reflections of a pragmatic optimist, lover of freedom

Category: Media Malpractice (Page 1 of 9)

Well, this has already gotten interesting…

It’s about time I posted some thoughts on the monumental and (to me, at least) unexpected election outcome of last week. I don’t flatter myself to think anyone has been waiting breathlessly on my analysis, but it’s an event that bears marking, and there are things that ought to be said about it in this record I’ve been keeping. (I’ve written almost nothing about this election cycle here on the blog, due partly to favoring my Twitter feed.)

Trump wasn’t my pick, and I have plenty of concerns about him — from the basic observation that he’s no small-government, free-market conservative (and has furthermore reversed his positions and schmoozed with and donated to so many office-holders of both parties in the past that his set of beliefs is clearly fungible), to his often coarse demeanor, to creepily fascist-ic remarks he’s made at campaign stops, to his overly cozy rapport with Vladimir Putin and clueless retweeting of support from the alt-right. He’s no exemplar of how to treat and talk about women, nor do I find the cronyism that’s characterized his business dealings admirable. I felt betrayed and crestfallen to learn that the GOP had crowned him its nominee.

All of that said, our choice this time around was (pardon my bluntly apt metaphor) between a shit sandwich and a crap sandwich. It’s taken a truly terrible alternative to make Trump’s candidacy even possible, and we found that in Hillary Clinton. Her role in our becoming a country that leaves its people to die in hostile territory, her knowingly lying to the American people and families of the dead about the cause of the Jihadist attack on the U.S compound in Benghazi (promising to punish, and jailing, a scapegoat filmmaker in the process), her gross negligence, at best, with matters of national security (it appears to me that she is clearly guilty of felonies, and owes her escape from prosecution to a cowardly, politically compromised FBI) — these should all have been (and evidently proved to be) deal-breakers for her candidacy, or for any other candidate’s, from whichever party. All this sits atop the fact that she clearly intended to continue pushing us down the road of incrementalist collectivization via nationalized healthcare, inflexible state-run education, and increased taxation, for she is a Progressive cut from the same loom of cloth as Barack Obama.

Trump’s rise is ultimately an unpleasant and worrisome but predictable result of people laboring for decades to chisel away at this Civilization of ours, with the ultimate goal of undermining our cultural and governmental institutions and “fundamentally transforming” us into something we were never meant to be: a collective society, built on the ruins of a former outpost of individual liberty that was tricked into giving up on itself and committing suicide. Barack Obama’s presidency was the latest chapter in that “long march”, and Trump’s ascent was propelled by eight years of an administration that belittled, berated, and condescended to half the country, that demagogued and divided to the best of its ability. It was fueled the cramming down our throats of Obamacare, and by scandals at the IRS, NSA, DOJ, and EPA. By the shameless cheerleading of a lapdog press for its anointed Lightbringer, while demonizing and vilifying the liberty-minded Tea Party movement and anyone else who dared oppose his agenda. There is plenty to dislike and distrust about Trump, but the fact is in the end it wouldn’t have mattered who the GOP’s nominee was. Said nominee — whether Cruz or Carson, Romney or other — would have been painted by the press as a villain in the extreme. So while there are plenty of valid concerns about Trump, we can be forgiven for finding it difficult to discern objections to him that sincerely target said concerns from others that we’d be hearing regardless — had, say, Ted Cruz won the nomination and the presidency. My years of experience observing the vilification of Republicans from Reagan to the present has made me quite confident of that.

I had strong reasons for wanting to vote against Hillary Clinton. Trump’s flaws were worrisome enough that I could not bring myself to vote for him, despite knowing that any other course of action would be effectively futile. It was not lightly that I cast a write-in vote for Ted Cruz, the only decision that I could feel right about in this craptacular election season. I maintain respect for others who concluded that despite Trump’s flaws he was the necessary lesser of two evils. Among them are Bill Whittle and Victor Davis Hanson, both of whom articulated ample cause for concern about Trump in the past. I fully acknowledge that whatever good a President Trump ends up doing, I cannot claim any credit for as a voter. But I am not sanguine about where we seem to be headed. This is in the best case a temporary reprieve — a chance to “stop the bleeding” as Bill Whittle put it — and, sadly, I expect it to turn out to be a wasted opportunity, at best. A popular revolt was warranted, but it seems to have been squandered on a very poor choice. As with Barack Obama’s presidency, I hope to be proven wrong, and I’ll give President Trump the same chance, but I fear I’ll be proven right.

The way ahead from here is treacherous, and seems bound to be full of missteps and disappointments, at the very least. Both the Republican and Democrat parties bear their share of responsibility for putting forth such awful nominees. But the ultimate blame for this mess rests with the perpetrators of a Culture War who have been relentless in their aim of dismantling our essential cultural foundations. Without their vain and bitterly determined attempts to steer us away from the course of individual liberty and the tightly constrained form of government needed to enable it to thrive, we would not be in such dire straits.

The week since the election has seen insanity that rivals the already insane campaign season to date: ongoing “protests”-turned-riots; claims of Trump-inspired discrimination, some proven to be fabrications (see also this); people identified as Trump voters or supporters being beaten, including this motorist, and this one, and this student, and this one; breathless comparisons of the election outcome to the 9/11 Jihadist attacks; numerous tweeted assassination threats, including threats from at least one journalist and CEO; other CEOs including Pepsi’s and GrubHub’s disparaging or threatening employees who supported Trump; celebrities who threatened pre-election to leave the country if Trump was elected apparently having second thoughts (echoes of 2004, to be sure). Meanwhile, the press has made some public displays of repentance and introspection regarding its insular bias — including the New York Times, which has vowed to rededicate itself to honest reporting after a stunningly candid confirmation that it has tailored its reporting to fit a preconceived narrative — but I expect all of that will be short-lived. (Oh, by the way: the electoral college is suddenly a sinister threat to democracy again!)

One of the more disheartening things I’m seeing is parents scaring the daylights out of their children — including children who are too young to have the historical context and skepticism to properly assess what they’re being told. The amount and extent of awfulness and unhinged ridiculousness I’ve seen in response to Trump’s election has, astonishingly, been enough to make me start feeling sympathetic to a guy I never liked to begin with. I predict it will backfire in a big way if it continues.

So, one way or another, here we are. If there’s a bright side, maybe it’s that long last the press can be expected to do its job again (sort of), dissent has surely become the highest form of patriotism again (an assertion I remember being made frequently during the Bush years), people are finding renewed skepticism and concern about the wisdom of having a powerful federal government (sadly, I expect that will last only until the next electoral reversal of the tables) … in short, the world is once more inverted, and I expect there’s going to be a lot more along those lines to keep up with in the coming years.

Some wry and apt observations from the Twitterverse:

Of them all, this very aptly captures the seeming lack of self-reflection that’s going on:


Indeed, epithets of that sort have come to be used so frequently, routinely, and loosely, they’ve lost much of their gravity, and furthermore produced an understandable backlash from the wrongly accused.

This gem from a parody account echoes the same sentiment:

Some more honest reflection regarding all this would benefit us. I hate to be cynical, but holding my breath waiting for it doesn’t seem well-advised.

9/11, Fourteen Years On

Fourteen years later, I have nothing fundamentally new to add.

The horror of that day has long since been eclipsed in my mind by the consequent exposure of our own weakness, and our determined unwillingness to squarely confront the enemy that brought such horror to us, in the years since. Our appetite for self-deception and willfully naïve thinking far exceeds anything I’d have imagined. Our foundational institutions, from academia to journalism to entertainment and the arts to government and even our military, have been extensively compromised beyond likely repair by determined ideological termites whose goal of an ever-weaker America is now at hand. The realities of the day did not shake their belief systems, as I had once supposed an attack on our nation would. Nor has the steady litany of attacks in the years since — from London, to Madrid, to Beslan, to Bali, to Mumbai, to Kenya, to Paris, to Moscow, to the Fort Hood shooter, to the Beltway Snipers … the list goes on and on. Nor has the rise of ISIS, with all its attendant barbarity plainly on display for the whole world to see. ISIS operates with free reign because we — The United States in particular, and the West in general — lack the resolve and moral conviction to do anything substantial to stop them. We are now led by people deluded enough to believe that weakness is somehow strength, and that our implacable and barbaric enemies can be persuaded by olive branches and “Coexist” bumper-sticker platitudes. These are people who led us to abandon all gains in Iraq, with our intentions and timetable so clearly advertised that we might as well have hung out a “This territory up for grabs” sign. ISIS is expanding its reach virtually unchecked, and is successfully recruiting from Western populations, for God’s sake — because unlike us, they actually believe in themselves and what they are doing.

Soon, Iran — whose political and spiritual leaders have been unambiguous about their intentions toward Israel, the United States, and the West — will have nukes. They’ll have them because, gullible fools that we’ve become, we’ve effectively surrendered on that front too.

I’ve pleaded. I’ve striven to educate. As have many others, with much greater dedication and skill. At this point, those who can be awakened have been. Those who do not wish to see, won’t.

I’m weary of seeing things I don’t want to see, that few others are willing to see and acknowledge. I have no patience to stand by and watch a slow cultural suicide, nor do I especially want to spend years studying the mechanics of self-inflicted civilizational decline when there are far higher aspirations for this civilization of ours to reach. I have zero respect or patience for PC scolds and their demonstrably flawed multicultural platitudes, whose net effect ends up somewhere between naïve ignorance and willful sabotage. We, who have managed to welcome and happily “Coexist” with people of just about every other belief system in the world, have encountered an enemy that has been pretty clear about its lack of interest in “Coexist”-ing with us, and with our cultural foundations now compromised due to the willful actions of some among us, we are under-equipped to confront that reality and deal with it. We’re in grave danger of losing everything that matters, not because a handful of Jihadist scumbags attacked us on 9/11/2001, but because far too many among us are willing and eager to choose cultural surrender as an alternative to fighting and decisively defeating those rotten bastards.

It seems maybe, remotely possible that in the final, twilight years of this once great Civilization of ours, the lunatics who labored to institute such weakness might, as they finally start to notice things crumbling around them, look back and wonder whether they’d perhaps made a mistake or two — long, long after it’s far too late to do anything to turn the tide. I’m not holding my breath.

We’re a culture in serious need of a reboot, and I’ve turned my efforts to finding a way for that to happen — for some remnant of our indomitable spirit to have a chance to thrive again unhindered. Because in the end, mere physical survival and avoiding playing a part in the fulfillment of a Jihadi death wish for another day isn’t what it’s about. It’s the long-term survival of the essence of who we are that matters. And how that goes … is entirely up to us.

My Previous Years’ 9/11 Posts

2014: 9/11, Thirteen Years On

2013: 9/11, Twelve Years On

2012: 9/11, Eleven Years On

2011: A Plea, Ten Years After: Please, Open Your Eyes ~ Ten Years Later: 9/11 Links

2010: 9/11: Two Songs

2009: Tomorrow is 9/11 ~ My Experience of September 11, 2001 ~ 9/11 Quotes

2008: 9/11, Seven Years On ~ 9/11, Seven Years On, Part 2 ~ 102 Minutes that Changed America

2007: 9/11, Six Years On

2006: Soon, Time Again to Reflect ~ 9/11 Observances ~ 9/11 Observances, Part 2

2005: I Remember

2004: Remembering and Rebuilding (republished here September 12th, 2014)

Where do we go now?

Given the way Bill Whittle’s extraordinary “Silent America” essays saved me from isolation and despair years ago, it should have come as no surprise that a series of new videos from Bill was the first thing that gave me any reason for hope after the re-election of Barack Obama in November. More than that even, Bill’s words and ideas in these videos made me feel unexpectedly energized about the prospect of a way forward. Watching them is no small time commitment, but neither is saving our beloved USA, and I can vouch for the fact that Bill doesn’t disappoint. His sober but undaunted thinking seems like exactly what we need now.

I started with “A New Beginning…”, the November 7, 2012 episode of Bill’s semi-regular video podcast, “The Stratosphere Lounge”. In it, Bill advances a big-picture idea that looks beyond the process of politics-as-usual that has repeatedly failed us, to postulate a tectonic cultural shift that may now be possible: American citizens voluntarily contributing to the building of parellel private-sector institutions that will put their sclerotic, unsustainable government counterparts to shame by the comparison of results they produce. There’s more to it than that, and Bill explains and motivates his idea in much greater depth than I can hope to effectively summarize, so by all means give this a watch if you can.

Bill’s thinking seems to me to contain echoes of Virginia Postrel’s “Dynamism”, with a key idea being emphasis of decentralized, voluntary initiative in diverse and numerous laboratories of innovation over attempting to shape the future through rigid central planning.

The book Bill mentions in this video, “The Starfish and the Spider”, is available on Amazon, by the way.

If you might only find time to watch one of these videos, I’d probably suggest starting with “Where do we go now?”, Bill’s talk at the November 12, 2012 Hancock Park Patriots meeting, which is followed by an unmissable Q&A session (OK, OK, that makes two videos) in which Bill demonstrates how an effective President of the United States would handle key issues and address a press corps that actually did its job and asked tough questions:

As I remarked and quasi-summarized in my Twitter timeline after watching “A New Beginning”:

Bill’s is a big dream, but dammit, everything worth having in this country was built by people who dreamed big. It can be done!

Focusing only on the next election is the trap we keep falling into; it’s how we keep losing ground. It’s the best our opponents can hope for. Progressives/Alinskyites have a long-term plan that has changed the culture over decades. That’s the game we need to play, but there’s more…

Our existing cultural institutions — education, entertainment, space exploration — are lost. They are tied to a sinking Leviathan of a state. Our only hope is to build voluntary parallel institutions that outshine them, that will show by comparison what miserable failures they are.

The good news: Culture leads; government only very slowly reacts and follows and struggles clumsily to adapt.

Our present centralized government is born of the Industrial Revolution, a by-gone age. It’s unlikely to survive the next big paradigm shift. It’s ossified, rigid, slow-moving, and economically unsustainable. The future requires dynamism, adaptability, decentralization.

Progressivism’s idea of “Forward” is the dinosaur in the room. It’s rigid, coercive, glued to theory that doesn’t flex when reality defies it. Think of all the technological revolutions that have blindsided us in our lifetimes, that few saw coming, and the impact they’ve had. Things we’re incapable of planning for end up mattering the most. Progress is what happens while Progressives are busy making other plans.

Anticipating what might be the next wave is hard enough. Trying to engineer a rigidly defined future is a losing battle. Dynamism wins.

So many genuinely smart people know just enough to think they can engineer the world. If engineering has taught me anything, it’s humility. Solvable problems have to be very tightly constrained, conditions for solving them clearly defined. Reality can ruin your whole day.

We know what doesn’t work, or works clumsily at best and seems doomed to collapse under its own weight and inertia, but what’s the alternative? What are the practical mechanics of a way out? Building parallel private-sector institutions whose success puts their government rivals to shame.

The crux of Bill’s idea: Pay your taxes. Write that off as gone, lost. Forget it. Budget some of what’s left to help build something better.

It’s a grand and vague idea in some respects, but I do believe with the right approach this can work. Government can’t compete with private sector dynamism.

I stand by that assessment, and I have hope we’ll find that some variant of Bill’s ideas on this will provide a real and achievable way out. If you yearn to reclaim our future as I do, by all means please give Bill’s latest work a hearing.

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