Jordan Peterson speech characterizes Russia’s war with Ukraine as a proxy civil war within the “West”

Potomac River, DC, 2022-7

On Sunday, July 10, 2022, which by happenstance is my 79th birthday, Canadian psychology professor Dr. Jordan B. Peterson orally delivered a long essay in a 51 minute video “Russia Vs. Ukraine Or Civil War In The West?”.

Peterson drives home the idea that Putin doesn’t want his country to have any border contact with the “West’ because (supposedly) the West’s hedonistic personal morality, as expressed often with the Russian Orthodox Church.  He would rather scorch the entire country to rubble than tolerate its supposedly democratic and westernizing presence.

All of this lies on top of Russia’s irredentism, and desire to reconquer what the Soviet Union lost in 1991 (and the idea that modern Russia was born in the Ukraine).

While Putin speaks tactically about neo-Nazi’s, what really affronts him is the way self-indulgence in the West connects up with Marxism and communism,

But it’s a stretch.  Putin’s actions are obviously a replay of colonialism and imperialism, which was acceptable behavior by countries until World War’s I and II.  The assault on civilians was not seen as a moral issue then (any more than capturing “negroes” for slavery from Africa). 

Putin could well believe that the inevitable threat of global warming makes the future a zero-sum game,  He could imagine that Russia must outcompete all other cultures to survive, and that any personal disloyalty to Motherland Russia is a mortal sin (pretty much fascist thinking, although Soviet communism turned into the same thing.)  Conceivably he could destroy most of the west with EMP’s and survive with Russia and China occupying the whole world with its communo-fascist collectivism that denies personal agency and sees fitting in as a moral requirement of everyone.

He even characterizes Russia as technically part of the West (up to the Ural Mountains, like in “Dr. Zhivago”) and maintains that the war is a proxy war between the self-contradictory extreme Marxist Left and reason with classic liberalism demanding individual responsibility (which leaves a lot of people behind). The missing piece in the whole panorama of individualism is being willing to reach down and lift others up. Without that, it molds toward fascism, as too many people just become expendable.

At the very end, he does attribute some of Putin’s behavior to the isolation of COVID.

Dr. Zhivago trailer: The film (after the framing scene of telling the story in a nuclear power plant) opens with a scene in Ukraine, still connected to Russia. I saw the film on a bitter cold night in Kansas City MO, the Capri Theater, in December 1966 when I was a grad student at KU.

Dr. Zhivago book discussion (Pasternak novel)

Dr. Zhivago End

(Posted: Monday, July 11, 2022 at 11 PM EDT)

Oregon case on “who can call themselves journalists”; more debate on using equal protection arguments to protect LGBTQ individual rights

NYC from MTA Manhattan Bridge 2022-4

Steve Lehto reports on a case in an Oregon state supreme court ruling against a defendant in a libel suit against an online reviewer of a piano store from a possible rival.

Lehto discusses Oregon case concerning libel in a consumer review, as “journalism”

At issue was a provision in state law that defamation claims against an established media entity must meet a higher standard than a claim against a private citizen, especially claiming to be an “journalist”.

This contradicts apparently with federal practice.  The case also invokes the idea of the “opinion rule” in defamation law. 

But the case could have implications if tech companies in the future did not want to allow individuals to express opinions with the same services allowed to established professional journalists.  That idea has also been relevant in the EU over their copyright directive.

Suits against individuals posting to review sites (like Yelp!) have been a recurring issue in the past, but this one had a different twist.  Right now Section 230 would protect the sites that host the reviews.

There is another story today of concern.  Vox runs a story June 21, 2022, “new Supreme Court decision has ominous implications for LGBTQ discrimination” by Ian Millhiser.  The case is Marietta Memorial Hospital v. DaVita.   The question is whether a private insurer can refuse to cover dialysis when it is a “conduct marker” for having end stage renal disease (a issue which arose in my own life indirectly in the 1970s, but that’s a long story).  By analogy, a private entity could discriminate against people who engage in anal intercourse (likely male homosexuals) when now sexual orientation is a protected class under federal law. 

animated reenactment of SCOTUS DaVita oral arguments

In fact, National Law Review, in an article June 16, 2020 “Supreme Court Holds that Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Are Protected by Title VII”, as it describes the SCOTUS case “Bostock, Zarda v. Altitude Express, and Stephens v. Harris Funeral Homes.”   Gorsuch, with his textualism, actually wrote a favorable opinion from the LGBTQ viewpoint. That is, “sex” is included in the definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity, even if those two categories are different from one another (they are) because they make use of the existence of “assigned biological sex at birth.” 

Bostok equal protection case explained, 2020

Now, it may well be my personal feeling that some school systems or educators have gone off the rails with an “anything goes” attitude toward gender identity in lower grades (you know, the “LibsofTikTok” stories on Twitter, and the scowl expressed in red state “don’t say gay” laws for lower grades), but the basic recognition that people may have separate gender identities and sexual orientations that are in a minority with respect to sex at birth and that these identities seem immutable (with hidden biology, like maternal epigenetics) is now recognized under federal law.  (Non-binary may be acceptable under this notion as a gender identity, I presume.)    

There is a problem, or danger, I think, if we depend on the idea of protected class to reign in on criminal law.  The recent SCOTUS opinion on abortion has been called into question in its criticism of the previous presumption of the “right to privacy” as a fundamental right when stopping sodomy laws (Lawrence v Texas) and laws against recognizing same-sex marriage (Obergefell), under substantive due process.  It is possible to use protected class theory instead.  But the DaVita opinion might block using that, too.

Personally, I don’t like depending on the idea of “protected class” to justify behavior (because it will have its obvious limits if public safety is sufficiently endangered – psychopathy might be immutable too – we get into what John Fish specialized in with undergrad studies at Harvard, which he says is “mind, brain and behavior”).  The speculative downstream public health complications lurk in the background if you try to involve public health concerns if sodomy comes up again.  Even more relevant is my distaste the idea of building personal identity (and demanding that others bond with you on the basis of such identity) on the notion of shared (intersectional group) oppression rather than something positive (the whole problem with Leftist identity politics these days).  But “there you have it”.

It’s noteworthy that, while “don’t ask don’t tell” was repealed in 2011, the UCMJ a “sodomy law”, article 125, remains on the books.  But it seems to apply only to “forcible” sodomy (without legal consent).  .

(Posted: Saturday, July 9, 2022 at 2:30 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

“Top Gun: Maverick” – Tom Cruise sequel film hints at a dangerous possibility in international “politics”

flying east from San Francisco, 2018-9

With all my recent travels, I hadn’t seen a movie in a theater all month, so Memorial Day afternoon I got into the groove again and saw “Top Gun: Maverick” at the Angelika Mosaic in Fairfax/Merrifield VA (by the way, my favorite in his chain is the 3-levels on Mockingbird in Dallas).

Oops, “Top Gun”, not “Top Fun” is Paramount/Skydance’s trademark based on Jim Cash’s serializable characters (caught a typo).  I remember seeing the 1986 film “Top Gun” (directed by Tony Scott) with a younger Tom Cruise Mapother in the now removed Northpark in Dallas when I was living there. 

Top Gun 1986 film trailer

Now, Cruise (all of 67 inches) is 59, and has been ripening ever since climbing towers in Dubai.  The film (“Top Gun: Maverick“), however, may have real political significance this time around.

trailer for Top Gun: Maverick 2022

As the film (directed by Joseph Kosinski) starts, Naval Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell will be forced to retire.  In desperation, be goes out on a run and crashes a plane, parachuting to some remove Sierra Nevada village.  He is not in a zone of comfort, according to Harmon Circle screenplay theory (131 minutes).  Rear Admiral Chester Cain (“Hammer” – Ed Harris) is again about to tell him he is out, but suddenly the Pentagon wants him to teach a cadre of a dozen top guns to dive and dogfight into a secluded uranium enrichment or nuclear weapon facility overseas.  That becomes the opportunity and plot.  In a sense, what it “costs” him (in Harmon theory) is that he can’t fly himself.  Well, we’ll see.  Like will you pass the course after all.

Maverick’s main “adversary” (of sorts, at least in a matter of “suspicion”) is Bradley Benjamin, who is called “Rooster” (that is, “Chickenman”, in Fort Eustis/Rado S talk), played by Miles Teller.  You have to get used to this Miles if you got addicted to him in “Whiplash” (2014).  Can he be great again?  After all, Tom Cruise isn’t exactly JK Simmons. 

In fact, Rooster is an “antagonist” because Maverick had, at one time, denied Rooster’s ability to get into the Naval Academy.  Maverick now is only a captain (O6) himself so now they are about even.  Here, you get into the idea that the US Navy has its own air force.  US Air Force jets normally don’t have the tailhook gear enabling them to land on aircraft carriers.  So Navy jets are mainly an expansion of sea power, not space.  That matters. It’s likely that steep dives and dogfights are more critical in Naval missions.  For some teens considering a military career (especially post-DADT), this can really matter as to choice of service. (You can ask the same questions about why we have both an Army, and a Marine Corps belonging to the Navy – and a Coast Guard belonging to the Treasury.)

How the Navy’s ‘air force’ differs from the US Air Force

Maverick and Rooster will gradually have to learn to work together and bond for the mission to work.  The movie’s middle passes, until the mission arrives.  One might have expected the target to be in Iran, but the sequences in film’s sequence place the uranium facility in a mountain cave near an ocean. That practically means it has to be North Korea.  (The actual filming was done around Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada.)  This is a provocative assumption for a movie.  I understand that Trump considered prophylactic aggression against the DPRK to follow the Winter Olympics in early 2018 but was dissuaded, from an operation that could have started, well, WWIII (North Korea might well have been capable of an EMP strike against the continental US then – and imagine what could have happened to Seoul).  In any case, Kim Jung-un can assume he has been attacked at least in a fictitious movie.  Today, we live in a world where communism (China, North Korea), oligarchical neo-fascism (Russia), and radical Islam can all be existentially dangerous.  The biggest enemy keeps rotating.

The movie has a long epilogue.  In a replay almost of the Doolittle operation after Pearl Harbor, Maverick and Rooster get caught behind enemy lines (shot down). They steal an enemy F14 jet and fly it out to the aircraft carrier, succeeding in a dogfight.  Yes, they get along now.  

Amazon SiteStripe text for this film link. Imdb link.

(Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2022 at 10)