I Don’t Agree with Everything Adolf Hitler Said, But…

Note: This is the final installment of a three part series related to Google’s recent firing of James Damore. You can read part I here and part II here.

By the looks of things, you have fallen for my clickbait headline. I snared you, hooked you, and stuck you to a sheet of fly paper. Way to go, me!

A more appropriate title to this entry would have been “No One Agrees with Everyone about Everything,” but it would have been less likely to get your attention. I apologize for my deceitfulness, but not for anything else you’re about to read.

I’d also like to mention that this headline was planned at least a day or two before the “Neo-Nazi” march in Charlottesville, and it is purely coincidence that Nazism is one of the themes of this article. I’ve tricked you once and sometimes write satire, but that is the truth.

The immediate reaction to Google’s firing of James Damore has been depressing. While Conservatives, Libertarians, and Liberals (as in actual Liberals, not the ones I am trying to cure) generally appreciated the memo for what it truly argued, the left and the mainstream media have blatantly and, I suspect, sometimes intentionally misrepresented what Damore was attempting to say. The pro-diversity memo was called anti-diversity, and the negative impact of biased thinking and echo chambers Damore’s memo addressed was ironically overlooked. Damore’s points were illustrated by the very people who ignored them.

I have seen a few attempts at taking a nuanced look at what Damore said (the Heterodox Academy’s literature review is the most rigorous I’ve seen), and one stood out to me. In an op-ed for PBS (a branch of the Public Broadcasting Corporation which receives nearly $500 million in taxpayer funding every year), research psychologist Denise Cummins attempts to disprove Damore’s claims. Her column is titled “What we can learn from a Google employee’s epic failure to understand gender differences.”

Cummins begins by excerpting a list of claims Damore makes about biological differences between men and women. She then writes “These claims are indeed supported by substantial research on sex differences.” In other words, in her first stab at exposing Damore’s “epic failure to understand gender differences,” she concurs with him.

Her next excerpt is two claims made by Damore about traits that are more common in women than men. These traits lead to each sex being generally more interested in different things, namely women in people and men in things. She refutes Damore by explaining, “As I’ve pointed out in a previous NewsHour article, women, on average, do indeed have more interest in living things than objects, which is why we tend to pursue scientific careers in the biological, social and life sciences.” She supports his assertions again.

Next, Cummins displays three claims Damore makes about innate personality differences between men and women and how they may lead to women being less assertive and more prone to stress in the workplace. Damore carefully avoids overgeneralizing by explaining, “these are just average differences and there’s overlap between men and women.” Cummins argues that, “substantial data support an alternative view, namely that people are more accurate at assessing the performance of workers of their own gender.” She cites a study from Georgetown University that supports this viewpoint (though this female former Google tech leader had a dissimilar experience). Even giving the benefit of the doubt to the Georgetown study’s findings, it does not refute anything Damore says. It simply adds nuance to the discussion.

In Damore’s introductory paragraph to his memo, he admits his arguments are, “by no means the complete story, but it’s a perspective that desperately needs to be told at Google.” It seems that what Cummins calls an “epic failure” is more like a failure to account for every single tidbit of nuance regarding several complex issues within the confines of a 10-page memo, irrespective of the fact that Damore openly conceded this at the memo’s outset. If Cummins’s point is that Damore could not make the impossible possible, I unequivocally agree with her.

Cummins’s last gripe is to disagree with Damore’s skepticism about empathy’s role in the workplace. She cites a single study and refers to the results as “objective facts.” So much for nuance…

In the end, Cummins winds up citing Damore himself to support claims that men have a greater drive for status and that this drive is rewarded in the workplace (one of Damore’s suggestions is revamping this reward system to encourage more gender diversity at Google).

How can Cummins refer to Damore’s memo as an “epic failure” to understand something while agreeing with, providing nuance to, or simply noting that there are alternative views to everything Damore actually does understand?

This brings me to my larger point. There are no two people in this world who agree with each other on everything. We have different experiences, different interests, different perspectives, and different abilities, so no two of us are exactly alike.

Conservatives and Libertarians (myself included) often deride college-liberals for acting like special little snowflakes, but the real criticism should be that each of them is indeed unique, not an exact replica of anyone else! We actually are special little snowflakes! The problem is that we refuse to accept and celebrate this!

This was Damore’s message too: “treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).”

After over two years of blogging and largely critiquing progressives, I have come to realize that my top two political priorities are shared by most principled, hard-line left-wingers: absolute freedom of speech and keeping the US out of the internal affairs of foreign nations. I sometimes get blue in the face arguing with Leftists, but we align beautifully when it comes to two of our greatest causes.

People often lead into a statement by saying “I don’t agree with everything so-and-so says, but (insert point of agreement here).” I’ve heard this from people talking about opinions expressed by Ben Shapiro, Noam Chomsky, Tucker Carlson, Margaret Thatcher, Adam Carolla, Richard Dawkins, and every president in modern history. Why do we feel the need to remind our fellow man that our minds do not perfectly mirror the minds of other individuals? Shouldn’t this be assumed?

In light of the recent events in Charlottesville and the ensuing hysteria, I think it’s worth noting that Muhammad Ali, who is considered a Civil Rights hero, and Richard Spencer, who is considered an intolerable monster, share parallel views on race and integration. Both oppose America’s interventionism too. And to leftists against school choice and in favor of single-payer healthcare, you’re on Richard Spencer’s side, not mine.

Hitler once said, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” And, to some extent, the media’s lies about the Damore memo prove Hitler correct. I don’t agree with everything Adolf Hitler said, but…

***

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I Don’t Agree with Everything Adolf Hitler Said, But…

What Google Can Learn from My Failure to Quit Google

Note: This is part II of a three part series in response to Google’s recent firing of James Damore. Part I can be read here.

I read James Damore’s pro-diversity memo a day or two before he was fired. I found it inspiring and called him a hero in a post on my personal Facebook page. To me, it was a courageous move to voice a well-supported yet unpopular opinion in the face of a hostile audience that would surely seek to cost him his career for expressing such views. Damore’s memo was anonymous, but as a Harvard PhD working as an engineer for Google, I am certain that he was bright enough to realize that his job would be on the line regardless. He put skin in the game and paid a price for a noble and righteous cause.

Even so, I was still stunned when I heard that Damore had indeed been canned. The ideological intolerance of Silicon Valley should not surprise anyone, but it somehow continues to amaze me.

I was beside myself. Outraged! Furious! And I vowed to never use Google again!

With God as my witness, I began my retreat from the world’s second most valuable brand. I would rid myself of them completely! It would only be a matter of time and Google searches!

Oops! Uh… Bing searches!

First, I deleted Google Chrome and started using Firefox as my primary web browser. After a few painful moments of Firefox, I decided to do a quick Google search (I mean Bing search!) to see what other browsers there were to choose from.

Since I already knew from experience that Internet Explorer was not going to be an option, I eventually decided to download Opera. This would wind up being my only successful scaling back of my Google usage.

I set Bing as my primary search engine. Then quickly switched to Yahoo!. Then DuckDuckGo. Things were not going as swimmingly as I had anticipated.

My next step was to figure out what other products and services Google owned, so I could eliminate those from my life too. As I was typing what products and services does Google own into DuckDuckGo, I realized Gmail is owned by Google. This was discouraging. After a nightmarish DuckDuckGo search for a list of Google products, I discovered that YouTube was also Google’s property.

About twenty-five minutes had gone by. It felt like three hours. I was defeated.

Quitting YouTube? That was not going to happen. Where would I watch James Damore interviews about how bigoted Google is?

I restored Google as my search engine, and have been too lazy to reinstall Chrome. Opera isn’t actually that bad.

I then realized something important that I hope the executives in Silicon Valley will realize too.

Despite a concerted effort to dissociate myself from a group that I hated, quality performance made me forget my prejudices. Smooth web browsing, flawless email services, and the best video-sharing website in the known universe made all my hate wither away and die. My outrage was no match for my desire to live in comfort and convenience.

One of James Damore’s central points in his memo is that bias and discrimination do not account for all demographic outcomes in the workplace. He humbly and carefully writes the following statements in separate sections of the document:

  • “At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.”
  • “Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.”

As Damore says, there are factors outside of our prejudices that contribute to the way things work themselves out.

But my experience takes this even further. Even with explicit bias and a willful intent to discriminate, I wound up giving up on my hate because of superior performance. I absolutely have some issues with Google, but I am not going to make my daily life worse to spite them.

And I believe that this is part of the human condition that Damore referenced.

We are all semi-rational animals that just want a few basic things out of life. We want to experience love, we want our attention to be occupied, we want to survive, and we want to accomplish it all with as little effort and pain and as much satisfaction and pleasure as possible. Hate certainly has the potential to overcome us, but if we are left to fend for ourselves, it will rarely have enough influence that we take petty stands which make our lives more difficult.

If I can’t stop using Google because of how excellent their services are, how could it become widespread for companies and organizations to discriminate against certain groups despite individuals within those groups being equipped to offer greater profits, products, labor, ideas, and services?

Would a KKK member dying of thirst turn down a fresh glass of water offered to him by black person? Would a Communist give up his iPhone after realizing it was created in a system of free market Capitalism? Would a feminist reject her ideal partner because he or she does not support putting women in combat roles in the military? Would an anarchist refuse a policeman’s assistance if his life were in danger?

Undoubtedly, there are instances in which prejudice overcomes reason and causes people to hurt themselves and others out of nothing but hate. I recognize that, and Damore did repeatedly in his memo too. But generally speaking, not many people have the energy or the will power to act on their biases. A utopian world in which no one acts stupidly will never exist, so it deserves no consideration.

It is safe to assume that Google’s workforce is exceptionally smart, even taking their silly social and political views into account. That a company loaded with intelligent and ambitious people could actively (or subconsciously) engage in race or gender based discrimination to the detriment of Google itself is just something I cannot believe takes place.

Illustrated by me using Google, environmentalists driving cars, and anti-immigration activists benefiting from cheap labor, the free market and liberty make principled discrimination more difficult than any law or diversity training ever could.

Acting against one’s own self-interest for the sake of silly principle makes the world a worse place. I hope Google learns this lesson and rethinks their attitude before it becomes even more pervasive in American life.

***

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What Google Can Learn from My Failure to Quit Google

In Defense of Google

NOTE: This is part I of a three-part series related to Google’s recent firing of James Damore.

Google has recently fired an engineer named James Damore over a memo he wrote that circulated through the company. In the memo, Damore criticized the approach Google and the rest of Silicon Valley has taken to address issues of discrimination. The employee sent the memo anonymously, but it was leaked and published online (initially minus its references by a silly website that I will not give publicity to) about a month later. The engineer was “doxed” (identified by online users with malicious intent) and subsequently fired for promoting negative stereotypes.

There is a lot of hilarity to take note of regarding this fiasco.

First, one of Damore’s major points was explaining that Google, whose staff and management lean left politically, may have ideological blind spots: “when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies.” Damore was fired for expressing views that counter the consensus at Google, unequivocally proving his point.

Second, Damore concluded his memo by explaining:

I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).

Though Damore clearly encourages inclusion and judgment of individuals based on their merits (not their race or gender), the mainstream media has widely referred to the memo as “anti-diversity.” This is entirely made up.

Third, after the memo went viral, Google’s “VP of Diversity, Integrity, and Governance” responded in a memo of her own saying, “Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.” Yet, when it came to an individual adding diversity of thought to the conversation, Google decided to exclude Damore.

I have been highly critical of Google’s decision to fire Damore. I not only believe that Damore’s memo was largely accurate and an extremely important topic of discussion for both Silicon Valley and the world at large. I also believe that had it not been accurate or important, it would still be ridiculous for an employer to fire someone over their views, especially when they are carefully researched, well-intentioned, and directly related to the workplace.

However, this does not mean I believe Google broke the law, and there is a case to be made that Google acted in its own best interest by firing Damore.

No Right to Employment

To start, employers should have the right to fire employees for any reason or no reason at all. Employment is not a right in the same sense that life, privacy, and a speedy trial are.

The right to life means it is wrong for someone to kill you without justification (like self-defense or an accident).

The right to privacy means no one can force you to expose information about yourself or invade your personal space without your permission. You need a warrant for that.

The right to a speedy trial means that the government cannot keep you incarcerated for very long without proving it has reason to do so.

To be clear, just because you have a right (whether in a religious sense or based on American Constitutional law) does not mean the government or other individuals will not violate it. Rights are what you are supposed to have, not what you wind up with in the end. Having a right to life does not mean you will not be murdered.

You do not have the right to employment in this sense of the word right. The right to employment would be the right to force someone else to pay you for your labor against his will. There is nothing in the US Constitution or an honest interpretation of Classically Liberal human rights that could rationalize the right to employment.

The only time it makes sense to bar an employer from firing an employee is if the agreed-upon contract contains relevant stipulations. If a contract were to say that an employee would only be terminated under a certain set of circumstances, and the employee were fired without said circumstances taking place, there would be a rights-based justification for prosecuting the employer.

Unless James Damore’s contract specified that he could not be fired for “promoting gender stereotypes” or something of the sort, Google had every right to let him go.

Right to be a Bigot

A bigot is a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance. Bigotry has no bias within itself. There is no specified set of “opinions and prejudices” that bigotry promotes or disavows. This means that bigotry can be exercised by anyone on the political spectrum from right to center to left. Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow can both exhibit intolerance.

When Google deemed James Damore’s opinions so unworthy of discussion that they could no longer be professionally associated with him, they reached a peak level of bigotry. Google unapologetically expressed that they will not tolerate a certain level of deviation from the opinions and prejudices they are devoted to.

This may demonstrate lack of character, intellectual close-mindedness, and immaturity, but it does not violate anyone’s rights. There are no laws and no Classically Liberal reasons that suggest bigotry is any sort of criminal act.

Google has every right to be bigoted and intolerant.

Maybe Anti-Diversity Works

This last part is not based on research, experience, or my own personal opinion about diversity in the workplace. I’ll just be thinking out loud.

A read a tweet recently that asked what evidence there is available to support the idea that diversity in the workplace is a benefit. Is there any?

Maybe Google would be operating in their own best interest by firing openly Conservative employees, free speech advocates, evolutionary biology aficionados, and individuals who do not embrace extra-normative lifestyles. Perhaps an unchallenged, far-left hegemony, selective science adherence, and hyper-tolerance in the workplace will lead Google to better productivity and greater profits.

Maybe diversity in the workplace isn’t such a great thing after all. Pontificating about diversity while actively undermining it, however, could be the best corporate strategy yet.

***

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In Defense of Google

Seven Political Philosophies on Immigration

Immigration is currently one of the world’s hottest political issues. The Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, Donald Trump’s stances on illegal and Muslim immigration, and the UK’s referendum on EU membership have brought the legality of crossing national borders to the forefront.

In this post, I will name and explain eight different philosophies immigration can be founded upon. I will not use this piece to promote my own views on immigration, but hope to write a companion piece that does so sometime soon.

National-Socialist

A National-Socialist immigration policy is likely the easiest to ascertain, and it may be the world’s most popular. The priority of a National-Socialist society is to preserve a common national identity. The people, the land, their language, and their customs bind them as a cohesive unit, and neither human rights nor economic theories can be allowed to whittle this away.

While it is referred to as a form of right-wing extremism, Nazi actually stood for the National Socialist German Worker’s Party. There is nothing right-wing about National-Socialism, and Labour parties are almost always opposed to Conservative ones, so calling the Nazis right-wing is demonstrably inaccurate. National-Socialism is a form of Leftism.

More to the point, the Nazis are far from the only group to have favored a National-Socialist view on immigration. Nearly all nations have national languages; Thai schools teach in Thai, French schools teach in French, and Russian schools teach in Russian.

Birthright citizenship only exists in the United States, Canada, and a few South American and Caribbean nations. Typically, it takes more than being born within a nation’s borders to earn the right to be there.

And nations rarely allow foreigners to serve as elected officials or occupy government jobs of any kind.

Although not always as extreme as the White America envisioned by Richard Spencer, National-Socialist immigration policies are the norm.

National-Capitalist

A National-Capitalist immigration policy would be defined by its leaders’ vetting of immigrants to ensure that the brightest and most prosperous foreign nationals are granted access to the nation while the tired, poor, huddled masses are kept out. Not only would leaders allow talented migrants across their borders, they would likely incentivize them to come.

President Trump, likely inspired by Ann Coulter, has just announced a new immigration policy in this vein.

France is attempting something similar by “poaching” climate scientists from the rapidly deregulating US.

Anarcho-Capitalist

Anarcho-Capitalists are fundamentalist Libertarians who believe that absolute private property rights are the foundation of all ethics and preferred policies. Ancaps do not believe public property exists, as sharing is a voluntary action that an individual can reconsider at will. Property can only be public via the consent of its owners, so, in actuality, it is privately owned.

This means that Ancaps do not believe states or nations have the right to exist.

As a result, an ideal Anarcho-Capitalist world would not involve immigration as land would either be privately homesteaded or not. If land is owned, only the owner’s permission is needed to step on it. If land is not owned, it’s up for grabs.

Left-Wing Anarchist

Like AnCaps, Left-Wing Anarchists reject nations too. But unlike Ancaps who see nations as a violation of private property rights, Left-Wing Anarchists see nations as a forceful recognition of property rights which do not exist in their eyes.

Left-Wing Anarchists rationalize a borderless world by rejecting borders wholesale. Not only should national borders be eliminated, but private property itself should be delegitimized too.

Immigration would cease to exist in an ideal Left-Wing Anarchist world because land is a resource to be exploited for the sake of the common good, not for a nation or individual.

Neoliberal

A Neoliberal immigration policy would be liberal with border control, but not completely anarchic. Immigration would generally be permitted to anyone who desires it, but reasonable regulations like passport checks and limited access to public services and privileges could be enacted.

There are two ways to rationalize a Neoliberal immigration policy. The first is the fundamental human right to free movement. Since national borders are technically imaginary, and since there is no justification for condemning an individual to stay put in the place he was born, no authority has the authority to keep someone from traveling from place to place or interacting and trading with other people.

The second is economic growth. The more freely people are allowed to bring their services to new markets, the more access all people have to new services. The more hands there are to make widgets, the more widgets get made. The more brains there are to solve problems, the more problems get solved. All of this causes supply to increase and price to fall. The rich get richer, and poor get richer too.

For a Neoliberal immigration policy to work, public services would likely have to be limited. If a nation’s citizens are forced to pay taxes to support schools, healthcare, social security, and other welfare programs, it would be unfair for new citizens to suddenly gain access without paying their fair share first. Since generous and expansive welfare programs are difficult to regulate, keeping them small and local would probably be the best way to ensure that they are not abused. In other words, the smaller the state’s presence in the economy, the more liberal a Neoliberal immigration policy can be.

Anti-Capitalist

An Anti-Capitalist immigration policy would have altruistic ends, but restrictive means. The idea would be that rich, developed nations should not recruit the best and brightest from poor and developing nations because the latter nations need them more.

If the best doctors and engineers are coaxed out of the sickest and least industrialized nations, those nations will lack the human capital to progress. At the same time, nations that already have a wealth of resources, both material and intellectual, would nab even more while impoverished nations are left unable to compete.

The problem an Anti-Capitalist immigration policy would address is often referred to as the brain drain, and there is evidence that it’s real. However, this policy would strictly limit free movement and would require the same central planning as a Globalist policy, albeit in a different way.

Globalist

A Globalist immigration policy would generally ignore the will of nations and instead find ways to manage populations through mandates and incentives from a centralized authority. A community of nations would decide for individual nations how many migrants and refugees they must admit and what sanctions they would face for disobeying.

The Globalist authority would determine immigration requirements based on economic needs and ability to provide for new arrivals. If a population were failing to reproduce itself, the Global authority would send in migrants to maintain the infrastructure. Aging populations that work less and rely on social services more would be flooded with young migrants to take jobs and pay taxes.

It would also demand that nations guarantee a minimum standard of living for each immigrant and accommodate their cultural or religious preferences.

Globalist immigration would take economic central planning and apply it to living, breathing human beings.

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Seven Political Philosophies on Immigration

Trump’s Foreign Policy is the Feel Good Hit of the Summer

Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and John Duncan were the only Senators and Congressmen wise and sober enough to vote against a bipartisan bill to impose sanctions on Russia along with a few other nations. Democrats, still unable to accept electoral defeat, are mired in a mad frenzy of conspiracy theories regarding a phantom connection between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, so reckless vengeance has replaced sanity when it comes to dealing with Russia from their angle. Republicans are generally happy to treat adversaries with hostility, paranoid about being viewed as friendly with the enemy, and too egotistical to allow Democrats to seem tougher on foreign policy than they are, so it is no surprise that GOP congresspersons, whether sympathetic to the President or not, went along with the bill too. The aforementioned nay voters are generally principled in their stances and evidently care more about doing what’s both Constitutional and in America’s best interest than being perceived in a certain way by the public. Their dissent is a loud reinforcement of this.

The new sanctions against Russia are a blow to the Trump administration. Not because President Trump is secretly controlled by the Kremlin, as John McCain and the Democrats would like you to believe, but because Trump’s foreign policy goals include improving relations with our Eurasian neighbor.

With such an immense majority of Congress voting in favor of the new sanctions, Trump was forced into a corner. If he had vetoed the bill, it would have been overridden. This would have left the president looking like a diehard Russophile in the eyes of those still hypnotized by the collusion narrative, insubordinate in the eyes of moderates who just want our government to run smoothly, and defeated in the eyes of those who would name Trump our Grand Chancellor if it were up to them. Signing the sanctions into law likely feels like a betrayal to those Trump has promised a non-interventionist foreign policy, but they should be able to understand Trump’s helplessness considering the situation at hand. It’s frustrating, but Trump had no choice.

All in all, these sanctions will make the world a poorer and more dangerous place. Trade and economic opportunity will be obstructed for the Russian and American people as well as Russia’s other trading partners like the EU. And tensions will rise. Vladimir Putin, however, will not feel any of these effects. He is sitting pretty at the head of the Russian government, and his people will surely rally behind him as feelings of nationalism continue to spread across the globe. The Russian people are in inevitable trouble, but Putin is in great shape. These sanctions help solidify that. As Milton Friedman constantly reminded us, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

Nevertheless, the persistence of stupidity and no-skin-in-the-game decision making in Congress should not completely overshadow the encouraging alterations being made by the Trump administration in other areas on the foreign policy front.

President Obama’s handling of the Syrian Civil War and related conflicts can best be described as waffling. Obama drew a red line in the sand and allowed Bashar al Assad to (allegedly) cross it. Obama cultivated confidence among the “rebels” seeking to overthrow the Syrian government, but did not follow through. While I am happy he never went Full Hillary in Syria, Obama spoke loudly and carried a small stick, possibly leading to a conflict that has likely gone farther than it had to.

President Trump has an announced an end to the CIA’s program to arm these “rebels.” Purportedly as a result of seeing a video of a group of “rebels” gleefully beheading a young boy, Trump has all but told the Assad opposition you’re on your own.

This will allow the US to focus on what may be an actual threat to our national security in the form of ISIS. Regime change in Syria does nothing for the wellbeing of Americans, and would likely harm the wellbeing of the Syrian people and their neighbors. How much authority Trump has to go to war with ISIS is questionable. But it certainly seems more in line with America’s safety.

It’s true that the US has zoned-off a portion of Syria, and that we have bombed the sovereign nation’s military forces for stepping over borders within their own country on several occasions. However, it seems that the aim of this operation is an assault on ISIS, not Syria. It may be far from ideal, but at least the ends, defeating ISIS, are reasonable.

The cancellation of the CIA operation follows the brokering of a ceasefire between the Assad regime and the “rebels” negotiated by Trump and Putin. How literally we should take the word “ceasefire,” how much this has actually reduced fighting in Syria, and how long it will last are all difficult to ascertain. But even baby steps are progress, and Trump (and Putin) deserves credit if any were ultimately taken, particularly minus the use of force.

With seemingly good news on the horizon in Syria, the State Department may soon loudly announce to the world that the United States of America is no longer in the unconstitutional business of nation building on the whole. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and company are considering removing the State Department’s goal to “shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere” from their mission statement. As exemplified by the Iraq War, our undefined 17-year mission in Afghanistan, our meddling in Libya and Yemen, and even as far back as our disastrous campaign in Vietnam, the United States is not adept at promoting Democracy. As a good friend of mine, who happens to be a military veteran, recently noted:

1. There are no democracies in the countries of the world. The mission statement is a poor one subject to misuse.

2. The State Department should, by diplomatic means, encourage what is in the interests of the USA followed by encouraging self-determination.

The key to the second is “by diplomatic means”. The State Department has rarely actually used diplomatic means since 1941.

If these possibilities become realities, Trump will be following through on a key campaign promise to put “America First” and allow other nations to govern themselves without the overreaching arm of the United States around to tilt the scales.

On the trade front, Trump pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership immediately after being elected. While I am a strong advocate for free trade, even the most free-market-leaning think tanks I follow were shaky at best on the terms of that deal. Populists across the political spectrum had thought of it as a recipe for doom. More recently, the president has finalized a bilateral agreement with the Chinese, and is set to make another with the United Kingdom as soon as the Brexit process is completed. His mass deregulation and “American Energy Dominance” initiative (which Rick Perry seems pretty excited about) could swell fossil fuel exports globally (by the way, his would be an odd way of going about undermining the US for the sake of the Kremlin. The more energy the United States exports, the more business Russia loses. Russia Today airs anti-fracking propaganda for a reason).

Lastly, consider the Trump administration’s messaging towards Israel. While I support the sovereignty of the Jewish state, I do not share American Conservatives’ dogmatic allegiance to it, especially from a financial or military standpoint. To be perfectly honest, I am unclear on what exactly the Trump administration has done to worry Conservatives about US relations with Israel. But if they were delighted, I’d be concerned as I do not see their Israel doctrine as sensible, righteous, or particularly beneficial to US national security. In other words, their discomfort comforts me.

President Donald Trump is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma just as Winston Churchill described… well… Russia. But just as Churchill quickly and sensibly determined that Russia’s actions were motivated by its national interests, we can assume that President Trump is motivated by his. Let’s just hope that Trump sees America’s success as his own. This latest flurry of foreign policy consideration and action suggests things are looking good for the President and the country he presides over.

It’s a warm and welcome summer breeze.

***

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Trump’s Foreign Policy is the Feel Good Hit of the Summer

A Trans Military Ban in an Age without Nuance

On Wednesday morning, President Trump announced via Twitter that transgendered individuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the military.

Before going any further, let’s acknowledge that we don’t actually know what motivated Trump’s decision here. In his tweets, he cites “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as reasons for the move. Is he really concerned about medical costs? What disruptions is he referring to?

Did he really consult with “generals and military experts” before the announcement? If so, to what degree?

Is this a blatant act of bigotry or transphobia? Or is the president just throwing tennis balls for his attack dogs in the media to chase after?

Since only a fool would take Trump at his literal word, and since we are not mind readers, let’s avoid pretending that we know what motivated Trump to make this decision.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that some of Trump’s generals and advisers recommended he reverse an Obama administration order to permit transgendered individuals to serve openly in the military. The order was set to go into effect in the near future. We don’t have to assume that this was at the top of Defense Secretary James Mattis’s agenda, but let’s say he and some other top advisers were on the same page.

Let’s also assume that Trump does not hate transgendered individuals or any other members of the LGBT community. He is a socially liberal guy whether Democrats can allow themselves to recognize it or not. There is no reason to believe the president has an ax to grind with the non-binary.

Lastly, let’s assume that whether or not Trump genuinely believes in what he’s just done, he is certainly looking to fill the midweek news cycle. This issue, while fascinating, is one of the least important one could come up with. Think of how tiny the portion of Americans who identify as transgendered might be. Then think of how tiny the portion of those individuals who have any desire to serve in the military might be. We’re talking about next to no one. It’s juicy, but it’s not a big deal. Like Seinfeld, this is a show about nothing.

With all that in mind, let’s broach the issue:

Should transgendered individuals be allowed to serve in the military?

Unfortunately, I cannot give an easy answer to this question.

If I were a Social Justice Warrior, I’d say yes because all people are equal and discrimination is the ultimate sin.

If I were a Social Conservative, I’d say no because transgenderism is a disorder that disqualifies transgendered individuals from being allowed to serve.

The rationale for these opposing points of view do not matter to the issue at hand. There is only one thing that matters when it comes to determining who may and who may not serve in the armed forces:

What makes the military most effective at defeating the enemy?

Social norms, whether from the ACLU’s point of view or CPAC’s, should not factor in when policies of this nature are debated. It doesn’t matter what you think is right or wrong. All that matters is winning.

It might be the case that transgendered individuals improve the effectiveness of the military. Perhaps all they have had to endure in life makes them tough as nails. Maybe their unique perspective on the world allows them to see things that others can’t.

It might be the case that transgendered individuals damage the effectiveness of the military. Perhaps all they have had to endure in life makes them unstable in battle. Maybe their unique perspective on the world prevents them from seeing things others can.

I have no idea.

If our generals and other high-ranking members of the military determine that the effect of transgendered individuals serving in the military could be defeat when victory is at hand, I would support their recommendation for the ban.

There are times in life when social norms bear some weight. But when lives and the nation’s security are on the line, they don’t. It doesn’t matter which side of the socio-political spectrum gets their feelings hurt.

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A Trans Military Ban in an Age without Nuance

Why Climate Deniers, Anti-Vaxxers, and Flat-Earthers are Treated so Differently

This is going to be a non-scientific post centered around scientific themes. There will be generalizations. Prepare yourself accordingly.

Climate Deniers (individuals who dissent from the doomsday narrative regarding Climate Change), Anti-Vaxxers (individuals who believe vaccines are more harmful than beneficial), and Flat-Earthers (individuals who believe the Earth is flat) are regularly derided in Liberal bastions like Hollywood, the Mainstream Media, Academia, and Silicon Valley.

While all three are ridiculed by the same people, the ridicule they receive is unequal. This is for two main reasons.

The first is that the levels of risk vary.

The second is that the ability to rebut dissent varies.

Here’s how each one breaks down:

Flat-Earthers Anti-Vaxxers Climate Deniers

Level of Risk

Low

-Has no traction

-A few people’s beliefs about Earth’s shape has no effect on others

-No powerful people entertain the idea

Medium

-Has traction

-As you can still vaccinate your own children, effects can only felt by third parties (compassion based)

-Very few powerful people entertain the idea

High

-Has traction

-Complete cooperation required, so even a minority of dissenters affects the entire outcome

-Many powerful people entertain the idea

Ability to Rebut

High

-Look at a picture of the Earth

-Look at the horizon

-Look at the sunrise/sunset

Medium

-Explain immune system function

-Explain herd immunity

-Highlight eradicated diseases

Low

-97% of scientists agree (appeal to authority)

-Care for Earth (appeal to emotion)

-China is polluted (re herring)

Treatment Calm Ridicule

-Ignored with confidence

-Laughed at sincerely

Rebuttal

-Reasons to support vaccines explained

Disassociation

-Lumped in with Holocaust deniers

-Censored

-Strawmanned

Since there is no mainstream support for Flat-Earth theories, and because the curvature of the Earth can be easily observed, deniers of a globe-shaped globe are not taken seriously by many people. If they do not accept a simple explanation, it is of no importance. The world keeps turning. This is why Flat-Earthers are more of a source of entertainment than something to be worried about.

There are large swaths of the population who believe vaccinations cause developmental diseases like Autism, and many go as far as believing this is a conspiracy to dumb-down or depopulate the human race. But while large-scale non-vaccination can lead to contractions or outbreaks of diseases, parents can still vaccinate their own kids and live in areas where Anti-Vaxxers are uncommon. Additionally, it is not particularly difficult to understand why vaccinations should be beneficial, and there are few people in power who take serious issue with vaccines. This is why people are likely to attempt to explain why we should support vaccines and can generally do so in a civil manner.

For those who genuinely believe that Climate Change will lead to something apocalyptic, and that a massive global effort must be undertaken immediately to prevent it, Climate Denial cannot be tolerated. And for political and business opportunists whose agendas and finances would be assisted by the typically-proposed policies and regulations to address Climate Change, the chance of a lifetime cannot be allowed to slip away. Add in the fact that the climate and man’s impact on it are far too complex for the average person to begin to understand, and you have a recipe for uncivil and irrational reactions to Climate Denial. This is why emotional and authoritarian appeals and red herring arguments replace the simple reasons one can use to defend vaccines. Ultimately, drastic measures are often taken to silence and delegitimize those who deviate from Climate Alarmist narratives. This is because allowing a platform for a persuasive and difficult-to-refute argument that many smart and powerful people find appealing could be devastating to proponents of Climate Alarmism.

If those who support rational and good-natured discussions and learning about science, the environment, and the climate want to see their desires come to fruition, they must understand why their opponents feel and respond the way they do regarding Climate Change. Without knowing where someone who disagrees with you is coming from, getting them on your side is as impossible as accurately determining humanity’s overall impact on the average global temperature.

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Why Climate Deniers, Anti-Vaxxers, and Flat-Earthers are Treated so Differently