Thursday, November 16, 2017

Assume the Position

The conventional wisdom in real estate is that location is everything. To which we might add, timing is also everything. I recall the gas crises back in the 1970s when the market for homes outside the Beltway – i.e., more than 30 minutes away from downtown or the Mall – went comatose. That was the time to buy, of course, since the minute gasoline became plentiful again real estate in the D.C. suburbs started on its course to stratospheric heights – a trend which continues to this day. (I've always felt that there is a certain poetic justice in the fact that the people who believe themselves entitled to tell everyone else how to live their lives have to, themselves, live with astronomical housing prices as well as grotesque traffic jams from pre-dawn to far into the night.) (Not to mention the truly horrific summer weather.)

It's a similar story in politics. Location – and let us translate that to “position” or “stance”, or even “optics” -- is everything, and timing is everything as well. It's a truism that what motivates politicians above all – Job One – is running for office, winning, and then staying in office... and they will pretty much do, and say, whatever it takes in order to achieve those goals. Politicians in our time can rarely be described as men (or women) of principle, and it's enough to make one weep to consider the Founding Fathers, who were, by comparison, philosophers – and deep thinkers when it came to the nature of man, society, the significance of America, and government. By comparison, today's politicians, while some may be technically intelligent, are total knuckle-draggers when it comes to real thinking, and, in way too many cases, moral imbeciles. So for them survival is not only Job One, but the only thing that makes any sense. “Public service” is something they talk about, and pretend to believe in, but judging by their behavior it winds up on the cutting room floor, more often than not.

If it's true that we get the government we deserve, then it must also be true that we get the leaders and, in general, the politicians we deserve. The basic model for the American Experiment included the concept of an informed and enlightened citizenry – and this was back in the days when “the press” involved setting type by hand and printing one sheet at a time. What we have evolved into is a world of information... of nothing but information, in fact, but most of it is noise disguised as information – random outpourings of the monster we call “the media” which are designed to keep us safely locked in our respective cocoons while believing that we are “informed”.

And politicians are victims of this system as well; let's face it. They tend – if we believe even half of what they say – to be even more deluded than the bulk of the citizenry. They believe – or claim to believe – in ideas that were suspect from the beginning, and which have long since been shown to be delusional and destructive. They are not only creatures of the media, but are totally dependent on those media for their survival – for the sustaining of their image. If politicians are Dr. Frankenstein and the media are the monster, then it's clear that the monster has taken over the castle and that the hapless doctor has to bend to his every whim.

There's nothing terribly new about any of this, and in fact the “Information Age” got under way in earnest soon after World War II, although there were precursors (like radio), and of course the printed word has been with us always – or so it seems. And there's no sense pretending that there is, or ever has been, any such thing as pure, unbiased “news”. Any medium, no matter how venerable, has, to some degree, been an instrument of influence, opinion-making, and propaganda, and the average citizen has ever been at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding events outside his immediate purview. (I recall that we used to regularly mock and make fun of the obvious and blatant propaganda organs of the Soviet Union, like Pravda, Izvestia, and Radio Moscow. That was before we discovered how many American newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV stations were firmly under the thumb of the CIA.) (And don't even get me started on Radio Free Europe, whose broadcasts were, mysteriously, unavailable to anyone living in the U.S.)

But again, this is all business as usual, and no surprise to anyone who hasn't been living under a rock since infancy. We are doomed to act not on what we know (which is very limited in scope) but on what we think we know, or what we believe, or what we (as my high school chemistry teacher used to say ) “fancy”. Ignorance is our lot, sadly. And that ignorance is only aggravated by the amount of time we spend riveted to, and obsessing about, “the news”. It can be said that the more we think we know, the higher a percentage of our “knowledge” is delusion and flights of fancy. (Back when the Cold War was still hot, I used to imagine being up in front of a philosophy class and challenging them to prove to me that there was such a place as Russia (anyone who had actually been there was disqualified). No one was ever able to do this – but, of course, it was only my imagination so who knows?) (The idea was that “Russia” may have been no more than a fictitious bogeyman invented by the government in order to scare people into supporting massive arms buildups and the military draft.) (And here we are in 2017 and the bogeyman hiding under everyone's bed and plotting to steal their vote is -- Russia!)

So in a sense we can pity the politicians, since they are in the same epistemological boat as the rest of us. The problem is that, even though they are fellow victims, they take advantage of the situation to further victimize others. They are adept at the “fact” game, and the “truth” game; they are fast talkers (if not fast thinkers) and just love to tell us what we want to hear, even if it's terrifying. The goal of what I will call verbal terrorism is, of course, to frighten us into not only giving up our common-sense view of things, but becoming helpless and dependent, and easy prey for them and whoever comes along afterward. Think of it as them gaming the system in their favor, the way certain wily prison or concentration camp inmates will somehow gain advantages in power, influence, and resources through scheming, wile, and social dominance (all familiar traits of politicians). Yes, they are in the system, they are victims in a way, and they harbor many of the same delusions the rest of us do, but within those constraints they manage to turn things to their advantage.

Consider now the dilemma of the current crop of politicians in Congress. Actually, consider the dilemma of the Republicans, since the Democrats are facing no dilemma whatsoever as they contemplate the 2018 election season. The Democrats' position is crystal clear: Trump is illegitimate and a usurper who stole the presidency with the help of the Russians, and we must, by any and all means, drive him from office as soon as possible. This is their position, pure and simple, and we can expect them to run on that position, since they have no other. Their thinking at this point goes no further than the image of Trump fleeing the White House with family in tow and being escorted out of town – tar and feathers optional. Of course, it may have occurred to a few of them that the result of this would be that Mike Pence would become president. But that would be illegitimate as well, so he would also have to be impeached, and... well, it's hard to come up with a scenario where Hillary would return to Washington in triumph and ascend to the throne that she has been so rudely denied for so long. At least it's hard to come up with that scenario consistent with the Constitution – but who cares about that silly old hunk of paper anyway? If Hillary descended on Washington the way Lenin descended on Petrograd, she would undoubtedly be declared president by popular acclaim, and any naysayers would be dealt with most severely; at least this is the fantasy no doubt entertained by many members of the “resistance”.

That's the Democratic position in a nutshell; cue “To Dream the Impossible Dream”. The party may lack a clear leadership structure (as witness the cat fight between Hillary and Donna “Bobo” Brazile), but no one can deny that it represents ideas – a world view. And there are countless weak-egoed people in that party who would still be willing to walk over hot coals at Hillary's bidding. For the Republicans, however, it's a far different story. Leadership? Hard to say. Ideas? None that I can come up with offhand. And who's going to walk over hot coals for Yertle the Turtle, er, I mean Mitch McConnell?

Here's where we get back to “position” and “timing”. For starters, we're already seeing Republicans dropping out simply because it would offend their tender sensibilities to run again under the Republican banner, which has been so badly contaminated by Trump and “Trumpism”. They prefer to wash their hands of the entire matter, and thus remain as pure as the driven snow. Yeah, right. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of them (all representatives and a third of senators) have to make a decision, and make it soon. Many of them were “never Trumpers” during the election season last year, and others undoubtedly agreed but hesitated to say so in so many words because they knew which way the wind was blowing. Some got elected because they openly supported Trump, and some because they openly opposed him; same with the losers. Again, position and timing. (And location, if we're talking “red” vs. “blue” vs. “hard to predict”.) In short, the 2016 election was, for many of them, a gamble – and for the House of Representatives it's going to be “here we go again” next year.

But this time the landscape has changed. Instead of having to respond to Trump's campaign, and adopt positions vis-a-vis the many issues he brought up, now they have to stake out a position vis-a-vis the actual Trump administration – 9 months young at this time, but over twice that come November of 2018.

And how are they responding, other than the ones who've already bailed? Well, the “never Trumpers” are holding firm, more or less, and showing solidarity with the Democrats. But is that anything that will get them re-elected a year from now? Isn't loyalty worth anything any longer?

Then you have the more or less silent majority, who remain more or less silent, but sooner or later their constituents will, hopefully, demand that they fish or cut bait, and declare which side they're on.

Then you have the ones who openly support Trump, or seem to be doing so – but is this nothing more than a gamble on their part? And will this positioning morph in some way over the next year?

They're all gambling, as a matter of fact, and they're gambling on at least two things at once: (1) the fate of the Trump administration; and (2) public opinion. And that gamble has a temporal element in that the administration's fortunes will surely continue to develop in as chaotic a fashion as they've been doing to date... and as to public opinion, we know how it can turn on a dime.

If there were a publicly-traded crystal ball industry, a “buy” recommendation would be in order at this point. Unfortunately, there is no such entity, so the denizens of Capitol Hill are caught in a multi-layered dilemma – and richly-deserved, in my opinion.

The trajectory, or fate, of the Trump administration is anyone's guess. To begin with, his administration has yet to get off the ground. Sure, he's managed to spray roach killer on a lot of Obama's executive orders with executive orders of his own; this was Job One, and he's doing it. All well and good. But if you only live by the executive order, you also die by the executive order. What counts in the long run is legislation, and in that area Trump's program, or proposed program, is at a standstill. And this is with majorities in both houses of Congress! But again, we have to remember that the “never Trumpers” tip the scales; as they indicated, without a hint of shame, during the 2016 campaign, they would rather lose the election than see Trump as president, and now they are saying that they would rather join the Democrats than see Trump succeed. But again, how is this going to play out in flyover country next year? Time will tell.

If we want to be brutally frank about it, we are still operating under Obama's policies and with Obama's programs. The Trump administration is, so far, Obama's third term, with no signs of anything that can change it. Obama rules the bureaucracy, AKA the “deep state”, from his mansion on a hill in D.C.; why else would he have stayed in Washington if it were not to perform this function?  He's got plenty of time to go back to Chicago and return to community activism.  He has become the gray eminence of the Democratic Party, gently easing out Bill Clinton, although the latter could always reassert his Svengali-like control if he felt the urge. What all of this adds up to is that Trump is in a position new to American politics: With his (OK, “his”) party in power in both houses, he finds himself hobbled and kneecapped at every turn, because half of “his” party is against him, in addition to pretty much everyone else on Earth except those who voted for him, who have shown, so far, admirable loyalty.

What this means is that, short of actual impeachment, the Trump administration is going to remain theoretical. It's going to slog along, confined to the White House, while the rest of the country goes on its merry, or not so merry, way. But, again, we have this hard core of loyal Trump supporters, and we have to assume that they will vote in 2018. So any Republican who expects to get elected, or re-elected, in 2018 has to concentrate on positioning. Who will be going to the polls on Election Day of 2018? Trump loyalists? Never Trumpers? Skeptics? Independents? The mind boggles.

But let's not overlook the temporal dimension. Between now and a year from now, anything can happen. Trump might pull off some significant triumphs in terms of domestic (read: economic) policy, or in terms of foreign policy. That would enhance his value as an ally and as a possible source of support. On the other hand, any number of bad things might happen domestically (read: economically) or foreign policy-wise. And in that case, Trump is going to become a liability that no one will want to be identified with.

All of this adds up to an Excedrin headache par excellence for Republican office holders and office-seekers. One can almost smell the scent of fear and cowardice oozing out of the Capitol. Now, life would be simpler for them if they were men (women) of principle. If that were so, they could simply run on the basis of principles and ideas, and the pro- vs. anti-Trump issue wouldn't even come up. Or if it did, it would be irrelevant. But that's not the way things work these days. Everyone is looking for coattails to ride, and whoever rode in on Trump's coattails may be starting to wonder if that was such a good idea. Ditto with anti-Trump coattails (whatever they might be). The current “buzz” is that you have to be pro-Trump to get elected or re-elected. Even if that's true, it's only true right now, today. It may not be true tomorrow. By the time next fall rolls around, Republican candidates may have all joined the resistance, and be trash-talking along with Pelosi and Schumer. (In which case, why bother voting for a Republican when you can vote for the real thing? But that's been a question ever since the Republicans ceased being true conservatives.)

The only bright spot in all of this is that Trump seems to be more able than any career politician to ignore the “nattering nabobs” in Congress, and the media, and Hollywood, and everywhere that nattering nabobs congregate. He seems to have a vision, and a program, and a plan, and he seems to be determined and consistent about it, and not spending a whole lot of time figuring out how to make people happy and like him – which, in itself, is extremely refreshing. But if Trumpism is so radically removed from business as usual in Washington, are its chances of survival, not to mention success, any better than those of any other outsider and/or populist movement down through history? Are we to have, basically, four years of stalemate followed by a return to the usual way of doing things (accompanied by a resounding Republican defeat in 2020, no doubt)? Will the establishment have taught those pesky populists a damn good lesson? (Bernie-ites and Warren-ites should be paying attention to this as well, by the way.) And – if the pendulum has swung more in the populist direction than ever before with the ascendence of Donald Trump, what will it look like when it swings back the other way, which it almost certainly will?

Ah, yes -- “interesting times”.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bells are Ringing

One of the many pleasures I enjoy while sitting on my back porch (among now-struggling herbs and tomatoes, undoubtedly deceived by the last gasp of Indian Summer, which is supposed to come to a thundering close in the next day or so, according to the weather gurus) is the sound of church bells at various times of the day. And I've gotten pretty good at identifying, when conditions are right, which bells from which church are ringing at any given moment – the ones across the valley and the ones up the road being the most prominent. I might add that in this, perhaps the most unabashedly Catholic city in the country, all of the bells are rung (or broadcast, if electronic) by Catholic churches as far as I know, although I also have to add that the Episcopalians are no slouches in this matter, if one includes the change ringing at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. – a bit of tradition in a Gothic edifice more often given over to secular humanism. (This custom persists much to the delight of traditionalists and aesthetes alike, and undoubtedly much to the dismay of the neighbors on “Cathedral Hill”, although I have yet to hear of anyone dropping a dime and complaining to the D.C. Noise Ordinance Ministry.) Well, holiness is where you find it, even if it is inadvertent.

It happened again today (Oct. 14), under a cloudless sky with the temperature topping 80 degrees, on the centennial plus one day of the Dance of the Sun in Fatima, Portugal. And what is the message of the bells? Because, like the rain, the sound of the bells falls upon the just and the unjust alike. It is, among other things, a way of asserting not only the presence of believers but of belief itself -- the reality of the spiritual dimension of life – a dimension that is typically lost in the daily shuffle of politics, controversy, and the endless struggle between belief in God and belief in “ideas” -- the latter based on the premise that the observable world is all that there is, and all that is worthy of our concern. The message of the bells is: “No, wait! There is something more.” -- and as that master lyricist Jon Hendricks, who set words to countless Count Basie classics, inscribed on my ancient LP jacket a few years back, “Short Jazz Poem: 'Listen!'”

Another way of putting it is that it represents hope in the midst of chaos – and of uncertainty and despair. For the secular/materialist/humanist project which has been in full swing since at least as far back as the French Revolution, while it seems to have a goal – it is “progressive”, after all – is ultimately a recipe for frustration. The perfectibility of man and of society is a will-o'-the-wisp in a fallen world, and those who pursue it are on a fool's errand. And this is not to say that life cannot be made better in the material sense, through advances in medicine, nutrition, technology, and the whole panoply of things that constitute “progress”. But small, incremental advances are not enough for those whose entire world view is limited to the material, and who see man as, basically, a small, insignificant creature scuttling around between “the sky above and the mud below”, to borrow the title of a French documentary film from 1961. The premise seems to be that “progress” -- whatever that means – will free humankind from the fetters of mere earthly existence, and create a new man, and even a new species. In this is their hope, and in this they trust – and no skepticism or gainsaying will divert them from their course, which inevitably requires more control, more pigeonholing, and ultimately totalitarianism and tyranny. To save the human race from itself requires, basically, the abolition of humanity, starting with the human spirit, which is inexplicably attracted to what Freud called illusions – religion, faith, belief in the unseen.

And it's not even just about bells. Two years ago, on a trip to the Near East, I stayed a few days in Bethlehem, a holy city for Christians which is populated mainly by Muslims and under the watchful eye of Jews – thus, the uneasy dynamics among the “People of the Book”. At certain times of the day the Muslim call to prayer could be heard coming from a nearby minaret – amplified, no doubt, but nonetheless having an ancient and alien (to me) sound. It would start as a kind of low rumble, and I was uncertain, at first, what it was or where it was coming from. But then it became clear that it was, in a sense, the equivalent of church bells in the Christian world. It was, again, a kind of assertion; in a place of so much strife the spiritual was not only real, but paramount.

It is said that bells serve to drive the Devil away. But even he is capable of “cultural appropriation”, as witness the AC/DC classic “Hell's Bells”. So bells are a marker – for good or ill. They tell you that that there is more to “reality” than what simply meets the eye or tantalizes the senses... that something's up... that the day of reckoning is at hand (even if “at hand” in cosmic time still means many millennia in our time). But they can also be reassuring -- an intervention of sorts into our oft-dreary material existence. For without them, what would be left to get our attention? If I lived in a place where bells could not be heard I would feel that something had been lost – that a cosmic alarm clock had been silenced because humanity had been reprobated and given up to its fate.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Statuary Rape

It's a truism – but true, nonetheless – that the most dangerous enemy is one that has nothing to lose. The Confederacy was – and continues to be – a defeated nation. And “nation” is what it was; let's not quibble about that. It did exist, for four short years, and the Civil War, AKA The War Between the States, was not so much a “civil war” as a war between nations. Why do we call the South “rebels” but accept without question all of the other “separatist” movements and their resulting nations (think: South Sudan) as perfectly reasonable historical events? Why are we not exerting pressure on Russia to do something to “preserve the (Soviet) union”? (Heaven knows, they'd like to, and they have, in fact, made moves in that direction.) Why do we not wax nostalgic about the long-lost glory days of Yugoslavia? And how did we manage to let Czechoslovakia break in half after all the effort we went to to unite the Czechs and the Slovaks? And why aren't we all over England's case when it comes to Scotland and Wales? And so on.

But as William Faulkner said in so many words, to a Southerner the Civil War is not so much history as current events. Because the battle rages on, and in our time the battle is heating up again, for the umpteenth time. For the inconvenient truth is that defeated nations do, in fact survive – culturally and in spirit at least, as well as politically, and even economically.

The lesson is that winning is not always winning, and losing is not always losing. In the long, or very long, run, surprising things happen. The Ottoman Empire was supposedly reduced to a faint memory after World War I, and yet here we are nearly 100 years later dealing with an alleged caliphate in the form of ISIS. The intrusions of Islam into Europe were turned back by events like the Battle of Vienna (1683 – again, current events) but the descendants of the Ottoman forces are now flooding into Europe (and the U.S.), propelled by not only economic forces but by sheer demographics, i.e. “population pressure”. It turns out that people who are willing to reproduce beyond their “replacement numbers” can, in fact, not only come back to life but constitute a dominant force – and it doesn't have to be about sheer firepower. Turkey was once termed “the sick man of Europe”, but it has now become a freeway for a “soft invasion” of countries which can now be called “sick”, simply because of their lack of political and spiritual willingness to survive. They contracept and abort, and the Moslems just keep having kids. The term “suicide” for what's happening in Europe is not too strong.

Call it what you will – invasion, immigration, migration, whatever – the point is that the powers that be – the global elite with their headquarters in Western Europe – are now reduced to hunkering down in their ancient stone fortresses (or Brussels highrises) while the Moslems take over large sections of their large (and not so large) cities. And all of the traditions and cultural history of Western Europe are turning out to be no match for this human wave; what's remarkable is that what is happening now didn't happen sooner.

Likewise, we are experiencing our own human wave, namely that from Latin America. But no one ever asks, why now? Why not sooner? After all, Latin America has always been there – or at least since the time of Columbus. And there have always been, if you'll pardon the expression, “wetbacks” who have braved the mighty waters of the Rio Grande in order to gain a foothold in the Southwest, and reclaim what was lost in the Mexican War. So why this sudden flood of humanity? The answers, of course, are many – and debatable. Economics, of course, is at the top of the list (no, not “ideas” or “freedom” in general) – people looking for “opportunity”, but also fleeing violence and chaos in their home countries – much of which can be attributed to “drugs”. But why are “drugs” such a big deal all of a sudden? Well, where are these drugs headed? Who are the customers... the buyers? Americans, of course, and everyone wants a piece of that ever-expanding pie. And it's not just about the cities, or about the “inner cities”; the Middle South is becoming a wasteland of drug addiction, with opioids replacing moonshine as the substance of choice. And what is addiction, after all, but an expression of despair – and the more dominant the drug culture becomes, the deeper the despair becomes. But what causes, or at least contributes mightily, to despair? Hopelessness... alienation... desperation... a feeling of being left out, of having been bypassed on the road to high-tech Utopia. When an individual is declared a non-person, or a group is declared “deplorables”, they tend to act accordingly, unless they have sufficient resources and self-esteem to overcome bigotry and persecution by the ruling elite. People are highly suggestible, after all – especially in the aggregate. Pronounce a given group “victims” often enough and they start to agree with you, and think of themselves as victims; this is the essence of victimology – the politics of division, of divide-and-conquer. The East and West Coasts sit fat and happy while the heartland appears helpless and depressed. You don't need outright cultural genocide to get this effect; the gradual erosion of identity and self-respect is enough. The Middle South is the inner city writ large, but with different skin tones.

To draw a bright line between the Civil War, and its aftermath, and the current pathologies of the American South is to oversimplify, certainly. And yet the South's own spokesmen over the years – think not only Faulkner but Tennessee Williams, and many others – were perfectly willing to draw a line of this sort, if only indirectly by implication. Ever since the conclusion of “the late unpleasantness” -- which was anything but a “conclusion”, but only the start of a new stage – the South has been on the defensive – politically, economically, and culturally. Much has been made of “the New South”, where, thanks to migration from the North (not to mention air conditioning) the South has remade itself into a respectable ally in the inevitable drive toward a socialist paradise, where (to paraphrase St. Paul) there is no South vs. North, no black vs. white, no rural vs. urban – where we are all united in the ongoing pursuit of American exceptionalism and hegemony. (An interesting sidebar to all of this is that the U.S. military, particularly the Army, is still, in many ways, a Southern institution, thanks to a military tradition that predates the Civil War but that persists, nonetheless, to the present day.)

But the truth is far different, as we are, once again, seeing. It's no longer simply a matter of racial integration – that battle was won in the courts a couple of generations back, and eventually “hearts and minds” followed suit, by and large (or the older generation died out, which has the same effect). Economically, the South and the North are joined as never before; you don't have to go through customs to travel on an odd-numbered interstate highway in either direction. Politically, it can be argued that the South has, at various times, more or less taken over Congress, not to mention the presidency, which has been blessed (ahem) with a sorry gaggle of Southern governors and other politicians (LBJ, Carter, Clinton, and Bush II).

But what is it that has stood fast, and has remained as the last redoubt of Southern pride? Tradition, basically (cue Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof”). And what constitutes that tradition? Patriotism, but of an odd sort – the patriotism of a defeated nation, and of those who identify and express solidarity with it, for whatever reasons. And it's precisely because they were defeated – and defamed, mainly but not exclusively because of slavery – that this patriotism, this pride, has survived pretty much intact up to the present day. “The love that dare not speak its name” has become the love of, and pride in, place -- “blood and soil” -- something the perpetually restless and money-grubbing North cannot fathom. And it's not as if the North doesn't have these things; they just don't put much stake in them. For Northerners (of which I am one, by the way) it is enough to seek one's fortune wherever the odds favor it; “place” is secondary, and “blood” is strictly forbidden as a source of anything honorable. So we have a “nation” of, basically, (1) perpetual gypsies and migrants ever on the quest for the almighty dollar, and (2) people for whom the land -- “place” -- is everything, which explains why they persist in staying in “poverty pockets” in the Appalachians and elsewhere. Poor land is still land, whereas you can't grow corn or raise pigs in a stock portfolio or bank account.

So there is a profound lack of understanding, not to mention empathy, between the two – a lack that no politician or national leader has yet managed to remedy. (And yes, that includes Southern presidents.)

(It bears mentioning that the location of the nation's capital was chosen explicitly as a meeting place between North and South – the idea being that, with that strong a symbol, the two preexisting cultures would there find common ground. And this was, needless to say, generations before warfare broke out between the two.  And I have always found it amusing that while Washington, D.C. was firmly in the North – and well-defended – Alexandria, Virginia was firmly in the South, just a few miles down what is now U.S. 1. Yes, there were forts between D.C. And Alexandria, the sites of which remain, in many cases – unless they've been obliterated by housing developments.)

So, yes – the Old South is truly “gone with the wind”, and the Confederacy is the Lost Cause. No one can realistically argue about that. However, it is one thing to declare peace and work for reconciliation, and another to drive a stake into the heart of the losing nation/society/culture. The North, AKA the U.S., AKA the preserved Union, was at least smart enough to leave the South with its memories, its pride, and its icons – military and political. There was considerable tolerance for the remaining symbols of the South as well – flags in particular. (And what is it about flags? Well, that's a discussion for another time.) We could all chuckle indulgently when someone said, at least half in jest, “Save your Confederate money, boys, 'cause the South will rise again!” And – unless I'm sadly mistaken -- “Dixie” was a permitted song in music class in my (New York state) public school, because... well, it was historic, after all. In fact, if memory serves, we even had a perfectly courteous North/South debate in junior high social studies class. Try that these days! You'd have a SWAT team breaking the door down in five minutes, followed by an army of social workers, grief counselors, and facilitators toting teddy bears and Play-Doh.

The fact remains that for believers in the Lost Cause, just about all they have left is iconography, the first and foremost of which is – you guessed it – statuary. It's the only tangible, and public, record of that which was, is not, and is never more to be – of a dream that died. Now, we can debate all day and into the night as to whether slavery was an essential element of antebellum Southern culture. It was certainly key to the Southern economy, no doubt – and a major factor in politics, especially on the national level, where Southern legislators had to trek to Washington and be beat over the head on a regular basis by the abolitionists. But I'm talking about culture here – about the self-image of a people... a highly complex matter that includes, yes, “blood and soil”, but also traditions from whatever source, customs, approaches to government (recall that the Confederacy was much more libertarian than the Union, even at that time, not to mention ever since), religion (and yes, the South had a different mix of denominations then, as it continues to have – possibly the most stable remnant of former times), dress, manners, class structure... you name it. The South was another country then, not only literally for four years, but figuratively – as it continues to be, but only in the pale, ghostly remnants that Tennessee Williams was so fond of putting on stage. The Middle South – the “border states” -- were a kind of hybrid in many ways, as I found out when I lived in Missouri for a few years. And as such, they had, and continue to have, a kind of identity crisis – and it bears noting that many contemporary dysfunctions (like opioid addiction) seem to have inflicted the Middle South much more severely than the Deep South. One might say that anyone born and raised in the Deep South is a Southerner, without a doubt – whereas a person born and raised in the Middle South has a choice. They can adopt, and immerse themselves in, the Southern way of life (such as it remains in an increasingly cosmopolitan, rootless society), or they can be more like Midwesterners, or even Westerners; the choice is theirs. But with that choice comes, potentially, disorientation, and a frustrated search for identity.

But to have, or adopt, the “Southern” point of view is not simply a matter of geography, either. Witness the fact that there are “country-western” radio stations in every state of the union; this is, among other things, Southern pride asserting itself wherever its proponents may be, and in public, no less – and in a forum that the Regime seems indifferent to (the same way they don't harass NASCAR about its “carbon footprint”). And of course “Southern” also correlates highly with “Scotch-Irish”, with the Appalachians, and with – dare I say it? -- being white. So to celebrate, or take pride in, being of the South, and to memorialize the Confederacy and its key figures, is pretty much automatically to express white pride, if not outright white supremacy (or at least wishing for it). And white pride is something that must be banned, banished, crushed, and stamped out at all costs, according to the masters of the political, media, and entertainment universes. Southerners have to be kept on as the butt of jokes and satire, but to take them seriously would be a great breach of P. C. etiquette.

And after all, since when do we allow the losing side in any war to celebrate... anything? Do we allow aging Nazis to chant the Horst Wessel Song with weak, quavering voices? To we allow the Japanese to raise cups of sake in celebration of the Bataan Death March? Not bloody likely. A defeated enemy is still an enemy, basically – no matter how much rehabilitation has gone on in the meantime. Any hint of the mindset that led to war must be quashed without mercy, even if it is only one small element of overall national history, pride, and remembrance.

And likewise with the Confederacy. It is a particular mark of totalitarianism to give no quarter... to tolerate not the slightest deviation from the party line, either in word or symbol... and to allow no breaks, no days off, no truces from the ongoing and perpetual hate that must be expressed at all times, through all channels and media, by all right-thinking people. This has characterized repressive regimes throughout the 20th Century, and now characterizes our own in this one respect, at least – that the Confederacy has become, in retrospect, the Great Satan, and deserves no recognition for anything other than having been totally and irredeemably evil. Which means, as far as all forms of nostalgia for the Lost Cause or for what it represents in the present day, game over – no more flags, no more statues, no more names on buildings, bridges, highways, etc. -- no more graves (!) -- no more anything. History is not being rewritten, it's being destroyed. And who feels the pain the most? Basically, those who have adopted the Confederacy and its Lost Cause as a symbol of their own cause – as a group and as individuals. And yes, these are the same “deplorables” who voted for Donald Trump, and who saw him as their last, best hope for preserving some self-respect against the assaults of the larger culture and the Regime, as embodied in that which lies “inside the Beltway”.

When an entire people has been declared anathema and beyond the pale, and their culture is assaulted on all sides, and they find themselves economically disadvantaged for whatever reasons, and they find themselves exploited by ever newer and more exotic drugs, and they are treated as buffoons and laughingstocks by the popular culture... what do they have left? Symbols, basically. Flags and statues. The flags have been banned already, so the statues are all that's left, and they are, in many cases, being actively defended by those who at least believe in not tossing greats chunks of our collective history down the memory hole.

So how are they supposed to react? The election of Trump certainly gave them an at least temporary feeling of empowerment – at least as long as it takes for a few thousand of them to be put in uniform and sent over to Afghanistan – but did it improve their lot in any tangible way? Not that I'm aware. Not unlike the election of Barack Obama, which was supposed to be such a boon to the black community, but which seems only to have aggravated its problems, the people who voted for Trump had high expectations – finally “one of us” in the White House! He'll stand up for us, even if no one else (including mainstream Republicans) has. Of course, expectations like this are bound to run up against cold political realities, not to mention personal ones, like – through what fantastical thought processes did they end up with the idea that a New York City billionaire was one of them? But for the time being, nonetheless, there is an assertiveness afoot that has the Establishment going literally mad.

And it's not as if Trump truly “represents” any given grievance group, from the “alt-right” on down to much lower life forms. What counts (again, as with Obama) is that people think he represents them, and that will lead only to frustration when their collective lot doesn't change. But again, statistics and “bean counting” by clerks in Washington, D.C. wearing green eyeshades don't really express the essence of this issue, or any other. One can be poor but have pride, or rich but in despair. What sustains a culture – as we should know by now – is not material prosperity; in fact, that can actually hasten a culture's demise by causing a shift in priorities among its members. And it's not technology or being more “in touch” with the “modern world”. It is, after all, tradition (Tevye again) – and that tradition can be obvious, out in the open, and celebrated with great gusto, or it can be more like a quiet stream that permeates daily life and is expressed most clearly in rites of passage, or it can become a kind of subversive element – a sign of rebellion (or of the failure thereof). But it might be said that the smaller the remnant, the more zeal with which people cling to it. Would statues and flags be as important if the Confederacy still existed? It seems unlikely, because there would be so many other things sustaining the culture as well (hopefully not including slavery). But as a gesture of defiance they loom large, and so the reaction of the ruling elite, with their commitment to totalitarianism, looms large as well.

You can snuff out the symbols if you snuff out the people first; that's called genocide. But to snuff out the symbols while the people remain is fraught with risks, and the establishment won't know what those risks are, or their magnitude, until it's too late.

Friday, June 16, 2017

2020 Vision

It's not too soon to be talking about the 2020 election – I mean, the campaign started on Inauguration Day the same way it always does. Let's accept that (with weary resignation) as a given. But the 2016 election provided an exceptional number of “lessons learned” for both parties – or let's say it provided an exceptional number of lessons that might be learned, or lessons that will be ignored, or non-lessons that are mistaken for lessons.

I'll say it again – the 2016 campaign provided a rare juxtaposition of two varieties of populism, the traditional Bernie Sanders version (which was successfully quashed by the Democratic establishment, none of whom appreciated the irony of it all) and the Donald Trump version (piggybacking on the Tea Party), and the latter actually won against all odds, which shows that populism is not always doomed to defeat despite its track record of usually being snuffed out by the ruling elite. (Note that the last bona fide populist to run on a major party ticket was William Jennings Bryan, who managed to get nominated by the Democrats three times, and lost each time.)

So it could be claimed that the Democrats have, basically, given up on populism, except for buzzwords and “optics”. The blandishments of power – of being part of the establishment and of the ruling elite – have proven way too seductive. The Republicans, on the other hand, have more recently discovered populism, starting with Nixon's “Southern strategy” and extending through Reagan to Trump (skipping over Ford, Bush I, and Bush II, all of whom were too obviously products of the ruling class).

The problem is whereas populism used to come naturally to the Democrats, it still makes the Republican establishment uneasy; they don't trust the unwashed masses – “the people”, with all of their strife, demands, and impulsiveness. Much better to settle back into the comfortable country-club mode and hope that they can attract enough of the middle class to gain victory – said middle class being motivated primarily by fear of the lower class. (When Obama threatened those corporate moguls with visions of peasants with pitchforks, he was engaging in a bit of temporary nostalgia – referring to those golden times when “the people” put FDR in office in order to put the ruling class in its place, which, of course, he spectacularly failed to do, even though he was a master of what we now call “optics”.)

Trump, of course, is not a theorist, or an ideologue – and he never will be a politician, which is the ultimate offense. He simply refuses to play that game, and for people for whom that is the only game in town – nay, the only game in life – he represents an alien life form. And sure enough, the people in both parties who play that game, and their facilitators in the wider culture, are as eager to eliminate this thing in their midst as white blood cells are to eliminate bacteria.

So the battle that is raging right now is likely to go on until Inauguration Day 2021, or until Trump is driven from office – whichever comes first. And any arguments that Trump's election benefited the Republican Party fall on deaf ears; recall that, during the campaign, many members of the Republican establishment came right out and said that they would rather lose the election than see Donald Trump in the White House. Try reminding them that they won because he won, and they will erupt with indignation: “win” on his terms? That can hardly be called winning. And this is one reason, other than sheer habit, why they are as limp as wet noodles when dealing with the hard-core believers in the Democratic Party. “Turn the reins of government over to the likes of Schumer, Pelosi, Feinstein, and Franken, we don't care. We're in despair! We're taking our dolls and going home!” And yet this is the party that is dreaming of some kind of comeback in 2020? If the Trump administration crashes and burns like the Hindenburg (oh, the humanity, etc.) they will feel fully vindicated. But if Trump manages to pull it off, they won't be any happier. They will be campaigning for hope and change every bit as fervently as the Democrats. (The term “loyal opposition” only applies where there is a monarch on the throne, like in England. Over here it's an unknown concept.)

So let's entertain a few possible scenarios, shall we? Number one, Trump continues to be thwarted, blocked, frustrated, and filibustered at every turn, but remains in office, his administration fated to be judged a dismal failure, even when compared to that of Jimmy Carter, the very definition and exemplar thereof. This will obviously be a signal to the Republicans to go back to the tried and true, and nominate another bland nobody – a face in a suit – in 2020. Oh, you say that a party hardly ever fails to nominate a sitting president for a second term? I don't think that quaint custom is going to impress anybody next time around. But wait – what if Trump has as many supporters then as he had in 2016, or even more? That's the point at which the proverbial smoke-filled room will be resurrected from the dead. They will figure out some way to keep Trump from running for re-election, or from being nominated if he does run, popular support or no. For all I know, they'll take a page from the DNC play book and pull the same tricks on Trump that the Democrats played on poor old Bernie.

Number two, Trump leaves office for whatever reason, and Pence winds up as placeholder the way Ford did after Nixon was run out of town. He could wind up being nominated, just as Ford was, and wind up losing just as Ford did. But at least that way things would return to normal. (And by the way, I would be willing to bet that a good many of these pajama-clad “snowflakes” who wander around college campuses bleeding from every orifice because they feel “attacked” by Donald Trump think that if he were successfully impeached, Hillary would automatically become president. Um.... that's not how it works, kiddies. But hey, don't they all agree with Henry Ford who supposedly said “history is bunk”?)

Number three, Trump actually succeeds – not just by his own lights, but by general consensus of his supporters and some grudging acceptance by his opponents, who are legion, and are at the present time united in their hostility and resistance. About the only way this ever happens, historically, is if a major conflict starts and the U.S. is perceived as winning, or at least not losing. It has happened before. The problem is that once someone becomes a “war president” their fate is, from that point on, linked to that war; just ask LBJ. It's all about timing, basically. Men may make history when it comes to starting wars, but history turns around and unmakes men when it comes to ending them.

So, to sum up – and again, I ask your indulgence and that you ignore my previous hilarious mistakes when it comes to political prognostication. The Democrats will toy, once again, with populism but nominate, once again, a solidly establishment type, thus frustrating the populist remnant within the party – you know, those na├»ve folks who still believe the Democrats are the party of “the people”. The Republicans will nominate a face in a suit – who knows, maybe one of the countless 2016 contenders, and they will have about as much appeal to what remains of the Trump base, or of the Tea Party, as Hillary had to those who “felt the Bern”. And the republic will be, no matter who wins, back in the hands of the establishment – the ruling class – the globalist elite – and things will slouch on as before, as if the Trump era was nothing but a bad dream... an interregnum. The sane (allegedly) adults will be in charge again, and somewhere Dick Cheney will be laughing.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Whose Populism Is It Anyway?

I read a column in The Washington Times the other day that had me scratching my head. The topic was the already eagerly anticipated 2020 election, but what caught my attention was some of the terminology. Here are some quotes:

“... a Democratic Party that is tilting further leftward in a push toward economic-centered politics...”

“... President Trump's economic populism.”

“If Democrats are fighting for America's working families...” (quote from Elizabeth Warren)

“Her [Warren's] message of leveling the playing field for working families...” (quote from Nick Rathold)

“... the populist economic message that Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders are touting.”

“... the populist message of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders...” (quote from Adam Green)

The key words here are “economic”, “working families”, and “populist”/”populism”. So let's drill down a bit, since it appears that both sides are talking about the same issues and trying to appeal to the same people on those issues – not that this would be unusual in politics, but it doesn't get to the heart of the matter. If they're in so much agreement, why is there so much opposition and hostility?

The notion that the Democratic Party is suddenly enamored of economic-centered politics is a bit startling, since that is the only issue they have ever been concerned with. Way back in the Progressive Era, it was already about fairness... leveling the playing field... redistribution of income... and so on. It was, as it remains, more about outcomes than opportunities. Pretty much every domestic policy initiative by the Democrats over the past century or more has been aimed at equality of outcomes in some way, with a socialist nirvana as the ultimate goal. “Opportunities” are only a means to an end – and if they don't result in equal outcomes, then more opportunities have to be made available, ad infinitum. I'm not sure what the Democrats would be all about if it weren't for economics – foreign policy maybe? But they seem to consider that an annoyance, and something that has to be either minimized or ignored. Even foreign policy in our time is aimed, from the Democratic perspective, at equal outcomes on a global level – if the minimum wage anywhere in the world is lower than that in, say, Australia, there's a problem, and it has to be fixed (presumably by us).

How about “working families”? Oh, right – those folks who turned out in droves to vote for Trump. The Democrats have quite openly, and explicitly, chosen to eject and ignore working families in favor of a plethora of minorities. “Working men” (and women), AKA “labor”, finally caught on, and despite the pleadings and threats from their union leadership, chose to vote not only their pocketbooks but their basic values, which the Democrats have done everything to belittle and defeat. “Labor” cannot be counted on any more, and Trump's attracting the labor vote was similar to Nixon's “Southern strategy” -- just show people what is really going on and hope the scales fall from their eyes.

And when it comes to “leveling the playing field”, well, again Trump had it figured out. Get the government (as inspired by Democrats/liberals/progressives) out of the business of harassing, punishing, and persecuting honest working people and of attacking their culture and values. The government doesn't do this to the ruling class, and it doesn't do it to the comfortable upper middle class.. and it doesn't do it to the dependent class either. But it certainly has been sticking it to the working class, and again, their eyes have been opened (for the time being at least – and hopefully for keeps).

Then we have “populism” -- oy, where to begin? I've already commented (as have any number of other talking and/or writing heads) that the 2016 campaign was, for one brief, shining moment, a struggle between two varieties of populism – one represented by Bernie Sanders and the other by Donald Trump. So... what is populism, anyway? What, if anything, did these two campaigns in common?

The paradox of populism in America is that this country was, allegedly, founded to foster and preserve individual rights – i.e., the rights of the people. And this is still a key component of our self image, our iconography, and our various secular liturgies, litanies, and memes. And yet, mysteriously, the notion of government “of, by, and for the people” keeps having to be re-asserted, as if it's a delicate and fragile thing, and easily suppressed or ignored. But why is it, seemingly, always on the defensive? After all, we have the same Constitution now that we had back in 1789. There have been no revolutions, and we have never been conquered by a foreign power. So what's the problem?

The opposing forces to the interests of the people have been seen differently at different times, but there are certain common themes. One is uncontrolled immigration – not a new topic by any means. Another is industrialization. Then we have capitalism, banks, and big business (or businesses of any size which involve management vs. labor, wages, and profits). (The current buzzwords “Wall Street” and “crony capitalism” are subsets.) And then we have – depending on one's perspective – either too many laws and regulations, or not enough, thus the perennial pendulum swing in labor law between preference for capital and preference for labor. And we also have that new bugaboo, “concentration of wealth”, which is not all that new but keeps getting renamed and redefined. (It was “concentration of wealth” that stimulated the establishment of the income tax, lest we forget, and that happened more than 100 years ago.)

Interestingly, two things which are never mentioned in polite company as being opposed to the interests of the people are personal debt and war. And yet, in terms of draining the life out of an economy and out of its citizenry, it would be hard to find two more obvious candidates. Perhaps it's because these are the two leading weapons of the Regime to enslave people and nations, and they have structured the discussion in such a way that these things never come up (or if they do, the people who bring them up are immediately labeled as nut cases).

Perhaps our discussion of populism could profit from defining precisely who “the people” are, and what the forces opposing them are alleged to be depending on one's prior political position. If we insist on using the term “populism”, we find that political movements and organizations of violently opposing sorts have each used the term, or at least not objected to being described that way. The same is true if we merely talk about “the people as opposed to _____” (select from the list of offenders above, or add your own). But if we dig down a bit, and ask precisely who these “people”, so-called, are, we can get some clarifying answers. The old populists were, of course, for the “working man”, whether on farms or in factories, not unlike the target group for the Bolsheviks. The middle class was already being viewed with suspicion (in a shout-out to the French Revolution and Marx), and the ruling class was, of course, beneath contempt and the perpetual enemy. When the New Deal rolled around things were pretty much the same, but it should be noted that, although white ethnics were part of the picture, it had yet to reach out and embrace blacks... and Hispanics were still way down the road (or across the Rio Grande). And let's not forget that the first great populist-style program of the Kennedy administration was the War on Poverty, which initially focused on, guess where, all-white Appalachia. Whites elsewhere, and blacks, had to fight to get on the A-list.

So far, so good. It seemed that everyone calling themselves a populist, or preaching in favor of “the people”, was in basic agreement as to who “the people” were. One group that was more or less ignored in all of the discussions was white Southerners – and that was the basis for the “aha!” moment for Nixon. (He really ought to get credit for one of the greatest political coups of the 20th Century – right up there with Trump's victory.) He found a group that had been left out of the political process on the national level; it was a large group, and worth courting. And thus was created the great divide/bifurcation/schism of “the people” for political purposes. (It's worth noting that there had never been anything like solidarity between the white and black working classes, or between the white and Hispanic agricultural workers, but those differences didn't have any discernible impact on mainstream politics of the populist variety – unless you include 1960s folk singers, of course.)

Even more remarkable, all of a sudden there was a subset of “the people” who were actually loyal (albeit newly so, and probably not without some misgivings) to the Republican Party. But that's not the same as saying they were “conservative” in the William F. Buckley sense... and they were certainly not libertarian in the Ron Paul sense... and the Tea Party had yet to manifest itself as a semi-organized force. Despite all of this, the phenomenon of card-carrying “people” being Republicans, or at least voting that way, was revolutionary. Suddenly the party of country clubs, business, Wall Street, and the bourgeoisie had to make room for the (relatively) unwashed – and yet it was the key to success, not only for Nixon but also for Reagan and Bush II (Bush I having basically ridden in on Reagan's coattails and stayed for a while), and now for Trump.

The consequence of all of this was that the meaning of “the people”, and of populism, became totally contingent on who was using the terms, and to what purpose. Having written off the white working class, the Democrats' definition of “the people” was limited to minorities – albeit enough of them to constitute a majority. The Republicans, on the other hand, gradually morphed into champions of “the people” of different sorts – white, mostly working class but lower middle class as well (assuming there's even a difference any longer), and basically anyone with a grievance against the liberals/Democrats/progressives and their “people”. So “the people” were divided (so much for “e pluribus unum"!) into camps, grievance groups, voting blocs, and gangs.

And yet the perennial struggle persisted – that of “the people” vs. anything that oppresses them, either intentionally or accidentally, with new issues added on a regular basis. For the Democrats, it was post-Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts “residual racism”, as well as anyone held responsible for the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, and later on came to include pro-lifers, “homophobes”, anyone opposed to open borders, and a host of other real or imagined enemies. For the Republicans, the new villains included government programs which eroded, or directly attacked, gun ownership, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion, as well as excessive taxation and the regulatory burden. Add ObamaCare and you have a perfect formula for a political (mostly) civil war, which the 2016 election certainly was, and which its outcome continues to be. And yet this civil war, just like the original one, is “people vs. people” as much as the government or ruling elite vs. the people. People on both sides consider themselves to be more real... more genuine... more representative of American values... more entitled to be heard... etc. You could stand up at a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren rally and ask every “real American” to raise their hand, and I daresay more of those in the room would. Try it at a Trump rally and you'll get the same result.

So yes, the great divide – or the most recent great divide – in American politics is between “the people” on one side and “the people” on the other. “Economic populism” sounds like something the Democrats would be all in favor of, and yet it's attributed to Trump. Is this because he's an insincere, hypocritical demagogue who only pretends to favor the people's interests? But the same can be said for pretty much any leading Democrat at least since World War II. “Economic-centered politics” could be a characteristic of the Trump administration, but no – the Democrats seem to have a monopoly on that particular semantic nuance. And as far as leveling the playing field, well... has anyone asked, recently, when affirmative action is going to cease as a government policy? The answer, of course, is never, since even if we did somehow manage to equalize outcomes there would still be the question of reparations, and when reparations cease is a totally political question, since there is no possible objective criterion for when enough is enough. (Another way of putting this is, at what point can blacks be considered to have been “paid back” for slavery? From the karmic point of view, the answer really is “never”. Politically, it's debatable, but the debate has yet to occur.)

I guess what I'm trying to do here is not only clarify the meaning of words, but point out the forces behind their non-clarification. After all, if everyone's a populist, no one's a populist, right? The term loses all meaning. If everyone is equally for “the people” then that term cancels out and we'd better start looking for some new descriptors. And as for “leveling the playing field”, no one really wants to do that, do they, any more than anyone wants truly “equal rights”. That would be bad politics. What people want is preferences... advantages... whether enshrined in law or as a side benefit of other laws, regulations, or the economy in general.

Again, we are up against human nature – not only that of individuals, but of groups, parties, factions, what have you. Everyone wants an “edge”. It's not enough to just go out and seek one's fortune in the world and its many and varied marketplaces. You have to have that ID card that lets you in the door ahead of the rabble and the undeserving (not to mention the "deplorables"). Combine this with the ebb and flow of politics and the cynical manipulation of words and of people, and you have what we have now – a state of perpetual war that in its sheer intractability is not unlike that which our foreign policy has fostered. One could point out the massive waste of human and other resources that all of this entails, but that would seem wonkish compared to the unstoppable energy and self-centeredness that is a part of fallen human nature.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Troubled Teens

In all of the discussion of LGBT etc. issues with regard to young people (AKA “minors”), I have yet to see a certain issue discussed. And no, I'm not talking about bathrooms and locker rooms, which have been dealt with at exhausting length and which, along with proms and dress codes, have brought public school systems to their knees (so to speak). And I'm not talking about traditional moral issues... or about the age-old nature vs. nurture debate, i.e. the question of whether people are “born that way” or become that way through environmental factors – upbringing, various forms of abuse (physical or emotional, or both), the influence of the media, friends, non-friends, bullies, rock 'n' roll, fashion, what have you. These are all worthy topics, but I can't add anything to what's already been discussed.

I am, however, talking about a political issue – but not about elections or candidates, or their “positions” with respect to the issue, or who they are counting on to vote for them. My concern is with politics on the “micro” level, and the response not of skeptics or of people who are “agin” the whole idea, or of people who would rather not talk about it and who hope the whole thing will go away. I'm talking about the response of what I will call the “well-meaning” community, and specifically of those in authority – which means, in the case of minors, parents and public school personnel, by and large (although I suppose this could be extended to include coaches, teachers, and instructors outside the formal education system).

The problem is not one of acceptance; let's take that as a given. I'm talking about too much acceptance – or acceptance of the wrong kind. And the motivation for this seems to be less purely humanistic than the perennial tendency to categorize, classify, and pigeonhole people in order to simplify life and make it easier for the Regime (however manifested at this level) to deal with and accommodate individuals – to, in effect, apply the rules of identity politics reinforced, as needed, by “psychological testing” and other practices of questionable merit. Another way of putting it is that the minute a certain group of individuals starts to manifest a certain trait or behavior pattern, they are no longer treated as unique individuals but as part of a class (which may be newly-minted for the purpose). They are provided with a ready-made label and earmarked for special treatment on the assumption that sexual orientation or sexual identity is like quick-drying cement – once it solidifies, it can be counted on to stay put, remain stable, and not bother anyone – and that the individuals involved are, once and for all, to be counted as members of a certain group, and never mind the complexities of the human psyche, and especially never mind that the human psyche, in all of its myriad manifestations, is subject to change – sometimes drastic change – particularly in the early years. At that stage of life, everything else is fluid and evolving; why shouldn't this be as well? But that's not good enough for the collectivist/totalitarian mind set, where labeling is paramount and essential to the pursuit of political ends.

For what is identity politics? It's a power game based on the premise that certain traits not only define an individual, but constitute the most important – perhaps the only important – thing about them. If you're black, you're black; nothing can change that, and that will define your class for life – and heaven forbid you should do or say anything that constitutes wandering off the reservation (as witness what happens to “black conservatives”). The situation is likewise if you're handicapped in some way (and pardon me for using what I consider to be a still-useful term). But these are things about which it can realistically be said that a person is “born that way”, or in the case of some handicaps, becomes that way and there is no turning back. But is this true of sexuality – of sexual identity? And, in particular, is it true of the sexuality or sexual identity of minors?

Put it another way. Does it make sense based on what we know about human psychology to jump on some early signs of sexual identity or “preference”, slap a label on the individual, and then expect them to somehow live up to their newfound “identity” -- to conform within the bounds of a certified non-conforming group (those bounds being pre-defined by the Regime)? Again, it's this societal compulsion to pigeonhole people and thus avoid all the messiness and complexity of having to deal with them as unique individuals. A grade-school boy starts playing with dolls or expressing an interest in fashion design. Leave him alone? Not a bit of it. He has to be “encouraged”, and reinforced, and directed along the path that the authorities have decided is his fate – his destiny in life. And if he sticks with it, all is well. But what if, a year or two later, he tosses the dolls into a box and quits drawing dresses, and develops an interest in football, auto racing, and guns? Woe is us! Oh, the humanity! Now he's a “problem”, and no one can quite figure out what to “do” with him (as if there is a compelling need to “do” anything). Or turn it around – football, cars, and guns first, then at some point dolls and fashion take over. Again, woe is us (but not as bad as the former case)!

Apply the same thing to girls. Today's “tomboy” might become next year's prom queen – or again, vice versa. Or – a kid develops a “crush” (another old fashioned term) on someone of the same gender. Is that the same as waving a flag which reads “I'm _______ and proud of it!” And this is just about observable behavior. Do we know what's going on inside the kid's head? We might ask, or they might tell us – but again, is this already set in stone or can it evolve? Do we care? Well, the system cares, because it depends on labels – on classes – on setting one group against another, because only in that way can the system step in and save the day, imposing a kind of deadening peace (AKA “diversity”) upon the populace. I've commented before – as have others – that “diversity”, while appearing to honor individual choices, is really a program to enforce a stifling conformity on another level – conformity to the system, and submission to all of its varied mechanisms for categorizing people. True diversity is not the flesh-and-blood equivalent of the “It's a Small World” ride at Disneyland; it's accepting human nature in its entirety, with all of the complexities and ambiguities that entails. On some level, we are all nonconformists simply because we're individuals – but this is the very thing that society does its best to stamp out.

I suppose that part of the problem is that adults in general have already forgotten (or suppressed) their own childhood and youth – how fluid things can be, and how ambiguous. They have also forgotten how overwhelming “peer pressure” (in whatever direction you like) can be – as well as the impact of fashions (in the broad sense), fancies, and fads. Kids really are a lot like Silly Putty – highly malleable, able to be bent and stretched every which way, and apt to take on impressions from their social environment. The growth process brings with it uncertainties and insecurities; this seems pretty much inevitable. A maturing person is not only a stranger in a strange land, but they are strangers to themselves as well. What they need, above all, is time – and not this bogus instantaneous “understanding” or “support” or advocacy that attempts to force them into a given identity, class, or category – or force them to stay in one that they may have adopted only for a season. And granted, it's a delicate balance. I think the key is to support the individual as an individual, rather than as a member of a class that they may or may not truly belong in, or even be interested in.

It was not that long ago that boys were naturally expected to take up the occupation or trade of their fathers – and that girls were expected to do likewise vis-a-vis their mothers, who were typically homemakers. Biographies are full of stories of young people who “rebelled” against that system; it seems that many interesting people did so, which is probably why they wind up having biographies written about them. And while conformity on that level is pretty much a thing of the past, at least in Western societies, what we are faced with now is a new conformity which is focused (the way the old system never was, or at least not explicitly) on sexual identity. And it's gotten to the point where people not old enough to drive, or vote, are being encouraged to undergo hormonal therapy or even “sex reassignment surgery”. I consider this an egregious form of child abuse. Not only has the labeling process become a major industry (in the political sense), but it is being translated into permanent, irreversible physical alteration – all, of course, with the total “support” and encouragement authorities and of society in general.

And there is no denying that, for many young people, this is precisely what they want, and what they think will solve their problems and make their life better. But again, we have the judgment issue – why trust people of a tender age to make a life-altering decision when we forbid them from making other decisions of equal (or even lesser) import? Why should the first adult “right” granted to children be the right to change their genitalia? It makes no sense.

I predict – and there are precedents for this – that we will eventually see lawsuits by adults who went under the knife (or had drastic hormone treatments, or both) as minors, but who realized later on that they had been exploited. If someone who is already an adult decides that this is the path they want to take, that may be a matter for discussion and debate, but at least the person is acting from a position of legal and, hopefully, psychological maturity. But to impose the same expectations on a person who is immature in pretty much every respect goes way beyond disservice; it's setting them up to be a victim of a political agenda that they have no notion of. Growing up, and life in general, leaves enough scars without offering young people up as sacrifices to a world view that doesn't value their rights and uniqueness as individuals.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

And Now For the Good News

Good news if you're a Trump supporter, that is. And I admit, it's paradoxical, but what is politics but the kingdom of paradox? Whenever you start to think that things are making sense, you can assume you've been deceived.

The good news is that Trump hasn't (yet, and hopefully never will have) sold out to the opposition – which means, in the most broad-brush sense, the globalists. I've referred to this previously – the idea that the power and energy behind the unstinting rage and hostility toward Trump and his administration (and his family as well) comes from the globalists, whose octopus-like arms reach into every corner of the globe (never mind that that makes no sense in geometrical terms), but whose power base is in Western Europe with the U.S. as a semi-reliable partner.

We need to shake off, once and for all, the romantic notion that the opposition to Trump is a grass-roots, popular (vs. populist, which would be bad), “people's” movement. It's supported, encouraged, and funded at the highest levels of the globalist empire, George Soros being the most prominent but far from the only source. Those on the ground, or in the streets – the by-and-large non-bloodied cannon fodder of the globalists – may not always realize it, but they are being exploited, used, and duped by people for whom they are no more than insignificant insects – inert bodies of value only to aid and abet a political/social/economic agenda. In other words, it doesn't matter what they “think” they're doing out there on the street, or on the Internet, or on TV, the truth is that they are mere tools, deftly wielded by those far above them on the social and economic scale. They may not “feel” like a mob, but that's what they are.

What is my evidence for this? That is, for the notion that Trump hasn't sold out yet? It's not only the continual and accelerating hostility and resistance from all quarters, but the fact that they all say the same things about the same things at the same time. This gives the game away. It's as if they get up every morning, check their phone messages or the Internet, and receive their marching orders – figuratively if not literally. And along with those marching orders are provided “talking points”. This is why the media are all of one mind, and their mind is a perfect match for the mind of the Democrats in Congress, and a perfect match for the minds of the “entertainment” industry (which has ceased to be about entertainment, but is now only about propaganda). So there is a central control unit... a single source. How can it be otherwise? Surely that many influential people can't have the exact same thought at the same time, and use the exact same words to express it; that would be way too much of a coincidence. What this says is that they're all working for the same master – they are all clones, basically... serfs, slaves, parrots. And shameless as well! There might have been a time when they were willing and able to think for themselves, but that time is long past. Now they are taking orders from a single master in as mindless a way as the mobs who threaten, intimidate, and terrorize the rest of the citizenry in any totalitarian society – Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and Kim's North Korea all being good examples.

So if the sheer volume and ubiquity of hostility toward Trump is “good news” in this sense, what would be bad news? That would be if a truce were called – if the hostility ramped down, cooled off. If the Democrats decided to “cross the aisle”. If the “entertainment” media went back to entertainment rather than non-stop propaganda. If the media started to publish or broadcast some good news about the Trump administration and program. This is the point at which you will know that the fix is in – that Trump & Co. have capitulated... buckled under the pressure... decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em... etc.

So anyone who is seriously supportive of Trump and his program had better be on the lookout. The minute a soft spot in the opposition appears, that's a sign of trouble. Better for the hostility and rage to continue unabated right up to Inauguration Day 2021, if not beyond. Because that will indicate that Trump is not only a “different animal” but that he continues to be, and is not willing to compromise – that he remains defiant. For there is, truly, no compromising with the globalists. The old liberal/progressive/Democratic dream of turning the U.S. into a people's republic is a thing of the past now. At this point the best the U.S. can hope for is to become a citizen of the world – to assume the posture of a beached whale, and to have its resources divided and scattered among the countless warring and contending tribes that inhabit the globe. It's only fair, after all, since we are ultimately the source of all their troubles and complaints (or at least that's what Bill Clinton and Obama always claimed). America needs to be liquidated – and who (or what) better to do that than the EU, George Soros, and the rest of the globalist cartel. We need to be put in our place – not necessarily through war or combat (although Vietnam certainly planted the seed for this whole idea) but through gradual erosion, through instruments such as open borders, “free trade”, political correctness on a global scale, unilateral actions regarding “climate change”, “foreign aid”, and so on. Uncle Sam has played Uncle Sucker for long enough – it is now time for the coup de grace.

Don't get me wrong – I've preached against “American exceptionalism” and the American Empire any number of times, and against this notion that our moral superiority gives us not only the right, but also the obligation, to be the world's policeman. I know that there are many varieties of colonialism that are much less obvious than in the old days, when European colonial empires spanned the globe. Empires in our time are economically-based, and rely on a technological and informational superstructure. You don't need planes, drones, bombs, warships, and troops to create and maintain an empire any longer – although we still seem to be wedded to this idea because... well, basically, it's more traditional, more masculine, and, doggone it, more fun. But anybody can see that nerdballs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg wield way more power than any fleet or army ever did. So there has to be a wedding – or at least a rapprochement -- between the old ways and the new ways. Fair enough – empires, and the ways of empire, evolve just as weaponry and technology do. If Facebook is the Bofors gun of our time, more power to it – but it doesn't make it any more benign, or the empire it helps build any more of a boon for humanity. The new collectivism doesn't involve things as crude and obvious as driving the peasantry off family family farms and into factories and communes, but requires the creation of a uniform, globalist mind – a point of view characterized by amnesia when it comes to the ancient values (family, land, ethnicity, faith) and a sense of “belonging” to the world at large. And the word “belonging” is appropriate, since we are becoming the property of the globalists – a world-wide serfdom trapped in a new class structure with the technocrats at the top. It is, truly, “the revenge of the nerds” -- but is it sustainable when all of the connective tissue that harmonizes with human nature is being systematically cut away? There are signs of rebellion everywhere – newly-rediscovered nationalism and patriotism, as well as ethnic pride, not only in Europe and the U.S. but elsewhere in the world as well. Perhaps the struggle has just begun.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Trump -- The Legend Continues

I'm getting to an age that, when I look out across the political landscape, I can pretty much, in most cases, say (or think), “Oh yeah, I've seen that before” -- or “Here we go again” -- or “What else is new?” or some such. There is no more fruitful source of deja vu than politics, unless it's fashions in clothing, which predictably recycle like clockwork every few years or decades. When I talk to younger people about current events, and find them puzzled/disoriented/confused, and mainly upset, I can always go back to the Sixties as my baseline of reference for real political strife – real alienation, real violence, real generational and cultural gaps, and so forth. There was a civil war going on back then, folks, let's face it. You can call it a “cultural revolution” if you like, but in any case it was a high water mark in the age-old story of rebellious youth vs. the Establishment. Nothing that's happened since, and nothing that's happening now, even comes close, I will say – in a manner that is meant to assure whomever I'm speaking to that all is not lost, and the world is not coming to an end. In other words, there is nothing new under the Sun, as far as I'm aware... and as far as my personal experience goes.

And yet here we are in the Age/Era/Season of Trump, and it seems like genuinely new things are happening – both quantitatively and qualitatively. And for a long time, it seemed a puzzlement... but now I'm starting to understand, or at least I think that I am. But before I explain, let's go over a few salient points.

Yes, Trump is a character – and a bit of a loose cannon. He has unconventional hair and a perpetual tan, he talks like a New Yorker, and not an especially high-class one either. He's in constant fighting mode, and has yet to learn what's worth fighting over and what should simply be ignored. (In this, he shows his marked difference from the average politician, who seems to have remarkably thick skin. Or, at least, they can freely choose what to get offended about, and not be constant victims of what's in the morning paper or on TV or the Internet.) So all of these things scream “outsider”, and Trump accepts that label and is justly proud of it. Compared to previous “outsiders” who have reached the very peak of American politics, he's way more of one than, say, Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan. They had at least attended the school of political hard knocks for a season – although in Carter's case, it's hard to see what good it did. No, in Trump's case it's more like he got selected at random from William F. Buckley's proverbial phone book. And he's not even a typical businessman or a typical billionaire; he's apparently atypical and an outlier in pretty much every respect. In fact, his hair may be the most normal thing about him.

And, although not an ideological conservative, his program, when you get right down to it, contains goals which, up until recently, would have been considered common sense, and not all that unrealistic. But he is no absolutist, and his proposals to date seem ripe for negotiation, except that he has taken on the burden of making certain campaign promises which he actually intends to keep (again, in a blatantly non-politician way), so he's going to be in hot water with those who voted for him if he starts getting too squishy. The “deplorables” who voted for him tend to see things in a black-and-white way, and they are notoriously impatient with business as usual in Washington, which is all about wheeling and dealing, compromise, and cutting one's losses – and mostly seeing to it that the ruling elite remain so, for their exclusive fun and profit.

Plus, he has picked for his administration a group of quite level-headed and experienced individuals, which is atypical in that it defies the usual custom of picking donors, supporters, cronies, and hacks. (Have you ever wondered what some of these political types would do if they weren't working for the government? One answer is that, once out of office, they tend to disappear, although a good many transition smoothly into lobbying organizations or NGOs. Some of then hang around Washington in hopes that they will eventually be again called upon to donate their skills and knowledge – such as they are – to a new administration.)

In contrast, Trump's people actually seem to want to get things done, and they have the knowledge base and skills to do it – or, at the very least, have demonstrated that they are fast learners. They enter the fray as high achievers in other areas (military, business, etc.), which is another point of contrast with the career politician, who is basically a one-trick pony, the trick being "getting elected to office". In this, they are, again, superior to pretty much any group of high-level political appointees I can recall over the past 50 years or so (unless you want to consider JFK's “best and brightest” successful for getting us into a war in Vietnam, or Henry Kissinger successful for aggravating the situation in Southeast Asia, among many other lousy ideas). (Please note that Kissinger was, and continues to be, the ultimate globalist.)

But none of this apparent reasonableness and moderation impresses the opposition, because since Election Day they've been in the streets, and on the airwaves and the Internet, screaming and turning purple, and having psychotic breakdowns right in plain sight, over the “fact” that Trump is not just another Hitler, but that he is Hitler, reincarnated in some mysterious way. And if he is Hitler, as they all seem to believe, the glory days of the Nuremberg rallies are long gone, and he will never enjoy being chauffeured victorious through the streets of Prague and Warsaw. No – he is already hiding deep in an underground bunker in the middle of Berlin, shaking in fear every time he hears the muffled thud of bombs going off overhead. His movie is almost over; he's in the last scene, like Edward G. Robinson in “Little Caesar”. (“Is this the end of The Donald?”) And his followers are paralyzed with fear, and busy plotting ways to save their skins once the administration collapses (any room on a slow boat to Argentina?).

This is what passes for conventional wisdom among the media and commentariat these days. Trump is on the ropes, he's washed up, and his people are scattering like the proverbial rats from a sinking ship. And of course, what little in the way of governing they manage to eke out is quickly snuffed, neutralized, and canceled by the efforts of the embedded bureaucracy (now called “the Deep State”) which consists entirely of holdovers from the previous administration who, for some mysterious reason, cannot be removed because, among other things, they can't even be found. (This is also, please note, a departure from politics as usual, where the long knives come out the day after Inauguration Day, and someone from the new administration shows up with “a little list” like the guy in “The Mikado”.)

Not only that, but Trump has an ex-president living just up the street, sharing an upscale house with his most loyal staff members, and they are in charge not only of the Deep State but of a shadow cabinet, which is ready to take back the reins of power as soon as the pretender can be ejected from his throne. And not only that, but – most dangerous of all – he has the entire national security/intelligence apparatus arrayed against him, and how is he supposed to conduct foreign policy (including military operations) if they won't tell him anything he needs to know, or if what they do tell him is designed to deceive, misdirect, and sabotage? Any notion that the intel community, along with the military, is on the conservative side of things has now been proven quite wrong. If it were ever true, is no longer is. And it's no real surprise, since, like anyone else in the system, they are attracted to power and tend to gravitate toward it and toward politicians who are willing to grant it. And in this, I might add, both parties are guilty of giving away too much power, but the consistently totalitarian tone of Democrat policies and programs gives them an edge, and a greater claim on the loyalty of the intel types. What better purpose for a world-wide intelligence apparatus combined with a vast mercenary army than to establish and maintain a one-world government?

So what we have here is, basically, an interregnum – a person who is president, at least for the time being, and who is nominally in charge, but who, in fact, has no power and who is opposed by virtually everyone in Washington and in the media, the Internet, Hollywood, etc. In other words, everyone hates him except the people who voted for him, and I suspect that some of them are starting to have their doubts. So he is flailing, and everyone around him is flailing, and it's hard to see how they can do otherwise. At least – once again – this is the conventional wisdom. But there are data to back it up, and I have to note that the only thing Trump has managed to do in a decisive way so far is toss a few dozen cruise missiles at Syria, for the simple reason that the only area of government where the mythical Congressional “checks and balances” do not apply is in the area of starting and perpetuating wars.

Strange, isn't it? Congress supposedly has the sole power to declare war, but whoever came up with that phraseology forgot that you can make war without declaring it. This modern spin on things started with Korea, and continued with Vietnam, and now here we are with the perpetual, endless “War on Terror”. (And don't bother mentioning any of these pathetic “war powers acts” by Congress when they occasionally regret their cowardice. The attitude of whoever is president at the time is typically akin to Stalin's -- “How many divisions does Congress have?”)

But if Trump doesn't have any power aside from this, where does the power lie these days? With the Republicans, who, despite their majorities in both the Senate and the House, never seem to know what to do with power, and who, on any given day, would probably really rather they didn't have any? No – the power all lies with the minority, so-called – with the likes of Schumer, Pelosi, Franken, and Feinstein. They're still pulling all the levers, and they can because they are, in effect, the chief operatives of the Deep State, with Obama at the top and Hillary Clinton as empress-in-waiting. (And by the way, if you don't think Hillary is planning a comeback long before 2020 rolls around, think again. She can spot a weakness the way a vulture can spot an animal that is on its last legs.) Apparently this cabal even has the power to shut down the government, although they are in the minority in both houses of Congress – thus another unfathomable mystery when it comes to the American system.  When the Democrats are in charge, they're in charge.  And when they aren't in charge, they're still in charge.  Figure that one out if you will.  

But wait – I said at the beginning that some things had developed that were truly new and unprecedented. But isn't all of the above fairly typical, and differing primarily in degree from prior episodes? There are always political holdovers throughout the bureaucracy. The media always take sides, and prefer one president over another and one party over another; the same holds true of the academic community, Hollywood, the Internet, etc. And as far as street demonstrations go, nothing these days can hold a candle to the action back during the war in Vietnam. Hasn't every presidential administration from, say, LBJ on, had to deal with non-stop opposition from the first day to the last? There are no longer any good losers in Washington, even though there are occasionally good winners.

The answer, of course, is yes, it's all happened before – but that's not where the difference lies. One difference is in the sheer magnitude of the opposition – the fact that it is not only non-stop, but is at a fever pitch day in and day out, with no let-up. This hostility informs and infects virtually every story that emanates from the mainstream media; it's headline news each and every day. And as far as academics, Hollywood, and the Internet are concerned, I don't think even LBJ had to deal with the white-hot psychotic hatred from all quarters that Trump (and his family, note) have to deal with.  At least he could wave the Civil Rights Act in front of them, and dazzle them enough to make them temporarily forget the debacle in Vietnam.  

So yes, it's a matter of degree, but it's also a matter of kind, or of content. When I described the Trump administration and its policies above, I was not, it seems to me, describing anything that could ever set off this level of hostility and violence (both verbal and physical, including the threat of physical) . Most of these policies, if they had come from some other – any other – administration, of either party, might have set off some controversy and opposition, but nothing like what we're seeing here. And when I go back and look at Trump's fabled first news conference on Jan. 11, and his Mardi Gras speech to Congress, and pretty much any public pronouncements that have emanated from the White House since, I have to keep asking, why the outrage? Why the hatred?

One clue is that, when you listen to, or read, the protests, no matter the source, you will find that the verbal content has very little to do with the actual programs or goals of the administration. The subject matter may be the same in some cases, but the sheer paranoia and wild exaggeration, fantasy, delusion, and – yes – fake news makes that all beside the point. In other words, the protests are not about what is actually taking place, or what is intended, but about fantasies – an army of straw men. The advantage, if I can call it that, is that if delusion and fantasy are what is feeding into all of this, there is no satisfying it. Nothing can be done to make it “OK”, because there are no objective criteria; Trump has to go – period, full stop. Trump has become the ultimate scapegoat for all that is wrong in America, a mere three months into his administration – some kind of record, if records of this sort were being kept.

So if it's not about the program per se, or Trump's being an outsider per se, what is it about? Where does all this negative energy come form? What is its source of fuel? At least in the Sixties, it was easy to see what people were protesting about, and it was real. The government was doing genuinely terrible things both here and overseas, and so the protests made sense; it would have been shameful if there had not been widespread protests. But now there's this mismatch, both in quantitative terms (magnitude, volume, violence) and in qualitative terms (the mismatch described above). So what sustains it?

There's clearly much more going on here than most people think – and it's not just about the “Deep State”. (And I'm sorry that term has been expropriated to describe something as temporary and dull as Obama holdovers in the bureaucracy. I liked it better when it was another word for the Regime, AKA “the people who are really in charge”, which has nothing to do with civil servants, political appointees, or even presidents. Now we'll have to adopt another term – like “Deeper State”, the way Trump came up with “very fake news”.)

I said that Trump was an outsider, but he's clearly more than that. I've already presented my theory about incoming presidents, how they get “the talk” from representatives of the Regime, at some point between the oath and the Inaugural Ball, that basically lays out, in no uncertain terms, what their options are and what they had better not fool with – or if they do, it will be at their peril. What's happening right now is evidence that Trump did, in fact, get “the talk” at some point, but basically told whoever was delivering the message to stick it where the sun don't shine, and to go back and tell whoever sent them to do the same thing. So he declared war, and now he's at war; how could it be otherwise?

Now, what is the main agenda of the Regime? All evidence is that it's pretty much synonymous with what's called globalism – and guess what, Trump is the first president who has ever explicitly come out against globalism as not being in the best interests of the American people. I suppose the last true presidential anti-globalist, if there had even been such a concept back then, could be said to be Calvin Coolidge. Every president since then has been, to some degree, a globalist, either explicitly or implicitly. A turning point – a tectonic shift – came when the U.S. ceased to be the obvious and inevitable leader of the globalist movement, and I would put that, at the latest, at the time of our defeat in Vietnam. Someone at that point decided that globalism was too important a project to be left in the hands of the stumbling, bumbling U.S. Since then, foreign policy (ours and everyone else's) has been in the hands of an anti-nationalist, globalist elite, most likely centered in Europe, but not synonymous with the EU by any means. They issue orders, and we follow; it's as simple as that. Everything else in foreign policy and in military activity is noise level.

So if this is Job One of the Regime, and they run into a president who is unwilling to cooperate, what do you think is going to happen? They will call all of their resources into play, and this will include (1) already-brainwashed (thanks to the public, i.e. government, schools) college and university students (the “snowflakes” being the most readily manipulated, and no more than cannon fodder to whoever is running the show); (2) Hollywood, which has been signed on to globalism for nearly as long as it has existed; (3) the mainstream media, ditto; (4) liberals/Democrats/Progressives, ditto; and (5) mainstream Republicans, who have been globalists starting at least with Eisenhower's administration. (Who talked about a “new world order”? A Republican! I doubt that Trump has much use for that idea.)

Now let's review. Who is wedded and dedicated to globalism, along with all of its ancillary features like anti-nationalism, world government, open borders, economic leveling, social leveling, socialized medicine, government educational monopolies, totalitarianism of all sorts (especially with regard to information and law enforcement), and “diversity” (which is a hoax and an actual stalking horse for total conformity)? And who is completely energized and going completely mental about Trump? The answer: The same people. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with Trump as a person, or with any of his associates, or his administration, or its programs, policies, and plans – with the exception of any that come into conflict with the globalist agenda (and let's admit that the attack on Syria may have been a way of walking back, to some extent, Trump's prior “reckless” statements in opposition to globalism).

The apparently missing link is between the Regime and the vast army of protesters, demonstrators, mass hysterics, and everyone else who is on the verge (or past it) of a nervous breakdown about Trump. After all, the Regime is “up there”, and only comes out in public for occasional confabs like Davos. But like any military organization, it has a structure, and a hierarchy, and resources, and – most important of all – ways in which orders get efficiently passed down from the top to the foot soldiers. How else do these mobs of protesters appear out of thin air every time there's a person, or a meeting, or some other event that is considered worthy of protest? (If only SEAL Team Six were that responsive!) Why do all mainstream media outlets parrot the same “talking points” at the same time, using the exact same words and phrases? Why do the Hollywood, entertainment, and Internet types erupt pretty much simultaneously whenever the most minute issue or event attracts their attention? Clearly there is a single source of orders, instructions, guidance – call it what you will. The opposition can no longer be described as an aggregate of individuals (assuming it ever could); it is now behaving like a single organism – a great steaming blob with millions of hands, eyes, and voices, like something out of a horror movie.

And there also has to be a source of funding; start with communications staff, and transportation to and from the demonstration du jour. And let's not overlook the fact that, although many of the demonstrators are activists and amateurs (i.e. unpaid) there is invariably a core group of professionals – the ones dressed all in black, with face masks. They're not there for their health; they're there because they're paid to be there. And where do these funds come from? It's not because the protesters hand around foam cups to collect contributions. The Regime includes any number of extremely wealthy individuals who are very good at scattering resources where they will do the most good.

And this is not to say that many of the street protesters, and many of the hooters and hollerers in the media, Hollywood, etc. aren't sincere in their delusions. The mistake they're making is in assuming that they are acting independently and spontaneously, whereas the truth is that they're being manipulated and exploited. They are – to use an overworked term – the “useful idiots” of our time, the middle-class reincarnation of the lumpen proletariat of a bygone era.

Plus, please note that among the most intensive areas of operation of the Regime are in foreign intelligence (CIA, NSA) and immigration – both foreign policy matters. When it comes to strictly domestic matters, they could not care less, although issues such as Obamacare are useful in that they tend to mobilize the opposition.

It all makes perfect sense, when you think about it – and it's not even all that controversial. We know that globalism has been a trend going back to Wilson (for us) and the Bolsheviks (for the USSR). We know that the trend was accelerated during FDR's administration, which segued into World War II, which segued into the U.N., which was the first successful (as opposed to the League of Nations) explicitly globalist organization. Every U.S. administration has signed on, and pretty much every European administration as well – at least since World War II. But then along came Brexit on their side of the Atlantic, and Trump on our side – and the parallels between the two have been drawn out in great detail, so I don't need to add anything. And Brexit was only the most obvious case of resurgent nationalism in Europe – you know, that oddball trend that the globalists invariably describe as “fascist”, and their leaders as “Hitlers” and “Nazis”. (Did Hitler really give nationalism a bad name for all time? It appears so, because there can be no other reason for it – or so the opposition says – than a burning desire to return to the glory days of the Third Reich. Fire up the ovens! Get the cattle cars back on the tracks! Der Trumpmeister is in charge, and can't wait to lead the master race to victory.)

So it appears that what was weird and mysterious has now become simple and almost obvious. There are many nuances and subtexts, of course – and many points of debate. And Trump is not the perfect anti-globalist by a long shot. (Ron Paul would have been.) His blind pursuit of the already-failed War on Islam, oops, I mean War on Terror neatly fits into the globalist agenda. For one thing, it requires massive resources in order to support perpetual war, which in turn impoverishes the economy in other areas and makes people more dependent on government, which makes government more powerful and accelerates the trend toward totalitarianism. Mission accomplished! For another thing, it makes the Euro-American-Israeli Regime more cohesive (despite minor annoyances like Brexit) by defining a perpetual enemy – the ultimate “Other” -- namely, Islam/Terror. So we're off to war to defeat a religion and a feeling – wow, it makes most other wars seem downright sane and just.

But if the American Empire – its care and feeding – is symbiotic with globalism, resurgent nationalism, especially of the economic and cultural sort, is not. And in fact, the American Empire is not American at all, but is a subset of the globalist military empire, except that we have been duped into doing all of the heavy lifting (and most of the dying). It's one thing to have a dull-witted servant at one's beck and call, but when that servant starts to get funny ideas about national pride and autonomy, it's time to put him in his place.

And by the way, speaking of brainwashing – this newfound reverence for Islam and Muslims amazes me. It was not that long ago that, as far as nearly all Americans were concerned, Muslims, and especially Arabs, were the lowest of the low... the scum of the earth, basically. The notion of them some day having any “rights”, or claims, would have been considered absurd – and by no one more than the same college/university students (or the same types, anyway) who are now falling all over themselves to provide what amounts to affirmative action for Muslims. This is nothing more than an instance of brainwashing – and you can bet that if the people in charge decided to turn their hordes of flying monkeys back into haters of Muslims, they could do it in no time. Why is it so easy? Because there are no principles involved, the same way “principles” of any sort are no longer part of the curriculum in nearly every institution of “higher education”. If everything is political, and everything is arbitrary, anything can be changed at the drop of a hat for any reason, or for no reason. (One has only to recall that the USSR turned on a dime when the glory days of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ended abruptly with the Nazi invasion of Russia.) This is one of the great blessings of the value-free culture that the globalists, among others, have concocted for us over the years – with the full cooperation of all the usual suspects.

I would say that, as a general rule, the more people you see freaking out about something that is just in their fevered imagination, and the more severe the freak-out, the more likely you are to be seeing the product of brainwashing. The current round of demonstrations reminds me of nothing more than what goes on all the time in North Korea, or what went on in China during the Cultural Revolution. And the people involved, far from having any steadfast principles, are infinitely malleable; this is what makes them so useful to the controllers. Political correctness is, by definition, political... and mob rule is the end result of the devolution of a political system into nothing but politics. Political processes are supposed to serve a greater good – but when politics is the only good, it becomes a destructive force like no other.

It's small consolation, I guess, but one thing about mob rule that people tend to forget is that the mob can turn on its controllers; it has happened before, any number of times in history. Today's demagogue, being carried on the shoulders of the adoring masses, can tomorrow be on the way to the gallows. (Just ask Georges Danton.) And revolutions do have a way of cannibalizing themselves. Occasionally justice will out – or at least karma will set in. But there has to be a lot of discomfort in the meantime.