Solipsism as foreign policy: Russia, America, and Cold War II

April 7, 2014
"Tell me you love me!"

Self-absorption

There’s a very interesting long essay by John Schindler at XX Committee that examines the ideological components of “Putinism”inter alia a rejection of Western, and especially American, post-modernism; the assertion of national sovereignty; ethnic Great Russian nationalism; and an alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church to protect “spiritual values”– and I think it’s well worth your time to read it. One section I want to quote, however, analyzes the difficulty progressive, postmodern Western elites have when it comes to “getting” Putin and Russia:

This is simply because we are WEIRD. That’s social science shorthand for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic – and nobody is WEIRDer than Americans. In the last several decades many Americans, and essentially all our elites, have internalized a worldview based on affluence, individualism, and secularism that makes us unique, globally speaking. So much so that we seem unable to comprehend that there actually are opposing viewpoints out there.

Barack Obama, by virtue of his diverse ethnic and religious background and elite education, is almost an ideal stand-in for the WEIRD demographic, as he embodies so many things WEIRDos admire: education, affluence, diversity, progressive social views, etc. He comes close to being almost the perfect post-modern American, which perhaps is why so many Americans of that bent adore him deeply. Thus when President Obama says he detects no ideological rivalry with Putin’s Russia, he undoubtedly speaks the truth as he sees it.

Americans of all stripes have a well-honed ability to ignore inconvenient facts, and our better educated citizens seem particularly prone to this (as I noted with our “expert” inability to see what North Korea believes, even though they aren’t shy about it). At root, I suspect Obama and many Americans refuse to accept the in-our-face reality of Putin and his regime because they represent a past version of ourselves, caught up in retrograde views that are entirely unacceptable to our elites, therefore they pretend they do not exist, because they don’t actually exist in their world.

Simply put, Vladimir Putin is the stuff of Western progressive nightmares because he’s what they thought they’d gotten past. He’s a traditional male with “outmoded” views on, well, everything: gender relations, race, sexual identity, faith, the use of violence, the whole retrograde package. Putin at some level is the Old White Guy that post-moderns fear and loathe, except this one happens to control the largest country on earth plus several thousand nuclear weapons – and he hates us.

It’s solipsism as foreign policy. Our governing elites, closeted in their various ivory towers, simply can’t conceive of worldviews that operate in a wholly different paradigm. So convinced they are that their views are self-evidently right, that they cannot imagine that another elite might strongly believe in something wholly at odds with their own assumptions. John Kerry’s admonition to Putin that countries “simply don’t act that way in the 21st century” is a stellar example; he seemed equally angry, dumbfounded, and aghast, as if he had trouble processing unexpected data. It’s similar to the problems we as a largely secular society have with dealing with Iran’s mullahs, a faction of which wishes to bring about a Shi’ite “end times”“They couldn’t really believe that, could they??”

This inability to see others as they see themselves and not as “just like us” and to understand what they value is going to make it very hard to conduct a successful foreign policy against a newly-aggressive Russia, especially if, as Schindler believes, we’re headed for Cold War II.


#Obamacare chronicles: middle-class children lose their health insurance

April 7, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Wait. Wasn’t one of the justifications for passing the Affordable Care Act that we had to do it “for the children?” That so many children were among the uninsured that it would be heartless, cruel, and even racist to not pass Obamacare? (1)

Then how do they explain this?

While the federal government was trumpeting the benefits of Obamacare to boost enrollment earlier this year, about 1,800 families in New Jersey were receiving letters telling them their children would be losing their health coverage last week.

The Affordable Care Act — the federal law that mandates everyone have insurance — effectively killed FamilyCare Advantage, a low-cost option for kids in New Jersey created six years ago for parents who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid and other subsidized programs but too little to buy on a policy on their own. The state program was the first of its kind in the nation.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey was the only insurance carrier that agreed to offer the FamilyCare Advantage plan, which covered most medical, dental and vision needs for the relative bargain of $144 a month per child.

What was it that killed FamilyCare Advantage? Oh, just the lack of services Obamacare declares must be included in every policy.

Such as maternity care. For children.

FamilyCare Advantage was New Jersey’s experiment to help lower middle-class families who made too much to qualify for state assistance, but not enough to buy adequate insurance on their own. Under (what used to be) our federalist system, states could try different approaches to common problems, see what worked and what didn’t, and then other states could, if they wanted, copy and adapt them to their own people’s needs. It’s that famous “laboratories of democracy” concept that leads to the discovery of best practices. Instead, these 1,800 families and their children get to experience the “benefits” of a top-down, one-size-fits-all, we-know-better-than-you nationalized health care system. One that kills the health insurance plan they liked and were promised they could keep.

Neat, eh?

But, don’t worry. These families can still go on the exchange and buy a policy there. Of course, it will likely be more expensive and carry a high deductible, but beggars can’t be choosy, right?

After all, it’s for the children.

Afterthought: There’s one other point that needs to be made. The article quotes one father frustrated with both Obamacare and the insurance company:

“Obamacare did snuff it out, but it also looks like Horizon was looking for a reason to end it. With all of the federal mandates (for employers to offer insurance) delayed, they didn’t need to do anything right now.

Emphasis added. This kind of resentment is inevitable when you have chief executive whose governing style seems to be borrowed from Argentina’s Juan Domingo Peron. Rather than treat people as free citizens, equal under the rule of law, you instead get individuals clamoring to get the same special favor as the other guy, turning free citizens into dependent clients and a president of a constitutional republic into El Patrón, doling out the favors to those who please him (or he needs to please) most. And that dependency, in the long run, is the progressives’ real goal.

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt

Footnote:
(1) And I exaggerate only a bit, here.

RELATED: The Affordable Care Act becomes unaffordable.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)