Politics


This is a follow-up to Fantasy Ideologies

Humans self-organize into scale-free networks. Traditionally, individuals were locked into their tribes and extended families. This was true for the hunter-gatherer period and remained true throughout the agricultural period.

The Industrial Revolution created a new form of social organization. Individuals were no longer tied to the land and family for survival. Volunteer civic associations replaced tribes. Individuals no longer had a fixed tribal identity – they could freely join or leave any civic organization they choose. They could change religions, political party, circle of friends. Individuals could freely migrate across the social terrain.

Individualism was quickly challenged by a series of reactionary collectivist ideologies which seek to restore fixed tribal identities. This New Tribalism includes different group ideologies like identity politics, nationalism, cultural marxism.
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Maj. John Tammes explains why he serves.

I don’t care whether you are a bigot that thinks those “rag heads” or Muslims can’t ever stop killing each other, or a sneering political opportunist who cynically chants “no blood for oil” or “This is Bush’s War, dreamed up on a ranch in Texas.” You are, in effect, saying “Never again? Who cares – ‘again’ isn’t my problem.”

Maj. Tammes and many like him will try to prevent it from happening again, or at least try to limit the damage.

I think that’s the best we can do.

There has been a flood of atheist books lately. Dawkins and Hitchens, for instance, argue that religion drives people to conflict by deluding them with idealistic fantasies. That’s so 1600s.

Religion is a declining political force in the modern world. Religions once made predictions about natural and social events and was used as tool of political organizations by ancient monarchies. Today, religion is restricted to the private sphere and only describes personal beliefs of metaphysical topics. The separation of Church and State has kept religious idealism from directly interfering with political matters. I think religion is a spent force, which is why Atheists are now “brave” enough to go public.

The real story is worse. Since the French Revolution, Political Idealism and fantasy ideologies have replaced religion. These political beliefs create a political mythology, teleology, and idealistic morality. These beliefs become neo-religions of absolute truth which are imposed upon society through coercion. And no one likes to admit they are a medieval fanatic, so non-believers are attacked and exiled.

I think that Political Atheism is much more important than classical religious atheism. Politics is about shifting forces and interests. We cannot create a political “identity” without sacrificing rationality.
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A professional military must be non-partisan and objective. On the one hand, the armed forces must serve the orders of the civilian government. Yet it must also serve as professional mandarins – security experts who advise and inform the civilian government to shape the most rational policy.

Perhaps the war is worth fighting, perhaps it is not. Any operation may not be worth the cost. That’s an economic decision, not a security one. The government sent the military to fight the war and gave it the resources to do so. The military is just explaining to Congress how it intends to accomplish this mission. Please do not ignore this information or attack the military as a partisan institution.

Non-partisan professionalism is no longer enough to deter partisan attacks. MoveOn.org is preparing a campaign against General Petraeus, calling him “General Betray Us”. Even more mainstream critics like Sen. Feinstein are labeling Petraeus and the military as Bush cronies. Sen. Reid and Durban declared that Petraeus is a liar, in so many words.
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We should comprehensively restructure our electrical system. Today, we use centralized electrical production then distribute it nation-wide. This is inefficient resulting in power loss and increased costs.

Thomas Casten and Brennan Downes make a case to decentralize electrical system.

I think this should be a major reform, on par with Eisenhower’s construction of the interstate highway system. As it stands now, the US electrical system is not cost-effective, it is environmentally destructive, and it is vulnerable to attack. The proposed decentralized system would reduce power costs 40 percent and cut carbon dioxide emissions by half.
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Californians will decide on a proposal to allocate electoral votes to the winners of Congressional Districts rather than a state-wide winner take all vote. A Field poll shows surprisingly strong support for the idea: 47% of registered votes supported the reform while 35% oppossed. Explaining the partisan disadvantages makes more Democrats oppose the plan, but even then 49% support it and 42% oppose.

It’s a good idea but only if other states like Texas make the same reform. Maine and Nebraska already use the Congressional District system.
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The city continues to sink due to natural causes. This is what happens on River Deltas. Meanwhile, the NOLA Levee system is still defective and may fail again.

The government pumped $127 billion and accomplished little. Right now, we should encourage more people to leave the city and reduce it to a safer lever (around 50,000). The risks are severe so insurance rates should climb, unless the government uses price controls to stop “abusive price gouging” so people will underestimate risk and drown instead.

This is an old Edge essay, but still relevant. Jaron Lanier warns of hive mentality. Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism
His intro:

“The hive mind is for the most part stupid and boring. Why pay attention to it? [Wikipedia] is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it’s now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

Read it all.

And for all our politicians:

So what is the “single most underappreciated fact about gender”? Over time, 40% of males reproduced and 80% of females reproduced.

Tierny at the NYT linked to Roy F. Baumeister‘s speech about culture’s use and exploitation of males. Cultural and biological success favors alpha males over beta males.
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Walter Russel Mead’s Jacksonian Tradition discusses a major foundation of American foreign policy.

Mead, in Special Providence, notes that there are four broad foreign-policy traditions in American culture. He names them after their principle political figureheads – Wilsonian, Jacksonian, Hamiltonian, and Jeffersonian.

The Jacksonian Tradition represents the bellicose individualism and honor of America.
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Uncomfortable truth of the day: You can outsource businesses to Mexico or import Mexicans to the US.

The US, for some reason, is paying massive subsidies to certain US businesses to stay in the US despite a labor shortage.

This is about comparative advantage. American workers cannot simultaneously do multiple jobs at once. We have comparative advantage in certain tech jobs while the Mexicans have a comparative advantage in manufacturing and agricultural jobs.
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I’ve been saying this for some time: The FISA laws from the 1970s is obsolete. The technology it regulated is now antiquated and no longer used. FISA did not even cover non-state actors which we face today. The end result is an absurdity where the NSA requires warrants from FISA courts to spy on Pakistani Taliban members in Pakistan. This has nothing to do with protecting Americans.

El Paso Times interviewed National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell about the difficulties FISA poses for counterterrorism.
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The Duke lacrosse players is an awful story about how three innocent men were persecuted by an abusive prosecutor and an academic and newsmedia lynchmob. They were, of course, innocent.

Rachel Smolkin of the American Journalism Review said: “The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong.” Hey, if narrative is wrong if the facts are wrong. But journalists are guided by their prejudices and bias.

KC Johnson wrote a new book summarizing the entire affair, Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.
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In short, how about no.

Martin Lewis at Huffington Post calls for a military coup. He doesn’t want to call it a coup, so instead he calls for the military to use violent force to overthrow the President of the United States and install a new President of their choosing. Which is called a coup d’état.
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“We win. They lose.”

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita discusses political campaigning and rhetoric. Politicians usually argue that they are better are solving problems than their opponents.

A “Heresthetician” identifies a whole new set of problems that only this politician can identify. They restructure the entire debate. Reagan was one such genius.
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Isn’t this like the Yankees vs Mets?

I mean this seriously. The policies they usually “debate” are so obscure and minor in the grand scheme of things that the partisan noise seems irrational. In the past, there were real debates – over currency, slavery, industrialism. Today? Obscure funding issues are turned into “morality” debates.
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There are two forms of constitutional democracy: Presidentialism and Parliamentarianism. Parliamentarianism has succeeded whereas Presidentialism has almost universally failed as a democratic form of government

The idea of a democratic President is flawed. Presidential governments create dictatorships, civil wars, and instability.
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There are limits to democracy. Democracy needs constitutionalism, law and order, and a middle class civil society. Much of the Third World lacks these things and get caught in a vicious cycle of autocracy and illiberal democracy.

Democracy promotion projects, as favored by neo-cons and liberal internationalists, continually encounter this limitation without changing their strategy.
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The CIA released a years-old report critical of DCI Tenet and the CIA’s anti-terrorism performance in the 1990s. The CIA has long been a disappointment and its counter-terrorism efforts live up to its record.

It is the most consistently underperforming intelligence agency and one most resistant to reform and executive control. This actually makes it dangerous.
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