Boring the Audience into a Frenzy

Whenever I watch a (political) lecture or read a (political) book by Noam Chomsky, I’m always struck by how out of place his rhetorical style seems. Normally you think of charismatic figures as having a really forceful speaking style; Chomsky’s is rambling and dull. The question is begged: do people respond to him because of…

Blowback

Matt Palumbo makes an important point about "blowback" as it relates to Islamic terrorism, but in, I think, the wrong way. The thesis: The "blowback" explanation for Islamist terrorism is masochistic nonsense. And the argument: Why is it that no other group of people "Western imperialism" has harmed has responded in the way that jihadists…

Witness for the Prosecution

Another two weeks go by, another islamist attack in Europe. This time, too, nothing changed. There are lots of vigils, lots of expressions of solidarity, and of course lots of reminders that not all muslims are violent extremists. Theresa May did break rank a bit and call out radical Islamism as an ideology, but this…

Manchester – So Little to Answer For

Since there’s been another one of these attacks, some disconnected thoughts. As usual, the vigils and candles and outpourings of public grief and professions of solidarity with muslims are just embarassing. We know this kind of reaction changes nothing. If you really want these kinds of attacks to stop, or even lessen in frequency, you’re…

Arguing about the Immigration Ban

Scott Adams (yes, that Scott Adams) has a post up where he tries to show how irrational the debate on immigration has gotten. I think he succeeds for the most part, but he can’t help putting his finger on a scale a bit to tilt it into the anti-immigration column. I don’t actually mind that…

Immigration in the Aftermath of Berlin

The Mirror has an article up about the Berlin Christmas Market Terror attack sounding all the superficially right notes about how to react to it. I agree with the overall sentiment, but since immigration is rapidly becoming the Issue of the Year, broad outlines aren’t enough. This is an issue we need to start talking…

Australia Proves Something about Guns

The blood’s barely dried on the Orlando mass murder shooting spree, and people on Facebook are already dredging up the New York Times classics claiming that Australia’s gun ban and buyback program eliminated all mass murders forever. To show that I’m not exaggerating the article’s implications: In the 18 years before the Port Arthur massacre,…

The UK Election Result is Actually an Opportunity

One and a half things to say about the UK general election. First, it’s hillarious watching everyone scratch their heads about how wrong the polls got it. This is silly for a number of reasons. Polls in the UK are usually wrong, because there aren’t really enough polls taken to pull Nate Silver’s magic trick…

Retreat to go Forward – Israel Edition

It’s interesting how quickly the idea that a right-wing coalition is bad for Israel, and that even Netanyahu knows this, has set itself in in the last week. This report in Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse claims that Netanyahu is scrambling to get the Zionist Union on board as a member of his coalition, because withotu them…