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The USA's current condition of extreme political polarization and divided government does not bode well for the implementation of "intelligent long-range policies" for the immediate future. I've never been more pessimistic, or more disgusted, in my life.

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Aug 25, 2022Liked by Claire Berlinski

Will this interview be uploaded to the Cosmopolicast podcast feed? And Monique, will the Kremlin File podcast mentioned last week in your Eurofile newsletter be released to Kremlin File subscribers? I haven’t seen any updates on Olga Lautman’s Substack or podcast feed in almost two months.

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Hi David, thanks for asking. Which episode so I can direct you to it, or upload it? Olga is conducting an indepth investigation right now. She'll be back.

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The interview with Mouaz Moustafa, Monique. It hasn’t come through my Kremlin File podcast feed on the Apple Podcasts app. Thank you!

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Here you go: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/syrian-playbook-mouaz-moustafa-michael-sawkiw/id1575837599?i=1000575751235. I forgot to upload the video on my substack. I'll do that now.

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Ah! OK! The Substack feed link for the show wasn’t getting updated. I have two and a half months of Kremlin Files episodes to catch up on. Thank you, Monique! (Now to hunt down drag show videos for Claire, which is exactly what Tsargrad told me I’d have to do to be a member here!)

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Isn't it already uploaded to the podcast feed?

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It hasn’t shown up on my Apple Podcasts app yet.

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Hmmm. Why might that be, I wonder? Is there anyone here in the comments who could give me advice? It should be automatic, as I understand it.

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Aug 24, 2022Liked by Claire Berlinski

I bump into the narrative that post-Soviet Russia is "pleasingly “conservative” and a natural ally against China and gay parades" with alarming regularity. There is no doubt in my mind that a portion of anti-LGBT rage on social media is produced by Kremlin agents for their usual reasons for mischief. The signal to noise ratio is unbearable.

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Aug 25, 2022·edited Aug 25, 2022Liked by Claire Berlinski

Yes, but there’s fertile ground out there for Russia to sow. A friend of ours just asked us this evening to join her at a drag show with our infant, using the argument that a lot of people bring their kids to these things. She’s known us for years, and knows we’re openminded but conservative and observant Roman Catholics. I was sorely tempted to tell her that we haven’t been voting Democratic long enough. It’s just not normal to take kids to drag shows. I’m not saying you can’t take yours, but for crying out loud, don’t invite other people to bring their kids. They’ll think you’re insane.

The most fun I’ve had during the current Woke Iconoclasm has been watching the trans activists defenestrate the old gay and lesbian activist class (or as my conservative homosexual friends call them, the “professional gays”). There’s a lot of petard hoisting going on right now, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying the Schadenfreude.

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This reminds me of an article I read in the Atlantic many years ago. It was about the internal feuds within feminist and lesbian cultures. Apparently things were getting rather nasty (by 2010 standards) between some of the louder voices within these circles. Name calling, attempts to end careers, excommunication, etc.

The article kindly suggested that maybe, just maybe, mouth-frothing defenestration shouldn't be the first tactic we reach for when we're critiquing ourselves internally. Now if they were looking for some constructive criticism, I would suggest that maybe we should apply that sort of generosity to almost everyone. I don't have a lot of patience for fascists and their neighbors, but so much of political identity is constructed of Hating the Bad Guys, that it's probably the foundation of much of the inability to communicate across aisles.

This is obviously dipping in to something that I've been ruminating on, but it's a current I wish I was better at swimming against. I'm not above quietly enjoying a cup of schadenfreude on the side (for a dry, earthy delight, the story of Sen Larry Craig is a personal favorite).

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That’s the thing. I used to say everyone was libertarian until it came to their own pet issue. Now everyone’s gone full-blown fascist about their pet issue, and to Hell with live and let live for the rest.

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deletedAug 25, 2022Liked by Claire Berlinski
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Aug 25, 2022·edited Aug 25, 2022Author

When's the last time you took care of a toddler full time? I figure parents hear, "We'll babysit your kids for an hour and keep them entertained while you find a quiet corner of the library and read a book in peace" and they're sold. You could probably offer them "Medicine with Dr. Mengele Hour" and they'd accept gratefully if that was the deal.

Seriously, though, I have a tough time getting worked up over Drag Queen Story Hour. Perhaps because I lived in England for seven years where it's a staple entertainment at Christmastime for men to dress up like women for the Christmas Panto: https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/panto. It's very much considered "wholesome Christmas entertainment."

And we all grew up with Monty Python's Lumberjack Song. That did us no harm, did it? There's nothing kids find funnier than men dressed as women. (Adults, too, for that matter, though I think they now throw you in jail if you laugh). I very much doubt kids understand anything beyond, "A funny show, with a man dressed in colorful clothes, kind of like a clown."

I find it much less funny when some psychopath like Jessica Yaniv takes women who work in beauty salons to court because they refused to wax his hairy balls. But that's a different issue.

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deletedAug 25, 2022Liked by Claire Berlinski
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Niels, I’m pretty sure the ping pong balls involved a real girl - though the sensibility was completely gay.

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I guess perhaps I'd have to see it to really work up a proper head of steam about it. I'm having trouble imagining a drag show so smutty that it wouldn't just register as "funny clowns" to a little kid. I looked for an example on YouTube and this was the first that came up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YWNMunlx6w

I only watched a minute; I didn't watch to the end. Maybe there's something really perverse after the first minute. But if it's all like the first minute, I'm sure kids take it in with the same delight as they take in Halloween costumes, or Disney. It would look to them like a funny costume, that's all. If it's just this (the first minute, anyway), I pronounce it innocuous. Does anyone have an example of the kind of performance that really skeeves them out?

I think if people weren't making such a big deal about what being dressed like that means to adults--"They are DRAG QUEENS, everyone, get it!"--no one would bat an eye. They could have called it "Dress up story hour," and no one would have wigged out. But they demanded that *adults* express wild enthusiasm for drag, and that was just too much for a beleaguered public to take. "Yeah, fine, we're tolerant. Do whatever you want in private. But we don't need to see you 'challenging and subverting the gender binary' in a friggin' *preschool.*"

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There’s a big difference between Monty Python, panto, and Dame Edna Everage, and the whored-up, hyper-sexualized American drag show, Claire. They are apples and oranges.

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Aug 25, 2022Liked by Claire Berlinski

It’s all a political signifier here in the States now. You have to be all in one way or the other. My wife’s and my best friend, who we named our son after and was gay, would spin in his grave if he knew we took the boy to a drag show.

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Aug 25, 2022·edited Aug 25, 2022Author

The entire gender-obsession phenomenon in the West is one of the strangest sociological developments I've seen (or could even imagine, really) and I wish a scholar of Dina Khapaeva's caliber would explain it to me. It clearly means *something.* Things like this don't just happen, in the normal course of events. It has a manifest and a latent meaning--but I have no insight into the latent content. I'm just at a loss to understand why, in 2022, we have collectively decided that men and women are *frequently* to be found in the wrong body, and that this condition is so real, so common, and such an emergency that we need hundreds of clinics devoted to helping teenagers rid themselves of their sex organs. What on earth does this really mean?

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Sep 9, 2022·edited Sep 9, 2022

This is certainly not my area of expertise, and something I only know about from people I have met who are transgender none of whom I am particularly close to. When people tell me who they are, I think believing them is just polite, and don't see why that's so controversial. It is certainly a different issue for medical operations for underage individuals.

I don't think we collectively decided it is frequent, I think individuals tell us it is true in their case and we observe that this happens frequently relative to what we are used to. Likewise a few decades ago we might have asked "where are all these gay people coming from" when they had been in the closet for much of Western history and that of many other societies. Or "where do all these women who want jobs and don't just want to be housewives and moms, some of whom don't even want to get married and have kids" come from when in reality a lot of women in previous history would have liked that but it was denied them in many societies. History is likewise probably full of transgender and nonbinary people who either did not have the language to express this or chose not to because it would have not been acceptable in their society.

It is possible that some adolescents who are not actually transgender or nonbinary identify as such because it has become "fashionable" and they genuinely think they might be as a result, but not purely because it is "fashionable". In such cases I think their self-identified gender and pronouns should be respected (on the flip side I don't see why I as a cisgender male need to go around saying my pronouns are he/him) but they shouldn't receive medical procedures until they're adults, and if they decide they were wrong and go back to identifying as the gender they were assigned at birth, no big deal.

It's none of my business, and I trust people to be the world experts on themselves, and call them what makes them happy, though medical procedures for people too immature to make such major decisions should be a red line.

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Personally, as someone who went through puberty and the trials and travails of discovering myself, I think trans activists and ideologues have taken the normal experiences of growing up and fomented a moral panic. My favorite color was pink in elementary school, and I wasn’t athletic, social, or aggressive like the other boys. Today, I’d have a bevy of counselors telling me I was non-binary. Heck, I’m still not into sports or particularly social. The only real difference was my color preference changed to green by middle school. These types of decisions should be made by adults, not children, especially when the vast majority of children outgrow the phase and decide they’re cisgendered, whether heterosexual or homosexual.

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Aug 25, 2022Liked by Claire Berlinski

Quillette has had numerous articles by clinical psychologists on the subject. Sounds like peer pressure, trans activism, and social media have caused a body dysmorphia panic, predominantly in teen girls. And the same folks who have to take their toddlers to drag shows to virtue signal that they’re “gay Pride allies” race to diagnose their boy who likes pink or girl who plays with toy trucks as trans and put them on puberty blockers. It’s insane.

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I've read all of those articles, and I find them useful, but this represents something much, much deeper than an attack of peer pressure or the effect of social media. I mean, as you say, this is insane. It's a phenomenon that as far as I know has no historic precedent.

I wish Freud were still around to help us figure this out.

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Aug 24, 2022Liked by Claire Berlinski

Scary and thoughtful article - a strong but chilling combination. It's always seemed odd to me that the Soviet Union (and the PRC, for that matter) were so often characterised primarily as "Communist", when even a cursory reading of history suggests that communism was only ever a part of the puzzle. And here we are - China is a brutal and repressive totalitarian state, and still nominally communist. Russia is still a brutal and repressive totalitarian state, and no longer communist. I guess we're always building models to try and understand and explain the world, but the "communism is the only problem" model turns out to have been particularly misleading and dangerous.

There are a lot of ways that this could all go from here, but few of them look very appetising. I'm afraid that whatever happens, a lot of lives will be lost and a lot of misery endured - mostly by people with little or no say in it.

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I fear the same thing. One of the scariest parts in this is the dysfunction of the United States. I don't know what happens to the world when American-style democracy is no longer envied and the US is no longer able to muster a consistent, multi-administration foreign policy.

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Note to self: "Never post a comment until you've read all of the previous comments." My belated comment today merely echoes yours.

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Too late for the second part, Claire. Politics no longer stops at the water’s edge.

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deletedAug 25, 2022·edited Aug 25, 2022Liked by Claire Berlinski
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I love irredeemable fanboys. I couldn't be more pleased to hear you found Khapaeva's work as interesting and useful as I did. It was a real revelation to me. I'd never even heard of her before that article in the Atlantic. She ties together so many loose threads in my understanding of what's going on in Russia. I've been reading everything by her I can get my hands on all week, and recommend it all. She's a brilliant scholar. One insight after another struck me as exceptional, to the point I sorely wanted to reproduce paragraph after paragraph, but that would have made this unreadably long. We'd be so much better served if she were a staple of our editorial pages instead of frauds like Mearsheimer.

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deletedSep 9, 2022·edited Sep 9, 2022Liked by Claire Berlinski
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Interesting comment, thank you.

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And thank you for the positive feedback.

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