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Liberalism in America

Grape
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4/24/2011 2:30:11 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Warning: this is an essay. If you don't want to read one, don't. I'll try to avoid charleslb-ness by not sucking at writing, but I'm not the best.

I would like to share an experience I had a few days ago that I think illustrates my disillusionment with social liberalism in America today:

While visiting colleges in Boston, I was riding on a bus transporting students to the three more 'elite' universities (Harvard, MIT, and Tufts) in the upper-class part of the city. Sitting near me on the bus were a group of Hispanic and African American students who were discussing their experiences with discrimination and inequality.

They talked for what felt like quite a while about the social effects of race, about specific instances of discrimination, and about how much harder it was to succeed as a 'minority' (the issue of an individual being a minority aside). All the while they typed away on their Blackberries.

The conversation soon shifted to the devices because all five of them owned one. They talked about how they had just replaced their old iPhone or Droid with the better Blackberry. While they talked away about the struggles of being a certain color, I could not help but notice that they wore clothes that people from my neighborhood cannot normally afford.

I don't live in poverty by any means, and I am not displeased with my economic situation. I come from a family in which everyone is expected to work and some people have gotten pretty far, though no one has gone to college. My father was recently laid off from his job (supervising car manufacturing) and is currently waiting for an opening in a company he had previously been involved with , so we have had to tighten our belts.

Needless to say, I do not own a Blackberry. I technically have the money to afford one, but it certainly wouldn't be worth the labor I put in. My cell phone was given to me as a gift by my uncle when he got a new one a few years ago. The very idea of spending so much more money for such a limited increase in usefulness strikes me as wasteful and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Because endless bounty does not flow into my hands like a gift from Heaven, it would come as a surprise to many of these people that I am white. However much they talk about white privilege, I still have had to live within my means. These people who complain that they lack such wonderful privileges as I enjoy see no inconsistency in boasting about the expensive electronics, new cars, and other fancy gifts that their Ivy League-educated, wealthy parents can afford for them. There is no inconsistency in their minds praising affirmative action despite their selective private schools (that no one in my family has ever heard of) and despite their private tutors. The white student who went to an average public school and studied for the SAT with a book at the kitchen table is necessarily at some advantage (perhaps the test included an excerpt from a book that white people like?).

To begin to mention this inconsistency would be worse than heresy. It is the embodiment of both latent hatred (latent, of course, because otherwise the fact that one feels no ill will could be presented as evidence against this charge) and total ignorance. The allegedly dominant group simply does not recognize the extent of its dominance, they say. This is ironically quite true, but the liberal dogma is entirely unconcerned with the factual matter of which individuals are better or worse off. Certain groups have already been selected as sanctified. In this regard, bad liberalism is no different than bad conservatism except in the groups it chooses to unquestioningly favor. Its claims to be on the side of the underdog are based on a simplified understanding of the social reality and do not legitimize dogmatism.

It is my belief in the philosophical underpinnings of social liberalism that has pushed me away from social liberalism as it is practiced by the East Coast elites who are the liberal mainstream. It has ceased to become a quest to identify, understand, and combat harmful social norms, irrational and damaging traditions, and unjustified assumptions and become a task to crusade, with all the bigotry of the defeated social conservative movement, for the victimized groups. That homosexuals are systematically denied their rights and discriminated against has actually become subordinate, intellectually though not yet overtly, to the fact that they are a "special group" that liberals must defend. The reality of the situation is thrown out and ignored in favor of a divisive mentality reminiscent of the tribalism that the thinking forms of social liberalism have so righteously condemned.

I could go on about the failure of liberalism further and further, but I think I have expressed what I meant to. As an ideology, it is very much an intellectual "God that failed." Openness, rational inquiry, and rigorous skepticism, the vital components of a genuine approach toward understanding the world, have been thrown by the wayside. They are incompatible with the simplicism, dogmatism, and groupthink that have proven to be necessary for a belief system to become mainstream. I will have none of it: the truth has no alliances and no agenda and neither can those who seek it.
andyh
Posts: 31
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4/24/2011 9:23:38 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/24/2011 2:30:11 AM, Grape wrote:
Warning: this is an essay. If you don't want to read one, don't. I'll try to avoid charleslb-ness by not sucking at writing, but I'm not the best.

I would like to share an experience I had a few days ago that I think illustrates my disillusionment with social liberalism in America today:

While visiting colleges in Boston, I was riding on a bus transporting students to the three more 'elite' universities (Harvard, MIT, and Tufts) in the upper-class part of the city. Sitting near me on the bus were a group of Hispanic and African American students who were discussing their experiences with discrimination and inequality.

They talked for what felt like quite a while about the social effects of race, about specific instances of discrimination, and about how much harder it was to succeed as a 'minority' (the issue of an individual being a minority aside). All the while they typed away on their Blackberries.

The conversation soon shifted to the devices because all five of them owned one. They talked about how they had just replaced their old iPhone or Droid with the better Blackberry. While they talked away about the struggles of being a certain color, I could not help but notice that they wore clothes that people from my neighborhood cannot normally afford.

I don't live in poverty by any means, and I am not displeased with my economic situation. I come from a family in which everyone is expected to work and some people have gotten pretty far, though no one has gone to college. My father was recently laid off from his job (supervising car manufacturing) and is currently waiting for an opening in a company he had previously been involved with , so we have had to tighten our belts.

Needless to say, I do not own a Blackberry. I technically have the money to afford one, but it certainly wouldn't be worth the labor I put in. My cell phone was given to me as a gift by my uncle when he got a new one a few years ago. The very idea of spending so much more money for such a limited increase in usefulness strikes me as wasteful and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Because endless bounty does not flow into my hands like a gift from Heaven, it would come as a surprise to many of these people that I am white. However much they talk about white privilege, I still have had to live within my means. These people who complain that they lack such wonderful privileges as I enjoy see no inconsistency in boasting about the expensive electronics, new cars, and other fancy gifts that their Ivy League-educated, wealthy parents can afford for them. There is no inconsistency in their minds praising affirmative action despite their selective private schools (that no one in my family has ever heard of) and despite their private tutors. The white student who went to an average public school and studied for the SAT with a book at the kitchen table is necessarily at some advantage (perhaps the test included an excerpt from a book that white people like?).

To begin to mention this inconsistency would be worse than heresy. It is the embodiment of both latent hatred (latent, of course, because otherwise the fact that one feels no ill will could be presented as evidence against this charge) and total ignorance. The allegedly dominant group simply does not recognize the extent of its dominance, they say. This is ironically quite true, but the liberal dogma is entirely unconcerned with the factual matter of which individuals are better or worse off. Certain groups have already been selected as sanctified. In this regard, bad liberalism is no different than bad conservatism except in the groups it chooses to unquestioningly favor. Its claims to be on the side of the underdog are based on a simplified understanding of the social reality and do not legitimize dogmatism.

It is my belief in the philosophical underpinnings of social liberalism that has pushed me away from social liberalism as it is practiced by the East Coast elites who are the liberal mainstream. It has ceased to become a quest to identify, understand, and combat harmful social norms, irrational and damaging traditions, and unjustified assumptions and become a task to crusade, with all the bigotry of the defeated social conservative movement, for the victimized groups. That homosexuals are systematically denied their rights and discriminated against has actually become subordinate, intellectually though not yet overtly, to the fact that they are a "special group" that liberals must defend. The reality of the situation is thrown out and ignored in favor of a divisive mentality reminiscent of the tribalism that the thinking forms of social liberalism have so righteously condemned.

I could go on about the failure of liberalism further and further, but I think I have expressed what I meant to. As an ideology, it is very much an intellectual "God that failed." Openness, rational inquiry, and rigorous skepticism, the vital components of a genuine approach toward understanding the world, have been thrown by the wayside. They are incompatible with the simplicism, dogmatism, and groupthink that have proven to be necessary for a belief system to become mainstream. I will have none of it: the truth has no alliances and no agenda and neither can those who seek it.

One particular flaw in the scenario you use as an example above, is the vast generalisation. Simply because discrimination and racial inequality exists, does not therefore necessitate that all those minorities discriminated against will therefore without exception be in a 'worse-off' position than the majority.

There will of course be extremely well-off people from ethnic minorities. There will be those who are of affluent and successful backgrounds.

You also speak loosely of these people on the bus owning blackberrys and wearing what look like expensive clothes. Here, you have made several questionable assumptions. First - how they got them, and second, that if they had these items it therefore would designate them as wealthy or affluent.

I do not live in the US myself, but know that in poorer areas in the UK sometimes having these items like expensive phones and clothes becomes very much status symbols. Many of those from lower social classes or poorer backgrounds will own them, and it is not for us to question whether the wasted their money etc.

While the rest of your critique of Liberalism is more sound (whilst I disagree), I cannot help but overlook the incoherence of your original example.
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
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4/24/2011 10:20:57 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/24/2011 9:23:38 AM, andyh wrote:
I do not live in the US myself, but know that in poorer areas in the UK sometimes having these items like expensive phones and clothes becomes very much status symbols. Many of those from lower social classes or poorer backgrounds will own them, and it is not for us to question whether the wasted their money etc.


lol
I question whether they wasted their money...

and there's nothing you can do about it :P
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
andyh
Posts: 31
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4/24/2011 10:25:00 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/24/2011 10:20:57 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
At 4/24/2011 9:23:38 AM, andyh wrote:
I do not live in the US myself, but know that in poorer areas in the UK sometimes having these items like expensive phones and clothes becomes very much status symbols. Many of those from lower social classes or poorer backgrounds will own them, and it is not for us to question whether the wasted their money etc.


lol
I question whether they wasted their money...

and there's nothing you can do about it :P

well in monetary terms, you don't know if they were expensive even or not :P
i for example have a blackberry, but it was free on upgrade from my old phone for having been with the service provider for so long....
Grape
Posts: 989
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4/24/2011 12:32:13 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
They were quite well off. They also mentioned new cars, elite private schools (included George W. Bush's alma mater), parents owning this company or that, etc. The focus on the Blackberries was more symbolic; Blackberries aren't really that expensive. I don't think I'm jumping to conclusions by thinking that if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.
JustaWriter
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4/24/2011 12:45:14 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Blackberries and clothing aside, you have demonstrated a very real problem with our society, and that is that despite several advancements, we still suffer from stereotypes. This particular stereotype is one that nobody feels the need to address, and that's the notion that white automatically means privileged.

There are several race based college grants that would give minorities a jump start on their education and life that Caucasians don't have. And it would be considered an abomination for somebody to start up something like a United Caucasian College Fund.

There is also a huge divide between genders. While helping my children look for funding for college, I was able to find more for my daughter than for my son. It is assumed that Caucasian males are already advanced enough, leaving those that aren't to fend for themselves.

ALL stereotypes need to be released before we can truly become equal.
andyh
Posts: 31
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4/24/2011 2:41:41 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/24/2011 12:45:14 PM, JustaWriter wrote:
Blackberries and clothing aside, you have demonstrated a very real problem with our society, and that is that despite several advancements, we still suffer from stereotypes. This particular stereotype is one that nobody feels the need to address, and that's the notion that white automatically means privileged.

There are several race based college grants that would give minorities a jump start on their education and life that Caucasians don't have. And it would be considered an abomination for somebody to start up something like a United Caucasian College Fund.

There is also a huge divide between genders. While helping my children look for funding for college, I was able to find more for my daughter than for my son. It is assumed that Caucasian males are already advanced enough, leaving those that aren't to fend for themselves.

ALL stereotypes need to be released before we can truly become equal.

However he is trying to deal with a stereotype by making a stereotype. Perhaps in the States though things are rather different.
Grape
Posts: 989
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4/24/2011 4:30:25 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/24/2011 2:41:41 PM, andyh wrote:

However he is trying to deal with a stereotype by making a stereotype. Perhaps in the States though things are rather different.

What stereotype am I making? That rich people are rich, and that being rich is an advantage? Those are safe assumptions.
andyh
Posts: 31
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4/24/2011 5:18:18 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/24/2011 4:30:25 PM, Grape wrote:
At 4/24/2011 2:41:41 PM, andyh wrote:

However he is trying to deal with a stereotype by making a stereotype. Perhaps in the States though things are rather different.

What stereotype am I making? That rich people are rich, and that being rich is an advantage? Those are safe assumptions.

No that the people on the bus you saw are representative. You're then stereotyping or generalising the rest based on this people. The point i'm making is that rich people exist from all ethnicities, but they can't be used to generalise the whole population.
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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4/24/2011 5:18:28 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I will tell you my story. Every Friday morning around 9:45ish i do my weekly food shopping at my local supermarket. I work hard for my money, and have earned what i have, but i am not extravagant. One day there was a Caucasian couple, young in front of me checking out. They had two carriages filled with food, and i waited and waited. At the end of their checkout there apparently was some sort of problem. Forever i waited and watched as they went through the receipt with the couple.

The problem they had was they were paying with a welfare debit card, and they were insisting there was enough money on the card. However the problem was with the lobster they were buying. You see it's okay to buy lobster on welfare, but welfare won't pay to have it cooked, and they had the store prepare their lobster for them - and this welfare wouldn't pay. So rest assured that your tax money isn't being squandered by people having their lobster dinner's cooked for them, they will have to actually cook their lobsters themselves. Oh, but i should say that the couple weren't interested in buying the cooked lobsters and told the store to keep them.

I will never forget that.
PARADIGM_L0ST
Posts: 6,958
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4/24/2011 5:26:41 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I could go on about the failure of liberalism further and further, but I think I have expressed what I meant to.:

Liberalism, as it is defined in contemporary terms, starts with a good base. They're generally kind people who want to help those who are less fortunate. No one can deny that they aren't well-intentioned.

However, liberals are a lot like sycophantic, ambulance-chasing lawyers. They're always on the hunt for people to martyr, and it certainly seems to be more about their willingness to help than it is about the people they're actually helping. They purposely look for people who are either victimized, or people they can make others believe are being victimized.
"Have you ever considered suicide? If not, please do." -- Mouthwash (to Inferno)
Rob1_Billion
Posts: 1,300
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4/25/2011 10:37:11 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/24/2011 5:26:41 PM, PARADIGM_L0ST wrote:
I could go on about the failure of liberalism further and further, but I think I have expressed what I meant to.:

Liberalism, as it is defined in contemporary terms, starts with a good base. They're generally kind people who want to help those who are less fortunate. No one can deny that they aren't well-intentioned.

However, liberals are a lot like sycophantic, ambulance-chasing lawyers. They're always on the hunt for people to martyr, and it certainly seems to be more about their willingness to help than it is about the people they're actually helping. They purposely look for people who are either victimized, or people they can make others believe are being victimized.

OK I'll agree but they are only the ying. Republicans are the yang: going out of their way to deny environmental problems, perpetuate social problems, and using all the same dirty tricks as the left (exageration, manipulation, etc.).

You can criticize the left all day long, and I can criticize the right. At the end of the day that leaves us in a stalemate. People are getting poorer, the environment is getting worse, countries are building nukes, and politicians are becoming more polarized.
kfc
andyh
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4/25/2011 10:39:00 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/25/2011 10:37:11 AM, Rob1_Billion wrote:
At 4/24/2011 5:26:41 PM, PARADIGM_L0ST wrote:
I could go on about the failure of liberalism further and further, but I think I have expressed what I meant to.:

Liberalism, as it is defined in contemporary terms, starts with a good base. They're generally kind people who want to help those who are less fortunate. No one can deny that they aren't well-intentioned.

However, liberals are a lot like sycophantic, ambulance-chasing lawyers. They're always on the hunt for people to martyr, and it certainly seems to be more about their willingness to help than it is about the people they're actually helping. They purposely look for people who are either victimized, or people they can make others believe are being victimized.

OK I'll agree but they are only the ying. Republicans are the yang: going out of their way to deny environmental problems, perpetuate social problems, and using all the same dirty tricks as the left (exageration, manipulation, etc.).

You can criticize the left all day long, and I can criticize the right. At the end of the day that leaves us in a stalemate. People are getting poorer, the environment is getting worse, countries are building nukes, and politicians are becoming more polarized.

republicans are the tools of the neo-conservatives who believe every fear story that is thrown at them. if anyone wants to challenge me to a debate on the neo-conservative created al-qaeda myth, i'd be happy to go for it.
Grape
Posts: 989
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4/25/2011 5:27:32 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/25/2011 10:37:11 AM, Rob1_Billion wrote:

OK I'll agree but they are only the ying. Republicans are the yang: going out of their way to deny environmental problems, perpetuate social problems, and using all the same dirty tricks as the left (exageration, manipulation, etc.).

You can criticize the left all day long, and I can criticize the right. At the end of the day that leaves us in a stalemate. People are getting poorer, the environment is getting worse, countries are building nukes, and politicians are becoming more polarized.

I will also criticize the right. I never said that the right doesn't due any of those things (it's quite well established that they do). I don't accept that simple left/right dichotomy because their are plenty of things that both groups are wrong about and plenty more that they have somewhat right for all the wrong reasons.
Grape
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4/25/2011 5:35:28 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/25/2011 10:39:00 AM, andyh wrote:
republicans are the tools of the neo-conservatives who believe every fear story that is thrown at them. if anyone wants to challenge me to a debate on the neo-conservative created al-qaeda myth, i'd be happy to go for it.

You would debate that al-Qaeda is a myth invented by neoconservatives? I'm pretty sure they're a real organization.

This also illustrates another problem with mainstream liberalism that I didn't mention: they assume everything who disagrees with them is a capitalist fatcat, tool of a capitalist fatcat, or a gun-toted redneck. Because no one with an IQ over 85 who's not a tool or an evil bastard with an agenda could possibly disagree with ME on anything, I've got the world figured out.

Realize that there will be many intelligent people who will disagree with you on just about everything. I went to a lecture at the #4 graduate school of international relations in the world at which the(liberal-leaning, Obama-supporting) professor argued that US military intervention is affordable and beneficial for the future. I don't agree with him but I don't think he was stupid or on a mission to promote militarism. There are some things that simply are debatable and many intelligent people take each side.
andyh
Posts: 31
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4/25/2011 6:25:45 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/25/2011 5:35:28 PM, Grape wrote:
At 4/25/2011 10:39:00 AM, andyh wrote:
republicans are the tools of the neo-conservatives who believe every fear story that is thrown at them. if anyone wants to challenge me to a debate on the neo-conservative created al-qaeda myth, i'd be happy to go for it.

You would debate that al-Qaeda is a myth invented by neoconservatives? I'm pretty sure they're a real organization.

This also illustrates another problem with mainstream liberalism that I didn't mention: they assume everything who disagrees with them is a capitalist fatcat, tool of a capitalist fatcat, or a gun-toted redneck. Because no one with an IQ over 85 who's not a tool or an evil bastard with an agenda could possibly disagree with ME on anything, I've got the world figured out.

Realize that there will be many intelligent people who will disagree with you on just about everything. I went to a lecture at the #4 graduate school of international relations in the world at which the(liberal-leaning, Obama-supporting) professor argued that US military intervention is affordable and beneficial for the future. I don't agree with him but I don't think he was stupid or on a mission to promote militarism. There are some things that simply are debatable and many intelligent people take each side.

No I believe Al Qaeda does not exist as the West is led to believe it exists. I do believe there are many groups that call themselves 'Al Qaeda', after all its quite a common title for militant groups in the Arab world meaning 'the base'. But they aren't all united. I don't believe there are as many 'sleeper cells' all over the world as we are led to believe. I'm also quite undecided on Bin Laden's whole role in things. While I'm sure he's a terrorist/high profile criminal, I imagine that he has been only really used as a figurehead because of his endless supplies of cash. I'm not sure he's the mastermind behind all the attacks that he's made out to be. (these are not unsubstantiated claims, I do study this). I also accept that there are those far more intelligent than me out there who would disagree. But there are also those far more intelligent than me who would agree. And in this case I think the answer is quite definitive. I'm either right or wrong. So I'd be happy to debate about it if you're up for it in a couple days time??
Grape
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4/25/2011 6:57:34 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/25/2011 6:25:45 PM, andyh wrote:
No I believe Al Qaeda does not exist as the West is led to believe it exists. I do believe there are many groups that call themselves 'Al Qaeda', after all its quite a common title for militant groups in the Arab world meaning 'the base'. But they aren't all united. I don't believe there are as many 'sleeper cells' all over the world as we are led to believe. I'm also quite undecided on Bin Laden's whole role in things. While I'm sure he's a terrorist/high profile criminal, I imagine that he has been only really used as a figurehead because of his endless supplies of cash. I'm not sure he's the mastermind behind all the attacks that he's made out to be. (these are not unsubstantiated claims, I do study this). I also accept that there are those far more intelligent than me out there who would disagree. But there are also those far more intelligent than me who would agree. And in this case I think the answer is quite definitive. I'm either right or wrong. So I'd be happy to debate about it if you're up for it in a couple days time??

No, actually I think that your assessment is reasonably accurate. Your previous statement lead me to believe you thought it was some kind of conspiracy
andyh
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4/26/2011 6:03:41 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/25/2011 6:57:34 PM, Grape wrote:
At 4/25/2011 6:25:45 PM, andyh wrote:
No I believe Al Qaeda does not exist as the West is led to believe it exists. I do believe there are many groups that call themselves 'Al Qaeda', after all its quite a common title for militant groups in the Arab world meaning 'the base'. But they aren't all united. I don't believe there are as many 'sleeper cells' all over the world as we are led to believe. I'm also quite undecided on Bin Laden's whole role in things. While I'm sure he's a terrorist/high profile criminal, I imagine that he has been only really used as a figurehead because of his endless supplies of cash. I'm not sure he's the mastermind behind all the attacks that he's made out to be. (these are not unsubstantiated claims, I do study this). I also accept that there are those far more intelligent than me out there who would disagree. But there are also those far more intelligent than me who would agree. And in this case I think the answer is quite definitive. I'm either right or wrong. So I'd be happy to debate about it if you're up for it in a couple days time??

No, actually I think that your assessment is reasonably accurate. Your previous statement lead me to believe you thought it was some kind of conspiracy

Well, I think that the neo-cons would like us to believe that Al Qaeda is in our back yard planning the next attack, taking orders from HQ somewhere in the north west frontier region of Pakistan.