nhaliday + iraq-syria   74

Chickenhawks – Gene Expression
I know I seem like a warblogger, and I promise I’ll shift to something more esoteric and non-current-eventsy very soon, but check this table out on fatalities by profession. It ranges from 50 per 100,000 for cab-drivers to 100 per 100,000 for fisherman & loggers. Granted, there have surely been work related fatalities in the American military in the past year, but we’ve had about 30 fatalities so far, and perhaps we’ll go up to 200-300 in the current campaign if we don’t get into house-to-house fighting. How many fatalities occurred during the Afghan campaign? Look at this table of historic casualty rates. I don’t do this to say that being a soldier is something that isn’t a big deal-but for me, the “chickenhawk” insult seems less resonant taking into the account the changes that have been wrought by technology in the post-Vietnam era. Casualty rates seem to be approaching the order of magnitude of some of the more cvil dangerous professions. That is most certainly a good thing.
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february 2018 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Remarks on the Decline of American Empire
1. US foreign policy over the last decades has been disastrous -- trillions of dollars and thousands of lives expended on Middle Eastern wars, culminating in utter defeat. This defeat is still not acknowledged among most of the media or what passes for intelligentsia in academia and policy circles, but defeat it is. Iran now exerts significant control over Iraq and a swath of land running from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. None of the goals of our costly intervention have been achieved. We are exhausted morally, financially, and militarily, and still have not fully extricated ourselves from a useless morass. George W. Bush should go down in history as the worst US President of the modern era.

2. We are fortunate that the fracking revolution may lead to US independence from Middle Eastern energy. But policy elites have to fully recognize this possibility and pivot our strategy to reflect the decreased importance of the region. The fracking revolution is a consequence of basic research from decades ago (including investment from the Department of Energy) and the work of private sector innovators and risk-takers.

3. US budget deficits are a ticking time bomb, which cripple investment in basic infrastructure and also in research that creates strategically important new technologies like AI. US research spending has been roughly flat in inflation adjusted dollars over the last 20 years, declining as a fraction of GDP.

4. Divisive identity politics and demographic trends in the US will continue to undermine political cohesion and overall effectiveness of our institutions. ("Civilizational decline," as one leading theoretical physicist observed to me recently, remarking on our current inability to take on big science projects.)

5. The Chinese have almost entirely closed the technology gap with the West, and dominate important areas of manufacturing. It seems very likely that their economy will eventually become significantly larger than the US economy. This is the world that strategists have to prepare for. Wars involving religious fanatics in unimportant regions of the world should not distract us from a possible future conflict with a peer competitor that threatens to match or exceed our economic, technological, and even military capability.

However, I'm not sure that OBOR (One Belt One Road) and a focus on the "world island" of Eurasia will be a winning strategy for China. Mackinder's dream of a unified or even fully economically integrated world island will have to overcome the limitations (in human capital, institutions, culture, etc.) of the under-developed middle...

The belt-and-road express: China faces resistance to a cherished theme of its foreign policy: http://www.economist.com/news/china/21721678-silk-routes-are-not-always-appealing-they-sound-china-faces-resistance-cherished-theme

The staggering scale of China's Belt and Road initiative: https://www.axios.com/staggering-scale-china-infrastructure-142f3b1d-82b5-47b8-8ca9-57beb306f7df.html
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november 2017 by nhaliday
Trump wants a troop surge in Afghanistan — it makes little sense - Business Insider
http://abcnews.go.com/US/us-involved-afghanistan-difficult/story?id=49341264
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/afghanistan-the-making-of-a-narco-state-20141204
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/01/26/the-u-s-was-supposed-to-leave-afghanistan-by-2017-now-it-might-take-decades/
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/08/solution-afghanistan-withdrawal-iran-russia-pakistan-trump/537252/
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-macarthur-model-for-afghanistan-1496269058
neo-colonialism, sensible
https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2017/09/11/tora-bora/
The U.S. has been a reasonably successful steward of world peace along some dimensions, no doubt, but we seem to be particularly bad at colonialism for reasons the Battle of Tora Bora perhaps highlights- once a government (or even loosely affiliated military group) is in theory our ally, under our tutelage and cooperating with our military machine, we seem to have no ability to view its actions or abilities objectively. Maybe the reason Britain was, all-in-all more successful as a colonial power despite never exerting the kind of world military dominance the U.S. has since World War II is that, as representatives of a class-based and explicitly hierarchical society, the Eton boys running things for Britain never felt tempted to the kinds of faux egalitarianism that often guides American colonial ventures astray. In his excellent if self-indulgent account of walking across Afghanistan immediately after the Taliban’s fall, The Places in Between, Rory Stewart (an Eton boy turned world traveler and, later, an Iraq War provincial administrator and Tory MP) describes the policy wonks eager to take the reins of the new Central Asian Switzerland in 2001: ...

Mystery deepens over Chinese forces in Afghanistan: https://www.ft.com/content/0c8a5a2a-f9b7-11e6-9516-2d969e0d3b65
https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-geopolitical-importance-of-Afghanistan
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august 2017 by nhaliday
The “Hearts and Minds” Fallacy: Violence, Coercion, and Success in Counterinsurgency Warfare | International Security | MIT Press Journals
The U.S. prescription for success has had two main elements: to support liberalizing, democratizing reforms to reduce popular grievances; and to pursue a military strategy that carefully targets insurgents while avoiding harming civilians. An analysis of contemporaneous documents and interviews with participants in three cases held up as models of the governance approach—Malaya, Dhofar, and El Salvador—shows that counterinsurgency success is the result of a violent process of state building in which elites contest for power, popular interests matter little, and the government benefits from uses of force against civilians.

https://twitter.com/foxyforecaster/status/893049155337244672
https://archive.is/zhOXD
this is why liberal states mostly fail in counterinsurgency wars

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/commentary-why-are-we-still-in-afghanistan/

contrary study:
Nation Building Through Foreign Intervention: Evidence from Discontinuities in Military Strategies: https://academic.oup.com/qje/advance-article/doi/10.1093/qje/qjx037/4110419
This study uses discontinuities in U.S. strategies employed during the Vietnam War to estimate their causal impacts. It identifies the effects of bombing by exploiting rounding thresholds in an algorithm used to target air strikes. Bombing increased the military and political activities of the communist insurgency, weakened local governance, and reduced noncommunist civic engagement. The study also exploits a spatial discontinuity across neighboring military regions that pursued different counterinsurgency strategies. A strategy emphasizing overwhelming firepower plausibly increased insurgent attacks and worsened attitudes toward the U.S. and South Vietnamese government, relative to a more hearts-and-minds-oriented approach. JEL Codes: F35, F51, F52

anecdote:
Military Adventurer Raymond Westerling On How To Defeat An Insurgency: http://www.socialmatter.net/2018/03/12/military-adventurer-raymond-westerling-on-how-to-defeat-an-insurgency/
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august 2017 by nhaliday
Fatherland | West Hunter
Some have suggested that societies or states  can usefully be thought of as a superorganism, rather like a beehive.  States respond, semi-intelligently, to opportunities and threats. They defend themselves.  They store and make use of information. We may believe that they’re not ‘real’ entities, but then maybe our neurons and our gut flora think the same of us.

This perspective might help us understand United States foreign policy, which generally seems totally gormless.   We seem determined to do expensive and useless things. But there may be a biological analogy.  Maybe the Iraq War, or our government’s  immigration policies, are the equivalent of the peacock’s tail – a case of Zahavi’s handicap principle.  Only a true superpower could get away with acting this stupid.  Of course, this usually applies to sexual selection. No country would want to mate with an inferior nation that can’t afford to produce such wastefully extravagant signals.

All of this implies that mating is on the superorganism’s mind.  I think that this line of analysis has one clear implication: stay the hell out of Florida.
west-hunter  scitariat  lol  rant  aphorism  parasites-microbiome  sex  usa  iraq-syria  migration 
june 2017 by nhaliday
Paranoid Paleoconservatives | Quillette
longform history of alt-right
The dark history of Donald Trump's rightwing revolt: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/aug/16/secret-history-trumpism-donald-trump
pretty good actually. did not know the "Journal of American Greatness" was a thing and read by beltway types.

also good introduction to James Burnham and Samuel Francis.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Why China Cannot Rise Peacefully - YouTube
- unexpected accent/tone lol
- principles: states as unit of action/global anarchy, uncertainty (fog-of-war), states as rational, selfish actors
- consequences: need to become as powerful as possible, regional hegemon, prevent peer competitors (no other regional hegemon in world, eg, China)
- future: China as giant Hong Kong
- future coalition: India, Japan, Russia, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, and the USA
- does he actually think Brazil coulda gotten as powerful as the US? lol.
- his summary of American grand strategy (lol):
1. Europe (great powers)
2. NE Asia (great powers)
3. Persian Gulf (oil)
- "Europe will become distant 3rd, Europe is a museum, lotta old people." lol
- "not gonna help us with Asia, got their own problems, bankrupting themselves"
- counterarguments: "not gonna grow, China's a Confucian culture (don't pay attention to those), economic interdependence." doesn't buy the last either.
- best counterarguments: nuclear deterrence, economic interdependence, "age of nationalism"
- mass-murder usually strategic (eg, maintaining power) not ideological

debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd-1LymXXX0

interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXSkY4QKDlA
- Clinton's a realist
- plenty of economic independence prior to world wars
- nukes makes WW3 unlikely, but do not rule out limited war (eg, over East/South China Sea)
- Confucian pacifism argument is ahistorical
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Shoot to Kill | West Hunter
Some people claim that it is really, really difficult for humans to psych themselves up to kill another human. They often cite a claim by S. L. A. Marshall that only a small fraction – less than 25% – of WWII American combat infantrymen fired their weapons in battle.

Other people (Dave Grossman in particular) have built major theoretical structures on this observation, saying that humans have a built-in mental module than inhibits us from killing conspecifics (presumably for the good of the species). Grossman parlayed this line of thought into a stint as a professor of psychology at West Point.

Which is pretty impressive, especially when you consider that it’s all bullshit. S.L.A Marshall’s ‘data’ is vapor; there was and is nothing to it. He made shit up, not just on this topic. There’s every to reason to think that the vast majority of infantrymen throughout history did their level best to kill those on the other side – and there’s a certain satisfaction in doing so, not least because it beats them killing you.

You have to wonder about a universal human instinct that apparently misfired in every battle in recorded history.

more: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/bad-war/
doesn't think much of John Keegan: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/bad-war/#comment-65138
scrapping: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/public-intellectuals-pundits-and-all-that/#comment-79192
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Reversal of Fortune | West Hunter
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/reversal-of-fortune-2/#comment-5940
“particularly in the fetus”. You’d think so, but people have looked at Dutch draftees who were in the womb during the famine of 1944. They found no effects of famine exposure on Ravens scores at age 19. Schizophrenia doubled, though. Schiz also doubled in the Chinese cohort exposed to the Great Leap Forward famine.

Cohort Profile: The Dutch Hunger Winter Families Study: https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/36/6/1196/814573
Nutrition and Mental Performance: https://sci-hub.bz/10.1126/science.178.4062.708
Schizophrenia after prenatal exposure to the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944-1945: https://sci-hub.bz/10.1001/archpsyc.1992.01820120071010
Prenatal famine exposure and cognition at age 59 years: https://sci-hub.bz/10.1093/ije/dyq261

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/reversal-of-fortune-2/#comment-5960
You might be right. There is reason to suspect that prenatal exposure to alcohol is far riskier in some populations than others – in particular populations that have limited historical exposure to alcohol. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is very rare in France, for example – yet they drink, I’m told.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/reversal-of-fortune-2/#comment-5961
The kind of conservatism that shows up politically doesn’t have any predictive value. In other words, liars and morons. They’re why God made baseball bats. Once upon a time, I said this: “The American right doesn’t have room for anyone who knows jack shit about anything, or whose predictions have ever come true.” I’ll stick with that.

full quote here: http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?threads/planescape-torment-problems.9208/
The American right doesn't have room for anyone who knows jack shit about anything, or whose predictions have ever come true. Of course they're all liars. In the words of one of their semi-prominent members, himself plenty despicable: "Science, logic, rational inquiry, thoughtful reflection, mean nothing to them. It's all posturing and moral status games and sucking up to halfwits like GWB and clinging to crackpot religion, and of course amoral careerism. " I think my correspondent forgot to mention their propensity for eating shit and rolling around in their own vomit, but nobody's perfect.

lol:
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/reversal-of-fortune-2/#comment-6045
I’ve mused that it’s generally believed that iodine benefits females more than males, and the timing of iodization in the US matches up reasonably well with the rise of feminism…
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Faces in the Clouds | West Hunter
This was a typical Iraq story: somehow, we had developed an approach to intelligence that reliably produced fantastically wrong answers, at vast expense. What so special about Iraq? Nothing, probably – except that we acquired ground truth.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/faces-in-the-clouds/#comment-15397
Those weren’t leads, any more than there are really faces in the clouds. They were excuses to sell articles, raise money, and finally one extra argument in favor of a pointless war. Without a hard fact or two, it’s all vapor, useless.

Our tactical intelligence was fine in the Gulf War, but that doesn’t mean that the military, or worse yet the people who make and influence decisions had any sense, then or now.

For example, I have long had an amateur interest in these things, and I got the impression, in the summer of 1990, that Saddam Hussein was about to invade Kuwait. I was telling everyone at work that Saddam was about to invade, till they got bored with it. This was about two weeks before it actually happened. I remember thinking about making a few investments based on that possible event, but never got around to, partly because I was really sleepy, since we had a month-old baby girl at home.

As I recall, the “threat officer” at the CIA warned about this, but since the higher-ups ignored him, his being correct embarrassed them, so he was demoted.

The tactical situation was as favorable as it ever gets, and most of it was known. We had near-perfect intelligence:: satellite recon, JSTARS, etc Complete air domination, everything from Warthogs to F-15s. . Months to get ready. A huge qualitative weapons superiority. For example, our tanks outranged theirs by about a factor of two, had computer-controlled aiming, better armor, infrared sights, etc etc etc etc. I counted something like 13 separate war-winning advantages at the time, and that count was obviously incomplete.. And one more: Arabs make terrible soldiers, generally, and Iraqis were among the worst.

But I think that most of the decisionmakers didn’t realize how easy it would be – at all – and I’ve never seen any sign that Colin Powell did either. He’s a “C” student type – not smart. Schwartzkopf may have understood what was going on: for all I know he was another Manstein, but you can’t show how good you are when you beat a patzer.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/faces-in-the-clouds/#comment-15420
For me it was a hobby – I was doing adaptive optics at the time in Colorado Springs. All I knew about particular military moves was from the newspapers, but my reasoning went like this:

A. Kuwait had a lot of oil. Worth stealing, if you could get away with it.

B. Kuwait was militarily impotent and had no defense treaty with anyone. Most people found Kuwaitis annoying.

C. Iraq owed Kuwait something like 30 billion dollars, and was generally deep in debt due to the long conflict with Iran

D. I figured that there was a fair chance that the Iraqi accusations of Kuwaiti slant drilling were true

E. There were widely reported Iraqi troop movements towards Kuwait

F. Most important was my evaluation of Saddam, from watching the long war with Iran. I thought that Saddam was a particular combination of cocky and stupid, the sort of guy to do something like this. At the time I did not know about April Glaspie’s, shall we say, poorly chosen comments.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Bari, 1943 | West Hunter
There is no really good general way of estimating which facts that another person has floating in his head without personal contact. The same is true for populations – people in general,  people in particular professions, etc. Sometimes,  though, the utter lack of recognition of what ought to be an obvious connection, the dogs that don’t bark,  makes  clear that nobody in the talking  classes has ever heard of a particular event.

They ought to be talking about Bari, 1943.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
The Future of the Global Muslim Population | Pew Research Center
http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/future-of-the-global-muslim-population-regional-europe/
http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/the-future-of-the-global-muslim-population/#the-americas

Europe’s Growing Muslim Population: http://www.pewforum.org/2017/11/29/europes-growing-muslim-population/

https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2017/11/30/crescent-over-the-north-sea/
The problem with this is that there is a wide range of religious commitment and identification across Europe’s Muslim communities. On the whole, they are more religiously observant than non-Muslims in their nations of residence, but, for example, British Muslims are consistently more religious than French Muslims on surveys (or express views constant with greater religious conservatism).

People in Western countries are violent (yes) 29 52 34
lmao that's just ridiculous from the UK

https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2006/03/03/poll-of-british-muslims/
In short, read the poll closely, this isn’t an black & white community. It seems clear that some people simultaneously support Western society on principle while leaning toward separatism, while a subset, perhaps as large as 10%, are violently and radically hostile to the surrounding society.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
After Xi Leaves U.S., Chinese Media Assail Strike on Syria - The New York Times
But Chinese analysts, whose advice is sometimes sought by the government on foreign policy questions, were scornful of the strike, which they viewed as a powerful country attacking a nation unable to fight back. And they rejected what they viewed as an unspoken American message equating Syria, which has no nuclear arsenal, with North Korea, which has carried out five nuclear arms tests and hopes to mount a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental missile.

“I don’t deny that the United States is capable of such an attack against North Korea, but you need to see that North Korea is capable of striking back,” said Lu Chao, director of the Border Studies Institute at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences. “That would create chaos.”

If Syria had nuclear weapons, the United States would not dare attack it, said Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai. “Chemical weapons and nuclear weapons are totally different,” Mr. Shen said. “A chemical bomb kills dozens of people, and the atomic bomb at Hiroshima killed hundreds of thousands.”

Mr. Shen added that many Chinese were “thrilled” by the attack because it would probably result in the United States becoming further mired in the Middle East.

“If the United States gets trapped in Syria, how can Trump make America great again? As a result, China will be able to achieve its peaceful rise,” Mr. Shen said, using a term Beijing employs to characterize its growing power. “Even though we say we oppose the bombing, deep in our hearts we are happy.”

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/04/07/what-trump-calls-strength-china-calls-stupidity-xi-jinping-summit-syria-strikes/
https://apnews.com/a01d0cf576e047248bc20439314f7481
https://twitter.com/adamjohnsonNYC/status/850806960526176256
🤔
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/us/politics/what-we-know-and-dont-know-about-the-syria-airstrikes.html
jfc, that was fast: https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/850089008990494720
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Why Are Chemical Weapons Different?
So what is it about chemical weapons that puts them in the same category? I've never seen anyone explain what it is. Getting killed by mustard gas is surely awful. But so is getting blown up by a bomb. Using one against your enemies gets you branded a war criminal, but using the other doesn't. The Aum Shinrikyo cult conducted a poison gas attack in the Tokyo subways in 1995, killing 13. No one could claim that because they used a chemical weapon, that attack was worse than, say, the 2005 bombings of public transport in London, in which 52 people died.

Tierney argues, "Powerful countries like the United States cultivate a taboo against using WMD partly because they have a vast advantage in conventional arms. We want to draw stark lines around acceptable and unacceptable kinds of warfare because the terrain that we carve out is strategically favorable." That may be part of the story, but it's more than just strategic—we want to define our means of warfare as ordinary and any other means as outside the bounds of humane behavior, less for practical advantage than to convince ourselves that our actions are moral and justified.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
The Vasconic Program | West Hunter
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/the-old-breed-2/
My question is what local circumstances give the best chance for a substantial dollop of the formerly-common genotypes persisting for a long time – ideally, to the present day. Where do we find the blood of the Old Ones?

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/washukanni/
Mitanni, controlling northern Syria and southeastern Anatolia, was a major player in the Bronze Age Near East from 1500 BC-1300 BC. They contended and negotiated with the Hittites and the Egyptian New Kingdom.

Most of the population seems to have spoken Hurrian, but there are traces of something very different in their ruling class. We have preserved diplomatic correspondence (cuneiform tablets last!) showing that the rulers of Mitanni swore by Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya. There are other hints: names of the ruling class often make sense in Sanskrit. Kikkuli of Mitanni’s horse conditioning manual has some Indo-Aryan words (aika, tera, panza, satta). Etc. The semi-educated guess is that Indo-Aryans, as early charioteers, were hired by Mitanni as mercenaries and eventually grabbed the reins of power. After, of course, making a wrong turn at Albuquerque: North Syria is quite a ways from the known stomping grounds of the Indo-Aryans.

There’s likely an interesting story here, but we are missing almost all of it, because we have never found Washukanni, the Mitanni capital. If we did, we’d probably find lots of cuneiform tablets – as we have other capital cities of that era, such as Boğazköy.

Washukanni was probably somewhere in the Khabur triangle. Which brings me to the present, and possible near future: if we end up occupying that area, it’d be nice if we could manage a little digging on the side. We just need to start embedding archaeologists into the infantry.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Do Muslim Immigrants Assimilate? - Niskanen Center
- surveys studies for US and Europe (UK and France)
- very slanted perspective ofc

Poll of British Muslims Reveals Startling Views, but Some Question Methodology: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/15/world/europe/poll-british-muslims.html
Among the poll results were relatively high levels of disapproval for homosexuality, with 52 percent of respondents saying it should be illegal and 47 percent saying gay people should not work as teachers. On the issue of women’s rights, 39 percent agreed with the statement “wives should always obey their husbands.”

About one-third of respondents said they would tell the police if they knew someone who was getting involved with supporting terrorism in Syria. The same proportion refused to condemn people who take part in violence against those who mock the Prophet Muhammad. Almost one quarter said they favored replacing the British legal system with Islamic law.

British Muslims: The New Victorians: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2009/05/07/british-muslims-the-new-victorians/

Clarifying the Shrinking Liberal Core: Visible Minorities, Immigrants, and Vote Choice in Canada: https://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/papers-2012/Thomas.pdf
Though visible minority Canadians are significantly more likely to support expansive immigration policies, this issue does not appear to drive their electoral support of the Liberals. Though minorities report being more socially conservative than Canadians of European origin, issues related to this, notably same-sex marriage, do not appear to have a meaningful effect on changes in minority support for the Liberals from 2004 on (Gidengil et al., 2006).

https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/914641389463498753
https://archive.is/ZfhAS
Very unexpected... I've never seen non-Euros who issue-poll as socially conservative vote for left-wing parties!

Why are African-Americans such loyal Democrats when they are so ideologically diverse?: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/09/28/can-trump-win-black-votes-what-we-know-from-5-decades-of-black-voting-data/
Despite this history, there is still no clean alignment between how blacks describe their political ideology and which candidates they vote for. As recently as 2012, studies show that 47 percent of blacks identify as liberal and 45 percent as conservative, but 93 percent voted for the reelection of Barack Obama.

There are two explanations for this incongruence. The first centers on racial unity: Black voters use the group’s well-being as a proxy for their own interests; the “black utility heuristic.” Other studies suggest racial identity and social pressure shape blacks into an electoral monolith. The idea is that blacks vote similarly as a show of solidarity.

The second explanation is that, despite their ideological diversity, black voters prioritize civil rights issues. In other words, the polarized civil rights stances of the parties have turned blacks into single-issue voters. This results in blacks being a “captured minority,” wherein they have no viable alternative to the Democratic Party.

...

1. A candidate’s race matters to black men, not black women.
2. There were differences on the best approach to reducing racial inequality.
3. The violent crime rate has a negligible effect on middle class blacks’ voting choices.
4. Conservative positions on social issues actually didn’t matter.
5. Experience and predictability matters to black parents.

cf Faith and Family and Next Generation Left here: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:f6857abdbdd2
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Annotating Greg Cochran’s interview with James Miller
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/
opinion of Scott and Hanson: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90238
Greg's methodist: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90256
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90299
You have to consider the relative strengths of Japan and the USA. USA was ~10x stronger, industrially, which is what mattered. Technically superior (radar, Manhattan project). Almost entirely self-sufficient in natural resources. Japan was sure to lose, and too crazy to quit, which meant that they would lose after being smashed flat.
--
There’s a fairly common way of looking at things in which the bad guys are not at fault because they’re bad guys, born that way, and thus can’t help it. Well, we can’t help it either, so the hell with them. I don’t think we had to respect Japan’s innate need to fuck everybody in China to death.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/ramble-on/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/topics/
https://soundcloud.com/user-519115521/greg-cochran-part-1
2nd part: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:9ab84243b967

some additional things:
- political correctness, the Cathedral and the left (personnel continuity but not ideology/value) at start
- joke: KT impact = asteroid mining, every mass extinction = intelligent life destroying itself
- Alawites: not really Muslim, women liberated because "they don't have souls", ended up running shit in Syria because they were only ones that wanted to help the British during colonial era
- solution to Syria: "put the Alawites in NYC"
- Zimbabwe was OK for a while, if South Africa goes sour, just "put the Boers in NYC" (Miller: left would probably say they are "culturally incompatible", lol)
- story about Lincoln and his great-great-great-grandfather
- skepticism of free speech
- free speech, authoritarianism, and defending against the Mongols
- Scott crazy (not in a terrible way), LW crazy (genetics), ex.: polyamory
- TFP or microbio are better investments than stereotypical EA stuff
- just ban AI worldwide (bully other countries to enforce)
- bit of a back-and-forth about macroeconomics
- not sure climate change will be huge issue. world's been much warmer before and still had a lot of mammals, etc.
- he quite likes Pseudoerasmus
- shits on modern conservatism/Bret Stephens a bit

- mentions Japan having industrial base a tenth the size of the US's and no chance of winning WW2 around 11m mark
- describes himself as "fairly religious" around 20m mark
- 27m30s: Eisenhower was smart, read Carlyle, classical history, etc.

but was Nixon smarter?: https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2019/03/18/open-thread-03-18-2019/
The Scandals of Meritocracy. Virtue vs. competence. Would you rather have a boss who is evil but competent, or good but incompetent? The reality is you have to balance the two. Richard Nixon was probably smarter that Dwight Eisenhower in raw g, but Eisenhower was probably a better person.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Interview Greg Cochran by Future Strategist
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/interview/

- IQ enhancement (somewhat apprehensive, wonder why?)
- ~20 years to CRISPR enhancement (very ballpark)
- cloning as an alternative strategy
- environmental effects on IQ, what matters (iodine, getting hit in the head), what doesn't (schools, etc.), and toss-ups (childhood/embryonic near-starvation, disease besides direct CNS-affecting ones [!])
- malnutrition did cause more schizophrenia in Netherlands (WW2) and China (Great Leap Forward) though
- story about New Mexico schools and his children (mostly grad students in physics now)
- clever sillies, weird geniuses, and clueless elites
- life-extension and accidents, half-life ~ a few hundred years for a typical American
- Pinker on Harvard faculty adoptions (always Chinese girls)
- parabiosis, organ harvesting
- Chicago economics talk
- Catholic Church, cousin marriage, and the rise of the West
- Gregory Clark and Farewell to Alms
- retinoblastoma cancer, mutational load, and how to deal w/ it ("something will turn up")
- Tularemia and Stalingrad (ex-Soviet scientist literally mentioned his father doing it)
- germ warfare, nuclear weapons, and testing each
- poison gas, Haber, nerve gas, terrorists, Japan, Syria, and Turkey
- nukes at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incirlik_Air_Base
- IQ of ancient Greeks
- history of China and the Mongols, cloning Genghis Khan
- Alexander the Great vs. Napoleon, Russian army being late for meetup w/ Austrians
- the reason why to go into Iraq: to find and clone Genghis Khan!
- efficacy of torture
- monogamy, polygamy, and infidelity, the Aboriginal system (reverse aging wives)
- education and twin studies
- errors: passing white, female infanticide, interdisciplinary social science/economic imperialism, the slavery and salt story
- Jewish optimism about environmental interventions, Rabbi didn't want people to know, Israelis don't want people to know about group differences between Ashkenazim and other groups in Israel
- NASA spewing crap on extraterrestrial life (eg, thermodynamic gradient too weak for life in oceans of ice moons)
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Realignment: Will America Forge A New Political Consensus [NEW] - YouTube
Thiel: "When lip-service preachers [of ideology] stop receiving subsidies for spreading gospel, we'll see how much they really believe in it."
https://twitter.com/hyperstitious/status/841159254107144192
https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=2881&v=wx0DL-gxGGc

Bill Kristol comes out looking like an ass (and picks Obama trumpeting pulling out of Iraq of all things was an example of "demagoguery"...)

also like the comment about "'populism' being democracy by people you don't like". dude was kinda soporific otherwise.
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Links 1/17: Inaugurl Address | Slate Star Codex
“Fanatics got into the Capitol building and committed a mass shooting on Congress while it was in session, and you’ve never heard of them…people have completely forgotten that in 1972 we had over nineteen hundred domestic bombings in the United States” A review of Days Of Rage and history lesson on the 1970s underground. Highly recommended.

New Yorker: The Mosul Dam in Iraq could fail soon, potentially causing a flash flood and hundreds of thousands of deaths.

An ecologist denounces calls to “drain the swamp” as an insult to swamps: “Given the sea of misinformation we currently find ourselves swimming in, I feel this is as good a time as any to clarify what swamps actually are and why they should be regarded as wonderful and valuable parts of nature rather than objects of derision and hatred.” If any of you are oceanographers, can you troll the Washington Post for me by denouncing their use of the term “sea of misinformation”?

The Seasteading Institute announces a deal with French Polynesia to build the first seastead in a lagoon there. I’m still confused on whether they’ve got funding or anything else besides the location. Still a big step.

80,000 Hours’ guide to what charities to give to this season. A good supplement to GiveWell’s Top Charities list

Vox: Why the war on poverty failed, and what to do now. In the form of a long and detailed history of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyveysant neighborhood. Not clear that anyone actually knows what to do now beyond a few good common-sense suggestions.

RIP utilitarian philosopher Derek Parfit: “When I believed the non-reductionist view [of personal identity], I also cared more about my inevitable death. After my death, there will [be] no one living who will be me. I can now redescribe this fact. Though there will later be many experiences, none of these experiences will be connected to my present experiences by chains of such direct connections as those involved in experience-memory, or in the carrying out of an earlier intention. Some of these future experiences may be related to my present experiences in less direct ways. There will later be some memories about my life. And there may later be thoughts that are influenced by mine, or things done as the result of my advice. My death will break the more direct relations between my present experiences and future experiences, but it will not break various other relations. This is all there is to the fact that there will be no one living who will be me. Now that I have seen this, my death seems to me less bad.”

Alex K. Chen on Quora on the speculation that Ritalin may be long-term safer than Adderall. See also this review article. This is definitely not yet psychiatric common knowledge or consensus.

Meta-analysis in the American Journal Of Nutrition: Red meat does not increase risk of cardiovascular disease.

Acemoglu and Restropo: Economic stagnation is not due to aging populations.

User dogtasteslikechicken at the r/slatestarcodex subreddit gives a good summary of the Flynn Effect. But it looks like he is confused about some of the same things I am. For example, rich people and the nobility probably had good nutrition and education in the past. So we might expect a Flynn effect based on nutrition and education not to affect them as much. But if this were true, we would expect a skewed or bimodal distribution in the past (un-Flynned poor people with bad nutrition + Flynned rich people with good nutrition), which I don’t think ever clearly showed up.

Some fallout from the Buzzfeed story on growth mindset I linked last week. The Spectator published what I think is a really nasty and evidence-free denunciation of the phenomenon. Mindset researcher David Yeager has tried to set the record straight and argues that growth mindset actually replicates just fine, eg in this paper, and that several other large and rigorous replications are being attempted. Dweck herself has a reply up here. And Timothy Bates put his failed replications online here. Looks like it will be an interesting year in this field.

Does pupil size correlate with intelligence? (blog post, paper)
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january 2017 by nhaliday
The Experts | West Hunter
It seems to me that not all people called experts actually are. In fact, there are whole fields in which none of the experts are experts. But let’s try to define terms.

...

Along these lines, I’ve read Tetlock’s book, Expert Political Judgment. A funny, funny, book. I will have more to say on that later.

USSR: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60760
iraq war:
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60653
Of course it is how Bush sold the war. Selling the war involving statements to the press, leaks, etc, not a Congressional resolution, which is the product of that selling job. Leaks to that lying slut at the New York Times, Judith Miller, for example.

Actively seeking a nuclear weapons capacity would have meant making fissionables, or building facilities to make fissionables. That hadn’t happened, and it was impossible for Iraq to have done so, given that any such effort had to be undetectable (because we hadn’t detected it with our ‘national technical means’, spy satellites and such) and given their limited resources in men, money, and materiel. Iraq had done nothing along these lines. Absolutely nothing.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60674
You don’t even know what yellow cake is. It is true that Saddam had had a nuclear program before the Gulf War, although it had not come too close to a weapon – but that program had been destroyed, and could not be rebuilt A. in a way invisible to our spy satellites and B with no money, because of sanctions.

The 550 tons of uranium oxide- unenriched uranium oxide – was a leftover from the earlier program. Under UN seal, and those seals had not been broken. Without enrichment, and without a means of enrichment, it was useless.

What’s the point of pushing this nonsense? somebody paying you?

The President was a moron, the Government of the United States proved itself a pack of fools,as did the New York Times, the Washington Post, Congress, virtually all of the pundits, etc. etc. And undoubtedly you were a fool as well: you might as well deal with it, because the truth is not going to go away.

interesting discussion of battle fatigue and desertion: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60709
Actually, I don’t know how Freudian those Army psychologists were in 1944: they may have been useless in some other way. The gist is that in the European theater, for example in the Normandy campaign, the US had a much higher rate of psychological casualties than the Germans. “Both British and American psychiatrists were struck by the ‘apparently few cases of psychoneurosis’ among German prisoners of war. ” They were lower in the Red Army, as well.

In the Pacific theater, combat fatigue was even worse for US soldiers, but rare among the Japanese.

...

The infantry took most of the casualties – it was a very dangerous, unpleasant job. People didn’t like being in the infantry. In the American Army, and to a lesser extent, the British Army, getting into medical evacuation channels was a way to avoid getting killed. Not so much in the German Army: suspected malingerers were shot. In the American Army, they weren’t. That’s the most importance difference between the Germans and Americans affecting the ‘combat fatigue’ rate – the Germans didn’t put up with it. They did have some procedures, but they all ended up putting the guy back in combat fairly rapidly.

Even for desertion, only ONE American soldier was executed. In the Germany Army, 20,000. It makes a difference. We ran a soft war: since we ended up with whole divisions out of the fight, we probably would have done better (won faster, lost fewer guys) if we had been harsher on malingerers and deserters.

more on emdees: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60697
As for your idea that doctors improve with age, I doubt it. So do some other people: for example, in this article in Annals of Internal Medicine (Systematic review: the relationship between clinical experience and quality of health care), they say “Overall, 32 of the 62 (52%) evaluations reported decreasing performance with increasing years in practice for all outcomes assessed; 13 (21%) reported decreasing performance with increasing experience for some outcomes but no association for others; 2 (3%) reported that performance initially increased with increasing experience, peaked, and then decreased (concave relationship); 13 (21%) reported no association; 1 (2%) reported increasing performance with increasing years in practice for some outcomes but no association for others; and 1 (2%) reported increasing performance with increasing years in practice for all outcomes. Results did not change substantially when the analysis was restricted to studies that used the most objective outcome measures.

I don’t how well that 25-year old doctor with an IQ of 160 would do, never having met anyone like that. I do know a mathematician who has an IQ around 160 and was married to a doctor, but she* dumped him after he put her through med school and came down with lymphoma.

And that libertarian friend I mentioned, who said that although quarantine would have worked against AIDS, better that we didn’t, despite the extra hundreds of thousands of deaths that resulted – why, he’s a doctor.

*all the other fifth-years in her program also dumped their spouses. Catching?

climate change: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60787
I think that predicting climate is difficult, considering the complex feedback loops, but I know that almost every right-wing thing said about it that I have checked out turned out to be false.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
The Coming of the Russian Jihad, Part II
The government’s strategy in the North Caucasus has been far more direct. When Syria and ISIL began to loom large in 2011, Russia adopted what might be called a “push-out-and-shut–the-door” approach: emptying Russia of potential terrorists by encouraging them to go to Syria to die there and prevent the survivors from ever coming back. According to Russian independent investigative reports, the “green corridor” was opened as early as 2011 as part of a thorough and merciless security sweep in advance of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
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december 2016 by nhaliday
Stockpile Stewardship | West Hunter
A lot of our nuclear weapons are old, and it’s not clear that they still work. If we still did underground tests, we’d know for sure (and could fix any problems) – but we don’t do that. We have a program called stockpile stewardship, that uses simulation programs and the data from laser-fusion experiments in an attempt to predict weapon efficacy.

I talked to some old friends who know as much about the nuclear stockpile as anyone: neither believes that that stockpile stewardship will do the job. There are systems that you can simulate with essentially perfect accuracy and confidence, Newtonian gravitational mechanics for example: this isn’t one of them.

You had two approaches to a problem that was vital to the security of the United States: option A was absolutely sure to work, option B might possibly work.

The Feds picked B.

interesting: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/stockpile-stewardship/#comment-65553
Can’t they stick a warhead on a space launcher, loop it around the moon followed by some compact instrumentation and detonate it there, out of view? And keep mum about it.

How hard would it be for radioastronomers to notice a nuclear blast on the other side of the Moon? Would reflected light over interplanetary distances be even detectable?

I once brought this up to a bomb-designer friend: people have in fact worried about this.

They signed a treaty against that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty

The Soviets signed a treaty against developing germ warfare too, but they did it anyhow. Do you think that the Galactic Overlords automatically vaporize treaty violators?

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/stockpile-stewardship/#comment-65769
People working in US intelligence may well have opinions, but they don’t know jack about nuclear weapons. I once said that Iraq couldn’t possibly have a live nuclear weapons program, given their lack of resources and the fact that we hadn’t detected any sign of it – in part, a ‘capacity’ argument. I later heard that the whole CIA had at most one guy who knew enough to do that casual, back-of-the-envelope analysis correctly, and he was working on something else.

http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Opinions/Diaries/2017-06.html
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december 2016 by nhaliday
The Churches' Bans on Consanguineous Marriages, Kin-Networks and Democracy by Jonathan F Schulz :: SSRN
This paper highlights the role of kin-networks for the functioning of democracy: countries with strong extended families as characterized by a high level of cousin marriages exhibit a weak rule of law and are more likely autocratic. To assess causality, I exploit a quasi-natural experiment. In the early medieval ages the Church started to prohibit kin-marriages. Using the variation in the duration and extent of the Eastern and Western Churches’ bans on consanguineous marriages as instrumental variables, reveals highly significant point estimates of the percentage of cousin marriage on an index of democracy. An additional novel instrument, cousin-terms, strengthens this point: the estimates are very similar and do not rest on the European experience alone. Exploiting within country variation of cousin marriages in Italy, as well as within variation of a ‘societal marriage pressure’ indicator for a larger set of countries support these results. These findings point to a causal effect of marriage patterns on the proper functioning of formal institutions and democracy. The study further suggests that the Churches’ marriage rules - by destroying extended kin-groups - led Europe on its special path of institutional and democratic development.

...

Crucially for causal identification, the ban was imposed exogenously top-down onto the inhabitants and the (often random) outcome of wars shifted the reign of rulers (and with it the “state religion”).

How the Catholic Church created democracy: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/12/catholic-church-created-democracy/
Cousin Marriage Conundrum: http://www.unz.com/article/cousin-marriage-conundrum/
study  economics  history  europe  medieval  religion  christianity  institutions  kinship  growth-econ  natural-experiment  polisci  government  leviathan  econometrics  🎩  🌞  group-level  civilization  sapiens  stylized-facts  causation  divergence  eastern-europe  cliometrics  anglosphere  incentives  social-structure  biodet  the-great-west-whale  democracy  roots  measurement  protestant-catholic  individualism-collectivism  universalism-particularism  unintended-consequences  endo-exo  broad-econ  behavioral-gen  sex  chart  theos  cultural-dynamics  wealth-of-nations  occident  modernity  n-factor  political-econ  polanyi-marx  antidemos  microfoundations  organizing  justice  multi  news  albion  summary  islam  org:anglo  org:mag  wonkish  journos-pundits  MENA  huntington  big-peeps  isteveish  iraq-syria  neocons  gnon  interests  endogenous-exogenous  feudal  noble-lie  explanans  social-capital  hari-seldon  the-watchers 
december 2016 by nhaliday
Found at an Islamic State training camp: bunk beds, weapons manuals, steroids - The Washington Post
The sign for the training camp’s armory was written in both Russian and Arabic. A carbon-dioxide canister, probably for use in an air rifle for target training, was also marked in Russian.

Thousands of Russian passport-holders have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State militants, making up as much as 8 percent of the group’s foreign fighters, according to Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency. Most come from the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region.
news  terrorism  russia  foreign-policy  org:rec  iraq-syria  MENA  intel  geopolitics  current-events 
december 2016 by nhaliday
North Korea and weapons of mass destruction - Wikipedia
Barack Obama Warns Donald Trump on North Korea Threat: https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-faces-north-korean-challenge-1479855286
White House says new president’s top foreign priority should be nuclear Pyongyang
The Lamps are Going Out in Asia: http://www.38north.org/2017/09/jdethomas092517/
Moreover, Trump’s speech and the North Korean reaction seem to have set us on a path that could very well end in a major war in Asia.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/09/09/north-koreas-nuclear-program-is-way-more-sophisticated-and-dangerous-than-you-think/
How North Korea Shocked the Nuclear Experts: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/26/north-korea-nuclear-tests-shock-experts-215533
A nation like that wasn't supposed to get nukes at all. Why were the theories so wrong?

lol, I think I know why

A top defector risked his life to tell us of Pyongyang’s plans & vulnerabilities. The media put its own words in his mouth.: http://freekorea.us/2017/11/02/a-top-defector-risked-his-life-to-tell-us-of-pyongyangs-plans-vulnerabilities-the-media-missed-it/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles/trump-of-possibility-of-north-korea-talks-says-who-knows-where-it-leads-idUSKBN1EZ09W
Earlier on Tuesday, Moon made a point of crediting Trump for the Korean talks and also said he himself was open to meeting with Kim at any time if conditions were right and “certain achievements are guaranteed”.

North Korea sends rare announcement to all Koreans, calls for unification: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-southkorea-kcna/north-korea-sends-rare-announcement-to-all-koreans-calls-for-unification-idUSKBN1FD33I
wiki  reference  asia  foreign-policy  nuclear  risk  deterrence  geopolitics  korea  arms  communism  multi  politics  news  usa  trump  org:rec  obama  current-events  rhetoric  war  world  org:foreign  org:mag  wonkish  realpolitik  pop-diff  wealth  wealth-of-nations  econ-metrics  economics  authoritarianism  antidemos  iraq-syria  MENA  comparison  iq  developing-world  chart  org:edu  org:ngo  leaks  volo-avolo  org:lite 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Personnel decision | West Hunter
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/09/20/personnel-decision/#comment-83814
I think we are about due for a career civil servant within the agency or relatively recently retired from it (ideally to academia), with a PhD or M.D. and probably a pay grade of either GS-15 or Senior Executive Service (SES), who has a reputation for integrity, for intelligence, and for getting things done bureaucratically, with some low profile political connections (at least to the ruling party but ideally to both political parties) in private life as well (e.g. through friendships made at a top college, a politician or top political aide parent, or friendships made while attending a top D.C. private school like Sidwell Friends or St. Albion’s or National Cathedral School).

Few federal agencies call for more subject-matter competence to understand its functions well enough to run it well.
--
The problem is that the typical member of the set you describe is nuts. Members have a lot of incorrect ideas in their heads: in fact, you have to express support of those ideas or you are expelled. So, that means that every educational improvement plan pushed by the Feds fails: you can’t do anything realistic, or you would be a bad person. Every intervention in the Middle East fails: same reason. AIDs shows up, so we abandon quarantine: Fidel Castro deals with the situation 50 times better than we did.

The Aztecs thought that the world would end if they didn’t keep cutting people’s hearts out on an industrial scale. They were crazy. But were they crazier than we are?
FDA  regulation  discussion  government  rhetoric  commentary  west-hunter  pharma  policy  meta:medicine  scitariat  proposal  counter-revolution  innovation  stagnation  randy-ayndy  trump  2016-election  alt-inst  money  elections  politics  polisci  variance-components  data  corruption  gilens-page  questions  multi  poast  info-dynamics  institutions  elite  ability-competence  truth  westminster  roots  usa  virginia-DC  is-ought  education  MENA  iraq-syria  disease  spreading  gender  sex  sexuality  prudence  ideology  social-science  empirical  evidence-based  religion 
september 2016 by nhaliday
Hillary Clinton's Immigration Position Doesn't Consider the Interests of Americans - The Atlantic
later: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/an-immigration-order-as-stupid-as-it-is-counterproductive/514847/
- David Frum

When liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals won’t do. This weekend’s shameful chapter in the history of the United States is a reproach not only to Trump, although it is that too, but to the political culture that enabled him. Angela Merkel and Donald Trump may be temperamental opposites. They are also functional allies.

America's Immigration Challenge: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/refugees/419976/
Coming to the United States would benefit millions—but policymakers seldom ask whether their arrival would benefit the United States.
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september 2016 by nhaliday

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