Karl Gallagher's Political Journal
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Karl Gallagher's LiveJournal:

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    Friday, June 24th, 2016
    11:46 am
    For Those New Here
    A brief index to my major posts:

    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, Torture, Iran, 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 (more here), Trinity River Vision, civil war, political quizzes, Iron Man vs. ITAR, Health Care Deformed (other Obamacare links), Nullification and a follow-up, the Tree Ring Circus, The Bill of Federalism, Gaiacrats versus Theocrats, and How I pick presidential candidates.

    My Beliefs
    Things 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), Auctionocracy, and An Exercise in Alternate History

    My other writings can be found at my main livejournal page.

    Current Mood: calm
    Wednesday, May 13th, 2015
    6:47 pm
    Local Voting
    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
    11:48 am
    I'm all for gay marriage and have been for years. Gays should have the same rights as heterosexuals to marry. But hets don't have the right to conscript unwilling caterers, bakers, or venues into helping with their wedding. Gays shouldn't have that right either. And people attacking businesses for wanting to sit out that piece of the culture wars are the ones this icon is aimed at.
    Wednesday, March 25th, 2015
    4:36 pm
    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
    12:48 pm
    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
    1:41 pm
    Various Stuff
    Since I'm too distracted to write a full post I'm going to collect some links with comments here.

    Health Care:

    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 promising performing 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:

    binary gonzales


    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
    5:39 pm
    Monday, October 27th, 2014
    11:05 am
    Voting Early
    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
    12:01 pm
    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
    8:36 am
    Armored Cops
    scottks posted an interesting link letting you search for what military equipment has been gifted to your county's cops. Tarrant County's six pages of gear is mostly innocuous: first aid kits, cooking gear, dufflebags. What worries me is the two MINE RESISTANT VEHICLEs.

    Tooling around in an MRAP puts cops in the mindset of occupiers, not neighbors, which is wrong for police.

    I can't even find out which departments they belong to. Fort Worth PD's SWAT has an armored car, but it's a Lenco Bearcat. The county sheriff doesn't even have a SWAT team (or isn't bragging about it on his web page).

    Current Mood: worried
    Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
    6:22 pm
    Family in Need
    My previous post mentioned a toddler burned by a grenade some Georgia cops tossed into his crib. Well, the county has decided they're not liable for his medical bills. Some folks have set up a crowdfunding page to help the family out.
    Thursday, August 14th, 2014
    1:43 pm
    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
    10:42 am
    Monday, July 7th, 2014
    4:33 pm
    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
    1:28 pm
    On the Mozilla CEO Kerfuffle
    Andrew Sullivan sums up my opinion well:

    If we cannot live and work alongside people with whom we deeply disagree, we are finished as a liberal society.

    Driving a man out of his job for having the same stance on gay marriage in 2008 that then-Senator Obama did? Legal, yes. Not moral. And very worrisome. Are we going to wind up separating this country into a complete set of Red Businesses and Blue Businesses so no one has to deal with someone who disagrees with them? I suppose that's one way to force cranky individualists like me to choose one camp or the other.
    Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
    2:04 pm
    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
    Saturday, September 14th, 2013
    5:25 pm
    Why I Avoid Single Issue Voting
    Because being a single issue voter leads to you taking stands like this:
    "We had two electoral cycles, 2004 and 2006, where we reelected every lawmaker who voted our way," [the issue fanatic] told me. "Some of these people were not easy to reelect -- alcoholism, ethics issues, bad votes. Some didn't collect enough signatures [to get on the ballot] and had to run write-in campaigns. We were determined to reelect every single one. Some of those people are now in prison, but we got them reelected."
    Yeah. When you work to re-elect people who deserve to be in jail, your priorities are screwed up.
    Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
    10:54 am
    I'm remembering the deaths of 9/11/01 today. And remembering those who died from other Islamofascist attacks since.

    What we must remember most is that these were not random or insane attacks. The attackers were part of a movement, pursuing an objective, killing innocents as a means to their end. That end--a unified Caliphate run by a dictator enforcing Sharia law--is what drives them, not any complaints about what America has done in the world.
    12:24 am
    Managing the Transition
    America 3.0 is the book I wanted The End is Near and It's Going to be Awesome to be. Bennett and Lotus take a hard look at the USA's current situation and propose a solid plan to get us out of the mess: the Big Haircut. In short, go through the whole list of the government's debts and programs and slash them down to something affordable, spreading the pain evenly. Defaulting on bonds, means-testing social security, reducing civil service pension, eliminating corporate subsidies and tariffs, ending tax deductions--do it all all. It'd take some brave politicians to push through but it beats the failure modes I discussed in the other book review.

    Bennett and Lotus have an interesting take on American politics and culture. They trace our individualism back to the Saxon tribes that would invade Britain and their "Absolute Nuclear Family" structure. The concept that it was normal for children to marry someone of their own choosing and set up a new household of their own is radically different from many other cultures. They make a solid case that this drove the evolution of our society into its present form and explains the similarity of other Anglosphere nations to the USA.

    They describe America as going through an agricultural (1.0) phase, then reorganizing as an industrial (2.0) society with the traumas of the Civil War, union struggles, and the Great Depression. Now America 2.0 needs to transition to 3.0, hopefully much less painfully than the last transition. They start out with a detailed scenario of how a 3.0 nation might look. I suspect we're unlikely to come close to that, mostly because there'll be some unexpected event or technology that sends us in another direction, but I think I'd be a lot happier living in their vision than our current set-up.

    They make lots of practical suggestions for implementing the transition. I have a mixed response to them. The suggestions to reform defense procurement are solid--then again, almost anything would be an improvement over what we've got now. I was amused to see that some of their suggestions for domestic defense boiled down to the kind of state guard organization I'm a member of. I'd be all for expanding that into widespread militia training.
    Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
    1:13 am
    So the President is going to wage war on Syria. Or so it seems at this writing. I could support that under certain conditions:

    - Congressional Support
    - Decisive Force
    - Commitment to force a good outcome
    - A Connection to a Strategic Objective

    For example, if we were pursuing a strategy of spreading democratization among Arab nations to drain the swamp of potential terrorists, Syria would be a potential new test case. We could use our air bases in Iraq to support the attack, incorporate the more civilized parts of the rebel forces into a new government, and hunt the Al Qaeda forces in the country until we drive them out to the next target. Oh, wait, we've totally eliminated that possibility, haven't we?

    Well, if we adopted a strategy of defeating Russia or Iran it would be worth knocking off Syria to weaken their support (even if it just left a power vacuum). But we don't seem to be doing that.

    Instead the goal seems to be taking a moral stance that it's much, much worse for a civilian to be killed by chemical weapons instead of bullets. I don't really see the point to that. The point is the murders, not how efficiently they were carried out.

    When I wrote the first draft of this (before going AFK for a week for Worldcon) it looked like this was going to happen without any attempt at getting Congressional authorization. Now, as I try to catch up on the news, the bombing of Syria has apparently been postponed to wait for Congress to return from vacation.

    I am totally boggled by a mindset that places vacation schedules as higher priority than decisions over whether to kill people.

    There's also statements that the President reserves the right to launch an attack even if Congress rejects authorization. That could give us a heck of a Constitutional crisis. I can't see an impeachment coming out of it (unless pushed by a lot of Democratic senators) but there's a very real question of whether ordering an attack would be a lawful order to the military in those circumstances. This could wind up being adjudicated in the court-martial of some field grade officer who refuses an order (generals do not climb the greasy pole so they can resign dramatically). Not the right way to make such momentous decisions.
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