Commenter Archive

On “Charles Pierce: This, Right Here. This Is Where Obama Choked. – Esquire

This, right here. This is where they choked.

This, right here. This--here, right here.

“I don’t get it. You’re saying ’this here’ in response to ’this here’.”

Well let’s try again, shall we?

This, right here. This is where they choked.

This, right here. This--here, right here.

“I see. You’re making fun of the fellow for writing like this. It’s a silly way of expressing oneself.”

That, there--right there. This.

“And I suppose one who writes like that can’t be taken seriously…”

This. Right here. That.

“Well, what can you expect from a political movement whose central mythology is Star Wars? Juvenility is sort of baked into it.”

That. Right there. This.

The American people had damned close to an absolute right to the information their government already had.

In other words, they didn’t have an absolute right.

The most fundamental act of citizenship is the right to cast an informed vote.

Hm, I didn’t realize a right was an act--but perhaps I’m missing the “theological” significance of the term “right”.

The idea that the Obama administration withheld the fact that the Russians were ratfcking the election in order to help elect a vulgar talking yam, etc.

Surely I’m not the only one who sees the grotesque paradox of this sentence.

What’s more, it almost perfectly encapsulates the history of the United States over the past fifty years or so--whereby a cultural revolutionary “progressive” movement has dedicated itself tirelessly to the coarsening and vulgarization of our national life, but is now mortified at a coarse and vulgar President Trump.

Incipit nihilismus.

Would Donald Trump have raised hell if the White House released what it knew? Of course, he would have.

And he would have had an absolute ratfcking right to do so.

But, as it was, the American people went to vote with only about half of the information they needed to assess his candidacy.

They had all the information they needed and they made their choice--to reject Crooked Billary. (You remember Crooked Billary, doncha? He’s the one who had such a sense of the dignity of the Presidency as to diddle some intern’s twat with a cigar in the Oval Office.)

This was a terrible decision.

Sheez, “Mr.” Pierce--you’d think somebody grabbed your pussy or something.

On “note on anti-Americanist conservatism in re Obama in Israel

(Well, I didn't, four years ago, call Daniel Larison a vulgar ideologue. I suggested that his polemic on that occasion stooped to that level, in a way I found typical for American Conservative conservatism. Since then, I've rather lost touch with his work, so have no fresh opinion on it.)

On “Jennifer Rubin: Pro-Trump Republicans will get nothing, not even retention of a House majority – The Washington Post

Thanks, Mr. McK. I don't see the Rs in any better a position, nor the independents for that matter. All the People's Political Scientists and all the People's Political Consultants can't solve the peculiar form of paralysis built into America's contradictory constitution (not the same as, but certainly including the form of its written Constitution). It seems to take catastrophe to do that work, but the great news is that we are sure to get catastrophe. Indeed, we may already have gotten it, and may just be waiting for the larger waves to reach the shore.

On “note on anti-Americanist conservatism in re Obama in Israel

It's a common tactic in scholasticism (vide Edward Feser) to take a term of religio-philosophical significance (such as "creation" or "eternity") that has a commonly understood meaning (the kind of meaning that one will find in the dictionary definition of such terms) and lend that term a specialized meaning--one that serves the purpose of making something that is intrinsically implausible to common sense seem less so--then proceed to characterize those who don't use the term according to its specialized meaning as unsophisticated vulgarians and ignoramuses.

The tactic has more to do with rhetorical legerdemain than philosophy and we see it employed here with supremely eloquent cheek.

That being said, Larison certainly is an ideologue--though "bourgeois" strikes me as a better adjective than "vulgar".

On “Jennifer Rubin: Pro-Trump Republicans will get nothing, not even retention of a House majority – The Washington Post

I don't know, CK, if you or anyone reading along has had a chance to see this yet, but it's so relevant to the discussion you and bob and I were having here, that I'd like to append it to the thread if I may.

I think it squares nicely with the position I took in the exchange--especially the idea that the Democratic Party is deeply troubled electorally, and that the roots of that trouble lie in the party's subscription to alienating ideologies.

Sifting through the wreckage of the 2016 election, Democratic pollsters, strategists and sympathetic academics have reached some unnerving conclusions.

What the autopsy reveals is that Democratic losses among working class voters were not limited to whites; that crucial constituencies within the party see its leaders as alien; and that unity over economic populism may not be able to turn back the conservative tide.

Equally disturbing, winning back former party loyalists who switched to Trump will be tough: these white voters’ views on immigration and race are in direct conflict with fundamental Democratic tenets.

On “Thesis on the Great Trumpian Victory (OAG #6)

Thanks, Will H, for the thoughtful comment (which, in addition to being correspondingly thought-provoking, also happened to reveal a coding error making comments on this type of post unreadable on my phone).

Not sure how the process you describe lands us on the Right, however, since the process itself is Whig history, classically on the Left or, as later, "progressive." So, even if the process itself somehow favors the Right, the presumption is of an under- and overlying Left/progressive tendency. Specifically in regard to voting rights, extension of the franchise has been a demand against whichever powers that were, even if the King and the People may have been from other perspectives or in other epochs allies vs. the lesser nobility and the church, and even if the further-Left has critiqued the vote itself.

A realignment based on the general trend is still resisted by the American Right for different, possibly complementary reasons. The Democrats consistently support extending the vote or ease of voting, and tend to support the popular voting and proportional representation. You might say that friction over the general trend favors the Right in a certain sense, in that it leads to greater intensity of feeling on the part of those who perceive a threat to their positions of relative privilege, but the victories of shrinking minorities over increasing majorities are unlikely to last forever, and defending for too long or too fiercely may make the eventual winners less forgiving.

But I'm not really sure what this all has to do with Trump specifically.

"

A few different trends feed into the Trump phenomenon.

One of the primary characteristics of digital media (1994 - ? ) is that the "official" position is no longer the official position.
The Law of Large Numbers and Second Law of Thermodynamics both make the unlikely more likely.
There is also a general trend toward greater rights for an ever-greater share of persons, dating from approx. the Elizabethan era. This led to greater autonomy of the merchant class, the English colonists to the New World, to suffrage for unlanded males, etc. Perhaps the seeds were in place before E.'s defiance of the papal bull; but the general trend is undeniable.

I see a realignment of the parties.
As far as I can tell, the realignment favors the Right, generally.

On “While 2017 happens…

I suspect that as you may suspect that lawn obsessed behavior correlates poorly with more general rightish political tendencies in the general pop. As the older generation of local lawn obsesses bow to their infirmities, the new generation, so far somewhat less obsessed, seem more mainstream politically. While still susceptible to the siren call not only of overly frequent mowing, but to fertilizers and weed killers, they seem to be otherwise agreeable humans.

"

Yes - that is very un-sympatico reactionwise, bob. Which is unusual for you. Though Joni Mitchell might once have sympatico'd your unsympatico-ness kind of maybe, at least in the Summer.

Main problem in my neighborhood, now that the drought is officially over, is the most lawn-obsessed near-neighbor loves his leaf-blower fiercely, meaning early wake-ups on a regular basis. He also happens to the only neighbor who throws loud latenight parties. I am thankful that he doesn't connect the two practices, or at least hasn't so far: Loud latenight party followed by early morning leafblowing.

I don't know whether he supported that fellow. It would surprise me for various reasons having to do with ethnicity. Might seem too personal a question for me to ask him, as we're just neighbors, not friends, even though it might be interesting in relation to your theory, if not obviously definitive evidence in isolation - I mean as to whether relative lawn-obsession correlates more strongly with that-fellow-support than ethnic factors. We may never, sadly, know the answer, what with so many skilled researchers devoting themselves to tired, over-researched subjects like climate change and species extinction and such.

"

I had a more specific, very un-sympatico reaction. In the recent past, my neighborhood was populated by several lawn obsessed types who mowed their lawn 2, even 3 times a week. Imminent rain, especially thunderstorms (tornados are fairly rare here), seem to cause in them an uncontrollable urge to mow, lest the unmowed grass grow too much from the fresh rain to be outside acceptable limits. So it can be fairly common for them to mow through approaching lightning and thunder, right up to, and frequently past the arrival of downpours.

This is only part of a larger pattern of annoying behavior, including lecturing lawn slackards and remowing their lawns whenever neighbors have outdoor gatherings. Lawn signs seem to indicate a high correlation with Tea Party politics and a fondness for that fellow.

So I took this guy to be merely marginally more committed to the project of the perfect lawn (and by extension, the perfect libertarian world) than my neighbors. That is, anything but sympatico.

Maybe I observe here only a local correlation between excessively committed lawn behavior and excessive political beliefs.

On “German Trust in America – the Trend (#OAG 12b)

Congratulations on at least admitting when you, or your source, sbeen touched!

Thank you, CK. I blame my source--he fucked me.

...that plunge at the end of the opinion chart strikes me as a bit more like a total sudden collapse, or fall off a cliff, than the emergence of enthusiasm for Hula Hoops or nose-rings...

When sales of Hula Hoops or nose-rings or Beatles records undergo a total sudden collapse--or a total sudden increase--geopolitical realities remain unaffected. Phony Trumpmania will have the same non-effect. The faddish politics of baizuo don't matter to the mountain of Kunlun.

Another way of looking at the contretemps between Trump and das deutsche Volk is that it really doesn't matter regardless of one's analysis, since there isn't anything going on in Europe at the present time that need worry us or them. So what if they strike the obligatory pose of baizuo vis a vis Trump? Europe is at peace--and the bogeyman Russia, with one-tenth the GDP of NATO-Europe (one-tenth!) isn't really a threat.

The other part of President Trump's trip--the Middle Eastern part--seemed to highlight an improvement of relations with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, in a region where improved relations with our allies might actually make a difference, given that region's continuing turmoil.

Having said that, I think you do make an interesting point about the latent instability of the United States and the prospective effect of that instability on geopolitical arrangements.

So long as we're having recourse to the figure of relations between states as marriages, the United States themselves are like a marriage--and an abusive one at that. Long ago, one party to the marriage--let's think of it as the wife--decided she couldn't stand to be married to her husband anymore and she upped and left. Unfortunately for her, her husband tracked her down and beat her to a bloody pulp, until she agreed to come back. The couple hasn't exactly lived happily ever after since and one might suppose that on that basis they never will.

"

Congratulations on at least admitting when you, or your source, sbeen touched!

As for the faddishness of disapprobation of Donald Trump, that plunge at the end of the opinion chart strikes me as a bit more like a total sudden collapse, or fall off a cliff, than the emergence of enthusiasm for Hula Hoops or nose-rings among some sector of the populace. That's a general opinion poll, not a sales chart. The only time you see action like that in stock-trading, for example, is when the FBI arrests the CEO, or the company declares bankruptcy out of the blue... and the CEO is arrested.

I think the Germans correctly understood the 2016 election as to have revealed something which previously only a few thoughtful observers had noted about the vulnerability of the American electoral system to unexpected outcomes. The system was revealed to be unreliable in the process of producing an unreliable leader running on a platform of decreased reliability. The possibility that his personal unreliability would help defeat the unreliable platform is only one of several.

It's a bit like a marriage after the discovery of an affair or occurrence of some other disruptive event. It was always a possibility, and there may be a home, children, and any number of other factors to consider before leaping to divorce, but, even if the marriage continues, with what may be called greater realism, it still won't be or feel the same.

On “Counter-Drizzle on the Hypothesis of the End of the American World-Historical Era (OAG #12c)

…After the Trumpian interregnum is over, the bodies buried and costs tallied, a more mature "condominium" ought to be achievable.

Or to put it only slightly differently: pace bohemian bourgeois Schwärmerei, the Trump presidency isn't liable to do much damage, if any, to the present world order. Everything depends on that mountain of Kunlun, and the boutique attitudes of baizuo won't even put a dent in it--one needs an infinitely sharper sword than that.

On “German Trust in America – the Trend (#OAG 12b)

Touché, MacLeod.

But let's not forget Bhadrakumar's overarching point--that geopolitical constraints will compel the German government to seek a close relationship with the dis-United States, regardless of the superficies of German public opinion's disapproval of NSA overreach and Donald Trump.

Disapprobation of Donald Trump is currently a Western fad, a kind of political fashion among the bohemian bourgeoisie, about as substantive as Beatlemania. Those sorts of voguish enthusiams don't compete well with geopolitical necessities.

On “Tweet-Drizzle on Merkel on New World Disorder (OAG #12)

That fellow and his movement would be as much symptoms as causes, of course. Ash had Obama or Obama's America ca. 2013 in view when he coined the term "withdrawalism." A consistent withdrawalist might would be constrained from acting to preserve or enhance the value of NATO, and a rigorously consistent one would be constrained even from acknowledging the question or from looking into it.

All that said, I readily acknowledge a counterargument, which is also a complementary view. I even went on to tweet a short summary. I think I'll tweet-drizzle it.

On “The Economist: How to understand Angela Merkel’s comments about America and Britain 

[…] has been some attempted pushback – including in the comments here – on the notion that Donald Trump has uniquely damaged German-American relations, […]

"

I don't know where MK Bhadrakumar gets his stats - possibly Russia Today: https://www.rt.com/news/germany-lose-trust-us-snowden-431/ - although RT gives the date as 2014. Die Welt, just to provide one quick example, reports a decline of 37% on the same question from November 2016 to the Feburary, on 70% distrust vs 22% trust. Certainly there was decline from Obama's first year over the course of his term, with some notorious incidents - especially around the Snowden affair - punctuating and deepening it. If you really want to examine German public opinion,

https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article161766668/Deutsche-verlieren-wegen-Trump-Vertrauen-in-die-USA.html (The decline numbers are the ones in parentheses after each country name.)

I'll be posting a quick rundown on the recent history of that poll.

"

...Mrs Merkel’s comments today illustrate how much Trumpandbrexit has hurt America and Britain in the past months.

From M.K. Bhadrakumar's take on Hausfrau Merkel's remarks:

By the way, this has nothing to do with Trump. The percentage of Germans who trusted the US plunged from 76% to 34% during the first six years of the Barack Obama presidency.

On “Tweet-Drizzle on Merkel on New World Disorder (OAG #12)

All this seems less clear to me than you present here. So far, I've heard left libs bewailing as you say, but others cheering that fellow on for undermining NATO (alas, I haven't paid much attention to who said what).

At any rate, my first impulse is to say that the current situation is a poor example of what withdrawalism might look like - maybe if some one with a more reliable grasp on just everyday reality were doing it...

For instance, I think a withdrawalist could see a vital value in maintaining NATO to keep Russia in check.

Certainly I would be only barely marginally more optimistic if Bernie were doing his version. A continuation of the unevenness, fits and starts of the O years provides a more plausible map to withdrawalism. Enough of everything to make everyone unhappy.

Then if occurred to me that one could take a similar approach to strong interventionism - that GWB was a poor proponent of it, and it is unfair to judge that approach based on his execution.

In the end I see that fellow with no strong commitment to any ism other than that-fellow-ism, which may have tactical similarities to a wide range of isms, but is a poor fit for all of them.

On “Commenter Ignore Button 0.99

[…] a bow to that desire, and with an acknowledgement of thanks to former Technical Editor CK McLeod, who created this device, we offer a new […]

On “Theodicy of Trump – a Tweet-Drizzle (OAG #11)

From early on, Trump gave his adversaries abundant excuses to declare him illegitimate, or illegitimate as far as their principles were concerned.

To skip ahead to the Fall and to imagine Hillary Clinton "re-born hard," refusing to debate the man who incited violence at his rallies; who crudely demeaned his opponents; who ran a campaign filled with stooges of a foreign power; who encouraged, celebrated, and exploited the actions of WikiLeaks; who ran a never-disavowed multi-year effort to de-legitimize the sitting president; and so on, is difficult precisely because many or most of those justifications had been present for months, and had already been "normalized." The refusal to debate would have been a clear statement, but the person able to make it in September-October would have been able to make it or its equivalent in January-February.

HRC's message in the end seemed to be that Trump was unfit and unacceptable, as Jeet Heer notes. Debating him contradicted or blunted that message, but so did a thousand other things she did and didn't do. She could also have chosen to let others make that argument, and to focus all of her strength on the "agenda" that Heer says she downplayed. Instead, she tried to do both - "It's an emergency! Here's my worker retraining proposal!" - in the political equivalent of dividing her forces in the face of the enemy.

In short, she tried to play the odds and play the game, just as Obama tried to play the odds as he calculated them, in the hope of getting by with a "normal" victory. Obama apparently was ready to go public on the Russian allegations by the Summer, for instance, but is said to have backed down when Mitch McConnell threatened to call it "politics." You don't have to take a position on the intrinsic importance of the Russian question to understand the contradiction in the Democrats' response to it, the same as the contradiction in relation to Trump: If it was a matter of the greatest significance, then there should not have been any backing down to McConnell. Obama should have treated the issue as an emergency, taken extraordinary measures, and alerted the public. That he did not treat the issue as an emergency then compromises his defenders now when they ask us to treat it that way now. I discussed this question in some detail at around the same time the Russian question was receiving its first major post-election public airing late last Fall (OAG #2).

The same goes in regard to dealing with Trump. Unfortunately for his opponents, the kind of candidate who could have refused to debate Trump and could have driven the point home and sustained it is not the kind of candidate that the Democrats were prepared to nominate. They don't understand how to be hard in that way. As I've been saying, that is the one or perhaps the only thing that Trump seems to understand: how to go on with passionate intensity vs those who lack all conviction. Instead of backing down to a McConnell like Obama, we can assume that in a similar situation Trump would have been blurting out the awful truth at the first opportunity and every subsequent one.

The point of this argument is not to imagine going back in time and persuading HRC to adopt a saving tactic at the last possible second. The point is to illustrated the problem that the anti-Trump coalition was not able to face last year, but may be forced to face eventually, or may be in the process of being forced to face. To beat Trumpism they will have to mimic it without, if possible, succumbing to it, just as to beat the fascist totalitarians, we once upon a time needed to get a lot more fascist-totalitarian than we had been (and lastingly).

"

Only the retrospective knowledge that Trump, against every establishment anticipation, won the election lends the idea that Hillary Clinton ought to have refused to participate in the debates in a (to my mind, Quixotic) attempt to "de-legitimize" Trump even the remotest plausibility. For one thing, a refusal to debate Trump would have been portrayed by the Trump campaign as an instance of the very pusillanimity of the establishment cum political class that you say (assuming that I understand you correctly--the compressed nature of a "tweet" may be an obstacle to my understanding) is "the one thing Trump & his voters had right".

In any case, the key reason why the Clinton campaign assumed it would not be in their self-interest to attempt to "de-legitimize" Trump was their conviction--universally shared by the establishment punditocracy--that Trump was unelectable (where "electable" is somehow supposed to correlate with "approximation to left-liberalism" or, perhaps better, to "liberalism simpliciter"), and thus Hillary Clinton, however moribund her candidacy, was assured of victory.

It is proverbial that the failure to cognize one's position as vulnerable or defeasible sets one up for disappointment or even astonishment--and the astonishment of left-liberals and of others whose political perspectives are approximations or echoes, however remote, of left-liberalism or liberalism simpliciter, is inscribed in their political deeds to this very day, some six-odd months after the election.

The left-liberalism that is concretized in the Democratic Party has quite obviously become a species of fanaticism--and, while I'd be the last person on earth to deny the virtue (and maybe even the sheer necessity at all times) of fanaticism--it seems to me that this particular iteration of the fanatic spirit isn't born of an underlying vitality but rather of a decay of vitality.

On “Jennifer Rubin: Pro-Trump Republicans will get nothing, not even retention of a House majority – The Washington Post

I'd go much further than perhaps you might expect in supporting your criticism of the Democrats here, or crucial aspects of it. There's no reason the Electoral College should be a problem for a party that truly captured the "soul" or "spirit" of the nation, and the "WWC" at minimum has a claim on that soul or spirit (or idea or essence...), if not possibly the exclusive claim on which White Supremacists insist.

So, I accept that there is a peculiar, very typical blindspot among modern American liberals or left-liberals regarding this deficit. Their blindspot refers (or fails to refer them) back to itself: They are blind to their blindness. They are also Dunning-Kruger victims on this one. They cannot, for example, abide the argument which tends to get expressed by racists as "if Blacks can have Black Power, why can't we have White Power?" The problem is that answering this question truly adequately would necessarily involve us in matters about which neither side and no one else is prepared to speak in any political context. The problem is, for us, philosophic and historical. Our inability and unwillingness to address it defines us in many ways. I discussed the matter, or one major aspect of it, in more detail in my pieces on "Chait's Insanity," though it also shows up in the Left-Liberal "thymotic" deficit or problem with Jacksonianism.

We seem to be without exception mediocrities and hopeless cranks when it comes to these topics. That's what it means to be trapped within one's era by history. Anyone capable of comprehending the situation is pre-emptively barred from doing so to any effect. It's left to the naturally very decadent products of a very decadent political system to blunder their way through - people like those in the Trump Administration and their counterparts in Congress, but not just them by any means. We're still waiting to find out if America can manage to work things out despite Americans and everyone else, as it has in the past.

"

If we view the character of the US government to be of, by, and for the people rather than of, by, and for the acres, the map points to a distorted view of electoral support for the President in November 2016.

My point, of course, had nothing to do with "government of, by, and for the acres" (a clever formulation, I'll grant) but rather with the Democrats' failure to win a crucial national election for the lack of a few more acres. Given the stakes, is the expectation that the Democrats ought to have been able to win a few more acres out in the dreary, retrograde and bigoted heartland--the "Jesusland" of liberal cartography--so unreasonable? And I submit that their inability to do so has everything to do with their myopia.

As to "government of, by, and for the people"--according to Harry Jaffa in A New Birth of Freedom, Lincoln's ideal of popular government which that famous phrase embodies has everything to do with strict conformity to law, with the "rule of law" as such, and the reason Lincoln associated the secession of the South with an assault on the ideal of "government of, by, and for the people" was that they did not seek to secede via a legal process, they just unilaterally decreed it.

On that reading, "government of, by, and for the people" really has little to do with the ostensible injustice of the will of the voters of L.A. County being frustrated as regards their choice for President of the United States--since a mound of ten million human beings doesn't really get at the ideal of "government of, by, and for the people"--and everything to do with "strict conformity to law". And that necessarily--and obviously--means the law pertaining to Presidential elections which mandates the Electoral College, and the laws pertaining to Congressional elections which, unfortunately for the Democrats, have an awful lot to do with acres and counties and states.

On “Kaila Hale-Stern: How to Read Director Comey’s Goodbye Letter – The Mary Sue

DONNIE TRUMPO HAS INVOKED A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS AND HE’S WIPING HIS ASS WITH OUR MOST SACRED DOCUMENT THIS IS THE FOURTH TIME I HAVE EXPLICITLY TOLD YOU THAT YOU HAD BETTER STEP UP

I really must commend the maturity and profundity of this sentiment. The image of President “Trumpo” wiping his hiney with “our most sacred document”--presumably a reference to the U.S. Constitution--is especially wise and illuminating. That Mr. MacLeod would bring an image of such probity and intelligence to our attention (where “our” effectively encompasses bob and me) is hardly surprising. After all, C.K. is the fellow who literally smears his excrement across the face of “Virtue” on a well-nigh daily or perhaps twice-daily basis.

SORRY YOU’RE GOING TO BE FIRED AS WELL BY THIS CANCER ON THE AMERICAN STATE IT’S GOING TO BE WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER BUT THE COUNTRY’S FREEDOM IS ACTUALLY AT STAKE HERE DESTROY HIM LIKE A GREAT AVENGING EAGLE

Another judicious sentiment. Of particular interest is the unstated assumption of the passage: namely, that the legitimacy of “the American state” is imagined to be more rightfully embodied in the authority of appointed officials rather than in the authority of a lawfully elected President of the United States. In any case, one can’t but admire the good sense and reasonableness of “destroy him like a great avenging eagle”.

IF I EVER MEANT ANYTHING TO YOU MY G-MEN AND G-WOMEN YOU WILL BURN THIS MOTHER DOWN

Who wouldn’t acknowledge the sage wisdom of the sentiment “burn this mother down”? As for those who would unwisely and unintelligently retort that to “burn this mother down” in response to President “Trumpo” being a “cancer on the American state” who’s “wiping his ass with our most sacred document” is a rather extreme course of action even in the face of such a grave threat--one can only suppose that their complete lack of wisdom and intelligence speaks for itself.

Thanks for sharing this, C.K. Coming on the heels of your regrettable citation of the airheaded Jennifer Rubin, you admirably decided to “up your game” by having recourse to the highly intelligent Ms. “Hale-Stern”. Nice recovery.

Well, I see that the timer for the next commercial break is almost down to zero, so I better get outta here.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.

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