The Trump Doctrine

At times I feel like the only person in the country not emotionally invested in the likely death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, killed, apparently, in quite the gruesome manner in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Instanbul, Turkey.  OK I get it, terrible story, but why exactly does this require a diplomatic response from the United States?  The US government doesn’t get involved in every foreign Coca-Cola employee in the third world who gets dragged away by a death squad.  And the death of a dissident to a despotic regime isn’t exactly breaking news.  It’s fair to say that this happens every day somewhere in the world, without the accompanying MSM hysterics.

The answer of course, is that he was employed as a journalist at The Washington Post, and in an age in which the West has abandoned religion, a new priestly caste has emerged, the MSM journalist.  That’s why the MSM has turned a minor story into a US foreign policy crisis.  This has already occupied the breaking news and top story for a week, and the new rule is if Eugene Robinson and the table at the MSNBC set are outraged, then everyone has to be.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for a sympathizer of the Muslim Brotherhood and someone who was a friend of Osama Bin Ladin, who mourned his death.  You really need to make a much stronger case to me on why his death shouldn’t be cheered, rather than causing spasms of outrage.  If there is a reason for outrage in this story, its how such a person got a green card in the first place?  Let’s investigate that.

Trump’s initial instincts on this seem to have been correct, dismissing it as not that big a deal, before the media blew it up into THE STORY of the week.  No doubt the view that this is THE STORY reflected the view of many of Trump’s advisors.  After all, doesn’t everyone seem to accept the judgement of the Post and other news outlets as to what is news, and what is major news?  It is interesting though that Trump’s default position is quite different from what the current White House line is…

Over at the Lion of the Blogosphere a few months ago, Lion did a post describing the “Trump Doctrine.

“If there is a Trump doctrine, it is that we have to accept foreign countries the way they are, and not turn them into copies of Western democracies. Russia has never had a democratic government like the United States, but the Trump doctrine is that we can still be friends instead of trying to sabotage their government for not being exactly like America or Germany.”

As a working definition, it’s not a bad one.  And why shouldn’t he define it?  It’s not as if Presidential “doctrines” are released as a White Paper or press release.  They are discovered by observing the administration in action.  Most famously the “Bush Doctrine” was ham-handedly used by Charlie Gibson in a rather famous gotcha interview with Sarah Palin in which she described the Bush Doctrine, just not the way Charlie Gibson wanted.  However the actual author (or discoverer) of the Bush Doctrine, the late Charles Krauthammer, defended Palin’s take.

But I had been thinking of this for a while.  Back in 2014, I had started, but never finished, a draft of a post called, “Realpolitik,” to describe what I thought should be the style and direction of US foreign policy.  Inspired, of all people, by neo-con former Wall Street Journal columnist and current New York Times official Never-Trumper Bret Stephens, in a column he wrote for the WSJ called, Relearning Republican Foreign Policy.  With the line, “A policeman is not a priest,” Stephens made the case for a muscular foreign policy without the moralizing and messaging of either George Bush’s freedom agenda or Obama’s “reputation of a faithless friend and feckless foe.”  This line, though, is the killer:

“Someday, maybe, a Republican will be in the White House again. If that’s to happen, Americans will need some reassurance that the GOP knows how to steer a straight course between the temptations of Barack Obama’s strategic timidity and George W. Bush’s idealistic excess.“

In probably the greatest Monkey’s Paw wish of all time, Stephen’s got exactly what he asked for in this 2014 op-ed with the election of President Donald Trump.

Stephens must be exhausted from all of his spinning around and changing positions, since in this week’s NYT post, Khashoggi’s Killing Isn’t a Blunder. It’s a Crime, Stephens is back to his neo-con roots, ready to lead a new moralistic crusade against the Saudi’s.

It’s actually fair to say that a more moralistic foreign policy has a time and place.  It was integral to Reagan’s policy initiatives in fighting the Cold War, but Reagan didn’t shy away with allying with some less than savory folk in order to oppose what he saw as the graeter evil: the Soviet Union.  But we are in a different time and place, and our foreign policy challenges are totally different than the bi-polar cold war steady state which occupied US foreign policy for decades.

In the current era it seems clear to me that not every struggle around the world is our struggle, and not every fight all over the world is our fight.  We have limited resources, not just of military might or money, but time and attention.  Time wasted on this Khashoggi matter is time not spent on other foreign policy issues like trade, or domestic ones, like immigration.  And no outcome in running down every Saudi royal guard is likely to benefit US foreign policy in the slightest.

Trump’s instincts, the “Trump Doctrine,” are Realpolitik; a foreign policy based on US national interests and practical benefits rather than ideology or faux outrage.  If the GOP picks this up as a foreign policy template, that’s yet another Trump “win.”

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Rebooting Old TV with Diversity in Mind

In an age when Hollywood has been totally mined out of original ideas for television, but the number of platforms have expanded with room for more and more television, comes the TV answer for zero ideas but lots of airtime to fill: The reboot. But it’s not enough to simply reboot old television shows, they need to be rebooted through a social justice warrior lens to give show concepts like this:

Just before he recently departed ABC Studios to embark on a rich overall deal at Netflix, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris sold one last high-profile project to ABC: Bewitched, a single camera, interracial blended family comedy based on the popular 1960s sitcom of the same name.

In Bewitched, written by Barris and Taylor, Samantha, a hardworking black single mom who happens to be a witch, marries Darren, a white mortal who happens to be a bit of a slacker. They struggle to navigate their differences as she discovers that even when a black girl is literally magic, she’s still not as powerful as a decently tall white man with a full head of hair in America.

This description of the show sounds hilarious for all the wrong reasons.  One would almost think it’s a parody of a socially aware TV reboot but no, it’s serious.  Am I intrigued by the description?  Darn right!  I would definitely sit down and watch a show in which an immortal magician is still under the thumb of Trump’s America.  The possibilities are endless!  I’m sure we can expect to see Samantha pulled over by white cops and she turns them into actual pigs, and she teaches the slacker Darren about hard work by transforming him into a black slave in the 1850’s. Nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz will be the White Nationalist neighbor across the street, spying on the interracial couple. Uncle Arthur? Played by RuPaul of course!

Just a few weeks prior there was the announcement that Joss Whedon was rebooting Buffy the Vampire Slayer, only this time with a Black Buffy. So everything old can be new again if you diversify it up a smidge.  Never mind that they already had a Black Slayer in the original run of the show…diversity.

I’m not opposed to reboots, reimagining’s, or however you want to describe them, with diversity, but let’s don’t pretend that diversity is actually a new idea. It’s really about saying,” I don’t have any new ideas, and I want approval from twitter.”

I will seriously watch this if it gets through development hell and actually airs somewhere.  Not because I think it will be quality entertainment, but because I expect it will be an entertaining hot mess.

With Sarah Jeong’s Tweets, the Left embraces Tribalism

The New York Times provided several days of amusement this week after hiring racist technology writer Sarah Jeong, with full knowledge of her twitter history.  That history?  Here’s a small sample:

The Times was in full bore defense mode of their pick:

On Thursday, The Times released a statement saying that it knew about the tweets before hiring Ms. Jeong, 30, and that she would stay on the editorial board.

“Her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment,” The Times said in its statement. “For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers. She sees now that this approach only served to feed the vitriol that we too often see on social media.”

So virulent racism is OK as long as it’s used as a counter attack against trolls?  It’s a brand new argument which isn’t even remotely intellectually defensible, but it’s one I’ve seen copied across forums and message boards throughout the week.  Of course at this point I fully expected a defense of her hiring, I was just curious as to what form it would take.  It’s almost disappointing that they put such little effort in mounting a defense.  What makes Jeong’s tweets perfectly acceptable compared to say, Roseanne Barr’s comes down to, “it’s just different OK?”

Just a couple of observations…

In a political sense, this is good news for the GOP. The Democrats have really been driven off the rails this year with the party being pushed into indefensible positions on abolishing ICE and embracing socialism (whatever that means, and I suppose that most have no clue).  This is all in a year when the Democrats should have expected some Congressional gains. Instead, it’s turning into the “I don’t believe in borders, #CancelWhitePeople” party.  If Trump and the GOP have any wit about them, they’ll capitalize on this.  Every Democratic Congressional candidate should be asked about Jeong’s tweets, whether they are acceptable, is the New York Times supporting #CancelWhitePeople? “Candidate A, do you believe that white men are bullshit?”  They need to be made to own their crazy.

Also in a political sense, but in a more long run view, how does being the anti-white party influence Democratic Party prospects?  During the 2016 election, I observed that some of these guys really were serious about having a case of the ass for white people. Key to the Democrat’s “Demography is Destiny” voter replacement plan is that at least for the short run (the next two decades) white voters will continue to vote for the Democrats at about the same percentages.  But how much comparison to white people as “groveling goblins” can Democrat white voters handle?  I’ve no doubt that a certain type of NPR listening, sweater wearing, herbal tea drinking white person, reading Jeong’s tweets, could chuckle and say, “Yes we are the worst!”  Nor would this be anything but catnip to your typical white college radical; but what about families? Does the typical white Democratic voter with children really want to support a party that targets their children and see them as a problem?  I’m not so sure.

And that brings me to my final observation, that the lack of even a pretense of intellectual evenhandedness in the defense of Jeong shows that the left has gone full tribalism.  They are defending Jeong, not because she’s misunderstood, or there is merit to her tweets, but simply because they are in the same tribe and are defending one of their own. We live in an age when intellectual and political arguments are passé. The only thing that matters is which side you are one.

So how will this play out in the midterm elections?  I’ve already made my predictions, but hopefully at least through October Trump should be reminding voters what the “failing New York Times” thinks of them.

 

 

Scott Adams on Trump Getting the Black Voter

The Lion of the Blogosphere blog brought to my attention a post by Scott Adams, Dilbert creator and 2016 election savant that outlines a plan to have Trump co-opt much of the more moderate Black Lives Matter agenda using his famed deal making skills to put together a Republican agenda to attract Black voters:

Create safer neighborhoods to attract jobs and create optimism.

Fix school bureaucracies in communities where students are failing.

Create apprenticeships for unskilled adults

Address the opioid epidemic directly and by improving the environment

Prosecute and jail police that falsify reports.

Police must call an ambulance if defendant complains of illness.

Voting rights for people in prison

Independent prosecutors for police killings of unarmed civilians.

Comprehensive national database of police shootings.

New York holiday for Day of Remembrance for victims of police brutality.

 

Adams addresses these issues individually in his post, but LOTB finds it ridiculous since as he writes, “That is never going to happen. Blacks know which party sucks up to them. Republicans could never suck up to blacks the way Dems do.”  Sadly, I find myself agreeing more with Lion on this one.  It has nothing to do with the most of the list Adams has assembled.  Prosecuting police for false reports is of course something that should (and often does) happen anyway, as well as calling an ambulance of a suspect complains of symptoms.  That is probably standard operating procedure for most law enforcement agencies.  A comprehensive database for police shootings, if the Justice Department isn’t already keeping one, is a good idea as is independent prosecutors to handle police shootings (or any crime handled by the police officer).  But that is already being done by many localities and is definitely a good idea for those that aren’t.  A local prosecutor who deals with the police in putting together cases on a regular basis is put in an awkward position trying to prosecute one of those same police officers.

The real problem is that Adams is a political novice in this area.  He’s basically offering a warmed over Jack Kemp agenda, minus the enterprise zones and school choice.  Kemp spent much of his career working to put together an agenda that would attract Black voters to the Republican Party.  His reward was Republicans attracting fewer Black voters by the end of his career than when he started.  The answer to the GOP making inroads into the Black voter demographic isn’t going to hinge on finding poll tested issues like School Choice.

There are a couple of obvious answers to the Republican’s near total estrangement from Black America.  Sure, the media is quick to label any Republican a racist so that in this point in history the two are nearly synonymous. But there are a couple of deeper answers too.

Color-Blindness: I think that’s one of the issues that make it difficult for conservatives to reach out to Blacks; conservatives in particular and the Republican Party in general have adopted “color-blindness” as their answer to racial issues. They took King’s “Content of our character” speech and stopped there.  For Republicans, the civil rights movement was basically won in 1964, But Blacks, and the Democrats moved on from that. That’s thin offering to a Black population that considers color-blindness as the same thing as being thrown to the wolves of institutional racism and white privilege.

Today “civil rights” doesn’t mean equality before the law and equality of opportunity; it means the exact opposite; affirmative action, set asides, reparations and all sorts of special treatment. So for Democrats to say that Republicans oppose civil rights, they have a point. At least civil rights as they are understood today, not the classical understanding.

Black Leadership:  Republicans have nothing but contempt for what passes for Black leadership now days. Both the now fading Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are considered crooks and con men by most Republicans. And although I’ve met plenty of Black people who tell me that Al Sharpton doesn’t represent them, when you get right down to it, when there is some sort of police shooting or similar incident, at least a majority of black people do recognize Jackson and Sharpton as having some sort of legitimacy to speak on Black issues. Partially it’s white media anointing them, but they couldn’t get away with it unless the majority of Black people agreed.  Who did Trayvon Martin’s parents go to when they felt local authorities were not taking them seriously? Not Colin Powell or Herman Cain.

It’s the Oppression Stupid: Over the years the left learned that they needed to inculcate the Black worldview into the leftist pantheon of grievances. It was easy for the left since they already bought into the history of America being a history of oppression. If you’re African American, that is literally true, so it was easy to add the racial component. The OJ Simpson trial is the last time I recall that a social issue that was racially charged was also split racially more than politically. White conservatives and liberals thought OJ did it, Blacks, by and large, didn’t.  So when Trayvon Martin came along, the left automatically assumed the position of most Black Americans; that it was a racist murder. Following the story as I did, the story was, from the beginning, broken down in a partisan way, with Democrats including almost all Blacks thinking it was a racist murder and Republicans thinking it was probably a legitimate case of self-defense.  So from the African American point of view, which party was on the side of, and supporting, Black people and which side wasn’t?

African American Insecurity: African Americans feel that their position is extremely unsecure. I’m not talking about economically, although that too, but politically. It’s as if the civil rights movement could be unrolled any moment. That’s certainly how the voter ID issue has been presented in the media. Not as a common sense measure to secure voting, but as Bull Connor running the electoral process, ready to turn his water hose on any Black person who dares ask for a ballot. When you have an entire media establishment running with that to support their party and attack the party that they regard as the enemy, that’s going to make a difference. That’s actually worse than the “Republicans are Racist” meme since it creates the idea that all Black people should band together for political survival. That’s why Black Republicans are hated and treated worse than white Republicans; they represent a crack in a unity that’s needed to prevent a rollback to the Jim Crowe era or worse.

As a party, Black people don’t trust Republicans and that’s why some of the craziest advertising can run a few days before the election, like “Republicans want to re-institute Jim Crow” or “Republicans want to chain blacks to the back of a pickup” carry weight. Remember Biden saying that “He is going to put y’all back in chains?” That stuff works, even though it sounds crazy. A minority group that feels threatened and under the gun, as Blacks often do; is susceptible to that sort of message. After all, Jim Crow is actually the memory of many older people, and deep down, they must think if white people ever got a chance…

I don’t think Republicans can win Black votes in any appreciable degree, at least not this generation. The reason is because most people don’t really vote on “issues,” like a Black friendly Scott Adams-Jack Kemp position by position agenda. That’s why although almost all of the Black people I’ve known personally were small “c” conservatives, hardly any of them voted Republican. It’s a matter of trust. And there isn’t any real way for Republicans to win it.

The Carmichael Show Cancelled

I was disappointed to hear that The Carmichael Show was being cancelled after the completion of its third season.   A Google search to try to find an explanation on the show’s cancellation pulled up articles called NBC Execs Open Up About ‘Carmichael Show’ Cancellation which… do not really answer the question as to why the show was cancelled.

“I think the collective decision was maybe [that] it’s best to let the show end,” NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke told reporters. “I have to say personally for all of us, it’s a really hard decision that wasn’t just made on one side of things. It was one of those difficult decisions that kind of live with you for a while that you don’t feel great about because you wish it had done better. … This was the situation we found ourselves in.”  

OK yhat tells me nothing, although the very next paragraph does add a little bit of context.

The beloved series, which wraps its run later this month on the network, was one of NBC’s rare co-productions with an outside studio, 20th Century Television Fox. That, combined with the tepid ratings for the show, led to the cancellation.

Tepid rating I can understand, although I find it odd that it would happen to this show. If there is any show that qualifies as a worthy successor to Norman Lear’s All in the Family, it’s this one.  The show has tackled some pretty controversial topics, such as gun control, religion, infidelity, Bill Cosby,  gentrification, Muslims, depression, gender roles, gun violence, pornography, and of course Donald Trump.  Yet the show has received zero buzz.  Black-ish, a show I trashed pretty severely when it first came out is a critical and ratings success. The Carmichael Show is a critical success…and that’s it. So the lesson here is that I’m the last person you should come to when it comes to evaluating black TV shows.

As a comedian Jerrod Carmichael, is dark and depressing.  Watching his HBO Special “8” really demonstrates just how dark.  After watching that show, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had heard that Carmichael had walked off set and hung himself in his dressing room.  That’s a viewpoint that isn’t exactly reflected in his sitcom, but then, I’ve no idea what happens during production.

The show’s season finale airs August 9th, but I would still recommend the show in whatever streaming platform it lands on.  It’s a sitcom with real issues and laughs, and it’s damn near impossible to find that combination.

 

 

 

Yet Another Alt-History Show, but PC Approved

On the heels of the pearl clutching involved with the proposed HBO series, Confederate, comes yet another alternate history take; this time meant to be the reverse image of Confederate, Amazon’s Black America.

It envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny. The sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming “Big Neighbor,” both ally and foe, the United States. The past 150 years have been witness to military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc. Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. 

My first thought is that this actually would be a show I would watch.  This isn’t Amazon’s first foray into Alternate History.  They are currently producing The Man in the High Castle, an alt-history in which the US lost World War II and the country is partitioned between the victorious Japanese and Germans.  Of course, that was a show that I actually thought I would want to watch too, but the execution just seemed boring.  Maybe it’s the source material.  I read Phillip K. Dick’s novel years ago, and of the many alternate history Germans-win-world-war-two books I’ve come across, it was a nine on the dull meter.

Still who knew I would live to see an age when there could possibly be three (counting Confederate) alternate history TV shows?  What an age we live in…

Unlike the backlash (or is it blacklash?) to Confederate, black twitter loves the idea of this show. So this tells me that now Amazon is committed to producing at least one episode for Amazon pilot season, or forever face the wrath of SJW social media. So since I’ll have at least one episode to view, I admit I’m wondering what they’ll do with it, but one thing I’m sure of, New Colonia won’t look like its real universe counterpart, Liberia.  Liberia was supposed to be a promised land for freed slaves, and instead, after a brutal civil war is just one more African semi failed state.

But as the description of the show indicates, New Colonia will be a major industrialized nation, leaving the pasty United States in the dust.  One hopes the producers will at least put some effort into putting together a timeline of the show to explain how that would happen, since currently Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are not exactly industrial powerhouses.  Here’s an idea producers: After World War II, the New Colonia Armed Forces capture a lot of Nazi scientists and factories and ship them back home, forming the basis of the New Colonia space program.

Well now I’m getting excited about the show, and if it’s successful, how about a crossover special?  My pitch: In the same way that Netflix took several Marvel properties to lead up to a combined series (The Defenders), maybe Confederate and Black America can have a massive crossover event in which The CSA and New Colonia find a way to cross dimensions and discover each other and immediately go to war.  That certainly takes race war to a new, science fiction level.  And which side do you root for?

Hah!

Anand Giridharadas in Fear

Our old buddy Anand Giridharadas was back on Morning Joe, and boy how the tables have turned. I wrote in October how New York Times writer Giridharadas, on a Morning Joe appearance, couldn’t wait for the post election score settling with his arch enemy, white men.

“I think the people who went that way and that Trump movement and perhaps supported things about women they don’t actually support or supported things about bashing Muslims that they don’t in their deepest of hearts support, need to think about the fact that globalization and all of that was hard on everybody. It wasn’t just hard on White guys. For some reason, women lost their jobs in globalization, Black and Brown people lost their jobs in globalization, and managed not to lash out. I think there needs to be a reckoning, frankly, with white manhood in this country.”

But now the tables have turned, and with a Trump victory, Giridharadas has gone from a Brownshirt inciting a Caucasian Kristallnacht to shivering in fear in a Dutch attic.  Enjoy:

When Joe Scarborough has to be the voice of reason, “Hitler is not coming back,” then you know that someone’s gone off the deep end. But however much I’m enjoying the schadenfreude of Giridharadas having a special snowflake breakdown on television, it serves as a reminder that however much he now fears internment camps, Muslim banning, and all the rest, he’s the type of person who either thinks that you have your hands on his throat, or he’s going to have his hands on your throat.  If the tables had been turned, and Hillary had won, he would have been the first one urging internment camps and whatever final solution he feels appropriate to handle that pesky white male problem.

Demography is destiny and eventually the Democrats will be back in power.  And when they are, there will be Anand Giridharadas and others like him urging on their own pogrom.