“This is a big opportunity for all British business because once we’ve left that awful EU thing we can do our first trade deal with the United States of America. Isn’t that great?”
Archive for the 'Politics' Category
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 9th November 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I never thought, except in a few moments of fantasy, that I would be able to say that.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Wilson conceded that “Trump is still a very powerful force right now” because he appeals to part of the of the conservative base that Wilson said was activated by his “nativist” message. Wilson insisted that the donor class “can’t just sit back on the sidelines and say, ‘oh well, don’t worry, this will all work itself out.’”
“They’re still going to have to go out and put a bullet in Donald Trump,” Wilson said. “And that’s a fact.”
Wilson is an alleged GOP consultant. Trump may be fatal to many GOP consultants as they were not only mistaken but disloyal to the team they were supposed to belong to.
What happened? Richard Fernandez has a theory.
Hillary’s real enemy was Obama’s real record of failure added to her own. Low-wage growth, a disastrous foreign policy, a catastrophic Obamacare, and numerous scandals to name a few weighed down on her like an anvil heavier than any insult that Donald Trump could lay upon her.
It’s important for progressives to realize this, for they are even now casting about for something to blame. Paul Krugman tweeted: “I truly thought I knew my country better than it turns out I did. I have warned that we could become a failed state, but didn’t realize …” Realize what? That the electorate wouldn’t notice the last administration’s debacles?
A lot of this can be laid on Obama. He has been a disastrous president. I thought he would be all along.
In February 2008, I posted this.
Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama’s. He became Obama’s kingmaker.
Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio program.
I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:
“He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.’”
“Oh, you are? Who might that be?”
Obama had no record of accomplishment. Jones put his name on bills he had had nothing to do with.
Making a nomination to the Supreme Court to fill the Scalia seat is easy, and it will permit Trump to control the news cycle. Trump will be tempted to make this his first substantial order of business, but it is a temptation to which the future president ought not succumb, even if he risks losing some political popularity while delaying the eventual nomination.
A significant part of the commentariat, including the legal professoriate, has again and again stated, with a regularity that belies conviction, that the American public’s choice, the choice between Trump and Clinton, is not a choice, not in the sense of a normal election, but a choice in which one is morally or prudentially impelled to choose Clinton because Trump poses an existential threat to the country. Their position is that to vote for Trump is to put the nation and its people at a profound risk approaching certainty. Why? Because Trump will be dictator-strongman of sorts: one election, one time. Or because Trump will plunge the nation into destructive wars. Or because Trump will wreck the fabric of the economy. Or because Trump will destroy the constitutional order and the rule of law.
I am not going to comment on the substance of the anti-Trump message. You have heard it all before, and you have or will very soon make up your own minds whether Trump or Clinton deserves your vote. What I will say here is that the messengers of the anti-Trump message are not believable because their actions (or, more accurately, the lack thereof) do not accord with their message. Moreover, because these messengers are not believable, on balance, I suspect they are helping Trump, not Clinton.
[. . .]
After the Brexit referendum, Frank Field, a long serving Labour MP, explained why Vote Leave eked out a majority. Too many in the elite told ordinary voters how they must vote and that the alternative was madness, chaos, and anarchy. Adults just don’t take kindly to being told what they must do in a democratic election, particularly from those who are going about their lives just as they always seem to do. The elite’s strategy backfired, or at the very best, it convinced no one. The same may happen in the United States. And if it does, we will know who is responsible for the result.
Conservatism itself is paralyzed by the nervous moral fear induced in people by cultural Marxism – which has been meant from the beginning to undermine moral confidence at the most basic level. Conservatism’s problem isn’t Donald Trump. Conservatism’s problem is that Donald Trump isn’t paralyzed by the guilt-mongering of cultural Marxism – but conservatism is.
The answer is not for conservatism to insist that nothing move out there, until we decide what forms of paralysis will continue to suit us. The answer is that conservatives must fearlessly reclaim the necessary social concepts of authority and common expectations, and start producing results.
Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Culture, Current Events, Education, Elections, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Obama, Political Philosophy, Politics, Quotations, Trump | 8 Comments »
If it serves the cause it can’t be illegal.
Some interesting speculations about the Democrats’ motives in the current election:
But once he won, something rather unexpected happened: True to his claim of being a political outsider, Trump broke with an unwritten rule that Republicans and Democrats historically had abided by. Under that understanding, administrations of both parties basically guaranteed implied amnesties for legal breaches to outgoing administrations. The best recent example for this implied agreement was the failure of the Bush Junior administration to pursue any of a number of potential criminal claims against members of the Clinton administration. In other words, any administration that made it through its term without being indicted, was basically assured of no further legal consequences.
The knowledge that one just had to survive till the end of an administration, has been at the core of quantitative and qualitative increases in government corruption this country has witnessed in recent decades, and nobody has been better in “surviving” than the last two Democratic administrations of Presidents Clinton and Obama.
[. . .]
That six days before the election Trump has in national opinion polls pulled even with Clinton, therefore, set off alarm bells among the Democratic elites. The election, suddenly, has become an existential fight for survival, far exceeding the traditional conflict for power and the spoils of power.
We, therefore, can expect Clintonians and Democratic party, in cahoots with a majority of major media, in the last few days before the election to initiate a political bloodbath in attempts to derail Donald Trump. The election no longer is about who gains or retains the privileges of power but, as Trump stated, who goes to jail.
Worth reading in full.
The behavior of the network of people surrounding the Clintons, as detailed in recent revelations, reminds me of a talk that C S Lewis gave at King’s College, University of London, in 1944.
And the prophecy I make is this. To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colours. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink, or a cup of coffee, disguised as triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still—just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïf or a prig—the hint will come. It will be the hint of something which the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand: something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about: but something, says your new friend, which “we”—and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure—something “we always do.”
And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face—that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face—turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.
The full text of the talk is here: The Inner Ring
Two stories about Hillary Clinton:
1–Yossi Tzur, who lost his son, Assaf, in a terror bus bombing in Israel, described the meetings with a number of American officials that he participated in when he came to this country as part of a delegation including other families of terror victims:
“We were welcomed with warmth, with empathy, all heard us and gave us their attention, well, almost everybody.”
Tzur went on to describe the delegation’s meeting with Rudy Giuliani. “You could feel the warmth of the man, his humanity, his care,” he wrote. “You could see tears in his eyes when he told the stories. The meeting was scheduled for an hour, it took almost two hours and then he stood with us patiently taking photos with each and every one.”
From New York, the delegation went to Washington for a series of meetings, one of them was in the Senate with NY Senator Hilary Clinton. Tzur recalled that “we arrived at her office in the Senate and were shown into a small meeting room, it could hardly fit all of us, it was dark, crowded, it didn’t even had water on the table. So we waited.
“Time went by, 15 minutes, 30, an hour. Her aides were embarrassed saying she is coming any minute now. After an hour and a half Clinton arrived.
“She looked as us seeing the group in the room, we could see she is not really there with us, we felt she was impatient and just looking to finish it and go. We felt really uncomfortable… Even before we could speak she said, you probably want a photo, come let’s go out, leading us to the stairs. There she asked us to stand on the stairs and one of her aides took the photo. We still wanted to talk to her, people came ready to tell her their story, she didn’t intend to hear, it looked she didn’t want to hear. With inhuman coldness she went out amongst us all and disappeared in one of the corridors leaving us shocked and disappointed.”
2–Linda Tripp, White House secretary during the Bill Clinton administration, describes the reactions of Vince Foster and Hillary Clinton while watching the horrible Waco “law-enforcement operation” (in which 76 people died, including many children) unfold on television:
“A special bulletin came on [CNN] showing the atrocity at Waco and the children. And his face, his whole body slumped, and his face turned white, and he was absolutely crushed knowing, knowing the part he had played. And he had played the part at Mrs. Clinton’s direction.
Her reaction, on the other hand, was heartless. And I can only tell you what I saw.”
Indeed, it seems obvious that Hillary Clinton does not possess the normal human complement of emotional reactions, that she is cold and robotic. Something is definitely missing there.
Democrats and their supporters keep arguing that Donald Trump must not be trusted with the nuclear codes. In my view–if a decision for or against a nuclear launch must be made, I’d prefer it to be made by someone that can understand at a visceral level what it means for real people. Which would not be Hillary Clinton, who really does not appear to see other human beings as anything other than tools in her unending power games.
There has been much discussion lately about whether decisions in war can be entrusted to intelligent robots. I’d rather not see the most important military decision of all time made by a human robot.
Thomas Sowell notes, again, the failure of leftist policies to achieve their intended results:
If the left chooses to believe that government intervention is the answer to such tragedies, that is their right. But, if they expect the rest of us to share that belief, surely they could subject that belief to some empirical test. But we can, however.
The 1960s were the triumphant decade of those who wanted government intervention to “solve” what they called “social problems.” How did that work out? What were things like before this social vision triumphed? And what were things like afterwards?
The failures of the Left to correlate cause and effect, even to remember how things used to be, in relation to leftist govt policies are legion. Thus leftists advocate War on Poverty-type programs as antidotes to problems that became worse after the original War on Poverty. Similarly and classically, leftists have favored rent control laws as remedies for housing shortages in cities such as NYC where housing shortages did not exist before rent control. And they defend, or at least have a soft spot for, the Castro dictatorship even though pre-Castro Cuba was relatively much more free and prosperous. It’s difficult to hold leftist views if you see govt policies as subject to empirical validation. In that case you ask the right question: Did things get better or worse after X? But it’s easy to hold such views if you see politics as fashion or a means of engaging in virtue-signalling. Then the question becomes: What are the popular opinions among today’s in-crowd?
Being a follower of clothing fashions is harmless. Being a follower of opinion fashions is personally corrupting and harmful to others, especially as government becomes larger and more intrusive.
Seth Barrett Tillman: Two Queries Posted on Conlawprof: Comey, Trump, and the President (with addendum)
I am wondering if the deeply held views expressed on this list are, in fact, deeply held. Any number of people on this list have expressed the view that Trump is dangerous, and if elected, there is a reasonable likelihood that he will plunge the country into destruction. If you believe that, can you describe what you have done (if anything) to prepare should that eventuality come about? And should Trump be elected, what immediate actions will you take in consequence of those changed circumstances? [Addendum: Have you given a half, third, quarter, yea—even a tenth—of your worldly assets to Hillary Clinton, parties, and organizations dedicated to defeat Trump?] Have you moved any of your liquid assets abroad or into foreign currencies? Have you applied for academic or other positions abroad? Have you considered sending your children abroad to be educated? If you have not done anything to date, and if you don’t have any concrete extant plans to take such actions (should Trump win on November 8, 2016), then should not a detached neutral observer conclude that you do not really believe that Trump is a genuine threat? If Trump is a sociopath, should you not be doing something concrete now, other than writing words on Conlawprof and in other fora?
One week out seems like a good time to put some stakes in the ground.
Posted in Anti-Americanism, Christianity, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, History, Immigration, International Affairs, Israel, Libertarianism, National Security, Personal Narrative, Politics, Predictions, Society, Terrorism, Trump, USA | 20 Comments »
If our moral intuitions accord with the second view, if we credit the Quakers’ behaviour without regard to their religious inspiration, then why do our standard histories judge President James Buchanan and Chief Justice Taney so harshly?** Buchanan and Taney preferred the United States to go to pieces rather than maintaining it by war. They were unwilling to order or to support a war, and the deaths, which would undoubtedly follow. Yet very few today see Buchanan and Taney as heroes or as acting on moral principles akin to those of the Quakers. Why?
#1. If Hillary Clinton resigns as the Democratic Party’s candidate prior to the general popular election, what process does the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) use to select a new candidate?
[. . .]
#8. If President-elect Clinton were sworn in, but subsequently became incapacitated prior to her appointing any cabinet members, can the Vice President succeed her, even temporarily? See Twenty-Fifth Amendment, Section 4 (“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments … transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.” (emphasis added)). Do acting heads of executive departments (i.e., senior high level civil servants not subject to presidential nomination and Senate confirmation) count for this purpose? Isn’t this a good reason for the members of President Obama’s cabinet to remain in office until their successors are actually nominated, confirmed, appointed, and sworn in?
Both posts are worth reading.
A comment I left in response at The Right Coast:
He wants a party that represents his views better. I want that too but it’s not available. Until it is I’ll settle for the lesser evil.
The country has changed and the political parties have changed with it. Some of the changes are shocking and undesirable. Trump is a kind of crowdsourced response by middle-class, mostly Republican voters to all of this. Despite his bad qualities he gets some big things right that the political mainstream insists on ignoring. He represents the least-bad option at the moment. As Glenn says, if he is rejected the next least-bad alternative will be even less attractive to the people who complain about Trump.
A friend of mine writes:
I decided to tabulate electoral votes based on current polls and current [polls] assuming a 5 point Clinton bias and a 13 point Clinton bias… It’s kind of heartening. [Trump] wins assuming only a 5 percent bias.
My friend includes an informative spreadsheet, available here in pdf format and best viewed at greater than original size, and says readers should feel free to pass it around.
My friend adds:
…One caveat; Maine and Nebraska are not winner take all. I don’t have poll data for their individual congressional districts so I was not able to model this aspect. Maine has an interesting governor so I suspect trump will get some electoral votes out of Maine even if he doesn’t win their general.
My friend’s spreadsheet is worth a serious look. Trump may have a much better chance than the pro-Democrat media are suggesting.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th October 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
The election news is starting to suggest to me that Trump may well lose the election to Hillary. What would that mean?
Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person to get this close to the presidency since Aaron Burr.
he blamed Hamilton for besmirching him as a candidate, and, eager to defend his honor, challenged Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton accepted, and the face-off took place on the morning of July 11, 1804; it ended when Burr shot Hamilton to death. Though the public cried murder, Burr was let off, and after laying low for a while, he was able to complete his vice-presidential term.
In 1807, Burr was brought to trial on charges of conspiracy and high misdemeanor, for leading a military charge against Spanish territory and for trying to separate territories from the United States. Chief Justice John Marshall acquitted Burr on the treason charge and eventually revoked his misdemeanor indictment, but the conspiracy scandal left Burr’s political career in ruins.
Burr spent the four years following his trial traveling throughout Europe, attempting unsuccessfully to garner support for revolutionizing Mexico and freeing the Spanish colonies.
Burr was a traitor after having his ambitions thwarted.
We all know Hillary’s story. She was a student radical at Wellesley and her senior thesis was on Saul Alinsky.
The thesis was sympathetic to Alinsky’s critiques of government antipoverty programs, but criticized Alinsky’s methods as largely ineffective, all the while describing Alinsky’s personality as appealing. The thesis sought to fit Alinsky into a line of American social activists, including Eugene V. Debs, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Walt Whitman. Written in formal academic language, the thesis concluded that “[Alinsky’s] power/conflict model is rendered inapplicable by existing social conflicts” and that Alinsky’s model had not expanded nationally due to “the anachronistic nature of small autonomous conflict.”
Her sympathies are clear. What will she be like as president if she wins?
She evaded the law on security when she accepted the position of Secretary of State. Her security detail at State, rebelled at her ignoring security rules, and her personal abusive style. The latter was well known from her time in the White House as First Lady.
During her interview, the agent said Clinton treated agents rudely and with contempt, and was so unpleasant that senior agents typically avoided being on her security detail.
“[Redacted] explained that CLINTON’s treatment of DS agents on her protective detail was so contemptuous that many of them sought reassignment or employment elsewhere,” the interview summary says. “Prior to CLINTON’s tenure, being an agent on the Secretary of State’s protective detail was seen as an honor and privilege reserved for senior agents. However, by the end of CLINTON’s tenure, it was staffed largely with new agents because it was difficult to find senior agents willing to work for her.”
When hiring someone for an important job, it is of course important to assess whether or not that person has the skills you think are necessary for doing the job well. But it’s important to also assess what they think are the important aspects of the job, and make sure these line up with what you think are the most important job factors. You want to know what they are ‘passionate’ about, to employ a currently-overused term.
And when hiring an executive, keep in mind that you are also likely gaining access to his network of former employees, customers, suppliers, consulting firms, etc. A similar but even more powerful dynamic plays out in politics, as Daniel Henninger of the WSJ reminds us:
A recurring campaign theme of this column has been that the celebrifying of our presidential candidate obscures the reality that we are not just just electing one famous person. We will be voting into power an entire political party, which has consequences for the country’s political direction no matter what these candidates say or promise.
By that measure, there is a reason not to turn over the job of fighting global terrorism to the Democrats. They don’t want it.
So, what are they key aspects of the Presidential job that needs to be done over the next four years, and how do the candidates and their beliefs about what is important stack up against those factors? Here’s my list..
The suppression of radical Islamic terrorism. Henninger is completely correct: the Democrats don’t want this job. Henninger notes that during a House hearing in 2005, Guantanamo Bay was denounced (almost entirely by Democrats, I am sure) as ‘the Gulag of our times.’ Whereas GOP Congressman Mike Pence correctly responded that the comparison was ‘anti-historical, irresponsible and the type of rhetoric that endangers American lives.’
Henninger continues: ‘Dahir Adan invoked Allah while stabbing his way through the Minneapolis mall. Both Mrs Clinton and President Obama consistently accuse their opponents of waging a war on all practitioners of the Islamic religion. Presumably, if instead we were being attached by Martians, they’d say any criticism of Martians was only alienating us from all the People on Mars. The problem is we aren’t getting killed by Martians or Peruvians or Finns but by men and women yelling ‘Allah Akbar’…Virtually all Democratic politicians refuse to make this crucial distinction.’
The protection of free expression. As long as we have free speech and a free press, there is a possibility that our array of problems can be solved. But once this crucial feedback connection is cut, problems of all kinds are likely to compound themselves until catastrophe happens.
Remember, Hillary Clinton’s response to the Benghazi murders was to blame them on an American filmmaker exercising his Constitutional rights, and to threaten to have him arrested. Which threat she was indeed able to carry into execution.
And note that Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party is closely aligned with the forces on college campuses which are creating a real nightmare for anyone–student or professor–who dissents from the ‘progressive’ orthodoxy or who even demonstrates a normal sense of humor.
There is a very strong tendency among Democrats to call for the forcible government suppression of political dissidents, and to carry this belief into action when they can get away with it: the witch-hunt in Wisconsin and the IRS persecution of conservative organizations and individuals being only two of many examples. More here.
Trump is by no means ideal on this metric: he is thin-skinned and has shown himself to be very litigious. But he is far preferable from a free-expression standpoint to Clinton and the forces that she represents.
Economic growth. Clinton herself would surely like to see economic growth, if only for political reasons. But there is in the Democratic Party a very strong strain that believes America is too wealthy, that our people have too many luxuries, that we need to be taken down a peg. I have even seen attacks by ‘progressives’ on the existence of air conditioning. The Democrats are generally willing to sacrifice economic growth on the altar of environmental extremism and to serve their trial-lawyer clients. Sexual politics represents another cause for which growth is readily sacrificed by Democrats–remember when Obama’s ‘shovel-ready’ stimulus package was first mooted, there was an outcry from left-leaning feminist groups concerned that it would be too focused on ‘jobs for burly men.’
And whatever her ‘small business plan’ may be in her latest policy statement, Hillary has an underlying dismissiveness to those small businesses–the vast majority of them—that do not enjoy venture capital funding. Remember her remark, when told back in the Bill Clinton administration, that aspects of her proposed healthcare plan would be destructive to small businesses? Her response was: “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.” No one was asking her to be responsible for them, of course; only to refrain from wantonly destroying them.
It is important to note that many of the top Democratic constituencies don’t really need to care, on a personal level, about economic growth. Tenured academics have salaries and benefit packages which are largely decoupled from the larger economy. Hedge-fund managers often believe they can make money as readily in a down market as an up market. Many if not most lawyers are more dependent for their incomes on the legal climate than the economy. Very wealthy individuals may care more about social signaling than about money per se, given that they already have so much of the latter. And the poor and demoralized will in many cases care more about transfer payments than about the growth of the economy.
Improving K-12 Education. Much of the nation’s public school system is a disaster. There is no chance that Hillary would would care enough about fixing this system, and preventing or at least mitigating its destruction of generation after generation, to be willing to take on the ‘blob’…the teachers’ unions, the ed schools…these being key Democratic constituencies. Also: the Democratic obsession with race/ethnicity has led to demands from the Administration that school disciplinary decisions must follow racial quotas. Policies such as this, which would surely continue under a Clinton administration, make it virtually impossible for schools to maintain a learning environment for those students who do want to learn.
The current state of K-12 education is a major inhibitor to social mobility in America. Anyone who claims to care about the fate of families locked into poverty, while at the same time supporting a Hillary Clinton presidency, is either kidding themselves or straight-out lying.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th October 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
The New York Times and the Democrats have a new Trump story to peddle.
The crude comments are a huge scandal to the new Puritans of the left.
The explosive revelation of his coarse remarks, on the eve of a crucial debate on Sunday against Hillary Clinton, represented a new low for a campaign that had already redefined the standards of political discourse to fit Mr. Trump’s penchant for insults, mocking, threats and demagogic insinuations. A three-minute video clearly capturing Mr. Trump’s voice, and obtained by The Washington Post, ricocheted across social media and cable television and instantly became one of the most powerful weapons yet for Democrats to persuade undecided female voters and others to back Mrs. Clinton.
The Washington Post seems to be the source.
This is the weekend before the second debate and there is obviously a script running here. The recording was made 11 years ago when Trump was unmarried although he married Melania in 2005. I am unaware of any credible allegations of sexual harassment or rape against Trump, although there has been a lawsuit filed and rejected by a then 13 year old. alleging rape.
Federal Judge Ronnie Abrams has ordered a December status conference hearing after a woman, who calls herself “Jane Doe,” filed a lawsuit claiming that Trump raped her when she was 13 years old in the 1990s. This is the third attempt the plaintiff has made in filing this particular lawsuit. Last Friday, she filed an amended complaint, with a new “witness” named “Joan Doe.” The plaintiff and witnesses in the case are using pseudonyms, they say, to protect their identities.
Ronnie Abrams was appointed by Barack Obama in 2011.
The plaintiff’s allegation seems to be that she was raped in a setting where Jeffrey Epstein of “Lolita Express” and Bill Clinton fame were present.
I think this is probably a setup by the DNC since the alleged rape occurred in the 1990s and the lawsuit has been previously dismissed.
I think there is a permissive atmosphere where wealthy and popular personalities, like Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton, can be helpful to women in a career. After all, Hillary Clinton owes her career to her husband Bill. She may think she has done it on her own but Bill is a much better politician than she is and that has been obvious since the “Hillarycare” debacle in 1994. I don’t mean to imply that women politicians need men. After all Margaret Thatcher did it on her own with only support from her husband in a personal, non-political way.
We will hear a lot about this story for the next two days and it will be important for Trump to deflate this particular balloon next Sunday. Maybe Hillary will have her child actress ask him a question about it.
I assume he anticipated this campaign of vilification but even Trump might be distressed at the levels of hate, especially from Republicans.
Writing in today’s WSJ, Peggy Noonan says: “This year I am seeing something, especially among the young of politics and journalism. They have received most of what they know about political history through screens They’re college graduates…they’re bright and ambitious, but they have seen the movie and not read the book….They learned through sensation, not through books, which demand something deeper from your brain. Reading forces you to imagine, question, ponder, reflect…Watching a movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis shows you a drama. Reading about it shows you a dilemma.”
The article reminded me of Neal Stephenson’s book and of this post, which I originally ran in late 2007.
My post today is inspired by In the Beginning was the Command Line, by Neal Stephenson, a strange little book that will probably be found in the “computers” section of your local bookstore. While the book does deal with human interfaces to computer systems, its deeper subject is the impact of media and metaphors on thought processes and on work.
Stephenson contrasts the explicit word-based interface with the graphical or sensorial interface. The first (which I’ll call the textual interface) can be found in a basic UNIX system or in an old-style PC DOS system or timesharing terminal. The second (the sensorial interface) can be found in Windows and Mac systems and in their respective application programs.
As a very different example of a sensorial interface, Stephenson uses something he saw at Disney World–a hypothetical stone-by-stone reconstruction of a ruin in the jungles of India. It is supposed to have been built by a local rajah in the sixteenth century, but since fallen into disrepair.
The place looks more like what I have just described than any actual building you might find in India. All the stones in the broken walls are weathered as if monsoon rains had been trickling down them for centuries, the paint on the gorgeous murals is flaked and faded just so, and Bengal tigers loll among stumps of broken columns. Where modern repairs have been made to the ancient structure, they’ve been done, not as Disney’s engineers would do them, but as thrifty Indian janitors would–with hunks of bamboo and rust-spotted hunks of rebar.
In one place, you walk along a stone wall and view some panels of art that tell a story.
…a broad jagged crack runs across a panel or two, but the story is still readable: first, primordial chaos leads to a flourishing of many animal species. Next, we see the Tree of Life surrounded by diverse animals…an obvious allusion (or, in showbiz lingo, a tie-in) to the gigantic Tree of Life that dominates the center of Disney’s Animal Kingdom…But it’s rendered in historically correct style and could probably fool anyone who didn’t have a PhD in Indian art history.
The next panel shows a mustachioed H. sapiens chopping down the Tree of Life with a scimitar, and the animals fleeing every which way. The one after that shows the misguided human getting walloped by a tidal wave, part of a latter-day Deluge presumably brought on by his stupidity.
The final panel, then, portrays the Sapling of Life beginning to grow back, but now man has ditched the edged weapon and joined the other animals in standing around to adore and praise it.
Clearly, this exhibit communicates a specific worldview, and it strongly implies that this worldview is consistent with traditional Indian religion and culture. Most viewers will assume the connection without doing further research as to its correctness or lack thereof.
I’d observe that as a general matter, the sensorial interface is less open to challenge than the textual interface. It doesn’t argue–doesn’t present you with a chain of facts and logic that let you sit back and say, “Hey, wait a minute–I’m not so sure about that.” It just sucks you into its own point of view.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st October 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Another good insight from Richard Fernandez.
Otto von Bismarck said, There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.
Is it true? I think we may find out, especially if Hillary Clinton, in spite of all her crimes and corruption, is elected President.
Shimon Peres said, I said, “America will win no matter what you do.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Because they are lucky, and you are not.”
Is that true ? I wonder.
The last eight years have been one unending liberal search for the Great Man of history, the belief that “history can be largely explained by the impact of ‘great men’, or heroes … who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or political skill utilized their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact.”
Liberals thought they had it in Obama 2008. They think they have it in the historic First Woman, Hillary in 2016. They may even think they have it in Kerry. Steve Clemons of the Atlantic asked America’s top diplomat in the context of his diplomatic record: what exactly is the “John Kerry secret sauce?” And Kerry patiently explained that it was coming to an agreement with rival negotiators. “You have to figure out whether you can find in the adversaries a meeting of the minds on any of the interests and/or values.”
This, I assume, is why they think negotiation can solve all differences.
(The politicization of American society has increased markedly since I wrote this post in May of 2014. Sports, for example, is now politicized–see what happens when a culture loses its last neutral ground?–along with everything from shopping to education. The sway of ‘progressive’ orthodoxy continues to extend its sway over all aspect of American life.)
Many will remember Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech, in which she said:
Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed….You have to stay at the seat at the table of democracy with a man like Barack Obama not just on Tuesday but in a year from now, in four years from now, in eight years from now, you will have to be engaged.
Victor Davis Hanson notes that she also said:
We are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.
…which is, of course, entirely consistent with the assertion made by Barack Obama himself, shortly before his first inauguration: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
It should be clear by now that all aspects of American life and society are rapidly becoming politicized. Obama has greatly accelerated this movement, but he didn’t initiate it. The “progressive” political movement, which now controls the Democratic Party, has for a long time been driving the politicization of anything and everything. The assertion “the personal is political” originated in the late 1960s…and, if the personal is political, then everything is political.
Some people, of course, like the politicization of everything–for some individuals, indeed, their lives would be meaningless without it. In his important memoir of growing up in Germany between the wars, Sebastian Haffnernoted divergent reactions from people when the political and economic situation stabilized (temporarily, as we now know) during the Stresemann chancellorship:
The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream. The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries…There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food and a little political boredom. everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own taste and to find their own paths to happiness.
But this return to private life was not to everyone’s taste:
A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk.
To be precise (the occasion demands precision, because in my opinion it provides the key to the contemporary period of history): it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.
I’m afraid we have quite a few people in America today who like having “the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions.” But for most people, especially for creative and emotionally-healthy people, the politicization of everything leads to a dreary and airless existence.
I suspect there is no General James Longstreet Prize, and if someone asked me if such a prize should be created, I would say “no”.
There is no Rommel Prize, and if someone asked if such a prize should be created, I would say “no”. (And—just to be clear—I am not comparing Longstreet and the Confederacy to Rommel and Nazi Germany.)
There is a Sakharov Prize, and if someone had asked me prior to its creation whether it should be created, I hope I would have had the moral clarity to say “no”. There were and there are other people in Europe and elsewhere who this prize could have been named for: persons who were not quite so morally ambiguous. E.g., Average people—people who were not heroic or even particularly bright. Perhaps it could have been called the Ivan Denisovich Prize. It speaks volumes about the modern European zeitgeist that a major prize is named for Sakharov, but the founders of NATO—which protected Europe from Sakharov’s warheads—remain largely unknown. It goes without saying that the American taxpayer who paid for Europe’s defence (and who continues to do so) is entirely lost from sight. Europe’s cosmopolitan transnational elites much prefer believing that the years of peace and plenty were their creation, as opposed to their being the beneficiary of American good will beyond their control.
Seth’s argument is well worth reading in full.
Posted in Deep Thoughts, Europe, History, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics, Russia, USA, War and Peace | 1 Comment »
Don’t you think the Democratic National Committee, Vice President Biden, and Senator Tim Kaine, the Democratic Party’s candidate for VP, each already have on file a full-length memorandum on these questions? Maybe the mainstream media could “obtain” copies for the rest of us?
Would not this make a suitable—if not outstanding—law journal mini-symposium issue: “The Hillary Clinton Candidacy: The Legal Issues”? Any takers? An impromptu mini-symposium could be organized, held, and published on line prior to the November election, particularly where all articles are kept to a maximum of 7 pages (footnotes included).
The “natural born citizen” issue generated several timely full-length articles. Surely there is time and means to do this too. The on line supplements to the primary student-edited print journals are particularly well suited for this task. Any takers?
No – upon reconsideration, not a lament – more of a bitchy rant, pounded out between finalizing one book, the last chapters of another – both intended for the fall/holiday market season, wherein most of my direct sales are made.
Yes, politics and the social scene appear to be getting stupider, reactionary and more risible in every passing day. Unfortunately, I do not possess a reservoir of spleen the size of Lake Michigan, the hours in a working day, or the energy in which to give certain topics the thorough and at-length venting which they so richly deserve, so a series of brief drive-by crankiness will have to do.
1. Hillary Clinton is not a well woman, as ought to be obvious from her infrequent public appearances, horrific coughing fits, and the hovering solicitude of a guy who may be her medical handler/personal physician. Infrequent appearances, small, sparsely-attended rallies – while Donald Trump – who is in the same age bracket, mind you – keeps going and going like the Energizer Bunny, packing them in by the thousands every other day or two. It could be that she and her people are so convinced that the election is already in the bag, that she need only make the slightest pretense at a campaign. But just looking at her gives me the impression that she is being held together with duct tape, bailing wire and prescription medication.
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Trump is the first presidential candidate of my lifetime who has been regularly criticized for making public statements conforming to rule of law principles. Part of the confusion in the minds of his many critics arises from simple confirmation bias. But another part comes from an inability of his critics to plainly discuss what they mean by the rule of law. No doubt much of it is simply disagreement with the man’s over-the-top style and his political orientation—but normal disagreement about political principles, absent clear on point evidence, ought not lead to claims that one’s opponent is a threat to the rule of law.
So what is the “rule of law”? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that query. I well remember my graduation from law school. A thoughtful fellow behind me said, as we waited on line to receive our degrees: “Seth, after three years of law school, as far as I can tell, the rule of law is what a prosecutor says is at risk if he loses a criminal case heard by a jury.” That answer of convenience will not do. Other people fill in the rule of law with all good and noble principles: the rule of law is human rights, separation of powers, democracy, etc. This approach is not helpful either, for even if the virtues of these other principles were contestable, their content and optimal scope remains deeply contested.
Without attempting to fully define the rule of law, I will put forward some minimal necessary (but not sufficient) conditions associated with the “rule of law”. A person’s conduct is inconsistent with the rule of law, if he knowingly disobeys established law without seeking a change in the law from the legislature (including referenda where permitted by law) or validation of his specific conduct from the courts. On the other hand, a person’s conduct is consistent with the rule of law, if he obeys the judicial orders of lawfully constituted courts, and if he obeys the rules associated with the conduct of litigation in those courts.*