Blog of the Month: Slate Star Codex

Blogs don’t usually promote other blogs, but in the vast array of blogs, the blogosphere, or perhaps even larger than that, the multi-blogosphere, there are not a lot of blogs that are worth reading. Most of them parrots the day’s conventional wisdom, or the particular angle of the many competing ideologies; copied and repeated endlessly over and over.  If you read one anti PIV feminist blog, or “Obama is a Muslim” blog post, you might as well have read 10,000 of them.

So when you come across one that actually educates a bit, you take notice.  So from following link to link to link, I came across Slate Star Codex.  The writer, “Scott S Alexander” keeps his real identity secret (don’t we all?) but is a doctor who apparently has more time on his hands than a doctor should to generate such wordy, well researched posts. Politically, he seems vaguely centrist, which, when broken down to its components, means liberal.  However he’s liberal who actually seems to have educated himself on all things rightward.

As I’ve noted previously, that’s exceedingly rare.  So when I read his critique of Neo-Reactionary thought in his post, Reactionary Philosophy in an Enormous Planet Sized Nutshell, I was blown away by the comprehensive depth and broad based understanding of the topic that was shown.  It was a better summary of Neo-Reaction than the Neo-Reactionaries have been able to produce.

So although impressed, I didn’t think much more about it, until I came across another link to the blog in which he broke down the major differences of left and right that probably comes as close to providing a unified field theory of the roots of the right and left as anything I’ve read.  In his post A Thrive/Survive Theory of the Political Spectrum, he overlaps right and left strategies on top of one of my favorite teaching tools, the Zombie Apocalypse.

Imagine the philosophical heights Socrates might have reached had he had the Zombie Apocalypse as a model for explaining various ideas?

Anyway, I recommend this blog.  I learn something every time I read it.  I wish that was the case with everything else I read.

 

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Crusades VS ISIS: What’s the difference?

The President kicked up quite a ruckus last week during the National Pray Breakfast when in his remarks he compared ISIL to the Crusades. 

No really.  First the warm up:

But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon.  From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it.  We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism  — terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions. 

We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.

So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?

So he is clearly putting his remarks in context with events that are occurring now.  But then, the swerve:

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.  And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.  Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation. 

So all of you people who are part of the coalition that’s fighting the Islamic State, hey, you’re not so great.  You are really as bad as the people you’re bombing.

Some pep talk huh?

I have to admit, I do find that mindboggling. Moral relativism is for academics and unemployed hipsters, not the President. The only reason to try to compare ISIS today with the Crusades centuries ago is to excuse ISIS. In the same week that a Jordanian pilot was burned alive by ISIS, the President feels the need to make a comparison with the Crusades? How does that help the coalition that he ostensibly leads?  Can you imagine FDR making the same comparisons with Hitler’s Germany?

“Troops, before you storm the beaches of Normandy, risking your lives to liberate France, just remember, you are no better than the people you are fighting.  Sure the Nazi’s are killing and enslaving people, but what do you think our country has done?  Massacred Indians enslaved Africans.  Really, we’re no better than the people I’m ordering you to kill.  So get to it!”

Basically the President is saying his side is no better than their side.

At a time in which the insane overreach of the Islamic State has lead to an opportunity to unify the Middle East against the IS, the President blew a chance to make it clear that the west was going to stand with Muslims and others who wished to support it against barbarians.  Instead he brought up the Islamist’s favorite go-to scare story about the West, the Crusades, and condemned his own side for thinking it was better than they were.

 

 

 

Scott Walker Peaking Too Early?

Scott Walker’s “surprise” win of the Kansas Straw Poll may be a shock to the establishment, but its zero surprise to me. Walker’s win has generated a flurry of articles on Walker as well as an appearance on This Week. But as far back as a year ago, I predicted Walker would probably be the best all around choice for the 2016 Republican primary process. He’s a governor of a purple/blue State who rose to national prominence battling the budget, pension reform, and unions.  He is attractive to both establishment types for a solid record of actually winning, and grass roots types for the ability to take on and wrestle to the ground left leaning special interests; something that’s not seen much these days.Scott Walker

Walker’s national prominence came about with his fight with Wisconsin public sector unions.  I wrote about the skirmish back in 2011 and thought at the time that Walker’s victory could have spelled the beginning of the end for public sector unions.  Alas, so far that victory has remained just Walker’s.   But the enmity he earned from both local and national Democrats and the left in general lead to a recall election, which Walker won handily.

By Republican standards, Walker is a stand out success story.  He battled the left and rather than backing down under a barrage of negative press, which Republicans traditionally do, Walker stuck to his guns and won a pretty substantial victory. Compare that to Jeb Bush, who’s sat out the various political battles since the 1990’s and now expects to ride in on a golden, donor financed chariot to be crowned the nominee based on the divine right of Bushes.

The Republicans do have a deep bench, at least compared to the Democrats.  In fact the Democrat’s bench consists of one person, Hillary Clinton.  If she gets sick, the Dems are in trouble for 2016. But the Republican’s bench consists of establishment types that are anathema to the base of the party, like Jeb Bush, and social conservative types that are anathema to the establishment like Mike Huckabee. The converged area on the Venn diagram of candidates that both the base and establishment can live with is almost as limited as the Democrats presidential bench.

Walker’s major problem with the base is his immigration position.  Walker has tried to be cagey and hold every position on the issue at once.  He has both supported a path to citizenship and made vague comments about fixing the system.”  However the fixing doesn’t seem to include border security or a wall.  In other words, he’s a pro amnesty open borders type, which should please the establishment wing.  Although I would love to make amnesty a disqualifier, the fact is there are no, I mean zero commonly mentioned Republican potential 2016 candidates that oppose amnesty.

In any case if Walker does enter the race, he’ll have to quit being cagy about immigration and speak directly to the issue.

But immigration isn’t even his biggest problem yet.  When I made my prediction on Walker last year, it was based on the idea that the talking heads and establishment media wouldn’t pay any attention to Walker until at least the Iowa Caucuses. But the results of the Kansas straw poll show that plenty of other Republicans were thinking along the same lines as I was.  The media has rediscovered Walker this week and they will remember in short order that they despise him. Walker is like Sarah Palin and Allen West combined, with a little Tom DeLay sprinkled on top. It’s too bad he couldn’t have flown under the radar a while longer, but if there is one Republican who knows how to fight back, it’s Scott Walker.