Proposition nationhood …

progressives
I don’t think they’ve read John Locke.

… versus populism, which is becoming fixed in the argument-ending lexicon, along with the venerable “fascism” and “racism.”

athenscountycombinedheadlines

National Review has another enemy of the Republic in its sights, this time Tucker Carlson, for the following heresy:

One of the biggest lies our leaders tell us that you can separate economics from everything else that matters. Economics is a topic for public debate. Family and faith and culture, meanwhile, those are personal matters. Both parties believe this.

Members of our educated upper-middle-classes are now the backbone of the Democratic Party who usually describe themselves as fiscally responsible and socially moderate. In other words, functionally libertarian. They don’t care how you live, as long as the bills are paid and the markets function. Somehow, they don’t see a connection between people’s personal lives and the health of our economy, or for that matter, the country’s ability to pay its bills. As far as they’re concerned, these are two totally separate categories.

Social conservatives, meanwhile, come to the debate from the opposite perspective, and yet reach a strikingly similar conclusion. The real problem, you’ll hear them say, is that the American family is collapsing. Nothing can be fixed before we fix that. Yet, like the libertarians they claim to oppose, many social conservatives also consider markets sacrosanct. The idea that families are being crushed by market forces seems never to occur to them. They refuse to consider it. Questioning markets feels like apostasy.

David French condemned Tucker’s “victimhood populism,” urging conservatives to stay the ideological course. The personal, insists David, is not the political.

The problem with populism — and indeed with much of American politics — is that it focuses on the political at the expense of the personal. As I’ve argued many times, there are wounds that public policy can’t heal. But populism too often pretends otherwise. It tells a fundamentally false story about Americans as victims of a heartless elite and their “worship” of market economics rather than the true story of America as a flawed society that still grants its citizens access to tremendous opportunity.

Now this is correct and reasonable, so far as it goes. The best retirement plan is not Social Security; it’s to have several kids and stay on good terms with them. Avoiding poverty is above all adherence to the three No’s: no dropping out of high school, no children out of wedlock, and no children or marriage before a firm footing in adulthood. But getting people to that point of healthy, stable families should at least include removing active barriers to family formation. Housing and education (both in acquiring credentials and that Holy Grail of parenthood, the “Good School District”) are formidable obstacles, and the government footprint in both is enormous. If anybody requires more examples of actively toxic government policy, there are entire books full of them.

The Z-Man has a good treatment of these issues, riffing off the government’s bass-ackwards regulation of telemarketers. One might think that the default should be businesses cannot just program computers or hire desperate nobodies to cold-call people. But instead, you have to go out of your way to keep these pests off your telephone, which you paid for.

This small little incident I’m describing is a microcosm of what’s wrong in the country. The FTC website should not exist. There’s no need for a do-not-call registry. The government could simply make the telephone companies responsible for the abuse that goes on with telemarketers. The phone companies would then demand the government pass laws that discourage these scams. The phone system operators would then aggressively police their networks and turn the scammers over to the state.

That does not happen, of course. The idea of the government doing things to make daily life easier on the citizens is so alien to us now, that the very suggestion of it is met with howls of protest. That is, after all, what happened when Tucker Carlson suggested the people in charge start worrying about the happiness of the public. The shrieking and gasping at such blasphemy around the Imperial Capital was deafening. No one in the ruling class, or their attendants, thinks the government owes us anything.

To people like David French, this state of affairs is not objectionable because after all, the United States is not a particular people nor even a particular place. America is a Proposition nation where we are free to fail, and the people are expected to make their own way. And certainly they should, if the people could say Fuck You and light out for the open frontier, and the government did not collect trillions of dollars in taxes, issue trillions of dollars in bonds, bail out obscenely wealthy corporations, blow people up, warp the entire culture into feminized co-dependency, and on and on.

America is so obviously not an idea or proposition I’m surprised I still hear it. After all, if America were just a proposition we could write the proposition down on a piece of paper and mail it to everybody. Geopolitics as we know would cease as everyone, swayed by our impeccable logic, just became Americans. (There’s actually a hilariously unironic alt-history story where the US and the British Empire avert World War Two by threatening to destroy France, Germany, and Russia, and everybody agrees to global rule by the Anglo-American commonwealth).

The hour, as Saruman said, is later than we think, and even later than Donald Trump and probably Tucker Carlson and certainly David French think. We tell people to vote but California, New York, New Jersey, or any other State can sign up for refugee resettlement, declare sanctuary cities, enact motor-voter laws, and the extant vote will be completely diluted. Los Angeles County is already bigger than 40 of the States–they will not agree to a Red State veto forever. Or, you can vote for whatever policy you want, but if Jeff Bezos is on the other side of it, a single phone call from his lobbyists to your governor or city council will override any mere voting majority. Most poignantly, the average citizen has absolutely nothing to bid against his own displacement and destruction of his socio-economic standing, when political and monied interests stand to gain so much from more commercial churn and more serfs on the tax farm. After all, the Nation is just a Proposition–any people will do.

Against this tsunami, this moving megalith of electoral doom and cultural decimation, the ideological conservative remains steadfast, sanguine in the conviction that while the Left may kill him, ravage his wife and daughters, make his sons into strangers in their own lands and send them off to die for ungrateful foreigners, they can never kill the Constitution!

Brood parasitism

Source.

Brood parasites are organisms that rely on others to raise their young. The strategy appears among birds, insects and some fish. The brood parasite manipulates a host, either of the same or of another species, to raise its young as if it were its own, using brood mimicry, for example by having eggs that resemble the host’s (egg mimicry).

cuckoo eggs

Brood parasitism relieves the parasitic parents from the investment of rearing young or building nests for the young, enabling them to spend more time on other activities such as foraging and producing further offspring. Bird parasite species mitigate the risk of egg loss by distributing eggs among a number of different hosts. As this behavior damages the host, it often results in an evolutionary arms race between parasite and host as the pair of species co-evolve.

Reed_warbler_cuckoo

Birds
In many monogamous bird species, there are extra-pair matings resulting in males outside the pair bond siring offspring and used by males to escape from the parental investment in raising their offspring. This form of cuckoldry is taken a step further when females of the goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) often lay their eggs in the nests of other individuals. Intra-specific brood parasitism is seen in a number of duck species, where females often lay their eggs in the nests of others.

Most avian brood parasites have very short egg incubation periods and rapid nestling growth. In many brood parasites, such as cuckoos and honeyguides, this short egg incubation period is due to internal incubation periods up to 24 hours longer in cuckoos than hosts. Some non-parasitic cuckoos also have longer internal incubation periods, suggesting that this longer internal incubation period was not an adaptation following brood parasitism, but predisposed birds to become brood parasites. This is likely facilitated by a heavier yolk in the egg providing more nutrients. Being larger than the hosts at growth is a further adaptation to being a brood parasite.

cuckoo2

‘Mafia’ hypothesis
There is a question as to why the majority of the hosts of brood parasites care for the nestlings of their parasites. Not only do these brood parasites usually differ significantly in size and appearance, but it is also highly probable that they reduce the reproductive success of their hosts. The “mafia hypothesis” evolved through studies in an attempt to answer this question. This hypothesis revolves around host manipulations induced by behaviors of the brood parasite. Upon the detection and rejection of a brood parasite’s egg, the host’s nest is depredated upon, its nest destroyed and nestlings injured or killed. This threatening response indirectly enhances selective pressures favoring aggressive parasite behavior that may result in positive feedback between mafia-like parasites and compliant host behaviors.

 

cuckoo3

DES MOINES – The mother of Mollie Tibbetts, the University of Iowa student whose disappearance and killing attracted national attention, has taken in the son of Mexican immigrants who worked with her daughter’s accused killer, according to a Washington Post report.

In a story published Friday, The Post reported that Laura Calderwood brought Ulises Felix, 17, into her home. Ulises’ parents worked alongside murder suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera at a dairy farm in Brooklyn, Iowa.

After Bahena Rivera’s arrest, Ulises’ parents fled town for Illinois and left behind their American son, a high school boy, according to the Post. When Tibbetts’ younger brother, Scott, asked Calderwood whether they could take in Ulises, the 55-year-old woman wondered what her daughter would do, Post reporter Terrence McCoy wrote.

Ulises has been living in a spare bedroom in Calderwood’s house. Mollie’s brother, Scott, also lives there.

Mollie Tibbetts was found dead Aug. 21, her body hidden in a cornfield in rural Poweshiek County, Iowa, after a month of searching for her.

Over There

Apparently, there’s this whole war in Syria I’m supposed to be patriotic about. Congress didn’t declare it, I didn’t get to vote on it, and most people don’t know where Syria is much less which American regiments are involved or what they’re actually doing. I knew something about it, and my instincts told me nothing good can come of it so I’m glad we’re leaving. Of course, for the permanent bureaucracy–the one we’re not allowed to change by voting–any withdrawal from anywhere is unthinkable.

There’s even talk that Trump is reconsidering our 17-year war in Afghanistan. The generals are appalled. I would be too if I had built an entire career and a chest of medals on a lengthy live-fire exercise that never actually accomplished anything. But over here in net tax-paying world, there are some questions that need answering.

The question before us is a relatively simple one: What would be the criteria for removing our remaining troops from the Iraqi, Syrian, and more general Middle Eastern conflicts? Or, for that matter, from Afghanistan, where we have been trapped for more than 17 long years of still open-ended occupation?

If the answer to that question is that only when each of these countries is a healthy pro-American democracy, and Islamist terrorism has ceased to be an “enduring” threat to the West, then the answer, as the old Bob Mankoff joke has it, is “How about never — is never good for you?”

Or consider what a shocked Lieutenant General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. of the Marines, the incoming commander of Central Command opined after hearing the news of Trump’s withdrawal of 7,000 troops from Afghanistan yesterday: “If we left precipitously right now, I do not believe [the Afghan forces] would be able to successfully defend their country. I don’t know how long it’s going to take. I think that one of the things that would actually provide the most damage to them would be if we put a timeline on it and we said we were going out at a certain point in time.”

Get that? After 17 years, we’ve gotten nowhere, like every single occupier before us. But for that reason, we have to stay. These commanders have been singing this tune year after year for 17 years of occupation, and secretaries of Defense have kept agreeing with them. Trump gave them one last surge of troops — violating his own campaign promise — and we got nowhere one more time. It is getting close to insane.

Here’s Congressman-elect and Afghan war veteran Dan Crenshaw’s attempt at an explanation:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I’m going to assume Mr. Crenshaw does not actually read me or Steve Sailer and said this without a trace of irony: we invade the world because we invite the world.

Or as Dave Pinsen brutally puts it:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The other rationale I’ve heard is that Americans cannot forsake their staunch and historical allies the Kurds who, again, most Americans don’t know and couldn’t locate if they tripped over them.

The Middle Easterners I know tend to regard the Kurds, fairly or unfairly, as free-riding barbarians at the back end of everywhere. The British and French didn’t bother giving them a country when they were drawing up the place, and they were serious imperialists, so I doubt we could do any better.

The whole region could use some muscular secular nationalism in order to become serious countries. When civil war broke out in Syria, five million Syrians just left rather than fight for their country. And ISIS was literally the worst of the worst; illiterate savages with rifles and RPGs. Syria’s professional military still couldn’t defeat them without Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese Hezbollah. But I bet the next time something like this comes up the Syrians will tear them to pieces.

Remember Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait? All the wealthy Kuwaitis left because Kuwait isn’t a real country; it’s just a tiny, retrograde kingdom that we pretend is an actual, serious country. There’s not really anything to fight for except oil money, and that’s kind of the whole tragedy of the Middle East. Nobody really cares about the “country” because countries there haven’t really existed in that sense for a long time. They’ve been vassals of successive empires for over two millenia. They were drawn up and “given” independence by the British and French in the 20th century.

To their credit, the regions’ peoples are beginning to evolve a nationalist sensibility. Syrians are becoming “Syrian,” not just members of various clans all knifing each other in the ribs. Same for Jordan and Iraq. The Lebanese are extremely nationalist so long as nobody looks too hard at the premises underlying the National Pact. Traumatic, polarizing national conflicts tend to foster nationalism in the people who emerge on the other side (watch this monumental, and practically banned, film). Subsidizing a disruptive, landlocked Kurdistan instead of fostering national unity and balances of power doesn’t seem very productive unless you think divided, chaotic Arab countries are good for Israel. I’ll just leave that here.

The US policy elite used to pride themselves on realpolitik, but everybody seems to be in this crazed ideological phase right now. If they read my blog and Chronicles Magazine, they’d realize the Age of Ideas is over.

Childish things

There are so many strange, appalling things going on I can’t tell what to write about, so I thought I’d lump several items together and see if any common theme emerged.

First, the US really doesn’t fight wars any more.

Charged earlier this month with multiple war crimes in connection with the 2017 stabbing death of a detainee in Iraq, Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward “Eddie” Gallagher vows to fight for his freedom.

The 19-year Navy veteran has hired two high-powered criminal defense attorneys who specialize in military law — Colby Vokey of Dallas and Phillip Stackhouse of San Diego — and he’s exploring a civil rights lawsuit against Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents for alleged misconduct linked to his Sept. 11 arrest and detention in San Diego’s Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar.

An Article 32 hearing with a special military judge sent from Florida will begin to sift through the evidence against Gallagher on Nov. 14 in San Diego, according to Stackhouse.

The judge will then recommend which charges should be forwarded or withdrawn by an admiral who could convene a general court-martial. Gallagher has been accused of murder, aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and professional misconduct.

“While the burden is very, very low to send the charges to court, Chief Gallagher will, like he has on every combat deployment, fight. Fight to clear his name, fight for justice, and fight to expose the lies that are being made against him,” said Stackhouse in a written statement emailed to Navy Times.

Multiple criminal defense attorneys, senior military commanders in the Navy and several special warfare units told Navy Times that the ongoing war crimes probe isn’t focused solely on Gallagher but includes more than a dozen SEALs who also deployed between 2017 and early 2018 near what then was Islamic State-held Mosul, Iraq.

NCIS agents are not only probing a number of serious allegations involving the death of the detainee, but also images that allegedly depict SEALs posing with the body. They’re also exploring concerns about how Naval Special Warfare Group 1 officers and senior enlisted leaders handled the initial reports about war crimes and the internal investigation that followed in their wake, they say.

This happened in Iraq last year, in case you were wondering if we were still in Iraq.

Elsewhere,

A former Green Beret who told Fox News in 2016 that he killed a suspected Taliban bomb maker nearly a decade ago during combat operations in Afghanistan is now being charged in the man’s death — a move his lawyer says is an act of betrayal by the Army.

The murder charge facing Maj. Matthew Golsteyn comes after years of on-and-off investigations by the Army following an incident said to have taken place during his 2010 deployment. A military tribunal that probed the killing years ago initially cleared Golsteyn — but the investigation into him was re-opened after he spoke to Fox News’ Bret Baier.

“I think he’s been betrayed,” his attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, told Fox News on Friday when asked how the Army has treated Golsteyn.

The once-decorated soldier, who had been on voluntary excess leave amid the latest investigation, has been living in a newly bought home with his wife and a 2-month-old baby in Virginia, working for the International Association of Firefighters, Stackhouse said.

Golsteyn was informed of the murder charge earlier this week after being ordered back into active duty.

“They have insinuated to me that they have new evidence,” Stackhouse told Fox News. “I don’t believe there is any new evidence at all.”

We’ve been in Afghanistan since 2001. The incidents in question took place in 2010.

The attorney for Golsteyn and Gallagher, Phillip Stackhouse, appears quite busy defending US soldiers from their own government.

War is such a fraught, apex activity we even have its special status carved out in a time-honored quote: “All’s fair in love and war.”

War is violent action by a sovereign. There’s no High Court of Sovereignty weighing the scales of justice over it all. You either win it or you don’t. If you win, you get medals and a pension. If you lose, then you get charged as a war criminal. Nobody cares about the patriotic Iraqis or Afghans who thought they were doing their duty to God or their clan or their country by trying to kill American invaders–it’s war. Armies are gangs of tolerated killers. The US, an ideologically-crazed empire, is trying to prosecute these tedious, numbingly-detailed police actions in furtherance of a vague set of principles. Bullshit. This is war–kill them. And if you don’t want to kill them, then it’s not war and you shouldn’t fight it.

There’s a reason love is linked with war in that quote. The enthralled lover is also a sovereign, obeying no law but that of the heart. Lovers will lie, cheat, fabricate, abuse, even kill to attain the object of their desire. Short of actual assault or pederasty, the State doesn’t adjudicate matters of the heart. We don’t prosecute the devious seductions, false promises, and cruel rejections by lovers outside a few arcane, common law crimes, and usually not even then. The deterrent effect and economic utility to society for adjudicating affairs of the heart is practically nil. Love, like war, is an apex activity.

What else was out there to piss me off? Here’s news from Sweden:

A chemistry professor at Lund University dispatched a team of mercenaries into an Islamic State (also known as IS, Isis or Daesh) war zone to free one of her doctoral students and his family. Charlotta Turner, professor in Analytical Chemistry, received a text message from her student Firas Jumaah in 2014 telling her to to assume he would not finish his thesis if he had not returned within a week.

He and his family were, he told her, hiding out in a disused bleach factory, with the sounds of gunshots from Isis warriors roaming the town reverberating around them. Jumaah, who is from Iraq, is a member of the ethno-religious group Yazidi hated by Isis.

“I had no hope then at all,” Jumaah told Lund’s University Magazine LUM. “I was desperate. I just wanted to tell my supervisor what was happening. I had no idea that a professor would be able to do anything for us.”

Jumaah had voluntarily entered the war zone after his wife had rung him to say that Isis fighters had taken over the next-door village, killing all the men and taking the women into slavery.

“My wife was totally panicking. Everyone was shocked at how IS were behaving,” he said. “I took the first plane there to be with them. What sort of life would I have if anything had happened to them there?”

But Turner was not willing to leave her student to die without trying to do something.

“What was happening was completely unacceptable,” she told LUM. “I got so angry that IS was pushing itself into our world, exposing my doctoral student and his family to this, and disrupting the research.”

She contacted the university’s then security chief Per Gustafson.

“It was almost as if he’d been waiting for this kind of mission,” Turner said. “Per Gustafson said that we had a transport and security deal which stretched over the whole world.”

Over a few days of intense activity, Gustafson hired a security company which then arranged the rescue operation.

A few days later two Landcruisers carrying four heavily-armed mercenaries roared into the area where Jumaah was hiding, and sped him away to Erbil Airport together with his wife and two small children.

“I have never felt so privileged, so VIP,” Jumaah told LUM. “But at the same time I felt like a coward as I left my mother and sisters behind me.”

Yes, you’re a coward Mr. Jumaah. But what I want to know is why heads of security at mid-tier Swedish universities are tied in to global mercenary networks ready to effect tactical rescues in Iraq. What the hell is going on in Sweden?

I’m glad the man’s family is wealthy enough to pay the university back. Maybe next time they can just coordinate the rescue themselves. By the way, there is a good chance that this was a targeted kidnapping and the “rescue” was actually a ransom payment. Lebanese clans often have rivals thrown in jail on some charge or other. Things get ironed out, ransoms are paid, honor restored. Idealistic Westerners have no clue. Let me highlight this quote from Professor Turner:

“What was happening was completely unacceptable,” she told LUM. “I got so angry that IS was pushing itself into our world, exposing my doctoral student and his family to this, and disrupting the research.”

No, madam, they are in their world, and your child-man student and his wealthy family are up to their necks in it. This is a good micro-scale illustration of the Sailer thesis: we invade the world precisely because we invite the world.

What I’m really supposed to be outraged about, according to the US media, is the clumsy murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The murder took place when Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain his divorce papers. He never came back out, and is alleged to have been murdered on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Here’s bin Salman consoling Khashoggi’s son, Salah.

salah and bin salman

I hope that cameraman figured out how to turn on the camera to document this heartwarming event or he’s following Jamal into the lye bath. Or maybe the camera doesn’t actually work. Such is life in inscrutable Middle Eastern monarchies.

The New York Times and other professional activists were duly outraged but that’s their full-time job. Khashoggi spent much of his life advising the Saudi monarchy before suddenly deciding he was a dissident. He pissed some people off so he got himself killed. What the teenagers who write for the Times don’t know and will never think to ask is that bin Salman has probably paid the Khashoggis their blood money, the Saudis will pretextually purge their intelligence service of its more troublesome elements, and hopefully they return whatever’s left of Mr. Jamal to his family for a proper Muslim funeral. Honor must be maintained.

If the adults were still running things, all this would go without saying and the adults would get back to doing the adult things. After all, we’re the most powerful State on Earth conducting its geopolitical affairs, not a bunch of women and their gay friends conducting the Episcopal General Convention.

nixon and saudis

Finally, there’s–what else–immigration. Here’s future President Beto O’Rourke talking with future voters in Juarez, Mexico last week.

beto o'rourke

Nobody at the US border right now is legitimately seeking “asylum.” Nobody at the US border right now is an actual “refugee.” Guatemala, Honduras, and the other Central American states are all real countries with architects, surgeons, tractors, cellphones, internet, and other trappings of industrial society. Like Baltimore, they have high crime rates which is a domestic governance problem, not an international cross-border problem.

O’Rourke is just getting face time with future constituents, because that’s all immigration is at this point: a democratic political weapon wielded against electoral opponents. The Left is fighting for territory for its people–serious business–in contrast to notional conservatives debating precious principle–child’s play.

And that’s the theme I came up with from all these stories: the West is no longer a serious place run by adults; it’s a playpen full of children.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I bcame a man, I put away childish things.” (I Corinthians 13:11).