Tuesday 1/31/17

  1. “Undocumented”
  2. Professor Daniel Gordon, not deranged
  3. A greater enemy of the truth than lies
  4. = 1000 words
  5. Why Trump likes Bannon
  6. Blocking the exits

1

The most dishonest and damaging trope of recent years is the widely-accepted idea on the Left that illegal immigrants are merely “undocumented” — as if they were the hapless victims of some clerical error made by the government and therefore deserving of a pass. Language matters. The acceptance and repetition of this lie has in effect given permission to the left to lie whenever it suits their purposes about all kinds of things … And it is certainly true that they are assisted by legacy media giants such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR. The Times, especially is keen to provoke a national crisis that might unseat Trump, by simply declaring it so in a three-column headline:

IMMIGRATION BAN PROVOKES CRISIS

The furor seemed rather out of proportion to the people inconvenienced by Trump’s administrative blundering … And it gives the impression even to someone who is allergic to conspiracy theory (yours truly) that some organizing principle is behind it. That principle may be the deep neurosis of the Dem/Prog Left reduced to virtue-signaling in their out-of-power echo chamber. Having no coherent ideas about the immigration issue besides resistance to it, they offer only sentimental narratives: tears on the statue of liberty, “dreamers,” sanctuary cities, nation-of-open-arms, we’re-all-children-of-immigrants, and anyway North America was stolen from the Indians. The hysteria is impressive, as if the Left has come down with ergot poisoning, seeing witches (racists, homophobes, misogynists, white privilege villains, and Russians) behind every juniper shrub in the land.

(James Howard Kunstler)

2

I’m still fecklessly opposed to the Trump Presidency, but I was opposed to the Obama Presidency as well (though for much different, more conventionally political, reasons). Still, I like criticism to be true when factual and plausible when opinionated.

Thus I opposed “Bush Derangement Syndrome” and “Obama Derangement Syndrome” fairly equally. Granting that Trump is a whole different kind of obnoxious, I still want criticism to be true and plausible. There’s so much false and implausible stuff being spewed that it’s infuriating if heeded, dangerous if ignored.

Professor Daniel Gordon (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) sets much of the record straight on many things Trumpish:

  1. To unmask is not the same as to understand.
  2. The unmasking terms “neo-Nazi,” “anti-semitic,” and “misogynistic” are, to put it mildly, dubious as applied to Trumpdom.
  3. “As a Jew, I am well aware that anti-semites exist in our nation, and that some of them voted for Trump. But surely some anti-semites, such as those among the black community, voted for Clinton. I discern no anti-semitism in Trump himself, and I am not willing to consider him anti-semitic simply because some anti-semites voted for him. Anti-semitism is not limited to those who vote for Republicans. The critical question is this: Is it proper for one to reduce a candidate and his or her platform to the lowest denominator to be found among his or her supporters?”
  4. There is nothing racist or ignorant about respecting the need for borders.
  5. “The alt-right rejects unregulated capitalism as its bedfellow. In previous elections, Republican candidates offered a heterogeneous mixture of libertarian and conservative ideas. The predominant element in Republican rhetoric was not conservatism but the commitment to the free market … [O]n the whole, Republican thought was capitalist at the core and conservative around the edges. It was the party of business owners and critics of the state, not the party of workers and saints. That has changed.”
  6. “Something must be done about how businesses relocate to Mexico to take advantage of lower wages, while Mexicans come illegally to the U.S. to take advantage of higher wages. Anyone listening to Bannon’s speeches or watching films like Generation Zero will quickly realize that the pursuit of profit unbound from national welfare is what the alt-right stands against.”
  7. Transgender and Identity Politics have gone too far, particularly on things like “There are an infinite number of pronouns as new ones emerge in our language. Always ask someone for their pronouns.”
  8.  “Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Human Rights, at the Department of Education … is responsible for the infamous “Dear Colleague” letters sent to schools and universities across the nation on matters pertaining to sexual harassment and transgender rights … Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk has observed that the Dear Colleague letter has dubious legal status because it was not enacted through the procedures, including public input, that federal agencies are supposed to follow before sending out new directives. Suk calls this a familiar strategy of the Department of Education and the Department of Civil Rights under President Obama. Suk also has been a prominent critic of directives dating from Lhamon’s office requiring draconian disciplinary procedures for sexual harassment cases on college campuses. It is now well known among college administrators that these directives tend to give those accused of assault a strong basis for appealing on the basis of due process violations. Numerous lawsuits are pending in federal courts about the directives on sexual assault.”

Jeffrey S. at What’s Wrong with the World tipped me off to Gordon’s article by quoting it an engaging it critically on a few points.

I share both because they help me understand what’s going on with Trump — which I’ve had great difficulty understanding. I will have trouble henceforth denying unequivocally that Trump is any kind of conservative. The injection of populism into libertarian capitalist Republican dogma does seem to signal the realignment about which I blogged yesterday.

3

Speaking of falsehood and implausibility:

[T]he person who is full of bullshit is worse than a liar. He “does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all.” And it is for this reason that Frankfurt condemns him: “By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”

If we cannot describe things as they are, what alternative can there be for an ambitious person but bullshit? As Trump wrote in The Art of the Deal:

The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole.

Thirty years on, a technique of “truthful hyperbole” seems to have evolved into a habit of bullshit.

(Michael Cook on Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit)

4

Loved this illustration. If you’re interested, it’s from How Modernity Diminishes the Human Person.

mukrupp1200

5

Steve Bannon …, now a member of the “principals committee” of the National Security Council, is an interesting figure, and not at all the sort of person you normally find high up in an American administration. He’s not really a political advisor in the mode of David Axelrod or Karl Rove. He’s an ideologist, someone who thinks in world-historical terms. He hasn’t been elevated to the NSC in order help President Trump navigate the domestic politics of a given national security question. He’s there because he has a view of How The World Works — and his view of domestic politics is derivative of that view.

(Noah Millman)

6

America may have no moral duty to put out fires around the world, but it does have a moral duty not to block the fire exits.

(Cato Institute) Especially when we started or stoked the fires.

* * * * *

“The truth is that the thing most present to the mind of man is not the economic machinery necessary to his existence; but rather that existence itself; the world which he sees when he wakes every morning and the nature of his general position in it. There is something that is nearer to him than livelihood, and that is life.” (G.K. Chesterton)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.