Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Establishment Strikes Back

     (Apologies to Star Wars fans.)

     We knew they weren’t going to go down without a fight. We knew that they would use every means, however underhanded, to recapture their former hegemony. We knew that old animosities would be set aside for the duration of the contest.

     Eli Lake has a few words to say about it:

     Heard any good Mike Flynn jokes lately? How about this one from "Morning Joe," this week? "When it comes to legal issues, he's like Charmin. You just keep squeezing." Maybe you've seen Stephen Colbert's segment from February about Trump's former national security adviser: "It's funny 'cause it's treason."

     Don't miss this exchange in the New Yorker last month with former acting attorney general Sally Yates. Reporter Ryan Lizza asked Yates about how she informed the White House counsel that Flynn had lied to his colleagues about his monitored conversations with the Russian ambassador. "You didn't just text, 'Heads-up, your N.S.A. might be a spy'?" Lizza asked. Yates quipped: "Is there an emoji for that?"

     Well it's nice to see our elites are in such good humor about something so grave. If there truly was treason, it's no joking matter. If there was not, then this man's name is being tarnished unfairly. Ha. Ha.

     After all, Flynn has yet to be charged with a crime. If there is evidence that he betrayed his country, it has yet to be presented. None of the many news stories about Flynn's contacts with Russians and Turks has accused him of being disloyal to his country. And yet a decorated general has already been tried and convicted in the press.

     Please read it all. Indeed, they’ve done all that and more, with the “more” forbidden by the Constitution itself:

     Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

     But wait: there’s more! The Establishment isn’t just trying to topple the Trump Administration; far from it. It’s not quite foolish enough for that. It has a “replacement” government waiting for the reins of power to be handed (back) to it:

     The government in exile — the real one, according to the media — has had a busy week at home and abroad. “President Obama” has given up leading from behind and presumes now to lead from overseas. His secretary of state has a new mission, as missionary to the safe places where snowflakes fall.

     Mr. Obama joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to lecture America and the West to quit being so beastly to the strivers of the Third World, and open wider the borders of the West. “We can’t isolate ourselves,” the former president said from a platform at the Brandenburg Gate. “We can’t hide behind a wall.”

     This is the message that resonates with Mrs. Merkel and many of the Europeans, even it strikes a sour note at home and even in Britain, coming just days after the spawn of a Libyan immigrant murdered nearly two dozen Britons, including several children, and then blew himself up at a concert arena in Manchester.

     Timing is everything, as the man said, and the president in exile used his appearance in Berlin as a coming-out party after nearly six months of playing celebrity in borrowed houses across the South Seas and the Caribbean, playing at golf instead of government. But boredom set it and when Frau Merkel agreed to receive him as a fellow head of state, well, why not? She knew she could count on him to deliver platitudes and goo-goo worthy of an American president in exile.

     Another please-read-it-all column. But the ironies of the matter aren’t just that a soundly defeated political party, which presented the electorate with the least appealing presidential candidate since Aaron Burr, is insidiously intriguing for power. The Establishment is Established in more ways than one:

     I’ve lost count of the articles I’ve read about Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” that used the word “timely.” Timely, that is, in the sense of the presidency of Donald Trump. Here’s just a short list of print and online outlets where the T-word appears in connection with the re-creation of Atwood’s fictional America turned into a grim theocracy called Gilead that treats women like breeding cattle: the Hollywood Reporter, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Mother Jones, Harper’s Bazaar, the Daily Beast, Bustle, NPR, and CNN. The 77-year-old Atwood herself chimed in, telling the Los Angeles Times’ Patt Morrison: “We’re no longer making fiction — we’re making a documentary.”...

     At first I scoffed. There couldn’t be any more unlikely a theocrat than Trump, what with his misquotes from the Bible and speculation that he hasn’t been in a church more than twice since the inauguration. But then I realized that the liberal paranoiacs were right. Except not in the way they think. Instead of seeing Atwood’s fictional Gilead as a near-future militant fundamentalist Christian elite dystopia, we should see it as the mostly secularist elite dystopia we live in right now.

     Take those elite-class Wives. Liberals typically assume the 1% consists of striped-pants tycoons off the Monopoly board who reliably vote Republican and want to cram retrograde religious ideas down people’s throats. In fact, as social scientists (Charles Murray in “Coming Apart”) and political analysts (Michael Barone, writing recently for the Capital Research Center) have observed, it’s the Democratic Party that’s the party of the 1%: the tech and finance billionaires, the media and entertainment moguls who cluster in expensive ZIP Codes around metropolitan Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington.

     Those folks aren’t known for their church-going, and they vote in favor of liberal social and economic causes from abortion and immigration rights to sustainable energy to higher taxes. They contribute heavily to political campaign[s], and with their upper-middle-class epigones they run the culture, deciding who gets banned on Twitter, which kinds of “diversity” are allowed on campuses, and what television programs we’ll be allowed to see. Today’s overclass Wives typically hold Ivy League degrees, “lean in” to high-status careers, and stand with Planned Parenthood.

     A third please-read-it-all column, and this one might be the most important of the bunch.

     Politicians pursue power above all other things, but their allies and acolytes are often more interested in some other goal: riches, or social status, or influence over the beliefs and opinions of others. Look at the array of financial and cultural forces that reliably line up behind the Democrats every two years, and decide its significance for yourself.

     The cries of “You are being manipulated” have grown so common as to numb us to them. That doesn’t mean that the statement is untrue. Indeed, one of the weapons in the Establishment’s arsenal is to conflate such representations with outlandish cries of “Conspiracy!” and thus to imply that they deserve nothing but amused derision. The comments at the foot of Charlotte Allen’s column provide some representative cases.

     The century-long cartelizations of finance, of education, and of entertainment have served the political Establishment well. When the economy is half under the rule of Washington with the other half in the hands of the Fortune 3000...when the entirety of education and journalism is dominated by the Establishment’s cats’-paws...when nearly every piece of entertainment available from “legitimate” sources has as its first priority the reinforcement of the Establishment’s preferred Narratives...just how immune to the message do you really think you are?

     The Leftist violence aimed at suppressing conservative and traditional opinion is mainly a sideshow. The main action is in the heads of Americans: alluring voices whispering from all directions that “You’re doomed to fail. It’s hopeless. And anyway, it’s immoral. Besides, your leader is a clown and your precious country is already damaged beyond repair. Let the professionals handle it. Adjust. Give in. Give up....”

     Even noticing such things is painful. Writing about them is agonizing. It makes me want to “act up.” What does it do to you, Gentle Reader?

     If there’s any bright spot in the picture, it’s that we appear to be safe from rule by Harpy. Of course, the Harpy is undaunted:

     Hillary still believes the vast, right-wing conspiracy is responsible for her political failures. In her first big interview since last year’s loss, Clinton tells New York magazine the right-wing media is a force with no effective opposition:
     “Look, we have an advocacy press on the right that has done a really good job for the last 25 years,” she says. “They have a mission. They use the rights given to them under the First Amendment to advocate a set of policies that are in their interests, their commercial, corporate, religious interests. Because the advocacy media occupies the right, and the center needs to be focused on providing as accurate information as possible. Not both-sides-ism and not false equivalency.”

     Two problems here. First, Clinton says the right has used the “rights given to them under the First Amendment” to advocate for their interests. It’s a bit worrisome that someone who was a senator and who just ran for president seems to think rights are given by the U.S. Constitution. What the First Amendment actually states is that the government cannot infringe on certain basic human rights. Again, people make this mistake all the time but a presidential contender ought to know better.

     Second, in Clinton’s view of the world, there is apparently no such thing as left-wing media. The left doesn’t have writers (take your pick) or blogs (Daily Kos) or massive news sites (HuffPost) or entire TV networks (MSNBC) devoted to advocating for their interests. I’m barely scratching the surface here. There are hundreds of writers, blogs and even news sites which explicitly take a progressive position on issues. The only area of media where progressives have really struggled is in radio.

     The impulse toward false equivalency is only getting worse, in her opinion. “The cable networks seem to me to be folding into a posture of, ‘Oh, we want to try to get some of those people on the right, so maybe we better be more, quote, evenhanded.’ ” When I mention MSNBC’s hiring of conservatives including George Will, and the New York Times’ new climate-change-skeptic opinion columnist, Bret Stephens, her brow furrows. “Why … would … you … do … that?” she says. “Sixty-six million people voted for me, plus, you know, the crazy third-party people. So there’s a lot of people who would actually appreciate stronger arguments on behalf of the most existential challenges facing our country and the world, climate change being one of them! It’s clearly a commercial decision. But I don’t think it will work. I mean, they’re laughing on the right at these puny efforts to try to appease people on the right.”

     Undaunted or not, by the objective evidence, this political mountain climber isn’t going to make it to the summit:

     ...and I have no doubt that that pleases Barack Hussein Obama more than he’d ever least, on camera.

     Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Joseph said...

I thought Mike Pence was the replacement...

As far as I can tell, the Left is taking advantage of the distaste for Trump among ideological conservatives to push Left-wing memes and then flip the debate back to Trump's personal qualities in order to drown out any rebuttals.