SELF-RECOMMENDING!

He Kept Us Out Of War?

I.

Some of the best pushback I got on my election post yesterday was from people who thought Trump was a safer choice than Clinton because of the former’s isolationism and the latter’s interventionism. Since I glossed over that point yesterday, I want to explain why I don’t agree.

Trump has earned a reputation as an isolationist by criticizing the Iraq War. I don’t think that reputation is deserved. He’s said a lot of things which suggest he would go to war at the drop of a hat.

— He says he will “bomb the s#!t out of ISIS” and calls for sending 30,000 troops to destroy them. His campaign website says he will “pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS”.

— He is ambiguous about whether Obama should have intervened in Syria to depose dictator Bashar Assad. He complained “there is something missing from our president. Had he crossed the line and really gone in with force, done something to Assad – if he had gone in with tremendous force, you wouldn’t have millions of people displaced all over the world. ”

— Back during the rebellion in Libya, Trump seems to have been in favor of even more dramatic intervention than Obama eventually allowed. He said on his video blog “I can’t believe what our country is doing. Qaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people, nobody knows how bad it is, and we’re sitting around we have soldiers all have the Middle East, and we’re not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage and that’s what it is: It’s a carnage. You talk about things that have happened in history; this could be one of the worst. Now we should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick. We could do it surgically, stop him from doing it, and save these lives. This is absolutely nuts. We don’t want to get involved and you’re gonna end up with something like you’ve never seen before. But we have go in to save these lives; these people are being slaughtered like animals. It’s horrible what’s going on; it has to be stopped. We should do on a humanitarian basis, immediately go into Libya, knock this guy out very quickly, very surgically, very effectively, and save the lives.”

— He thinks we should have “kept” Iraq’s oil. When pressed on how exactly one keeps billions of barrels of petroleum buried underneath a foreign country, he said he would get US troops to circle and defend the areas with the oil. The “areas with the oil” are about half of the country. This sounds a lot like he wants US troops to remain in Iraq indefinitely.

— He also wants to to keep Libya’s oil. As per National Review: “I would go in and take the oil — I would just go in and take the oil. We don’t know who the rebels are, we hear they come from Iran, we hear they’re influenced by Iran or al-Qaeda, and, frankly I would go in, I would take the oil — and stop this baby stuff.”

— He suggests declaring war on Iran as a response to them harassing US ships. During the debate, he said he would “shoot their ships out of the water.”

— In 2007, he he suggested “knocking the hell out of [Iran] and keeping their oil”, though in his (sort of) defense he might have been confusing them with ISIS at the time.

— In his 2000 book The America We Deserve he suggested a preemptive strike on North Korea: “[If I were President], North Korea would suddenly discover that its worthless promises of civilized behavior would cut no ice. I would let Pyongyang know in no uncertain terms that it can either get out of the nuclear arms race or expect a rebuke similar to the one Ronald Reagan delivered to Ghadhafi in 1986. [Reagan bombed Libya]. I don’t think anybody is going to accuse me of tiptoeing through the issues or tap-dancing around them either. Who else in public life has called for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea?”

— During a town hall meeting, when host Chris Matthews asked Trump when he would use nuclear weapons, he answered “Somebody hits us within ISIS — you wouldn`t fight back with a nuke?” When Matthews reminded him that most people try to avoid ever using nuclear weapons, he answered “Then why are we making them? Why do we make them?”

II.

Some writers have called the period since World War II the “Pax Americana”. Although there have been some deadly local wars, there’s been relative peace between great powers. A big part of this is America’s promise to defend its allies. This both prevents other countries from attacking America’s allies and prevents America’s allies from building big militaries and launching attacks of their own. The whole system is cemented by America-centric trade organizations which make war unprofitable and incentivize countries to stay in America’s orbit.

Trump wants to destroy this system because it costs money, even though it doesn’t really cost that much money compared to anything else we do and Trump intends to increase the defense budget anyway. It’s possible a post-Trump world might find some other way to maintain peace. It’s also possible that it wouldn’t, or that the process of finding that alternative way would be really bloody.

— In March, Trump said “I think NATO may be obsolete. NATO was set up a long time ago — many, many years ago when things were different. Things are different now. We were a rich nation then. We had nothing but money. We had nothing but power. And you know, far more than we have today, in a true sense. And I think NATO — you have to really examine NATO. And it doesn’t really help us, it’s helping other countries. And I don’t think those other countries appreciate what we’re doing.” Although this isn’t the worst opinion, most foreign policy scholars think that our policy of defending our allies is necessary to prevent global arms races and random regional wars.

— In July, he publicly admitted he wasn’t sure he would protect the Baltic states if Russia attacked, something we’re currently obligated to do. The Atlantic calls this “a marked departure from the security policy of every presidential nominee from either of the two major parties since NATO’s founding in 1949”. It’s especially worrying because even if you’re not going to protect the Baltic states from Russia, you shouldn’t openly say so where Russians can hear you!

— And throughout the race, Trump has campaigned on a platform that would effectively end American participation in the World Trade Organization. Trump understands that this would probably start a global trade war, but asks “who the hell cares if there’s a trade war?” I care for two reasons. First, because free trade has produced decades of sustained economic growth and the most successful poverty alleviation in human history. Second, this would probably crash the world economy, creating exactly the sort of depression that tends to produce instability (most famously Hitler’s rise during Germany’s interwar stagnation) or which drives countries toward regional hegemons willing to trade with them or just plain bribe them.

III.

Hillary’s foreign policy isn’t great either, but it doesn’t seem as bad as some people are making it out to be.

— Hillary will probably continue US intervention in Syria; here she is more interventionist than Obama. But her intervention would probably be smaller-scale than Trump’s. She wants to arm “friendly” rebel groups and enforce a no-fly zone, but she has ruled out sending ground troops into Iraq or Syria, something Trump has promised to do. Likely she would focus on keeping enough of Syria safe to protect some civilians and prevent more refugees, then use indirect methods to make life miserable for Assad. This seems like as good a plan as any other.

— The main concern I’ve heard is that the no-fly zone might lead to conflict (war?) with Russia. Declaring a no-fly zone would mean a commitment to shoot down any plane that flies through the zone. Russia is currently flying planes through Syria, and if they tried to call Hillary’s bluff she would have to shoot down Russian planes or lose credibility; shooting down a foreign plane could obviously lead to war. Many different news sources make this point (1, 2, 3, etc). But the clearest description she’s given of what she wants suggests a no-fly zone with Russian cooperation and support. Last October, she said of her no-fly zone proposal that “I think it’s complicated and the Russians would have to be part of it, or it wouldn’t work.” There’s some good discussion of this on Reddit (see especially this comment) where most people end up agreeing that this is the heart of her plan – something like the US agreeing it won’t bomb Russian allies if Russia doesn’t bomb our allies.

— Hillary has said she will “treat cyberattacks just like any other attack”, which could mean that if Russia launches a cyberattack on the US (for example hacking the DNC’s emails) Hillary would treat it as an act of war. I think this requires a stretch. She did mention the possibility of a military response, but only in the context of possible “serious political, economic, and military responses”. My guess is we should interpret this in a non-crazy way – if Russia hacks our emails, we condemn them and maybe hack some of their stuff. If Iran hacks a dam and causes it to fail, then maybe we start thinking airstrikes. Shooting down an airliner is an act of war, but countries have shot down other countries’ airliners a bunch of times and usually people posture a bit and then let it slide. I don’t think it makes sense to think Hillary will treat cyber-attacks more seriously than that.

IV.

A lot of this has a lot of room for interpretation. I’m totally ready to believe that when Trump said he would shoot any Iranian ship that annoyed US vessels, he just meant generic macho posturing and expected everyone to hear it that way. He might even be cunningly pursuing a North Korean – style “mad dog” strategy where he tries to sound so dangerous and unpredictable that nobody dares call his bluff, and so his enemies never mess with him in any way.

Or he might mean everything he says. After all, a lot of it has been pretty consistent since long before he was running for president. There’s no point in saying things to send a game theoretic signal to Iran if you’re a random New York real estate developer and Iran isn’t listening. If he understood the theory behind sounding trigger-happy to intimidate our enemies, he probably wouldn’t have openly admitted he wouldn’t respond to a Russian invasion of the Baltics. And he does seem kind of 100% like a loose cannon in every way, to the point where trying to explain away loose-cannon-like statements as part of a deeper plan seems overly complex.

(Actually, I have a theory which I think explains a lot about Trump’s foreign policy positions: he doesn’t like losers. He supported the Iraq War and the Libya intervention when it looked like we would probably win. Then we lost, and he said they were stupid and bungled. He supports counterfactual invasions of Iraq and Libya where we “kept the oil” because that would have counted as winning. He supports invading ISIS because he expects to be in charge of the invasion and he expects to win. Under this theory, Trump’s retrospective non-support for failed wars doesn’t predict that he won’t start new ones.)

In the end it all comes back to the argument from variance. Maybe Trump is secretly a principled isolationist, and he’s only saying he’ll shoot at Iran and invade Libya and first-strike North Korea and steal oil from Iraq and send troops against ISIS and remove Assad in order to scare people into cooperating with him. Or maybe he’ll actually shoot at Iran and invade Libya and first-strike North Korea and steal oil from Iraq and send troops against ISIS and try to remove Assad. Who knows? He’s said a thousand times now that he’s totally different from the usual politicians, and I believe him. He could do pretty much anything.

(I’d like to think his advisors would rein him in before that point, but when asked which advisors he would consult before a major foreign policy decision, Trump could only think of one person, and he does not exactly inspire confidence.)

I am not qualified to judge Hillary’s work as Secretary of State, but I expect her to play by the book. I’m not sure if Hillary will be more aggressive or more peaceful than the last few presidents, but I don’t expect her to be a wild outlier totally beyond comparison to any previous president. I expect her to consult the foreign policy community on anything important she does, and take some advice relatively within their Overton Window. If she comes to the brink of nuclear war with Russia, I expect her to de-escalate for the same reason I expect Putin to de-escalate; they’re both rationally self-interested people who want to continue being alive and ruling their respective countries, and they value that more than any particular principle or any opportunity to prove their machismo.

I think she remains the low-variance choice for president.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1,241 Responses to He Kept Us Out Of War?

  1. Anonymous says:

    i think if u think Russia would be less likely to go to war with us with Hillary than Trump, u arent very smart.

  2. Emotional stress Cracks. Anxiety fractures take place eventually in order to runners exactly who overtrain make too much pressure on the shins, foot and would make. If you see soreness to any of such spots creating since you perform, stroll or perhaps placed weight on them, you must get medical assistance for the identification.

  3. Word says:

    Saying he’ll “bomb the shit out of ISIS” isn’t in conflict with the America-first rhetoric. Trump has run against nation-building and getting bogged down in the region, not refusing to target actual threats.

    Post overall seems like a typical case of someone who’s smart but gets too caught up in the details and misses the overall point. I don’t trust Trump to handle international crises well, but the campaign he’s run is the more “isolationist” / anti-optional humanitarian intervention of the two.

  4. Maven says:

    Trump would go in with overwhelming force against weak opponents to achieve clear objectives that are advantageous to the US, even if not always well grounded morally.

    Clinton would cut the defense budget at the same time as picking a fight with a nuclear superpower to protect America’s enemies in a country that contains nothing of value.

    • Fahundo says:

      overwhelming force against weak opponents

      I remember hearing this before, around 2002

      • Maven says:

        Was the mistake in 2003 using overwhelming force against weak opponents, or not choosing clear objectives advantageous to the US?

        Would it have been better to have invaded Russia instead of Iraq?

  5. N.T.G. says:

    I’m not an American but I hope Trump will win (which is sadly unlikely) and I’d vote for him if I were from the US. You said you expect her “to play by the book” and I expect it too which is why I’m against her. Obviously, foreign policy is what matters to me the most and I base my opinion solely on it.
    Current US foreign policy is just pure evil and exploiting whatever they can without any respect for other people. It amazes me how anyone can say “there may be another Syria-style intervention” (I may be paraphrasing here, but I remember I read it somewhere in one of your posts) in such a light manner. Virtually any of those great humanitarian interventions where unjustified disasters from the get go. Situation in Syria was not so bad until US decided to arm “friendly rebels” and train volunteers to fight Assad. In Ukraine 2014 US were supporting ultra right-wing, fascist rebels (very friendly, of course) and now Ukraine has a fascist government that can barely keep the country going. Honduras, Libya, Iraq, you name it, similar stories with the same outcome – hell, destabilization of a region and deaths of thousands of people.
    And the thing is this – will Trump continue to do the same, I don’t know, maybe he will, maybe he won’t. In case of Clinton I’m 100% sure she will continue this absurd, because she is basically a property of Saudi Arabia, US best ally who is supporting all those terrorists groups and who also donates millions for Clinton’s campaign, so I don’t think she has any intentions to fight terrorism. She had all these years to fight it and they did nothing and helped to shape the new group – ISIS.
    When it comes to foreign affairs Trump’s statements, to me, were not so alarming (I’ve only seen the first debate and wasn’t interested about the election until recently, so I’m not very aware about all the “But back when he was 5 years old he supported annihilation of the whole planet – how about that?”) It’s true, though, that I treat his words very lightly because a) he is from outside and can’t have all the information, so if he supports some intervention, then, when elected and well informed can change his mind, b) he has to distinguish himself very much from Clinton and live to his image of being quite provoking and controversial.
    On a debate, he seemed more aware of whats really going on with other countries, he didn’t say the typical nonsense about Russia as Clinton and your media do (he even called her out on her bullshit about supposed Russian hack attacks).
    So in short, being worse for the world than Obama and Clinton will be very hard and I don’t think Trump will be able to beat them.

  6. For those not thoroughly fed up with arguing about the candidates, a link to an interesting old piece by Brad DeLong.

    • Nope says:

      And a link to an old story by Fred Clark.

    • Iain says:

      I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you were not aware, but it looks a bit disingenuous to link to Brad DeLong’s 2003 assessment of Clinton, while leaving out his 2015 reassessment.

      • I was aware that he now supported her, was not aware of that particular text.

        Does such a switch raise or lower your opinion of DeLong? I don’t know him and haven’t followed him. But lots of people argue, not unreasonably, that Trump’s repeated switches are evidence against him. If he thought Hillary Clinton obviously shouldn’t be in the White House immediately after having dealt closely with her, says she should be at a later date when she is the obvious Democratic candidate, how do you interpret it?

        For a different case, consider Krugman and the minimum wage. Back when he was an academic economist he supported the same conventional account as the rest of us even after the Card and Krueger study, which is the main thing people use as evidence against that account, had been published. Now, when he is a professional public intellectual, he takes the opposite position. I take that as evidence against his honesty not in favor of his open mindedness.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          But lots of people argue, not unreasonably, that Trump’s repeated switches are evidence against him.

          DeLong’s 2015 endorsement links and directly engages with his 2003 comments and specifically points out what caused him to revise his opinion. This kind of self-reflection seems completely alien to Trump, whose approach is to insist to the ends of the earth that he’s always felt this way.

          • cassander says:

            I would note that his 2015 update is noticeably scanty on the details about Hillary’s tenure at state that demonstrate her supposed managerial competence, and it also seems to rely heavily on the sort of inside baseball that he condemned in 2003. The assertion that betting on obama’s lack of managerial experience has paid off seems almost laughably absurd.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            His 2003 column was based on the fact that there were other Democratic nominees.

            His 2015 column was based on the fact that Clinton was the presumed nominee.

            In fact, that’s not unreasonable. “First any Democrat, and second any Democrat but Clinton” is well understood. But deLong knows it sounds trite and simplistic, because it is, and so he wraps it up in a bunch of puffery.

        • Iain says:

          I am actively in favour of people changing their minds when presented with new evidence, particularly if they are willing to provide an explanation of what that evidence was, and why it changed their mind. I can see why DeLong’s change might look suspicious from across the aisle, but I personally find his explanation quite plausible. In particular, recognize that the middle chunk of his post, explaining that he has changed his mind about Clinton, is from 2008, in a post where he went on to explain why he was nevertheless supporting Obama.

          As for Krugman: I follow his blog and have a pretty high opinion of Krugman’s openness and honesty. In the post-Brexit aftermath, for example, he consistently went against the general consensus in questioning the short-term negative repercussions of the vote. He’s also had a set of posts questioning whether income inequality is in itself bad for growth. For reasons of intellectual hygiene, I’ve gone looking for reasons to distrust Krugman a few times in the past, and never come up with anything that I found compelling.

          His op-ed here cites Card and Krueger as the study that changed his mind. He could be wrong about the minimum wage, but there are enough cases where he’s questioned the left-wing consensus that I’m willing to trust that he means what he says about it.

        • Anonymous says:

          ^ This David Friedman comment screams partisan rationalization hiding itself from its speaker – to me.

          To grossly paraphrase, as I see it: Delong was anti-Clinton, now he’s for her; you should think the first opinion was truer/more correct. Ditto for Krugman on another issue.

          People change their minds because they’re sellouts.

          And oh by the way if you disagree with these examples, don’t dare criticize Trump for any inconsistencies. PS VOTE JOHNSON. HE COULD WIN. PPS I AM NOT A CRANK

          • “People change their minds because they’re sellouts.”

            More precisely, if people change their mind in the direction of what it has clearly become in their self interest to claim to believe one ought to be skeptical of the revised version.

  7. A cool cat says:

    Yeah, Scott kind of missed the mark with this post. I usually expect better. Then again, maybe that’s just because I disagree. Clinton clearly wants to go to war with Russia and her neocon advisors want to start more wars in the Mid East. Soros profits from more global conflicts.

    Scott is a soft person, but he’s smart enough to understand the rationale for Trump’s vindictiveness and how it could preclude conflict. Trump doesn’t understand the details but he clearly understands the nature of conflict. By showing strength early and “smashing ISIS”, future conflict may be avoided.

    I think Scott is able to keep an open mind about these things. However, commenters like Jill and mtraven are lifelong leftists and truly cannot be reached.

    • Nope says:

      Would you like to lay a bet on Clinton going to war with Russia (assuming she’s elected)? Not only do I doubt it would happen – I doubt you really think it would happen. But prove me wrong on both counts!

      Post if you want to bet. I’ll check back a couple times. We obviously need to agree on terms. Let me know what odds and time frame you’d like to go with.

  8. Jill says:

    Here’s the reason Dems “cried wolf” and said that Romney/Ryan would be horrible in the White House. They would have been horrible– although Trump would be beyond horrible.

    Since the U.S. is immersed in Right Wing propaganda, Ryan always seems to everyone here and everywhere else, as if he is not a fraud. But the truth of the matter is that he is a fraud. His federal budget numbers he offered never even came close to adding up.

    The King of False Equivalence
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/the-king-of-false-equivalence/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Opinion&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body&_r=0

  9. Bill Walker says:

    HIllary is the only guaranteed warmonger. Trump is probably controlled by the same people (his fundraising chief is from Goldman Sachs, after all), but there’s no absolute guarantee that he would keep invading random countries e.g. Libya. A vote for Hillary is a vote for war, plain and simple. It’s also a vote to continue the Drug War, and to continue the Obama anti-immigrant deportation policy.

    Gary Johnson is a guaranteed non-warmonger, and a moderate on domestic policy as well. Isn’t it time we dumped the Drug War? Can’t we just vote for someone sane, instead of picking which senile war hawk from the 1970s should be figurehead?

  10. Grampy_Bone says:

    I suspect that the real fear of Trump is because he is very masculine, and American men have been trained since birth to fear and despise masculinity. This blog post is just rationalization for an emotional response.

    This post somehow assumes that everyone is itching for a fight with us at the slightest provocation. This is not the case, a war with America is the last thing anyone wants, and they will do a lot to avoid it. Trump’s problem with America’s foreign policy is that we’re the biggest dog in the room but we won’t throw our weight around. We are constantly told it is amoral for us to wield our power effectively while we actively encourage our enemies to wield their own power as much as possible (e.g. nukes to Iran). Everyone knows America will avoid a war at any cost so now our threats have no teeth. We won’t back up our allies and we won’t punish those who defy us.

    Hillary’s plan of using one group to fight another group and hoping they will do as we say is utter nonsense. This is exactly what has lead to widespread chaos and anarchy across the world. They always make promises to get our support, then do whatever they want. We can’t pretend we can play chessmaster with the whole world without getting our hands dirty. Trump knows this, so he knows to either act decisively or get out of the game. If he starts a bunch of Gulf war ’90’s-style interventions to spank dictators and establish order, fine. Much better than Hillary flooding the world with more unstable ideological dogmatic militias with American military hardware.

    • AnonBosch says:

      I suspect that the real fear of Trump is because he is very masculine, and American men have been trained since birth to fear and despise masculinity. This blog post is just rationalization for an emotional response.

      Speaking of rationalization, this is a perfect example of retrofitting a definition to the desired example. A spray-tanned fat-ass whose visual trademark is a combover that’s probably 75% dye and hairspray by volume, who wears suits two sizes too big, who eats KFC with a golden fork, whose tastes in decor fall between Louis XVI and Liberace, and whose rallies consist largely of whining to a friendly audience about how unfair the world is because of [insert last week of Breitbart headlines here] is threatening us with his masculinity? Even if this was a legitimate form of argument I wouldn’t buy the premise.

      • Jiro says:

        You have not described unmasculine things; you have described lower class things. Lower class does not equal unmasculine.

        • hlynkacg says:

          Ehh, even so, he has a point…

          As “threatening” characters go Trump aint exactly high end.

      • mtraven says:

        It’s a cartoon version of masculinity, which appeals to those who are having problems with the real kind. This seems to be 99% of Trump’s appeal; he enacts the role of domineering asshole for those who would like to be one themselves but can’t really pull it off.

        • E. Harding says:

          “It’s a cartoon version of masculinity, which appeals to those who are having problems with the real kind.”

          -If Trump didn’t exude genuine masculinity, he wouldn’t appeal disproportionately to men. Women, after all, have far less masculinity than men. The man who appealed most disproportionately to women in the New Hampshire primary was… Jeb Bush, man of low energy.

          Of course, this doesn’t work 100% of the time: Bill Clinton, who’s also pretty masculine, known for numerous affairs and descriptions of sexual harassment, appealed tremendously to women in the 1990s -but the biggest gender gap until this election was in 2000: Bush v. low-energy Gore.

          No; most of Trump’s appeal in the primary was based on this:
          http://www.gallup.com/poll/189731/economic-issues-trump-strong-suit-among-republicans.aspx

          • Jill says:

            Well, if Trump has masculinity, then he has a kind of masculinity that does not appeal to women.

            Trump has an exaggerated fake masculinity that appeals to those men who want a masculine role model who is larger than life and more confident than is realistic.

            But you CAN have too much exaggerated unrealistic masculinity. Ask the macho guys living out long sentences in prison who killed people because they felt dissed by them in some minor way. Of course if they had been billionaires, they might have found a way to get away with murder. But it still wouldn’t be healthy or moral.

            And you CAN have too much confidence– by having delusions of grandeur– where you think you know a lot about government and economics, when actually you know almost nothing. Bragging about all you supposedly know about economics can impress people who also know nothing about it, and who are looking for a braggart larger than life role model. But once elected, such a person is a disaster. Being good at bragging is not the top skill a president needs to have.

          • E. Harding says:

            “Being good at bragging is not the top skill a president needs to have.”

            -Agreed. It’s hiring the best people (no real advantage to either candidate) and knowing when to ignore advice (big advantage Trump).

          • Grampy_Bone says:

            Jill — Those “unrealistic exaggerated masculine” men who are in prison receive more love letters from women than nice-guy dweebs like Tim Kaine ever will. Evidence of women self-destructively throwing themselves at overtly masculine men is trivially easy to find. Every single person in America has a story about a friend or relative who inexplicably wasted huge amounts of time and money on disreputable, uncouth, boorish men–in total defiance of all logic and reason.

            Regardless, Trump himself has had four beautiful wives and a history of womanizing. Far from disqualifying, this puts him in the esteemed company of Bill Clinton and John Kennedy; even FDR had a mistress.

            E Harding — Polls like that are mostly post-hoc rationalizations. No one is going to say they like Trump because he feels strong and decisive and seems manly and powerful; it wouldn’t jive with our self-image as rational beings (which is mostly an illusion) and would be a thought-crime in our current anti-masculine society. I don’t doubt that those issues are important to people but facts and logic don’t persuade, emotions do.

          • TheWorst says:

            Those “unrealistic exaggerated masculine” men who are in prison receive more love letters from women than nice-guy dweebs like Tim Kaine ever will.

            In fairness, while that phenomenon is real, I’m not sure this part’s true. Tim Kaine’s been married a long time. More importantly, you’re not controlling for fame. Prisoners who are famous get love letters, but I suspect non-prisoners who are famous get more. Think Keanu Reeves is hurting for female attention?

            And there are probably far, far more women who’ll sleep with Kaine-like dweebs than imprisoned serial-killers, but no one notices when that happens because it’s not news.

        • hooniversalist says:

          It’s a cartoon version of masculinity, which appeals to those who are having problems with the real kind.

          Consider:
          1. Countersignaling is still a kind of signaling.
          2. Sufficiently advanced countersignaling is indistinguishable from first-level signaling.

        • The Nybbler says:

          I like this aspect of Trump because he anchors the far end of “domineering asshole”.

        • TheWorst says:

          It’s a cartoon version of masculinity, which appeals to those who are having problems with the real kind.

          I’ve been trying not to say that, out of charity, but it seems pretty clear. Trump is a way to ineptly signal masculinity–and all of those are very appealing for people looking to overcompensate. The problem is that pointing out insecure people’s insecurity-induced overcompensation doesn’t help it, because “not getting mocked enough for low masculinity” is not the problem they have.

          It’s like if someone’s limping offends you, kicking them in the broken leg isn’t going to make them limp less. I see things like this happen a lot, where a problem is caused by too much of $Thing, and everyone’s immediate response is to do more of $Thing, and then be confused when it doesn’t make the problem go away. You can’t punch bruises off of people.

          I’m not sure what the solution is, though, when $Thing is a fun thing to do to people who–due to being overThing’d–are widely seen as distasteful.

          • mtraven says:

            Yes, calling Trump supporters low-masculinity to their face is probably not an effective way of changing their minds.

            But I think anybody supporting Trump at this stage is probably too far gone to be reachable. I’m not interested in changing their minds, but it still is important to understand where this pathology is coming from.

          • TheWorst says:

            Fair enough. I was refraining from saying it because our host seems to prefer a norm against argumentum-ad-sissyhood, and I basically agree. Which leads me to refrain from making “you only think that because you’re a pussy” arguments even when I suspect that I might’ve happened across one of the rare instances where it’s true–to the extent that I’m only mentioning that because the thread seems to’ve died down enough that it won’t spread too far.

    • DISAPPOINTMENT says:

      WHERE DO YOU FIND THESE PEOPLE, SCOTT?????

  11. Sanja says:

    Just FYI, “defending the baltic states” is probably the most likely thing in our lifetime to lead to nuclear war, so maybe you should weigh that one differently?

    Something else I’d like to briefly comment about, I think Trump is significantly lower variance than you are insisting he is. He’s not blowing up our system of governance and then going “lol jobs a good un,” he’s at worst reshuffling the deck of people and interests at the top, and more than likely not really even doing that.

    • hlynkacg says:

      I still think India v Pakistan or Israel v Iran is a more likely scenario, but if we’re talking about strictly about the US using its nukes then yes Russia is still the natural target. That said I don’t see how Trump being all buddy-buddy with Putin is supposed to make this more likely.

  12. Jill says:

    Someone in one of these Trump threads said that Trump believes in HBD. I hadn’t heard that before. But this video certainly makes him look that way. His whole idea of “winners” and “losers” being all or mostly genetic should have clued me into this tendency of his before.

    http://www.examplesofglobalization.com/2016/10/god-hates-master-race-idea-donald-trump.html

    HBD is a strange way of naming this theory to me. It looks like an attempt to focus on some kind of theoretical academic type framework, so that the real world effects of such a theory and a movement can be covered up. You can say “Oh, I just didn’t notice what happens when you apply this theory in the real world.” Sort of like the person who loves Ayn Rand so much that they just don’t happen to notice that when you apply her theories in the real world, you get the most famous Libertarians and Randians being crony capitalists polluting our air and water incessantly, or robbing us all blind– or else you get politicians who are paid off by crony capitalists so that they can defraud people, pollute their communities etc. You get the most powerful and well known Libertarians being the Koch brothers.

    “Human biodiversity” sounds scientific and biological. But the way it looks to me, is that this theory and movement is really all about “Human Caste Systems”– assuming that average racial characteristics are all 100% genetically determined, so that you can categorize every individual according to their race, and can keep them stuck in castes and other categories for their whole lives.

    It sounds like the practical effects of this so-called HBD, would be to have people like Obama stuck in the mentally retarded class in school, and then mopping floors for a living all their adult lives, because they are categorized as belonging to the black race. The fact that most of them are mixtures of races doesn’t have to be considered, because one only gets scientific when it’s convenient, of course. I can see how, with such a system, one would never have to worry about having a black president, if such a scenario horrifies one.

    Sticking to theory while reality wreaks havoc, is yet another advantage of this rationality that allows iron clad Trump supporters to come up with tons of rational sounding (to themselves) reasons why everything Trump says and does is pure gold– unless it’s absolutely indefensible, in which case there is a logical (to themselves) reason excusing it.

    Rationality is a tool that can be applied in many ways, some good of course. Internet boards like this one, make me aware of some of the darker aspects of supposed rationality.

    There are many people on the board here who discuss with me and others in good faith. And then there are others who discuss only for the purpose of converting the other person, by the verbal sword, or else dismissing them as stupid, irrational etc.

    I’m sure I have a reputation here for being irrational. Because I have stopped wasting my time arguing with people who demand all kinds of proof and documentation of my arguments, while doing little or none of that themselves, who cherry pick their data, and who cherry pick their questions to me in such a way that the correct answer to their questions appears to confirm their own beliefs and opinions and to dis-confirm mine– and they expect me to use up my time looking up the answers to questions that they cherry picked to confirm their own beliefs. No amount of research is too much for them to expect ME to do. And no insult is too harsh for them to throw it at me, when I refuse to spend my time doing that.

    And no statement is too obvious that they don’t demand extensive proof. You say the earth isn’t flat? Prove it. The earth revolves around the sun? Prove it. They say they did a fact check (Where? They don’t say. Probably Fox News or a Right Wing conspiracy theory web site.) and found that those statements are false.

    Die Hard Trump supporters illustrate some of these kinds of uses of rationality well. When I make the mistake of getting sucked into arguing with them, they can argue back and forth forever with me, using Fox News type “facts”, none of which are true. If I come up with proof that those “facts” are not true, they just respond with more Fox News type “facts”– the same ones Fox News anchors respond with when they are confronted with objectively verifiable facts.

    So the argument goes on and on forever, with the same result that it would have if I stop participating immediately– that they insult me and say how stupid, irrational etc. I am, and that others pile on afterwards, agreeing with them. There is this assumption that I am wanting to spend great amounts of my time convincing hostile people on the Internet, who use Fox News “facts”, to believe I am intelligent and rational– as if that is even possible for a person who is not Right Wing to convince a fundamentalist Right Winger that their views are valid in any way. Right Wing fundamentalism is iron clad and totally sealed up, so that it can not be influenced by real world facts. Maybe someone else’s greatest desire in life is to impress such people, such that they are willing to argue on and on in this manner forever. But it’s not mine.

    For me, it’s like arguing with the Bible toting missionaries at my door who have come to convert me. No one would expect me to waste my time in discussions with those people, in person. But on the Internet, when the fundamentalism is political rather than religious, many people think this is different. It’s not.

    • TheWorst says:

      In fairness, Trump seems to be a pretty garden-variety racist, which is pretty easy to mistake for believing in HBD, especially for HBD-believers.

      On a different note, the dynamic you’re referring to is called the “isolated demand for rigor,” when they repeat whatever the latest Rush Limbaugh memo is unquestioned, but demand proof-in-triplicate for anything that isn’t a right-wing conspiracy theory.

      The hard part with that–like with all of these–is to notice when you’re doing it yourself, because it’s really easy to accidentally fall into a pattern of holding anti-tribal assertions to a higher standard of evidence than pro-tribal ones.

      The harder part is dealing with the fact that learning to spot bullshit makes it basically impossible to stay in a tribe, because there aren’t any that are free from bullshitters.

      • AnonBosch says:

        In fairness, Trump seems to be a pretty garden-variety racist, which is pretty easy to mistake for believing in HBD, especially for HBD-believers.

        I have to admit to some minor schadenfreude watching Charles Murray’s reaction to Trumpism.

        • Judging by as much of that video as I watched–it seemed pretty repetitive–Trump believes that some valuable characteristics are at least in part heritable and that he has had the good luck to inherit some. It seems odd to describe that as racism, since it has nothing to do with races. Trump almost certainly believes that he is genetically superior to the average member of his own race.

          What part of the claim do you (either Jill or AnonBosch) disagree with? Do you believe no desirable or undesirable characteristics are heritable? We could argue about whether Trump shows evidence of doing better than average in the genetic lottery, but one doesn’t usually define an exaggerated view of one’s own talents as racism.

          • AnonBosch says:

            What part of the claim do you (either Jill or AnonBosch) disagree with? Do you believe no desirable or undesirable characteristics are heritable?

            I was commenting on TheWorst’s observation about the ease with which HBD evangelists motte-and-bailey between “general intelligence is real and heritable” and garden variety racism.

            I haven’t seen the original video but obviously I do not deny some desirable characteristics are heritable. The CCR5-Δ32 allele is fully heritable. More general concepts such as intelligence seem to be substantially-but-not-fully heritable.

            Jill seems to be a garden variety Blue so I probably wouldn’t be inclined to defend the entirety of her post. I agree that Trump simply having an exaggerated view of his own talents and the extent to which they are inborn isn’t racism. But I also think that that attitude combined with the contexts in which Trump has exhibited racism shows potential of extreme toxicity.

    • Murphy says:

      You seem to be conflating different meanings of the word “theory” much like a creationist shouting that “evolution is just a theory”.

      You’re treating Rands *ideas* about how the world should be run as the same as statements like “water is made of hydrogen and oxygen” or “Nitroglycerin tends to explode violently when exposed to shocks” by using the term “theory” for both and ignoring that it has very different meanings in both contexts.

      Randian ideas about how the world should be run are largely not falsifiable. They are not exposing some true/false statement about the universe.

      Rand had some falsifiable hypothesis about how the world works but that’s a separate thing.

      Perhaps you believe that if we admit to ourselves that Nitroglycerin can explode it will lead to something terrible, that if we can keep it secret that it can explode then we can prevent terrorist attacks but that doesn’t change the objective physical reality that it’s an explosive compound.

      Pretty much exactly this happened in biology a few decades back. The soviet union disliked the idea of evolution and Lysenkoism was a much better fit with soviet ideology. The idea of “Survival of the fittest” was deemed to be too “capitalist”. Politicians treated objective physical reality as something that could be shouted down, they treated it as an idea like marxism or Ayan Rands ideas, not a scientific theory. They probably didn’t really understand the difference since political types don’t tend to have a very scientific way of looking at the world.

      Human populations aren’t all the same. Founder effects, different selective pressure and just simple randomness means that I can eat food that would make large fractions of some countries populations very sick and drugs which work for me don’t work so well for large fractions of the population of japan. If I go to my doctor with some symptoms the odds of them being related to various health problems vary massively depending on where my great great great grandparents were born. Height, weight, how well my muscles handle sprinting or weight lifting and yes, among all these variants there are ones which affect behavior and ability in various areas and they aren’t evenly distributed across humanity or distributed all in favor of one population.

      That is just physical reality.

      Denying it due to ideology puts you squarely in the camp with the born again types screaming that accepting “evolutionist” beliefs inevitably leads to acting like Hitler or the communists screaming that if we deny Lysenkoism then that means we must be in favor of starving the poor.

      “It sounds like the practical effects of this so-called HBD, would be to have people like Obama stuck in the mentally retarded class in school, and then mopping floors for a living all their adult lives, because they are categorized as belonging to the black race. ”

      You talk about the “practical effects” as if our only option is to act like monsters after we accept the physical realities of the universe. As if upon learning about the genetic basis for downs syndrome that our only option would be to start acting like Hitler and gassing downs babies.

      We can still be fucking decent human beings even if our beliefs about the universe are accurate.

      Particularly when most of those those realities are statistical, they tend to imply small differences that might show up when you stick the whole population on a bar chart( only devastating for political movements which rely purely on pointing to a bar chart… like yours) while it grants you very little information about any particular individual

      I’m a bioinformatician. My day job is to dig through peoples genomes for defects that have left them chewing their own fingers off, pissing themselves while staring into space or juddering unable to control their own muscles.

      Joining your belief system where you pretend nobody is born with massive advantages and genetic gifts or massive disadvantages before they’ve even left the womb would be like trying to pretend that “macroevolution” doesn’t exist while I generate alignment scores for homologous genes from different species. It would involve turning off part of my brain to try to pretend true things aren’t true.

      From my experience of you on this site: You tend to be an extremely insulting and hostile person on these boards. I think the period of time you had that snarky little “warning” prefacing every post was when you hit peak-asshat. You throw your insults at groups but then get surprised and pretend victimhood when people throw some back at you personally.

      I don’t even identify as a supporter of HBD but your beliefs are motivated by politics rather than physical reality and you seem to be proud of that.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Trump isn’t supporting HBD or racism or eugenics. He’s simply saying the same thing dynasts and would-be dynasts (not to mention millions of non-dynastic proud parents) have always said — that his family is superior due to inherited characteristics, or “breeding will out”.

  13. Senjiu says:

    If you face a choice between two possible bad outcomes in an election, you start to wonder if the system is really that good.
    The fact that there are so many levels between the electorate and the candidates (I think there are districts and then states but I might be mistaken) with winner-takes-it-all on each of them sorta forces the choice between two candidates, I think.
    If it was simply “The one who gets the most votes wins” I think people might consider other candidates more but with this system you have to think “If I vote for candidate #3 and then the majority of my district doesn’t my vote is lost. Same on the state level.”

    I guess I might be biased but I like our system in germany sooooo much more. In theory Merkel’s CDU could get 45% of the votes and still lose to two other parties that get 30% and 20% of the votes each. It’s then about parties making compromises with each other. And while you still have one member of parlament from each little district (the one with the most votes in this district), the second vote that happens at the same time fills the other half of the parlament and that happens on the national level, so it really is about who gets the most votes (no matter where they come from – with the second vote).
    The main difference to me is that the vote is never lost if the party gets 5% of total votes (or enough candidates getting into parlament via direct vote in the districts).

    • Nope says:

      I like your system too. Local representation is preserved, but people have a chance to have their votes count towards the makeup of parliament.

      (ETA: Since this would increase the VIABLE options open to voters, it’s not only more small-d democratic, but more free-market, too.)

      Getting something remotely similar here in the States would be a hard slog, and I’m not sure how to even start beyond “convince a critical mass of people it would be better.”

      I am pretty sure that voting 3rd party in presidential elections and doing nothing else is actively counterproductive (in a tiny way) to that goal, though. If the system is stacked against you, much better to try to change the rules than to keep playing and showing the voters you can’t win.

  14. Jill says:

    Like fundamentalist religion, no one ever changes anyone else’s mind about politics. People may change their minds, but only when/if they are ready to, for their own reasons.

    May the best woman win.

  15. Jill says:

    Interesting that even though the media is so overwhelmingly liberal biased,
    that the Right Wing party dominates both Houses of Congress, most
    governorships and state legislatures, and SCOTUS until Scalia died. And
    where the Right Wing doesn’t have the presidency yet, but through Congress
    they do tie the president’s hands frequently e.g. by refusing to allow his
    SCOTUS nominee even a hearing, much less a vote.

    That a Left of Center president got impeached over a blow job. But when the
    Right Wing president led us into an expensive long bloody war based on lies
    about phony weapons of mass destruction, no problem there. And one of the
    chief war cheerleaders was the supposedly liberally biased NYT.

    Interesting that even though the media is supposedly so overwhelmingly
    liberal biased, that so many people so wisely and independently and
    correctly choose Right Wing or conservative values and policies and beliefs.
    Hillary has gotten only a low percentage of millennial voters because
    no matter how young people are, most of them are not too young or too
    naïve to choose Right Wing values. Despite the liberal biased media,
    young people are wisely and independently and correctly choosing to
    be Right Wing– and more conservative than previous generations at their age.

    Poor voters, uneducated voters, low I Q voters– no one is poor enough or
    ignorant enough to lack the wisdom and independence and intelligence
    necessary to correctly choose to be Right Wing and to vote mostly Right
    Wing on everything, except the most recent president.

    And have a look at the Internet. The vast majority of Internet trolls on
    comment boards are Right Wingers. So even the obnoxious people who
    roam the sewers of the Internet are wise, independent, and intelligent
    enough to correctly choose to be Right Wing, despite the pressures of
    the supposed Left Wing media bias.

    If there is a liberal media bias, it sure doesn’t seem to have affected many
    people. In fact, if you look at what people in the U.S. are like politically, it
    sure looks like the media is overwhelmingly Right Wing biased instead of
    Left Wing biased.

    When the media bashes Hillary 24/7/365 for decades, on the basis of
    unsubstantiated rumor and innuendo, is that liberal bias? When the media
    gives billions of dollars of free air time to Donald Trump, is that liberal
    bias?

    Even Hillary herself, though considered too far Left by the Right Wing media
    that supposedly isn’t the dominant media, is Right Wing enough to support
    crony capitalist welfare queens like mega- banks, who defraud the public, rather
    than to protect the citizenry against them, as I would expect a Left Wing politician
    would do.

    And even many of the people who are voting for Hillary, like Scott, are not liberal either. They’re just conservatives who have noticed how little Trump knows about government and economics and how problematic his temperament and character are.

    • a non mouse says:

      Interesting that even though the media is so overwhelmingly liberal biased, that the Right Wing party dominates both Houses of Congress, most governorships and state legislatures, and SCOTUS until Scalia died.

      Yes, that’s why they’re importing as many third worlders as they can as fast as they can.

    • a non mouse says:

      Even Hillary herself, though considered too far Left by the Right Wing media that supposedly isn’t the dominant media, is Right Wing enough to support crony capitalist welfare queens like mega- banks, who defraud the public, rather than to protect the citizenry against them, as I would expect a Left Wing politician would do.

      I don’t expect this or anything to penetrate your amazingly thick skull but Goldman Sachs has banned employees from contributing to Trump.

      Pre 2008 financial crisis only one major bank contributed more to Democrats than Republicans and gave crony jobs to establishment Republicans (like Jeb, frex) – Lehman. They, of course, weren’t bailed out while the banks that contributed more heavily to Democrats, were. That lesson has been well learned by the parasitic banking sector – you learned nothing from that because no one wrote an article in Slate about it.

      You are stupid and as a result your worldview has no sophistication.

      • E. Harding says:

        “I don’t expect this or anything to penetrate your amazingly thick skull but Goldman Sachs has banned employees from contributing to Trump.”

        -No; the Federal government has. That’s because Pence is a state official who can affect state pensions while Kaine isn’t.

        • a non mouse says:

          That’s not correct E. Harding.

          It’s an internal rule at GS that they set up after Trump announced his VP pick which “just happens” to block donations to one presidential candidate but not the other. It’s not a federal rule (or it would apply to the entire financial industry).

  16. Jill says:

    More info regarding the decades long media bashing of Hillary, including the “liberal” New York Times, for those of you who don’t believe this happened:

    The Numbers Behind Maureen Dowd’s 21-Year Long Campaign Against Hillary Clinton
    72 Percent Of Dowd Columns Negative Towards Clinton

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/06/18/the-numbers-behind-maureen-dowds-21-year-long-c/199752

  17. E. Harding says:

    Just like Trump called for Snowden’s execution unless he leaked stuff on Obama, Clinton asked about whether the U.S. could execute Assange:

    https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/782906224937410562

    • The Nybbler says:

      Can’t be. Snopes resident SJW says it’s unproven and therefore false.

      • E. Harding says:

        So, on the same level of Clinton’s claims Russia hacked the DNC and Putin timed the DNC leaks’ release, and more credible than Her statement Putin is the great-godfather of Brexit and Trump.

    • DensityDuck says:

      Remember the time Rick Perry got charged with a felony?

      Yeah, of course you don’t, and neither does anyone else because the whole thing turned out to be bullshit.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I wonder whether Trump deliberately failed to file the paperwork in order to provoke this so he could claim he was being persecuted.

      • BBA says:

        It’s such a fine line between clever and stupid.

        Mostly I posted this because there’s a government agency with “social justice” in its name and it’s going after Trump, which I’m sure will be taken to prove something.

  18. DensityDuck says:

    Also: Thank you for presenting well-reasoned, supported, actually good reasons to not vote for Trump. As opposed to “bububububub racism, sexism“, as though these things would somehow be lessened by appeasing the Woke God.

    • Jiro says:

      I don’t consider “Trump would be good for social justice, because I’ve come up with a scenario where Trump would be good for social justice” to be a good reason.

      Also, I wonder why Scott hasn’t bothered to mention TPP or Citizens United.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Both Trump and Hillary claim to be against TPP, but Hillary is obviously lying and Trump seems likely to be telling the truth.

      • keranih says:

        Scott did mention CU; he said that it was of less note than rulings on individual freedom of speech and that he felt that a liberal-leaning court would not be a significant threat to individual freedom of speech.

    • E. Harding says:

      I find none of those reasons to be particularly good or well-reasoned. Some of the evidence presented for them is extremely misleading. See my first comment here.

  19. DensityDuck says:

    A massive paraphrasing of your reasoning here might be “we know what Clinton would do, and God only knows what Trump would do, and even if it’s something good done for the right reasons we don’t live in a world of people who respond well to uncertainty”.

    No less a thinker than P. J. O’Rourke agrees.

  20. Levantine says:

    My calculations ignore the speculative question “What would be the actual outcomes” and remain within the question:

    What does placing one person or another do to the current power constellations?

    The current power constellations present a virtual vehicle by which the nation and the world are headed toward a major disaster. The only way to change the course is to create changes in the structure of power, the configurations and relationships in general. So, that “the 1%” could get away with less.

    That very long-term and complex … goal is beyond any single plan. Presidential elections can only be one step, helping it or hindering it.

    I see one candidate as being so integrated within the current power structures, and so physically weak, to be a virtual Borg, a single tool in a hive mind.

    The other candidate is for a degree less integrated in the established power structures.

    This other candidate can order exactly my city to be bombed, I can imagine him. And I ignore that. because it’s such a narrow-minded, unqualified, ’emotional’ thinking. To avoid wars is beyond any conceivable scheme and system. That’s too complex / that’s God’s business, if you will.

    I have already been bombed, in the sense of bombers flying over my head for months, being left without electricity and water for months, and so on.

    It will be better to suffer or be killed by a crazy and vulgar man called Trump, than to suffer a weird collective “1%” power elite that everyone knows is corrupt and still for them to hold unchallenged power. Power corrupts and they can only get worse and worse and worse.

    If any candidate K is elected, he or she can be obstructed, eliminated, removed, manipulated, blackmailed, … the list is endless. It’s completely stupid to think in terms “what he or she would do.” It’s even more important to ask “What the rest of the powerful might do to her or him”, and how would the president react to that, and whether the outcome would be more orderly proceeding toward a disaster, or with more unevenness and disruption. The prospect of Trump promises a disruption.

    The globe is run by gangsters. You do *NOT* get out of this mess by making the ordinary “sensible” choice. Major troubles are ahead of us. Troubles and suffering are the fate of our generations just as they were the fate of virtually all the previous generations of humankind. Let’s avoid some ‘spoilt princess syndrome’ or a brain-in-a-vat attitude that is taken by too many intellectuals. Assuming the world is ‘finer’ than evidence shows is not reason or faith, it’s just silly.

    The United States … Titanic, – if I may make a metaphor – has been already severely damaged.

    When the cruiser Poseidon (link) capsized i.e. turned upside down, it was the wrong choice to listen to the expertly authorities and stay in place.
    In my society as well as in yours, many things are turned upside down: peoples’ values, the power relations… Nor is that new So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

    • AnonBosch says:

      The current power constellations present a virtual vehicle by which the nation and the world are headed toward a major disaster.

      A large part of the case for Trump seems to be based on asserting this and not remotely justifying it. The few times someone has tried to show their work for the “status quo = doom” premise, I’ve seen:

      (1) Zerohedge-style cherry picking of economic statistics
      (2) Elevating minor culture wars to the level of existential risk
      (3) Overconfident overestimates of a Clinton/Putin nuclear war

      This isn’t a Death Eater blog where Moldbuggery can be taken as read. Gotta show your work.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        You missed the big one. Demographic replacement.

        People on the left haven’t been subtle about this. “Minority majority” has been a rallying cry for as long as I can remember, along with the Republican establishment’s sad desperate attempts to win Latino voters at the expense of their own base.

        Trump is promising to build a yuge wall, to deport illegal immigrants already here, and to end birthright citizenship. In all likelihood he will do none of those things. But what he can do is win the election, thereby proving that running a hardline anti-immigration platform is a winning strategy. Opening the door to more serious nationalist candidates in the future.

        That’s the best path forward we have right now. Currently, immigration as a substitute for births is a one-two punch killing the native population. Reversing that trend will be difficult but with sufficient will is not impossible.

        • AnonBosch says:

          Currently, immigration as a substitute for births is a one-two punch killing the native population.

          Where would I find a steelman version of this argument? Preferably one that provides a solid, evidence-based case for why we shouldn’t expect immigrants to assimilate within 3-4 generations as they have in the past, and acknowledges the productivity benefits of immigration while mounting a reasonable attempt at comparing them to the costs (citing Richwine-style bean counting is a good way to lose me).

          • Jiro says:

            why we shouldn’t expect immigrants to assimilate within 3-4 generations as they have in the past,

            If by “assimilate” you mean “eat apple pie and watch football games”, maybe. If by “assimilate” you mean “vote for the parties in similar proportions to natives”, it is known that immigrants don’t assimilate after several generations, particularly Hispanics.

            http://thealternativehypothesis.org/index.php/2016/09/02/non-whites-of-every-stripe-vote-democrat/

            http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/02/07/second-generation-americans/

            Also, someone already mentioned Jews, who again, assimilate by the “eat apple pie” standard, but not by the “vote in similar ways to the existing population” standard.

          • AnonBosch says:

            If by “assimilate” you mean “eat apple pie and watch football games”, maybe. If by “assimilate” you mean “vote for the parties in similar proportions to natives”, it is known that immigrants don’t assimilate after several generations, particularly Hispanics.

            It strikes me as circular to appeal to immigration issues to justify a Republican vote, and then adopt a definition of assimilation that consists of “vote Republican.” The original question of why this amounts to “killing the native population” remains unanswered.

            Additionally, your first link does not break down by generation and your second link only refers to second-generation immigrants, so “several generations” is unproven. Furthermore, Italians didn’t reach parity in voting patterns until the 1980s (4-5 generations removed from pre-WWI peak immigration), thus my sub-question remains unanswered as well.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Yeah, can’t speak for Jiro but I’m not weeping any tears for the GOP.

            The real issue is that “assimilation” only makes sense if you assume people are fungible meat-robots who you can reprogram at will. In reality, there is no blank slate. Human behavior is heritable just like everything else.

            Anyway I’m not going to argue the point further, mostly because I’m exhausted and it won’t do any good either way. I’m going to tap out of this discussion and go back to talking about radiotolerant micro-animals in the other thread.

          • AnonBosch says:

            The real issue is that “assimilation” only makes sense if you assume people are fungible meat-robots who you can reprogram at will. In reality, there is no blank slate. Human behavior is heritable just like everything else.

            I asked for a steelman, not a strawman. Observing that humans are not fully blank slates doesn’t get you to “immigration is an existential issue for America.” I am not unfamiliar with the broad strokes of this argument (immigrants are leftist, leftism is bad, immigration is bad), but I asked for a steelman because it has several obvious weaknesses which nobody seems to be inclined to address.

            One is the long-term assimilation of other groups against which similar arguments were made at the time. Another is the fact that the non-shared environment still exerts a healthy effect even if that effect is not the 100% blank slaters imagine it to be. Still another is the poli sci literature which shows that support for the welfare state is negatively correlated with racial heterogeneity, a finding also supported by the historical record (the largest period of federal expansion in our nation’s history was bookended by Johnson-Reed and Hart-Celler.)

            If you’re exhausted, or feel this thread to be a sub-optimal venue, a decent link would suffice. But I am similarly exhausted of questioning what seems to be received Death Eater wisdom and immediately getting a bunch of unconvincing anti-Blue patter that fails to map onto my criticisms.

          • Iain says:

            It is not universally true that immigrants refuse to vote conservative. Take, for example, the 2011 Canadian election.

            The New Democratic Party, which won 30.6 per cent of the popular vote, scored highest among recent immigrants, taking 41 per cent of the vote of newcomers who have been in Canada less than a decade.

            But the Conservatives, who seized 39.6 per cent of the overall vote, won 43 per cent of immigrants who have been in the country longer than a decade.

            Prior to the election, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney openly campaigned to gain the Conservatives more votes among the religiously active and the roughly one out of five Canadians who were born outside the country.

            The Calgary MP’s efforts appeared to pay off. In general, the Conservatives did slightly better among those born outside Canada (42 per cent) than those born in Canada (37 per cent).

            If the Republican party can’t win immigrant votes after three generations, maybe that’s a feature of the Republican party, not the immigrants.

            Sometimes people on the left question why poor white voters act “against their own interests” by supporting Republican politicians who promise to (for example) cut entitlement spending. Part of the answer I’ve seen repeatedly in the comments here is an opposition to “sneering coastal elites” – very broadly, a perception that the thought leaders of the Democratic party do not respect poor white voters and are not on their side. If we are going to respect that position, then it seems strange to deny immigrant voters the right to be suspicious of whether the Republican party truly has their best interests at heart. Given the nomination of Trump and his embrace by white nationalists, it is hard to say that such suspicions would be unfounded.

          • Jiro says:

            It strikes me as circular to appeal to immigration issues to justify a Republican vote, and then adopt a definition of assimilation that consists of “vote Republican.”

            “Vote Republican” is not the same thing as “vote as proportionately Republican as everyone else does”.

            If the Republican party can’t win immigrant votes after three generations, maybe that’s a feature of the Republican party, not the immigrants.

            “The Republican party doesn’t do the same kind of race-baiting that the Democrats and SJWs do, nor does the Republican party cut special deals with races. And the Republicans aren’t very good at calling their opponents Hitler” is technically a feature of the Republican party, but not really the kind you are implying.

            Also, this comes close to making “immigrants assimilate” unfalsifiable. You’ve been given an obvious, statistically undeniable, description of a way in which immigrants don’t assimilate, and you’re saying that, well, it just doesn’t count.

          • Anonymous says:

            I wonder what counts as the “native population”. Apparently Jews don’t count. Italians? Irish Catholics? Germans? Scotch-Irish? African Americans?

            I’m guessing you don’t mean Native Americans, so just what is the Jiro litmus test for being a legitimate American?

          • AnonBosch says:

            “Vote Republican” is not the same thing as “vote as proportionately Republican as everyone else does”.

            The last Democrat to win the non-Hispanic white vote was LBJ in his blowout of Goldwater. So yes, if you’re talking about “everyone else,” it is.

            This disparity gets even wider if you exclude subgroups such as Italians who are largely balanced now but still Democratic compared to the broader white vote. Using Catholicism as a rough proxy for descendants of the early 20th century ethnic blocs, White Protestants start looking pretty damn monolithic themselves (70-30 for Romney!)

          • Iain says:

            Also, this comes close to making “immigrants assimilate” unfalsifiable. You’ve been given an obvious, statistically undeniable, description of a way in which immigrants don’t assimilate, and you’re saying that, well, it just doesn’t count.

            I’m unclear why your claim (“something inherent to immigrants makes them oppose conservative policies”) is the null hypothesis, and my claim (“immigrants, like everybody else, can discern which politicians respect them, and vote accordingly”) is not.

            One way to falsify my claim would be to test whether immigrants change their voting behaviour in response to changes in the parties they vote for. As a natural experiment, we might try taking an immigrant population that voted heavily Republican, turning the Republican party against them, and seeing whether their voting patterns changed. Specifically, let’s talk about the Muslim vote. In the 2000 election, approximately 70% of American Muslim voters voted for Bush. In the 2004 election, that number was 4%. (Here’s a great post about the change.)

            Did American Muslims somehow disassimilate?

          • Jiro says:

            I’m guessing you don’t mean Native Americans, so just what is the Jiro litmus test for being a legitimate American?

            “Assimilate” and “legitimate American” aren’t the same thing.

            Did American Muslims somehow disassimilate?

            A –> B doesn’t mean B –> A. Assimilation –> same voting patterns as everyone else doesn’t mean same voting patterns as everyone else –> assimilation.

            The obvious answer is “there is some way in which American Muslims weren’t assimilated in either year, but it didn’t manifest itself in voting patterns until 2004 because the circumstances changed between 2000 and 2004. (This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Republicans caused the changing circumstances; for instance, it may be that Democrats succeeded in playing on fears of Islamophobia to turn them against the Republicans regardless of what Republicans themselves did.)

            Also, since you’re specifically talking about Bush, I don’t recall Bush personally doing anything anti-Muslim. (If you say “Invading Iraq”, then you need to explain why the previous invasion didn’t also turn Muslims against the Republicans.)

          • Iain says:

            Wait – and my hypothesis is somehow the unfalsifiable one? I guess we can never tell if any group of immigrants has ever assimilated – after all, they might some day stop voting for Republicans in sufficient numbers.

            If you would like additional information about why many Muslims stopped voting for Republicans, maybe you should check to see what formerly Republican Muslims have to say about it. I have cleverly hidden an opportunity for you to do so in my previous post. Click on the underlined text to be whisked away to a land of magic! Here: I’ll even do it again!

          • Jiro says:

            You didn’t explain why “Muslims” aren’t Republican. You explained why one Muslim isn’t Republican.

          • Iain says:

            You’re not even trying any more.

            tl;dr: If you’re looking for a steelman of the anti-immigration position, AnonBosch, you will have to look elsewhere.

          • Anonymous says:

            I wonder what counts as the “native population”. Apparently Jews don’t count. Italians? Irish Catholics? Germans? Scotch-Irish? African Americans?

            I’m guessing you don’t mean Native Americans, so just what is the Jiro litmus test for being a legitimate American?

            “Assimilate” and “legitimate American” aren’t the same thing.

            I note well that you didn’t answer the actual question. Just what exactly is the reference population you measuring assimilation against?

          • AnonBosch says:

            I note well that you didn’t answer the actual question. Just what exactly is the reference population you measuring assimilation against?

            Yes, the evasiveness on this point is extremely telling.

            It’s also worth noting that as recently as 2004 we’ve had an election where Asians and Latinos were actually more evenly split than whites.

            The usual essentialist response is something like “of course that confirms the hypothesis, since Bush was a big-government squish” but that doesn’t explain why those groups rushed back to the Democrats in 2012, when Republicans also offered a big-government squish.

          • Jiro says:

            I still don’t see why you’re suddenly mentioning legitimate Americans, but as for assimilation, if you choose to argue that it doesn’t matter if Mexicans assimilate because there is no such thing as assimilation, go ahead. Everyone else understands that the baseline is somewhere between all citizens now and all citizens a couple of decades ago (and the baseline is not moved when talking about future assimilation).

            You can, of course, argue that everybody or nobody assimilates just by changing your baseline. (Obviously the original colonists didn’t assimilate to the existing Indian culture.) But at that point you’re no longer talking about the same thing as everyone else.

          • Anonymous says:

            But at that point you’re no longer talking about the same thing as everyone else.

            Since you seem to be having a lot of trouble even making your own position clear, maybe you should not try to speak for everyone else.

            as for assimilation, if you choose to argue that it doesn’t matter if Mexicans assimilate because there is no such thing as assimilation, go ahead.

            Nice strawman, no one is saying that.

            Everyone else understands that the baseline is somewhere between all citizens now and all citizens a couple of decades ago (and the baseline is not moved when talking about future assimilation).

            Again with the claims to speak for everyone. Some humility might be in order.

            Anyway, the vast majority of the Jews were here already a couple of decades ago and you’ve claimed that they aren’t assimilated. Want to try again?

          • erenold says:

            Iain:

            The essay you linked is phenomenal. Thank you for an excellent read, sir.

            I have nothing to add to your posts but anecdotal, fourth-hand accounts of another ethnic minority’s perception of the evolving Republican party. I hope they may offer another perspective on this matter. In this case, we shall speak of the Chinese.

            Members of my (massive) extended family – not myself, I stress, so take this account with sufficient salt to taste – on both sides have been trickling into America for more than fifty years now. They weren’t fleeing any kind of overt persecution I’m aware of other than that of my grandmother’s sharp tongue, as well as the feather-duster she liked to use as a cane, and they were mostly apolitical back home – that kind of thing can be bad for business – but they were mostly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. I struggle to see any kind of correlation between expected confounding factors and how they eventually turned out. Cousin Albert (none of these are real names) is a gay primary school teacher, but he was a swing voter who usually voted Republican until 2008. Cousin Ben, his brother, is a registered Democrat voter, activist, and moderately well-to-do finance guy. He is one of the few Christians in the family. Uncle Chen is *also* gay, and somewhat closeted, but is a registered Republican with gun-rights as his pretty much single issue. He’s an IT worker who wanted Rubio. (Cousin Ben and Uncle Chen don’t get along, incidentally.) Aunt Denise, a realtor, doesn’t usually vote – people of her age, in our community, are usually completely apolitical – but she will this year. And Auntie and Uncle E and F (I gave up, sorry), and their two Harvard-educated neuroscientist children, G and H, all accelerated their plans to become citizens in order to vote.

            For the first time, every single one of them, including the registered Republican gun-owner, is going to vote Clinton. (Just in case anyone cares, they’re in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, and Wisconsin, respectively – I gather that this will matter somehow.)

            I can’t tie their reasoning into any kind of neat narrative, sorry. Some common factors to consider – all but the 60+yos are college-educated, some Ivies. Most are pro-life, if you held a gun to their head, but mostly don’t really think about this. Muslims terrify the Republican but not the others. Family values matter a lot to them, followed closely by the economy (on which Trump, I think, is generally seen as superior). The older ones are – I’m just gonna go ahead and say this – pretty racist towards African American folks.

            But the one common thread I think I can discern, the one word they keep using, seems to be the idea that the Republican Party has become “chaotic” or “crazy” (乱), that they’ve lost any kind of respect for learning, knowledge and expertise, and started being the party for the know-nothing blowhard.

            It could be that American experts and universities are uniquely bad or biased and it is normatively wise to ignore their prescriptions. But this gradual perception that Republican politics is increasingly “dumbed” or populist, increasingly overtly targeted at a lesser and lesser-sophisticated audience matters a great deal, I think, to naturalized citizens of Asian descent in general. (How true this perception is, and how normatively ‘good’ or politically wise the Republican Party is to do such a thing – is, obviously, going to be way above my pay grade.) And generally I make no normative comment here except to say that things like this don’t really surprise me, because I see it happening right in front of my eyes in my own family. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/02/us/politics/trump-asian-american-voters.html?_r=0

          • AnonBosch says:

            Everyone else understands that the baseline is somewhere between all citizens now and all citizens a couple of decades ago

            The white vote in 1976 was +4 R in an election which was +2 D nationally.

            The white vote in 2012 was +20 R in an election which was +4 D nationally.

            Are white people becoming less assimilated? [chin-rub-emoji]

          • AnonBosch says:

            But the one common thread I think I can discern, the one word they keep using, seems to be the idea that the Republican Party has become “chaotic” or “crazy” (乱), that they’ve lost any kind of respect for learning, knowledge and expertise, and started being the party for the know-nothing blowhard.

            Charles Murray noted this in 2012. He said Asians were the canary in the coal mine, because their high concentration of entrepreneurs and professionals coupled with a culture of familial loyalty made them natural Republican voters. Thus, Asians drifting to the Democrats was evidence that Republicans were no longer associated predominantly with capitalism and family values, but with anti-intellectualism and bigotry.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ erenold, thank you for that.

          • Iain says:

            @erenold: Yeah, he’s a great writer. If you have time, I also strongly recommend his post about Abd el-Kader.

          • erenold says:

            @AnonBosch

            Holy shit. That’s… that’s really damn good. That essay is basically perfect, it does a better job at describing my actual family than I myself could do. I started highlighting chunks of it I wanted to quote here, then realized that was basically all of it. In fact, I stopped reading the article half way to see if ‘Charles Murray’ was, for some reason, in fact an Asian himself. (He is not, lest anyone feel the need to click.)

            My only quibble is with his conclusion (though, I’m aware that he was writing in 2012.) I think the GOP are pushing the Pence/Ryan/Cruz-style SocialCon angle less hard nowadays with Trump (Pence and Ryan themselves notwithstanding), but, rightly or wrongly, have doubled down on the 乱, which in fact is probably worse, from the perspective of attracting Asian American votes.

          • E. Harding says:

            “For the first time, every single one of them, including the registered Republican gun-owner, is going to vote Clinton.”

            -Are you giving reasons the Chinese Exclusion Act was a good thing?

            “He’s an IT worker who wanted Rubio.”

            -Yes, yes you are. Rubio was a bought robot whose fundamentally anti-American and neoconservative foreign policy would be so inimical to world peace and the American people’s desires, I might be arguing for Clinton here if he was the nominee. Under Rubio’s reckless and dangerous foreign policy, I’d estimate the risk of nuclear war at over 10% -too high for my tastes.

            “that they’ve lost any kind of respect for learning, knowledge and expertise, and started being the party for the know-nothing blowhard.”

            -I.e., your relatives focus all on style and hardly at all on substance. Frankly, disgusting. If intellectuals tend in the direction of evil and blindness, the problem’s not with Trump – it’s with them.

            “because their high concentration of entrepreneurs and professionals coupled with a culture of familial loyalty made them natural Republican voters”

            -The party of the vast majority of Jews, who were brought into the Democratic coalition in the 1930s, was always destined to become the party of the college educated -and the evil party. The party that acted in reaction to the party of the vast majority of Jews was always destined to become the stupid party.

            “Thus, Asians drifting to the Democrats was evidence that Republicans were no longer associated predominantly with capitalism and family values, but with anti-intellectualism and bigotry.”

            -Trump is a capitalist. If only married people voted, Trump would win by a landslide. Asians in America, as a rule, never tended strongly towards either economic or social conservatism. Instead, they usually tended toward order. The LA riots really hurt the image of the Black party for them.

            And if intellectuals tend toward evil and invade-the-world, invite-the-world ideology plus SJWry, anti-intellectualism and bigotry is far preferable.

          • John Schilling says:

            -Are you giving reasons the Chinese Exclusion Act was a good thing?

            Pretty sure he isn’t, but you’re making a strong case for the Harding exclusion act and maybe for the Republican exclusion act.

          • Iain says:

            Pretty sure he isn’t, but you’re making a strong case for the Harding exclusion act and maybe for the Republican exclusion act.

            Completely agreed. That is beyond the pale.

            I’ve been avoiding interaction with E. Harding, on the basis of an incredibly low signal-to-noise ratio, but this is the first thing I can remember seeing that would push me to consider supporting a ban.

          • Anonymous says:

            Reported, and you should too.

          • AnonBosch says:

            In fact, I stopped reading the article half way to see if ‘Charles Murray’ was, for some reason, in fact an Asian himself. (He is not, lest anyone feel the need to click.)

            He spent a few years in Thailand as part of the Peace Corps and married a Thai woman, so I’m sure some of it is firsthand experience, at least to the extent a broader East Asian culture can be generalized from Thais and Chinese.

            -Are you giving reasons the Chinese Exclusion Act was a good thing?

            Fuck off, man.

            -The party of the vast majority of Jews, who were brought into the Democratic coalition in the 1930s, was always destined to become the party of the college educated -and the evil party.

            No, seriously. Fuck all the way off.

          • Jiro says:

            Nice strawman, no one is saying that.

            You weren’t very clear, but it seemed to be your implied argument. You wanted to know what I consider the baseline for assimilation. Presumably, you asked this because you thought that some baselines would show that either immigrants have assimilated, or not assimilated but nobody else has either. This would have the effect of making assimilation meaningless, since either nobody or everybody has assimilated.

            Anyway, the vast majority of the Jews were here already a couple of decades ago and you’ve claimed that they aren’t assimilated.

            They have assimilated in some ways but not in others. In the ways relevant to this argument, they haven’t.

          • Anonymous says:

            What about black people, not assimilated either “in ways relevant to this argument”?

            It’s funny that you attack others for not talking about the same thing as everyone else, when it is you that has a highly idiosyncratic definition of assimilate, viz. one obsessively focused on the fortunes of the Republican Party.

            To paraphrase you, everyone else means turkey on thanksgiving, football, and speaking American English.

          • Iain says:

            Jiro, the sticking point here is your assertion that support for Republicans is a necessary (if not sufficient) criterion for true assimilation. I think it is safe to say that the other participants in this conversation find that controversial. If you would like to convince us, you will need to support that claim.

            Does this work in the opposite direction? According to Pew, Mormons prefer Republicans by a 70-22 margin, while Hispanics support Democrats by a 56-26 margin. Should a non-partisan observer conclude that Hispanics are more assimilated than Mormons?

          • E. Harding says:

            Completely agreed. That is beyond the pale.

            I’ve been avoiding interaction with E. Harding, on the basis of an incredibly low signal-to-noise ratio, but this is the first thing I can remember seeing that would push me to consider supporting a ban.

            -Since when did advocating immigration restrictions exceed “the bounds of moderation” here? This is literally the least controversial aspect of Sailerism (and Sailer did come out in favor of the Chinese Exclusion Act on his blog). Even our good host has stated that immigration is the one case Trump supporters have that sounds even remotely persuasive to him. And, in any case, I wasn’t even arguing for the restoration of the Chinese Exclusion Act. I was pointing out the evidence erenold provided in his anecdote is good evidence in favor of opinion of the vast majority of Americans at the time of the signing of the Chinese Exclusion Act that the Chinese Exclusion Act was basically a good idea.

            @John Schilling, how so? I gave my reasons in my comment. Why didn’t you give your reasons to back up your statement?

            “No, seriously. Fuck all the way off.”

            -Am I not allowed to point out how 90% support for the Democrats of the ethnic group in the U.S. with the highest average IQ made the Eisenhower coalition unsustainable?

            BTW, Ed, don’t sockpuppet and stalk people↓↓↓

          • Jiro says:

            What about black people, not assimilated either “in ways relevant to this argument”?

            Black people have been here long enough that the political landscape was completely different when they arrived, so their different political preferences are not a question of assimilation (since when they arrived, the political landscape did not yet exist to assimilate into)

            (You could argue that Jewish people have been here long enough for that as well, in which case I won’t argue that. But it really wouldn’t help your argument.)

          • John Schilling says:

            @Harding:

            How so? […] I was pointing out the evidence erenold provided in his anecdote is good evidence in favor of opinion of the vast majority of Americans at the time of the signing of the Chinese Exclusion Act that the Chinese Exclusion Act was basically a good idea.

            Erenold provides a well-stated explanation why members of a particular culture would chose not to vote for a political party that supports policies they would favor but exhibits contempt for their culture and its values in a way that leads them to fear this party will make intolerably bad decisions in the future.

            Your response is to simply assert in passing that such behavior is cause to exclude pretty much an entire ethnic group from the political culture of the United States of America.

            That is the basest sort of bigotry, of the sort that makes it entirely rational for anyone who isn’t a WASP or at least a Caucasian to look upon the GOP and say, “Even though we agree with you on capitalism and family values and guns and abortion and most of the rest, no way in Hell are we voting for you guys”. Erenold and his extended family are the sort of people that pretty much everyone in this country who isn’t a white racist bigot, wants to have living in this country. You, aren’t.

          • Jiro says:

            Jiro, the sticking point here is your assertion that support for Republicans is a necessary (if not sufficient) criterion for true assimilation.

            Ignoring the case where the group was already here and so did not assimilate by definition, voting Republican isn’t a necessary condition for assimilation. Having a certain proportion of members voting Republican is.

            Anyway, that’s just a complaint about semantics. The question was whether there is such a thing as demographic replacement. If immigrants all vote Democratic and continue to do so in subsequent generations, that would be an example of demographic replacement–the non-immigrants’ political influence would decrease in favor of the immigrants. Whether you want to call this assimilation is besides the point.

          • E. Harding says:

            “Erenold provides a well-stated explanation why members of a particular culture would chose not to vote for a political party”

            -It’s not just about the party, more importantly, it’s also about the candidate. Rubio was a disaster of a candidate, who was dangerous to America and its people, and anyone’s choice to vote for him in a primary is, I think, totally disgraceful. And when it comes to a divergence between the demands of a small subgroup’s particular culture and the fate of the world and the American nation, I gladly pick the latter.

            “supports policies they would favor but exhibits contempt for their culture and its values in a way that leads them to fear this party will make intolerably bad decisions in the future.”

            -Look, I understand some of this. I’m an immigrant from Russia; Clinton’s Russophobia is personally offensive to me, as was that of Ted Cruz (his demagoguery, which was worse than Trump’s, also turned me off from him). I fully understand why an American Muslim would vote for Clinton; that doesn’t bother me, though I do agree with the necessity of Trump’s temporary shutdown on Muslims entering the United States until we can find out what’s going on, and I might propose its extension after. Same for a first-generation Mexican. But that people would vote blindly to policy, only focusing on style is, for me and many other people, disgusting. Trump is no more anti-Chinese than Obama, Romney, and Clinton. The fact all erenold’s Republican relatives preferred Clinton over Trump purely on the basis of personal style, not any substance, is quite worrying.

            “Your response is to simply assert in passing that such behavior is cause to exclude pretty much an entire ethnic group from the political culture of the United States of America.”

            -Erenold did say all his relatives are voting Clinton solely on the basis of style. I think it’s a reasonable conclusion.

            When it comes to whether the U.S. should inch itself even a foot towards disaster on the basis of immigrants voting purely on the basis of style over substance or whether such immigrants should be restricted from entering the country until such behavior stops is a no-brainer.

            “That is the basest sort of bigotry, of the sort that makes it entirely rational for anyone who isn’t a WASP or at least a Caucasian to look upon the GOP and say, “Even though we agree with you on capitalism and family values and guns and abortion and most of the rest, no way in Hell are we voting for you guys”.

            -No; it’s pretty far from that. If the vast majority of Russian immigrants behaved the way erenold describes, even at risk to the American nation, and there was some reason to believe this would continue in future generations, I, even as a Russian immigrant, would wholly agree that such behavior is a legitimate reason to be in favor of Russian Exclusion Act.

            “Erenold and his extended family are the sort of people that pretty much everyone in this country who isn’t a white racist bigot, wants to have living in this country. You, aren’t.”

            -Gimmee a break. Why the double standard?

            And as I’ve said, bigotry is far preferable to invade-the-world-invite-the-world ideology and SJWry.

          • AnonBosch says:

            -Am I not allowed to point out how 90% support for the Democrats of the ethnic group in the U.S. with the highest average IQ made the Eisenhower coalition unsustainable?

            This is an excellent example of how Death Eaters take advantage of Scott’s liberal comment policy. Let’s compare this post with the original reply I reacted to:

            The party of the vast majority of Jews, who were brought into the Democratic coalition in the 1930s, was always destined to become the party of the college educated -and the evil party.

            Having provoked an emotional reaction from this post, he simply needs to retreat and layer this charge through enough conceptual middlemen where he’s not literally saying “Jews are evil,” or something inadequately disguised like “Jews are educated and leftist and therefore evil,” instead he’s simply rationally observing that “Jews are highly educated and have particular political views, which [insert more cause/effect as needed with subsequent challenges], which upset the Eisenhower coalition of the mid-20th century, which [yada yada Great Society] leftism, and leftism is evil!”

            As long as you sufficiently launder the bigotry, you’re golden. It doesn’t matter if the links become too numerous, too tenuous, or are even inconsistent (first post: Jews were brought into the Democratic coalition in the 1930s; second post: this somehow caused the breakup of a political coalition which first formed 20 years later?) because his demonstrated stamina at Gish Galloping five new paragraphs out of every one replied to will hold the line no matter how many nonsensical curves and kinks that line picks up under repeated questioning.

            Eventually even the most reasonable, good-faith-assuming commenter will give up at which point you “win.” End result: Leftists, libertarians, and centrists drift away, leading to iterative reduction in the need for conceptual laundering, comments become /pol/-esque echo chamber of vulgar essentialism.

          • E. Harding says:

            @AnonBosch

            “this somehow caused the breakup of a political coalition which first formed 20 years later?)”

            -The Eisenhower coalition did not form ex nihilo under Eisenhower; if you look at the maps, you can see it as largely, though not entirely, a continuation of the old Hoover coalition, which itself was largely based on the traditional Reconstruction-era Republican coalition of U.S. Grant. Nevertheless, I chose the description “Eisenhower coalition” as this was the first time serious national polling of Americans by education level became available during a GOP presidential victory -and it showed a landslide Eisenhower performance among the college educated, while Jews voted 90% for Stevenson. As Larry Kesterbaum likes to point out around here, this performance among the college educated probably had strong precedent for the GOP- Washtenaw county, MI, didn’t vote for FDR at any point. The Eisenhower era was the last time the GOP put on its best performance in the country on the presidential level in the State of Vermont. The state was consistently the GOP’s best in the country on the presidential level during the third and fifth party systems and a little less consistently during the fourth party system.

            And, in any case, there is nothing logically implausible about my statement which you criticize, even if your weakman version of it was correct. Causation can be complicated.

            As for the rest of your comment, all I can say is, cool story, bro.

          • I’m curious about why adding to the Democratic coalition a group that made it less stupid would also make it more evil. It fits the jokes about the evil party vs the stupid party, but I don’t see what sense it makes beyond that.

            Explain.

          • erenold says:

            Usual caveat – everything below is descriptive, not normative. Where I deal with inferences and conclusions, my confidence is only moderate-to-low, as opposed to where I am straightforwardly paraphrasing and describing.

            -Erenold did say all his relatives are voting Clinton solely on the basis of style.

            I did not, in fact, say this, or anything like this, nor is it strictly clear to me where you inferred this from. If this is about the perception that the GOP is targeting lower-common-denominator voters, I think it’s important to note that their antipathy to this type of politics is instrumental, or inferential. That is, they have nothing against a politician consciously adopting Borderer mannerisms or speech patterns (why would they? The older, 1st-generation ones may not even be able to tell the difference). The concern is that the way Trump talks about politics suggests that there is nothing underneath – i.e., that his style implied his substance, or lack thereof. (Again – purely descriptive, not normative.)

            The one good point I think you brought up was this:

            Asians in America, as a rule, never tended strongly towards either economic or social conservatism. Instead, they usually tended toward order. The LA riots really hurt the image of the Black party for them.

            I think this may be correct. And in tandem with this, from Charles Murray:

            Asians who became successful because everyone in the family worked two or three jobs (a common strategy behind Asian success) are likely to be offended by the liberal “You didn’t build that” mentality. Unlike every other minority group, Asians owe nothing to the Democrats for affirmative action. On the contrary, Asians are penalized by affirmative action, especially in the universities, where discrimination against Asian applicants has been documented

            And this is definitely correct, coming close to a paraphrase of actual quotes, and thumbnail sketches of their lives, of actual people I know. It perplexes and confuses the older, 1st-gen ones that folks can seemingly just go to the government and get money ‘for nothing’, a sentiment with a distinct racial tinge to it. (As I mentioned, there is some degree of anti-African American racism on the part of the older ones.)

            These two observations lead me to the tentative conclusion that the Democratic Party’s hold on Asian America is, within the short run, by no means an immutable one. But characterising the problem as one of ‘stylistics’, to my mind, both deeply misapprehends the problem and is itself evidence of it.

          • E. Harding says:

            @David

            “It fits the jokes about the evil party vs the stupid party,”

            -Yes, that’s what I meant. The precise mechanism is too lengthy to explain here, but, suffice to say, there is good reason to believe the Democratic Party is, on net, more evil than the Republican Party at present. There is also good reason to believe that this is a result of the Democratic Party’s increasing dominance among the college-educated. How this came to be is a topic that will eventually be written about someday, possibly even by someone other than me. I see no point in explaining such a lengthy story in a dying comments section.

            @erenold

            -Thanks for replying.

            “That is, they have nothing against a politician consciously adopting Borderer mannerisms or speech patterns (why would they? The older, 1st-generation ones may not even be able to tell the difference). The concern is that the way Trump talks about politics suggests that there is nothing underneath – i.e., that his style implied his substance, or lack thereof.”

            -So you say that, for them, “his style implies his substance”. How does that contradict anything I’ve said? If they think the style implies lack of substance, they’re deriving their conclusions from the style. And, in any case, why would they think this is so bad that it’s a good idea to vote Her?

            “But characterising the problem as one of ‘stylistics’, to my mind, both deeply misapprehends the problem and is itself evidence of it.”

            -So would Jeb have fixed it?

          • vV_Vv says:

            referably one that provides a solid, evidence-based case for why we shouldn’t expect immigrants to assimilate within 3-4 generations as they have in the past,

            3-4 generation is 75-100 years. How much of your culture will be left by then?

            Also, Jews and Gypsies have been living in Western countries for more than a thousand years and never assimilated. Maybe the US can assimilate the Mexicans, but Europe may never assimilate the Muslims.

          • “Also, Jews and Gypsies have been living in Western countries for more than a thousand years and never assimilated.”

            For nearly two thousand years, most Jews in the diaspora were living in Jewish communities under Jewish law, the Christian and Muslim rulers having concluded that subcontracting the job of ruling their Jewish subjects to the Jewish communal authorities was the easiest way of dealing with them.

            That changed, starting in the late 18th century in Europe, as Jews were more and more treated as Frenchmen (et. al.) who happened to be Jewish rather than Jews who happened to live in France. Over a century or so, the result in most of Europe was to convert most of the Jews into an ethnicity rather than a separate nationality.

            The Romani maintained their cultural independence for about a thousand years. It is breaking down now, at least in North America. Part of what let them function as an independent legal/cultural system was the pattern of mutual hostility with non-Romani. Romani knew that Gaije were filthy, polluted, immoral people who no sensible Rom would want to associate closely with, non-Romani knew that gypsies were thieves, kidnappers, con men who no sensible person … .

            In the tolerant environment of North America that pattern is breaking down, and with it the Romani social system. For details, contrast Anne Sutherland’s two books on the American Vlach Rom. The first, published in 1975, portrays a foreign society within America, with its own language, medical system, legal system, family structure … . The second, which came out recently, describes the collapse of that society into ours, although the author never quite says so.

            Or in other words, assimilation depends a lot on the relation between the subgroup and the host society, and North America has in the past been an environment that encourages it.

            As to the idea that American Jews are not assimilated, that’s silly, unless you are talking about some relatively small subgroups.

          • vV_Vv says:

            For nearly two thousand years, most Jews in the diaspora were living in Jewish communities under Jewish law, the Christian and Muslim rulers having concluded that subcontracting the job of ruling their Jewish subjects to the Jewish communal authorities was the easiest way of dealing with them.

            So like modern European Muslims who live in the banlieues in France or Belgium, where the police avoids going and the Sharia law, rather than the law of the land, is the de facto rule.

            (And I believe that BLM is trying to implement essentially the same thing for urban Blacks in the US: semi-autonomous communities where the police doesn’t go and criminal gangs are the de facto government.)

            The Romani maintained their cultural independence for about a thousand years. It is breaking down now, at least in North America.

            There were never many Romani in North America. Those who went there probably wanted to escape the Romani culture in their home countries. Contrast with the Anabaptists (Amish, Mennonites, etc.) who instead migrated to North America specifically to maintain their culture, and managed to do so to this day.

            As to the idea that American Jews are not assimilated, that’s silly, unless you are talking about some relatively small subgroups.

            They are assimilated under certain aspects, but remain distinct enough in political relevant ways that they can, to some extent, bloc vote and lobby the government to support Israel despite being a very small fraction of the population.

            Imagine the American Hispanics or the European Muslims doing the same things that the Jews do. Even if they are less organized, and maybe less smart, their sheer numbers could give them a huge political weight in a society where the majority is not used to vote by ethnic identity.

            Moreover, Jews became productive members of Western societies because their base culture was similar to mainstream Christian culture and they are, on average, as smart or smarter than the general Western population, while integrating in a short time a large mass of people who come from much different cultures and have a lower average intelligence (for whatever reason, genetic, epigenetic, environmental, etc.), may be much more difficult. So far, the track record is poor.

          • “There were never many Romani in North America. Those who went there probably wanted to escape the Romani culture in their home countries. ”

            The estimate for Romani in America is about a million, so a substantial number. Judging by Sutherland’s account of Romani in the Bay Area in the seventies, they weren’t trying to escape their culture but to maintain it.

        • Corey says:

          Trump is promising to build a yuge wall, to deport illegal immigrants already here, and to end birthright citizenship. In all likelihood he will do none of those things.

          Is ending birthright citizenship even feasible? Amending the Constitution is a tough row to hoe, and getting a SCOTUS majority to ignore a very straightforward statement in the 14th Amendment seems like it would be even harder.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            The 14th amendment, quite explicitly, applies exclusively to American citizens. So they don’t have to ignore anything. Just reading the plain language of the amendment is enough.

            That said, it’s currently totally infeasible for cultural reasons. One of the reasons why I doubt Trump would do it even if he was serious about it. But changing the cultural landscape is exactly why this election is important.

          • Anonymous says:

            “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

            If the claim is that aliens aren’t subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, I’m sure a lot of people will be glad to know they can’t be sued or prosecuted by the US government. Or have to pay taxes for that matter.

          • The Nybbler says:

            He could grant all children of non-citizens automatic diplomatic immunity from birth to some young age, and deny them citizenship on the grounds of “not being subject to the jurisdiction of the United States”. They could then be expelled (not deported).

            I think this dodge wouldn’t work, because there’s no reason it couldn’t be applied it to _all_ children (including children of citizens).

          • AnonBosch says:

            He could grant all children of non-citizens automatic diplomatic immunity from birth to some young age, and deny them citizenship on the grounds of “not being subject to the jurisdiction of the United States”.

            I am pretty sure he could not. Diplomatic immunity is determined by statute (which as far as I know comports with the Vienna Convention), not by arbitrary executive designation.

          • @Dr. Dealgood:

            You wrote:

            “The 14th amendment, quite explicitly, applies exclusively to American citizens.

            The XIV Amendment says:

            “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

            What you wrote appears flatly false. Can you defend it? Was it an error, and if so would you like to correct it?

        • Alex S says:

          > Currently, immigration as a substitute for births is a one-two punch killing the native population.

          Why would reducing immigration have anything to do with the native birth rate?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            The two play into one another.

            Politicians and the media justify immigration as necessary for “new blood” into an aging populace. And proposed efforts to stimulate birth rates hit the wall of people pointing at the growing third world population.

            Slamming the door shut on immigration would hopefully force people in power to think more seriously about the long-term viability of our country’s native population.

          • Alex S says:

            And more broadly, is there anything we can do to substantially increase the birth rate? It is more a function of how family-friendly society is overall, rather than policy.

          • Anonymous says:

            Why would we want to do that? If you want moar babbies start making some of your own.

          • Alex S says:

            @Dealgood Seems speculative
            @Anonymous At high GDP per capita, more people means more brains and more science, prosperity and national strength

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Dr Dealgood
            Politicians and the media justify immigration as necessary for “new blood” into an aging populace. And proposed efforts to stimulate birth rates hit the wall of people pointing at the growing third world population.

            A wall in the other direction, so to speak, is the time and expense of caring for a baby, vs the hassle of paperwork for keeping a foreign nanny legal.

        • E. Harding says:

          “Preferably one that provides a solid, evidence-based case for why we shouldn’t expect immigrants to assimilate within 3-4 generations as they have in the past,”

          -Neither Blacks nor Jews in the United States have, for the most part, done this.

          “and acknowledges the productivity benefits of immigration”

          -Trump also does this.

          • AnonBosch says:

            “Preferably one that provides a solid, evidence-based case for why we shouldn’t expect immigrants to assimilate within 3-4 generations as they have in the past,”

            -Neither Blacks nor Jews in the United States have, for the most part, done this.

            Setting aside for a moment the notion that Jews haven’t assimilated (if your standard of assimilation excludes them, I would consider their success evidence against the necessity of meeting such a standard) why would Hispanics end up closer to these populations than to Irish and Italians? Your post lacks any concrete reasoning, let alone evidence.

            I know politics is supposed to be the mind-killer, but even so. I don’t think I’m asking too much of the SSC commentariat.

          • E. Harding says:

            “why would Hispanics end up closer to these populations than to Irish and Italians?”

            -Mexico is nothing like Italy or Ireland. And yet, Mexico was as rich as Portugal as recently as 1980, so it’s showing no progress since then. The average PISA score of Mexico is much lower than that in Italy or Ireland.

            https://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/map-of-the-world-mathematical-smart-fraction/

          • AnonBosch says:

            Mexico is nothing like Italy or Ireland. And yet, Mexico was as rich as Portugal as recently as 1980, so it’s showing no progress since then. The average PISA score of Mexico is much lower than that in Italy or Ireland.

            So let me make sure I have this sort-of-stab-at-an-argument straight. After asserting that Jews haven’t assimilated, you’re now touting PISA scores (which have been “adjusted” on the assumption that 100% of the non-tested population is not exceptional) as evidence that Mexican assimilation is doomed.

            Even if I accepted this incredibly crude adjustment, this doesn’t give me any correlation between PISA and [name-your-assimilation-criterion]. Do more intelligent immigrants assimilate more readily? You just got through telling me that Jews don’t assimilate, so at least one of these last two posts is full of shit. It also doesn’t tell me anything about the conditions of Italy in 1900-1910 compared to Mexico today; a genetics-only argument is every bit as worthless as an environment-only argument unless you want to explain to me why the Flynn effect isn’t a thing.

            You seem to be treating these comment threads as a contest one “wins” by virtue of quantity of refutations with no regard to quality, or even internal consistency.

          • E. Harding says:

            “Do more intelligent immigrants assimilate more readily?”

            -Poor strawman, AnonBosch. Immigrants whose descendants possess an IQ closer to that of the host population assimilate more easily.

            “which have been “adjusted” by a blogger on the assumption that 100% of the non-tested population is not exceptional”

            -That’s me, and there’s no real evidence to suggest that assumption is very far from the truth.

            “It also doesn’t tell me anything about the conditions of Italy in 1900-1910 compared to Mexico today”

            -Both have had time to catch up. It’s 2016.

            “a genetics-only argument is every bit as worthless as an environment-only argument unless you want to explain to me why the Flynn effect isn’t a thing”

            -The Flynn effect seems to be a worldwide phenomenon and one that affects every subgroup pretty much equally. It’s not an argument in favor of doing the same thing with Mexican immigration that’s been done since the 1970s, or, as Clinton advocates, fewer immigration restrictions and more amnesty.

            “by virtue of quantity of refutations with no regard to quality, or even internal consistency.”

            -You haven’t demonstrated any lack of the latter two in my comments.

          • AnonBosch says:

            -You haven’t demonstrated any lack of the latter two in my comments.

            Weird how you replied to every damn sentence in the post, except this one:

            You just got through telling me that Jews don’t assimilate, so at least one of these last two posts is full of shit.

            I’m just gonna write this subthread off. You can declare victory and pretend it’s because I can’t take the Hard Biotruths if you like. As far as I’m concerned it’s the parable of the pigeon and the chessboard.

          • E. Harding says:

            “You just got through telling me that Jews don’t assimilate,”

            -For the most part, they have not.

            “so at least one of these last two posts is full of shit.”

            -Not true.

            “As far as I’m concerned it’s the parable of the pigeon and the chessboard.”

            -The audience can decide if this was the case. Hint: it wasn’t.

          • Jiro says:

            Jews haven’t assimilated politically, even though Jews have assimilated in other ways.

            This really shouldn’t be happening, because the left is hardly even claiming to work for the benefit of Jews. At least blacks and Hispanics are being courted by the left and the left claims to support them.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            -The audience can decide if this was the case. Hint: it wasn’t.

            I suspect you are badly misreading your audience.

      • Anon says:

        I agree points 1 and 3 are bunk. Point 2 is a strawman. While not an *existential* risk, I think that anyone not deeply concerned about the culture wars is not paying enough attention.

        I’ll give you one example. Which is crazier, insisting evolution is false, or insisting the wage gap is caused by sexism? Perhaps I’m the one who is insane, but I found the first paragraph of the wage gap wikipedia article (which is all you need to know Clinton’s position is nonsense) easier to follow than On the Origin of the Species (to say nothing of post Mendelian works that explain the modern synthesis).

        Yet Carson was laughed out of the room by the media and mocked at water coolers the country over for his opinion while Hillary was met with murmurs of approval. Something is very, very wrong here. The cultural heuristic of “the academic elite know what they’re talking about” has been hijacked by placing gender studies professors in the same tier as evolutionary biologists.

        To be clear, I’m not saying I like Trump, or that I consider his epistemology to be any more sound than Clinton’s. He’s a useful idiot that can shift the Overton window and get people questioning leftist sacred cows.

        • vV_Vv says:

          I’ll give you one example. Which is crazier, insisting evolution is false, or insisting the wage gap is caused by sexism? Perhaps I’m the one who is insane, but I found the first paragraph of the wage gap wikipedia article (which is all you need to know Clinton’s position is nonsense) easier to follow than On the Origin of the Species (to say nothing of post Mendelian works that explain the modern synthesis).

          Not to mention the fact that believing that evolution is false hardly affects your ability to function as a productive member of the society, unless you are a biologist. Believing that the wage gap is caused by institutional sexism instead may cause you to support or implement policies that are actually harmful.

          But more than everything, what concerns me is the total lack of restraint that the SJWs show in pursuing their political goals: they will do whatever they can get away with to increase their power and punish those who oppose them.

          If they could send people to the gulag for wrongthink, I’m sure that they would, and given that they constantly scheme to increase their power by entryism, collusion and intimidation, unless they are stopped in their tracks they will eventually get to that point.

          If you think that I’m exaggerating then have a look at this, or the push to continuously expand the definition of “harassment”, “hate speech”, “cyber-violence” and so on.

          The SJWs are not an existential threat, but they are totalitarian regime threat.

          EDIT:

          To expand my point, the main issue is not that some people have incorrect beliefs (such as the wage gap caused by sexism): incorrect beliefs, in principle, can be changed by presenting arguments and evidence. The main issue occurs when certain beliefs are held as unquestionable dogma, and it becomes socially unacceptable or even illegal to publicly challenge them.

          The SJWs are less like the modern Creationists (pretty harmless folks who build Noah’s Ark museums), and more like the Holy Inquisition. Or at least this is what they aspire to.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The SJWs are less like the modern Creationists (pretty harmless folks who build Noah’s Ark museums), and more like the Holy Inquisition.

            No, the Holy Inquisition used to give people trials before condemning them.

  21. J Mann says:

    So after the last post, I engaged in a little WAG about the two candidates on this question.

    “What is the chance of a nuclear exchange (at least two parties using nuclear weapons) under each candidate?”

    My guess is that Hillary is somewhere between 0.5% and 2%, and Trump is about twice that. I don’t know if that convinces me to vote for Hillary, but it’s something to think about.

    • E. Harding says:

      “My guess is that Hillary is somewhere between 0.5% and 2%, and Trump is about twice that.”

      -On what basis? A Trumpian nuclear exchange with whom? Pakistan? Israel? North Korea? Trump seems to be favored by the leaderships of both the latter two. The Russian leadership clearly prefers Trump over Clinton. The Chinese leadership does not like Clinton or Trump. You’ve seen the fairly copious evidence regarding both Clinton’s and Trump’s foreign policy in this thread; what makes you think Trump’s is more prone to nuclear war?

      • J Mann says:

        Well, WAG stands for “wild a- guess,” so the basis is that I pulled it out of my a-. 🙂

        More generally, if we see a nuke used against us by an organization linked to a foreign power (say a militia or insurgency someplace where we have troops, or a terrorist organization on US or allied soil), I think Hillary is more likely to use words and conventional forces, and Trump is likely to to the same, but relatively more likely to respond with a nuke.

        I also think that his unpredictable foreign policy is relatively more likely to destabilize conflicts than to scare people straight (relative to Hillary), but I’m not super confident in either prediction.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ J Mann
          More generally, if we see a nuke used against us by an organization linked to a foreign power (say a militia or insurgency someplace where we have troops, or a terrorist organization on US or allied soil), I think Hillary is more likely to use words and conventional forces, and Trump is likely to to the same, but relatively more likely to respond with a nuke.

          Thank you for describing one type of path by which a nuclear conflct might begin.

          1) Call it a ‘hot trigger finger’? (The red phone better not have a button for ‘launch nukes now’.)

          2) The other path would go something like: Go along with 167 Senators and an other-party POTUS and SOS in getting into a project that leads to destabilizing X which eventually might escalate into the red phone ringing.

          H will not set off a nuclear war unintentionately, or on an impulse like: “Don’t tell me not to! I’m doing it right now, nya nya!”

          Your ambitious calculating POTUS Hillary would not risk losing her status in the DNC and in the Western world elites by going against what their consensus advice would be (especially Bill’s). Trump has no such status to lose.

      • John Schilling says:

        The phrase was “nuclear exchange”, not “Trumpian nuclear exchange”. A nuclear exchange between e.g. Japan and North Korea because Trump encouraged a regional nuclear arms race would presumably count. And might spread to the US even under an isolationist president.

        • At the moment, I think the two most likely nuclear exchanges are between India and Pakistan, the one pair of opponents (other than the U.S. and Russia) both of whom have nuclear weapons, or between Iran and Israel, assuming that Iran goes nuclear at some point in the not too distant future.

  22. Lysenko says:

    Not sure if this is the best place to raise the point, but the latest OT is trying to stay politics-free, and I don’t know how many are tracking .25, so since the question was raised by talk about foreign policy here:

    Assuming, as I and apparently quite a few others reading SSC do, that the US’ position as paramount military force and guarantor of the world’s stability and security is unsustainable…is there any workable road back from that without:

    A) burning our bridges to various current NATO partners? Some I see as less important than others, but Poland has been a better ally than most on the military cooperation front for example and I don’t want to piss that away unless there’s no other choice. Think a series of exclusively bi-lateral treaties are feasible? ideally, ones with a minimum-GDP and readiness requirement.

    EDIT I initially suggested a short renewal period, but on consideration it would have to be long enough to be trusted to outlast short term whims or else it’s no -good-. Then again, after Crimea I feel like our word on the military front is pretty tarnished coin as is.

    B) crippling our own capability to project power? I know that for some of you that’s the whole point of the exercise, but it isn’t for me. I want the ability to start flattening a good-sized country with conventional forces anywhere in the world on 72-96 hours notice and complete the task successfully to be in our government’s arsenal. Scaling back is desirable to some extent (ideally trading quantity for quality and maximizing tooth:tail ratio as much as possible, though I know that’s FAR easier said than done), but we should NOT be looking at Switzerland or god help us someplace like Sweden as a model for our military affairs.

    Suggestions? Critiques?

    • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

      Duplicate post. Reply above.

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      @ Lysenko
      Assuming, as I and apparently quite a few others reading SSC do, that the US’ position as paramount military force and guarantor of the world’s stability and security is unsustainable…is there any workable road back from that without:

      Rather than the US shrugging, or bluffing, there’s constructing a replacement. Patch up and build up the UN.

      • Lysenko says:

        I have a hard time seeing how that could be anything other than a road to farce, disaster, or both. You remember the nationality-based joke about heaven and hell. It sums up my view of a “built up” UN perfectly.

        One where the Internet regulated by the Chinese and the Saudis, Military Affairs by Russia, The Human Rights commission by…well, the people who run it now, The economic instruments by Venezuelans…

      • keranih says:

        Patch up and build up the UN.

        Ah. There’s a notion.

        So, *handwave* build up a functional GO structure sorta like the EU, but without the cultural unification, or common alphabet, or geographic linkage, or common developed nation status, or common penetration of literacy, basic math, and acceptance of the scientific method –

        I mean, seriously, *handwave* that.

        Then we agree on common moral standards for care of prisoners, respect (and disrespect) for authority, regular rations, bathrooms, whether or not to allow women in position to give orders to combat veterans, how to report abuse of authority, how to promote Private Backwoods Hillbilly over Private Upperclass Blueblood, what constitutes a capital crime, what humane execution looks like, what a polished soldier looks like, how far you can expect a solder to hump a load, what a standard load consists of, and other minor matters.

        (For the purposes of this exercise, we will assume that only infantry will be required. No artillery, no cav, and for god’s sake we aren’t even considering discussing the navy. Aircraft are right out.)

        (And forget pay. No way in hell we’re discussing a fair payment schedule for this multinational lot.)

        So we’ve gotten past that. We’ve got a novice nob of a functional military. We’re ready to put it into action against …

        Well. On the one hand, we really do have to pick an enemy that is not part of this multinational organization, right? Using soldiers on domestic affairs is Not A Good Idea. So who isn’t part of the UN, yet is seriously rattling sabers?

        *Sudden rushing sound as all the other nations join the UN. Including Hamas and Shining Path.*

        On the other hand, we could just declare a fiction that of course all the bad guys in country A are not actually citizens nor sworn military member of country A, but are clearly, err, bandits. That’s right, bandits. Not actually a military force. But we’re going to use military force against them. Because we’re the UN, and we can. And we have to, in order to take action against, oh, Saddam Hussein. Or Putin. Or anyone else.

        So now we’ve decided that the UN will take action against the, errr, bandits, and meet them on the field of battle. Which we will win because…errr

        (psssst – the righteous force of God supports us?) No, no, that’s not it – we will defeat them because the UN force is better than them! More capable! Better trained! Better equipped!

        Bandits: *fall over laughing*

        UN: What?

        Bandits: Surely you are joking.

        UN: I don’t think you’re taking us and our blue helmets seriously.

        Bandits: No, we’re not. Well, okay, we’re taking you as seriously as you deserve.

        UN:…explain yourselves, murderous barbarians.

        Bandits: So, we’re here, in Country A –

        Other Bandit: *points at map*

        Bandits: – okay, so *technically* we’re in Country B. Having, you know, invaded and all your base are ours. And we’re here. And Country B can’t do anything about it. Nor can C, D, E, who were swearing just last week that they were best buddies forever with B. Nor can –

        UN: Well, we’re here now.

        Bandits: Nor can the Yanks.

        UN: Didn’t you hear us? We’re here to throw you out.

        Bandits: We just said, we don’t see no fuckin’ Yanks, trying to throw us out. Now why do figure that?

        UN:…because they think the UN can handle it?

        Bandits: *fall over laughing again*

        UN: This isn’t funny.

        Bandits: Oh, no, it isn’t. God will have an account of me, for killing such stupid idiots as them what thought the Americans sent them to fight us because the Americans thought we were too easy to take. *shrugs* But that’s gonna be a long time from now.

        UN:…when you kill us?

        Bandits: When I die, and go before God. You, I kill now.

        ***

        I always knew the world was gonna miss us when we were gone. I just never figured to actually see the day.

  23. Lysenko says:

    Not sure if this is the best place to raise the point, but the latest OT is trying to stay politics-free, and I don’t know how many are tracking .25, so since the question was raised by talk about foreign policy here:

    Assuming, as I and apparently quite a few others reading SSC do, that the US’ position as paramount military force and guarantor of the world’s stability and security is unsustainable…is there any workable road back from that without:

    A) burning our bridges to various current NATO partners? Some I see as less important than others, but Poland has been a better ally than most on the military cooperation front for example and I don’t want to piss that away unless there’s no other choice. Think a series of exclusively bi-lateral treaties are feasible? ideally, ones with a minimum-GDP and readiness requirement and regular renewal/expiration intervals.

    B) crippling our own capability to project power? I know that for some of you that’s the whole point of the exercise, but it isn’t for me. I want the ability to start flattening a good-sized country with conventional forces anywhere in the world on 72-96 hours notice and complete the task successfully to be in our government’s arsenal. Scaling back is desirable to some extent (ideally trading quantity for quality and maximizing tooth:tail ratio as much as possible, though I know that’s FAR easier said than done), but we should NOT be looking at Switzerland or god help us someplace like Sweden as a model for our military affairs.

    Suggestions? Critiques?

    • pku says:

      Does reducing the american position as the world’s paramount military force necessarily entail abandoning NATO? Europe is relatively easy for america to keep a handle on – If we’re letting go of things, the first (and biggest) thing is probably letting China become the dominant power in east/central Asia, and the second would be withdrawing from the pacific. This seems to keep A and B.
      (Also, you posted this twice).

      • Lysenko says:

        @pku

        It means either abandoning NATO or figuring out a way to get other NATO partners serious about upgrading capabilities and commitments to take up any slack created by US demobilization and downsizing. I’d say we probably have more and more long-term diplomatic and military commitments in Europe than we do in SE Asia or the Pacific, and it’s also the area where the effective military “subsidy” is most apparent.

        That said, I also think it would be far easier to get our partners in the pacific to step up as well, where they haven’t already.

    • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

      Two words: medicalize conflict.

      This is not a transformation that’s someday going to happen … it’s a transformation that’s already underway.

      In 21st century conflicts, and in the long-run, superior medical capacity (both military and civil) conveys greater strategic potency than any number of nuclear weapons.

      Does the inexorable and irretrievable medicalizing of conflict entail too the inexorable and irretrievable medicalizing of politics? The plain answer is “yes”.

      At some level, most folks already understand this; hence the near-universal trans-national trans-cultural respect for NGOs like Médecins Sans Frontières

      For historical context, see for example (((Benjamin Z. Kedar’s))) “A note on Jerusalem’s Bīmāristān and Jerusalem’s Hospital” (2007). Middle East conquerors have come and gone, but the Bīmāristāns remain … and the potentialities for further progress are unbounded.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        “Does the inexorable and irretrievable medicalizing of conflict entail too the inexorable and irretrievable medicalizing of politics? The plain answer is “yes”.”

        And soon enough, the medicalization of dissent.

        • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

          Agreed that this is dangerous (Kaczynskian) territory.

          “It is the business of the future to be dangerous; and it is among the merits of science that it equips the future for its duties.”.
             — Alfred North Whitehead

          Medical science, especially.

          How many homicidal terrorists exhibit plain symptoms of personality disorder? How many political dissidents? How many poets?

          It would imperfectly suffice, and adequately respect human dignity and diversity, to help those people (and their families) who voluntarily seek to be helped, to restrain (fortunately rare) individuals who are compulsively homicidal, and to tolerate —or better, celebrate — everyone else’s diverse humanity.

          Particularly in helping troubled people (and troubled families) who seek to be helped, tremendous medical potentialities are latent.

          Here the common-sense point is that when it comes to medical matters — including especially psychiatric medical matters — pretty much everyone rightly trusts their own free will, and (commonly yet not invariably) their own family’s loving counsel and their own physicians scientifically informed advice, far more than they trust any corporate or governmental agency.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            “Particularly in helping troubled people (and troubled families) who seek to be helped, tremendous medical potentialities are latent.”

            on that, we can agree. But perhaps you could explain how superior medical capacity outweighs the viciousness of ISIS? It is easier to break than to fix, after all. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to put down the bandages and pick up the rifle, or else bow before the evil of man.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            Persons of my acquaintance who have served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan feel differently … in remote Afghan villages, access to first-world healthcare is a potent faith-building bargaining chip … and the decade-on-decade secular decline in combat mortality since WWII is a “Flynn Effect” whose potentialities are far from exhausted.

            It’s no accident that pretty much all religions associate miracles of healing with divinity … and modern medicine is increasingly able to deliver those miracles, much more so than modern military weapons or modern political ideologies.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Fighting Afghanistan without doctors would be hard. fighting Afghanistan without soldiers would be harder.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            Insufficiently transgressive, FC. Much better:

            [<19th century weaponry> + <21st century medicine>] strategically defeats [<21st century weaponry> + <19st century medicine>]“.

            The strategic reason being, that 21st century medicine is “the point of the spear” of Enlightened Modernity in all its concrete aspects: aqueducts, sanitation, education, job creation, ecological restoration, democratic governance, social tolerance, and even religious toleratance.

            The objective reason being, that distant intercessory prayers demonstrably lack efficacy … while modern medical practices demonstrably work directly. Once the matriarchs of a community appreciate this reality — in respect to children’s healthcare especially — their support flows to the efficacious forces of healing modernity.

            So militarily speaking, things aren’t as they seem, are they? Don’t mess with the alpha females, right? Or their fathers, sons, brothers, and cousins?

          • keranih says:

            in remote Afghan villages, access to first-world healthcare is a potent faith-building bargaining chip

            …be careful with this argument. Showing up, handing out lollipops and hernia repairs, and then leaving again as soon as you have what you want is actually a pretty good way to build resentment and ingratitude. As has been learned by various organizations over the centuries.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            Keranih, in the absence of any references provided in your comment, just how highly do you regard your own appreciation of these matters, relative to the folks with boots on the ground?

          • keranih says:

            UIK –

            That comment doesn’t even make *sense*.

            I have to say, you manage to squeeze together more mistaken assumptions, bad faith, blatant insults, and factual errors into three lines than any *any* other commenter on this site. And *yes*, I’m including Jill, and E. Harding.

          • Lysenko says:

            Um, since MSF declared that the two main active AOs in the war on terror were too dangerous to operate in, I think you may want to recheck your assumptions there. I’m not exactly who your friends are, what they really said, or if you’re interpreting what they said correctly, but I suggest you go back and do a bit more research.

            Hospitals in fact do not necessarily endure without the capacity of their beneficiaries to fight to protect them, or the willingness of those same hospitals to buy off potential attackers by providing their services to the victimizers as well as the victims. If you prefer to think of that as the traditional neutrality of health care providers in many cultures, fine, but it doesn’t change the fact that health care providers who AREN’T neutral become targets who are protected only by A) the weapons of their allies, or B) the restraint/civilization of their enemies.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            keranih imagines “Showing up [in a Middle East combat zone], handing out lollipops and hernia repairs, and then leaving again as soon as you have what you want.”

            Not since the Bush / Cheney / Rumsfeld ideology-blinded poorly-planned neo-conservative invasion of Iraq has any Middle East stakeholder’s strategic vision been so fatuously delusional as that.

            Until Trump’s, isn’t that correct?

            Lysenko observes [correctly] “Health care providers who AREN’T neutral become targets who are protected only by A) the weapons of their allies, or B) the restraint/civilization of their enemies.”

            Indeed Middle East history provides multiple precedents for “the restraint/civilization of enemies“:

            “After legendary Kurdish warrior Salah al-Din captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, he built a palace near the hospital. He renovated the [Knights Templar hospital] building, and allowed 10 Christian monks to stay in the hospital to serve the local population.”

            Thank you, Lysenko, for inspiring the recollection of this vivid example of the enduring power of the Middle East’s millennium-old traditions of medical humanism … traditions that President Obama has humbly and honorably respected, isn’t that so?

            Hopefully our next President, too, will be sufficiently wise, and sufficiently enlightened, and sufficiently humble, as to sustain this honorable thousand-year-old tradition.

          • keranih says:

            UIK, you’re impossible. You don’t even have the slightest grasp of the issues surrounding medical intervention – particularly not a trauma hospital, which is what the adrenaline junkies who staff MSF specialize in – in warzones or even peaceable impoverished areas.

            And I am not wasting the time or the electrons waiting on you to figure it out.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            President Barack Obama, and his predecessor President George W. Bush, both are intimately familiar with a certain aroma that is characteristic of a fresh traumatic amputation, in consequence of a long-standing tradition that wartime presidents are obligated to visit the nation’s wounded regularly — and privately, as press coverage is never permitted — at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Familiarity with this unforgettable aroma communicates both the intent and the motivating reality of my comments more profoundly than mere words or reason ever could.

          • hlynkacg says:

            President Barack Obama, doesn’t know shit about fresh traumatic amputation. Any amputation Obama has been intimate with would not have been fresh, and if it was fresh, it sure as hell would not have been traumatic. There are no such wounds at Walter Reed.

            George W. Bush On the other hand might recognize the smell to which you refer as he and the First Lady made several visit to troops in theater, including field hospitals.

            In any case it doesn’t matter, because your comment is a non-sequitur and there is no motivating reality behind it, profound or otherwise. Just some quack masturbating to the sound of his own voice.

            You see, I am familiar with that smell, and I can tell that you have no clue what you’re talking about.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            Balad / Baghdad to Landstuhl to Walter Reed commonly takes 7-21 days (depending on stabilization) … negative-pressure wound therapy (NPWT) lasts weeks or even months … the purring NPWT vacuum-pump sounds and the pervasive scent of the wound secretions reminds everyone constantly where they are.

            Trigger warnings, obviously. Quality of care, the highest. Respect for families, honored. CinC visits, regular. Opportunities for medical advances, unbounded. Consequences for peace-making, ultimately transformational.

            Hlynkacg, your remarks inspire the reflection, that no living CinC who has rounded on these wards, has ever endorsed Donald Trump.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Yes 7-21 days, and generally speaking the wound will loose it’s “unforgettable” fresh smell within the first week. If it doesn’t the patient has larger problems.

            Your own remarks, or rather the familiar attitude that inspires them, is a large part of why Trump is the nominee in the first place. If you had a 1/10th the empathy you habitually describe others as lacking you’d recognize that.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            hlynkacg reminds us that sometimes “the [combat trauma] patient has larger problems.”

            The number of such patients is not small, moreover revision limb reconstruction surgeries are common, are these two things not  true?

            Not uncommonly a residual limb “isn’t strong, can’t handle” — in Mr. Trump’s notably unempathic phrase — the activities of daily living, so as to require further revision surgeries, isn’t that so too?

            Because when there’s not much viable tissue left, you have to salvage all that you can, right? And limb salvage procedures don’t always smell real good, do they?

            As it seems to me, the comments upon this topic have the very considerable merit — after the abusively personalizing and dubiously quibbling alt*rhetoric is redacted — of assisting SSC readers (hopefully) to more humanistically “woke” reflections upon war-related medical realities.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Both are true neither are pertinent.

            Can you even describe the odor to which you you’ve ascribed such profound weight?

            There is a popular euphemism for it among military doctors and their patients that I am fairly certain you will not find on google. Do you know it?

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            Tradition shields military moms from coarse language, it’s pathognomonic (as it seems to me) when the alt*trib doesn’t.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            May as well just give it up, hlynkacg. I’m fairly sure you’re arguing with one of those Chinese Room aliens from that Peter Watts novel.

          • JHC says:

            Fury failure.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ UIK
            That would be a “no” then.

            PS: Shielding civilians’ delicate sensibilities from the “profound reality” is the whole point of using euphemism in the first place.

            @ ThirteenthLetter
            I know I should let it go, but he keeps showing up on forums I frequent and posting shit that seems specially tailored to infuriate me.

            The Rorschach comparison hadn’t occurred to me but now I find it hard to shake.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            hlynkacg rationalizes “PS: Shielding delicate sensibilities from ‘profound reality’ is the whole point of using euphemism in the first place.”

            The families of wounded soldiers — like the soldiers themselve — are in no meaningful sense shielded from “profound realities” are they?

            Neither do these families and soldiers require, or benefit from, rudely transgressive varieties of “euphemistic shielding”, do they?

            Particularly those toxic varieties of racial, social, and sexual “euphemism” that so commonly enter into pathological verbal abuse?

            That’s why non-abusive speech is morally, medically, philosophically, pedagogically, scientifically, socially, parentally, and maritally normative, right?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Unfailing, maybe you fail to convince because you have forgotten what it is to doubt. You seem so certain in the rightness of your position that you are seeing the confirming patterns everywhere, whether they actually exist or not. You argue via free-association, and though the pattern you draw may be wondrous, you are the only one who can see it. If you think you have something worth sharing, you owe it to yourself to engage in a linear, cohesive exchange long enough to get it across to those of us too benighted to understand koans of obscure inference and terminology.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            FacelessCraven commends “a linear, cohesive exchange, long enough to get it [civility] across”

            That is good advice, and aren’t the celebrated “Goofus and Gallant” works of child psychologist Garry Cleveland Myers and artist Anni Matsic a concrete “linear, cohesive” start in remediating personalizing / dehumanizing / abusive discourse?

            At a more advanced level, aren’t Mr. Rogers’ “linear and cohesive” lessons for children worthy of our appreciation and highest respect? — for example, aren’t Mr. Rogers’ sustained jazz-accompaniments in the Neighborhood episode “Transformations” truly marvelous? — in that lessons not learned young, oftimes are learned later only slowly and painfully, and even the highest IQs afford little or no protection against social aspect-blindness.

            These principles of course are articulated in adult literature too. From Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn:

            Mellas was amazed and ashamed. He realized that part of him would wish anything, and maybe even do anything, if it meant getting ahead or saving his own skin. He fought that part down. …

            He thought of the jungle, already regrowing around him to cover the scars they had created. He thought of the tiger, killing to eat. Was that evil? And ants? They killed. No, the jungle wasn’t evil. It was indifferent. So, too, was the world. Evil, then, must be the negation of something man had added to the world. Ultimately, it was caring about something that made the world liable to evil. Caring. And then the caring gets torn asunder. Everybody dies, but not everybody cares. It occurred to Mellas that he could create the possibility of good or evil through caring. He could nullify the indifferent world. But in so doing he opened himself up to the pain of watching it get blown away.

            Doesn’t that courageous openness to pain reside at the living transformative heart of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and isn’t that what the transformative discarding of Matterhorn’s / Vancouver’s sword, and the transformative acceptance of Matterhorn’s / Hawke’s / Mellas’ pear-can cup — “the ever flowing source of all that’s good and the cure of all ills” — are chiefly all about?

          • Johnny says:

            I don’t understand why you all keep replying to a thrice banned troll that refuses to take no for an answer. That itself is at least aiding and abetting defection.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I don’t think he was ever perma-banned, (if he was I missed the thread) he just changes handles the way some of us change clothes.

            That said, he does habitually treat emotionally fraught issues with a cavalier disregard for others, and then follows it up by being condescending and abusive in chat so if Scott does decide to ban him I wont shed any tears, but there are others that I would eject first.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            He was banned indefinitely once as John Sidles

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            hlynkacg deplores posts that “treat emotionally fraught issues with a cavalier disregard for others.”

            Hlynkacg, you are entirely right to deplore this. I’ll try to more conscientiously respect Fred Rogers’ example in this regard … in that Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood never shrinks from addressing “emotionally fraught issues” … yet neither does Mr. Rogers address these issues “with a cavalier disregard for others.”

            Mr. Roger’s principles are nobly respected even in (as I for one read them) such exceedingly difficult works as Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn and Jonathan Shay’s Odysseus in America.

            That you and I both know, and both respect, works such as these, and thereby respect too the very difficult issues that these works address, provides us with a very substantial common ground, and so I sincerely hope that you and I can in this shared respect find good agreement, and mutually take better care never to address each other’s concerns “with cavalier disregard”.

          • hlynkacg says:

            The issue is that you don’t know, and that you are arrogant in your ignorance.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            If I am ignorant regarding these works, then how much more ignorant are the (many) SSC commenters who lack even the knowledge that these works exist, and that these works address — however imperfectly and incompletely — core SSC concerns?

            Your and my comments have the shared virtue at least, of helping to establish this existential awareness, don’t they?

          • hlynkacg says:

            Yes, but that doesn’t make your behavior any less infuriating.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            Ah well, even Fred Rogers was not universally appreciated. And neither you nor I are likely to do as well as him! 🙂

    • Alex S says:

      I don’t understand why our position is especially unsustainable.

      But the United States is providing a public good for the rest of the world and that does invite the question of why it should be the US providing this and why it cannot be done more equitably. If we stop, presumably there will be (as Scott says) more random regional wars, but maybe the US should simply not care, at least unless the wars will be big or nuclear and damage US trade and the environment so much that it’s cheaper for us to provide this global public good. I feel like there hasn’t been much of an answer to Trump’s critique, and although the logic that big random departures from the status quo are usually bad is sufficient to make me lean against them, it would be nice to understand this in more detail

      • Lysenko says:

        Several of the potential issues have been raised up-thread. I’ll add one more to that:

        Unless and until we get our shit together on the issue of obesity and general low levels of physical fitness in teens and twenty-somethings, it becomes more and more difficult to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of quality personnel without lowering standards. This is something that is already in progress, and to be clear I do NOT mean the opening of combat jobs to women or the possible changes to the US Army tape test, though I am more concerned that some that the first will lead to a lowering of readiness due to how it will be carried out.

        • The Nybbler says:

          It doesn’t take that long to get a modestly obese 18-year-old in shape. Seems to me this could be handled with a pre-boot physical fitness camp.

          • AnonBosch says:

            As long as those obese 18-year-olds haven’t seen Full Metal Jacket.

          • Lysenko says:

            Yes and no. The issue isn’t so much people who have recently gotten obese. AS you note, you can solve this with additional time in a separate physical fitness program, something the Army already does with the Fitness Training Unit you can end up in if you fail various milestone fitness tests during Basic. There are still problems with dragging out training like that in terms of cost and efficiency, but they’re manageable.

            However, people who are more than just moderately obese, and/or have spent years in that condition, have more issues than can be solved by a regimen of forced diet and exercise. They develop co-morbidities and chronic conditions that put them at high risk for future problems even after losing weight, and many of those conditions and/or risk factors are disqualifying for military service.

            Someone who got chunky at age 16 and joins the Army 50 lbs overweight isn’t too hard to turn around. Someone who’s been morbidly obese for a decade or more because they developed the problem in childhood, not so much…

  24. Jill says:

    In answer to some of the questions in a thread up above about media bias against Clinton, even in the NYT

    Article about how even the NYT uses the “Clinton rules” resulting in bias against Clinton

    http://www.vox.com/2015/7/28/9059953/clinton-rules-new-york-times

    Some Krugman articles mentioning the bashing of Hillary by the press and the fact that she was treated worse than Trump.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/how-did-the-race-get-close/

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/09/26/the-falsity-of-false-equivalence/

    And since facts have a well known Left of Center bias, why does almost everyone believe the Right Wing version instead?
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/05/09/the-facts-have-a-well-known-center-left-bias/

    • Alraune says:

      “I cite people who unironically use the word Berniebros, please take me seriously.”

    • Corey says:

      NYT’s a leader in Clinton Rules journalism; there’s an institutional beef there that goes way back.

  25. @TheAncientGeek , all I see is my european friends destroying themselves and everything they held sacred. Sikh people were white too. Jatt Sikh, comes from ‘Goth’. So we were the old germanic tribes too, and it’s likely that way cause of lindy effect. So I have an interest in saving all my european friends from themselves.

    Why not move over to sane right-wing upper class politics? It doesn’t have to be racist, we can just have fun and kick it. We want a ‘late modern life’, we want a golden age/silver age in california. This cannot be achieved w/ leftist politics.

    Not everyone is a lunatic in NRx politics, the smartest african friends I have I met through there.

  26. Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:
    • pku says:

      The commentary on that is interesting. I’m used to Israel, where there isn’t really a veteran community since practically everyone* is a veteran. I’ve met american veterans, and even those who were liberal ivy-league students were still living with their veteran community to a large degree.

      *Except arabs, haredim, and, uh, me.

      • Lysenko says:

        Short version is something I concluded some time ago: Beware placing too much value on group identities, regardless of that group identity’s root (ethnic, religious, sexual, political, career, recreational).

        The poison is in the dose, and with group identities the LD50 is low.

        Yes, THAT group is a problem too. Yes, that one too. Yes, the one you’re thinking of. Uh huh, even THAT one. Period. Fucking. Dot.

        • I think the group I most strongly identify with is my family. It’s not poison.

          • Lysenko says:

            Once again, depends on the dose. Excessive familial sentiment (or elevating the value of family roles and/or unity) leads to all sorts of nasty and destructive emotional choices, starting with the people who make the decision not to dissolve marriages, cut horrible people out of their lives and social circles, and so on, often leading to bad consequences for not just themselves but their other friends and loved ones who are also family because “blood is thicker than water”.

            I’ll stand by what I said. Group affiliation is a dangerous drug. It may be one evolution hooked us all on, but we should still be aware of its pernicious effects on personality and judgement when over-indulged and try to keep them in check.

          • Psmith says:

            3. Most fundamentally, my critique is the one that I advanced in my review of Soumission, that niceness and conflict-avoidance are not the terminal goals of a good life. Family conflict is definitely a thing – I am certainly not without experience in this area – but part of the telos of a full life is to negotiate those conflicts, grow in empathy and patience, and grow as a person into the fullness of the roles of son, father, husband, and so on.

            There seems to be a sort of framework people carry around, myself often included, whereby the baseline of social groups like families is perfect harmony, and conflict is a sort of failure, a deviation from the true path. Meanwhile, bureaucracies like schools and nursing homes are presumed functional unless there are spectacular failures, and their predictable limitations are not considered failures, but are all part of the plan. This view is strangely compelling, not least because bureaucracies are very good at projecting an image of stability and authoritativeness. But it’s a double standard. Oddly enough, we don’t apply this double standard to friendships or dating – fights are considered part of the process. And only some people – childfree advocates – routinely apply this standard to childrearing. But elder care seems to be an area where “the beauty of the telos” is less culturally appreciated – maybe because it’s less sexy? I don’t know.

            I fully admit, though, that negotiating these conflicts is hard, especially in the context of a culture where both parties have a strong temptation to default to individualist assumptions, and don’t have a lot of friends and relatives’ examples to draw upon. But it has been done before, including in America, and I’m confident it can be done again.

            May be of interest.

          • “Excessive familial sentiment (or elevating the value of family roles and/or unity) leads to all sorts of nasty and destructive emotional choices”

            My statement was not about families in general, it was about my family.

          • Lysenko says:

            Psmith, I don’t see how that is in any way relevant to my conclusion. I’m not particularly concerned with what the baseline of any group is or isn’t. The fact that it is a group is sufficient grounds for precautions.

            And fair enough, David. Hopefully you are able to continue to keep that group identification within bounds, and/or aren’t faced with the sort of situations where the group identification leads to those bad choices. Bear in mind, though, that you cannot fully predict or control whether or not you do.

  27. onyomi says:

    Slightly tangential, but I would like to point out here the whole “boy who cried wolf” phenomenon with respect to the left’s treatment of Romney four years ago.

    Thinking back to what everyone was saying this time four years ago (the VP debates reminded me, specifically), I recall that Romney/Ryan were just as unthinkable, awful, etc. as Trump/Pence are now. True, they had more mainstream support from within their own party, but the left-wing commentators were just as apoplectic over the prospect of a Romney presidency. In retrospect, of course, they say that Romney, at least, was a competent, respectable alternative.

    When your default setting is 10 out of 10 on the outrage meter, it doesn’t leave you much space to go, though they have tried to turn it up to 11 at this point, with sometimes humorous results.

    I wasn’t reading Scott yet back then, I don’t think, so I’m not sure, but I doubt he had nearly as many qualms about Romney, which gives him more credibility now (though if he did vote for Obama the second time, I would be curious to hear why, given that he could not have had the same fears about Romney as expressed in this and the previous post).

    • E. Harding says:

      “I recall that Romney/Ryan were just as unthinkable, awful, etc. as Trump/Pence are now.”

      -I thought then, and still think now, they were worse. Both appeared to be and cultivated the appearance of being elitist lackeys who compromised all too much with the Left. Pence, meanwhile, was the 15th most conservative representative in the House back during the Great Recession:
      http://voteview.com/HOUSE_SORT110.html
      and Trump was the best foreign policy candidate from either side of the aisle during the presidential primaries, as well as the guy who did the most to explode political correctness. He’s no Ron Paul (see his tweets from the 2011-2012 primary season), but he’s a much better campaigner than Paul and much better than the typical establishment Republican in his foreign policy positions. He’s also not an elitist, which was one of my biggest turn-offs about Romney/Ryan. Back in 2008, Romney ran as a Bush replica. Trump, meanwhile, was advocating for pulling out of Iraq and impeaching Bush (which was the common anti-establishment strain of thought at the time). Both Romney and Ryan seemed like guys who wouldn’t change anything, had elitist and electorally poisonous policies toward entitlements (I didn’t and still don’t have a problem with reducing the scale and scope of entitlements in the long term, it was just that bringing the emblem of entitlement reform as your VP is a wildly electorally stupid move given the powerful leftist attacks that would result from that), and were probably untrustworthy. Mitt’s opinions were notorious for being roughly the opposite of what they were in 1994 and he signed Romneycare (a key inspiration for Obamacare) into law, and spoke in favor of it on the campaign trail, meaning he would have strong incentives to implement a similar program as president. I also didn’t trust Mitt’s wisdom in appointing Supreme Court justices, given that he was a governor of a very blue state. Romney also talked like a robot. Following the money:

      https://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/contrib.php?id=N00000286

      led to the conclusion that he was the favored candidate of the special interests and would not be able to exercise independence from them while in office. He worked at Bain Capital, and had money in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and Switzerland, meaning that he would be more likely to favor the interests of finance capital (in which there’s little naturally conservative) over the interests of the vast majority of the American people. This corruption is normally not good for governments -just look at Ukraine and Brazil- so I saw no good reason it would be, on net, good for America and, consequently, preferred the candidate (Obama) less bought by the special interests in 2012. I just didn’t think Romney would be able to understand the common people of America. Clearly, Trump does. Instead of raking in money from the big banks for the defence of the special interests, like Clinton does and Romney did, Trump actually lost a rather massive amount of money as a result of his presidential run. You can say anything you want about Trump, but you have to respect that.

      Notably, Trump differs little from Romney on many policies. But he has wildly different incentives than Romney while in office. He does not get his legitimacy from the establishment and his big donors, but from his base. That’s a pathway for a more accountable, responsible presidency.

      • Jill says:

        Trump is simultaneously the best everything and the worst everything– at least if you go by his statements— since he lies constantly and changes his mind constantly.

    • Jill says:

      There are indeed people who think that Romney and Ryan are awful. I do. But less horrible than Trump. They lie, but at least they don’t lie more than any politician ever checked by fact checkers in the U.S. before.

      I find it reasonable to think that Ryan’s magic asterisk budget that didn’t add up is pretty bad, and that governing for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans, and screwing over the poor by erasing the social safety net, is unconscionable. And that being a hawk is pretty bad– and I do have concerns about this about Hillary, although they don’t override Trump’s incompetence at economics and politics. Also, as a woman, I can’t stand politicians who want abortion to be illegal.

      Oh, and doing the bidding of the Kochs. If they had their way, the U.S. would be as polluted as China, and we’d all have to wear masks to breathe.

      Still, as awful as these things are, they don’t hold a candle to Trump’s antics, inability to focus his attention for more than a minute, and constant lying.

      I realize that Hillary has been bashed by media 24/7/365 for decades now though. And Trump hasn’t. So appearances make Trump look far less bad than he is. Which is why the race is so close.

      • E. Harding says:

        Jill, polls show time and time again most married women are in favor of banning almost all abortions, and that the two sexes don’t have a huge gap in opinions on what to do about abortion.

        “They lie, but at least they don’t lie more than any politician ever checked by fact checkers in the U.S. before.”

        -Trump never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. Sad, but not indicative of any fundamental difference here between him and Clinton, who does the same thing.

        “although they don’t override Trump’s incompetence at economics and politics.”

        -I don’t see how Trump is any more incompetent at economics and politics than Clinton.

        • Jill says:

          Look at politifact.com at Clinton and Trump. Clinton gets things wrong less than the average politician. Trump lies more than any other politician.

          -I don’t see how Trump is any more incompetent at economics and politics than Clinton.

          I’m not going to argue with that. Your eyes and ears would have to be always closed for you to not notice his ignorance on these matters.

          “Trump never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. ”

          Wow, you sure bend over backwards to make him sound reasonable.

      • onyomi says:

        “I realize that Hillary has been bashed by media 24/7/365 for decades now though. And Trump hasn’t.”

        Are you serious? I sometimes feel like you’re a very liberal democrat who, for some reason, gets 100% of her news from Fox.

    • cassander says:

      I would also point out that tou can find breathless articles from somewhere like salon that accuse every single republican running this cycle of being racist. Blue tribe just can’t help themselves.

      • Corey says:

        Surely there’s some evidence that one of the contenders for the GOP nom is not racist, then?

        • Gil says:

          It’s not an empirical question at all. More a matter of ‘you didn’t keep your powder dry’

        • Winfried says:

          Accusations of racism are an ideological superweapon that I’ve never seen an effective shield or deflection from.

          You either destroy the reputation of the accuser, bow to their demands, or laugh and keep walking.

          • Corey says:

            Accusations of racism are an ideological superweapon that I’ve never seen an effective shield or deflection from.

            I know of at least one counterexample: he’s the subject of this thread.

  28. Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

    The management of savagery is the next stage that the Umma will pass through and it is considered the most critical stage. If we succeed in the management of this savagery, that stage (by the permission of God) will be a bridge to the Islamic state which has been awaited since the fall of the caliphate. If we fail – we seek refuge with God from that – it does not mean end of the matter; rather, this failure will lead to an increase in savagery!!

    . . .

    A – The first goal: Destroy a large part of the respect for America and spread confidence in the souls of Muslims by means of:
    (1) Reveal the deceptive media to be a power without force.
    (2) Force America to abandon its war against Islam by proxy and force it to attack directly so that the noble ones among the masses and a few of the noble ones among the armies of apostasy will see that their fear of deposing the regimes because America is their protector is misplaced and that when they depose the regimes, they are capable of opposing America if it interferes.

    . . .

    B – The second goal: Replace the human casualties sustained by the renewal movement during the past thirty years by means of the human aid that will probably come for two reasons:

    (1) Being dazzled by the operations which will be undertaken in opposition to America.
    (2) Anger over the obvious, direct American interference in the Islamic world, such that that anger compounds the previous anger against America’s support for the Zionist entity. It also transforms the suppressed anger toward the regimes of apostasy and tyranny into a positive anger.

    . . .

    (C) – The third goal: Work to expose the weakness of America’s centralized power by pushing it to abandon the media psychological war and the war by proxy until it fights directly.

    This is from The Management of Savagery; “The Management of Savagery” is to ISIS what Mein Kampf is to Nazism.

    As to which candidate will play perfectly into ISIS’ plan that is left as an exercise for the reader.

    • Jill says:

      Clinton would likely be pretty close to Obama’s 3rd term, so whatever you think of what Obama has done, something like that will likely continue.

      As for Trump, since he lies constantly, there’s no telling what he would do as president for sure. But since he is incompetent at everything except selling and telling a certain segment of the voters what they want to hear, you can be pretty sure that whatever he does, it will be extremely incompetent.

    • E. Harding says:

      “As to which candidate will play perfectly into ISIS’ plan that is left as an exercise for the reader.”

      -You do realize Scott called this logical fallacy “the worst argument in the world”, right?

      http://lesswrong.com/lw/e95/the_noncentral_fallacy_the_worst_argument_in_the/

      Trump is the candidate in this race most likely to

      1. Keep Americans safe from Muslim terrorism and

      2. Defeat the Islamic State

      Unless the Islamic State’s plan is less of its terrorism and its own defeat (which I do not think its leadership wants), the candidate who is most likely to do what the Islamic State’s plan calls for is Clinton.

      • Jill says:

        I notice you didn’t give any reasons why you think
        Trump is the candidate in this race most likely to
        1. Keep Americans safe from Muslim terrorism and
        2. Defeat the Islamic State

        Do you have reasons? Or do you simply have a fundamentalist faith?

  29. Jill says:

    One interesting thing about Trump is that he is like an ink blot test where you can see whatever you want to see. Since he lies constantly, keeps changing his mind, says contradictory things etc., you can believe anything you want about him by just paying attention only to those statements you like, and either ignoring the rest, or else making excuses for why those other statements don’t matter. E.g. he was joking. Or he’s just saying that to get elected but he doesn’t mean it. etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      Feature. Trump is an empty vessel for the will of Kek.

    • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

      Anonymous notices “Trump is an empty vessel for the will of Kek.”

      ↑↑↑ This. ↑↑↑

      One of all-too-many Kek-agents in history, isn’t that so?

      • Anonymous says:

        Kek’s vessel vs. Moloch’s golem.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        That’s… man, that’s not near as good as the picture in my head for the death of Archimedes. For one thing, the way I always heard the story, he was way more outraged at the soldiers for trampling his diagram, which is what prompted their wrath.

      • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

        More aptly then,
            los kek-vuelos de la muerte?
                A.K.A. “Air Kek”?
        MSF illuminates “kek”, isn’t that so?

        • FacelessCraven says:

          Brekekekekekek koax koax!

          You talk about empathy a lot, but always on the assumption that other people need it, and gaining it would make them think the way you do. If you truly have empathy, shouldn’t that help you understand others? There’s too many people in the world to fit them all into your rigid categories. Shouldn’t the first lesson of empathy be that just because you don’t like someone, that doesn’t mean they’re defective?

          If you understood Kek, you’d also understand why those links with that text is as amusing as a mustache inked on the mona lisa.

        • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

          In regard to remediating alt*kek cognition in the grotesquely toxic form that has become kek’s public face

          As for the true face of the Alt*R*ght, we all know the correct answer is: “P*p*, and K*k is his Apotheosis.”

          Please reflect upon the comment below: “Bīmāristān models for medicalizing conflict.”

          • FacelessCraven says:

            I think Milo cuts a rather rakish figure, actually, but that’s beside the point. Milo is playing a game the left invented. I’m sure you’re familiar with Rules for Radicals, and I’m equally sure that you’d prefer that effective tactics worked only for your own side, but swords cut both ways, and those who live by them die by them also.

            But where did Milo come from? Why is a flamboyantly gay man the face for a right-wing populist movement? Shouldn’t his supporters be lynching him rather than cheering him?

            If it is the business of the future to be dangerous, why would you think the danger applies only to others and never to you?

            Kek is not going to throw anyone out of helicopters. If you understood why, you’d understand that the real reason it’s dangerous is that you’re stuck looking the wrong way.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            Comment restored (an offending DuffelBlog link has been redacted, who knew?) … and please let me say that your comments (which commonly are thoughtful and respectful) are appreciated, even when we don’t agree.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            PS: in regard to the various members of the alt*clown posse, the maxim

            “As for the true face of the Alt*R*ght, we all know the correct answer is: ‘P*p*, and K*k is his Apotheosis.'”

            emits not from the alt*clown “Milo”, but from some other alt*clown.

            Does it really matter which alt*clown? Aren’t the SPLC, JDL, ACLU (etc) well-justified to aggregate these P*p*-loving / K*k-loving alt*clowns? They all emerge from the same toxic alt*clown-cars as Trump, don’t they?

    • onyomi says:

      “an ink blot test where you can see whatever you want to see.”

      And this is different from “hope and change” how?

      • And this is different from “hope and change” how?

        As a Democrat who supported him, I had a lot of fairly specific expectations of what Obama would do as president, and he met almost all of them.

        And I don’t have any special insight or secret knowledge.

        • Odoacer says:

          I had a lot of fairly specific expectations of what Obama would do as president, and he met almost all of them.

          Would you share them? I have a lot of memories of people pouring their beliefs into Obama in 2008. “Yes We Can!”, “Hope and Change” rang loud then.

          IIRC, Obama ran on closing Gitmo, opposing the war in Iraq while supporting the one in Afghanistan, and universal healthcare. A big part of his appeal was that Obama was seen as a fresh, untainted candidate, who would be a big break from the previous 8 years. He was going to fix most things that were wrong and caused by the hated Bush administration.

          I do remember a good number of Obama supporters attributed many abilities and ideas to him that weren’t explicitly held by him or even possible. It reminds me of some of Trump’s supporters.

          Hell, some of the things I read/heard were a bit embarrassing in their fawning over Obama. Trump inspires similar responses in some people.

        • onyomi says:

          I’m not claiming it was impossible to know what Obama really wanted to do, only that Trump is hardly alone in using the “say sufficiently vague things that people can read whatever they want to hear into it” strategy.

          Effective political speech is much like fortune cookies, palmistry, astrology, etc. in this respect.

          I will agree, however, that for the small minority of voters who actually research what candidates actually want to do in any detail, Obama would have been easier to figure out in 2008 than Trump is now.

      • AnonBosch says:

        Probably the part where Obama had not had a 20-year career in public life in which he said a bunch of shit that contradicted what he said on the campaign trail (or even just earlier in the campaign trail). About the only 2008 campaign issue you can ride on him for being two-faced about is his delay on embracing gay marriage.

        More to the point, this is a tu quoque fallacy. Thought SSC was better than that.

      • Jill says:

        “an ink blot test where you can see whatever you want to see.”

        >And this is different from “hope and change” >how?

        No one imagined that Obama was Right Wing. With Trump there are tons of people who think he’s Right Wing, who think he isn’t, who think he’s a Democrat even though running as a Republican, who think he’s a safe isolationist, who think he’d start Nuclear WWII AKA the War of the Small Hands, who think he’s the hero of the working class, who think he’ll govern for the benefit of billionaires and screw over the middle class. Few people, if any thought as many different varieties of disparate things about Obama.

        • onyomi says:

          Can you point to any major pundits or articles which seriously suggest that Trump is too left wing to be president?

          • onyomi says:

            I was going to say “non-crazy, conspiracy theoristy” pundits, but decided against it…

          • anon says:

            The complaint that Trump is not a true conservative is *everywhere* on the right. One commentator I like who has made it is Matt Lewis (whom I think of as a Bloggingheads contributor, but I think his main shtick is CNN these days?).

            One of (I suspect) very many National Review articles making this claim.

          • onyomi says:

            That is right after the convention. Certainly during the nomination battle, and up to its end, there were many arguing that Trump was not really conservative. I, myself, would have preferred a candidate like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz, who, by many standards would have been much more right-wing than Trump.

            But since the convention, most of that criticism has faded as people have realized it’s basically Trump or Hillary. As criticism of Hillary not being left-wing enough has mostly faded, though a few disgruntled Bernie holdouts surely remain.

            I’m not trying to say that Trump is really right wing by Republican standards, though I do think there’s a sense in which he is more genuinely conservative than the neocons on many points, I’m simply saying that the debate right now is about whether or not Trump is a scary fascist or a potentially good president. There’s no serious debate over why he isn’t more right wing. That part of the election is over. As I said to Jill, of the people who won’t be voting for Trump, very, very few of them will be doing so because he seems insufficiently right-wing.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            I think you are conflating two things here.

            Many, many, many, many (however many many you would like) conservative intellectuals criticize Trump on the basis of ideological unfitness, as well as other types of unfitness. Hence the recent spate of editorial boards that haven’t endorsed a Democrat in 100+ years endorsing Hillary or non-endorsing Trump.

            However elected Republicans, and the party machinery, primarily care about getting elected, and only secondarily care about ideology. Their interest is in trying to prevent the coalition from fracturing. What this all really shows is that Republican voters have not been very much interested in true conservatism in an intellectual sense. This has been apparent for quite a while.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “What this all really shows is that Republican voters have not been very much interested in true conservatism in an intellectual sense. This has been apparent for quite a while.”

            What evidence would you cite to support this claim?

            My counterclaim would be that Republican voters cared a lot about true conservatism, but True conservatism failed. A large measure of why probably had to do with its alliance with the religious right.

            People point to Trump as proof that the Religious Right never really cared in a principled way about its stances. I think this is a foolish argument; Trump only happened after the Religious Right realized it had lost the fight forever. The Right generally was an uneasy coalition of incompatible interests, and their leaders played them against each other for cynical personal advancement. The fact that they have now turned on those leaders in desperation doesn’t seem like good evidence that they never held principles in the first place.

      • Corey says:

        That was indeed a failure mode of a good many Obama supporters – many saw him as more liberal than he actually presented himself during the campaign.

    • Cord Shirt says:

      Pretty true of most politicians. Like I said in my top-level comment, both Clinton and Trump have said they would and they wouldn’t send ground troops to Syria.

      That’s why I focus on actual platforms. 😉

  30. E. Harding says:

    Which blockquoted statement was said by whom? Hint: all of these are either the incumbent president or the Republican presidential nominee. Guess without looking it up first, and share your guesses below.

    https://marginalcounterrevolution.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/who-this/

    BTW, Scott should have endorsed candidates during the primaries. Did he even vote in the MI presidential primary this year?

    • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

      To avoid cherry-picking, simply attempt to watch any of Trump’s unedited hour-long post-debate live streams. Test question: how long did you last?
      * One minute or less
           Trump’s theme-music destroyed my sanity.
      * 1-5 minutes
           Please, make it stop.
      * 5-15 minutes
           No mas, no mas!
      * 15-58 minutes
           Stayed mainly for the NRA infomercials.
      * Watched the whole thing
           You’re the tip of the Trump-spear.
      * Watched it twice
           Kiss me like you did last night.
      * Watch it continuously, 24×7
           Not since Il Duce has there been such a speaker! 🙂

      • E. Harding says:

        I didn’t watch the Novi one (even though it was closest to Scott’s and my physical location), but I did watch the entirety of the Wisconsin and Pennsylvania ones.

    • The Most Conservative says:

      I read a few of your quotes. They didn’t seem very interesting. I didn’t bother to guess.

  31. Jill says:

    What could save the U.S. from Trump– Mussolini quoting Trump, Trump who has a copy of Mein Kampf next to his bed side, Trump so beloved by white supremacists, misogynistic bigoted Trump, Trump who plans to increase the tax burden on the middle class in order to lower taxes on billionaires like himself?

    What could save us? Why, the fact that he is not Right Wing enough for this Right Wing country of ours, that is forever moving further to the Right, except in a few random social issues. Our country where the Right Wing party dominates both Houses of Congress, most governorships and state legislatures, and SCOTUS until Scalia died. And where the Right Wing doesn’t have the presidency yet, but through Congress they do tie the president’s hands frequently e.g. by refusing to allow his SCOTUS nominee even a hearing, much less a vote. Thank Gawd Trump is too liberal to be elected in the US of A.

    • onyomi says:

      If he loses, it won’t be because he was perceived as not right-wing enough.

      • Jill says:

        That depends on how many people there are who are dissatisfied about Trump being “too liberal.” Those folks comment about this on the Internet a fair amount. There are some Republican voters who normally vote for the Republican nominee, but who think Trump is too liberal because he sometimes jawbones about being in favor of policies that benefit the working class types, rather than the wealthier people. If those voters all stay home on election day, and if there are enough of them, that could stop Trump from winning the election. OTOH, the votes of working class identified folks, who seem to think Trump is their Savior, could counterbalance that, resulting in a win for Trump.

        There’s an Internet board I’m on that’s not supposed to be about politics. It’s supposed to be about investing. But there’s a guy there with a biker looking avatar who regularly refers to Trump as “the God man.” Politics has become a fundamentalist religion to many people right now in the U.S.

      • E. Harding says:

        “it won’t be because he was perceived as not right-wing enough”

        -But that may well be the story the Cruzlims at the National Review will tell themselves.

    • Deiseach says:

      Jill, can you please explain to me how simultaneously the President (if they’re a Republican) is the most powerful person ever and (if a Democrat) is the least able to influence national policy? Because you keep doing that – on the one hand, don’t vote for anyone Republican because the Republicans are in control of everything and a Republican president will doom us all with their unlimited power! On the other hand, a Democrat president can only sit there and look pretty for the official photos because they can’t ever do anything.

      Okay, you say that’s because the evil Republicans control everything and block the nice Democrat president. But you also seem to say that a President can unilaterally, without taking account of Congress or whatever, make decisions – so which is it? The Magic Unilateral Powers only switch on for the Republicans? Because I think Obama and others used executive powers to get their way when Congress was blocking them, and I think that there have been Republican presidents with Democrat controlled Congress (correct me someone if I’m wrong on this), so were they blocked as well, or did the Evil Republican Control Powers kick in for them?

      I like having you here to comment but you always make this ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ argument about the Presidency – it’s all-powerful and a threat if the Wrong Guy gets in, but if the Right Guy gets in, they can’t do anything because it’s pretty much a figure-head position.

      • Jill says:

        Congress is GOP dominated and likely to remain so. If it does remain so, a GOP president could have almost unlimited power, if the GOP Congress were to back him up.

        The GOP has blocked Obama a lot more than Dem Congresses have blocked GOP presidents though. Articles about this:

        http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/nov/22/harry-reid/harry-reid-says-82-presidential-nominees-have-been/

        http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/republicans-legislation-obama-dccc-event-106481

        http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/senate-gops-unprecedented-obstruction-five-charts

        https://ourfuture.org/20140923/the-cost-to-our-economy-from-republican-obstruction-and-sabotage

        I realize that people haven’t been aware of this, as the U.S. is immersed in Right Wing media propaganda, which has managed to convince most people that the media is overwhelmingly liberal. That’s what happens. If you have a stranglehold on the nation through Right Wing propaganda, you can easily convince much of the nation that there is no Right Wing propaganda.

        • E. Harding says:

          Again, name ten newspapers which have endorsed the greatest Republican nominee since Reagan. Dozens have endorsed Her, including the NYT.

          • Jill says:

            Newspapers? You cherry pick your examples to show what you want them to show, ignoring any others.

            Newspapers are going out of business because no one reads them. The NYT is an exception and people do read it. But the NYT may endorse Hillary but it has published more negative articles about Hillary than positive, so its net effect has been to lower the number of people voting for Hillary. By contrast, Trump’s free billions of dollars of air time from TV media– usually done without fact checking or challenging his lies– has had a large positive effect on the number of people supporting him.

            Then there are Sean Hannity’s 2 million viewers. This is more than the circulation of the NYT– watching this one particular Trump loving TV guy.

            http://dailycaller.com/2016/06/02/sean-hannity-is-now-number-two-at-fox-news-ahead-of-megyn-kelly/

          • E. Harding says:

            “but it has published more negative articles about Hillary than positive”

            -[citation needed]

            “so its net effect has been to lower the number of people voting for Hillary”

            -Who knows? It could always get more biased.

          • Jill says:

            “but it has published more negative articles about Hillary than positive”

            -[citation needed]

            I’ll give you the citation, after you give me the citations to prove all the wonderful things you have been saying about Trump.

        • Deiseach says:

          I realise I’m beating my head against a wall here, but let’s try this one more time: where do Americans go for their news sources? Pew Research Center study tell us:

          Overall, the study finds that consistent conservatives:

          – Are tightly clustered around a single news source, far more than any other group in the survey, with (sic)
          – Express greater distrust than trust of 24 of the 36 news sources measured in the survey. At the same time, fully 88% of consistent conservatives trust Fox News.
          – Are, when on Facebook, more likely than those in other ideological groups to hear political opinions that are in line with their own views.
          – Are more likely to have friends who share their own political views. Two-thirds (66%) say most of their close friends share their views on government and politics.

          By contrast, those with consistently liberal views:

          – Are less unified in their media loyalty; they rely on a greater range of news outlets, including some – like NPR and the New York Times– that others use far less.
          – Express more trust than distrust of 28 of the 36 news outlets in the survey.
          – Are more likely than those in other ideological groups to block or “defriend” someone on a social network – as well as to end a personal friendship – because of politics.
          – Are more likely to follow issue-based groups, rather than political parties or candidates, in their Facebook feeds.

          When it comes to choosing a media source for political news, conservatives orient strongly around Fox News. Nearly half of consistent conservatives (47%) name it as their main source for government and political news, as do almost a third (31%) of those with mostly conservative views. No other sources come close.

          Consistent liberals, on the other hand, volunteer a wider range of main sources for political news – no source is named by more than 15% of consistent liberals and 20% of those who are mostly liberal. Still, consistent liberals are more than twice as likely as web-using adults overall to name NPR (13% vs. 5%), MSNBC (12% vs. 4%) and the New York Times (10% vs. 3%) as their top source for political news.

          Now, maybe the New York Times is part of the cabal of Right Wing Propaganda, but if so, you’d imagine the “consistent liberals” (ones most likely to vote for Hillary) would have noticed and dropped it, instead of keeping it as a news source?

  32. keranih says:

    Sideways of this particular post, and hearkening back to Scott’s last post –

    I get the impression that bog-average Progressives are not terribly invested in local/city politics, and get far more worked up over the Presidential race. In contrast, bog-average Conservatives are more likely to vote in all the damn primaries, actually make a choice in the city council race, and are more engaged in the political process as a (very minor) part of everyday life. A third leg – young activists (who tend progressive, but I repeat myself) – tend to find partisan implications in everything, and live and breathe this stuff.

    It seems that the polls and surveys support this, and I think it points to some differences in preferred power balances – and maybe to some other preferences as well. And I wonder if any of the non-conservatives here could comment on this tendency, and if they think this is good, bad, or orange.

    • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

      keranih requests comments upon “preferred power balances”

      My personal experience of tactical matriarchal politics supports the proposition that basic primatology predictively explains this cycle’s electoral dynamics more accurately than any amount of ideological wrangling and rationalizing.

      Quick summary: don’t diss the alpha females.

      • Jill says:

        Thanks for the articles. Quite interesting. The primatologist is right that Trump does the macho display behaviors of the alpha ape well. The coalition forming, not so much.

        • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

          How many SSC viewers have actually watched Trump’s (unedited) post-debate live-streams? Trump’s display behaviors are (literally) primatological. Rationality, what’s that? Yikes.

          • Anonymous says:

            This comment is literally primatological. I mean both yours and mine, you can dress the monkey in silk but it will forever remain a monkey. Often the silk just gets in the way.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:
          • Jill says:

            LOL, people, I challenge people to watch that video you cited under “Or not, as the case may be” and see whether you think that it shows Trump falling below the apes, in his level of competence.

            Here is a video of a gorilla, for comparison.

            http://www.upworthy.com/watch-this-gorilla-use-sign-language-to-warn-humans-about-their-impact-on-the-earth

          • Anonymous says:

            Above and aligned as someone else said.

          • Deiseach says:

            Here is a video of a gorilla, for comparison.

            The Spirit of Gaia Herself is manifesting through this pure and superior creature! The primordial wisdom of Herstory is crying out via the tender loving rebuke signed to us by this representative of all animalkind! We must listen and obey before it is too late!

            To the folks who eat this kind of stuff up with a spoon – I’ve got some Authentic Ancient Irish Druidic Wisdom I can personally initiate you all into, for a modest fee* (and as soon as I’ve taken ten minutes to cook up any old nonsense). This will cleanse your chakras, uplift what’s sagging, and do better in giving you a pert bottom than all the power yoga in Los Angeles!

            *Permit me to relieve you of that excess of filthy lucre over braincells that is holding you all bound on the material plane and retarding your progress to the higher, better, consciousness-state where you will be talking with the beasts and suckling from the bountiful bosom of Mother Gaea Rhea Cybele Herself! I gladly make the sacrifice of taking on the dross of earthly wealth in order to help you ascend upon the Ever-Spiralling Path Upwards.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Incoherent nonsense.

    • Jill says:

      Interesting, Keranih. It may be related to the fact that Republicans win elections more when fewer people vote. Since there is so much written about “Your vote doesn’t matter. Both parties are the same.” etc., this has its effects: Fewer people vote, and so more Republicans win. In fact there is so much written in articles, blogs etc. about “Your vote doesn’t matter. Both parties are the same.” etc., that it causes me to wonder if those articles are not intentional propaganda put out there for the purpose of persuading people not to vote.

      Also, many voters who are both poor and minority group members, who tend to vote Dem, face lots of obstacles to voting, in not being able to afford the time off of work on a Tuesday, or not being able to afford a baby sitter to watch their kids etc. In some states the lines at the polls are quite long, involving hours away from one’s work or kids. Perhaps people find a way to push past these obstacles only infrequently e.g. once every 4 years when there is a presidential election. I think a lot of poor black people found ways to make these sacrifices to vote for Obama, in order to elect the first black president. But they certainly won’t take time off of work and do without sorely needed income, for every little local election that comes along.

      So this tendency is great if you’re Republican, bad if you’re Democrat.

      • keranih says:

        it causes me to wonder if those articles are not intentional propaganda put out there for the purpose of persuading people not to vote.

        I am not quite that cynical, but I feel the temptation to agree.

        many voters [snip], face lots of obstacles to voting

        One of the things that has come out of early reporting voting is that day of the election, far more D’s vote during the day than R’s – R’s tend to go in the evening, when they have gotten off work, or early in the morning before work. Work is not as much an impediment to D voters – although I do wonder how much of this can also be linked to government jobs.

        I really don’t buy “I couldn’t take time off from work” as a systemic reason. And every voting line I’ve ever stood in has had women with kids in strollers or on their hips. Not saying these are not obstaticals for some people, but they surely are not universal, and in light of what a real voter suppression campaign looks like, not in the same ballpark as a real burden.

        And the long lines are…emmm. I really don’t know what to say about long lines, when the voting sets ups are so decentralized, and the political parties controlling each area (county, I mean, not state) run the show.

        Yet another reason to get involved – and stay involved – at the local level.

  33. buddyglass says:

    Some other options besides Johnson and Stein if you’re in a “safe” state and want to write someone in:

    1. Person of your choice that isn’t running in 2016 but that you like for 2020, e.g. Sasse, for some.

    2. Candidate of your choice who was eliminated in the primaries, e.g. Sanders, Kasich, etc.

    3. These guys: http://www.solidarity-party.org/

    4. This guy: https://kotlikoff2016.com/

    • anon says:

      To emphasize, *these are also perfectly valid options if you are not in a safe state*. Your individual vote does not matter very much, the two-party monopoly deserves to be questioned, the narrative that failing to vote for the lesser of evils is a moral crime is a false one, and anyone denying these facts (including our illustrious host) is falling prey to a cognitive illusion that is well worth calling out.

      In fact, arguably your vote is *most* valuable in contributing to a narrative of an historically thin margin of victory and lack of popular mandate. Setting aside any desire I have (to admit my bias) for Gary’s vote-share to entitle the Libertarian Party to millions of dollars in federal matching funds in 2020, I genuinely consider any vote for anyone other than Trump and Clinton to be a vote for the greater good. The Democratic and Republican parties have not served the American people well. Voting against them is a legitimate way of voicing grievance with the direction of governance. It is *in no way* a betrayal of anyone, if it represents your heartfelt belief about our shared polity.

      (ETA: In case it’s not clear from the above, I was attempting to make explicit my essential objection to the OP and Scott’s previous post. I would have felt a lot better about these posts if SSC had not asserted a moral obligation to vote for HRC if voting in an “unsafe” state. This imposed a strong philosophical obligation to prove that the downsides of a DJT presidency vastly outweighs the risk of an HRC presidency. So far, the comment threads here and there indicate that Scott managed to change the minds of approximately zero people regarding this claim. Which means that these posts amounted to little more than another venue for partisan vitriol. Ergo, their net effect will have been negative unless they be somehow salvaged. This is my attempt at such a a salvage: in the absence of a strong consequentialist argument for voting for the lesser of evils, there’s very good reason to vote against the two-party status quo.)

      • keranih says:

        FWIW, I agree that getting the Libertarian Party access to matching funds is a reasonable goal. I won’t be voting for them this year, but I am intrigued by what will happen if we have a third party to shake things up.

      • “Ergo, their net effect will have been negative”

        I can’t speak for anyone else, but I found it interesting to see the positions of the small minority here who actually offered coherent arguments in favor of one of the two major party candidates, rather than merely arguments against the other.

        On the other hand, it has been an awfully long comment thread to both posts.

        • E. Harding says:

          “I found it interesting to see the positions of the small minority here who actually offered coherent arguments in favor of one of the two major party candidates”

          -Was I one of them?

  34. Deiseach says:

    Stepping away from the war question for a bit, there’s been some remarks about Trump appealing to the religious right and that if he gets elected, some of his policies (e.g. abortion) will be capitulating to them.

    Well, here’s a question: do we want this person described below to be elected President? Lightly edited by me:

    The [person] spoke candidly about [their] Methodist upbringing, [their] core Christian beliefs and prayer habits, and how [they] frequently consulted the latest Methodist Book of Resolutions, the church’s official handbook on social and political issues, which [they] kept upstairs in the family quarters. Piety plus politics was [their] message.

    What kind of right-wing Bible-basher, who uses their denomination’s doctrines as guidance in political matters, is this?

    Hillary Rodham Clinton. The article is well worth reading for how the mainline denominations (and their adherents) have changed with the times, and the place of religion in appealing to American voters for both parties – and indeed the influence of religion on political culture and vice versa. I got a kick out of this bit:

    I asked her if she ever thought of becoming an ordained Methodist minister once her White House years were over. “I think about it all the time,” she instantly replied.

    Of course you do, Hillary, as we could see from your post-White House career trajectory 🙂 I think this remark is interesting, taken in conjunction with the “SJW crowd” we are talking about; that Hillary cuts her cloth according to her measure, as it were – she adopts careful signalling when the support of a particular group is useful. In the mid-90s, this was sending her instead of Bill to field questions from a reporter about religion, and modelling herself in the mould of genteel mainline religiosity, hence the quick agreement about going into the ministry; now it’s the Social Justice angle, and people urging others to vote for “our progressive president”.

    I’m not saying she’s insincere or lying, but that with Trump what you see is what you get (fortunately or unfortunately), but Hillary can strike a well-tuned note to resonate with the perceived inclinations of a particular audience (this can be an occasional stumble as with the hot sauce thing, where I saw some comments in essence saying “How dumb does she think we are, does she think all African-Americans go around with sachets of hot sauce, what kind of lame vote-grabbing tactic is this?” and others defending her on exactly this, that she genuinely likes it. I think she probably does and this is genuine, but it came across as trying too hard to be “I is down with the black yoot” after Beyoncé’s album).

    Just one caveat; Bill Clinton is described as a Southern Baptist. He used to be, but has now switched affiliations to the Baptists – presumably the American Baptist branch of the Baptists (this being America we’re talking about, there are a few branches calling themselves American Baptist what-nots), which is more liberal than its Southern sibling.

    • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

      HillaryCare” (of 1993) and “RomneyCare” (of 2006) share (a) moral foundations in Clinton’s Methodism and Romney’s Mormonism, with (b) political & economic foundations in the European healthcare experience.

      These two brainy-and-centrist yet religiously-grounded politicians, at least, cannot be accused of any very great philosophical or moral incompatibility.

      On the other hand, the gross incompatibility of Romney/Clinton healthcare policy with the present-day (incoherent? nonexistent? obstructionistic?) Trump/GOP healthcare policy calls to mind a celebrated Churchill/French military exchange: “‘Ou est la masse de manoeuvre?’  ‘Il n’y a aucune!'”

      I would conclude with a ” 🙂 “, were it not that Trumpish GOP healthcare obstructionism has generated a devastating multi-decade human and economic disaster.

      • E. Harding says:

        Trump supports some kind of universal health coverage, too, at least, when he’s speaking.

        • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

          “Some kind of universal health coverage” … but definitely not the (a) Clinton-kind, (b) Romney-kind, (c) Obama-kind, (d) Canada-kind, (e) British-kind, (f) German-kind, or (g) Swiss-kind. And the GOP’s “healthcare policy” is comparably vacuous to Trump’s, isn’t it?

          The electorate has grown impatient of the GOP’s persistant healthcare dementia … fortunately! 🙂

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      This reinforces my view that HRC is a chameleon, not an ideologue: if the culture is religious, she’s religious, if it’s not, she’s not. For a person who doesn’t like the current state of American culture, that’s an argument in her favor: she’s not going to help you, but if you somehow start winning anyway she’s going to roll with it rather than spend years fighting an Obama-style guerilla campaign in the media and the bureaucracy to block you.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        @ ThirteenthLetter
        This reinforces my view that HRC is a chameleon, not an ideologue

        Yeah, something like that, depending on what you mean by ‘ideolog’.

        If by ideolog you mean, ‘Faced by any problem, large or small, the person talks about how it relates it to Communism/Capitalism/whateverism as its cause and its only solution — or considers the problem an egg that may be broken if the breaking might even minutely help his Communist/Capitalist cause’ — then she’s not.

        Which way the wind blows is a better metaphor than chameoleon. I’d say, she’s an admiral with a fleet of ships (ie causes and goals). Whatever wind is blowing, she forwards the ship that wind will help.

        But ‘chameleon’ suggests dishonesty, betraying the cause and people she pushed for last year. There’s no such reversal in pushing different ones at different times, according to which ones can make the most progress at the moment.

        • TheWorst says:

          It’s like accusing a firefighter of dishonesty for pouring water on whatever house is on fire today, rather than just pouring it on one house forever.

  35. Federico_V says:

    Hi,

    great posts Scott. I am incredibly surprised that this second entry was necessary: considering Trump the safer option when it comes to war and foreign policy is something that didn’t even occur to me. Even if you believe he is the better option, he is definitely the higher variance option: the entire foreign policy establishment (both left and right wing) have come out publicly against him.

    That said – I usually read everything posted by Scott, but very rarely venture into the comment section, and usually only do when there is a technical discussion I find interesting. Is this my own bias or is the level of comments much worse than usual? There were several incredibly racist comments (and I don’t mean microaggression level racism) and several posters try to dominate the conversation by posting huge volumes of garbage.

    • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

      SSC readers who prefer fact-driven discourse-sans-snark — discource in particular relating to state-sponsored terrorism originating the Middle East — will find ample material in the syllabus to (UW Law) Prof. Clark Lombardi’s two-quarter sequence “Islamic Law” (autumn 2016-7) and “Seminar in Contemporary Muslim Legal Systems” (winter 2016-7).

      These courses are appreciated by an international cohort of Lombardi students, who collectively tackle questions like “In what sense(s) are US municipal codes already sharia laws?”.

      Lombardi essays like “The Marvelous Life of Paul Steven Miller” (2011) further illuminate the social, moral, and legal overlap of social justice concerns with sharia-based justice concerns (and “medicalized” justice concerns too).
      — — — — —
      Alt*trigger warning:  Prof. Lombardi’s course materials are not recommended to those SSC readers — residing equally on the left and the right — who seek to preserve their ignorance undiluted, history imagined, science fallacious, policies ineffectual, anger privileged, prejudice unleavened, and social justice unrealized.

    • Luung Hawl says:

      It’s funny. I dont believe Trump is a nazi anymore than Reagan was a nazi. I knew a couple of skinheads in the eighties who read Tom Metzger’s fanzines but i always wondered what the completely locked down political brain looked like. It took forty years, but here we are.
      I’ll be banned for this but I believe that many people here have proved they will say anything. They have exposed themselves to a kind of madness that will end in murder. Trump is no Hitler, but I have more sympathy for an intelligent German that voted for Hitler in 1932, than I do for the fucking monsters on this site.

      • anon says:

        Yep, I agree you should be banned for this.

      • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

        Yes, far-left and far-right rhetoric equally provide no shortage of content-free abuse that serves chiefly to poison the well of public discourse. Call it out, and provide better.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Keep it up, you’re providing stronger arguments for Trump (in the context of the here and now) than any rationalist could dream of providing for Hillary.

      • E. Harding says:

        [refutes most of Scott’s points on Trump]

        [gives numerous reasons for voting Trump]

        [TheWorst, Hawl, Federico_V, Landru, proceed to insult Trump supporters only with completely substanceless and unspecific allegations while ignoring all the above and refusing to give even a whit of a reason for why people should vote Clinton while noticeably acting morally superior to Trump supporters for their having done so].

        Fun!

      • Anonymous says:

        For me it’s been quite revealing in the opposite direction. I always assumed most leftist SSC readers weren’t bullies. Both here and in the subreddit, yet I’ve seen hundreds (No hyperbole) of comments from leftists that are essentially sneering and nothing else. People saying they’ll stay away from the comments until the red tribe is gone, proposals to ban rightists to foster some kind of “balance”, all kinds of condemnations and personal insults, shock. “Red tribe” comments on this vein are sparse in comparison. People are daring to voice their opinions and getting a straight fascist response. It’s depressing.

        Please stop acting as if the Overton window had to stay locked at the far “left” because anything else would be nazi. The organic response to such position is to move the Overton window in the direction of nazism and nobody really wants that. Don’t keep pushing the pendulum so high, a 95/5 Overton window Ultimatum game offer is going to get rejected even if would be so rational to just take 5.

        • Jill says:

          “Both here and in the subreddit, yet I’ve seen hundreds (No hyperbole) of comments from leftists that are essentially sneering and nothing else.”

          I would be surprised if there were hundreds of comments from Leftists at all, much less of a particular type.

          I’ve found you to be among the rudest people on the board and that’s a high bar to jump over. So I can imagine you get pushed back at, more than most.

          The board here is on average far to the Right. And the few people who are Left of Center here and dare to comment, get bashed a lot. If you’re complaining about bias against Right Wingers like yourself, when you are on on a vast majority Right Wing board where Left people routinely get bashed— then that certainly says something about you.

    • Deiseach says:

      Is this my own bias or is the level of comments much worse than usual?

      Politics is always a morass. This time, both parties have picked about the worst candidates possible (I’d have been happy to see Hillary as Obama’s VP in his first term, but obviously he was smarter on that than me) and the alternatives, God help us, haven’t covered themselves in glory either; at this stage, Stein is doing slightly better than Johnson by virtue of the fact that she hasn’t scored a big media opportunity to make a fool of herself.

      People on every side are feeling angry, anxious, worried, disconnected, unrepresented, threatened, concerned and not very hopeful, and people outside of America are concerned because the USA is the eight-hundred pound gorilla so it does matter to us who is your leader. Political rhetoric hasn’t helped (Trump every time he opens his mouth, Hillary and writing off a chunk of the nation as a basket of irredeemable deplorables) and it’s not going to get any better until after the election. If it ever does.

      The thing is, I think this site is – ironically – a safe space. A lot of us who are conservative or on the right have to grit our teeth, shut up and keep smiling when at work or elsewhere as people express opinions we disagree with – and it’s not confined to only that, ‘I think A while you think B’, it’s the assumption that anyone holding the opposite opinion is subhuman or motivated by hate etc. Not 100% box-ticking every box on the company diversity policy can get you into serious trouble or even fired. Expressing anything but the acceptable view will mark you out as questionable and untrustworthy. But we can come on here, express our opinions, explain why we think the way we think on that side of a question, and unless we transgress the bounds (mea culpa!) we won’t get kicked off for it. A lot of pent-up steam is being vented here, and that is bound to scald somebody.

      And naturally that invites people who want to troll or simply kick the hornet’s nest and watch everyone running around beating at the air. I don’t know how Scott has the patience to put up with the lot of us!

    • Anatoly says:

      I agree the level of comments has been lower than usual. I happen to think it was at least partly due to right wing commenters having seemingly adopted an implicit no-enemy-to-the-right policy. I only saw keranih offer a mild rebuke, once, to an offensively stupid claim that its author hadn’t seen even one good reason offered why Clinton might be better than Trump. I apologize if I missed more, I stopped reading threads started by that commenter at some point, they were too depressingly trashy.

      There are Trump supporters here who offered valuable arguments of their own and intelligent criticism of many of Scott’s points. You know who you are; but you’re being swamped by E. Harding who shits all over epistemic charity and trumpets Breibart-style propaganda. Because you didn’t care to draw a line (niceness! community! civilization!), he gets to define what being pro-Trump at SSC looks like, and it ain’t pretty.

      • E. Harding says:

        I only saw keranih offer a mild rebuke, once, to an offensively stupid claim that its author hadn’t seen even one good reason offered why Clinton might be better than Trump.

        -There certainly might be scattered issues on which Clinton is better than Trump. What I said was that I had never seen

        a single good reason for why Trump was not the best candidate during the primaries from either side of the aisle, nor have I seen a single good reason for why Clinton is preferable over Trump

        https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/09/28/ssc-endorses-clinton-johnson-or-stein/#comment-417251

        I stand by those claims. Noticed I used the words “best” and “preferable over”, not “better”. Clinton might be “better” than Trump in some respects, but those respects would have to affect my voting decisions, even slightly, to be an argument Clinton is preferable over Trump for the position of President of the United States.

        -keranih gave some experience and personality-related replies for a bunch of primary candidates, which I didn’t bother to reply to (as I thought someone else would reply to them; turned out I was wrong). In any case, I do not value personality traits people find likeable and experience all that highly, and I would much rather have preferred keranih had given a response filled with substance on important (i.e., that could have actually changed my vote) policies.

        “I stopped reading threads started by that commenter at some point, they were too depressingly trashy.”

        -Poor choice. Some comment threads by me might end up trashy; others yield good insights.

        “but you’re being swamped by E. Harding who shits all over epistemic charity and trumpets Breibart-style propaganda”

        -Give me two examples of each. I hardly ever look at Breitbart. When did I shit all over epistemic charity? When did I engage in Breitbart-style propaganda? Both these charges I consider laughably unfair.

        “There are Trump supporters here who offered valuable arguments of their own and intelligent criticism of many of Scott’s points.”

        -If you don’t consider me as one of them, who do you consider them to have been?

      • FacelessCraven says:

        There is no good* way to register disagreement with low-quality posts. The “true, kind, necessary” callout got burned out from overuse quite a while back, and there’s been nothing really to replace it. Egregiously low-quality content used to draw accusations of trolling, but that turned out to be a worse solution than the original problem in the long run.

        One part of the problem, I think, is that bad arguments for my side usually don’t generate enough interesting ideas to compel a post; I just frown and move on. Nor do I particularly want to get in an argument with the author about whether or not their argument was bad; if it was bad enough that I considered reading it a complete waste of time, why do I want to spend *more* time arguing with the author?

        The other part of the problem is that a bunch of us have worn ourselves out trying to figure out a way to deal with other comments we considered low-quality and annoying, found no good way to do so, and have settled for just ignoring them and moving on. At this stage, pointing out issues one has with other posters has become obviously counterproductive.

        Not sure what the solution to this is. Maybe there isn’t one, but if you have any ideas, we could use them. There is a subthread autohider thingy available; that might be the best solution.

        *low-effort, abuse-resistant, polite seem like basic requirements.

      • Theo Jones says:

        @Anatoly

        On tumblr Scott suggested that a lot of the traffic on the last post were people linked to it from outside, and not usual readers.

        But, yah, between the annons/fresh posters, the Harding-style right-wing shitposters, and the Jill-style left-wing shitposters this thread has gone to hell.

        • Jill says:

          So nice to be bashed on a thread in which I have not even participated. Just like Hillary, I get to be constantly bashed for not being Right Wing, even when I am not around. There are hardly any Left Wing commenters here, for good reason. I see that out of the 90% of comments here that are Right Wing, you managed to find a Right Winger whom you can bash too– just to make it seem like you are neutral. But no one who has read this comment board could be fooled into thinking you are being neutral here. You’re just doing a false equivalence.

          • Jill says:
            October 2, 2016 at 5:51 pm

            “So nice to be bashed on a thread in which I have not even participated.”

            I don’t know how narrowly you are defining “thread.” Following up from that post, there are only four until I get to one by Anatoly which seems to have started it. But I don’t see why not being one of those four would be relevant to people criticizing you.

            Looking at all comments in response to the post, I count fifteen that you made prior to this one.

      • keranih says:

        I stopped reading threads started by that commenter at some point

        Well, you were not exactly the only one.

        SSC is not its own thing, it is a part of larger society, and larger society ran the train off the rational debate tracks a long ways back on the top[ic of this election.

        I am about burnt out on this topic, but I did see a long of people actually trying to grapple with other people’s input here. Mostly to the effect of soundly rejecting that input, but still engaging.

        It’s not nothin’.

  36. (Actually, I have a theory which I think explains a lot about Trump’s foreign policy positions: he doesn’t like losers. He supported the Iraq War and the Libya intervention when it looked like we would probably win. Then we lost, and he said they were stupid and bungled. He supports counterfactual invasions of Iraq and Libya where we “kept the oil” because that would have counted as winning. He supports invading ISIS because he expects to be in charge of the invasion and he expects to win. Under this theory, Trump’s retrospective non-support for failed wars doesn’t predict that he won’t start new ones.)

    In a Quora answer a few weeks ago, I suggested that Trump’s core political beliefs are “Government succeeds by appearing unchallengeably strong” and “All political, economic, and diplomatic transactions are zero-sum”. What you’re suggesting here is a facet of the first belief: Iraq and Libya were failures because we showed ourselves to not be strong enough to win, but if we’d taken the oil, then they would have sent the right message.

  37. Albatross says:

    With the choice being between two hawks, chose the more cautious one. Hillary is an interventionist. But Libya (and Bosnia) are her type of war: overwhelming air attacks in support of locals lead by US military advisers on the ground.

    I’ll also note she lined up Europe to fight in Libya and Bill did the same in Bosnia. She plans, builds coalitions, and aims for max effect/min casualties. Obama sorta does this but he goes it alone a lot, preferring a “kill list” small scale strike instead of mobilizing the entire air force.

    500 former generals endorsed Romney. Only 88 endorsed Trump. Meaning 412 generals find his strategy suspect. Trump, and Gary “IDK” Johnson have no strategy, while the Clinton doctrine has evolved for the past couple decades into a shrewd strategy. Hybrid warfare is forcing adjustments, and Hillary is slow to change. But she has experiences good and bad to draw on. Nobody in their right mind expected smooth sailing in Libya after the war. And we don’t expect it in Syria either. But tens of thousands of deaths is better than millions of deaths.

    I liked Obama’s first term foreign policy. But it fell apart after Hillary left State and his second term has been one blunder to the next. Tough environment, but still he has been ineffective with Kerry.

    Syria is already World War 3. And it WILL get much worse before it gets better. And we need a cautious hawk in the White House to meet that threat.

    • Sandy says:

      I liked Obama’s first term foreign policy. But it fell apart after Hillary left State and his second term has been one blunder to the next. Tough environment, but still he has been ineffective with Kerry.

      This is a strange interpretation of how things stand given that Obama regrets ever getting involved in Libya and much of the blame for the US intervention fell to Clinton and her cronies (Power, Rhodes et al). Obama did not want to get involved. Biden did not want to get involved. Rumsfeld advised them not to get involved. Hillary pushed America to get involved, and by all accounts her mindset is that of a great crusading hawk who believes justice is on her side and therefore her decisions are correct. Hardly a cautious hawk. Sample quote from Biden: “Hillary just wants to be Golda Meir.”

    • E. Harding says:

      “But tens of thousands of deaths is better than millions of deaths.”

      -True; but “millions of deaths” here is purely unsubstantiated for Trump. On its face, Hillary’s Russophobia is more likely to lead to millions of deaths than Trump’s evident lack of it.

    • cassander says:

      >overwhelming air attacks in support of locals lead by US military advisers on the ground.

      That does not describe libya at all. there were no US military advisers. And post-war in bosnia, there was a large UN ground contingent to support order, there was none of that in Libya. Hillary literally thought that she could bomb the country into democracy, and the outcome has been disastrous.

      Hillary is not a cautious hawk, she is a minimalist hawk. she uses the minimum amount of force she think can work because she is unwilling to take domestic political risks. Instead, she takes massive international risks, like in libya, because the world rarely goes according to her plans. She will be a disaster as president, eager to get involved everywhere, but no where sending enough force to actually win.

      • E. Harding says:

        “there were no US military advisers”

        -How do you know?

        “She will be a disaster as president, eager to get involved everywhere, but no where sending enough force to actually win.”

        -That seems a reasonable conclusion from the weight of Her statements on the campaign trail, as well as Her previous foreign policy statements.

  38. AnonBosch says:

    Trump’s tax returns are starting to leak. I am guessing many of them contain embarrassing stuff like this that isn’t illegal but should probably result in revising one’s estimation of Trump’s business acumen. The economy was doing pretty well in 1995.

    • pku says:

      Interesting. Any idea how this came out? (Also, apparently that loss was so big it overflowed in the tax prep software :\ ).

      Questions for anyone with a better understanding of this stuff, who also feels like explaining things on the internet:
      1) why does losing money one year wipe out paying taxes for later income? And can you use that to avoid all taxes by intentionally losing tons of money, declaring bankruptcy, than being exempt from taxes until you make that amount in positive numbers? (I suspect bankruptcy doesn’t work that way. If it does, I have a bunch more zany producers-esque schemes I kinda want to try).

      2) Does this (directly) explain why he wouldn’t want to release his current tax returns? Seems like they wouldn’t show his 1995 losses.

      • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

        pku is Trump-inspired: “I have a bunch more zany Producers-esque schemes I kinda want to try.”

        LOL … that makes you Trump-smart! (best comedy ever, save for Wilder’s Young Frankenstein) 🙂

      • keranih says:

        1) why does losing money one year wipe out paying taxes for later income?

        It’s not universal, but the way our (really really complex) tax law is written, specific types of losses in specific businesses can be written off over multiple years. (If you guessed that this was an area subject to regulatory capture, you’d be absolutely right.) You’d have to get a tax nerd to explain the hows and whys.

        And can you use that to avoid all taxes by intentionally losing tons of money, declaring bankruptcy, than being exempt from taxes until you make that amount in positive numbers?

        No, bankruptcy doesn’t work like that. What did used to work is a “tax shelter” business – horse farms were really good at this. You set up a side business that continuously lost money, and supported that enterprise by shifting funds from another (profitable) business. This would lower the total profit on the second business, so that other tax advantages could be taken advantage of. Now there are requirements that the company make money at least some of the time, and the advantages of the write off have gone (mostly) away.

        • Deiseach says:

          What did used to work is a “tax shelter” business – horse farms were really good at this.

          Like the old joke: How do you make a small fortune in racing? You start off with a large fortune 🙂

          • keranih says:

            So George the farmer won the lottery draw – umpteen million dollars! The newspaper sent a fellow around, asked George what he was gonna do with all that money. Old George spits off the edge of the porch and sez, “Well, I guess I’ll keep on farmin’, lest til the money runs out.”

      • CatCube says:

        I think the theory is that losing your shirt on some types of high-volatility assets is basically treated as a deductible “cost of business.” Since you have literally less than zero income for that year, carrying it over to subsequent years is really the only way you could actually make use of such a deduction. That you can carry at least some of it forward for some number of years should not, I think, be controversial. If you think that “almost a billion” carried forward for “the rest of your life” is too much of either, I can be convinced. However, “you’ve had negative income this year? Suck on this, baby!” isn’t just.

        A while back, I was reading a blog post by an investment banker, and came away with the impression that it wasn’t uncommon to spend most of the year $30 million in the hole, then getting a surprise upswing in December putting you $5 million in the black–or vice versa.

        • pku says:

          On a moral level, it seems perfectly fair to count your losses that way, unless it can be used for tax-evasion shenanigans of some kind.
          Trump is apparently several billion dollars richer now than in 1994, implying he should only have been able to use his 1995 losses to counter business expenses until he broke even (which must have been a while ago), unless there was some kind of shenanigans going on. Now I’m curious to see the rest of his tax returns just from a gaming-the-system perspective – it sounds interesting.

          • Deiseach says:

            I imagine real estate is probably a volatile or uncertain market as well, so even if everyone else were doing well in 1995 that doesn’t mean his property speculation would be – from the economic crash here in Ireland, a lot of that was centred around the construction industry/property development and the banks, where developers were taking out crazy money amounts of loans (and being facilitated) to buy speculative land banks, engage in big vanity projects and the like. Property bubble burst, and suddenly that acre of land you bought for €10 million hoping to sell it for office development for €30 million couldn’t be given away*. Construction works on very tight margins, one big project going belly-up could really hit the entire business hard with knock-on effects for the rest of the empire.

            I also imagine that if there are loopholes to let you carry forward losses for as long as God spares you, Trump and every other business will take advantage of the legal tax avoidance. If people are going to cry foul over that, they should be agitating for changing the tax laws, which is a tricky and delicate and long-winded matter.

            *We had to set up a national agency to take over the bad loans and the management of the assets – property and land – that were collateral for the loans. This has been controversial, not least because we’re now in the middle of a housing crisis – or at least, now the government has recognised this – and American vulture funds are buying up those loans and there is the alleged threat of people being evicted from homes because the new foreign owners will hike up rents, and small businesses being likewise squeezed out.

          • Deiseach says:

            Re: gaming the system, you Americans really do it well 🙂

            Mr Donnelly said that Mars Capital structured their affairs to ensure the only amount of income exposed to tax was €1,000.

            “An examination of Mars Capital’s accounts is a master class in tax avoidance,” Mr Donnelly told the Dáil.

            Mr Donnelly said their interest income was €4,559,904 and their administrative costs were €4,558,904 – a difference of just €1,000.

          • brad says:

            That’s the real problem. Tax losses aren’t the same as real losses.

    • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

      Doxxing: It’s not just for SJWs or GGers any more.

      • AnonBosch says:

        I don’t think the “doxxing” concept is central when you’re talking about a Presidential candidate who has also consciously striven to be a public figure.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          more to the point, I had zero problems with the DNC email hacks, so it would be hypocritical to object to someone leaking Trump’s doxx.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            That surprises me a bit. I’d taken it for granted that everyone pretty much agreed that the DNC leak was the work of criminals, so there was no need to belabor the point. Of course once you’ve got the fait accompli there’s no point in objecting to people talking about the contents, either then or now.

          • E. Harding says:

            Same here, Faceless.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Cerebral Paul Z – Generally speaking, I do not feel that privacy and secrecy are assets that our leaders use responsibly, and I do not mourn when they lose those assets. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. I would object more if, say, one side always got hacked and the other didn’t, but data breaches seem to be fairly bipartisan at the moment.

      • CatCube says:

        For me, it depends on where it came from. If it was leaked from his own offices, or maybe the state government, I’m not going to lose sleep.

        If it came from the federal government, on the other hand, that’s another matter. Speaking as a federal bureaucrat (though an engineer, not a financial guy), if you’re going to require that somebody give you paperwork with private information on the pain of perjury, you have a responsibility to safeguard it even if you don’t like the guy. If it came out of the IRS, somebody should be going to jail. Maybe it’s my little military mind poking through, but it’s dangerous for people on the government payroll to be involving themselves in the election other than through voting. There’s an argument that a whistleblower like Snowden should be protected (though I don’t agree in his particular case), but there’s no question that publishing Trump’s tax returns is exposing some kind of illegality.

        I’m not from the state of NY, but I’d imagine that people from there would have similar feelings about their own state tax administration, if it came from there. Since I’m not, I’ll reserve judgement on that.

  39. While on the subject of how bad both major party candidates are, it is worth mentioning again that while there is no chance that Gary Johnson will get a majority of the electoral vote there is a low but not zero probability way he could become President.

    Suppose he carries one or two states, say Utah and New Mexico. The other two candidates split the rest of the vote pretty evenly, giving nobody a majority. Congress gets to choose among the three. The Republicans hate Hilary and at least a minority of them don’t like Trump. The Democrats hate Trump worse than they hate Johnson. Johnson is a two term Republican governor.

    So if the low probability first step happens, I think there is a substantial probability of the second step.

    From which it follows that any SSC readers who happen to live in a state where Johnson has even a tiny chance of getting electoral votes … .

    • The days when the House could elect someone their voters rejected ended a few months after the Corrupt Bargain.

    • E. Harding says:

      “The Republicans hate Hilary and at least a minority of them don’t like Trump.”

      -No; in that case, the House vote will be determined on the basis of blind partisanship. Any campaign to get Johnson president is doomed to crash on the rocks of neither Paul Ryan nor Nancy Pelosi agreeing with most of the libertarian platform. And I do think Johnson is likely (though by no means certain) to be a worse president than Trump.

    • Deiseach says:

      Dear sir, now you have me in a quandary: which of the two do I think is worse, Johnson or Trump? This is a fiendish dilemma to plunge me into, I feel like emulating a lemming and heading for the nearest cliff! 🙂

      I would have picked Johnson over Trump, save that in interviews he keeps punching himself in the face. After his Aleppo moment, which was forgivable (but I still think indicative of his general mindset re: foreign policy), he did it again with the “name a foreign leader you admire”. He eventually picked a former Mexican president but couldn’t even remember the guy’s name.

      Now, remember what I said previously about drip-drip-drip? All these little moments in themselves aren’t much, but taken together – Trump, God between us and all harm, at least has a policy (of sorts) about Syria. It may be bat-shit insane (to use the vernacular) but he has one.

      Johnson, on the other hand, sounds as if he is incapable of learning by experience. That he is coasting on his fixed line of “I was two-term governor of New Mexico, I have the administrative experience”. His campaign team – does he have one? on this evidence, I’m starting to doubt it- should have prepared canned foreign policy answers and drilled him in them after the Aleppo thing.

      If he’d said in reply “No, there’s no foreign leader I admire, and I’ll tell you why Chris – [launch into Libertarian Party talking points]” that would have been something. Sure, he might have been portrayed in the press afterwards as unnecessarily antagonistic to other leaders in Europe etc. with whom the US will have to work, or isolationist, or something but at least he would not have sounded as if his brain can’t get out of idle or that he’s too inflexible to be able to switch gears when he gets an unexpected question, that he’s stuck in local-level political thinking and has not moved up to national-level, which includes international-level by the very nature of the position.

      Either his team let him down badly, or he refuses to take their advice. Neither sounds very good when you’re talking about electing the guy in charge of the country for four years. If Trump is the type not to listen to any other than his own views, what about Johnson in that case?

      • Tibor says:

        If he were not a politician I’d say that he seems really nervous when talking in public. Nothing bad about that. But it is not a trait you usually see in politicians.

        By the way the former German Kanzler Helmut Kohl, when he did not have a canned answer, simply said this:”Well, I have to think about this for a bit”. And then he would just sit there thinking in silence for a few moments before answering. I find that actually really likable. I don’t know how well that would fare with Americans though.

      • Squirrel of Doom says:

        All campaigning politicians get thousands if questions. When they answer one badly, it makes the news. This says a lot more about the news than about the candidate.

        • Deiseach says:

          Yeah, but this wasn’t just answering one question badly. When you’ve had an “oops” moment that shows you’re weak in one particular area, you bone up on that area and get your team to throw surprise questions at you. Johnson’s weakness (or one of them) appears to be foreign policy: at least learn off a list of “names of foreign leaders like whoever is president of Mexico, you know, the guy in the photo op with Trudeau and Obama that had all the girlies swooning”

          Saying “I don’t have a favourite foreign leader” would have spared his blushes, particularly if he’s going for “independent America not beholden to anyone and considering its own interests first” (is that what his foreign policy is?). “Er, um, that guy, whatsisname, I kinda like him” – not the most confidence-inspiring answer. If he can’t remember the name of someone he allegedly admires, what other little details would slip his mind if he gets into power – “Aw, darn it, did I just push the button they specifically told me not to push?”

    • AnonBosch says:

      The (lack of) courage shown by Ryan and other House Republicans suggests they would elect Trump without thinking twice.

    • Nope says:

      I think there is a substantial probability of the second step.

      In this ridiculously unlikely base scenario, Johnson has a substantial chance to win a majority of state congressional delegations?

      I am surprised you believe this. If we’re remaking the season finale of “Veep,” Gary Johnson is not going to be able to play Tom James and engineer the kind of vote trading to make this happen. Look at him. And the Democrats are not going to help him get those votes together.

      Mike Pence would have a much better chance than Johnson in this scenario – get a few electors to vote for him, he’s eligible, bam! – but I doubt Trump would even lose enough GOP congressional votes to make it an issue. He has to keep the loyalty of a majority of state delegations. That will not be hard – anti-Trump congressional Republicans are rare critters, and they tend to be in blue states.

  40. Steve Sailer says:

    A more plausible argument against Trump on foreign policy is that his urge to offer public opinions on everything could cause trouble where trouble is currently fudged and buried under ambiguous formulations.

    For example, in 1972 Kissinger and Chou En-lai worked out a logically ridiculous formulation on Taiwan that has endured ever since. The less said on the subject, the better.

    • E. Harding says:

      I think Trump would know when to keep his mouth shut when he’s president and not TV commentator. He’s repeatedly said that the U.S. government should more often keep to secrecy on what it’s doing to confuse enemies and not cause commotion. Thus, his hatred of Snowden. He’s also successfully refused to disclose what’s in his tax returns. But at least yours is a more plausible argument than the typical one Scott has offered here.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        “I think Trump would know when to keep his mouth shut when he’s president and not TV commentator.”

        Maybe, maybe not. Trump hasn’t changed all that much in the 30+ years he’s been a national celebrity, other than that he’s gotten gruffer and less suave. He’s a pretty distinctive personality.

        • So far as I know, he hasn’t blabbed his national security briefings.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            Didn’t he say he had seen a classified film — people said he was making it up — but then the briefers said it was true. And recently he described the briefers’ body language as showing them sad and contemptuous of Obama. (I would guess sad at having to brief Trump. Holding their noses, though not literally, I suppose.)

    • The Nybbler says:

      Fortunately he typically offers multiple contradictory public opinions, which preserves the requisite ambiguity.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        But there are foreign policy situations where the U.S. doesn’t want ambiguity over its policy, it wants to maintain a steady, boring course.

        Trump, however, really likes being interesting.

        Obama would like to be interesting, but he’s not. That’s probably why he couldn’t write the nonfiction public policy book he was given $140k to write and instead wrote an autobiography. Obama is a smart guy and an adept writer, except for his complete lack of interesting original ideas.

        But there are advantages to a President who isn’t interesting.

  41. William O. B'Livion says:

    Trump is a mildly corrupt[1] douchenozzle, but he is a douchenozzle that the press (and half the republican establishment) hates. He has only the basic constitutional qualifications to be president. I do NOT want him to win the election.

    Clinton OTOH is massively corrupt, criminal and incompetent. However she is of the same tribe as most of the major newspaper, TV and internet reporters, and is much beloved by most of them, and most of her party can at least tolerate her presence. She is unfit to be president. I want her to LOSE the election.

    Whatever agenda, policy or law Trump wants will be fought over, examined, assumed to be a bad thing.

    Whatever agenda, policy, or law Clinton wants will be assumed to be the desires of all right thinking people, will only be opposed by “deplorables” (I’m not sure I’m in that category, because I’m not a Trump supporter, but I’m a conservative, libertarian, gun owning (super gun owner), hetro middle class white male so I’m clearly not “right minded), bigots and Republicans who clearly know better but are pandering to their base.

    The also rans–Stein and Johnson have demonstrated a dismally loose grasp on world affairs, and Johnson is at odds with his parties philosophy on several fronts.

    And more of the world falls under the shadow of “militant” Islam. And more of America grows used to “entitlements” and our debt as a portion of the GDP continues to grow.

    And all right minded people endorse Hillary because Trump is a sexist prick.

    This is truly a pathetic election.

    [1] You pretty much have to be to be successful in real estate in any major city these days. Saw some of this first hand in Chicago. But in this case people like Trump are living in a system designed and run by people like Clinton for the advantage of people like Clinton. Yeah, he could have chose a cleaner line or work, like maybe making movies?

    • cassander says:

      You have, to a frightening degree, outlined my exact position on this election.

    • Lysenko says:

      Pretty much. Johnson’s disappointed me badly of late (add him to the list under Colin Powell), but I’m holding my nose enough to vote for him anyway because it seems marginally possible to do some good in the long term in terms of raising visibility/viability of third party candidates. I used to want to spend my life working on ballot access and electoral reform to make it easier to get independents and third parties elected at the local and state levels when I was young, naive, and too stupid for words.

      These days I just wonder if I’m going to die -before- we get to box number four, during, or after.

  42. Steve Sailer says:

    One interesting example on Libya is that Berlusconi, a man not too different from Trump, had a policy of bribing Col. Gadaffi to keep refugees from flooding into Italy. Hillary blew up Qaffaffee, setting off the vast refugee crisis for the continent of Europe that hasn’t been solved yet.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/08/22/the-race-realist-theory-of-how-trump-can-win-explained/

    • AnonBosch says:

      One interesting example on Libya is that Berlusconi, a man not too different from Trump, had a policy of bribing Col. Gadaffi to keep refugees from flooding into Italy. Hillary blew up Qaffaffee, setting off the vast refugee crisis for the continent of Europe that hasn’t been solved yet.

      This pat story of cause and effect seems unconvincing. Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans account for more than 3/4 of the refugee population and have no need to transit through Libya, they mostly arrive through Turkey and Greece. Very few Libyan nationals are among the refugees; there’s a lesser flow Eritreans, Sudanese, and other Africans crossing through Libya to Italy, but even if we assume that 100% of that outflow wouldn’t have been able to transit through some other route, Gaddafi’s absence is a minor contributing factor at worst.

      • vV_Vv says:

        If I understand correctly, that deal was before the refugee crisis (when there was still a Gadaffi to negotiate with), and it was intended to keep the “normal” illegal immigrants out.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Right, in the very long run, the biggest threat to Europe isn’t the Middle Eastern population, whose growth is starting to moderate, but the sub-Saharan population. The UN forecasts that will grow from half a billion in 1990 to four billion in 2100.

  43. vV_Vv says:

    He says he will “bomb the s#!t out of ISIS” and calls for sending 30,000 troops to destroy them. His campaign website says he will “pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS”.

    This is the one war that should be fought. The Obama-Clinton policy is to let ISIS exist since it is an annoyance to Assad. Probably the plan is to wipe ISIS out once it has outlived its usefulness, but given the abysmal record that the US has in doing regime change in the Middle East, what makes you think that this is a realistic plan? There is a risk that ISIS entrenches itself as a North Korea of the Middle East, with the addition of controlling a world-wide terrorist network. Is this the low-variance scenario you are hoping for?

    He is ambiguous about whether Obama should have intervened in Syria to depose dictator Bashar Assad. He complained “there is something missing from our president. Had he crossed the line and really gone in with force, done something to Assad – if he had gone in with tremendous force, you wouldn’t have millions of people displaced all over the world. ”

    I don’t see the ambiguity. He is saying that if you want to depose a regime, either do it with overwhelming force to make sure that you will succeed, or don’t do it. Indeed, the Obama-Clinton strategy of arming local rebels to fight proxy wars has been disastrous so far.

    But the clearest description she’s given of what she wants suggests a no-fly zone with Russian cooperation and support. Last October, she said of her no-fly zone proposal that “I think it’s complicated and the Russians would have to be part of it, or it wouldn’t work.” There’s some good discussion of this on Reddit (see especially this comment) where most people end up agreeing that this is the heart of her plan – something like the US agreeing it won’t bomb Russian allies if Russia doesn’t bomb our allies.

    Why would Russia agree to anything like that? They want Assad to remain in power and regain control of the whole Syria, why would they agree to anything that helps his enemies?
    They have made it clear that they are ready to wage a full scale war against the US if the US takes direct military action against Assad or (obviously) against them. Maybe Putin is bluffing, and he would back off if facing the choice to directly fight the US. But is this an hypothesis you want to test?

    As for the other points, I agree that Trump said some stupid shit. But Tump has at least the excuse that he said most of that stupid shit as a television personality with no real power, while Clinton has a track record of actually implementing harmful and dangerous foreign policies. Under Obama as President and Clinton as Secretary of State, the world has become a more violent, more dangerous place. With her as President, I expect things to get worse, since she is more hawkish than Obama.

    • Theo Jones says:

      “This is the one war that should be fought. The Obama-Clinton policy is to let ISIS exist since it is an annoyance to Assad.”

      I agree that the U.S really should intervene more aggressively in Syria. But the reason why the Obama administration hasn’t done this is less that they want ISIS and Assad to have at it, and more because of the very negative response by the public to the (succesful and good in retrospect) Libya intervention.

      • E. Harding says:

        “But the reason why the Obama administration hasn’t done this is less that they want ISIS and Assad to have at it,”

        -No; it is just that.

        “and more because of the very negative response by the public”

        -I honestly don’t think they care about that. The rise of ISIS helped lead to 2014, which had a good economy, being an excellent year for the GOP.

    • William O. B'Livion says:

      > but given the abysmal record that the US has in doing regime change in the Middle East,

      We were mostly on track in 2009 when I was in Baghdad.

      The thing is that changing a societies structures takes AT LEAST 2 generations, maybe 3. The Neocons didn’t want to bother (they wanted to knock over the ant hill, shoot Saddam and get out.). The Left didn’t want Bush to be seen as winning, so they would do *anything* to sabotage the reconstruction (and really the state department did NOT cover itself in glory over there. Bunch of buffoons).

      By 2009 *most* of the problem children we were “detaining” in Iraq were foreign nationals, and most of the Iraqi people just wanted to go back to living their lives. The US “occupation” (such that it was) was, for most of the country, a softer touch than the previous government (yeah, not hard). Violence generally was down, mortality rates were lower than pre-war levels etc.

      But Obama didn’t feel like talking to Jawad al-Maliki, didn’t feel like negotiating the SOFA agreements, and so we were asked to leave. And we did.

      Yup, Obama got us out of Iraq. For about 5 years. Dude’s got the anti-midas touch.

      And who was Secretary of State during that time?

      Yeah, SSC’s endorsed (sort of) candidate.

      Ok, that was probably snarkier than it needed to be.

      • Deiseach says:

        The Neocons didn’t want to bother (they wanted to knock over the ant hill, shoot Saddam and get out.

        The one thing I would like to see someone, preferably a lot of someones, on trial for (and swinging from gallows a la Nuremberg?) is the whole Chalabi [expletive expletive expletive] nonsense. “We’ll go in, kill Hussein and all resistance will collapse because we’ve cut off the snake’s head, instal Chalabi as the president everyone loves and wants – we know this is true because he told us everyone loves and wants him – and head back home by Christmas, with a happy democratic prosperous nation which is grateful to us and mindful of our interests left behind!” So they tore the country apart for the sake of a con-man who managed to feather his own nest and achieve personal power, which is what he was after all along, and the results are still being borne by Iraq and by yourselves and by the region.

        Not at all helped by the fingers in the pie by the likes of Blackwater; to this day I am confused as to what “contractors” were mercenaries and heavies-for-hire and who were actual civil engineers and the like over to help reconstruct and set up businesses.

        • anon says:

          It’s an interesting question that I defer to people more knowledgable than myself. But I’d make the observation that in their readiness to install a new, hopefully-more-cooperative, (strongman?) ruler, neocons were not necessarily acting “irrationally” (from a certain point of view) or contrary to past US experience. Indeed, this particularly hypocritical component of “hawkish” post-WWII US foreign policy (which predates Bush II and will outlast HRC) is especially worthy of criticism.

          It would all be much less hypocritical — although perhaps no less objectionable — if advocates of “muscular” foreign interventions were willing to be transparent about their views on US foreign policy objectives and the degree to which various potential rulers in unstable states would further such objectives. Such transparency has absent since the first signs of Indochinese instability in the 1950s, if not earlier.

          In that sense, the fundamental problem is really that the conduct of US foreign policy has been (in the post-war era) essentially undemocratic.

          • Deiseach says:

            But I’d make the observation that in their readiness to install a new, hopefully-more-cooperative, (strongman?) ruler, neocons were not necessarily acting “irrationally”

            Except Chalabi was no-one’s idea of a strongman (he had influence and tribal ties but no muscle, which is why he needed the USA backing) and he bloody well played them like a fiddle. Pragmatic ruthless “yeah we’re replacing one dictator who grew too big for his boots with another who’s going to remember who holds his leash, whaddya gonna do about it?” would have been one thing, harsh and ignoble as it might have been it would have been admirably clear in intent and execution – but the ones who got dazzled by the bullshit and ignored all the warnings that this guy was not what he was claiming to be – ach, it’s a disgrace! Incompetence is one thing, pragmatism is another, but incompetent pragmatism is the worst of all worlds.

            I would prefer principle and some scrap of honour, but if you’re going to stomp in with your army, at least make sure the place will run as smoothly after your puppet has won his ‘democratic election will of the people’ mandate as it did before, not worse.

        • keranih says:

          D –

          I wouldn’t spend that much energy on Blackwater, et al – that was pretty much a Western boogie-man that was easy meat for the consumers of Western media, rather than that much of an issue there.

          (Slightly longer version – armed bodyguards were a necessity for most of the non-Iraqi personnel, as without body guards the NGO and coalition-sponsored personnel were targets for kidnapping and worse, and while there were good engineers who went in to build good stuff, there were also crap engineers. Same-same with the security crews.)

          (A great deal of the issues with armed bodyguards was that generally, reconstruction doesn’t happen in environments as unstable as Iraq was when reconstruction started. Usually invading armies are much more heavy handed than the coalition was in Iraq. So there were a lot of people in dangerous situations when normally they’d have avoided the place for several years until stuff settled down again.)

          • Deiseach says:

            If they’d admitted that was what they were – private security – it would have starved the conspiracy theories. But saying “nope, nope, civilian contractors” – the same as the civil engineers etc who really were what most people understood by the term “civilian contractors” – made it sound shadier than it (already) was.

      • AnonBosch says:

        But Obama didn’t feel like talking to Jawad al-Maliki, didn’t feel like negotiating the SOFA agreements, and so we were asked to leave. And we did.

        Where is the evidence that Maliki wanted a residual force? His behavior in the wake of our withdrawal was that of a Shia strongman beholden to Iranian interests. Every anti-Obama counterfactual seems to depend on some kind of magical thinking where “negotiating better” could have made him accept a continued troop presence. But in the real world, what he actually wanted was a free hand to dispense sectarian patronage and oppress the Sunni minority (in my view, Maliki bears at least as much responsibility for ISIS as anyone). Where is the evidence that this was possible, short of a soft coup where we installed Allawi by force (which brings its own problems)?

        • cassander says:

          >Where is the evidence that Maliki wanted a residual force?

          He said it at the time. His ambassador said it. The US ambassador to Iraq said he wanted it. The secretary of defense said it. what more do you need? Everyone involved at the time thought that a deal was possible, and was shocked by the Obama administration’s decision to take their ball and go home.

          http://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/21/how-the-obama-administration-bungled-the-iraq-withdrawal-negotiations/

          • AnonBosch says:

            He said it at the time. His ambassador said it. The US ambassador to Iraq said he wanted it. what more do you need?

            Well, contemporaneous citations for all of those would be a good start. I honestly had no idea and I’ve asked this question of many people.

          • cassander says:

            @AnonBosch

            The quotes from those people are in that FP article, or articles that it links to.

  44. Steve Sailer says:

    Something that nobody seems to have noticed is that Obama, in his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, was brutally critical of the results of Hillary’s advice on Libya.

  45. Jill says:

    Here’s an article below that might concern you if you prefer Hillary. But if you prefer Trump, you probably have explanations for why Trump’s man crush on Putin would be the best thing that ever happened to the U.S. if Trump were elected.

    Maybe this whole anti-Trump thing of Scott’s, will finally convince Scott and some others here, that almost no one is very rational. And everyone is emotional. If someone values rationality, they do seem rational to themselves. But to others, they seem like they are cherry picking their examples and arguments, and being vague in their arguments, and then nitpicking the arguments of the arguers who disagree.

    Putin’s Puppet

    If the Russian president could design a candidate to undermine American interests—and advance his own—he’d look a lot like Donald Trump.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/07/vladimir_putin_has_a_plan_for_destroying_the_west_and_it_looks_a_lot_like.html

    • E. Harding says:

      “Here’s an article below that might concern you if you prefer Hillary.

      https://twitter.com/mcurryfelidae07/status/776101739300786176

      Why would a typical Hillary supporter want a higher risk of nuclear war? Why would they call the 1980s and the 1940s for their foreign policy, as Clinton admitted she does?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS2a44F5TgM

      If Clinton was pro-Putin, that would change my assessment of Her in a positive direction. It would not change the vast majority of Clinton supporters’ assessment of Her by a nose hair. They don’t care. They just pretend they do. If the election was between Putin and Trump, they would gladly choose Putin. Just as if the election was between Putin and Obama, Republicans would gladly choose Putin.

      • Deiseach says:

        If the election was between Putin and Trump, they would gladly choose Putin.

        If the election was between Putin and Trump, I’d vote for Putin (had I a vote). At least you’d get some topless horse-riding photo-ops out of it 🙂

  46. Lila says:

    “America’s promise to defend its allies … prevents America’s allies from building big militaries.”

    Not exactly. NATO requires that members spend at least 2% of GDP on defense (though most members don’t meet this standard).

  47. I really can’t for the life of me understand anyone who would use foreign policy as a defining factor in election choices.

    But if that’s what floats your boat, then consider this: whatever his other issues, Trump won’t continue the “invade the world, invite the world” policy that has plagued us for lo these 40 years. All the crap about defending or not defending NATO, bombing the shit out of ISIS, or whatever else people want to find shocking, is just miniscule stuff.

    The important thing is immigration and stopping as much of it as we possibly can. Trump probably won’t go as far as he should, but he’ll go further than anyone else right now.

    • Theo Jones says:

      “I really can’t for the life of me understand anyone who would use foreign policy as a defining factor in election choices.”

      I find it pretty much the most important issue on deciding the president because it’s one of the few issues where the President pretty much has unilateral power to make country changing decisions without needing to get the approval of Congress/the courts/administrative bureaucracies/state governments.

      Fiscal policy is largely Congress’ thing. Most other areas of domestic policy are divided between Congress/courts/administrative agencies, with the president’s role being a mix of bully pulpit and veto power. If the president comes up with a stream of idiot ideas on these matters, there are plenty of checks to prevent them from coming into effect, if the other parts of government disagree.

      Foreign policy is different. With war the president can decide to send armies places, and for all intensive purposes start a war on his own. With trade he can cancel all of our trade agreements , or change the stance of immigration policy greatly.

      • anon says:

        The president cannot, legally, unilaterally cancel trade agreements or change the stance of immigration policy. (That’s why many object to Obama’s immigration enforcement policies.)

        • E. Harding says:

          If Clinton wins, and wins the Senate, she will be able to unilaterally change the stance of immigration policy. That’s another reason why Trump is clearly the more sensible candidate.

        • Stopping Obama’s immigration policy is pretty important. Moreover, the president can create different…priorities for the INS. Can slow down the issuance of visas and green cards. He can probably have some impact on whether the US takes in refugees or not, or insisting that countries take their criminal citizens back. Just for starters.

          He can also use the bully pulpit to argue for things like restricting public education to citizens only (again, not on Trump horizon).

          But mostly, Trump’s ability to hold very near level with Clinton despite open media and establishment hostility shows that immigration is very important to a lot of people. Politicians might even start to get the idea they can get elected on the topic.

          • Theo Jones says:

            “He can also use the bully pulpit to argue for things like restricting public education to citizens only (again, not on Trump horizon).”

            But in the end the Supreme Court decides that issue. And there is little indication that the justices are interested in changing the precident in that matter.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plyler_v._Doe

            “Stopping Obama’s immigration policy is pretty important.”

            I actually think the executive action on immigration was good policy

        • Theo Jones says:

          “The president cannot, legally, unilaterally cancel trade agreements”

          The president has the ability to cancel treaties without congressional approval, as Supreme Court precedent indicates that the courts will not block such actions.

          “That’s why many object to Obama’s immigration enforcement policies”

          The executive action on immigration is still being litigated, but there is a very good chance the courts will uphold it. And there are other areas where the president has a lot of control, for instance the discretion to admit up to 100,000 refugees per year (relevant part mid article, but its a cap that has not been hit recently, but that allows for a substantial relaxment in immigration restrictions, or the possibility to help relieve some of the European refugee crisis issues). But the president has great discretion in who gets admitted.

          • “but there is a very good chance the courts will uphold it.”

            It would almost certainly have been overturned if Scalia had lived, which suggests that courts are another big reason to worry about a Clinton win.

            BTW, I ‘m well aware of Plyler, and the link goes through the Court’s reasoning. Plyler involved only illegal immigrants, and a key aspect of the Court’s reasoning was that the state hadn’t provided any reason why illegal aliens should be treated differently than legal ones. Thus, any law making K-12 education citizen only would make Plyler’s ruling largely irrelevant. The other key issue in Plyler was that the state couldn’t prove it was a hardship to citizens, something that would be much easier to prove today. Plyler explicitly did *not* declare education a right.

          • anon says:

            Interesting, thanks for the link to the Goldwater v Carter case. But I’m not sure I read the conclusion as strongly as you do; it seems quite clear that had the Senate voted to oppose Carter’s action, the Court would have been forced to confront the underlying Constitutional question.

            So maybe I was misinterpreting your actual reasoning. I thought you were mistakingly conflating the Executive’s wide, essentially unilateral authority to conduct foreign relations (to which the War Powers and Treaty clauses constitute important but more or less rare exceptions), with Executive supremacy in the areas of immigration *policy* (governed by normal legislative processes) and trade (which falls under the purview of the Treaty clause). But from your reply, it sounds like you’re actually saying — correctly, I guess — that recently Congress has gone beyond abdicating its war powers and reached a point of such complete dysfunction that we should now (for the purposes of making political decisions) view trade and immigration as essentially executive in nature. In both cases, there is a limited but intrinsic role for the executive (trade negotiation, immigration enforcement), which gives the executive branch *practical* control over the issue, up and to the point where Congress is willing to provide meaningful resistance and SCOTUS can’t ignore the Constitutional tension.

            Like I said, this seems to be a basically correct analysis of the current state of US politics, but it’s still a disgusting bastardization of the intended constitutional order of things.

          • Cord Shirt says:

            @education realist:

            Plyler explicitly did *not* declare education a right.

            No, but it did say that the state has an interest in educating all children under its jurisdiction. (And, as you note, decided that immigrants both legal and not are under its jurisdiction.)

            Public education is not a “right” granted to individuals by the Constitution. [San Antonio Independent School Dist. v. Rodriguez, 411 U. S. 1, 35 (1973).] But neither is it merely some governmental “benefit” indistinguishable from other forms of social welfare legislation. Both the importance of education in maintaining our basic institutions, and the lasting impact of its deprivation on the life of the child, mark the distinction. The “American people have always regarded education and [the] acquisition of knowledge as matters of supreme importance.” [Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U. S. 390, 400 (1923).] We have recognized “the public schools as a most vital civic institution for the preservation of a democratic system of government,” [Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U. S. 203, 230 (1963)], and as the primary vehicle for transmitting “the values on which our society rests.” [Ambach v. Norwick, 441 U. S. 68, 76 (1979).] “[A]s…pointed out early in our history,…some degree of education is necessary to prepare citizens to participate effectively and intelligently in our open political system if we are to preserve freedom and independence.” [Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U. S. 205, 221 (1972).] And these historic “perceptions of the public schools as inculcating fundamental values necessary to the maintenance of a democratic political system have been confirmed by the observations of social scientists.” [Ambach v. Norwick, supra, at 77.] In addition, education provides the basic tools by which individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of us all. In sum, education has a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society. We cannot ignore the significant social costs borne by our Nation when select groups are denied the means to absorb the values and skills upon which our social order rests.

            In addition to the pivotal role of education in sustaining our political and cultural heritage, denial of education to some isolated group of children poses an affront to one of the goals of the Equal Protection Clause: the abolition of governmental barriers presenting unreasonable obstacles to advancement on the basis of individual merit.

            And:

            other aliens are admitted “on an equality of legal privileges with all citizens under non-discriminatory laws,” [Takahashi v. Fish & Game Comm’n, 334 U. S. 410, 420 (1948)]

            That is a bit of a precedent that “free education is not only for citizens.”

            I can see some possible lines of argument but…IMO not an open and shut case.

          • Wency says:

            Congress has gone beyond abdicating its war powers and reached a point of such complete dysfunction that we should now (for the purposes of making political decisions) view trade and immigration as essentially executive in nature.

            Expect the scope of executive power to widen, especially if the Democrats end up with mostly-permanent control of both the executive and judicial branches but more sporadic control of the legislature, which seems likely.

            This is the most plausible scenario that I see for the general breakdown of American democracy. Congress becomes essentially a debating body, while the real work is performed by the Executive, granted carte blanche by the SC. This has already been the long-term trend, and I think it accelerates if an activist SC sees that there is always a Democrat in the White House.

          • anon says:

            Wency, I’m not sure I share your degree of pessimism. That said, your position is an argument for doubling down on the Tea Party’s (original, Constitutionalist) frame of the Great Debate between left and right.

            Personally, I don’t hold our precise constitutional framework in particularly high esteem. I suspect that I would be in favor of a majority of “reasonable” revisions to said framework. (Eliminate the senate and electoral college, change the voting algorithm, etc. etc. maybe even pass a few more specific amendments, and more importantly perhaps change the amendment mechanism to one more flexible.) That said, I feel pretty strongly that any such changes would be illegitimate if not brought about via mechanisms specified in the existing framework. (I recently learned that this makes me a positivist and perhaps a formalist.)

            I’m curious about how most Americans feel about these underlying institutional and philosophical questions, which seem to me to be both more fundamental to, and at the same time somewhat orthogonal to, other culture war divides.

            For example, my guess is that
            * the Grey Tribe is formalist and textualist.
            * the Blue Tribe is neither formalist nor textualist.

            But I’m not confident on these judgments and I’m uncertain about what Red Tribers think.

  48. Jill says:

    The whole thing is about trust and wanting a leader who’ll be on your side and take care of stuff competently. And people who decide to trust a certain leader to be on their side and to take care of stuff competently for them and their tribe, are like teenagers who decide that some guy or gal is the love of their life. They’re not likely to be talked out of it, no matter how good the would-be persuader’s arguments are. They won’t let any rational arguer take away their good feelings.

    • E. Harding says:

      Sad, but, for the majority of voters, true.

    • baconbacon says:

      The whole thing is about trust and wanting a leader who’ll be on your side and take care of stuff competently.

      Here is all the mistakes in politics summed up in a single sentence. Competence assumes capability. Wal-Mart has annual revenues of less than $500 billion, the US government has annual revenues of ~ 3.5 trillion. The assumption that an individual with some good (even great!) advisors can run an organization that is almost an order of magnitude larger in terms of revenue than the largest corporations in the world, that is probably an order of magnitude larger in terms of complexity, and that has a much broader range of (claimed) responsibilities competently has just leaked into the national consciousness. Hillary is smart and capable and wants to do good- even if true isn’t enough, you have to assume that handling the US government is within ANYONE’s ability, let alone her’s specifically.

      Gary Johnson is the only remotely acceptable candidate, and it isn’t because he is the smartest, or the best human being, it is because he is the only one who has even hinted that perhaps we should scale this monster back a little bit.

  49. Eli says:

    (Actually, I have a theory which I think explains a lot about Trump’s foreign policy positions: he doesn’t like losers. He supported the Iraq War and the Libya intervention when it looked like we would probably win. Then we lost, and he said they were stupid and bungled. He supports counterfactual invasions of Iraq and Libya where we “kept the oil” because that would have counted as winning. He supports invading ISIS because he expects to be in charge of the invasion and he expects to win. Under this theory, Trump’s retrospective non-support for failed wars doesn’t predict that he won’t start new ones.)

    I think Trump just has a compulsive need to be the “winner” in any and all situations, and doesn’t give half a damn if it means his behavior in different situations is inconsistent. From his point of view, as long as he knows he won, he got it right.

    He doesn’t have a politics; he has an ego. That’s the strength of his campaign: his supporters get to share in the feelings of “power” and “winning”. I use scare-quotes because, well, I expect that if you really suffer from a lack of agency in your own life, then you will continue to do so under a President Trump. Eventually vicarious agency will not be enough for you, so you should just find some other candidate (or skip voting for President at all and vote down-ballot, where you really do have more of an impact) whose policies really will increase your agency.

  50. Jill says:

    Here are some video clips of some Trump surrogates being interviewed– the type of people who might make up the cabinet if Trump were elected.

    Trump’s Basket of Inexplicables | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEsP4_1ImUI

  51. Bugmaster says:

    By “Pax Americana”, do you mean “The Cold War” ? You know, that period in history when people sincerely believed that they were living on the brink of annihilation — and that belief was most likely correct ? Irrespective of your other points, I don’t think it would be a great idea to go back to that again.

  52. keranih says:

    My problem with the high/low variance equation that Scott puts forth is that he puts too much faith in the power of the POTUS.

    Global politics is not a one-man show, it’s a multi-factor system. The actions of the USA were much more significant in the 80’s and 90’s, when we were first the counter to the USSR and then the last superpower standing. Since 2000, the US’s ability to force huge shifts in global power has declined, from a combination of lack of respect (“everyone knows Bush is an idiot”), circumspect behavior (we went into Iraq, and then left, and turned both Afghanistan and Iraq back over to their citizens) and deliberate efforts on the part of President Obama to decrease the span of American influence.(*)

    Instead of us running the show, we are engaged with a number of other power players. In this case, sustaining the status quo isn’t just what we do, but also what we do when other players act. Scott gives a great deal of credit to the rest of the world in assuming they will engage in rational self-reflection and not take risky action that might provoke violent reaction.

    If the world was as Scott thinks it is – run by rationalists – then having a person willing to step out of the usual rut would be destabilizing, because that person (ie, Trump) would be the only one rocking the boat. However, if the world was full of independent actors with warped povs and an inclination towards taking risks, then a person who would only respond with “measured” reactions will result in other nations taking that and running with it.

    People don’t think Hillary will do crazy things – and I agree. It would be fairly easy to push her into a corner and restrict her actions to easily predicted options.

    People think Trump might do crazy things – and I agree. Trump will be harder to predict, more likely to move outside the box, and far more likely to encourage our enemies to avoid pissing off the wolverine.

    Urging stability and the status quo is all well and good when you are dealing with stable people. In a roomful of people looking for an opportunity to knock you down, a little rep for crazy can be a benefit.

    I sometimes wonder if people whose memory doesn’t actually go to the other side of the fall of the Berlin Wall can really appreciate the complete failure of Really Smart People to predict the future.

    We had a stable status quo for 40, maybe 45 years. And then a stable peace for another decade. *shrugs* It was nice while it lasted.

    (*) I think Obama did this because he thinks it’s best for the world and for the USA, more or less in that order. I think he’s wrong and badly informed for even entertaining that notion, but I reject the idea that he’s deliberately sabotaging America. Always pick incompetence over malice.

    • Eli says:

      When it comes to scaring the shit out of your own allies and enemies, I usually trust the advice of the Mossad and Shabak (“General Security Service” of Israel — and exactly as creepy as you think they are). Those guys don’t seem to be making Trump-y mouth-noises these days, so I don’t really trust that Trump actually scares people all that much, at least not in such a way that he can use that fear to influence people.

      (I realize this undermines the Clintonite “OMFG TRUMP IS SO SCARY” arguments, but I don’t care about those.)

      • Saudi Arabia and Israel would both be quite vocal if they thought Trump was about to kill their security. They certainly don’t hesitate to scream bloody murder about anything else we do.

      • dsotm says:

        I usually trust the advice of the Mossad and Shabak (“General Security Service” of Israel — and exactly as creepy as you think they are). Those guys don’t seem to be making Trump-y mouth-noises these days

        As opposed to the frequent mouth-noises they usually make?

        Don’t know about Saudi Arabia but Israel’s security doctrine does not generally* rely on active US military intervention in the style of NATO but rather on US economic aid which it has just recently secured for the next ten years in spite of some republican congress leaders insisting that it should wait until after the elections and get a better deal, now this insistence was probably dominated by the desire to deprive Obama/democrats of the political capital associated with providing the aid but still Israel chose to sign it now and at the cost of a rather painful concession (losing the ability to use part of the aid in the domestic market).

        * Except maybe in case of a regional war, ISIS getting out of hand, Iran etc.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m not sure this is true. My impression is that low-variance geopolitics is played for low stakes – if we screw up Syria, then Russia gets an extra base on the Mediterranean; if we screw up Iran, then they get nuclear weapons that they’ll never use but which make them more of a regional player, et cetera. If Hillary plays the game but does poorly, then that looks like American power slowly eroding around the world on a timescale of decades – which I think I’m okay with as long as it’s replaced with something else stable like Russian or Chinese power working on the same principles. If Trump refuses to play the game and tries something crazy, then that looks more like a war or an economic collapse.

      • E. Harding says:

        “If Trump refuses to play the game and tries something crazy, then that looks more like a war or an economic collapse.”

        -A war with whom and an economic collapse where? What does “trying something crazy” mean? What does “refusing to play the game” mean? You have to be specific on these things; otherwise, you risk total detachment of your critique with reality. I can say lots of things about lots of people in very broad, non-falsifiable terms; that doesn’t make any of them true.

        • Ben says:

          Why does he need specific hypotheses? His point is that Trump has proven to quickly switch positions (or perhaps revealed to never have had a real position to start with), become extremely caught up in egotistical dickwaving contests, make grand threatening show-of-power gestures (“bomb them all to hell” “you have to go after their families”)… all the while clearly having no concrete plans other than “make government more efficient through unspecified or infeasible means” and “win”.

          This is an unstable presidency in the making, even if the exact manifestation of that instability will remain to be seen. As Scott says, even if we assume a good percentage of his statements here are to attract voter support or just seem threatening despite no intent to execute, the chance of an international incident going very bad is absolutely higher with Trump vs. Clinton.

          Even if Clinton has 10 more Libya-like situations throughout her presidency, I’d much rather take that with 100% certainty than a 20% certainty Trump causes a devastating event or dramatically reshapes US diplomacy (losing allies; gaining Russia as an ally; etc.). Trump is unpredictable by nature. The chance of a world-changing event being caused by him is low, but still far, far higher than most other presidential candidates.

          • E. Harding says:

            “grand threatening show-of-power gestures (“bomb them all to hell” “you have to go after their families”)”

            -These are credible policy pronouncements I expect him to follow.

            “This is an unstable presidency in the making, even if the exact manifestation of that instability will remain to be seen.”

            -Unlike Clinton’s, this is a presidency that takes evidence into account. I see no virtue in a foolish consistency.

            “the chance of an international incident going very bad is absolutely higher with Trump vs. Clinton.”

            -You provide zero evidence for this.

            “Trump is unpredictable by nature.”

            -Is Clinton? Again, you focus on generalities, not specifics. Trump’s foreign policies are fairly easy to predict if you actually listen to what he says.

            “a devastating event or dramatically reshapes US diplomacy (losing allies; gaining Russia as an ally; etc.”

            -One of these things is not like the other. And you seem to be grading the Obama administration with pretty low standards.

            “The chance of a world-changing event being caused by him is low, but still far, far higher than most other presidential candidates.”

            -Assuming Trump sticks to the general policies and goals outlined during his campaign and does so, then great.

      • pku says:

        if we screw up Iran, then they get nuclear weapons that they’ll never use

        Something I don’t think americans realise is that many Israelis (as in, probably a majority) are sure that the moment Iran gets nukes, they’ll use them against Israel. This is why Obama’s Iran deal was a Really Big Deal: Without it, Israel could have ended up trying a pre-emptive strike – definitely conventional, and maybe nuclear (I doubt Netanyahu would go for the nuclear option, but if Iran got nuclear weapons, Israelis might get scared enough to replace him with someone more militant).
        Even if that conflict didn’t turn nuclear, it could easily lead to another Israel-Hezbollah war and the like, which could get huge. So Iran was, in fact, a case where conventional establishment diplomacy may well have averted anything between a Syria-style and an actual nuclear war.
        Conclusion: Don’t knock conventional diplomacy.

        • American Jew says:

          What the hell happened to Israel? Granted the whole socialist messianism of the early days was a little strange, but at least it was intelligent and hopeful and charming.

          Now it seems like the secular parts of the country are filled with querulous, inward focused, cynical paranoids. And let’s not even talk about the non-secular parts.

          Was it the post-Soviet Russian influx? The downfall of the Ashkenazis as a cultural elite? Something else?

          • Sandy says:

            The environment was not conducive to socialist messianism, and after Menachem Begin (arguably the archetype for the cynical paranoid Israeli) left his mark on Israeli foreign policy, I don’t think there was any going back because that style was more realistic than the early ideas.

          • Garrett says:

            Something of an issue that’s been bothering me for some time that I suppose now is an appropriate time to ask: why are so many Jews left wing/socialists?
            Israel was founded originally with socialist principles. Jews in New York are notably on the left. Same for the “Hollywood Jew”. Most people of Jewish decent I happen to know personally who live in swing states are notably to the left as well.
            My first thought was that in-general Jews tend to have higher IQs and that correlates with socialist tendencies. But other non-Jewish-specific high-IQ groups (eg. tech-sector workers) tend more towards the libertarian side of things.
            What’s up?

          • American Jew says:

            It’s something of hornet’s nest. For myself I think the answer is mostly down to 1) historical contingency and 2) natural tendency of immigrants.

            The source population for most American Jews and a significant fraction of Israeli Jews (but less so now) is 1850-1950 Eastern Europe. Socialism was all the rage and its brotherhood of all men rhetoric and revolutionary aims naturally appealed to the Jewish underclass. When they came to the US and Israel they brought those ideologies with them and passed them on in diluted form to their children and even more diluted form to their grandchildren.

            The other part is that immigrants in general tend to be left wing, at least for a certain definition of left wing. For example, they are likely to be repelled by ethnic nationalism given that they probably don’t share the dominant ethnicity and they tend to be poor, which means they probably aren’t going to be attracted to the politics of the rich. Again these are things that fade over a few generations but continue to have some pull. This factor obviously applies more to the US (and Canada, etc) than it does to Israel.

            There are other, more totalizing, explanations out there, but I think those two are most of it.

          • pku says:

            When you say immigrants tend to be left-wing, I don’t think that really applies to people whose families immigrated around 1800 (i.e. the vast majority of americans). The other counterargument is that ex-soviet Israeli Jews tend to be very libertarian.

            And don’t tech-sector workers lean massively to the left (if in a libertarian-ish way)?
            The obvious just-so story here is that tech workers come from a background of being the smartest guys in the room and thus want to be left alone to do their own stuff, while Jews are used to being part of an intelligent community and thus fundamentally believe in teamwork.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Tech workers used to lean left in a libertarianish way (though with plenty of actual communists too). Now they typically lean left in an SJ way, though there’s still a fair number of Euro-style Social Democrats.

          • American Jew says:

            When you say immigrants tend to be left-wing, I don’t think that really applies to people whose families immigrated around 1800 (i.e. the vast majority of americans).

            Like I said it fades after several generations. But I think the original immigrants back then were left-wing, just on different issues than were relevant later. Things like reform of indentured servitude laws, expanding the franchise beyond landowners, and so on.

            The other counterargument is that ex-soviet Israeli Jews tend to be very libertarian.

            Yeah, I don’t think the same analysis applies to Israel as it does to the anglosphere. It’s a different type of immigration.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Now it seems like the secular parts of the country are filled with querulous, inward focused, cynical paranoids. And let’s not even talk about the non-secular parts.

            Gee, it’s almost as if all their neighbors have been trying to murder them for the past eighty years, in coordinated with a massive and explicitly anti-Semitic delegitimization campaign and the mainstreaming of the idea that attacking random Jews is a rational response to any political complaint. Seriously, have you been in a coma since 1948?

          • John Schilling says:

            He might have woken up in, say, 1982. Most of Israel’s immediate neighbors have stopped trying to kill them, the danger of the country actually being overrun by an invading army has greatly receded, none of the people who still hate them seem to have nuclear weapons, and Israel now has extremely formidable defensive and deterrence capabilities against the immediately existential sorts of military threats.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Perhaps he woke up in 1982 and then fell asleep again the day the Oslo Accords were signed, creating a brand new and international community-funded set of neighbors who want the Israelis dead and frequently act immune to deterrence.

        • pku says:

          I think it’s a mix of fatigue of the peace process never getting anywhere, and feeling more entitled to safety (Stronger militarily compared to the neighbors nowadays, a population that mostly hasn’t lived through real wars, etc.)

          One of the things that struck me the first year or two after moving to America was just how big a deal 9/11 was here. It wasn’t taken the way Israel would take a major terrorist attack at the time, because america didn’t consider terrorist attacks an everyday part of life. And Israel’s becoming more like that nowadays, which means it’s less calm and rational in how it responds to attacks.

          The other factor is just demographic shifting – Secular Israel’s still relatively moderate and reasonable, but religious Israel’s almost all right-wing and is on the cusp of becoming a majority. Russians immigration probably made Israel more trigger-happy too (in that most Russian Israelis I know are incredibly hawkish). But it’s hard to tell how big a deal it is – Liberman at his height commanded most of it and was influential but not decisive in Israeli politics.

          Edit: Another factor is that unlike in america (where voters don’t usually know or care much about diplomacy), in Israel diplomacy/security is the one thing almost everyone votes based on – voting based on the economy only started being a thing recently, and it’s still unusual. Which means that instead of being handled by experienced officials, it gets handled on the street.

          • American Jew says:

            Thanks for the reply. I wasn’t thinking about politics specifically so much as the general zeitgeist, but I suppose they are intertwined.

            Even the start up guys I met there didn’t have the manic start up energy and we-are-going-to-change-the-world optimism you in SF.

          • pku says:

            Now that is interesting (and surprising). Possibly because they tend to be older (post-military, and usually post-degree as well, putting them at around thirty I’d guess), and thus more cynical?
            Like, generally I feel like Israeli culture is still more start-upy than american culture (In the sense of being hopeful and intelligent and wanting to build new things), even if not as much as it used to be. But it’s also more cynical/practical, in some ways, which would put a damper on that.
            (I may be having a case of graduation goggles here; it’s been awhile since I’ve been home and I’m starting to miss it).

            Something else I’ll add to the original statement: Israelis do have some reason to believe Iran wants to nuke them: In the last seventy years there’ve been three wars and two intifadas with the stated purpose of destroying Israel, and Ahmajinedad has at least heavily implied he’d like to see it destroyed.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Merkel’s Boner is an interesting example of a high stakes mistake.

        Merkel herself is embarrassed by her own goal a year ago inviting in the million refugee mob. It was an out-of-character snap decision on her part that she has been paying a price for ever since.

        Trump this week said Merkel was a good leader until that mistake.

        Hillary went out of her way this week to praise Merkel, especially Merkel’s unforced error on refugees.

        I have a real concern that as she ages, Hillary is becoming more extremist about the Establishment conventional wisdom of Invade-the-World / Invite-the-World.

        • E. Harding says:

          Steve, any comments on Her remarks about basement-dwellers and supposedly being a centrist?

          https://theintercept.com/2016/09/30/hillary-clinton-center-right/

          • Ben says:

            CLINTON: Some are new to politics completely. They’re children of the Great Recession. And they are living in their parents’ basement. They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future. I met with a group of young black millennials today and you know one of the young women said, “You know, none of us feel that we have the job that we should have gotten out of college. And we don’t believe the job market is going to give us much of a chance.” So that is a mindset that is really affecting their politics. And so if you’re feeling like you’re consigned to, you know, being a barista, or you know, some other job that doesn’t pay a lot, and doesn’t have some other ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing.

            To preface, I am certainly no fan of Clinton (no fan of Trump, either), but given the full context she clearly did not intend “and they are living in their parents’ basement” to mean “they’re lazy basement-dwellers”. She meant they’re young and unemployed and still live with their parents, and they want better opportunities.

            As for supposedly being a centrist, she obviously is one relative to the current left- and right-wing sentiment in this country (perhaps excluding some of the more SJW-type rhetoric she’s adopted lately, though that very well may just be to gain more votes from groups she thinks are particularly hostile to Trump).

          • E. Harding says:

            Clinton’s Senate record was slightly to the Left of Obama’s. Kaine’s, though, was noticeably to Obama’s right. Sotomayor, the Obama SCOTUS pick we know most about, is no centrist. The fact Clinton’s still spending Her time appealing to Kasich voters is hilarious.

          • onyomi says:

            Her basement-dweller comment actually improved my opinion of her slightly because it demonstrated two things:

            1. She is aware of millenials’ justifiable economic anxieties

            2. Whatever she says to try to attract the Bernie crowd, she doesn’t take their ideas seriously

      • keranih says:

        Scott, thanks for the reply, but this is a whole list of assumptions I don’t think are actually well founded.

        The worst case for a screwed up Syria is not Russia with access to the Med, but a destabilized Turkey and a Levant full of refugees pushing against Israeli borders.

        I do not trust Iran to not use nukes – they already used chemical weapons against other Muslims in the Iran/Iraq war.

        I think you underestimate the possibility that slow erosions of power are unlikely in the modern world – nations seem to fall apart much faster now.

        And given how much effort you extended to get multiheaded out of Russia, I am a little surprised that you’re equating Russian and Chinese influence/power with American influence/power. In general terms, population flows seem to indicate that one of these is not like others, and is to be preferred. I’m curious about why you don’t share the same discrimination.

        • John Schilling says:

          I do not trust Iran to not use nukes – they already used chemical weapons against other Muslims in the Iran/Iraq war.

          Cite, please. Iraq used chemical weapons extensively against Iran during that war; I am not aware of any use of chemical weapons by Iran in any war.

          • keranih says:

            @ John Schilling –

            I stand corrected. I don’t know where I got that impression but it was evidently wrong.

            …however, having done a thirty minute refresher on the I/I war, I really regret having done so. Jesus, that was a meat grinder. And the kids in the mine fields…

          • Wency says:

            It’s also worth noting that the classification of chemical weapons as WMDs is essentially arbitrary. Nuclear weapons don’t belong in the same category. The fact that you are undeterred from using chemical weapons and the resulting global “Tsk tsk” does not suggest that you will be undeterred from using nuclear weapons and the presumably much larger condemnation/retaliation that would follow.

            I’ve never read a good explanation for why chemical weapons receive unique treatment. My best take is that soldiers hate them, and the countermeasures for them are easily implemented but inconvenient and uncomfortable. So it’s better if we can agree to not use them rather than to force our soldiers to wear gas masks all the time, thereby raising the tolerability of infantry warfare to a slightly higher equilibrium.

            Using them breaks this equilibrium, so it’s a jerk move, but it’s not genocidal in and of itself. Civilians don’t have countermeasures against chemical weapons, so chemical weapons are useful on them, but then so are bombs, shells, and bullets. I guess they could in theory be useful if you wanted to wipe out a village but leave the structures physically intact for future settlement. Or preserve infrastructure for military use.

          • keranih says:

            I’ve never read a good explanation for why chemical weapons receive unique treatment.

            They’re not unique – they are lumped in with bioweapons, which are lumped in with nukes for the same reason as chems:

            Chemical & bioweapons are asymetrical and imprecise, and cheaper to develop than a standing army of the same capability. They’re a bitch to defend against and annoying to clean up after, and they cause a lot of excitement.

            The USA has large sunk costs in its standing army (to include its reputation) and a civilian population that is notoriously not under the control of its government nor its military. Chem & bio weapons would be extremely effective – at the very least, explaining how such an attack was “allowed” to happen would be devastatingly distracting from a sustained counter attack effort.

            The USA happens to have, right here in its back pocket, a large number of nukes. By justifying a nuke response to a chem attack, the USA saves itself from the (minor) cost of developing chemical weapons, the (more significant) cost of storing them, and the (rather considerable) cost of figuring out how to effectively fight in a chem/bio environment. Also a non-zero number of people who would be tempted to use chem/bio warfare if they thought they could get a leg up on their competitors in that field would be dissuaded from doing so.

          • Wency says:

            Chemical & bioweapons are asymetrical and imprecise, and cheaper to develop than a standing army of the same capability.

            This is the part I’m questioning. And I’m not interested in lumping chemical weapons in with bioweapons. Reintroducing smallpox to the world is categorically different from bombarding a local area with a different kind of munitions.

            And while chemical weapons are imprecise, it’s not clear to me that they’re dramatically less precise than, say, artillery bombardment in a populated area. After tens of thousands of Syrian dead, probably mostly civilians, I don’t understand why a few hundred dead from chemical weapons raises such an alarm.

            Chemical weapons only seem to have been used effectively a handful of times, and the effectiveness seems to be a product of their rarity, as the enemy didn’t seem to see it coming.

            According to the British in WW1:
            “gas achieved but local success, nothing decisive; it made war uncomfortable, to no purpose”

      • Nevertaken says:

        “…if we screw up Iran, then they get nuclear weapons that they’ll never use but which make them more of a regional player, et cetera.”

        For someone who just set ‘variance’ as the standard by which we should judge and assess political affairs, you seem way too chill about the prospect of Iran getting nukes. The best plausible outcome of that is a period of Mutual Assured Destruction with a bunch of theocrats who have vowed to their people and the world that they will wipe another nearby nuclear power off the map.

        Maybe they are kidding, and maybe Iran is full of Stanislav Petrovs who will keep everything calm whenever Israel fires a rocket or puts planes in the air that may or may not be carrying nukes from Iran’s point of view.

        But as far as variance goes, I would be way more concerned to hear in the news that Iran had done a successful test explosion than I would to hear that Trump (or anyone else who plausibly could) had won the presidency.

  53. Nevertaken says:

    It is not obvious to me that Trump would be the higher variance choice. In a vacuum, just looking at the two candidates, he is obviously the high variance pick, but these two candidates are not running in a vacuum, they are running in the United States in 2016.

    And the United States in 2016 is in the midst of a political realignment of some kind. The political culture is moving very fast right now – what is happening now would be strange and alien to someone from eight, or even four years ago. Something happened during Obama’s presidency – something that had probably been building for a while, which came to a head during this administration; something which has a nature that is not really apparent and probably won’t be properly understood until historians call look back on all of this from a safe distance.

    But whatever that something is, one of its core characteristics is a large and bi-partisan (or more properly bi-ideological, or if you prefer for this blog, bi-red and blue tribe) discontent with the established elite. Hillary Clinton is pretty much the walking incarnation of the establishment elite. If she were elected we should expect all sorts of things which this new political reality abhors to not only continue, but to accelerate. She will of course empower SJWs, who will run with the ball she gives them to places that will seem at least as absurd to us today as a ban on having separate male and female toilets would seem to a 2008 John McCain voter. But she would also empower the likes of Goldman Sachs – even more so than they are empowered today. And she would do this – and much more – with the full aid, support, and comfort of the establishment. Of the media; of the courts; of politically active celebrities; of the academy. Of all the established institutions of government and culture.

    She will also, with all this support, and especially if she faces a Republican Congress, further tear down or weaken any remaining checks there are on the federal executive power.

    What do we suppose is going to happen with the tens of millions of Trump and Bernie supporters while all of that is going on? They’ll shrug and go back to a-political apathy? Or will we be looking at an unstoppable political juggernaut that will be there for anyone with some political talent and an appetite for ‘burn it all down’ rhetoric to pick up and wield? Or some other, not now foreseeable, but high variance outcome that will be set up by that political dynamic?

    But a Trump presidency wouldn’t be like that. Trump would not have the support of the establishment. He would be blocked and mocked throughout his presidency. The more high variance his random acts are, the more resistance there will be to them. John Roberts, Sam Alito, Clarence Thomas, are not going to line up in lockstep behind whatever Trump wants to do; neither is Paul Ryan. The establishment will pick up the tools the Constitution has and check Trump in a way it never would with Hillary. This will force a rapprochement between the newly rising political forces and the establishment, leading to a new, but relatively stable political environment.

    Or maybe not. Maybe Trump will be unchecked, and his random utterances will be put into motion, leading to high variance misery for everyone. That might be the more likely possibility compared to what I’ve suggested here, but that is not obviously so.

  54. Alex S says:

    After this discussion I think as an undecided voter that I moved a little closer to voting for Clinton. I have been a Democrat for a while, but lately I am feeling like a foreign policy hawk. But I agree Trump is higher variance than the average Republican nominee. He doesn’t seem to listen much to advisors. Any old nominee ought to be a hawk, and if I just want to be a hawk, maybe I should postpone voting for a Republican president until 2020.

    • E. Harding says:

      Why would you want to be a hawk?

      • Alex S says:

        Robust powers ought to be able to promote their interests abroad. It’s not a pleasant thought, but America would not exist unless it had conquered the natives.

        • Jill says:

          Interesting viewpoint.

          The Devil is in the details here. Under what circumstances do you think the U.S. should intervene in other countries’ affairs?

          • Alex S says:

            On the margin, we should do more that gets good stuff for Americans. Maybe, as Trump says, we should take Iraq’s oil.

    • cassander says:

      An incompetent hawk is a dangerous thing. Trump might prove to be such, but hillary already is.

      • Alex S says:

        I think competence is more likely when you listen to advisors, so I think Hillary is more competent.

        • E. Harding says:

          NO:

          https://twitter.com/rosenbergerlm/status/773684010526601216

          If a Clinton advisor is able to make an error of this magnitude, and there’s no reason to suspect this is not just the tip of the iceberg, there’s no real reason to believe Clinton’s advisors are even remotely competent unless proven otherwise.

          Listening to incompetent advisors -lacking critical thinking- is a dangerous thing in foreign policy. Kennedy’s critical thinking regarding his advisors’ advice may have saved the U.S.: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/08/jfk-vs-the-military/309496/

          Hitler’s generals also believed the USSR would be defeated quickly, and Hitler acted on those beliefs.

          • Alex S says:

            There’s a difference between being able to think critically and trying to craft your own policies in a vacuum. There are reasons in some cases why advisors may be biased, but things being equal, they know useful stuff. I don’t think Trump knows who the most knowledgeable advisors are. His foreign policy advisors seem to be nobodies. I could excuse that: I might be persuadable that the foreign policy establishment is rotten. But it’s tougher to excuse his near-zero support among economists. I can’t figure any reason why economists would be almost totally wrong about what’s good for the economy.

          • E. Harding says:

            “But it’s tougher to excuse his near-zero support among economists.”

            -Because academics are image-conscious and Trump refuses to listen to them on anything, even on matters of image (which, again, they see as most important). Even if this was the Harding-Coolidge era and Trump could find a lot of economists agreeing with him on trade (BTW, Trump’s policy on China trade is mostly copied from Mitt Romney’s), the vast majority still wouldn’t endorse him, as he isn’t bought or a robot. He’s idiosyncratic, not somebody malleable by those higher up. This makes Trump a great candidate, as he is, perhaps, the first candidate since McGovern to be capable of making real change if elected. But the experts, filled with envy at his success while refusing to listen to them, hate those unbought men not malleable to their will. This leads to them supporting oblivious dupes who are clearly fed lines by their puppet masters in the service of evil, like Rubio. The experts don’t care, since at least they’d have a good chance of getting a hearing in a Rubio administration, no matter how unsafe he makes the U.S. and the world, and no matter to what extent Syria and Ukraine are destroyed.

          • onyomi says:

            “I can’t figure any reason why economists would be almost totally wrong about what’s good for the economy.”

            Because politicians support and help fund economists who tell them what they want to hear, which isn’t necessarily what’s actually good for the economy (often the opposite is true).

          • E. Harding says:

            “Because politicians support and help fund economists who tell them what they want to hear, which isn’t necessarily what’s actually good for the economy (often the opposite is true).”

            -No; I don’t think it’s that. Scott Sumner’s Trump derangement syndrome cannot be explained this way even remotely.

          • onyomi says:

            I wasn’t trying to explain why economists don’t support Trump, but why they might be wrong about what’s good for the economy.

            They don’t support Trump because they are academics. One can easily come up with arguments to justify not alienating all your colleagues.

          • E. Harding says:

            “I wasn’t trying to explain why economists don’t support Trump, but why they might be wrong about what’s good for the economy.”

            -Oh; OK. Now your comment makes sense.

          • Alex S says:

            Even if the economists are all wrong, Trump still has to govern once he is elected and you need experts on your team to run the machinery of the state. He seems short of experts. He has never held government office, so I am concerned there is something bad about his temperament that we have not had any opportunity to see the effects of. The high variance is not just on policy but on execution.

          • onyomi says:

            @Alex S

            The Douthat piece, and, indeed, Scott, are assuming that the way Trump campaigns will be the way he governs. That is possible, but I don’t think it can at all be taken as a given. It’s also possible that the way the does business will be the way he governs. And Trump has been in business for what, four decades? And in politics for a year or two? Maybe four if you count the birther thing as his foray.

            So it seems like observing how he’s behaved as a businessman is a much better indicator of how he’d behave as president (unless the skill set for being president has a lot more overlap with campaigning for president than with being a businessman; maybe it does, honestly not sure). So, as I said in an earlier thread, if we want to say his temperament disqualifies him from being president, then point me to an example where his bad attitude e. g. ruined a perfectly good business deal.

            Of course the NYT wants to undermine it, but Trump is a successful businessman. Maybe if Mark Cuban wants to say he isn’t, as a fellow billionaire, then I’ll listen to him, but the judgment of newspaper editors and academics on who is and isn’t a successful businessman is worth precisely nothing compared to the judgment of the market itself, which shows Trump to be a success (you might say a dishonest success, but a success; we’re talking about whether he’d be a successful president, not whether he’d be an honest one).

            And, in any case, even if we judge his likely presidential success on the basis of his campaigning, there’s no denying that his campaigning thus far has, to everyone’s surprise, been a huge success. Yes, he’s seemingly shot himself in the foot and/or gotten lucky many times, but the fact remains that he beat a crowded field of experienced, talented Republicans, many of whom I, frankly, would have picked ahead of him, and now is neck-and-neck with someone with 30+ years experience in government and decades’ worth of experience campaigning. Even if he loses his campaign will have been a success relative to almost all reasonable expectations.

            So, what objective, historical reason is there to assume, as Douthat does here, that his presidency would be a trainwreck, other than we assume you can’t be a good president while tweeting lame insults at 3 am? If he wins, he will have become president despite doing so, so why expect him to fail only at that point?

          • Jill says:

            These are the kinds of advisers Trump surrounds himself with.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEsP4_1ImUI

            Does anyone really think these folks are superior to Hillary’s advisors?

          • E. Harding says:

            “Does anyone really think these folks are superior to Hillary’s advisors?”

            -I don’t. I think both the candidates’ advisors have a strong tendency to be ignorant blowhards who shouldn’t be so near as ten miles from the White House. The thing is, though, Hillary actually “listens” to Her ignorant blowhard advisors.
            http://www.vox.com/a/hillary-clinton-interview/the-gap-listener-leadership-quality
            Trump’s tendency is to sideline them and go by his brain. That’s a better way of approaching things.

          • Alex S says:

            @onyomi I think I may have gotten off track about my true rejection. My biggest concern is that he has too many idiosyncratic ideas and seems too willing to cling to those. If you read The America We Deserve, there’s stuff that’s been consistent for a long time, like dismantling alliances.

            I don’t buy that he has the expertise to know that those are good ideas. I don’t understand why dismantling alliances is a good idea, either. I am more comfortable with a leader who says, these are the moral priorities and how you fulfill those priorities is flexible, rather than giving stable, specific ideas, because maybe those ideas are bad. Or if there are specific ideas, they need to have been vetted and approved by organizations to weed out bad ones.

        • cassander says:

          Hillary had a long public record of foreign policy decisions. whatever her process, her record is bad. You can argue trump will be worse, but you do so largely in the absence of evidence.

          • Jill says:

            Yes, Hillary’s record on everything she’s ever done is terrible, if believe Right Wing media “facts.” If you ever consume any other media though, you will find a different story.

          • E. Harding says:

            Jill, tell us what Hillary has done that most people here can agree is both good and important.

          • cassander says:

            Jill, don’t refuse to answer my questions, harass me in comments, and then accuse me of stalking you. You get to do two of those things at most.

  55. Cord Shirt says:

    On the one hand, I got a laugh out of the post title. Nice one! 🙂

    On the other hand…Scott, my friend, first you referenced WWI…and then you went on about the necessity of having and obeying mutual defense treaties. Not like those caused the exact war you’d just referenced or anything! 😉

    “she has ruled out sending ground troops into Iraq or Syria, something Trump has promised to do.”

    Right before the debate, my local newspaper was trumpeting a claim from Clinton that the only way to defeat ISIS was to send ground troops into Syria, and a claim from Trump that he’d be really reluctant to do that.

    This is why I try to ignore candidates’ “silly season” remarks, statements in interviews, etc. In the heat of electioneering, candidates are all over the place. They *routinely* say one thing one day and the opposite the next.

    Such statements are all too easy to cherry-pick. I say just go with the position paper and call it a day. 😉

    Moving on, a question for you: What if something that we may all agree is *necessary*…is still not *possible*? Then what?

    I think that applies to a few aspects of the current situation for the USA.

    IMO we are an empire in decline, and no longer have the wherewithal to be World Police. It doesn’t matter if a continued Pax Americana is *necessary* if it’s not *possible*. And it’s not possible.

    I would rather peacefully wind down mutual defense treaties than wind up in–I’d say World War III, but that’s not precise enough. World War II was very different from World War I, and I’m talking about another World War I. I’m talking about an unnecessary global war that ends empires.

    What can’t go on, won’t. If we don’t choose when and how to back off from our unsustainable foreign entanglements, circumstances will choose for us. At that point we can only hope it’ll be “just” another Suez Crisis instead of another World War I.

    Oh, right, political candidates. 😉

    Yeah neither Clinton nor Trump seems like a good bet here. However, Trump seems rather more likely to move in the direction we unfortunately need to go. I could worry about his vulgar, excuse me, “frighteningly impulsive” 😉 personality, except I don’t think politicians’ personalities are accurately observable by voters.

    On this issue, whether I choose Trump or Stein depends on exactly how bad I think Clinton would be. IOW, exactly how bull-headedly committed she would be to the dangerously overconfident and bellicose establishment consensus.

    But she *is* backed by all those same people who were behind the “Project for a New American Century” back when they were advising W. You know. The “regime change in Iraq” people.

    Similarly…what John Schilling said.

    On trade:

    First–

    Most people don’t place “free trade” above everything else. Many people think it’s a good, but one to be traded off against other goods. Such as sovereignty–which in a democracy is another word for “the creation of rules and laws being in the hands of the people rather than of a non-governmental organization.”

    Scott, my model of you would dismiss this point as incoherent foolishness. So let me remind you that it seems to be human nature for many people to find “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” a powerful motivator. Even if you don’t think it important, many people do, and I hope you can see why that might motivate them to make different choices than you.

    Second–

    “free trade has produced decades of sustained economic growth and the most successful poverty alleviation in human history.”

    I’d say it’s the industrial revolution that did that–Buckminster Fuller’s “energy slaves.” (As well as free trade.) And…infinite growth is not possible on a finite planet. We’d do better to move away from systems that are based on the assumption of constant growth.

    Finally–

    “[A global trade war] would probably crash the world economy,”

    Could you be more specific? If we were betting on whether something would “crash the world economy,” what would have to happen for us to agree the “yes it will” person had won the bet?

    “creating exactly the sort of depression that tends to produce instability (most famously Hitler’s rise during Germany’s interwar stagnation)”

    Job losses from free trade agreements also tend to produce instability.

    The USA’s ruling class has a history of making free trade agreements, claiming there will be help for dispossessed workers, and then never actually providing that help. And/or promising to pull out of the agreement if there are job losses and then not doing so, as with Bill Clinton and NAFTA.

    (And it may not actually be possible to ever provide effective help anyway. Maybe the only way for a human to be an effective worker at a given job is to train *for a long time* and *when young*–maybe retraining programs are a fool’s errand. Maybe the only effective “help” for dispossessed workers involves “supporting them and their families for the rest of the ex-workers’ lives.”)

    Pulling it all together…what candles said:

    If you are truly lower variance, it’s incoherent to say “NATO is good, and Pax Americana is good, and globalization is good, so those hillbillies who keep having their communities disintegrating from closing coal mines and closing factories should just keep volunteering to get their arms blown off overseas”, because THAT’S NOT A SUSTAINABLE PROPOSITION. It’s not low variance to count on that, because that is a thing that is very much in flux, even if you can’t see it.

    I’m reminded of this blast from the past by the writer of the better-known “Little Boxes” (as in “on a hillside made of ticky-tacky”).

    The bankers and the diplomats are going in the army,
    It seemed too bad to keep them from the wars they love to plan.
    We’re all of us contented that they’ll fight a dandy war,
    They don’t need propaganda, they know what they’re fighting for.
    They’ll march away with dignity and in the best of form,
    And we’ll just keep the laddies here to keep the lassies warm.

    …OK so. The thing is, the rulers did used to fight in the wars alongside the common men. That…was maybe a good idea.

  56. I would like to raise a question that goes well beyond the current election.

    Which is more dangerous, a two power world or a multi-power world?

    Scott seems to think that a two power world, which we had from the end of WWII until at least the collapse of the Soviet Union, is more stable. I’m not sure. The way I put the argument on the other side a very long time ago was that the Soviet Union might reasonably doubt the willingness of the U.S. to set off a nuclear war in defense of Germany. They would not doubt the willingness of Germany to do so. The important U.S. allies, the ones that the Soviets would have gotten a large advantage by conquering, were countries such as Germany, Japan, and France. Each of them was, economically speaking, only a little weaker than the USSR, and any reasonable group of them considerably stronger.

    The sample size for evidence on a two power world with nuclear weapons is a bit small to draw conclusions from. If I look at previous two power worlds without nuclear weapons, they seem to involve quite a lot of warfare. Rome and Parthia. The Byzantine Empire and the Sassanid Empire. The Byzantine Empire and the Umayyad and then Abbasid Caliphates. I expect people with different historical interests could offer other examples.

    The obvious problem with a two power world is the inherent instability–the temptation for each power to think it can win. In a many power world, country A, faced with the opportunity of defeating country B, has to worry both that C might come to B’s aid and that, even if A wins, it will be weakened against D, E and F. I would be interested in comments from those with historical interests as to whether this does, in practice, provide a significant degree of stability, and how it compares to the two power cases.

    • baconbacon says:

      How would you categorize the buildup to WW1? That seemed like a many powers situation which fell into the largest scale war then known.

      • cassander says:

        By the eve of the war, the powers were largely locked into two hostile, inflexible blocs.

        • baconbacon says:

          But that point grew from a multi power arrangement. By the eve of war it was highly likely there would be war. It wasn’t a group of smaller powers merging into two powers AND THEN the probability of war increased.

    • keranih says:

      Emm. A good question, I think.

      I think that a two power system can be very stable while it lasts, but that once it collapses, it will be very unstable. (Consider, for a moment, what would have been the result of a Cold War where it was the USA, not the USSR, that came apart at the seams…)

      A multi power system, in contrast, would be constant flux as one power rose and others formed and broke alliances in response. The variation – as Scott emphasizes – would be less, but the mean instability greater.

      It would be interesting to see several such systems, and compare results.

      (I think our perception of the Cold War and its outcome is as tainted as the America view of revolution, and for much the same reason. It’s all well and good to advocate nonviolent (or limited-violence) resistance as a viable tool when one is trying to shove out the British. Against them, it works.

      Other, less civilized cultures, NSM.)

    • cassander says:

      “stable” and “less dangerous” are not the same. A highly changeable situation might be less dangerous precisely because the players are able to quickly adjust to new circumstances. A bi-polar world might be stable for a long time, but if a conflict does occur, it will be very large and painful. A multi-polar world will have more small clashes but a reduced chance for large ones.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      A one-power world is more safe, undoubtedly. It also won’t last. Essentially, one-power situations to be better for as long as they last, but far, far worse when things go sour.

      Generally speaking, China and its surrounding area was the sorts of thing you could call a one-power world, where anyone minding their own business lived at peace. It is also an example of a place where the times of it fracturing are those of the most devastating wars humanity has ever seen, and which managed to annul that peace for decades at an end until a new equilibrium was found.

      Another problem with preferring worlds with an X amount of power, is that restricting such power is generally not done. My earlier example of China happened to be so because China happens to have extremely arable land by two long rivers, allowing for anyone controlling it to have a strong power base. The modern world isn’t one where rivers will determine your country’s strength, but I’m not sure there’s very much we can do to somehow keep other powers from growing without either making the world a terrible place or turning it against those who do have power instead.

      It is, if nothing else, an interesting question to ask.

      • onyomi says:

        Though some of China’s best cultural and scientific innovations did arise during periods of relative disunity. Wei, Jin, Liang, Liao, Southern Song, don’t get enough credit, culturally and commercially.

        Though the Han and the Tang are justly considered golden ages, they were also very “open” empires, whereas much of the Ming, the last great Han-administered empire, was shut down and relatively stagnant (even with commercial boom toward the end).

        And if the bloodiest civil war in world history took place on the Qing empire’s watch, that has to at least partially be blamed on that empire, not just its breakdown (if, like you say, one-power worlds are more peaceful while they last, but the tradeoff is relative economic and cultural stagnation and, when they fall apart, the Taiping Rebellion, well then that’s a pretty questionable tradeoff).

        There’s even an argument to be made that the reason China fell behind the west, despite a head start, an early modern commercial economy, and seemingly the potential for an industrial revolution, is precisely because its geography, compared to Europe’s lent itself too easily to grand-scale despotism.

        • Tibor says:

          I’ve been wondering about this. Had the Roman Empire succeeded fending of the barbarians to the north and crushing the Persians to the east for good, would have Europe eventually outpaced China in technology? It seems to me like the rapid rate of innovation in Europe once it emerged from the post-Western Roman “dark ages” was largely caused by competition. If I come up with a way to build durable cannons which can fire bigger projectiles faster, I will smash your castle’s walls. If I can come up with better ships and navigation technology I will control the seas and lay waste to your fleet (unless you outnumber me significantly like the English did against the Spanish – the Spanish armada was actually more technologically advanced).

          On the other hand in a parallel history where somehow Rome solves its infighting, changes the Limes into a Great Wall of Rome and turns inwards, you might have a lot of interesting culture but you won’t have that much invention. At least not as long as you don’t also reform your social system to a more capitalism-like where you have a lot of incentives to innovate because it will make you rich. But that does not work so well in a system with guilds, feudalism etc (although at least earlier Roman Empire seemed to be closer to being “capitalist” than the late one which was turning feudalist…but I am not sure how much capitalist is a right description, I don’t know what their laws so well).

          • onyomi says:

            Interesting counterfactual. And, counterintuitively, yes: I think if Rome had not fallen it would have slowed down Western civilization, long-run. Might even have gone more in the direction of China and Edo Japan, which was to refine existing arts, traditions, and techniques to a very high level, but seemingly somewhat at the cost of bigger innovation (of the sort which may need contact with the outside world) and economic dynamism.

            Yes, I think the competition is key, and certainly military needs have spurred a lot of innovation, though I think it’s also about competition for citizenry: when you have a bunch of little princelings and fiefdoms and small kingdoms, all competing with each other and the vatican, there’s a limit to how much they can control or tax or demand of their citizens before the citizens/serfs leave or the Pope excommunicates you.

            Grim and anti-Julian Simon-ish (who I normally agree with) as this may sound, the Black Death may even have helped: I recently heard a theory that it helped end feudalism by creating a shortage of labor meaning lords essentially had to “compete” for serfs much more than in the past. One could do this simply by paying more/taking less of course, but presumably could also offer more flexibility, freedom of mobility and trade, etc.

          • “It seems to me like the rapid rate of innovation in Europe once it emerged from the post-Western Roman “dark ages” was largely caused by competition.”

            There was technological progress during the Early Middle Ages, one of multiple reasons why historians stopped calling them the Dark Ages. The Horse Collar. The mantel and chimney fireplace.

          • Tibor says:

            @David: Yes, that is partly why I used the quotation marks. But still, the level of innovation increased afterwards, didn’t it? Definitely during the renaissance, I am not sure about the 12th century or so.

            And the life really did become more basic and isolated after the fall of the western roman empire in the regions it once controlled, didn’t it? I think it is hard to argue that there was no temporary societal decline (a few hundred years) in most places (maybe not Venice for example).

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ David Friedman
            The Horse Collar. The mantel and chimney fireplace.

            Scrolling from the bottom up, I thought this comment was going to be about Chekov on literary devices.

          • keranih says:

            We could make it about Chekhov and literary devices.

            “Never put a horse collar on the mantelpiece in the first act if you don’t take it down and plow two acres in the last act.”

    • radmonger says:

      A two-power world has 1 war that can happen. A 3-power world has 3. A 5-power world has 10. That number only keeps getting bigger. Bigger still if you count power-versus non-power.

      And I don’t think you can really call the current world 2-power, if by that you mean that Russia seriously thinks it could directly fight NATO and have there be uncertaintly about the outcome.

      • John Schilling says:

        Crudely speaking, in a two-power world, winning the one war that can happen means one gets to Rule The World. Mwuhahahahaha. Haha. In a three-power world, winning any of the three wars that could happen means the power that was sensible enough to stay out of the war gets to rule the world. In a five-power world, ruling the world is pretty much off the table and any lesser gains are subject to interventionist veto.

        Incentives matter.

      • “And I don’t think you can really call the current world 2-power”

        Which is why I said “until at least the breakup of the Soviet Union.”

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      History and the outside view are on Scott’s side. Both WW1 and WW2 were started in a multipolar world. Any destructive war you might think of (for example the Thirty Years’ War in Europe) generally took place in a multipolar world. Very large empires like SPQR did not have this.

      Even longish conflicts with two majors sides (e.g. Hapsburgs vs Ottomans) were not entirely two sided. The French kings played the Ottomans against the Hapsburg emperors, and dealing with France was a big issue for the HRE.

      • TheWorst says:

        Very large empires like SPQR did not have this.

        Are you sure? I keep seeing people say this was a misconception, and that Rome wasn’t unipolar because of the Parthians and/or the Persians. This being SSC, my guess is that there’s at least a 50% chance that you’ve got an exceedingly well-thought-out reason for excluding those, and if so I’d love to hear it (if not, then never mind, I was randomly curious).

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          Sure, I will concede this.

          SPQR was not entirely unipolar even at close to maximum extent. Still, SPQR made a huge impression on the middle eastern states, they kept trying to recreate it, and generally referred to European stuff as “Roman.” And SPQR generally did pretty well against the Persians, etc. They just stopped pushing in that direction, for a variety of reasons.

          I suppose SPQR was not truly global, like Spanish or British empires later. The technology wasn’t there. Around their Mediterranian pond, they had no rivals, and that was their center of gravity. On the (from their point of view) periphery there were other powers.

          It isn’t possible to be entirely unipolar on the global stage without technology of global empire (long range ships and communication).

          • My amateur historian son argues that the Byzantine world wasn’t even two power, let alone one power, that there were generally other external threats at least as serious as the Sassanids.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Yeah, ERE was different, especially later. They lasted a long time, but increasingly had to pay people off. That’s not a hegemonic relationship anymore.

          • TheWorst says:

            Ah. Yeah, I agree with your point, I was just curious about the Parthians/Persians (there’s a lot I don’t know). I agree that it basically comes down to technology, as well–Rome basically controlled everything you could control from one city, given what they had at the time.

            Especially once you start looking at the Middle East–Rome itself is pretty remote from anything useful, and I’m not sure it’s even possible to control something if it takes you that long to get a message there.

            Spain and England managed something like that, but it sounds like they weren’t aiming for the same degree of centralized control.

      • pku says:

        Good point about the world wars, but I’m a bit skeptical about the second paragraph – aren’t you likely to see any situation as more than two-sided if you look close enough?

  57. baconbacon says:

    I renew my objection to “Pax Americana” from the previous thread. For the majority of that period Eastern Europe was under Russia’s thumb, of course there are no wars if there is only 1 “country”, and all the death and suffering that happens gets slapped under another label. Assuming that Pax Americana can have similar results without also ceding half of Europe to Russia again is unsupported. I would also note that the two of the major conflicts of that period (Vietnam and Korea) involved the US defending territories for no reason other than to stop the spread of influence of Communist countries. For those wars we got millions dead, one reasonably well off country (28th in the world in per capita GDP), one horrific outcome (one of the poorest countries in the world) and one poor, but not crazily poor, developing country that only made progress after the US pulled out. This is not track record to support the idea that “we have to defend the Baltic states” would lead to good outcomes.

    She wants to arm “friendly” rebel groups

    Does anyone have an example of this working well over a long time frame? Is there any outcome other than A. Rebel group losses anyway, B. long protracted Civil war or C. End up fighting that same rebel group 20 years later?

    • Civilis says:

      Do you see any difference between the citizens of the Western Europe under the ‘Pax Americana’ and the citizens of Eastern Europe under Soviet Dominance?

      Do the words ‘Iron Curtain’ ring a bell?

      I would also note that the two of the major conflicts of that period (Vietnam and Korea) involved the US defending territories for no reason other than to stop the spread of influence of Communist countries.

      I can give you 50 million reasons for defending South Korea from North Korea. That’s the current population of the country.

      • baconbacon says:

        Do the words ‘Iron Curtain’ ring a bell?

        That is pretty much the whole point, Pax Americana came with ceding Eastern Europe to the Russians. It is a major assumption that it can/will continue while simultaneously trying to keep Russian influence out of those states.

        I can give you 50 million reasons for defending South Korea from North Korea. That’s the current population of the country.

        And I can give you 91 million reasons not to (the population of Vietnam).

        • Civilis says:

          South Korea is a place where we can see the difference between ‘communist controlled’ and ‘not communist controlled’. The government of South Korea post war was not perfect. But we can see the long term results, and those that we saved did better than those we couldn’t save.

          We can’t do the same for Vietnam. We can compare South Vietnam and North Vietnam pre-fall of Saigon and see that South Vietnam was, again not perfect, but better. We can also see how many people risked (and in some cases gave) their lives to escape.

          Likewise, the former East Germany still lags behind the West. Eastern Europe lags behind Western Europe. People are still dying to escape Cuba.

          The reason we had the holocaust at the time there was ‘no reason’ to save the Jews. We saw how that ended up. We can’t save everyone, admittedly. We have to triage. But denying that the lives of the people of South Korea and South Vietnam was a reason to try to save them is madness.

          • baconbacon says:

            To get South Korea the US (functionally) sacrificed North Korea for what is now over 60 years. To get West Germany/Berlin the US (and Allies) functionally sacrificed East Germany/Berlin along with Eastern Europe for about 50 years. There might even be a case that to get Japan the US had to concede China to communism.

            The bag is very mixed, and it is non obvious what the best long term strategy is for getting these satellite countries out from under the oppression of the USSRs/PROCs of the world.

          • baconbacon says:

            The reason we had the holocaust at the time there was ‘no reason’ to save the Jews.

            ??? The holocaust didn’t happen because the US had a referendum on if it should save the Jews that failed. The holocaust had its roots in the Versailles treaty, which occurred after an idealist decided that he could end the Great War and shape European history only to find out that he was mistaken about half of his calculation.

          • hyperboloid says:

            I’m going to push back just a little bit on the communism issue. Europe and South Korea are places where the US obviously did a lot of good, but that is less true in some other parts of the world.

            You say that People are still dying to escape Cuba, this is true as far as it goes, but people are dying to escape Guatemala and Honduras as well. Cuba is no workers paradise, but I would rather live there than either of the aforementioned countries.

            As for south Vietnam, really?

            During the war the north organized itself as a ruthlessly totalitarian state to wage a total war for reunification, but that came to and end when the war came to an end, and the communist party allowed more personal freedom and implemented market reforms.

            The south on the other hand was a colonial oligarchy, with islands of urban privilege surrounded by a sea feudal tyranny. Emphasis is often put on US atrocities like Mi Lai, but some of the worst things happened before American troops ever arrived in mass.

            The “strategic hamlet” program
            was particularly ugly with millions of peasants forced off their land without compensation and much of the country declared a free fire zone where anybody remaining was liable to be killed on sight. It was the sort of thing you would expect from the most rabid Bolshevik checkist, not the front line defenders of the free world.

            And given that south Vietnam was ruled by a a small elite who was loathed by the peasantry for their collaboration with the French, Americans, and worst of all the Japanese, I cant see any reason why this would have changed.

            Communism varied a lot across different times and places, the communism of Stalin was not the communism of Khrushchev, and Castro is not Pol Pot.

            It should be possible to hold two ideas in one’s head at the same time; one, that Marxism-Leninism is a blood stained and odious system of government, far worse then western capitalist democracy; and two, that at least in some cases, there are things worse then communism.

          • Civilis says:

            “Functionally sacrificed”? We had a choice: defend South Korea (current situation) or not (entire peninsula ends up a totalitarian hellhole). There was no realistic option that would have allowed us to liberate North Korea once the Chinese got involved or liberate Eastern Europe at the close of World War II. There are no options at all that give us a liberated Eastern Europe or China while having a Soviet dominated Western Europe or Japan. Our choice was simple: half of Korea left as a totalitarian hellhole or all of it. If you think that half we managed to save isn’t worth a single American life, fine, but many people disagree.

            During the war the north organized itself as a ruthlessly totalitarian state to wage a total war for reunification, but that came to and end when the war came to an end, and the communist party allowed more personal freedom and implemented market reforms.

            And still, people died in mass in labor camps in a unified communist Vietnam. It’s amazing that North Vietnam’s ugliness can be chalked up to ‘they did it because they had to to wage war (ie, conquer the South)’ and South Vietnam’s ugliness is just that, they were horrible people and not, say, defending themselves from an invasion. North Vietnam had a choice: stay separate or conquer the south. South Vietnam didn’t have any choice.

            As far as ‘people escaping from Guatemala and Honduras’, people are willing to risk their lives for the possibility of a better life, I get that. The difference is that a handful of places are so dedicated to keeping their slaves that they’re willing to kill them rather than let them leave. We tolerate it because there’s no easy solution, but we shouldn’t be pretending those people are nice.

          • baconbacon says:

            Our choice was simple: half of Korea left as a totalitarian hellhole or all of it.

            So what was claimed about Vietnam? We have to defend Vietnam or (it becomes a totalitarian hellhole, or the dominos of communism spread across Asia and eventually the world) X happens. Eventually the US pulls out of Vietnam and X never happens.

            This has nothing to do with “is it worth a single american life to prevent communism from turning South Korea into a hell hole” and everything to do with the fact that no one has ever consistently predicted the outcomes of major military actions on a long time frame. Find me one person who was able to project in 1916 the future of Europe over the next 20 years with any kind of useful predictions. Find me a person who reasonably described the outcomes for Vietnam should the US pull out in 1974-75.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I suppose conditional on military action taking place, the outcome is probably not very predictable in advance. Conflicts with predictable outcomes tend to not happen at all.

          • cassander says:

            @baconbacon says

            So what was claimed about Vietnam? We have to defend Vietnam or (it becomes a totalitarian hellhole, or the dominos of communism spread across Asia and eventually the world)

            Those are the same claim. If you don’t stop communism it will spread, and communism creates totalitarian hell holes.

            >X happens. Eventually the US pulls out of Vietnam and X never happens.

            Except for Laos and Cambodia, you mean?

            >. Find me a person who reasonably described the outcomes for Vietnam should the US pull out in 1974-75.

            It was predicted that the North would kill millions of southern citizens. it did. It was predicted it would support communists movements in its neighbors. It did. It was predicted that our would try to finished southeast Asia. It did.

          • baconbacon says:

            If you don’t stop communism it will spread

            Who stopped communism in China? What outside force cut back the USSR?

          • baconbacon says:

            If you don’t stop communism it will spread

            Who stopped communism in China? What outside force cut back the USSR?

            Except for Laos and Cambodia, you mean?

            The civil war in Laos started in 1953, the Vietnam war started in 1955. Cambodia had a coup in 1970, 5 years before the US pulled out of Vietnam. The predictions being made were not “If Vietnam falls, the Laos and Cambodia fall”, they were “If Vietnam falls then all of South East Asia will fall. Communist forces will spread south out of Vietnam into Malaysia, Indonesia and perhaps into Australia.” It was a variation of the “We have to fight them there to avoid fighting them here” bullshit that is espoused against Islamic states today. It turned out that Vietnam and Laos had no aspirations of shoving the Communist ideology forward, and Vietnam specifically moved away from Communism reasonably quickly. No experts agitating for the war predicted these outcomes.

          • “Except for Laos and Cambodia, you mean?”

            The Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia was the most extreme example of a Communist hell hole that has yet occurred. It was ended by an invasion from Communist Vietnam.

          • onyomi says:

            A thought about the “if you don’t stop communism it will spread,” theory. It smacks a bit of “methinks he doth protest too much” phenomenon whereby some really fundamentalist preacher has to fervently condemn the sinful pleasures of gay sex. But as Bill Maher says, “if you have to struggle with the temptation to give into the pleasures of gay sex, it’s because you’re gay.”

            My point being, I feel like Western politicians, probably even many right-wing politicians, being, after all, politicians, didn’t truly have full faith that capitalism worked better than communism. If you think the temptation of communism is so great that it will spread like a virus if not contained then you must, on some level, think it is attractive, and worse, might work out.

            I mean, I guess one could just fear “wave of peasant uprisings against established order,” but if you truly believed communism was unworkable, it seems like you might not be that worried about it spreading to e. g. Australia.

          • cassander says:

            @onyomi

            >My point being, I feel like Western politicians, probably even many right-wing politicians, being, after all, politicians, didn’t truly have full faith that capitalism worked better than communism. If you think the temptation of communism is so great that it will spread like a virus if not contained then you must, on some level, think it is attractive, and worse, might work out.

            If communism was spread by people peaceful deciding to live in communes, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. But it wasn’t, it was spread by extremely violent revolutionaries and civil warriors who forcibly overthrew societies and imposed it on whole countries.

          • “Western politicians, probably even many right-wing politicians, being, after all, politicians, didn’t truly have full faith that capitalism worked better than communism. ”

            Some pretty clear evidence is the pattern of western foreign economic aid. The U.S. and other western governments subsidized India and other countries in trying to develop their economies via central planning–Stalin’s approach without Stalin’s politics. Presumably they did so because they, like the rulers of those countries, believed that was the way that worked.

            And entirely respectable western economists, such as Samuelson, believed and repeatedly wrote that the USSR was catching up with the U.S.

        • Jiro says:

          And I can give you 91 million reasons not to (the population of Vietnam).

          Unless you assume that the population of Vietnam is 100% opposed to the US down to every single person, no you can’t.

        • cassander says:

          @baconbacon

          Cambodia had a coup in 1970, 5 years before the US pulled out of Vietnam.

          US force levels reached a peak in 68, and the last troops left in 72. The intervening years saw continual, accelerating withdrawal. The Khmer Rouge had a coup in 70, but didn’t control the country until 73. In other words, they came to power precisely as the US was leaving.

          Saigon finally fell in 75, 3 years after the US left. Facts matter.

          > It turned out that Vietnam and Laos had no aspirations of shoving the Communist ideology forward, and Vietnam specifically moved away from Communism reasonably quickly.

          Vietnam explicitly promoted communism in multiple countries, and made efforts to push itself forward. They only got stopped once Deng decided to launch a massive punitive expedition.

          @David Friedman

          >The Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia was the most extreme example of a Communist hell hole that has yet occurred. It was ended by an invasion from Communist Vietnam.

          That’s true, but it was also started by vietnam, who helped them to power.

          • baconbacon says:

            Lets grant Cambodia- Laos shows the exact opposite. The civil war was starting just as the Korean War was ending. The US stepped in and “successfully” stopped communism’s march into South Korea, and “dominos” still fell in SE Asia. At best you have 1 point for and 1 point against this theory, which would, you know, not at all justify a major military intervention.

            Saigon finally fell in 75, 3 years after the US left. Facts matter.

            You say facts matter, but making that mistake destroy my point? No. There is still no accurate prediction by the pro war sector. “if we lose Vietnam then we lose Cambodia and then we lose…… nothing else” doesn’t exactly get the war juices flowing, and then you have to grapple with the fact that Vietnam has been effectively moving away from communism for years now, as has China. No one in favor of military intervention in Vietnam predicted these things (I am not sure that anyone has a great tract record on either side of the prediction ledger)

          • cassander says:

            >. The US stepped in and “successfully” stopped communism’s march into South Korea, and “dominos” still fell in SE Asia. At best you have 1 point for and 1 point against this theory, which would, you know, not at all justify a major military intervention.

            for this argument to hold, the US would have had to win in south vietnam and still see cambodia fall to communism. That’s not what we saw. What we saw was vietnam fall, cambodia fall, and then the US open with china and put pressure on vietnam, which kiboshed any broader ambitions they might have held.

  58. Amanda says:

    Well, the last couple days of discussion on here have probably moved me from “Won’t vote for Hillary; haven’t decided for sure about Trump” to “Won’t vote Hillary; won’t vote for Trump.” Which is, I suppose, an improvement from your point of view, but the whole thing is just a huge bummer. I’ve never resorted to not voting before.

    The other day when we noticed the flag flying at half mast, and didn’t initially know why, a friend and I joked that it was just in anticipation of the election–either way it goes.

    • herbert herbertson says:

      Please don’t waste your non-vote! In addition to the obvious (downballot), I think there’s some value in signaling your disgust with the main two candidates to the media and to posterity by getting those Johnson/Stein numbers up as high as possible.

      • ChillyWilly says:

        Yeah, and there’s a not-completely-unreasonable chance of reaching the 5% popular vote needed to get federal election funds next time (if that’s a thing you want).

        • Nope says:

          Sending the 3rd party of your choice 5 or 10 bucks would be much more effective than voting for it, if improving its finances is a priority for you.

          Watching what third parties do with the money they do get, I’d keep the fiver. Running for president is incredibly hard if you do it seriously, but if you do it unseriously, it’s a pretty cush gig.

          Actually running candidates in the kinds of local elections 3rd parties might possibly win? Or advocating for electoral reform that might give your voters real influence? So not sexy, when there’s a presidential race you might be able to spoil!

      • Amanda says:

        I wouldn’t stay home. I’d just skip that contest on the ballot. Stein’s not going to work for me, but I can give Johnson another look.

      • Nope says:

        I think there’s some value in signaling your disgust with the main two candidates to the media and to posterity by getting those Johnson/Stein numbers up as high as possible.

        Did amazingly successful (that’s not snark) third-party candidate Ross Perot, and his disgust-signaling voters, have much effect on the media? Does posterity look back at the 1992 election in wonder at the blow struck against Bill Clinton’s and GHW Bush’s reputations?

        • John Schilling says:

          Ross Perot ran an amazingly successful independent candidacy in 1992. That’s not quite the same thing as a third-party run, particularly if you are trying to build on it for the future,

          • Nope says:

            He was the Reform Party candidate. The party pretty much died when he lost interest – not surprising, since he bankrolled its operations. But I think the Green and Libertarian parties are much more akin to the Perot-style vanity project than the two major parties.

            I don’t foresee anything like that level of success in the Green or Libertarian parties’ futures. Even if they get a wacky-but-charismatic tech billionaire at the helm.

            If you want to argue that the Green or Libertarian parties have a long-term strategy for growth, go for it. I don’t think “act as a long-shot-potential-spoiler every four years” is much of a strategy for building a movement – but it’s your vote.

          • John Schilling says:

            He (Ross Perot) was the Reform Party candidate.

            He was the Reform Party candidate in 1996. The Reform Party did not exist in 1992. It was created after Perot’s 1992 campaign precisely because that run highlighted the difficulty of building anything of enduring value out of an “amazingly successful” campaign by a lone individual who didn’t actually win election. And Perot never had enough of an interest in party politics to make anything of it.

          • Nope says:

            Mea culpa- had forgotten about the details there! You are absolutely right.

            Can I ask, though – do you disagree with my larger point that neither the Libertarians nor the Greens (nor the Constitution party, nor…) have demonstrated much ability or affinity to build a serious alternative to the duopoly? It’s a bit sad for fans of multiparty systems (like me) to see (relative) electoral success claimed by rich cranks or/and nominal independents.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Ross Perot was screaming about the deficit. Clinton and the Republican Congress followed fiscal discipline for the 90s. Those probably aren’t unrelated.

          • Nope says:

            I’d posit that Perot rode the wave of anti-deficit sentiment to his amazing success. I highly doubt that Perot’s success in 1992 influenced Bill Clinton or the congressional GOP more than a flea bite.

            (Perot’s voters may have had influence – but it wasn’t by voting for Perot.)

    • E. Harding says:

      I still suggest voting for Trump. I have to say this post is somewhat more substantive and superior to the first one, as this one’s filled more with more concrete statements and fewer unfalsifiable broad generalizations (though still too many).

    • Soy Lecithin says:

      Consider Evan McMullin, if that’s your jam. He’s beating Stein in at least one national poll.

  59. Galton says:

    The primary advisory he would consult is presumably Senator Jeff Sessions, who is very much an America-First non-interventionist.

    I agree most of Scott’s points are valid reasons to think Trump’s actual policy will be high variance, but the first moment is clearly less intervention.

    • E. Harding says:

      Sessions, as did Pence, supported the Iraq War throughout much of the period Trump was in opposition to it. He also cautiously supported the Libya intervention in 2011, though complained about lack of congressional debate (Pence expressed opposition to its lack of clarity in goals and lack of Congressional consent). He also voted in favor of continuing selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. I don’t see an anti-interventionist streak in him.

      • Cthulhu Rae Jepsen says:

        When there are unpopular wars going on, there is every incentive for interventionists to pretend that they do not favor intervention.

  60. Alexp says:

    I haven’t commented here in a while but I’ll leave this here:

    For the last few decades, since the end of the Cold War the range of sanctioned opinions on foreign policy has essentially been on a one dimensional axis: neocon v. not-neocon. The terminology wasn’t always there or popular, but it was essentially people who believed that America should use military force to solve the world’s problems/spread Liberal Democracy, and those who don’t. Now sometimes, there are kickbacks like Halliburton winning that no-bid contract in Iraq (realistically, Halliburton was one of two companies that could have realistically fulfilled the terms of that contract though), but that’s just a side benefit. The main goal is to spread Western Style Democracy.

    Hillary Clinton is more of a Neocon than most Democrats, but less than most Establishment Republicans. That’s more than I’m comfortable with, but still nothing crazy.

    Trump, however, is not a Neocon at all. This causes some people to think that he’s therefore an isolationist or dove, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. He wants to aggressively crush ISIS. You think he’s going to do that by asking nicely? He threatens to start wars over minor insults and rude gestures. He wants to permanently occupy foreign countries in order to take their resources.

    Really, the closest analogue I could think of for Trump’s foreign policy positions is the mid-late Roman Republic. Think Marcus Licinius Crassus.

    • cassander says:

      >Hillary Clinton is more of a Neocon than most Democrats, but less than most Establishment Republicans. That’s more than I’m comfortable with, but still nothing crazy.

      There hasn’t been a war of the last 25 years that hillary hasn’t supported. Hillary is as hawkish as hawks get.

      • hyperboloid says:

        There hasn’t been a war of the last 25 years that Hillary hasn’t supported. Hillary is as hawkish as hawks get.

        The second part of that does not follow logically from the first. In the period form 1991 to 2016 there have been six major US military interventions overseas. I am not sure there is a public record of what she thought at the time about the first Persian gulf war, I assume the she supported her husband’s intervention in Yugoslavia, she voted in favor of the Iraq and Afghan wars (she has since said she regrets the Iraq vote), and she supported the interventions in Libya and against ISIS. Expanding the time frame a bit, she opposed the war in Vietnam, and has said very negative things about US intervention in central America in the 1980s. Is this as is as hawkish as hawks get?

        To say so seems to forget that the Bush administration and the neo-cons were ever a thing. Compare her to Dick Cheney who unrepeatability supports every intervention on that list plus many more including being very serious about action against Iran. Hillary’s attitude seems to be about the average of the us foreign policy elite.

        • cassander says:

          > In the period form 1991 to 2016 there have been six major US military interventions overseas.

          There have definitely been more than 6. There have been at least 4 just in the obama administration (Syria, ISIS, Libya, Yemen). 5 if you count the afghan surge.

          >I am not sure there is a public record of what she thought at the time about the first Persian gulf war

          I have looked, and not found any, which I find odd.

          >Is this as is as hawkish as hawks get?

          You counted 5 major conflicts. She supported all 5. So, sort of by definition, yes. And if you broaden the definition of conflict, her record doesn’t get less hawkish. She rattled sabres with John Mccain over Georgia, supported the afghan surge (and told Robert Gates that she supported the iraq surge in private, though said otherwise in public) persistently advocated for more US involvement in Syria, was the key player in bringing around the Libya intervention, and so on.

          >Compare her to Dick Cheney who unrepeatability supports every intervention on that list plus many more including being very serious about action against Iran. Hillary’s attitude seems to be about the average of the us foreign policy elite.

          I seem to recall that Cheney was critical of Clinton sending troops to Bosnia, but putting that aside, but Hillary also “supports every intervention on that list plus many more.” Slightly less hawkish than dick cheney is still extremely hawkish, and far from about average by any standard.

          • hyperboloid says:

            Defining major military interventions is obviously subjective, but I was counting the first Persian gulf war, the former Yugoslavia (I suppose you could count Bosnia and Kosovo separately), Afghanistan, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the intervention in Libya, and the intervention against ISIS. If I was to go by the number of separate congressional authorizations for the use of military force I would have to remove ISIS from that list.

            You counted 5 major conflicts. She supported all 5. So, sort of by definition, yes

            First of all I counted six. With five votes in favor, one abstention, and one ex post facto recantation. And Second, actually by definition no, she is not actually exceptionally hawkish.

            contrary to what some people seem to believe Hillary Clinton has not been running the government for the past thirty years, before being secretary of state her total record of public service consisted in being first lady and senator form New York.

            Those interventions happened because they had the support of the majority of US foreign policy elites. There have also been many proposals for foreign adventures that have been rejected by that elite; for instance war with Iran.

            In the period were discussing Clinton also supported Obama’s outreach to Iran, for which he was excoriated by the right, the “reset” with Russia that resulted in the new START treaty, and if we assume that Hillary supported her husbands actions as president, former president Clinton’s initiatives for a two state solution in the middle east, and the START III negotiations with Yeltsin.

            Hillary Clinton is more keen on foreign intervention then me, and most Democrats , but less so then every republican nominee for president in the last thirty years, with the possible exception of Bob Dole.

            One of the talents of most great politicians is the ability to say things in such a way that everybody hears what they want to hear. Obama and Reagan did it by spouting vague feel good platitudes and allowing voters to project there own desires on to their agendas.

            Trump has found an entirely novel way of being all things to all people. Just say things so insane that nobody believes you mean them.

            To believe that l’éminence orange is less hawkish then Hillary is to conjurer a fictional Trump of the imagination with no relation to reality.

            Trump’s objection to American intervention is not that we are to imperialist but that we are not imperialist enough. He supported the interventions in Iraq and Libya with the added caveat that we should “take the oil”.

            By saying that we should “take out the families” of terrorists he has made clear that his problem with Obama’s targeted killing programs is the targeted part not the killing part.

            Nothing good can come of this.

            Alexp compared him to to that other great real estate developer turned politician Marcus Crassus. But that is unfair on Crassus; say what you want about Rome wealthiest citizen, but he spent his own money raising legions and died leading them in battle against Parthia. Trump will risk only the lives of others.

          • cassander says:

            >Those interventions happened because they had the support of the majority of US foreign policy elites. There have also been many proposals for foreign adventures that have been rejected by that elite; for instance war with Iran.

            And hillary was one of those elites, and supported every one of those conflicts. She also supported a number of conflicts that did not happen.

            >Hillary Clinton is more keen on foreign intervention then me,

            this is demonstrably false. As I have pointed out, there is only one conflict of the last 30 years you can say she didn’t support, the first gulf war, and then only because there is no record of her views, not that she was against it.

            >In the period were discussing Clinton also supported Obama’s outreach to Iran, for which he was excoriated by the right,

            No, he was excoriated for the final deal, not trying to get a deal. Outreach to iran was started under bush ii, after all.

            > the “reset” with Russia that resulted in the new START treaty,

            and you think that proves what, exactly? that clinton was against war with russia? Because in 2008 she threatened war with russia over georgia.

            >and if we assume that Hillary supported her husbands actions as president, former president Clinton’s initiatives for a two state solution in the middle east,

            What on earth does that have to do with the subject at hand?

            >and the START III negotiations with Yeltsin.

            Again, on earth does that have to do with the subject at hand?

            >To believe that l’éminence orange is less hawkish then Hillary is to conjurer a fictional Trump of the imagination with no relation to reality.

            No, it’s to look at Hillary’s actual record, both in power and out of it, of supporting every single US intervention anyone has ever asked her about going back to 1992. To believe anything else is willful ignorance.

          • hyperboloid says:

            Your argument appears to have three parts: First, Hillary has supported every major US military intervention since the end of the cold war. Second, this demonstrates that she is an extremist who is likely to start a war with Russia.
            And third; Trump is an anti-interventionist who will avoid unnecessary foreign entanglements.

            While I concede the first, I’m not sure how this implies that her views are so reckless or extreme that she might seek a conflict with another nuclear power. Her publicly stated positions on foreign policy are less aggressive then most of the republican party, including their recent presidential nominees.

            Do you believe that George W. Bush, Dick Dick Cheney, or Mitt Romney desired war with Russia? If not, why would Clinton?

            Hillary’s record as secretary of state includes an important effort at outreach to the Russian federation, one that resulted in a major arms reduction treaty. It is irrational to consider only Clinton’s support for military action and not her support for peace initiatives.

            in 2008 she threatened war with russia over georgia.

            Do you have a source for this claim?

            Your initial contention was that she “rattled the sword” alongside John Mccain, in response to the 2008 conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I did find a transcript of Senator Mccain’s statement after the Russian intervention, and he clearly stops short of suggesting military force.

            Furthermore, as I have said before, when Clinton became secretary of state she did not peruse an aggressive policy against Russia , in fact she did the exact opposite.

            The last, and by far the weakest,part of your argument, is that Trump is some kind of isolationist, or something.

            The man has supported many of the interventions you criticize, though he now lies about it, since they did not turn out well.

            In addition he has repeatedly advocated deranged imperialist that would make even Cheney blush, such as openly seizing the oil producing areas of several middle eastern countries.

            let me ask you something what are your politics, generally speaking, left wing, alt-right, libertarian maybe?

            If foreign policy were not an issue would you still be sympathetic to Trump?

            I just cant help but feel that there is some kind of motivated reasoning going on here, as you seem to be willing yourself to see a Trump who simply is not there.

          • Jill says:

            LOL, EVERY Trump supporter sees a Trump who is not there. As I mentioned elsewhere Trump is an inkblot test where you can see what you want. Trump changes his mind constantly, and lies constantly. There is no one home. He’s simply a salesman telling people what he thinks they want to hear. He’s incompetent at absolutely everything but selling, and stiffing his contractors and creditors.

            http://politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

          • cassander says:

            >Your argument appears to have three parts: First, Hillary has supported every major US military intervention since the end of the cold war.

            This is not an argument, this is a fact

            >Second, this demonstrates that she is an extremist who is likely to start a war with Russia.

            No, I did not say that. I said she, at one point, went so far as to rattle sabers at Russia as a way of demonstrating her extreme hawkishness. I do not think it is likely that she would start a war with Russia. I do not think it is likely that anyone would do so.

            >And third; Trump is an anti-interventionist who will avoid unnecessary foreign entanglements.

            Again, I made no such claim. What I said was that it is basically impossible to have a more hawkish record than Hillary Clinton.

            >Furthermore, as I have said before, when Clinton became secretary of state she did not peruse an aggressive policy against Russia , in fact she did the exact opposite.

            No, she didn’t. And after she didn’t do that, she championed US intervention or troop deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syia, Libya, and Yemen, and those are just the places I can think of off the top of my head.

            >The last, and by far the weakest,part of your argument, is that Trump is some kind of isolationist, or something.

            Again, not a claim I have EVER made.

            >I just cant help but feel that there is some kind of motivated reasoning going on here, as you seem to be willing yourself to see a Hillary who simply is not there.

            Pot, this is kettle. You’re black.

          • hyperboloid says:

            We agree the Hillary Clinton is part of a foreign policy establishment in Washington that has perused an often aggressive policy of foreign intervention. We agree that she has supported this policy.

            But you also say that it is basically impossible to have a more hawkish record than Hillary Clinton.

            Now are you claiming that Hillary Clinton’s record is more Hawkish then John Mcain, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Paul wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Tom Cotton, Donald Rumsfeld, Elliot Abrams and Mitt Romney?

            Because ever one off those men have criticized Hillary for not being aggressive enough.

            I have said that as secretary of state
            Clinton pursued a policy of diplomatic engagement with Russia (the so called reset). To refute this point you claim that Hillary “rattled sabers” over the Russian intervention intervention in Georgia, to support this you link to an article titled “Hillary Clinton slams Russia over Georgia: Why Russia shrugs.” An article that contains the following quote from the deputy chair of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee.

            We understand that the Obama administration has to save face and head off its domestic critics on the right.

            Under the previous administration, the US took positions that are hard to back away from.

            But it’s mostly just words.

            Your source seems to make my point pretty well, it does not sound like the Russians took the rattling of any hypothetical sabers very seriously.

            You also said that she threated war with Russia in 2008, but you seem to have now dropped that claim.

            Moving on from Clinton’s record, there are two major party candidates in this race; to advocate against Clinton because she is a hawk you must believe that, by implication, Trump is a dove.

            But to thinks this is to ignore almost everything Trump has said about foreign policy. There is nothing dovish about committing war crimes and launching imperialist wars to seize natural resources.

            You could claim that Trump did not mean to seriously propose doing these things, and that it was all just macho posturing. And perhaps It was. But by voting for him you are picking one hell of a way of finding out.

            Or are you arguing for a third party candidate?

            If so, go ahead and vote for Gary Johnson, or Evan Mcmullin, or write in the Cookie Monster if you want to.

            Just don’t vote for Trump .

          • cassander says:

            Now are you claiming that Hillary Clinton’s record is more Hawkish then John Mcain, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Paul wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Tom Cotton, Donald Rumsfeld, Elliot Abrams and Mitt Romney?

            Feel free to name a war or two those people supported that Hillary opposed. The closest I can think of is could claim the Iraq surge, but given that Hillary told people that she supported that in private and only condemned in it public, that’s a hard sell.

            >Your source seems to make my point pretty well, it does not sound like the Russians took the rattling of any hypothetical sabers very seriously.

            I doubt they did. So what? You don’t condemn the actions of people you’re reaching out to. The reset, if it ever was serious, lasted less than a year before hillary was aggressively posturing against Russia again. And I supported that move, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t aggressive posturing.

            >Moving on from Clinton’s record, there are two major party candidates in this race; to advocate against Clinton because she is a hawk you must believe that, by implication, Trump is a dove.

            By that logic, if you aren’t a car, you must be a pigeon. No. I have never claimed Trump was a dove. He is not. That does not mean hillary is not a hawk.

            >Or are you arguing for a third party candidate?

            I am arguing for an accurate assessment of the candidates we have.

    • Deiseach says:

      Think Marcus Licinius Crassus.

      That’s very good 🙂

      • a non mouse says:

        Following his second Consulship, Crassus was appointed as the Governor of Roman Syria. Crassus used Syria as the launchpad for a military campaign against the Parthian Empire, Rome’s long-time Eastern enemy. Crassus’ campaign was a disastrous failure, resulting in his defeat and death at the Battle of Carrhae.

        (wikipedia)

        That’s got some similarities to one of the presidential candidates but not Trump.

        Seeing as how Hillary’s wealth comes from selling the foreign policy of the country in whose name she’s been empowered to act and the massive amounts of wealth she’s taken from the Middle East in exchange for using that influence to benefit her patrons there’s another similarity between her and Crassus.

        We can only hope she meets with a similarly dignified end.

  61. I’ll try to keep this brief, and hasten to add I have not read the comments.

    1. This is a misreading of US foreign policy.
    2. This is a misreading of the Cold War.
    3. This is a misreading of the state of US dominance.
    4. This is a misreading of the two candidates.

    I’ll start with 4, since that’s simplest.

    Trump is a bully and is threatening tiny nations seen as threatening American interests. To the extent he supports violence, it is attacking with overwhelming force, with limited objectives, and securing American interests.

    This is fundamentally different from saber-rattling with another Great Power, or committing ourselves to relatively lengthy nation-building conflicts.

    To this extent, Trump is vastly more likely to bomb the shit out of Iran or North Korea, but he is vastly less likely to commit US troops to a lengthy occupation of Iraq. He is also vastly less likely to deliberately provoke

    Also, you suggested in the last post that you took Trump seriously, but not literally. This is certainly incorrect if you think Trump is actually going to blow Iranian ships out of the water for taunting US sailors. This statement is in the same category as “I will default on the debt.”
    The same applies to NATO. The same applies to nuclear weapons. Apparently you did not watch the debate where Trump said NATO was key US security, AND Trump stupidly disavowed nuclear first strike (which we absolutely will do if we ever find ourselves in a conflict with another nuclear power).

    So Trump is certainly the high-variance choice WRT bombing crappy nations, but I’d say he’s definitely the low-variance choice WRT lengthy nation-building enterprises or foolishly challenging Russia or China.

    WRT Pax Americana:
    WTF? There was no “Pax Americana” after WWII. There was a Cold War. The US and the USSR were moments away from blowing each other out of the water. At multiple times the USSR invaded its satellite nations to suppress rebellions.
    Just ask Afghanistan, Czechoslovakia, or Hungary if the Cold War was an awesome, peaceful time. There wasn’t Pax anything, there was a global confrontation in which each side was afraid to challenge the other.
    Had there been no nukes, there CERTAINLY would have been a WWIII, and there is a HIGH probability of US defeat. We simply didn’t have enough forces in Europe to stop the Soviets WITHOUT nukes.
    Note: The US had scaled back commitments to Europe before, even in the midst of the Cold War. LBJ I believe withdrew several American divisions from Europe at the height of the Cold War. I believe this was also the start of the REFORGER exercises.
    Anecdotally, the 60s and the 70s saw dramatic decreases in American readiness and capability in Europe. Now I don’t know this aspect too well, but the army buddies I read say the US Army essentially skipped an entire generation of modernization in this period and was severely lagging. This was the case across ALL NATO nations (except Great Britain).
    The US had a few modernized weapons in the 70s like the -teen fighter series and some good attack helicopters, but dramatically under-funded European defense. The army buddies I read think that even with the use of tactical nukes NATO would not have been able to stop the USSR in this period (they also think the idea of Limited Nuclear War is stupid, but that’s besides the point).
    I won’t stand by the point, because I don’t know enough to defend it.

    Basically, yes, we have short-changed Europe in the past, even at the height of the Cold War.

    Anyways,
    The Cold War was a special period in history that absolutely required US leadership. That period is now over. There is no looming ideological superpower that tomorrow can launch simultaneous invasions on Western Europe, the Middle East, China, and Japan, and probably defeat them all in a single campaign season with fewer casualties than they endured in WWII.

    Is the world still dangerous and does it still require US leadership? I’d actually argue yes and Trump is too much of an idiot to run good foreign policy. However, he certainly has a point about our allies pitching in for their own freakin’ defense.
    US defense posture has never been about taking the ENTIRE burden. We will provide the heavy-lifting and augment the capability of our local allies. But local allies need to pitch in.

    Europe is particularly bad about this. Most nations do not meet their defense expenditure guidelines. Several nations ran out of smart munitions while attacking Libya (presumably they maintained some level of war-stock). France and Britain combined struggled to run a proper operation in Mali, which required Britain to bring certain war essentials out of retirement to maintain an intelligence advantage and logistics train.

    We aren’t staying in Europe forever. It’s ahistorical. We’ve already withdrawn all our heavy combat forces from the continent. The US forces rushing to the Baltic border will be Stryker IFVs.
    In the long-run, the check to Russia cannot be the US. It has to be Poland and Germany.
    This should be a trivial exercise. Europe is theoretically united in this, and is dramatically richer and more powerful than Russia. The US should not have to provide the heavy-lifting in this arena.

    There’s other institutions where European policy is counter to US policy and actively undermining the Francis Fukuyama “end of history” mechanisms. Chinese SDRs in the IMF are one such thing. The Chinese investment bank in Asia, which the US did not participate in despite our European allies providing capital to this bank.

    There’s also a broad degree of sheer incompetence in global policy outlook. Adding India to the Nuclear Supplier Group is one such incident: the NSG was formed specifically in reaction to India developing atomic bombs, now we are adding them to the group despite not ratifying the Non-Proliferation treaty and giving up their weapons? What kind of message does THAT send? That’s about as bad as anything Trump has said, but that position is supported by a large number of “intelligent” Westerners, including the British government.

    The Iran deal is a shit deal that entirely undermines our nuclear non-proliferation goals. Gold standard nuclear deals are augmented deals that prohibit uranium enrichment and provide various methods to prevent indigenous nuclear development. The UAE nuclear deal is one such standard. We are currently trying to secure augmented nuclear deals with Jordan and Saudi Arabia: what realistic chance do we have now that we basically gave the farm away in the Iran deal?
    This is a nation that deliberately created highly enriched uranium for no purpose other than to blackmail the world.
    Asinine!
    People will ask me what my alternative is. The alternative is to choke the nation with sanctions and destroy the national infrastructure as much as possible with air strikes. It is impossible to stymie the nation’s nuclear ambitions, but you absolutely can destroy dams, power stations, shut down key highways, destroy tunnels, block harbors, and the like.

    Basically:
    1. You are drawing a false parallel between the Cold War and the current world. That danger doesn’t exist anymore.
    2. Other nations really do need to start pulling their weight.
    3. In many cases our allies are actively undermining our attempts to build good international institutions.
    4. World leaders make all sorts of colossal mistakes anyways and this system is not as stable or as safe as you think it is in the long-term.
    5. Trump wanted to blow the crap out of a small nation is not the same as Hillary saber-rattling with a great power.

    Note: I still think Trump is a bad FP candidate. This is absolutely accurate. We’ve had bad FP Presidents before, though. Most notably the early years of Carter, the early years of Clinton, the entire Obama presidency, and the Ford presidency (IMHO). By common consensus (to which I do not agree) the Dubya Presidency as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      dramatically under-funded European defense

      Offtopic, but I remember seeing a picture posted on the chans of Cold War tank numbers in Europe. In the USSR alone, not counting stuff stationed in satellite states, there were more tanks (twice as many? more? I don’t remember) than in all of blue Europe.

      The comment for the picture was: “The reason why the USSR went bankrupt”

      • baconbacon says:

        The USSR went bankrupt because Communism is a failed economic system, the US has spent enormous sums on its military without going broke thanks to a far superior economic system.

    • baconbacon says:

      I am generally against Pax Americana as an argument because people have a misguided notion of how much violence it saved, but you are going way to far in the other direction.

  62. Houshalter says:

    You are making arguments about probability and prediction. I think this is a perfect case for prediction markets or predictionbook. I can’t find any relevant predictions posted yet, so I am thinking about how to create one. I find it difficult to define precisely “Probability starts a war”, because I want to exclude small scale military actions but include larger scale ones.

  63. cassander says:

    Clinton combines a few traits that, on their own, are either neutral or bad, but together ensure disaster. One, she has a very expansive view of american interest. Two, she is very aggressive about pursuing them. Three, despite one and two she seems unwilling (though less unwilling than the obama administration has been) to actually stick her neck out for these interests on principle and invest considerably effort behind them.

    The combination of these three factors results in a “strategy”, I use that term very loosely, of what I call aggressive minimalism. She is quick to invest american power in situations, but invests only the absolute minimum believed needed to obtain them. And that works fine, as long as everything goes according to plan. When things don’t go according to plan, it results in either disaster(libya), creeping incrementalism (Syria), or embarrassing failure (Somalia). And the world being what it is, things don’t go according to plan more often than not. Worse, the more important the objective in question is to the enemy, the more likely they are to either figure out this minimalism and respond accordingly (something I think putin did in crimea) or simply call our bet and raise the stakes.

    On a more philosophical level, one of the biggest hurdles the US Government faces is the limits on the time and attention of senior leadership. For good or ill, the US has global responsibilities and commitments, and there are only 24 hours a day. On virtually every issue the US is involved in, the local leadership will care more, have more time, and devote more effort to the problem than US leadership will. To take syria as an example, the leaders of the Turks, iraqis, iranians, etc. know more about the issue than the US president will, spend more time on it than he will, and care more about it. Aggressive minimalism makes this problem worse. It multiplies american commitments and increases the size of those commitments in a way that minimizes the time and attention leadership will devote to them.

    There’s no better example of how her minimalism causes problems than her Libya adventure. Hillary’s summation of “we came, we saw, he died” perfectly sums up her attitude towards the effort. A bombing campaign that the US didn’t even officially lead (unofficially, of course, we were indispensable) removed gaddafi, prevented a massacre, and put a bunch of “freedom loving” rebels in charge of the country. The sole casualty was a british airman slain not by libyan air defenses but italian traffic. We celebrated victory, and assumed that libya was solved forever.. Of course it wasn’t, and I won’t take the time here to elucidate how things have continually gotten worse. I will simply point out that the low level of american investment meant that this decline has been continually ignored.

    US policy should be based around a strategy of overcommitment. We should carefully choose where we decide to invest time and attention. When we do commit (or, 9 time out of 10, where we decide to increase our commitment) we should commit much more effort than we think strictly necessary, for a couple reasons. First, it increases the odds of success. There is a story told of planning the invasion of grenada that is probably apocryphal but illustrates the point well. At the end of the planning brief, Reagan says “everything looks good, just send twice as many troops.” When asked why he said “because if you’d sent 12 helicopters instead of 6, Jimmy Carter would still be president.” The US’ greatest advantage over all rivals is its massively greater resources. We should take advantage of this as much as possible. Second, and this is perhaps more important, overcommitment forces a highly distractible political system to pay more attention to the issue in question. Libya is allowed to be a never ending catastrophe because there are no americans there. Iraq was not.

    Successful strategy requires understanding your strengths and weaknesses, then acting in a way that magnifies the former and mitigates the latter. Clinton has a long history of doing the opposite. Her foreign policy will be a disaster. Given world conditions, it will literally get hundreds of thousands of people killed, though few of those will be american.

    Trump is, of course, a wildcard. he has no record, and his statements are inconsistent. But on the whole, I see none of the aggressive minimalism of hillary. Any war he starts he will certainly want to finish, if only for reasons of pure ego. I can’t say if trump is less likely to start wars than hillary (it is hard to be more likely than her, given that there’s not one conflict of the past 25 years she hasn’t supported) but I think he is far more likely to actually win the wars he does start, and that is a good thing.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Presidential politics aside, this comment did a really good job of summarizing the problems with the sort of half-assed incrementalism that’s been in vogue with American warfighting for the past couple decades. I’d argue that Bush suffered from it too, although his motivations were different from HRC’s — consider how long it took to properly oppose the Sunni militias in Iraq, for instance.

      • cassander says:

        I’d say Bush was considerably less prone to the problem than is usual, but that’s definitely damning with faint praise. The problem is definitely not unique to Clinton, though I do feel she displays it to an unusual degree.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        It also makes Clinton guilty of the problem Scott pointed out. Destroying Libya was 1% of the work, rebuilding it was 99% of the work, and Clinton acted like it would just happen. This is just what he accused Trump (correctly, I think) of doing with institutions. Although Clinton is doing it to other countries, which I guess is better for the US.

        Politically, you can see how it worked. The average American on the street doesn’t think the US got sucked into Libya or Syria, so who cares? It doesn’t reflect badly on Obama at all.

    • O says:

      While I don’t think Hillary’s “aggressive minimalism” is ideal foreign policy, I don’t see it as clearly worse than many of the alternatives. As an example, I am not convinced that Hillary, had she been President, would have gotten us into Iraq. Yes, she voted for it, as did 77% of the Senate, in a post-9/11 climate of intense political demagoguery by the Bush administration. But by no means was she as obsessed with military intervention as the actual neocons Cheney/Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld et al. And it’s not as though the Bush administration fully committed to Iraq or Afghanistan. This is only one example, but I think it serves to illustrate the hyperbole here; Hillary is not exactly an outlier when it comes to aggressiveness and minimalism, so it seems extreme to paint her stance in such a catastrophic light. Further, it’s not obvious to me that the alternatives here are better. Is an “aggressive maximalism” or “isolationism” better? If historical example is a guide, I would say “not obviously.” Foreign policy is a deeply complex topic with non-obvious answers, requiring substantive contact with canonical examples of moral questions for which there is no academic consensus, history, military strategy, realpolitik, game theory, sociology of foreign culture and religion and politics and blowback, integration of ramifications of political fallout and short-term vs long-term goals, and so on and so forth. I think it’s a mistake to hand-wave Trump’s wildcard/no record/inconsistent statements as a vague positive, as though any bumbling fool making blustery claims about annihilating our enemies is a better alternative to a seasoned professional who is more-or-less a nuanced centrist on foreign policy.

  64. John Schilling says:

    The main concern I’ve heard is that the no-fly zone might lead to conflict (war?) with Russia. […] But the clearest description she’s given of what she wants suggests a no-fly zone with Russian cooperation and support.

    Isn’t this rather like saying that Chamberlain et al wanted a Central European No-Invasion Zone with German cooperation and support? It is at best meaningless fluff to say that, gosh, it would be nice if the Russians and their allies stopped bombing people we like, so we want the Russians to support the no-bombing-people-we-like plan. It is dangerous to make this a centerpiece of your public doctrine unless you’ve got some way of actually bringing the Russians on board, and if you do that’s the part you need to talk about. Otherwise you’re going to look like an impotent loser when the Russians go right on bombing people that we like, and as politicians are loathe to look like impotent losers in public, I fear that you might indeed wind up shooting down a Russian plane to prove you’re not a loser.

    I agree that Trump is the higher-variance candidate in this election, particularly on foreign policy. That’s dangerous, and I’ve argued against supporting him on that basis among others.

    But he and Hillary seem to be coming from the same, dangerous, place – a perception that because the USA is mighty, the #1 priority of every foreign leader is to not find themselves on the wrong side of a war with the USA, and if we are simply firm and tough they will do what we say. Trump doesn’t contemplate waging a twenty-year war with Iraqi insurgents to “take the oil”, and Hillary doesn’t contemplate shooting down Russian planes to end the fighting in Syria. Both of them seriously believe that if they are Firm and Tough in stating their positions, a magic formula that has somehow escaped all previous Presidents, our various adversaries will quietly stand down and say, “Yes sir, take what you want, please don’t bomb us!”.

    That plan never works. Most national leaders have higher priorities than not being bombed by the United States. If nothing else, being bombed by the United States is an eminently survivable experience for foreign strongmen. Losing the confidence of your own people, gets you raped to death with bayonets.

    Russia isn’t going to sign on to a no-fly zone in Syria, unless we give Putin something that is more valuable to him than Syria. What is Hillary planning to give him, that is more valuable to him than Syria, and how valuable is that thing to us? If the planned concession is something along the lines of a trade agreement, that plan also never works – we care far more about free trade than most of our adversaries; they care far more about hegemonic control of neighboring territories than us, and they care still more about looking strong in front of their own people.

    So the next question is, what is Hillary going to do when Russia doesn’t sign on to the no-fly zone, or to any other plan that doesn’t involve killing a few hundred thousand Syrians and displacing millions more so that Assad can rule securely as a Russian puppet? Again, she’s less likely to start a war than Trump is. But Trump seems likely to start a war against someone like Iran or North Korea; Clinton is flirting with a Russian war. So maybe I’m going to back away from my claim that Trump is the high-variance candidate here.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m not totally sure Russia would never support a no-fly zone. Both us and Russia want to bomb our enemies in Syria; if we both agree to stop then it becomes just another form of cease-fire, which Russia has agreed to in some cases. If Assad seems to be doing well, it might even be a way to protect a favorable status quo. And depending on where the no-fly zone is, it might be possible to negotiate a region that protects some civilians without sacrificing Russian interests in the area.

      But even if this proves impossible, Hillary saying that her plan is a no-fly zone with Russian cooperation means that she’s not explicitly recommending a no-fly zone without Russian cooperation. In other words, when she says “I want a no-fly zone” she doesn’t mean “I am an idiot who doesn’t care if I cause WWIII”.

      I don’t know, maybe the no-fly zone idea is a campaign point that she knows won’t work. The point is, it gives us a scenario where Hillary isn’t stupider than the average journalist or commenter here (which I think is a reasonable prior). Hillary asks Russia for a no-fly zone, Russia says no, and Hillary gives up and tries something else instead of enforcing a no-fly zone anyway.

      • cassander says:

        Russia has invested heavily in preserving the Assad regime. They are not going to abandon support for him that they think is important, so for them to accept a no-fly zone, you have argue that russian bombing is either objectively ineffective or the russians don’t think it’s important. Neither seems to be the case.

        And even if it came to pass what would a no-fly zone accomplish? A no-fly zone in syria is a typical washington solution, it sounds like doing something without sounding expensive. Thinking about its efficacy, though, is practically non-existent. So Assad Russia and Assad stop bombing their enemies, and we stop bombing their friends. At best, that PROLONGS the syrian civil war, which means more death, more refugees, most chaos. how does that help anyone besides ISIS, who don’t have planes to drop bombs anyway? And what does it say about hillary that she either thinks this aggressive, hard to achieve proposal is a good idea, or doesn’t but is willing to demagogue on a terrible idea to get votes?

        • Alraune says:

          You can’t demagogue on creating a No-Fly Zone. “No-Fly Zone” is a euphemism specifically designed to sound unexciting. The options are Genuinely Wants to Antagonize Russia vs. Wants to Demagogue Antagonizing Russia.

          • cassander says:

            demagogue is perhaps the wrong term, “say silly, potentially dangerous things to signal toughness” is more apt, though it doesn’t roll off the tongue.

      • Sandy says:

        Russia allowed the Libyan no-fly zone. NATO used that to destroy Libya. Russia thus no longer has any reason to trust the US on the issue of no-fly zones, even if Assad wasn’t an ally of the Kremlin. It’s already been established that you can get a no-fly zone with Russian cooperation and use that to do something that infuriates Russia. As for not sacrificing Russian interests in the area, Assad *is* the Russian interest in the area, and Hillary crowing about Gaddafi’s death (“We came, we saw, he died!”) does not inspire confidence in that regard.

        Hillary asks Russia for a no-fly zone, Russia says no, and Hillary gives up and tries something else instead of enforcing a no-fly zone anyway.

        As long as the something else isn’t further antagonizing Russia by lobbying for Security Council reforms that weaken Moscow’s veto power. Oh wait, the US is already doing that.

        • AnonBosch says:

          Russia allowed the Libyan no-fly zone. NATO used that to destroy Libya. Russia thus no longer has any reason to trust the US on the issue of no-fly zones, even if Assad wasn’t an ally of the Kremlin.

          Was Russia under the impression at the time that we weren’t going to aid in the overthrow of Qaddafi? It seemed pretty clear to me just from casually following the news.

          • Sandy says:

            They were under the impression that NATO wasn’t going to effectively join forces with the National Transitional Council and help the rebels sodomize Gaddafi with a bayonet and leave his corpse by the side of the road, yes. Putin was pretty mad about how quickly Libya disintegrated and how Gaddafi met his end. This was not helped when John McCain tweeted that Gaddafi’s demise should make Putin feel nervous.

          • cassander says:

            The decision was made by Medvedev, not Putin. Medvedev was generally much more in favor of accommodation with the west. By several accounts, this decision is what made putin decide to ditch medvedev.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Medvedev had no power to make decisions like this at any point.

          • cassander says:

            >Medvedev had no power to make decisions like this at any point.

            that was true after libya. Not before.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            No, it’s just true full stop. Medvedev was always a puppet.

      • Deiseach says:

        Hillary asks Russia for a no-fly zone, Russia says no, and Hillary gives up and tries something else instead of enforcing a no-fly zone anyway.

        Then that makes her look weak, if she’s been saying all along “My plan is a no-fly zone (with Russian co-operation)”. What’s her Plan B in this case? How does she avoid looking like either (a) she wanted this, the Russians told her go chase herself, she had to roll over and take it – something I don’t think Hillary takes very kindly or (b) she had something else in mind all along so why the insistence on the no-fly zone or (c) she has no fall-back so she has to pretend she likes rolling over for the Russians and scraping together a last-minute alternative, so the Russians effectively have a veto on American foreign policy because she’ll back off if they stick to their guns (literally and metaphorically)?

        She needs to say “My first choice is the no-fly zone, if I can’t get that, then Number Two choice is [whatever]”. Because she does not strike me as someone who takes kindly to being made look weak – Trump may be the kind to more immediately flare up and take offence and bluster loudly, but I think Hillary holds grudges and waits her time to hit back – and what is she going to do if Putin challenges her? How is she going to implement American foreign policy, whatever it may be under her administration?

        It’s a difficult question, and I don’t envy her trying to keep all the balls in the air, but if we’re questioning Trump’s lack of ability to cope, we have to ask Hillary the same thing: if Putin starts pushing, what are you going to do – push back, with the risk of escalating things to a degree of hotness nobody wants, or have you some other means of reining him in?

      • John Schilling says:

        I’m not totally sure Russia would never support a no-fly zone. Both us and Russia want to bomb our enemies in Syria

        You understand the difference between US and Russian perceptions of “our enemies in Syria”, right? To us, the enemies are ISIS and Assad, because they do grievous harm to e.g. the telegenic and sympathetic moppets of Aleppo. But we’ve agreed to bomb only ISIS and not Assad. Because Russia’s enemies are ISIS and the moppets of Aleppo, who prevent the Assad regime from securing Syria as a Russian puppet state. And it turns out the Russians and their Syrian allies can bomb all of their enemies, while we are limited to also bombing some of Russia’s enemies for them. Why would they want a no-fly zone?

        If we both agree to stop then it becomes just another form of cease-fire, which Russia has agreed to in some cases. If Assad seems to be doing well, it might even be a way to protect a favorable status quo.

        If Assad is doing well, it is because of Russian and Syrian air support. And if Russia and Assad favor a cease fire while the outcome of the conflict is in any way in doubt, while Assad’s regime is less than secure, it will be for short-term tactical advantage and it will end as soon as it is no longer to their advantage.

        If they wanted a no-fly zone, they could have one any time they wanted, with or without our cooperation. The Assad regime is still the internationally-recognized legitimate government of Syria, and with that government’s permission Russia has deployed modern air defense systems in Syria. “We will provide our Syrian allies with full technical support in securing the sovereignty of Syrian airspace. Effective immediately, any aircraft entering the Syrian ADIZ without clearance from Damascus will be ordered to leave and may be fired upon if it does not”. Bam, done, nothing we can do about it without shooting at Russians (or being shot by Russians and doing nothing in return).

        But again, why would they want a no-fly zone, when it is already the case that the only planes flying over Syria are Russian planes bombing Russia’s enemies, Syrian planes bombing Russia’s enemies, and American planes bombing Russia’s enemies?

        I don’t know, maybe the no-fly zone idea is a campaign point that she knows won’t work […]. Hillary asks Russia for a no-fly zone, Russia says no, and Hillary gives up and tries something else instead of enforcing a no-fly zone anyway.

        That makes Hillary look weak and/or stupid, and by extension the US looks weak and/or stupid, to no purpose. In this hypothetical, not raising the issue of a no-fly zone at all has the same material end result, with less apparent weakness and much less apparent stupidity. So, if she understands now that it won’t work, what’s her possible upside in proposing it at all?

        If she thinks she has a clever plan to make it work, what happens when it doesn’t and how far does she go to avoid looking weak and/or stupid? Because we know Hillary does stupid things to avoid looking weak almost on instinct, e.g. trying to pass off pneumonia as simple fatigue. I think she’s better than Trump at avoiding the sort of stupid things that start wars, but she’s flirting with a much bigger war than Trump.

  65. Jaskologist says:

    A big part of this is America’s promise to defend its allies. This both prevents other countries from attacking America’s allies and prevents America’s allies from building big militaries and launching attacks of their own.

    I think you’re trying to conserve an institution that is already dead. Believe me, I can sympathize.

    Way back in 94, the US convinced Ukraine to disarm in exchange for security guarantees. This was an ongoing effort on our part; we stuck to the “disarm Ukraine” portion of that treaty in the following decades. There are some nice photos of Senator Obama personally inspected stockpiles in the Ukraine that he pushed to decommission. Dick Lugar (R) is right alongside him.

    So, at the time of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine had a guarantee from the US of protection, with bipartisan support including personal interest taken by the now-president of the United States.

    How did that work out for them? If you’re a head of state, what lesson do you take away?

    • Alraune says:

      Lesson? Keep your nukes.

      The annexation of Crimea is one of the more annoying things to judge out of the 2012 election even in hindsight. Romney was right about Russian ambitions, but Obama’s policy of lackadaisical footdragging (and the moderating influence of the Clinton->Kerry transition at State) seems to be the only thing that’s kept Syria from escalating further than it has already.

      The correct choice was obviously to support Ukraine and leave Syria the hell alone, but the choice was probably both vs. neither, meaning Obama was probably the better pick despite/because of being wrong about Russia in east europe.

      • cassander says:

        The correct thing to do in syria was stay out completely and let assad win. There was never any hope that any new syrian regime would be liberal (in the traditional sense) or our friend, so nothing good would come from getting rid of assad even if we succeeded. Instead the administration did the worst possible thing, investing enough to prolong the conflict and make the US seem involved, but not nearly enough to come close to winning.

        • Alraune says:

          I agree with that general assessment, but I’m specifically considering the counterfactual where instead of Obama’s second term we had Romney with a cabinet of Bush admin veterans. They would, I expect, have done even worse with Syria.

          • cassander says:

            at worst, we’d have gotten to the level of involvement we’re at now a lot sooner, which would mean many fewer dead and a better bargaining position. The obama administration’s incrementalism is disastrous because it doesn’t keep us out and it doesn’t win, so we end up both involved and looking weak. when it comes to war, go big or go home. either extreme is usually preferable to muddling. At the very least, a Romney administration would have had far more robust anti-ISIS operations, so while syria would probably have remained a disaster in general, it would only be one disaster, not two.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Agreed.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      This kinda goes both ways, though. When the pro-Russian government there was being overthrown, the US never came in either,

      • Adam says:

        Cruz: “We told Ukraine we’d ensure (its) territorial integrity from Russia.”
        Politifact: “those were assurances, not guarantees. FALSE!”

        And some people still wonder why politifact is regarded as a joke by half the electorate.

        • hlynkacg says:

          IKR?

        • From the Budapest Memorandum:

          “1. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”

          • John Schilling says:

            “Guarantee” and “assure” may be close to synonymous, but “respect” is not even close. There is language in the Budapest Memorandum that might reasonably be construed as an assurance that we would protect Ukraine from Russian nuclear attack, but if the contention is that there was any guarantee of protection against insurgency or invasion, I haven’t seen anything to support that.

          • “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”

            You could argue that only Russia is in violation of the agreement, but surely it is clear that it is–you can’t respect the existing borders while annexing territory that was within them. And the other signatories did nothing to prevent it.

            Would you have read the initial document as “each country agrees to respect the existing borders, but none of them has any obligation to make sure the other signatories do?” Do you think the Ukrainians would have thought that assurance of much value?

          • Jaskologist says:

            Having been fact-checked by Schilling, I’ve dug deeper and found this article by a Ukrainian ambassador involved in the Budapest Memorandum. This was written before the late unpleasantness.

            As it follows from the Memorandum and the above-mentioned unilateral acts, the five nuclear states, permanent members of the UN Security Council, did not make any special commitments with respect to Ukraine … The only specific obligation that the three nuclear states – the US, Russia, and the UK – took was that they “will consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.”

            So it looks like they did indeed understand that we promised them very little in return.

            I still think Pax Americana is in decline, but no fair bringing up other examples when my first one turns out wrong. We did not renege on our treaty with Ukraine.

        • cassander says:

          If you want a good fact checker, I’d suggest checking out the Washington Posts’s.

    • John Schilling says:

      Way back in 94, the US convinced Ukraine to disarm in exchange for security guarantees.

      Reality check: Ukraine was never armed, at least not in the nuclear sense. Ukraine had physical but not legal possession of some elements of former Soviet nuclear weapons systems, but did not at any point have even physical possession of a complete nuclear weapons system capable of conducting a nuclear attack (or even a credible bluff). Ukraine did and does have a capable aerospace industry, some of whose engineers are not Russian and which could eventually have built an operational nuclear weapons system using ex-Soviet hardware, but not before the Russians could and would have said, “Hey, rest of world: the new post-cold-war era still has a norm that responsible nations Don’t Steal Other Countries’ Nuclear Weapons, right? We’ll be sending in the cruise missiles and/or special forces shortly; please stay out of the way”. Any perception that something dangerously provocative going on, would have fallen on the Ukranians rather than the Russians.

      The discussion was about whether Russia would have use of the missiles positioned in Ukraine, or nobody. There was never a possibility of Ukraine having use of those missiles. In exchange for Ukraine allowing Russia to have use of Russian nuclear missiles in Ukranian possession, Russia agreed not to use any nuclear missiles against Ukraine and the rest of the world agreed to complain Do Something via the UN Security Council if the Russians ever did nuke Ukraine.

      This agreement has been consistently upheld from 1991 to the present. Ukraine’s substantial conventional arsenal and arms industry was unaffected by any of this, and remains intact (but apparently of limited utility against somewhat better equipped and much better trained Russian conventional military forces).

      • ” Ukraine had physical but not legal possession of some elements of former Soviet nuclear weapons systems, but did not at any point have even physical possession of a complete nuclear weapons system capable of conducting a nuclear attack (or even a credible bluff). ”

        Could you expand on that a little? Given physical possession of the missiles and launch sites, what more does it take to be able to reprogram the targets and launch?

        • John Schilling says:

          Among other things, “reprogramming the targets” means providing the missile with a set of very precise, detailed instructions in a unique format that is almost certainly classified but really doesn’t need to be given its technical obscurity. Generating those instructions requires dedicated software running on a dedicated computer.

          It is not clear that any such computer ever existed within the borders of Ukraine. When the United States deployed 108 Pershing II nuclear-armed ballistic missiles to West Germany, we sent I believe all of six mobile command centers capable of generating target cartridges that would then be distributed to the actual missile firing units. The former Soviet Union favored more centralized command of its strategic forces, and very likely kept that capability at home.

          If the missile regiments in Ukraine were issued any such systems, they would have been among the most closely-held military secrets in the country, in the joint custody of military and political officers of unquestioned loyalty to Moscow, and if they couldn’t be evacuated on the eve of Ukrainian independence they would have been wiped and/or slagged.

          Absent that capability, the missiles can only be fired against targets for which the firing units have target cartridges. Which, for Soviet ICBMs, would have meant targets in the United States or Western Europe. And firing blind, because the target cartridges almost certainly do not have labels like “Whiteman Air Force Base” but rather “MD634W-A9” with the index being in the General’s pocket as he flies back to Moscow.

          Also, the warheads won’t detonate and the missiles probably won’t even launch without the PAL codes, or whatever the Russians call their equivalent. And that’s usually integral to the guidance and fuzing hardware, so until you can reverse-engineer those systems there’s no way around that.

          • pku says:

            Thank you for reminding me that whatever else can be said about them, nuclear weapons are really friggin cool.

          • Jiro says:

            Building weapons from scratch requires computers too. And having the refined uranium, bomb casings, etc. and basically everything except the computer and software is still a heck of a leg up compared to starting from scratch.

  66. Ari says:

    As non-American, I find really sad quite many intellectual people would vote for Trump. I feel like you are being manipulated. I understand the masses but smart people arguing for this PERSON just saddens me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big HRC fan either. Like David Brooks (who is a conservative), I miss Obama already. Tyler Cowen who I also deeply respect, doesn’t want Trump either and he is probably one of the greatest thinkers alive.

    I’m mainly concerned about foreign policy. If there was an Ukraine conflict, what would Trump do? You need someone like Obama with nerves, not someone who acts on gut instinct (his biographer made quite good remark on this).

    Domestic policy I don’t care and not really my business. HRC to me seems more rational though

    Even though I think presidents should have their flaws as well, I think president should be someone people could look up to as a role model.

    I feel like signalling loyalties leads people to pick suboptimal choices. Conservatives or like-minded want their tribe to win. Think about this way, who would you Americans want as German president? Probably you wouldn’t emotionally care either way. Contrast this to US. I’m sure theres somewhere in rationality training about this. Perhaps in the sequences.

    • Alraune says:

      As I’m relatively ignorant of the German political structure, I would pick Volker Kauder and hope that your current problems are specific to Merkel rather than baked into the system.

      As an American who’s seen the US government change hands repeatedly, however, I know our foreign policy problems are not specific to Obama (or Bush, or Clinton I), but rather have been a matter of bipartisan consensus, and therefore take the pick that has the possible upside of purging the evil viziers.

    • E. Harding says:

      “I miss Obama already”

      -We can start to miss Obama if Clinton wins.

      “Tyler Cowen who I also deeply respect”

      -Why???

      “If there was an Ukraine conflict, what would Trump do?”

      -He said that it would be great if the U.S. could get along with Russia and that, while he loves Ukraine and its people, the Europeans are most at risk of this, and they don’t seem to be doing much of anything about it, indicating it’s a low priority for Trump. His team also slightly watered down a particularly dangerous plank to the GOP platform calling for the provision of “lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine’s wildly unpopular government.
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trump-campaign-guts-gops-anti-russia-stance-on-ukraine/2016/07/18/98adb3b0-4cf3-11e6-a7d8-13d06b37f256_story.html?utm_term=.e0c560d7b4f0

      In response, Clinton’s campaign did a lot of red-baiting.

      Compare Clinton’s stance on this issue.

      “HRC to me seems more rational though”

      -How? Many people, including most of the college-educated, are just focusing on style instead of substance. Sad.

      “I think president should be someone people could look up to as a role model.”

      -So, not one of the current major-party nominees for president.

      “I feel like signalling loyalties leads people to pick suboptimal choices.”

      -Totally agreed.

      “and therefore take the pick that has the possible upside of purging the evil viziers.”

      -Bingo.

    • Luung Hawl says:

      ” I’m sure there’s somewhere in rationality training about this.”

      Be scared. These people are not reachable.

      • E. Harding says:

        Hm…

        http://www.gallup.com/poll/191855/russians-approval-leadership-drops-record.aspx

        Asking the people of the countries within the U.S. sphere of influence about who would make the best president adds no evidence either way about who would make the best president. It’s the people of the countries outside the U.S. sphere of influence which are best to consult about this.

        • Jiro says:

          It’s the people of the countries outside the U.S. sphere of influence which are best to consult about this.

          Why? For one thing, they’re very likely to be in countries with non-free presses full of propaganda which makes it harder for them to get an accurate picture than even Americans can.

        • E. Harding says: