Depravity

There is a rather interesting analysis of ISIS up at the New York Review of Books. Well worth the read, especially for anyone who believes they know what ISIS is about. Bottom line for me? ISIS is comprised of depraved souls with no love for their fellow human beings, so long as those individuals do not agree with the ISIS way of death.

I confess to being a Calvinist, and, as such, find no shock in the depravity of ISIS and its supporters. On the contrary, their depravity, unchecked by our so-called modern sensibilities, is the natural state of humanity. Absent sufficient challenge, it metastasizes into places such as Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, and, now, ISIS.

It would be too facile to blame Islam per se. Obviously, a very large majority of Muslims do not support the ISIS blood cult. Just as obviously, that same large majority is not dealing effectively with the serpent in its midst.

What to do? I know what we could do, but I don’t believe the West has the stomach for it – massive attacks with massive loss of civilian lives. Basically, make a wasteland out of all territory infested by the ISIS virus.

So, what should we do? A good start would be to ramp up our air campaign, effectively arm the Kurds to make them our sharp end of the spear. Perhaps even make good on a long-ignored promise of creating a Kurdistan out of Kurdish enclaves in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and, yes, Turkey.

Before any of that, though, the very first thing we must do is stop being mush-headed about ISIS. We must acknowledge that ISIS is a blood-cult variety of Islam. We must acknowledge that tribalism still rules the Middle East. They are not modern just because they have Twitter accounts. We must stop thinking that half-hearted measures and good intentions might work (e.g. let’s stop pretending that because we claim a “60 nation coalition” that we are actually making a real fight of it).

Along the way, and starting with the next administration (the current one seems to hate all things truly military), build up all branches of our armed forces. It is worse than useless to speak of “red lines” and not back up such brave talk. Or even be able to back it up because our president has decimated our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

Impressive Field

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about watching last night’s two debates was that, without exception, every single person on the stage would make a better president than Hillary Clinton.

And even Hillary would be better than He Whose Name Must Not be Mentioned. Can’t see even the Queen Bee make this kind of vainglorious, narcissist utterance (with a teleprompter, natch):

…this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…

Exceeding Obama or Hillary, however, is a low bar indeed. Among all who took both stages, my assessment is that Carly Fiorina did herself the most good, and, for what it’s worth, “won” the undercard.

Marco Rubio demonstrated that he is ready for prime time battle against the Hillary and the entire crew of flying monkeys in the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, to only slightly modify a whine from Hillary.

Senator Rubio has the great advantage against Hillary of clearly being of a younger generation, with greater energy, and, while Hillary is “likable enough” that is not even close to the apparent reality of a cold, calculating, lying schemer.

Even Jeb is looking good…

…as compared with The Donald.

I never thought I would say this, but Jeb is looking very good as compared with The Donald. Yes, Jeb is named Bush, and might start with that foolish “compassionate conservatism again.” Yes, he seems to be the very embodiment of an establishment Republican. And, yes, The Donald has said some things guaranteed to get the blood pumping. Not to mention things that I agree with.

But: until a very few years ago, Trump was a Democrat, and, more importantly, voiced strong support for some causes near and dear to the Left’s blackened hearts. E.g. universal health care. The point being he will claim to support whatever he thinks is needed to get what he wants. That it is not done from philosophical conviction means it is ephemeral.

But wait, his supporters may howl: Ronald Reagan was a Democrat, too. Yes, but Reagan woke up and got smart decades before he was elected President (he made it official in 1962, when he registered as a Republican).

The Donald is a showman, a braggart, and a blowhard. When pressed for details on how he plans to accomplish something, he evades and reminds us how rich he is. Thanks for sharing, Donald.

Enough.

Projection

There are many movies and television showsthat use projection of modern sensibilities into period dramas. As, for example, showing a sensitive, metro-sexual “man” somehow also being a medieval knight who does not rape and plunder, but is kindly to those who are not gentle folk.

In this Age of Obama, where everything seems couched in whites-bad, blacks-victims and thus good terms, the recent stupidity over Confederate symbols was perhaps the logical result of a similar projection. Kind of like the “four legs good, two legs bad” from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Only this time it is, “Confederate (fill in the blank: flags, symbols, voiced support of honorable fighting men) bad, white guilt and reparations good.

Having lived in the South most of my life, my sense is that there were many, if not most, who fought for the South who believed they were defending their homeland against aggressive invaders. To wit, the Yankees, and not Derek Jeter’s bunch. They fought with honor, and came close to prevailing. That the Confederacy lasted four years against the overwhelming industrial superiority of the North speaks to their will and fighting spirit.

We can’t know what the typical Confederate soldiers might have thought they were fighting for. It is clear that upholding slavery was at least one of the war aims of Confederate leaders. This sentiment was likely shared by a significant proportion of the officer corps, who were much more likely to be from slave-holding families.

Of the enlisted men, it’s probable they had a no large stake in slavery’s continuation, or would have given it much thought at all.

While it seems now to be received opinion among the bien pensant class that the Civil War was primarily if not solely about slavery, it was firstly about the right of each state to chart its own destiny. That this included the right to own human beings as property may horrify our modern sensibilities, as it surely does mine. But in the middle of the 19th century, I suggest that far too much of the world considered chattel slavery merely the way things were.

Were the Confederates wrong to use state’s rights in the service of a heinous wrong? Of course. But let’s resist the temptation to recast mid-Nineteenth century events through Twenty First century sensibilities.

Dodged the bullet

Boston, my Dad’s hometown, dodged a bullet when they pulled out of contention to host the 2024 Olympics. From Boston.com,

In a joint statement, United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and Steve Pagliuca, chairman of bidding group Boston 2024, characterized the decision to pull the plug as a mutual one, reached Monday.

Boston’s bid has been subject to significant scrutiny, spawning multiple opposition groups and failing to capture public support. The bid was due to face a referendum next year, something recently unveiled documents showed Boston 2024 hoped to avoid.

You bet they “hoped to avoid” a referendum. Anyone who has seen what the Olympics can do to a city should know that such a referendum would be unlikely to pass, even in a nominally liberal town such as Boston.*

Wanting the Olympics to me is akin to liberals’ intoning, “we need high speed rail, all the cool countries have it!” And the economics of it are pretty much never what was envisioned. One example is Montreal hosting the 1976 Olympics. From an otherwise rah-rah Olympics piece in CNN (http://cnn.it/1DLTbnn), this is all one need remember: “The 1976 Montreal Olympics almost left the city bankrupt with its US$1.48 billion-price tag.”

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*Not all of Boston. Some of us are conservative, working class, and as practical as death. It’s those damned Yankees who are the liberals these days, and I’m not speaking of the New York baseball team.

The Donald

Donald Trump has become an issue for Republicans, at least among the chattering classes in the mainstream media. He’s the Republican they love to hate, and hold up as an example of what the Grand Old Party has become. According to them, of course.

But my Republican Party remains the Party of Lincoln, the Party that led the war to end slavery, the Party that overcame the solidly-Democratic South to end Jim Crow. But, hey, memories are short and selective on the Left.

Now The Donald is hardly my cup of tea. He’s only a conservative of convenience, just as he has a long history of befriending and supporting politicians of all political stripes who could be of benefit to Trump.

Will Trump be the cause of another Republican presidential defeat? Possible, but unlikely.

The Donald is a showman. He is a loudmouthed buffoon. He comes across as not having serious policy positions or prescriptions, although he does raise some serious issues. The problem is that his hucksterism clouds the distinction between serious issues and un-serious solutions.

Right now he is polling significantly higher than any of the other 15 (at this writing) prospective candidates. And therein lies his downfall. As our field winnows down, which it is sure to do over the next year, he’s going to be getting much more scrutiny from the people who matter (Republican primary voters).

If this does not doom his reality-show driven quest, then perhaps it is time for the Republicans to go the way of the Whigs.

Deep Dive

In case you missed it, our Social Justice Warrior Pope, Francis, seems to have swiveled from “liberation theology” to warning us of the disasters of global warming, climate change, bad weather, or something, if we don’t mend our wicked ways. Even the True Believers at the WaPo kind of mocked him with the headline, Release of encyclical reveals pope’s deep dive into climate science.

Deep dive, indeed. It seems the more exalted one’s position, the greater one’s celebrity, the less one must think things through before bleating it out for the world to see. But then, Francis is a Jesuit.

Let’s be generous about Jesuits: they are protean, and this may be a good, or a not-so-good thing. In Francis’ case, what comes across is that he has swiveled from the liberation “theology” cheered by his fellow Latin American Jesuits to the sky-is-falling climate alarmism.

I was catechized by Jesuits, and have always had the greatest respect and affection for the order (just happy my name is not Ignatius Xavier…) However, they are often on the lefty side of policy arguments, giving those arguments Christian window dressing. Francis comes across as a politician first, and a shepherd for his flock a distant second.

Preach the Gospel. Leave the politics to others. Have some discernment before accepting and repeating alarmist ravings about global warming, er, climate change, or whatever it will be called when the apocalypse does not come to pass. Francis, remember the coming nuclear winter?