Deborah Gyapong

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

What a devastating portrait

This latest volte-face by the president is evidence of a man who is completely overmatched by events, weak and confused, and deeply ambivalent about using force. Yet he’s also desperate to get out of the corner he painted himself into by declaring that the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would constitute a “red line.” As a result he’s gone all Hamlet on us. Not surprisingly, Obama’s actions are being mocked by America’s enemies and sowing doubt among our allies. 

And here's Victor Davis Hanson on Obama indicts Obama:

Dr. Barack and Mr. Hyde
So why is there such a disconnect between what Obama once declared and what he subsequently professed? There are four explanations, none of them mutually exclusive:
A. Candidate Obama had no experience in foreign policy and has always winged it, now and then recklessly sounding off when he thought he could score cheap points against George Bush. As president, he still has no idea of how foreign policy is conducted, and thus continues to make things up as he goes along, often boxing himself into a corner with serial contradictions. Trying to discern any consistency or pattern in such an undisciplined mind is a futile exercise: what Obama says or does at any given moment usually is antithetical to what he said or did on a prior occasion. He is simply lost and out of his league.B. Candidate Obama has always been an adroit demagogue. He knew how to score political points against George Bush, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain, without any intention of abiding by his own sweeping declarations. The consistency in Obama’s foreign policy is his own carefully calibrated self-interest. Bombing or not bombing, shutting down or keeping open Guantanamo Bay, going or not going to the UN or the U.S. Congress — these choices are all predicated not on principle, but only on what a canny and unprincipled Obama feels best suits his own political interests and self-image at any given moment. In a self-created jam, he flipped and now goes to Congress in hopes of pinning responsibility on them, whether we go or not, whether successful or unsuccessful if we do.  He is a quite clever demagogue.C. Obama is a well-meaning and sincere naïf, but a naïf nonetheless. He really believed the world prior to 2009 worked on the premises of the Harvard Law School lounge, Chicago organizing, and Rev. Wright’s Church — or least should have worked on such assumptions. Then when Obama took office, saw intelligence reports, and assumed the responsibilities of our highest office, he was shocked at the dangerous nature of the world! There was no more opportunity for demagoguery or buck-passing, and he had to become serious. In short, it is easy to criticize without power, hard with it to make tough decisions and bad/worse choices.  He is slowly learning.D. Obama is the first president who genuinely feels U.S. exceptionalism and power were not ethically earned and should be in an ethical sense ended. As a candidate, he consistently undermined current U.S. foreign policy at a time of two critical wars; as president, he has systematically forfeited U.S. authority and prestige. There is no inconsistency: whatever makes the traditional idea of the U.S as a superpower weaker, Obama promotes; whatever enhances our profile, he opposes. He is often quite angry at what could be called traditional America — seen often as a downright mean country here and abroad.

I would say A,B, and D.   I do not think he is slowly learning.  

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Victor Davis Hanson on Miley Cyrus

VDH is one of my favorite columnists.

In the first part of the 20th century modernist contrarians  established a counter-music, an antithesis to classical genres. Populist dancers announced, “Who needs ballroom formality?” But again, how do you oppose that opposition, without a reactionary, full-circle return to formalism?

The advisers of Miley Cyrus should have a problem in that the 20-year-old ignoramus is not a Paris showgirl in the Folies Trévise of the 1870s, not an Impressionist artist in 1890, not a Ziegfeld Girl circa 1910, not a poet of the Great War, not a Depression-era novelist, and most surely not a blues singer in 1940 — all defiant in arguing that in turbulent times genres, rules, protocols in the arts, literature, and popular expression were confining, hypocritical, and fossilized (as if it is more difficult and challenging to write a poem without iambic pentameter, rhyme, or poetic diction).

Miley Cyrus, to the extent she was intent on anything other than making more money and headlines, seemed to be trying to rebel against the rebellion, most likely Madonna and her own knockoff insurgent, Lady Gaga. But given that both of them have appeared on stage nine-tenths nude, routinely simulated sex in front of millions, and adopted symbols and sets designed to gross out Middle America, how do you go beyond their uncouthness? Higher platform shoes? More videos of public nudity? Two foam fingers?

For going “beyond” — not singing more mellifluously, dancing more adroitly, or energizing the crowd more enthusiastically — is now the point. In Petronius Arbiter’s first-century novel, The Satyricon, the fatter and more repugnant is Trimalchio, and the more loudly he passes wind, burps, mangles mythology, and invokes scatology, the more he thinks that he appeals to his bored dinner guests. In terms of repugnance, Miley Cyrus was the anorexic and mobile version of Jabba the Hutt.

She has neither the training nor the discipline to go formal retro. She surely was not going to appear in her vinyl bikini, put on ballet shoes, and do a bit from Swan Lake(now that would be shocking). Nor was she going to offer “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi, waving her huge foam finger in Mitch Miller sing-along fashion. That too these days would be shocking.

It used to be that artists --whatever the medium---underwent training and a kind of apprenticeship that acquainted them with the techniques and forms of their predecessors.   They became engaged in an ongoing cultural conversation that not only guaranteed familiarity with the contributions of past artists, but very likely training in their techniques even if they improvised, varied or abandoned them in furthering their own style.

I do think the ultimate rebellion will be a return to formalism, to training, to expertise, to accomplishment rather than nihilistic, naked and disgustingly formless rebellion.

In a parallel fashion,  I think we are going to see continued growing interest among young people in traditional liturgy and difficult, demanding forms of Christianity.  I see it in the young people who attend our Anglican Use Catholic services.  Young men in their 20s who wear ties and vests to church; one wears a fedora and a trenchcoat, the other has a long frockcoat and do they ever look handsome and trendy.  They love the classical Christian writers, the deep philosophical questions and real literature.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

In case you did not know the origins and the end game of the gay rights movement

A few days ago in The Guardian, Peter Tatchell wrote a pretty good description not only of that ideology’s goals but its origins. This political ideology, often called “queer theory” by its proponents in academia, is what is being pushed, quite openly these days, by the “gay rights” movement. Despite what we are told all day by their collaborators in the mainstream media, from the six o’clock news to your favourite sit-com, this movement is not about “equal rights”. It is about re-writing the foundational concepts of our entire society. I predict that it will not be much longer before the pretense of “equality” is dropped, having done its work. 


Others have pointed out the Marxist origins of the Sexual Revolution as a whole, and it is clear that the sudden explosion of homosexualism is merely the next logical step in a systematic programme. A close cousin to radical feminism and grandchild of Marxism, homosexualism was developed out of the politico-academic pseudo-field of “gender studies” and has, for 30 or 40 years, been pushed on a mostly unwilling public, through “anti-discrimination” and “equalities” legislation by a coalition of lobbyists, NGOs and politicians on the extreme left, and in increasingly powerful international circles

Be sure to read Peter Tatchell's piece in the Guardian that she links to.  The agenda is hiding in plain sight as it were.

But the manifesto went much further. It was an eye-opener: expanding my civil rights perspective into a more radical critique of heterosexism, male privilege and the tyranny of traditional gender roles. It woke me up to the fact that queer liberation involved both social and personal change; that we could, within the bounds of existing society, begin to create an alternative culture that would liberate everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality or gender identity.
The manifesto aligned GLF with other liberation movements, such as the movements for women's, black, Irish and working-class freedom. Although critical of the misogyny and homophobia of the "straight left", it positioned the LGBT struggle as part of the broader anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist movement, striving for the emancipation of all humankind.

Great article on the culture of poverty

At the American Spectator, Christopher Orlet writes.

Besides, as I have written before, too many of the underclass enjoy the culture of poverty. They would feel horribly out of place in a tony subdivision where they would have to work to make a house and car payment, instead of drinking beer all day on the stoop ― they don’t even have stoops in the suburbs. They would have to cut their lawns and keep the trash and noise to a minimum. What fun is that? In the inner-city you can do whatever the hell you want. You can even shoot somebody, and chances are no one will rat you out, because that is the code of the inner-city streets, and people there hate the cops more than they hate the drug dealers.

H/T FiveFeetofFury 

Sunday, May 05, 2013

I can relate to Melanie Phillips' awakening to the reality of the ideological left. The first paragraph describing her time at The Guardian reminds me a bit of my early days at the CBC.  She writes:

Those of us who worked there had a fixed belief in our own superiority and righteousness. We saw ourselves as clever and civilised champions of liberal thought. 
I felt loved and cherished, the favoured child of a wonderful and impressive family.
To my colleagues, there was virtually no question that the poor were the victims of circumstances rather than being accountable for their own behaviour and that the state was a wholly benign actor in the lives of individuals.It never occurred to us that there could be another way of looking at the world. 
Above all, we knew we were on the side of the angels, while across the barricades hatchet-faced Right-wingers represented the dark forces of human nature and society that we were all so proud to be against. But then Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979; and although at The Guardian it was a given that she was a heartless, narrow-minded, suburban nightmare, I found myself listening, despite myself, to a point of view I had not heard before. Iconic: Although Melanie Phillips generally toed the standard Leftist line, when Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, she found herself listening, despite herself, to a point of view she had not heard before
Iconic: Although Melanie Phillips generally toed the standard Leftist line, when Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, she found herself listening, despite herself, to a point of view she had not heard before
These Thatcherites were not the usual upper-class squires, but people whose backgrounds were similar to my own. 

They were promoting the values with which I had been brought up in my Labour-supporting family — all about opportunities for social betterment, hard work, taking responsibility for oneself. 

I always believed a good journalist should uphold truth over lies and follow the evidence where it led.

Trudging round godforsaken estates as the paper’s special reporter on social affairs, I could see the stark reality of what our supposedly enlightened liberal society was becoming.

The scales began to fall from my eyes. I came to realise that the Left was not on the side of truth, reason and justice. 

Instead, it promoted ideology, malice and oppression. Rather than fighting abuse of power, it embodied it.

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Read the whole thing. It is most interesting.  H/t FFoF

Friday, April 26, 2013

Rod Drehrer on the impact of gay marriage on the culture

This is a sobering essay.  An excerpt:

In fact, Paul’s teachings on sexual purity and marriage were adopted as liberating in the pornographic, sexually exploitive Greco-Roman culture of the time—exploitive especially of slaves and women, whose value to pagan males lay chiefly in their ability to produce children and provide sexual pleasure. Christianity, as articulated by Paul, worked a cultural revolution, restraining and channeling male eros, elevating the status of both women and of the human body, and infusing marriage—and marital sexuality—with love.

Christian marriage, Ruden writes, was “as different from anything before or since as the command to turn the other cheek.” The point is not that Christianity was only, or primarily, about redefining and revaluing sexuality, but that within a Christian anthropology sex takes on a new and different meaning, one that mandated a radical change of behavior and cultural norms. In Christianity, what people do with their sexuality cannot be separated from what the human person is.


Rather, in the modern era, we have inverted the role of culture. Instead of teaching us what we must deprive ourselves of to be civilized, we have a society that tells us we find meaning and purpose in releasing ourselves from the old prohibitions.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wise words on the Boston Marathon bombers from Victor Davis Hanson

He writes:

Like it or not, two  half-educated and young killers, at the expense of a few hundred dollars and one dead, with very little capital, shut down an entire city, committed mass mayhem, ruined the lives of hundreds, destroyed the Boston Marathon, and cost the city billions of dollars. But for the chance scans of video cameras, the Tsarnaevs might well have let off more bombs and turned their terror of a day into far greater mayhem of a week. That lesson is not lost on jihadists. To the degree they can enthuse another Tamerlan Tsarnaev in Chechnya or reach a Major Hasan at a mosque or on the Internet, they will continue. I expect more al-Qaedism.

Drones, fairly or not, are now branded as a convenient way to kill a few hundred terrorist suspects without bothering the American people, but they also put us to sleep about radical Islam by making it out of sight, out of mind. The next phases of the war will probably be fought on American soil, waged by al-Qaedists rather than al-Qaeda. Video cameras and good police work may prevent some terrorism. But ultimately we need to change the landscape of the American mind, and try honesty instead of therapy about the nature of the danger.

I would also look very carefully at immigration policy. Is America so short of manpower that we need a Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his brother, his mother, or his father in the United States?
Would not more frequent denial into the U.S. prompt more respect for America than does near pro forma entry? Would not the free use of words like “terrorism” and “Islamist” again convey better the image of a confident society that cares not what jihadists or their supporters think than does worry over offending those who hate us?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Aha! so this is what I am, a fusionist!

A few years ago, I gave a talk to a small group of libertarians about what socially conservative Christians need to learn from libertarians and what libertarians need to learn from Christian socons.

Sadly, my "viral" YouTube video (it had more than 400 hits!) got taken down for some reason, but here's a post at National Review that gives a name for the kind of mixture of social conservatism and libertarianism: fusionism.

Here's an excerpt of Jonah Goldberg's post:

An ex-Communist Christian libertarian, Meyer argued that freedom was a prerequisite for virtue and therefore a virtuous society must be a free society. (If I force you to do the right thing against your will, you cannot claim to have acted virtuously.)

Philosophically, the idea took fire from all sides. But as a uniting principle, fusionism worked well. It provided a rationale for most libertarians and most social conservatives to fight side by side against Communism abroad and big government at home.

What often gets left out in discussions of the American Right is that fusionism isn’t merely an alliance, it is an alloy. Fusionism runs through the conservative heart. William F. Buckley, the founder of the conservative movement, often called himself a “libertarian journalist.” Asked about that in a 1993 interview, he told C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb that the question “Does this augment or diminish human liberty?” informed most of what he wrote.

Most pure libertarians and the tiny number of truly statist social conservatives live along the outer edge of the Venn diagram that is the American Right. Most self-identified conservatives reside in the vast overlapping terrain between the two sides.

Just look at where libertarianism has had its greatest impact: economics. There simply isn’t a conservative economics that is distinct from a libertarian one. Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, James M. Buchanan & Co. are gods of the libertarian and conservative pantheons alike.