Karl Gallagher's Political Journal|
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Karl Gallagher's LiveJournal:
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|Friday, June 24th, 2016|
|For Those New Here
A brief index to my major posts:War
I'm an advocate of taking the offensive in the Global War On Terror, the official name for our war against the Islamofascists. I've done a Venn Diagram showing how different current conflicts relate to the war as a whole
, and a state diagram showing the different strategies available to us and their possible outcomes
. I think there's a limited amount of time to win before a catastrophe is inevitable
Other war posts: Abu Ghraib
, putting the Army on a war footing
, mistakes made in Iraq
, Wars of Choice
, Law, Interrogation, and Torture
, Reforming the Defense Acquisition System
I've looked at better ways to categorize views than the "left-right" axis
, why our political system forces everyone into two parties
, and how we could modify the system to better express everyone's views
. I also discuss how our political divide comes from different visions of how families should be organized
and why the "War on Drugs" is the real threat to our freedoms
Other politics posts: Gay Marriage/Polygamy
, Global Warming
and who to believe about it
, War on Drugs
), Trinity River Vision
, civil war
, political quizzes
, Iron Man vs. ITAR
, Health Care Deformed
(other Obamacare links
and a follow-up
, the Tree Ring Circus
, The Bill of Federalism
, Gaiacrats versus Theocrats
, and How I pick presidential candidates
.My BeliefsThings I believe in
, and the books which most influenced me.
I want to lay out the assumptions behind my beliefs clearly. If one of those principles is disproved I'll have to rethink my stands.
Sometimes I'll toss out a wild idea to provoke debate: Anglosphere Civilization (and merging states)
, and An Exercise in Alternate History
My other writings can be found at my main livejournal page
. Current Mood: calm
|Monday, November 9th, 2015|
|If This Goes On . . .
The GAO head under Clinton and Dubya says the official $18 trillion in debt is only a third of what we're on the hook for.
Once you add in the promises Congress has made without budgeting any money to pay for (Social Security, Medicare, pensions) the taxpayers are facing $65 trillion in debt.
That is, bluntly, something we're not going to be able to pay off. So there'll be a bankruptcy, either cutting those social security checks to a fraction of the promised size, or inflating the dollar until the promised amount is worth almost nothing.
But in all those presidential debates no one asks, "Senator X, the federal debt will break $20 trillion during your first term. What will you do if the financial markets don't supply the loans your administration asks for?"
|Friday, September 11th, 2015|
|They Mean It
What I want people to remember most about 9/11:
When a mob of foreigners is chanting "Death To America!" it's not a quaint native folk custom, it's not amusing, it's not a trivial thing we should ignore. They're declaring their intent to wage total war against us.
|Tuesday, September 8th, 2015|
|Gay Marriage Comes Full Circle
A local elected official is defying the law to prevent gay marriage in her town. Which is a fitting end for the process, as gay marriage in the USA began with a local elected official defying the law to enable gay marriage in his town (Gavin Newsom, for my less historically inclined readers). Gavin succeeded because he started a preference cascade. People all over the country, forced to confront the idea of gay marriage, shrugged and said, "Eh, okay." Which meant something totally off the table suddenly became negotiable.
Let's take a look at how unthinkable the concept had been before 2004. Look at this cartoon from 1980:
Treats the whole concept as a joke, right? By 2015's standards that's rude. Now consider what kind of joke it was. Gahan Wilson specializes in cartoons of hideous monsters and eviscerated children. So it's a horror joke. And it appeared in Playboy, so a joke restricted to the sturdy-minded.
Andrew Sullivan wrote a serious essay proposing gay marriage in the New Republic in 1989. Even to that very liberal audience it was considered a radical idea. Sullivan said the most common response was laughter. It seemed to be one of the many wonkish proposals that never go anywhere.
Another example from 1997: in the Babylon 5 episode "Racing Mars" (s4e10) two men are given the identity of newlyweds. So it was an idea that audiences could handle . . . as being in place over two hundred years in the future. The audience for that was restricted to people who weren't bothered by the thought of people from two different species marrying, so again sturdy-minded. It was up there with the reference to a female Pope from the same season--an obscure joke to show how different things were in the future.
Then Gavin Newsom pushed it into the now. And eleven years later his counterpart Kim Davis is being sent to jail for the flip side of the same cause. This is staggeringly fast for a change in law and culture.
Look at how long it took to change the laws and attitudes on interracial marriage:
And that graph needs an update--the solid blue line just shot up to 100%.
Why did this happen so fast?
I think the biggest factor is that nobody's mind was changed. Public opinion on gay marriage can be divided into three groups--people who actively wanted it (But before 2004 considered it unattainable), people who don't object to it or consider it a "nice to have," and those who actively oppose it. There hasn't been significant movement among the groups.
With interracial marriage the size of the groups changed, mostly by the old generation dying off and new voters with different views coming of age. Eventually there was enough support that states began repealing their laws and judges were willing to take a stand for civil rights. This was driven by many other votes on civil rights acts and elections where politicians had to take stands on civil rights. Eventually it became clear the majority accepted it, even if they didn't like it.
Gay marriage was not majority vote driven. State referendums opposed it even in liberal states such as California. Politicians opposed it during elections only to reveal their support later (Obama did support it during his re-election campaign). More states had gay marriage legalized by judicial rulings than legislative votes. And the final legalization came from the Supreme Court.
What we're seeing here is that a lot of politicians and judges are in the middle group, considering gay marriage "nice to have" and willing to follow the lead of which ever group of activists currently has more clout. That doesn't settle the issue, especially when the final vote on it is 5-4. That tells the activists on the losing side "find one more vote," not "give up, you're outnumbered."
Kim Davis and her supporters are hoping her martyr act will start a preference cascade the other way. I don't see it happening. Instead we're going to have incredible sturm and drang over every upcoming Supreme Court appointment. Which will be a change from those being driven by abortion politics, another issue where majorities don't rule (if politicians had to live with the abortion laws they passed instead of expecting them to thrown out by judges we'd see more European-style compromises instead of grandstanding).
I'm all for gay marriage. It's a step forward for personal freedom. It lays the groundwork for more changes I'd like to see. I just wish I had been passed by referendums and legislatures instead of judges. Democracy is already being weakened by the incredible amount of power held by unelected bureaucrats enforcing laws. With unelected judges making new ones there's even less connection between what people want and what the government does. If that goes too far we'll lose democracy as a way for settling our differences . . . and I don't like the alternatives.
|Thursday, May 28th, 2015|
|Wednesday, May 13th, 2015|
My town had elections last Saturday. No one wanted to run against the Mayor. Again. Well, he's doing a good job. The open city council seat was contested by people who don't bother putting up issue websites. Two of the three had Facebook pages for their campaigns. I voted for the one who seemed less interested in starting up new projects. She came in third. Also, I voted to not let the sales tax increment for road repair expire. They're using the money.
|Thursday, April 2nd, 2015|
|Wednesday, March 25th, 2015|
There's been complaints about Congressmen advocating war with Iran. I find that silly. We've been at war with Iran for decades, or at least they've been at war with us. Taking embassy staff hostage is an act of war. So was sending troops into Iraq to kill ours a decade ago. And they're still chanting "Death to America!"
So there's nothing new about this other than that we've been ignoring it. Given that Iran A. doesn't have much ability to hit us at home and B. would be an unpleasant place to invade, ignoring it is a valid strategic option.
Of course, adding nukes to Iran's existing overseas terrorist cells makes them much harder to ignore. Doing something about it would be much easier if we'd kept a residual force in Iraq instead of letting it disintegrate. Right now I don't see any good options.
|Monday, February 9th, 2015|
|Heinlein on Preventing WWIII
Heinlein wrote Forrest Ackerman
offering condolences on the loss of his brother, KIA in the Battle of the Bulge. Most of it is explaining why RAH didn't want to contribute to a memorial fanzine, on the grounds that he was angry at fans collective failure to support the war effort. Of most interest to me was a bit at the end:
The second job is, now and after the war, to see to it that it shall not happen again. There are many ways to do that and each must select his own---political activity of every sort, writing intended to stir people up, the willingness to combat race hatred, discrimination, limitations of civil liberty, generalized hates of every sort, whenever and wherever they show up. But I am damn well sure that fan activity is not the way to serve Alden's memory. Fandom has had a chance to prove itself and it has failed.
|Wednesday, February 4th, 2015|
Since I'm too distracted to write a full post I'm going to collect some links with comments here.
Best discussion I've seen on how to pay for health care is Goldman's Catastrophic Care
. He looks at how separating the people receiving medical services from the ones paying for them has created scads of bad incentives in the system. He proposes a replacement system based on Singapore's, which I think would be worth a try. Given my own druthers I'd make everything pay-for-service and issue "doc stamps" to people who are sicker than they can afford to pay for.
Here's a good summary of the issues that worry me with vaccines
. Main points for me are that a lot of medical research is ignorant of statistics, there's concept of "diminishing returns" in the number of vaccinations being prescribed, and there's a lot
of shots being given to infants whose immune systems are in very weak shape.
Jordan has responded to the murder of one of its pilots by executing terrorists and
increased attacks on ISIS. Hail to the King.
There's been a lot of protests over the police killing Michael Brown and Eric Garner. It's the deaths of John Crawford, Tamir Rice, and Akai Gurley
that really terrify me.
The FCC wants to increase regulation of the internet.
Let me respond in the internet's preferred communication form:
I've stopped voting 3rd party for President since 9/11. Winning the war takes priority over ideals. But if I'm faced with Jeb vs. Hillary in 2016 I will be voting 3rd party again.
|Wednesday, January 7th, 2015|
|Monday, October 27th, 2014|
Cast my ballot on Friday. Libertarian straight ticket. The greatest benefit of that is I get to skip past the two pages of judges running unopposed.
|Thursday, September 11th, 2014|
|War Versus Weather
As we remember the fallen of 9/11/01 this year, there's the ever more frequent comments that it was a one-off, that the lack of any similar attack proves the terrorists can't do it again, that we're fearing too much and should stop worrying about what ragged men in dusty hills may plan against us.
"It's so unlikely we shouldn't worry about it happening again" is a reasonable attitude toward a hurricane or tornado. Weather doesn't have a will. It's not seeking weaknesses. It doesn't want
to hurt us. War is different.
America has enemies, people who want to run the world according to specific lines that we interfere with. Right now the Islamofascists are the most prominent ones as they try to establish a Caliphate. They have a seed of that in the Islamic State straddling Iraq and Syria. Osama bin Laden wanted to establish one. The 9/11 attacks could have given him the stature to do it if the US hadn't struck back so hard.
The 9/11 attackers would have caused ten times as many deaths if they could. They would have if the builders of the WTC hadn't done their work so well or if the workers had panicked instead of evacuating in orderly fashion and helping each other. There have been other Islamic terror attacks on the US, the LAX shooter, the Times Square bomber, the Fort Hood shooter. The casualties there were limited by the competence of the attackers, not their malice. They would have killed many more if they could.
The Islamic State's Caliph Ibrahim is too busy to sponsor attacks abroad yet. If he gets some breathing space he'll need to. The Caliphate isn't inherited. It's a "Mandate of Heaven" that belongs to the ruler who can beat up everyone else around. Ibrahim has signed up for perpetual war and attacking the Great Satan will be required of him . . . or he'll be considered a decadent pretender and wind up on a meat hook.
We are at war. We need to take and hold the initiative in the war, or we let the enemy decide the time and place of the battles. In this war this means the death of civilians on peaceful sunny mornings.
|Wednesday, August 27th, 2014|
|Tuesday, August 19th, 2014|
|Thursday, August 14th, 2014|
|Rand Paul on Militarized Cops
I've had a few posts here about out of control cops but it hasn't been a focus of the journal. I've worried about it, particularly when following Randy Balko's writing on the subject of "Warrior Cops" (I've contemplated picking up his book but feared it would depress me too damn much). Now Ferguson, MO has become a flashpoint for that.
There's a lot of things I disagree with Senator Paul about but his essay on getting the police back in their proper role
I completely agree with.
The problem is police getting into the mindset where they view their community as an enemy they're occupying instead of neighbors they're helping. Military gear and pseudo-military attitudes are a big part of that problem. I think the worst of it comes from the "War on Drugs." When someone entertaining himself without hurting anyone else becomes a justification for tossing a grenade into a baby's crib
the law is causing more damage than the drugs.
Edit: Fixed 2nd link Current Mood: worried
|Thursday, August 7th, 2014|
|Monday, July 7th, 2014|
|This Is Defeat. Avoid It.
I thought we had won in Iraq. Not a perfect victory, but a solid one. I tend to think in wargamer terms. A win can range from "total victory" to "marginal victory," depending on how much of the original goals were achieved and the cost of doing so. Looking at the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq
we met the objectives we went in to achieve. Ending all terrorism in Iraq and creating a Jeffersonian democracy weren't on the list. The AUMF wording for the outcome was "promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime". "Promote the emergence" is very different from "establish a" - this was clearly a stretch goal. We committed to trying for an Iraqi democracy, not achieving it. That's what Congress voted for. Lots of people pretended that was the initial objective, but that's just moving the goalposts so they could declare a defeat for their domestic political goals.
Was this victory all I wanted? No. I wanted a garrison of troops for stability. We've kept troops in Germany for longer than anyone I've debated Iraq with has been alive and that's served us well. I didn't like the continuing level of domestic terrorism in Iraq, but we didn't go in to stop attacks on Iraqis and the murder rate in Chicago is also high without it being grounds for calling the war a loss. The new Iraqi government was doing reasonably well for the third world. It could pass a budget (unlike the USA). So I'd been thinking we had a victory, but not a total victory.
What's making me admit defeat isn't just that ISIS (expelled from Al Qaeda for brutality--"that must have taken some doing") is capturing cities in Iraq. It's that the Iraqi Army is deserting in combat by the thousands and the parliament can't even come together to deal with the emergency. Which says to me that the corruption has eaten out the state to where it can't stand.
Partitioning Iraq is bad because of the potential domino effect in redrawing the map. But if the western section of Iraq became a Sunni state ruled by corrupt tribal leaders I'd think we'd still eked out a marginal victory. Having that area ruled by an aspiring Caliphate ready to send out terrorists and jihadis to conquer the whole world is the worst case, an unmistakable defeat.
I can think of several explanations for how we got here from what looked like victory a few years ago:
1. Lack of follow-through. US troops would have discouraged the corruption and ethnic discrimination in the Iraqi Army and kept it more coherent (training & maintenance). US back-up would have held up their morale so they didn't break and run. For example, the troops in Mosul would've had air support and assurance that a US-led counter-attack would deal with any ISIS breakthroughs.
2. Great Man Theory. Iraq needed a hero along the lines of Washington, Joan of Arc, or Ataturk to weld it into a solid nation. No one stood up. Possibly because Saddam had put all the potential candidates through shredders. But that makes a nation-building project doomed, or at least a high-risk gamble.
3. Culture is King of All. Arabs can't do democracy because they'll always choose the welfare of their clan and sloth over the success of the nation. If so, the future looks grim.
Where do we go from here? The key issue is that the American people aren't willing to take the offensive in the Middle East any time soon. The current leadership probably can't pull one off anyway. A Libya-type attack wouldn't improve the situation for very long. Partition Iraq? Ally with Iran to enforce Shiite control over Iraq? Pull out and let them slaughter each other? The last is tempting after watching the current mess but I'd want to give the Kurds some support, they always stood by us and we don't have enough good friends to get away with betraying the ones who do like us. Besides, we'll be back eventually and we'll need bases.
The problem with letting the Middle East sink into the swamp is eventually they'll hit a lull in the mutual slaughter and start spawning alligators again. The last time some bright boys inspired by the Death-To-America mobs got a nifty idea, we lost over 3000 people. Moore's Law is cranking away so the next time we can expect a zero or two to be added to the death toll. I don't see any way to take away their motive for attacking. We're still using man-made law instead of obeying Sharia, and we're going to keep doing that.
So what do we do then? Launch a pure punitive expedition and just trash the country enough to discourage everyone from doing it again? That just restarts the cycle. Pick another Arab country to make a democracy of and try for better follow through? Nice plan, if we can actually muster the willpower for follow-through. Probably not an option when 40+% of the population is caring more about domestic politics than the war they're in. Miracle? I'd take one.
A repeating cycle of terror attack and punitive expedition would reach its endpoint in a few loops. Either the terrorists would find a way to destroy our country--or they'd manage to piss us off badly enough to unleash genocide. In the state diagram of the war
I did a while back, this would be the "Graveyard World" or "Arabia Delenda Est" outcomes. I don't like either of those, even if I do have a strong preference between the two (We've currently moved back to "Acceptable Level of Violence").
* Subject line is from a bit of advice apocryphally given to Alexander the Great. Current Mood: worried
|Friday, April 4th, 2014|
|Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013|
|Looking At the Numbers
The folks at FreedomWorks
created a lovely illustration of the USA's financial situation:
Perhaps I should've gone with "terrifying" instead of "lovely." But it does a wonderful job of showing where we are and how we got here. The president names mark the end of their terms in office.
Theoretically this chart could keep getting expanded forever--20 trillion, 30 trillion, 40 trillion--but there is a catch. Somebody has to keep loaning us the money to pay for the additional spending. Plus they need to keep loaning it as we roll over all the 3 month, 12 month, etc. bonds. We don't have a thirty-year mortgage on the federal government. So the moment the Treasury Department runs out of willing lenders for the next trillion of debt the interest rates go up--and they go up on *all* the debt as it gets rolled over. Next stop, hyperinflation and economic collapse.
Or we could get out act together, cut spending to match revenues, and start paying off that pile. There's an argument for keeping some debt as a reference "safe bond" in the financial markets--but I think one or two trillion of that should be sufficient. Current Mood: worried