Cold War Debates

I listened to the Tom Woods Show interview with Kevin Gutzman today.  It was an interesting interview.  I have read a few books by Professor Gutzman which were excellent, and he’s clearly a much smarter person than I am.

But I need to take issue with some debate they had over the Cold War and Vietnam.  Gutzman is a conservative and defends both.  His argument seemed to boil down to a few points:

  1. If the US hadn’t “fought” the Cold War the Soviet Union would probably still be around today.
  2. South Vietnam would still be an independent country if it wasn’t for Watergate weakening Nixon and emboldening anti-war Democrats who abandoned them.
  3. South Korea and West Germany would have fallen to the Soviets if the US had abandoned them like they did Vietnam.

Although it’s impossible to know how history would have played out if American politicians had acted differently, I don’t necessarily think Gutzman is wrong about most of this.  But I still have a major issue with this line of thinking.

On point one, it seems entirely plausible that Reagan’s military buildup and SDI initiative hastened the collapse of the Soviet Empire.  But it’s not an argument to say that the Cold War was worth it because Russia now has a different economic and governmental system.  If Vladimir Putting called himself General Secretary instead of President would that mean I’m in danger all of a sudden?  Like many conservatives that came of age in that era he just takes it for granted that the USSR was automatically an existential threat to Americans and our way of life without having to actually justify it.

On point two, it’s basically a big fat who cares.  I’m sure the people of South Vietnam would have been better off if they hadn’t lived under communism all these years.  But they did, and nothing changed in America as a result.  However, the war itself led to great upheaval and an undermining of many of the values conservatives are supposed to care about.  So even if “we” had won, why would that matter to people who lived in the USA in 1964 who had never heard of Vietnam until their government invaded it?  Conservatives have no problem with people living under police states or dictatorships until the governments call themselves communists or Islamic.  Then all of a sudden it’s a moral issue or a threat to the world or something.

On point three, I’d have to argue that we, as Americans, would have been better off if our government hadn’t intervened to keep these half-nations “free.”  If South Korea had fallen to the damn commies, they wouldn’t be as prosperous as they are today.  But look what happened in Vietnam.  Maybe a united Communist Korea would have evolved more like Vietnam and the North wouldn’t be the horrible police state murder factory it is today.  And at any rate, from an American point of view, we wouldn’t continue to have 30,000 soldiers there acting as a human sacrifice to trigger a war should North Korea ever decide to invade South Korea.

As for West Germany, it’s basically the same argument as Korea.  But I would also say I have my doubts that a United Germany could have been held in check as a Soviet Satellite for forty years.  So maybe not dividing it up after WWII would have hastened the end of the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe had the Soviets insisted on occupying the whole thing.  And if they didn’t try to occupy the whole thing, then the US didn’t need to defend them anyway  We’ll never know what would have nappened.  We do know, however, that the US wouldn’t have an incredibly expensive and permanent military beaurocracy in Europe that has far outlived its intended purpose if we hadn’t created it to defend West Germany in the first place.

And as a final argument against any of this meddling, I’d like to point out the following:

  1. The USA didn’t have to enter WWI.  There was absolutely no threat to North America as a result of the hostilities taking place in Europe in 1917
  2. Because the USA entered WWI, the allies didn’t have to reach a peace agreement with Germany, and Russia continued the unpopular war.  This allowed the communists, with the help of Germany, to take power and create the Soviet Union in the first place.
  3. It also allowed France and Britain to win a decisive victory and impose a harsh peace on defeated Germany.  This lead to economic chaos in Germany and a feeling of injustice that allowed the Nazis to take power.
  4. So US intervention in WWI lead directly to the circumstances that created WWII.
  5. The USA insisted on unconditional surrender in WWII so that the German government could not make peace without signing their own death warrants.
  6. The Soviet Union took over Eastern Europe and suddenly became a “threat” to the USA because they won an unconditional surrender from Germany in WWII (with the help of the USA).
  7. I’ll skip over all the bad things that happened during the cold war because I discussed some of them earlier in this post, but obviously it cost a lot of lives and money.
  8. To fight the evil commies the USA supported Arab terrorists in Afghanistan who were fighting the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.
  9. Those same Arabs then turned on the USA over our government’s Middle East policy, itself a relic of the Cold War power struggle for resources.  They bombed the World Trade Enter in New York City.
  10. The Bush regime then launched the never ending Terror War that is still going on today.

No matter what motivations or reasoning anyone uses for an aggressive or militaristic foreign policy, it always leads to unintended consequences that then lead to calls for further interventions to counteract those consequences.  It never ends.  Don’t go to war (or fund a war) unless you are under a direct physical threat to your homeland.  It’s never worth it.  It never makes things better.

Black Panther 3/5 Stars

I saw Black Panther over the weekend.  It’s a good comic book movie, but not as good as the hype would suggest.

One positive is it works as a stand alone movie.  It’s not just setting up the next Avengers or anything like that.

I thought the jokes were incredibly lame.  Marvel movies usually have mildly amusing humor.  Black Panther attempts that, but it really falls flat.  I’m having trouble remembering a specific one liner, but needless to say, I did not laugh once.

It’s not some hardcore anti-white movie.  In fact the plot is centered around a black villain wanting to steal the Black Panther’s advanced weaponry and give it to blacks around the world to use against their “oppressors” which would presumably include a lot of whites.  The hero, the Black Panther, fights to stop this.

There are only two white characters.  One is a bad guy who gets outsmarted and murdered by the black villain.  The other is a CIA agent and ally of the Black Panther.  I guess this is an important character from the comics so they felt compelled to insert him in this movie, but he really adds nothing.

There is also a debate about whether the Black Panther’s country, Wakanda, should allow in refugees (they currently don’t) or share its hidden technology with the rest of the world.  Interestingly the Black Panther makes some solid arguments about refugees “bringing their problems with them” and “threatening their way of life.”  I guess the audience is probably supposed to reject this way of thinking, but it’s not entirely clear.

The refugee issue never gets resolved, but after the villains are defeated, the Black Panther (who is also King of Wakanda) decides to open an outreach center in a poor black Oakland, CA neighborhood to share their scientific prowess peacefully.  I guess we’ll have to wait for the sequel to see how that plays out, but sounds like a bad idea to me.  Their science is based on their having access to some magical mineral called “vibranium” that no one else knows about.  So any outreach would mean giving outsiders access to this stuff which is almost certainly going to lead to its further weaponization by some villain in the sequel.

Anyway, worth checking out, but let’s not get carried away and pretend this is some epic masterpiece.

Coolest kid in the world

This is one of the greatest things I’ve ever read.  This kid hacked all the top US spooks a couple years ago, harassed them and their families, and proved that the trillion dollar intelligence apparatus used to spy on the world and keep the US Deep State in power can be hacked by a teenager from his bedroom.

Free Kane Gamble!  And as Lew Rockwell says, Give him a fucking medal!

Why is Baltimore violent?

Here is an interesting article about rising violent crime in Baltimore and Chicago.  Really only certain neighborhoods in Chicago.  It blames poverty, lack of policing (the Ferguson effect), and a surge in demand from suburban white people for drugs.

I hate to break it to the author, but Baltimore and these Chicago neighborhoods were not great places prior to the shooting in Ferguson.  There may have been slightly less murders and gunshots, but these were not safe or desirable places to live.

Options to significantly reduce violence are as follows:

  1. Spend an insane amount of money on cops so there’s one on every block and they’re constantly harassing anybody who stops at a corner or loiters in front of a building.  But this could lead to riots eventually, and may require raising taxes on businesses or the few non-violent neighborhoods to the point where you drive the remaining productive people out of the cities.
  2. Legalize drugs.  This is the main economic activity for the gangs that control these areas through violence.  Let people buy drugs at local convenience stores, and the gangs lose their main reason for existing and their main motivation for shooting rival gang members.  Nobody gets shot over the right to sell Budweiser on a specific street corner.

But keep in mind neither of these proposals will turn Baltimore or Chicago’s South Side into nice places.  They will still be violent areas because a lot of the local residents are violent anti-social people.  They will, however, be less violent (although number 1 is probably only a short term solution while number 2 could have a real lasting impact.)

As far as alleviating poverty, that’s a bunch of garbage.  There are plenty of poor people who don’t shoot each other.  If you think giving everybody in Baltimore a few thousand bucks is going to solve anything you’re an idiot or a Democrat.

There is one full proof method to getting rid of violence in these areas.  Convince rich people to move there and gentrify the neighborhoods.  Driving up the rent and getting rid of section 8 housing will turn these into much nicer places.  Of course that’s only because the existing residents will be forced to move and turn some other city or town into a violent cesspool of crime.  Kind of like what happened to Ferguson, Missouri.

Predictions on Trump

The Dilbert guy brags about his Trump predictions here.  He’s usually an interesting read so let’s see how I did.

Trump will never win the GOP nomination. I definitely thought that initially.  I didn’t even really think he was seriously trying.  Although I did start to realize he would probably win around the time Jeb Bush totally fizzled out.  I never though Cruz or Rubio really had a shot.

Trump will never win the presidency. Honestly, I figured most states that were close would just rig the elections and say Hillary won.  I appear to have been wrong (unless of course that happened and Trump would have won by a landslide without it).

Stocks will drop if Trump is elected. I predicted that the Fed would raise rates and tank the economy if Trump was elected.  But I specifically said they would wait until later in his second term so there wouldn’t be time for a recovery prior to the 2020 campaign.  So this could still come true.  Not sure whether it will or not, but the jury is still out.

President Trump will deport ten million illegal immigrants. I never thought this would be possible or that any president, no matter who they are, would have the political courage to attempt it.  I never advocated it either.  My preference on immigration is not to round up as many people as possible and start checking their papers.  I simply want to let far less people into this country moving forward.  Rounding up illegal immigrants en masse and deporting them while letting millions immigrate legally is pointless.

Trump will be gone (impeached, jailed, or quit) by end of 2017. I thought this was a possibility, but never predicted it would happen by the end of 2017.  Seeing how the Russia nonsense has produced absolutely nothing so far that can touch Trump, my best guess he will make it through his first term.  It is hard to predict, however. I’ve never seen the “Deep State” so vociferously opposed to a politician before.  You’d probably have to go back to Nixon’s peace with China and Watergate to see anything remotely like it.

Trump’s immigration ban on several Muslim countries will be found unconstitutional. I never predicted this. I know there are some Left-wing activists posing as Supreme Court Justices these days, but there aren’t five that are that far out there. Can anybody point to the part of the Constitution that says the government is forbidden from controlling who enters the country?

Trump colluded with Russia, and that’s a crime. Anyone who’s bothered to look into this at all and thinks it’s true is delusional. It was obvious to me from the start this was all complete garbage.

Trump obstructed justice (a crime) by firing Comey. Yeah, it’s illegal for the president to fire someone.  This is just partisan nonsense.

Trump’s skills as a “con man” might get him elected but it won’t transfer into doing the job of president. Hard to really judge this.  Every candidate for president is a “con man” in the sense they are lying to get votes.  Did Obama con the country when the said “you can keep your doctor” and that Obamacare would save money and people’s premiums would go down?  I’ve also never taken such a superficial view of the presidency to where part of “doing the job” is reading someone else’s speech on a teleprompter and looking good on TV.  So I didn’t buy into the idea that Obama, or Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan were doing the job of president so well because they looked good on TV.  At least, that’s not what the office of the president was designed to do.

Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will cause huge problems. This decision has caused “huge problems” in other parts of the world and in my opinion, for no good reason.  But to say it’s really affected average Americans, at least so far, would be incorrect.  But then again, it just happened.  This is the type of thing that leads to blowback.

Trump’s tweeting will cause huge problems. I never thought it would cause Trump any huge problems. The press was going to do their best to destroy him no matter what so why not talk straight to his base via Twitter.

GOP will never embrace Trump. I definitely thought that.  But this one is debatable at best. Has the GOP really “embraced” Trump?  He got his tax bill passed, but tax cuts are religion among the Paul Ryans of the world.  Let’s see if they embrace him when he wants to build a wall or actually improve relations with Russia.

Trump will get nothing important done. This is a rather vague statement, but unless he was forced to resign somehow, it would be absurd to say he would get nothing “important” done.  However, whether it would be good or bad is a different story.  Obama got important things done in his first two years but they were all horrible.  (Then he did one good thing in his second term – the Iran deal).

Trump will not work effectively with leaders of other countries. The fact that he wasn’t a knee jerk “Putin-is-Hitler” ideologue made me think he would work effectively with foreign leaders in a way impossible for a neocon/liberal interventionist.  

GOP senators will vote against GOP priorities because of President Trump’s mean tweets. Not sure it’s because of his tweets, but with the exception of the tax cuts there have been plenty of senators that have voted against or held up bills that Trump supports. Sometimes with good cause.

Trump will not nominate qualified judges to the Supreme Court. I had slightly more faith in Trump on this issue than basically any other candidate that ran in 2016, save Rand Paul.

Trump is incompetent. Whatever that means I never said it.

Presidential approval polls are a good predictor of how a president will perform. I’ve never put much stock in approval polls.  I don’t necessarily believe they’re accurate in the first place.

The military won’t follow Trump’s orders. The average soldier will blindly do whatever their commanding officer orders.  Whether or not the generals would follow Trump’s orders depends at least somewhat on what those orders are.  It would be interesting to see what would happen if he did anything on the extreme ends.  If he said to close all the overseas bases and bring the troops home, would they actually do it?  On the other end of the spectrum, if he told them to invade China or something crazy would they do that?  Who knows, but I doubt he’ll order them to do anything that they would oppose enough to disobey, and I never predicted he would.

GDP will never stay above 3%. I would never predict that because it’s too easy for the government to manipulate the number.

Trump’s best friend locks up teenage girl for slapping someone

Trump’s (and really, all Americans’) master, Benjamin Netanyahu arrested and continues to jail a sixteen year old girl for slapping and pushing some Israeli soldiers who were trespassing on her family’s property.

Let’s give him another couple billion. He needs it to protect his poor, innocent, weak, government from evil little girls.

FBI foils terror plot in San Fransisco?

Did the Feds take a break from trying to overthrow Trump and actually stop a crime from happening?  Doubtful.  This article doesn’t give much info, but my guess is this whole thing was an FBI setup.  They most likely egged this idiot on, gave him phony explosives, and then arrested him claiming to be heroes.  That’s normally how these “investigations” go.  Actual terrorist attacks don’t get foiled so easily.  I’m not aware of the FBI ever stopping someone unless they were the ones planning it.

Can’t say I feel sorry for this guy though:

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Good for Rand Paul

He’s trying to block some lawyer for the merchants-of-death from being appointed as Assistant Attorney General over privacy concerns.  Seems Trump’s nominee is anti-4th amendment and would be in a position to issue warrants to allow even more mass surveillance of innocent people.

This quote in favor of the nominee and mass spying in general really gets me:

“I think it should be a top priority, especially with all that’s occurring in the national security space right now, to have someone senior and approved by the Senate filling such an important role,” – Josh Geltzer, formerly a lawyer in the front office of the National Security Division

I’m so sick of this non-argument that “right now” at this very instant, the world is so dangerous that we have to be spied on twenty-four hours a day to protect us from the evil Emanuel Goldstein or Osama Bin Laden or ISIS or North Korea or Iran or Putin or whatever Cable News thinks I should be scared of.  You see in the past people managed to survive without mass surveillance, but that’s because everybody everywhere was super peaceful and there was never any turmoil anywhere in the world.  Not like today.

Trump doubles down on stupid Jerusalem decision

128 Nations are against moving the Capital of Israel to Jerusalem.  Now I don’t care who lives in Jerusalem or where the Israeli government decides to put its headquarters.  And I’m all for cutting off aid to the UN.

But of all the things to take a stand on, why is the location of the US Embassy in some tiny country in Asia worth upsetting the vast majority of the world’s governments?  Explain how this benefits average Americans?  Wasn’t that supposed to be the whole point of a Trump presidency?  America first?  He was supposed to stop putting the interests of globalists, neocons, international banksters, etc. before those of normal, everyday American citizens.  So why is he making his biggest foreign policy initiative a totally symbolic move designed to pander to Sheldon Adelson and Bill Kristol while angering the entire Muslim world and just about all of Europe?

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What happened to America First?

Explain to me how moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem benefits the average American citizen in any way. I can see how it could benefit war profiteers and a lot of American Israeli-Firsters might like it, but what is that, about 0.1% of the US population? So I’m not seeing much benefit, but I am seeing some serious downsides:

  1. The cost of moving the embassy.  How many hundreds of millions of taxpayer/inflationary dollars will it cost to move the perfectly good embassy that already exists in Tel Aviv?
  2. The cost of securing the new embassy in a much more dangerous place?  How many millions or billions in additional security will be flushed down the toilet so Trump can make our Israeli masters happy? Not to mention the increased risk to US diplomats if the security fails.
  3. Inflaming tensions all over the Middle East.  This has a number or potential repercussions:
    1. Makes our corrupt politicians hand over even more of our money to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, etc. to subsidize their militaries that will be stressed trying to put down possible riots
    2. Americans (or any Westerners really) trying to do any business in Middle Eastern countries will now be even bigger targets for Muslim violence.
    3. Blowback. Possible terror attacks on the home front.  Not only does this kill or injure random Americans who probably don’t give a shit about Israel, it leads to possible new overseas wars and increased surveillance/reduction in liberties here at home.

Now the upsides for non-Neocons and non-merchants of death:

……..

I’ll have to get back to you if I think of anything.

So anyway Trump, thanks for cutting my taxes, but stop sucking up to Netanyahu and put America First.

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