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.

. . . 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?”

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.

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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.

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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.