Lügenpresse

And judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yes, truth fails; and he that departs from evil makes himself a prey.

– Isaiah 59:14–5

Intellectual mendacity in academia and journalism has long been a personal bugaboo, well before The Age of Trump. Indeed, the Donald is the full culmination and epitome of the lies and sophistries which an American lügenpresse has long been precursor. Trump could truthfully declare, in the immortal words of another oddly groomed celebrity of Gotham, “You idiot! You made me!

Yet another example of intellectual mendacity, or at least of deceit, emerges from Bloomberg News in regard to the recent reversal of fortune of house prices in Toronto. According to Erik Hertzberg, who seems to be go-to-guy for all things Canadian for that media empire, “Even amid the sales decline in May, Toronto benchmark prices were up 1.2 percent last month.

Where does Hertzberg of Bloomberg News derive this statistic when the primary source of housing information for the Greater Toronto Area declares an across the board 6.2% precipitous monthly decline on an average basis, and a 6.6% decline on a median basis?

Month

Average Price

Average Price

Median Price

 

TREB

CREA

TREB

February 2017

875,983

727,300

715,000

March 2017

916,567

772,500

765,000

April 2017

920,971

811,300

760,000

May 2017

863,910

821,400

710,000

It appears that Hertzberg of Bloomberg News acquired his statistics from a different source just as the market has reversed or whenever it befits his agenda. For in some prior reports of GTA house prices, his stats are taken from the TREB reports as in the  average price of 920,971 for April, a 0.5% increase from March. But for March and May, Hertzberg swaps over to information provided by the Canadian Real Estate Association. (Home price increases in March were reported as 4.6% by the TREB, and 6.2 by the CREA.) If any consistency can be detected whatsoever in his method of reporting, it is in putting forth a best face on any given situation; a hallmark more of the corporate shills on CNBC than that of a genuine journalist who serves the good of his audience.

In the end, these dual sources for Toronto prices will roughly correspond. However, the deliberated inconsistency in the immediate, (even if the reporter technically covers his behind by citing the source), serves to demonstrate what manner of man Hertzberg is, and adds to the general discredit of his profession. This becomes particularly pertinent when Hertzberg’s Bloomberg article is published by Toronto’s National Post before a local audience who largely know of the recent frenzy and tumult in the housing market.

The New and Reformed Theory of the Fall of Adam

Many a theologian has felt need to cut their teeth on the major scriptural motifs in order to leave their unique legacy and acquire reputational immortality. Honest and scrupulous introspection might find me little different in this regard, with morsels of vainglory sloshing about the deep recesses of my psyche. But in my defense, such venal ambitions can be easily accommodated nowadays, simply by remaining faithful to the text in a cacophonous sea of footloose and fancy-free expositions.

Many an eisegetical elephant has been squatted upon the Edenic narrative. In the ensuing melee that escapes from the pachyderm’s rump, an observer might detect a flying limb from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil here; Adam tumbling head over heel there; the midriff of the woman coming right as us; and the head of the serpent. Oh! That’s just a Cheshire Cat. And the Wicked Witch of the West brooming about. Woe! How did these get into the plot?

But mostly, what one notices is the eloquent flatulence.

One popular Reformed professor, author, and self-styled systematic theologian fancies that “Adam’s first sin was not in eating the forbidden fruit but in allowing the [serpent] false witness to become a resident of the garden in the first place.”[1] Adam, as God’s servant priest, was culpable for his unwillingness to cleanse the Edenic sanctuary and protect those (mentally) weaker wards (a.k.a. Eve) under his wing.

The commission given to Adam and Eve above all else was to “work” and “keep” the sanctuary (Ge 2:15; the same verbs used in the commission given to the priests in the Jerusalem temple). Instead of cleansing God’s temple-garden as God’s faithful servant and son, Adam entertained Satan himself and failed to protect Eve from his influence. This story will be repeated in many variations, as God’s people show themselves unwilling to uproot idolatry and violence (including child sacrifice) entirely from the land and then fall under the spell of foreign beliefs and practices themselves.[2]

Groan. How does one irenically disembowel this assertion and its underlying assumptions without shredding the credibility of its propagator; assuming that the latter would not be a good thing? WWJD? What would Martin Luther do? I remain unconvinced of the virtues of a blanket irenicism, which has become a prevailing buzzword among the ivory set. Even Scriptures indicates that it is periodically necessary and prudent to shred those  theological follies and their propagators which cause the name of God to be scorned, and dissuade many from coming to faith.[3]

According to Horton, it was Adam who sinned first. Stop the presses! This gnostic epiphany appears to have escaped Apostle Paul. (“Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”[4]) Furthermore, this first sin was not in the partaking of the fruit of the Tree, but in failing to expel all illegal aliens with foreign beliefs and practices from his territory, alluding to the “ceremonial” tranche of the Mosaic Law.

Adam apparently violated an undocumented law in his undocumented appointment as High Priest of Eden. The logical inference; in that there existed no published law,[5] other than the command concerning the Tree, and that a person is not morally culpable of sin except in violating against what he/she knows;[6] is that Horton believes, or at least dangles, that all of Mosaic Law resided in the conscience (lex interior) of our First Parents. Horton must be applauded for rational consistency. Whereas Reformed orthodoxy conscripts an inscrutable subset of laws from the “moral” tranche of the Mosaic code into the conscience of natural humanity, Horton conscripts them all; even if in Eden, they would make little sense.

Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised.

– Genesis 17:10b–12a

 If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then . . . on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

– Leviticus 12:2–3

A defining attribute of a covenant being holism; if one law of the Mosaic covenant has jurisdictional authority, all laws of the of the Mosaic covenant have jurisdictional authority.[7] If all of Mosaic Law was in legal force and imprinted upon the hearts of our First Parents, we must draw the conclusion that Adam must have been circumcised. For God to install an uncircumcised and ceremonially unclean Adam into God’s temple-garden would, by Horton’s estimation, make God a sinner, assuming God self-governs with rational and ethical consistency.

Therefore, Abraham is not the father of the circumcision,[8] but rather Adam. Since Adam is the father of the circumcision, we are all children of the circumcision, both Jew and Gentile. The many verses in Scriptures, which distinguish between the physiologically circumcised Jew uncircumcised and Gentile, let alone three millennia of non-canonical Jewish, Christian, and pagan writings become incoherent and moot.

Shall we continue?

How comprehensible to Adam’s inner compass would be the dietary laws concerning meat, since eating meat was not instituted until Noah?[9] And the First Parents must have been puzzled about those lex interior regulations concerning the Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and descendants of Esau,[10] let alone generic concepts like buying and selling,[11] borrowing and lending,[12] and wages.[13]

What would this naked couple make of the law inscribed upon their heart, “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak?”[14] If there was no death, how apropos and coherent are commands not to “mistreat any widow or fatherless child?”[15]

Even Moses acknowledged that the Law was not fully applicable until the children of the wilderness crossed the Jordan into their inheritance.[16]

Shall we go on?

Does it not seem odd that when God later confronts Adam, He didn’t mention this other sin of omission? Did God have a senior’s moment? Does God suffer from periodic bouts of Alzheimer’s?

And if it be the general duty of Righteousness to immediately expel and exile the bearers of false witness and alien ideas, what was Satan doing in God’s presence in the Book of Job? How is Christ any less culpable for not protecting those (mentally) weaker vessels (disciples) under his wing from Judas before the foreknown betrayal?

And why was John Calvin so certain that “hitherto, [the false witness] had held no communication with men,” and “the woman does not flee from converse with the serpent, because hitherto no dissension had existed?”[17] Does Horton, a semi-committed Cessassionist, have special gnosis that muttered into his ear otherwise?

Such is the woeful state of modern Evangelicalism, when even its supposed orthodox seminarians are as faithful to the biblical script as a Disney movie. How then can orthodox seminarians credibly castigate Matthew Vine’s contortionism of Scriptures, when found guilty of doing likewise?

This is not a bid to destroy all credibility of a popular professor, author, and self-styled systematic theologian with a BA, MA, and PhD. It is, however, a clarion call for silly seminarians to clean up their act and stop their fanciful handing of the Word of Truth.

Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

– Proverbs 30:6

© Copyright John Hutchinson 2017
From upcoming book Faith from First to Last
[1] Michael Horton, The Christian Faith, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011, 3.13.1a.
[2] Ibid., 3.13.1a.
[3] Matthew 23, Ezekiel 23, Galatians 5:12, Romans 2:24
[4] 1 Timothy 2:14
[5] Romans 5:13
[6] James 4:17; John 9:41; Romans 4:15, 5:13
[7] Galatians 5:3, James 2:10
[8] Romans 4:12
[9] Genesis 9:3
[10] Deuteronomy 23:3, 7
[11] Leviticus 25
[12] Deuteronomy 15
[13] Deuteronomy 24:15, Leviticus 19:13
[14] Deuteronomy 22:5
[15] Exodus 22:22
[16] Deuteronomy 12:8–11
[17] Calvin, Commentaries on Genesis, 3.1.

. . . and the Mouse’s Necessary Pre-Emptive Response

Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

– Proverbs 16:18

It is not only impending social and civic tumult which threatens to undermine and diminish the United States. In Existentialist and Exceptionalist arrogance, that nation has long sought to defy natural economic law with impunity, having taken comfort and advantage of its (fleeting) reserve currency status. In one of the rare truthful statements that President Trump has ever uttered or typed, theirs (and perhaps all those who, in varying degrees, are likewise connected to them) is a “false economy” with an “artificial stock market.” It has long been bolstered and held together by the duct tape of indebtedness since about the time that Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan coined the phrase “irrational exuberance.”

In both fiscal and monetary policy, its leaders are the epitome of irresponsibility and folly, either having directly accrued public indebtedness (or transferring it from the private to the public); or worse, induced private indebtedness by Fed actions deliberately intended to do that very thing through absurd monetarist instruments, even to the point of negative real interest rates. It may be reasonably argued that a large part of economic growth in the last 20 years is directly and indirectly due to that indebtedness.

However, indebtedness has its tipping point, a level of precariousness that makes its beholder vulnerable to every breeze of exogenous shock. And if recent economic growth has been largely the consequence of leveraging, then the de-leveraging, as classically described by Irving Fisher in “The Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions” (1933) can, at best, result in a long Japanese-style eon of economic sclerosis. But with ‘the mother of all asset booms’ (“we have a bubble in everything”), and few remaining economic panaceas, not already used, to cushion the blow, a worse thing is likely to happen to them (and to all those who, in varying degrees, are connected to them).

Typical of nations whose arrogance of preceding success leads to the overextension of empire, (even if America’s empire has been more of an Athenian kind), there is currently underway a rationalized retraction of that empire, with adversaries everywhere moving into the resulting void, paralleling the dynamics of the Late Roman Empire and the British empire from the late 19th century. If American foreign policy has turned “selfish, isolated, brutish, domineering, and driven by immediate appetites rather than ideals or even longer-term interests,” this was likewise notable when the costs of overextended European empires resulted in duplicitous, self-serving, and myopic foreign policy which stripped the veneer from “White Man’s burden” and facilitated the rise of American global power and influence.

♦                    ♦                    ♦

Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly or even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.[1]

If America experiences a social, economic, and/or civic earthquake, Canada, being in such close vicinity and having chosen to moor its tugboat a little too closely to that harbour (re: Continentalism), will inevitably encounter the full force of the ensuing tsunami. While our politicos and talking heads are just waking up to the tumult, which has been ongoing there, albeit often subterraneously, since the 1960s; and having but a superficial understanding of the deep and intractable causes and the great consequences; a disaster avoidance and recovery plan has become immediately necessary.

Certainly, a figurative wall has become necessary, not merely to regulate an influx of alien immigrants promised to flow from the American border because of current policy threats from the present administration; (and this not because of an antagonism to immigration but to forestall any anti-immigrant counterreaction because of illegals, as has happened elsewhere and is natural human response). No. If there is, by chance, a social/civic tumult in America, there will inevitably be an influx of American political partisans who will seek refugee status. This poses several perils to the peace and stability of our nation. Like the Iranians in 1978, the winning political faction may demand the heads of those refugees who reside here. Furthermore, will it be wise to allow in those whose factionalist rancour and hostilities may poison our own body politic. This nation prides itself on its moderateness and civility. But, we too are of the human species, and not Exceptionalistically immune to that which occurs in others of our species.

Roughly seventy-five percent of our exports go to the United States, constituting almost thirty percent of our economy. If there be economic disruption, whether because of social/civic or economic causes, those exports, just like happened in the aftermath of the 2008/9 Great Recession (re: a 25% decline), will be inordinately affected. Should not the diversification of our trade become first and overriding priority, especially with an American administration devoted to a Realpolitik bullying of other nations into a regime of permanent economic advantage for the United States? (Even apart from the present politicos, the existential economic sclerosis in the United States will incline them to increasing self-serving and myopic trade policy).

Pipelines, both east and west, must be approved; not because there are not environmental dangers and detriments to carbon-based energy; but because the welfare of the nation is dependent upon more than just one aspect of life. Oil and natural gas should be used as a trade lever (through long-term guaranteed supply) to open up foreign markets which are effectively closed through tariff and non-tariff barriers. An activist inculcation of extensive balanced trade deals with other nations of similar economic status should be pursued.

The goal should be the reduction of our exports to the United States to considerably less than 50% of total exports, not only for economic reasons of safety, but to reduce any threat to political autonomy by a more bullying American foreign and trade posture. There will be disruption. There will likely be economic loss, at least in the interim. However, such is the need for inoculation to make us less vulnerable to the most likely outbreak of American disease.

While we are thinking of the unthinkable; because America is showing itself to be a less reliable defense partner, and because conflict in the United States may induce military incursions into our country, we may need to acquire our own weapons of mass deterrence.

♦                    ♦                    ♦

Is this alarmist conspiracy theory? Such askance looks and ridicule have I encountered in the last several decades when I posited the thesis of an inevitable civil war in America.

[1] Pierre Trudeau, Washington Press Club Speech, Washington, March 25, 1969, http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1797537698.

The Implosion of the Elephant . . .

Almost thirty years ago, after reading Francis Schaeffer’s “Marking the Watershed,”[1] I had extrapolated that a similar dynamic due to an inherent ideological schism at the heart of the American experiment would invariably lead to civil war. Having had deep interest in U.S. history and civics; and a more impartial, albeit foreign understanding of American affairs than the myopic and partisan-skewed perspective of those living with that present cauldron; I had viewed the Sixties and Seventies, the warning shots of the present confrontation which threatens to turn violent, as the inevitable consequence of a long unravelling of a marriage of convenience between the third stream of Protestant/Evangelical Christianity and that of (largely English/Scottish) Enlightenment liberalism. The support of Madison/Jefferson on behalf of the incarcerated Baptist preachers against the Established State Churches in Virginia was symptomatic and symbolic of that larger ideological alliance.

With the early 1990 recession, I was detecting the opening strains of a widening disparity of income, wealth, and the underlying economic power leverage that undergirds that r > g dynamic. To put Piketty’s formula in laymen’s language; if corporate profits (rate of return on capital) consistently rise faster than economic growth, instead of a rough balance in the distribution of that economic growth as had occurred between 1945 and 1975, a widening income inequality and the concentration of wealth and the means of production was inevitable. Having complained to my father, a couple of years prior, about the larger economic consequences on wage earners, of which he was one, in his aspiration for a 7–10% real rate of return on his investments, I could hardly disagree with Piketty, who to his credit provided incontrovertible statistical proof (to what is or should be intuitive common sense) in order to pre-empt and overcome the sophistries and mendacities of the corporate shills.

Knowing my Bible (“Woe to them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the middle of the earth!” – Isaiah 5:8), and the histories of Sparta (Lycurgus), Athens (Draco and Solon), the late Roman Republic, and the French, Russian, and Cuban Revolutions; it is a historical truism that extreme imbalances in socioeconomic power and wealth between the social classes invariably leads to civic, social, and political inequality, two-tier justice, civic schism and social wars, the end of free civic polities, autocracy, and the economic and/or literal culling of the elites, who have isolated themselves in their Juvenalian contempt for the “deplorables” and their welfare.

Finally, in reading Christopher Lasch’s “The Revolt of the Elites” (1995), I could perceive the third leg of that civic schism, between the cosmopolitanism of the largely corporatist elite who have more in common with fellow cosmopolitans in the urban islands throughout the world against those of the hinterland, who still believed in the national heritage. I saw demagogic champions, purported tribunes of the people around the temporal corner, although I did not anticipate that it would come in the form of Trump.

On this basis, I concluded in a rejected submission to The Nation and The Atlantic in 2011/2, that America faced imminent civic schism and war on the crucible of what I iconically coined, Adam Smith, the Bible, and the Constitution (ABC). In a more general sense, since these dynamics can be detected throughout the globe; there is an ideological struggle between the descendants of Abraham (religion) and Plato against those descendants of Thales (naturalism) and Pyrrho (skepticism); an economic struggle as consequence of the inherent flaws within advanced capitalism; and a cultural struggle between the advocates of cosmopolitanism (which is as old as the ancient Persian Achaemenid Empire established by Cyrus the Great (ca. 550 BC)) and those of the various and disparate national heritages throughout the world. The struggle in Egypt since the so-called Arab Spring, the turnback from Ataruk’s secularist policies in Turkey, the Brexit plebiscite, and Marine Le Pen’s declamation of cosmopolitanism in the recent French Presidential Election; all are symptoms of the global nature of schism.

However, like 18th century France, or early 20th century Germany, America is the avant garde of this civic division, discord, and war. I do not believe that America has more than five years before it turns violent, bloody, and spectacularly and monumentally disruptive to the global order. The tell-tale symptoms of imminent civil war are erupting faster than one can keep tabs.

Specific to the American sociopolitical landscape, there has preceded in each of the civic disruptions (American Revolution, Civil War) religious schism. While schism and separation between northern and southern factions of the same denominations in the decades prior to the American Civil war are commonly known, less known is the theological and ecclesiastic divisions as consequence of the First Great Awakening and the deporting of Anglican/Episcopalian divines in the 1780s to Canada, Britain, the West Indies and British colonies elsewhere.

In common with the decades prior to the American Civil War and in civic disturbances elsewhere, the governing leaders since Junior Bush (2001–9) have proven as singularly incompetent and hapless as they are arrogant.

Strange and soulless forms of sexuality are being paraded like Sodom, consistent precursors of other civic disruption (e.g. Weimar Republic, the Marquis de Sade, Catallus). Corruption abounds and private morality and civic virtues have taken the last train to the coast.

Judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yes, truth fails; and he that departs from evil makes himself a prey.

– Isaiah 59:14–15a

The center has clearly collapsed. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” The necessary ingredients for free civic polities, that of, for instance, a common and sure-footed civic language is dissipating and undermined by a general assault on objective truth (as epitomized by the subjective and solipsistic definition of gender which others are socioeconomically pressured to give sanction) and on truthfulness. If truth be the first casualty of war, the nation is well on its tumble down that rabbit hole. And other axes of division (e.g. race, gender, religion) are proliferating like weeds.

Indeed, the war has already begun but conducted through the civic, bureaucratic, “deep state,” and judicial organs of government. Like the late Weimar Republic, (which involved both radical right and radical left paramilitary groups), low level mob violence and harassment are erupting in increasing frequency. Talk of factionalist discord and violence are now in the reader’s and listener’s face, (which but only five years ago was confined to the fringes of the sociopolitical spectrum). Laments and forlorn appeals for compromise and unity are falling on deaf ears while vehement and vitriolic partisans from both primary factions have resorted to yellow journalism and dehumanizing epithets of their sociopolitical adversaries. “The way of peace have they not known” (Romans 3:17). Like many a divorce, one faction’s existential integrity is deemed threatened by the continued relationship with the other. The larger sociopolitical schism is already setting brother against brother, and dividing and destroying marriages and families.

To reprise and revise Lord Chesterfield’s observation[2] concerning the present circumstances:

In short, all the symptoms which I have ever met with in History, previous to great civil wars and systemic changes in governmental structures, now exist and daily increase in America.’

[1] Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1984, pp. 43–66, http://www.bible-researcher.com/schaeffer1.html.

[2] Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, London: Chapman & Hall, 1837, 1.1.II. “Such things can the eye of History see in this sick-room of King Louis, which were invisible to the Courtiers there. It is twenty years, gone Christmas-day, since Lord Chesterfield, summing up what he had noted of this same France, wrote, and sent off by post, the following words, that have become memorable: ‘In short, all the symptoms which I have ever met with in History, previous to great Changes and Revolutions in government, now exist and daily increase in France.’ (Chesterfield’s Letters: December 25th, 1753.)”

Bill Kristol: Author of His Own Future Misfortune?

It highlighted what surfaced last year in the election; a very strong disaffection by the white working class towards the new upper class, fueled in large part, in substantial part by the open contempt and disdain that the new upper class has for the working class, and especially for the white working class, and most especially for the white male working class.

William Kristol, founding editor of The Weekly Standard, neo-conservative (a.k.a. member of any war party), pretentious  pseudo-intellectual, and a living facsimile of Rich Uncle Pennybags in the spirit of Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt (1922), apparently failed to pick up on his colleague Charles Murray’s comments concerning elitist contempt for the working class in an event sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute on February 7, 2017.

Within the hour, he would be explicitly suggest that “new immigrants” were superior to the decadent, lazy, spoiled, coupon-clipping working class Americans and insinuated their replacement.

Continue reading “Bill Kristol: Author of His Own Future Misfortune?”

Journalists as Guardians of Democracy

With the Fourth Estate under increasing siege by the powers-that-be in America and elsewhere, the public is being entertained by journalists singing paeans to their profession; as secular prophets speaking truth to power; as “the last guardians of our democracy.” While I concur with their appeals for the unhindered right to exist, these minstrels of journalism conveniently omit some rather important verities.

If a cornerstone of the Western political heritage is the right of free expression, the underlying political theory which buttresses that right also conditions it under the rubric “with the consent of the governed.” So if the ambassadors of journalism chronically abuse that privileged right by the selective reporting of the facts and of the news stories published (a.k.a. self-censorship), with hyperbolic predictions of immediate economic disaster which fail to occur (i.e. Brexit), or unsubstantiated and baseless accusations (i.e. BuzzFeed), scandalous slanders (i.e. Rolling Stones, Washington Post), yellow journalism, outright mendacity, and all the other cheap disingenuous tricks of the rhetorician; it should not surprise if the governed, in effect, withdraw their consent, and permit would-be tyrants to trample over this fundamental tenet and bastion of free civic society. Those, who have previously discredited themselves and their moral authority, will find themselves alienated and sociopolitically isolated, as the willingness of the public to come to their defense, even at the cost of life and limb, falls by the wayside.

The moral authority of the Fourth Estate, at least in the United States, has all but collapsed; even before many of its members decided last year to surrender all pretense of journalistic objectivity and intellectual integrity and devolve into rank propagandists. Most of its members continue to fail to recognize and/or acknowledge their unethical estate, let alone change, and who blame their woes upon a civically illiterate public for not buying their sale of damaged goods.

♦                    ♦                    ♦

Many moons ago, I was struck by the ease by which 20th century tyrants and totalitarians steamrolled over real and potential islands of opposition. Be it true, for instance, that Germany had lacked a long tradition of liberal democracy, with brief and aborted attempts in the Revolution of 1848–9 and arguably in the Peasant’s War (1523–4). But it was my conclusion that the ambassadors of the various islands of societal power and influence had so discredited themselves, even prior to the Nazi takeover, they could no longer credibly serve as rallying points of defiance.

Some of the best paeans to the virtue of the Roman Republic were delivered in its last days by Cicero and Cato the Younger. However, the rhetorical flourish resonated little in the minds and hearts of their contemporaries while the optimates of the Republic nakedly pursued private aggrandizement at the expense of the commonweal and their less fortuned compatriots.

If President Trump be a potential tyrant, his inaugural speech echoed and exploits a similar state of affairs in contemporary America.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

It is a historical truism that those individuals, dynasties, sociopolitical institutions, and states who lose moral authority (Latin – auctoritas) find quick loss of power on its coattails.

♦                    ♦                    ♦

The good news, from an internal Canadian perspective, is that our Fourth Estate is largely unlike its American counterparts. I might complain about its superficial, dumb, and provincial coverage and analysis of world events at times. But the deceit and dissembling, lasciviously and shamelessly practiced by the American media and reaching pandemic levels, simply doesn’t exist here to any great extent. In the Jian Ghomeshi trial last year, one could sense some Canadian commentators chomping at the bit. But hyperbolic and irresponsible claims would be found largely in American rags, whose attention to the trial was otherwise fleeting.

Journalistic circumspection and integrity is neither innate in our blood nor a permanent fixture. If the odor of sheep manure emits from the pages and screens of many American media outlets, it is largely because truth and intellectual integrity is the first casualty of war, even if that war be of the multi-faceted cultural kind.

John Ibbitson’s depiction of a continuing Laurentian consensus in this country, of an inclusivistic political center which broadens, incorporates, and co-opts but brooks little tolerance for extremist and unsubstantiated claims, currently differentiates this country from our southern neighbours where the center has collapsed. But we are no less human than they; no more Exceptionalist than they.

Even so; if journalists be the last guardians of democracy, then journalistic and intellectual integrity is the strong fortress, high watchman’s tower, and chief weapon of their defense.

Publius

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!

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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