Here’s how I saw it:
Trump Won On Points, Clinton Won on Feels:
Trump was able to strike a happy medium between the first debate in which he was rather incoherent and defensive, and the second debate when he was on point but extremely aggressive. In the third debate, he was more ‘presidential,’ whatever that means. One of his biggest problems to date has been the fact that the uninitiated voter thinks he’s a crazy madman, so he had to convince those viewers that he could withstand attacks without blowing up. He did that, avoiding getting too deep into the weeds on side issues and was able to get a lot of points across firmly and effectively.
He was able to put Clinton on the defensive on several issues, such as the fact that she takes donations to the Clinton Foundation from countries like Saudi Arabia, which throws gays from rooftops and treat women poorly. He also brought up the James O’Keefe video in which DNC operatives were bragging about how they paid people to incite violence at Trump rallies. Clinton’s ‘dream’ of an open border for the hemisphere, as revealed through Wikileaks was also brought up.
In each instance, Clinton had no answer. She pivoted to blaming Russia, or outright ignoring the issue brought up. Her main avenue for scoring points on the night was through emotion. She tried it with abortion, with the typical politician tactic of telling a tale of how some random person from the campaign trail just happened to personify exactly the point wished to be made. She tried it with the use of the THINK OF THE CHILDREN angle with respect to both guns and Syria, and finally with the ‘this is not who we are’ cliche with respect to Trump’s supposed misogyny.
It listens well, but in the end it’s tired. Trump was able to bring new arguments into the fray which both bolstered his case and the case against Hillary Clinton. It still remains to be seen whether the public will see through the emotional manipulation of Clinton, however effective it may be in the moment.
Trump’s ‘Refusal’ to Accept the Result of The Election
Chris Wallace asked Trump (and not Clinton) whether he would accept the result of the election. He was also asked of it by Lester Holt at the first debate. This is a bit curious for reasons I’ll get into later. But Trump’s response is getting most of the play in the mainstream media today (H/T ZeroHedge):
The media has gone apoplectic over the fact that Trump said that he’d keep us in ‘suspense,’ about how he would respond to the election results. Plenty of words were written and spoken last night about the GRAVE DAMAGE TRUMP HAD DONE TO A SANCTIMONIOUS PILLAR OF OUR 240 YEAR OLD REPUBLIC.
For a start such hyperbole and spewing of platitudes is hypocritical given the allegations that George Bush had stolen the 2000 and 2004 elections, which came from the same people who are today lambasting Trump. It was enough to make Joe Scarborough, hardly Trump’s greatest fan, laugh at the latest faux outrage:
The latest response to the ‘but Gore!’ argument from the left is now something along the lines of ‘but he accepted it!’ Yes, a month later, after it was brought to the Supreme Court. Why shouldn’t Trump be afforded that same level of skepticism if something fishy happens on election night?
That brings me to my next point, which is the James O’Keefe videos. In the last two weeks, the same leftists who are today extolling the virtues of American democracy and the sanctity of our free and fair elections have been caught on camera admitting that voter fraud is rampant, explaining step by step in detail how to perpetrate voter fraud without getting caught, and describing how to subvert democracy by inciting violence at opposition political rallies.
Robert Creamer, one of those involved in organizing those efforts, visited the White House over 340 times during President Obama’s two terms, according to White House records. Both Creamer, and Scott Foval, another one of the head honchos profiled in the O’Keefe videos, stepped down from their positions after they were exposed, a move that confirms the egregious nature of what is shown on the tapes.
In a sane world, there would be a massive investigation and this would be one of the political stories of the year. But who would look into it? The same Department of Justice which is headed by an Attorney General who secretly met with Bill Clinton in an airplane, days before a ruling was to be reached on whether his wife was to face charges? The same FBI which is headed by a Director who then verbally declared she had committed a crime but also stated there was no case? I doubt it.
The mere fact that Clinton is running for an office with the highest security clearance in the land, after provably mishandling classified information in a prior position in govenment, thus disqualifying her from access to such information ever again, is mind boggling. But thanks to the media, the DOJ and the FBI, the public has been conditioned to accept Clinton as a legitimate candidate.
In a similar vein, the constant media pushback of Trump’s assertions that the system is rigged (despite scores of prominent Democrats saying the same thing for years), and the watery-eyed appeals to the history of our 240 year Republic and its pristine elections, are potentially conditioning the public to accept what might ultimately be an illegitimate election result.
It’s not a stretch for Trump to be wary of shenanigans on election night, given everything discussed here, in addition the vociferous objections to things like voter ID and the removal of the dead from voter rolls, when the only conceivable objections to either of those things would be to commit fraud. As Scaborough said, those opposing Trump on this can bathe in the hypocrisy.
A Hillary Clinton Presidency = War With Russia
This is perhaps the most chilling, and important takeaway from the night, but it might get lost in the shuffle given the media hysteria discussed above.
The proxy war in Syria between the US and Russia has escalated in recent weeks and months, and last night Hillary Clinton reiterated her desire to impose a no-fly zone over the area, to ‘hasten the end of the conflict.’
This is in opposition to President Obama, who feels that such a move would entangle us deeper into the region, and in the face of concerns from Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said that a no fly zone would mean war with Russia:
This was how Clinton outlined her support for the no fly zone:
A few things: Clinton noted her awareness of the ‘legitimate concerns’ of the President and the General Dunford. In fact as far back as 2013, she understood the fact that imposing a no-fly zone would create all sorts of problems and cause the deaths of scores of civilians. We know this, thanks to a Wikileaks release of her transcripts to Wall Street bankers (see page 66). Back in 2013, she said this, relating to a Syrian no-fly zone:
So we’re not as good as we used to be, but we still — we can still deliver, and we should have in my view been trying to do that so we would have better insight. But the idea that we would have like a no fly zone— Syria, of course, did have when it started the fourth biggest Army in the world. It had very sophisticated air defense systems. They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians. So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians. [ Speech to Goldman Sachs, 2013 IBD Ceo Annual Conference, 6/4/13]
I am not going to slam the door on women and children. That picture of that little 4 year boy in Aleppo, with the blood coming down his face, while he sat in an ambulance, is haunting.
Furthermore, she believes a no fly zone, the establishment of which would lead to war, would then lead to diplomacy in which a deal could be struck. Even if this were true, how could one trust the bargaining skills of Clinton given her tenure at the State Department and her consistent failures in diplomacy with respect to the Russian reset, Libya, Egypt and more?
In the end, a vote for Clinton is a vote for war, potentially of the nuclear variety. It is shaping up to be just that simple. I’ll refer you back to the video above of General Dunford’s hearing. After he declares that a no-fly zone is tantamount to war, leaving the room in a momentary stunned silence, Senator John McCain can be heard grumbling in the background. He then takes over the discussion and angrily guilt trips Dunford for honestly answering the question he was asked, saying:
No, what he asked was should we have a no fly zone so we can protect these people form being slaughtered. That’s what he’s talking about, that’s what we’re all talking about.
It is thus ironic that Clinton has such support from leftists, despite her taking the same warmongering position as a notorious neocon warmonger. These are the same leftists who were up in arms during the Bush administration owing to the endless Middle East adventures the US embarked on. Hillary Clinton has done nothing but continue them as Secretary of State, and definitively promised to continue further last night.
Despite the fact these unnecessary adventures could directly result in nuclear war, these same leftists are not only standing behind Clinton, but have the audacity to declare that it is Trump who might get us into a war frivolously.
Clinton’s actual record of promoting just that, frivolous war, is apparently meaningless, because Donald Trump says mean things sometimes. It truly is a clown world we live in.
Not really a huge takeaway, but I was wrong in my debate preview about Chris Wallace. He did a good job last night, particularly compared to the moderators in the other debates. He was fair to both sides, and equally tough, which made for a substantive debate.
How this will play out on election night is to be seen, but from where I sit, the dynamic of the election is as follows: Trump is seemingly wearing a clown suit and speaking with helium gas, but what his actual words amount to the fact that two plus two is equal to four. Clinton speaks with professorial calmness and assuredness, but does so in relaying the argument that two plus two is equal to twenty-two.
It is up to the electorate to note this, and act accordingly.
Last month, Donald Trump caused a stir in the economic world, with his analysis of the Federal Reserve and its monetary policy during an interview he did with CNBC.
In it, he was adamant that the zero interest rate policy of the Federal Reserve had created a ‘false stock market.’ This was after last week, in which he had said that the interest rate policy had created a ‘false economy.’ His reasoning for both was that the decisions were political in nature.
According to Trump, Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve Chair, was embarking on these policies in order to help President Obama, in order to make sure he ends his term with a positive economy.
Politics aside, the administration, and most left leaning economists have quick to point to the job numbers as a sign of the recovering health of the economy. The fact that the stock market has made fresh all time highs in 2016 has been used to tout the strength of the business community and commerce. Indeed, at a campaign rally last month, President Obama vociferously patted himself on the back for an economic job well done:
Janet Yellen, during her remarks explaining the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision on September 21, painted a rosy picture of the economy, repeatedly citing the employment figures along with household income increases as evidence.
It is my view that these data points – mainly the employment data, and the performance of the broad stock markets – are merely masks which give the perception of strength and improvement, while concealing a deteriorating reality underneath.
The Labor Market Mask
Let’s look at the employment data.
While it is true that the unemployment rate has come down to 5%, from about 10%:
Part of that is because the labor force participation rate has declined throughout President Obama’s tenure and is at multi-decade lows:
With a ‘normal’ labor force participation, the unemployment rate would be much higher, at least 10%.
The problem isn’t just with the totality of the workforce and the employment rate, but with the types of jobs which are being created in this economy, and who is filling them. Even a cursory look at the below surface trend reveals some problems.
The following is a breakdown of the labor force participation rate by age group: (Credit to the excellent Doug Short, who is a tremendous resource with his charting)
The following chart shows the breakdown in cumulative job gains for prime age workers versus those over 55, from 2007 through August 2016:
The following chart shows the cumulative gains in the food and hospitality industry versus manufacturing:
These charts show that the labor force is getting older, and the jobs that are being created are mostly of lower quality, in terms of goods producing. The bartenders vs manufacturing chart is somewhat tongue in cheek, but it does highlight the fact that most of the jobs that are being created are in the service sector, which are less paying jobs. The jobs that are being lost are the higher paying goods producing jobs.
Also concerning is he fact that the jobs data for September 2016 showed an increase in part time jobs of 430,000, compared to a loss in full time jobs of 5,000. In addition, there was a spike in the amount of individuals who hold multiple jobs of roughly 300,000, from 7.5 million to 7.8 million. The following two charts highlight these developments:
Put it all together, and what we have is an economy which appears to be creating low paying jobs, which are being filled by people who may already have jobs, but need second and third jobs. Or, individuals who were laid off from a full time job, and are replacing it with multiple part time jobs, at lower pay.
Regardless, these are not signs of a robust economy, and those who point to headlines touting ‘X million jobs created since the recovery’ are being duped by an attractive mask that hides a horror show.
The Asset Price Mask
But what about the stock market? Isn’t it at all time highs?
It is, but masks are present here as well. Namely, the Federal Reserve. For nearly 8 years, the Federal Reserve has been engaged in unprecedented levels of monetary accommodation, with the Federal Funds rate resting at 0% until the most modest of raises in December 2015.
That raise was supposed to be the start of an easing cycle, which many experts predicted would result in four rate hikes for 2016. However, the stock market subsequently began 2016 with the worst start in the history of the stock market. This prompted an abrupt about face from the Fed, and then the ‘experts,’ with respect to the rate hiking schedule. Four rate hikes became two, and two became one, and as of this writing there is talk that there will be none at all.
That 12% stock market sell off in the first three weeks of 2016, on the back of the Fed raising rates for the first time in 7 years, from 0% to a negligible 0.25%, is indicative of the whole story: This market lives by the Fed and dies by the Fed. Some, myself among them, would call that a bubble.
The Fed’s persistence in keeping interest rates as low as possible is ultimately rooted in its flawed belief that elevated asset prices are the key to prosperity. Consider Ben Bernanke’s 2010 explanation of accommodative monetary policy and its intended result, the ignition of the ‘wealth effect.’
This approach eased financial conditions in the past and, so far, looks to be effective again. Stock prices rose and long-term interest rates fell when investors began to anticipate this additional action. Easier financial conditions will promote economic growth. For example, lower mortgage rates will make housing more affordable and allow more homeowners to refinance. Lower corporate bond rates will encourage investment. And higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending. Increased spending will lead to higher incomes and profits that, in a virtuous circle, will further support economic expansion.
This is a description of an economic growth model that starts with the Fed lowering interest rates, pumping money into the economy, continues with various actors in the economy increasing their borrowing, and ends in them buying assets, which increase their prices, emboldening the owners of those assets to further spend or take on more debt as a result of their increased ‘collateral.’
The hope Bernanke and all Keynesian influenced central bankers had, and still have, is that this process continues and feeds on itself, a phenomenon known as the ‘virtuous cycle.’
Indeed, the Federal Reserve has accomplished this, expanding its balance sheet from roughly $800 billion in 2008 to roughly $4.5 trillion today:
Which has led to skyrocketing corporate debt:
Which has, in part, led to a substantial rise in the S&P 500, which I will use as a proxy for ‘asset prices’:
The problem with this, the Fed’s preferred model for growth, is that continued asset price increases rely on ever expanding debt, to provide the impetus to buy. It is a simple fact that debt cannot expand in perpetuity. It is limited by the ability to service that debt, which is in turn limited by the productive capacity of the borrower in question.
With respect to corporate borrowers, that productive capacity is seen in earnings. If corporates can produce increasing earnings, they can sustain larger debt loads, which justifies the higher debt-induced prices. The following chart, of the S&P 500 index compared with earnings of the companies in that index, tells an interesting tale:
In short, the continued rise in stock prices are not justified based on the diminishing productive capacity of the companies themselves. A reason for this diminished capacity is general weakness in the economy itself, evidenced by the labor market situation which was discussed earlier.
An economy in which more and more people are working multiple lower paying part time service jobs instead of higher paying full time goods producing jobs is going to be an economy in which fewer and fewer people have incomes which allow them to spend freely. These household budgets are further constricted when taking into account the fact that the Fed is trying to engineer prices higher, so as to kick start the ‘virtuous cycle’ of the ‘wealth effect.’
The math just doesn’t work. Rigid incomes lead to constrained household budgets, which do not lend themselves to increased spending at higher price points, nor do they lend themselves to increasing borrowing to spend at higher price points.
Despite this roadblock, share prices continue to remain elevated, because the continued low interest rate environment established by the Fed enables corporates to take up the burden of spending. They can borrow at record low rates, and buy back stock. Or, other investors, banks, foreign central banks and others can borrow at low rates, in order to buy elevated stock prices. The rationale here is less a belief in a prospective restoration of business fundamentals, and more in a belief that buyers will buy for the sake of buying, rendering elevated prices becoming even more elevated.
Even the Fed is worried about the developments they have created:
In the minutes of the Fed’s September meeting, released this week,some officials “expressed concern that the protracted period of very low interest rates might be encouraging excessive borrowing and increased leverage in the nonfinancial corporate sector.”
Despite these worries, investors continue to demand corporate debt, helping fuel a years-long rip-roaring rally in corporate credit that shows few signs of stopping. Corporate bond issuance this year is set to total $1.5 trillion, nudging past last year’s tally, according to the credit strategists at HSBC, led by Edward Marrinan. Issuance of high-grade debt is expect hit [sic] another record high this year.
It’s all a sign that, in the words of the bank’s strategists, “Market participants seem to be downplaying—or looking past—the risks associated with the steady deterioration in the credit fundamentals of the US corporate sector,” such as rising leverage, contracting earnings, and stressed revenues.
After the financial crisis, many companies focused on rebuilding their balance sheets to withstand another shock. But as the prolonged period of low interest rates continued, cheap borrowing costs prompted, well, more borrowing. Much of that went to fund shareholder-friendly activities like dividend increases and share buybacks. It also funded big mergers and acqusitions.
Emphasis mine. The preponderance of ‘shareholder-friendly activities,’ not least of which being the explosion of asset prices themselves, looks very good on the surface. Indeed, many law makers, academics, and market cheerleaders (such as President Obama) have been in a celebratory mood over the last few years, boldly declaring that the Federal Reserve’s actions had worked.
However, the divergence described by the WSJ – that the Fed itself worries about – between elevated asset prices and the fundamental deterioration of those prices is real, and cannot persist in perpetuity.
Removing the Mask
Deteriorating fundamentals cannot support the further debt burdens that are required to keep asset prices rising even further beyond these levels. And the Fed knows it. This is why they abandoned the original plan for multiple rate hikes in 2016, as that would have slowed down borrowing and thus slowed down the impetus for asset price increases.
In this manner, the market going from four expected rate hikes to now one or zero rate hikes is an effective rate cut. This is what the Fed has been relegated to, sitting on its hands and hoping a miracle happens. If they are proactive in doing anything more accommodative, such as another round of QE, they will put themselves in an untenable position. They can’t on one hand tout the robustness of the economy yet embark on further emergency policies, such as QE would be. The situation would be exposed for all but the most die-hard believers in the Fed.
Regardless of their games, or ‘forward guidance’ as they would call it, reality will assert itself at some stage. The mask will eventually come off. How exactly it will happen is uncertain. But this situation has happened several times before in financial history. There is no escaping a scenario in which too much debt has been taken on relative to the ability to service it. All the Federal Reserve (and central banking in general) can accomplish is to push the date of reckoning out into the future. But even that does damage.
The current boom/bust episode is merely the latest in a 40 plus year credit binge following the ending of the gold standard in 1971. This has eventually led to constantly rising asset prices, which fooled the majority of the public into eschewing the idea of accumulating real savings.
Most used their home or 401k as their savings account. This was fine as long as the stock and housing markets kept rising, which they did, temporary bear market corrections notwithstanding. That all changed in 2008, when the bubble burst in earnest, and asset prices crashed.
This resulted in mass layoffs, but more importantly, many who had counted on elevated real estate and stock prices for retirement were now out in the cold, just at the moment they were ready to retire. This meant they were forced to return to the labor market, because they had built up no real savings over the preceding decades. This explains the surge in labor force participation for the over 55 segment, discussed earlier.
The under 55s have struggled to regain a foothold during this latest ‘recovery,’ still being several million jobs underwater from where they began the Great Recession. Some of this is down to competition from the over 55 workers, who flooded the market. Many of them, closed off from their former occupations, went into parts of the market usually populated by younger workers. Hence the proverbial ‘Wal-Mart Greeter.’
That position really should be filled by a 16 year old kid, working his first job and acquiring the basic skills involved with employment. Instead, the position is filled by a 60 year old who is working one of his last jobs because he didn’t accumulate savings during most of his productive years.
This phenomenon doesn’t bode well for the economy as a whole going forward. When you have an economy which is severely under-employing those who are in their peak earning years, not only is the economy not going to be moving as robustly as it should, but in the future, as those workers persist with decades of under-employment, they too will have to encroach on future younger generations as they try to get their careers off the ground. Multiple generations impaired at once.
And therein lies one of the ultimate problems with central banking, played out over decades. It, like most of government, prioritizes political expedience over longer term sustainability, papering over the cracks instead of repairing them, thus consigning the ultimate costs to be dealt with in the future.
In this greater sense, reality will assert itself here as well. The exponential increase in debt and increases in money supply papering over business cycle after business cycle can only end in a currency crisis, as it has done many times in the past. One can only hope we correct course before such an event occurs.
For those who control the levers of power in Washington, and for the global special interests they partner with, our campaign represents an existential threat. This is not simply another 4-year election. This is a crossroads in the history of our civilization that will determine whether or not We The People reclaim control over our government. – Donald Trump, 13 October 2016
On 21 December 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s Communist leader, addressed the public in a speech intended to restore calm. He promised the workers increased social benefits, including a raise in wages, and declared that the casualties in Timisoara from a few days earlier were the result of foreign agitators who wished to undermine the sovereignty of Romania. He called upon the people to stand and fight against these agitators.
Ceausescu was jeered. The public knew the truth, and Ceausescu and his wife Elena would be executed four days later.
That truth was that the government had ordered the military to fire on civilians engaging in a protest in the city of Timisoara on 17 December. The protest was over an order of eviction for Laszlo Tokes, a Protestant Bishop, for speaking out against the injustices the Romanian government had perpetrated on its people.
Thousands protested, surrounding Tokes’ apartment, engaging in demonstration. This was eventually met with gunfire, from the military on its civilians. This act sparked a nationwide Revolution, which culminated in the overthrow and execution of the Ceausescus.
Though the situation in 2016 United States is much different on the surface, there are many parallels to be drawn with the situation in Romania circa December 1989. Whereas the Romanian people were suffering under the economic failure that is communism, the American people of 2016 are suffering under a similar economic failure that is best described as corporatism. In both cases, an undercurrent of dissent had been created among the masses. In Romania, it ended up becoming a wave which overwhelmed the elites. It remains to see what happens in the United States.
If nothing else, the Trump campaign should have alerted even the most dim witted among us to the fact that there is a global establishment/elite, and they exist solely to keep themselves enriched and in power. This establishment,despite the existence of conservatives, has only succeeded in driving the country Leftward. Previously, this view was the province of ‘wingnuts,’ purveyors of ‘conspiracy theories,’ and increasingly, anyone who leans right.
Consider the following from Angelo Codevilla, in his piece After the Revolution:
In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class’s chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.
This is why Obamacare was jammed through Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court despite being unconstitutional, this is why Paul Ryan passed Omnibus, why the DNC rigged the Democratic Primary against Bernie Sanders.
This is why, the day after Americans celebrated the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the FBI declared Hillary Clinton had basically committed a crime, but didn’t really, and thus wasn’t going to press charges. Beyond this, the mere optics of the situation say quite a bit. If chargers were to be pressed, the FBI would have had to put President Obama on the stand, who then would have had to either tell the truth, condemning Clinton and thus handing the presidency to Trump, or perjuring himself and risking all that came with that.
To avoid that catch-22, the FBI did its best to botch the case, handing out immunity to anyone with a pulse, and even allowing key evidence to be destroyed. Their goal was to make the whole case go away, cementing the idea that the elites exist to protect the elites.
This explains why Clinton, two months later, called half of Trump supporters ‘deplorables’ and ‘irredeemable,’ essentially excommunicating them from America. The mainstream media, the mouthpiece of the establishment, enthusiastically agreed with Clinton, like it agrees with and defends the establishment position generally.
The Leftward March
Despite the fact that ‘communism’ is still a dirty word in America, its elites have not shied away from borrowing the tactic of suppressing dissent, dissent against the Leftward March in particular. Codevilla provides insight as to some of the changes that march has inflicted on America over the last five decades or so:
Fifty years ago, prayer in the schools was near universal, but no one was punished for not praying. Nowadays, countless people are arrested or fired for praying on school property. West Point’s commanding general reprimanded the football coach for his team’s thanksgiving prayer. Fifty years ago, bringing sexually explicit stuff into schools was treated as a crime, as was “procuring abortion.” Nowadays, schools contract with Planned Parenthood to teach sex, and will not tell parents when they take girls to PP facilities for abortions. Back then, many schools worked with the National Rifle Association to teach gun handling and marksmanship. Now students are arrested and expelled merely for pointing their finger and saying “bang.” In those benighted times, boys who ventured into the girls’ bathroom were expelled as perverts. Now, girls are suspended for objecting to boys coming into the girls’ room under pretense of transgenderism. The mainstreaming of pornography, the invention of abortion as the most inalienable of human rights and, most recently, the designation of opposition to homosexual marriage as a culpable psychosis—none of which is dictated by law enacted by elected officials—is enforced as if it had been.
Let’s step back for a moment. One of the defining characteristics of this multi decade Leftward March has been the replacement of Christianity with a sort of secular atheism. This secular atheism is a religion in its own right; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been replaced by Equality, Fairness and Diversity. The seven deadly sins of this new religion are sexism, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, nationalism, Anti-Semitism and Judgmentalism.
As I’ve written before, these new deadly sins are the vector through which societal control is meted out by the elites. Furthermore, the thresholds for committing one of these sins are continually lowered such that the only narrow band of thought and behavior which is acceptable is complete acquiescence to the most cutting edge of Progressive views at the time.
In 2016, the Current Year, the proles who enthusiastically support the modern tenets of leftism – such as transgender acceptance – are on the Right Side of History and can feel comfort in the fact that they are Good People.
The problem arises in the future. As Codevilla describes, things that were once unthinkable or taboo can commonplace and normal in a short period of time, and one was bandied as a bigot if one did not fully accept those changes. In the same way, a Goodperson in the Current Year 2016 may find himself or herself faced with a new test for Goodpersonhood in a future Current Year – namely the complete acceptance of things such as incest, pedophilia, or bestiality, for example.
Balking at such a test, and refusing to accept those things as normal may brand one a Bad Person, worthy of the same social ostracism one was eager to foist upon someone who wanted to stop illegal immigration in 2016. This is the ultimate flaw with leftism, in all of its guises – it’s a never ending race to the bottom which runs counter to human nature. As a result, any and all manner of Stasies, dictatorial iron fists or Twitter Trust and Safety Councils are needed to perpetually shield the March against gripping reality.
Ultimately, reality and truth win out, and the hope is it happens before there is some sort of terminal crisis. Trump’s candidacy, and concomitant movement is in may ways is that Enough is Enough moment. An email from Bill Ivey, former Clinton official, to John Podesta, Clinton campaign chair, part of the Podesta Email dump released by Wikileaks, suggests that the elites understand what is happening. Part of it reads:
…And as I’ve mentioned, we’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry.
The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly. This problem demands some serious, serious thinking – and not just poll driven, demographically-inspired messaging.
‘Poll driven, demographically-inspiring messaging.’ Aka playing on the seven deadly sins, which mostly involve demographics. With these two paragraphs, the entire leftist modus operandi is laid: Divide people up based on their individual characteristics, and then deliver targeted messaging based on each characteristic in order to stir emotion. Once that emotion is stirred, it can be directed towards the end of voting for leftists.
Hence the constant barrage of ‘Trump is racist, Trump is sexist, and so forth.’ This email, written in March, reveals that even then Democrats had been concerned that their standard messaging wasn’t working, as evidenced by an admitted rapid fading of compliance. Ivey recommends ‘serious thinking’ about how to restore such compliance.
All Out War
It is not a stretch to imagine that the smear campaign waged against Trump over the last week constitutes a the sort of escalation in tactics required given the failure of run of the mill ‘demographically-inspiring messaging.’
Rationally speaking, the Billy Bush tape simply displays an alpha male engaging in crude, vulgar sex talk, which while disturbing to some, is a rather accurate commentary on sexual relations. Anyone who tries to intimate that high status men do not have ‘leeway’ with women that does not apply to ‘regular’ men is at best a liar.
The women involved in the latest sexual harassment charges against Trump highlight a different, more pernicious issue. At the second debate, during discussion of the Billy Bush tape, Anderson Cooper asked Trump multiple times if he had ever sexually assaulted a woman in the way that was described on the tape. Never mind the fact that on that tape, Trump declared that women LET him touch them, owing to his star status.
Cooper asked Trump multiple times in succession, as if to warn Trump that he better be careful how he answered. That exchange was the green light for the parade of sexual assault accusers that followed. That this sort of thing was so predictable immediately raised questions. Beyond that, a few of the accusers have had holes poked in their stories since the start. It appears that at least one of them might be a Clinton plant.
Summer Zervos, the woman who nearly broke down in tears while reading her account of an alleged assault has had her account rebutted by her cousin, who claims she spoke highly of Trump until April of this year:
“I am completely shocked and bewildered by my cousin, Summer Zervos, and her press conference today. Ever since she was on The Apprentice she has had nothing but glowing things to say about Mr. Trump. For almost a decade, my cousin would talk about how much she looked up to Mr. Trump and viewed him as an inspiration – a success story she wanted to copy. Summer would also talk about how kind and caring Mr. Trump was on the show, and how he would even visit children in hospitals without telling the press. She has praised the good things he’s done for her life, and in fact she converted her friends and our family to become Trump supporters even though we’ve never been active in politics before.
“That was until Summer invited Mr. Trump to her restaurant during the primary and he said no. I think Summer wishes she could still be on reality TV, and in an effort to get that back she’s saying all of these negative things about Mr. Trump. That’s not how she talked about him before. I can only imagine that Summer’s actions today are nothing more than an attempt to regain the spotlight at Mr. Trump’s expense, and I don’t think it reflects well.” – John Barry, Mission Viejo, CA (first cousin of Summer Zervos)
That should make for an odd Thanksgiving gathering for sure.
Jokes aside, these allegations beg the question: How is it that a man who has been at the center of media attention for 40 years, a time during which countless women were in his orbit, having had no charges of sexual assault during that time, is now all of a sudden is bombarded with a torrent of charges of sexual abuse by an Establishment which is mere weeks from possibly losing the Presidency to that same man who has an agenda destructive to that same Establishment?
Given such a question violates multiple deadly sins, do not expect it to ever be posed, let alone answered, by anyone other than Dissidents of the Leftist March.
Indeed, those on the right, the GOP establishment types in particular, were lightning quick in not only denouncing Trump’s comments on the Bush Tape, but outright withdrawing their support for his candidacy. In doing so, they highlighted what most people already suspected, which was that they never really supported Trump, and were looking for any excuse to jump off the train.
There were even internet rumblings that the source of the Bush tape was an operative from the Romney/Paul Ryan camp, which is unconfirmed at the time of this writing, but plausible given the rapidity and coordinators of the disavowals from GOP establishment Republicans.
This facet of the saga is particularly interesting, given the timidity shown by GOPe Republicans such as Paul Ryan in standing up to anything Obama and the Democrats have attempted to do. The acceptance of the farce that is condensing an entire budget into a single bill, which therefore just has to be passed so as not to avoid the ‘disgrace’ of shutting down the government. Meanwhile the budget is usually chock full of goodies handed out to special interests. GOPe and Democrat voices are the first to trot out the old lines about children and the sick elderly suffering because of political grandstanding. In actuality, they are preying on normal human compassion to force through handouts to their friends. It is the singular establishment mindset at work.
Even if Trump were to win, Ryan would be one of Trump’s biggest enemies in Congress. This is because Trump’s nationalist agenda is in direct contrast with Ryan’s corporate donors, who have installed him to push through legislation such as TPP, among other things. On a personal level, there is the observation that Trump, a political neophyte, came into the GOP and immediately shot to the top of the food chain. Ryan, on the other hand, has paid his dues for nearly two decades, climbing up the Party ladder. In a GOP which is all about order, and the ‘next guy in line,’ Ryan had placed himself in pole position in terms of a GOP nominee for 2020.
In the high likelihood he does harbor Presidential ambitions, Ryan would have every reason to combat Trump, and more broadly Trumpism, given Trump’s election would render his political career a huge waste of time. In other words, the ascendancy of Trumpism would simultaneously bring about the death of GOP RINOism. This fight is a fight for survival, and as such it is bound to be very dirty and very intense.
As mentioned earlier, it is not confirmed that GOPe players were behind the leak, but the fact that Billy Bush is the cousin of one Jeb Bush has done little to quell that speculation. Even if there was nothing nefarious, the sharp and swift abandonment of Trump by prominent Republicans, as well as the wall to wall coverage given to every Trump controversy by the media, and culminating with this train of sexual assault accusers, has ended up possibly, almost incredibly, having the effect of turning Trump into a victim. Trump seems to be latching on to this point in his latest speeches, in particular the speech he gave yesterday afternoon in Palm Beach:
The establishment and their media enablers wield control over this nation through means which are very well known. Anyone who challenges their control is deemed a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe, and morally deformed. They will attack you, they will slander you, they will seek to destroy you career and your family. They will seek to destroy everything about you, including your representation.
Trump has been transformed from the Big Bad Racist Wolf to Laszlo Tokes, a dissident who saw the guns of the government turned on him for merely saying out loud what most people had already known to be true. With each attack, each slander, each new accuser who comes out of the woodwork at the most convenient of times, the idea that the elites are trying to screw over Donald Trump, the representative of The People, grows stronger.
Overplaying Their Hand
Much like the thousands who formed a ring around Laszlo Tokes’ apartment in 1989, many are doing the same for Donald Trump. It started last weekend with Paul Ryan getting heckled by his own constituents in Wisconsin, and continued that afternoon when an impromptu rally took place outside Trump Tower. When Trump came down to greet the throng of supporters, there was momentary pandemonium on the streets. It has continued all week on social media and message boards, which have become the true vanguard of the culture war underpinning this election.
And yet, the establishment, the media in particular, does not understand any of this. Throughout the multi decade Leftist March, all that was required of the press to take down a Republican was a middling scandal. An affair with a staffer, some dodgy tax returns, a questionable comment about minorities or the poor, you get the idea. These sort of things were then megaphoned into the public conscience until the offender got on his knees, groveled and begged for forgiveness. The moment that happened, the game was up, for the penalty for committing a deadly sin in politics is the death of one’s campaign.
Donald Trump has endured literally dozens of these sort of ‘controversies,’ big and small, without folding. It is not only a testament to his fortitude, but a stunning rebuke to the argument put forth by some conservative commentators that literally any other GOP candidate would have beaten Hillary Clinton. A ‘normal’ GOP candidate would have also been susceptible to ‘normal’ campaign ending takedowns from the establishment media. It’s that simple.
Having had dozens of their attacks fail over the course of the campaign, the establishment media has responded by going even harder than before. Indeed, the authors who introduced the most recent sexual assault accusers in the New York Times earlier this week, Megan Twohey and Michael Barbaro, were the same authors who wrote a piece in May which attempted to portray Trump as a serial abuser of women in the work place and his private life. Less than two days after that story dropped, the principal subject of the story was on TV refuting those implications and said that Trump treated her like a gentleman during the time they dated.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Except, at this late stage in the game, the increasing intensity and fervor of these accusations, which seem to increase by the hour, starts to feel more and more like desperation. It starts to feel like the lady doth protest too much. It starts to feel like the boy who cried wolf. Especially when it comes from the media, which has overwhelmingly lost the trust of the public, owing to its lies and obfuscations. Furthermore they’ve shown an unwavering commitment to pushing the same Political Correctness line at the exact time that is falling out of favor with more and more people. It is all done to secure the continuation of the Leftward March, but its casualties are exactly the victims this march purports to save.
To wit, in (possibly) drumming up charges of sexual assault against Trump for political gain, they have potentially done great damage to real sexual assault victims by trivializing the charge. This is in the same vein other ‘deadly sins’ such as racism and homophobia have now been rendered worthless by the ever expanding actions which now can be covered by those terms.
As a result, the media will be fundamentally altered, for the worse. A Trump victory means the death of legacy media. A Clinton victory means they go on as loyal Clinton/establishment servants for a time, but the last shred of legitimacy it had in the eyes of the people will be lost. More ominously, the media will have completed its transformation from mere dishonest advocates, to outright enemy combatants in the coming conflict.
On this conflict: it is only a matter of time before the public turns against the Leftward March and rises up to defeat it, as the Romanian people did to the communists in 1989. The most obvious event that will usher this home in America is the election of Donald Trump. If Trump does not win, the situation will be a bit murkier.
There is a school of thought that a Clinton presidency will be compromised, owing to the fact that it was so hotly contested. The ongoing Wikileaks saga and the obvious fact that she was allowed a free pass by the FBI would render her a very weak president in the eyes of many.
I disagree with this view. I believe that Clinton does not care how she attains power, as long as she gets it. She will note the fact that the country was ‘so close’ to succumbing to fascism as a pretense for implementing fascist tactics herself, under the guise of ‘anti-fascism.’ We’re talking executive orders out the wazoo, major restrictions on the second amendment, and explicit declarations of ‘seven sins’ violations as criminal. In other words, the Leftward March will proceed at warp speed, having been motivated by the near death experience that was Donald Trump.
Given the fact that at least half the country already protests the massive, fundamental transformation of America, an acceleration of it has potentially explosive implications, up to and including war. Unfortunately, that is the only resolution when differences that are this stark exist among the populace.
The most likely scenario is that the massive war the establishment is wishing to ignite with Russia comes to pass, and the country is instantly ‘united’ in that manner. It is my view that an escalation with Russia is almost a certainty should Hillary Clinton win. Her record is no different to your run of the mill neocon who worships the military-industrial complex. She, like them, supported all American adventures in the Middle East, and supports American actions in the proxy war with Russia in Syria. She, like them, is quick to label Putin as the new Hitler (during the 5 minutes a day that comparison isn’t being made about Trump).
Trump, on the other hand has dared to put forth the idea that diplomacy with Russia is possible, and that the two nations could even be allies. The Russians agree, saying that a vote for Hillary is essentially a vote of nuclear war.
None of this matters however, because Donald Trump once talked about what women would LET (let, as in allow, as in consent to, LET) him do with their private regions.
This is what it has come to, unfortunately. A culture ground down by decades of cultural Marxism has allowed tabloid gossip, salacious drama, feelings and smear campaigns to supersede discussion of substantive issues, like the prospect of nuclear war. And for this we claim to be an enlightened and forward thinking generation.
Unfortunately, because we have declared ourselves so enlightened, we are also above learning anything from the multitudes who walked this earth before us. The Leftist March is all about that idea: that whatever feels good in the present IS good solely because it is in the present. History is to be ignored, which is why leftists always talk about progress as if it is a linear thing. We can’t go ‘back’ to the old way, they constantly tell us; we must keep moving ‘forward,’ even if that means straight into a buzz saw.
It is not a stretch to say that the modern slavish devotion to the Leftward March, ostensibly in the name of a constructive inclusiveness, may ultimately usher in the use of perhaps the most destructive force ever known to man, nuclear weaponry. Future historians will look back with amazement at how stupid we were to allow things to get to this point in the first place.
But for now, YOLO.
Upon thinking further about the Trump Tape fiasco and the Podesta emails, I’ve got some things to add to my original post, in no particular order.
- The fact that these two events took place is telling:
Telling because it confirms that Trump has legit support, and that support isn’t being shaken by this latest smear campaign by the media
2. There are rumors on Twitter that it was the GOP establishment who leaked it. I don’t really buy that as of yet, but it were to be confirmed it wouldn’t be a surprise. Regardless, the way several of the GOPe members of House and Senate reacted, in unison to disavow Trump highlighted several things. First it highlighted that they were never on board with Trump in the first place. On a more basic level it highlights their hypocrisy, weakness, while confirming them as backstabbers. It underlines one of the main themes of the election, which is that Trump is a true outsider fighting against both the Republican and Democrat establishment, as well as a mainstream media. All 3 of those actors are set to have their influence neutered, if not destroyed completely by a Trump presidency, and this renders their actions in circling the wagons against Trump unsurprising.
3. Whether this hurts Trump, and how much is an open question. In the cold light of day, this is a nonsensical issue, tabloid fodder. Trump spoke in an uncouth manner, but there is no man on earth who hasn’t spoken in such an ‘ugly’ manner when it’s just the guys. Politics isn’t based on rational thought however, and as such Trump might be facing a hit. this is especially true because his ‘scandal,’ and indeed all of his ‘scandals’ to date have been much more visceral and emotional sounding than Clinton’s.
The ease in which encapsulating a ‘MISOGYNIST/SEXIST/EVIL/HITLER/BIGOT’ into an easily remembered sentence or phrase compared with the relative complexity in describing Clinton’s unending corruption and active humiliation and intimidation of Bill Clinton’s rape victims, not to mention her ‘dream’ of a borderless North America and executive ordered castration of the 2nd Amendment, renders Trump’s scandals more damaging, despite being not even being real scandals in the first place. Trump will have to overcome this.
4. One plus for Trump is that he was a known playboy from the start. He was never one of these Evangelical holier-than-thou politicians. As such this sort of revelation doesn’t do that much harm because it is congruent to who he is. Americans hate phony, and tape confirming what we already knew about Trump solidifies his authenticity. For all the people who might be scared away from him, others may be drawn in because he is ‘real,’ and have themselves engaged in that sort of boorish behavior themselves.
5. I can’t stress the contempt I have for the media for pulling this stunt, and others. They promote all sorts of sexual deviance, push pedophilia, push for things like mandatory sex education elementary school children about sex, yet cry bloody murder over tape of Trump being an alpha male. It’s a disgrace, which suggests to me there is an element of desperation in their tactics. The media, being part of the establishment triumvirate which wants Trump gone is stepping up its assault because Trump is too close for comfort. As I mentioned before his support is real. Having not been demoralized by a barrage of polls with unrealistic Democrat samples, the media is trying to go after Trump in this underhanded manner.
6. Related to that is an idea I’ve talked about before – the risk of the media and Clinton overplaying their hand. For a start, the MISOGYNIST/SEXIST/RACIST/BIGOT argument isn’t a real argument, it’s a slander. It works, however, owing to the issue I raised in point 3 about irrationality in politics. These hit pieces work because play on emotion. In 2016, this has been the vast majority of the attack, which is dangerous because at some stage people will get tired of it. The blatant nature of the Trump Tape attack has a decent chance of backfiring because a large percentage of people will see it for what it is – a low blow. It’ll turn Trump into an almost sympathetic figure, which might make him even stronger.
7. The debate Sunday night is going to be for all the marbles. I have no clue how Trump will play it, but early indications are he is preparing for war. If he ‘goes there’ with Clinton, he has to get it right. But even if he doesn’t, the entire debate has to be about Trump holding Clinton to the fire for her failures. It is possible the Trump Tape attack was a wad shot too early, done as a counter attack to the Podesta emails. The latter will be a slow burn, while most of the life of these Trump Tapes has already run its course. By the end of Sunday night, the debate will take over as the main talking point, along with the further digestion of the Podesta emails.
8. As I’ve said numerous times, Trump has given Americans a true choice for the first time since perhaps the 1980 election. If Americans want to eschew that real change because it comes in a boorish package, the so be it. But I prefer a p***y monger to an open border, globalist warmonger.
The increased gnashing of teeth among various leftists over the last week or so is indicative of fraying nerves. As we head into the debates, Hillary Clinton has had her substantial summer lead at the very least dwindle in most polls, and outright flip to a Trump lead in others. Officially, the election is currently a dead heat, but my feeling is that the tide has turned for Trump.
I suspect some on the left are starting to feel this as well, and they are not happy about it. It possibly starts all the way at the top, with Clinton herself. Consider this video today, which went viral:
I’m not sure what that video is from. I suspect it was some sort of private message to a group of donors, perhaps unions. Whatever it is, it obviously wasn’t meant for public consumption. That said, even if it wasn’t it isn’t a good showing for Clinton. She starts out speaking in a normal, if elevated tone when speaking about Trump and his aversion to unions. Then, out of nowhere, she starts screaming, wondering aloud why she isn’t ’50 points points ahead.’
The random escalation in tone, when she is speaking in a room by herself as opposed to a rally crowd, is absurd looking on its face. It just screams ‘crazy.’ That, combined with her subject matter, her disbelief that she hasn’t blown Trump away, is telling. It suggests that she expected this election to be a cakewalk. She thought that all she had to do was show up to a few events per month, talk about how ‘racist’ Trump is, sit back, relax, and prepare for her coronation in January. That isn’t how it’s gone, and she is clearly upset about it.
Of course, she still might be right. At the very least, however, Trump has made things too close for comfort for Clinton and her supporters on the left.
Some, like Charles Lane in the Washington Post article seeks to take an more measured approach to understanding why Trump is maintaining his appeal:
Why do so many Americans support Trump despite months and months of negative, truthful coverage about him?
To be sure, there has been too much media puffery about Trump, whether unfiltered live coverage of his rallies by cable networks or Jimmy Fallon’s sickeningly friendly tousling of the Republican candidate’s hair on “The Tonight Show.” Journalists were slow to take him seriously at the beginning of the Republican primaries.
The fact remains, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) noted in an interviewwith the Times published Sunday: “Nobody is confused about the differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. . . . Is she perfect? Of course not. But you’ve got enough information to make the choice.”
What must be going on is that people — an alarmingly large number of people, it seems — back Trump even though they know, or could easily learn, that he is a charlatan, clueless about policy, bizarrely sympathetic to Russia’s dictator, disturbingly prone to offending women and minorities, and a serial liar to boot.
Note how he states, matter of factly, that Trump is a racist and sexist, implies he has fascist sympathies and has no idea about policy. In reality, these beliefs are merely a list of opinions. Incorrect opinions at that. However in the mainstream, they have been elevated to a level of truism right up there with mathematical identities such as ‘1+1=2.’ To those with this very left leaning, mainstream worldview, it defies any sort of logic that someone could even think to cast a vote for Trump.
Lane goes on to explain that Trump is benefiting from a sort of ‘jury nullification’ writ large. Since the electorate feels the system is rigged, he reasons, they are more than willing to forgive Trump of the ‘crimes’ that system itself has alleged, particularly because Trump is promising to smash that system. There is some truth to this.
Lane ends by expressing a sort of sadness, that the journalist industry he is a part of has lost its ability to influence and guide the discussion.
Drew Magary has a quite different take. He took to GQ to deliver this delectable screed. Here’s a sampling:
As I’ve discussed before, this election is starting to erode the power that screaming ‘You’re Racist!’ has had over political discourse over the years. This is behind a lot of the skittish behavior apparent in the commentaries by Magary, Pierce, and those who are so brutally critical of Jimmy Fallon.
They are starting to notice that repeating racist/sexist/bigot/whatever over and over again isn’t moving the needle the way it once did. This is largely because of the fact that those terms have come to describe more and more things, to the point where this saturation has completely rendered these terms meaningless. When correcting someone’s grammar can be considered a potentially racial offense, we have reached the point at which people will instinctively start to tune out when wailing ‘but he’s racist!’ is the main argument presented.
A more nervous group of individuals over Trump’s strength is the media, as well as the pundit class. Their consternation is revealed in the reports of Trump’s campaign spending, or relative lack thereof:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign and its allies are outspending their Republican counterparts by a factor of about five to one, according to a new analysis released Tuesday.
But the former secretary of State has failed to put away Donald Trump, and many anxious Democrats are baffled as to why the race remains so close.
Yet another dynamic that is being exposed during this election is the deterioration of the legacy media, and by extension legacy politics and punditry. Hillary Clinton is running a campaign from the 80s and 90s – pandering, carefully crafted, focus group tested phrasing, accumulating a big warchest to spend on huge ad buys, etc.
Similarly, the punditry is from years gone by. Countless times I’ve heard pundits on various cable news channels going on about how Trump needed to ‘pivot,’ how his ‘ground game’ was lacking, and things of that nature. Those are chapters straight out of a conventional campaign playbook.
Trump has completely thrown that playbook out the window, and perhaps forever changed the way campaigns are run. Instead of doing huge ad buys, he interacts with his 20+ million followers on Facebook and Twitter. Because of the increasing move from TV to social media among the populace, these impressions are likely to have more of an impact than any ad buy would. It is well known that more and more people get their news from their Facebook feeds rather than the 6 o’clock evening news.
This means that in going directly to the people, with a much more robust message, Trump can circumvent the media and its gatekeepers. This, combined with the fact Trump has a more concrete message has meant that his campaign is having a much more profound impact on people. In comparison, the Clinton campaign’s traditional strategy of 30 second ads full of regurgitated soundbites are easily dismissed, if they are even seen at all by a public which is watching less TV in the first place.
To be sure, there are a few Trump-specific features to his campaign that make his robustness possible. The bottom line is that the public is starting to tire heavily of the DC class in general, which renders the hundreds of millions the Clinton campaign has and will spend utterly meaningless.
If Hillary loses, the fact that she is a walking stereotype of DC politicians will be the biggest reason as to why. Moreover, being that way for the best part of 30 years in public life, Hillary Clinton can’t change. That is simply who she is, a dying breed of politician. Even if she does manage to scrape by, she will probably be the last of her kind.
The above photo is of Hillary Clinton emerging from her daughter Chelsea’s apartment after her fainting episode on Sunday morning at a 9/11 memorial event.
What is interesting about the photo is the irony of the sign in the foreground. On it reads a well known quote from Mike Tyson. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
If the general election has been a boxing match so far, the first rounds were about even, up until the end of the Democratic convention. After that, all hell started to break loose for the Trump campaign, or at least that was the manufactured perception.
As I outlined in my recap of the summer that was in the election, the media was able to create almost constant drama over various things Trump had said, from the Khan fiasco, to the ‘second amendment people’ comment, among other things. These side issues were enough to continually distract attention from the issues at large and focus them on ‘gaffes’ which would have buried most candidates.
Trump is not most candidates, however, and as such he was able to come out the other side with minimal damage. To continue the boxing metaphor, the Clinton campaign and their sidekicks in the media got a flurry of early punches to the Trump body, but nothing that really hurt him. They expended a lot of energy in doing so, which leaves them susceptible to wearing down into the later rounds.
To be sure, Trump did change his management team, and rolled out a more buttoned up approach which still remained consistent to his views and his tone. Things were ticking along nicely for the Trump campaign, having picked up some momentum from his statesman-like trip to Mexico, his immigration speech, and his outreach to minority groups.
Then Clinton made the ‘deplorables’ comment. Speaking to a group of wealthy donors last week, she declared that half of Trump supporters could be placed into a ‘basket of deplorables.’ She said that these were the racists, sexists, homophobes, and so forth. The other half were those who she said has lost hope economically and were just hoping for a Trump miracle to save them.
In short, she declared that Trump’s support consisted of either bigots or hopeless people.
On Monday, responding to Clinton’s comments, Trump said the following in a campaign speech:
Clinton was using a very deliberate page from the Democratic Playbook – smearing someone with one of those names in order to scare them out of voting for change. She just took it to a whole new level by applying it to tens of millions of people.
She used these vile words in order to bully and intimidate honest citizens out of seeking government reform.
People who want their immigration laws enforced, and their borders secured, are not racists. They are patriotic Americans of all backgrounds who want their jobs and families protected.
People who warn about Radical Islamic Terrorism are not Islamophobes. They are decent American citizens who want to uphold our tolerant values and keep our country safe.
People who support the police, and who want crime reduced, are not prejudiced. They are concerned and loving citizens whose hearts break every time an innocent child is lost to preventable violence.
Trump captured a point which I articulated in my initial post on the subject, namely that for years the left has tried to pathologize anything that they disagree with. You simply couldn’t just be wrong if your views differed, you were somehow evil. Hillary Clinton even used the word ‘irredeemable’ in her description of some of those in that Basket of Deplorables.
Given the punishment for harboring bigoted views is generally social ostracism and ridicule, and the threshold for being considered a bigot becoming increasingly easier to satisfy, what Clinton calls for entails the ostracism of people for wanting simple things like a strong border, for example.
In other words, it is an overplay of the leftist hand, which may start to get them into trouble with everyday Americans who don’t appreciate being called a bigot just because they exist.
In attempting to deflect attention from the huge mistake Clinton made making that comment, her campaign has focused on these threads over the last 5 days:
Pepe The Frog Memes
A few days ago, Donald Trump Jr. posted this image on his Instagram:
It’s a photoshopped riff on the movie The Expendables, but what caused a stir was the green frog. That frog, is a cartoon character called Pepe. It was created back in 2008, and became an internet meme on the message board 4chan some time later, well before the campaign.
The meme has quickly spread, and it has been used in a myriad of ways. One thing about memes is that they are very much used for different purposes, by different people. Consider these Kermit the Frog memes:
The same meme, used by different people, for different reasons.
Now that you sort of understand memes, let’s look at the Pepe meme. According to the media, the Pepe meme is a ‘white nationalist symbol.’ Here’s Chris Matthews giving a news report on the Don Jr. Instagram:
While it is true that the Alt-Right has adopted Pepe, and while there are plenty of Nazi/White Nationalist themed memes floating around the internet, it is important to understand them for what they are.
Trolling, plain and simple.
This goes back to the ‘basket of deplorables’ comment, and her entire campaign before that. It has been about calling any and everyone who happens to agree with anything Trump says a bigot. The culture in general has conformed to that sort of standard, with Trump’s candidacy being such a breath of fresh air in large part because of the way it eschews politically correct discourse and sanitized ideas.
The memes are essentially saying ‘if you’re going to stand there and scream racist/sexist/homophobe all day, I’m going to give you something to actually scream about.’ Case in point:
Here we have a Pepe meme, which is a depiction of a scene from the movie American History X, about a neo-Nazi. The swastika tattoo, and the portrayal of violence against a woman combines themes like racism, sexism, and anti-semitism all into one image. It is designed to give oversensitive individuals a conniption, and if you got one from looking at that image, the image did its job. You’ve been trolled.
In the Chris Matthews clip, after he gets done, an analyst comes on and starts hyperventilating about how much of a concern it is that Don Jr. posted that meme. That exact reaction is the only reason these memes were posted in the first place. The fact that mainstream media outlets threw fits over this was exactly what the people on 4chan wanted to see. The pained reaction was the prize.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign fell right into this trap face first when her campaign officially put out an ‘explainer‘ for the Pepe memes.
It’s especially rich considering Clinton never tires of calling Trump ‘thin skinned’ and declaring that his Twitter battles may pose a national security risk.
Yet it is her campaign which has been riled up over a cartoon frog meme.
Yesterday the Washington Post did an interview with Trump, and decided to bring up the birther issue:
In the interview, conducted late Wednesday aboard his private plane as it idled on the tarmac here, Trump suggested he is not eager to change his pitch or his positions even as he works to reach out to minority voters, many of whom are deeply offended by his long-refuted suggestion that Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Trump refused to say whether he believes Obama was born in Hawaii.
“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”
When asked whether his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was accurate when she said recently that he now believes Obama was born in this country, Trump responded: “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.”
He added: “I don’t talk about it anymore. The reason I don’t is because then everyone is going to be talking about it as opposed to jobs, the military, the vets, security.”
Clinton got wind of the interview, because shortly after it was published, she brought it up at an event she was doing. She stated:
He was asked one more time where was President Obama born, and he still wouldn’t say Hawaii. He still wouldn’t say America.
This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry? Now, he’s tried to reset himself and his campaign many times. This is the best he can do. This is who he is.
The Trump campaign responded with an excellent reframe, blatantly reminding everyone that it was the Clinton campaign – back in 2008 – which first raised the questions as to where President Obama was born:
“Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for President. This type of vicious and conniving behavior is straight from the Clinton Playbook. As usual, however, Hillary Clinton was too weak to get an answer. Even the MSNBC show Morning Joeadmits that it was Clinton’s henchmen who first raised this issue, not Donald J. Trump.
In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.
Mr. Trump is now totally focused on bringing jobs back to America, defeating radical Islamic terrorism, taking care of our veterans, introducing school choice opportunities and rebuilding and making our inner cities safe again.” – Jason Miller, Senior Communications Advisor
Both this and the Pepe fiasco both serve the same end. These episodes, to the extent they stick, allow Hillary Clinton to attempt use the same bigot/racist/sexist canard she was trying to use when she made her Basket of Deplorables comment. The issue she might have is that the general public may be at their wits end when it comes to this kind of thinking.
Thus far the Clinton campaign’s response to being pegged back by Trump is to double, triple and quadruple down on the ‘You’re Racist!’ argument. It is extremely weak, as none of this has anything to do with the real issues of employment, trade, the economy, national security and immigration. That Clinton is trying ever so hard to keep the discussion away from policy is telling. It suggests that Trump’s message is catching on.
In my piece on the fall out over Matt Lauer’s performance at an NBC presidential forum earlier this week, I made the point that the outrage is founded on an ever shifting understanding of objectivity as it pertains to the media. Of the outrage, I wrote:
Herein lies the crux of the angst from the media, and those on the left over Lauer. Those parties have all declared Trump to be an uncouth buffoon who says offensive things and thus isn’t fit to be president. That basic assertion is a given, a concrete foundation from which everything else follows.
To this end, Matt Lauer’s greatest sin on Wednesday night was that he didn’t spend the entirety of his 30 minutes with Trump calling him a racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, Islamophobe, Transphobe, whatever phobe repeatedly. That would have been ‘doing his job.’
I’d like to expand on this a bit further, if I may.
Back in January, the Huffington Post decided that a disclaimer should accompany each and every article it posts which relates to Donald Trump. It reads like this:
Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
It serves as a Surgeon General-esque warning to readers: ‘You are consuming content the subject of which is a really bad person. Be careful.’ On the back of that declaration, many mainstream journalists feel no compunction in writing about Trump and his supporters in increasingly disturbing ways.
They’ve declared Trump and his supporters to be deluded, and as such the ‘sane’ leftist has a direct duty to ‘un-delude’ the Trump supporter, as one would do if one had a friend or family member who obviously needed Institutional care. Some have taken the route that Trump and his candidacy represents the extinction of democracy, and thus is a threat to the Republic. More worryingly, others have advocated outright violence at Trump rallies.
The leftists’ recent self described abandonment of objectivity in the face of a supposed existential threat would make perfect sense if there was objectivity in their viewpoint in the first place.
On the surface, there is. The main charges against Trump – racism, sexism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia – are real phenomenon with clear definitions. The issue is that none of them actually apply to Trump, objectively speaking.
The charge of racism is based on Trump’s stance on immigration, in particular his comments on illegal immigrants from Mexico. Regardless of Trump said, the bottom line is that ‘Mexican’ isn’t a race. The charge of sexism is largely based on public comments Trump has made which ultimately amount to the same type of locker room talk men have had with each other in one form or another since the beginning of time. Women have their own version of this sort of crude talk as well. Neither of it is sexist.
Showing affection to one’s own country, wanting to advance its interests while preserving its culture and history is not xenophobic. Wanting to curb immigration from a group of people which have inflicted disproportionate amounts of terror against us does not amount to Islamophobia.
This is all objectively true, yet those on the left are steadfast in their condemnation of Trump as a bigot. Consider this from former President Bill Clinton from a stump speech earlier this week:
In it, he says of Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan that ‘if you’re a White Southerner, you know exactly what it means…What it means is that I’ll move you back up on the social totem pole, and other people down.’
Never mind that Clinton also used the phrase Make America Great Again during his 1992 presidential run, as is shown in the end of that video.
His stance on illegal immigration, as shown in the following video from the his 1996 State of the Union address, is almost Trumpian:
So why isn’t Bill Clinton, himself a white Southerner, and thus must have known what Make America Great Again ‘really meant’ when he used phrase himself, who took a tough stance on illegal immigration, a racist?
Well in some circles, he is. This is because of his 1994 crime bill which stiffened penalties for drug violations, which had a disproportionate impact on black communities and increased the black incarceration rate as a result. One of the themes of Hillary Clinton’s campaign was how she was going to distance herself from the ‘racism’ of that bill in order to assure the black community that she is on their side.
Bill Clinton is not the only leftist icon which has his legacy re-litigated in our new age of hyper political correctness and social justice. Figures such as FDR and Martin Luther King have been criticized by leftists for racism and homophobia, respectively. The Washington Post has been called for the expunging of Woodrow Wilson, one of the most progressive presidents ever, from official places of honor. This is in light of protests, ongoing at the time of this writing, over the fact that Wilson’s name still adorns one of the departments at Princeton University. The ferocity of some of the reporting suggests they would like to expunge Wilson from history entirely.
This sort of judgement of historical figures by today’s standard of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and microaggressions leads me to believe that no president in history, up to and including the 2008 version of Barack Obama, is electable in 2016. The vast majority of past presidents would have been disqualified for their racism and/or sexism. The rest, including 2008 Barack Obama would be disqualified for not having the ‘right’ stance on gay marriage.
Obama eventually got with the program, and by 2012 he was singing the correct tune. He had to do so in on order to conform to an ever changing, ever ‘progressing’ culture. The modern left is infused with the Marcusian belief that anything goes as long as it feels good, and doubly so if it represents a break with moral traditions of the past. If Hillary Clinton were to win, I have no doubts that in four or eight years, the candidate that stands before us now will look like an extremist bigot compared to the politician she will end up being in order to conform to the future cultural zeitgeist.
These continual shifts in interpretations and after the fact declarations of bigotry ultimately cheapen those terms, especially since the threshold for being a bigot is continually lowered. If wanting strong borders is now bigotry, there are now hundreds of millions, even billions around the world who now can be described as bigots. The term itself is rendered near meaningless as a result.
This sets the stage for Friday, when Hillary Clinton decided to delineate Trump supporters in the following manner:
You know, just to be grossly generalist, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”
“Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.
That other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for a change. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.
She said these remarks at a campaign rally, but she made similar remarks in a television interview that aired earlier in the day, suggesting that these remarks were well thought out, an perhaps even focus group approved.
In trying to demonize half of Trump supporters (a figure in the tens of millions domestically, perhaps hundreds more globally) using terms such as racist, sexist and homophobic, she is trying to levy a serious charge on hundreds of millions. Some outlets have tried to defend Clinton, claiming that because she was disparaging something negative, so it the comments were fine.
As previously discussed, the utter meaningless of those terms owing to their overuse has weakened the charge considerably. To deem Trump supporters racists or sexists is to attempt to attach the stringent punishment for those transgressions, ostracism from society and de-legitimization, to views as simple as having a strong country with strong borders which follows the law.
In other words, you should be silenced if you don’t like illegal immigration, or, you have ever disagreed with, or said something nasty about a woman or a person who is not white. Her remarks then come across as nothing more than a declaration that a whole group of people is unworthy, hence ‘deplorables.’ It is an insult, pure and simple.
Ultimately, this is all those on the left seem to have. The charge of racist/sexist/homophobe was once so grave that it forced society to conform to the leftist dogma in order to avoid those damning labels. In 2016, we’re finally beginning to see the Law of Diminishing Returns reduce that stranglehold. People are no longer scared of those labels, not because they are more emboldened to be bigoted by a person like Trump, but because the terms themselves have less and less meaning when they’re applied to every single transgression, big or small.
In short, when everything is racist, nothing is.
On Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump participated in a televised Commander-in-Chief forum moderated by NBC’s Matt Lauer. What has overshadowed the event was the performance of Matt Lauer. He was almost universally criticized by the left leaning media for appearing to be overly tough on Hillary Clinton, and comparatively light on Donald Trump (‘appearing to be’ is the key phrase here – as we’ll see in a bit).
A summary of the critique of Lauer’s performance is found in this New York Times article. It begins:
Charged with overseeing a live prime-time forum with Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton — widely seen as a dry run of sorts for the coming presidential debates — Mr. Lauer found himself besieged on Wednesday evening by critics of all political stripes, who accused the anchor of unfairness, sloppiness and even sexism in his handling of the event.
Granted 30 minutes with each candidate, who appeared back-to-back at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan, Mr. Lauer devoted about a third of his time with Mrs. Clinton to questions about her use of a private email server, then seemed to rush through subsequent queries about weighty topics like domestic terror attacks.
When an Army veteran in the audience asked Mrs. Clinton to describe her plan to defeat the Islamic State, Mr. Lauer interjected before the candidate could begin her reply.
“As briefly as you can,” he said, one of several moments where the anchor spoke over Mrs. Clinton to remind her that their time was running short.
Mr. Trump stormed onstage in his familiar motor-mouth style, often talking over Mr. Lauer and declining to directly answer many of his questions. At times, Mr. Lauer — who has conducted fewer adversarial interviews with Mr. Trump than his colleagues on NBC’s political desk — appeared flummoxed by his subject’s linguistic feints.
“Lauer interrupted Clinton’s answers repeatedly to move on. Not once for Trump,” Norman Ornstein, the political commentator, wrote in a Twitter message, adding: “Tough to be a woman running for president.”
Michael Grynbaum, the author of this article, as well as many of his ideological bedfellows throughout the media all seemed to have a problem with the way Lauer constantly interrupted Clinton, asking her to hurry her answers along, while supposedly not doing it once for Trump.
This is technically true, Lauer did not interrupt Trump once to speed him up. He interrupted Trump several times to engage in active debate with Trump, which he categorically did not do with Clinton. Consider the following video:
HRC interrupted 7x, sheepishly
DJT interrupted 13x, forcefully
— КГБ Border Patrol (@FacMagnaAmerica) September 8, 2016
It shows quite clearly that all of Lauer’s ‘interruptions’ of Clinton were merely in the interest of moving things along to fit as much as he could in a 30 minute segment. He was stern, yes, but he wanted to move things along. There nothing of value in the rambling non-answers Clinton was giving to warrant a waste of precious time.
In contrast, when Lauer (more frequently) interrupted Trump, it was in order to push back against something he said. At stages Lauer was outright debating with Trump point for point, back and forth, in a manner he didn’t do with Clinton. To the extent he didn’t keep going and going down some of the rabbit holes he could have was down to the fact that he was keen to fit a lot into the 30 minutes he had with Trump.
For all the tears in the media over how unprepared Lauer was, he did come armed with a couple obvious ‘gotcha’ setups at the end of Trump’s alotted time. Trump simply did a good job of avoiding those traps, hence the description of Lauer as ‘flummoxed’ by Trump’s ‘linguisitc feints.’
On social media, surrogates for Mrs. Clinton began mounting a sustained attack on the anchor. “Imagine if @NBCNews had done its job,” wrote Nick Merrill, her press secretary, on Twitter. Neera Tanden, a close Clinton ally, was even harsher: “I guess the good news is that Matt Lauer isn’t moderating an actual debate,” she wrote.
The criticism captured what has become a common complaint about media coverage during this election: that news organizations and interviewers treat Mrs. Clinton as a serious candidate worthy of tough questions, while Mr. Trump is sometimes handled more benignly.
Herein lies the crux of the angst from the media, and those on the left over Lauer. Those parties have all declared Trump to be an uncouth buffoon who says offensive things and thus isn’t fit to be president. That basic assertion is a given, a concrete foundation from which everything else follows.
And what follows is this, from the perspective of mainstream media: Given the disaster Trump is, how do we cover him, given he has gotten this far?
Jim Rutenberg of the NYT asked this question, and sought to answer it in this popular column from last month.
If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?
Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.
The idea that just now, in 2016, mainstream journalists are struggling to deal with having to be more oppositional to a Presidential candidate is quite laughable, given the fact they’ve been oppositional to every Republican candidate for decades. Mitt Romney faced the same charges of bigotry, sexism and so forth that Trump does now. The difference is that Trump is completely and utterly unapologetic, while Romney tripped over himself to get in the good graces of the media.
This is why there is a new level of ‘danger’ attached to Trump. He truly can’t be coo-opted, and is unfazed by the Power of the Pen which the media has used to criticize its ideological opponents into submission. It does not have such power over Trump, hence the public brainstorming about what sort of strategy it should employ to defeat him.
And make no mistake, despite the waffling journalists like Rutenberg does in his article and others, defeating Trump is the goal, not figuring out how to nobly maintain objectivity in the uncharted seas of the 2016 campaign. Brian Stelter of CNN confirmed as much with this outburst on his show last month:
Journalists cannot just play these soundbites, quote these claims and then move on to the next subject. We can’t just let it seep into the discourse like it’s normal. We have to stop and fact check and contextualize… Right now, it’s the Republican candidate for president who is trying to delegitimize our democratic process without proof. It is unpatriotic for any journalist or any interviewer to help him.
To this end, Matt Lauer’s greatest sin on Wednesday night was that he didn’t spend the entirety of his 30 minutes with Trump calling him a racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, Islamophobe, Transphobe, whatever phobe repeatedly. That would have been ‘doing his job.’
Given the media has painted Trump as a threat to the world as we know it, they deem this sort of biased criticism, which is supposed to be out of bounds in the journalistic realm, to be acceptable, necessary even.
Furthermore, the Lauer outrage has the potential to set the tone for the Presidential debates, for which the NBC forum was considered a dry run. Consider what David Axelrod, political commentator and former Obama administrative operative, had to say on the matter:
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) September 8, 2016
So there we have it. The leftist media has branded Matt Lauer a journalistic failure for not constantly bashing Trump over the head as moderator. The fact that he only bashed him some of the time wasn’t good enough. The message to Lester Holt is clear: If you don’t essentially play Robin to Hillary’s Batman during the debate, we’ll come after you.
From what I know of Holt, he might be hesitant to acquiesce to the baying crowd, regardless of his natural amenability to the leftist worldview. And it might actually be a smart play, for the public as a whole are starting to tire of mainstream media and their complete inability to sympathize with most of America.
Should Holt, or any of the moderators be too transparent in their allegiance to Hillary Clinton, and are too eager to attack Trump, they will run the risk of confirming the stereotype that they are heavily biased, and Trump’s specific critique that the media is dishonest. This will taint any subsequent analysis it offers, which said differently, means it taints the pro Clinton message.
One of Donald Trump’s biggest claims during this election is that he was against he Iraq war. This places him in opposition to Hillary Clinton, George Bush, basically the entire government and the public at large, who sanctioned the war. In the end, the war was proven to be a mistake, at least in terms of execution, if not the decision to start it in the first place. That the outcome of the war was so bad has opened a lane for those to play the ‘I told you so’ card.
With respect to the 2016 election, Trump has been chided for his lack of experience and judgement, which renders him unfit to be the president, so the argument goes. Trump points to his call about the Iraq war as proof that his judgement is sound. This would be a great argument, if indeed it were true. But proof has been lacking.
Many in the media have pointed to the following interview Trump did with Howard Stern back in 2002, and declared it the smoking gun that definitively closes the issue and confirms beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump is a big liar (start at 1:30):
Stern asks Trump point blank: “Are you for invading Iraq?” Trump responds, “Yeah, I guessss….soooo.”
Anyone who hears that, and has a modicum of understanding of human beings can hear the doubt in his answer. The phrase ‘I guess’ is one of the most non-affirming affirmations in the English language, and the way he drags out that 4 word answer is further indicative of his uncertainty.
At the very least Trump was conflicted. At most, he was against the war but was wary of giving an answer which would have been extremely unpopular in 2002. Given that it’s Donald Trump we’re talking about, arguing that he might have shied away from a controversial comment is hard to believe. However, even the most fervent anti-Trump diehard must clearly see that his response is hardly a full throated endorsement of an Iraq invasion.
Trump points to this Esquire interview as his proof that he was against the war at the time. It is (to my knowledge) the only recorded evidence of his claim. The problem for him was that it was in August 2004, nearly 18 months after the Iraq war began in March 2003. Esquire has conveniently added a disclaimer to the article to make sure the reader knows this, and coming just short of outright calling him a liar.
The interesting thing is that even despite this, Trump does come off very well in the interview. Consider the following passage (emphasis mine):
My life is seeing everything in terms of “How would I handle that?” Look at the war in Iraq and the mess that we’re in. I would never have handled it that way. Does anybody really believe that Iraq is going to be a wonderful democracy where people are going to run down to the voting box and gently put in their ballot and the winner is happily going to step up to lead the county? C’mon. Two minutes after we leave, there’s going to be a revolution, and the meanest, toughest, smartest, most vicious guy will take over. And he’ll have weapons of mass destruction, which Saddam didn’t have.
What was the purpose of this whole thing? Hundreds and hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and legs? Not to mention the other side. All those Iraqi kids who’ve been blown to pieces. And it turns out that all of the reasons for the war were blatantly wrong. All this for nothing!
I would have been tougher on terrorism. Bin Laden would have been caught long ago. Tell me, how is it possible that we can’t find a guy who’s six foot six and supposedly needs a dialysis machine? Can you explain that one to me? We have all out energies focused on one place—where they shouldn’t be focused.
When I look at some of the things that happened in government, I can’t believe it. Countries that we’re protecting are screwing us on oil prices. It’s unthinkable. I wouldn’t stand for it. How would I handle that? That’s what it feels like to be me.
He shows what proved to be superior understanding of the situation, both in terms of the basic flaw with our Middle East adventures, and the strategic implications of our skirmishes. On the first front, he is correctly arguing that the US trying to bring democracy and liberal Western values to places which do not value them, and never have, is an exercise in futility. Secondly, he accurately understood the destabilization involved would lead to the most vicious assuming power. Which is exactly what happened, with our Regime Change philosophy producing ISIS and Iran on the path to full nuclear capabilities.
At the end of the day, I’d say Trump is shooting par. While he did answer in the affirmative to the question of invading Iraq, the answer was clearly tinged with conflict and doubt. His more full throated disapproval came after the war had already started, yet it did show a superior understanding of the situation and Middle East dynamics than can be expected of a civilian.
This is not an insignificant point. To date, the argument over Trump’s Iraq war stance as it pertains to the election has ignored the fact that Trump was a civilian at the time, while Hillary Clinton was a member of the Congress that carried out the war, and who personally voted for it. Thus, Clinton at best can only try to bring Trump down into the realm of the Incorrect as it pertains to this issue.
And even if she is successful, and it is proven that Trump was for the war at first and then changed his mind later, it does absolve Hillary Clinton, and those who voted yes for the colossal mistake they made in sending our troops to Iraq. Whether the decision was made on an outright lie, faulty intelligence, or a combination of the two, there’s no hiding from the fact that the blunder that was made calls into question the judgement and leadership abilities of the establishment, of the incumbents, of the old guard that guided us during that time. And the end result isn’t favorable for that lot.
In this way, this episode of the campaign is a microcosm of the decision Americans will have to make. From a strictly political perspective, are we going to go with the old guard candidate, which has proven to be a failure, simply because she has ‘been there before?’ I would think not, but you never know. At the very least, this country will have had a real choice for once.
Earlier this week, Phyllis Schafly died, aged 92. She was a conservative icon, and as such there was much outpouring of joy on Twitter and other apparatchiks in the leftist media.
Although I was aware of who she was, I didn’t know the extent to which she was a force for preserving traditionalist views for over half a century. Her most notable achievements came in the gender relations arena, particularly her battles to stop feminists from passing the ERA in the 1970s.
For this, she became the mortal enemy of the feminist, and therefore the eternal friend of civilization itself. Indeed, of feminism, she believed that it was “doomed to failure because it is based on an attempt to repeal and restructure human nature.”
The aspect of human nature which the feminist is interested in is the fact that men and women are different, and thus have different roles to play in families and societies as a whole. Feminism rejects the obvious biological fact that men and women are different and ascribes any differences to ‘social constructs.’ It seeks to reshape the world in its image, to the point that it’s logical extension would lead one to posit that a 5’0” 105 pound woman is equally as capable of saving people from a 10 story burning building as a 6’2” 195 man.
Schalfly stood steadfast against such absurdity for decades, and thus is deserving of respect. There is a bit of a paradox, at least on the surface. In spending her adult life championing traditional views, and exalting the traditional housewife, she was a tireless worker outside the home. She gave speeches all over country, wrote and/or edited dozens of books, learned a law degree, wrote regular columns, and appeared on radio for years.
She also had 6 children, breastfed all of them, and taught them all basic reading and writing before they entered school. In short, she ‘had it all,’ which is what feminists claim their ideology offers women.
Yet the results of 50 years of feminism don’t really bear that out. Women are less happy now than they were during the 1970’s, while men have roughly maintained their level of happiness. Women are marrying later, and the fertility rate in the US is the lowest on record.
A far cry from Schlafly, who actually attained what feminism claimed to offer. Yet, Schlafly is universally met with scorn by feminists.
What squares the apparent paradox is the fact that Schlafly, in embarking on professional pursuits, had no burden, beyond a moral one to uphold traditional views. She had married a wealthy lawyer, so she didn’t need the money from her speaking fees or book sales. She could fully concentrate on her roles as a wife and a mother, while taking the spare opportunities she had to engage in activism, which she called a ‘hobby.’
She would work on her early books after 10pm, when her kids went to bed. She didn’t go to law school until she was in her 50s, at which time her children were all at least in their teens and thus didn’t necessarily need the constant supervision toddlers would have.
She ‘had it all’ precisely because she eschewed the feminist model. She married well, had children, raised them while slowly building up her professional ambitions when she could. Then, in her 50s, after her children had grown, she embarked on her largest and most expansive efforts.
The feminist model preaches to women to do the opposite – establish a career first, then look for a husband after age 30, then have kids, then juggle them with the expanding career. It doesn’t work, for multiple reasons. Nature, not society, has given women a relatively short window to have children. Waiting until after 30 severely limits that window, and increases the likelihood of complications. Furthermore, having a child right when professional ambitions are escalating is a recipe for disaster. Both the child and the job need one’s full attention, and by definition only one can win it.
It is little wonder that the modern woman, influenced by 40 years of feminism is so unhappy. Perhaps she would be better off to take a little inspiration from Phyllis Schlafly, and much, much less from Betty Friedan.