was clear that most of the people, on both sides of the argument, did not understand how the greenhouse effect worked. (Explanation of the scientific issue, not the online exchange)

            Once one accepts that, it becomes easier to respect people who are wrong not because they are stupid but because they trusted the wrong sources of information.

          • Wander says:

            To continue what David said, I can’t find it at the moment but somewhere there’s an interesting study that shows that belief in climate change is a better predictor of political association that it is to scientific literacy (by a very significant margin).

          • Spookykou says:

            My respect for people is based entirely on their ability to evaluate sources of information.

          • bintchaos says:

            I like that very much, but the internet has changed everything. Now we evaluate sources of information by who said it, not by information content.
            Tribal “trusted” social networks of like minded peers.

          • but somewhere there’s an interesting study that shows that belief in climate change is a better predictor of political association that it is to scientific literacy

            You may be thinking of one of Dan Kahan’s papers. His basic result is that, for issues where position has become linked to group identifiction such as climate change or evolution, the more intellectually able someone is the more likely he is to agree with his group’s position–whether that means believing in evolution or not believing in it.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            For the record: I understood how the greenhouse effect worked and was taught this in school.

            I would not be surprised if most people have forgotten this and have more simplistic ideas than they were taught (or perhaps US schooling sucks and they were never taught this in the first place?); however, that is more a general argument about the ignorance of the common man.

            Since I’m pissing everyone off lately anyway: I believe that this weakens the case for libertarianism. If most people lack the ability to evaluate the truth, probably due to their inability to gain sufficient expertise in a great many fields, then how can they make sufficiently informed purchasing decisions?

            Doesn’t this logically make a strong case for market interventions by experts?

            For example:
            – Assume that science shows that producing item X causes harm Y to the environment
            – Assume that science shows that in experiments, people value preventing harm Y at 10 dollars.
            – Assume that science shows that nearly everyone is completely ignorant that the production of item X causes Y.

            Imagine Bob, who is ignorant that the production of item X causes Y. He values the utility of X at 105 dollars. As the price of X is 100 dollars, he buys the item. However, if he were aware that X causes harm Y and because he values not doing that at 10 dollars, the true utility of the item to him is 95 dollars and by buying the item, he lost utility.

            Then a tax of 10 dollars would improve upon this situation, as it would result in Bob making an accurate utility vs cost decision.

            Do you agree with this?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:

            Since I’m pissing everyone off lately anyway

            Only because we lock horns frequently, I felt I needed to say this is not the case for me (and not my perception of others? FWIW, which may not be much).

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Thank you. I was just a little bit frustrated.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            I rarely agree with you, Aapje, but you never annoy or offend me.

          • If most people lack the ability to evaluate the truth, probably due to their inability to gain sufficient expertise in a great many fields, then how can they make sufficiently informed purchasing decisions?

            Seconded.

          • Matt M says:

            the more intellectually able someone is the more likely he is to agree with his group’s position–whether that means believing in evolution or not believing in it

            Is it not possible that people are gaming the survey? As an example, I’m not REALLY a creationist by any stretch of the imagination, but if I were to receive such a question, I might very well answer that I was, out of concern that the question was going to be used as a proxy for “are you a leftist?”

            Do we know if intellectual ability scales with willingness to lie on surveys to help advance one’s own ends?

          • random832 says:

            To a right-wing person who does not believe in creationism and knows that creationism is a stereotype used to portray right-wing people as stupid, how is the risk and possible harm of a survey’s question about creationism being interpreted to inflate the number of left-wing people in some group (which one could easily point out) greater than the risk and harm of it, plainly and unrebuttably*, inflating the proportion of right-wing people that believe in creationism?

            *Assuming it also contains questions about political self-identification or some other proxy like “who did you vote for last election”, urban vs rural (or location to enough detail to be a proxy for that), owns truck vs car, etc.

          • bintchaos says:

            You could look at statistics, but it seems even Pew is considered to be liberal propaganda now.

            There also are sizable differences by party affiliation in beliefs about evolution, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown. In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.

            This is part of the continuing polarization of America.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.

            The 33% of Dems that apparently disagree is, to me, a shockingly high figure. Some decent evidence that the tribes are not as dissimilar as they like to claim. We still have plenty of room to polarize more, so perhaps it’s not too late to stop it…

          • bintchaos says:

            The problem is the tribes are continuing to diverge.
            You know what Sewell Wright says about divergence with no migration?
            Psuedo-speciation.

          • albatross11 says:

            AncientGeek:

            People often make dumb purchasing decisions, but at least they have the right *incentives* to try hard to make good ones. Outside experts may have better information, but they don’t have a lot of incentive to make good decisions for you. Also, you know your own preferences and specific situation better than anyone else.

          • John Schilling says:

            The 33% of Dems that apparently disagree is, to me, a shockingly high figure

            In most contexts, “do you agree/disagree with Evolution?” is taken as shorthand for “are you an Atheist or a Christian?” I am not sure there is any brief statement you can make to convince an apathetic bystander that you genuinely don’t care about their religious beliefs but are seriously interested in their views on paleobiology.

            Yes, a third or so of Democrats are really Christians. And yes, they know the code phrases that are usually used to ask whether someone is really a Christian.

          • rlms says:

            @John Schilling
            “I am not sure there is any brief statement you can make to convince an apathetic bystander that you genuinely don’t care about their religious beliefs but are seriously interested in their views on paleobiology.”
            Something like:

            Which of these options best describes you?
            1. Christian who believes in evolution.
            2. Christian who doesn’t believe in evolution.
            3. Non-Christian who believes in evolution.
            4. Non-Christian who doesn’t believe in evolution.

            might work

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @Spookykoi:

            My respect for people is based entirely on their ability to evaluate sources of information.

            And just where did you get that idea from?

      • James Miller says:

        The base is much more religious and much less believing in the benefits of international trade and immigration and, of course, the elites hate Trump while the base think he is positively Covfeve.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Was a Republican for a while. So dismayed by the GOP’s ineptitude at this point that I’m wondering if we can ask Britain to take us back. But I’ll take a shot:

      1. Everyone, including the guys you think are winning, thinks they’re losing, and is paranoid and fearful. To fix this, the paranoia should not be encouraged. The Samantha Bees and Stephen Colberts of the world need to shut the hell up, because every word that comes out of their mouths makes things more polarized.

      2. I’m not a fan of many or even most of Obama’s policies, but “disastrous” is a strong word to describe the usual political nonsense. My real fear from his presidency is that political policy was turned into a moral, or even religious, issue. You can’t just dislike Obamacare because you think a free-market system would be better; the only reason to do so is because you’re a racist sinner who must be punched, that sort of thing. And so now we have a situation where entire states are nullifying the law Confederacy-style (looking at you, California), and national politicians and political parties don’t dare set foot in some cities because the mayors will encourage violence against them (looking at you, Portland.)

      And the heck of it is, Obama is largely not responsible for that. Much as I dislike him, I suspect he didn’t even want that to happen. He even occasionally said things to oppose it. But his supporters saw the opportunity to anathematize their foes, and the news media happily jumped on board, and now here we are.

      • Deiseach says:

        Yeah, as a conservative non-American, I don’t think Obama was a disaster. But even given the natural enthusiasm for the First Black President when he first ran and was elected, there were some extremely over-the-top expectations. I don’t mind the Star Child/Indigo Children/Lightworker nonsense, but supposedly impartial, neutral, seasoned media professionals swooning in paroxysms of delight over a guy who is, after all, a politician took me aback.

        And that’s what he is: a politician. He had some policies he wanted to get through and some of them were not achievable (I am salty about Guantanamo Bay because he did make a big deal out of “I’m going to close it” but okay, it may well have been when he got into power and found out the real limits things changed). Some things he did do.

        But this almost deification of him and Michelle and Joe Biden was uncomfortable to observe. And for his second term, I would have expected more sober assessments and setting the sights lower for what was feasible on the part of the public but no, a lot of the usual suspects were expecting Utopia or the coming New Eden.

        And since he’s only a politician (though a capable, ambitious and intelligent one) of course he can’t do things like single-handedly end global warming, homophobia, and racism. But –
        and I want to emphasise here it was not from Obama as such but from the supporters – there was a curdled mixture of vaunting about all the progress on social matters (the economic and class-based matters got rather swept under the carpet in the enthusiasm over the Rainbow White House) and how this was unstoppable and hey Republican losers, we’re in power now and it’s all changing and your world is crumbling and we did it and it’s always going to be this way! and querulousness over how, in fact, racism and classism and all the rest of it was still in existence, so this had to be the fault of evil enemies on the other side of the political divide who hated POC and devoted all their lives to keeping them down, hated women, LGBT, etc.

        Eight years of Obama and the reaction to Trump’s victory. I can understand why they were surprised (I think everyone was surprised he won) but the hysteria has ramped up about “our guy was perfect, the literal messiah who would have made it all wonderful, but the evil monsters plotted to destroy us and now we have Literal Hitler in the White House and the Russians are hacking the country and he’s their stooge”.

        Not really any sense of history there, about how no one side wins forever, and how inevitable, unstoppable changes quite often aren’t. And how no, the president is not a messiah, he’s generally an ordinary politician who does things as they have generally been done in politics.

    • hlynkacg says:

      So in contrast to a few of the answers you’ve gotten so far I actually consider myself a proper “god and guns republican”. I grew up in the northeast in a fairly blue-collar environment. My parents were essentially “Blue Dog Democrats”, old school labor union types who also went to church on Sundays. I joined the Navy after 9/11 to “do my part” where I served as a medic for 8 years and spent a few more years working as a contractor before deciding to get out of EMS and go back to school. I live in a “red” enclave of a very “blue” state where I’m active member of the local GOP.

      So what do I want you to know? It’s hard to pick a single thing but I feel that a lot of liberals and blue/gray tribers take the fact that we live in a reasonably high-trust society for granted, and thus don’t appreciate the amount of effort that goes into making it possible. As BarnabyCajones said in the subreddit…

      Public affirmation of the values of duty and obligation for citizens is a really, really big deal for a lot of people. They want to hear it affirmed that in a world of ants and grasshoppers, we say that being an ant is good, and we expect it of people.

      …but the general impression is that most people on the left would rather side with the grasshopper against the ant. As sidewalkProf and others have said Incentives matter, and if you reward grasshoppers while disparaging ants you get more grasshoppers.

      In regards to Obama. I’m in broad agreement with John Schilling, but don’t really blame Obama so much as the establishment (Democrats and Repubilicans both). Honestly I had had high hopes for Obama after his 2004 DNC speech and voted for him over McCain in 2008 but was ultimately disappointed. There is a running joke among conservatives that a liberals idea of “compromise” is to demand the whole pie whole pie for free and then settle for only demanding half. Obama did this often, however my personal beef with him is over foreign policy which really deserves a post in itself but the short version is that as late as late as 2010 things were going so well in Iraq that Obama and Biden were bragging about it. Whether through incompetence or malice Obama’s foreign policy seems to have been specifically designed to sow as much chaos, panic, and death as possible. I know it’s not rational but as an OIF vet who actually made some friends over there and lost them I took it sort of personally. I don’t think the average democrat truly realized how insulting it was hear everyone in the media going on about Clinton’s “record of competence”.

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        I’m going to tuck my response here, as I also consider myself more conservative than libertarian (voted McCain and Romney with no regrets to this day, didn’t vote in 2016 because, well, ugh).

        Policy-wise, Obama wasn’t a disaster — the debt is awful, but he’s not alone in that, the previous worst debt ever was under Bush, after all. The stimulus really failed to work as advertised – it felt like we ran up a huge check with nothing to show for it, at least Hoover got a dam out of the deal (and my neighborhood still has landscaping courtesy of the CCC).

        The ACA would be the policy I would be most inclined to describe as “disastrous” – coverage was expanded, but as a result of a hugely kludgey system that introduces all sorts of perverse incentives; and it greatly expanded the role of government in healthcare, including the individual mandate. To top it off, the damned thing’s obviously falling apart at the seams even after only 7 years in operation and there’s no good fix. I don’t blame Obama exclusively for this, healthcare was a mess before his big push, but I do wish he’d focused his political capital on other things.

        Most of my distaste for Obama comes from his governing style and foreign policy. Foreign policy I think can be fairly described as a disaster, across the board. Obviously the Arab Spring exploded in his face, but he bears the lion’s share of taking an essentially victorious situation in Iraq and tossing it away for domestic political advantage. He also had that nuclear deal with Iran which most of us on the right loathe. He also did not do much to improve relations with European countries and in many cases (Poland, Ukraine) made things worse. His notable foreign policy successes include…well. Huh. I’ll get back to you on that.

        I didn’t like his use of executive orders to bypass Congress. Sure, it’s all well and good when it’s someone you trust like Obama setting as much national policy as possible from the White House, but what if you elect a reality-television star with no particular ideological commitments President? It’s a terrible precedent to set and I’d like to see a lot less power concentrated in the executive.

        His rhetoric was frequently annoying to us on the right. He had a tic of pretending that, “Here’s everyone reasonable, who agrees with me, and then there’s the conservatives,” while insisting that he wanted to compromise and accommodate everybody. Generally, when listening to him speak, I never got the sense that he even considered any of my positions as expressing a reasonable disagreement, but instead stemmed from guns or religion or antipathy towards people who weren’t like me. That’s why the “bitter clingers” remark gets so much traction on the right – it’s not that he hates us, it’s that he has no idea why we hold the beliefs we do, instead assuming we just cling to irrational prejudices out of economic frustration or something.

        So that’s most of the reason why I was frustrated with most of the Obama presidency (and I doubt I’ll ever get over the scorched earth campaign he waged against Mitt Romney, who I thought was one of the most decent people to ever run for President).

        As for what I most want a random leftist to know –

        When we say we don’t hate poor people, or minorities, or gays, or whatever, it’s because we really mean it. Please stop assuming that policy disagreements necessarily stem from malice or bigotry.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I have a notion that Obama just didn’t like business. This doesn’t mean he wanted the government to take control of all business, just that he thought arbitrary rules limiting business weren’t a problem.

        The big example was the moratorium on ocean drilling, even though it was just one company that fucked up. So far as I know, the blow-back on the moratorium was so strong that Obama didn’t make that mistake again.

        The other thing is that while sanctions on Cuba were loosened, there didn’t seem to any urgency about opening up trade.

        ****

        Sidetrack: while sanctions against Cuba were a clear violation of libertarian principles, it wasn’t libertarians who worked to have them lifted. It was people who cared about Cubans who did the work.

        • Jiro says:

          I have no problem with using sanctions against a country with a command economy. Sanctions against a libertarian government may be more of a problem, but sanctions against a command economy just switch from one form of government interference to a hopefully friendlier to us one.

          • The Nybbler says:

            This may have made sense when the sanctions started, but I think that it was clear long before Obama that the sanctions against Cuba helped no one.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Sidetrack: while sanctions against Cuba were a clear violation of libertarian principles, it wasn’t libertarians who worked to have them lifted. It was people who cared about Cubans who did the work.

          Libertarians can’t get anything done politically; it’s not surprise they/we didn’t get that done either.

        • Matt M says:

          Sidetrack: while sanctions against Cuba were a clear violation of libertarian principles, it wasn’t libertarians who worked to have them lifted.

          Because of the hundreds of things the government does that violate libertarian principles, this is one of the least burdensome/outrageous. It’s like a #500 priority for libertarians but like a #1 priority for Cubans, obviously.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I think I’ve seen more about licenses for cosmetologists than about sanctions on Cuba.

          • Matt M says:

            And?

            I think it’s entirely possible that for a large majority of America, (i.e. everyone outside of Miami) cosmetology licenses DO have a bigger impact on their lives than sanctions on Cuba do.

    • keranih says:

      Social conservative who leans libertarian here.

      1) That I am so very pleased to be asked. Thank you for offering to listen. And that I think the differences between left & right in America are firstly a question of what means are appropriate to the ends, and less commonly the ends themselves. And that when the ends are different, it’s frequently because of different definitions for the same words, and that you have to go down pretty far on the stack to get to actual difference on values. And even then, “to each their own” solves a lot. Not all of the conflict can be managed, but I think one important step is figuring out just what we disagree on in the first place.

      2) You said you didn’t want tribalism, but I think that the way America went most off the rails in Obama’s presidency was the rise of tribalism. And I blame Obama because I first think he encouraged that as a bubble dwelling DC outsider who didn’t understand or value anyone with red tribe values, and second because he allowed himself to be a blank slate for people to project their ideas on, instead of being his own person. A great deal of what I see as a problem in the US stems pretty directly from that tribalism.

      Regarding what Obama himself did – Obamacare was and is a goldplated mess. The dishonesty of it bothers me the most – not just the “if you like your plan you can keep your plan” and all the other hogwash but the basic idea that was sold that more services would be provided to more people for less money. Seriously.

      Foreign Policy – As noted below – we spent a lot of blood and money in Iraq. We surely didn’t get the gains from it that we had hoped (possibly foolishly) for, but we’d gotten something. Obama threw that away. And he made Libya worse, and seriously misjudged Putin, and was made a fool of by Assad, and broke the law with Iran, and spent way too much time trying to make the Europeans like us. (He should have turned down the Nobel Peace Prize, and invited them to offer it again when he’d actually accomplished something. Could have said America lives by its deeds not intentions or something.)

      Other domestic issues – from the EPA through LGBT issues through survellience and college education, Obama (or his appointees) pushed continuously to increase the reach and power of the state, particularly the Federal government, over everyone’s lives. He did so without consensus, he did so without following the Constitutional ideal of Congressional creation of laws, and in doing so he both threw up a shoddily constructed shack of policy that could get knocked down by the next yahoo in office, but also gave leave for that next yahoo to build an even crappier shack.

      My problems with Obama were far less about what he did than about how he did them. The man’s out of office and a lot of specific policies are going away, thank God. But he set a precedence in bad governance that will be with us for some time.

      • bintchaos says:

        there are some very fine responses– someone should write a book!
        i hope i can be allowed a civil correction– polarization (what you are describing as tribalism) began in the 90s, well before Obama. My republican friends decry Pew as a liberal propaganda machine and refuse the results.
        http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarization-in-the-american-public/

        • Nornagest says:

          It’s hard to put firm bounds on polarization; everyone agrees it’s been getting worse for a while, but it’s more a boiling-frog than a bursting-dam sort of deal. Some possible inflection points I’ve heard of in the past:

          – Watergate

          – The Bork nomination (Reagan era)

          – The White House travel office controversy (1993)

          – The Clinton impeachment (1998)

          …and the obvious post-9/11 events.

          • keranih says:

            My sense was that the Bork nomination was an inflection point for government partisanship. The Clinton era was pretty huge for a rise in right-wing protests/popular opposition, in contrast to the civil rights movement, the environmentalist movement, and the antiwar movement (all left wing, and all in the decades previous.) I don’t think these are quite the same thing.

            I agree that there has been a large shift in the tone and heat.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            So, at the risk of being boring for repeating myself, I think you can’t evaluate polarization until you evaluate party sorting.

            The Democratic coalition that dominated politics in the 30s and 40s put Southern populists and Northern liberals in coalition with each other. You had liberal and conservative members of both major parties. That meant that on various issues party members were crossing lines to vote with the other party on ideological grounds. The party leadership couldn’t really prevent this as a Northern Republican or a Southern Democrat were pretty much forced to cross party lines by their own local base.

            Those were fairly regional differences, though. And since that time, for a variety of reasons, both parties have become much more coherent on a national level. There aren’t really “Southern Democrats” or “Western Republicans” that have idiosyncratic policy desires which are different from the party as a whole.

            You do have ideological differences within each party, but those are national splits. Pro-life, say, and chamber of commerce Republicans exist in every state. But you (mostly) don’t have pro-life or chamber of commerce Democrats anywhere.

            And that ideological sorting is what allows the polarization. Because ideological commonalities no longer exist (for the most part) across party lines.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @HBC

            excellent point.

          • Tarhalindur says:

            I’d spitball four other possible inflection points:

            – 9/11 itself. I think this is at most a contributing factor, especially given the Red reaction to Clinton and the initial Blue reaction to George W. Bush, but it’s plausible enough to consider. One point in favor of this hypothesis: modern Social Justice really kicked off at about the point when the first generation that never really knew a pre-9/11 world reached the age of majority (and started voting and going to college).

            – A recent trend of minority-popular-vote Presidents; including George W. Bush, Trump, and also Bill Clinton (who was elected mostly due to Ross Perot, IIRC). The counterargument is that there was one other cluster of minority-popular-vote Presidents, in the late 1800s (1876 and 1888), and AFAIK that didn’t have the same polarization effects.

            – The collapse of the Soviet Union. This would apply more strongly to the Republican coalition; my understanding is that anticommunism was *the* strongest unifying Republican principle for about 40 years (1950-1980), and when it collapsed that unifying principle seems to have shifted to hatred of Blue Tribe. (What I *don’t* have a good handle on is the unifying Democratic principle; I get the impression that it’s been hatred of Red Tribe for longer than I’ve been aware of politics, but I’m not sure.)

            – Obama’s presidency (this may be implied by “obvious post-9/11 events, but I’m not sure). If this is the inflection point then I think it goes down to two factors: Obama was fundamentally unacceptable to key components of the Red Tribe coalition in much the same way that Trump is unacceptable to the Social Justice wing of Blue (I have a hard time falsifying the “because he was a black President” explanation here given that IIRC this reaction was visible by early 2009). Second, Obama continued a bunch of Bush-era national security policies that Blue Tribe had been objecting to for years; my impression is that a majority of Blue responded with “it’s okay when a member of my tribe does it”, and that this reaction has metastasized since.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I have a hard time falsifying the “because he was a black President” explanation here given that IIRC this reaction was visible by early 2009

            I have an easy time falsifying it:

            Colin Powell
            Allen West
            Condoleeza Rice
            Herman Cain
            Ben Carson

            were all people I heard significant numbers of Republicans express gladness at supporting for a Presidential nomination.

            At lower levels, Republicans also have/had Michael Steele, Tim Scott, and Mia Love; this is all just off the top of my head; there may be others.

            The Republicans I talked to seem to find Obama unacceptable because they got an “I know better” attitude from him. They regarded him as an out-of-touch Fabian Socialist, claiming he could deftly operate the levers of power while fumbling in ways they found embarrassing. He lacked a sense of humility that Bush had.

            The sense I get from them is that after 9/11, no one should be acting like they know exactly what to do in every situation in that job.

          • Nornagest says:

            Colin Powell, Allen West, Condoleeza […] Rice were all people I heard significant numbers of Republicans express gladness at supporting for a Presidential nomination.

            To play devil’s advocate, support for a black candidate by “significant numbers of Republicans” in no way disproves the idea that a black President would be unacceptable to other segments of the Republican base. The Republican base isn’t a monolith, it can contain both racists and non-racists.

            (I think racism is overbilled in American politics, but this is almost certainly true to some extent.)

          • Protagoras says:

            @Paul Brinkley, Just wanted to comment on your assertion that Bush had a “sense of humility.” I certainly never got that impression from him. Which doesn’t say which of us is biased, but given what humans are like, I’m guessing the answer is both.

          • bean says:

            To play devil’s advocate, support for a black candidate by “significant numbers of Republicans” in no way disproves the idea that a black President would be unacceptable to other segments of the Republican base. The Republican base isn’t a monolith, it can contain both racists and non-racists.

            Tim Scott is the Republican senator from South Carolina, by a 20% margin. In fairness, he’s been up against other blacks both times, but he got more raw votes than the Republican governor in the 2014 election. I don’t think it’s at all unfair to say that if racism exists in a meaningful way, it’s probably as bad in South Carolina as anywhere else in the US.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Just wanted to comment on your assertion that Bush had a “sense of humility.” I certainly never got that impression from him.

            My first impression of this was from the 2000 debate. I forget the exact question, but it was something to the tune of what each candidate would do specifically if elected. Bush’s demeanor was very humble (I think one phrase he used was “if I am lucky enough to get your vote”); it was almost as if he were asking permission to be President. (By contrast, Al Gore was sighing, smiling, and shaking his head after every other answer Bush would make.)

            Another impression was when he addressed rescue workers at Ground Zero, and his megaphone wasn’t enough to overcome the din of the work. They yelled, “we can’t hear you!” Right away he shot back, “well I can hear YOU!” That got immediate cheers.

            A third was when he recounted a phone call he got from Bush Sr. a while after the US had first taken control in Iraq, after our military spent most of its effort accepting surrenders as fast as it could, statues of Saddam being pulled down, new government being set up, new elections being announced, etc. etc. Bush Sr. said “this is a great day for you, son.” GWB replied without hesitation, “this is a great day for the people of Iraq.”

            A fourth was I think an account of the wife of someone who’d returned from the invasion with serious wounds. She said Bush visited him at the hospital. Stood at his bedside, at attention, and saluted him. The man had a hard time raising his hand to salute back, but clearly intended to return it. Bush said nothing; just stood there, holding the salute, unmoving, until the salute was returned.

            A fifth was his whole general behavior after he left office. He soon traveled to Africa to do some AIDS relief work with Laura. Then he returned home and spent much of his time painting pictures of the men and women who’d fought in Iraq during his tenure. Neither seemed very well publicized.

            I might be biased, aye. But those are among the bits of evidence I have suggesting his humility. I can’t think of any examples of him trying to stay in the spotlight. What comes to your mind?

          • Fahundo says:

            The Republicans I talked to seem to find Obama unacceptable because they got an “I know better” attitude from him.

            He lacked a sense of humility that Bush had.

            By contrast, Al Gore was sighing, smiling, and shaking his head after every other answer Bush would make.

            How did these guys feel about Trump?

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            Dunno about others, but I second the perceptions of Bush as humble and Obama as arrogant. I despise Trump and didn’t vote for him.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            How did these guys feel about Trump?

            Most of them didn’t like him, for various reasons. His own arrogance was often among them.

            On the other hand, Clinton came off as equally entitled, so it was a case of picking one’s poison. Moreover, she apparently had a lot more support from people who also felt she was entitled, while Trump came off like a sort of lone ego. So one poison looked slightly worse in that one respect.

            The interesting thing to me here was how long-time Republican voters were suddenly finding commonality with long-time Democratic voters who really wanted Sanders to be the nominee. This probably had a marginal effect in why some Sanders supporters ended up voting for Trump. Although I suspect that effect was minor – not enough to flip any states.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            And I loathed Bush, voted for and was mildly disappointed by Obama, and am an enthusiastic Trump supporter.

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        I should have read this response before posting mine. This echoes my thoughts almost perfectly.

      • Several responses have talked about the foreign policy of Obama as if it was a disaster, and I am very confused by that. Most of those commenters have mentioned Iraq as a particularly good example of his bad foreign policy. My impression of Obama’s policy in Iraq is that it deviated barely at all from the policy of Bush. Bush was cutting down troops in Iraq and my memory was that the plan with Bush was to have all troops out within a few years. If anything, Obama delayed the withdrawal some, and I thought him overly militaristic for that reason. I have read elsewhere conservatives blaming ISIL on Obama, which makes no sense to me at all.

        I am pretty sure that many folks are frothing at these comments. I’d love to hear a rebuttal.

        • Aapje says:

          I have read elsewhere conservatives blaming ISIL on Obama, which makes no sense to me at all.

          I think that the argument is that Obama did various things to boost the Arab Spring, rather than help the dictators of the region suppress it, which created a vacuum which ISIS/ISIL/IS (what do we call them?!) could profit from.

          I consider this a weak argument though, as IMO George W Bush was much more to blame with his intervention in Iraq, which IMHO caused destabilization that eventually enabled the Arab Spring.

        • Civilis says:

          The general perception from the right is that the sequence looks like this:

          A) During the closing days of the Bush administration, the Democrats and the left campaigned on how bad it was that we had troops in Iraq. (I disagree, but this seems like a rational Jeffersonian or even Jacksonian political view).

          B) Obama gets elected on this, then promptly keeps the troops in Iraq, and much of the left that was critical of Bush goes silent. (I’m willing to accept that the view looks different when you actually have the presidency, which is one of the reasons I’m understanding of Trump changing his views.)

          C) Obama declares victory in Iraq, taking credit for it, despite the situation on the ground being volatile. He does not push to renew the Status of Forces agreement. US troops withdraw. (At this point, things still seem like politics as usual. Sucks to be in Iraq, but that’s the way the political winds blow.)

          D) With the US no longer able to bolster the Iraqi government, ISIS/ISIL emerges and things go to hell.

          E) Obama eventually sends troops back to Iraq, despite the political arguments that we shouldn’t have troops in Iraq in the first place and besides which, we had already won.

          This is the straw that broke the camel’s back for much of the right, and this is why we blame Obama for ISIS. If we had pushed Iraq to renew the SOF and left troops to support the Iraqi government, ISIS would not have emerged, or would have been seriously hampered by US-supported Iraqi troops. If Iraq had rejected the SOF, we could have blamed the Iraqi government. If Obama had not declared victory when he pulled out and had admitted the situation was still volatile like everyone told him, but the US couldn’t afford to keep troops there, he could have blamed Bush. If Obama hadn’t sent troops back to Iraq, he could have pretended that it wasn’t worth the US lives to keep going. There’s no rational reason except to make Obama look good at the expense of America and Iraq to pull the troops out publicly while claiming victory then send them back quietly when you hope the public isn’t looking.

          • Iain says:

            At the end of 2008, there were 146,000 American troops in Iraq, and a number of large American military bases. Even after a major drawdown, there were still 50K soldiers in mid-2010.

            Nothing that the US has done in Iraq since then is on a comparable scale. It’s mostly been air strikes, with a handful of special forces operations. You can categorize that as sending troops back to Iraq, if you like, but that obscures the fact that we’re talking about two different phenomena.

            The perspective on the left is heavily coloured by the fact that there was never a good reason for the US to be involved in Iraq in the first place. Starting the narrative in 2008 misses the point. Once you have gone into Iraq and overthrown the existing regime, withdrawal will inevitably leave behind a power vacuum. ISIS, or something like it, was going to emerge after the American forces left, whether that was in 2012 or 2022. (Bear in mind: ISIS was a non-entity in Iraq in 2012.) If you do not want to keep pouring money and lives into a country that is frankly not that important to America’s strategic interests, at some point you have to pull off the band-aid.

            (Also: the left did not complain about Obama keeping troops in Iraq because he started planning to withdraw them on literally the first day of his presidency.. There’s nothing inconsistent about thinking that the US should withdraw as soon as possible while acknowledging that whisking 150K soldiers out of the country overnight is not a good idea. Indeed, that’s exactly the position that Obama campaigned on.)

          • Civilis says:

            Nothing that the US has done in Iraq since then is on a comparable scale. It’s mostly been air strikes, with a handful of special forces operations. You can categorize that as sending troops back to Iraq, if you like, but that obscures the fact that we’re talking about two different phenomena.

            Either the US military presence in Iraq is providing valuable support to the Iraqi army, in which case we should have negotiated a SOF agreement which would have left those special forces and air support elements in place, or they aren’t helpful at all, in which case they don’t need to be there at all and sending them back was a mistake.

            The perspective on the left is heavily coloured by the fact that there was never a good reason for the US to be involved in Iraq in the first place. Starting the narrative in 2008 misses the point.

            This is an entirely separate debate, which I didn’t see a point to re-arguing. Nothing in my post is contingent on whether going into Iraq in the first place was a good idea or not. If you want me to debate that, I will.

            If you do not want to keep pouring money and lives into a country that is frankly not that important to America’s strategic interests, at some point you have to pull off the band-aid.

            This is consistent what I argued. The Jacksonians, the Ron Paul quasi-isolationist types on the right, would have been fine with Obama cutting our losses and pulling out, and they were gaining increasing traction in the Republican party. Pulling out only angered the Hamiltonians, the neo-con interventionist types. Going back in angered both the Jacksonians for getting involved in a war we had just been told both ‘we won’ and ‘we don’t need to be there’ and the Hamiltonians again for having to say ‘I told you so’.

            The left did not complain about Obama keeping troops in Iraq because he started planning to withdraw them on literally the first day of his presidency.” is at odds with the post which I was replying to, which says “My impression of Obama’s policy in Iraq is that it deviated barely at all from the policy of Bush. Bush was cutting down troops in Iraq and my memory was that the plan with Bush was to have all troops out within a few years. If anything, Obama delayed the withdrawal some, and I thought him overly militaristic for that reason.” My recollection is the same as Mark’s, with the exception that I believe the Republican party establishment didn’t plan a complete pullout, but expected the US government to push for a SOF agreement with Iraq which would allow a limited long-term deployment of military advisors and trainers (typically special forces troops) and air support elements to support the Iraqi army as it took over counter-insurgency duties… sound familiar? [This sentence has been edited for clarity]

          • onyomi says:

            Data point: I’m a libertarian, so not entirely right wing in a traditional sense, but I also think I kind of pass for right wing around here, and I consider the Bush foreign policy to have been much more of a disaster than the Obama foreign policy. That is, once we made the bigger mistake of going into Iraq, the later leaving of a power vacuum seems somewhat inevitable, unless we plan to stay there basically forever.

            The big mistake seems to have been in believing that Iraq was like Japan.

            Because of the extreme badness of Afghanistan and Iraq, I consider the Bush presidency to have been worse, on net, than the Obama presidency; to the extent I might seem to complain about Obama more, it’s mostly domestic policy and culture warish stuff.

          • Civilis says:

            Data point: I’m a libertarian, so not entirely right wing in a traditional sense, but I also think I kind of pass for right wing around here, and I consider the Bush foreign policy to have been much more of a disaster than the Obama foreign policy. That is, once we made the bigger mistake of going into Iraq, the later leaving of a power vacuum seems somewhat inevitable, unless we plan to stay there basically forever.

            I replied to Mark’s point because he wanted the right wing POV, and I didn’t think he was getting it. The right isn’t monolithic. I tried to cover the broad right wing perspective, and provide a rational explanation from the right’s POV for why most of the right, while disagreeing on the right thing to do in Iraq agrees that Obama did the wrong thing.

            On foreign policy, I think the traditional ‘Four Themes of Foreign Policy’ outlook (http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/people3/Mead/mead-con3.html) is accurate enough to make generalized predictions. In that theory, the right libertarians do tend to lean Jacksonian and even Jeffersonian, so it’s not unusual to see people on the right that think Bush’s foreign policy was worse than Obama’s, especially on Iraq.

            [Added:]The big mistake seems to have been in believing that Iraq was like Japan.

            Bush’s biggest mistake, in my opinion, was blowing in the political winds like a kite, but I think that’s true of all American politicians these days. If we had gone in like postwar Japan, with a true ‘we’re going to remake Iraq in our image’, we’d have had more success. If we’d just bombed the crap out of Saddam and the Taliban with a message ‘don’t make us come back here’, it would have been a lot cheaper. If we’d bowed down to the ‘international community’ and handed de facto control of Iraq to Iran via it’s Shia proxies right away, we wouldn’t be in the state we’re in. If we’d just stayed home and erected a police state to make sure it didn’t happen again, it would have been quicker. Any of those would be objectively better than what we got, which was all of the downsides of all of those approaches.

          • Iain says:

            Either the US military presence in Iraq is providing valuable support to the Iraqi army, in which case we should have negotiated a SOF agreement which would have left those special forces and air support elements in place, or they aren’t helpful at all, in which case they don’t need to be there at all and sending them back was a mistake.

            The current US military presence in Iraq is fighting a group that was effectively a non-entity during the initial withdrawal. The specific form that ISIS took, and the degree to which it would be bolstered by the situation in Syria, were not predictable at the time. Was the US supposed to leave a bunch of its top troops and most expensive planes in Iraq indefinitely, against the wishes of the Iraqi government, just in case? I am not aware of any particular difficulty that arose while negotiating a new agreement for anti-ISIS interventions.

            Nothing in my post is contingent on whether going into Iraq in the first place was a good idea or not.

            “This is why we blame Obama for ISIS”? My contention is that Bush handed Obama a situation with no good outcomes. Either a) you leave, and bad actors arise in the subsequent power vacuum, or b) you stay in Iraq for years longer, at a heavy cost in money and lives … and then you leave, and bad actors arise in the subsequent power vacuum. You could argue that waiting longer would have enabled a stronger Iraqi government, or suppression of known bad actors, but I don’t think the rate of improvement on either of those issues was rapid enough to justify the significant ongoing costs of the war.

            If the Iraqi government wanted forces to remain behind in 2012, they could have negotiated a new agreement. They chose not to, largely for reasons of domestic politics. They might regret that in retrospect, but it is lazy to lay all the blame for that decision at Obama’s feet. As I quoted somewhere below: Bad things in the Middle East can’t all be reduced down to US policy.

            (Incidentally, you’re also significantly overstating the degree to which Obama “claimed victory”. Here’s a contemporary account from the Guardian, which calls out how he “studiously avoided declaring victory”. When you’re giving that kind of speech, you sort of have to claim that you have achieved your goals, to justify why you are now leaving; I don’t see anything that goes beyond that necessary minimum. Compare Nixon’s speech ending the Vietnam War: “In my addresses to the Nation from this room of January 25 and May 8, I set forth the goals that we considered essential for peace with honor. In the settlement that has now been agreed to, all the conditions that I laid down then have been met: …”)

            Edit to add: Onyomi said what I was trying to say, only more clearly and with fewer words.

          • Civilis says:

            “This is why we blame Obama for ISIS”? My contention is that Bush handed Obama a situation with no good outcomes. Either a) you leave, and bad actors arise in the subsequent power vacuum, or b) you stay in Iraq for years longer, at a heavy cost in money and lives … and then you leave, and bad actors arise in the subsequent power vacuum. You could argue that waiting longer would have enabled a stronger Iraqi government, or suppression of known bad actors, but I don’t think the rate of improvement on either of those issues was rapid enough to justify the significant ongoing costs of the war.

            Again, nothing there disagrees with what I said. Obama happened to choose the one course of action which allowed the right to put responsibility for what happened in Iraq after the withdrawal squarely on his own administration, and I spelled out why, just as Bush’s decision to own the Clinton’s administration’s flawed Iraq doctrine allowed the left to put the responsibility on the right, and justifiably so.

            Barack Obama marked an end to a war he once described as “dumb” by declaring the conflict in Iraq a success and saying the last US troops will leave in the coming days with their “heads held high”.

            The president told an audience of soldiers at Fort Bragg that the final pullout from Iraq after nearly nine years of war is a “historic” moment and that the country they leave behind is “an extraordinary achievement”.

            Different people can come away from the quotes in the article reading different things. Obama wanted to score political points for ending the war and not losing which made him responsible for the result, and it came back to haunt him when he then had to restart the war. After the way the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner has been spun to discredit Bush, I don’t think the right is unjustified in taking Obama’s words the same literal way (optics matter). After all, that’s what we’re talking about, the perspective from the right. I’m not here to try to poke holes in your perspective from the left, as most of what’s under discussion is a matter of ‘what ifs’ and ‘could have beens’.

          • Iain says:

            @Civilis:

            Let’s take this from an angle other than partisan blame games. Realistically, the right was going to blame Obama for everything bad that happened while he was president, just as the left was going to blame Bush. The optics arguments are a silly distraction: the problems with Bush’s Iraq policies had absolutely nothing to do with his choice of banners. I don’t care whether such-and-such a demographic gets miffed at such-and-such a decision; I’m more interested in discussing whether or not foreign policy decisions were good decisions, given the knowledge available at the time.

            I think Obama made the right decision in opposing the Iraq War to start with. I think he made the right decision to start the long process of ending it when he entered office; I also think it was correct not to do so immediately. I don’t know (and I’m not sure anybody in this conversation could know) exactly how hard Obama pushed the Iraqis to accept a new status of forces agreement; I’ve seen claims that the American insistence on preventing US troops from being tried in Iraqi courts was a poorly timed obstacle to getting Iraqi parliamentary approval, so I would be willing to accept an argument that Obama made tactical blunders in the negotiation. That said, I generally support the idea of not trying to force an agreement with an unwilling Iraqi government, so once the negotiations failed I think it was correct to pull everybody out.

            My memory of the early ISIS timeline is spotty; my quick Wikipedia dive seems to indicate that the growth of ISIS in Iraq was largely in response to Iraqi government crackdowns on Sunni anti-government protests. I would put the blame for that on the Iraqi government. If you have suggestions for what else Obama should have done at this point, I am willing to entertain them.

            In the last couple years, it seems like the Iraqi campaign to retake territory ISIS has been slow but reasonably successful. I think that having the Iraqi army supply most of the boots on the ground is good for multiple reasons: in addition to the obvious self-interested stuff about not risking American soldiers, it helps train the Iraqi army, and avoids the problems of being seen by Iraqi citizens as an occupying force that come with hosting tens of thousands of soldiers on Iraqi soil.

            If Obama had come to power in 2013 and had not been involved in ending the Iraq War, I’m not sure what the argument would have been on the right against Obama’s anti-ISIS campaign. I suppose Rand Paul wouldn’t have liked it? That’s not really compelling as a case against Obama’s policies: if John McCain supports every war, and Rand Paul opposes every war, then somebody on the right will disagree with you no matter what you do, but that’s not proof that your decision was bad. (I personally tend to lean towards the anti-intervention side of the argument, but in this particular case I don’t mind it. I could expand on that if you like.)

            I’m not trying to claim that Obama’s decision-making was perfect, but honestly it seems pretty good. I don’t think it was obvious at the time how bad ISIS would end up, and I don’t think it’s obvious even now that staying in Iraq longer would have done anything other than kick the can down the road. I see how you can construct a narrative out of these events that blames Obama for everything, but it’s unclear to me that anybody who didn’t already dislike Obama should find that narrative compelling. Am I missing something?

          • bintchaos says:

            Am I missing something?

            A field study of Afghanistan perhaps?
            We never left, we are sending yet more troops, and its still awful there.
            Perhaps (and I know this is a terribly radical concept for SSC) this problem can’t be solved by US brute force military power?

          • Civilis says:

            Let’s take this from an angle other than partisan blame games. I don’t care whether such-and-such a demographic gets miffed at such-and-such a decision; I’m more interested in discussing whether or not foreign policy decisions were good decisions, given the knowledge available at the time.

            I don’t want to re-debate the whole war, as it’s a losing proposition for both sides. I’ve been trying to be as neutral about where the actual responsibility lies as I can, and failing because this keeps becoming a blame game. I apologize if I keep sounding like a broken record, but we have a communication gap and I keep hearing from you what sounds like restatements of things I’ve already said as if they’re supposed to be new to me.

            This thread is about knowing the right’s point of view. This sub-thread is knowing the right’s point of view about what the right thinks Obama did wrong in Iraq. I made the original post I did because people need to know what the right thinks. We on the right, both the Jacksonians and the Hamiltonians, could be wrong when we assign blame to Obama, but the question was ‘what’s the right’s reasons here?’ and I endeavored to answer that.

            I’m not trying to claim that Obama’s decision-making was perfect, but honestly it seems pretty good. I don’t think it was obvious at the time how bad ISIS would end up, and I don’t think it’s obvious even now that staying in Iraq longer would have done anything other than kick the can down the road. I see how you can construct a narrative out of these events that blames Obama for everything, but it’s unclear to me that anybody who didn’t already dislike Obama should find that narrative compelling. Am I missing something?

            I’ve been very careful not to blame Obama for everything, or even very much besides the decision to go back in. Knowing the way Washington works like I do, the presidency is only a part of the picture.

            Ultimately, the left made the following narratives, and a significant portion of the public found them compelling:
            A) The US has no compelling national interest in fighting terrorism in Iraq.
            B) The US’s fight against terrorism in Iraq was a “success” and a “historic achievement”.
            C) The US has a compelling national interest to defeat ISIS terrorists.
            It doesn’t take a narrative from the right to realize that those simplified narratives are seemingly incompatible, and there are many members of the public on all sides that aren’t willing to go beyond the simplified narratives presented to them.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            I’m not sure that it’s entirely a question of “simplified narratives”. The resolution of the seeming contradiction is also pretty simple, i.e., “(D) because ISIS are qualitatively different to [most] other terrorists”. I’d thought that was pretty much taken for granted; not so?

          • Iain says:

            @Civilis:

            Sorry, I’m probably being a bit frustrating. What I am trying to extract from you is not a summary of what “The Right” thinks of Obama’s foreign policy, but rather an argument from an intelligent right-wing perspective for Obama’s foreign policy being bad. I quite liked Obama’s foreign policy; I am trying to figure out if there are good reasons to change my mind.

            Much as a summary of George Bush from “the Left” might include a bunch of irrelevant stuff like the Mission Accomplished banner, your summary of Obama includes a number of things that are only convincing to people who already dislike Obama, or that don’t actually matter. Let’s assume that Obama really did oversell his “victory” in Iraq domestically, pissing Republicans off. That may be bad politics, but it’s basically irrelevant to an evaluation of whether or not leaving Iraq and later intervening against ISIS was a bad idea.

            I am poking in places where I find your narrative particularly unconvincing. It seems like maybe you are trying to summarize the general zeitgeist on the right, rather than your own personal opinion? (For example, it looks like you are simultaneously trying to present both the Hamiltonian and the Jacksonian cases.) If so, don’t bother; I am looking for your personal opinion, or at the very least an internally consistent account that you find compelling.

            In other words: If Obama did the wrong thing in Iraq, what was the right thing?

          • Civilis says:

            In other words: If Obama did the wrong thing in Iraq, what was the right thing?

            Given the limited options available to Obama, the right thing would have been to try to get a SOF agreement to leave behind Special Forces trainers and air support and let the Iraqis take over the grunt work of cleaning up the remaining insurgency with US support for the things they couldn’t do. If the Iraqis refused to renew the SOF, then pull the troops out. The right thing would also have been for the president to have admitted directly that there was still a great threat of insurgency in Iraq, rather than take credit for a “success” for following Bush’s plan. Having pulled troops out, the right thing to do if he was going to send them back in would be to admit that pulling troops out prematurely emboldened the Sunni insurgency (even if he still thought it the right thing to do anyways) and to have gotten public support for intervention rather than do it on the sly.

            I remember reading at the time this was going on, likely on Instapundit, these exact points being made as the Obama administrations position evolved, so this isn’t some 20/20 hindsight thing.

            Also, in my opinion, Iraq isn’t Obama’s biggest foreign policy blunder. You also have Libya, Syria, Iran and Russia to contend with, just to start.

            I’m not sure that it’s entirely a question of “simplified narratives”. The resolution of the seeming contradiction is also pretty simple, i.e., “(D) because ISIS are qualitatively different to [most] other terrorists”. I’d thought that was pretty much taken for granted; not so?

            Al Quaeda managed to blow a billion-dollar crater in downtown New York City. How is ISIS more of a threat to the US national interest? Do you consider ISIS a threat to the US national interest at all, and if so, why?

            I started out with the opinion that the US had a vested interest in protecting its allies and enforcing international norms and I don’t have a problem with the US doing what it can to deal with the long-term threat of state-sponsored terrorism. For this, I’ve been mocked by people largely on the left for thinking the US intervening overseas can have any good outcome at this point in history, and even if I still disagree, I’ve been persuaded that that belief is rational. This is exactly my problem, and exactly the problem a lot of people on the right have; after having been told we were wrong, we’re now watching the left do what looks to us like almost exactly what they were complaining about when the right did it, and so many on the right have just stopping listening to the left at all. Finally, someone seems to sincerely ask what the right’s logic is, and I try to answer, and I get pounded for it.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            Al Quaeda managed to blow a billion-dollar crater in downtown New York City. How is ISIS more of a threat to the US national interest? Do you consider ISIS a threat to the US national interest at all, and if so, why?

            My opinions don’t really count; I’m not an American. I take it that the answer to my question is “no, the US right wing does not consider ISIS to be a significant threat”?

            Personally, I’m concerned that if ISIS had been left to themselves, they might have actually succeeded, sooner or later, in forming the empire they’re aiming for. Perhaps they’d then get bogged down fighting Iran or whatever and never pose a serious threat to the west, but it seems risky to take that for granted. In the worse-case scenario, a nuclear armed ISIS seems unlikely to settle for blackmailing the rest of the world for aid shipments.

            Basically, the risk posed by a hostile, hyper-aggressive state seems to me to be inherently greater, at least in potential, than that from any ordinary terrorist organization. I assumed that would be widely accepted (typical mind fallacy, I guess) but perhaps I just underestimate the impact 9/11 had on the American psyche.

            I try to answer, and I get pounded for it.

            I was just asking for clarification. I’m sorry if it seemed like a trick question.

          • Civilis says:

            My opinions don’t really count; I’m not an American. I take it that the answer to my question is “no, the US right wing does not consider ISIS to be a significant threat”?

            Reminder: the US right is not monolithic! I can only speak for myself.

            The US right generally considers ISIS less of a threat than Al Quaeda because Al Queada demonstrated capability to harm the US. Whether ISIS is a threat worth dealing with depends on where you draw the line as to what’s worth dealing with, and Hamiltonians and Jacksonians generally draw the line in different spots. For me, it’s worth dealing with if we can do it, but that’s going to mean that those on both sides calling for intervention are going to have to demonstrate that they’re not going to abandon their support when ISIS proves as hard to deal with as the Iraqi insurgency it grew out of.

            Personally, I’m concerned that if ISIS had been left to themselves, they might have actually succeeded, sooner or later, in forming the empire they’re aiming for. Perhaps they’d then get bogged down fighting Iran or whatever and never pose a serious threat to the west, but it seems risky to take that for granted. In the worse-case scenario, a nuclear armed ISIS seems unlikely to settle for blackmailing the rest of the world for aid shipments.

            Let me rephrase this slightly: “I’m concerned that if Saddam Hussein and Al Quaeda are left to themselves they might rise up again. Perhaps they’d get bogged down fighting Iran or Saudi Arabia or Israel and never pose a serious threat to the US, but it seems risky to take that for granted. In the worst case scenario, a nuclear armed Iraq seems unlikely to forgo its expansionist ambitions and provides excellent cover for Al Quaeda to continue its reign of terrorism.” I’m willing to accept that this was wrong in hindsight, but if I do I’m not going to believe you when you then use the same logic to justify going after ISIS when Iraq and Al Quaeda both had proven track records of going after US national interests. The left spent a lot of time tearing apart the Hamiltonian rationale for nation building in Iraq, only to go around and use the same rationale they’d just shredded to justify US intervention in Iraq against ISIS, intervention in Libya, and intervention in Syria.

            Basically, the risk posed by a hostile, hyper-aggressive state seems to me to be inherently greater, at least in potential, than that from any ordinary terrorist organization. I assumed that would be widely accepted (typical mind fallacy, I guess) but perhaps I just underestimate the impact 9/11 had on the American psyche.

            Remember Mead’s description of the Jacksonians: “So in the 1930s, Hitler takes over Paris; we don’t move an inch. He starts exterminating the Jews; we don’t move an inch. Japan is [carrying out aggression] all over Asia. And on December 6, 1941, any opinion poll in the country would have said that most Americans wanted to stay out of World War II. Then December 7th, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and suddenly the polls change. Jacksonians: when somebody attacks the hive, you come swarming out of the hive and you sting them to death. ” 9/11 was the next Pearl Harbor, and in that light, the reaction was completely predictable; Al Quaeda attacked the hive. ISIS hasn’t, yet. The Jacksonian right recognizes ISIS as a threat, but won’t act until ISIS actually harms the US (same with Iran, Syria, North Korea, etc). To Jacksonians, threats aren’t worth military intervention until they attack the hive, at which point you remove the threat entirely, completely, totally.

            The US is going to act in its own interests regardless of which school of foreign policy is in power; the difference between the schools is what the US’s interests overseas are. The foreign policy misadventures of the Bush and Obama administrations (not just Iraq and Afghanistan) have trained a good portion of the US electorate to the position ‘no foreign interests are worth US flag-draped caskets’. You can see this in the shift in American public opinion. The Sens. Paul had the political power they did partially because they represented the most prominent Jacksonians in a party run by a Hamiltonian establishment. Trump, likewise, won the Republican primary partly because the Republican base preferred Jacksonians over Hamiltonians, and the national electorate on foreign policy has come to prefer Jacksonians over Wilsonians, which helped Trump in the general election. (Hillary is definitely Wilsonian; Stein, Johnson and one could argue Saunders are Jeffersonian.)

            I was just asking for clarification. I’m sorry if it seemed like a trick question.

            I’m sorry for getting angry. You and Iain are being sincere in your desire to know more, and I’m not always good at putting words to screen. I’m trying to juggle both trying to fairly summarize two different schools, both of which I partly agree with, and now add my own opinion, and deal with stress, and one of the minor things that annoys me is when there is the absence of a major position in a discussion. If a good 30% or more of the electorate believes something, someone should be willing to argue for it.

          • John Schilling says:

            Personally, I’m concerned that if ISIS had been left to themselves, they might have actually succeeded, sooner or later, in forming the empire they’re aiming for.

            That possibility runs into the reality that the Iranians, the Arabs, and/or the Turks would never have allowed it. Which, in fact, is what we are seeing, with Iran taking the lead on knocking down ISIS in ‘I’ and the Russo-Syrian alliance in ‘S’. ISIS is too much of a threat to their interests, they have the means to stop it, and their leaders don’t have to worry too much about losing elections because the casualties start showing up on CNN.

            The problem is that whoever defeats ISIS, is positioned to become the de facto Imperial Great Power of the Middle East whether they like it or not. And it’s maybe not such a good thing for the Middle East to have an Imperial Great Power. So it’s probably a good thing if someone from the outside comes in to break up the threats that would otherwise prompt the locals to form an empire to deal with, but bloody expensive if it has to be the USA all the time.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @Civilis, thank you; a very interesting analysis.

            I think the 9/11 thing is extrapolating from a single data point – it could, in an alternative history, have just as easily been pulled off by ISIS or Libya or, for that matter, the Boy Scouts of America; it was always just a question of who thought of it first.

            Also I think you’re conflating Hussein’s regime with the post-Hussein terrorism, and ignoring the absence of any credible links between Hussein and Al-Qaeda – to be honest, I’d completely forgotten that was ever a thing, had to look it up; I was all in favour of the invasion at the time, but as far as I can recall I dismissed those particular allegations as obviously motivated. (In my head-canon Bush was practically winking at the time. No doubt I misremember.)

            However, that’s all just nit-picking. The main thrust of your argument seems basically reasonable, or at least understandable. Thank you.

          • Civilis says:

            I think the 9/11 thing is extrapolating from a single data point – it could, in an alternative history, have just as easily been pulled off by ISIS or Libya or, for that matter, the Boy Scouts of America; it was always just a question of who thought of it first.

            Yes, but even if a number of people wanted to murder someone, the one you arrest and try is the one that actually did it.

            Also I think you’re conflating Hussein’s regime with the post-Hussein terrorism, and ignoring the absence of any credible links between Hussein and Al-Qaeda – to be honest, I’d completely forgotten that was ever a thing, had to look it up; I was all in favour of the invasion at the time, but as far as I can recall I dismissed those particular allegations as obviously motivated. (In my head-canon Bush was practically winking at the time. No doubt I misremember.)

            Hindsight is 20/20. I didn’t say there were links, just that it was thought to be credible at the time. It wasn’t just the right that thought a connection between Hussein and Al Quaeda was a risk; the Clinton administration claimed the same thing.

            The response to 9/11 was a compromise among multiple groups representing multiple schools of foreign policy. The Jacksonians wanted Al Quaeda and their Taliban backers in Afghanistan pulverized, the predominantly Hamiltonian Republican establishment and the Wisonian part of the Democratic establishment wanted Saddam Hussein out of the way as well. I think that there was no overarching goal in mind was one of the big reasons everything went so wrong.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Harry Maurice Johnston: […] ignoring the absence of any credible links between Hussein and Al-Qaeda – to be honest, I’d completely forgotten that was ever a thing, had to look it up […]

            Civilis wrote: I didn’t say there were links, just that it was thought to be credible at the time. It wasn’t just the right that thought a connection between Hussein and Al Quaeda was a risk; the Clinton administration claimed the same thing.

            There was a little bit of plausible speculation, but there was also a sense of “it really doesn’t matter” at the time as well. No one disputed that Hussein supported suicide bombers in Palestine; it was common knowledge that he considered terrorism a perfectly usable tool in his foreign policy. And after 9/11, the US was fed up with terrorism against the US and her allies (unless the terrorists themselves also had ties to US citizens – see Northern Ireland). Few opponents of Saddam cared whether he was two, six, or sixty degrees of separation from Al Qaeda; they barely even cared about the Nigerian yellowcake claim. They just wanted a saner regime in charge in Iraq.

            While we were there, if we could have squished Hamas, Hezbollah, Assad’s Syria, and even rolled into Tehran and deposed the Ayatollah, the Jacksonians would have gone for that too. “Drain the swamp” was a common phrase back then. The Jacksonian approach says that if you’re going to have to fight a war, fight it so that you don’t have to go back in a decade and fight it again. (Many of them were still grumbling about the Gulf War.)

          • Civilis says:

            While we were there, if we could have squished Hamas, Hezbollah, Assad’s Syria, and even rolled into Tehran and deposed the Ayatollah, the Jacksonians would have gone for that too. “Drain the swamp” was a common phrase back then. The Jacksonian approach says that if you’re going to have to fight a war, fight it so that you don’t have to go back in a decade and fight it again. (Many of them were still grumbling about the Gulf War.)

            I think moving on Iran and Syria was more of a Hamiltonian or Wilsonian goal than a Jacksonian goal. Very few people, especially politicians, are purely one school of thought or another, although it serves as a useful shorthand for discussion. I believe a pure Jacksonian wouldn’t have gone after Iraq at all, but since nobody’s pure it doesn’t mean much.

            I feel the Jacksonian political argument with respect to Iraq was ‘if the invasion of Kuwait was at the level where the US was obliged to take action against Iraq, then the US should have removed Saddam Hussein at that time. We didn’t, instead opting for the Hamiltonian / Wilsonian containment strategy, and this came back to bite us because our continuing troop presence was one of the causes cited for bin Laden’s terrorism campaign against the US.’ The first Persian Gulf war ended up getting a bit of a pass from the Jacksonians, because despite the unsatisfying ending, it was done with few US casualties, and most of the whiz-bang defense technologies worked better than expected, thus cementing American military superpower status and theoretically ensuring nobody would do anything to push the US past the threshold where the Jacksonians were obligated to unleash that power. The problem was that powers hostile to the US figured out that if you encouraged non-state terrorists to poke at the US, you could hurt the US without crossing the threshold at which the Jacksonians take the reins. Saddam Hussein miscalculated how much he could get away with when Al Quaeda pushed the US over the threshold (much as Hitler managed to stay under the threshold for the US officially entering World War II until the Japanese awoke the sleeping giant). Ironically, the resulting mess of all four policy schools jockeying to have their preferred policies put in place in response to 9/11 seems to have stopped the Jacksonians from finishing the job against Al Quaeda and its successors.

            Americans have a beef with Iran for multiple things, especially their support for terrorism and the whole embassy hostages thing (the legitimacy of Iran’s beef with the US is beyond the scope of this discussion because it doesn’t make much difference in looking at America’s political calculus). It’s possible, though harder than it was with Iraq, to make a Jacksonian case for going after Iran, and it’s harder to make a Jacksonian case for going after Syria than it is Iran.

          • Aapje says:

            @Paul Brinkley

            No one disputed that Hussein supported suicide bombers in Palestine

            Saddam actually paid the families of suicide bombers, he didn’t give support before the attack. IMO it is wrong to call this giving support to suicide bombers.

            Besides, a strong argument can be made that the punishment of the surviving family by Israel (destroying their home) is a human rights violation, so paying them can be argued to undo an injustice.

            it was common knowledge that he considered terrorism a perfectly usable tool in his foreign policy.

            I’m not aware of any evidence for this beyond the above.

            In any case, it is an incredible weak basis for claiming that Saddam used terrorism, because again:
            – There was no known support for the actual perpetrator
            – There was no command & control

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Saddam actually paid the families of suicide bombers, he didn’t give support before the attack. IMO it is wrong to call this giving support to suicide bombers.

            Would it suit you more if I said Saddam encouraged more people to become suicide bombers? Because that’s basically what I’m saying when I say he supported them.

            Besides, a strong argument can be made that the punishment of the surviving family by Israel (destroying their home) is a human rights violation, so paying them can be argued to undo an injustice.

            I think this argument isn’t strong at all. It effectively implies that suicide bombers are free to violate all the human rights they can get away with right before they die.

            In any case, it is an incredible weak basis for claiming that Saddam used terrorism, because again:
            – There was no known support for the actual perpetrator
            – There was no command & control

            So if Chauncey says he’ll give everyone’s mom a hundred dollars every time they punch someone in the face, you think no one’s entitled to feel like Chauncey’s contributing to the amount of facepunching in the world??

          • Aapje says:

            @Paul Brinkley

            Would it suit you more if I said Saddam encouraged more people to become suicide bombers? Because that’s basically what I’m saying when I say he supported them.

            Suit me more??? What weird phrasing. None of this suits me.

            It would make a difference in my eyes, if that’s what you mean.

            I think this argument isn’t strong at all. It effectively implies that suicide bombers are free to violate all the human rights they can get away with right before they die.

            I don’t understand your argument here. Are you arguing that the death of the perpetrator deprives you of a person to punish and that it is therefor legitimate to take revenge on the family, regardless of their own culpability?

            If so, I reject taking revenge on people whose guilt has not been established.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I don’t understand your argument here. Are you arguing that the death of the perpetrator deprives you of a person to punish and that it is therefore legitimate to take revenge on the family, regardless of their own culpability?

            No, that’s not what I’m saying. If a suicide bomber were believed to be a one-off, then offing the bomber’s family would be the act of a mafia don or maybe a strongman regime, sure. But in Israel’s case, it’s not an isolated incident; there’s ample reason to believe there will be more bombings, and here’s a guy declaring he’ll aid families of bombers as evidence.

            Also, I didn’t say anything about punishing the family, so I have no idea where you’re getting that from.

          • Aapje says:

            @Paul Brinkley

            No, that’s not what I’m saying. If a suicide bomber were believed to be a one-off, then offing the bomber’s family would be the act of a mafia don or maybe a strongman regime, sure. But in Israel’s case, it’s not an isolated incident; there’s ample reason to believe there will be more bombings, and here’s a guy declaring he’ll aid families of bombers as evidence.

            OK, but again: this is based on a narrative that ignores that Israel engages in collective punishment, which some consider to be a human rights violation.

            Imagine that a government would adopt a policy of killing all family of criminals. Steal a bread? Your wife/parents/children die. This would produce a strong disincentive to crime and by your reasoning, a person who would hide the wife/parents/children from the authorities, would be guilty of supporting stealing. I disagree and argue that this person merely has to see the punishment as unjust.

            Also, I didn’t say anything about punishing the family, so I have no idea where you’re getting that from.

            It is Israeli policy to destroy the house that the perpetrator lived in, which, due to severe overpopulation and restrictions on building in occupied territories, is generally a house shared with family.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            OK, but again: this is based on a narrative that ignores that Israel engages in collective punishment, which some consider to be a human rights violation.

            You’re correct; it does ignore that. But primarily because I’m unaware of the extent to which that actually happened. What incident(s) are you referring to? If it’s the claim you made in the previous post, that doesn’t sound to me like collective punishment; it sounds more like retaliation for an act of war. (Which is what I think most people would interpret a suicide bombing to be, if the bomber came from outside the target nation’s territory.)

            And if, in such a situation, you want to talk about how to treat someone who bombs another nation and then hides the bomber’s family, I think it becomes extremely hard to prove that any given retaliation to that in general is some sort of capital crime. None of it is crime; it’s war. A lot of actions will never get sufficient criminal investigation as a result.

            The only way we can talk about police action and justice is if one nation has sole jurisdiction over all of the territory in question. If you could manage that, THEN I would likely agree with you about which actions were and were not just. But that never happens, AFAICT. The UN tries, but is terrible at it, in my estimation; even its war crimes investigations are inextricable from political concerns, and end up going the way of whichever involved nation has the most clout.

            It’s an interesting question as to whether we’d ever get there, but we’d first need worldwide agreement on what should be just, and right now, we can’t even agree on suicide bombing. Or its response. You claim Israeli policy is to destroy the bomber’s house. I’m honestly unsure whether that’s the case (I’m not turning up any hits on it – have a cite handy?). To the extent it’s plausible to me, it would almost certainly be the case that Israel justifies it as (again) retaliation for an act of war. Clear disagreement on that. Might be worth continuing in the next OT, in case either of us is overlooking anything.

          • Aapje says:

            @Brinkley

            You may consider them justified, but it does not seem justified according to international law.

            There are also other types of collective punishment.

          • random832 says:

            If it’s the claim you made in the previous post, that doesn’t sound to me like collective punishment; it sounds more like retaliation for an act of war.

            How do you define collective punishment, if not as retaliation against someone who did not commit the act being retaliated for?

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            How do you define collective punishment, if not as retaliation against someone who did not commit the act being retaliated for?

            It has to be more than just punishing a group for something one of its members did. The retaliating party has to have recognized authority over the system. From Aapje’s description, this does / did not appear to be true in the Israel case.

            “Collective punishment” also seems to carry this assumption that the initial act was a one-off. This also appears not to hold. Again, if some member of a group carries out an attack against my group, and it looks apparent that that group will NOT produce more such members, then I think retaliating against that group would be unjustified.

            Naturally, I would prefer to avoid such retaliation anyway, and I would want to spend resources on narrowing my threat profile. But until then, this is an adversary abusing customary standards of warfare in order to get away with lethal damage. Consequently, they should not get to hold us to those standards.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @random832,

            How do you define collective punishment, if not as retaliation against someone who did not commit the act being retaliated for?

            So would that mean you had to figure out which specific enemy soldier was shooting at you, and only shoot back at that one? 🙂

            [Ooh! I can actually see the smiley now!]

          • random832 says:

            So would that mean you had to figure out which specific enemy soldier was shooting at you, and only shoot back at that one? 🙂

            If it is a war, they are civilians. If it is crime, they are not criminals (and it’s generally not accepted to just round up whatever members you can find of whatever gang someone was in anyway).

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            It’s not really that simple, though, is it? The rules of war only work if both sides follow them. In the absence of a clear delineation between soldiers and civilians, I’m not sure it’s always practicable to draw the distinction.

        • albatross11 says:

          Yeah, I’m not clear on what Obama should have done differently w.r.t. Iraq. I guess we could have done on having a large occupation force there forever, and maybe that would have prevented the rise of ISIS, but “we have to keep a few hundred thousand troops in Iraq forever” doesn’t seem like a successful outcome, either. Also, there was some really ugly ethnic cleansing and a simmering ethnic civil war going on for many years while we were occupying the place. It’s not clear to me that keeping troops there till now would have gone particularly well.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unspeakable, not a conservative, but the standard political axes test puts me mildly off-center into the blue zone, so close enough.

      1. What would you like me to know? Plain and simple. I will ask this every time.

      Intelligence is genetic. Political beliefs are genetic. Nurture is effective, but only if it’s abuse-level.

      2. A consistent message from my conservative friends (and from conservative media) is that Obama’s presidency was a disaster for the country. Which of Obama’s policies, philosophies, doctrines, etc., do you think have been harmful and why?

      Obama seems like a non-entity, a mediocre puppet of the party. He might have been a decent monarch, though.

    • gbdub says:

      Republican leaning sort of libertarian moderate here (not at all a social conservative):

      1. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Think deeply about what second+ order effects a rule or regulation will have, not merely what it says it will do. Politicians have crappy incentives (and greed) too, not just corporations. Currently relevant examples: passing a law on gun control does not automatically mean there will be less guns or less crime. The health care debate from the liberal side has focused almost exclusively on how many people are “covered” without delving into the details of how well covered they are, how much they must pay, or what part of Obamacare resulted in them being covered (most of the newly insured were from Medicaid expansion and/or people who were already eligible but hadn’t signed up, but from the news reporting you’d think they were all poor souls with pre-existing conditions or people buying on the individual market). The devil is very much in those details.

      2. I don’t think Obama was a disaster, but I do think his foreign policy was a big negative. The Middle East seems like it was worse off when he left it than when he got it, which is saying something considering where Bush left it. Not sure there was a happy ending to Syria, but Iraq and Libya feel like own goals. The Iran deal is a head scratcher (not sure what the US realistically gains from it). Russia was ignored and downplayed until it embarrassed Hillary.

      Obamacare I don’t blame much on Obama, seems like it was more a beast of the Democratic Congress. That said, the exchanges look like they are falling apart in exactly the way naysayers predicted. Obama delayed implementation of some of the hard parts of the bill designed to pay for the popular ones (medical device tax, “Cadillac” tax). The whole thing seems like a rickety edifice, unsustainable as opponents always said it was, but held together with just enough duct tape and CBO manipulation that the collapse happens under a Republican administration, who will be dutifully vilified in the press. Frustrating. Now, Hillary and a Dem Congress would probably bail out the exchanges, but that requires funds not accounted for in the original bill – “revenue neutral” and “bend the cost curve” were clearly, if not lies, then absurdly credulous arguments.

    • John Schilling says:

      On the “what would you like me to know?” side:

      A few dozen OTs ago, we had a fairly long discussion on What is the Central Conservative Insight?. Lots of conservatives chimed in with what they thought was the most important thing for people like you to know.

      My own, albeit accidental, entry was: “There is no problem so bad, so desperately in need of a solution, that it cannot be made worse by squandering limited resources on a plan that cannot work”. Check out the whole list, and the surrounding discussion.

    • Civilis says:

      I grew up in the Washington suburbs, and was pushed right by my naturally contrary reaction, so I’m only really red tribe by comparison (though the internet has pushed me towards being more truly red).

      1. What would you like me to know? Plain and simple. I will ask this every time.

      a. The red tribe / conservatives / Republicans aren’t monolithic. It’s possible for two different people in the same group to have different opinions.
      b. No group has a monopoly on rationality. It’s possible for different positions to be rational depending on the underlying values, and it’s possible for the same value to be expressed different rational ways.
      c. No group has a monopoly on virtue and selflessness. Likewise, no group has a monopoly on vice and selfishness.
      d. Everyone makes mistakes. Making mistakes is a natural part of being human and does not make one an evil person.
      e. It’s safest to give people the benefit of the doubt in debates, and on the other hand, any real world construct needs to be built assuming it’s going to be abused.

      2. A consistent message from my conservative friends (and from conservative media) is that Obama’s presidency was a disaster for the country. Which of Obama’s policies, philosophies, doctrines, etc., do you think have been harmful and why?

      To start with, it’s a good start to refer to it as ‘Obama’s presidency’, as it’s hard to differentiate between what’s the fault of the President, the executive administration, the elected Federal government as a whole including Democratic members of Congress, the largely-Democrat government bueracracy headed by the administration, and the larger Democratic party at a national level. I’ll refer to everything as Obama’s for things that happened during his administration, under the ‘The Buck Stops Here’ theory, he’s somewhat responsible for it even if he didn’t directly do it because he oversaw both the Federal Executive branch and the Democratic party.

      It would be easier to list which of Obama’s policies (remember, policies from one of the above during Obama’s term) didn’t have disastrous effects, intended or unintended; I assume there are some, and because they didn’t break, we didn’t hear about them. I know a lot of people on the right think Obama’s space policy was good. Still, overall, foreign policy during the Obama administration had a lot of major failures and no major successes. For domestic policy, we messed up health insurance with signs that it may be causing long term negative effects on health care in general.

      The real disaster has been the complete and total breakdown in respect for the rule of law. For America to work, the vast majority needs to believe that they get more out of playing by the rules than they do by undermining them or exploiting them; it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way. Because enough people believe the system works for everyone, they follow the system and it works for just about everyone.

      The following is an off the top of my head, incomplete and unordered list of where people on the right saw the Rule of Law bent or broken:
      a) Undocumented immigration. We have mutually agreed upon immigration laws. if they are bad, change them. It’s doubly bad when you bring sanctuary cities on the list; we’re treating criminals more leniently because they are also in violation of immigration laws and might be deported if the immigration authorities catch on. It’s triply bad when they are finally arrested for something so heinous it couldn’t be kept out of the papers, and you find that it could have been avoided if the law had been followed when they were arrested for something earlier.
      b) College campus bias. This is only directly tied to the Obama administration by that Title IX ‘Dear Colleague’ letter, but it’s in the news enough. Ironically, the visibly privileged group on college campuses is the one whining about how much privilege everyone else has.
      c) The IRS. The IRS doesn’t let you plead ‘but my hard drive crashed’ when you get audited, they don’t get to use that as an excuse for dodging congressional subpoenas.
      d) Gun laws. If you’re going to complain about gun violence, don’t be caught flagrantly violating gun laws to sell guns to the cartels. I seriously doubt the US government did this just to push gun control (as opposed to bureaucratic stupidity), but I understand why people are skeptical. As a bonus, watching David Gregory flagrantly violate the law on national TV and skate also looks very bad.
      e) Hillary Clinton: national security rules on classification, government officials lying to the press, conflict of interest…
      f) Health Care. ‘Oh, yeah, the law doesn’t say that, but we’ll go ahead and get the Supreme Court to make the change’.
      g) BLM / Police Excessive Force: By turning this into a racial issue, we’ve made it harder to solve a real problem and undermined the rule of law in the place where it’s most badly needed. By promoting a blacks vs cops narrative, we’ve made the problem of police use of force worse and caused violence in the inner city.

    • Wrong Species says:

      One thing people don’t really talk about, even here, is casual racism. Not the idea of genetic differences across groups or white nationalism but simply the general antipathy that your grandpa might have. I won’t necessarily defend it but I’ll say this: their dislike of other ethnicities isn’t any worse than the typical person’s dislike of other political groups. Unlike some conservatives, I’ll admit that racism does to some extent play a part in contemporary politics but that doesn’t mean the average Trump voter is willing to genocide black or Hispanic people. The idea that we are on the path to bringing back institutionalized racism is probably the weakest critique people have about Trump.

    • J Mann says:

      Good questions, thanks. I’ll gladly read the “progressive” “libertarian” and “grey tribe” equivalents as well.

      1) I don’t think many progressives get quite why red staters were so alarmed, but part of it is that a significant segment of libs decided they finally had the numbers to win the culture war once and for all, and the rest of the libs didn’t care enough to stop them. Little issues like telling the Little Sisters of the Poor that they had to pay for contraception or shaming people for expressing personal opposition to gay marriage didn’t help. The message was pretty clear – once libs have the numbers, expect publicly funded abortions, Mexican or European-style gun control, increasing restrictions on religious charities and worship organizations being able to function in the marketplace, increasing restrictions on people being able to express conservative opinions – not all at once, but the standard lib response was basically “you’re wrong” and “pray I do not alter the deal any farther.”

      2. I don’t think Obama was a disaster, but to be fair, I don’t think W or Trump have been disasters yet. (Other than W’s Iraq gamble leading to a Dem supermajority).

      My main gripe about O is that his foreign policy seems unusually feckless, even by the low standards of most US presidents. I still don’t have any idea what his foreign policy vision or accomplishments were, and as far as I can tell, most of his policy was both slow and reactive instead of strategic.

      The 2009 Honduran Constitutional Crisis was instructive – the Honduran President was deadlocked with the Legislature and the Supreme Court over whether the President could simply refuse to comply with a Supreme Court injunction, and the army ultimately supported the Court over the President. Obama decided to intervene in a foreign country’s constitutional crisis and demanded that President Zelaya be reinstated. Whether that was good or bad, the next few months were to become typical of Obama foreign policy. He demanded more and more loudly that a foreign country do what he wanted, and they said “no” until he backed down. The result was that his opinions were on “the right side of history” from a progressive point of view, but his accomplishments seem pretty close to zero. Relations with Netanyahu, Russia, Syria, etc. were a similar series of called bluffs.

      To Obama’s credit, his threat against Syria seems likely to have somewhat reduced the use of chemical weapons in the battlefield, and some of the intelligence reports say that he was able to substantially reduce Chinese cyber attacks through diplomacy. It’s not that he didn’t accomplish anything, but more that he seems to have just reacted to whatever happened, largely followed other nations rather than leading, and usually overplayed his hand, then settled for what he could get.

      • Jordan D. says:

        I don’t disagree at all that these are accurate perceptions, but I do want to chime in to note that Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell was never about whether the Little Sisters had to pay for contraception, but rather whether they should be automatically exempt from the requirement or have to file an exemption. The Little Sisters argued that notifying the insurer that they were opting out triggered the insurer to provide the contraceptives anyway, making them complicit in sin.

        (Admittedly I’m skipping a lot of detail on all sides for the sake of summary.)

        • J Mann says:

          That’s fair – I was simplifying.

          I appreciate that you’re not arguing with me, and you’re totally right, so this isn’t a response to you, but just my view of how some of the red staters saw that exemption.

          O did carve out a narrow exemption, which many religious did not find satisfactory, at which point they were told they were wrong and should shut up.

          As I understand it (I’m far from expert and would welcome correction):

          1) Religious charitable organizations that employ non-religious employees, such as hospitals or the salvation army/st vincent de paul/etc. are required to pay for contraception regardless, because they always have the option of abandoning their charitable mission to help the needy.

          2) Religious organizations that are fully insured (i.e. that pay a fixed per-member premium to an insurance company that then pays medical claims) are required to buy insurance that covers contraception. This should not violate their conscience because . . . well, actually, I have no idea why anyone thinks they can tell someone that this shouldn’t violate their conscience but that self-insured payments could.

          3) Religious organizations that self-insure are permitted to apply for an exemption under which they do not pay for contraception themselves, but their claims administrator will be required to purchase the insurance itself and cover the services. (I don’t know if administrators are permitted to price this expected cost into their bid to exempt organizations or whether they have to spread the cost over all their clients.)

          • Jordan D. says:

            I also am not an expert! I just like watching court cases.

            That sounds a lot like how the state of the law was in 2011-2012, when the first opinions of the ACA would have been developing, so it makes a lot of sense that people would continue to think in terms of those requirements.

            I suppose I didn’t think about it that way because I really only paid attention to the contraceptive mandate when Hobby Lobby started through the court system, and by that time the 2012-2013 regulations would have gone into effect.

            So thank you for the insight!

      • Iain says:

        @J Mann: What are your thoughts on the nuclear agreement with Iran?

        • J Mann says:

          I don’t feel qualified to have an opinion on the nuclear agreement. My general impression of the parties is that Iran probably got better terms than they would have otherwise, but I can’t tell if it’s better than no deal. Sending planes with crates of cash to Iran doesn’t look good, but again, maybe it’s one of the better choices out of a suite of bad options.

          I think to make a good judgment, you would have to know:

          1) Would international sanctions have collapsed absent a deal? (This is also one of the points I would want to know to judge the Iraq war – my instinct is that Saddam was a few years away from getting out of most sanctions, but war opponents typically disagree and argue that sanctions would have brought him to heel. There’s no way to know, which makes the whole thing hard to judge.)

          2) Was there a possibility of regime change or substantial policy change under the pressure of sanctions? (Unlikely, but I suppose that’s what we said about the USSR and Qadafi.)

          3) How many years have we delayed the Iranian nuclear program as a result of this deal, versus the presumable alternative of sanctions + intelligence activities?

          4) What’s the actual risk that an Iranian nuclear program results in the destruction of a city, and/or a substantial change in Mideast politics for the worse?

          I’m convinced that there probably wasn’t a viable military option – most countries will back down somewhat to avoid or end constant US bombing (see Libya, Syria), but not all the way (see Libya, Syria), and I doubt the international community or US electorate would have supported a long term bombing campaign based solely on nuclear development and links to terror organization.

          So the question really is – does the deal make us better off than sanctions, and/or could we have gotten a significantly better deal, and the answer is that I don’t have any idea how to approach that question.

          • bintchaos says:

            That is simply not what happened.
            The Iranian treaty was an attempt to extricate the US from the ME before NLS collapse.
            Tablet Magazine– Obama’s Syrian Striptease

            America’s settled policy of standing by while half a million Syrians have been killed, millions have become refugees, and large swaths of their country have been reduced to rubble is not a simple “mistake,” as critics like Nicholas D. Kristof and Roger Cohen have lately claimed. Nor is it the product of any deeper-seated American impotence or of Vladimir Putin’s more recent aggressions. Rather, it is a byproduct of America’s overriding desire to clinch a nuclear deal with Iran, which was meant to allow America to permanently remove itself from a war footing with that country and to shed its old allies and entanglements in the Middle East, which might also draw us into war. By allowing Iran and its allies to kill Syrians with impunity, America could demonstrate the corresponding firmness of its resolve to let Iran protect what President Barack Obama called its “equities” in Syria, which are every bit as important to Iran as pallets of cash.

            And just like it sold its Iran policy through a public “echo chamber” of paid “experts” from organizations like Ploughshares and quote-seeking journalists and bloggers, some of whom also cashed White House-friendly nonprofit checks, the White House deliberately constructed an “echo chamber” to forward its Syria policy. The difference between the two “echo chambers” is that, absent any wider debate or the need for congressional approval, the Syria version was much more narrowly targeted at policy wonks and foreign-affairs writers, and the arguments it echoed were entirely deceptive in their larger thrust—the point of the Iran Deal was, in fact, to do a deal with Iran—rather than simply incomplete or false in their specifics.

            America’s Syria policy can, therefore, be best understood not in the terms most familiar to Mideast analysts, such as “getting Assad to step aside” or “supporting the moderate opposition” or “paving the way to a peaceful transition and elections.” Rather, it is a strategic-communications campaign tightly run from the White House, whose purpose was and is to serve as a smokescreen for an entirely coherent and purposeful policy that comes directly from the president himself, but which he and his aides did not wish to publicly own. The goal of the president and his closest aides is to convince the Iranians that we would meet our commitments to them while confusing and obscuring the real reasons behind the president’s set decision of nonintervention in Syria from American legislators and the public alike.

            Now there is a valid reason to hate on Obama.

          • J Mann says:

            @bintchaos – can you clarify?

            What “is simply not what happened,? and what does NLS stand for?

            Thanks!

          • bintchaos says:

            Read the Tablet article for Obama’s FP on Syria.
            It was never about planes with pallets of cash, but all about supporting Assad without the appearance of supporting him.
            NLS = Non-Linear Systems

          • Iain says:

            @J Mann:

            Oops, I somehow missed this response when you first posted it. In case you are still reading: I don’t know whether the sanctions would have lasted, but I think you are right to think they were unlikely to lead to regime change. (Conversely, I think there is a reasonable case to be made that they could and did lead to substantial policy change, in the form of the nuclear agreement.)

            The agreement puts limits on Iran’s nuclear activities to keep them at least 12 months away from a bomb, and those restrictions last ten years (and are phased out over the next five). Even the Trump administration has acknowledged that Iran has been complying with the terms of the deal.

            Here’s an article from Daniel Larison at the American Conservative, hardly a hotbed of Obama supporters, that is very favourable towards the deal.

            In short: the deal is a pretty significant foreign policy accomplishment, and does not fit into your narrative of a feckless Obama leading from behind.

          • Matt M says:

            IIRC “The American Conservative” is fairly libertarian leaning and houses a whole lot of Ron Paul type conservatives. Possibly not very representative of conservatism as a whole.

          • J Mann says:

            @Iain,

            Unfortunately, I’m going to stay agnostic on that one. There are articles portraying the Iran deal as a disaster and as a remarkable success, and you might well be right, but I don’t have the ability to judge. It’s possible you’re right, but it’s also possible that we allowed the program to concentrate on delivery systems and general tech improvement, that they’re actually only a few months from a bomb instead of the year promised, and that we’ve emboldened and strengthened a fundamentally hostile power, while sitting on our hands in response to Syria and other issues to avoid offending the Iranians. I honestly don’t know how to judge.

            I’ll grant that it’s possible that the Obama administration is actually average or better on foreign policy once you factor in accomplishments that I am unable to comprehend, but they sure don’t seem to do well on the ones that I can comprehend, which isn’t a positive sign for the rest.

            Also – I don’t think it’s out of the question that administration with a feckless, reactive, visionless foreign policy might still get a few things right.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        The 2009 Honduran Constitutional Crisis was instructive – the Honduran President was deadlocked with the Legislature and the Supreme Court over whether the President could simply refuse to comply with a Supreme Court injunction, and the army ultimately supported the Court over the President. Obama decided to intervene in a foreign country’s constitutional crisis and demanded that President Zelaya be reinstated.

        This sounds similar to the western reaction to the failed Turkish coup, where US-centric thinking folks just assume that anyplace that has a President, the office automatically has all the institutional gravitas and checks&balances as ours. Sometimes someone does have to step in and tell El Presidente “no, you do not have the authority for this power grab” and in the absence of a Legislative/Judicial(/Other?) branch with actual teeth (and spine), the army is the one that can do that.

        • J Mann says:

          I’m not even saying O was wrong necessarily, although as a conservative, I’m sympathetic to the position that “it’s a very complex situation, maybe we shouldn’t meddle until we know more.”

          It’s more that once O decided that US policy was to back Zelaya, he didn’t really have any plan to get to his policy goal, and just pounded the table louder and louder about how the US was not going to accept this and there were going to be all kinds of consequences, right up until the time we did accept it and there weren’t any consequences.

          According to Wikipedia, the Congressional Research Service backed the anti-Zelaya legal analysis, and I don’t know what Obama’s actual motivation was, but it could have been any of:

          1) This looked something like a coup, and Western Hemisphere coups are seen as (a) destabilizing and (b) right wing.

          2) The regional organization (“OAS”?) was backing Zelaya, and Obama wanted to “lead from behind” by supporting the majority position.

          3) Zelaya was the progressive/populist figure in the dispute.

  6. biblicalsausage says:

    I’m interested in sounding out the opinions of the SSC community on something. I’ve read a lot by folks like Mr. Money Mustache, Early Retirement Extreme, or the folks who wrote Your Money or Your Life. These writers advocate a particular approach to money (mostly applicable to people who make double the poverty line in income or more), which is more or less reducible to:

    (1) Cut your spending to the bone (homecooked cheap food, roommates, whatever).

    (2) Save fifty percent or more or your income.

    (3) Do this for a decade or two, investing the money in fairly conventional ways, until you have the money to not need to work any more.

    Is this reasonable (for people who can do it)? Are there any major downsides I might not be thinking of?

    • Brad says:

      I have a few issues with it:
      First and foremost it optimizes over a certain subset of the preference space. That subset doesn’t cover the preferences of all human beings (or all Americans) and doesn’t even seem to cover most. In and of itself that’s fine, but they ought to be more explicit about their preference assumptions and the fact that it isn’t for anyone. Instead some advocates seem to tie in an implicit normative assumption that people’s preferences ought to lie in that subset and if they don’t, well you are just wrong.

      This can be especially problematic in a couple that has one partner that has the relevant preferences and one that doesn’t, and the one that does tries to pressure the one that doesn’t into going along. If the movement were more open about the arbitrariness of the relevant preferences than perhaps these conflicts would be less fraught.

      Second, the investment return assumptions seem to be pretty aggressive and take as a given that the next 100 years will look more or less like the last hundred years.

      Third, and relatedly, the “fairly conventional ways” are I agree fairly conventional and common, but are nonetheless theoretically unsound. Not the biggest deal in the world but worth noting in light of the fact that you may well be dogpilled if you go against the conventional wisdom which is often treated as dogma in spite of the aforementioned unsoundness.

      • Creutzer says:

        Could you expand on that theoretical unsoundness? This seems important. We’re talking about ETFs here, right?

        • Brad says:

          The issue is portfolio construction. They are based on ad hoc received wisdom and in some case (e.g. eschewing leverage and instead varying portfolio constituents to adjust expected return) go directly against virtually all the literature.

          • Creutzer says:

            Okay, I haven’t read nearly enough (of either ERE stuff or “the literature”) to be sure I understand you correctly. Are you saying that the ERE folks say you should avoid leverage and instead use higher-risk investments if you need higher return? Can you give me a quick reference to something so I can follow up on this?

          • Brad says:

            http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/11/04/why-i-put-my-last-100000-into-betterment/
            http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/18/how-to-make-money-in-the-stock-market/

            From the first link:

            Betterment is designed to make things simple for you, even while they do some pretty sophisticated management in the background. They start with a brief questionnaire on how long until you retire, and your financial goals. In the end, this translates to a ratio of stocks to bonds, and people closer to retirement get more bonds because stability is often preferred over the higher returns of stocks.

            However, I retired 10 years ago and I still don’t care at all about stability, because we have sufficient safety margin to allow (and even benefit from) greater volatility. So I overrode the system and selected “90% stocks, 10% bonds”.

            For the other side of the coin, try googling things like “modern portfolio theory”, “efficient frontier”, and “tangency portfolio”.

          • Anon. says:

            From the MPT perspective the correct approach is the pick the optimal portfolio and then lever it up/down to reach your target risk. Don’t know how much of a difference it would make in practice from a typical 60/40 allocation though.

            There’s also the issue of variations in risk, it’s completely irrational to maintain the same leverage in the middle of a violent crash and at times like now when the VIX is almost in the single digits.

          • Creutzer says:

            Thanks for the hints, I’ll read up on this!

            I apologise for a possibly irrelevant speculation that I’m making before. I’m wondering if the following is a possible explanation: maybe the ERE stuff is meant to be optimised for easy execution by private individuals, for whom it may be more difficult to create situation-adjustable leverage, compared to just rebalancing the holdings in their portfolio.

          • Brad says:

            I don’t really have a problem with the bogleheads (which is where this stuff originates) advice as advice. It’s better than what most people would do otherwise. What bothers me is when people don’t realize that’s what’s going on and argue as if it represents ground truth rather than decent rules of thumb for many people to use.

            The much bigger concerns for “should I follow the ERE lifeplan” are the ones I talked about in the first and second paragraphs.

    • Eric Rall says:

      I’m a bit over a decade into a “light” version of this: my savings have been more like 30-40% of take-home income than the 50-75% MMM advocates, and my income has been high enough (programmer, working for Microsoft or Google for most of my post-college career) that this hasn’t required much more than garden-variety frugality. I could retire comfortably tomorrow if I were willing to maintain my current standard of living, move to a low-cost-of-living part of the country, and if I didn’t have a kid on the way. Instead, I plan on working another decade or so for the sake of providing what MMM would call a “fancy-pants” lifestyle for myself and my family, keeping a substantial margin to cover child-rearing expenses, and retaining access to the amenities of higher-COL parts of the country (I currently live in the Bay Area, and the current front-runners for a retirement destination are Las Vegas suburbs or a few possibilities in relatively rural areas of coastal California).

      It helps quite a bit that I have relatively modest tastes in travel and entertainment, that I’m a good home cook, and I’m fairly handy around the house. If you like going clubbing every week, or you’re used to taking big vacations regularly, or if you’re dependent on carry-out for decent meals, or you barely know which end of a screwdriver to hold and you aren’t comfortable learning, then cutting spending even to the degree I’ve done (which, as I mentioned, is a fair amount short of what MMM practices and advocates) is going to be quite a bit harder. Likewise, it’s a lot easier to live on half of a programmer’s salary than it is to live on half the salary of most other jobs. There was no hard adjustment for me, since I got used to living on a tight budget in college and didn’t go overboard on ramping up my lifestyle once I was finished college and working full time, but I imagine it would be quite a bit harder to cut half the cost of an existing lifestyle that you’re already used to.

      That being said, MMM is right about how liberating it is to be living well below your means with a big chunk of change in accessible investments. There are several times when savings to fall back on and having a big reserve in my budget have turned situations that would have been a major crisis for most people into mere annoyances for me: my car unexpectedly needing a new transmission, my house unexpectedly needing a new roof, etc. It’s also been comforting to know when going through stressful times at work that if I really could just chuck it all and live off saving for years at my current standard of living, or indefinitely if I cut back an achievable amount.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        +1 to “Early Retirement Lets-Not-Go-Crazy”.

        It’s like with a diet: the important part is making a sustainable lifestyle change that you can be happy at. The various tips for being less wasteful and/or more frugal can help, but I find it really does boil down to finding a comfortable “lipostatic” balance.

        The tricky part comes in knowing how much is safe to actually retire off of, as Brad alluded to.

    • Matt M says:

      The obvious failure mode is that you may die before you reach retirement age, so you would have spent your life sacrificing in pursuit of a future that never materializes. Or, comparably, some sort of disaster may befall the world such that you cannot happily retire (your money is invested in stocks and bonds, market crashes and never recovers, etc.)

      The less extreme version of this is the general idea that you’re more capable of enjoying yourself and having a good time when you’re younger rather than older.

      Like, the entire premise of the time value of money is that money is worth more today than it is in some hypothetical future. But that works both ways. It doesn’t just apply to the bank, it applies to you as well.

    • Well... says:

      I would love to save 50 percent of my income, and if I was single and childless I easily could. Heck, I could live comfortably off 25 percent of my income if it was just me.

      But in real life I have kids and a wife who stays home to raise them. It’s worth it, too: I’m never lonely, and I will have descendants which is a pretty awesome feeling.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Beyond the stuff already mentioned here, I think that there’s a certain unfairness in saying “everyone can do this.” Not everyone can fix their own deck or whatever to save a few bucks, and so on. MMM has had some advantages in life that most people don’t get, and so his whole “I use the sheer power of my indomitable will to save money” shtick can come off a little tone-deaf.

      That said, I’m glad I stumbled across his site. Put me down as one of the people who cuts costs sensibly so they can save well above the average – I save something like 1/4-1/3 of my post-tax income, perhaps a bit more, and after a few years of work have enough money socked away to live for an equivalent amount of time without working, if I desired.

    • The Nybbler says:

      It looks to me like

      1) Cut your spending to the bone

      N) Live your life at that level.

      That’s a major downside if you want to enjoy your retirement with things which require money.

      On the other hand, the way expenses (in particular taxes) keep going up, I’m not sure expecting to retire at a decent standard of living is reasonable. I make good money, I’ve got a lot saved up, and I just don’t see retirement at anything like my present standard of living as a possibility in the forseeable future.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is this reasonable (for people who can do it)?

      Absolutely. If you can go to a high-income country and retire to a low-income country, you can do this in as little as two years, not two decades.

      Are there any major downsides I might not be thinking of?

      If you’re a natural spendthrift, I wouldn’t advise it. The level of savings you need for this strategy is something only applicable to people who already are naturally frugal, and without any expensive habits to keep (like smoking, drinking, whoring, etc). Only if you’re the sort of person who can be content with low spending, would I advise going for this. It isn’t for most people. Most people would either fail or be terminally unhappy that they can’t have a new gadget every week, a new car every two years, can’t get smashed every weekend, etc.

      Then there’s the issue that some, many people can’t be happy and sane unless they are working. So even if they succeed in their goal, they might find ‘retirement’ to be a nightmare where they spend all day playing vidya and growing fat and antisocial. This plan is only for people who:
      a) can deal with low-spending long-term,
      b) can deal with permanent joblessness.

      • Aapje says:

        c) can deal with leaving behind your family/friends when you migrate to the low-income country.

        • Anonymous says:

          It’s easier if the low-income country is your home country.

          • onyomi says:

            Upside to the coming impoverishment of America!

          • Aapje says:

            Unlikely to be true for more than a tiny fraction of the readers of SSC.

            In general, it is quite unlikely that people from a truly low-income country will get the level of education they need to get a high-income job in a high-income country, as well as permission to migrate, unless they already come from a rich family.

          • Anonymous says:

            Post-Soviet education isn’t *that* bad.

          • Creutzer says:

            But the countries where post-soviet education isn’t *that* bad are also the countries that are not *that* low-income. Not enough so that keeping your approximate standard of living is going to be 5+ times cheaper. Not that the difference that is there is to be discarded entirely, of course.

            The problem with leaving friends, of course, doesn’t go away.

      • Winter Shaker says:

        To be fair, it should be pointed out that Mr Money Mustache does not explicitly recommend not-working – rather he recommends getting to the point that any work you do is on your terms because you don’t actually need the money.

        • hlynkacg says:

          Yes, that is an important distinction.

        • Anonymous says:

          Fair enough. I don’t advocate being a full-time couch potato either, but if the wrong sort of person gets financial independence, they will reliably become a couch potato simply because they don’t have to work.

          • Rowan says:

            The intersection between “will reliably become a couch potato simply because they don’t have to work” and “can’t be happy and sane unless they are working” can’t be all that big, can it?

          • Anonymous says:

            I know several such people.

    • Vitor says:

      Your peers are calibrated to consider a certain level of spending reasonable (and spending less while earning the same makes you a cheapskate in their eyes). If you are already a socially awkward person, being super frugal can make it worse. You’ll miss out on social opportunities. You’ll inadvertently offend people. People might even feel you are mooching off of them.

      E.g. you share a hobby with someone (fishing or whatever) and they lend you all the gear you need. This is fine, even normal, the first few times. But if you keep borrowing their stuff over and over again, at some point you just start coming off as an asshole. Their stuff breaks and they have to replace it, and still you don’t chip in anything and keep borrowing. Now maybe for you this hobby only makes you marginally happier, so you’d have negative utility if you had to pay your own way. The only thing you’re really interested in is spending time with your friend. And maybe that hobby is more fun to do together, for both of you but especially for them. If you were straw rationalists, it would be a win-win to keep this arrangement going. However, your real-life friend will eventually get tired of this, specially when they inevitably find out that you put more than their entire salary into the bank every month.

      I am fairly frugal myself (around 30% savings), but while I am perfectly happy restricting myself quite a lot, I am more relaxed about spending money in social and one-off situations. I think it’s a worthy trade-off.

    • J Mann says:

      Some possible downsides are:

      (1) In terms of a lifetime utility function, you might enjoy a few trips to Europe when you’re young, even if that means you need to work another year. One of the Econtalk guests talked about scrimping to save $100 when he was a relatively poor grad student, and his position was “knowing what I know now, I wish I could send that $100 back to younger me so he could enjoy it.”

      (2) If the MMM “retirement” lowers your overall marketability, then you will be vulnerable if you need to reenter the workforce – say, if your investments seriously underperform, or if you decide you’d rather have more money for some reason, like increasing your lifestyle or save for an unexpected kid’s education, start a business, etc.

      Theses are manageable, but IMHO should be considered in any plan.

  7. Zodiac says:

    In one of the past open threads came up the topic of ad algorithms and a few people have reported that they felt the algorithms have been ineffective for them (example given was that it showed the same product over and over again).
    I have had a similar experience with Youtubes related/recommended video algorithm and with Steams recommended games. Ever since “related videos” changed into “recommended videos” I have found considerable less interesting videos to the point of Youtube probably losing out on clicks by me.
    Long story short: Do we have some actual studies and analyzes that prove that all this automated customization is effective?

    • NIP says:

      Are we all so enlightened now that we can’t hold anything to be sacred?

      Boy, is that ever a can of worms. Good comic, tho.

    • onyomi says:

      I am really interested in and mildly depressed by this question, but don’t have a very good answer. (Pointless signal boost post)

    • rahien.din says:

      We should largely distinguish between

      1. The natural reaction to beauty which drives us to hold it sacred
      2. The resultant impulse in some to rhapsodize/compose
      3. The resultant impulse in some to perform
      4. The various aspects of performance, including the choice of the venue in which one performs.

      The comic basically asserts that a typical modern audience would consider the venue of spontaneous poetic eruption to be awkward (true in almost all circumstances), and then asserts this shows that modern people have a deficient sanctifying reaction to beauty something something rationality something something irony.

      But this is all kinds of motte and bailey. It is very easy to assert that touring gorgeous woods listening to a genius poet composing verse on the fly would be wonderful. It is much harder to assert that touring the woods listening to anyone’s poetic first drafts would be enjoyable at all. It is very easy to assert that a genius poet’s recitations are welcome in many venues. It is much harder to assert that anyone’s blurtings are welcome in every venue. Particularly if one wants to claim that every venue must be open to every person’s every eruption in order for us to conclude that we hold anything sacred. That’s an insurmountably extraordinary claim.

      Compare instead to basketball. If Lebron James showed up to my pickup game and spent half an hour just doing crazy acrobatic dunks, that would be something I would tell my kids about. If instead I decided to grab the ball in the middle of the game and spent half an hour trying (ineptly) to do crazy acrobatic dunks, it would entirely suck. And yet, somehow, this has no bearing on whether we were too rational and fearfully ironic to like basketball. In fact, the liking of basketball is chiefly what drives us to enjoy Lebron’s intrusion and roll our eyes at mine.

      Speaking personally, everyone I know and love is A. highly rational, B. profoundly and unironically affected by the sacredness and beauty of nature, and C. possessed of the propriety that tells us not to blurt out our immediate poetic impulses in most circumstances.

      Edit: typo, clarity

      • onyomi says:

        But in the past poetry wasn’t like crazy trick shots only Lebron James could do. It was just like playing basketball.

        With respect to poetry, at least, we’ve reached the point where anyone less than Lebron James feels cringy, which is more analogous to everyone being too embarrassed to even pick up the ball if he’s not Lebron James.

        As evidence, I can still remember as a kid a few occasions when people recited poetry for someone on his or her birthday and it didn’t feel that cringy. I have also perused old high school year books and diaries and the like from e.g. the 20s and the language tends to be so flowery and effusive (and fully of bad poetry) that many people would definitely feel super cringy about writing such things today. These people surely knew they weren’t Robert Frost, yet that didn’t stop them.

        There does seem to be a sort of rebellion against this among some very nerdy people (to some extent, myself included), where they actively try to be not so ironic and jaded, but such things can seem pretty odd from the outside at the best of times, like that “m’lady” meme at the worst.

        • rahien.din says:

          onyomi,

          I think we agree about many things. That the resort to irony and jadedness is often mere intellectual and emotional cowardice. That if people are so embarrassed to compose or recite verse, it may reflect of a widespread lack of charity (imagined or real) with regards to the performance of the arts. And those things are sad and unnecessary and The Nothing and worth fighting against.

          Probably inductive poetry has some responsibility for that real or imagined lack of charity, like similar movements in other art forms. I don’t know if you listen to Meet The Composer, but they recently had a great program examining this exact question in the context of musical composition, comparing melodic/tonal and chromatic/atonal composition methods. Highly recommended.

          MTC came down exactly in the middle of the “tuneful, accessible, and plentiful” vs “crystalline, impenetrable, and rare” debate.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’ve only listened to part of the radio program, but it’s fascinating and horrifying and I’m replying because I want to make it easier to find your comment again.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          I used the phrase “anti-inductive” originally, and I think at least part of what is going on is that art can be anti-inductive. Basketball is different, since you have a clear success condition (beating everyone else at basketball) but art is not a competition with fixed, explicit rules in which you can just be the best. So you have to have some other way of getting ahead in art, and doing things differently rather than the same way, is one of those ways.

          There are probably other things going on as well. Language changes over time, even if mostly randomly, so if you make the deliberate choice to copy an old style, there must be a reason, and usually there isn’t a good one.

          Edit: Also, signaling. To be more specific: When no one had ever waxed rhapsodic about the beauty of nature, doing so was considered beautiful and deep and signaled that you appreciated the beauty of nature. Now it signals that you’re being melodramatic and trying to get attention.

          • rahien.din says:

            Oh! I read that as [anti] – [inductive poetry]. You meant [anti-inductive] – [poetry]?

            I actually had to look up the use of inductive and deductive in the context of verse. I found this post – is that what you meant?

            Basketball is different, since you have a clear success condition (beating everyone else at basketball) but art is not a competition with fixed, explicit rules in which you can just be the best. So you have to have some other way of getting ahead in art, and doing things differently rather than the same way, is one of those ways.

            Iconoclasm/innovation plays a role in sports as well. Just look at the success of the Warriors’ unconventional offense.

          • Alex Zavoluk says:

            I meant “anti-inductive” as in the concept explained here and here. That is, things that change in response to attempts to understand/fight them.

  8. Harry Maurice Johnston says:

    Is it true that there have been no terrorist attacks in Poland since 2001? Any theories?

    (Note that in this context “terrorist attack” is being defined quite broadly, even over here in New Zealand we’ve got one entry for the time period in question, and quite a number for the previous decade.)

    • Anonymous says:

      AFAIK. I’m not sure I’ve heard of any in my lifetime, nevermind just since 2001. Poland has had much success in that regard lately by refusing to import likely enemies.

      The wikipedia category for the issue has the latest terrorist attack to be about 78 years ago.

    • Murphy says:

      something like 95% of terrorism in Europe is separatist groups. Poland only has 2 regions with any kind of separatist movements and they’re both more similar to cornish independence groups than to ETA or the IRA.

      Anonymous seems to attribute it to lack of immigrants but statistically immigrants are only responsible for a tiny fraction of terrorist attacks.

      It’s not the only country you’ll notice, Slovakia and a few others are in the same boat.

      • Aapje says:

        @Murphy

        Yet the overwhelming majority of terror attacks that happened since 2000 and killed at least 10 people involved Islamic terrorism or (in 1 case) anti-Islamic terrorism. The two major attacks by separatists were in the least Western parts of Europe (Macedonia and Yugoslavia).

        You are correct that separatists seem to be responsible for a high number of attacks, but their attacks seems to cause relatively few casualties and also relatively often targeted at officials, rather than random citizens.

        I think it is rational for citizens to care more about the terrorism that is more likely to kill them than forms of terrorism that are less likely to do so.

        • INH5 says:

          That’s beside the point of this discussion, though, because the map in question puts a dot on every terrorist attack, regardless of how serious it was.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that it is rather meaningless not to take severity into account, for obvious reasons.

            One could commit 100’s of terrorist attacks by putting thumb tacks on people’s chairs and then have those ‘count’ much more than a single attack with many deaths.

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      What is more interesting is that Poland also seems to have avoided the non-political terrorism the non-minority young males occasionally engage in, namely, school shootings.

      If the data source is Global Terrorism Database, their definition of terrorist attack is very broad, though, occasionally including all and every kind of political violence. Maybe they are underreporting those in Poland. (For example, they are missing quite many cases of “right-wingers assaulted and beat left-wingers, or vice versa” that happened where I live, but they seem to be attempting to count them as a terrorism.)

    • Yakimi says:

      Among the blessings of communism was that it insulated Poland from immigration and prevented the penetration of Polish minds by Western liberalist ideological fashions that would incline them towards accepting immigration. Unlike American-occupied Europe, Poland has wisely chosen not to import and subsidize a Janissary caste that is prone to committing hostile acts against the native population. Which is not to say Polish liberals haven’t tried.

    • INH5 says:

      Based on the answers to that question, I suspect that this is likely due to underreporting. One answer links to a few incidents in Poland that would meet the source’s broad definition of “terrorist attack,” such as a molotov cocktail attack on a Roma neighborhood but for whatever reason weren’t recorded in the GTD list that the map uses as a source.

  9. Douglas Knight says:

    Quick, get your orange petunias before they are destroyed.

    • Jiro says:

      If you create a rule saying that people can profit from a crime when the crime, judged in hindsight, didn’t harm anyone, you incentivize the commission of crimes. Lots of people don’t know how to properly assess risk, and even the ones who do may have reasons to take the risks (imagine that you need $x or you go bankrupt, and having 1/2 X doesn’t leave you 1/2 bankrupt. You may take great risks to get $X.)

      Also, judging the outcome as harmless, even in hindsight, is prone to corruption or at least bias, since it’s hard to objectively judge things like “has an 0.1% chance of disturbing the ecosystem” or “causes an allergic reaction in 0.1% of the population”.

      So yes, the GE plants should be destroyed, for the same reason that if you hold someone hostage, causing him to miss an airplane flight which happens to crash, you’re still punished, even though he’s better off from being held hostage.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Since no one knows who actually committed the crime 20 years ago, you are punishing people for not performing genetic tests on plants they receive. Maybe that is something you want to punish, so that we can keep track of GMOs. But if so, why not punish it systematically, rather than in these few cases that turned out to be GMO? Why not destroy all plants on earth?

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Not that it’s been made clear why these GMOs are a problem in the first place, of course.

          (It’s so weird how allegedly there is “no one” who opposes GMOs, yet there is a category ten freakout by the government and media whenever one is seen and everything in the grocery store proudly advertises how GMO-free it is.)

    • Anon. says:

      How much does it cost to test a GE petunia?

      • Murphy says:

        If you know exactly what to test for and you’re already resident in a lab with a wide range of equipment? Probably less than a hundred bucks, pretty much the cost of some primers.

        To look for any possible signs of being GM without a good idea of what to look for? you’d basically need to do whole genome sequencing. If there’s an existing reference sequence for the species that’s not too bad but if it’s a species without a reference… I hate to think how much it could cost.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          What people are testing for, both the regulators and, I think, the discoverer, is the cauliflower mosaic virus, used to do the engineering, which was left in the DNA along with the desired edit. And the plant is illegal because of the virus, not the modification.

  10. Wander says:

    I know that this community on the whole isn’t an overwhelmingly athletic one, but looking at the sort of general interests around I’ve been wondering if there are any HEMA practitioners around? If there are, what periods and systems do you use/are you interested in?

    • Skivverus says:

      While I am not, my brother is; mostly he focuses on German longsword (and is learning German so he can translate the manuals). He doesn’t really frequent SSC, but if you like I could send him a link here, or put you in touch some other way.

    • I am not sure if it is included in your definition of HEMA, but I did SCA combat, mostly sword and shield, for about forty years.

      • Wander says:

        Comparing SCA and HEMA? Those are fighting words.

        But really, generally people I talk to like to keep reconstructed and historic systems separate.

        • bintchaos says:

          Does HEMA include jousting? I loved Full Metal Jousting when it was on.

        • But really, generally people I talk to like to keep reconstructed and historic systems separate.

          Can you explain what you mean by that distinction?

          Is your point that HEMA is based more on surviving texts? It isn’t a sharp distinction. One of the people largely responsible for collecting and making available the historical literature on fencing was Patri Pugliese, who was an early SCA person, and Tom Courtney teaches classes at Pennsic based on some of the German pole arms texts.

          On the other hand, the surviving texts were not the main influence on the development of SCA combat. That was mostly a matter of “make rules designed to correspond to historical combat, subject to various safety and other constraints, and then see what works.”

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      Historical European martial arts (HEMA)

      (Is that so hard? Grumble, grumble…)

  11. Tarhalindur says:

    Book recommendation/mini book review time: The Lucifer Principle (Howard Bloom, 1995)

    This book strikes me as twenty years ahead of its time and worth signal boosting.

    You could call this book Molach’s Mechanisms and you wouldn’t be far from the mark. Bloom claims to cover five main areas: replicators (in the self-organizing systems sense, not the Star Trek or SG-1 sense), superorganisms, memes, neural nets, and the pecking order, but really he covers two (superorganisms and the pecking order) and the rest is just support for those two concepts.

    (Side note: this book dates back to 1995. The word “meme” undergoing memetic drift is one of the funnier ironies of the 21st century; this book predates that, you want the Dawkins definition. Also, neural nets weren’t as widely known at the time.)

    1) Superorganisms

    This concept has been floating around for a while; Bloom traces it back almost 150 years. (There’s a couple of sources Bloom uses that I’m not familiar with and should probably check out: ). Succinctly, Bloom’s argument is a strong form of of the concept: there are strong functional equivalents between multicellular organisms, ant/bee/termite colonies, and human societies. (The strongest form of the concept is that there’s a general organism principle, probably rooted in solving coordination problems, that has manifested at least four times in the biological record: once in the deep Precambrian among prokaryotes and possibly viruses, resulting in eukaryotes; once in the late Precambrian among eukaryotes, resulting in multicellular organisms; once in the Paleozoic or Mesozoic among insects of order Hymnoptera, resulting in ant/bee/termite colonies; and once in the late Quarternary among hominids, resulting in Moloch. Bloom also seems to apply this to groups closer to band/tribe size, but there I suspect he’s wrong; I suspect the strong form involves a threshold size above which coordination problems lead to organisms; with bacterial biofilms/slime molds/locusts/lemmings all being examples of species that sometimes but not always function as organisms.)

    Two of the other concepts Bloom raises (memes and neural nets) are in the book mainly to support the superorganism thesis. Memes are in because human superorganisms are comprised of memes. Neural nets are in because society functions as a giant neural net (i.e, wisdom of the crowds).

    There is one specific argument Bloom makes on superorganisms that strikes me as especially relevant here: superorganisms relieve internal frustrations by redirecting them to external threats such as rival superorganisms. If your first thought was “I can tolerate anything except the outgroup”… well, yes, I’m inclined to agree with you, especially since Bloom notes that society’s demons tend to be gods of rival superorganisms. (Bloom doesn’t actually mention the Robber’s Cave experiment, but it would fit in this chapter very, very nicely.) This also suggests a possible explanation for why the Red/Blue split in America has gotten so much more intractable in the last 20 years or so: America lost its main outgroup when the Soviet Union fell, and both of the attempts to provide a new outgroup (Islam/Cold War mk. II) have failed miserably.

    Other relevant points:
    – Bloom argues against strictly individual selection in favor of group selection. This is the weakest part of the book; Bloom’s argument relies heavily on a god-of-the-gaps suicide argument. Part of this is on Bloom: the obvious argument for group selection in a superorganism context is that if a society is effectively an organism then selection is going to apply to the society, and yet Bloom never actually gets around to saying that. It also has the advantage of at least one clear example: the multicellular organism itself. The other part of this is that I think Bloom was just writing too early and didn’t have access to a viable theory for why individual selection would fail in favor of group selection; coordination problems strike me as a viable hypothesis for this.
    – Relatedly: Bloom leans strongly towards Durkheim’s anomie theory of suicide. (He *does* draw the obvious analogy here: if humans are part of superorganisms, then suicide looks an awful lot like an analogue of apoptosis.) The Lucifer Principle is popular science and doesn’t go into proposing experiments, but this strikes me as testable: find a population of people who have reported at least one suicide attempt, and compare the survival rates over a period of time between people who have converted to a religion (or secular analogue, but religion seems the easiest to check) and those who have not.

    2) Pecking Order

    (Paging KevinC, who I seem to recall bringing up the concept a few open threads ago…)

    This is pretty much just social hierarchy within groups; the name is historically contingent on the person who first described observing it in chickens. The basic principle is simple: organisms sort into hierarchies, and those who are higher up on the social hierarchy tend to have more children.

    Bloom extends the pecking concept in two ways. First, he takes the obvious step of applying the pecking order to superorganisms. Second, he sinks a lot of effort into describing how organisms and superorganisms at the top of the pecking order lose their status and are replaced. If your first thought was “hmm, this sounds like a warning to the United States”, you are exactly right.

    Relevant points:
    – One of Bloom’s major points here is that, due to changes in testosterone, members and/or groups rising on the pecking order tend to be bolder and more adventurous (because testosterone, and because they have a surplus and can afford to risk it), while those falling tend to be more conservative.
    – The book argues that a nation falling on the pecking order tends to look for scapegoats (based on either sexuality or just paying it down to those lower on the pecking order) and turn away from foreign engagement, and tends to be more conservative and look more towards the past. (Side thought: “taking out national frustrations on some group lower on the pecking order” sounds awfully relevant to both Black Lives Matter and recent Blue Tribe rhetoric towards the white working class…)
    – Bloom is skeptical about foreign aid on pecking order grounds; foreign aid may alleviate physical discomfort, but it doesn’t alleviate lower status on the pecking order. In fact, it might exacerbate it by reminding the person you are giving aid to of your higher status; people often value pecking order symbols above even physical comfort. (In true 1990s fashion, Bloom uses lower-class American schoolchildren wearing expensive shoes as an example.)
    – The part of this book that sticks with me the most is the part where Bloom redefines peace and justice. Specifically, he redefines them in terms of the pecking order; in that frame peace can be paraphrased as “now that I’ve managed to climb on your back, would you please be kind enough to sit still” and justice can be paraphrased as “let’s keep fighting until I come out on top”. Bloom offers an alternative definition of freedom (minus the pithy one-sentence description) in the same chapter, but I think he’s put that definition in the wrong chapter; his definition of freedom is pretty clearly “join my ingroup to protect you against their outgroup!”, and as already noted that already came up earlier in the superorganism section.

    (Corollary to that last point: peace/justice, in the Bloom sense, strikes me as a reasonable model for the US Blue Tribe/Red Tribe split, with justice corresponding to Blue Tribe and peace corresponding to Red Tribe. If that frame holds, then Social Justice is in the process of changing tribes; that in turn would suggest a realignment to something a lot more like the old New Deal coalition splits.)

    Key weaknesses of the book (beyond the one covered in the superorganism section):

    – Bloom is at least sympathetic towards homeopathy.
    – Bloom’s writing strongly suggests that he considers Islam outgroup. In particular, he makes extensive use of an extended form No True Scotsman fallacy (“extremists who believe {ingroup belief} are Not True Scotsmen, extremists who believe {outgroup belief} are representative of the entire group”). Which is kind of funny, because of how much he discusses something like the ingroup/outgroup effect. It’s also to the book’s detriment, because the rise of the Islamic world is an excellent example of Bloom’s comments on barbarians – Muhammad, if you ignore the “founded a world religion” bit and look at him in a strictly political context, looks an awful lot like he’s a “man who united a bunch of formerly separate tribes/states into a single political unit” in the Temujin/Bismarck/Pericles/Nobunaga vein, which ties directly into Bloom’s discussions about barbarians, and, the second and third Caliphs – Abu Bakr and Umar – look like they fit the “man from the periphery of civilization that takes down an aging superpower” archetype ala Temujin and Alexander the Great.
    – That said, Bloom isn’t very kind towards the Christian Right either – if I had to guess, I’d place him as either moderate Blue Tribe mainline Protestant or as one of the parts of Red Tribe that doesn’t really trust the Christian Right.
    – Which is funny reading this book with modern eyes, because Bloom’s comments on sex/gender early in the book read like proto-MRA thought (much like The Red Queen).
    – The book has a serious case of last chapter problem (i.e, it does a very good job of diagnosing problems and a poor job of offering solutions). To be fair, I think Bloom realized that; the last chapter feels very perfunctory, and I suspect it’s a concession to editors and/or the reading public.

    * – Incidentally, that particular form of No True Scotsman really needs a name of its own if it doesn’t have one already.

    • Anon. says:

      Thanks, that sounds interesting. Added it to my list.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Temujin? Okay, I assume a majority of SSC readers are educated enough to know who you mean, but probably not a large majority 😛

      (Now if only we could get people to pronounce it properly with a soft ‘j’ at the start, rather than the hard ‘g’ that seems to have become prevalent…)

  12. Aapje says:

    The new CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSVS) report has been released, covering 2010-2012. In the past we’ve discussed on SSC the issue that the lifetime rape/made to penetrate statistics differ significantly by gender, while the 12 month statistics are nearly equal between the genders.

    One of the theories we discussed was whether this gap may be due to girls being far more often raped than boys are made to penetrate. The new report splits out the under 18 lifetime data, showing that 41% of women report that their (first) completed rape happened before the age of 18, while 24% of men report that they were (first) made to penetrate before their 18th. So this suggests that the theory is at least partially correct. Unfortunately, the NIPSVS has a very irritating habit of presenting some of their data in such a way that it is hard to do accurate analysis. In this case, the lifetime and 12 month data is for attempted and completed rape/made to penetrate, while the under 18 data is only for completed and not for attempted rapes. The analysis for the completed rapes:

    The total number of women who report completed or attempted rapes during their lifetime is 23 million, 41% of this is 9 million, leaving 14 million women who were (only) victimized as adults. The total number of men who reported completed or attempted made to penetrate during their lifetime is 6.7 million, 24% of this is 1.6 million, leaving 5 million men who were (only) victimized as adults. 14 million to 5 million is a ratio of 2.8:1, which is considerably higher than the 1:0.86 ratio for the 12 month data. The uncorrected lifetime gap is a ratio of 23 million to 6.7 million, which is 3.4:1. So by removing the gender difference of the under 18 data for completed rapes, we account for 3.4 – 2.8 = 0.6 of the ratio gap, leaving an unexplained gap of 2.8 – 0.86 = 1.94.

    Part of that gap is surely due to attempted rapes that happened before the age of 18, however, the report doesn’t give us any indication to what the ratio is for attempted to completed rapes. Fortunately, the 2010 report does have that information and gives a ratio of completed to attempted rapes for women during their lifetime of 14.6 million (completed forced rape) + 9.5 million (completed alcohol/drug facilitated rape) to 6.2 million (attempted forced rape), which is 24.1:6.2 = 3.9:1. However, it should be noted that the total number of victims of rape that the CDC reports is substantially lower than you get by adding up the categories, suggesting that there is quite a bit of double counting. For this analysis this means that the correction that incorporates attempted rapes is going to be an over-correction. Anyway, if we assume that the same ratio of 3.9:1 holds for the under 18 victims, then we get 0.6 / 3.9 = 0.15 for attempted rapes. So the correction for completed and attempted rapes before the age of 18 is then 0.6 + 0.15 = 0.75, leaving an unexplained gap of 3.4 – 0.75 – 0.86 = 1.79. Given the earlier noted over-counting issue, it is presumably higher than this and the actual unexplained gap is somewhere between 1.79 and 1.94.

    So to conclude, correcting for the gender difference in the under 18 data accounts for at most 1/3rd of the gap in the lifetime data, leaving at least 2/3rds unexplained, strongly suggesting that other factors are at play as well.

  13. Kevin C. says:

    Well, as someone who is a fan of neither abuse of quantum physics, nor of Left-wing identity politics, just imagine my response to the combination:
    Assembled Bodies: Reconfiguring Quantum Identities” by Whitney Stark. The College Fix reports.

    Stark identifies Newtonian physics as one of the main culprits behind oppression. “Newtonian physics,” she writes, has “separated beings” based on their “binary and absolute differences.”

    “This structural thinking of individualized separatism with binary and absolute differences as the basis for how the universe works is embedded in many structures of classification,” according to Stark.

    These structures of classification, such as male/female, or living/non-living, are “hierarchical and exploitative” and are thusly “part of the apparatus that enables oppression.”

    Therefore, Stark argues in favor of combining intersectionality and quantum physics theory to fight against the imperative to classify people based on hierarchical categories.

    (Consider this yet another point for the view that what we need is to go full Henry VIII “Dissolution of the Monasteries” on the whole of academia.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Dissolving the monasteries is how we got to where we are. What we need to do is to re-solve the monasteries. Start calling the priests priests, and affix formal ranking of holiness so they don’t spiral out of control.

    • rahien.din says:

      Is this yet another Sokal-style hoax?

      • sohois says:

        This kind of absurd “science-based” postmodernism was exactly what Sokal was mocking, and indeed spent the entirety of Fashionable Nonsense making fun of. But that was 20 years ago, and in the end it didn’t appear to have brought about the downfall of society or anything like that.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Apparently not, but this was: “The conceptual penis as a social construct

        Abstract: Anatomical penises may exist, but as pre-operative transgendered women also have anatomical penises, the penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a social construct isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity. Through detailed poststructuralist discursive criticism and the example of climate change, this paper will challenge the prevailing and damaging social trope that penises are best understood as the male sexual organ and reassign it a more fitting role as a type of masculine performance.

        (The hoax authors explain here.)

        • BBA says:

          This got rejected by the more reputable journals and was published in a pay-to-play journal. It proves something, but not what the writers were setting out to prove.

    • Anatoly says:

      This is published in a literary magazine, not a peer-reviewed journal.

      But you wouldn’t know this from the article in The College Fix you cite, which instead works hard on creating an impression that this is academic work. They certainly seem to have duped you.

      Interestingly, when Breitbart republished the news from the College Fix, they correctly identified the publication as a literary magazine. In other words, your chosen news source is literally worse than Breitbart.

      • Kevin C. says:

        This is published in a literary magazine, not a peer-reviewed journal.

        So what? It’s the very existence of this nonsense, and that there’s any audience for it, that I object to.

        • Anatoly says:

          > So what?

          You wrote that this is another example of why academia should be dissolved. But it’s misleading to present this as an academic work, even though it’s published by a university press.

          If you don’t see the difference between something like this published in a literary magazine as opposed to a peer-reviewed journal, that merely establishes you as someone not worth engaging with on the topic of academia, not a dishonest propagandist like the College Fix site you linked to.

          (not that the mere fact of a peer-reviewed publication like this would support dissolving the academia, of course, but in that case the argument would at least have had something going for it)

        • No, the job of academia is not to agree with one person, not even you, it’s job is to be intellectually diverse. You should worry if they never say anything that offends anybody.

    • Nell says:

      Given that quantum theory inevitably gives rise to classical physics, I’m not sure this is the most…stable metaphor to use in defense of intersectionality.

  14. Kevin C. says:

    Any suggestions for ways one can get out, meet new people and improve one’s social skills when one has essentially no money to spare, and no car?

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you live in a city or on a homestead 100km from the nearest village?

      • Kevin C. says:

        I’m pretty sure I’ve said it here before, but I live in Anchorage, Alaska. Population just under 300K, but geographically a bit more spread out, and with more “green space”, than most Lower 48 towns (average density of only 152 people/square mile). Add in sidewalks covered in snow (sometimes several feet) a good portion of the year, and lousy public transportation (due to get even worse with our bus system’s “improvements” starting this October).

        • Creutzer says:

          You’ve got amazing nature and a high-trust society up there, right? Then I do have a suggestion: join a club for mountaineering, camping, or some close-to-nature activity like that. Will require a certain up-front investment, but probably not much if you can rely on others to contribute material or lend you something.

          I don’t know what it’s like in Alaska, of course, but the Alpine Societies in Europe need volunteers for stuff like maintaining trails. Might be worth looking into specifically, because that’s a pretty apolitical and uncontroversially prosocial cause.

          • Kevin C. says:

            join a club for mountaineering, camping, or some close-to-nature activity like that.

            See my reply to Anonymous below; transportation is the biggest barrier.

            As for volunteering for trail maintenance or similar, most of the positions look to be for Campground Hosts and Park Caretakers who live in a cabin on-site (and are paid a subsistence allowance). The trail maintenance/cleaning program, “Adopt-A-Trail”, is (like “adopt-a-highway” programs) more for business-sponsored group volunteering than individual efforts, and again requires one have one’s own transportation to and from the trails.

            Edit: Also, for further example, here’s the listings for the Alaska State Parks Volunteer Program Volunteer and Volunteer Internship Positions for “trail crew”.

          • Creutzer says:

            If a group plans to go to the mountains, only one of them needs to have a car. That was part of why I made the suggestion.

            These trail maintenance things you dug up are, indeed, not what I was thinking of. I looked briefly at the website of the American Alpine Club and what they need volunteers for, and it looks rather different from what a European Alpine Club’s website would list. It does seem that things are organised a bit differently across the pond. Which doesn’t mean that it’s not worth thinking about joining as a regular member.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Creutzer

            If a group plans to go to the mountains, only one of them needs to have a car.

            Assuming the group is small enough to fit into that car, and that the car’s owner is willing to pick up and drive all the people without cars, rather than expecting everyone to own their own vehicle and drive themselves (which is pretty much the standard here).

          • Creutzer says:

            Well, if the group is larger, then two people need to have a car. I really see no reason why people should expect everyone to have their own car, short of some sort of bizarre cultural independence fetish (but then why would you be going somewhere together in the first place?).

          • Aapje says:

            Kevin,

            Some people enjoy traveling together and will gladly pick you up. You pretty much consistently seem to assume the most negative possibility, which is a good recipe for analysis paralysis.

            Perhaps step 1 in your self-improvement plan should be to force yourself to assume less and inquire more.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Creutzer

            Are you American? Because, outside the big coastal urban zones, car ownership is very much A Thing. And as for my locale especially, recall also snow on the ground for 5+ months of the year. The vast majority of households do indeed own a car. And as for my fellow “non-drivers”, in my own personal experience, the single largest fraction of us are that way because of losing their license due to DUI.

            @Aapje

            Oh yes, I’m just assuming to know anything about the local culture with regards to car ownership and ability to get rides from near-strangers. I’m sure you’re so much better positioned, halfway around the globe, to tell me all about it, since I’ve only just been born here and lived here all my life. You arrogant Dutch asshole.

          • Aapje says:

            Sorry for giving suggestions after you asked for suggestions.

            Just because it is standard that people drive their own car, doesn’t mean that those people are automatically unwilling to drive you for social events. Even if there is a social norm for car ownership, that can merely mean that people who don’t own a car are judged as somewhat sad/defective, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t want to help you.

            You may be correct that people in Anchorage have a culture that makes them not want to drive you for occasional social events, but your earlier comment was rather ambiguous whether the Anchorage culture merely expects people to have a car or whether they are actively hostile to people who don’t own a car.

            I assumed the former and apologize if my assumption was offensive.

          • Creutzer says:

            What Aapje said.

          • random832 says:

            the single largest fraction of us are that way because of losing their license due to DUI.

            If you’re concerned that people will assume this of you, maybe the solution is to simply volunteer the real explanation.

          • FollowTheQuest says:

            Kevin, that was rather uncalled for. He’s probably right. Despite the independence fixation of those rugged folk who I imagine live in Alaska, surely of the hundreds of people listed on these meetup.com events, SOMEONE is going to be friendly enough to share a ride. You could contact the group organizers and find out at least before you start calling people names.

            https://www.meetup.com/TheAnchorageAdventureClub/
            https://www.meetup.com/Anchorage-Trail-Runners/
            https://www.meetup.com/The-Anchorage-Dance-Meetup-Group/
            and you could explore FB groups and events as well.

            As someone else who has been without a vehicle in the American boonies, frustrated by the American love of automobiles after visiting a country with actual public transit – like-minded people often come together, quite enthusiastically, to welcome more people to their interest group. You really are handicapping yourself before you’ve even reached out to any of these groups to see if your current notion (that literally NO ONE in Alaska is willing to carpool) is true. Yeah, it can feel really awkward and painful and nerve-wracking to try to reach out to total strangers like that, and it might take a few tries, but you’re just dismissing this option outright because you’re so sure it’ll fail.

            What did you think people were going to suggest as a solution to your transport woes, summoning Mother Goose to fly you away?

        • Anonymous says:

          OK. Learn to like walking is the first required step, I guess.

          Other than that, seek out hobby groups that appeal to you. You may try out new hobbies, too. These things ought to be easily found online, then joined in meatspace.

          • Kevin C. says:

            Learn to like walking is the first required step, I guess.

            Already done.

            Other than that, seek out hobby groups that appeal to you. You may try out new hobbies, too. These things ought to be easily found online, then joined in meatspace.

            I’m on Meetup, but having problems finding any groups that work. Their page seems to rely on location data, so I can’t just link to the list of Anchorage area groups, but they don’t seem to work. Either they’re for specific classes of people to whom I don’t belong (women, seniors, Native Alaskans, mixed-race people, people with genital herpes, members of particular professions, specific religions, and so on), or they involve activities (usually sports/athletics) with non-trivial equipment costs and fees, or the group itself has membership dues. Even the “come meet new people” group has activities like “let’s go climb Flattop“, which wouldn’t be a problem (I’ve done it before in my high-school days), except that I have no transportation to and from the Glen Alps trailhead. (The Flattop Mountain Shuttle‘s van service from Downtown is not cheap, and rather limited in times and scheduling.)

          • Anonymous says:

            Hmm. Any roleplaying groups in the area?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Anonymous

            Searching online, I found four. One is up on “Hillside”, which is well outside my transportation range (and requires approval from the “Organizer” to join). One is female-only. One, according to Meetup, meets at “various locations”, none of which are visible to non-members; I’d have to join to find out if I can even get to their meetings. And the last looks to be brand-new, and has no information on the whens and wheres yet listed.

          • Anonymous says:

            Inquire.

          • Kevin C. says:

            Inquire.

            About what, with whom?

          • Anonymous says:

            About locations, times, etc. With any contact people who you can reach.

          • Aapje says:

            Tabletop gaming?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Can you start your own group?

          • I’m pretty sure there is still an SCA group in Anchorage. SCA can be expensive or almost free, depending what you choose to do.

          • johnjohn says:

            [quote]I’d have to join to find out if I can even get to their meetings.[/quote]

            … So?…
            Join
            See if the locations work out
            If they don’t
            Leave the group

        • sohois says:

          Is biking not possible there? A quick glance of google maps suggests the town can’t be much more than 15km either horizontally or vertically. Assuming that the roads are kept free of snow, and you yourself aren’t physically impaired, presumably a push bike could get you anywhere in an hour and would not have high costs?

          • Anonymous says:

            Biking isn’t costless, but it is cheaper than taking public transport on average. Especially if you buy used, essentially disposable bicycles.

          • Kevin C. says:

            Don’t own a bike (not usable for a sizeable fraction of the year, and no room to keep one in my apartment). And it would be quite a long distance bike, with plenty uphill, before a long hike and climb — I’m not that athletic — and I don’t recall there being a bike rack at the trail head the last time I was there.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Anonymous

            Again, you first have to consider Alaskan winters. Plus, thanks to my disability status, I do at present qualify for half-fare status, combined with the savings from buying an unlimited-use annual bus pass (the same price as 11 “monthly” passes).

          • Anonymous says:

            Right, so public transport is probably cheaper than cycling for you.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Anonymous

            Indeed, but it still leaves much of the city, including most of the trail heads and such outside the city proper, out of easy reach (and will only get worse come October).

          • sohois says:

            Alaska seems to be pretty big barrier to most of what you want to do. I’m sure you have answered this before, but what is keeping you from just moving elsewhere, even overseas if the US is too expensive?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @sohois

            I’m sure you have answered this before, but what is keeping you from just moving elsewhere, even overseas if the US is too expensive?

            You can see my answers here and here, for one. First, there are the monetary factors. I’m dependent on government aid, some of which I lose (with a literally years-long waiting list to get back on) if I even move apartments, let alone cities. Add in that I’m required to have a “representative payee” for my SSI, in which role my mother serves; it’s kind of hard for her to do that if we’re in different states.

            Second, is the social/psychological factors. My family is the core of my psychological support network, and the last time I tried to live elsewhere, I wound up with multiple psychiatric hospitalizations in a period under six months.

            As for a foreign country, there’s several additional objections and problems. First, all the financial points above become even worse. Second, what country would take a jobless parasite on the commonweal like me, and why wouldn’t I find them even less pleasant for me to live in? Third, making new friends is hard enough without adding a bunch of cultural and linguistic barriers on top. Fourth, despite some French in elementary school, German in junior high, a course in conversational Russian, four years of high school Spanish, and 1 2/3 years college Japanese, when it comes to actual fluency, I remain pretty much monolingual (for that matter, it took me until age four before I even began speaking English).

    • Aapje says:

      Are there any organizations that need volunteers within walking distance of your home?

      • Kevin C. says:

        Not really, and all the volunteer-seeking operations in my area tend to be at least implicitly, if not explicitly, left-wing, which doesn’t make me a very good “fit”.

        • Aapje says:

          Are their goals objectionable to you or do you feel ill at ease with the people that work there?

          • Kevin C. says:

            Mostly the former; as to the latter, it’s less that I’d be ill at ease with the people there, as that they’d object to my presence.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why don’t you have money, BTW? You seem fairly intelligent and even educated.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Because I’m unemployed, on SSI disability (plus state APA and rent subsidy) due to mental illness and Asperger. I know I commented somewhere earlier on SSC about my travails with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and their inability to help me find gainful employment (as I am far from their usual client). And the only thing my Physics bachelor’s from Caltech (there, finally got autocorrect to stop messing it up) seems to have done is make me “overqualified”.

        • Anonymous says:

          In that case there might be a way to get both some money and some human contact: small jobs. Subscribe to whatever online service(s) that provides listings for stuff you can do for money. Apply to do said work. This will put you into contact with people and might even earn you some money.

          Once you do a bit of that, you might even have a small network of acquaintances impressed with your conscientiousness and intelligence, who might be willing to help you gain stabler employment.

          • Kevin C. says:

            Subscribe to whatever online service(s) that provides listings for stuff you can do for money.

            Such as?

            And there’s the problem that this sort of thing can potentially put my SSI and other benefits at risk, without providing nearly enough to substitute for them and live on.

          • Anonymous says:

            Such as?

            Like: https://anchorage.craigslist.org/search/lab

            I’m sure you can google up more.

            And there’s the problem that this sort of thing can potentially put my SSI and other benefits at risk, without providing nearly enough to substitute for them and live on.

            Ask your welfare providers if/how to avoid getting screwed.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Anonymous

            Like: https://anchorage.craigslist.org/search/lab

            Well, I looked at that, and first, some of those listings are quite some distance from Anchorage. One is even for Wrangell, which is 705 miles away on straight-line distance. Another is for Deadhorse, on the Arctic Sea coast, over 800 miles away by “road”. (Alaska is really, really big.) Second, a lot of the listings are for drivers, and I don’t drive. Others are night jobs — and the buses don’t run at night here. Most others require specific experience and training I don’t have (carpentry, maintenance, roofing, childcare, crane operator, hair stylist, glazier, etc.), which generally leaves “janitor” or “day laborer”, and the latter requires your own transportation to the job site. In the specific job listings on that page, one generally finds “Must have reliable transportation” and “Applicants must have a clean driving record with own vehicle” or similar.

            I feel like I should mention that, frankly, the local economy, and thus local job market, really suck right now. We pretty much never bounced back from the “Great Recession”.

          • Anonymous says:

            Can you get a driver’s license somehow?

            Overall, you might want to develop a mindset of seeking opportunity, rather than enumerating problems. (You don’t seem to be multiplying them, but that is even worse.) Be like MacGuyver. Use whatever you *do* have to achieve what you want, rather than pondering what you don’t have.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Anonymous

            Can you get a driver’s license somehow?

            I do have a driver’s license — because it’s the most common form of photo ID. But I barely passed the road portion of the driver’s test to get it (after taking a driver’s ed course). And I’ve not been behind the wheel since. I hate driving, and not just because of my motor coordination issues. (As a partial aside, pretty much anyone who knows me and has seen The Big Bang Theory has said that Sheldon reminds them of me.) Add to that the factors that I can’t afford the state-required auto insurance even if I wanted to acquire a car, and that I have no parking space at my apartment building (there are much fewer spaces than there are apartments in the building).

        • James Miller says:

          There might be great value in having a study of high IQ adults with autism. If you are looking for a low cost project, you could consider contacting many such adults and asking them about problems they face in holding high-IQ type jobs and then publishing your results online.

        • Forgive me for an obvious suggestion, but have you considered learning some coding and doing freelance work? With your degree I have zero doubt it would come easily to you. It might give you a lot of freedom in your life that you’re currently missing.

        • caethan says:

          Hello, fellow Techer. No imposition intended, but I did go look you up in the Alumni Directory – we were there at the same time. If you like and as a show of faith, you can pull me up by looking for class of ’03/male/California/BS Chemistry/Ruddock. I’m the non-hispanic one (the other one was my roommate – Chem for life!).

          If you don’t mind my asking – you said you had serious psych issues when you tried to go off to grad school. Was Tech better for that? I ask because I’m in the Bay Area now basically because this is where most of my Tech friends ended up, and the folks I hung out with in college are now most of my friend circle here, along with their spouses and friends. I felt pretty isolated in grad school and went a year or so at a time without any real social contact. Now that I’m back around Tech friends, we have monthly D&D sessions and other get-togethers and such. In short, is reconnecting with an existing but dormant friend network elsewhere an option for you?

          • Kevin C. says:

            I didn’t really have much in the way of friends or a social network at Caltech. Nor roommates; I was always in singles in either Ricketts or Avery. Not to mention the shift from class of ’04 to class of ’05 due to the medical leave of absence following my suicide attempt.

            The only friends I have, I met in elementary school, junior high , or freshman year of high school, all of whom are here in Anchorage.

    • bintchaos says:

      maybe someone has suggested this– but as an aspie one of my enduring obsessions is board games– go and chess especially.
      Is there a chess club?

      • Kevin C. says:

        Well, I just searched for one, and I found listings for three; one is specifically for “Government Hill” (a neighborhood bordering on JBER, not readily reachable). The second has a webpage whose most recent update is from 2011 (involving a tournament with registration fees).
        The third link, alaskachessleague.com, is now a spam page on casino poker in Swedish.

        • bintchaos says:

          well…in your situ…i would try the first one as a one time experiment, even if the transport was non-cost viable for frequent trips…
          I love chess tho– i love all sorts of games, video games, board games, alternative reality games…do u enjoy board games? do u have a favorite game?

          • Kevin C. says:

            I hate to be that guy, but the second person pronoun is “you”, not “u”, and it’s “though”, not “tho”. And the first person pronoun “I” is capitalized. Please stop abusing the language so.

            As for what board games I enjoy, I admit a personal preference for shōgi, the Japanese cousin of chess.

          • bintchaos says:

            Okfine.
            I would still try door number one in your situation.
            You might find a chess otaku in your neighborhood that you could ride with, or maybe start a satellite club closer to where you live.
            But you didnt answer my question? Do you like chess? Are you a gamer?
            I dont know shogi, but my college had a Go club.
            I know MMORPGs get dissed a lot, but I know actual humans who met in World of Warcraft, lived together for 2 years, have been happily married for 2 years, and now are expecting a baby.
            Or go to school– I’m an aspie too, and I’m very very good at school.
            Volunteer to teach after school enrichment at a local public school. Surely you have the chops– Caltech? Teach kids to play shogi. Or be a substitute teacher if you can qualify.
            High school was awful-awful for me– but college is wonderful. You have gifts– use them to make someone’s life better.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            I hate to be that guy, but the second person pronoun is “you”, not “u”,

            Come on. No need to beat up on the Dutch any more than you already have 😛

          • Aapje says:

            @Winter Shaker

            In that case, he should be chastised for his unintelligible Dutch 🙂

          • rahien.din says:

            In that case, he should be chastised for his unintelligible Dutch

            Interchanges like this are why I come here.

          • bintchaos says:

            Interchanges like this are why I come here.

            What is even funnier is that I’m a she, not a he.

          • rahien.din says:

            What is even funnier is that I’m a she, not a he.

            Well damn I should have caught that. You have “bint” in your username, as in, “I mean, if I went ’round saying I was an emperor, just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they’d put me away!”

          • bintchaos says:

            bint means “daughter of” in arabic– I love languages and [mathematical] Chaos.

          • rahien.din says:

            Interesting. Is that the provenance of the British slang word “bint,” or is this just some weird etymological convergence?

          • Nornagest says:

            Is that the provenance of the British slang word “bint”?

            Yeah, it comes out of the colonial era, when Britain had troops in a lot of Arabic-speaking countries and the troops had, or wanted to have, local girlfriends.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @bintchaos

            Do you like chess?

            I have played some occasionally, but not really seriously. I don’t actually know any of the “algorithmic notation”, or the names of strategies, or anything like that.

            Are you a gamer?

            No, not really. And especially not MMO’s, or any sort of cooperative or multiplayer game.

            Volunteer to teach after school enrichment at a local public school.

            Who do you think I should contact in the school system to find out if Anchorage School District does such things, and if they take volunteers? Plus, getting ahold of shōgi sets, particularly in multiples, is not all that cheap.

          • bintchaos says:

            i hope I’m not going to be accused of reply hacking again, but I just cant be here 24/7 like some people.
            @rahien.din
            yup– arabic for daughter
            but slang derivations are in the UD as you pointed out. Its common ghetto speak in the UK, especially Roadmens culture.

            @Kevin C.
            I think one shōgi board is fine– have the kids bring chess boards from home, and Go boards are cheap– just buy one if no one has one.
            Call the school district and say you want to volunteer teach a math enrichment class after school– most elementary schools have after school programs that are staffed by EAs and would love volunteers– if you like working with kids you could substitute teach– most states let you sub with a 4 year degree– pick a school you can walk to, and you only have to accept jobs you want. Just think! Maybe you could use some of Polger’s methods?
            When you call the school district about volunteering ask about applying to be a substitute teacher too– your Physics BS from Caltech should be very welcome.
            Since you are a cat person, why not volunteer for a cat rescue society, they love volunteers too. One way I learned to mitigate my aspie-ness is dogs and horses– grew up with horses, and I now volunteer for a giant breed dog rescue– much less anxiety inducing for me than humans.
            A lot of my friends call me Sheldon, and I too hate driving. It makes me terribly anxious.

            Sheldon Cooper:
            You may not realize it, but I have difficulty navigating through certain aspects of daily life: understanding sarcasm, feigning interest in others, not talking about trains math as much as I’d want to. It’s exhausting!

            Good luck!

          • Loquat says:

            FYI, when the comment thread has reached maximum depth and you’re looking at a series of posts with no “reply” option, “reply hacking” is when you use a clever workaround to insert your comment in the middle of that series rather than letting it be added to the end. You might think it’s a good idea, but it’s considered impolite.

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            FYI, when the comment thread has reached maximum depth and you’re looking at a series of posts with no “reply” option, “reply hacking” is when you use a clever workaround to insert your comment in the middle of that series rather than letting it be added to the end.

            It’s probably bad form to ask how this is done, but I’m very interested to hear that it’s possible. Does it involve changing the system time on your computer? But I would think that what matters is the system time on the server handling comment submissions.

          • bean says:

            It’s probably bad form to ask how this is done, but I’m very interested to hear that it’s possible. Does it involve changing the system time on your computer? But I would think that what matters is the system time on the server handling comment submissions.

            It does not. It’s been discussed here a couple of times, and at a very high level involves forcing the comment system to treat your comment as a reply to a bottom-level one, which results in it being inserted directly below that one. (I suppose that it’s possible that it would be below any other hacked replies.)

          • Nornagest says:

            It’s probably bad form to ask how this is done, but I’m very interested to hear that it’s possible. Does it involve changing the system time on your computer? But I would think that what matters is the system time on the server handling comment submissions.

            The basic approach involves manipulating the URL encoding for comments, and if you know what that is you can probably figure out how to do it. System time has nothing to do with it.

    • James Miller says:

      Start a podcast and interview guests.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Where and how would I find these guests, and how would I convince them to let me interview them?

        • James Miller says:

          I have my own podcast so I can confidently say that people who don’t know you can be surprisingly willing to go on your podcast if you just email them. It’s hard to get famous people as guests and non-famous people often don’t respond or say yes but then never agree to a date, but if you don’t let that bother you, you can often get guests. If you want to do this I suggest setting everything up and putting up one show where you interview a friend or just talk yourself, and then you have something to point to when you ask someone to be a guest. You can ask saying “I like what you wrote in this blog post would you like to discuss this issue further on my podcast?” You could also do a YouTube channel where you video interview guests. YouTube doesn’t charge to host content, while SoundCloud and (I think) most other voice hosting services do. You could also do a YouTube channel discussing basic physics concepts.

    • dodrian says:

      Walk around your neighbourhood a couple times this week (go different directions) and stop by any ‘community-space’ looking buildings. Small local clubs are often really bad at maintaining an online presence, but sometimes better at keeping info up to date in the locations they usually meet.

      Stop in at any community centers / public spaces. See if there’s a bulletin board advertising activities or clubs meeting during the week. Also look at churches/religious centers – some are happy to rent out their halls for use during the week by local nonreligious groups in the community.

      Groceries stores might have a ‘classifieds’ bulletin board inside where local clubs advertise. Same for a local newspaper. Sometimes dollar stores or local restaurants will have a free ‘classifieds’ paper outside.

      Gyms and hobby stores (sewing, music, gaming, etc.) might also host (or advertise for) local groups, though those are more likely to have some costs.

      • Kevin C. says:

        ‘community-space’ looking buildings.

        I don’t know what you mean here.

        Stop in at any community centers / public spaces. See if there’s a bulletin board advertising activities or clubs meeting during the week.

        Public (outdoor) parks don’t have bulletin boards; and I’m not sure what you mean by “public spaces” otherwise.

        Also look at churches/religious centers

        How do I look inside one for such postings without, as a non-parishoner, intruding into their space?

        Groceries stores might have a ‘classifieds’ bulletin board inside where local clubs advertise.

        I’m well familiar, as I used to advertise my tutoring services on such boards. I’ve never seen a club advertized on one; only businesses, indy band concerts, large items (snowmobiles, bikes, used pick-ups, etc.) for sale, and the occasional lefty political cause looking for volunteers.

        • Nornagest says:

          ‘community-space’ looking buildings.

          I don’t know what you mean here.

          Community centers, Veterans’ Memorial buildings, large parks, YMCAs, independent cafes (not Starbucks), makerspaces, pubs. In really small towns, gas stations.

          If you have a specific type of hobby in mind, you could also try stores catering to that hobby. Game stores for tabletop gaming, outdoor stores for outdoor stuff, small to medium-sized concert venues for music stuff, that sort of thing.

          How do I look inside one for such postings without, as a non-parishoner, intruding into their space?

          As long as you’re not showing up in the middle of the night or interrupting a service, and you don’t look like you’re angling to steal some stuff, most denominations won’t care. Unchurched people hanging around a church is a good thing from their perspective.

          There are a few exceptions (Mormons don’t let non-Mormons into their temples, for example, although most Mormon churches are not temples), but as long as you let yourself be politely shooed away if you step on one by accident, it won’t be a problem.

          • Kevin C. says:

            Veterans’ Memorial buildings

            The one for our state is over a hundred miles away from Anchorage.

            YMCAs

            Only a single one in town, used to go swimming there as a kid (it’s in walking distance of my parents’ home), stopped once it started getting too expensive and too “closed off/members only” and less accessable to general public.

            independent cafes

            I don’t drink coffee, and those cost money (if you hang around and don’t buy anything, you’re loitering).

            makerspaces

            The only one in town appears to be the one held itermittantly at the one public library which is at presently undergoing massive, years-long renovations, and so closed at present.

            pubs

            I don’t drink, I’m not into watching sports, and again, that costs money.

            If you have a specific type of hobby in mind, you could also try stores catering to that hobby.

            Not really, because, again, the cost involved.

          • Randy M says:

            Not really, because, again, the cost involved.

            You want to meet people and improve social skills. Go and browse, and say hi to customers. If you can’t tell who might be receptive to small talk, talk to everyone and build a model based on their responses. Talk to the clerks if they aren’t busy, most of the time they won’t mind. Find three establishments, go to a different one once a week. Save up a few pennies to make small purchases every few months if you feel like you are burdening them.

            You need to look for reasons to say yes rather than no. Make a dart board of the suggestions suggestions that aren’t literally impossible and just pick something. Unless it just really isn’t important to you, but you’ve had similar questions before I believe and are responding to people often, so it seems like it is.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Randy M.

            If you can’t tell who might be receptive to small talk, talk to everyone

            and get asked to leave by the staff — or perhaps hauled off by the cops — for “harassing their customers” and/or “loitering”.

          • Nornagest says:

            The one for our state is over a hundred miles away from Anchorage.

            Huh. Where I’m from, there’s at least one for every city, including my hometown, which is something like 1/100 Anchorage’s size. Maybe Alaska’s too young a state to have many of them.

            There must be some loose equivalent. I have a feeling you’re going to shoot down anything more I find, though. It might be a good idea to adjust your willingness to e.g. spend small amounts of money.

          • keranih says:

            and get asked to leave by the staff — or perhaps hauled off by the cops — for “harassing their customers” and/or “loitering”.

            Dude. Long game. You’re trying to learn a new skill. You need practice and you need to pace yourself.

            Like: “This week I will go to two coffeeshops/bookstores/groceries and say “Hello, good morning” to five different people. Next week I will go to three, and greet ten people. The week after, I will stick with three, greet ten people, and at each spot I will say something else “Like the tee shirt. Cute dog. Hot out, huh?” to one person at each. The next week, I will also practice a quiet, non-creepy smile at two other people.”

            And so on, and so on. Set the number of interactions low, so you don’t hyper stress, give yourself permission to visit places and not interact with anyone, and constantly add weight. Not a lot, let yourself slowly build.

            Plan in a ‘rest’ week every three four weeks where you drop back and don’t do as much. After one month, think about small milestones (a whole conversation? Someone opens a conversation with you? Someone invites you to do something?) and write down some goals. “I want to get comfortable enough around people that I chat with someone for two minutes by Labor Day” and so forth. These are not deadlines, they are goals. After a couple months, you’ll be able to re-evaluate and notice if you need to rework the goals.

            This isn’t *easy*, but it is relatively *simple*. I wish you all kinds of luck.

          • Loquat says:

            and get asked to leave by the staff — or perhaps hauled off by the cops — for “harassing their customers” and/or “loitering”.

            Dude, I realize being overly negative is kind of your shtick, but come on. Speaking as someone who has actually worked at a shop that catered to a specific hobby, I am highly confident that it is possible to enter a hobby shop, ask the staff a few questions about the hobby, and leave without buying anything, without getting into any trouble whatsoever. It happened all the time at the store I worked for!

          • Randy M says:

            or perhaps hauled off by the cops

            Oh, there’s another opportunity! Win-win!

        • Aapje says:

          Scientology is also an exception, stay away from them.

          In general, the more mainstream the church (in your community), the more likely it is used as a way for people to meet and the more likely the church is going to be rented out to others (also to non-religious folks, as long as nothing satanic happens, many churches will generally gladly take the cash).

          Christians tend to have a strong norm of helping people, which is not just limited to their ingroup. So the chance that they’ll be friendly and helpful is going to be high.

          • Kevin C. says:

            In general, the more mainstream the church (in your community),

            What about “ethnic” churches? The geographically closest church to me is all-Samoan, for example.

          • Aapje says:

            They are probably going to tailor very specifically to that ethnic group and their culture. They may not have much to offer you.

            Then again, if you are interested in Samoan dancing, you may find that they have a Fa’ataupati dance group and that they are willing to let you join as their pet white dude. Or they may have something else to offer you. Or nothing at all, I don’t know much about Samoans.

            You can always just turn up and ask what they do for their community and whether they have cultural things which are open to outsiders. In general, most people like to talk about their interests and subculture & many ethnic communities have events open to outsiders. There is a good chance that they’ll keep you on the outside of their community, but you can always try.

            Tip: don’t go in and ask for what they can do for you right away. Tell them that you have been passing by their church regularly and were wondering about their community. Ask them whether they just have services or also do cultural things. If they say yes to the latter, that is the moment where you can ask them more details about those cultural
            things and which are open to outsiders.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Aapje

            They are probably going to tailor very specifically to that ethnic group and their culture. They may not have much to offer you.

            You seem to have missed the point of my question. My concern is that if I show my face, the attitude will be “what do you think you’re doing here, white boy?”

          • Vermillion says:

            Then you will have learned that it is not a church which you should go back to. It is unlikely to be fatal so I’d say it’s a worthwhile experiment. Versus never going, and never learning potentially the opposite, i.e. that you really enjoy your time there.

            I’m also going to predict with oh medium-high confidence that if you go to a service you will not be the only white boy there.

            Edit: if I’m wrong I owe yah a box of cookies.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            I wouldn’t worry too much about an all-Samoan church. In general, churches are happy to have literally anyone attend.

            (And I’m not saying this as someone trying to get you to go to church. I’m not religious, but I grew up in churches, and have had a fair bit of contact with ethnic-minority-based churches.)

          • Aapje says:

            @Kevin C

            My concern is that if I show my face, the attitude will be “what do you think you’re doing here, white boy?”

            Such a response can mean two things:
            – Either you violated some social norm.
            – They are assholes.

            You’ve stated that your goal is to learn to be more social and interact with more people. The latter automatically means that you have a risk to meet assholes. The former means that you will sometimes fail and have a bad response from others. If you are not willing to take these risks, you probably cannot achieve your goals.

            As I and others have argued, churches in general are fairly low risk, as most have a norm of being nice to outsiders, as long as you show a little respect.

            I have also given you a strategy which neurotypicals commonly use to maximize their chances of a good interaction, by giving the other person plenty of opportunity to shut down the interaction in a kind way. Your autism may prevent you from executing it at the level of proficiency of the average person (the other person may try to shoo you away using subtle signals, which you may fail to interpret), but the at a minimum such an approach signals a decent level of respect.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Aapje

            Either you violated some social norm.

            Yes, the norm that the church belongs to the Samoan community, and is for “Islanders” only, no pālagi welcome. And from what I know of the local Islander community, the expression of their displeasure at my invasion could very well be violent.

            as most have a norm of being nice to outsiders

            From what I know — mostly second-hand — at least around these parts, the Islander churches are pretty hostile to non-Islanders, the Korean churches are pretty hostile to non-Koreans as well, and the Russian Orthodox won’t kick you out like those others, but you aren’t likely to be really welcome unless you’re either of Russian extraction or married to one.

          • Aapje says:

            Well, then you go for one of the other churches.

    • Mark says:

      Apply for lots of jobs and go to the interviews to practice charming people.

      Sports. Find a local sports group and go along.

      Music.
      Find a little group doing something, or learning/teaching and head on over.

      Don’t talk about politics.

      Volunteer. Go and talk to old people in a home. Or help out disabled people.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Apply for lots of jobs and go to the interviews to practice charming people.

        Isn’t it dishonest to apply for a job you can’t or don’t intend to actually take? (Perhaps even fraudulent?)

        Sports. Find a local sports group and go along.

        First, cost of equipment, location fees, etc. Second, and what about after I’m booted from the group for being too spectacularly uncoordinated?

        Music.
        Find a little group doing something, or learning/teaching and head on over.

        Find where and how? And how do I contribute when I neither own nor play an instrument? (And attempts to learn have failed due to fine motor skill difficulties, hand tremors, and difficulty hearing the difference between nearby pitches?)

        Volunteer.

        Again, all the volunteer-seeking groups and volunteer listing I can find are either looking for people with specific, professional skills, or else politically/culturally incompatible (as in, I disagree with their basic mission).

    • Well... says:

      Get a dog. Walk the dog at a park. Anchorage has parks, right? I don’t see how you can walk a dog for a week and not wind up having a friendly conversation with a stranger, plus you have a built-in conversation starter: your dog. Plus it’s a dog, so the pet-therapy elements will be at work as well, soothing your anxiety and clearing your mind so you can talk easily.

      Man, if I lived in Anchorage I’d have like 8 or 9 huskies by now.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Get a dog.

        Don’t like dogs (I’m a cat person), don’t have space in my apartment for a dog, and can’t afford the expenses associated with dog ownership.

        • Well... says:

          Don’t like dogs (I’m a cat person)

          That’s bullcrap. Unless you have some actual major problem with dogs saying you’re a “cat person” really just means a preference for cats, not an aversion to dogs. Even if you’re not giddy about dogs doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy having one. And besides, the benefit is you get one of the easiest most natural ways for even the most socially anxious to meet people.

          don’t have space in my apartment for a dog

          More bullcrap! There are people in Manhattan with huskies. You could easily get a smaller more laid-back breed. Plus it sounds like you don’t have a job so you’re around to walk and train the dog.

          can’t afford the expenses associated with dog ownership

          The poorest people in the world still own dogs, so get over yourself. If you can afford an internet connection and a smartphone plan you can afford a dog. Dog food for a small breed is not a major expense. You can often get the leash and collar for free when you adopt. Still dirt cheap if you buy second-hand at thrift stores or on CL. There are even charities that provide all these things to dog owners in need. If you adopt a dog from a kill shelter you need have no guilt about not paying for veterinary services since you’ve already saved the dog’s life.

          Getting a dog is the best suggestion anyone has given you so far. Don’t dismiss it.

          • Deiseach says:

            There are people in Manhattan with huskies.

            And I think said people should be strung up by their thumbs. Keeping large working dogs in environments that do not allow for them to be outside and free-roaming for a large part of the day is not optimum and can veer towards animal cruelty. Yeah, so you walk your dog regularly in the dog park, yippee, but most of the time they’re confined to your apartment and need to be trained out of the habits bored animals engage in.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Well…

            First, I do have an aversion to dogs. Second, I don’t have a smartphone, and my internet connection is DSL through my landline (I can’t even watch many YouTube videos properly due to the slow loading speed). Third, see Deiseach’s reply.

            (And what is it with dog people being so aggressively proselytizing, anyway? As if everyone can be automatically expected to share their fondness for threatening carnivores.)

          • thepenforests says:

            This seems like sort of a weird comment, and possibly a typical mind failure. Plenty of people do have an aversion to dogs. I’m one of them, and it seems like the OP is one too.

          • Well... says:

            @deiseach:

            i sorta agree, I just used that example to show that having a dog in an apartment is totally possible.

            @Kevin C.:

            Why didn’t you just say you had an aversion to dogs in the first place? That isn’t the same thing as being a “cat person.” Anyway, calling dogs “threatening carnivores” is kinda funny given that you claim to like cats, which are also carnivores but typically far less sociable or domesticated ones. Once again, maybe the problem is you. Thousands of generations of humans have interdependently coexisted with dogs just fine.

            Aggressive proselytizing is a natural next step after dozens of gentle suggestions are met with the smell you’ve been giving off: “I’m going to resist and make excuses against any good advice you give me even though I’m the one who asked for advice and made my situation sound kinda desperate.”

          • CatCube says:

            @Well…

            I like dogs just fine, but any breed of a medium size or bigger can be a damned threatening carnivore. Cats are extremely tough for their size, and can definitely hurt a person, but you don’t see many news stories about somebody being killed by a housecat.

            My aunt and uncle had a dog that, for reasons that are still mysterious to all of us, hated me. Didn’t mind my parents (who I was living with at the time). But every time I walked into their house, the dog went absolutely bugshit and started barking at and biting me. We all came to the conclusion that the dog had to be kept in a bedroom when I was over there. I don’t fear dogs, but that one taught me why somebody might.

            Being nervous about dogs is not an unreasonable phobia–though how rarely a dog will actually carve somebody up does make it more of a phobia that a rational fear. Also, to be fair to @KevinC, proposing getting a dog is a way, way bigger investment of money and time, especially at the outset, than any other suggestion here. I remind you that most of the suggestions are to get out and try things; you can’t “just try out” a dog for a little bit to see if you’re OK with it.

            I agree that he’s been way too quick to shoot down most suggestions or find ways they might not work, but pushing back on “just get a pet!” if you’re not ready for it is reasonable.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            The poorest people in the world still own dogs, so get over yourself.

            I have an unusual neurological condition that makes “get over yourself” sound exactly like “please punch me in the face.”

            Anyone else similarly afflicted?

        • Chalid says:

          Maybe an alternative small animal like a rabbit or guinea pig? I’ve seen people walking those at the park before and there are always lots of people who want to chat with the owners.

          • Well... says:

            I disagree. Don’t be the guy with a rodent on a leash at the park. You’ll attract only weirdos and small children, whose parents will wish you had stayed home.

            For an apartment dweller who’s a little anxious nervous dogs but wants the perfect way to get out and meet new people, adopting a small breed is the best possible suggestion.

      • Fahundo says:

        I don’t see how you can walk a dog for a week and not wind up having a friendly conversation with a stranger

        I know I could pull this off

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Well…

        While I think Kevin C. has more possibile choices than he believes, dogs really do cost money.

    • AnteriorMotive says:

      Your real problem seems to be a refusal to take any initiative. Every single suggestion has been met with excuses (some very flimsy) as to why it probably wont work, so there’s no point trying. No endeavour has zero obstacles in its way. Most of those obstacles are insubstantial, but you’re imagining them to be made of reinforced steel.

      “I can’t start a podcast because no-one will agree to be interviewed.”
      You’d be surprised.
      “I can’t join that RPG group because it’s meetup schedule isn’t available to non-members.”
      Ask to join. Then if the meetings are to far away, don’t go.
      “One of the Meetup group’s activities is at Flattop, which is inconvenient.”
      Then go to all the other ones.
      “I can’t get to X because everyone’s expected to drive.”
      Ask for a carpool, don’t just assume its impossible.
      “That group is probably defunct”
      Ask, don’t just assume.

      As for actual advice, local libraries often organize various groups and activities.

      Instead of meeting us halfway, you’ve been going into loving detail about how many miles away every activity is and how many cars each job listing requires.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your real problem seems to be a refusal to take any initiative. Every single suggestion has been met with excuses (some very flimsy) as to why it probably wont work, so there’s no point trying. No endeavour has zero obstacles in its way. Most of those obstacles are insubstantial, but you’re imagining them to be made of reinforced steel.

        This.

        I don’t really know if he can change this aspect of himself, though.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Thirded. I was going to say something similar, but you saved me the trouble.

        • Iain says:

          Fourthed.

          Kevin, the root of your problem is that you seem more interested in identifying reasons that your problems are insoluble than you are in testing out solutions. Yes, some of the things that have been suggested may be difficult; if they were not difficult, then you would have already been able to do them easily, and you would not be stuck asking for advice. There is a gap between “hard” and “impossible”, and you won’t get anywhere until you stop conflating them.

      • bean says:

        Well said.
        Kevin, I’ve been watching your various requests for advice, and there hasn’t been a single one that you haven’t found a reason to not do. This seems like a problem on your end. I’m frankly not sure why people keep giving you advice, as you don’t seem willing to do anything that would actually help.
        So, my two cents. Pick something. Join a group of some sort. Volunteer, hobby, whatever. (If you’re really worried about getting kicked out, I’d suggest a volunteer group. They’re getting free labor out of you, so as long as you aren’t horribly annoying, they’re pretty accommodating. And if you do get kicked out, figure out why and try again.)
        But stop coming up with reasons to shoot down literally every suggestion that comes your way.

        • Well... says:

          I’m frankly not sure why people keep giving you advice

          Requests for advice are an addictive sort of online interaction, regardless whether there is feedback to the advice-giver that the advice will be taken to heart.

        • Kevin C. says:

          I’d suggest a volunteer group.

          And as soon as I find one that isn’t a left-wing political cause I oppose, or looking for specific, professional skills I lack, I’ll give it a try.

          • Mark says:

            Volunteer to help old people. Or to help out in a school. Or at a local hospital.
            https://www.adn.com/anchorage/article/volunteer-opportunities/2013/03/21/

            http://www.aarp.org/taxaide

            Alzheimer’s Resource Agency: Help with art classes, office work and special events. (Angela, 561-3313, http://www.alzalaska.org)

            Anchorage Pioneers’ Home: Help with a variety of activities such as baking, community outings, arts and crafts, or bingo and other games. (343-7240)

            Rabbit Creek Shooting Park: Motivated individuals who are concerned with firearm safety and interested in assisting the public are needed as range safety officers to monitor the range during weekend shooting hours. Training is provided. (345-7831)

            Boys and Girls Club: Adult volunteers who will commit to supporting, guiding and being positive role models to one or more Boys and Girls Club members are needed for mentoring programs. Help with homework, arts, sports, healthy lifestyles and overall social competence. (770-7321, http://www.bgcalaska.org)

            You like cats right:

            The Alaska SPCA: Cat care volunteers are needed at the Thrift Store to assist with cleaning, care and attention to the cats as they await a new home. Call or come by to fill out an application. (562-2999)

            etc. etc.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Mark

            Thank you! I seriously, mean it, thanks. I’ll have to check the bus routes; I already know the ASPCA for one isn’t near a bus route, but I’ll have to look up some of those others.

      • CatCube says:

        If I can springboard off of this, you seem to be overestimating how much people will dislike having you poke around, and are terrified that people will feel “inconvenienced” if you ask questions or just try stuff. Trust me, they very probably don’t mind.

        Most healthy organizations have a fair bit of churn, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be the only new person there on the day you go to try the new RPG group, or go on a hike with a group around Anchorage. Also, there will be relatively new people who’ve been there only a few times, and some people who have been doing it for years that now have time or money conflicts that are causing them to have to wind down their participation. People coming and going is normal, and nobody will mind that you might not come back. They will want to have you come out once, because if they’re spending that much time on something they probably like sharing it with others and will be happy to share it with you.

        Similarly, stop being afraid to see if anybody will give you a ride. I get that it’s normal to have your own car due to the distances between everything–I’m originally from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula–but it’s not unheard of for somebody to not have their own ride. When people are getting together to do something, like a hiking group meeting way outside of town, I’d be shocked if some of them weren’t already carpooling, and that if somebody will be passing near your house they wouldn’t be willing to stop and pick you up. Ask. The absolute worst they can do is say no (or, not respond). And if that’s the case, you can trust that it is because either the time or location just didn’t work for anybody and it has nothing to do with you personally. (How could it? They don’t know you.)

      • Zodiac says:

        Serious question: how does one go about changing this?
        I suffer the same problem. I can’t be in any kind pro-active. It has always been like this. It has driven me into depression and suicidality. How do you change when making in any change itself is the problem?

        • Vermillion says:

          Therapy, it’s been a big help in my life and if you have ideas about it but have never actually tried it, I suggest you go for it.

        • AnteriorMotive says:

          I’m not 100% sure what you’re describing, but if the problem’s as simple as “I want to be more social, but I can’t overcome my aversion to talking to strangers,” a couple things that have worked for me have been:

          Practice and acclimatization. When you’re comfortable enough with this kind of thing, you learn to see failure as completely insignificant, and every obstacle as an opportunity to test your problem-solving ability. There’s advice upthread on starting small and working your way up.

          Realizing that the Law of Diminishing Returns applies to life experiences. A new experience will almost always be richer and more rewarding than staying in your comfort zone. I’m not an adventurous person by temperament, but I almost always do the adventurous thing. Even a miserable experience is worth it when it expands your horizons.

          In my experience, if you see it as an irrational aversion, you can work to gradually erode it away, but if you perceive the aversion as reasonable and legitimate, it will veto any attempts to change behaviour.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Can you budget any money for making your life better? I realize it won’t be much, but it might be worth looking at small costs vs. potential benefits.

  15. Kevin C. says:

    Since we’re now past both the “nothing too controversial” thread and the three-day post-tragedy moratorium, how about the Manchester attack? To repeat (with expansion) my bit from the now-dead OT76, there are several points of potential discussion:
    Well, now that we’re past the three-day moratorium, perhaps some here might have at it? There’s several avenues of discussion I see brought up about this:
    1. What does the choice in target, in particular, signal? How much is there a “sexually-frustrated young man” component to this? Or was this attack, as some left-leaning pundits have argued, not “about” Muslim violence, but about male violence against women?

    2. Does the reaction — or more specifically, the lack of one — indicate acquiescence and/or doom for the English. Namely, the attitude expressed frequently around my circles is that if the random slaughter of 8-year-old girls cannot cause “the Saxon to begin to hate”, then nothing ever will, and so Manchester will “continue to embrace with open arms those that murder their children and rape their daughters” to the last.

    3. The use of “but native born, so checkmate, xenophobes” as an argument mode in the wake of events like this. As if we weren’t talking about the children or grandchildren of previously-admitted immigrants. If anything, doesn’t the fact that this sort of problem is not limited merely to immigrants themselves, but their descendants for generations after, point towards needing to be more selective about who one lets into one’s country?

    4. The poll and survey data I’ve seen shows Western women (especially single white women) to be some of the most consistently strong supporters of not only immigration, but Islamic immigration; this, despite, presumably, having more reason to oppose the importation of sizeable, young-male-skewed groups of “regressive”, patriarchal, hard-to-assimilate (based on the track record so far in Europe) populations. I know of a pair of proposed explanations for this apparent paradox floating around the far-right zones I inhabit, but I doubt folks here would agree with either of them.

    • Anonymous says:

      1. What does the choice in target, in particular, signal? How much is there a “sexually-frustrated young man” component to this? Or was this attack, as some left-leaning pundits have argued, not “about” Muslim violence, but about male violence against women?

      The choice of targets probably had something to do with his idiosyncrasies. It’s probably well within the pattern of “culturally Islamic male loser wants a way to redeem his loser life, friendly neighbourhood radical priests give him tips on specifics”. So he takes the template, and applies it to stuff that is somehow central in his life so far, which might well have been rejection by females.

      2. Does the reaction — or more specifically, the lack of one — indicate acquiescence and/or doom for the English. Namely, the attitude expressed frequently around my circles is that if the random slaughter of 8-year-old girls cannot cause “the Saxon to begin to hate”, then nothing ever will, and so Manchester will “continue to embrace with open arms those that murder their children and rape their daughters” to the last.

      I don’t know, but I expect the attacks to keep up for the foreseeable future, the damage control efforts by the establishment to continue, and the popularity of xenophobic movements to rise. Overall, I think it may take time, but the lands of Christendom will be reconquered. Question is, whether the reconquest will be mostly peaceful or a bloodbath. I’ve got approximately zero uncertainty about who will eventually win, though.

      3. The use of “but native born, so checkmate, xenophobes” as an argument mode in the wake of events like this. As if we weren’t talking about the children or grandchildren of previously-admitted immigrants. If anything, doesn’t the fact that this sort of problem is not limited merely to immigrants themselves, but their descendants for generations after, point towards needing to be more selective about who one lets into one’s country?

      It does.

      4. The poll and survey data I’ve seen shows Western women (especially single white women) to be some of the most consistently strong supporters of not only immigration, but Islamic immigration; this, despite, presumably, having more reason to oppose the importation of sizeable, young-male-skewed groups of “regressive”, patriarchal, hard-to-assimilate (based on the track record so far in Europe) populations. I know of a pair of proposed explanations for this apparent paradox floating around the far-right zones I inhabit, but I doubt folks here would agree with either of them.

      I know about the “preference to be subjugated by dominant male, as opposed to partnership with the easygoing male” theory, but what’s the other one?

      • Kevin C. says:

        I know about the “preference to be subjugated by dominant male, as opposed to partnership with the easygoing male” theory, but what’s the other one?

        The other one is the view of those who claim that the single greatest, most implacable enemy to “white male” identity politics is “Nice White Ladies”, because (most) white women utterly hate, to the very core of their being, white men, that they’ll chose the most terrible mistreatment by the worst the world has to offer (the “Henrys”, for those who recall “Radicalizing the Romanceless“) rather than give the time of day to a white guy. Now, some of these ultimately fold back into the other view, by postulating that it is the “easygoing” lack of dominance that makes us so hated, but others seem to just accept this postulated loathing as endogenous/given.

        • Kevin C. says:

          As a follow-up, in the 2014 working paper from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, “Fertility of Turkish migrants in Germany: Duration of stay matters” (PDF), one can, if one examines the data, specifically in Table 5, find that the TFR for German males is 1.27, but 1.67 for German females. So German women are having 30% more children than German men.

          • tomogorman says:

            Perhaps I missed it, but how does your working paper’s study control for the greater ease of tracking number of children born to women vs. those sired by men?
            Notably in the same table all Turks have a TFR for males of 2.28 vs 2.35 for females. Which granted is a smaller difference, but alternative hypothesis is just that Turkish migrant men are more conservative and therefore less likely to have a child they don’t know about?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Isn’t that just basically the “shit test?” i.e., the white women really want their men to stand up to the ruffians, and to them, and the white men are failing?

          (Note I think these issues are far too complicated to be summed up by manosphere memes, but I think that’s the concept you’re describing).

          • Kevin C. says:

            The first of the two views (and the second when it folds back into the first) pretty much is. The “pure” second view, though is not. It says that white women don’t really want “their men” to stand up to the ruffians, and to them, they just plain hate us. It’s the view that white women are white men’s single greatest enemy, that there pretty much is a “war of the sexes” here, and that if white men want a future, we’ll pretty much have to treat “our women” like a hostile enemy tribe to be defeated and subjugated utterly. This view differs from the “shit test” one in that “passing the shit test”, as it were, won’t make white women hate white men any less, they’ll just be forced into compliance against their wishes.

            Yeah, it’s a pretty ugly (and deranged) view, which is why I didn’t expect anyone here to agree with it.

          • Loquat says:

            It’s particularly deranged when you look over to the SJ left and see all the rants against “white feminism”, complaints that white women are the worst Oppressors after white men, and Samantha Bee blaming white women for Trump.

        • Well... says:

          white women utterly hate, to the very core of their being, white men, that they’ll chose the most terrible mistreatment by the worst the world has to offer […] rather than give the time of day to a white guy

          Talk about a “sexually-frustrated young man component”…

          I’m pretty much in agreement with your views on immigration as discernible from your original post above, except with this side argument about how “white women support Muslim immigration because they secretly hate us poor white men.” I think you’ve made a bizarre left turn.

          If you’re having trouble in the woman department, in a country with millions upon millions of eligible women, the problem is probably you. (There are plenty of naive liberal pro-immigration white women married to white men!)

          Basically, with this argument you’re overreaching. Like, it isn’t enough to say “We should be more careful about what kinds of people we let in,” you also feel the need to add “and those darn Muslim men are depriving me of a girlfriend,” which in the eyes of many people (a majority of whom, I would guess, are women!) ruins both the credibility of your other arguments against immigration AND your image as a man worth being involved with.

          • Well... says:

            PS. So why do white women so often favor Muslim immigration when it is seemingly counter to their interests? A few guesses off the top of my head that are all better than the “boo-hoo woe is us poor white guys” hypothesis:

            1. It’s a mothery nurtury thing to support immigration, especially when you’re imbued with images of immigrants as round-eyed children, and as other outlets for mothery nurturyness are coded as anti-liberal (see #2).

            2. Women are very status-oriented, especially as monogamy is on a downward slide, and supporting liberal causes is high status (it signals educatedness, urbanness, with-it-ness, etc.). Opposing liberal causes signals uneducatedness, ruralness, and old-timey-ness. Heck, it might be even more basic than that: supporting liberal causes signals youthfulness!

            3. They are naive to the arguments it is counter to their interests, and don’t even have a sense of how these arguments could exist.

          • Creutzer says:

            Mind you, he isn’t endorsing this argument, merely reporting its existence.

          • Well... says:

            “You” was meant to refer to whomever does endorse that argument, whether or not that includes Kevin C.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Well…

            So, is there any evidence they favour Muslim immigration? I’ve seen some polling data suggesting that white women (or, single white women) are one of the most immigration-favouring groups. Alt-right guys tend to look at the “single” bit and create a psychosexual explanation. I think they’re ignoring that single white women are one of the strongest Democrat-or-equivalent-voting groups, and so it’s part and parcel of a greater whole.

            The whole “they want foreign men to come in (because of sex)” seems disproven by the fact that pro-immigrant and pro-refugee people tend to use rhetoric where the central example is kids: DREAMer kids brought to the US by their parents to escape poverty/violence, US citizen kids of illegal parents who would be separated from their families or forced to go to another country if immigration law was enforced, child asylum seekers being carried by their parents into Europe, dead kids washing up on beaches. Grown men are pretending to be under-18s to get asylum more easily, not the other way around.

            Put another way, the alt-right psychosexual explanation is contradicted by the way that the current influx of refugees and asylum seekers (real or fraudulent) entering Europe being by some numbers composed disproportionately to overwhelmingly of young men (as opposed to the historical example, where refugee and asylum seekers are disproportionately women, children, and the elderly) is not a selling point, even among the left. If you look at pro-accepting refugees/asylum seekers material, it tends to show pictures of haggard old women, doe-eyed little sprogs, etc; anti-accepting refugee/asylum seeker material tends to show hordes of young men.

          • Well... says:

            dndnrsn:

            Yes, I agree. I was merely addressing the argument on its face.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        Overall, I think it may take time, but the lands of Christendom will be reconquered

        Thanks for the optimistic take, those are sorely missing these days.

        Although I’d be shocked if Christians were the ones to do the reconquering: European Christians are thin on the ground and quite a few like Pope Francis actively oppose the continued existence of Europe. A new nationalist movement seems more plausible and frankly more desirable.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Pope Francis is not a European, he’s from Argentina. Arguably the first properly non-European Pope, since the handful of Popes from outside modern Europe in the 1st Millennium were either Roman citizens or Byzantine Greeks. I think he and John Paul II are the only ones from someplace that did not at one point call itself part of a Roman Empire (Western, Eastern, or Holy).

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            Pope Francis is not a European, he’s from Argentina.

            Fair, though Argentinians themselves tend to have a different opinion on that point.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Oh? Do you just mean the polandball trope of “Argentina likes to think of itself as part of Europe”?

    • Aapje says:

      Or was this attack, as some left-leaning pundits have argued, not “about” Muslim violence, but about male violence against women?

      I would suggest that this assessment tells you more about the prejudice of those pundits than about the true motives. AFAIK, ISIS attacks show no clear gender preference. In the Bataclan attack, victims got their genitals mutilated, suggesting sexual motives played a role, but it happened to both male and female victims.

      Does the reaction — or more specifically, the lack of one — indicate acquiescence and/or doom for the English.

      They have plenty of experience enduring violence by the IRA. That didn’t doom them and this isn’t going to doom them.

      I also wonder why your circle would expect anything different from what happened. The UK has been very slowly pivoting towards stricter migration rules for some time. Those in power don’t change policies such as these over single incidents. Furthermore, there is a far stronger reaction by the lower classes.

      The use of “but native born, so checkmate, xenophobes” as an argument mode in the wake of events like this. As if we weren’t talking about the children or grandchildren of previously-admitted immigrants.

      When beliefs and facts clash, people frequently come up with rationalizations to defend their beliefs. This seems to be such a rationalization to preserve their support for open borders by arguing that first generation Muslim migrants are not terrorists that often. By arguing that the real reasons that these terrorists became violent is that they experienced xenophobia, the anti-open borders position can be claimed to be the cause of the violence, rather than the solution.

      • Salem says:

        They have plenty of experience enduring violence by the IRA. That didn’t doom them and this isn’t going to doom them.

        We reacted very differently to the IRA than to Da’ish. No-one is suggesting Diplock Courts, internment, or shoot-to-kill.

        On the other hand, it took a long time for Northern Ireland’s troubles to become Troubles. Maybe we’re still only in 1930.

        • bintchaos says:

          I would suggest it is only the beginning– just wait until the out-of-africa economic and warzone refugees start pushing north. The IRA never migrated in the millions to continental England.
          By 2050 there will be 1 billion youth in Africa.
          Largely unemployed and mostly sunni muslim.

      • bintchaos says:

        The pattern is war–>refugees/immigrants–> xenophobic reaction by host population –> some infiestimal fraction of second or third generation become radicalized to terrorist acts for a complex set of motivations.
        the problem is that even a tiny fraction of terrorists can kill a large amount of the host population.
        which then causes more xenophobic reaction from the host population.
        this is a deliberate strategy on the part of IS and al-Q, outlined in their doctrine manuals.

    • bintchaos says:

      you are overthinking this– the Manchester concert was a soft target, the Orlando nightclub was a soft target, the Paris concert was a soft target, all emblematic of western culture.
      Orthodox salafism forbids music except for acapella nasheeds sung by males– it doesnt forbid women.
      Of course the shaheeds would prefer military or economic targets but those are hardened.
      US has an entire cottage industry of soi disant “jihadologists” spouting BS about the complex problem of terrorism and islamic insurgencies and flogging books 24/7.
      The only social scientist I respect on terrorism is Dr. Atran.
      for those of you that can read french here is his take on Manchester.
      https://twitter.com/atranscott/status/868286223651139584
      and a good long form piece widely ignored by the “jihadologists”– who of course have no workable solutions beyond fearmongering and sensationalizing the problem for profit.
      The elephant in the room is refugee numbers, which i prefer to think of as weaponized migration. An Islamic Diasphora– Syria is still generating ~ 1 million refugees per year– there are 23 million refugees currently, and about half are children. Just because the refugees mostly cant get to America doesnt mean this isnt a huge problem for the future. Most of the refugees are from MENA– and most of them are bringing their Quran.
      Most people here seem to accept that intense selection pressure spawned a deme with hyper intelligence (Ashkenazim)– ask yourself what intense selection pressure on Salafis is going to breed. 🙂

    • sohois says:

      From my perspective as a Brit, there has always been an element amongst some people disregard for ‘Islamic’ terrorism as it so pales in comparison to the dangers posed by the IRA; even though they were not filled with deaths, there were simply so many more IRA attacks that the threat of islamic terrorism has looked a bit pathetic by comparison.

      But more than that I think is just the growing acceptance of terrorism becoming a ‘part’ of daily life and no longer a shocking event. It seems odd to write that when just a moment ago I was talking about how limited islamic terrorism seems compared to the IRA, but modern communications has rendered so many attacks as local, even if they take place in France or Belgium or Germany. So there’s a growing normalcy to it, which means less and less shock each time one occurs, and more and more resistance to giving into terrorism. The Brits have traded away as much liberty for security as they wanted, and will do so no more

      • bintchaos says:

        Indeed terrorism has become part of the daily news cycle.
        The proximate cause is 30 years of US/Western FP in MENA.
        The only solution is to allow representative islamic gov in majority muslim nation-states, but the West seems constitutionally unable to allow that.
        Even Morsi’s watered-down pluralism was not tolerated, and the west is constantly trying to undermine Erdogan.
        In the end islamic governments are inevitable in MENA and sub-sahara.
        The choice is not between secular democracy and islamic government, but between different forms of islamic government.
        So far our choice has been war and meddling. That creates refugees, and the cycle goes on…maybe forever…or at least until the End-times.

        • Aapje says:

          The proximate cause is 30 years of US/Western FP in MENA.

          I think that it is far more complex than that. There is a worldwide movement to more orthodox Islam. This is also the case for Indonesia, which is not MENA and has not been meddled with much by the US/Western nations, ever since they got self-governance.

          Even Morsi’s watered-down pluralism was not tolerated, and the west is constantly trying to undermine Erdogan.

          Seriously? Erdogan has stifled the press, has been putting political opponents in prison with no evidence of them actually having committed a crime, etc.

          The West is actually doing extremely little to undermine him, unless you want to argue that keeping him from gaining extreme control over the Turkish diaspora is undermining him. IMHO, a more reasonable claim is that Erdogan is undermining the West by demanding that the Turkish diaspora doesn’t assimilate.

          The only solution is to allow representative islamic gov in majority muslim nation-states, but the West seems constitutionally unable to allow that.

          The problem is that many of these countries don’t have a culture of respect for minorities, so the result will just be that the majority will oppress the minority. This may be marginally better than a minority oppressing the majority, but it’s not going to stop war, refugees, etc.

          The narrative that the only thing that prevents paradise in non-Western nations is the West keeping out is very silly and easily disproven by various nations where the West has little influence, yet those nations keep doing badly.

          • bintchaos says:

            sry, i meant “why do they hate the US in particular.”
            and that isnt the narrative at all.
            if you want to know what they really want you should read Abu Bakr Naji– Management of Savagery (Idarat al Tawahhush)
            its basically a field manual for crashing a super-power and more.
            The plan is to to use “savagery” (chaos, war, etc.) to spawn a global socio-religious conflict. Anti-globalist nationalism, reactionary and xenophobic movements are all following their playbook.
            Trumps isolationist tendencies are a gift to islamic insurgencies everywhere.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @bintchaos:

            The proximate cause [of Islamist terrorism] is 30 years of US/Western FP in MENA.

            then…

            Trump’s isolationist tendencies are a gift to islamic insurgencies everywhere.

            How can you believe both of these things?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Seems like it’s the Chomsky Principle at work: “It’s always America’s fault.”

        • >Indeed terrorism has become part of the daily news cycle.
          The proximate cause is 30 years of US/Western FP in MENA.

          Do you know much about the history of Saudi Arabia, in, say, the 19th or 20th century?

      • Creutzer says:

        So there’s a growing normalcy to it, which means less and less shock each time one occurs, and more and more resistance to giving into terrorism. The Brits have traded away as much liberty for security as they wanted, and will do so no more

        On the other hand, it’s very odd to frame a tightening of immigration restrictions as “trading away liberties”, so one should expect that part of the reaction to continue growing stronger.

      • Matt M says:

        We also have daily stories about, say, the epidemic of rape on college campuses, and yet, no one is promoting the narrative of “rape on college campuses is just a part of daily life and we have to learn to accept it”

        If targeted and intentional slaughter of 8-year-olds is “just a thing we have to accept and get past” then what ISN’T acceptable? Where on Earth do you possibly draw the line if not there? And, if I may, how EXACTLY do you expect me to get outraged at news stories like “Michael Flynn got paid 45k to give a speech to Russia Today” when at the same time, you are telling me NOT to get outraged over child-murder?”

        • rlms says:

          The frequencies matter. Terrorism is a very infrequent event, which may make it less bad on net than individually less bad events that are more frequent. Although in any case, I don’t think the narrative of “this is a thing we just have to accept” is being pushed any more strongly regarding terrorism than for school shootings.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Every school shooting is met with calls for gun control. I have never seen anyone say “this is just part of living in the modern day” after some maniac with an AR-15 shoots a bunch of kids.

          • rlms says:

            @dndnrsn
            But that is fundamentally what people who don’t agree with calls for gun controls are saying, if they aren’t proposing any solution.

          • John Schilling says:

            And every terrorist attack that might plausibly be attributed to Islam is met with calls for immigration restrictions and/or military interventions.

            Whether or not you hear “this is a thing we just have to accept”, depends on whether you hang out with people who favor the usual alternatives or those for whom it is anathema. In the case of terrorism, it’s pretty clear – conservatives already favor all the standard remedies so for them terrorism is a “Something Must Be Done!” problem, liberals find both expelling Muslims and bombing them to be abhorrent, so terrorism is something they may prepared to live with. With school shootings the proposed solutions are gun control and the more draconian forms of educational reform, which make it less clear but weighted towards the conservatives tolerating the status quo.

            In both cases, the smarter ones won’t go about saying “this is just something we have to live with”, anywhere undecided moderates are likely to be hanging out.

          • rlms says:

            @John Schilling
            Yes, exactly. I think that in both cases the correct thing to do is regard it as a tradeoff (even if you view it as heavily weighted to one side). Deaths are taboo, so mentioning the tradeoff is regarded badly. But it still exists.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          @Matt M:

          If targeted and intentional slaughter of 8-year-olds is “just a thing we have to accept and get past” then what ISN’T acceptable?

          White girls making burritos.

          (Sorry, I’m just filling in for suntzuamine while he’s away.)

    • Matt M says:

      1. What does the choice in target, in particular, signal?

      4. The poll and survey data I’ve seen shows Western women (especially single white women) to be some of the most consistently strong supporters of not only immigration

      Perhaps it’s the cynical rightist in me, but I think these two things point to evidence that all the talk of “Trump’s anti-Islamic rhetoric plays into the hands of ISIS and makes us less safe” is complete and total nonsense.

      This attack took place in a country where insulting Islam is literally illegal at a concert of an artist who has been virulently anti-Trump and is progressive in all the right ways. Hate speech laws didn’t stop them from attacking England, and tweets of diversity and acceptance didn’t stop them from attacking Miss Grande.

      Basically, it proves that appeasement and cuckery won’t save you. It’s hard to take serious anyone saying “better not insult Islam or Islamists will attack you” when the very people loudly shouting “DON’T INSULT ISLAM” are, themselves, being attacked by Islamists.

      • bintchaos says:

        Trump’s anti-Islamic rhetoric absolutely plays into IS vision of the long game.
        But agree that pandering to the local UK population of Sunni muslims while bombing the sh** out of Syrian and Iraqi Sunni muslims non-locally doesnt work as a pallative.
        Here is the DailyBeast on Naji
        http://www.thedailybeast.com/isis-wants-a-global-civil-war

        • Matt M says:

          Trump’s anti-Islamic rhetoric absolutely plays into IS vision of the long game.

          Prove to me that people who say bad things about Islam are more likely to be the victims of terror attacks than people who loudly denounce Islamophobia.

          • bintchaos says:

            That is not what i said.
            i said, “it doesnt make a difference.”
            ISIS goal is to drive a wedge between the host population and government, and muslim citizens.

        • Aapje says:

          @bintchaos

          Hillary Clinton’s support of LGBT rights also played into the ISIS vision of the long game.

          Even more elementary, any politician who doesn’t support Sharia law is ‘haram’ in the eyes of orthodox Muslims. In fact, you don’t even have to be a non-Muslim, as a lot of violence is against the ‘wrong kind’ of Muslims.

          • bintchaos says:

            Bush found out that it is not possible to terraform culture in OIF.
            Secular democracy will simply never take in muslim countries– shariah is the consensual rule of law.
            Think about it…2 billion people reading the same book.
            Know anything about John Maynard-Smith and EGT?

          • Secular democracy will simply never take in muslim countries– shariah is the consensual rule of law.

            If you look at Islamic history, one pattern is the alternation between relatively secular polities, where Islam is the dominant religion but people don’t take restrictions they don’t like very seriously, and fundamentalist revivals, such as the Almoravides and Almohades in North Africa. As best I can tell, the current Saudis are the product of one such.

            For the non-fundamentalist periods, note medieval anecdotes about caliphs drinking wine pretty openly, widespread toleration of homosexuality. There are two medieval essays that take the form of debates on the relative attractions of heterosexual and homosexual sex.

      • beleester says:

        cuckery

        Seriously? I didn’t take you for a /r/the_donald resident.

      • Jiro says:

        Perhaps it’s the cynical rightist in me, but I think these two things point to evidence that all the talk of “Trump’s anti-Islamic rhetoric plays into the hands of ISIS and makes us less safe” is complete and total nonsense.

        This is a second example of something I pointed out when Scott claimed that voting for Trump would be bad for the right: “My opponent should, to achieve his own goals, do something which straightforwardly seems to harm him and help me”, is probably motivated reasoning.

        (Or concern trolling if done on purpose.)

      • Winter Shaker says:

        a country where insulting Islam is literally illegal

        Can you provide more detail on that? Maybe I haven’t been paying attention to the news enough, but I understand that we still have the European Convention on Human Rights (incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act (1998) which does allow for some people to stretch the exceptions-to-free-speech on ‘inciting racial hatred’ grounds, but does (yet) not prohibit robust criticism / mockery of religions as abstract memeplexes.

    • lvlln says:

      Point 3, the “but native born, so checkmate, xenophobes” argument is one that I bought into wholeheartedly until very recently. It had always seemed to me that proponents of policies to reduce immigration were explicitly invoking the fear of new immigrants who may commit terrorist acts in order to justify their proposals, and so a terrorist not being an actual immigrant always seemed to me like a slam dunk gotcha against these people that I had perceived as xenophobes.

      But as I’ve done more research on this issue the past few years due to the terror incidents just continuing to pile up, I’ve learned that I was really mistaken about the position. While the fear of letting terrorists immigrate in is and was certainly real, it was completely dwarfed to irrelevance by the greater concern that a relatively concentrated population of immigrants who share a culture vastly different from ours can lead to, on the margins, a greater number of people of that culture – including everyone from recent immigrants to “natives” of 5+ generations and everything in between – getting radicalized to positions that are not just vastly different from but actually incompatible with our culture. And, on the margins, more people who are radicalized translates to more people who carry out terrorist acts.

      I was vaguely aware of this argument as a thing before, but I thought it was a tiny point that no one ever made and one that can easily be dismissed by claiming “they’ll just buy into our more liberal, more secular society since they’ll see how awesome it is.” The research I’ve done on and off the past few years tells me both that this is actually the main point, and it can’t be so easily dismissed, because the proportion that do buy into our secular society isn’t sufficiently high that the increasing radicalization isn’t obviously a non-factor. When I see the literature published by ISIS and the trends of Westerners who tend to get radicalized by them, it seems to me that this is very much a factor, far more than any sort of resentment over bigotry or colonization done by Westerners.

      I’m still pro-open borders for other reasons, but I see the “but native born, so checkmate, xenophobes” as wholly invalid now and engaging with a silly strawman – at best, a weakman – and designed entirely to score points rather than to make a meaningful argument. Given how actively ignorant people tend to be of research that might contradict their positions, I expect to see this argument continue to grow in popularity, though.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Disaffected youngsters, mostly young men, is a big problem. “Kid of immigrants radicalized into hardcore version of his family’s religion” and “radicalized convert” are just two of the flavours of that with the largest potential for mass murder.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I think the transition from disaffected youth to terrorist is (nearly) unique to Islam.

          In any society, in any given year, there will be a certain percentage of young men who experience and existential crisis. Either they’ve “done everything right” and failed and are poor and miserable, or they’ve succeeded in their career and finances but still find life empty (many of the westerners who joined ISIS were middle class, with college degrees and jobs and yet decided to move to the desert and behead people, and engineers are unusually likely to become terrorists). It’s impossible to make a society where there are no disaffected 20-something year old men. It’s just part of becoming a man for a lot of people.

          In response to this long dark night of the soul, some young men will give up and turn to suicide, or drugs, or alcohol. But a lot will also turn to religion. They’ll pick up their holy book and say, “yes, this is why I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t doing what my spiritual leader told me to do!” If that spiritual leader is Jesus Christ, well, it’s possible to twist his words to some kind of violence but it’s really, really hard to do so. It’s far more likely you’re going to decide to be more like Jesus and love others as yourself and go volunteer at a soup kitchen or something, and you’re still suffering, but at least you’ve come to terms with it and found a productive spiritual outlet. You never, ever make the news. If that spiritual leader is Mohammad, then the response is “this is why I’m not happy, I’m not doing what my leader and said and slaughtering infidels!” and we have a new jihadist.

          And it doesn’t matter that (some) modern Islamic scholars preach that no, violent jihad is no longer acceptable for Muslims, what 25 year old who’s mad at the world listens to their elders? Ever? They’ve got the book, right in front of them, and old people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. That is the problem of the self-radicalizing nature of Islam.

          • rlms says:

            “You never, ever make the news.”
            That is also true if your spiritual leader is Muhammad and you don’t become a terrorist.

            “They’ve got the book, right in front of them”
            It’s clichéd, but have you read the Old Testament? It’s got a fair bit of slaughter in. Also, they only have the book in front of them if they know Arabic, which is not a given except for first-generation immigrants from Arabic-speaking countries.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            “You never, ever make the news.”
            That is also true if your spiritual leader is Muhammad and you don’t become a terrorist.

            Yes. But the number of Christians who go ka-boom at pop concerts is zero, and the number of Muslims who do so is non-zero.

            It’s clichéd, but have you read the Old Testament?

            Yes, except in Christian theology the Old Testament is treated as a historical or historical/mythological document, not a list of exhortations. The Old Testament is “here’s what happened” and the New Testament is “here’s what you should do now.” The Koran and Sunnah are not, at all, like that and contain direct commands to current followers.

            We should really be past the “Christianity and Islam are the same!” meme by now. They’re clearly not, in terms of both philosophical content and tendency to produce suicide bombers.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It’s clichéd, but have you read the Old Testament? It’s got a fair bit of slaughter in.

            The slaughter in the OT is mostly just described in a “This is what happened” historical sense. Even the verses where God commands it are referring to a specific situation (the Israelite conquest of Canaan), and there’s no indication that these are meant to be general commands applying to all believers everywhere.

            Also, they only have the book in front of them if they know Arabic, which is not a given except for first-generation immigrants from Arabic-speaking countries.

            English translations of the Koran exist, and are easily available over Amazon.

          • rlms says:

            @ConradHoncho
            “But the number of Christians who go ka-boom at pop concerts is zero”
            Wrong! Looks like it’s one to one.

            I agree that Christianity and Islam aren’t the same. But I think the difference is largely down to how they’re practiced, and specifically the fact that the really bad interpretations of Islam are much more popular than the really bad interpretations of Christianity. I don’t think the content of the Quran comes into it. If you can give a single example of someone radicalised solely from the Quran I’lll eat my words. A quick search suggests this guy, but his brother says he grew up in an extremist family, a fact corroborated by his sister saying “I am proud of my brother. He fought until the end. I think the world of (Osama) Bin Laden”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            So, note, I said mass murder. There are things a different sort of disaffected young man might drift into that involve retail, as opposed to wholesale, murder. “Young man without prospects who drifts into a gang because it offers a bit of money, some masculine camaraderie, etc” is an archetype that kills vastly more Americans than either the archetypes I mentioned above, or the “angry young man goes all AR-15 in a school” archetype. Or maybe just “man without prospects who gets drunk and gets into fights and beats his girlfriend/wife” – that archetype kills a lot of people too.

            This is just because right now, due to historical events, Muslim (mostly Sunni) extremist terrorism is a thing. It wasn’t always a thing – consider, for example, how the Palestinian commies have disappeared and been completely supplanted by Islamists.

            You can’t say “this is something inherent to Islam” without explaining why Sunni Muslims do it more than Shia, or why it’s become so much more of a thing over the past few decades.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            and specifically the fact that the really bad interpretations of Islam are much more popular than the really bad interpretations of Christianity

            I mean, that depends on how you feel about the “I Fucking Love Jesus” cults Evangelicals.

          • Anonymous says:

            Needs more Inquisition.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @dndnrsn

            I need to do some more comparative religion research with regards to Islam. I don’t have an answer to why Sunni Muslims blow themselves up more often than Shia, so yes I need to answer that question.

            I still think there’s a general problem with regards to Islam, which is the source of sin/suffering. In Christianity, we assume people are born fallen/corrupted, and if your life is shit there’s a pretty good chance it’s your fault. Also, humans are made in the image of God, so they could be perfect like God, but if they’re not it’s because of their own choices. In Islam, humans are just one of Allah’s infinite creations, and are not made in his image. They’re also made pure, and corrupted by the outside world.

            This is why they stone the rape victim rather than the rapist. He’s a pure muslim man, who never would have done that awful thing if he hadn’t been tempted by the harlot’s brazen bare ankle.

            This is a fundamentally different view on the nature of man and sin. If you place the blame for your poor situation on yourself, like in Christianity, you might try to improve yourself. If you place the blame for your poor situation on what other people are doing (those “spreading mischief in the land”), and justify killing them to stop it, then there will be no end to the killing, because there is no end to problems and suffering in this world.

            As far as world religions go, this is unique to Islam.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            Let’s see what the Hebrew Bible has to say. Deuteronomy 22:23-29 (NRSV)

            If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.

            25 But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. 26 Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor, 27 for the man found the young woman out in the country, and though the betrothed woman screamed, there was no one to rescue her.

            28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

            So, by the Hebrew Bible – binding on Jews, certainly, if not on Christians – is not exactly that friendly to rape victims, unless they’re engaged to be married and fight back. Additionally, the model of “bad things are happening to you personally/your community as a whole because you tolerate evildoers in the community” is certainly a model that exists in the Hebrew Bible. One answer the Jews of the period the books were composed and edited had to the question “why did we just get invaded by a foreign empire? We’re God’s chosen people – why is this happening to us?” is “because you’re tolerating wrongdoing, and God is punishing the group for the sins of a component part; y’all better ensure everyone behaves”.

            In comparison, Christianity derives from Jewish apocalypticism: where the above worldview (my fuzzy memory of studying this stuff is saying it’s the “prophetic worldview” but my fuzzy memory is not a solid authority) is “God is punishing the many for the sins of the few, and so the many better make sure those few behave themselves, and then God will make the foreign invaders go away”, apocalypticism says “bad stuff is happening because the world is ruled by evil, but God is going to come and make things right and change everything – the good guys are gonna continue to suffer but we just gotta hold on and stay strong.”

            My point in this is that if the same or similar moral model can be found in stuff that’s binding on Jews as it is binding on Muslims… then why aren’t Jews stoning rape victims to death and blowing themselves up in pop concerts and nightclubs? Just like with the question “why are Sunnis so disproportionately the ones committing terrorist violence in the name of religion”, the answer has more to do with recent history – both the relatively recent (centuries) and the truly recent (decades). The same stuff answers the question “why are there places in the Muslim world that within living memory were quite cosmopolitan and secular, and in some of them it was common to see grown women not wearing hijabs, and now they are not cosmopolitan, not secular, and niqabs are common?”

            There are some really, really serious problems right now in the Muslim world and in contemporary Muslim thought – more with Sunnis than Shias – but the problems lie more in recent history than in the Quran or the hadith traditions. While those things can be used to justify some awful stuff, the Hebrew Bible and New Testament can be too – and yet Jews no longer stone rape victims to death, Christians no longer put heretics to death, etc.

            EDIT: Perhaps I’m being a little coy. This isn’t my area of expertise, far from it, but my understanding is that modern Sunni radicalism starts to pop up in the early to mid 20th century. This is a period where things are not going well for the Muslim world: the Ottoman Empire has kicked it, the entire Muslim world is under the thumb of Western powers (perceived as either Christian or degenerate and atheistic), after 1948 the state of Israel has been created and has just kicked out a whole bunch of Muslims, embarrassed Muslim armies, and will continue to do so, etc. It’s in this environment that the Muslim Brotherhood pops up, Qutb starts writing his influential stuff, etc. Then, in the 70s and 80s, American support for (what they perceive as) anti-Soviet fighters kicks things into high gear. The war in Afghanistan becomes an incubator for Sunni radicalism. This has been repeated more recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, North Africa, etc.

            Or, consider that Black September was a secular outfit, within the past 20 years the PFLP have gone from a major player to a very minor element, and that while suicide bombing is identified with Muslim terrorists (when you hear “there’s been a shooting” you think “huh, I wonder who did that”, when you hear “some guy blew himself up”, on the other hand…) in its modern incarnation it was originally a Tamil Tiger thing.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @dndnrsn

            But have Jews ever blown themselves up en masse due to oppression? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard tell that, at some points, occasionally in world history, Jews just might have faced some unfair oppression. Once or twice. Maybe. Never started suicide bombing campaigns against children though.

            The Hindus go by a Just World theory. If your life sucks now, it’s because you deserve it because you were shit in your past life. That’s why Mother Theresa started her mission. She was on a train, saw the untouchables, asked why no one was helping them and learned that no one would ever help them, or care about it: they deserved it.

            Theology really, really impacts the way people interact with the world. Muslims blowing themselves up is not a side-effect of political oppression. It’s baked into the theology. Hindus not giving a shit about the poor isn’t a side-effect of class struggle. It’s baked into the theology.

            Epistemological aside: I think our own filters color not just the way we see the world but the way we believe others see the world.

            When all you have is an X Hammer, problems tend to look like X Nails. The feminists see the world through gender, so the concert bombing is male-on-female, gender-based violence. If you’re a materialist, of course terrorism is caused by the economic impact of climate change! And as a religious person, of course I think people’s motivations come from their religions (or cultures heavily shaped by their religions, or lack thereof).

            Reality is probably a combination of these things.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            I’m suprised that a CTRL+F search in a big discussion of Islam vs. Christianity/Judaism only shows one passing mention of “hadith.”

            Here’s my recommendation to anyone who’s interested in getting familiar with the scriptures of Islam as opposed to Christianity/Judaism. Look up “Sahih Bukhari” and just read some of it at random. Five pages should do it.

            Christians traditionally read the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament, which mostly recommends non-violence. Mostly — there’s passages her and there that could be read as endorsing violence sprinkled in.

            Jews traditionally read the Hebrew Bible through the lens of the Talmud, which is a considerably more humane document than the Bible, though it does have its darker moments (killing snitches, for example).

            Sunni Muslims traditionally read the Quran through the lens of the Sunnah — the hadiths and early biographies of Muhammad, both of which contain a lot more terrifying stuff than the Quran does. Sunnah is where the name Sunni comes from — it’s not some set of odd documents that only a few Sunnis are into.

            I don’t know that the problem essentially boils down to the Sunnah, but you can definitely go very easily from the Sunnah to a really horrifying set of norms.

            Google Bukhari. It’s all online, and translated into English.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            So, by the Hebrew Bible – binding on Jews, certainly, if not on Christians – is not exactly that friendly to rape victims, unless they’re engaged to be married and fight back.

            The Bible pretty obviously distinguishes between rape and consensual sex based on whether the woman fights back, so you are misrepresenting it.

            Note that for most of history and in the eyes of many contemporary people, this is/was how people distinguished between rape and consensual sex when it comes to the woman (for men it is more complex, where even if the man fights back it is/was often not considered rape).

          • rlms says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            “This is why they stone the rape victim rather than the rapist.”
            That’s not really accurate. No-one is ever stoned for being a rape victim, they are stoned for the “crime” of “adultery” if they are raped by a man with enough power to influence the court. If that isn’t the case, the rapist is executed.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            But Muslims blowing themselves up is a recent development. The rise of international Sunni radical terrorism is a recent development. If there was something baked into Islam as a whole that leads to suicide terrorism, all Muslims would do it, and would have been the innovators of suicide bombing instead of the situation in reality – which is of Sunni radicals being enthusiastic but late adopters of suicide terrorism. So it seems a bit hard to say it’s baked in.

            @biblicalsausage

            Yes. Like I said, not my area of expertise – but just talking about the scriptures isn’t enough. (There’s a Protestant-ish bias in religious studies which leads to a focus on scriptures and a Protestant-style understanding of religious vs secular).

            @aapje

            I get that’s the understanding of rape in the Hebrew Bible and in many societies up until recently. But I’m saying that the rules in the Hebrew Bible are bad for some women who are actually victims of rape.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            @Aapje

            Yes, the Bible does distinguish between rape and non-rape. But it is only concerned about the distinction if the woman is betrothed to a man (in which case the rapist is killed) or if the woman is a virgin (in which case there is a fine and possible marriage to the rapist).

            It is important to note that there is no penalty for rape in general, outside of cases where there’s a father or husband whose property is being violated. There’s also the fact that rape is treated as equally serious to adultery in the case of raping the betrothed woman, or in the case of the virgin less serious than adultery. So in the case of raping a woman betrothed to another man, there is in fact zero penalty for raping her — the capital offense is having sex with her. Her rape is not actually treated as a crime — it’s just a possible defense she can use to avoid being killed, if she was raped in the right circumstances.

            It’s also worth noting that raping a virgin is a much less serious crime in the Bible than it is for a virgin not to have an intact hymen when she is married off.

          • No-one is ever stoned for being a rape victim, they are stoned for the “crime” of “adultery” if …

            Zina isn’t adultery, it’s illicit intercourse. It’s a crime even if neither partner is married.

            It’s a capital crime only if the party has had the opportunity for licit intercourse, and the most obvious case is if he or she is married. But that would also apply to someone who had been married but no longer was, which would not be adultery.

          • DavidS says:

            I think its a genuinely hard problem to say if qualities of religions in practice are related to scripturr/theology. Just too much opportunity for just so stories when actually historical experience is varied.

            On rape in the bible, my understanding is the Hebrew just means have sex with as a transitive man to woman verb. As in its also used in the context of the wife’s right to her husband ‘raping’ her. So yeah this is a rather crude ‘ if you didn’t cry out you consented’ which isn’t ideal but not as bizarre as the classic translation sounds.

            On suicide bombers I still don’t get why they’re morally worse than other killers but for what its worth I believe that Islam is the only abrahamic faith without scriptural precedent as Qur’an doesn’t include Samson pulling down the temple…

          • bintchaos says:

            I’m sorry, but this commentariat is woefully ignorant about Islam.
            The major difference between Islam and christianity is christian salvation by faith alone versus islamic works + faith.
            Islam is in the position that the catholic church was in once upon a time, when excommunication was literally a sentence of hell.
            Muslims dont believe in original sin– they believe children are born without sin, but that mankind is forgetful, not that man is corrupted by the world.
            What you call “terrorists” are proponents of salafi-jihadism, i.e., followers of the Salaf, the original Companions of the Prophet.
            Someone mentioned the ahadith (plural of hadith). The ahadith function as a kind of memetic hygiene to prevent memetic drift and mutation of Quran.
            Followers (Sunnis, salafis, hanbalis, etc) of al shayyk al Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah, can validate jihadism through a hadith where Muhammed states the Companions cannot be criticized, even if they perform horrible acts.
            Other islamic scholars can bring arguments from the Quran or ahadith that counter violent jihadism, but Taymiyyan tafsir (quranic exegesis) is still the most wide-spread accepted form among Aulhus Sunnah (Sunnis = People of the Middle Path).
            Taymiyyah literally wrote the book on that, al Wasitiya .

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @bintchaos:

            I’m sorry, but this commentariat is woefully ignorant about Islam.
            The major difference between Islam and [C]hristianity is [C]hristian salvation by faith alone versus [I]slamic works + faith.

            Catholics (a bigger chunk of Christians than, say, Shi’a are of Muslims) do not believe in salvation by faith alone: “Faith without works is dead.” Seriously, we even re-word part of “Amazing Grace” over this. You should be happy I jumped on this before Deiseach saw it…

            I generally find it dangerous to fling around accusations of ignorance here; alternatively, you could tell us how wrong we all are about late 19th-century naval architecture and armament.

          • Deiseach says:

            You should be happy I jumped on this before Deiseach saw it

            Aw dash it, you mean I don’t get to quote chunks of my three-essay series* on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy? 🙁

            *insert The Onion‘s cartoonist’s weeping Statue of Liberty at the foot of this comment*

            *Teaser sample to leave you begging for more – or begging for me to show mercy and desist:

            How To Earn Your Salvation in 14 E-Z Steps!

            Salvation-based, Biblically-derived methodology compiled by sinners for sinners! Special plenary indulgence included if your order is received during a Jubilee Year! 100% Satisfaction (for sin due to the saving work of Christ on the Cross) guaranteed! No money down (because that would be simony)! If not completely satisfied with the condition of your soul after application, simply return to us in the original wrapping before the Second Coming and General Judgement (offer void in Lake of Fire).

            Earn your salvation today!

            Well, we’re not quite that bad – not yet. Yes, it’s that old Roman Catholic stand-by, well-known to you, our separated brethren, as “works righteousness” and known to us (if we know them at all) as something completely different. I am referring to what old-timers will recognise as the Works of Mercy. Traditionally, they are divided into two lists of seven: the Corporal (or bodily) works and the Spiritual works.

          • bintchaos says:

            Then let the stoning begin.
            I was raised orthodox catholic, went to Immaculate Conception in elementary school, i understand catholicism very well. My parents have an Infant of Prague under a glass bell in their elegant foyer. We used to change its cunning little liturgical vestments for the different liturgical seasons.
            And I know all about buying indulgences lol– but the Church is toothless now. I have friends that are Born-agains– i understand perfectly well about salvation and original sin– it doesnt matter if you are a murder/rapist on death row– you can be still be saved just by a profession of faith. My Born-agin friend explained how she “is just as bad as Jeffrey Dahmer”.
            I tried to explain the conflict within Islam about violent jihad– and how Taymiyyan tafsir rules Auhlus Sunnah– Sunnis, and how ahadith about the Companions of Muhammed informs the People of the Middle Path– but I’m sure you know way more than I do.
            Sorry for thread-jacking.
            Rationalist community my narrow white a**

          • followers of the Salaf, the original Companions of the Prophet.

            The Companions are the Sahabah. The Salaf are the first three generations.

            Someone mentioned the ahadith (plural of hadith). The ahadith function as a kind of memetic hygiene to prevent memetic drift and mutation of Quran.

            I don’t know what you mean by that. The hadith are traditions of what the Prophet and his companions did and said. They were initially oral, eventually written down, so there developed an extensive scholarship attempting to determine which ones were genuine. It was generally agreed that most of them were at least dubious, and there ended up being several books each of which contained what its authors believed to be the reliable ones.

            They aren’t about the Quran at all–drift in its text was prevented at an early stage by producing a single official version and destroying all alternates. The hadith were taken as evidence of what the Prophet, who was divinely inspired, did and said, so provided information additional to that in the Quran.

            Islam is in the position that the catholic church was in once upon a time, when excommunication was literally a sentence of hell.

            I don’t understand this either. There is no Sunni equivalent of the Pope and nobody in a position to excommunicate anyone (aside from God).

            I am also not sure what your point is about ibn Taymiyyah. There have been lots of Sunni scholars and they wrote lots of books. He was one who happens to have been popular with the founder of the Wahabi variant of Sunni Islam, the variant currently supported by the Saudis.

          • INH5 says:

            But have Jews ever blown themselves up en masse due to oppression? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard tell that, at some points, occasionally in world history, Jews just might have faced some unfair oppression. Once or twice. Maybe. Never started suicide bombing campaigns against children though.

            So tell me, if Muslims blowing themselves up is their theologically programmed response to oppression, why were there no suicide bombings during the Algerian War of Independence?

            If you’re not familiar with the war in question, it lasted from 1954 to 1962 and pitted a predominately Sunni Muslim nationalist guerrilla group (the FLN) against a much better armed Western nation (France). While the FLN had primarily nationalist goals, it made a heavy use of religious rhetoric and propaganda from inception. Both sides committed numerous atrocities, including torture by both sides, mass forced displacements of Algerian Muslims by the French Army, and several bombing campaigns by the FLN that occasionally reached into France. Yet as far as I can tell, the FLN never carried out even one suicide bombing during the entire duration of the war. This would seem to be a pretty big anomaly for the Muslim theology -> suicide bombing theory.

            And it’s not like suicide bombing wasn’t technically feasible at the time. China and Japan both made extensive use of suicide bombers during WWII.

            Also, while I’m more uncertain about this, I haven’t been able to find any examples of suicide bombings during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. If there really weren’t any, that would be an even bigger anomaly, since that war is generally considered to be the birthplace of modern Jihadist militancy. It was also contemporaneous with the first modern suicide bombings by Muslims, in that particular case by Shiities in Lebanon.

            Like dndnrsn said, Muslims blowing themselves up is a recent phenomenon. Unless the Quran was rewritten in the 1980s, it doesn’t make sense to point to it as the reason for why suicide bombings happen.

            The Hindus go by a Just World theory. If your life sucks now, it’s because you deserve it because you were shit in your past life. That’s why Mother Theresa started her mission. She was on a train, saw the untouchables, asked why no one was helping them and learned that no one would ever help them, or care about it: they deserved it.

            Theology really, really impacts the way people interact with the world. Muslims blowing themselves up is not a side-effect of political oppression. It’s baked into the theology. Hindus not giving a shit about the poor isn’t a side-effect of class struggle. It’s baked into the theology.

            Would you care to explain how Hindu theology leads to suicide bombing, seeing as how the group that pioneered modern suicide bombing, the Tamil Tigers, had a mostly Hindu membership?

            Also, Sri Lankan Tamils are about 20% Catholic, so while I haven’t been able to confirm this, it seems likely that some of the “Black Tigers” were Catholic. There were also at least a half dozen confirmed examples of Christian suicide bombers in Lebanon during the 1980s and 1990s. So while you’re at it, could you explain what aspects of Christian theology lead to suicide bombing?

          • Deiseach says:

            while liberals get booby prizes like gay marriage

            But that’s what they went for – social liberalism rather than economic liberalism (something like the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democrat Party). Because those were perceived as easy, cost-free, achievable targets and let them wrap (for instance) gay marriage in the rhetoric of the Civil Rights movement (something resented by a portion of the African-American community who are socially conservative and church-going and did not like seeing middle-class white people conflating “I’m gay and suffering societal disadvantage for that” with “I’m black and suffering societal disadvantage for that”).

            Heck, even the right-wing in my country went for that! The Fine Gael-led coalition government cheerled and pushed for the marriage equality amendment. For precisely those reasons: seen as a cheap, easy, virtuous target that would cost them nothing on the things they really cared about.

            Of course, now we’re seeing that there is a cost to telling people “Haw haw, eat it, suckers! This is the law now, what you gonna do? Not vote for us? You don’t vote for us anyway! Haw, haw!” No, they don’t vote for you, they go out and vote for Trump.

            And my country now has its first son of an immigrant, gay, Taoiseach. Who is otherwise impeccably conservative and on the business-friendly side (light touch regulation, cutting taxes, promoting enterprise and reward for effort, all the rest of it) and pro-cutting welfare (he went from the Department of Health – widely seen as a punishment placing for his too-soon revealed ambition – to the Department of Social Protection where he happily rolled out an “inform on welfare cheats” promotion).

          • Deiseach says:

            And I know all about buying indulgences lol– but the Church is toothless now.

            Then you don’t know about “buying indulgences” because indulgences are not granted for payment*. (Yes, I wrote an essay about exactly this). I can forgive your ignorance, though, seeing as how if you went to a Catholic school in the past forty years you got the post-Vatican II catechesis which was all about “we no longer learn lists of rules, we talk about how Jesus was nice and it’s nice to be nice” (there’s a reason I say I got all my theological education out of reading Dante).

            *If you’re sputtering “But Luther! Tetzel! Leo XIII!” (a) that was five hundred years ago (b) yes it was a disgrace but it was also more complicated than the simplified and Protestant-history version of “selling salvation for a donation” (c) the Church has cleaned up its act since (d) rules for obtaining indulgences – note no money is required for purchase

          • Matt M says:

            But that’s what they went for

            Sheesh, no kidding. Do you remember the euphoric celebrations from the left when they got gay marriage? THEY didn’t see it as a “booby prize.” They were acting like it was the single greatest victory in the history of the universe.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @INH5

            Also, while I’m more uncertain about this, I haven’t been able to find any examples of suicide bombings during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. If there really weren’t any, that would be an even bigger anomaly, since that war is generally considered to be the birthplace of modern Jihadist militancy. It was also contemporaneous with the first modern suicide bombings by Muslims, in that particular case by Shiities in Lebanon.

            Spitballing: Suicide bombing is a technique associated more with what used to be known as “urban guerrilla” tactics – would probably just be called terrorism today. In both the recent wars in Afghanistan, holding the cities wasn’t the hard part for the Soviets/Americans and allies. So, the first time around, suicide bombing probably didn’t have much of a point to it – the war was won and lost out in the remote areas, where crowds of people to blow yourself up in were rare. The more recent war, suicide bombing has become part of the toolkit, but it seems to mostly be used in the violence that has come to the cities after foreign troops started becoming scarcer.

          • John Schilling says:

            But have Jews ever blown themselves up en masse due to oppression? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard tell that, at some points, occasionally in world history, Jews just might have faced some unfair oppression.

            But mostly prior to the invention of high explosives and the electric detonator. Really, you need the post-WWII diffusion of military technology into the civilian sector to make suicide bombing practical on a wide scale.

            If you’re being less literal, consider the etymology of Zealot, and the outcome.

            So, yeah, Jews have been engaged in ultimately self-destructive murderous slaughter of their oppressors and anyone who kind of sort of looks like their oppressors for longer than Islam has existed. The Jews we have now, are the ones that have been selected by two thousand years of evolution for less suicidal responses to oppression.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Sheesh, no kidding. Do you remember the euphoric celebrations from the left when they got gay marriage? THEY didn’t see it as a “booby prize.” They were acting like it was the single greatest victory in the history of the universe.

            Not to mention all the rhetoric about how gay marriage was the biggest civil rights cause of our generation, how everybody who opposed it was a homophobic bigot who needed to be hounded out of polite society, etc., etc. I suppose it’s theoretically possible that some people might get this worked up over a meaningless booby prize, but it seems pretty unlikely.

          • Jiro says:

            I can forgive your ignorance, though, seeing as how if you went to a Catholic school in the past forty years you got the post-Vatican II catechesis which was all about “we no longer learn lists of rules, we talk about how Jesus was nice and it’s nice to be nice”

            How is this not “those people aren’t True Christians” (or at least what they’re teaching isn’t True Christianity)?

          • Deiseach says:

            How is this not “those people aren’t True Christians” (or at least what they’re teaching isn’t True Christianity)?

            Oh, no, that’s not what I’m saying at all! I’m complaining about people not being taught the basics of the faith, as if you took geography in secondary school and instead of being taught about (say) glaciation, the teacher said “Now class, today we are going to colour in all the countries on the map that start with “G” and we’re going to colour them green because green starts with G!”

            That’s the level of catechesis I got going from sixth class in primary school (“now today we learn the six laws of the Church”) to first year in secondary school (“imagine an alien in a flying saucer visited this country, what would you tell them about being a good person?” and yes the workbook – I can’t call it a catechism – had a cartoon of an alien in a flying saucer talking to a boy and girl) 🙂

        • Aapje says:

          @dndnrsn

          Exactly, some non-Muslim kids also get radicalized and shoot up their school or such, but the difference is that there is not a large community that tells non-Muslim kids that they are great if they do, that they’ll get all the sex they want in heaven or that they can live in a Utopian nation where they feel they belong, etc.

          In the past, we’ve also seen that fairly high percentages of Western youngsters became violent when there was a reward model in place (like the radical left in the 70’s-80’s, the various separatist movements like the IRA and ETA).

          I think that the globalists greatly underestimate how little meaning in life the losers and even many of the winners in our society experience. Jordan Peterson makes an interesting argument that people need to experience a sense of order and that we are increasingly putting people in situations where they feel chaos and have a feeling of being lived, rather than get a sense that they are making a substantial positive contribution to society (Peterson calls this the Hero Myth that people need).

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’ve really been wanting to see how Peterson would analyze Islam.

            He talks about how kids who shoot up schools hate God, and barely metaphorically. Examining the writings of these things it’s kind of clear, they had Job’s conversation with God and when God says “Yeah, you’re suffering, but have you seen how awesome this fish is?!” they respond with “no, it’s not worth it, screw this, screw you, screw everything, and I’ll show you just how worthless it all is!” and they kill kids and kill themselves.

            What happens when the answer from Allah is “you’re perfect, it’s the fault of all those others spreading mischief in the land, and if you take them out things will better for everyone and perfect for you?”

          • dndnrsn says:

            See above – that there is a large population who will say “way to go!” is a fairly new thing.

        • “This is why they stone the rape victim rather than the rapist.”

          Where in Islamic law do you find that?

          With or without rape, voluntary intercourse with someone who is neither your spouse or your concubine is a crime–a capital crime (zina) if you have had an opportunity in the past to have intercourse with spouse or concubine. The only situation I can think of where a rape victim would be legally executed would be if the court believed she was lying, that the intercourse had actually been voluntary. And then both parties would held guilty.

          So far as the quote from Jewish law, the issue isn’t whether one is sympathetic to rape victims, it’s whether one believes the claim that the intercourse was rape. If a couple has intercourse in a town and it was rape the woman would have yelled and probably been heard, so if she didn’t it wasn’t rape. If it happens in the countryside, the woman’s claim is believed on her word, since if she is lying there is no way to show it.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            That “if the court believed she was lying” bit is very important. At least under some understandings of Shariah law, you need four male witnesses to establish a rape. If a rape that has three frickin male witnesses is legally not a rape, then you’ve essentially got a legal system that has legalized rape.

            Most Muslim countries don’t use that standard of proof, so I’m not accusing that of being “part of Islam” necessarily. I don’t know the Shariah that well, and attitudes toward Shariah vary. But it is out there for some Muslims.

          • At least under some understandings of Shariah law, you need four male witnesses to establish a rape.

            Zina, illicit intercourse, is a Hadd crime and requires four adult male Muslim witnesses of good repute to the same act of intercourse, which makes conviction difficult. Some scholars apparently hold that committing rape can be prosecuted as a special case of zina. But the fact that a crime cannot be proved to the Hadd standard (two eyewitnesses for offenses other than zina) does not mean it isn’t punished. There is generally the option of prosecuting the act as Tazir instead, with a lower standard of proof and a lower penalty.

            If a woman “confesses” to having been raped, she is not confessing to committing zina, since zina has to be voluntary. So to get the result you describe, you would need four eyewitnesses to her having engaged in voluntary intercourse.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            @DavidFriedman,

            We seem to have gotten slightly tangled up in our conversation. I’m having a little trouble working out exactly who’s claiming what. Just for the sake of clarity, I want to make clear that I didn’t bring up anything about victims of rape being punished; though I did walk into a conversation where that was being discussed.

            It sounds like I’ve been working from a somewhat oversimplified understanding of how Shariah handles rape, possibly based on a misunderstanding of Pakistan’s Hudood Ordinances.

            But the distinction between Hadd and Tazir is a helpful distinction.

          • But the distinction between Hadd and Tazir is a helpful distinction.

            Also between both and Jinayat.

            There are only five Hadd offenses, and neither murder nor assault is included.

            For at least my sketch of the system, see the chapter on Islamic law in the webbed draft of my current book.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            @DavidFriedman,

            Thanks for the link. I will probably devour the Romani and Jewish ones first, but I will definitely get the the Muslim one.

      • INH5 says:

        But as I’ve done more research on this issue the past few years due to the terror incidents just continuing to pile up, I’ve learned that I was really mistaken about the position. While the fear of letting terrorists immigrate in is and was certainly real, it was completely dwarfed to irrelevance by the greater concern that a relatively concentrated population of immigrants who share a culture vastly different from ours can lead to, on the margins, a greater number of people of that culture – including everyone from recent immigrants to “natives” of 5+ generations and everything in between – getting radicalized to positions that are not just vastly different from but actually incompatible with our culture. And, on the margins, more people who are radicalized translates to more people who carry out terrorist acts.

        I was vaguely aware of this argument as a thing before, but I thought it was a tiny point that no one ever made and one that can easily be dismissed by claiming “they’ll just buy into our more liberal, more secular society since they’ll see how awesome it is.” The research I’ve done on and off the past few years tells me both that this is actually the main point, and it can’t be so easily dismissed, because the proportion that do buy into our secular society isn’t sufficiently high that the increasing radicalization isn’t obviously a non-factor. When I see the literature published by ISIS and the trends of Westerners who tend to get radicalized by them, it seems to me that this is very much a factor, far more than any sort of resentment over bigotry or colonization done by Westerners.

        The problem with this argument is that a lot of terrorists did not, in any sense, hail from ghettos of a “vastly different culture.”

        First, a large portion of them are converts – around 2/3 of American Islamic terrorists and 1/3 of British ones – who of course weren’t raised in a Muslim culture in the first place. Jake Bilardi, for example, clearly did not join ISIS because of insufficient assimilation to secular Australian culture.

        Second, even among terrorists who have a Muslim background, many of the ones that I’ve looked at appear to have been quite assimilated. Two of the Paris attackers owned a bar and one is reported to have been a regular at gay bars in Brussels. 3 out of 4 of the July 7, 2005 bombers lived in Beeston, a suburb of Leeds that is hardly a Muslim ghetto – Muslims only make up about 5% of the population there. The Nice attacker was described by neighbors as a man who ate pork, drank alcohol, took drugs, and had a promiscuous sex life with both men and women. Then there was the pair of British Jihadists who purchased Islam for Dummies on Amazon before they left for Syria.

        Concentrating on the US because that’s the country that I’m most familiar with: Of the last 4 major Islamic terrorist attacks there, in only one case (the San Bernardino shooting) can the perpetrators be even remotely described as “isolated from secular society.” The Fort Lauderdale airport shooting was carried out by a Puerto Rican convert and military veteran. The Orlando shooting was carried out by a security guard, fitness nut, and wannabe cop with a history of instability and violent threats who seemed to be ignorant of even basic facts about the Syrian conflict, such as that ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hezbollah are enemies of each other. The Boston Marathon bombing was carried out by an aspiring professional boxer and his younger brother who was described by classmates as a fan of hip-hop and marijuana.

        Etc. Etc.

        Whenever someone talks/writes about how Muslims in the West become terrorists because “they form ghettos and don’t assimilate,” I wonder if they have ever actually read a biography of a Western Muslim terrorist, because it really isn’t hard to find plenty of counterexamples.

        Of course all of the above evidence is anecdotal, but it’s backed up by studies, which find that neither more religious Muslims or more politically conservative Muslims are more likely to support terrorism, and that religious education is negatively correlated with support for terrorism unless it happened at a madrassa that was directly run by the Taliban or a similar group.

        So while ghettos of unassimilated immigrants do pose a number of problems, I don’t think terrorism is one of them.

    • rahien.din says:

      My particular heterodoxies :

      1. What does the choice in target, in particular, signal?

      My reaction to these attacks changed forever after San Bernardino. Emphatically granted : the attack was horrifying and deplorable, and its results pure tragedy. But the man and his wife dressed up like Cobra Commander and murdered a bunch of county employees at a Christmas party – what? That was the most cartoonish, campy depiction of evil I have encountered IRL. The only way San Bernardino will ever be topped is if a Muslim husband, wife, children, and grandparents behead a pile of kittens and baby rabbits on Easter morning.

      It struck me as obviously designed to manipulate. And this is the very nature of terrorism. Terrorism (unlike pitched battle or guerilla warfare) does not work by inflicting real material damage. It is a tactic of manipulation. The choice in target signals only that terrorists pick targets that they think will be maximally manipulative.

      If you’re trying to figure out why 8-year old girls, why Ariana Grande, why Manchester, why the 22nd, etc., then you are successfully being manipulated. Don’t be manipulated.

      Don’t be manipulated!

      2. Does the reaction — or more specifically, the lack of one — indicate acquiescence and/or doom for the English.

      Reacting to Islam is exactly what Islamists want us to do. AFAICT, Islamists care about subjugating everybody, but their first priority is subjugating moderate or heterodox or Western-like Muslims. IMHO this is implicit in the legal codes that allow infidels to live in Muslim society with additional taxes but relatively unmolested, but demand execution for the crime of apostasy.

      What are moderate Muslims trying to do? Get to the West, away from theocracy. Islamists want them back under the thumb, but they can’t accomplish it, because of our philosophical and legal traditions. If moderate Muslims won’t come back willingly, and Islamists can’t themselves force them to come back, the only way they get moderate Muslims back is to get us to send them back. The way they do that is manipulating us into conflating “Islam” with “dangerous” or “anti-Western” or “cannot assimilate” or “alien.” If that works, they accomplish their first goal and consolidate power over 24% of the world’s population.

      If it doesn’t work – and we bleed the more intelligent, brave, conscientious, and ambitious Muslims out from under them – they lose.

      In other words : No. A lack of reaction is not acquiescence. Reacting to terrorism is acquiescence.

      So, maybe, actually, the Brits aren’t going to be manipulated into becoming accessories to the crimes of theocrats. In which case, bravo. They win this round.

      Edit: missing “not”

      • LHN says:

        Stipulating the thesis, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a broad population to respond to deliberate, targeted outrages with anything other than outrage. (Especially since if the reaction is muted, the terrorists will continue to probe to discover what will provoke outrage.)

        There may be policies that can partially channel that outrage and determine whether the response is comparatively productive or counterproductive. And there are more and less stoic cultures (though I’m not sure how you produce the former, other than maybe via repeated trauma). But “don’t react, that’s what they want” is probably no more practical for a large society than for a middle schooler being bullied: the level of control being asked for simply doesn’t exist.

        • rahien.din says:

          Two meanings of the word “outrage” are doing work in your post. I think the most efficient way for me to make my point clearly is to paraphrase from your post. This is how I interpret the situation :

          I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a broad population to respond to deliberate, targeted atrocities with anything other than fear. (Especially since if the reaction is muted, the terrorists will continue to probe to discover what will provoke fear.)

          There may be policies that can partially channel that fear and determine whether the response is comparatively productive or counterproductive.

          From a practical standpoint, I share your concerns entirely. This is an enormous challenge to face as a person and as a society. But…

          We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men
          – Edward R. Murrow, “See It Now”

          • LHN says:

            It could be fear, it could be anger. It probably won’t be stoic dismissal.

            Re the Murrow quote, McCarthyism probably wouldn’t have burned out if Communists had been actively trying to create incidents to remind Americans that they were a persistent domestic threat, rather than if anything the opposite.

          • rahien.din says:

            LHN,

            I think I hadn’t answered certain concerns adequately and may have been wrong. Merely doing nothing is not an appropriate response. Below, I tried for better.

            Re the Murrow quote, McCarthyism probably wouldn’t have burned out if Communists had been actively trying to create incidents to remind Americans that they were a persistent domestic threat, rather than if anything the opposite.

            I think you’re totally right. This is a different challenge that we face.

        • Matt M says:

          And you’re also at the complete and total mercy of the bully. So if you say “Don’t react, that’s what the bully wants” that’s fine, unless he decides to escalate. The bully pushes you in the the hallway, you don’t react, because that’s what he wants. So then he knocks your lunch tray out of your hands, and you don’t react. He punches you, and you don’t react.

          Eventually he slams your head into a concrete wall and you die. But I guess you won, because you didn’t react, right? You sure showed him.

          • rahien.din says:

            You are absolutely right that to do nothing is still unacceptably bad. And I can see how my responses here have not sufficiently allowed for that fact. That’s my error and I will attempt to revise.

            The exact purpose of terrorism is eliciting a desired reaction. And therefore, to react as the terrorists desire is to become complicit in terrorism by fulfilling its purpose. For instance, I remember when every speech on Al Qaeda referenced their supposed hatred of our freedoms. Our responses to 9/11 curtailed our freedoms of travel, of speech, of personal security. In that instance, we were willing subjects of Al Qaeda.

            What we need to do is determine what the terrorists want. Then, when a terrorist attack inevitably occurs, we need to do the exact opposite of what they want.

            For instance, if (as I believe) they want moderate Muslims back in subjugation, we need to make them safer and more free and more welcome here, and snatch up as many as we can. Vacuum them up, appreciate them, and build an Islamic Reformation within that diaspora. Bleed the Islamists dry and let them vanish back into their desolate sands.

            Yes : that would not be easy, there are manifold difficulties with mass immigration, not all (perhaps, few) immigrants will assimilate easily or initially or at all, our culture will have to adjust in potentially painful ways, etc. But it’s still far better than acquiescence and consigning power to our enemy.

          • Wrong Species says:

            What we need to do is determine what the terrorists want. Then, when a terrorist attack inevitably occurs, we need to do the exact opposite of what they want.

            No, we need to figure out what causes terrorists attacks and then prevent it. “Beating terrorists at their psychological game” is not a terminal value. Keeping people safe is.

          • Randy M says:

            Agree with Wrong Species.

            What the terrorists want is not wholly relevant to what we want. We want to fulfill our (myriad) terminal values, including safety of our citizens. If the optimal way of doing that makes terrorists happy, so be it. If the optimal way of doing that makes terrorists sad, so be it.

            Now you (rahien.din) are making a strategic argument that fulfilling terrorists wants will necessarily both empower them and incentivize them to continue. This makes sense but is not necessarily true for all responses, and the particular optimal response may or may not align with some or all of what some or all of the terrorists expressly or secretly want.

            You are also being disingenuous or at least selective. Some of the things terrorists want are greater deference to Islam generally, worldwide, and enforced by law. This is one of their ultimate goals, even if you think their view is that greater acrimony now will serve as a recruiting tool. So by your reasoning, should we publicly blaspheme Islam? I wouldn’t argue this, because again, and as Wrong Species points out, our goals are not to thwart terrorist desires, but their attacks. Preventing their presence in our midst may do so; it may have downsides as well.

            To reiterate–it is a fallacy to say that a particular reaction is against our goals simply because we believe it is what the enemy believes will advance their goals. They may be wrong. It may be that responses of varying strength will serve opposing goals. We may have different time preferences. They may be using reverse psychology. etc

          • rahien.din says:

            Wrong Species,

            This is… not mysterious. There is no “cause” for terrorism, just as there is no “cause” for maneuver warfare. They are simply tactics to be employed if/when they are necessary to achieve goals.

            – Terrorism will continue to be employed iff it is successful.
            – Terrorism is successful iff it induces a desired response in policy or societal activity.
            – Modus tollens : if terrorism does not induce any significant response, or if the response to terrorism is counter to the desired response, it will not continue to be employed.

            a la Nixon, the only way to stop terrorism is to take the profit out of terrorism.

          • Wrong Species says:

            The best way to fight terrorism without giving in is to convince the terrorists that they are never going to win. You do that by constantly fighting, throwing more resources at finding them until they realize their cause is hopeless. The reason insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq work so well is because they are convinced we’re only in it temporarily, they just need to hold out.

          • rlms says:

            @Wrong Species
            Do you have some examples of that working? The method that was eventually successful at dealing with terrorism in Northern Ireland was pretty much the opposite: compromise with terrorists and agree to their reasonable demands. There is no room for compromise with ISIS, but in general the point stands.

          • rahien.din says:

            What the terrorists want is not wholly relevant to what we want. We want to fulfill our (myriad) terminal values, including safety of our citizens. If the optimal way of doing that makes terrorists happy, so be it. If the optimal way of doing that makes terrorists sad, so be it.

            Bullshit. The most effective way to ensure our safety from terrorism is to convert to Islam or to capitulate to jizya.

            You are also being disingenuous or at least selective. Some of the things terrorists want are greater deference to Islam generally, worldwide, and enforced by law.

            I have not been disingenuous, or selective. You will find that I referenced this in my initial post when I plainly stated “Islamists care about subjugating everybody.”

            even if you think their view is that greater acrimony now will serve as a recruiting tool.

            Whether that is true or not, I mostly don’t care. If you thought that I did, then like Wrong Species you made an incorrect inference.

            it is a fallacy to say that a particular reaction is against our goals simply because we believe it is what the enemy believes will advance their goals.

            Proves too much and is counter to general principles. Successful prosecution of a war requires that we deny the enemy his objective.

            Moreover, I have explained why I think that this is important in this war, both in the long-term (preventing the consolidation of power by Islamists) and in the short-term (making terrorism a nonviable strategy).

          • Randy M says:

            Bullshit. The most effective way to ensure our safety from terrorism is to convert to Islam or to capitulate to jizya.

            This is a non-sequitor in response to my statement that our goal is to fullfill our values, including safety. I value not affirming Islam.
            This is also, if valid, entirely rebutting your earlier point that Muslims suffer from Islamic terrorism, so you are being contradictory here.

            Whether that is true or not, I mostly don’t care. If you thought that I did, then like Wrong Species you made an incorrect inference.

            You made a rather impassioned plea that we “we bleed the more intelligent, brave, conscientious, and ambitious Muslims out from under them”, so I would think it a fair inference that you care which side Muslims drift towards.

            I have not been disingenuous, or selective.

            Your argument is that we must not react at all to terrorism because this will allow (somehow) moderate muslims to fall under the sway of extreme Islam. This may not be intentionally selective, but it does seem rather myopic.

            Successful prosecution of a war requires that we deny the enemy his objective.

            Moreover, I have explained why I think that this is important in this war, both in the long-term (preventing the consolidation of power by Islamists) and in the short-term (making terrorism a nonviable strategy).

            Your demonstration that encouraging the spread of Islam through the west will do either is lacking. Perhaps if the moderate muslims stay with the theocrats, they will overthrow the radicals. Perhaps they will reform it. Perhaps they will convert or submit, but we will reach detente once we each have safe space. Perhaps the radicals will grow in power but be unable to harm us as we tighten internal security and prevent the growth of hostile sub-populations, then reform over time. In any event, your explanations were unconvincing bromides.

          • John Schilling says:

            Do you have some examples of that working?

            The (Basque separatist) ETA? The Red Army Fraktion? The SLA? Pretty much everybody Hans Gruber was pretending to work for in Die Hard?

            The method that was eventually successful at dealing with terrorism in Northern Ireland was pretty much the opposite: compromise with terrorists and agree to their reasonable demands.

            But their reasonable demands were such a small fraction of the total that this hardly counts as a compromise. That’s true of most terrorist groups. The IRA demanded the surrender of the Six Counties to the Republic of Ireland. They didn’t get that. They didn’t get anything remotely close to that. They lost, full stop.

            The circumstances of the people they were fighting for may have been marginally better at the end of the fight than the beginning, but that’s true of most terrorist groups and it’s mostly just regression to the mean. Terrorism is most likely to start when the (Irish/Basques/Palestinians/whatever) are being more repressed than usual, so as long as the postwar settlement doesn’t include vindictive reprisals against the civilians and eventually includes lifting wartime emergency measures, the civilians will probably be less repressed at the end.

            Counting this as a victory for, or even compromise with, the terrorists would be a mistake.

          • rlms says:

            @John Schilling
            I think we are interpreting Wrong Species’ comment differently. I agree that if you can make terrorists think they have no chance of winning, that will stop them (unless they fell like they have nothing to lose, or other factors encourage them to keep fighting). This is a high level strategy, and I agree with your assessment that the ETA stopped fighting broadly for this reason. But I think that the feeling of hopelessness came from the fact that they eventually realised they didn’t have much popular support. The Spanish government didn’t compromise, but they also didn’t (as Wrong Species was claiming) constantly fight and throw resources at locking up ETA members. I agree that refusing to negotiate with terrorists is often a good tactic. But I don’t think taking an active approach and doing all you can to hunt down terrorists is likely to work, unless you are talking about a small, narrowly focused group like the SLA that can be treated like an ordinary set of criminals.

            The IRA’s political wing is alive and well, and has a third of the seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly. They haven’t achieved their main goals, but they are in a much better position than the losers of most wars are, and I certainly wouldn’t be happy to see Islamist extremists in the West “lose” in a similar way.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Bullshit. The most effective way to ensure our safety from terrorism is to convert to Islam or to capitulate to jizya.

            You mean the nation as a whole? Because an individual converting to Islam isn’t particularly helpful, as most of the terrorists aren’t particularly careful. If that’s what you mean, the desirability of this policy ranks just above being genocided, and just below committing genocide.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @rlms:

            Do you have some examples of that working? The method that was eventually successful at dealing with terrorism in Northern Ireland was pretty much the opposite: compromise with terrorists and agree to their reasonable demands. There is no room for compromise with ISIS, but in general the point stands.

            Actually, it’s more complicated than that. In particular, the reason the terrorists were willing to compromise and offer reasonable demands was that it became clear that their original, unreasonable demands (the incorporation of Northern Ireland into Southern Ireland) weren’t going to be granted, at least not as long as they continued their terrorist campaign. Accordingly they agreed to make peace and to work for their goals through democratic means. This wouldn’t have happened, though, if the British government hadn’t fought against the IRA.

          • rahien.din says:

            Randy M,

            We want to fulfill our (myriad) terminal values, including safety of our citizens. If the optimal way of doing that makes terrorists happy, so be it.

            I value not affirming Islam.

            Precisely. My objective in mentioning jizya was to elicit something like “I value not affirming Islam” from you. Like you, I do not think bending the knee is an acceptable option. I want to counter your claim that “If the optimal way of [fulfilling our myriad terminal values] makes terrorists happy, so be it.”

            In some sense I do agree. The enemy may be mistaken or deceived in their aims, and in that circumstance (at least) it may not make sense to prevent them from achieving the objective. Let him step on the rake.

            But I do not think this reasoning applies to Islam specifically, or in general to an enemy seeking to obtain a very clear strategic objective. Neither do you! When you end up stating how you think this would work, you propose the following Hail Marys :

            Perhaps if the moderate muslims stay with the theocrats, they will overthrow the radicals. Perhaps they will reform it.

            Perhaps they will convert or submit, but we will reach detente once we each have safe space.

            Perhaps the radicals will grow in power but be unable to harm us as we tighten internal security and prevent the growth of hostile sub-populations, then reform over time.

            Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. These ideas have had plenty of time to bear fruit. Has this actually happened to any meaningful degree?

            Or, instead, do moderate Muslims trapped in Islamist theocracies become trapped, murdered, or terrorists themselves? Instead, do countries such as Saudi Arabia, with whom we have a greasily friendly detente, end up exporting virulent Islamists that fly airliners into symbolic targets?

            Come on.

            I would think it a fair inference that you care which side Muslims drift towards.

            Maybe, but in truth I think that theoretical radicalization provoked by our response to terrorism is a dubious idea, and policy flowing from that idea is invariably craven.

            Your argument is that we must not react at all to terrorism

            In fairness, I copped to any error and lack of clarity, and revised my general assertion.

            I did assert those last two points elsewhere, but I grant that this subthread is out of control and honestly, it would be unreasonable for me to expect you to read and respond to the whole mess of it. You’re not responsible for conversations I am not directly having with you. I only bring that up to demonstrate that my goalposts aren’t moving.

            The Nybbler,

            I meant on a societal level, and yes, I totally agree with you. I did not bring up conversion/jizya as an acceptable option, only to counter one of Randy M’s claims.

          • Fahundo says:

            Perhaps if the moderate muslims stay with the theocrats, they will overthrow the radicals. Perhaps they will reform it.

            Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. These ideas have had plenty of time to bear fruit. Has this actually happened to any meaningful degree?

            Wouldn’t Oman be a pretty good example of this happening?

          • Randy M says:

            In some sense I do agree. The enemy may be mistaken or deceived in their aims, and in that circumstance (at least) it may not make sense to prevent them from achieving the objective. Let him step on the rake.

            Good, this was my point. I agree with you that doing what the terrorists explicitly want in order to get them to stop is foolhardy, no matter the terrorist. If they see the tactic successful, they will not foreswear it.But we can include in our responses actions that we may think they want if the purpose is not appeasement and isn’t perceived as such.

            Instead, do countries such as Saudi Arabia, with whom we have a greasily friendly detente, end up exporting virulent Islamists that fly airliners into symbolic targets?

            Come on.

            Sure, but I don’t see the “Pretend we can predict whose children will go kabloom and whose won’t” as any more realistic, nor the “just accept it is part of life.” The usefulness of an uneasy peace with Muslim nations is predicated on separation.

            Maybe, but in truth I think that theoretical radicalization provoked by our response to terrorism is a dubious idea, and policy flowing from that idea is invariably craven.

            Okay then, I acknowledge I didn’t pick up on that and agree.

            You’re not responsible for conversations I am not directly having with you.

            Gracious of you. I try to read the whole thread before commenting but, well, you know.

      • Wrong Species says:

        So let’s say that the British decide to kick out all the Muslims in the United Kingdom and in this hypothetical world, all Islamic terrorists attacks will cease to exist. Under your logic, ISIS has won even though they are no longer a threat to the U.K. Terrorists don’t only attack the countries that are supposedly part of the problem. They attack the countries they are in. Why do you think Britain was attacked rather than Hungary?

        • rahien.din says:

          Think of moderate Muslims as a resource. Successful investment in that resource will play a large role in determining the coming century.

          If Islamists consolidate control over that resource, they will use it in their attempts to dominate the world. As I said, Islamists care about subjugating everybody, but their first initial priority is subjugating moderate or heterodox or Western-like Muslims. If that resource escapes their grasp, they will gradually become irrelevant.

          Britain was attacked because they are a richer lode of that resource. In comparison, Hungary is much more poor in that resource. This is somewhat analogous to the Gold Rush occurring in California but not in Florida.

          Edit: I did not initially realize that Hungary may be somewhat systematically complicit with the Islamists’ goal of consolidation of Muslim power.

          • Wrong Species says:

            That doesn’t make any sense. If that was true, then Islamists wouldn’t be wasting their time in places like Afghanistan and Yemen. It just seems like you made up this hypothesis ad hoc to support your other hypothesis. Do you have any kind of evidence to support this assertion?

          • rahien.din says:

            Wrong Species,

            No, that is actually how I think at baseline : people are a resource that can be invested in successfully, wasted, misused, or left fallow. (That’s how I think about many things, in fact.)

            I don’t know what evidence one could demand thereof. But,
            – I tried to explain why I think this makes sense from what I know of Islam
            – It follows from general principles that guide empire building (the goal of Islamists), whereby one must consolidate power before mobilizing it toward a goal
            – It offers a rare satisfactory explanation as to why Muslims are doing otherwise-nonsensical things such as murdering health inspectors
            – It fits with the countries under the greatest threat of Islamist terrorism
            – It productively conjoins truths sourced from the Red Tribe (we are at war) and from the Blue Tribe (Islam itself is not the enemy) and in doing so, elucidates who our true enemies and allies are
            – It informs us as to how we can follow the good principle of “Don’t do what the enemy wants you to do”
            – It suggests adjustments to policy and doctrine so that we are not led around by the nose any longer

            And for pete’s sake, I described my thoughts as “heterodoxies.”

            ETA : I could certainly be wrong. Worth stating.

            rahien.din : Think of moderate Muslims as a resource. Britain was attacked because they are a richer lode of that resource. In comparison, Hungary is much more poor in that resource.

            Wrong Species : If that was true, then Islamists wouldn’t be wasting their time in places like Afghanistan and Yemen.

            Afghanistan and Yemen are full of the resource. Maintaining and consolidating their control over the resource is their initial goal. Therefore, operating in Afghanistan and Yemen seems perfectly in line with their goals. It makes even more sense when one remembers that these are places where they can create and refine the human and non-human tools of terrorism with less interference.