The shells of our institutions maybe survive the 2016 campaign, but they will be mere husks.
The infamous neutron bomb was designed to melt human flesh without damaging infrastructure.
Something like it has blown up lots of people in the 2016 election and left behind empty institutions.
After the current campaign — the maverick Trump candidacy, the Access Hollywood Trump tape, the FBI scandal, the Freedom of Information Act revelations, the WikiLeaks insider scoops on the Clinton campaign, the hacked e-mails, the fraudulent pay-for-play culture of the Clinton Foundation — the nuked political infrastructure may look the same. But almost everyone involved in the election has been neutroned. Read more →
The Greek city-states in the fourth-century BC, fifth-century AD Rome, and the Western European democracies after World War I all knew they could not continue as usual with their fiscal, social, political, and economic behavior. But all these states and societies feared far more the self-imposed sacrifices that might have saved them.
Mid-fifteenth-century Byzantium was facing endemic corruption, a radically declining birthrate and shrinking population, and the end of civic militarism—all the last-gasp symptoms of an irreversible decline. Its affluent ruling and religious orders and expansive government services could no longer be supported by disappearing agrarians and the overtaxed mercantile middle class. Returning to the values of the Emperor Justinian’s sixth-century empire that had once ensured a vibrant Byzantine culture of stability and prosperity throughout the old Roman east remained a nostalgic daydream. Given the hardship and sacrifice that would have been required to change the late Byzantine mindset, most residents of Constantinople plodded on to their rendezvous with oblivion in 1453. Read more →
There is reason to worry about both candidates abusing power as president, because Obama and the press normalized executive overreach.
Donald Trump’s supporters see a potential Hillary Clinton victory in November as the end of any conservative chance to restore small government, constitutional protections, fiscal sanity, and personal liberty.
Clinton’s progressives swear that a Trump victory would spell the implosion of America as they know it, alleging Trump parallels with every dictator from Josef Stalin to Adolf Hitler.
Part of the frenzy over 2016 as a make-or-break election is because a closely divided Senate’s future may hinge on the coattails of the presidential winner. An aging Supreme Court may also translate into perhaps three to four court picks for the next president.
Yet such considerations only partly explain the current election frenzy.
The model of the imperial Obama presidency is the greater fear. Over the last eight years, Obama has transformed the powers of presidency in a way not seen in decades. Read more →
Hillary Clinton’s ‘deplorables’ have their antecedents in Obama’s ‘deplorables.’
One of the strangest transformations in the era of Obama has been the overt and often gratuitous stereotyping of so-called white people — most often the white working classes who have become constructed into veritable unthinking and unrecognizable zombies. For progressives especially these were not the sympathetic old foundation of the Democratic party, who were once romanticized as the “people” pitted against the industrialists and the bluestockings, but rather have become monstrous caricatures of all sorts of incorrect race/class/and gender behavior and speech.
Stranger still, this disparagement was concurrent to the release of a variety of recent studies that have shown that the white working class has been “losing ground” in far more dramatic terms than have other ethnic groups, especially in key areas such as health and life expectancy. Such news might once have earned liberal sympathies rather than derision. Odder still, the so-called one percenters — that includes high percentages of whites, who have benefited from globalization and changes in the U.S. economy — are often precisely those who damn the less fortunate for supposedly enjoying racially based privileges that are largely confined to themselves.
From ‘tricks’ to ‘clingers’
Obama himself had long ago made popular the idea that there are not individual white people, good and bad, lazy and industrious, but more generally a collective Borg of racist and culpable “white people.” Or, as he characterized his own “effective” tricks over clueless whites in his admittedly fictional memoir Dreams from My Father, “it was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: [White] People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves.” Read more →
About 18 million of California’s 40 million residents are registered to vote. Most polls show Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by between 20 and 25 percentage points. Trump will be lucky if he can do better in California than John McCain (36%) and Mitt Romney (37%) fared in the last two presidential elections.
Still, if polls represent the general — voting and nonvoting—population, then some 14 million Californians of all ages want Trump to win — a far greater number than found in most die-hard red states. They resemble Trump supporters elsewhere, but they seem even angrier, in part because they are an emasculated political minority.
As a man in a Prather foothills supermarket recently told me when I asked about his Make America Great Again cap, “They need to see that lots of us aren’t like them and don’t like what they’re doing.” “They” and “them” he could define in a lot of ways: state bureaucrats, California elites who never experience the consequences of their advocacies, or the open-border activists who damn the very culture they insist on joining.
It’s not hard to find Californians who feel this way — if you know the regions where to look.
Twentieth-first century “California” has become a misnomer. In truth, there are not one, but two quite different Californias, defined by both geography and mindset. Read more →
World events seem relatively calm, but repeated appeasement has built up pressure across the globe, and someone has to be there when crisis erupts.
This summer, President Obama was often golfing. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were promising to let the world be. The end of summer seemed sleepy, the world relatively calm.
The summer of 1914 in Europe also seemed quiet. But on July 28, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip with help from his accomplices, fellow Serbian separatists. That isolated act sparked World War I.
In the summer of 1939, most observers thought Adolf Hitler was finally through with his serial bullying. Appeasement supposedly had satiated his once enormous territorial appetites. But on September 1, Nazi Germany unexpectedly invaded Poland and touched off World War II, which consumed some 60 million lives.
Wars often seem to come out of nowhere, as unlikely events ignite long-simmering disputes into global conflagrations.
The instigators often are weaker attackers who foolishly assume that more powerful nations wish peace at any cost, and so will not react to opportunistic aggression.
Unfortunately, our late-summer calm of 2016 has masked a lot of festering tensions that are now coming to a head — largely due to disengagement by a supposedly tired United States.
In contrast, war, unlike individual states, does not sleep. Read more →
During the last days of the Ancien Régime, French Queen Marie Antoinette frolicked in a fake rural village not far from the Versailles Palace—the Hameau de la Reine (“the Queen’s hamlet”). “Peasant” farmers and herdsmen were imported to interact, albeit carefully, with the royal retinue in an idyllic amusement park. The Queen would sometimes dress up as a milkmaid and with her royal train do a few chores on the “farm” to emulate the romanticized masses, but in safe, apartheid seclusion from them.
The French Revolution was already on the horizon and true peasants were shortly to march on Versailles, but the Queen had no desire to visit the real French countryside to learn of the crushing poverty of those who actually milked cows and herded sheep for a living. It is hard to know what motivated the queen to visit the Hameau—was it simply to relax in her own convenient and sanitized Arcadia, or was it some sort of pathetic attempt to better understand the daily lives of the increasing restive French masses?
The American coastal royalty does not build fake farms outside of its estates. But these elites, too, can grow just as bored with their privileged lives as Marie Antoinette did. Instead of hanging out with milk maids in ornamental villages, our progressive elites, at the same safe distance from the peasantry, prefer to show their solidarity with the dispossessed through angry rhetoric.
Take the case of Colin Kaepernick, the back-up quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers who makes $19 million a year (or about $20,000 per minute of regular season play). He has been cited by National Football League officials in the past for his use of the N-word, yet he refuses to stand for the pregame singing of the national anthem because he believes that his country is racist and does not warrant his respect. His stunt gained a lot of publicity and he now sees himself as a man of the revolutionary barricades. A number of other NFL athletes, as well as those in other sports, have likewise refused to stand for the national anthem to express solidarity with what they see as modern versions of the oppressed peasantry. But Kaepernick and his peers make more in one month than many Americans make in an entire lifetime. Still, for these members of the twenty-first-century Versailles crowd, the easiest way of understanding the lives of the underclass is expressing empathy for them for no more than a minute or two. Read more →
The Republican dilemma
Any Republican has a difficult pathway to the presidency. On the electoral map, expanding blue blobs in coastal and big-city America swamp the conservative geographical sea of red. Big-electoral-vote states such as California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey are utterly lost before the campaign even begins. The media have devolved into a weird Ministry of Truth. News seems defined now as what information is necessary to release to arrive at correct views.
In recent elections, centrists, like John McCain and Mitt Romney – once found useful by the media when running against more-conservative Republicans — were reinvented as caricatures of Potterville scoundrels right out of a Frank Capra movie.
When the media got through with a good man like McCain, he was left an adulterous, confused septuagenarian, unsure of how many mansions he owned, and a likely closeted bigot. Another gentleman like Romney was reduced to a comic-book Ri¢hie Ri¢h, who owned an elevator, never talked to his garbage man, hazed innocents in prep school, and tortured his dog on the roof of his car. If it were a choice between shouting down debate moderator Candy Crowley and shaming her unprofessionalism, or allowing her to hijack the debate, Romney in Ajaxian style (“nobly live, or nobly die”) chose the decorous path of dignified abdication.
In contrast, we were to believe Obama’s adolescent faux Greek columns, hokey “lowering the seas and cooling the planet,” vero possumus seal on his podium as president-elect, and 57 states were Lincolnesque.
Read more →