In Times of Peace -Bill Reader

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In Times of Peace

Bill Reader

 

I feel, as yet, that some do not understand a basic aspect of modern politics. I get this sense every time I read a comments section. Let me try, to the best of my ability, to elucidate the order beneath what may seem like an increasingly chaotic system.

There is a concept called “battlespace preparation”. Many have heard of it, but I’m not sure it is generally understood why it works. In its broadest sense it refers to the practice of choosing the time, place, and… most importantly… the circumstances of a conflict. This is the real meaning of the expression “in times of peace, prepare for war”. Though the expression is often mistaken as a simple restatement of “expect the unexpected”, that misses the point entirely. Control of the circumstances of a battle is the key to winning, and the proverb reminds us that our ability to control such things is much greater if we do it well in advance… in times of peace… than when they are immediate needs… in times of war.

Commonly in politics, we see it applied when someone (99.99% of the time a Democrat, which is not to our strategic advantage) accuses an opponent of a crime preemptively in order to excuse their own malfeasance later. The crime is often a generalized one that’s difficult to disprove, such as being an -ist. Obama bought practical immunity from questions about his otherwise extremely questionable past in two elections, simply by accusing opponents of being racist. Such general accusations of prejudice are very useful. Any sufficiently well-known public figure will be opposed for reasons both philosophical and prejudicial. The accusation gives followers sanction not to even attempt to differentiate the groups, however prominent the prior and insubstantial the latter. The accusation becomes a kind of magic word, spoken to protect the user from the conflict of ideas.

Sometimes, should the threat be more grave, the accusation will be more specifically tailored to the threat. Republicans are accused of wanting the economy to fail before economic numbers are released, in order to cast aspersions on conservatives who then criticize the administration’s approach to the economy. Romney is accused of being stuck in the cold war, so that when Obama handles relations with Russia like an utter imbecile, pointing it out can be called a continuation of the same attacks. The Obama administration is even now simultaneously crying about Obama’s potential impeachment and toying with the treasonous act of executive amnesty, which would more than justify such impeachment. This last item we will return to in a moment. It’s important.

This trick works because politics is, at its heart, applied psychology. Battlespace preparation plays on a prominent weakness of the human animal, responsible for many problems: heuristic reasoning. Generally, when you accuse an opponent of an extraphilosophical reason to oppose you, you frame any argument they make, regardless of how well-reasoned, as an extension of that underlying motive. And people will do it willingly, because following the heuristic is easier than working through the philosophical background. Heuristics, in essence, evolved to save energy, and the same tendency of people to do what comes most easily is a very exploitable political tool. Because deceit is the bread and water of politicians and because an opponent must de facto have a reason to disagree with you, it is functionally impossible for the opponent to shift the heuristic once it has been established. The only sure way a heuristic is destroyed is if the person using it comes to direct harm by doing so… as might happen to an Obama voter who became unemployed and had to let the electricity go unpaid because its price “necessarily skyrocketed”.

This explains much of the insanity of politics. If you pay attention to most political battles, the actual issues are practically irrelevant. What matters is who can establish what heuristics in the minds of voters. Because Democrats have a stranglehold on most media, most issues where people feel few immediate, direct, adverse consequences for assuming Democrats are right go to Democrats. These include budgetary decisions and complaints of a war on women. This is also why social benefits are a singularly intractable issue. It is much easier, and nicer, to suppose that Republicans are evil, than to work through the ugly and unpleasant mathematics that show money is not free. Immigration is a much tougher nut for Democrats to crack, on the other hand, because many Americans have had to live with the effects of a leaky border for years while the federal government merely sneered at their problems… if it doesn’t actively intervene to make them worse, as it did in Arizona. Fracking and domestic energy development is likewise flowing in the direction of Republicans because no one is particularly interested in paying more money for gas and electricity except diehard disciples of Gaia. That’s also why the Obama administration is careful to phrase things such that an unfairly despised minority, “millionaires and billionaires”, is stuck with the unspinnably unpleasant things they do. Forget policy or philosophical arguments. The country would have tossed Obama in a landslide, cheating or no cheating, if he’d come out saying he would tax everyone through the nose. But as long as unpleasant things happen to a scapegoat who “probably deserves it”, rather than to the voter themselves, the heuristic stands.

Precisely because they are so useful, such appeals are a natural outgrowth of a political system that is working. To the extent they are intrinsically unpleasant it is only because the human animal is a little unpleasant. Our remarkable feature as a species is the part of us that works hard to tame the animal, and it rightly rebels at such thoughts. Nevertheless, because politics is essentially a perpetual drumbeat wherein factions constantly wrestle to establish heuristics about the other side, and discussions of the actual correctness of policies have little effect on the outcome, it begins to take on a certain understandable sameness. We are often conscious that politics has some underlying theme even if we cannot place our finger on it precisely. This jadedness presents a certain danger, however.

The health of a society is not determined by whether politics proceeds by the psychological rules dictated above. That is simply a sign of political contention happening. But danger can be sensed in what a society is arguing about. The reason why should be familiar to us. Old married couples may argue vehemently for hours about the correct amount of time to boil an egg, and only the terribly innocent would fear for the integrity of their marriage. Another, probably younger couple may have an argument about whether to abort their first child which, superficially, may be more restrained. It may, at the very least, lack the inventive flair the older couple has developed after fifty years of back-and-forth. Yet the argument of the younger couple is just the kind of argument that can destroy a marriage.

But the arguments we are having now are only about what is happening today. In battlespace preparation you can see, essentially, announcements of what people expect to happen tomorrow. Awareness of these two aspects of politics can give a better general feel for society than discussion of the nitty-gritty issues does. Now, I freely admit that I can say nothing definite about the state of American society. Our exact conditions are unprecedented by the history of which I’m aware. Our system of government, the attitudes of our populace, the state of our nation, our status in the world, have all been approximated, but the factors that don’t fit are always arguably too significant to be ignored. Indeed, our arguments even for the status of these basic facts are contentious. But I can tell you that, by my lights, I am troubled by what we are arguing about as a nation.

In foreign policy, we are arguing with the Obama administration about whether the US has a right to defend its interests. We are, in fact, arguing about whether there is a significant difference between an ally stretching back decades or centuries, such as Poland, Israel, or England, and an enemy stretching back almost as far, such as China or Russia. We are arguing about whether nations should have meaningful and enforceable borders… essentially, in both cases, whether the US has a right to exist. That these are the battle-lines across which people strive to win support worries me almost more than the actual state of the battles. I can guess the outcomes of most battles. What I cannot guess, because we are in uncharted territory, is how long a society can survive when it is discussing whether to permit itself to function and exist.
And in the midst of all this, the Democrats are already accusing us of plotting impeachment, and even revolution. These things worry me greatly. Things that are now whispers in the background are clear and present dangers to the Democrats. If the mechanics of battlespace preparation are anything to go by, they are supplying the other piece of the puzzle themselves. They see in their plans a serious enough potential for these dangers that they feel the need to begin fighting them now, while they have a chance to establish in the minds of constituents heuristics favorable to themselves. But if indeed they fear these things, it should give us pause that they are the two most extreme and final recourses of a society endangered by its own leaders. That said leaders would want to nip opposition in the bud and solidify their own power is unavoidable, but what kind of power are they contemplating taking, what danger do they mean to place society in tomorrow, that they think these are worthwhile dangers to prepare against today? That I cannot tell you, and until they either have been removed from a position where they are able to act on their base instincts, or unfortunately, until they have acted on them and clarified exactly what reaction is justified, I doubt I will be satisfied on the point.

If there is a silver lining in all this, the very fact the Democrats are attempting to prepare this battlespace shows they, themselves, use heuristics without understanding their weaknesses. In the old saw about boiling a frog it is not the metaphor but its endpoint that is mistaken. While people will tolerate an amazing amount without responding, they will not tolerate an infinite amount. I cannot tell you how severe the abuses of power will get, nor how long it will take until people have had enough. I can tell you that someday they will have had enough… but the factors dictating when are the unknown and largely unknowable things mentioned above. We could begin to wake from our national nightmare and get back on the road to arguing about trivialities as soon as November. Or, depending on which issues are foremost in people’s minds and how fair our electoral process still is, we could be just beginning a very long road of suffering and death that will undoubtedly leave us, as a nation, much wiser… supposing it leaves us existent. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter. Sooner or later, the heuristics will run up against the reality experienced by individuals. A state that grows unchecked, becomes more obtrusive without bounds, will eventually dispel the glamour it casts over those it enslaves. The greatest danger a Democrat faces is not rebellion, but reality. And rail as they may against the immune reactions of society, it is wasted breath. If they make people sufficiently upset, they will resist, whatever their masters say.

Sarah is right. Because we stand with reality, we will indeed win, and they will indeed lose. I only pray the stars will align such that we can win now, on the heuristics being destroyed by unemployment and a poor economy, rather than later, on heuristics destroyed by a lack of food and by endless crass, uncaring centralized dictates.

 

110 thoughts on “In Times of Peace -Bill Reader

  1. The danger people don’t seem to see is if you treat people as an enemy it is self-fulfilling. The government is afraid of us. That is obvious with the militarization of the police and intrusive spying on civilians. Yet just like a country watching a neighbor mass tanks and troops on a border this is a no-brainer that they intend to use all these preparations against their own population. Agencies have a life of their own and once created they will be used.
    It wasn’t a good or wise choice but it is too late now to fix it.

  2. “I only pray the stars will align such that we can win now, on the heuristics being destroyed by unemployment and a poor economy, rather than later, on heuristics destroyed by a lack of food and by endless crass, uncaring centralized dictates.”

    Yes, I think sooner will be less painful than later. sigh

    1. Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities.
      Attributed both to Winston Churchill and Abba Eban.
      This November and the one two years hence will tell the tale IMHO.

  3. The hope, as you said, is that we can avoid the societal dissolution and fragmentation open conflict would bring. Sometimes, however, it is necessary.
    Any system ran on the principle of negative reinforcement will oscillate between extremes, but the extremes in such cases are closer than the last recorded oscillation. In the present case, national leaders have grabbed the wheel and are steering hard for the ditch beside the road instead of trying to minimize the swerving.
    If it keeps up, historically the pendulum will swing further back. In this case, people are going to be shoved against walls and shot, or hung, or put to death in some other, morbidly inventive manner.
    The Tree of Liberty will be watered again. Lets hope it receives a balanced infusion.

    1. In this case, people are going to be shoved against walls and shot, or hung, or put to death in some other, morbidly inventive manner.

      Historically, the first executions by plasma arc occurred in the late 2010’s. The disin-field didn’t come into use until the 22nd century.

      1. So nobody built that Mile-high rollercoaster execution machine some demented artist proposed?

        Of course, one could achieve the same effect with a centrifuge.

  4. I thought people were waking up at the last election. I guess it hadn’t gotten tight enough yet. My pattern recognition is pinging like crazy and has been since Pres. Bush started the war. Also I am seeing both sides as against the American people– in differing ways. See how both parties react to Tea Party candidates. Anyway, I found the whole thing interesting… and it would be more interesting if we weren’t in the middle of it.

      1. Pre WWII … I was in Germany for six years and studied German history with a couple of German professors who were children before and during the war– So I am seeing that pattern again. AND NOT the Vietnam pattern that certain people like to use as an example to hit us over the head.

        1. Cyn – you too? I’m just a bit of a history geek, and don’t have personal experience, but that particular pattern has been screaming at me for a long time now.

          1. Yea– part of the time I was on some high pred and chemo so I was having nightmares about it. When I came to, a year or two later, I started seeing what I was feeling instinctively. *sigh

          2. Long ago, maybe twenty some years, I was sitting at the local B&N coffee shop while Beloved Spouse browsed selected books. Looking out for something to occupy my attention with little temptation to buy I spotted a book in the Sociology section about how inter-war Germany got into the situation it ended up in. Written by a German Sociologist (I’ve taken graduate level Soc classes — I recognize the writing level as serious) the book’s thesis was that the Second World War was an inevitable result of the socialization and pedagogy of German schools based on the Prussian pedagogical model.

            The same pedagogical model our American schools are based upon.

            American are not Germans (mostly — they are still out largest ethnic sub-group, I believe) and we aren’t coming out of a disastrous war with an economy collapsing, and we have a long history of not following orders readily. BUT, there are parallels and similarities. The disease probably would not present itself here as it did there (see Goldberg, Jonah: Liberal Fascism) but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t, wouldn’t end up in a similar place. Already there are large segments of our society that value nothing more highly than being in with the In Crowd, and there have always been in every society those who seek advancement by the nose brown.

            After a few days thinking about that book I decided I wanted to read more of it, but never found it again.

            1. That sounds like an interesting – and terrifying – book. If you ever find it, please let me know what it is so I can look it up.

        2. I dunno, mine’s pinging on pre-Revolutionary war. Imperial edicts coming down from on high, utterly ignoring any requests for moderation from those on the receiving end, higher taxes, restraint of trade, etc.

          What I’m fearing is a “shot heard round the world” moment, except followed by chaos, not a planned and organized resistance.

          1. It does have some elements of that War as well… but WWII (or end of Great War for those in other Countries) fits it better. Of course nothing fits perfectly when you consider that we have had a different kind of Country than most– we haven’t had a King, warlord, or strongman. Also– I am looking across two presidencies– Some of the similarities are uncanny. It doesn’t help that this prez is trying to unarm the US and the US military. Plus putting the US military under a commander who is NOT a citizen. (NATO) It sounds counter-intuitive as well if the big B was trying to become the first strongman. It’s like he is paving the way for someone else.

          2. I got polled last night, living in a tight senate race (Go, Kay Hagan — go far far away. I canna believe she got elected in 2008 in the middle of the Dems’ attacks on the bankers, her being a senior VP at BankAmerica) and open House seat.

            It didn’t take very long to recognize which way the “push” was shoving, what with asking whether it would affect my vote to know the Republican candidate wants to ban (almost all) forms of birth control, thinks we invaded Mexico once and can do it again if necessary and is so extreme he thinks the Second Amendment means the citizenry should be as well armed as the military (which distressed me, I assure you, as I believe our military should be as well armed as our citizenry.)

            They also wanted to know if it would affect my vote to know the Democrat supports the public schools, wants smaller classrooms, higher pay for teachers and will work across the aisle to find real solutions to our nation’s problems.

            In both cases my answer was that it would not affect my vote. And that I WILL vote this November.

              1. While McConnell’s campaign crowed about their landslide victory, you can at least take hope in the fact that their ‘landslide’ was the closest ran primary for an incumbent Senate party leader in the history of the US.

            1. Actually both of those WOULD affect my vote; just not in the direction they are hoping for.

                1. To be fair, they were, IIRC, asking whether those would make me more likely or less likely to vote for the candidate. As I could not possibly be more likely to vote for the one nor less likely to vote for the other, it did not actually affect my voting intent.

                  I am not a fan of John Boehner, but given a choice between him and Nancy “You insignificant man” Pelosi there is not a moment’s hesitation.

                  1. I’m sure I’d hesitate – if for no other reason than the involuntary shudder – before mournfully choosing Boehner. The lesser of two evils is still pretty revolting.

              1. Well, y’know, when you can’t give a reason to vote for their party the only strategy they can have is vote against that party. The utter shamelessness of it all is pretty revealing.

                As I used to say when Yankees would ask me how I could stand to be represented by Senator Helms, my reply was always “he can’t do anything unless he gets fifty other senators to agree with him but he might can stop Kennedy and some other nitwits from doing some harm.”

                BTW: Glittery Hoohas on parade; you would have to have a heart of stone to not laugh:
                http://nypost.com/2014/08/04/scenes-from-the-feminist-implosion/
                Scenes from the feminist implosion
                By Naomi Schaefer Riley
                [SNIP]
                The radical feminists are under attack because they don’t accept in their ranks people born as biological men but now convinced they’re women. The RadFemmers argue that the transgendered just aren’t oppressed enough to gain membership.

                Goldberg explains their position: “Anyone born a man retains male privilege in society; even if he chooses to live as a woman — and accept a correspondingly subordinate social position — the fact that he has a choice means that he can never understand what being a woman is really like.”

                It is always significant when a social movement gets into the tall weeds when their debates boil down to The Judean People’s Front Versus The People’s Front Of Judea.

                1. Why must you torture me with these things?

                  OW, my head. I must bash it against a rock to relieve the internal pressure.
                  .
                  .
                  .
                  Ok, who needs a pile of sand?

              2. Well, what could they do instead?

                Have a woman say that her contraception is so vitally, vitally, vitally important to her that we have to pay for it because really, she can’t be bothered?

            2. BTW – we’ve seen a lot of ads attacking Hagan’s challenger, Thom Tillis (former GOP speaker of the NC House) as being a BFF of the Koch Brothers. I forget the name of the group paying for the ads, something like Patriots For A Patriotic Return To American Patriotism.

              Here the bloggers at Powerline explain why Harry Reid and his Demmed party so desperately hate the Kochs:

              Charles Koch: How to Get Our Economy Moving Again
              If there is anyone in the world who knows how to create wealth and generate good, high-paying jobs, it is Charles Koch. In USA Today, Koch sets out a basic prescription for how to improve our economy, accompanied by some eye-popping statistics:

              Like most Americans, I am deeply concerned about our weak economic recovery and its effects on millions of families. Opportunity, especially for the young and disadvantaged, is declining. High underemployment has become our new norm. …

              Too many businesses focus on getting subsidies and mandates from government rather than creating value for customers. According to George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, such favors cost us more than $11,000 per person in lost GDP every year, a $3.6 trillion economic hit.

              That is astonishing. Everyone knows (unless he is a liberal economist like Paul Krugman) that cronyism promotes inefficiency. But the magnitude of the problem is stunning: if the Mercatus Center analysis is correct, cronyism is deflating the economy by around 21%! Imagine if every American got a 21% raise: that is only a small part of what free market economic policies could accomplish, if they were not blocked by the Democratic Party. Then, of course, we have the problem of excessive government regulation:

              Federal rules cost America an estimated $1.86 trillion per year, calculated the Competitive Enterprise Institute. At Koch Industries, we’ve seen how punitive permitting for large projects creates years of delay, increasing uncertainty and cost. Sometimes projects are canceled and jobs with them. Meanwhile, 30% of U.S. employees need government licenses to work. We need a system that rewards those who create real value, not impedes them.

              The main thing standing between you and a higher income, assuming you own an alarm clock, is the government. More:

              [W]e should eliminate the artificial cost of hiring. Government policies such as Obamacare have given businesses a powerful incentive to hire two part-time people to do one full-time job. This trend was reflected in June’s employment data, which included the loss of half a million full-time jobs. In 2007, 4.4 million Americans worked part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work. That number now stands at 7.5 million, up 275,000 in June.

              The Obama administration hailed the June employment data as a triumph, even though the number of full-time jobs declined by a half million. They want you and your children to accept a “new normal” in which part-time employment as a barista is a reasonable expectation for a college graduate.

              Government likes for its citizens to be lazy, incompetent and dependent. That’s bad for the citizens, but good for the government:
              [MORE: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/08/charles-koch-how-to-get-our-economy-moving-again.php%5D

            3. Well, he certainly couldn’t ban *all* forms of birth control, unless women really *can’t* say “no”…in which case I’ve been going about this all wrong…

              1. Of course we can’t. Male superpower and all.
                we just go all blank minded when you hit us with your male privilege.
                (Yes, I AM running away screaming. Why?)

                1. Wow. Why didn’t anyone tell me this when I was younger? (Shuffles off, grumbling) 🙂

                  1. Silly boy, it is hidden in plain sight. It is a well-known meme of literature of prurient nature (generically referenced by a term remarkably similar to “prawn”) that women become helpless in the presence of the phallus, often falling to their knees in worshipful admiration.

            1. I think resistance will organize faster than you think.

              I do as well. While it’s oh so terribly easy to despair, I have to remind myself that government here was never intended to consume everyone’s time. It was hoped to be as unobtrusive as possible, letting people get on with the getting on.

              I think there’s a huge swath of people who still live according to this expectation. They don’t get involved, or fret overmuch, until the getting on is hindered. And I think there’s more and more hindering coming about, and more and more of the silent majority are taking note.

              There’s a fair number of people in that silent majority that know how to get things done. If the spark ignites — I think many unsuspecting people will be surprised.

              1. “I think there’s a huge swath of people who still live according to this expectation.”

                This is a huge understatement. The vast majority, in fact probably everybody whose job is not directly involved with the lawmaking aspects of government (and most of those) live according to this. You may be incensed over this law or that law, but the vast majority of laws you simply don’t have the time to be bothered with. You have to get to getting on if anything (like putting food on the table) is to be accomplished. This is one reason environmentalists, anti-hunters, anti-loggers, anti-recreationists, have as much success as they do. They spend all their time and resources fighting to keep others from recreating, logging, hunting, using our natural resources. Whereas those we are fighting to keep the right to use those natural resources, tend to want to take time out of the fight to actually, you know, USE them. This is after all the whole reason they are fighting in the first place, if they spend all their time fighting without ever taking time to hunt, fish, log, recreate, etc., well the antis have won. Their whole agenda is to stop use, and if they force those they oppose to spend all the time protecting their rights, they don’t have any time to practice those rights, which is what the antis are attempting to accomplish in the first place.

            2. I think it will organize, but in pockets, not necessarily large scale. I’m quite willing to be wrong on that matter, though.

              1. If you think about it, to an extent, blogs like this are committees of correspondence. I am pretty sure if push came to shove and a call to action went out, people here would heed the call.

          3. Mine is pinging on Whig history of the runup to the Glorious Revolution, as if some strange conspiracy of historical reenactors were using Macaulay’s _History of England_ as a script. Rising controversy over the right of the executive to set aside laws and be above the law (“the dispensing power”)? Check. Indeed, controversy specifically about selectively setting aside laws about who gets to be a full citizen/official/elector/whatever? Check. National grouchiness about being slavish to foreign powers? Check.

            The who-gets-to-be-a-full-citizen issue for them was Catholics and Protestant dissenters from the Church of England, while for us it’s foreigners. But after that switcheroo, it’s a surprisingly close match, especially the way that both cases of executives setting aside the law are justified by appeal to universal principles (universal religious tolerance or how everyone has a right to be here) while flagrantly applying them selectively (to Catholics, not to Scottish dissenters, and only late in the game to English dissenters; to the US southern border only and even there not as an actual principle, but as a fuzzy set of judgment calls with abundant slack for the administration to exclude, e.g., some segment of immigrants suspected of sympathizing more with Pinochet than with Castro.) Even some of the little details correspond in peculiar ways, like the controversy over coy Catholicism of the chief executive vs. the controversy over coy birth certificate documentation of the chief executive.

            (Also a correspondence which is so strained that it’s silly, but is still close enough and unusual enough to be odd: how common is it in Anglosphere history for there a serious controversy at the chief executive level over who really gave birth?)

      2. Plus it is interesting to me in a non-haha sort of way that history is being eradicated or twisted in the schools. So the same mistakes can be made again as “new” mistakes.

        1. Oh, that’s a pet peeve of mine.
          When you’re in school here, a “history of the state” class was mandatory. There isn’t much substance to it. You’re mostly taught a bunch of trivia, like the oldest standing building in the state. (And a loooong paean to Chief Joseph.)
          If I thought of it at all, I just wrote it off as our being one of the youngest states, that had been settled barely a century before.
          I was 35 when I started learning some of the things that had been left out. Like three different Territorial Governors absconding with the public treasury. Or Martial Law being declared twice, complete with silver miners being forced to work at gunpoint. Or the assassination of a former territorial governor.who had ordered the last. Or the low-level civil war between the state government and the Wobblies that precipitated some of the last two items.

          1. In Gastonia, we not only had a North Carolina History class, Mrs. Ferguson signed us all up to be members of the N.C. History Society. A few years later, the class was eliminated because of racial and Civil War history issues.

          2. School textbooks always leave out the most interesting/revealing/outright scandalous stuff!
            Eh… that’s why I write HF … to try and sneak in the scandalous stories, in between the great indigestible slabs of political correctitude …

          3. Since I didn’t go to school here, I didn’t take that history class, but for some reason Washington and Oregon* also both have loooong rambles about Chief Joseph (about the most uninteresting famous Indian Chief out there IMHO) with very little else of substance.

            *I don’t have personal experience with Oregon schools, but know those who do.

            1. Because the guys writing our class histories are solidly stuck in the Noble Savage Magical Totem (pardon) phase.

              Our teacher seriously told us that they didn’t go to war or have slaves, the native tribes just “adopted” orphans from other tribes. (Sadly, I was too young and gobsmacked to say “yes, after wiping out their entire families, and they were adopted in the sense that the weak didn’t have too great of a time in the families they were born to” or something similar.)

              1. In The Terror Dream, Susan Falud maintained that women captured by tribes stayed voluntarily, thus showing how wonderfully wonderful the tribes. Even in one description she gave, of women fighting to stay after six months’ captivity, I noticed that I would have called it Stockholm Syndrome. And certainly for none of the rest did she exclude it. It seems never to have occurred to her.

        2. In high school, Capt. Sandler told us about a speech Lincoln made before he was president. It was to the effect that a people finding themselves under a government they cannot abide have not only a right but a duty to rebel. Funny how people’s attitudes change.

          1. You don’t have to go back that far. Dissent is the highest form of patriotism, as long as Republicans are in charge.

  5. Sadly, there’s a good deal of historical evidence that most people will bend a knee to tyranny.

    I want to comment specifically on foreign policy, though.
    The hard Left (of which Obama is clearly a member) has long desired the collapse of the Westphalian system. They don’t worry about what will result, because they have faith in Marx’s doctrine of historical inevitability.
    Viewed through this lens, much of Obama’s foreign policy makes sense.

    Like most Leftisit schemes, it’s an Underwear Gnome construction.:
    1) Destabilize society
    2) Revolution
    3) Utopia

    And like all Leftist schemes, it’s certain to end badly.

    1. Lamentably, many people only learn by failing very, very badly. Or as an old military mentor of mine used to say, “Sometimes, ya just gotta let ’em fall on their sword. Then you can pick ’em up, wipe off the blood, and ‘splain to them how they went wrong … and they just might pay attention, then.”

      1. In this case I’m thinking they may be left to writhe a while before being picked up.

    2. It’s a good thing you don’t need “most people”. You really only need about 5% of the population *committed*, and 20-25% willing to follow the 5%. While the vileprogs certainly have their 5% (mostly in all the right places, too, damn it – they own the media, the bureaucracy, education… and they’re using the so called War on Drugs to get hold of the cops. They don’t have the military for the most part, and they don’t have the “willing to follow” – their supporters aren’t willing to do anything that inconveniences them.

      On our side of the fence, our 5% isn’t coordinated (gee, the individualists don’t organize. Shocking, huh?) and our 20-25% is busy working its ass off to keep its collective head above water. When things hit the tipping point, that’s when our people will stop bailing and start going after the bastards who broke the damn dam in the first place.

      The rest… will mostly go with whatever seems to be winning.

      1. That may be true, but if “our” side was going to start it, It would have started when W. shut off the water to the farmers in Klamath, or when California shut off the water to the farmers of the central valley. (Heck, or when the federal government invoked the spotted owl to devastate the economies of three states.)

        Having the initiative is a force multiplier.

        1. Thing is, that wasn’t W doing it, or “they”– it was specific people or departments. In the Klamath case, everyone knew they were being idiots, and it was later shown to be corrupt idiots, though they haven’t paid… (relatives of the guy who shut down the water just HAPPENED to be ready to buy a lot of land)

          It’s going to have to be something non-deniable, that can’t be cloaked in good-intentions-bad-carrythrough.

          Internet is good for that. Lots of folks are hearing about the EPA abuses, and now the IRS ones.

        2. That comes down to – yet again – the individualists failing to organize. We’re rather good at that…

  6. “We are arguing about whether nations should have meaningful and enforceable borders… essentially, in both cases, whether the US has a right to exist.”

    I hadn’t thought about it this way. Does anyone think it might help to try and put this out there? Would other people arguing about the border or foreign policy start to realize they are calling into question whether the country has a right to exist?

    1. Many of them already proudly proclaim themselves “citizens of the world”, and wouldn’t even bat an eye.
      Heck, I’m sure you caught some of the comments that Independence Day was gauche, jingoistic, and dangerously nationalistic last month.

        1. I’ve pointed out that if there are no borders, their shouldn’t be any national government either, after all, if there are no borders, they can’t just enforce their laws anywhere. Seems like a natural outgrowth of the no borders argument to me; oddly enough those making the no borders argument don’t seem to agree.

          1. If there are no borders then how can any corporation be accused of being unpatriotic? After all, it isn’t as if corporations are people (we all know they are Soylent Green.)

            1. For that matter, when they seriously argue for “corporate loyalty oaths” …

              Have You Taken Your Obama Loyalty Oath?
              Or do you hate America?
              By David Harsanyi
              Jonathan Alter at the Daily Beast has an idea that will infuse the president’s “economic patriotism” rhetoric with some bite: Compel companies to take “loyalty oaths” to prove their patriotism.

              You may find this suggestion a little creepy, maybe even a little fascistic; but Alter says that “it’s time for red-blooded Americans to take matters into our own hands.”

              And by taking the matter into “our” hands, Alter means that President Obama would unilaterally bar any company that practices “inversion” – corporate merging with foreign firms to save on U.S. tax bills – from doing business with the federal government. Companies that follow the administration requirements will earn a government seal of approval. If you act “un-American” and fail to recognize your “real interests” and those of the United States – which are, naturally, indistinguishable from the president’s agenda – you will be shunned and your business punished.
              [MORE: http://thefederalist.com/2014/08/05/have-you-taken-your-obama-loyalty-oath/ ]

  7. I’ve been watching this election cycle develop with a great deal of interest. There are several “issues” that the Dems have used as winners in the past, that might not work today. In 2012. migration politics were a winner for the Dems. After the border problem exploded into national prominence a month ago, maybe not so much.

    War on Women? Only fires up the “base” this time around.

    “Racisim”? Considering where its coming from today I think it’s backfiring. Nothing irritates a moderate more than being told to “Park you’re White Privilege” {the new N word}.

    Second Ammendment? Notice that the first few shots by the libprogs have backfired? That the NRA and other pro-gun rights activists are being quiet at the moment? I think this issue will trump the others with an awful lot of voters this time around. In WA state, a fairly liberal state most of the time, there are 520k conceal carry permit holders, 100k women. Fire them up before the election on their gun-rights, you can bet an overwhelming number of them will vote that over any other issue.

    Personally, I decided several months ago to ignore all of the other issues. My thought on this is, protect the 2nd Ammendment this time, any other issue can be fixed later. {That pretty much means voting Republican}

    1. In WA state, a fairly liberal state most of the time, there are 520k conceal carry permit holders, 100k women.

      Not all of us on the dry side, or the sort that are “expected” in some way.

      *pats diaper bag*

      Always had a good reception from the other folks going in for their permits, even when I was dragging two tired kids and a baby….

      1. By “dry side,” do you mean teetotalers, dwellers in the Cascades’ rain shadow, or something else entirely?

        1. The right side of the state; grew up calling the left side “the wet side” or “the damp side.” (sound effects for the latter optional)

          1. It’s very obvious when driving across the state (or across Oregon, which is climatically similar.) You go from rainforest to a place called The Palouse, which is basically rolling hills grassland. It looks almost like a massive sand table, actually. Look up the Lake Missoula floods to see why; fascinating geology. (The Grand Canyon was carved over millions of years. The Columbia River Gorge was carved in as little as a few days.)

            I went to college in Spokane. The big joke is that you could tell when you got to Spokane County because there were suddenly trees. (Seriously, within five miles of the county line on I-90.)

            1. Grew up in Okanogan county.

              Where that record breaking fire is right now, actually, if you missed me losing my mind in the comments a few weeks back….

            2. Grew up on the West Side (what y’all call the ‘wet side’) now live in the Idaho Palouse. Well actually in the foothills, but within sight of the Palouse. While we called ourselves the West Side growing up, the East Side was called the Dry Side quite as much as it was called East. The Sane Side would actually possibly be a better descriptor, and one I have heard being used increasingly the last few years.

              1. And my earlier question is answered.

                If you haven’t already tried it, Camas Prairie’s hot spiced wine is darned good. (Or at least it used to be. Haven’t been up that way for a number of years, and don’t know the new owners.)

              2. Huh. I grew up on the “west side” too. Funny thing, somewhere along the 80’s we started calling this area the Northwest. The eastern side of the mountains is still the Dry Side. South of the Columbia is just Oregon. Climates might be similar, but there are no rattlesnakes north of the Columbia, west of the Cascades. And as “Liberal” as this area is, there are an awful lot of gun owners.

          2. Well, it is true that summer doesn’t officially start on this side of the mountains until July 18, but most summers it runs through September and into October.

            I’d rather have a rainy winter than a snowy one. I’ll live with what we have. Funny thing, as “wet” as this area is supposed to be, NYC has more rain per year than we do. I believe Chicago and Detroit do too, as well as most of the South……

            1. I don’t know, I lived in Forks for a few years, not sure about NYC annual rainfall, but doubt it exceeds Forks’. Notice all those cities you mention are close to large bodies of water they are getting their weather coming off of, similar to the coasts of Washington and Oregon. (and similar latitudes also)

  8. Just read Atlas Shrugged for the first time last weekend, Really, really wishing I’d read it during a different administration.

    1. Go read Ringo’s “Last Centurion” then. You (we) have 2 years to make it not happen

  9. “. . . being destroyed by unemployment and a poor economy . . . ”

    A rather passive hope. While we wait for them to wake and smell the reality, a few more active steps are in order. We have to clean up the voting. We have to retake education.

    As long as dead people, hundreds of people registered as living at a vacant lot, and mail-in and early voting by imposters is running rampant, it won’t matter how many people wake up.

    And note I didn’t say retake the public schools. Homeschooling and private schools and getting rid of federal mandates and curriculum is the best bet, IMO.

    1. Yup. I noticed a new charter high school is opening in the city near me. That makes three, plus three private high schools and nine or ten charter and private grade schools and middle schools. Plus a thriving homeschool ecosystem.

  10. Claps.

    Some of the analytical space is new to me.

    It has some areas of agreement with certain other models and intuitions.

    I dunno if it assumes too much about the responsible decision makers being sane and rational enough to match their rhetoric well to what they intend; I may just be deceiving myself.

  11. Okay, this is totally off topic, but has anyone else seen or visited http://imperium.ahlfeldt.se/
    The Digital Atlas of the Roman Imperium.

    We are geeks and nerds all, and we all love finding new information sources. Looks like someone spent some time on this.
    Sarah, it might be a help for the ‘next’ Roman history story you do.
    D&R in Texas!

  12. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter. Sooner or later, the heuristics will run up against the reality experienced by individuals. A state that grows unchecked, becomes more obtrusive without bounds, will eventually dispel the glamour it casts over those it enslaves.

    It’s unsettling, for me, to realize that there is still some way to go in the dispelling of the glamour. Even having some understanding of the various mechanisms that perpetuate the glamour, I’m frustrated by its durability.

    Slightly sideways: I think Pam Uphoff has a handle on the heart, in taking back education. This is critical, for things well beyond politics. Which is why while I’m terribly fond of homeschooling, I think we have to eliminate the public school scourge to save our culture and ourselves.

    1. Just think of how Machiavelli must have felt. Going through all the trouble of telling everyone how they were being manipulated, only to have the populace ignore it, and those in positions of authority use his work as an instruction manual.

  13. In the old saw about boiling a frog it is not the metaphor but its endpoint that is mistaken. While people will tolerate an amazing amount without responding, they will not tolerate an infinite amount.

    So the old saw’s problem is that it’s got nothing to do with reality?
    You drop a frog into boiling water, he dies; you put him in a pot and slowly heat it… and he jumps out.

    1. You shoot him with a 22 first, and he may still be crawling around with a bullet through the brain, but he will stay in either pot.

    2. Or you’re Glenn Beck, and you throw a plastic frog in a pot, and animal rights weenies freak out as if you had done it to a real one.

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