Sunday, May 24, 2015

The rich will burn with us

D.C. Mansion Murders: Who Is Suspect Daron Dylon Wint?

So who is the man accused of torturing and killing three family members and their housekeeper? Authorities say the slayings weren't random: Wint previously worked for Savopoulos' company, American Iron Works. "We do believe there is a connection between this suspect in this case through the business," Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Thursday.

Police haven't revealed what the motive behind the murders might be, but it appears that the four were killed shortly after $40,000 in cash was delivered to the house in the upscale Woodley Park neighborhood. That money is now missing.

Born in Guyana, Wint immigrated to the U.S. in 2000 and enlisted in the Marines shortly afterward, attending boot camp on Parris Island, South Carolina, for two months from late July to late September in 2001.

"He never made it through boot camp," a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps tells PEOPLE. "He would not be considered a former Marine in the sense that he did not earn his globe and anchor."

The devil you know

Vox Popoli wraps it up, in characteristically succinct style:
There are more reports of ISIS atrocities in Syria:
Islamic State militants have executed at least 400 mostly women and children in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra. Eye-witnesses have reported the streets are strewn with bodies – the latest victims of the Islamic State's unrelenting savagery - on the same day photographs of captured Syrian soldiers have emerged.

It follows the killing of nearly 300 pro-government troops two days after they captured the city, now symbolised by a black ISIS flag flying above an ancient citadel.
However, keep in mind that false reports of atrocities have been used to whip up support for war for centuries. That doesn't mean the reports are inaccurate, particularly in the electronic age when it's easier to document events, but it's important not to rush to judgment.

In my opinion, there is no reason to even contemplate military intervention in the Islamic world as long as Muslims reside in the West. This the third great wave of Islamic expansion of a form that predates the Westphalian system and any reaction that is based on post-Westphalian principles is bound to fail. A significant percentage of Muslims in the West openly sympathize with ISIS, and perhaps more importantly, it was Western governments that made the Caliphate possible:
A declassified secret US government document obtained by the conservative public interest law firm Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad. The document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, and that these “supporting powers” desired the emergence of a “Salafist Principality” in Syria to “isolate the Syrian regime.”
Yet another strike against the principle of foreign intervention. The devil you don't know is often considerably worse than the one you are trying to cast out.

I am quoting Vox's post in full. Hyperlinks at the OP.

What is happening in the Middle East now are consequences of British and French interventions in their turn, almost a century ago. A century hence, and historians will be writing about the continuing consequences of the interventions by the country formerly known as the USA.

Prayers for the martyrs of Christ and for all innocents, but the first order of business must be, do no harm. The violence should be quarantined and the Middle East left to sort this out on their own.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I'm right, again

A little over ten years ago, my MSN homepage would trot out a headline every few weeks that said, "[Top/X-In-Command/Key] Al-Qaeda Leader Killed." Now that the Dar-Al-Islam is the latest hobgoblin, the US government and its obliging press corps are trotting out the same old narrative:

When this flashed up on the TV screen over the weekend, I told the people I was with that it didn't matter; there would be another raid, another "key" leader killed by our hugely expensive military. Until CNN's cameramen are on the ground with friendlies reporting on the rollback of ISIS forces into the Iraqi desert, this does not matter. And sure enough:
The Iraqi city of Ramadi has fallen to Islamic State (IS) after government forces abandoned their positions, officials say.

The police and military made a chaotic retreat after days of intense fighting...*

A statement purportedly from IS said its fighters had "purged the entire city". It said IS had taken the 8th Brigade army base, along with tanks and missile launchers left behind by troops.(BBC News).
Also, key leader not so key: "Doubt cast over seniority of Isis leader killed by US special forces in Syria raid." [Also, idiots, it's "ISIS" or "Dar Al Islam" or "DAISH" as the Middle Easterners colloquially call it, not the ancient Egyptian deity.]

* - The cops ain't coming, folks.

Friday, May 8, 2015

In case this comment doesn't get published

at Roads From Emmaus, I'm reproducing it here:
Some questions:

What approach should we take to evangelizing our Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Catholic and Protestant neighbors? Most people would say they respect others' heritage and don't broach such topics, leaving it to the working of the Spirit and the individuals. Is this approach wrong?

What utility is there to evangelism in a country where Muslims come to be good Muslims?

Are any Orthodox hierarchs or clergy exhorting their flocks to have large families, and assuring them that if they do, the Church will be there for them? There seems to be a dearth of discussion on the Baptismal font as a source of new Christians. Has anybody analyzed critically whether we'd add more to the ranks of the faithful by providing social and material support to our young people to encourage them to marry and have children, rather than tripping over the Catholic and Protestant missions trying to find some purported un-evangelized Third World village?

Via Trifon.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When The Happening happens

Longtime friend of the blog Bert wants a post on Baltimore, so here it is.

From my Twitter feed:

Police are typically older and hence more risk-averse than the average military cannon fodder. They just want to finish the day in one piece and return to their families. Every day on the job is one day closer and a few more dollars towards a vested pension. If they're far enough along and know the system, they can translate that rioter's thrown brick into a solid retirement.

If I were on a skirmish line in full riot gear, eyeball to eyeball with the savages, you can bet I wouldn't be moving a muscle when the projectiles start flying. Hell, I'd be praying for something that draws just enough blood for all those pictures I'm going to take in the hospital and wave around at my disability hearing. See y'all suckers on the Florida Gulf Coast, and I'll be taking up tarpon fishing.

When the civil order really and truly breaks down, the police all leave to protect their families.

Very, very few people--social democrats, conservatives or libertarians--actually get this.

Ron Paul's strangely pedestrian rant

One of the great ironies of American politics is that most politicians who talk about helping the middle class support policies that, by expanding the welfare-warfare state, are harmful to middle-class Americans. Eliminating the welfare-warfare state would benefit middle-class Americans by freeing them from exorbitant federal taxes, including the Federal Reserve’s inflation tax.

Politicians serious about helping middle-class Americans should allow individuals to opt out of Social Security and Medicare by not having to pay payroll taxes if they agree to never accept federal retirement or health care benefits. Individuals are quite capable of meeting their own unique retirement and health care needs if the government stops forcing them into one-size-fits-all plans.

Middle-class families with college-age children would benefit if government got out of the student loan business. Government involvement in higher education is the main reason tuition is skyrocketing and so many Americans are graduating with huge student loan debts. College graduates entering the job market would certainly benefit if Congress stopped imposing destructive regulations and taxes on the economy.

The article reads as if a plucky Ron Paul Institute intern put together some basic libertarian talking points to post on the Institute's homepage only to have her crabby, octogenarian boss grab the copy and scratch out 'young people' and scribble in 'middle-class Americans' for publication in his mimeographed newsletter.

Contrary to Dr. Paul's jeremiad, Social Security and Medicare have become one of the few effectively populist programs keeping the elder-middle class afloat. They can evade the best efforts of the Federal Reserve to penalize their more prudential savings habits, as pointed out by the capable James Howard Kunstler here. But the Ron Paul Institute completely misses this angle in order to push its pure, theoretical, free-market dogma, on the unspoken assumption that corporate actors are immune to the same temptations as those of State actors.

I've pointed out here and herehow libertarian writers (among others) do backflips to avoid making actual observations in real time or drawing real-life conclusions from common experience. The commenters at the OP point out Dr. Paul's most hilariously obvious omission: the government's unrestrained immigration and deliberate social atomization. Libertarians, it seems, have their own sacrosanct Narratives, as Dr. Paul blithely criticizes one of the few government programs which allows the serfs on the tax farm to put some of that money back in their own pockets.

What's intriguing to me is how all the democratic, conservative and libertarian Narratives are now converging around the same set of universalist ideals: diversity is a good, in and of itself; culture is just individual preference, to the extent it exists at all; multi-national business entities are tempered by pure competition and won't engage in self-aggrandizing behavior.

It's almost as if a single elite stratum is funding all the various political outlets in this byzantine scheme to set the terms of the debate, you know?

Nah, can't be.

Most Beautiful Makeup, 2015

What's the average age of People Magazine's readers at this point: 55, 65? Maybe 70?

Sandra Bullock is 50 years old. They have airbrushed one-eighth of an inch of makeup to her face. Also, real hair doesn't do that.

Readers will recall 2013's perimenopausal vixen.

Prediction: Bruce Jenner will be named People Magazine's 'Most Beautiful Woman' in 2016.