Thursday, April 17, 2014

Double Standards (again)

I watched the 2011 movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, based on the John le Carré novel written before he became quite so consumed with his own Left-wing politics.  As a young man, I had tried to watch the Alec Guinness miniseries, but didn’t have the attention span.  Happily, this movie moves at a better clip.  The movie and book is a fictional retelling of hunt for the Cambridge Five.

One of the more bracing moments of the movie is when the staff of “The Circus” (MI-6)’s Russian Section breaks into a spirited rendition of the Soviet National Anthem, led by a Santa Claus wearing a Lenin mask:

from “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

I laughed out loud at the sheer give-a-sh!t ballsiness of ironically singing the national anthem of your mortal enemies for entertainment at your annual Christmas Party.  But . . . I can’t help notice that while Soviet era art is treated as harmless kitsch, it would be hard to find any portrayal of, say, WWII analysts singing Deutschlandlied, let alone the Horst Wessel Song, to similarly humorous effect.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Define "Intolerance"

Ross writes

Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.)


Let's count the problems:

  • First, "gayness" as the cultural expression of homosexuality is probably a could deal less than a century old. Indeed, homosexuality itself, understood as a full-time condition, isn't much older than that. So this "thousands of years' worth" business is at best an order-of-magnitude exaggeration with respect to "gay people".

  • To homosexuality's modern cheerleaders, of course, the notion of "gay people" is indivisible from the specific homosexual acts enjoined in the Bible. Social conservatives in my lifetime have resisted this indivisibility, either from an effort to "hate the sin, love the sinner" or, in the more fundamentalist case, from denial of such a full-time condition. (This second has never been especially plausible to me. While I can appreciate the difficulty that the "natural" existence of particular predispositions -- homosexuality, pedophilia, kleptomania, etc. -- to commit evil acts poses for the Christian understanding of sin, I also know from my own felt experience that something is organically different about people with such predispositions.) I assume that Ross, as a Christian so-con, would at some level align himself with the first of these motivations were he not obligated by his standing with the New York Times to play the ball where they've placed it.

    But in light of scripture, what accommodations to homosexuals, if indeed that is what he means by "charity", does Ross believe Christians, as Christians, should have made but didn't?

  • But let us concede that Sodomites, where their activities have become known, have occasionally been treated roughly. This rough treatment has not been confined to Christian cultures, nor is it unique to homosexuality. All cultures attempt to discourage behavior seen as anti-social. I fear Ross is falling into the liberal trap wherein every folk wisdom or cultural antibody not precisely aligned with the priorities of present-day Leftism is by default laid at the feet of Christianity. Now for those for whom "Gay Rights" is a vehicle for their war on normal Americans, this default is a feature, not a bug. But for everyone else, I invite you to find an anti-gay hate crime -- and good luck finding one -- that was motivated by Christianity.

  • And it's not just hate crimes. In point of fact, if Western Christendom has routinely enforced the Biblically-required penalty for homosexual sex, I am not aware of it. I assume that Douthat is acknowledging Uganda here, but at least two objections come to mind: (1) it is strictly the anti-Christian opportunism of the Leftist media (but I repeat myself) to blame "Christianity" rather than "Africa"; and (2) I would not assume that the practice of homosexual sex in Africa maps all that well onto American-style "gayness" (and indeed I'm not even sure that what goes on in America is exactly the way "gayness" is marketed by the Leftist media -- dang, there I go again!) So while I leave to Uganda how best to deal with the challenges that beset it, I would not recommend their policies for the U.S. But then, what mainstream so-con has?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Incongruities

Am I the only one that sees a disconnect between this story:

CO Fired After Raising Funds From Strip Clubs

Stars and Stripes | Feb 19, 2014 | by Audrea Huff

The commanding officer and master chief of a Florida-based Navy missile unit have been relieved of their duties after an investigation found that adult-entertainment businesses were solicited in a fundraising effort for a Navy Submarine Ball, the Navy said Tuesday.

In a news release, the Navy said that [Naval Ordnance Test Unit at Cape Canaveral, Fla commander Capt. John P.] Heatherington affiliated the service with "businesses that are not representative" of the Navy or the Department of Defense's standards. He was relieved "due to loss of confidence in his ability to command and for promoting an unprofessional command climate," the release said.

and this one?

Gay, Lesbian Troops Perform in Drag at Fundraiser

Stars and Stripes | Mar 03, 2014 | by Travis J. Tritten

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa -- Since the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, U.S. military bases have hosted a gay marriage ceremonies and a potluck gatherings. But on Saturday, servicemembers here may have been the first to take to the stage and perform as drag queens on a military installation in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.

Drag queens and drag kings, to be precise.

Six servicemembers -- gay, lesbian and straight -- donned heavy makeup to dance and lip sync songs such as "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" for a raucous capacity crowd at the Rocker NCO Club at Kadena Air Base. The event was a fundraiser for the recently formed Okinawa chapter of OutServe-SLDN, which is the largest nonprofit advocate for the military's LGBT community.

Monday, April 07, 2014

A True Flag

Steve passes on speculation:

Almost every Ukrainian I spoke with speculated that Moscow is secretly supporting Right Sector in an attempt to both destabilize the weak government in Kiev and provide a pretext for further meddling – the tried and true tactic of provokatsiya, or provocation, which Moscow has been using since the early Bolshevik period to deceive its adversaries and earn sympathy among credulous Westerners.

Maybe. But I see couple of problems:

First, the evidence he presents amounts to so much grassy knollism. The official history of origins of Right Sector is that it is a coalition of groups with long-standing nationalist pedigree. And without commenting on Steve's recent efforts to rehabilitate conspiracy theories in general, it's difficult to believe that with as much skullduggery as the State Department and CIA put into Ukraine, up to and possibly including the overthrow of its elected government, nobody discovered out its "real" patrons, if real they be. (Alternatively, if the CIA knows it's a false flag operation, it would be in the administrations interest to tell the world.)

But more to the point, if Right Sector really were Russian agents provocteur, wouldn't they be more . . . obviously bad? On the contrary, their propaganda videos are far more inspiring to me personally than either the Russian or EU oligarchs vying for control of Ukraine's economy. Yes, I get that their aesthetic is as garlic to our globalized vampiric elites -- hell, the Tea Party is garlic to our vampiric elites -- but wouldn't they want to be more openly anti-semitic or anti-Russian rather than disavowing racism?

I suppose you could argue that this is all part of the plan: dog whistles to New York banksters paralyze more substantial support to Ukraine while making Obama look weak and vacillating to everybody else. But if Russia was that smart, they wouldn't have lost Ukraine to begin with.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Asians and AA

Via Steve, Asian state senators in California beat back affirmative action:

To get on the ballot, the amendment needed the support of the Legislature. Among those voting yes in January were Sens. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). But after complaints from "thousands of people," those senators sent a letter to Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) this month asking him to postpone action. "As lifelong advocates for the Asian American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children," they wrote.

Obviously, I am opposed to affirmative action. Without endorsing any specific set of "meritocratic" criteria, racial affirmative action is almost certainly inefficient, lacks transparency in its implementation, and its costs have heretofore been borne predominantly by white gentiles. But as the UC admissions data make clear, there aren't enough of those left in the UC system to be displaced by the desired number of underperforming Hispanics. Asian numbers will have to fall.

But while I should be grateful for their opposition to affirmative action, the straightforward ethnic self-interest on which California's Asian politicians grounded that opposition reinforces the point I made about Asian immigration: how is increasing the numbers of ethnocentric minorities in America in the interest of my children and their future?

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Who's Side?

Via Ross, Robert Kagan:

A majority of Americans . . . may want what Obama so far has been giving them. But they’re not proud of it, and they’re not grateful to him for giving them what they want.

… To follow a leader to triumph inspires loyalty, gratitude and affection. Following a leader in retreat inspires no such emotions.

. . . vs. Daniel Larison:

Obama may be closer to the public’s preferences than his hawkish critics are, but on multiple issues he has still been far more hawkish or assertive than the public wants.

Ross opines:

[R]ather than trying to read the public’s response in ideological terms, maybe it’s more reasonable to look at what [Syria and Snowden] had in common: They both made the White House look incompetent.

There is some truth in all three of these analyses, and I will offer a fourth. Larison is correct that our experience in Afghanistan and Iraq has dampened our foreign adventurism, but it is too much to hope that it has extinguished it; that, unfortunately, will require much more than a couple of grinding, dead-end conflicts. Nothing short of a WWII-level defeat as Germany and Japan suffered it would fundamentally alter the American character, a character with an interventionist enthusiasm going back through both world wars and the Spanish American War to the Civil War. So Kagan is in that sense correct: The public may choose an isolationist turn, but few will love it.

Which begs the question: are we actually getting isolationism? Or just impotent failure. In this sense Ross is correct: Americans hate failure, and love victory. (I suspect that Americans are not alone in this sentiment.) But Ross misses what makes the Obama administration's foreign policy so appalling to isolationists and interventionists alike: it isn't so much that he has objectively failed (although that may be true), it's that it he has staked so much rhetorical ground that he hasn't delivered.

Let me reach for an analogy. As my readers are aware, the Speakership of John Boehner is almost universally reviled across the political spectrum; it likely survives only because the revilers have different visions of what we want to replace it. Speaking for myself and many members of the TEA party / alt-right / conservative insurgency, the central component of our Boehner-bashing is his continual flirtation with amnesty for illegal aliens.
Now, objectively, a Boehner defender (or rather, a hypothetical Boehner defender, since I haven't actually read an actual Boehner defender) might point out that the fact amnesty is not already law can be credited to Boehner. This has the benefit of being true insofar as there are sufficient number of Republican quislings to give the Democrats sufficient votes to pass amnesty in an up-or-down vote, a vote that Boehner has personally prevented. Certainly, this is the perspective of amnesty advocates who blame Boehner for its thus-far failure. And yet . . . Boehner's periodic professions of fealty to the idea of amnesty, while doing nothing for his standing among amnesty supporters, robs him of any credit from those of who are afraid of what he might evenutally do.

A similar dynamic is at work on perceptions of Obama's foreign policy. Yes, he ultimately didn't bomb Syria, but his rhetoric last summer was premised on the idea that intervention would be a worthwhile enterprise, and in the context of the recent thrust of our policy it certainly lent credence to the expectation (and fear) that intervention would be forthcoming. And it's precisely that uncertainty created by the disjunction between rhetoric and action that earns him contempt across the board. If you're Kagan, he's a coward. If you're Larison, he's an imperialist, however temporarily frustrated. If you're Douthat, he's a failure.

I should acknowledge here that I don't have access to all the information that either Boehner or Obama has. Boehner may know or believe that the amnesty feignts are necessary to preserve that fraction of Wall Street money that flows to Republican campaigns. Obama may know or believe that his bluffs are necessary to make the Syrians behave better. But the public wants to know: what side are you on? We isolationists want a president who says, "We wish the people of Syria (and Ukraine, and Libya, and Egypt, and Kosovo) well, and will pursue peaceful resolutions to all conflicts diplomatically, but otherwise don't involve ourselves in the civil wars of places where our interest and influence are limited." But we never get that. We get thundering statements about how this or that foreign conduct is "unacceptable", and always seem at the brink of another grinding, dead-end conflict.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Imperialism by another name . . .

I have been critical of the notion that any people seeking to govern themselves are required to meet an external moral standard in order to merit the opportunity.  Likewise, I reject the notion as applied to Crimea:

In addition, Walker ignores the other two crucial distinctions I drew between the Kosovo and Crimea cases. First, the Putin regime is likely to adopt the same repressive policies in Crimea as it has in Russia itself: persecution of political dissenters, repression of gays and lesbians, and others.  The present Ukrainian government, while far from ideal, is has not engaged in comparable human rights violations.

I do not dispute that Russia’s armed imposition of a secessionist referendum on Crimea is a troubling precedent at best from an international law perspective, as Putin likely knows.  But a generalized right of secession, properly implemented, is a formula for peace:  whatever “repression” Russia has in store for Crimea, it is a repression that the Crimeans have apparently chosen for themselves, while Somin’s hedges are just another formula for Leftist imperialism.

Similarly, Somin’s concern about “repression” is a reflection of contemporary American obsession with homosexuals.  On the other hand, if you are a member of Right Sector murdered by police, eh, not so much.