Thursday 9/8/16

  1. Keep exposing both of ’em
  2. A long train of insurgents and sundry gadflies
  3. Chesterton revival
  4. Publius Decius Mus, Oh My!

1

That American journalists have dispensed with muted tones and fake neutrality when reporting on Trump is a positive development. He and his rhetoric pose genuine threats, and the U.S. media would be irresponsible if it failed to make that clear. But aggressive investigative journalism against Trump is not enough for Democratic partisans whose voice is dominant in U.S. media discourse. They also want a cessation of any news coverage that reflects negatively on Hillary Clinton. Most, of course, won’t say this explicitly (though some do), but — as the wildly adored Krugman column from yesterday reflects — they will just reflexively dismiss any such coverage as illegitimate and invalid.

It should be the opposite of surprising, or revealing, that pundits loyally devoted to a particular candidate dislike all reporting that reflects negatively on that candidate. There is probably no more die-hard Clinton loyalist in the U.S. media than Paul Krugman… And now he’s assigned himself the role as Arbiter of Proper Journalism, and — along with virtually all other Clinton-supporting pundits and journalists — has oh-so-surprisingly ruled that all journalism that reflects poorly on Hillary Clinton is unsubstantiated, biased, and deceitful.

But it would be journalistic malpractice of the highest order if the billions of dollars received by the Clintons — both personally and though their various entities — were not rigorously scrutinized and exposed in detail by reporters. That’s exactly what they ought to be doing. The fact that quid pro quos cannot be definitively proven does not remotely negate the urgency of this journalism. That’s because quid pro quos by their nature elude such proof (can anyone prove that Republicans steadfastly support Israel and low taxes because of the millions they get from Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers, or that the Florida attorney general decided not to prosecute Trump because his foundation and his daughter donated to her?). Beyond quid quo pros, the Clintons’ constant, pioneering merger of massive private wealth and political power and influence is itself highly problematic. Nobody forced them to take millions of dollars from the Saudis and Goldman Sachs tycoons and corporations with vested interests in the State Department; having chosen to do so with great personal benefit, they are now confronting the consequences in how the public views such behavior.

That Donald Trump is an uber-nationalist, bigotry-exploiting demagogue and unstable extremist does not remotely entitle Hillary Clinton to waltz into the Oval Office free of aggressive journalistic scrutiny.

(Glenn Greenwald, responding to Monday’s Paul Krugman column)

2

Since the Cold War ended, U.S. politics has seen a series of insurgent candidacies. Pat Buchanan prefigured Trump in the Republican contests of 1992 and 1996. Ralph Nader challenged the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party from the outside in 2000. Ron Paul vexed establishment Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012. And this year, Trump was not the only candidate to confound his party’s elite: Bernie Sanders harried Hillary Clinton right up to the Democratic convention.

What do these insurgents have in common? All have called into question the interventionist consensus in foreign policy. All have opposed large-scale free-trade agreements. (The libertarian Paul favors unilateral free trade: by his lights, treaties like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are not free trade at all but international regulatory pacts.) And while no one would mistake Ralph Nader’s or Ron Paul’s views on immigration for Pat Buchanan’s or Donald Trump’s, Nader and Paul have registered their own dissents from the approach to immigration that prevails in Washington.

The New Class establishment of both parties may be seriously misjudging what is happening here. Far from being the last gasp of the demographically doomed—old, racially isolated white people, as Gallup’s analysis says—Trump’s insurgency may be the prototype of an aggressive new politics, of either left or right, that could restore the managerial elite to power.

This is not something that conservatives—or libertarians who admire the old capitalism rather than New Class’s simulacrum—might welcome. But the only way that some entrenched policies may change is with a change of the class in power.

(Daniel McCarthy, New Class War) There’s considerably more in the McCarthy article, and indeed a whole issue of American Conservative, should the topic appeal to you. The Populist Right is thriving in too many places for it to be of no interest at all.

3

I have long been a fan of G.K. Chesterton’s essays, and the world seems to be catching on again:

His greatest strength … is the way in which he always insists on the inextricable marriage of faith and reason and uses this marriage to counter the errors of modernism. After reading Chesterton we are inoculated from the poison of modernism and will never again confuse the … the Holy Spirit with the Spirit of the Age.

… [H]is perambulatory style … wanders off on apparent tangents which seem to have little relevance to the subject in hand. Although I agree that this can sometimes be tiresome, on those rare occasions when Chesterton is not at his best, it is, for the most part, a stroll through a beautiful and wonder-filled intellectual landscape in the presence of a veritable genius who is jolly good company.

(Joseph Pearce)

4

Almost Publius Decius Mus persuadeth me to vote for the Orange Baboon.

I will now officially admit that my last word on Trump was not my last word. I’ve had a pretty relaxed three weeks since writing it, pretty much disregarding everything Trump was saying because none of it seemed credible considering the messenger. I wasn’t going to vote for him, so why get outraged at his latest?

But Publius Decius Mus threw me a curveball. He didn’t pretend Trump was a great man. He didn’t say “Crooked Hillary.” He didn’t mutter darkly about Clinton-incited murders.

He instead said, in essence, “Are you conservatives serious? Do you really believe we’re headed for a cliff? Don’t you see that your proposals, which have been tried, didn’t change things fundamentally? Don’t you know that Hillary is going to accelerate toward that cliff? Why not charge the cockpit on Flight 93 and try to put a new guy in the pilot seat? Could the Orange Baboon really be worse than the pantsuited Hillary of Davos?”

After a cooling-off period and a second reading, I’m not buying it. I may get around to writing about why fairly soon. As often, I’ll be thinking things through more fully as I write if I do write more; for now, what I’ve got isn’t ready for prime time, as I’m engaging a pretty long piece.

Or I may just revert to my now-misnamed “last word.”

None of the reasons to not vote for Trump is that I think we’ll be just fine for four more years, or that Hillary won’t actually reach the cliff that soon. I remain pessimistic about where we’ll be in 2020.

The reasons are more along the first three observations in that (now-penultimate?) last word:

Every argument for voting for Trump assumes that he is:

  1. sane,
  2. not suffering any stage of dementia (I got the idea that he might be from Kathleen Parker),
  3. not possessing such severe personality disorders as to be a world menace (as head of the world’s sole remaining superpower), …

Sorry if #2 sounds like a counter to questions about Hillary’s health. And remember: Indiana appears safe for the Orange Baboon howsoever I vote.

* * * * *

“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.