Friday, 8/12/16

  1. If an October surprise falls in a forest …
  2. Obama’s Syria faults
  3. Trump? It’s complicated
  4. Empathy


If an October Surprise falls in a forest and most major media don’t really cover it, did it really happen?

The Clinton campaign believes the media are so committed to defeating Donald Trump that they’ll play down this sleazy business—and maybe that’s right. But Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton says more emails are coming from his freedom-of-information litigation. And Julian Assange at WikiLeaks—which made public the hacked Democratic National Committee emails showing how the DNC favored Mrs. Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders—says he’ll release more emails involving the Clinton Foundation.


I am often struck by how absurd it is that Obama is so often faulted on Syria for what he hasn’t done rather than what he has. We are repeatedly told that he erred because he didn’t illegally bomb Syria in 2013, or because he didn’t throw weapons at the problem earlier on. He receives much less criticism for arming opposition forces that are in league with jihadists (and then having those weapons seized by jihadists) or expanding the anti-ISIS bombing campaign into Syria on his own authority. That’s not because these other policies have been particularly effective or successful, but because they mean that the U.S. is “doing something” in Syria, and that is all that seems to matter for interventionist critics. “At least we’re not standing idly by,” they say. That’s right. Instead, we’re needlessly contributing to the mayhem.

(Daniel Larison)


If we can set aside for a moment Donald Trump’s utter unthinkability for POTUS, can we figure out what vein he’s tapped into to get this far?

Yeah, but it’s complicated. First, you take nine constellations ….


… or maybe you can just take Angela Merkel as the poster-girl for what’s agitating the great unwashed:

Ms. Merkel had put the entire burden of a huge cultural change not on herself and those like her but on regular people who live closer to the edge, who do not have the resources to meet the burden, who have no particular protection or money or connections. Ms. Merkel, her cabinet and government, the media and cultural apparatus that lauded her decision were not in the least affected by it and likely never would be.

Nothing in their lives will get worse. The challenge of integrating different cultures, negotiating daily tensions, dealing with crime and extremism and fearfulness on the street—that was put on those with comparatively little, whom I’ve called the unprotected. They were left to struggle, not gradually and over the years but suddenly and in an air of ongoing crisis that shows no signs of ending—because nobody cares about them enough to stop it.

(Peggy Noonan) I watch dark movies and read dark books, so take this with a grain of salt: you really need to read the Peggy Noonan column from Friday. What I quote here is just introductory.

It’s dark because it gives lots of examples, offers no solution, and even offers an exculpatory rationale for Angela Merkel’s actions. But it’s fairly easy to see how events in Germany, and a desire not to replicate them here (and to roll back trends in that direction) might motivate Trump voters.

It’s called empathy. And it’s getting harder and harder for privileged people, including me, not because we’re bad or uncaring people, but because our empathy is overloaded by the all the problems out there for which nobody has solutions. Speaking just for myself, it seems like the denouement of a tragedy — inevitable, however unpleasant.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.