Monday, January 21, 2019

The Wellness Cult

The Times of London does not comment on this story, perhaps because, after looking at the facts, they were struck dumb. The story concerns actual human beings who have joined a cult to wellness, who calibrate every second of every day to perfect both mind and body. They do so by employing through various nostrums, from meditation to diet to vitamins to baths to hyperbaric oxygen chambers to whatever.

In effect, you wonder how these people have time to do anything else. At least, you will agree that they are the most completely self-absorbed and narcissistic cohort on the planet.

I offer some excerpts from the daily diary of one man, living his best, or some such:

I wake up and immediately rehydrate. Your body is the most absorbent after you sleep, so the first thing you put in it is the most important. I have a glass of Rebel Kitchen raw coconut water (you should be drinking slightly pink coconut water not white, as that’s more concentrated) and dilute it with normal water at a ratio of 2:1. I take multivitamins and vitamin C boosters.

Then I do some meditation, where I might recite some mantras. One of them is, “All my relationships are harmonious and full of love,” which is good if you are working with difficult clients. Sometimes I use the Oprah and Deepak meditation app or the Deva and Miten app, which does really relatable singing mantras.

And then:

I come home and have a shot of coconut water and glutamine. I feel the most motivated I am at any point of the day. Your body has released so many endorphins; your serotonin levels are through the roof. I shower with organic products and moisturise with vitamin E oil. I don’t think you should wash your face all the time because it removes your natural oils. I make a delicious smoothie with coconut milk, cacao, maca, a├žai, a non-dairy yoghurt with 7.8g protein in it, blueberries, banana and cashew butter. It’s about a pint and a half.

But don’t forget the quartz crystal and the Himalayan salt lamp. Please don’t tell me that you have not yet acquired a Himalayan salt lamp:

At home I have a quartz crystal that I place next to me when I’m editing photos. And I work by my Himalayan salt lamp. It helps to absorb the magnetic and radioactive waves that are all around you from wifi and your computer. Goodness knows what they could be doing to my body. I think in 20 years’ time there’s going to be a lot of illnesses related to those waves.

Oh yes, he must enhance his digestion:

Fifteen minutes before any meal I take two apple cider vinegar tablets to help with digestion. Sometimes I take digestive enzymes to help distribute the nutrients all over my body. Lunch at home might be an omelette with lean chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms, goat’s cheese and peppers. Out, I make a beeline for the healthiest place I can find. Usually it’s Whole Foods – and contains black beans.

Strangely, the man is married… to a vegetarian. :

My orange night-time light activates on my phone to allow my body to start shutting down. If my wife is away I might go to another F45 class. It helps me sleep. If she’s around, we might do a yoga class together.

7.30 We eat a vegetarian dinner because my wife is veggie. When I’m on my own I eat lean meat, but I do feel really bad for the animals. Plus, it is scientifically proven that eating meat is not good for you, because when the animal is killed the cortisol they release into their body then goes into yours. But I crave meat. It’s partly due to your blood type – some people need it more than others.

After dinner we chill. I have a sweet tooth so I might have a square of dark chocolate, always 60-80 per cent. And sometimes I enjoy a glass of red wine.

Glad to hear that he feels guilty for eating red meat, but that he allows himself a square of dark chocolate and even a glass of whine.

Here’s another man, who has calibrated his life to the point where one wonders whether he has any time for people:

 I wake up having had, on average, seven hours and forty-one minutes’ sleep – I have analysed my sleep over the past four years and I know this is the perfect amount for me. I turn on the near-infrared light at the end of my bed and sit there for seven minutes meditating, to focus my mind for the day ahead.

I take shots of probiotics and Quinton Isotonic, a supplement that comes from plankton and contains enzymes that help me stay hydrated, and a glass of filtered water.

OK, enough of the madness. Besides, don’t you know that one or both of these people, having found the secret to eternal youth, are going to walk out one day and get hit by a truck. Or is that just wishful thinking.

Examine anothers story in the Daily Mail. It debunks the madness about eating three lotus leaves covered with green slime. It reports on a new study that has shown, can you believe it that fad dieting is bad for you, and that you should just eat what  you want.

Eve Simmons writes in the Daily Mail:

Banish carbs, shun anything with even a trace of sugar in it, go vegan and guzzle nothing but green juice – all advice that has, at one point or another, been promoted as a fast-track to the perfect body and ultimate health.

Guides to ‘clean eating’ – written by wellness ‘gurus’ and often endorsed by ultra-slim celebrities – line bookshop shelves and they all spout similar messages. Social media is awash with even more extreme advice.

But despite the painstaking effort it takes to cut out entire food groups, roughly 97 per cent of those who restrict their diet in a bid to lose weightwill fail, according to research.

With depressing regularity, slimmers emerge weighing much the same – if not more – than they did before. And that’s only if they’re lucky. Because there is a darker side to these fad diets.

For an unfortunate few, diets spiral into an eating disorder – a serious mental health condition that destroys a person’s relationship with food.

Simmons offers another reason to avoid fad diets and, by extension, other ways to attain corporeal and mental perfection. Dieting can make you sick:

Last week in The Mail on Sunday’s YOU magazine, I told of how an obsession with ‘healthy’ eating – informed by what I read on blogs and websites – led me down a path to anorexia, which eventually became life-threatening.

The unlikely lesson that helped me back to health was learning that supermarket-bought bread, spaghetti drenched in cheese, chocolate cookies, mayonnaise, red meat and full-fat milk weren’t the ‘toxic’ substances I’d been led to believe they were.

So, Simmons is on a crusade against restrictive eating:

And last week my book, Eat It Anyway, was published. Co-authored with my friend Laura Dennison, it busts commonly held myths about food.

Aside from risking eating disorders, restrictive eating plays havoc with our health. Being anxious about food promotes the release of the stress hormone cortisol, increasing both cravings and consumption, according to Harvard research.

Simmons has many more examples…. Reading about them will surely brighten up your day.

The Pro-Palestinian Left Speaks Out

New York Times editors discovered what their opinion pages were missing: yet another dimwitted anti-Semite. It remedied the problem by hiring Michelle Alexander,  a no-account activist and defender of Palestinian terrorism.

Writing in the New York Times Alexander decries the silence about the Israeli occupation and the oppression of the poor Palestinian people. Of course, leftist anti-Semites, of which there are many, have been talking about nothing else for decades now. Apparently, Alexander did not notice.

Today, the Times editorial pages and even Times news stories have been taking sides against Israel, the charge of silence is absurd.

So, Alexander pretends to be courageous in speaking out against Israel and does it in the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. And yet, she completely ignores the fact that the poor oppressed Palestinian people have been committing serial terrorist actions against Israel for decades now. And that they have embraced, not the cause of liberation, not the goal of statehood, but the passion for killing Jews. About that Alexander remains mute.

In truth, she is merely repeating the standard leftist attacks on the Jewish state, attacks that are now being promoted by members of Congress and by, for instance, the leader of the British Labour Party. As the Trump administration attempts to sanction Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of anti-Semitic terror, the European Union, led by its Western nations, tries to rescue the Iranian regime--  and then whines about not being treated as an American ally. If European states want to be treated like allies, they should act like allies.

At a time when the Palestinian terrorist cause has lost most of its most important backers, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, it is rich to see a New York Times supporting terrorism— by refusing to mention any Palestinian terrorist actions.

Alexander explains that her deepest values—a absurd locution—oblige her to attack the only democratic nation in the Middle East… in defense of anti-Semitic terrorism.

In her words:

But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine.

I have not been alone. Until very recently, the entire Congress has remained mostly silent on the human rights nightmare that has unfolded in the occupied territories. Our elected representatives, who operate in a political environment where Israel's political lobby holds well-documented power, have consistently minimized and deflected criticism of the State of Israel, even as it has grown more emboldened in its occupation of Palestinian territory and adopted some practices reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow segregation in the United States.

What Alexander calls a great moral challenge is effectively a seven decades old war against the Jewish state… and effort to complete what Hitler started. The fact that Jews could build a successful modern nation in the Middle East is the ultimate indignity for Palestinian terrorists. They are incapable of building anything, so they have set about destroying what others have built.

She is happy to ignore Palestinian behavior and to blame it all on the Jews. When people go out looking for scapegoats, they often light on Jews. If you think that this is merely an attack on the Jewish state, you need to turn the lights back on.

Again, in her bill of indictment, she never once mentions the actions of Palestinians and their manifest wish to rid the region of all Jews:

And so, if we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel’s actions: unrelenting violations of international law, continued occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, home demolitions and land confiscations. We must cry out at the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the routine searches of their homes and restrictions on their movements, and the severely limited access to decent housing, schools, food, hospitals and water that many of them face.

We must not tolerate Israel’s refusal even to discuss the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as prescribed by United Nations resolutions, and we ought to question the U.S. government funds that have supported multiple hostilities and thousands of civilian casualties in Gaza, as well as the $38 billion the U.S. government has pledged in military support to Israel.

As you know, the right to return means that Palestinians will force Israelis out of the homes and nation they built. It is a genocidal wish. Precisely why anyone would discuss it is beyond me.

Alexander has offered up a smorgasbord of anti-Semitism, in the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. She has nothing original to say. She is offering Jew hatred in modern politically correct dress.

If you like your opinion balanced, you can also read Bari Weiss’s New York Times essay about anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in America. After all, at a time when Alexander thinks that she is overcoming silence about Israel, the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives has just put a notable anti-Semite, Ilhan Omar on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Responding to Omar’s assertion that Israel has hypnotized the world, Weiss responds:

But the biggest “Jew” today in the demonology of modern anti-Semitism is the Jewish state, Israel. While there are perfectly legitimate criticisms that one can make of Israel or the actions of its government — and I have never been shy about making them — those criticisms cross the line into anti-Semitism when they ascribe evil, almost supernatural powers to Israel in a manner that replicates classic anti-Semitic slanders.

During the weeklong November 2012 war, which began when Hamas fired roughly 100 rockets at civilian targets, Israel “hypnotized” nobody. It was subject to the usual barrage of intense criticism in the news media and at the United Nations, and from the leaders of other nations, not to mention protesters across the world. That Israel continues to retain support in the United States among mainstream Democrats and Republicans is because — contrary to Ms. Omar’s tweet — the Jewish state is not engaged in “evil doings,” but defending itself against the enemies pressing on all of its borders, including Hamas, which has genocide of the Jewsand a belief in Jewish manipulative power, at the heart of its ideology. The original Hamas charter from 1988, only recently revised, claimed that the Jews orchestrated the French and Russian revolutions and both world wars.

Not a word of this in Alexander’s column. As for the opinion, expressed by Times columnist Michelle Goldberg—a leading useful idiot on the anti-Israeli left—that anti-Zionism is not really anti-Semitism, Weiss responds:

Those who call themselves anti-Zionists usually insist they are not anti-Semites. But I struggle to see what else to call an ideology that seeks to eradicate only one state in the world — the one that happens to be the Jewish one — while empathetically insisting on the rights of self-determination for every other minority. Israeli Jews, descended in equal parts from people displaced from Europe and the Islamic world, are barely 6.5 million of the world’s 7.7 billion people. What is it about them, exactly, that puts them beyond the pale?

At a time, Weiss concludes, when there is a rising tide of hate crimes against American Jews, we ought to be speaking up against them, not fomenting violence by demonizing Israel.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Case of the Disconnected Empty Nesters

Thirty years into his marriage a man discovers that he and his wife have nothing in common. It sounds like a concept for a movie. It does not quite sound real, but he writes to Carolyn Hax to ask her how to reconnect with his wife.

This couple has raised children successfully. The children have moved away. Perhaps far away. Strangely, the man tells us nothing about where the children are, what they are doing, whether they have children of their own, whether they ever visit or communicate. Nothing whatever. Parents who have gotten beyond parenting often engage themselves actively in grandparenting. His wife is clearly miserable. Will she become a grandmother? Does she care? We don't know.

And the man says nothing about work and career. Is either spouse working or retired? Are they financially solvent or has one or the other gambled away the family fortune at Las Vegas.

Hax does not ask the question. She sees his problems on the terms he presents: namely that he and his wife do not communicate. Wife seems to resent her husband. For all we know something might have happened, something bad might have happened, the children might be alienated or in jail… they could be facing financial ruin. We do not know, so we do not know whether what the husband calls his wife’s bad attitude, her refusal to compromise on anything, is her way of telling him that he has disappointed her?

We do know that the two come from markedly different cultures. She is from Central America and he is third-generation Japanese-American. We do not know very much about the cultural mix or the possible cultural conflicts. We do not know about other family members, how the different families mixed, and how the children navigated their dual cultural heritages. 

We do know that the man has aging parents and that he makes decisions about how to care for them. We know that his wife gets upset when he does so without asking her. This seems strange and discordant. We do not know how well or poorly his family accepted her... or vice versa.

Again we do not know. And, thus we are flying blind. Without further ado, here’s a portrait of a marriage that seems headed for divorce court:

After 30 years of marriage, my wife and I have come to the realization that we have nothing in common. It hasn't always been this way. Even with our cultural differences — my wife emigrated from Central America at 20; I'm third-generation Japanese American — there was an instant connection. We had kids right away and were always in agreement about how to raise them, and there were always school events and sports to keep us busy.

As the kids grew up and moved out, our problems became more apparent. She can be self-centered and controlling, and gets very upset if things don't go her way. We can't dance at parties because she only wants to dance her way. She got extremely upset when I made decisions on care for my aging parents. She gets upset if I ask her what she wants to do on a weekend; she wants me to find something she'll like.

There were early signs. When we first started living together, for example, she would complain if I read a book while she watched Spanish-language TV.

My wife also doesn't show any interest in things I like. Even though I don't speak Spanish well, I have fun watching her soap operas and going to Spanish-language concerts. If I try to talk to her about current events, sports, movies or music, I'm met with indifference. She only seems concerned with what I can do for her.

Therapy hasn't really helped. I think I've made changes; my wife doesn't feel like she needs to change. It's always what I need to change. We've talked about divorce, but it seems like we should be able to work through this. There are no dealbreaking issues like cheating, just a serious lack of communication. I'm not sure what to do.

— Looking for Something More

You might wonder whether they ever got along, at all. You might be imagining that they only had one common interest, bringing up their children, and that when the children left home, they discovered that they had nothing, culturally speaking, in common. They do come from radically different worlds.

By all appearances, wife is in a permanently foul mood. We do not know why. We suspect that she has a reason. She is seriously angry at her husband. Apparently, therapy has been of no real use. So, he reaches out to her. She slaps him down. Time to stop reaching out.

Anyway, Hax is more willing to absolve wife of all blame. As she sees it the problem is too much communication:

With all due respect, I’d say there’s an excess of communication.

At least, there is plenty on the negative and futile end of the scale.

You are trying and trying to converse — on news, sports, arts, and in therapy — and in the process communicating your hopes of converting her into an engaged and chatty companion. Your efforts to share her interests and meet her needs communicate this, too, in their ways.

She, for her part, is communicating with you all over the place. The emotional outbursts, the indifference to your conversation attempts and the stubborn resistance to change are all forms of communication and her message is clear: She is available to you strictly as is, so don’t look for anything different from her.

For my part I can accept that wife is trying to say something. I do not accept that the wife is trying to say that she refuses to become someone other than who she is. I do not accept that a man who wants to talk with his wife about music or current affairs or sports is forcing her to change.

It seems more accurate to say that his wife is shunning him, is tuning him out, is punishing him him… and refuses to explain herself.

In the past they apparently conversed all the time, about children, children’s school, children’s sports and so on. Now, she has completely shut down… and wants to do things her way. Has she drunk too deeply of the feminist ethos? Hax suggests that he should simply accede to her demands and cease trying to get through to her.

This contains some wisdom. If she is shunning him, he should stop trying. Perhaps he has reached the point where he is simply wasting his time.

If that is the case, not to be overly obvious, but would it not be better for him to ignore her imperious and closed-off nature, and develop more and better friendships with people at work, in the neighborhood, in the extended family. Hax does not propose this solution, but one thing that might bring the wife to her senses would be her husband's developing a better set of relationships outside of the home. True enough, he should stop pestering her. But, the chances are that she will react-- perhaps positively, perhaps negatively-- to being ignored.

Then again, it might be the case that she is looking for a way out of the marriage. Husband suggests that there is no problem with cheating, to which we might add that there is no problem that he knows about. Might we also mention that he does not mention conjugal relations in his letter, and, if her behavior is consistent, the chances are good that she has lost interest. If she goes along for the sake of going along, one can easily see that it would provoke her resentment.

Hax then says that wife’s behavior is not acceptable. It’s about time that she got to the point. She proposes that the two find a project or a purpose that can unite them as a couple. Of course, this sounds good, but it does not feel like anything more than a band aid.

As for her controlling and selfish nature: It’s emphatically not okay. But if I read things correctly, she was controlly before kids and after but not (problematically) during. If so, then maybe the project — the purpose — really is the thing. Maybe she’s bored and adrift; people sometimes micromanage less when there’s more to do. Maybe your marriage needs something to do.

It has high mileage and “instant connection” pheromones well out of warranty, yet you’re asking it to be enough, alone, to keep you both happy — which you’ve never asked of it before. Why not use your happier years as a script? Find a purpose and put it to work. Divorce can wait while you give it a try.

We are always willing to give anything a try before divorce. And yet, he has been doing nothing but trying. His wife is completely self-absorbed and refuses all communication, which would probably include collaboration. I would only mention that, for all we know, if his wife’s behavior has changed that radically, then perhaps a physician can shed some light on what is wrong with her. Biology might not be destiny, but it certainly counts.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

He Will No Longer Recommend Talk Therapy

As co-founder of an organization that advocates for shared parenting after divorce, especially, for fathers’ rights, Terry Brennan has often had occasion to refer clients for therapy.

He has always been ambivalent about the value of therapy:

I’ve been cautious in recommending talk therapy. That’s because psychology is no different than any other profession with a small percentage of masters, a slightly larger group on their way to becoming masters, and then the rest. While a quality therapist can be extraordinarily useful in helping traumatized individuals navigate their predicament, there are many well-meaning but incapable therapists who are, at best, providing no help at all to financially strapped dads. That’s always been a risk I was willing to take.

Now, having studied the new American Psychological Association guidelines against masculinity, Brennan has now decided that he will never again refer any divorced father for talk therapy. As the old saying goes, welcome to the club.

He writes:

With the issuance of the APA’s new guidelines against masculinity, my major concern must now be that traumatized fathers will be treated in a sardonic fashion. That potential risk now outweighs the potential rewards.

As noted on this blog, the psycho profession has increasingly become a pink ghetto. Fewer and fewer men are entering the field. Worse yet, the women who now run the organization are more feminist ideologues than competent practitioners:

Just as telling as the APA’s anti-masculinity announcement was the lack of an uproar from the members they represent. Who are those members? The APA states:

The percent of psychologists who are women increased from 57 percent in 2007 to 65 percent in 2016. Within the psychology workforce, the mean age for women (47.6 years) was almost seven years younger than the mean age for men (54.4 years).

Their past president is Jessica Henderson Daniels, the current president is Rosie Phillips Bingham, and the president-elect is Sandra L. Shullman. Finally, both masters and PhD students are now 76.2% female.

Where is the persistent call for diversity within the APA?

Brennan concludes:

As the APA has shown it is more interested in ideology than in science, I can no longer, in good conscience, recommend their members to the fathers I encounter.

It now seems significantly more likely that more therapeutic benefit will be achieved by advising divorced dads to join a fathers’ group, and be among those who can relate to their issues. While there, they’ll likely encounter some of the “traditional masculinity” the APA has denounced.

So, the leaders of the APA have alienated half the population. It has told them that they will not be welcomed or respect in therapy. Way to kill your market, ladies.

As a footnote or a sidelight on the APA controversy, I offer the following testimony, from a woman named Emily Kittleson. She complained that her boyfriend’s war against his own toxic masculinity is turning him into an ersatz woman.

Fair enough, this story is not ripped from the headlines. It comes to us from The Onion, a notably satirical publication. But, surely, it offers a fair and accurate picture of the potential consequences of the war against masculinity. And it alerts us to the fact that, however much feminists enjoy beating down men, most women are not on board:

Expressing disbelief at her romantic partner’s dramatic behavioral shift, local woman Emily Kittleson, 30, told reporters Friday that she had not expected her boyfriend’s attempts to recognize and curtail toxic masculinity would eventually turn him into a “weepy little pansy.” “Christ, I know the dope is trying to be conscious of the effects of his words and actions and to be more open and honest with his emotions, but there’s got to be a limit,” said Kittleson of her boyfriend Shane Magnusen, 31, whose efforts to reject toxic masculinity have begun to irritate her as she claims he has evolved into “a fragile fucking flower about everything” in recent weeks. “Of course I’m happy for social progress and all, but this ineffectual shit is not what I signed up for. Instead of suppressing his emotions about major issues in his life, he cries at sad commercials. Our fights used to be him screaming at me for a few minutes and that was it, not great but not terrible. Then last night we get into an argument that somehow turns into me nodding and making comforting noises while he talks about his strained relationship with his dad until well after midnight. Like, come on, I don’t have time to indulge this self-centered crap.” Kittleson was also compelled to interrupt her statements twice, groaning and rolling her eyes while responding to text messages from Shane regarding their couples’ therapy appointments later that week.

The Truth about Transgenderism

A month ago I posted about Leanne Mills, a transgender woman who has been telling her story to the media… in order to discourage young people from transitioning. Considering that the media narrative has portrayed transgenderism in glowing terms, it is valuable for at least one person to expose the truth.

Now, Mills has written an open letter to young trans people and has kindly send it along to me. Some of it is gruesome; some of it is grotesque. Some parts of the letter appeared on the BBC. Mills informs me that certain parts were censored. 

Mills begins by explaining the biology will out:

I use quotes here, for the most profound lesson I’ve learned is that I can NEVER be a ‘real’ woman. This is not born of opinion, but of cold, indifferent medical and scientific evidence. I realise that statement is crushing to all trans women (or transmen if going the other way), regardless of how breath-takingly convincing your transformation might be. But simple logic dictates that I can never escape the male body which Nature imposed on me at birth. Though I’ve permitted drastic and intrusive surgical modifications it shall forever be male. I’m reminded by the evidence on a daily basis. For example I still find it necessary to shave off facial hair despite having had laser treatment. I must continue to take female hormones for the rest of my days or my bones will start to decay and fracture. And that’s not all – the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis, heart attacks or strokes is ever present.

It gets worse. I trust that you have never believed that transforming a penis into a vagina is a simple matter, like cosmetic surgery. I trust that you have done your best not to give the matter any thought. The media has scrupulously avoided the topic. Mills recounts the experience; it should tell you why:

I am unable to experience love as a woman because my vagina is artificial, a mere tube of penile skin that lacks feeling. When I came out of hospital in 1995 I was handed a collection of glass dilators which were required to keep it from shrinking; This happens because Nature resents Mankind’s meddling and fights back, attempting to close a space between my thighs that really shouldn’t be there. As a consequence also I am beset by messy post-op complications, causing a painful burning sensation which sometimes is excruciating. Some individuals even suffer prolapse, finding themselves on and off the operating table. Vaginal reconstruction is in itself a risky affair, any wrong move on the surgeon’s part can lead to lasting damage to the bladder or rectum. Others find they cannot pass water, requiring an emergency visit to the hospital. Tragically none of this will be found referenced on the Mermaids website.

Of course, there’s more to gender than genitalia… even simulated genitalia. Other aspects of the male body do not change:

When out in public I feel I must always be on my guard lest someone ‘read’ me, that is to say see through the illusion of femininity that I project. For example characteristics like jaw-line, large hands, tallness, especially the adam’s apple can be tell-tale signs that one is not what one appears to be. Indeed in the final analysis all I can ever hope to be is a facsimile of a woman. I was born trapped in a man’s body. The only way I will ever leave it is when I take my last breath. All I can truly claim to be innately feminine is my demeanour, my emotional responses, my self-expression, my interaction with others…

Then Mills takes out after the media propaganda mill that is hard at work trying to produce transgendered children and adults:

There will be those (influenced by social media) who see it as cool, merely swept along with the many trends and fads that mark our modern age. Others are inspired by the glamour, competing with their peers for those coveted ‘likes’. The trans celebs must take responsibility here, placing too much focus on beauty rather than pragmatism, after all excuse me if I suggest that none of them ever seem to look like ‘the back end of a bus’. And their encouragement of young followers to purchase hormone pills over secret sites on the web is dangerous in the extreme. More will be transitioning in the belief that ‘the grass is greener on the other side’, an answer to inner feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy, or simply searching for love which you feel lacking in your lives.

You might say, forewarned is forearmed. You will surely say that one individual will not suffice to push back the rising tide of transgenderism. And yet, Mills has taken a good step in the right direction. Kudos.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Times's Rudderless Columnist

Surely, Bret Stephens is very bright. And yet, sometimes his antipathy toward Donald Trump, combined with his happiness at being with the New York Times, clouds his judgment and causes him to lose his mental rudder. Yesterday, he offered up a series of specious analogies, as though to show how clever he is and, simultaneously, to miss the point.

Back in the day, he notes, America was led by George H. W. Bush and Great Britain was led by Margaret Thatcher. Now, he continues, America is led by that dastardly Donald Trump while Britain is led by the monumental failure called Theresa May. The result, the West is leaderless and rudderless, prey to the shifting currents of the world’s great political oceans… or some such.

Allow Stephens his analysis:

In August 1990, George H.W. Bush met Margaret Thatcher in Aspen right after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The pair resolved not to allow Iraq’s “naked aggression” to stand, and it did not. This was how the West was supposed to work — and how, sometimes, it did.

Today the U.S. and Great Britain scarcely govern themselves, never mind shape world order. Theresa May, who as prime minister resembles Thatcher in no respect other than gender and party, just suffered the worst parliamentary defeat in nearly a century over her Brexit deal. Donald Trump, who as president resembles Bush in no respect other than gender and party, presides over a shuttered government, a revolving-door administration, a furiously divided nation, and a mistrusted and mocked superpower.

Grant that Theresa May has failed miserably. She is a monument to political incompetence. But, does Stephens really believe that the Obama administration— conspicuously absent from his calculus—was a rudder guiding us through the storm? Does he understand that America was divided before Trump took office and that Barack Obama was seriously disrespected on the world stage?

If one were to expand his analogies, we would want to note that George H. W. Bush was succeeded in the oval office by the notoriously decadent sexual predator named Bill Clinton. The American people rejected Bush in favor of a neophyte who had no stature on the world stage. And spent eight years debating sexual harassment and sexual assault. 

Then, the American people, recognizing their mistake, elected Bush’s son to two terms in the White House. When that did not turn out very well, they chose the notably weak and charismatic Barack Obama, a man who preferred apologizing for America to expressing pride in America. How can a man lacking in patriotic fervor lead the American nation? How can a man who thinks that America is the problem, not the solution, be a world leader?

As for Great Britain, the advent of Theresa May might have been an attempt to bring back Thatcher. If anything, May’s failure suggests that Thatcher was an anomaly, not a harbinger of a new day.

And, of course, Stephens has nothing to say about the woman who is supposedly the leader of the Western alliance, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Since she has done more than many others to undermine her own country by flooding it with Muslim migrants, she is best left unmentioned.

What does Stephens mean by rudderless? Generally, he does not care about national pride and about competing on the world stage. He does not care about strength or weakness… because that would compromise his argument about Trump and Obama. He cares about a bunch of meaningless ideals:

The West is now rudderless. To be rudderless puts you at the mercy of elements. The elemental forces of politics today are tribalism, populism, authoritarianism and the sewage pipes of social media. Each contradicts the West’s foundational commitments to universalism, representation, unalienable rights, and an epistemology built on fact and reason, not clicks and feelings. We are drifting, in the absence of mind and will, toward a moment of civilizational self-negation.

Consider what he is saying. Universalism is not a fundamental American principle. It is Kantian philosophy. It implies open borders for everyone. America does not want it. Is America thereby less American. As for the epistemology based on fact and reason, try that in any politically correct American classroom today. The last thing today’s woke teachers care about is fact and reason. The visceral hostility to Donald Trump relies on irrational emotion, not facts and reason. Stephens himself has contributed to the ambient hostility, so he should not be so quick to talk.

Stephens believes that it has come to this because we got complacent. Allow him his thought:

When did the drift begin? Probably in 1989, when Francis Fukuyama published his landmark essay “The End of History?” and a decade of democratic complacency took hold. Why worry about the health and fate of liberal democracy when its triumph was inevitable and irreversible? Why teach the benefits of free markets and immigration — or the dangers of socialism and nativism — when history had already rendered a verdict?

Complacency breeds heedlessness. Liberals were heedless when they wrote off moral character as an essential trait of a good presidency. Conservatives (like me) were heedless when we became more concerned about the state of democracy in Iraq than in Iowa. Liberals were heedless when they embraced identity politics without ever thinking it could also be used against them. Conservatives (again, like me) were heedless when we downplayed the significance of the populism and scaremongering infecting the movement via talk radio and Fox News.

Democratic complacency, thy name should be Bill Clinton. We imagined that we were so great that we could indulge our appetite for salacious scandal and not pay a price. Stephens does not seem to care about Islamist terrorism, the threat of radical Islam. No president would have sat idly by while a large part of his nation’s largest city was reduced to rubble. And yet, the Bush freedom agenda, the one that Stephens rightly criticizes, was more about spreading American ideals than winning wars and getting the job done.

Europe has shot itself in the head because, precisely, of its universalism and cosmopolitanism. If you think that the Europeans at open borders because their governments did not have enough programs to promote assimilation, you have not been paying attention. Merkel’s government is now offering to pay migrants to return to their home countries. We shall see how that is going to work out.

The heedlessness occurred on the other side of the Atlantic, too. European integration is a blessing; integration without genuine democratic accountability and consent isn’t. Similarly, immigration is a blessing; immigration without assimilation is a curse. Two generations of European leaders allowed the former without requiring the latter, and then airily dismissed public discontent as politically insignificant and morally illegitimate. Now they are living with the consequences.

True enough, Donald Trump does not embody traditionally conservative values. I have said so on many occasions. And yet, the choice in 2016 was between Trump and yet another Clinton, this one an incompetent fraud. We would have preferred to vote for George H. W. Bush, but he was not on the ballot.

In a weak and rudderless nation, restoring strength and leadership was never going to be an easy process. Stephens fails here because he seems unwilling to see the problem in the presidents who preceded Trump.

What about the United States? Among many conservatives I know, the view of Trump is that chaotic management, clownish behavior and ideological apostasies are irritants, not calamities, and prices worth paying for deregulation, tax cuts, and conservative courts.

Really? These same conservatives spent the past 30 years preaching the importance of judgment, good character, and respect for institutions in the person of the president. They were right. What will they say when they find these attributes missing in the person of a president whose policy preferences and political affiliation they don’t share?

Blaming it on Trump means that the columnist is so consumed by his own passions that he has lost his mental rudder. Which means that he is flailing, not reasoning.

The Case of the Unlikable Husband

As always happens in letters written to advice columnists, they are short on facts and long on sentiment. I will underscore, yet again, if you do not know the facts on the ground you are in no position to offer advice.

Today, the New York Times etiquette columnist, Philip Galanes, faces this problem. A trio of couples has been hanging out together for years. Recently, two of the women took the third aside and told her that they no longer wished to hang out with her husband. They had decided to vote him off the island.

You might be wondering why? The woman does not say why? So, Galanes is at something of a loss. He handles it adeptly, but still, we would like to have a better idea. And we would like to know whether the qualities that the women find repugnant are qualities that his wife finds endearing.

The Times headline suggests that the woman's friends do not like her husband. It's one thing not to like someone. It's quite another to say that you cannot abide his presence. At the very least, the judgment does not seem to have been taken lightly or impulsively. The two women must have been trying to deal with the situation for years.

Here is the letter:

For six years, my husband and I have been great friends with two other couples. We ate together, traveled together and hung out a lot. Recently, the other couples told me (separately, but within a month of each other) that they are no longer willing to spend time with my husband. No reason was given. Both couples said they are open to seeing me without him. This is going to break my husband’s heart! Should I tell him directly, or let him discover that he’s being ghosted over time? Is there any way to continue my relationship with these friends?

It’s going to break his heart. Does that tell us anything? I do not know. But, who speaks about her husband in terms that would be more appropriate to a female? Galanes is at something of a loss, so he sketches out an analysis:

I’m sort of astonished that you didn’t ask your friends (either time!) why your husband was being cast out into the desert. Does this mean you have a hunch? Or maybe it’s not the first time they’ve mentioned their difficulties with him. Either way, I would ask for a clear explanation of the problem.

I suspect that she knows why, but does not think that the offense is worth shunning. Perhaps, as noted above, the man has bad table manners. Perhaps he whines too much. One suspects that this is not the first time she has heard of the problem, and that preceding efforts to change things have not worked. I suspect that she had been put on notice, had mentioned it to her husband, and that he did not change. She might have thought nothing of his bad manners, but other people found them to be seriously disconcerting. 

In other words, if she does not mention the nature of the problem, she might not think that it's much of a problem. And if she does not mention it, the chances are that it has been addressed many times before.

Galanes sensibly looks toward self-correction:

We all have failings. But if we’re put on notice of them constructively, we can often make big improvements. If your husband is a conversation hog, occasionally snarky, or too strident in his politics, he can work on those issues if he is told about them. I also get that it can be hard to lodge complaints with friends, especially if they’re defensive. But six years of camaraderie should buy your husband some good will.

Of course, there are other problems that are much harder, if not impossible, to bounce back from: if your husband has been cruel, for example, or behaved in seriously inappropriate ways. So, find out what the beef is, discuss it with your husband directly, and decide together if there’s a feasible plan for rehabilitation.

Of course, if she negotiates a reprieve and tells her husband that he must stop slurping his soup or chewing with his mouth open… he is likely to become more self-conscious and resentful.

Galanes continues:

As for maintaining your own relationship with these couples, unless your husband’s offense is grave, could you really continue being friends with people who won’t let him apologize and try to do better in the future? And if his behavior was truly egregious, you have bigger fish to fry, no?

It might be the case that she has known the women for a long time, which would be one kind of problem. I suspect that he has already apologized and has failed to correct his ways. I agree that the woman’s relationship with her friends has probably been compromised. It feels as though the issue has been ongoing for years and that her husband has not changed. Perhaps it‘s a personality issue. Perhaps he’s an opinionated lout. Perhaps he does not know how to dress properly. We do not know. 

As for the possibility that the behavior was egregious, as in, he made a pass at one of the women or even one of the men, Galanes is correct to note that the letter writer has a bigger problem.