Category Archives: Popular Culture

The Latest Salvo Against Innovation

The usual suspects want to end the learning period for commercial spaceflight.

As George points out, it is not obvious that making people wear pressure suits doesn’t add more hazards than it reduces. We don’t make everyone on an airliner wear a parachute. We minimize the possibility that they’ll need one. Just design to vehicle to have a low probability of unexpectedly depressurizing. We know how to do this much better today than we did in the sixties.

This Is Worse Than Saigon

This is an important point:

…above all of that, above even the political and military incoherence of the American empire, there is the corrosive cultural dynamic. This might just be the most important factor in the Afghan humiliation – the fact that the US, and the West more broadly, clearly lacks the cultural resources necessary for a clash of civilisations. This wasn’t just a territorial battle, a fight over the land of Afghanistan. It was also a cultural clash. It was a war between one side that has very strong beliefs and is more than willing to die for them, and another side that doesn’t know what it stands for anymore and would rather avoid risk and self-sacrifice if at all possible. I’ll leave you to decide which of these is the Taliban, and which the US.

This was always the West’s problem in Afghanistan: it lacked faith in the very values it claimed to be delivering to that benighted country. We will liberate women from life under the burqa, Western officials said. But isn’t it ‘Islamophobic’ to criticise the burqa, or any other Islamic practice for that matter? Our elites have insisted for years that it is. We will replace your intolerant Islamist system with a civil society fashioned by clever professors, the West promised. But isn’t it judgemental and possibly a tad racist – certainly an offence against the ideology of multiculturalism – to imply that Western democracy is superior to Islamist theocracy? As one British think-tank says, in its definition of the term ‘Islamophobia’, it is wrong to suggest that Islam is in any way ‘inferior to the West’. The West’s post-9/11 bluster was continually undermined by the West’s broader descent into moral relativism. How can you assert the civilisational authority of Western values when your entire educational and university system is devoted to questioning and demeaning Western civilisation? You cannot partake in a clash of civilisations if you loathe your own civilisation.

Anyone who thinks the Taliban did not pick up on all of this, on the Potemkin nature not only of the Afghan government but also of Western civilisation itself, is kidding themselves. The Taliban will have watched as the mighty American military became bogged down in discussions of critical race theory and the problem of ‘white rage’. They will have clocked the British army’s recruitment drive that was aimed at ‘snowflakes’ and ‘me me me millennials’ – for real – on the basis that such people have the ‘compassion’ necessary for the touchy-feely wars of the 21st century. They will know that the contemporary West is shame-faced about its history and its civilisational values and lacks ideas for how to turn its fragile youths into a fighting force, and they will understand their own life-and-death devotion to Sharia as being the opposite to all of this. They know this was a cultural clash as well as a military fight, and that they were by far the stronger side on this front.

I can only hope that we take the right lessons from this, but I suspect it won’t happen until there are electoral consequences next year.

[Saturday-afternoon update]

Biden’s Afghanistan disaster didn’t have to happen.

It’s hard to fathom this level of incompetence. Lara Logan said the other night that someone, whoever is pulling Biden’s strings, wanted it to happen. It sure looks like that.


The Vanishing Legacy Of Barack Obama

Matt Taibi’s post-mortem is withering:

Obama was set up to be the greatest of American heroes, but proved to be a common swindler and one of the great political liars of all time — he fooled us all. Moreover, his remarkably vacuous post-presidency is proving true everything Trump said in 2016 about the grasping Washington politicians whose only motives are personal enrichment, and who’d do anything, even attend his wedding, for a buck. Trump’s point was that he, Trump, was already swinishly rich, while politicians have only one thing to sell to get the upper class status they crave: us.

Well, actually Matt, he didn’t fool us all. He never fooled me.

The Newsom Recall

Yes, it could actually happen. And Larry Elder has a good shot at it. That would be amazing, because he’s not the girly boy Ahnald turned out to be. The problem, of course, is that the Democrats have supermajorities in both houses, so his vetoes might not stand up. That’s not fixable until next year (if then).

[Update a few minutes later]

Newsom is nervous.