Extraordinary Comments

Comments that add as much to this site as the posts do, selected, with thanks to all, by the WordPresser-in-Chief…

I assumed the slogan meant that the WaPo would be pulling out of the darkness any creepy thing that might try to drag democracy down a slimy cave. Ergo, democracy would be clinging to the sticky tentacles of that thing and WaPo would then vanquish the thing and gingerly pick democracy off in order to let it dry and thrive in the sunlight that already exists in the world. I didn't assume that WaPo was bringing the light itself. Although I do feel the slogan is a bit dramatic, even for our times, I say: let them have their fun, no harm done. As I posted on my Twitter feed, and will plagiarize myself here--I thought their slogan was "You obviously love great journalism!" I'm sure I couldn't be the only person who typed that but it made me giggle. Again. Anyhoo, kudos to WaPo for getting everyone thinking about democracy as something worth saving/something on its way out but worth acknowledging. Dissecting that tagline is no doubt stimulating interesting social studies lectures across the world in a time so few news stories are appropriate for younger viewers.

Featured, Culture & Entertainment, Internet, Culture & Entertainment, Journalism, Operation American Greatness
Lanced Infinity

First, let me resist the binary that “you’re either for or against Trump,” at least for purposes of this discussion where we’re evaluating more than just a particular act in the voting booth. I don’t like much of Trump’s word choice, but Trump would not exist without the toxic, uncivil media and political environment we have today, full of double standards against people of a non-leftist point of view. (And yes, I’m operating in a bigger tent than just “conservatives” at this point in our political history.) Yes, this puts us in a “relativist” way of looking at things, which is discomfiting for me as a conservative. But from that perspective, Trump presents a possible way out of the leftist dead end. To square that with a more objective, the-ends-do-not-justify-the-means perspective, I have to assume that Trump’s media tactics can be cleaned up so they are not objectively distasteful and yet still effective. I think they can, but I grant that it’s debatable.

But to be clear: no, I am not saying that lying or being gross is justified because the left does it too. I believe those are not the essence of his media strategy and that strategy, that incredibly effective strategy, could be cleaned up and made defensible and still quite effective.

As for your line of argument based on “responsible” government, we have different priors. My assumption is that the reigning leftism in American government today is destructive and must be stopped. Fairly typically conservative. I also contend the destructive effects are imminent and becoming irreversible. Maybe I’m on the alarmist side, but still basically conservative. I gather from your comments, on the other hand, that you think we have a good long while to go before there is anything to be really alarmed about, even to the point that losing the Supreme Court would not be irreversible. I disagree. That is why I would risk a President Trump: not because I want “to bring down the monarchy,” but rather because I want to save it before it’s too late. A Hail Mary play is radical on the opening drive, but perfectly rational and conservative in the dwindling seconds of the fourth quarter. (For that matter, if I were to insist on my own priors – rather than acknowledge our respective priors are disputed – I could argue that you are trying to “bring down” what’s left of our constitutional republic by supporting Hillary, even if she will “safely” bring it down. For that matter, I do not believe it worthy to talk about the “safe” way to bring our own liberty to an end.)

As for Trump’s policies, I will stipulate that he doesn’t have a core of values. Again, I make no secret that conservatives have a terrible choice in front of them. The way I approach it is this: I have to assume that I have no idea what Trump will do on any given issue, with the exception of those he’s made a big fuss about, like immigration, which he could not fail to carry through without a major blow to his ego, which he would not abide. But conservatives have a mediating force in the Congress, and so were Trump to go full left on a particular issue, conservatives would have about as much chance in thwarting it as if Clinton were in office. And obviously, a 50% chance that Trump will go left on an issue is better odds than Clinton offers.

As for protecting the GOP brand, I am pretty open about being a Republican, but I find less and less about it to defend. I’ve come around to the view that one of the biggest issues facing our country – cyclic government dependency – will never be fixed in the regular course of accounting adjustments (probably by design), and that it must instead be addressed by immigration policy (also likely left unfixed by design). Thus, I see immigration as a sui generis issue, a threshold before any other problem can be meaningfully resolved. Until then, GOP credibility will continue to dissolve with ever more promises that will go unfulfilled because no one lacks the will or ability to stem low-skilled immigration to a country that already can’t take care of its low-skilled citizens. I think Trump has a point here that criticizing his “tone” rings hollow when he’s been willing to grab the third rail and hold on.

You say: “The “preference for the status quo” is the sine qua non of “conservatism.”” That is too facile. No one seriously argues that conservatives cannot criticize the welfare state or the alphabet-soup bureaucracy, which have been status quo for over a generation. Besides, what conservatives mean by “status quo” doesn’t control while we’re on a leftist trajectory. There is no “status quo” on a freeway onramp – and we’ll soon be on the highway to disaster. What I am interested to know is: what is there about the credibility of the GOP as it exists today that is worth such deference as to yield to the speculative concern that Trump would substantially harm it? And what will the GOP’s capital buy after a Clinton tenure when it has bought so little to date? Most people hate both parties, and I’m starting to agree – the GOP too consistently confuses defending markets with defending business, and is often too anemic a defender of life and religious liberty. Are we to believe the GOP could have made its big move and gained major victories if only Trump would get out of its way?

Again, I do not and cannot argue that the best reasons supporting Trump are typically “conservative” ones, except to the extent that one believes, as I do, that we don’t have another quarter to play and our best move left to play is, in any other circumstance, a very poor one. For that matter, the arguments against Trump make conservatism sound like an argument for managed decline.

Noted & Quoted, Politics # # #
Lanced Infinity

I've given a little more thought to your citation of the Roman aqueducts, and I realize that I missed something important about it--it posed far more of a challenge to my characterization of the "hydraulic project hypothesis" as a "projection from contemporary life" than I at first understood.

In my initial response, I focused on the distinction between the Romans as an antecedent Western people vs. the Nazca as a wholly extraneous, archaic people. But to the extent that the paquios are hypothesized as a "water distribution system" then they can be analogized to the Roman aqueducts, as you in fact did, and that is enough to make clear that the hypothesis--whatever its flaws may otherwise be--is not a projection "from contemporary life". So with deeply felt shame and contrition, I'm afraid I must retract that assertion of mine, despite my repeated asseverations to you and Bob that it was just obvious, etc.

I still think the substance of my criticism of the hypothesis stands--namely, that it is a guess, a belief, not knowledge, and that we can never actually know what the paquios are, but only speculate about them.

To the extent we’re referring to a particular narrative – “our history” or “history for us” – maybe we’re in the process of bringing or trying to bring Nazca civilization into “history for us.”

And to the extent that we are trying to bring Nazca civilization into "history for us" via imaginative speculations that are unlikely to be true in the sense of scientific truth, then (on analogy with Machtpolitik) we might term that undertaking Machthistorie--bringing the Other into our history by intellectual or imaginative force. Nor am I necessarily objecting to that undertaking. Like the Freund/Feind distinction that lies at the heart of the concept of the political--like Machtpolitik itself--Machthistorie may be so eminently natural and necessary as to be hardly objectionable.

Noted & Quoted, Science
Lanced Infinity

I enjoyed this one.

I have been immersed in a similar matrix of issues on the Tibetan Buddhist side now for almost 2 years. The controversy around "self emptiness" and "other emptiness" brought to their peak expressions by Tsong-kha-pa and Dolpopa respectively mirrors this discussion in many ways, and differs in many others.

The question appears here as - is mere negation of the self possible, or does it implicitly affirm, through the body of attributes of that negation, a greater, inherently existing self.

This formulation is undoubtedly clumsy and probably misleading in a lot of ways. But I report on this because the question, in this and a multitude of other expressions, seems to me to be reiterated in almost everything I think about to any significant degree.

Just a note continuing a previous discussion we've had, I think V mischaracterizes the Aquinas' MBoC. The appalling interpretation of the Church you refer to regarding the Nazi's is fully consistent with A. If you want to assert a duty for universalism for the Catholic Church, it's best to look elsewhere. A. clearly equates the Church with the MBoC.

I believe Pope Francis has affirmed the restrictive interpretation of the MBoC and looks to the tradition of his namesake to support a broadening of the Church's pastoral program.

Anismism, Featured, History, Philosophy, Religion # # # #
Lanced Infinity

This is a good and thought-provoking post. I can't quite congeal my thoughts into anything coherent, but I wanted to say that. And to touch on the one part where I can be at least semi-coherent:

All I can say is that I think there is some truth to your meta. Which is to say that there are certain things I consider to be truths that We Cannot Say, really, because if we say them then The Wrong People will hide behind them. Even saying so much as "It's Complicated" is one of those things. Right now, it's a Black and White discussion, and "it's complicated" is like saying that the motives of the war were complicated. Which they were in some ways, but not the genuinely important ones. And focusing on the unimportant is seen as a distraction. And, I think, is. Especially when there are voices who very desperately want to distract.

One of the things I am grappling with is a print of a painting of Lee and His Generals, which hangs at my parents house and, on their passing, will end up in my hands. And it's a painting that has a very personal meaning for me apart from any reverence to General Lee. It's me, ten years old, looking at the painting of all of those generals in their getups and how it tickled my imagination. And going back to that place. Not nostalgia for 1861 so much as for 1988.

But a painting of Lee and His Generals is, as objectively as it can be, inescapably a reverence. And if we were, at any point, to admit that it might be something else for some people in some circumstances, then people will find a reason for it to be about something-anything else. Which The Flag has demonstrated so clearly.

It's why we can't have nice things. It's why we can't have the flag. Whatever some southerners might want it to mean, history and recent use has made sure that it will ultimately mean what its critics say it means (in the United States at least).

Featured, notes, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, History, US History, War # # # #
Lanced Infinity
CK's WP Plugins

Noted & Quoted


President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics.

The allegations, if true, would appear to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics, even as US-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.

Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million (£8 million) annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP.

Comment →

The texts, posted on a darknet website run by a hacktivist collective, appear to show Manafort’s family fretting about the ethics, safety and consequences of his work for Yanukovych. And they reveal that Manafort’s two daughters regarded their father’s emergence as a key player on Trump’s presidential campaign with a mixture of pride and embarrassment.

In one exchange, daughter Jessica Manafort writes “Im not a trump supporter but i am still proud of dad tho. He is the best at what he does.” Her sister Andrea Manafort responded by referring to their father’s relationship with Trump as “The most dangerous friendship in America,” while in another exchange she called them “a perfect pair” of “power-hungry egomaniacs,” and asserted “the only reason my dad is doing this campaign is for sport. He likes the challenge. It's like an egomaniac's chess game. There's no money motivation.”

By contrast, the Manafort daughters and their mother seemed much more unsettled about Paul Manafort’s work as a political consultant for Yanukovych’s Russia-backed Party of Regions, which is a subject of renewed interest among investigators probing possible links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

In one March 2015 exchange that appears to be between the two sisters, Andrea Manafort seems to suggest that their father bore some responsibility for the deaths of protesters at the hands of police loyal to Yanukovych during a monthslong uprising that started in late 2013.

“Don't fool yourself,” Andrea Manafort wrote. “That money we have is blood money.”

Comment →

If there's anything mitigating the bad news for the White House here, it is that Comey may have also sent subtle signals that the matters under investigation are not principally about the personal conduct of Trump himself. While this is speculation, I do not believe that if Comey had, say, validated large swaths of the Steele dossier or found significant Trump-Russia financial entanglements of a compromising variety, he would have said even as much as he said today. I also don't think he would have announced the scope of the investigation as about the relationship "between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government" or "coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts"; these words suggest one step of removal from investigating the President himself. If the latter were the case, I suspect Comey wouldn't have used words suggestive of the Flynn-Manafort-Page cabal.

But that's reading a lot into a relatively small number of tea leaves. What is clear is that this was a very bad day for the President. In it, we learned that there is an open-ended Russia investigation with no timetable for completion, one that's going hang over Trump's head for a long time, and one to which the FBI director is entirely committed.

Comment →


State of the Discussion

Comments this threadCommenter Archive
+ Yeah, I read C's comments as trying to do a variety of things at the same time, having the effect of making interpretation more difficult. Any [. . .]
Benjamin Wittes: How to Read What Comey Said Today – Lawfare
Comments this threadCommenter Archive
+ Sure, so why do they have "work Phones" they take home? Even if they don't have fate of the world responsibilities, who they work [. . .]
Isenstadt and Vogel: Paranoia seizes Trump’s White House – POLITICO

Support This Site?