Saturday, May 27, 2017

Coming Soon (Long Before Moose and Squirrel Catch On)

Production Memorandum
The Lubyankan Candidate

From: XXXXXX (deleted), CEO XXXXX (withheld)
To: Boris Badenov, Associate Producer
Date: XXXXXXX (redacted)
Subject: XXXXXX (classified)
         cc: Natasha Fatale, Extra-Special Thanks

Boris, sweetheart!

First the good news:
         (1) We are this close to getting Ed Norton attached to play the older Jared Kushner, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt very interested as well and closer in age. (Eddie Redmayne is still our first choice, but he's really booked up. Oh — and that "private" URL you got from your FSB buddies? It's for "Twinks on PervHub" and very, very public. Last laugh: We got a body double there in case we do the Christopher Steele-MI6/Trump-in-Moscow-Dossier sequence for the R-rated art-house cut.)
         (2) Soros is out, and the New Money not only acquiesces to but insists on alternate endings, depending on how any coup attempt turns out. If Trump comes out on top, the Final Reveal has him heroically right about the Obama/Deep-State conspiracy.

Responding to your Note on plausibility — It's simple: from 2015 on, DT — Joey Levitt can get us John Lithgow to play him — fears Obama and the Deep State have him surveilled and that they will stop at nothing to prevent rapprochement with Mother Russia and the promise of combined Russian-US action in West Asia, bringing peace to the conflicts among Sunni, Shia, Israelis, Palestinians, etc. and guaranteeing favored Gazprom access to regional oil and natural gas, and American control of silica. (The area isn't called "The Sandbox" for nothing!) And the noble Wahhabists and their Saudi supporters will be added to Vlad P's Orthodox — and Bibi's as well — in alliance with The Donald's true Christians in a planet-girdling swath of faith and God-ordained class privilege.

Of course our hero Jared wants secure communications to the Kremlin and Lubyanka and his biz partners in both Petersbergs. He has to do an end run around the commie-pinko-faggots in the Western security services who will do anything to put the "liberal" into "liberal democracy" and thwart the sovereign People whose truly democratic will is embodied in strong rulers like Putin and Trump.

Or that's how it goes if it looks like Trump is winning. In the alternative ending, Kushner is a traitorous mad dog justly put down by the patriotic forces of NSA, MI-6, BND, DGSE, RCMP, and other agencies of the permanent government.

So, Boris baby: keep talking with Fearless Leader and be sure we'll have facilities from Mosfilm and can shoot in total privacy in Bashkortostan or some other godforsaken place in otherwise Holy Mother Russia.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Punk!" OR, An Observation On the Donald J. Trump's Pushing Aside Dusko Markovic, Prime Minister of Montenegro 24/25 May 2017

Washington (CNNWhile walking with the NATO leaders 
during his visit to the alliance's headquarters Thursday, 
President Donald Trump pushed aside Dusko Markovic, 
the prime minister of Montenegro, 
as he moved to the front of a group of the leaders.

Ignoring the sort of behavioral problems that can go with mental problems that go with his increasing language problems over time — What we've got with President Trump's bulvon behavior is also an idea of manliness that would work for a big-city street punk ... but only when dealing with other punks. That military school his family sent him off to should have taught him better, or watching a few minutes of President Obama's Chicago style for a man of power (beautifully parodied by Joe Mantegna's over-controlled, over-correct Fat Tony D'Amico on THE SIMPSONS).

Mr. Trump's popularity with significant demographics in pop culture and politics points at widespread juvenilization of ideas of masculinity shoved to my attention when I had to explain to my overly-polite, mostly-good-Catholic Miami University (Oxford, OH) students that Michael Biehn's quiet but strong Kyle Reese and Cpl. Dwayne Hicks were the male role models in TERMINATOR and ALIENS and not Bill Paxton's motor-mouth punks, nor Jenette Goldstein's macha (sic) Pvt. Vasquez, nor the Terminator: the ultimate macho-man as no man at all but an unfeeling killer robot.

A friend of mine and I used to jokingly throw out the line, "Ah, I fear for the Republic!" I'm feeling that line as increasingly less of a joke. "Swaggering Strong Man" is more than just a style, and its dangers have been obvious and harped upon since (at least) old King Hrothgar sermonized on the subject at length to the young Beowulf. The swaggerer commanding the most lethal military on the planet in 2017 has character flaws that would disqualify him for leadership of a proto-Viking war band in the European Dark Ages.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

W.E.I.R.D. Science — and Ethics and Politics

            The joke on campus when I was "in the academy" was that our colleagues in the Psych Biz had given us (largely) the psychology of the American college sophomore. American and other academic psychologists are starting to take the joke more seriously, trying to figure out how to adjust to having a subject pool from backgrounds that are largely W.E.I.R.D.: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic. Most people in the world are not WEIRD; indeed, large numbers of Americans don't hit all those elements. Among the majority of people — historically a substantial majority — the "R" wouldn't be "Rich" but "Religious (more or less)."
            Being oblivious to religion can have results ranging from silly to disastrous.
            Local example: Southern California Edison Electric Company scheduled a power outage for my neighborhood for 10 PM Saturday, 15 April 2017, through 6 AM on the 16th. Sunday, 16 April 2017 was Easter Sunday, and apparently the schedulers at SoCal Edison were ignorant of the custom among many Ventura County natives to have family and friends over for Easter eating and would have refrigerators loaded with food that weekend, in some cases too much food to tolerate up to 8 hours without power — if everything went well during the maintenance work and to say nothing about having a crew working extra hours on Easter weekend.
            So come on, SoCal Ed! There'd be an excuse if you had to calculate on your own Easter's falling on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. But you don't; nowadays you check a calendar a month or so after you spot Easter stuff sprouting up at Kroger's or six weeks after those dumb-ass Cadbury Crème Egg commercials start showing up on television.
            California Christians can't complain about persecution, but there's definitely insensitivity, indifference, and ignorance.
            More significant example: No plan for "peace in the Mideast" will work that assumes that Jerusalem is just a city and that the key issues in the conflicts are rational interests in land, water, resources generally and so forth— and ignores religion, ethnic identities, self-respect, and self-respect's sinful sibling, Pride.
            Significant for capital "D" Democrats in the United States: No plan to regain majority-party power — not membership or sympathies or numbers in polling, but power — will work unless it gets more people to vote Democratic who are Western(ized)/White or White-ish, schooled a bit but not overly Educated, recently de-industrialized, and far less Rich by world standards than Religious.
            So come on, Democrats! You should know this stuff at least for the Abrahamic religions — and if you're culturally educated, not just schooled, you should know which ones the "Abrahamic religions" are. For example: in the Hebrew Bible, the 24th Psalm begins, "The Earth is the Eternal's, and all that it contains, / The sea and all that dwell therein; / For He has founded it upon the ocean, and upon the flood." The psalmist assumes a labor theory of property: something is yours if you make it, with your labor, not as an investment or because you're Pharaoh ordering around forced labor by your peasants in the off-season, and slaves. And from there you can go on to the Prophets on social justice and, explicitly with Christians, indirectly with others get to the parts on basic decency spelled out in Matthew 25.
            We are all "values" voters, and if people accept those basics on our absolute human duties — and Jews, Christians, and Muslims damn well should — you ought to be able to get them to vote those values.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Free Speech on Campus: ¡Interruption, Yes! ¡Disruption, No!

Writing for the Associated Press, on 11 May 2017, Collin Binkley noted that "First Amendment Backers See Free Speech Fading At Colleges" and looked in some depth at student attitudes.

         In campus clashes from California to Vermont, many defenders of the First Amendment say they see signs that free speech, once a bedrock value in academia, is losing ground as a priority at U.S. colleges.           As protests have derailed speeches by controversial figures, including an event with Ann Coulter last month at the University of California, Berkeley, some fear students have come to see the right to free expression less as an enshrined measure of protection for all voices and more as a political weapon used against them by provocateurs.

         What I can bring to this discussion is the experience of a law-abiding and moderate graduate student activist in "the long 1960s" followed by service as a faculty member in the 1970's onward, specifically service on the Miami University Student Affairs Council as we recommended to The President and Trustees of the Miami University — the University as "a body corporate and politic" in Ohio — rules regarding free speech and disruption.

         Student Affairs Council (SAC) did not deal directly with student attitudes, and if someone had brought up attitudes I might've quoted, "Laws are the great schoolmaster of the commonwealth" — from Francis Bacon or someone like that — and noted that in this instance SAC was supposed to recommend rules governing, first, on-campus behavior and second, behavior by people on campus: students, faculty, staff, and/or visitors.

         Miami University is a public institution and respect for First Amendment free-speech rights were — in theory — part of relevant Ohio law and implicit in our mandate for rules, so we tried to respect the free speech of teachers, speakers, protesters, and what some of us (well, I, anyway) somewhat flippantly thought of as "civilians." And we came up with a fairly simple rule asking that SAC work on the principle of a right to interrupt but prohibition of disruption.

         Teachers were not paid enough and were on campus enough that they shouldn't have to take much shit from their students and none from visitors to their classrooms. But we weren't back in the days of young Hitlerites intimidating professors, and the practical issue was with big-name guest speakers. And big-name guest speakers, especially when well compensated, were professionals, and professional speakers should be competent to deal with hecklers. Indeed, it's part of the gig, and for a long time part of the entertainment value of public speeches, at least of the political variety. And a quick debate could be more educational than the one-way communication of a speech.

         So, no, a guest speaker could not call in the cops to haul out someone who interrupted. And we wrote the rule generally enough that neither could anyone else, even if this meant — and I raised such examples explicitly — that a traditional Christian wedding ceremony in the campus chapel could be interrupted by a radical feminist objecting to "obey" in a woman's vows, and an Orthodox or Conservative service in the campus chapel the afternoon of Yom Kippur could be interrupted by gay students objecting to reading the prohibition of male homosexuality in the Book of Leviticus.

         Interrupted, not disrupted.

         A "group heckle" is not heckling but disrupting, and failing to sit down and shut up after objecting to wifely obedience or prohibitions of homosexual behavior is also disrupting. And disruption was and usually should be illegal.

         We retained the old formulation that the teachers or the sponsors of events should retain their cool and warn people when interrupting was moving into disruption. But if the interruption became disruption, or disruption was the point all along, then we recommended authorizing calling in the cops and the armed power of the State.

         And this was in Ohio, down the road a piece (252 miles) from Kent State University and not long after the 4 May 1970 shootings at KSU. And if anyone had ever asked me — and they didn't — I could tell anti-War stories of Michigan and Balbo in Chicago in the summer of 1968, and the University of Illinois campus and how the two times I was most seriously threatened with serious injury it was by police with clubs.

         (Of course, a big part of the reason I was only seriously threatened twice in my life is because of the strong State with a lot of cops [a "Leviathan"], but that's another essay.)

         So we knew that every law and rule is, ultimately, backed up by force — including our rules on the size of pet fish in dorms — and some of us knew very well that even legal force can get nasty.

         Protesters had the right to interrupt; speakers and their audiences had the right to speak and hear … after a bit.

         I'm sure by now the Miami U Office of Legal Counsel has grown to significant size and rules are written by small teams of lawyers — especially sensitive rules such as those regarding guest speakers. But I like the rule we wrote and recommend our principle: Interruption, sure, especially of over-paid, over-pampered political trolls; disruption, hell no.

         Student attitudes can be worked on later, starting with teaching the simple fact that when speech is restricted, minorities with unpopular views are the first groups to get shut up — and Leftist, radical, unorthodox views are usually unpopular. Then "da older guys," and gals, can tell the young hotheads about the word "provocateur" and the tactic by Establishments through history of provocation to get reaction — and the use of reaction to get activists in jails or hospitals or morgues and the Establishment more firmly in power.