Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mike Pompeo Takes Charge

Deposed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is out and around denouncing the Trump administration for what he sees as its insufficient passion for the truth. The message rings well in the precincts of the alt-left. It’s consistent with the message the #GetTrump crowd has been proselytizing these many months.

It makes some sense that Tillerson would want to suck up to the media. He failed miserably as Secretary of State. He did not seem to have any real understanding of foreign policy. Now, he wants to preserve his reputation in the media by echoing its favorite talking points. In truth, his willingness to mouth arguments that he does not understand shows why he is no longer America’s leading diplomat.

Yesterday, the new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined the new administration strategy toward Iran. The Iranian government poo-pooed it, and America’s alt-left media commentators also dismissed it as: nothing new, unrealistic, nowhere as good as the great Obama sellout. You do not need to pay any attention to these comments. They have one single idea that they pursue monomaniacally: Obama good; Trump bad.

For our edification we turn to a savvy foreign policy analyst, Eli Lake of Bloomberg. Lake explains in detail the clear and important policy shift that Pompeo is proposing. If nothing else it makes you very thankful that the new Secretary is as intelligent as he is. America’s foreign policy is now in good hands. It’s been a while.

First, Lake explains that Pompeo overturned three key assumptions that produced the Obama sellout:

These are: that America can live with Iranian regional aggression in exchange for temporary limits on its nuclear program; that the 2015 nuclear bargain expressed the will of the international community; and that Iran's current elected leadership can moderate the country over time.

How did Pompeo change the equation?

Obama argued that for all of the instability Iran sowed in the Middle East, it was worth relaxing sanctions on Iran's banking system and oil exports in exchange for limitations on its nuclear program. Pompeo says that deal was a loser. "No more cost-free expansions of Iranian power," Pompeo said. Speaking of the commander of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, America's top diplomat said he "has been playing with house money that has become blood money; wealth created by the West has fueled his campaign."

Obama was willing to empower Iran and to give it the means to grow its economy… in exchange for delaying its nuclear program. We mention what everyone knows, namely that the inspection regimen that Obama and Kerry allowed was extremely porous.

Lake continues that the Obama negotiation excluded many of the most important stakeholders—the nations of the Middle East. It was the Obama brand of internationalism. Pompeo has announced that he is ending that bias:

Pompeo on Monday also took aim at one of the more insidious elements of Obama's diplomatic strategy, which was that the countries most effected by the change in U.S. policy toward Iran — Israel and America's Arab allies — were not included in negotiations. The negotiators of the deal were the U.S., China, the European Union, Iran, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were briefed later about the talks.

Now the Europeans, Russians and Chinese are part of a much larger group America wants to press the Iranians to change their ways. "I want the Australians, the Bahrainis, the Egyptians, the Indians, the Japanese, the Jordanians, the Kuwaitis, the Omanis, the Qataris, the Saudi Arabians, South Korea, the UAE, and many, many others worldwide to join in this effort against the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said.

Pompeo listed twelve demands that would guide American policy henceforth:

Those demands covered a range of activities, from releasing U.S. citizens arrested in recent years to removing all personnel from Syria and allowing unfettered access to nuclear inspectors to military sites. If Iran complies, Pompeo said the Trump administration would support a treaty agreement (something Obama did not do) that would give Iran access to American markets and full diplomatic recognition.

Naturally, the Obamaphile left has declared the demands to be unrealistic. Lake says that they are missing the point. Obama and Kerry normalized Iran and granted it considerable respect. Iran used the money to destabilize the region and to support terrorism. As for its slowing down its nuclear program, we do not really know what happened:

As many commentators have already quipped, the chance of Iran meeting these conditions is zero. But that misses an important point. In his enthusiasm for a bargain with Iran, Obama was willing to normalize a nation that was aiding and abetting a horrific crime against the Syrian people, overthrowing the government in Yemen and undermining the elected one in Iraq. It arrested U.S. citizens even as its diplomats were negotiating the nuclear deal. It shipped missiles to terrorists in Lebanon aimed at Israel.

All of that was worth it, Obama and Kerry insisted, because Iran had agreed to place temporary limits on its nuclear program that would expire over the next 10 to 20 years. But the norms that separate rogue states from international citizens were weakened in the process. Pompeo on Monday took the first step in trying to restore them.

Pompeo has provided a framework for future policy. Considering that he was working with the appalling situation he had inherited, his is clearly a step in the right direction.

The Ongoing Clash between China and America

Sometimes a picture says it all. Sometimes it does not. The picture might not reveal a hidden truth, but it might reveal something about attitudes. In this case, the picture reveals the attitudes of Chinese citizens toward the United States.

You see, while we are gnashing our teeth over Russian collusion, the truth, as several sage commentators have noted, is that our main international competition comes from China. This does not mean that we are at war with China or that we should be at war with China or that we are going to be war with China. Nations compete and civilizations clash. In the best circumstances they avoid major military confrontations.

The Chinese government has been involved in a trade dispute with the United States. It has something to do with tariffs. Given that the world is more complicated than we all think, other issues are certainly in question. As I have mentioned, the improvement in relations with North Korea has almost certainly been orchestrated from Beijing. And the glitches are probably also being orchestrated from Beijing. That being said, young John Bolton should have known better than to raise the effigy of Moammar Qaddhafi in discussing his goal for North Korean denuclearization. Some people consider it to have been a bad move in the game. It felt more like a rookie mistake.

Anyway, the government of Xi Jinping sent a trade delegation to the United States. The seriousness of the task was signaled by the fact that the delegation was led by vice premier Liu He—considered to be Xi’s right hand man. This means that Xi took the negotiations very seriously and wanted to show respect to America.

All leftist commentators have pronounced the talks a catastrophe for the United States. The reason is that all leftist commentators pronounce everything that Donald Trump does to be a catastrophe. Being seriously rational thinkers they believe that Trump is the Devil Incarnate and thus, that everything he does must be wrong.

In the current story, from the New York Times, we read that the Chinese made no concessions on trade. More recent stories suggest that the Chinese have seriously lowered tariffs on automobile imports. The moral of the story: do not jump to conclusions before you know the whole story.

Anyway, the picture does not show the Chinese delegation meeting with Trump administration officials. It shows the Chinese delegation meeting with Congressional leaders, with the leadership of the House Ways and Means Committee.
View image on Twitter

The picture has been widely disseminated in China, next to a picture of another negotiation between China and the West, the 1901 meeting that signed the Boxer protocol. It ended a Chinese insurgency against Western imperialistic influence in China.

In 1901 the Qing dynasty was dying and its leaders were old and evidently decrepit. The Western leaders were younger and more vigorous. In today’s picture the Chinese delegates seemed young and more vigorous, while the members of Ways and Means, led by a couple of octogenarians, seemed to be old and decrepit.

Chinese commentators believe that the pictures reverse that happened at the end of the Qin dynasty, when the West was the ascendant culture and China was declining. Now, they look at today’s picture and see China ascending and the West declining.

Evidently, they have a sense of history. And they are not wedded to the twenty-four hour news cycle.

The Times reports the story:

After Chinese delegates met with American lawmakers on Thursday, a photograph taken from one end of the table circulated on the popular Chinese social media service Weibo. It was shared alongside one from 1901, when representatives from China and colonial powers signed an accord to end the Boxer Rebellion, a violent uprising against foreign influence in China.


“Over the past 100 years, American officials have gone from young to old, and Chinese officials have gone from old to young,” one Weibo user wrote. “This has a lot to do with the current state of the two countries. America today is just as closed off as China was 100 years ago.”

In what must surely count as a failed metaphor, the Times calls the symbolism “tantalizingly potent:”

The symbolism is tantalizingly potent. The 1901 accord is regarded in China as a national humiliation, particularly by the Communist Party, which seeks to present itself as having rescued the nation from a century of being pushed around by foreign powers.

One of the Qing court’s representatives in Beijing that day “was so feeble that he had to be lifted out of his chair by two men,” The New York Times reported at the time. The Qing dynasty — China’s last — collapsed not long after.

As the Times notes, the comparison is inexact. The American legislators were not our lead negotiators. And besides, the Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is actually older than the Chairman of Ways and Means, Kevin Brady.

Yet, it’s not about accuracy; it’s about perception. China sees a clash of civilizations, one in which it is winning and the West is losing.

It’s worthwhile noting that our leading international competitor does not see us as a very formidable adversary. They might be right or they might be wrong. We ought at least to reflect on the matter.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Is the British Monarchy Over?

Time stood still on Saturday when an American divorcee named Megan Markle married Prince Harry. You know Harry, the sixth in line to the British throne, the man who some people believe is not his father’s son.

Alas, all of that is forgotten. True love and multicultural diversity were on display in Windsor last Saturday. It was an orgy of celebrity tabloidism. The world thrilled to it… unless you found it all a crashing bore and yearned for some real news.

It’s one of those moments when you ask where Tom Wolfe is when we need him. The event was a set up for withering satire… and yet, precious few scribes dared cross into that territory. The exception was Roger Kimball, writing in the Spectator USA (via Instapundit).

So, hats off to Kimball for speaking truth to… well, not power, because the British monarchy has no power… but to pretense and celebrity. It was a sorry spectacle.

Kimball echoeds my own sentiments when he praised Queen Elizabeth for being a model of decorum and propriety… throughout her reign:

I like the Queen. I think she understands perfectly what Walter Bagehot meant when he distinguished between the “dignified” and the “efficient” aspects of government. “We must not,” Bagehot famously wrote, “let in daylight upon magic.” The Queen has done her bit to preserve the magic and dignified reserve of monarchy. She is a good thing.

And then there are her children. One notes, and one gains no special pleasure from noting it, that the Queen’s marriage was a role reversal marriage, one where she outranked her husband. You will say that Queen Victoria’s marriage was also a role reversal. But then, ask  yourself about her first son, the decadent King Edward VII and his grandson King Edward VIII—the one who abdicated for love of an American divorcee.

Not to be excessively snide about it all, but Kimball remarks correctly that Prince Charles—until recently the last remaining Jungian in the Western world—is not exactly a prize.

The same cannot be said of her children. It used to be rumoured that Prince Charles intended to declare himself “defender of the faiths,” plural, when (hope nudges me to say “if”) he is crowned. Not dignified, that.

And then, of course, we suffered through the time of Britain’s first celebrity princess, Diana herself:

Nor of course was his first wife, Princess Diana, the mother of his children, shy about letting daylight in upon magic. Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn beheaded on trumped up charges of adultery. Diana swanned around in a bubble of celebrity and nauseating sentimentality on account, partly, of her patent adulteries.

Let us stipulate that it is evidence of enlightenment that Princess Diana was not beheaded (not, anyway, by an executioner). Still, what does it tell us about the moral state of the Church of England that the whole Charles-Camilla-Diana-James Hewitt-Dodi Fayed matrix could transpire in public?

I have occasionally mentioned this point, but I am happy that Kimball expresses it so well. Diana set a poor example of monarchal decorum. She washed her dirty linen in public and seems to have craved the chance to dirty it in public too. Kimball calls it nauseating sentimentality and looks askance on her willingness to pal around with celebrities. After all, Saturday’s royal wedding was chockablock with celebrities… the better to show what the monarchy has become.

Is it all the end of the monarchy? We all understand that Prince Harry, being sixth in line to the throne, has reached peak celebrity. He will be quickly eclipsed. As for the monarchy, Kimball echoes Julian Barnes, who was anything but optimistic:

 In his novel England, England, Julian Barnes imagines a future in which the Isle of Wight is transformed into a gigantic theme park in which all that is most picturesque about England is recreated. Eventually, the Royal Family is induced to leave London to live in a half-sized but “fully modernized Buck House,” where they wave at tourists from 11:00 to 11:15 every morning but are free from the salacious curiosity of journalists, “the Privy Purse . . . replaced by a profit-sharing scheme.”

We’re not there yet, not quite. But we’re on the way. Is it a good thing, all this down-home, latitudinarian, aw-shucks, pomo attitude towards tradition and morality?

We await the arrival of King Charles and King William. We might feel somewhat optimistic over the ascent of Wills and Kate, but Charles seems to be a calamity in the making:

Institutions become decadent not when they become depraved, necessarily. The key thing is their existential hollowing out, so that the fa├žade persists but without the vital element of conviction and belief.

I suspect that, whatever personal happiness Harry and Meghan will now enjoy (and here’s wishing them luck), their wedding was another stage in the emptying out of the British monarchy.

In 1881, the Chinese ambassador to England, endeavoring to convey the sense of “Protestant Episcopal Chruch,” came up with “Society of Contradictory Overseers.” I wonder what he would say today?

Women Networking in Business

In the midst of the current #MeToo moment many people have noticed that weaponizing women in the workplace is not going to help them to get ahead. Why would any senior male executive risk his career and his family in order to mentor a young woman? Especially if she is an attractive young woman? Most people will not say it out loud, but #MeToo will in time damage women’s career prospects.

Before addressing the advice offered by British professor Herminia Ibarra we must also address another assumption, one that we mostly take for granted. Why do we assume that women want to have careers just like men? Why do we imagine that women have the same competitive ambition to rise to the top of the corporate hierarchy? We know, don’t we, that an ambitious woman who achieves corporate fame and glory will become less attractive to men. And we also know that an ambitious man who achieves a high status position will become more attractive to women. We are dealing with likelihoods here, but if a woman has to choose between family and corporate success, she might well choose the former. No one can be all things to all people at all times in all places.

Ibarra says nothing at all about these aspects of the question. Thus, we find her analysis lacking in basic essentials.

Of course, she begins by saying that there are fewer women in power, and thus that there are fewer chances for women to be mentored by other woman. She does not seem to know that many women do not want to be mentored by other women, for reasons that may or may not be evident. 

Women mentors can be decidedly nasty to younger woman, perhaps because the younger women are attracting different types of looks. When a woman reaches a certain age she will find that she will become invisible to men. A woman who has reached this age—it depends almost entirely on hormones—will not feel good to be surrounded by young women who are oozing pheromones and who are monopolizing male gazes.

You might say that mature women should be above it. You would be assuming that the dynamic has nothing to do with biology. If it does, your argument will crumble like a stale cookie.

Besides, how many women in positions of corporate power are assumed to be diversity hires, figureheads who owe their jobs to a quota system? Why be mentored by someone who is not respected within the organization? As long as there are diversity quotas women in positions of authority will be assumed to have parlayed their gender into promotions. This will not make them great mentors. Young women who attach themselves to such senior executives will bear the same stigma.

At a time when the woman who is most honored in American academia owes her lofty jobs to her husband’s name and to her ability to cover up his sexual predations, who failed miserably in the jobs she held, the sense that women are being promoted beyond their abilities hangs over the culture like a shroud.

Ibarra suggests that men and women do not bond because they are not sufficiently alike. Strangely, I had been led to believe that gender is a social construct, thus, that men and women are fundamentally the same. Duh? Now I am told that men and women have divergent interests. And that they choose freely not to participate in the same extracurricular events. Women do not much like to play golf or to hang out in sports bars. Men do not much like going to the ballet.

You might say that women are excluded from social activities where men bounce ideas off of each other, but you might also say that women have better things to do with their time than to hang out in the bar discussing Giancarlo Stanton’s batting average. Discussing sports gins up one's competitive juices. Discussing diaper changes gins them down.

And, of course, as soon as children enter the picture, the answer to this conundrum blares out at us. Women feel obligated and duty bound to spend more time with their children. They want their children to have a home and to have dinner in a timely and organized fashion. That women freely make this choice on a regular basis should be respected, not derided.

Dare we mention that men might be spending more time with their buddies, the better to bond on male terms, because they are deprived of such bonding rituals in today’s new gender neutered workplace. And they might choose to spend more time with their friends after work because they do not want to have to go home and be harassed about doing the dishes or chopping the carrots. Besides, if, as some recent research has suggested, being more at home more of the time tends to ramp up their oxytocin levels—that being the famous cuddle hormone that women possess in greater degree than men—it will make them into weaker competitors.

And Ibarra adds that women have a second circle of friends, mothers of their children’s friends, women from the neighborhood who have nothing to do with work. One notes that these women’s groups, apparently a way for women to bond, tend to exclude men. When a man who had elected to become lead parent went to the playground with his young children, the mothers shunned him. Whatever they wanted to discuss they did not want to discuss it  around him.They have a constitutional right to do so. You might imagine that a group of men hanging out in a bar might not want to discuss certain matters with women around.

We should be talking about opportunity, not outcomes. And we should begin any discussion about women in business with the observation that many women simply do not want to make the sacrifices necessary to produce business success.

As we know, when a woman ascends to lofty heights in business, her husband will often choose to become a stay-at-home parent. This role reversal sounds perfectly reasonable until you consider that the man who adopts this role will be demeaned and condescended to by most other men, especially by the men his wife works with. And he will be humiliated by females who are primary parents.

Children sense this. Male children especially sense when their fathers are diminished. And they might resent it. They might feel angry about it. One thing for sure is that they do not want to show the world that their father has been humiliated. So, they might go out and join a gang in order to become the kind of tough guy that their fathers aren't.

Out in the schoolyard when boys exchange information about what their fathers do, it does not sound very good to say that your father is a housewife. And, it does not count if your mother is a corporate president.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Case of the Abusive Wife

We are all on the lookout for the least smidgen of toxic masculinity. We are hard at work ridding the nation and its culture of any reference to manly virtue. After all, there is no such thing as manly virtue. We are all surrounded by manly vice.

And naturally, if men are devils, then women must be angels. Any time a man and women get into a fight or an argument, we know that the man is at fault. It’s the default position. If you do not agree you are in serious trouble.

Today, Carolyn Hax offers a slightly different perspective in the Washington Post. True enough, this is one among a multitude of marriages, but I suspect that it is not as rare as we would like. It’s yet another example of a wife who appears to be an untamed shrew. One sympathizes with the man who married this woman. And we can ask ourselves what he was thinking when he married her and why he stays married to her. And we can also ask why, if she harbors such raw hostility to him, she stays in the marriage.

From what we can tell the couple is childless, but has an egalitarian marriage, with both spouses having good jobs. As often happens in these letters, we do not know who does what for a living, who supports the family lifestyle, whose job has more prestige than the other’s. We would want to have some idea about what the woman is complaining about before dooming the marriage. And yet, we will go with what we have.

It shows, as Hax wants us to see, that women can be abusive too. I am sure it comes as news. So here is the letter:

My wife and I have what looks on paper like a great relationship, with good jobs and a good house and similar interests. My problem is I hate the way my wife treats me.

I say something she disagrees with, and she rolls her eyes. I ask her to please just tell me what she's thinking instead of eye-rolling and she says if I'm "too stupid" to figure out what she's upset about, that's my fault. We go out with friends and she acts like she's having a good time, then she spends the ride home berating me about how I embarrassed her with some social faux pas that only she seemed to notice. I suggested marriage counseling so we could talk about what it is that I'm doing to cause her eye-rolling and embarrassment, and she said she thinks it's "hilarious" that I'm "not man enough" to stand up to her without a counselor present.

I'm closing in on the conclusion that divorce is the only option. Can you think of a better option?

Doesn’t this sound like nonstop contempt? It sounds like it to me and it sounds like it to Hax. She advises this sad sack to divorce his harridan of a wife, as soon as is humanly possible.

One understands that prefers in all situations to try to save marriages, not to cause their termination. And yet, all rules have exceptions, and in extreme cases, like that one, divorce seems to be the only way that this man can regain his sanity and his dignity.

Hax replies:

No. Divorce sounds like bliss.

What you describe is emotional abuse. Inexcusable.

Some think the word “abuse” is thrown around too lightly, so I’ll cross my T’s: Your wife also sounds like a terrible person.

But I’m only getting one side of the story here, so I’ll dot my I’s, too: Living with her sounds like misery.

The last one is really all you need, and you know it better than I ever could: You’re unhappy in this marriage, and your efforts to change it have failed. Please talk to an excellent divorce attorney and a family therapist — solo. Just given what you’ve shared, this is not a divorce you want to initiate unprepared.

Fair and balanced, it seems to me. True, the wife is a horror. True, he should exit the situation post haste. True, he should find an excellent divorce attorney—because divorcing a shrew is not going to be fun. Forewarned is forearmed.

Andrew Sullivan's Obamaphilia

Surely, Andrew Sullivan is one of the more talented writers out there today. At times, he offers sober and sage commentary on the passing scene. At times, he becomes overwhelmed by emotion and whines all over the page.

Friday was one of the latter occasions. In order to defend Obama against Trump he distorted Obama's record beyond recognition. He was writing like a flack, or perhaps a fanatic. Or even a man who is in love with an idol. It’s a sad moment, a moment where a capable writer embarrasses himself… all for love of Obama.

Sullivan’s distortions are so rank that they take one’s breath away. As for his basic core concept: he argues that President Trump has undone Obama’s legacy in seventeenth months.

It is a fair point. Yet, Sullivan, believing that Trump is a mere autocrat who governs by his pen and his telephone, forgets that much of the Obama legacy was enacted by extraconstitutional means. Obama could have submitted his Iran deal to the senate as a treaty. He called it a deal and said that he did not have to. The same applies to the Paris Climate Accord. At that point both deals are vulnerable to cancellation by another president.

Sullivan is so caught up in his complaints that he ignores the simple fact that the American people elected Donald Trump on an agenda to roll back Obama’s overreach. Not only did the American people elect Trump, they elected a Republican Congress, Republican governors and Republican state legislatures. 2016 was an electoral bloodbath for Democrats. President Trump is doing what people elected him to do. With the exception of the 2012 presidential election, all national elections since 2008 have repudiated Obama. It does not make Sullivan love Obama any less, but still, presenting Trump as an imperious autocrat is dishonest.

Sullivan pictures Obama as a master of fiscal discipline:

In economic policy, Obama’s slow winnowing of the deficit even in times of sluggish growth has been completely reversed. We too easily forget that the biggest accomplishment of Trump’s term in office so far — a massive increase in debt in a time of robust economic growth — is the inverse of Obama’s studied sense of fiscal responsibility. 

This is absurd to the point of being an outright lie. Barack Obama doubled the national debt in eight years. He larded on around $9 billion in debt… debt that hangs like a sword of Damocles over the American and the world economies. Denouncing Trump for unexampled “recklessness” distorts the record. After all, Trump has been in office for around a year and a half.

Sullivan then accuses Trump of “fiscal vandalism:”

The fiscal vandalism is also a massive U-turn in terms of redistribution. If Obama managed to shift resources, ever so incrementally, toward the middle class and the poor (by allowing Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, by bringing millions of the working poor into health insurance), Trump has done the opposite, by doubling down on unprecedented economic inequality, and borrowing unimaginable sums to disproportionately benefit the unimaginably wealthy.

He is charging Trump with failing to redistribute income. Sullivan often calls himself a conservative. Here he is bemoaning Trump’s failure to be as socialistic as Obama. He says nothing about the stock market and the unemployment numbers over the past seventeen months. Those numbers would show that the stock markets and the job markets are not as wedded to income redistribution as is Sullivan. If more people are working, isn't that a sign of a successful economic policy?

Naturally, Sullivan presents Obama as an intrepid warrior against climate change. He hates Trump for walking away from the Paris Climate Accord. Dare we say that the whole anti-climate crusade is far from being settled science? And that much of the Paris Accord punished America and redistributed massive amounts of American wealth to underdeveloped countries—the better to signify that America was the problem and that American needed to be punished.

If said accord was so important, and if Sullivan cares so much for the constitution, why did he not criticize Obama for not submitting it to the senate for ratification. Obama did not do so. Apparently, he did not believe in the balance of powers.

As for Obama’s foreign policy, Sullivan only sees goodness. Clearly, he has been blinded by the sunlight:

In less than two years, he has wrecked an Atlantic alliance that every president has defended and advanced since the Second World War, and that Obama nurtured. No European government can or should trust America from now on: They know they’re on their own. And then there is the volte-face in the Middle East. Obama’s core achievement in foreign policy was to shift America from embattled enmeshment in the region to a more offshore balancing role. By getting out of Iraq, and reaching out to Tehran, as well as maintaining our links to Jerusalem and the Saudi theocracy, the U.S. increased its options and leverage, while bringing Europe into the mix through the Iran deal. There was even, believe it or not, an attempt at first to restrain the Greater Israel lobby, to use what leverage the American president has to restrain the settlements project.

Trump has asserted America’s traditional role as leader of the Atlantic alliance. He rejected the weak-kneed open borders policy of Angela Merkel and has worked to establish better relations with France. Obama manifested craven submission to the demands of the Western European intelligentsia, people who have created a massive problem with Muslim refugees. People voted for Trump because they did not want what they were seeing in Germany happen here. About all of that Sullivan has nothing to say.

Obama betrayed our allies in Israel, in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia. In truth, they all despised him. Sullivan’s rant against the Israel lobby shows us that the Obamaphile left seems inexorably drawn to anti-Semitic tropes. Sullivan sympathizes with Palestinian terrorists and fails to notice that Trump’s turn toward Israel has been supported by many Sunni Arab states.

Apparently, Sullivan did not notice. Siding with Iran was cowardice and appeasement. Siding with the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism is not an act of courage. Appeasing a nation that considers homosexuality a capital offense, punishable by hanging, does not deter gay activist Sullivan from thinking that we should submit to them.

Giving Iran eventually legitimate access to nuclear weapons was not outreach. It was folly. Iran has used the money to further destabilize the region, to finance terrorism against Israel… while starving its own people. True, Obama walked out of Iraq and abandoned Syria. The result was the advent of ISIS and the destruction of Syria. Sullivan fails to mention that the Trump administration got rid of the ISIS caliphate in nine months. It was part of the Obama legacy. Somehow Sullivan did not notice.

Sullivan’s notion that Obama could “quarantine barbarism” is laughable. If you don’t believe me, ask the people who were living under ISIS during the Obama years.

Naturally, Sullivan denounces Trump for being a racist:

What drives Trump is racial essentialism, a rage at the post-racial, integrative center that the mixed-race Obama represented.

Is it not possible that Trump’s supporters were driven by the their belief that the Obama administration had failed? Racial essentialism has so completely taken over Sullivan’s mind that he sees only goodness in Obama… on racial grounds? He shows no judgment, no rational evaluation of the good and bad of Obama. He sounds like Paul Krugman, a brilliant mind that has been infested with zealotry to the point where his views boil down to: Obama all good; Trump all bad.

That is the picture of racial essentialism that Sullivan pretends to denounce.

Sullivan believes that Obama, who spend twenty years lapping up the swill coming from race-baiting America-hating preacher Jeremiah Wright, disposed of the indoctrination in a twenty minute speech. The human minds does not change its habits with a single speech. The speech was simply a lie. Sullivan does not see it because he does not care to see it.

Sullivan is dismayed to see that America has become more divided by race. He is appalled at the descent into tribalism. And yet, he cannot connect the dots and see that this all took place during and as a direct consequence of the Obama presidency.

Such is blindness, and perhaps even love. The only thing Sullivan forgot to mention was that Trig Palin is the love child of Britol Palin and Donald Trump.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

What is a Girlfriend Experience?

In everyday conversation, men are said to have sex. They get laid. Men even fuck. Women, on the other hand, have intimacy.

At least, those are the most commonly used expressions. Men speak of scoring. Unless they are speaking about their wives. In that case they use more genteel expressions. If they speak of it at all... which is more common.

Women are more modest. They do not normally talk about scoring. They do not count the notches on their bedposts. They seek intimacy. Yes, I do know that some women speak of men as fuck buddies-- they are identifying as ersatz men.

These thoughts arrived in the forefront of my consciousness while reading Allison Schrager’s analysis of prostitution. Schrager is an economist. She has spent time in Nevadan brothels… for research purposes. She interviewed the girls. She interviewed the owners. She wanted to understand how the flesh market functions. You see, Schrager studies markets. Why not study the oldest market of them all—the market in female flesh?

OK, Schrager does not exactly say that the market in female flesh is the oldest of them all. That honor undoubtedly belongs to marriage—an exchange and alliance between families. And yet, she is curious about prostitution and, after studying it more intently than I have, she concludes that you can buy sex but you cannot buy intimacy. It feels like a Beatles’s song: Can’t buy me love. Remember it.

Anyway, as soon as Schrager introduces the notion of intimacy bells go off. Women think in terms of intimacy. As a general rule, men do not. Yes, I do understand that some very woke men use the term, as a sop to feminism, but, in the last analysis, men are not looking for intimacy when they go to brothels.

You will be thinking that men are just looking for carnal delights. To which Schrager would counter that the most popular and often the most expensive of the services brothels offer is what is called the Girlfriend Experience. As the old saying goes: time is money. And a girlfriend experience requires more time than a quickie.

For those who are not up on the latest lingo, this is another way of saying: going out on a date. Now, it’s a strange sort of date when a man is having dinner and a movie with an anonymous woman. Prostitutes do not use their real names. They rarely divulge personal information about their lives. 

This suggests that there is no real intimacy. Then again, it suggests that these men are not looking for intimacy. Women who sell a girlfriend experience make men feel important and make them feel clever and witty… roughly as they do in Japanese hostess clubs. These latter, for those who care, are not to be confused with brothels. Hostesses entertain. They do not sell intimacy. They do not even pretend to be selling intimacy. The man who frequent them, often in groups, do not expect anything more than a fun and entertaining evening with a woman who knows how to sustain a conversation, who laughs at his jokes, who tells him how great he is and who never treats a man with derision or contempt.

A few notes: if prostitutes are selling their bodies—perish the thought—but do not identify themselves by name, are they selling their bodies or are they selling a body? Do they engage in the experience or do they go through the motions? Just a thought.

So, let’s accept that the Girlfriend Experience is theatre. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Schrager exposes her own contempt for the men who frequent prostitutes by saying that they are all lonely, sad losers. She thinks that they are looking for a human connection. And yet, they cannot have a real connection with a prostitute, so perhaps they are finding something else.

Schrager fails to notice that men who can spend thousands of dollars to get laid are likely to be fairly successful in life. And if they are fairly successful in life they are likely to have a network of social contacts. Many of them have wives and families. 

This means that the men are not looking for a hookup, but are looking for a conversation with a woman who will treat them with respect. In exchange they are happy to treat the woman with respect. It shows more respect to take a woman out on a date than to hook up with her a half an hour after you met her in a bar. Not that there is anything wrong with drunken hookups with sexually liberated women.

This tells us, if you did not see this coming, that in a world where women are prone to hook up, to give it away for free, to have sex with random anonymous men, the Girlfriend Experience has become popular because fewer and fewer women in the real world are offering it. As Schrager notes, if something is in short supply people create a market for it.

Modern women want to be equals. But this seems to lead them to show contempt for men. They are independent and autonomous. They do not need anything from men, except for an occasional donation of bodily fluid.

Modern women are all attitude. And that attitude is not very attractive. I hate to say it but women who lean in, assert themselves, are straightforward and upfront about what they want are a turnoff. If they are not a turnoff they are a chore.

Women do not understand that these attitudes, whether promoted in the workplace or at the rave, are not what men want. Of perhaps they do. Perhaps they lean in because they know that men do not want women who threaten their face. At times these attitudes provoke pushback, but in truth most men are not looking to get into a shoving match with a woman on a date. And they do not want to argue about who is going to pay for what.

There you have the solution: after spending enough time dealing with today’s liberated women, men want to go out with women who will not berate them for picking up the tab. Who will show some respect for what they do and who will not be competing against them. It’s not so much that modern women do not put out— as I said, they often give it away for free—but when someone is giving something away for free a man might feel that he has not earned what he is receiving. If she is giving it to him for free she is probably giving it to other men for free. Where's the fun in that?

If the Girlfriend Experience harkens back to Japanese hostess bars, and undoubtedly to the Geisha experience, a more recent version was practiced by a famed French procuress named Madame Claude. During the 1960s and 70s she ran a brothel, or better, a service whereby she provided wealthy and famous men lovely young Frenchwomen for sexual and other services. Her women were not ordinary prostitutes. They were what is best called demi-mondaines.

Her clientele included John Kennedy and the Shah of Iran. It included many politicians and royals. The important point was not merely that Claude’s girls would go out on dates, for dinner and a movie. They were more likely hired to accompany or to escort men to social functions. They were well-dressed, well-mannered, well-groomed and presentable. They had been well brought up and were comfortable in opulent surroundings. They grew up in good neighborhoods and went to the best schools. They were articulate and intelligent, could carry a conversation and, most importantly, would not in any way embarrass the man they were with.

As the story goes, some of Claude’s girls ended up marrying the men they escorted. Were the men looking for intimacy? Not really. Men do not look for intimacy. They look for women who make them look good and who make them feel like men, like men who have accomplished things in the world and who have attained to a certain stature and prestige.

It’s not about loneliness.  These men were anything but pathetic losers. They were extraordinarily successful and were looking for women who appreciated their success. In the end it's not that much of a mystery.