If Diversification of Thought is a Good Thing, why Dismantle the Alt Right?

Once realize that the Alt Right is made of many different factions with different motivations and different ideas, we realize that some of the groups are good and worthwhile, while others are toxic and can work to radicalize the others in toxicity. The ideologies can be broken down into separate parts, the majority of which are decent and benign. From there, those decent ideologies can be integrated into public discourse again through civil fashion, while the hateful ideologies can be isolated.

The purpose of isolation for the hateful groups is to prevent fundamentalization.

Fundamentalization is a process I’ve described in other areas and is not a religious term or something unique to any particular ideology. It is a process where people are able to convert others into a manner of thinking incapable of rationalizing with others who disagree. They follow darker and darker paths eventually leading to extremism. The White Nationalists (who are already fundamentalists and extremists in nature) and other such factions in the Alt Right have the ability to fundamentalize the rest of it, if those groups aren’t separated and reintegrated with the rest of public policy discourse.

The reason for this is that when decent and benign ideas are shamed, their ideas are pushed underground. They feel isolated and angered. But in the underground they discover others who are like minded and share their views with others who have more information. Then, when some great shift in society happens, such as resurgence in free speech culture, they come blasting out. This is part of what happened with the rise of the Alt Right.

The problem is that when you force legitimately fair people making arguments you don’t like underground, they don’t just meet others like them who share their ideas, but also others who have been forced underground… for legitimate reasons. Case in point, the White Nationalist groups.

The way we prevent that, we have to have open debate. People have to be invited to take part in discussions and open forums, they have to be shown respect along with their ideas. They can’t be made to feel bullied or like they are on trial with a mob at their doorstep, waiting for them to say the wrong thing. There can’t be a wrong thing to say. At that point, they feel heard and respected and will be open to accepting when they are wrong. You might even realize sometimes they have a point, now that you don’t see them as evil. Then we have the process of Free Speech, where the best ideas rise to the top, and the worst ideas sink to the bottom and we all move on from there.

So that is why dismantling is necessary. We preserve the decent ideas, as well as the bad, but separate the groups by reintegrating those that aren’t hateful into our own. This prevents them from becoming dangerous extremists through fundamentalization while preserving their ideas in a way which the general public can grow. By having open discourse with the rest of the Right and the Left, they will be able to break away from the hateful ideologies of those factions in the Alt Right, and we may be better off for including those factions I referred to earlier as benign and decent, but which have thus far been isolated and angry.

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History of the Alt Right

Around 2008 the term “Alt Right” starting coming into use by a few extremists disaffected with Right wing and Conservative values. It was short for alternative Right meaning still against contradictory to Left wing beliefs, but not in line with Conservative values and “Establishment” Republicans. Most notable of these is Richard Spencer, a noted White Nationalist who founded the site Altright(dot)com. He communicates that he was led to joining a burgeoning revolutionary movement by his dismissal of Conservative values and the manner in which Republicans failed to live up to their mandate to protect “the culture”. He said this in a 2014 video describing what he believed the Alt Right to be. Around the timeframe of 2010 the Alt Right was really just a collection of various groups with the central theme of White Nationalism.

A number of years later, sensing this to be a failing strategy, the Alt Right collectively attempted to rebrand itself as a White Identity group, arguing that if identity politics rather than ideology was to be the direction of the nation, that if forming alliances based specifically on race, gender, sexuality and so on was what was needed to defend themselves, then whites needed identity advocacy, as well. This began the process of mainstreaming the movement.

Following this, there was a new wave of young, energetic, articulate speakers countering the Left and what is called SJW or Social Justice Warrior mentalities. This included criticisms based on the merits and necessity for free speech in society against advocacy for things like Safe Space, Trigger Warnings, but more broadly the inclusion of speech codes in college campuses and disinviting Conservative speakers on the premise of being hate mongers. This included names like Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, and even feminist Democrats such as Christina Hoff Sommers. Online, the growth of a “skeptic” community formed which questioned everything through analytic research and the dismantling of rhetorical devices instead of arguments. Examples of this would be the UK’s Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad) and Paul Joseph Watson. They found a great deal wrong with some of the rhetoric of the Left and made it popularly available to the public. Many of these began referring to themselves as Classical Liberals, not fully embracing philosophical Conservatism, but completely disaffected with the Left. This new batch of young, articulate, intellectual right wing voices created a major groundswell in right wing pushback to the the Left.

The Alt Right capitalised on this groundswell by again attempting to broaden their definition to reach many of these groups. By doing so, they brought in many who felt that if they liked any of the people mentioned, they were Alt Right. If they hated the SJW culture, but weren’t all that happy with the Republicans or the “Establishment” Right, then you were Alt Right. If you hate speech codes or banning speakers because you feel we need Free Speech, you’re Alt Right. If you feel that the Left’s attacks on Western Culture are baseless because the world looks pretty good according to history, then you’re Alt Right. If you hate people countering arguments with baseless ad hominem attacks that people are simply racist or sexist, you’re Alt Right. If you like funny memes — you’re Alt Right. So many things were suddenly alternative Right — the cool Right.

So the term became so broad that people who were decent and benign fell into a lot of the groups associated with the Alt Right. This actually did have the effect of watering it down for a while. It brought together a lot of people who had never been able to interact and openly share their views because there had been such a long campaign of gaslighting such people into feelings that they were terrible people, driving them to isolation. The Alt Right used this to cross pollinate the new groups with radicalized ideologies and recruit into the core. They still do. The fact that it was so obscure and nebulous for so long played to this mentality.

Troll behavior was also common, whereby users in mostly anonymous forums are capable of saying things without consequences. This drives people to saying the most obscene things they can imagine for a game of trying to make others angry. Most know that these trolls don’t really care about anything they say. They are just out to get a desired response for the joy of manipulation. Many people learned to ignore the trolls, but in doing so became unaware of the many who weren’t just trolls, but actively seeking to find others who supported their hate speech in an atmosphere where saying such vitriol was unable to be policed.

Just as much was the fact that many came in from a sensation of resentment for being called racists, sexists, and such, that they developed a callous to calling things racist when it appeared they were. This also played to the Alt Right, in that many of the subtle suggestions were unchecked because these people who were unfairly judged as racist in the past were attempting to be open because of their unfair previous experiences. They wanted people to have open minds when dealing with their views, so they attempted to have open minds with others. When these people, however, were forced to have conversations outside of public forums because their views were not politically correct, it forced them into rooms with others whose views were legitimately hateful and had been relegated to these spheres for good reason. In these environments where jaded but decent people forced themselves to have open minds were forced to interact with extremists, leading many down a dark path towards rationalities of White Nationalism in the core of the movement.

Likewise, the White Nationalists were evolving in this new environment. Beyond the traditional arguments of White Nationalism and supremacy dating back hundreds of years, new groups provided revolutionary ideas almost out of accident. A group known as the Neoreactionaries evolved from a forum in what seems to be a benign website about discussing human rationality. They tried to employ a methodology to thinking and reason as if they were machines, devoid of emotion, empathy, or attachment to the subject of discussion. The mission was to use cognitive science to somehow transcend bias. What they came up with, though, were radical polemic arguments to most of the basis of human society. This included questioning the premises of democracy, egalitarianism, and continuing on to say that there was no basis behind the concept of equality under God and many other political philosophies necessary to the creation of a moral society.

The Alt Right core took this new way of thinking to evolve and rationalize arguments against the equality of other humans (a return to Eugenics) and using the arguments of history to show various cultures who haven’t had success like Western culture as being due not just to the inclusion of philosophies that don’t drive to success and prosperity, but also due to an inferiority of the races that constitute those cultures. This led to a radical political and moral philosophy within the core that radically rejects most of the basic principles of western civilization, while advocating outwardly for the need of its preservation and the race that created it. As yet, that core was still so isolated from the rapidly expanding fringe groups, this evolution was poorly understood by anyone.

That said, the comparisons to the Nazis or the KKK are inappropriate. It isn’t that they are inappropriate because they are mean, but because this is a new political ideology in its early phases we haven’t seen. Yes, in the Alt Right core there are Nazis, KKK, and all manner of such present, but what we are seeing is radically new, and if we dismiss that aspect, we won’t notice it’s resurgence elsewhere. Note, this is also bad, a terrible ideology, but different from Nazis or the KKK ideologically.

It was around mid to late 2016 that these mentalities became better understood by a majority of those who were starting to identify with the Alt Right fringe groups, which now constituted a majority of the movement. Many of those falling under their umbrella of Alt Right began to make it known that they no longer wanted to be associated with the brand and broke off forming the New Right. This groups is still pretty radical in their rejection of the modern political establishment, while accepting the basic premises of the way the government works. They are also defenders of Western Civilization, it’s ideals, and institutions and many support advocacy for various counter identity groups — such as advocacy for whites, men’s rights groups, and Christians, while rejecting arguments for white supremacy or nationalism.

Currently, the Alt Right is in a phase where the obscurity about them is diminishing. People are becoming more aware of their history and how they came to be networked together. But at the same time, people aren’t. People are seeing more information about the core come out, not realizing that most people who casually associated with them, vastly outnumber that group at that core. The problem with this is that the media and individuals are attacking “The Alt Right” as the same sort of racist bigots that drove many there in the first place. When 90% of the people who identify as a thing don’t fit the description of the stereotype, and are still unaware of the 10% who do, they become alienated, angered and fall closer to the support of the people who don’t call them names… the actual Alt Right. Again, this core group knows this and uses this ideology to create rifts between its fringe members and the outer society, drawing them in closer to the core. This process is fundamentalization and is outwardly identical to what we see with fundamentalized Left wing or fundamentalized Islamic radicals.

This is unfortunate, because I could myself falling into this trap if I had run into slightly different sources a few years ago. I became a big fan of Ben Shapiro, who is an outspoken in his condemnation towards the Alt Right while communicating that people who still don’t know think that because of the attributes I described before — young, smart, articulate, in your face and very much against Left wing culture, that made you Alt Right. I’m really glad I went that way, rather than become more of a fan of personalities like Milo Yiannopoulos, who I enjoyed for a while for his analytics and in your face polemics of the Left, but because of more information I’ve recently gained since then, I’ve been forced to change my views on him. I’m very glad, because I could see many like me falling into the trap, not to supporting the White Nationalism, but to looking the other way or living in denial about what the Alt Right is at it’s core. I could see doing this because I would be one of the many on the fringes trying desperately to make the conversation about the values of Free Speech and the values of Western Civilization’s institutions and ideals.

So that’s a lot of why I wrote this series — Understanding and Dismantling the Alt Right — because I know there are many still in that ring of the circle. They are not hateful, but have been jaded by unfair experiences. They have good and decent ideas that they haven’t felt free to communicate outside for fear of being shouted down by a Left that, to them, has shown anything but its open and tolerant side. I’d like to be able to reach them and pull them away from a fundamentalist trap before the core philosophies of the Alt Right make their way into turning someone who was otherwise a fine person. It’s my opinion that there are still many, many people who would fit that description today, but I think that in the next three years, that won’t be the case. Fundamentalization happens fast, and while I think that many will shed their ties with the Alt Right, many decent people today who don’t see it as a hateful organization will be radicalized in that time. I believe that whoever is still in the Alt Right three years from now, if nothing more is done to stop it, will be radicalized into whatever their ideology truly is. At that point, depending on their size and how much influence they’ve maintained, they could be a very dangerous group. I want to ensure that they don’t get that influence by breaking off the groups that don’t want to head down that road and instead, be included in the modern political discussions and policy making platforms of today.

The Alt Right will still be around, but I want to keep it a group isolated and without the resources it needs to grow and affect change outside of its spheres of influence. My belief is that that can be done with outreach and education ourselves about both Alt Right as well as Left wing fanatics. By doing that, I think we can turn the direction of instability in the country from one of escalating violence and less understanding.

Uncertain Future – Part VI – If the Feds Aren’t Safe, What Makes You?

Ok, so maybe various versions of making people look bad on the internet aren’t nearly as terrifying as legitimate terrorism, but what about the presence of true cybercrime, those who use the internet with no agenda for reform, no desire for publicity, and who 99% of the time, you never knew existed? What about when the threats aren’t out to make you think about some subjective moral wrongdoing, but steal your money and ruin your life. What’s really scary is that no one is safe – quite literally no one. Not even the director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

A group of young hackers, using rather unsophisticated methods, broke into the CIA Director John Brennan’s personal email. So that we are all aware, the director of the CIA is the guy in charge of all US spies and one would thing be well beyond the reach of hackers… especially a group of teenagers. Much to the chagrin of the US government, he really wasn’t. This one, however, wasn’t really his fault. The method the hackers used was to implement a tactic that predates modern computing by only a few thousand years. They pretended to be people they weren’t, tricked a Verizon worker and got Brennan’s email password changed the old fashioned way… by lying. The term they used is “social engineering”. While they didn’t find much, they did find were some documents important to him. Then they bragged about it on Wired. While all of us think this one is hilarious, if a story turns up about a few of these kids turning up missing in a couple of years when no one remembers their antics… don’t say this wasn’t foreseeable.

The same group were responsible for this breach also targeted the FBI… because they are just ballsy I guess… and broke into portals used by police and federal agents to share intel. The site is also used to book suspects, and while it isn’t known how much was taken, hundreds of thousands of users may be vulnerable, many already being leaked following the hack.

2015 saw attack after attack like these, and some of the most massive breaches to internet security the world has yet seen, all with little other incentive than stealing money, stealing information, and extortion. Like my fictional spy from the future, there are many who profit heavily from the information you keep secret. Over the course of the last year, it is estimated that some 70% of the US population experienced some form of cyber attack and over 2.1 billion internet users worldwide.   In a Verizon Study of 90 Security breaches, there were 285 million data exposures. Unsurprisingly, attacks are getting much more advanced, with hackers sometimes using multiple attacks simultaneously to succeed in a breach, such as malware, brute force, and SQL injection. Furthermore, 74% of the attacks were external, meaning that 26% were executed from within the companies we are trusting with our data.  [21]In a related vein, but just as disturbing, we are now seeing more breaches being discovered by employees than outsiders. Traditionally, these sorts of attacks were discovered by feds or other companies detecting the irregularities. [22] Now, it is much more likely that when you’re breached, you’ll be the first to know… which for some of us, isn’t that comforting.

Depending on how you look at this, it could either be welcome news or utterly terrifying. On the one hand, this means that internal security is at least able to grow to the point that they become aware of their own breaches. On the other hand, it means that the number of breaches, and all the possible avenues of failure have become so numerous, that no government agency can possibly be aware of the threats anymore, let alone protect us from them.

The next troubling discovery, this one from the 2014 report, was exactly how big the hacking business is. In spite of the whole last section of activities by groups such as Anonymous, malicious hackers working with financial motives still account for some 60% of cyber crime. Corporate spying, those seeking intellectual property and trade secrets accounted for some 25% (up from previous years). Those hackers who were not set on serious crimes (you know, for the lulz) or hacktivists with some ideological agenda, in spite of all the news, accounted for next to nothing. [23]That means that in spite of internet hacktivists publicised achievements, the vast majority of illicit attacks happen for no other reason than to rob of us of something precious.

Some of the biggest of these hits last year:

  • Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield – 10 million records lost including names, birth dates, social security numbers, mailing addresses, financial accounts, and claims information [24]
  • Anthem Health Insurance – Access to 80 million current and former customers names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and income data [25]
  • Experian – 15 million T-Mobile customers names, addresses, birth dates, drivers’ license ID numbers, and passport numbers. Encrypted Social Security numbers were also stolen, which may provide some measure of safety, but the company warned that encryption may have been compromised [26]
  • Scottrade – 4-6 million customers contact details compromised [27]
  • CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Costco – millions of customers’ credit card, email, postal addresses, phone numbers, and passwords. [28]
  • Donald Trump’s hotel chain – many thousands of guests’ credit card data [29]

Several people probably noticed that last line and thought to themselves, “Ha, that will show the asshat.” Well, we need to think about that one again, don’t we? Who was hurt by the breach at Trump hotels? Innocent people. Really think about who these people are who are hurt; people who slept at a place. Imagine yourself, really just you, getting a hotel anywhere in the world, never really thinking about the guy whose name is on the side of the exterior wall and if one day he may potentially run for President of the United Freaking States. No, you just slept in a place and now your information is floating around the internet by people who are trading it for money. So to those who are getting their lulz right now from finding out that the “Orange carpeted clown” got pwned (“laughing hard at the misfortunes of Donald Trump” for those not accustomed to the vernacular of the lower internet), you’re real a-holes.

To illustrate this point, as shown already, some the biggest breaches didn’t steal money directly. The big payoff was information. Hackers who can get access to data about real people, not just one, but millions of people at a time, are the biggest scores in the illicit industry of online invasion. Stealing a whole database with customer or employee names, birthdays, SSNs, or any other useful private information can open the door for those people to be targeted later for individual attacks. These attacks may be for money, or they can be for more information, perhaps even national secrets, incriminating information for blackmail, or worse. Often, this information is collected and merged into larger databases, where users are profiled and where that which is stolen can be used against them in some of the most terrifying ways imaginable later… like a hack on the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS is a common target of hacking. As the central collection agency for all taxes of all people of the United States, it is one of the largest gold mines ever created. In 2015 it suffered the largest breach in its history. It acknowledged that hackers had gained access to view more than 300,000 previous tax returns. They did this through a tool made available by the IRS called “Get Transcript”. Get Transcript allows users to view old returns. The safety in this system is that it requires numerous layers of identifying information to access Get Transcript and view those old returns. The types of information needed: names, social security numbers, birthdates, addresses – the very same items stolen from the other hacks mentioned above. This means that the hackers were able to make one of the largest internet heists in history, only through access of stolen information, gathered, collected, and organized by other hackers in a cyber black market where your information is the most valuable and most traded commodity there is.

Relying on personal information — like Social Security numbers, birth dates and street addresses — the hackers got through a multistep authentication process. They then used information from the returns to file fraudulent ones, generating nearly $50 million in refunds. [30]

That means that each of the victims were hacked not once, but twice. The big takeaway from the 2015 IRS Hack is that there is growing evidence of the existence of something we are all afraid of. Databases out there that are growing day by day, where cells of each of our data are collected and merged without our permission or our knowledge, and that these databases are being traded by people across the world, with no good intention for us. This leads many to believe in a future decades from now which has no secrets, where all of our information is direct and open to the public. For those of us with bank accounts, street addresses, or children, that’s not the idealistic image of an open society that some would paint. The fact is, we live in a state of danger everyday because of the secrets we entrust to others. In the next few decades, for companies to remain viable, they are going to have to prove they can be trusted with our information. More so than this, if we ever want to feel safe again, perhaps the most valuable enterprise in the future of internet security might not be the next guy who is able to steal our information, but the first guys who figure out how to get it back.

ISIS attacks Muhammad Themed Art Show in Texas – Then They Died.

A recent news event from yesterday centers around a few jihadists’ hapless attack in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. So far, there are reports that at least one of the attackers were on the FBI terror watch list and that he wanted to join jihadist forces, Al-Shabaab in Somalia. The second man is reported as his roommate.

The attack took place on a political protest on Islamic fundamentalism and art show awarding prizes for the best depiction of Muhammad. The show was put together by Pamela Geller. Geller and other organizers are stating the intended purpose of the event is to bring attention to the Islam’s growth in the United States and Europe as well as and the violent nature within large segments of its population. The organizers also have considered the event one demonstrating their rights afforded to them to do so by First Amendment protections and Free Speech privileges. Geller and others also reported that the contest was a response to the Charlie Hebdo attack in which numerous employees of the often offensive magazine were murdered for similar works.

While I would like to agree that this sort of display is religionist by nature, it would take a strong will to not call it embarrassingly prophetic for the religion of peace. Quite honestly, there was nothing stopping the Islamists from mounting a counter-protest at the door with signs instead of guns. It would have done a lot more good. That hasn’t stopped sites like Vox from blaming Geller and the other participants of the protest for provoking their attempted murder. I’m pretty sure that women’s rights activists call that “blaming the victim”… something about short skirts. So, while I will agree that the show was without some degree of taste, it proved a lot more points than the jihadists did. Then again, so was Charlie Hebdo, but that magazine has been heralded for its dedication to free speech and spreading the truth, at least by their standards. Throw an American face on it though and you have a racist. Ironic. Food for thought, the picture above, that’s the first place winner.

Oh well, oddly enough for once, American racism isn’t the main story here. The main story is the attack itself. There are reports that precipitating the attack, one of the shooters announced his intentions on Twitter, which was retweeted by various ISIS accounts, in effect, taking responsibility for it and showing some degree of foreknowledge. During that assault, one police officer was shot in the ankle. He has since been released from the hospital with no further injuries. The two shooters though, both armed with rifles and explosives, were shot and killed by police not long after the attack began. In a powerful show of force, the Garland, TX art show proved to be one of the first times when a premeditated terror attack on a civilian center was prevented with no loss of life (for the good guys anyway) and the terrorists involved (everywhere) thoroughly humiliated in their worthless martyrdom.

Well, Texas police had a response of their own. It sounded something like “Come at me, Bro.”

Whatever your stance on the protest, or whatever your stance on the attack, yesterday was a massive victory against jihadist forces worldwide. They offered a humiliating first strike by ISIS in America, while giving American defense and intelligence agencies much to research in preparation for future attacks. Even more so than this, it showcased the true incompetence of ISIS outside the Middle East while showing the world a humiliating display of terrorist nincompoopery, the jackasses. It also did a great job proving all of us who predicted this sort of thing right, only I could not have hoped for a first blood nearly this good.  Basically, we all need to say to ourselves that it is a good day, for whatever the reason, when 10,000 jihadists simultaneously face palm for the terror attack they were too stupid not to claim as their own.

That said, results stand as followed: Garland Police – 2, Terrorist – 0.

For that, all of Texas earns an eagle.

The Middle Eastern Cold War is Getting a Bit Warmer – Announcement of Joint Military Force by the Arab League

The recent news over the weekend is surrounding the announcement of a pan-Arabic defense force lead by the Arab League. The announcement came from a two day summit in Cairo, consisting of important world leaders from the 22 member states of the Arab League. The summit resolution said the newly unveiled joint Arab defense force would be deployed at the request of any Arab nation facing a national security threat and that it would also be used to combat terrorist groups. Egyptian military and security officials stated that the intention is for the proposed force to consist of up to 40,000 elite troops backed by jet fighters, warships and light armor. The force would likely be headquartered in either Cairo, Egypt or Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

There are many questions surrounding the nature of this military confederation, many of them appearing here on Quora – Arab League Joint Military Force Announcement (March 2015). As of right now, though, there are still more questions than answers. Not much is known as most of the plans for the joint military force have yet to be made. The Cairo summit informed the AP that there will be a Chiefs of Staff meeting within the next month and a plan presented within the next four months for the implementation of the force. Whatever is delivered at that time will determine the scope of operations going forward.

Thus far, the stated purpose seems to be to counter “outside parties” and their military agendas within Arab countries. While many Westerners may believe this relates to American and European interests, it was made very clear that this is directed toward meaning Iran. Iranian backed groups, such as the current threat in Yemen, as well as Hezbollah, and the Iranian backed Shia government in Iraq have left the Arab nations feeling pressure, compounded by the blow delivered to it in 2011 via the Arab Spring. Uprisings and protests have riddled the Arab World since that time and, given the recent push by the Shia backed Iran to fill the void. This combination of threats has solidified many of the 22 Arab League members. Recent military successes in Yemen, have also empowered those backing joint military operations.

It has already been acknowledged, however, it is doubtful that all 22 will be part of the force.

However, it is unlikely that all 22 member nations of the often-fractious Arab League will join the proposed force. Creation of such a force has been a longtime goal that has eluded Arab nations in the 65 years since they signed a rarely used joint defense agreement.

Iraq, whose Shiite government is closely allied with non-Arab and Shiite Iran, has said more time is needed to discuss the proposed force.

What we will probably see it used for immediately is to try to stabilize the Yemen conflict in favor of Arab interests. If it has strong lasting power, we may see it act as a counter balance to Iran and forces like their Quds Force. The Quds are a special forces arm of the Iranian military reporting directly to Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. They are responsible for the Iranian military’s “extraterritorial operations” and reportedly number around 15,000 troops. A good analogy for the Quds would be something comparable to the United States CIA married with the Green Beret and reporting directly to the President while still technically being part of the Department of Defense. Through them, Iran has been able to support military action across multiple agendas throughout the Middle East, most notably through their commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani reportedly taking a prominent role in both the planning & execution of the offensive to liberate Tikrit from ISIL.

Currently, there is no such Arab answer in the Middle East with the means to counteract Iranian influence and capabilities such as they have shown through forces like the Quds. What the Arabs seem to want from the arrangement is a direct action force combining air strike capabilities and ground forces to be capable of quelling any national destabilization, (such as events like the Arab Spring) insurgency (such as the beginning of the Syrian War and current Yemen conflict) as well as counter-terrorism capabilities.

This isn’t, however, the first time such a force has been seriously suggested. Such a force was a major agenda with the Ba’athists since the 1960’s and has been a long established goal of various Arab League states for many years. This has always been hampered by the region’s numerous flaws, suspicions and inability to cooperate strategically across borders. Add to this and the devastating effect of the Arab-Israeli conflicts on Arab cohesion.

To the credit of the Arabs, conflicts throughout the Middle East over the last fifty years have seen a massive, though somewhat quiet, increase in military infrastructure to support such a new force. An example of this is the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq and others like it, a result of the Israeli conflict and the Middle Easts inability to muster forces fast enough to fight back against Israeli assaults. Another fact worth considering is that nations throughout the Middle East have been outspending much of the world for the last decade. Saudi Arabia, for example, has been spending as much as 10% of their annual GDP on defense spending, more than doubling even the United States military’s relative spending.

That said, if this goal does stick, one can’t know what it will lead to. The force’s staying power will mean an escalation of conflict between the Arab League and Tehran, an event which paints a new and altogether more threatening light on the recent nuclear agreements going on with Iran currently. The Arab region’s history of being politically intertwined in all regards with Islam, particularly that of extremist Wahabi/Salifist branches, is obviously concerning, given their own recent attempts at nationalization. Arab military victories would surely see a rise in Arab nationalism, which may see more growth in parties like the remaining Ba’athists, which given their history, could be even more concerning.  These three elements together, an example being a militarized Arab national state with religious backing such as Iraq circa the 1980’s is frightening.What this will mean for places like Israel we can’t know, but I’m personally not looking at that area very positively. In general, the only thing the entire Arab League has agreed on centered on the illegality of the Israeli state. Shifting focus, the presence of such a force will also only increase tensions with Iran. Finally, a militarized Arab League does hold the long term threat of one day pushing the West, such as the United States, Europe, and the UN out of many Arab countries altogether.


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Quora Answers: Does President Barack Obama’s decision to stop deporting some illegal immigrants violate his oath of office?

I would say that it isn’t quite a violation of his oath. More a choice on distribution of resources, but it does set a dangerous precedent and I don’t think it is a good idea. 
What the President is advocating is that we should focus our immigration efforts away from nonviolent immigrants and focus it elsewhere. While this is sound in reasoning it is also going to put even more pressure on some of the hardest hit of the last recession and channel taxpayer funds away from their intended recipients. While I like that the President is advocating we do the right thing for these people, I disagree with it because to do so would hurt many Americans and many more Americans do not agree with this policy. I am also worried that this policy won’t actually have any power or affect any change to help those in question, but may just be a ploy to sway Latino voters. That is the short answer, here is the long one…

What is really being said here?
What the President is advocating is that a group of illegal immigrants no longer fall under the threat of deportation. This isn’t amnesty and it isn’t citizenship. It is just not being deported, according to his words. This group, according to the press conference of the President, will be limited to those who:

  • Were brought here by their parents at a young age.
  • Have been here for 5 years or more.
  • Are seeking to go to college or join the military.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video…

I try to be fair in my posts, so you will see pros and cons. I have my opinion and I will share it, but I will also try and give alternative points of view as well.

Pros:
The immigration system will be able to focus it’s efforts on more dangerous criminal immigrants and be diverted from less dangerous threats such as students. 
One of the arguments mentioned that there was a need to fix the broken immigration system. This is true and has been for a very long time. The borders, particularly the southern border, has been a highway for criminal smuggling activity for decades. This is a main route for drugs, weapons and human trafficking into the United States and black market money out. This argument is not concerned that too many people entering are flooding labor markets, but that without the secure borders we are allowing dangerous contraband to enter the states and even more dangerous people. Here the argument makes sense because the initiative does focus efforts where they will be most useful.

More suspicious and deserving of our attention…

Than this.

Some very good talent will be kept in the United States that would have otherwise been lost through deportation.
I have a great deal of faith in many immigrants who come into this country. They possess within them a great courage and enthusiasm, enough to leave their homeland and start fresh among strangers. Immigrants and first generation Americans have the highest rates of entrepreneurship in the country and are serving as much of the foundation of our economy. Many come here just seeking work and don’t come with baggage that many of my fellow white privileged Americans seem to hold. We feel entitled and a lack humility. Many of the Chinese and Mexicans that I have known and work with in particular exemplify this mentality of hard work and humility while leading a quiet life. They add to not only the countries financial wealth, but also her cultural, moral and social wealth as well. If those who fit this description, a reasonable filter being those seeking higher education, are ignored by immigration then perhaps that is a better use of INS resources and might not be the worst thing.

Cons:
There are already programs in place to protect immigrants who seek college education and service in the military.
While I was in service in the United States Marine Corps I served with several illegal immigrants. Of course they had become naturalized citizens by this time, but I, as a home grown white American was in shock the United States would allow such people into the forces! (This statement was meant in sarcasm people, unbunch your britches.) But it was a surprise to me. Several of them described a process of expedited citizenship in exchange for service in the military. That being said, I am not an expert on this process, but I am aware that it already exists and doesn’t just offer protection, but citizenship. Along with military service comes veteran benefits including the GI Bill and loans for housing. There are also other programs in place to aid illegal immigrants in college already in place that I will mention later down. So the President’s statement seems at best misleading, at worst creating a new solution to an already fixed problem. In the case of these other Marines, many of them were my friends and I trusted them very much. As a born citizen I think that those who leave behind their homeland, pick up weapons and fight our wars beside the “true” Americans don’t just need to be awarded citizenship, there needs to be a statue somewhere in their honor. That, however is a different post. The point is, this program already exists, why is he selling a new one?

This is already the standard practice of INS.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service is already fighting one of the toughest unsung wars in US history. They are undermanned and patrol a massive area. By practice their policies already focus on the most dangerous and the most trafficked areas. They already put much more effort into apprehending those who are a danger to the citizens of the United States than they ever would to a college student. The President in his speech remarked that in recent years there has been a great increase in dangerous immigrant captures. This could not have been done checking ID’s at the local community college in Denton, Texas or any other college campus for that matter. It also can’t be done by “being a nation that expels young kids” which is a quote from the speech that seemed more intended to incite an emotional response rather than reflect what statistically is not the case with the majority of deportations.

This represents the President choosing to ignore certain mandates for certain people.
This is really the heart of the question that Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez was pointing to. By saying that laws set about can be ignored he is saying that he has the power to prosecute whomever he wishes, even treating two people differently who are guilty of the same crime. This is a funny grey area since in this case neither are citizens of the United States, but the ramifications are scary. Could the President or future Presidents one day do the same for other groups, Democrat/Republican, Black/White, Male/Female? I believe that was the direction Mr. Gonzalez was pointing to. No matter how nice it would be a President should not have the power to choose who they do and do not punish. This reasoning places the President’s moral high ground and doing the right thing ideals on a foundation built on very sandy soil. That being said, he would certainly not be the first president, Republican or Democrat (or Federalist) to do this, in all fairness.

This is in opposition to the wishes of many, many American people.
While the issue is deeply contested most Americans worry about too much immigration. They are concerned about dispersal of jobs, resources such as in the public schools and entitlement funds for a growing portion of the population that goes largely untaxed. They feel that if the investment in tax payer dollars is made in these young people there is no guarantee that they will stay around to better America for it. There is also a large argument brewing between the differences in American illegal immigration policy and the much more severe policies of other countries, one ironically being Mexico. This worries a lot of people. Whatever your particular stance on this issue is, a very large number of Americans do not support any program they feel makes it easier for illegal immigrants to take advantage of American wealth. Since so many feel this way, it leads me to say that the President’s job isn’t to decide when the American people are wrong, but to be a conduit for their wishes. He is their elected representative to the most powerful position in the United States. For that reason, I would view that it is his obligation to follow the expressed wishes of the majority and not decide on his own what is right.

This hurts the Americans who right now are already suffering greatly.
Another major concern is that this new policy will create a massive surge in college attendance. While at face value this sounds like a wonderful thing, there are issues with this. The problem with many schools today is that they have already dumbed down the curriculum to open their doors for less serious students and gain their tuition. This is creating a generation of college graduates little better off and with no fewer skills than when they entered school. To confound this with a flood of students not interested in learning, but on not getting deported would only dilute the school systems efficacy further. This brings about the question of payment. There are already numerous government grants that reward a great deal of college tuition based only on household income. Proof of citizenship is not an issue and therefore, government money is used to compensate non citizens for attending college. This too reflects a bad policy diverting funds intended for the American poor to non-Americans. Skip ahead a few years and you have a massive influx into the job market for people aged 22-28.

This group recently has been hit the hardest with the unemployment crisis ranging at times of 25% unemployment. While the average unemployment during the recession was between 9-10% the young college graduates struggled around 14%. This being due to slow growth in the economy, the lack of growth in entry level jobs and few start-ups in non-tech industries. These people are already having hard times getting their carriers off the ground and to invite more competition would be inviting failure for all parties involved. This sub-crisis has been a major contributor to many of the recent politcal action of youth like the Occupy protests.  While I disagree with much of the movements rationalities I do see their point of view in this struggle. We already have a country who’s economy can’t support it’s current college graduates, what good would more and less educated ones do? You have to ask, “As a country do we want to weaken one of our most vunerable groups of proven talent by inviting, supporting and protecting non-citizens?”

In summary…
No. I do not think that this is expressly going against the President’s oath. He is choosing to govern the resources of agencies like the INS in a more efficient way. He is also not dealing with American citizens in how he chooses to follow the laws or mandates. I do however think that is policy is a bad one because:

  1. It doesn’t actually create any new programs that don’t already exist in one way another or are not already the standard practice.
  2. It could put new pressures on schools and the labor market hurting American citizens.
  3. It is built around the story of the “hard working, good grade earning kid who has never done anything wrong” who has historically never been the real target of deportation. This is an emotional pull which diverts people from issues and dilutes them in idealism and racial debate.
  4. Is against the wishes of many, many Americans. As I mentioned before, it is the role of a president to be the representative of the people, not the one who decided when they are wrong.

My final concern is one also shared by the Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, that the President may be trying to use this as a hook to gain Latino voters a few months before the election. These of course are actual citizens, but sympathetic to many illegal immigrants today.

The Youth of the Church; The Future of the Nation

I am writing this article to address a few trends that seem to be affecting the church, specifically those in the youth about to be adults most like Tanner. Tanner, while achieving much for his age, is young and has a future ahead of him and now is entering the phase of life where he and those like him will be making the most important decisions of their lives. I feel the church, for the most part, has directed them toward a path where they can’t succeed in the modern world and can’t fully take part in shaping and guiding it anymore. This is part of why so many are steering away from the church and why the church is steering so far from the rest of American culture, bad and good. I wrote this article to try and focus on the direction being given to these young people and perhaps direct readers of Tanner’s and my blog in how they should encourage their youth in the future.

So have you ever said to yourself something to the effect of “Politicians can’t be trusted?” Have you ever said that “All businessmen are greedy and corrupt?” Have you ever wondered why? Because they aren’t Christian anymore. For the most part, Christians have stayed away from the business and political scene for the better part of three generations. But why? Let me put it this way…

Have you ever said any of these things… around your kids?

I know it is something most of us don’t think about often, but ask yourself, what careers am I pushing my kids toward? For many of Tanner’s younger readers, ask what careers where you pushed to? I think though, we should also consider, what are you pushing from?

Many are raised with the idea that ideal Christian careers involve hard work such as construction. Carpentry seems to be popular among Christians (wonder why?) Other career paths include careers that involve some sort of service like the medical field, doctors and nurses (but not gynecologists, that is for the sinners of medicine), and education to become teachers.  Another career path widely encouraged in church circles is the military. I was a Marine and I am still a little baffled at why so many in my church were so proud of me for doing a job that on a good day killed people… But they did. My wife says it has much to do with the service and sacrifice aspect of the job, which I understand. I  still think they just haven’t really thought about it much though.

But what about big business? What is the first thing you think about me when I say I would one day like to own the next Chase bank or be the next Bill Gates? What if I said I would like to one day be a successful venture capitalist? Would you think I was greedy? What if I said I wanted to be a successful politician? That I wanted to be a Senator and work on Capitol Hill? Would you think my goals are to be corrupt, filling my pockets with kickbacks before I become a lobbyist, making millions to influence others while manipulating the democratic system? You may not think that about me in general, but if you were to meet someone on the street with these goals, you wouldn’t think very well of career business people and career politicians.

Why is that? Over the course of history some of the most important people in American history filled these roles. Politicians were once also viewed as a noble profession, public servants, stewards of the community. Businessmen once were viewed as the fiercely independent founders of the American wealth and prosperity. John Pierpont Morgan was one of the most influential business leaders in America. He built massive companies in his day. He also engineered programs and deals that helped to prevent two massive American breakdowns in the American economic system.  He was also a lifelong member of his church and one of it’s most influential leaders. His grandfather was a preacher and influenced him greatly. He could be found alone often in silent prayer for hours at his local church.

The founding fathers were also religious men as well as politicians. Benjamin Franklin is quoted to saying

“Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshiped…As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see.”

Seems pretty straight forward. What about Thomas Jefferson, the supposed atheist of the founders?

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?”

So it is possible to have moral leadership, both in business and politics. Then why is it that these two fields of achievement are so shrouded in the belief that they are corrupt, Godless and without morals?

Because good Christians aren’t supposed to want to do those things.

When I was a child I remember being told that the rich are nothing but greedy and that politicians are liars. I heard that a good Christian job was physical labor, medicine, teaching or the military and that these were the only honorable things available to me. Then I joined the Marines and during that time I realized that those who affect the most change, have the greatest impact on society are not on that list, not directly, not individually. Those with the most direct and individual influence on America are those people of business and leadership, which Christianity shuns.

The problem I see is that for three generations now, young Christians have been pushed by fellow Christians away from these fields and resulted in a growing movement where Christians do not welcome them and are not welcomed by them.  And as a result of this, Christians are growing farther and farther from the socioeconomic center of America. They are losing their place as leaders in its future and are alienating themselves from its people. So while I see many posts going up about the Decline of Christianity in America and the general idea that we are becoming a Godless nation, I say to you “What did you expect? You teach your young people to join you in seclusion from the society they are part of.”

But things don’t need to be this way. In the future we need to encourage our young people to be those leaders of tomorrow. We need to encourage them with stories of great Christian businessmen and politicians, so that they can lead Americans with a Christian perspective. They can recommunicate the values of Christianity in a way society is able to understand and perhaps fix some of the problems we are seeing in society today from hatred of Christians to .

That’s why I am glad to be invited to speak on Tanner’s blog. He is an example of the future of Christianity and the future of America. In the next few years, people his age are going to be making the decisions that will put them in positions where they can have a great resounding impact on us all. I hope that you will encourage them to do something great.

Be entrepreneurs. Solve humanity’s problems with new ideas, new innovations and give people jobs. Make yourselves very wealthy and remember who blessed you with your success. Then tithe.

Be politicians. Become leaders who set a great example to all Americans of what a great person is and should be. Become directly involved in the decision-making process and therefore have greater potential to influence the aspects of society you see that can be fixed.

Don’t live a mundane life complaining about the rich, the wealthy and the powerful. Become them and set a new precedent.

***This post has been duel posted on Opinionz Matter by Tanner Brumbarger . I have been invited to guest post to Tanner’s blog and hopefully this will help drive a bit more traffic to Jon’s Deep Thoughts.