Russia: Fighting the Last War

I have not watched much of the idiot box these last few years; Jeopardy and Big Bang Theory being the occasional exception. And certainly, a glimpse of The View has not have changed that. The fewer Bukleyan witticisms or hoser ridicules concerning the show, the better. They would only be perceived as misogyny by a PC mad world. However, the froth of inanity does occasionally rise to public consciousness as exampled by a recent rant.

In responding to recent McCarthyite insinuations that Donald Trump and his cabinet effectively elected acquired power through the machinations of Russian spy agencies at the behest of Vladimir Putin, and with the encouragement of Donald Trump by which Trump is thereby quid pro quo indebted to Putin’s Russians: Joy Behar pompously pontificated.

I mean, do we have to wait until the hammer and sickle is on the American flag before we stand up to this guy?[1]

It is not the intention to rebut the wild accusations of treason. Such attempts by foreign powers to interfere in the democratic elections of others tend to backfire, as demonstrated by Barack Obama’s flagrant attempt during the Brexit plebescite, or in the less transparent efforts of his administration in the last Israeli election, or in JFK’s games in the 1962/3 elections against John Diefenbaker in favor of Lester Pearson. A proud and independent populace tend to react in kneejerk fashion against such interference. All three personas or issues performed better than would have otherwise been the case.

I think that the title of Joy Behar’s aborted talk show Say Anything! pretty much sums her approach to opining; of claims which are unfiltered by intelligence, prudence, intellectual and moral integrity, common sense, facts, etc.

But the point of bemusement was her description of the Russian flag.

russian-flag

Ms. Behar would need to spend a full pregnancy playing Where’s Waldo to find a hammer or a sickle in that spaghetti of colored bars.

Should they ever attempt a remake of All in the Family (and considering the times, that is not a far-out proposition), Joy Behar would be my nominee as Edith. She is such a natural!

♦                    ♦                    ♦

But Behar merely exhibits a dafter manifestation of this perception among too many Americans, even Westerners. Vladimir Putin, despite his past connection with the KGB, represents not a resurrection of Communist ideology, but an updated reincarnation of Tsarism. And rather than a new Cold War in the offing, the geopolitical world is looking like 19th century European power politics on a global scale.

The arrogant prejudices of many in the West scorn those promoted images of Putin riding topless on horseback, having lack of any historical and cultural illiteracy of Russia’s past, even going back to the Scythians; the barbarians to the barbarians. They view Putin’s popular autocratic rule as if something new and unusual to Russian society and culture, a singular achievement by Putin to wrest Russia from the inevitable path to liberal democracy and the end of history.

But one cannot overlay a sociopolitical system over a society whose underlying cultural idioms are alien and not conducive to that system. While Western-style democracies have been attempted by Muslim nations, a full-blown representation would threaten Islam, which continues to have, and in increasing passion, a hold on those populaces. While forms of democracy and market economies exist in Muslim countries, they shall prove to be unstable, ephemeral, and vulnerable to “relapse.” Nor is it plausible for the extreme individualism which permeates American culture, along with other cultural idioms of its heritage, to be conducive to the communalism of socialism.

Close State ties with the Russian Orthodox Church with the inevitable denigration of other streams of Christianity and religions in general implicit in Established Churches; the exploitation of traditional cultural themes to fill the void, left when Communism fell in fact and as well as an idea, in order to proffer a coherent and unifying principle for the nation; a ruthless pursuit of nationalist self-interest in order to restore Russian standing and respect in the world; these are artifacts of an idea older than its seventy year interlude with a “blind alley, far away from the mainstream of civilization.”

It would be more prudent and profitable for Westerners to recognize these new and objective realities as they actually are and respond appropriately, rather than attempt to retrofit the modern Russia into some fabulist Iron Curtain/Cold War mold and flay away under that delusional paradigm.

[1] Joy Behar, The View, ABC, December 11, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U177Ql7qLIo&feature=youtu.be&t=22; also http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/12/12/behar_do_we_have_to_wait_until_trump_puts_hammer_and_sickle_on_the_american_flag_before_we_stand_up.html

Sign of the Times

Donald Trump is our national obsession. Almost six weeks after the election and on the eve of Christmas and Hanukkah he is topic A at every gathering. People have Post Traumatic Trump Disorder and feel compelled to share their thoughts and feelings, their joy — “I can’t stop feeling happy!” said a normally contained editor and intellectual, to his own surprise — and despair. My world is full of Hillary Clinton supporters and intimates. At a Manhattan Christmas party last week a despairing Democrat told me that she had not only wept on election night she had vomited. She was still beside herself.[1]

The truest and most profound revelations are often those advanced by they who do (or seem) not to realize the ramifications of what they are declaring. I encountered such a moment recently from one familiar to me, who is given to victimization, exaggeration, lies, blatant slanders, and lawsuits. She has long accused one of her parents of abuse; the extent of the charge which I have never found particularly credible considering that I have had past dealings with that same person. Admittedly, there are individuals particularly adept in presenting a pleasing, or least innocuous public persona while being gargoyles in private.

However, in recent conversations, she confided that this parent would go into her bedroom every night when she was a child and be a “real and loving mother,” apologizing for any excesses that may have occurred during the daily rants; (rants which I had observed). And it struck me, although I doubt the same insight occurred to my interlocutor, that this daily habit of asking forgiveness and reconciliation is stereotypical of the perpetrators of abuse. I had doubted any wild charges claimed by one prone to mendacity unless I had personally observed them. But this unintended revelation gave some credibility to her story.

Now Peggy Noonan, the author of the quote above, is by no means given to mendacity. She continues to be among the top three of my favorite American journalists/pundits, along with Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept and Conor Federspiel of The Atlantic; diamonds among the dung of advocacy and sycophantic journalism; all with a different basis of appeal, but with a common commitment to the pursuit of intellectual integrity in their scribblings.

Noonan’s particular gift is in absorbing the mood and comprehending the soul of her nation; which some might denigrate as a more primitive form of “intelligence.”[2] Yet, despite all of the political theory written by the self-identifying rationalists of ancient Greece, including that template of all ensuing political dystopias, Plato’s Republic; Hellenist civilization was incapable of establishing enduringly stable and peaceable city states and thereafter kingdoms. Alexander’s Empire took but ten years to disintegrate into quadrants. (It took Imperial Rome about three centuries to accomplish half that feat.) And large reason for that political incompetency was the Hellenists’ denigration of the “lizard brain,” and consequent lack of “emotional intelligence.”

♦                    ♦                    ♦

For years before the present epochal moment, Noonan has registered an unease that there exists an unrest stirring beyond the culturally gated community of the Versaillean elites of the Potomac and Hudson. The natives are restless. But whether Noonan realizes the historical significance of a republic’s obsession with a particular leader of the moment cannot be garnered from the article in which she observes and reports the phenomenon.

The republican ideal not only seeks to disperse socioeconomic and political power between many power bases so as to make the rise of tyrannical rule and oppression that much more difficult. A healthy republic requires a morally and politically competent populace, from within which a good many men of nobler qualities would arise to contemporary notability. Yet none becomes a colossus bestriding the narrow world [under which] “petty men walk under his legs and peep about.”[3] Indeed, Cincinnatus, who was appointed dictator for short durations in 458 and 438 BC in order to deal with immediate national emergencies was the model to which both early Roman[4] and American republicans aspired.[5] Even a major American city is named after him. After doing his tour of duty, the Roman patrician would return to his austere and modest lifestyle as a plougher of fields, to retire into a quiet life on his farm, under his vine and fig tree.[6]

But since JFK, whose hubris, whether in his nation and/or in himself, thought it possible and prudent to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty,” there has emerged a fawning adoration for a new class of Caesarians while congressional legislators have in comparison become petty and venal men walking betwixt the columns of the elected demigod.

Indeed, there has likewise emerged a new class of Eusebian apologists singing paeans to these new Constantines.[7]

I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. … He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. … So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. … He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.[8]

It is unimaginable that the present occupant of the White House, that initiator of that “moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,”[9] could ever deign to return to the common life, and certainly not to the cotton fields.

When a nation and its populace increasingly place such singular political privilege and regard upon its primus inter pares (“first among equals”), its princeps; it is little wonder that when their champion loses out, some might stress,[10] put on the pounds, lose their libido, and sell all their possessions in preparation for their own personal apocalypse.[11] In an age of mice, actual men appear as giants (nephilim – Numbers 13:33).

Well before the actual demise of a free civic polity and the establishment of a new autocracy, there is required an increasingly fawning and servile mindset in the populace and the laying of the ideological and cultural foundations of a new political paradigm and milieu in order to “prepare ye the way of the lord”, to abuse the Biblical intent of that phrase (Mark 1:3, Isaiah 40:3).

 

© Copyright John Hutchinson 2017

 

[1] Peggy Noonan, “The Smartest Thing I Heard in 2016,” The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-smartest-thing-i-heard-in-2016-1482450561.

[2] Joe Klein, “Donald Trump’s Lizard Brain,” Time, February 18, 2016, http://time.com/4228885/donald-trump-lizard-brain/; John Oliver, “Canadian Election,” Last Week with John Oliver (HBO), October 15, 2015, [YouTube] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V5ckcTSYu8.

[3] William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, 1599, Act 1, Scene 2.

[4] Plutarch, “The Life of Cato the Elder,” ca. 75 AD, translated by Bernadotte Perrin in The Parallel Lives (Vol. 2), Harvard University Press, 1914.

[5] Rob Hardy, “Cincinnatus,” The Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington, accessed January 2, 2017, http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/cincinnatus/.

[6] Joel Achenbach, “George Washington could have been a strongman, but kept giving power away,” The Washington Post, July 28, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/achenblog/wp/2016/07/28/remembering-the-miracle-in-philadelphia-and-george-washingtons-greatest-acts/?utm_term=.ea5cc3706ed3.

[7] Eusebius, “The Life of Constantine, Oration of Constantine to the Assembly of the Saints, and Oration of Eusebius in Praise of Constantine,” early 4th century AD, in Volume 1, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, translated by Bagsley, ed. by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Edinburgh: T & T Clark; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1890, pp. 1040–1544.

[8] David Remnick, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, New York: Vintage Books, 2010, p. 274.

[9] Senator Barack Obama, Remarks on Final Primary Night, St. Paul, MN: June 3, 2008, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/06/03/obamas-nomination-victory_n_105028.html.

[10] Paul Schwartzman, “Psychologists and massage therapists are reporting ‘Trump anxiety’ among clients,” The Washington Post, March 6, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/how-do-we-know-america-is-anxious-about-a-president-trump-shrinks-and-massage-therapists/2016/03/03/e5b55a22-e0bb-11e5-846c-10191d1fc4ec_story.html?utm_term=.c2174a3a037c.

[11] Jim Geraghty, “The Season of Liberal Panic,” National Review, December 27, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443355/donald-trump-liberal-hysteria-unhealthy-politically-counterproductive.

Handicapping the U.S. Election of 2016

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC: I think she’s got about a 95 chance to win this election, and I think she’s going to have a higher margin than Barack Obama did in 2012. Higher margin. She’s going to win by more than 5 million votes. She’s going to win a higher percentage. And interestingly she’s going to have a more diverse coalition than Barack Obama even did when you take the final vote into consideration. Every piece of data points in that direction.[1]

Contrary to the existentialist “wish as reality” analysis of the Versaillean soothsayers of the Potomac and Hudson, who have been consistent in their misreading of the entrails from the get-go of this election cycle; I suspect that most pieces of data point to very iffy outcome in either direction. There is reasonable chance that while Hillary Clinton may win the popular vote by up to 2%, Donald Trump may squeak through an Electoral College victory. There is even a plausible possibility of a tie, with all the partisan hell that that would entail and ensue.

In the first place, one cannot help but be skeptical of the integrity and competency of public opinion polls. The variances between the different polls results in a situation whereby even a good plurality of competing polls are outside of the “margin of error” of other polls. To explicate: if Poll A claims that Hillary will win by 5% percentage points with a margin of error of 2.5%, 19 times out of 20; but a good third of competing polls claim that it is tie; those third are well outside the margin of error parameters of Poll A. How credible can polling be with that state of affairs?

Methodological finagling, beneath the surface of the stated approach, is so easy to do and has been much in evidence. The demographic composition that is chosen; the means by which the poll is solicited; even the order by which one frames the survey questions can solicit a significantly different result, especially from those who really haven’t given the matter serious final thought.

Consider those poll of polls averages, whereby one single outlier poll can so distort the averages, that Electoral College predictions can change hands. The Granite State Poll (University of New Hampshire) gave HRC an 11% lead, which, by its own singular influence, placed the state onto the Blue side.

Poll Date Sample

Size

MOE Clinton Trump Johnson Stein Spread
Emerson 11/4 – 11/5 1000 LV 3.0 45 44 5 3 Clinton +1
WMUR/UNH 11/3 – 11/6 707 LV 3.7 49 38 6 1 Clinton +11
Gravis 11/1 – 11/2 1001 RV 2.0 41 43 7 2 Trump +2
Boston Globe/Suffolk 10/31 – 11/2 500 LV 4.4 42 42 5 2 Tie
ARG 10/31 – 11/2 600 LV 4.0 43 48 4 1 Trump +5
UMass Lowell/7News 10/28 – 11/2 695 LV 4.3 44 44 5 2 Tie
WBUR/MassINC 10/29 – 11/1 500 LV 4.4 39 40 10 3 Trump +1

Why then are the competing candidates heavily campaigning in New Hampshire in the last days before the election? Even Olympic events, which depend upon such type judgments, toss out the outliers.

We dwell in the Age of Mendacity, where propagandistic advocacy poses as journalism, and sociological surveys ape as science. One suspects that these advocates hope for a bandwagon effect; but which, if it ever existed, vaporizes if virtually everyone has become knowledgeably jaded to such dissembling.

♦                    ♦                    ♦

I remain convinced that any poll, even if conducted with the highest degree of intellectual integrity and competence, will understate the Trump support. As a rule of thumb, it is the Right and the radical Left who are most tender about privacy concerns, and therefore tend to hold their cards close to their vest. And in the present American political milieu, it is less socially acceptable and economically advantageous to appear to be a member of the “irredeemable deplorable,” especially if the higher classes (a.k.a. employers), whether of the elite Right or elite Left, who may have influence over one’s welfare, display a universal detestation for this vulgarian. Furthermore, there exists more evidence of harassment, death threats, and low-level violence emanating from the Left than from the Right in this election cycle.

If Trump was able to appeal to the “irredeemably deplorable,” who rarely voted in prior elections, to vote in a primary/caucus, it seems implausible that they would not lift themselves from couch potato positions for the general election. These from the “rube class” may or may not be accurately demographically apportioned in political polls. Likewise, it is understandable if the tribalist instincts of Blacks are less enthusiastic to vote for a white woman than from one of their own “species.” It is likewise understanding if the Hispanics are aroused who consider Trump an existential threat to their own well-being.

The early voting seems to confirm these premonitions, with the proportion of the white vote marginally ahead, while the black vote is significantly behind in places like North Carolina, where they constitute 22% of the population; Florida (17%); or Philadelphia.

♦                    ♦                    ♦

Presidential elections have been rather static affairs since 2000, each side appealing to their respective bases. Donald Trump has substantially altered the axis upon which this electoral divide is premised and indeed, has made voting intentions more fluid. Even if Clinton was to maintain the same popular vote lead as Obama in 2012, the shift has placed hitherto solid-Blue states into play. Clinton has little over a two percent lead in Pennsylvania, which Obama won by 10%+ points in 2008, and 5.5% in 2012. New Hampshire is dead even with advantage Trump, which Obama won by 9.5% and 5.5% respectively. The same goes in a myriad of mid-west states (e.g. Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio).

I have great suspicions that many voters will become last-minute shoppers, sizing up the possible consequences of the respective future administrations. While the vulgar, self-serving, unsympathetic, intemperate, inconsistent, intellectually ignorant albeit shrewd instincts (Reptilian Brain – Joe Stein of Time Magazine) of Trump may break such an undecided vote towards the Democratic camp; the thought of yet another Clintonesque ordeal and politically deadlocked paralysis at a time of greater perils; or the overwhelming evidence of corruption, public collusion with private interests, and the use of the organs of state to promote partisan interests, may make break it the other way.

Finally, one must consider the zeitgeist, in light of the Brexit vote. The Financial Times poll of polls placed the Remain side ahead by 2%. Yet the Leave side won the vote by 3.8%, as the turnout in the cosmopolitan areas was significantly lower than that found in Little Britain’s hinterland. The lower classes and the hinterland are up in arms everywhere in the West.

♦                    ♦                    ♦

Even so, as indicated by the states which the respective candidates are visiting in the last days, the battleground states seems to show a Trump offensive and momentum.

  • Ohio
  • New Hampshire (especially)
  • North Carolina
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota (which seems like a Trumpian feint)

Barring a last minute shift of sentiment; because of the lower turnout of Blacks in North Carolina, I suspect that that Red State remains Red. Ohio, like Iowa, which went Obama in 2008 and 2012, seem solidly on the Red side. The very close electoral college (current predictions of 272 – 266 in favor of Clinton) pivots on Florida and New Hampshire, with an outside chance of Pennsylvania and Colorado making a difference. If the Hispanic vote makes up for the lagging Black (and millennial) vote, while the “white nationalist rube” vote remains subdued, the Democrats win. If the New Hampshire vote is reflected by the myriad of late polls giving Trump the edge rather than that Granite State outlier, while Florida goes Red, Trump wins 270 – 268. If one district in Maine, which is presently in the Red camp goes Blue, there exists an Electoral College tie.

Thus, I cannot make any firm prediction other than it might not make any difference in the end in regard to the great unravelling of the Republic as a free civic polity.

♦                    ♦                    ♦

Therefore, contrary to pontifications of ABC News Matthew Dowd, which, I believe, are without common-sense merit and sufficient, let alone universal evidence (“Every piece of data points in that direction”); there is a better chance of a Trumpian victory at the Electoral College than expected, even if, as I suspect, Clinton squeaks a popular vote victory; barring a major shift in sentiment her way.

If the world was presently sane, and merit actually meant something, and the mainstream media was more concerned with their own long-term credibility and viability than short-term partisan gain, I might have applied for Dowd’s job, if I prove right.

 

 

 

[1] Matthew Dowd, “Clinton Has 95% Chance To Win, Will Win By 5 Million Votes,” This Week (ABC News), November 6, 2016, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/11/06/matthew_dowd_clinton_has_95_chance_will_get_higher_margin_than_obama.html.

Porky Pig for President

Donald Trump will probably lose the election. But he is a final warning. Unless political elites of both the left and the right become more humble, unless they once again ask themselves how their agendas will play in Peoria, the next rough beast might slouch over the corpse of the republic.[1]

I am in general accord with our John Ibbitson concerning the meaning of Donald Trump. (Indeed, I have pretty much said the same in prior blog posts – re: August 24, 2015.)

But Trump himself is not the actual threat. He is but a Storm Trooper of political demagogues to come; a barometer to would-be tyrants of the venality and imbecility at the heart of American politics; a harbinger of the effectual end of free civic society, except for its forms, and [the effectual end of] individual liberty, rule of law and peace.

But unlike John Ibbitson and other members of the cosmopolitan media; I do not consider his opponent, de facto criminal and American Marie Antoinette wannabe (re: “irredeemable . . . basket of deplorables”) to be any less the embodiment of the last generation of the American Republic.

So for those Bernie Bros of the Progressive Left seething at the thought of electing the very symbol of corporate-bought, self-serving venality and corruption in Lady MacBeth Clinton, or those Evangelicals who are appalled at the nose pinching Sophie’s Choice between the lesser of two weevils; the question becomes, “what to do, what to do?”

One could vote for third candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein. However, as both belong to either edge of the political continuum, such would not serve the interests or values of the muddled middle. Furthermore, a vote for either would not sufficiently register the disgust and anger at the current state of political affairs.

Taking a trip to the local polling station in order to register a spoiled ballot is unlikely to sufficiently inspire the live-in-their-parents-basement crowd to momentarily depart from their video porn and games.

So taking a cue from our Québécois folk from a couple of generations back, from whence arose the Rhinoceros Party out of their poutine forests, and which garnered a not inconsequential support in the 1980 Canadian election, the American disaffected might take advantage of that unique feature of their politics; the presidential write-in.

But which figure would rally the democratic troops from all corners of the political spectrum in one concord of mass disgust?

James Buchanan, considered the worst president in the history of the United States, whose machinations (re: Dredd Scott) quickened the onset of the American Civil War, seems a suitable stamp of ironic preference. That or Tamelane, Ghenghis Khan, or Ivan the Terrible. However, such would require history and/or civics literacy, to which modern generations of Americans are not particularly adept.

Perhaps, Mister (Fred) Rogers, a Presbyterian minister, whose simple-minded homilies could make even the most cynical secularist liberal weep. But that would require a resurrection, or at least a séance, were Mr. Rogers ever to be actually elected. And like the prophet Samuel, the ghost of Fred Rogers might object.

Perhaps the polarized American electorate could have a kumbaya moment wth Barnie the (purple) Dinosaur; that is all except the Liberty University crowd. Obviously, Kermit the Frog, Roger Rabbit, and Pepé Le Pew would alienate those averse to strange love. Elmer Fudd would provoke objections in those appalled by those who “cling to guns.” And cute little Dora the Explorer has unfortunately been commandeered in the service of the wedge issue of illegal immigration.

dora-the-explorer-wanted-poster-71948

Therefore, my candidate of common choice is the bow-tied, suitably plutocratic Porky Pig, whose signature sign-off seems apropos for the times; the swan song for the fall of the American Republic and for free civic politics.

2003_thats_all

Th-th-th-that’s all folks!

And thus it will be said:

This is the way the American Republic ends,

Not with a bang, nor a whimper,

But with a modicum of plebeian wit.

 

 

[1] John Ibbitson, “He’ll likely lose – but Trump is the final warning to elite,” The Globe and Mail, October 7, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9434BoGkNQ.

Les Déplorables

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right . . . The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

– Hillary Rodham Clinton at LGBT for Hillary Gala – Sept 9, 2016

If I was to be grossly generalistic, I’d say that you can take Trump supporters and put them in two big baskets. There are what I call the deplorables. They’re racists, and the haters, and the people who are drawn because they think somehow he’s going to restore an America that no longer exists. So just eliminate them from your thinking because we have always had a paranoiac and prejudicial element within our politics.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Interview with Yonit Levi, Israeli TV – Sept 8, 2016

There are knock-out zingers or gaffes which make or break a public persona. Certainly, Mulroney’s “you had an option, sir” comeback qualifies as the defining and determining moment in a 1984 Canadian Federal Election debate; or Reagan’s folksy “there you go again” in a 1980 U.S. Federal Election debate; or contrariwise, Rick Perry’s infamous “Oops,” after an early stage senior’s moment.

While lacking the virtue of hindsight or empirical polling date, it seems virtually certain that a politician, publicly denigrating a quarter of the electorate of one’s nation as a basket (with intimations of “basket case”), as deplorables, as irredeemable, and as un-American, more than qualifies as such a defining and determining moment.

Such intuitions arise not merely from the amount and duration of play that these terms have generated in the media, including the foreign press and the now nakedly partisan mainstream media (MSM), who normally protect their Champion from self-inflicted wounds through non-reportage and other media contrivances. But such disparagements as Hillary Clinton’s are sufficiently over the top that they cannot be ignored.

It is rather because such sentiments speak directly into the zeitgeist of the moment; namely the disrobing of a hitherto veiled contempt by the cosmopolitan elite for the commons, the unwashed masses, the ignorant rubes of the hinterland, and the vengeance that such disdain would naturally provoke in the latter. It is open class warfare in a nation whose civil religion has hitherto repudiated and denied the existence of class in America. And Hillary Clinton has successfully auditioned for the starring role of that horror film.

Many among Clinton’s allies have condemned her remarks; a meritorious few among them out of genuine concern for the public good. “We believe in redemption, not just because you’re a liberal but you’re American. When you right off people and blame the customer; that is really bad.” – Mark Shields)

But a surprising number have thought it prudent and shrewd to embrace her sentiments, to violate the politically correct nostrum of modern democracy concerning the decency and virtue of the common man.

Partisan Considerations

Having no direct skin in the U.S. election, I have little interest in the Stock Ticker of partisan gamesmanship. Nevertheless, it seems quite evident to me that this ‘basket of deplorable’ motif exhibits a dearth of political acumen which plunges well beneath the lowest bar of expectations for a veteran politico and a major political party. It is unfathomable how such an indiscriminate and amorphous insult against one’s own electors could produce a net partisan gain. The stings of verbal assault linger far longer in those against whom they were directed than with those who enjoy a momentary glee.

Certainly, the optics of declaiming, at an LGBT gala, the theists and moralists, who do not buy into the LGBT agenda (and thereby summarily qualify as a homophobic heretic in an LGBT moral universe), is supremely rich in irony and dissonance from the latter’s perspective (Isaiah 5:20). It is well reported that many among the theists and moralists have been having a crisis of conscience in voting for Trump; these, who have hitherto dutifully supported whatever Champion the Republican Party proffered. But in that such malevolent attitudes permeate the soul of Clinton and her allies towards them, those, who may have otherwise sat on their hands, may find it a compelling existential necessary for their own welfare to effectually vote against Clinton.

The evident general contempt for the unwashed masses and ignorant rubes of the hinterland by this member of the cosmopolitan elite may arouse even more nativist rubes, who have never or rarely voted, from their apathy in a singular display of defiance. One would have thought that someone within the Clinton coterie would have picked up on the political blunders of the Remain side on the Brexit referendum.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus – The New Colossus (1883)

It is also rich irony in a nation whose founding myth includes America as refuge for the many who were deemed the social outcasts, the deplorables, within their native homelands. This is an attitude that many first generation immigrants, residing in the United States, would have first-hand knowledge. The myth of the immigrant is celebrated more by the progressive liberal set than their political adversaries; a myth which includes a new start for those who had been considered irredeemable. Yet the would-be governor of America has inadvertently positioned herself, in her updated version of wretched refuse against a large swath of the governed, as an instigating agent of emigration.

Higher Considerations of Statesmanship

As intimated elsewhere, I have been of the studied opinion since the late 1980s that United States has been sleepwalking (and now hurtling) towards civic conflagration, barring a preemptive coup d’état. There are seminal causes, which underlie the accelerating polarization and schisms since especially the 1960s, whose crosscurrent dynamics are now in abundant display. But the flurry of empirical evidence of imminent civic tumult is now rushing faster than one can countenance it all.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties (factions) in the state . . .

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is  itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

George Washington, Farewell Address (1797)

One might wish that some American Cincinnatus or Scipio, with substance and natural nobility, might emerge from the culturally gated communities of the American optimates or the subterranean swamps of the populares, who recognize the present peril and demonstrate genuine will to forestall such civic conflagration. However, not only have recent politicos been blissfully oblivious to the dangers, but they have exacerbated and contributed to this hurtling vortex. In that none exists among the representatives of the American populace, with the wisdom to recognize, acknowledge, and address the present peril, it may be indicative of America’s ethical and intellectual depletion.

It is within this context that Hillary Clinton’s “basket case of irredeemable deplorables” must be framed. The underlying attitude, and the brazen shamelessness in publicly expressing it, makes her an active agent of civic division and conflagration and a contributor to the imminent ruin of the free civic polity and public liberty. Beyond the mendacity, the venality, the greed and self-aggrandizement, the corruption, the lack of core convictions and dedication to a transcendent vision beyond that of mere self-interest; Clinton’s arrogant contempt towards large swaths of the populace and her divisiveness makes her intrinsically unfit to lead her nation.

What a woeful state of affairs! For in Donald Trump, the Americans have an ignorant and unprincipled yet politically shrewd operator, the first edition of many demagogues, who provides a partial template for future authoritarians in the ashes of the American Republic’s demise. And in Hillary Clinton, they have an equally unprincipled but politically dim-witted Marie Antoinette (“What difference, at this point, does it make?”), whose schismatic attitudes and the policies and actions/reactions, which invariably would emanate from those attitudes, will quicken that demise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mendacity of American Journalism – Yet Another Flagrant Example

One of the thematic lessons, to be derived from study of Hitler’s Nazis and their all too easy and rapid overcoming of the impediments to autocratic rule normally posed by civic institutions and independent social organizations, was the role played by pre-existing public distrust and contempt towards those entities. In view of a similar present and persisting repugnance in the U.S. for its islands of tyrannical resistance, including its news media, the peril of demagogues and warlords can be sighted on the horizon. One would think that a modicum of prudence might, at least, infect the veteran sages within those social/civic entities. But alas, wisdom has likewise “caught the last train for the coast.

One of the devices, deployed by Satan in the Temptation of Christ, was to cite scriptural text while omitting key phrases which substantively alter the meaning of that text (Matthew 4:5–6). It seems that our modern Wormwoods understand the lesson, although less subtle practitioners.

James Fellows, veteran national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, excerpted a speech from Trump’s recent Miami political rally (September 16, 2016), and thereafter suggested that the presidential candidate hinted at “bodily harm against his opponent.”

I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Miami. “I think they should disarm. Immediately. What do you think. Yes? Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Take them. Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, O.K. It will be very dangerous.

The cadence of that quote suggests that it was originally part of a larger argument. And lo and behold, such intuitions are well founded as these “incriminating” sentiments were preceded by . . .

You know she’s very much against the Second Amendment. She wants to destroy your Second Amendment. Guns, guns, guns, right. I think that what we should do is she goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before.

. . .  highlighting the hypocrisy of such a political stance; or alternatively, another example whereby Hillary Clinton considers herself above the rules that she would exact upon others.

Such rhetoric by Trump is hardly new. In a tweet earlier this year, Trump wailed, “Hillary said that guns don’t keep you safe. If she really believes that she should demand that her heavily armed bodyguards quickly disarm!” The integrated compactness of that tweet might make selective parsing a harder enterprise for our modern day Wormwoods.

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What makes this particular dabble in sophistic deceit by the veteran journalist such a lark is the irony of The Atlantic concurrently publishng “Why Do Americans Distrust the Media?”; or in the piece “Why Americans Hate the Media,” written by this same James Fallows in his prime. But one hardly need thrash the sociological bushes to uncover the reasons. The answer lies spread-eagled like a cheap tart on the pages of the same website; loss of intellectual integrity.

The “members of the punditocracy” are perplexed by the inability for Trump’s lies, blatant in their obviousness and childish in their silliness, to sink his candidacy. Certainly, an outside observer, with little skin in the partisan games, might cite the lack of evenhandedness in this regard by the media; neglecting, dismissing, and excusing the lies of Trump’s opponent, which are more serious in nature in that they have directly involved the public interest. But a simpler answer lies in the conundrum of veteran practitioners of the arts of partisan spin, lies, and sophistic deceit, calling another out for mendacity. The Fifth Estate has so debased their currency of influence that they can no longer credibly act as checks against the ambitions of potential demagogues and warlords.