Sunday, April 21, 2019

What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?

Read below what a troubled soul at UCLA graduate school was teaching for some years

By Philip E. Agre in August 2004

Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:

Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.
Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until recently. Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves "conservatives" have little notion of what conservatism even is. They have been deceived by one of the great public relations campaigns of human history. Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy in the United States.

//1 The Main Arguments of Conservatism

From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people and their allies are the conservatives.


Phil Agre is an electical engineer by training and is a manic depressive so that accounts for a lot but it is still a vast level of misinformation to UCLA students.  He was very influential in his writings until he "disappeared" in 2009.  Maybe he realised that he had got it all wrong and that became too much for him


Robert Francis O'Rourke Hates America (But Wants to Be President Anyway)

Serious Democratic presidential contender Robert Francis Domnall Blathmac Tigernmas "Beta" O'Rourke told a crowd of supporters on Wednesday, "The larger problem of which our criminal justice system is just a part, is the very racist foundation of this country, the fact that the wealth of the USA...was built literally on the backs of those kidnapped in their home countries, transported in the middle passage."

There's video, courtesy of The Hill, if you can bear to watch it.

Let's talk some sense. Please.

Progressives have been building this meme for years, that the U.S. was built on slave labor -- and therefore suffers a kind of geopolitical "original sin" that makes us worse than all other countries, or at least no better. And, of course, that our salvation lies in adopting progressive policies which, if we're being frank, actually would make us no better than any other shithole oppressed country.

But the whole concept is malarky, a lie woven from lying cloth that lies.

The South, until fairly recently, was an economic basket case. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1831 of his journey down the Ohio River:

"That which follows the numerous windings of the Ohio upon the left is called Kentucky, that upon the right bears the name of the river. These two States only differ in a single respect; Kentucky has admitted slavery, but the State of Ohio has prohibited the existence of slaves within its borders.

Thus the traveller who floats down the current of the Ohio to the spot where that river falls into the Mississippi, may be said to sail between liberty and servitude; and a transient inspection of the surrounding objects will convince him as to which of the two is most favorable to mankind. Upon the left bank of the stream the population is rare; from time to time one descries a troop of slaves loitering in the half-desert fields; the primaeval forest recurs at every turn; society seems to be asleep, man to be idle, and nature alone offers a scene of activity and of life. From the right bank, on the contrary, a confused hum is heard which proclaims the presence of industry; the fields are covered with abundant harvests, the elegance of the dwellings announces the taste and activity of the laborer, and man appears to be in the enjoyment of that wealth and contentment which is the reward of labor.

The State of Kentucky was founded in 1775, the State of Ohio only twelve years later; but twelve years are more in America than half a century in Europe, and, at the present day, the population of Ohio exceeds that of Kentucky by two hundred and fifty thousand souls. These opposite consequences of slavery and freedom may readily be understood, and they suffice to explain many of the differences which we remark between the civilization of antiquity and that of our own time."

On the right bank, a bustling economy. On the left... not so much. At the national level, the differences were more striking. The North enjoyed an 11-to-1 advantage in the number of factory workers, despite having a population only 2.3 times larger. The North had nearly as many factories as the South had factory workers, and they were enormously more productive, too. And while slaves were treated like, well, slaves, factory employees were paid wages which would have seemed like a fortune to the enslaved. About the only items of importance the South had to offer economically was slave-produced cotton, rice, and tobacco. Meanwhile, the North was busy creating the first continental-sized modern industrial juggernaut.

Even after the Civil War, the South's economy didn't become the powerhouse it is now until after the Democrats' Jim Crow laws were cast into the dustbin of history. Free labor -- not slavery, not segregation -- is a necessary element to a massively wealth-generating economy.

ASIDE: It's one of the ironies of modern history that in recent decades, the Southern states have hewed far more closely to the free-market model pioneered in this country by the Northern states. The student has become the master.

So, no, it is not a "fact" that "the wealth of the USA...was built literally on the backs of those kidnapped in their home countries." It is, in fact, a filthy lie, told by someone who is either too stupid to be president, or too hateful of his own country to be trusted with any public office. And given that "Beta" seems smart enough to know better, I'm going with "hateful."



Barr on Mueller Report: Trump and His Campaign Did Not Conspire or Coordinate With Russians?

"One of the primary purposes of the Special Counsel's investigation was to determine whether President Trump's campaign or any individual associated with it conspired or coordinated with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election," Attorney General William Barr told a news conference in Washington Thursday morning.

"As you will see, the special counsel's report states that his investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities," Barr continued:

I am sure that all Americans share my concern about the efforts of the Russian government to interfere in our presidential election. As the special counsel report makes clear, the Russian government sought to interfere in our election process.

But thanks to the Special Counsel's thorough investigation, we now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign, or the knowing assistance of any other American, for that matter.

That is something that all Americans can and should be grateful to have confirmed.

The Special Counsel report outlines two main efforts by the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.

First, the report details efforts by the Internet Research Agency (I.R.A), a Russian company with close ties to the Russian government, to sow social discord among American voters through disinformation and social media operations. Following a thorough investigation of this disinformation campaign, the Special Counsel brought charges in federal court against several Russian nationals and entities for their respective roles in this scheme.

Those charges remain pending and the individual defendants remain at large. But the Special Counsel found no evidence that any American, including anyone associated with the Trump campaign, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government or the I.R.A. In this illegal scheme. Indeed, as the report states, quote, the investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. Person knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the I.R.A.'s interference operation, unquote.

Put another way, the Special Counsel found no collusion by any Americans in I.RA.'s illegal activities.

Barr also said the evidence presented to Mueller was not enough to establish that the President obstructed justice.

As soon as Barr finished speaking, President Trump pinned the following tweet, saying "Game Over."



Barr: No Bail for Asylum Seekers

AG orders DHS to enforce the law as written, which means no bond for illegals crossing the border.

One of the greatest pull factors for illegal immigration is the practice of “catch and release,” where illegal aliens, upon apprehension after crossing the border illegally, request asylum and are released into the U.S. with instructions to return for a court date once their request has been processed. Yet as has often been reported, many of these illegals never return for their hearings.

President Donald Trump continues seeking ways to stop the flow of illegal immigration in spite of being repeatedly rebuffed by Democrats and left-leaning courts. The latest attempt is Attorney General William Barr’s announcement of a new asylum policy that directs the Department of Homeland Security to deny bond hearings to all aliens who illegally entered and requested asylum. The Justice Department explained that Barr was simply acting to enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act to the letter of the law.

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey wonders about the timing: “It’s also curious that the White House took this step so soon after the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen and Claire Grady. Were they opposed to the policy? Or perhaps prepared to be too lenient with paroles?”

In any case, former Bush administration Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, himself a legal immigrant, supported Barr’s decision. “This is not part of some grand scheme against immigrants coming into the United States,” Yoo said. “It’s a very narrow thing the attorney general has done. He has the power to overrule immigration judges. Immigration judges have been making mistakes — they’ve been allowing bail to be granted to people seeking asylum who are caught past the border.”

Yoo added, “Asylum seekers have to show what they call a well-founded fear of persecution back in their home countries. The problem for all these people coming from Central America — they’re fleeing for economic reasons. They’re not fleeing because the government is persecuting them.”

Not surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union immediately challenged the legality of Barr’s decision, arguing that it is an unconstitutional breach of “basic due process” and that it will see “the administration in court. Again.” However, going by the law and precedent, it appears that Barr is the one standing on more solid legal ground than the ACLU.

Either way, Trump is clearly seeking to force Congress into action. Sitting on the sidelines while a massive border crisis is unfolding doesn’t play well with the American people.



Trump Veto — The Best Choice for America and Yemen

Foreign policy rarely consists of easy choices, and aiding Saudi Arabia is complicated.

President Donald Trump’s veto of a congressional resolution that would have halted American support of Saudi Arabia in Yemen has drawn complaints from two sides. The first is the usual suspects on the Left. The second, though, comes from some who supported President Trump. But this veto was the right call, despite the flak.

As we have discussed earlier, the situation in Yemen is one that has few good options. Don’t get us wrong — the Saudis are no angels (the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi being but one relatively minor example). That being said, they are making progress in the right direction, including Mohammed bin Salman’s statement effectively recognizing Israel’s right to exist. In addition, the alternative is to let Iran take Yemen.

That would be a bad idea on geopolitics alone. Yemen sits astride the Bab el Mandab, a maritime chokepoint that controls access to the Red Sea. This makes it a potential lifeline to Israel, given the dearth of naval powers. It would not be hard to get convoys of aid to Israeli ports via the Red Sea if things came to that. But if Iran takes Yemen, America’s presence in the region will have to increase to deal with the threat.

But since critics of the veto are talking about human rights and other moral issues, let’s examine how Iran scores on that matter. Iranian leaders regularly proclaim a desire to wipe Israel off the map (in essence, a 2019 remake of the Holocaust) — in a country where Holocaust denial is routine. That is reason enough to keep backing the Saudis, even if it means turning a blind eye to other stuff. That doesn’t also include the fact that Iran helped insurgents kill a few hundred American troops in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. That is a debt America needs to collect on.

Not many things in foreign policy or national security provide American presidents an easy choice, but the situation in Yemen is one that is relatively easy, even with the nasty stains on Saudi Arabia’s record. This is doubly true since we’ve not maintained a sufficient force structure to handle this ourselves. All of our services — the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, and the Coast Guard — have been shorted since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This has forced hard choices, like the one made regarding Syria that resulted in the departure of Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

If George W. Bush had been willing to build up the military after 9/11, we might not be in this mess, but he didn’t and we are paying now for that mistake. In essence, the Saudis are fighting a fight we should have a larger role in fighting if we didn’t lack the force structure. Why should America have a larger role? Well, for one thing, there’s the awkward matter of the potshots the Iranian-backed Houthis took at the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87).

Yes, President Trump campaigned on reducing America’s global footprint. Given the lesson learned from Barack Obama’s reckless timetable-based withdrawal from Iraq, however, the way to reduce that footprint isn’t a reckless pullout on a politically based timetable. The way you reduce the footprint responsibly is to ensure that the threats that warrant American military presence in the first place are gone. Ideally, you can try to negotiate them away. Other times, you can strengthen allies to handle it on their own. But sometimes, the best way to reduce America’s footprint over the long term is to escalate a response in the short term.

This might sound contradictory and appear that Trump is breaking promises. But think about it this way: If we could eliminate ISIS, and get a non-genocidal regime in Iran, much of the need for our military presence in the Middle East goes away. Similarly, if NATO allies like Germany and Canada pull their weight, maybe America would not need so many troops in Europe.

It’s not always easy to get to a reduced footprint from our current situation, and sometimes doing it will seem counterintuitive, but right now, reality dictates that bringing the troops home may require deploying more forces in the short term.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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