Token Dissonance

Black & gay, young & conservative. A Southern gentleman writes about life and politics after Yale


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And the Army’s Cold Glare

“You’re a talker. Listening to talkers makes me thirsty and hungry. Think I’ll take two chickens.” –The Hound

Hail to the Speech!

Hail to the Speech!

President Obama meandered into West Point the other day to tell the country, and all those families who just wanted to enjoy their proud cadets’ apolitical graduation, what the Obama Doctrine of foreign policy and national security was all about. One can only speculate as to how the pedantic conversations of jilted academics—fueled by straw and anodynes—managed to excrete into being the outline for such a speech.  But I won’t waste anybody’s time pondering the vaporous origins of something so inert as yet another Obama soliloquy.

For those interested in some of the broadly unimpressed reactions to Obama’s Occupy Commencement exercise, you can find several illuminating examples here, here, and here.

What is interesting to note, amid the bipartisan criticism of our Commander-in-Chief’s latest attempt to speak his manic progressive dreaming into reality, is the many ways in which Obama has confirmed the hapless inadequacy of the reigning strains liberalism to reckon cogently with the problems of a 21st Century world.

U.S. military funding—and the percentage of military spending by the world’s generally American-friendly democracies—is significantly declining, and the Obama administration aims to reduce it further.  This compounding financial suppression of the Pentagon has led not only to closures of military facilities at home and around the world, and to the shrinking of our fighting ability to the lowest levels since World War II, but also to our disadvantage in the latest strategic arms race of the modern world—hypersonic weaponry.

While Obama bloviates about a “pivot to Asia,” the Chinese government is developing the fastest aircraft on Earth, with the Russians racing behind them in the most chilling upgrade on Cold War geopolitical games since the Kremlin’s invasion of [insert latest country]. While some of my liberal friends (and certain irresponsible libertarians) have reacted to this news with either indifference or befuddling glee, it should alarm anybody concerned with the overall trajectory of power, political systems, and broader norms in the decades to come.

A economically, militarily, and technologically ascendant China with the means to thwart U.S. missile defenses is the hallmark of a world increasingly subjugated to the hegemony of autocracy and regionalism, at the expense of the Western project of constitutional democracy and civil-rights republicanism. Such a world would see the influence of the U.S. usurped by hostile powers, with the concomitant realignment of global powers and priorities.

While the idea of a new arms race may seem understandably harrowing to some, it is essential that the U.S. get out and remain at the forefront of martial innovation. Not only has military technological advancements helped spur such civilian utilities as the Internet and GPS, but they also offer means to reduce the rapacious human costs of war. The much-maligned drone program, an inheritance from President Bush, has done wonders to reduce the scars of combat for American troops and cut down on the costs of waging relatively effective combats campaigns across the planet. (We lose profound less in striking a terrorist enclave remotely than deploying ground units to fight their way through vicious obstacles to the same objective.)

Granted, drone strikes are prone to mistakes and collateral damage, but nobody with even passing familiarity with guerilla conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan can argue the same isn’t true of ground troop deployments.

Engaging fully with the new technological frontier of military engagement in the modern world is, frankly, the most and only humane project the U.S. and allied nations can develop for American citizens and vulnerable people beyond our borders.

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Wars of the Magnolias

Update: This post was adapted by The Daily Caller. You can find that article here.

“The bias of the mainstream media is toward sensationalism, conflict, and laziness.” –Jon Stewart

Courtesy of a softer world

The media will pretend to be fair and reasonable if we pretend to believe them.

Back in early May, the infamous ink-butcher George R. R. Martin submitted to an interview with Davie Itzkoff at The New York Times. There had been a public uproar over a rape scene in a recent episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Many in the fandom wanted desperately to know why such a compelling story as that of the characters of Westeros needed to be written in the free-flowing blood of continual atrocities. This (abridged) exchange followed:

Q. Some critics of the books have said that even if such scenes are meant to illustrate that the world of Westeros is often a dark and depraved place, there is an overreliance on these moments over the course of the novels, and at a certain point they are no longer shocking and become titillating. How do you respond to this criticism?

A. […]The atrocities in “A Song of Ice and Fire,” sexual and otherwise, pale in comparison to what can be found in any good history book.As for the criticism that some of the scenes of sexual violence are titillating, to me that says more about these critics than about my books. Maybe they found certain scenes titillating. Most of my readers, I suspect, read them as intended.

Alas, this post is not about the fictional intrigues of Westeros, but rather the real pathologies of the American politico-media complex. The setting is Mississippi, where a close and combative U.S. Senate primary had once been a test of rival philosophies of the Republican vision of government. Is the occupant of that contested seat supposed to bring home the bacon, see: incumbent Thad Cochran, or abide by Mississippi voters’ desire to limit government and promote economic freedom, see: challenger Chris McDaniel?

But that was before the media discovered its latest dark and depraved place for political titillation: the contemptible violation of Rose Cochran’s privacy by a plot of deranged hacks who happen to support McDaniel.

McDaniel and his campaign have denied any involvement in the crime. Given the predictability of the subsequent firestorm, it hardly strains credulity that any statewide candidate with sufficient intellectual acuity to be executed in Florida would have never sanctioned such hapless grotesquerie. More the point, no charges have been filed or suggested against McDaniel. Of course, police are investigating all conceivable possibilities, whatever their actual merits, but reasonable people don’t usually jump to conclusions because a cop won’t “clear” anybody publicly before an investigation is concluded.

If we opt not to be vapid, the lack of any compelling evidence against McDaniel in the Cochran scandal is much less incriminating, newsworthy, or even interesting than former Senate Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) trying to name a courthouse he had built with $100 million of his constituents’ money after Thad Cochran (whom Lott endorsed for a seventh six-year term) instead of one of Mississippi’s first black lawyers. If Morning Joe Scarborough (R-Latte) and other Very Serious People in the media were less vapid, they might even note that Cochran, who was first elected when my parents were toddlers, has had more government structures named after him than any other sitting member of Congress.  (By the way, I’m no expert in congressional naming etiquette, but isn’t getting your name put on multiple courthouses a tad greedy?) What a thoughtful use of our generously earmarked tax dollars!

At this point, even moderately responsible reporters might call into question Thad Cochran’s purported devotion to fiscal conservatism. The more inquisitive might additionally question Cochran’s interest in the people he was elected to serve. After all, the senior Senator spent half as much time in Mississippi as fellow Sen. Roger Wicker, yet used $35 million more taxpayer dollars doing it. How’s that for getting less for more?

If, despite all these more relevant or insightful topics, we feel compelled to dwell on the Cochran scandal, the media might at least wonder aloud—between all the inane musing about McDaniel’s invisible knavery—about Sen. Cochran. It is curious, after all, that the Senator has benefited immensely from exploiting a crime against his wife and is now avoiding the media.

Many of the insinuations against McDaniel, like from Morning Joe Scarborough (R-Latte), follow along the lines of this phrasing from Christian Science Monitor:

“Though no one publicly suggested McDaniel was behind the video, Mr. Kelly is a strong McDaniel supporter and there are pictures on social media of him and McDaniel together. In the early hours after the story broke, the McDaniel campaign also gave conflicting signals about how much it knew about the video and when.”

Or this one from MSNBC:

“Then things got worse: three more people were arrested on Thursday in connection with the break-in, including a state tea party leader with longstanding ties to McDaniel and an activist who had, according to The Clarion-Ledger, regularly co-hosted a radio show with McDaniel.

A lone blogger was bad enough, but suddenly law enforcement authorities were alleging a conspiracy that included prominent conservatives who knew McDaniel personally.”

It is certainly noteworthy that associates or supporters of McDaniel’s have been arrested for a serious crime. That fact is hardly any excuse, however, for implying without evidence that McDaniel must have been involved in something simply because his supporters were.

For perspective, Cochran’s close aide Kay Webber hosted at least two Democratic fundraisers  in her house in 2006 and 2008, when Republicans were skewered at the polls. Given that Cochran has long employed and traveled with Ms. Webber (on taxpayer dime) while also living in her house, where Democrats schemed to retake Congress and the presidency from the Party that Webber works for, there is an arguably stronger link between Cochran and Barack Obama’s Democratic Party than anyone has shown between McDaniel and the crime against Mrs. Cochran. If we’re casting aspersions on candidates because of their supporters, surely this story will break into a major scandal any day now.

I won’t hold my breath.

Perhaps at some point, somebody might remember that this U.S. Senate contest involves meaningfully distinct candidates with agendas and priorities that will influence national politics. But of course, that would involve substantively engaging the two candidates on their merits, and the punditocracy has little interest in such encumbrances as balanced reporting. Especially not when the narrative of every the day is embarrassing conservatives.

We shouldn’t be surprised; the internecine wrangling of a restlessly acephalous Republican Party is primarily old news in the Acela Corridor by now. Depending on your view, the “civil war” is over, and the media-preferred Establishment won—or else the fiscal conservative assimilation of the Establishment is more or less accomplished—and, anyway, how many different ways can lazy media hype the same “GOP implosion” storyline while doggedly eliding the philosophical merits of any candidate?

If we must take anything from this saga as conservatives—beyond, “Don’t be stupid”—it is a simple truth we’ve known all along: the media disdains and undermines conservatives, and it’s useless to whine about it.  I don’t know how the Mississippi race will end, but going forward, conservatives had better build and maintain a more functional outreach strategy than pleading or waiting idly for fairness from biased elites who have no interest in truly engaging the project of economic liberty and limited government. Among other things, that’s how we lose.