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Who Fortune Favors
I strongly recommend watching this short video. I’m a Russian Occupant:
The author is Yevgeny Zhurov. According to the BBC, he is a 29-year-old freelance motion graphics designer from Russia.
He uploaded it to a YouTube channel that regularly publishes pro-Russian films. Zhurov says he created the channel, and an associated group on Russian social network Vkontakte with almost 25,000 followers. BBC Trending asked if – given the quality of the production – he or the group received funding from any official bodies. Zhurov claims not. “Nobody paid me,” he says. He borrowed the words used from Aleksei Ivanov, a 45 year old Russian writer whose work Zhurov found online, developing the film around them. “A full-scale information war is being waged against Russia. I’m just taking part in the war on Russia’s side,” he says. “My goal is high-quality pro-Russian propaganda”. The audience for the video is not the West, or the former Soviet Union, but Russians themselves. “I mainly did it for us… so that we do not forget our great history. Lots of different complexes have been imposed on us, people are trying to convince us that we are somehow inferior”.
It’s produced by OKeyam – No! | Russian counter-propaganda, which claims that “Kremlin/FSB/ Kiselyov and other structures have nothing to do with the movies of the “OKeyam – no. Everything is done free of charge and on pure enthusiasm.” It has almost 7.5 million views on YouTube.
Is Obama a match for this mindset? Is America, the land of eternal self-flagellation over racism, dropping the atomic bomb, and treatment of the Amerindians? For although America has much less to apologize for than Russia, America is far more apologetic. As the Russians gloss over their historical sins like the Holomodor, Americans dwell on their own endlessly. Russia has innumerable internal issues and challenges, but the very fact that these propaganda videos resonate somewhat with its populace indicates that Russia may well actually believe in itself.
Indeed, we also have patriotic Americans. They’re not in charge, and unless they adopt something like the confidence Russia demonstrates in this video, they’re unlikely to be.
We on the right seem oblivious to a lesson that history and modern politics shows us repeatedly: Boldness – even to the point of arrogance – works. Christianity didn’t evolve from being the faith of eleven terrified men in hiding to that of 2.2 billion because of it’s willingness to compromise. Reagan didn’t win the Cold War or inspire us because of his nuance and willingness to negotiate. The American Revolution exemplified audacity.
But the sword strikes both ways, for history is also replete with demagogues from Hitler to Castro who ferociously led their respective peoples to disaster. Yet as they began their ascents to power, they inspired confidence and made people believe.
Even our current political predicaments demonstrate this. In the international arena he’s weak, but domestically Obama ruthlessly dismisses his critics and opponents. He rarely apologizes, and whatever the damage he’s done to our country, he’s among the most consequential presidents we’ve ever had.
Conversely, for all I know McConnell and Boehner may handle the minutiae of congressional governance as well as humanly possible (although I doubt it), but their repeated refrains of “we can’t actually do anything” give the opposite impression. Whether or not they actually fail, they seem like failures, giving the distinct impression that even if the GOP had the Presidency, an eighty seat majority in the House and 64 Republican Senators they wouldn’t be able to do anything then, either.
Note how horribly Obama (or Chávez, or Putin, or FDR) have governed, but how many people think they were or are successful and tell me that doesn’t matter.
There’s a veritable vacuum on the right, a vacuum of confidence, of not giving a damn if the media pounces all over us for an impolitic statement, of refusing to apologize for being right, of rejecting PC terms like “African-American,” of recognizing media bias as an enemy to circumvent and defeat, not an excuse for failing again.
So when conservatives express utter bewilderment at the success of Donald Trump, I ask, What the hell did you expect? Do you really think we’re going to follow politicians who follow focus groups forever? Do you not recognize how utterly bland and uninspiring the politicians you want us to support really are? Some object to him for legitimate reasons, others would have done everything in their power to keep Reagan from saying “I paid for this microphone,” “evil empire,” or “tear down this wall!”
We’ve been burned, repeatedly. Politicians sound conservative when they run for office, but they’re usually nice about it. When they get into office they fail, and we’re beginning to suspect that acquiescing to “that’s just not how things are done” and “be careful about how you say everything” might have something to do with it.
Don’t mistake me for a Trump supporter because I’m not. However, as much as we don’t want to admit it, boldness and charisma often trump competence, accomplishment and ideological consistency, even among conservatives. It feels good to slaughter sacred cows, even when those cows are actually sacred (i.e. wartime service). We’re sick of parsing our words so as not to cause offense, the ritualistic apologies after having caused offense, of being more afraid of the interviewer than they are of us, of refraining from speaking obvious truths because Frank Luntz tells us we shouldn’t, of backing down the moment we get fiercely criticized. After all, do you actually think we’ll be able to affect substantive change in Washington yet somehow avoid incessant media attack?
So as much as you may hate Donald Trump (and that’s part of what happens when you’re bold — some people really, really, hate you), I suggest you recognize how he exemplifies a lesson that history has tried to teach us through everything from the faith of the Apostles to the evils of Mao: We’re attracted to fearlessness. We might go along with feeling hesitant for a while, but ultimately we get sick of it.
Of our current crop of candidates, several have shown glimpses of the requisite ability to lead and inspire (not Pataki), but they still give the impression they’re largely wedded to the idea that niceness is going to help them win. It won’t. Conservatives are people too, and people want to feel empowered and emboldened. On this count the GOP has failed, utterly.
If somebody on the side of truth doesn’t fill this void, somebody on the side of lies most definitely will.Published in Foreign Policy, General
1) Agree with you that Trump’s popularity is in some measure owed to the man’s blessed refusal to apologize — even when an apology is clearly owed. Everyone is sick of the apologies, the cringing, the cowering. People like a strong horse, as someone we killed said.
2) Sputnik news hates Trump.
3) Still, we managed to win the Cold War without electing someone like Trump.
4) Trump’s face is exactly what I want Putin losing sleep over.
5) But I don’t want what Trump would do to my country. I’d like us still to be America when all of this is over. I lived under one Erdoğan, I don’t need to see that movie again.
6) Trump’s not electable, no matter how well he’s polling now. He’ll bring out the vote for Hillary in numbers unprecedented in a presidential election. We sure do need someone who fights, speaks plainly, and won’t back down — but not in a way that terrifies people. He even terrifies me: He has the glittering light of total demagoguery in his eyes, and no principles at all, as far as I can see.
I’d make him Secretary of State.
I thought MSNBC didn’t like him. Holy cow.
I’d argue that in terms of charisma and fearlessness, Reagan was like Trump. Obviously, Reagan had a lot going for him that Trump doesn’t.
But Trump-Hillary debates? Priceless.
Useful video. Thanks.
Useful for me because I have been floating the notion in these pages that Americans should begin to gradually phase out of being the primary underpinnings of NATO, and ‘let’/’coax’/’force’ the EU to up their defense spending to fill in for us.
This notion was predicated on the assumption that Russia now should not be viewed by Republicans as significantly worse than social welfarist Europe – that the old “free society vs. communist” tension is no more – that it is now between a leftist, somewhat debauched culture of the West and a corrupt, somewhat lawless, but possibly less debauched East.
The video does nicely convey that communism is no longer the problem over there in Russia now, but also that there still is some kind of problem, by Western lights. Hard to formulate exactly what it is, but you would not sleep well at night in a country with Russia on your borders. However, at the same time, if you are a businessman, or Christian in Europe, I doubt you can sleep well at night worrying about how you will be abused by the next government fiat.
I’m glad that made the point for you more effectively than I’ve been able to do. Sometimes a picture (or a video) is worth a thousand words.
While European businessmen may at times lose sleep worrying about how they’ll be abused by the next government fiat, I don’t think European Christians lose sleep about the possibility of being abused by the government at all. And it would be a grave injustice and a mistundertanding to compare the standards of human rights, freedom of expression, and political repression between any EU member country and Russia.
Russia using North Korean ‘slave labour’, say human rights groups
Russia – Country of Concern
Manfred: Why do you keep insisting that Russia and the EU are in any way comparable?
Come on now, you mean that Christians don’t have to subsidize abortion, birth control, same-sex marriage, etc. in Europe?
Also, to push back (a little), my son teaches English as a second language in Moscow and I don’t get the sense that living there is much different than it is in Europe (which he has also visited).
Oh, I know there is a dark underbelly over there. Just finished reading Peter Pomerantsev’s great book, “Nothing is True, And Everything is Possible”, and am currently listening to another great book, “Once Upon a Time in Russia: the Rise of the Oligarchs,…”, by Ben Mezrich”, and know that the Russian psyche is ‘a bit’ screwed up. However, I still maintain that US participation in NATO has far lower urgency than it once did – that there is really not much reason not to favor EU expansion of its military to take some of our place in NATO (assuming Germany’s Wehrmacht isn’t the dominant component thereof – which I expect France, et. al. to insist on.) The difference between Russia and EU presently is more one “of degree” than “of kind” as it used to be, IMO.
So we should flesh out this discussion more in another thread, because it is really interesting. For now, let me acknowledge that, yes, Russia goes overboard in suppressing LGBT ‘rights’, as your one link indicated. But, conversely, the West shoves LGBT rights down conservatives throats outside Russia. Not that much of a difference, especially if the latter really bugs you.
The problem with Russia is that dissent is outright dangerous, and there is a giant propaganda machine (grossly anti-American, it seems) and co-option of all media, and massive corruption. But those flaws/failings are not clearly dangerous to the US. They can be a bit dangerous to the EU countries, but not beyond, IMO, despite having a jingoist flavor.
And the fact that NATO still might be considered necessary/desirable doesn’t argue for the US being its bulwark; at ~1% of GDP spending on their military, the EU is not really serious in their support of NATO – or rather they are enjoying a nice ride thanks to US taxpayers’ largess. The EU countries are slackers; time to give them a little kick in the tuckus.
Russia and China each have their own demographic problems looming, and natural resources – more specifically what the Japanese invaders of China and Manchuria referred to as “the Northern resource area” will go a long way to making those problems easier to deal with; keeping that out of China’s hands and in Russia’s is probably more on Putin’s mind than dealing with European neighbors as yet able to treat jihad within their own borders as a police problem.
The immediate American political issue here is the mutual loathing and contempt between the Republican party establishment and Main Street. Many Republicans think that the party establishment games the primary system to get its favored candidates elected, and that those candidates are too willing to roll over for Obama’s agenda. Trump is their man. He’s getting headlines because he isn’t afraid to take on the Demicans or the Republicrats.
And he’s willing to pick on somebody his own size. McCain might have been less bad than Obama, but if we’d never learned by experience how bad Obama is, we’d be regretting McCain right now.
Trump wouldn’t be a good President, but we have a border and assimilation problem. It’s probably the most important domestic problem we face, and has national security implications as well. Trump’s saying a lot of the right things about it; by their records, most of the prospective Republican candidates are on the wrong side.
Trump is a (big) voice putting on the table the immigration issue loud and clear, as well as calling out anyone and everyone that has not stood by their promises to fix these problems. He is way ahead because that resonates now – he is a hit on campuses, even within Latino groups who don’t want thugs here either. The good hard-working Latino community are also abused and attacked by the illegal criminals and they are sick of it….so they like Trump. You will see them in his audiences. But he is rallying the troops. Presidential material? We need someone like Reagan who speaks softly but carries a big stick. Trump has a place in the next administration. His message but someone else’s diplomatic voice, and expertise is what people really want. We have a good lineup. Please watch in full the attached exchange with Senator Ted Cruz on the matter of illegal immigration just recently:
But I don’t think we can conclude too much from these accounts. You would need to get a more well rounded assessment first.
It does seem to be important to understand how strongly Russians abhor the excesses of the modern Western culture, the LGBT-stuff, the flight from, and affronts to, Christianity which are evident in 1/4 the cable TV shows on a daily basis, and how much it motivates their antagonism to the West. If strongly, it puts conservatives in a sort of a dilemma, because they might find more common cause with Russian ideologues than decadent European socialists. What then?
What does comparable mean? We all excoriate communism, and the Russia practice thereof. The burning question of the day is how far Russian has moved from that state to liberal society. I have no deep insights on this, but I detect a holdover of attitudes from Cold War days, and I suspect maybe we are being too severe on the Russians.
Best I can do is ask my son who has been in Moscow a year now to pass along his observations. Until we get comments directly from folks who have lived in Russia awhile, we might find ourselves cleaving to antiquated stereotypes.
God bless your son.
I did some research recently and the demographic decline observed previously now seems in abeyance for Russia…don’t know about the future.
But the problems described in this link make you question how long Russia can buck the EU and US sanctions. The low price of oil seems like a silver stake in the heart:
Well, much of what you report is true, but I think one-sided. For example, “This country makes no room for gay citizens”? They don’t want to go down the same road we are going down in the West – but that only puts them back to a few decades ago in this country. A lot of us would like to stop the train somewhere in-between.
See this is what I am saying, your statement is overdrawn. Russia is NOT a totalitarian country, not now (not anything like it once was). If we could be a little bit more sober minded about Russia’s flaws, we will see more clearly the future, and how we should best proceed to deal with those flaws.
(And the US has flaws too, remember. We had Obamacare reshape 1/7 of our economic life with 0 Republican votes, for example. We have unelected Supreme Court Justices legislating from the bench. And an executive branch that has become lawless. Our educational system sucks, we have high corporate taxes, a complicated tax system, we swing from no support for SSM to full support in a matter of a few years, we removed God from classrooms, we can’t secure our borders after 15 years of trying, …).
we have our flaws – we can start afresh with a new, freely elected administration. We still have the best system, over Russia certainly, and anyone else. Appreciate what you have, right or wrong, the United States of America, and defend it.
That’s not the point. If you describe a country that is not close to being totalitarian by that name, how can you hope to see clearly how the US should shape its foreign policy towards that country? And vilifying your average Russian with broad brush strokes doesn’t produce a portraiture that is worth much. Try and look at things a bit from the Russians’ standpoint.
I’m not vilifying the average Russian – I am actually of Ukrainian and Polish descent – my Polish ancestors were annexed into Russia unwillingly and fled, as well as my Ukrainian side – the average Russian is I am sure, trying to live and feed their families, and earn a decent wage, like the rest of us. By the way, in my resort town here in FL, there are quite a few Russians here working the restaurants and other areas, taking advantage of a nice wage in a beautiful area while seeing the sights. We have had a few conversations. They are very sweet. But there is something called brainwashing. My issues are with the regime, and if none of the links I posted wakes you up, then continue in your slumber and we’ll see how history plays out. In the meantime, remember that freedom is not free, but earned – many in the world are fighting tooth and nail to get to our shores. I doubt they are fleeing to Russia in droves. Why not? Good night and God bless.
The Glenn Beck links, while interesting, were one-sided though. They were a kind of propaganda themselves for that. The real situation is more nuanced, and more interesting I wager.
One more thing – I have to share – a conversation with one Russian waitress who was very sweet from Moscow, in a tiny barbecue hut up the road this past spring here in FL:
Me: So where ya from?
Waitress: Moscow – I’m here on a work travel visa.
ME: How do you like it?
Waitress: Love it here – customers are really nice to me – I have one really “big” tipper!
Me: I’m of Ukrainian descent – what do you think of the whole Ukrainian thing?
Waitress: Our leader Putin did nothing wrong. The Ukraine started it and he was trying to defend the Russians. It was all lies – put out by Ukraine.
Me: Really? Ok…..Hmmm, so…is my barbecue ready?? Don’t forget the bread pudding with bourbon praline sauce…..
I kid you not……
Sure. Pretty sad. Doesn’t sound like a very smart gal. She obviously felt no empathy for you and yourn. A sign of someone lacking in their upbringing.