Short Shot: Prom Dress Blues

The debate over a Caucasian teenager wearing a cheong sam as a prom dress offers conclusive proof that “cultural appropriation,” whatever its original validity, has become an instrument of social tyranny deserving of ridicule and opprobrium.

Going forward, whenever someone suggests that I join the Democratic Party instead of holding fast to my lonely Eisenhower/Tory hilltop, I will add to my list of reasons for demurring the left’s tyrannical defense of cultural puritanism.

The progress of man is as much a story of adoption as it is of adaptation. We share and borrow the best and most beautiful aspects of our cultures so that our cultures will themselves advance. To construct artificial walls around cultures is to consign humanity to cultural silos, to a future wrought not by unified advance but by fragmentation and chauvinism.

Such a future could never be described as the outcome of progress, but a smoky path into a new Dark Ages. That is not a future worth dying for, but a future that begs to be fought, and fight it we must.

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Over the Aisle: This You Must Defend

Marie Myung-Ok Lee finds herself conflicted about attending a controversial author’s reading and wonders: what does “speaking up” actually mean?

Source: Politics and Prose

Lee writes a fascinating article that is worth the long read for two reasons.

Most obviously, she is a progressive who is uncomfortable with the Antifa’s Red Guard style tactics. I take that as a positive: the more either side the US declines to align with its most extreme fringes, the more I nurture the hope that we will avoid civil war.

But what I find most telling is the grounds on which she criticizes the Antifa rabble shouting down a speaker: her problem is that the speaker is actually more sympathetic to their point than they realize, and if they listen they would understand. You see, the author they were shouting down was NOT someone like Richard Spencer. Because he was different than Spencer, because his position was closer to those of Antifa, he deserves to be able to speak.

It apparently does not occur to Ms. Lee that there is a greater crime being committed than the failure to recognize the importance of nuance in a political position. What Lee fails to do is to say – or even suggest – that the problem with the Antifa tactics is that they are not expressing their own right of free speech as much as they are denying someone else theirs. Lee – a writer who thrives on the rights granted by the Constitution – is unwilling to defend that right. By implication, indeed, free speech is not a right but a privilege to be granted only to those who agree with you.

I pick on Ms. Lee, and perhaps unfairly. She is not the issue. The problem is that on the progressive left it is okay to listen politely to someone you agree with, but that someone you disagree with does not even merit the privilege of a public forum. The problem is that it has become okay on the American left to suggest that those whose ideas I find repugnant have no right to self-expression; or, indeed, that there are ideas which must not be aired, even in a free society; and to do so without having to worry about being questioned by your fellows.

In so doing, the left runs the risk of sacrificing its opportunity to take political leadership of this country at a time when, even in the eyes of this conservative, the nation needs a liberal opposition capable of credible leadership.

The Democrats will probably take home a great victory in November, a “blue tide” that will give the Executive Branch the opposition it deserves. If it is to get the opposition that the nation needs, the left must make clear that it offers an inclusive vision of the future, one in which there is even a place for people whose ideas they find repugnant. Nothing will undermine that more quickly than questions about whether the left is prepared to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Wealth does not make Wise

The time has come for us to abandon the implicit belief that the successful acquisition of deep pools of money or vast power does not confer prima facie credibility or rightness on anyone. That process begins in our daily conversations.

So the next time someone defends a questionable idea posited by a self-made individual with a rejoinder along the lines of “hey, he’s worth $10 billion, so he must be doing something right,” respond with “hey, he’s worth $10 billion, and it is also likely that he got there by doing something very wrong.”

Opening Up the Identity Conversation

Men should have the same right to opine on gender issues as women. Having an identity doesn’t give you total authority over certain issues.

Source: Christian Alejandro Gonzalez, Rejecting the Left’s Conversation-Ending Identitarianism | The American Conservative

Agreed. And first principle.

But let’s open this up:

  1. Atheists and agnostics should have the same right to opine on religious issues as the faithful.
  2. All Americans should have the same right to opine on Veteran’s affairs as those who have served.
  3. All people should have the same right to opine on accessibility issues as do those with disabilities.
  4. People of all ethnic backgrounds – including those of us who find ourselves insensitively lumped into the derogatory catch-all category of “white” – should have the same right to opine on racial issues as do people of color.
  5. People of all sexual preferences – including monogamous heterosexuals – should have the same right to opine on sexuality as those identifying themselves as lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgendered, queer, asexual, or polyamorous.
  6. People of any one culture should have the same right to experience and adopt aspects of any other culture as those who are born into or who have hereditary ties to that culture.

The minute you start quashing debate about any of these issues, you have killed democracy and ended the American experiment. That’s a line we cannot afford to cross, even at the cost of causing offense and even hurt feelings.

Anderson Cooper says Infidelity is not the Point

CNN’s Anderson Cooper says the fallout around allegations leveled against President Donald Trump by porn actress Stormy Daniels is not about the infidelity, but paying to hush it up just before the 2016 US election.

Source: Anderson Cooper: It’s not about the infidelity

Anderson Cooper is not entirely correct. The issue of whether Mr. Trump committed adultery – and did so for the worst of reasons – may be irrelevant to Mr. Cooper under his code of values and beliefs. This does not mean that the issue is irrelevant to all Americans, for at least two important reasons.

First, many voters care whether or not the President of the United States has sufficient personal integrity to adhere to his wedding vows. To some of us, a man who would casually flaunt a vow he took before G-d and the law cannot be trusted with the future of the nation.

Second, and more important, Mr. Trump has been elected into office by a party and by voters who espouse socially conservative values. As the nominal head of that party – a party which took Bill Clinton to task for his infidelity two decades ago – it should not be unreasonable to expect himself to behave in accordance with those beliefs in his personal life. If he cannot, he can hardly call himself a social conservative.

A genuine conservative should be troubled by the President’s behavior.

The National Story

To overcome populism, the U.S. needs to recover its national story, providing a compelling counter to the zero-sum narrative of tribal conflict put forward by the populist right.

Source: Bruce Springsteen Is Antidote to Populist Tribalism – Bloomberg

Agreed. Traditionalism FTW.

To be an anti-populist does not mean to be dedicated to the disenfranchisement of the politically neglected. On the contrary: populist politicians, demagogues that they tend to be, tend to mistreat their own constituencies, using the downtrodden as political ladders only to pursue their own ambitions, discarding the populace later like so much used Kleenex, or using them as cannon fodder in their political battles and military engagements.

A genuine anti-populist movement would pursue policies designed to eliminate the American political underclass, not by rallying them against everyone else, but by tweaking the system so that they can return to the fold.

The way we do that is to remember those things that made us a nation in the first place, articulate them, and then make them relevant and tangible. It is time to give Americans a stake in America again, and that process starts with a rededication in both word and deed to our national narrative, not by a headfirst plunge into the cesspool of national chauvinism.

The Bull Moose Doctrine: A Plague on Interventionists and Isolationists Alike

The Republican Party and its leaders have all but forgotten the Weinberger Doctrine, its derived Powell Doctrine and the effort that took place under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to impose discipline on the American crusading instinct. The precepts of these doctrines were imperfect and in no way a substitute for the grand strategy the nation has lacked since the end of Cold War I. But they were a step in the right direction, a step informed by a desire to forge a principled tactical middle path between the isolationism that set the stage for World War II and the sort of GloboCop interventionism that has sucked us into our current state of imperial overreach.

The Weinberger-Powell Doctrine was already suffering from a decade of neglect when Colin Powell took office, and his decision to place his loyalty to George W. Bush over his loyalty to his principles vis-a-vis Iraq ultimately buried those principles and put the US into full-bore interventionalist mode.

The nation has never looked back.

Most Americans are uncomfortable isolationists. To have in our hands the means to ease human suffering and to willfully withhold it for material reasons strikes us as moral weakness.

Yet most Americans are similarly uncomfortable with writing endless checks for blood and treasure to impose our political and economic will on foreign peoples and to give succor to those who will only resent us for our often ham-handed efforts.

We can no longer afford to allow ourselves to be alternately driven by one or another of these emotions. It is past time for The Blob or whatever passes for its alternative to forge a non-partisan template that can guide a President – regardless of strategy or ideology – in the proper employment of the means of national power.

The creation of such a template is properly beyond the means of Congress and must predate the inauguration of a president. As such, the effort must begin now.

So let us begin.

Using the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine as a starting point, I have drafted the following set of rules that combine to form the nucleus of what I call the Bull Moose Doctrine. This needs polish, and some of the concepts herein require further definition (“constabulary power,” for example.) It is a start, however, and I welcome your input.

  1. The United States has the ability to exercise national power upon state and non-state actors by a range of means. These means include, but are not limited to, diplomatic, cultural, politico-ideological, economic, commercial, technological, legal, constabulary, cyber, kinetic, and nuclear.
  2. These means are substantial but they are also limited in both measure and capability, and therefore must at all times be employed with a view to economy.
  3. The proper exercise of that power is dependent upon the clear articulation by the Commander-in-Chief of what constitutes the national interests of the United States, one that reflects the perceptions of that interest of at least a majority if not a consensus of Congress and the American people.
  4. The means of national power should only be exercised in the defense of national interests, and the employment of those means should be proportional to the importance of the national interests threatened.
  5. At any rate, military power, whether constabulary, cyber, or kinetic, should only be employed when a vital national security interest is threatened.
  6. Military power should only be employed when there is a clear, definable, attainable, and finite objective.
  7. Military power should only be employed when the risks and costs of the exercise of that power have been fully and frankly analyzed, and the potential unintended consequences in the short-, medium- and long-term given full consideration.
  8. Military power should only be exercised when other non-violent means have been fully exhausted.
  9. Military power should only be exercised when there are plausible exit strategies following either mission completion or mission failure.
  10. Military power should only be exercised with the support of the American people.
  11. Military power should only be exercised with genuine and broad international support, in particular from our allies.
  12. When national power by any means is exercised, every resource and tool within those means should be used to achieve decisive results so as to avoid unnecessary escalation.
  13. When military power is exercised, every resource and tool should be used to assemble decisive force against the enemy, minimizing casualties and ending the conflict quickly by forcing the capitulation of the enemy.
  14. Following the exercise of military power, every resource and tool should be used to enable the rapid recovery of the American and foreign communities and individuals affected by the conflict.

Thoughts?