What it takes to keep a man alive

Rod Dreher is much exercised over Chick-fil-A’s announcement that the Cathy Family Foundation is going to focus on education and homelessness, presumably dropping support for Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Salvation Army, who the progressive bigots considered bigots simply because they have moral positions against homosexual acts.

Yes, that (combined with one statement by one family member that same-sex marriage invites God’s judgment) is how slender the case is for Chick-fil-A as monster: Some Chick-fil-A profits go to a family foundation that supported garden-variety Christianish groups that adhered to historic Christian sexual standards, though opposition to sexual deviance wasn’t their focus.

Even at that, I think Rod’s overdoing it, letting one more win by the other tribe work him too far toward frenzy, but that’s not my point, which rather is to praise an analogy offered up by one of his readers:

I cannot help but to compare Chick Fil A to Thomas More–and the comparison isn’t very favorable. Both quietly supported efforts to keep a marriage (or type of marriage) from being recognized that they thought was invalid. Both saw their cause lose. Both quietly accepted defeat and went about their business and did not try and stir up trouble. Yet neither was left alone, but compelled to publicly affirm the marriage. More was locked up. There are some great portrayals of Thomas More (A Man For All Seasons) and even Jeremy Northam’s performance in The Tudors. Northam’s version of More’s response to the Henry’s demand that he sign it is excellent. He protests that by remaining silent, he is in effect consenting to the public. “I do no harm, I say no harm, I think no harm and if that not be enough to keep a man alive, I long not to live.” Of course Henry was not satisfied with silent consent, he insisted upon on public and explicit affirmation.

There are differences of course. Chick Fil A is an organization, not a man. (In fact they are a multibillion dollar empire.) But More was locked up in prison and he refused to give an inch even in the face of death. A bunch of underemployed losers with nothing better to do than nurse imaginary grievances wrote nasty things on social media and Chick Fil A folded like a cheap suit.

Note two things: they have not yet publicly affirmed gay marriage, yet they have surrendered their conscience already by trying to appease the bullies. What this means is that there is blood in the water and the LGBT activists are not going to quit until Chick Fil A explicitly affirms the LGBT stance. CFA should have rather responded in More’s words: We do no harm, we say no harm, we think no harm and if that not be enough to keep a company in business, we long not to be.

I’m a sucker for A Man for All Seasons (the first time I saw the ever-creepy Julian Assange look-alike John Hurt, appropriately cast) so that hits my sweet spot.

 

* * * * *

The Lord is King, be the peoples never so impatient; He that sitteth upon the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.

(Psalm 98:1, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in lifeworks, Marriage (real) | Leave a comment

Wednesday, November 13

We’ve come a long way from the days when the Tea Party handed out pocket Constitutions. Now, in the interests of defending President Trump, smart people are exploiting civic ignorance to maintain the red wall against impeachment. No, that’s too mild. They’re not just exploiting civic ignorance, they’re affirmatively deceiving the American people about the content and meaning of the Constitution. They’re trying to make people believe things that plainly aren’t true. They’re making the American people less constitutionally literate.

What do I mean? Take this comment, from Rand Paul:

The Sixth Amendment is pretty clear. It’s part of the Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, and it says that you get to confront your accusers. And so, I think it’s very clear that the only constitutional mandate here is, is that if someone’s going to accuse you of something that might remove the president from office, for goodness’ sake, shouldn’t they come forward and present their accusations in person?

This has become a talking point among the Trumpist right. For another—rather shocking—example, read this from Northwestern University law professor and Federalist Society co-founder Steven Calabresi:

Impeachment is a legal proceeding, and just as criminal defendants have constitutional rights in criminal trials so too does Trump have constitutional rights, which House Democrats are denying him. For example, the Sixth Amendment gives criminal defendants the right to “a speedy and public trial.” House Democrats are trying Trump in secret and are denying him the right to a public proceeding….

The Sixth Amendment also guarantees criminal defendants the right to be “informed” of the charges against them. House Democrats are not informing Trump of the charges against him and are leaking salacious information to the press.  This, too, violates Trumps rights under the federal Bill of Rights.

Moreover, the Sixth Amendment guarantees Trump the right “to confront the witnesses against him,” which right House Democrats are denying to Trump. The president has a right under current Supreme Court case law to have a public face-to-face confrontation with the witnesses against and to testify in his own defense. House Democrats are denying the president that very basic constitutional right….”

Now, compare that comment with the actual text of the Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Note the key words—“in all criminal prosecutions.” As the CATO Institute’s David Post notes, Calabresi’s argument is “utter nonsense, completely devoid of any apparent constitutional logic.” The scope and reach of the Sixth Amendment has been extensively litigated, and it most assuredly does not apply to the House’s impeachment inquiry.

One can certainly make a good faith argument that maintaining the whistleblower’s anonymity is unfair, but to argue that it violates the Sixth Amendment is simply and plainly wrong.

But this Sixth Amendment nonsense is only the tip of the iceberg of constitutional confusion. Take these paragraphs from a recent piece by Victor Davis Hanson:

The “inquiry,” supposedly prompted by President Trump’s Ukrainian call, is only the most recent coup seeking to overturn the 2016 election.

Usually, the serial futile attempts—with the exception of the Mueller debacle—were characterized by about a month of media hysteria. We remember the voting-machines-fraud hoax, the Logan Act, the Emoluments Clause, the 25th Amendment, the McCabe-Rosenstein faux coup and various Michael Avenatti-Stormy Daniels-Michael Cohen psychodramas. Ukraine, then, isn’t unique, but simply another mini-coup.

He later argues that “We are witnessing constitutional government dissipating before our eyes.” Words have meaning, and impeachment isn’t a “coup.” A coup is an unlawful (often violent) seizure of power. Impeachment is a constitutional process that can’t succeed without the affirmative votes of, first, a majority of the House, and then, a supermajority of the Senate—and every person voting is a person who won an election, also according to constitutional process. Impeachment isn’t the dissipation of constitutional government, it’s the exercise of constitutional authority.

And no, if Trump is impeached and convicted (highly unlikely), it doesn’t “overturn” the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton won’t be president. Every one of the laws, judicial confirmations, and regulations enacted during the entirety of Trump’s term would remain in place.

If one took literally the complaints of serious senators, law professors, and historians (and why wouldn’t you? They’ve spent a lifetime demonstrating their constitutional knowledge), you’d believe that House Democrats were currently engaged in an illegal, unconstitutional proceeding. If you’re a partisan, you already likely despise Democrats. And now they’re engaged in a “coup”? Outrageous!

Yes, I know that there’s a longstanding tradition of hyperbole in American political rhetoric, but there’s a difference between exaggerations and plainly false constitutional assertions. Moreover, while people expect hyperbole from Sean Hannity or any other screaming Trump defender on talk radio, the same ideas from the pen of a respected historian sends a message that “this really is a coup.” It’s not. It’s not even close.

If you follow social media in the age of Trump, you’ve likely noticed a pattern. When there’s a report of an alleged Trump scandal, there’s often a brief pause on MAGA Twitter and in MAGA Facebook. One set of defenders waits patiently for the media overreaction, ready to pounce on the first blue checkmark who goes too far or misstates the alleged facts. Another set waits for a credentialed or credible person to toss a word salad for Trump—granting them a “well akshually” fig leaf that they can trot out as a talking point online.

“Akshually, the founder of the Federalist Society says Trump has a constitutional right to confront the whistleblower.”

“Akshually, a Hoover Institution senior fellow and esteemed historian recognizes impeachment as a coup.”

This sets up the debate as a battle of experts, and we all know that when there’s a battle of experts, the expert you like tends to win—regardless of whether he’s despoiling his expertise.

 

David French.

Every Republican who makes “plainly false constitutional assertions” to defend Donald Trump is a traitor to his oath to uphold the Constitution.

Such was the status of Weimar America at the end of Wednesday. It got worse Friday, with the President Tweeting out witness-intimidating lies (“exercising my freedom of speech”) about a career diplomat who was on the witness stand at that very moment.

* * * * *

The Lord is King, be the peoples never so impatient; He that sitteth upon the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.

(Psalm 98:1, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in Bread & Circuses, deathworks, Political Matters, Transvaluation of Values | Leave a comment

Musings from the Progressive Era

It’s stimulating, and a bit unsettling, to read Wilfred McClay’s Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story (my long-overdue antidote to Howard Zinn) during impeachment hearings (which I won’t watch or audit closely, but cannot avoid entirely).

The professionalism of our Diplomats in contrast to the grubby demagogues trying to interrogate them gives me a vastly heightened appreciation of the early 20th Century progressives, whose main cause (besides breaking up or regulating trusts) was to remove administration from politics, entrusting it to neutral professionals.

I have half a mind to advocate abolition of primary elections and 17th Amendment, too — two other Progressive initiatives that I think have not stood the test of time all that well, judging from election grubby demagogues like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan in the House, Lindsey Graham in the Senate.

* * * * *

The Lord is King, be the peoples never so impatient; He that sitteth upon the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.

(Psalm 98:1, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in deathworks, History, Political Matters | Leave a comment

New York adventures and thoughts

I’m visiting New York City for a few days, mostly to see Heroes of the Fourth Turning, but with other things thrown in for good measure.

I’m glad I allowed four full “ground days” (i.e., non-travel days) because I kept stumbling onto subway trains that took me further south when I needed to go north to get to the Met. Then I got off at 96th and Lexington because the Met is at 1000 5th Avenue, so I’d need to walk West to 5th Avenue, north 4 blocks to the Met.

5 blocks north, at 101st, no sign of the Met. Out come the phone and GPS.

Well, do tell! 1000 5th Avenue is roughly at 82nd Street, not 100th.

I think I’ll adopt a preferential option for busses, as I know north from south on the surface, but I don’t know what I need to do to realize that things like street addresses are not always logical here.

* * *

The Met may be facing an encounter with Cancel Culture. It not only has a Sackler (Purdue Pharma opioids) Gallery of Egyptian art but (oh the horror!) a David H. Koch plaza.
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There is literally nonstop background noise in my hotel just west of 9th Avenue on 42nd Street. I’m 12 floors up but can’t escape it.

I used to think I’d like living here if money were no object. But I’m quickly relenting. It would have to be enough money to let me live above the noise, and that would be kind of artificial, no?

God loves us all. God loves the city(ies). There’s even a St. Raphael of Brooklyn, canonized after I became Orthodox.

And God knows that small(er) towns have their distinctive constellations of temptations. But I think that for the duration, something a bit less urban than Manhattan is my sweet spot.

UPDATE: “Above the noise” might mean “above 59th Street and away from the major avenues.” I walked from 10th Avenue over to Central Park (86th Street, I think) on Saturday morning, and it was acceptably quiet. Nice brownstones, too.

fullsizeoutput_b78.jpeg

* * * * *

The Lord is King, be the peoples never so impatient; He that sitteth upon the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.

(Psalm 98:1, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in Arts and Music, Built Environment and Infrastructure, Miscellany, Playful | Leave a comment

Phobias’ shifting boundaries

We in the Western liberal democracies are living with utter insanity.

Witness the response to the London-based LGB Alliance, a newly created British group that asserts “the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people to define themselves as same-sex-attracted.” The group’s creation has sparked vitriol, not from the traditionalist Christians or social conservatives who might have opposed such groups in the 1980s or 1990s, but from the self-described progressive left.

Readers who aren’t steeped in the most fashionable iteration of identity politics might now be scratching their heads …

[I]n acknowledging the reality of same-sex attraction, you are indirectly acknowledging the reality and importance of biological sex as a driver of attraction. You are also indirectly acknowledging that members of the opposite sex are not members of your dating pool—even if they tell you that they share your gender identity. Which means you have effectively pled guilty to that grave modern thoughtcrime, transphobia.

If you are not on Twitter, have not set foot on a college campus in the last few years, and don’t read woke web sites such as Teen Vogue, where this sort of thing is taken very seriously, you may imagine that I am engaged in some kind of Swiftian send-up of identity politics gone amok. After all, just about every single person reading this knows quite well how sexual attraction works. But I am quite serious: Activist groups that brand themselves as mainstream representatives of the LGBT community not only preach the idea that true attraction is based on gender, they also have sought to de-platform and mob anyone within their ranks who points out that this idea is completely divorced from the way the human brain actually works. In this make-believe world, to be gay—in the way gay people actually experience being gay—is to be a transphobe.

Helen Joyce (emphasis added)

Although I’m not in this euphemistic “dating pool,” I too, would be condemned for transphobia were I to say that I’m only attracted to biological females, not to men who delusionally insist that they’re female. So of course I shan’t.

In this wacky world, I’m not even sure I can say “a fortiori, I would be condemned for transphobia,” because if you’ve drunk the trans KoolAid, my phobia may be exactly equal to that of same-sex attracted people.

Only that, and nothing more.

UPDATE: Add to the insanity the very plausible hypothesis that much transgenderism, as it exists on the ground today, is based on the rankest of sexual stereotypes (e.g., “I don’t like dolls and do like sports so I must be a boy instead of a girl”) or even conflicted sexuality (“other girls make my knees go wobbly so I must be a boy”) and the insanity increases as the “homophobia” doubles-down by being internalized.

* * * * *

The Lord is King, be the peoples never so impatient; He that sitteth upon the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.

(Psalm 98:1, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in deathworks, Sexualia, transgenderism | Leave a comment

Adult fiction

I used to say that an “adult movie” was one where the lights went out after the kiss because adults knew what would happen next. I wish I had thought it up on my own, but its source, forgotten, was not my own creativity.

Wendell Berry is similarly discreet:

Billy perches himself in the branches of a box elder that stands above the car’s mysterious hideout. When the car arrives this time, Billy watches as the man takes the back seat out of the car and sits on it with his lady friend. The only way to describe what happens next is by quoting the narrator: “What followed Billy had seen enacted by cattle, horses, sheep, goats, hogs, dogs, housecats, chickens, and, by great good fortune he was sure, a pair of snakes. And so he was not surprised but only astonished to be confirmed in his suspicion that the same ceremony could be performed by humans.”

Jeffrey Bilbro, of Wendell Berry’s new short story The Great Interruption: The Story of a Famous Story of Old Port William and How It Ceased to be Told.

There’s much more to the story than that, of course, this being Wendell Berry after all. The “more” is hinted at by the part of the title after the colon.

The good folks at Front Porch Republic, of which Bilbro is a part, also have a new Journal, Local Culture,  the premier issue of which I began last night. It’s very good, providing if nothing else a reprieve from the tyranny of the urgent, our current “urgent” exercising all-too-tyrannical a hold over my attention most of the time.

* * * * *

The Lord is King, be the peoples never so impatient; He that sitteth upon the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.

(Psalm 98:1, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in Arts and Music, lifeworks, Literature, Small is Beautiful | Tagged | Leave a comment

I’m one in eight million

If you can spare the time to read and digest statistics-heavy commentary, Thomas Edsall’s your man:

A respected Republican pollster (who asked to remain anonymous in order to protect his relationship with his clients) advises Democrats to be circumspect in this regard when it comes to the general election:

In our last national poll of registered voters, taken in the last week of August, the ideological distribution of the electorate is: Very liberal 13 percent; Somewhat liberal 18 percent; Moderate 28 percent; Somewhat conservative 22 percent; Very conservative 14 percent.

This shows, the pollster continued, that

three-fourths of the electorate is within shouting distance of the center, and only one-fourth is on the extremes. That tells you much of what you need to know about the “center” vs. “progressive” debate.

Trump, this pollster continued, “is very unlikely to gain more than the 46 percent of the popular vote that he received in 2016, because he has made no effort to do so.” That, in turn, places the burden on Democrats to “nominate someone who can consolidate the 54 percent majority of non-Trump voters.”

Democrats cannot bank on the theory “that non-Trump voters have ‘no place else to go,’ ” he said, because in 2016 they did just that” — went elsewhere:

About 8 million voters — greater than the population of 38 of our 50 states — voted for 3rd party candidates in 2016, almost 6 percent of the total vote. The same thing is likely to happen again in 2020 if the choice is Trump vs a real leftie, i.e. Sanders or Warren.

 

Democrats Can Still Seize the Center (emphasis added).

I am not confident that the two major parties can stop serving us shit sandwiches every quadrennium because they’re so weak as parties.

The parties can no longer really pick their nominees. If they could, Donald Trump would never have been nominated, nor would we be talking about where socialist independent Bernie Sanders stands in the Democrat polling. Both parties have become more extreme versions of their respective tendencies, and the primary voters — the most extreme members of their respective parties — reward extremism, which is why most Republicans quake at the thought of “getting primaried” by a Trumpista if they break ranks.

I’ve said repreatedly that Trump’s win signals some sort of major realignment. Might it be the death of one or both major parties? The GOP as I’ve known it is already on life support. And I, who almost certainly contemned parties operating in “smoke-filled rooms,” now add to nostalgia for the military draft I opposed a measure of nostalgia for smoke-filled rooms of people who want to win, not just to send some message.

* * * * *

The Lord is King, be the peoples never so impatient; He that sitteth upon the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.

(Psalm 98:1, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in democracy, Political Matters | Leave a comment

Will we ever unsee this?

Young Goodman Brown had a dream in which his “goodly” neighbors literally were trafficking with Satan — and wondered ever after if they really were what they seemed.

Some of our “goodly” neighbors have been behaving badly, too, over the past few years.

This episode, as all things must, will someday end. It may even do so without the erection of a full-blown autocracy on the grave of the American republic. Trumpism may be rejected in a fair national vote, and Trump may in fact leave office. A semblance of rule of law may be preserved.

What then? Like young Goodman Brown, can Americans unsee the lawless bacchanal of the past three years? Can they pretend it did not happen, and that the fellow citizens who so readily discarded law and honesty never did so?

Trump has, one way or another, changed our national life irrevocably. When one side of a political struggle has shown itself willing to commit crimes, collaborate with foreign powers, destroy institutions, and lie brazenly about facts readily ascertainable to anyone, should the other side — can the other side — then pretend these things did not happen?

Garrett Epps, America’s Goodly Veneer Was a Lie.

Flawed, a little too one-sided, but powerful.

* * * * *

The Lord is King, be the peoples never so impatient; He that sitteth upon the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.

(Psalm 98:1, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

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Presumption of Regularity

Jonah Goldberg’s Remnant podcast (Episode 146. I cannot find a direct link except to this download file) recently hosted Adam White of the American Enterprise Institute on a sort of “Impeachment 101” episode.

Some attention was given, of course, to the White House transcript of the infamous Ukraine phone conversation (which did have a quid pro quo, just for the record) and specifically to the deeply corrupt and impeachable request that Ukraine interfere in the 2020 Election by digging up dirt on Joe Biden. I am not going to digress to defend “quid pro quo” or “impeachable.” Listen to the whole podcast if you want to hear them defended.

Less remarked than the effort to involve Ukraine in smearing Biden was a reflection of Trump’s bat-guano crazy theory that the DNC mail server is in Kiev. That apparently is an actual extant delusion of the rightmost fringe, so of course our very stable genius is totally into it — enough so to debase his office by asking about it on a diplomatic call.

Then there was the booing at the World Series game 5, which some thought demeaned “the office of the Presidency.” That is not an argument that I find unsympathetic normally, but something is so abnormal about the present moment that it seems disingenuous.

White nails the present abnormality (interjections and “throat-clearing” omitted):

Goldberg: People are slipping Trump garbage from like GatewayPundit and Breitbart. The reason why the President of the United States said it was okay to betray the Kurds because they weren’t at Normandy — that came from like a Kurt Schlichter column.

White: … One thing about the President and this quid pro quo — I do think we need to step back and remind people: all this — … things that for a normal President would be kind of pushing the boundaries — President Trump doesn’t get that benefit of the doubt because of “Lock her up!” Right? He made this part of his campaign that he was going to go after, he was going to threaten his political enemies. And all his fans sort of rose up and loved that line, and they liked the President because he was so outside the box.

The problem is all the conventions of deference that we afford Presidents and the space we give them to use their Presidential power — it’s all contingent on our vision of what a normal President is, and what lawyers sometimes call “the presumption of regularity.” President Trump having smashed that box on his way into the office — he and his supporters can’t really be offended now when the rest of the system doesn’t treat him like a normal President, doesn’t give him those benefits of the doubt.

That’s why we need conventional statesmen in office so that we can trust them that, if they misspeak when they’re talking to Ukraine and they actually are interested in corruption or some far-fetched theory that they just want to ask about — that we can kind of step back and trust that this isn’t the President just wielding these powers to punish his enemies.

The President gave all that up before he was even in office ….

When I refresh my memory on the presumption of regularity, I’m struck by its power in explaining good people’s distrust of Trump. Frankly, I’d distrust him apart from “Lock her up!” because he’s a multi-adulterous, multi-bankrupt, sociopathic and punitive liar, New York real estate developer, Casino operator, pro wrestling promoter and reality TV figure.* But White and Goldberg don’t mention those.

Whether you’re sanely left or sanely right, you likely would enjoy and profit from the whole podcast episode, which agreed with me on some key points (of course we told the Russians we were going in after Abu Bakr al-Baghadi; we didn’t want them shooting down our helicopters) and enlightened me on others (there’s no requirement or even a well-established expectation that an Administration tell Congress about an imminent counter-terrorism operation). On the other hand, many of the pro-Trump talking points are rubbish, as they also note.

Crazy partisans likely wouldn’t enjoy the podcast. And sane people might have higher (in several senses) priorities than wallowing even more than necessary in impeachment news. Let your conscience be your guide, knowing that the podcast won’t agitate you with demagoguery.

* UPDATE: Also a Birther. How could I have forgotten Birtherism?

* * * * *

The Lord is King, be the peoples never so impatient; He that sitteth upon the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.

(Psalm 98:1, Adapted from the Miles Coverdale Translation, from A Psalter for Prayer)

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in 9th Commandment Watch, Naked Emperors, Political Matters | Leave a comment

Gonzo politics

When a group of House Republicans staged a protest and barged into the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday morning, claiming that the testimony being collected there about possible criminality and abuse of power by President Trump constituted a “Soviet-style process” that “should not be allowed in the United States,” Americans were witnessing perhaps the clearest example yet of the GOP’s embrace of gonzo politics.

Until recently the gonzo style was confined to an edgy form of muckraking quasi-journalism. When it dealt with public figures, including those involved with politics, it invariably sought to make them the butt of a joke. But in the digital age, this has changed — and interestingly, the change has taken place almost exclusively on the right, where a gonzo style of politics has migrated from alt-right “news” websites to the political arena. It has since taken root and flourished in the richly fertilized soil of the Trump presidency.

To grasp what’s distinctive about the gonzo style of politics, we first need to clarify what it isn’t.

“Normal” politics involves politicians and other public figures articulating principles and proposing policies to advance a normative vision of the public good. It presumes that all of us share a reality of truth and facts and that it’s possible to determine the best way to order that common life. The partisan clashes we associate with normal politics emerge from the fact that different classes and factions within the polity disagree about the public good and what it demands and requires. This clash of views prompts citizens to make arguments and deploy rhetorical appeals in order to persuade the greatest possible number of people to join one side in the conflict against the others. The tacit expectation of normal politics is that this debate will be conducted in good faith.

President Trump is in serious trouble. He and his closest advisers have admitted to impeachable actions. Others have testified to statements and behavior that incriminate him further. That makes mounting a defense of him in terms of publicly accepted standards of truth and falsehood, right and wrong, extremely difficult if not impossible. Yet the president is demanding a defense regardless, and members of his party have volunteered to go along by play-acting indignation and spouting indisputable lies.

Damon Linker. The “gonzo” adjective is inspired and illuminating. I even think it could be said that Trump’s is a “gonzo Presidency.” You really need to read Linker’s full column.

The utter disregard for truth in favor of what will preserve or expand power is a true deathwork.

I am aware that the Democrats, too, are power-seekers (toward ends whose toxicity, as I view the world, prevents my becoming a Democrat, too), but that’s a given in politics. It is the GOP’s abandonment of the norms of normal politics (chiefly “articulating principles and proposing policies to advance a normative vision of the public good;” the GOP chiefly exists to tear down what Obama built — for reasons they can’t or won’t articulate in terms of the public good they’ll replace it with) that distinguishes it as deeply toxic.

Final thought. As I was preparing to post this, I noted my new footer/epilogue. It strikes me that this may be young progressives’ version of gonzo politics:

This is the competitive advantage of the young—that they can so readily assimilate the ever-expanding list of shibboleths and forbidden expressions. Mock horror is the next generation’s form of rent-seeking, and political correctness the younger players’ edge.

Abigail Shrier, Ken Fisher, Joe Biden and the Merciless Young. I deplore it, too, but I’m too pissed at the GOP, my former party, to assert or deny equivalency.

* * * * *

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in deathworks, Declinism, Political Matters | Tagged | Leave a comment