Monday, May 28, 2018

EU Notice

Apparently the EU has decided that "we" are supposed to give some sort of notice to European readers of our blog, to conform with their new GDPR, the "General Data Protection Regulation."

Well, I guess that's the rules, so here's our notice:

European Union, go to hell.  And you can come and get us if you don't like it, you silly-arsed pantywaists!

There, does that suffice?

Memorial Day 2018

Memorial Day began as a commemoration of America's Civil War dead, and now is a commemoration of all who died in military service, and  -- in practice -- everyone we've lost.  There are many stories about the sacrifices people have made for the defense of liberty.  Here's one from Townhall that's worth reading.  It highlights that everyone, not just military personnel, has a role in protecting freedom, if we'll take it.

For the past four years Julie and I have run the Memorial Day 5K in Great Falls, MT, put on by Scheels Sports as a fundraiser for veterans groups, and this year was no exception.  I ran fairly well, was among the top 1/3 of finishers and first in my age group.  Also I obtained proof that I am actually a dog, something I've believed for years.  In addition, we spent time with my mother, visited the Montana Veterans Memorial to see my late father's plaque (he didn't die in war; simply being a veteran is enough to be in the monument).  We also did a seven mile trail run along the Missouri on Sunday, and walked around Giant Springs, an enormous freshwater spring along the Missouri.  It was a lovely weekend in my old home town.  Photos follow.

Julie and... Montana Air National Guard Airman?

Julie passing sign with Montanans who died serving in Afghanistan and Iraq

Look at my shadow. Woof!

My father was a Navy pilot in the Second World War

Crooked Falls -- one of the great falls of the Missouri

Black Eagle Dam and Falls -- nearly at flood stage

Roe River, the world's shortest at 201 feet (61 m.)

Giant Springs, headwaters of the Roe, looking downstream to its mouth on the Missouri

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Moral confusion, emotional sickness, and powerlust: today's "progressive" leadership

What are we to think of people who try to brand the National Rifle Association (e.g. me) as "terrorists" and "child killers" while defending Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)?  MS-13 is a criminal gang notorious for wholesale rape, torture, murder, dismemberment of victims, and child prostitution.  The NRA is a private organization and example of civil society that trains more police officers than any other organization in the world, designs and implements firearms safety programs for civilians (including safety programs for children), conducts sporting events, and peacefully lobbies politicians on behalf of individual rights.  The left attacks NRA and speaks out for MS-13?  Today's left is deeply sick.  I think it's a deep psychological, spiritual sickness -- how else to account for the frothing hatred of a peaceful civic organization that has never attacked a soul, while simultaneously defending the criminal organization generally thought to be the most wantonly brutal in the world?

Unfortunately, this is where the leadership of the left wing of America's political class is today -- the DNC, Congressional Democrats, the MSM, specifically - is today.  I hope that the grassroots is starting to wake up, because this is very dangerous.  It's not merely campaign rhetoric and hyperbole.  The left proposes to put its moral confusions into action.

Here's a thought experiment for any progressive reading this (I assume there are none, so a hypothetical progressive reader will have to be a part of the thought experiment).  Who would you rather have as a neighbor --me, or an active member of the MS-13 gang?  Before you answer, keep in mind that not only am I not a progressive, I'm a Life Member of the NRA, and I own firearms.  I would even use them in defense against criminals if warranted, and would even defend you if it were necessary.  But you'd prefer the gang member, right?

That's a reductio ad absurdum.  It's doubtful anyone would actually pick the MS-13 member, if confronted with the actual choice.  So perhaps they really don't mean it and it is mere political rhetoric?

I don't think so - it's too far over the line.  I think the left wing of the political class is genuinely contemplating silencing and purging dissenters -- the "deplorables," "irredeemables," "bitter clingers," and the like.  It's discussed openly, and it's practiced on college campuses.  The defense of MS-13 may be an accidental position the left has stumbled into in the process of demonizing Trump, but the attempted demonization of the NRA is no accident.  The existence of an armed populace is the single greatest obstacle to grand social engineering schemes.  People who are armed (citizens) aren't pawns who can be pushed about at will, unlike disarmed people (subjects).  This enrages the left.  They need docile subjects for their utopian schemes.

Fortunately, it seems rather unlikely that the American people will be disarmed -- certainly the sane ones won't disarm.  I predict that the progressive agenda will fail, but let's hope that it's because the progressive base wakes up and begins defending reason and individual rights, and not because the left tries to implement a purge that they'd lose.  It would be better if we reunited on common ground than if we came to blows.

Come to your senses, leftists!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Off to Montana!

Time for our annual spring pilgrimage west!  I expect to be back to blogging in about a week. 

Meanwhile, John Pepple of I Want a New Left has a report on our lunchtime meeting in Marshall, Michigan last week.  It was quite enjoyable and I'll likely write something on this later.  But for now, "Onwards!"

Photo: The staff of Unforeseen Contingencies discussing which is the best route through North Dakota.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Cancelling the Iran Nuclear Deal

Further thoughts on Mr. Trump's cancellation of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a.k.a. Iranian nuclear deal):

First, this is a very hopeful sign.  The Iranian "deal" protected Iran's ambitions for nuclear weapons, as I've previously pointed out, effectively guaranteeing a nuclear arms race in the middle east and eventual nuclear catastrophe. The Saudis, who are in the midst of an unprecedented pro-Western liberalization, are overjoyed.  They were prepared to develop their own nuclear weapons, should Iran proceed.That alone is sufficient reason for the cancellation.

Second, Iran had already announced that regardless of Trump's decision, they were considering abandoning the JCPOA.  Benjamin Netanyahu's recent presentation on the Mossad haul of Iranian nuclear documents proved that the Iranians had plans for a MIRVed nuclear missile.  That also was sufficient reason to cancel.  Never appease a rogue regime.  Doing so only encourages even worse behavior.

Third, some have warned that this will lead to war.  Good grief! Iran already has attacked the United States, and is engaged in wars in Morocco, Syria, Iran, and Yemen, and is a major sponsor and weapons provider for the terrorist Hezbollah and Hamas."Will lead to war?"  Iran is already fighting multi-front wars, none of which are defensive.  Iran is an international aggressor, working to expand its sphere of control.  The JCPOA improved Iran's economic position and is helping it finance its wars and efforts to destabilize neighbors.

Fourth, today NPR's All Things Considered had a knuckle-headed report attributing the Iranian missile attack on Israel and fearsome Israeli response to Trump's decision.  That's ridiculous.  February, March, and April saw multiple Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in Syria and attempted Iranian attacks on Israel.  (It turns our the Israelis are better at actually hitting their targets than the Iranians.)  After the 29 April strike that killed perhaps 18 Iranian soldiers, the Iranians claimed they'd respond heavily.  They tried, and hence the Israeli retaliation.  The Israel-Iran war was underway well before Trump's announcement.

In my previous post I advocated various military options.  I do not have classified intelligence reports, advice from military experts, and the like, so I'm not necessarily wedded to the specifics I suggested.  But the Islamic Republic of Iran is militant, expansionist, and totalitarian.  It needs to be eliminated and replaced with a free Persia.  This is long overdue.  The world can't wait.  Cancelling the JCPOA was a great move.

As John Pepple puts it, "Thank you, Mr. President!"

Addendum: I neglected to mention that the Iranian regime never signed onto JCPOA; rather, the Iranian parliament voted for its own version, containing things they'd added.  Hence the only "signatories" that matter, the United States and Iran, weren't really signatories.  The U.N Security Council and the E.U. both ratified it, so I guess it's binding on them.  It may as well be binding on the moons of Saturn, for all that matters.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Why people hate Trump: Iran edition

President Trump has kept yet another campaign promise, and cancelled the nuclear deal with Iran.  Good!  "We" at Unforeseen Contingencies fully approve.  The "deal" allowed Iran to preserve its nuclear program, advance its ballistic missile program, increase its oil and gas sales, and advance its expansionist agenda.  Obama avoided making this dreadful "deal" a treaty (because it was dreadful and unlikely to pass) and so Mr. Trump can unilaterally cancel it. 

The next step should be to shut Iran out of the SWIFT system.  Following that, give Iran an ultimatum: end all ballistic missile and nuclear development programs, and end their wars and proxy wars in Morocco, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.  Close the weapons plants in Syria.  Stop financing Hezbollah and Hamas.  And end any additional Iranian imperialism and support for terrorist groups.  Give them a reasonable amount of time, but make it the minimum.  In the case of any non-compliance, obliterate the oil and gas terminals at Kharg, and remind them that Tehran will be next.

Of course, it goes without saying that elitist "experts," kumbayah progressives, radical leftists, and post- modern libertarians ("libertarians" who virtue-signal by allying themselves with the left) are upset.  Donald Trump has done the unthinkable -- he's actually kept another campaign promise, and on top of that he's resisting a bad player as if we are the good guys!  So of course they hate him.

There's no reason at all to tolerate a regime such as the Iranian one.  It's totalitarian, expansionist, violent, and weak.  Now is the time to kick them while they are down.  Great work, Mr. President!

Saturday, May 05, 2018

The unfortunate Karl Marx: confused, dishonest, malignant

Apparently today is the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx.  And apparently the president of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker, has celebrated by commemorating and defending Marx.  Comrade Juncker (there's an ironic and appropriate mouthful!) seems to think that just because Marxism has led to terror, butchery, and economic catastrophe everywhere it's been tried, that's no reason to blame Marx -- it's the fault of his followers.

Good grief.  Marxism is totalitarian, comrade Juncker.  It will always lead to terror, butchery, and economic catastrophe.  There's no alternative.

Marx himself seems to have been intelligent, well-read, and a damned fool.  He was a notorious plagiarist -- he stole a great deal from Joseph Proudhon, whom he simultaneously trashed.  His criticisms of others tended to be grossly unfair and he had no compunction about misrepresenting their views in order to attack them.  As Ludwig von Mises points out, Marx' primary "contribution" to socialist thought was his doctrine of polylogism, the bizarre idea that different "classes" (class itself is an undefined and amorphous term) have different consciousness and different logic -- hence the "proletarian" need not address the refutations of socialist dogma from the "bourgeois" economist, and can pretend it's all just class pleading.  That's an important "contribution" because socialist economic theory is a tissue of nonsense, and if a socialist grapples with a competent economist, the socialist will lose.

Marx is terrifically confused and intellectually dishonest on these points.  For a telling example, Marx was a proponent of the labor theory of value, yet just after laying out the theory in Das Kapital, he noted that exchange value necessarily fluctuates with demand, a contradiction that English economist Philip Wicksteed pointed out.  Marx was familiar with the subjective marginal utility theory of value -- probably from reading Menger or Jevons -- because he even notes it as the source of use value; but rather than draw the obvious connection between that and exchange value, he simply asserts that there's none.  He has to sidestep utility theory, because it destroys his preposterous theory of surplus value and his entire economic system.  Marx and his system predict that worker incomes shrink under capitalism; in fact, the greatest increases in individual income and wealth for the typical human being all have come from capitalism and the free market system.

Part of Marx's problem was his philosophical foundation in German idealist philosophy, and particularly the cockamamie ideas of the dialectic, from Schelling and Hegel.  As Mises puts it, these philosophers "expatiate on the Absolute as if it were their pocket watch," or in Ken Binmore's words, "they have no more access to the 'noumenal' world than does the boy who delivers your paper in the morning."  Somehow Marx -- a member of the bourgeoisie -- not only understood the world from a proletarian perspective (and understood better than the proletarians themselves, who didn't share his true proletarian consciousness), he is supposed to have had deep insight into process by which all human history unfolds.  Der Geist whispered into his ear, apparently.  Simply put, Marx's philosophy is all mystical fantasy, no more grounded in reality than Charles Fourier's dreams of lemonade oceans.  He just made it up.

The market system is a system of voluntary, cooperative behavior.  Because it is a system of voluntary exchange and protected rights, it generates mutually beneficial outcomes.  People are free to reject offers and arrangements that don't make them better off.  Socialists are people who cannot follow this and cannot get it into their heads that the world is not zero-sum.  They cannot imagine how it can be that the gain of one person doesn't come at the expense of another.  Socialism is, at root, a simple, primitive, shallow way of looking at the world, typically promoted with great prolixity.  Marxism is socialism's apotheosis.

The malignancy of Marx deserves some attention.  For all his claims of wanting to liberate the proletariat, his real driving force was a hatred of capitalism and an overwhelming self-conceit that he knew how the world should be run.  In his lifetime he could see rising living standards of workers; earlier economists, such as Adam Smith, had even documented this carefully, as had Marx's contemporaries such as Menger and Böhm-Bawerk, or for that matter Roscher.  But Marx ignored all this.  When one is concocting a utopia in one's head, facts are best ignored.  Reading Marx -- Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital -- one notices that his references to capitalists or members of the bourgeoisie are laced with venom; if you pay attention, you realize it really does seem that hatred and megalomania are what urge Marx on.  It is even more evident for his followers, because for them it's an enormous problem that workers actually become much better off under capitalism.  Hence the endless quest for other grounds for revolution, and the idiocies that emerge from the Frankfurt School and post-modernism.  If their motive was caring about workers, they'd abandon Marxism as a failed theory and promote capitalism.  (Some actually do this.)  But Marx's followers share the megalomania and the urge to construct utopias, even if it requires "breaking a few eggs" (i.e. killing recalcitrant human beings).

Marxism is a repugnant system of thought.  It is absurd philosophy and bad economics, and attempts to implement it involved snuffing 100 million human lives or more.  The man who invented it had read real economics and knew better.  I can understand lamenting the birthday of Karl Marx, but there's no reason to commemorate it.  The sooner the world forgets the ravings of this unfortunate, confused, vile scoundrel, the better off the world will be.

Photo: Statue of Marx is dismantled to make way for a new church.  Penza, Russian Federation, 2011.

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