Streetwise Professor

October 1, 2018

Some Things I’ve Learned

Filed under: Politics — cpirrong @ 9:10 pm

Watching the media in the past month or so, I’ve learned that the Truth Gene is on the X chromosome, and that the Lie Gene is on the Y chromosome.  I’ve also learned that the Lie Gene is dominant.  I’ve learned that his implies that XX should be believed without question, regardless of her interests or incentives; the internal consistency of her story; the consistency of her story between tellings; the lack of basic details, juxtaposed with lurid and detailed recollections; the lack of corroborating witnesses (indeed, the existence of contradictory witnesses); and the lack of physical evidence.  I’ve learned that it is beyond the pale even to raise questions about these things.

I’ve also learned that those of the XY persuasion are inherently untrustworthy, and do not deserve due process or the presumption of innocence–because they are probably guilty.  I’ve further learned that behavior of XYs as teenagers is determinative of their character as adults, but the behavior of XXs as teenagers is not only irrelevant, but cannot be questioned.

I’ve learned that I’m so old that I remember when the “politics of personal destruction” was a bad thing, rather than the highest form of patriotism.

Here are some things I’ve learned when I discarded the media filter.

I’ve learned that when people regularly use the phrase “your truth” without the slightest tinge of irony or sarcasm, that the idea of truth has been smothered in its sleep.

I’ve learned that the United States Senate is a broken institution, utterly degraded and depraved.  I’ve learned that this is so obvious that even the likes of Lindsey Graham has noticed.  I’ve learned that the rot is bipartisan, and that the body is inhabited by a full range of types, ranging from those utterly corrupted by power and a disrespect for the most rudimentary norms of personal and professional conduct, to the outrageously hypocritical, to the utterly craven (e.g., Jeff Flake, who should wear a pussy hat 24/7, and not because he’s a feminist).  Indeed, I’ve learned that many exhibit all of these traits, and some more to boot.

But the most important thing that I’ve learned is that this nation is at war to the knife, and that all that matters now is power and the will to power.  In the political sphere, norms, respect for the results of elections, institutional checks and balances, and even the most rudimentary notions of justice and fair play are quaint anachronisms.  The Al Davis ethos (just win, baby) rules.  If you stand in the way of the twisted freaks who infest the Capitol, and the political and media orcs that do their bidding, well, that’s just too bad for you.  You are expendable, as are truth and justice.

We now live by the rule of Beria: “Show me the man, and I will show you the crime.”  Or maybe that of Óscar Raymundo Benavides Larrea: “For my friends anything, for my enemies the law.” (In reality, some perverse pantomime of the law, observing some of its external forms, but violating its basic principles.)

The political atmosphere abroad in the land is only comparable to one era of American history: the 1850s.  The adversaries operate under completely different world-views, and largely view each other as evil.  There is no basis for debate, let alone compromise.

In the 1850s, the battle reached a fever pitch because of the potential shift in the balance in the Senate, which in the view of Southern Fire Eaters threatened slavery, which was precious to them.  Today, the battle has reached such a pitch because of a potential shift in the balance of the Supreme Court, which in the view of the Bi-Coastal Fire Eaters threatens the progressive project, including notably abortion (I mean–really?) but not only that.

In the 1850s, one side was willing to fight for a fundamentally depraved cause.  I think the same is true today: you may dispute that, or we may disagree on what side that is.  But the willingness of left to plumb the depths as exhibited in the oxymoronic Senate “Judiciary” Committee leaves no doubt in my mind.

Regardless of how you allocate blame, what is going on now bodes ill for the future:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

That’s from Yeats’ “The Second Coming.”  And it is not hyperbolic today to ponder the possibility of the second coming of a Civil War.

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  1. You have political fragmentation which is going on in a number of places around the world because as war has declined and trade has become more global, we’ve lost some of the glue that binds countries together. Poorer places used to provide muscle and richer places looked after them in exchange. If you don’t need the muscle, you’re not going to look after them. You’re not going to take as much account of their opinions.

    You’re watching the break-up of the USA into a number of new unions. This isn’t temporary. New York and Washington don’t give a crap about Arkansas, will override their opinions, give them little in return, and this will be reciprocated.

    Comment by Bloke on M4 — October 2, 2018 @ 12:25 am

  2. Watching from abroad I find the whole thing appalling. I don’t warm to Kav – I don’t like the cut of his jib. But the attempt to torpedo his nomination by shamelessly exploiting a perhaps deluded, presumably mendacious fool is awful to observe.

    Nobody is safe. Everybody must expect the Democrat Inquisition.

    I find American worship of the Founding Fathers absurd, but I must say I rate highly Ben Franklin’s “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

    Comment by dearieme — October 2, 2018 @ 4:06 am

  3. P.S. Yeats’ double use of “loosed” seems really clumsy to me. Perhaps that’s why my English teacher rated him below Auden and Elliot. But I do admire his “Irish Airman ….”.

    Comment by dearieme — October 2, 2018 @ 7:18 am

  4. @dearieme–I’m not much of a poetry connoisseur myself, but the line “and the worst/Are full of passionate intensity” seems so apt. That, and the line about “anarchy loosed”, which seems so descriptive, are why I included it.

    And yes, it is appalling. I’m not a Kavanaugh fan either. I’m pretty tired of the Ivy League mafia in general. But this spectacle is disgusting. “Awful to observe” is exactly right.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 2, 2018 @ 12:26 pm

  5. @Bloke–yes, it is a global phenomenon. Globalism has sparked a reaction on global scale–ironic, no?

    Your point re “don’t need the muscle” is quite interesting One theory of the development of representative institutions is that extension of political rights occurs when the state needs more bodies for military service. As you suggest, that process can work in reverse too.

    Insofar as not giving a crap about Arkansas. Well, that’s reciprocated. And how will NY, DC, and coastal CA feed themselves? They haven’t quite thought of that.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 2, 2018 @ 12:29 pm

  6. How I allocate the blame:
    – Dem Socialists are nothing new, nothing shocking. I’ve lived among them for 30 years – while in USSR. They are typical demagogic lying Soviet nomenklatura In Pursuit of Power.The blame is on them – but of course. It’s a given.
    -What was not a given – or rather I didn’t perceive the sheer depth and reach of phenomenon – is the flaky Flakes.
    I have no words…or only ones not fit to print.

    Comment by Tatyana — October 2, 2018 @ 9:02 pm

  7. It is not about chromosomes at all, it is just about politics. Loony Left has sided with Hill over Thomas, Clinton over his accusers, and now Ford or whatever is her name over Kavanaugh and Ellison over his ex-gf. All they care about is power, not women, or victims of sexual abuse, minorities, absolutely nothing. Their ideology is inhuman and the only consistent norm they subscribe to is that ends justify the means. Same belief you find at the core of every totalitarian ideology, once you strip it to the bone.

    Left aside, I have little to no sympathy for the American and Western Right in general. Western, as in the Old Europe, Israel, Canada, Australia, etc. In the post-Communist nations, some basic common sense can be found across the political spectrum. Hell, our communists seem sensible compared to the present-day “progressive” Left. Had Ford came with similar bullshit story over here, she would be laughed at, mocked and ridiculed. Had she came to our journalists, they would tell her to get real and not run her made up nonsense from 40 years ago 24/7 on their networks.

    It is beyond belief that from the people that actually matter, the guy with the most sensible response to all this crap is Trump.

    Comment by deith — October 2, 2018 @ 9:02 pm

  8. @deith–My chromosome analogy was sarcasm. And I agree that it is all about power and the will to power.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 2, 2018 @ 9:14 pm

  9. @Tatyana–Yes, the flaccid Flakes (of which he is just one example of a large class) are just as much to blame. They are enablers. Sort of like sham opposition parties in Russia.

    Last night after completing the post I thought of one big difference between the 1850s US and today. In the pre-Civil War era, there were formidable, stalwart abolitionists who gave as good as they got. Charles Sumner. Zachariah Chandler. Thaddeus Stevens. These men battled the Fire Eaters hammer and tong. Watch the recent movie Lincoln–the depiction of Thaddeus Stevens is marvelous. There is nothing like them today. Unlike in 1850s America, The Dem socialists have no opposition that equals them in ideological fervor or combativeness. Instead, we have a party of government and a party of a little less government, one of which has the will to power and the other the desire to be liked.

    And this is exactly why Trump was elected. Many people wanted a flawed brawler rather than another collaborationist.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 2, 2018 @ 10:21 pm

  10. Ford’s inability to remember the date or the address is curiously convenient. Instead of being able to find an alibi, Kav was left to prove a negative.

    Half way through her testimony she started babbling about deep memory and the hippocampus. I call BS on that. The more we learn the more it is clear that memory is malleable and self interested above all. Forget a 30 year statute of limitations on eye witness evidence. People can’t even remember correctly what happened yesterday. And when the CCTV evidence cofounds memory, we happily protest that our memory was correct and the cameras wrong. Memory is fallible, and cognitive dissonance is the norm not the exception.

    Comment by zut alors! — October 2, 2018 @ 11:04 pm

  11. Here’s a turn-up for the books.

    Comment by dearieme — October 3, 2018 @ 6:26 am

  12. I’m struggling to think of a single American that I’ve ever met who was clearly a devotee of the left or right. They were all kind, unfailingly polite, generous people – the kind of people who would surely compromise on a common sense government.

    The problem is that, as Scott Adams of the Dilbert cartoons put it, the USA has an Iranian style democracy: You can vote for whoever you want, but only from an approved list. In Iran it is Khomeini (and associates) who decides on the list. In the US, to the best of my understanding, it is the Republicans (via a subset of the electorate) and the Democrats (via an unelected cabal of “super delegates”) who decides on the list.

    The problem is not the US, nor are the majority of Americans likely to go along with a civil war. It is that the only political outlets are becoming ever more extreme.

    It is time for the US to embrace multi-party democracy…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — October 3, 2018 @ 9:37 am

  13. @Tatyana–I should have said the flaccid, feckless, foul, foolish Flakes. I am of a mind to drop a few other f-words into the description, but I’ll leave that to your imagination.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 3, 2018 @ 12:16 pm

  14. @HibernoFrog–I agree in the main.

    Re multi-party democracy: the winner take all system in the US makes a more-than-two-party equilibrium very unstable. My dad’s college poli sci prof, who went on to be one of the leaders in bringing game theory and statistics into political science, Bill Riker, made this point in his book from the 1950s, Federalism.

    Third parties have emerged when the distribution of political views changed, and hence the location of the median voter changed, but the parties did not respond immediately. After an election cycle, or at most two, the parties adjusted and moved towards the median again. This squeezed out the third party.

    Insofar as civil war is concerned, the same could have been said about the Civil War. For a long time it was a political conflict that did not engage most Americans, who looked upon both extremes with some scorn. But those losing what they believed to be an existential political debate considered secession to be preferable to remaining in a union they could not control.

    The anything goes approach to the Kavanaugh nomination suggests that the left believes that (a) the conflict is existential, and (b) they are on the brink of losing. If that is indeed, their belief, then the conflict will escalate. As I wrote from early-2016, Trump is a reaction to the failed political establishment. He threatens their power, hence the unhinged response to everything he does. This, in turn, only angers those who supported him not so much because they like him, but because they despise the establishment. They rightly view attacks on him as attacks on them, rooted in complete disdain. I can see a lot of ways this dynamic can escalate and intensify. I can’t see an obvious way, or even a plausible one, that it de-escalates.

    One complicating factor here is that the division in the 1850s was sectional, and there was a relatively clean political mechanism to exit the union: after all, secession ordinances were approved by representative bodies in the various states. Here the lines are much messier. Look at the divide within California, for example, where the coast and the interior might as well be on different planets for all they have in common. This makes it much more difficult to forecast how the conflict will play out.

    I agree that most Americans are open to compromise, and don’t want a civil war. But apropos a quote misattributed to Trotsky, you may not be interested in (civil) war, but (civil) war is interested in you.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 3, 2018 @ 12:35 pm

  15. When I look at the mishigoss such as these Kavanaugh hearings, I try to find incontinuities, which are expected after so many years distance. Both had them, both tried to minimize theirs while maximizing the opposition. To start, the woman’s incontinuities were MASSIVE. At the beginning it was about 1987, then mid 80s, then 84 or 83, finally she settled on 1982. The 80s were a time of expanded women’s rights. Back then, an independent woman would shame anyone pointing out she was anything but a liberated powerful person. Until she accuses a man of unwanted sexual advances. Here – we have this in obvious glory. Dr Ford writes in her yearbook about wanting to have sex with at least 56 MEN before entering college. She poses with slutty pictures, drinks alcohol as a minor, and goes repeatedly to parties where there are drunken frat boys around. But wait – her accusation has to marinate for 36 YEARS. Did she stop going to drunken frat parties after being in fear of her virginity(haha), or her very life? Oh – hell – no. She was out the next month with another group, doing the same thing.

    As bad as this has been for Kavanaugh personally(SHE started this, no sympathy), for the republic – it has been far worse. We have seen our Senatus Majora in all its splendor. The institution REEKS of bias, emotion, partisanship, favor, and duplicity. There is NO integrity, including from my senator who was represented on the committee. All of them, to a single individual showed the worst that is a representative republican nation of laws. The Dems were worse, but only by fractional degree. Do they think we cannot see them playing to the audience/camera? Do they think we endorse this in our representatives? Do they imagine for one second that even the most partisan of us want this kind of personal Antigone played out on MSNBC? Complete with liberal interpretation of Creon and Oedipus? Oh the horror of it all.

    I’m not a fan of a lot of rules. I’m closer to anarchy than of totalitarianism, but in the strongest means at my disposal I implore the senate. Fix – your – institution. For it is surely broken. This goes without saying for the HR, and exec depts as well. SCOTUS may be the last remaining refuge of honor and dignity – notwithstanding Ginsburg’s efforts at tarnishment.

    Comment by doc — October 3, 2018 @ 3:55 pm

  16. Finally a sensible response with no grammatical errors
    Very refreshing
    Would you comment on my question:
    The liberal press for 2 weeks which I read avoided any updates on images from Ms Ford. The only one circulating along the Washington post, CNN etc was the one where she appears with sun glasses smiling all the way. We got to see her face finally when she appeared in front of the cameras for her testimony. Since then as a comparison every picture of Kavanaugh in the liberal press is his enraged face when upset about the accusations. The liberal media again at work. My question is: Am I the only one who noticed this?

    Comment by Andres katz — October 3, 2018 @ 5:47 pm

  17. @Andres-Thanks.

    I didn’t notice in this particular instance, but now that you mention it. . . . I remember my mother–years ago, when I was maybe 10 or 11, and then afterwards–emphasizing that the choice of photos in news stories is the most subtle form of bias, and has an outsized impact (because it is largely subliminal). You are right.

    And this raises another issue–how Ford (and her handlers, Dem operatives all) have been able to control information flow about her, to further shape her image and her narrative. This person allegedly so committed to telling the truth (a) refuses to release her therapist notes, even thought that is allegedly the corroboration for her story, (b) has not released the letter she sent to the Dem congresswoman, that then went to Feinstein, (c) refuses to release her polygraph, or even acknowledge whether it was recorded, (d) refuses to say who is paying for her lawyers, or how she came to retain them, and (e) scrubbed her social media.

    Yet not a peep about this from those who repeatedly run what is probably the only non-repulsive photo of her and the most unflattering pictures of Kavanaugh.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 3, 2018 @ 7:07 pm

  18. @doc–Very well put. You do a very good job adding detail to something I mentioned in my post: how Kavanaugh’s youthful behavior is supposedly determinative, but Ford’s is totally out-of-bounds. The contrast between the breathless and seemingly endless deconstruction of Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook with the cone of silence that surrounds her far more lurid and revealing one is just one example.

    Further, not only does her behavior as an adolescent cast doubt on the credibility of her story, it also raises serious doubts about a key part of her narrative, and one that is used to elicit sympathy, enhance her believability, and immunize her from criticism or even questioning: namely, that she is a damaged person, and she was damaged by one and only one event–a clumsy and perhaps aggressive sexual encounter that did not even by her telling remotely approach a rape. The biographical details you provide suggest (a) she was probably already a seriously damaged person by age 15, and (b) her volitional behavior when she was that age and a little older damaged her even further.

    In this interpretation, Brett Kavanaugh is a convenient scapegoat for psychological dysfunction properly caused by others–herself, first and foremost. All the more if she can indulge her political beliefs.

    As for the Senate–hallelujah. It is an Augean Stables desperately in search of a Hercules. There are two classes of senator: the utterly execrable and the slightly less execrable.

    All of DC is desperately ill, and in severe need of purging. But the Senate is arguably the worst, likely because (a) unlike the exec, turnover and competition in Senate races is minimal–these people NEVER GO AWAY and hang on into their bitter dotage (e.g., John McCain and Diane Feinstein), and (b) they get many more opportunities to grandstand, due to the aforementioned longevity in office, but also due to the confirmation process (which gives them platforms in high-profile situations) and rules that seriously limit party discipline and allow senators to become the prima donnas from hell.

    I keep going back to my thoughts about Caesar and the Senate. The late-Republican Senate was a similarly vicious and dysfunctional body that created the conditions for a Caesar to emerge.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 3, 2018 @ 7:29 pm

  19. If her photos are a fair topic for discussion, then I may ask if I am alone in thinking she has a rather manly face?

    Comment by dearieme — October 4, 2018 @ 3:55 am

  20. CP: all that, yes, except Flake is not a fool. He is the mouth of a half of (R) senators. They are looking at the treatment Kavanaugh receives and choose rather “flight” than “fight”. He is not lonely in his belief that his Party will do nothing for him if he’ll be personally threatened – so every (wo)man is for himself.

    Comment by Tatyana — October 4, 2018 @ 6:13 am

  21. Do not despair. There will be trials and revelations. There will be convictions and perpetrators will pay the consequences.
    Along the way, the left will riot against the imposition of the law. But the law will prevail.

    Comment by Richard Whitney — October 4, 2018 @ 5:46 pm

  22. @Tatyana–Bravely ran away, away, bravely ran away.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 4, 2018 @ 7:31 pm

  23. @dearieme–Dunno about that, but she looks a helluva lot older than 51.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 4, 2018 @ 7:33 pm

  24. Tatyana’s comment hit the nail on the head. The Dems decided to go full stalin/goebbels on Kavanaugh, and found someone willing to be “terrified” by Kavanaugh – first in 2012, when Kavanaugh’s name became widely circulated as a possible nominee by Romney, and then again, in 2018. And, of course, sex is easy to understand.

    Plus, spin doctors have tried to foist putrid illogic on the public, and the Dems on the Judiciary Committee even went to the extent of making the Creepy Porn Lawyer part of their team. Sen. Spartacus Booger tried to provoke a fight with an old grade school playground trick – “go ahead, hit me.” Sen. Hiroshima from Hawaii, a smarmy, snarky, smirking giant Oriental insect, to tole men to shut up. Sen. Finestain “didn’t have anything to do with leaking Ford’s name to the media idiots.”

    The Dems don’t have Congress, they don’t have the presidency. They do have an intrasigent bureacracy, and they are desperately trying to hold on to the Supreme Court, which has had a nasty habit of legislating (based on “penumbras” and such), instead of judiciating.

    In the sovok union, one only needed to denounce someone else.

    There were 3-person panels which then disposed of “counter-revolutionaries.”

    The Dems claimed that advice and consent is “not a judicial proceeding” – therefore, voila, no rules apply, and they could turn this into a real circus.

    Down with white male privilege! Up with “believe survivors”!

    Never mind that Balsey Ford had no evidence to prove that she is a “survivor”! Some women have been raped, therefore, Balsey Ford, with her Dem operative attorney Katz and others, was raped. Oops, no wait, there was no sex, just groping, but we don’t know where, when, etc.

    Just denounce and automatically convict – just like in the sovok union. It all boils down to beer in high school and the enigma and cryptology of “the Devil’s Triangle.”

    The nation is not divided. There are millions and millions of Americans with decency and common sense. There’s just a few vocal lefties, with media idiot adherents, who are screaming and throwing temper tantrums like 2-year olds going through the terrible 2’s. No honor, no grace, no shame, no decency, no courtesy, no nothing – except “resistance.”

    PS I got a kick out of the “judicial demeanor” spin, which applied when a judge is sitting on the bench, dealing with a case.

    Not when a candidate is sitting in a circus, defending himself against scurrilous, uncorroborated allegations. And being rightfully outraged about a coordinated, fabricated attack.

    I still remember what happened to Dukakis when he was asked about his wife’s rape during a presidential debate – he was crucified by the media idiots for “not being outraged enough.”

    If Kavanaugh had responded the way the Dems wrote the script for him, he would have been accused of being guilty – because he wasn’t outraged enough by the stalin/goebbels denunciation of him, by the attack against him.

    Lefties have a response – not an answer, a response – for everything, no matter how absurd.

    Comment by elmer — October 5, 2018 @ 9:02 am

  25. @elmer–re “Never mind that Balsey Ford had no evidence to prove that she is a “survivor”!” Exactly. In the law, this is referred to as assuming facts not in evidence. In logic, it is called begging the question.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 5, 2018 @ 2:22 pm

  26. The Left has spent the last 100 years deliberately expanding the scope and power of the federal government, to the detriment of both the individual and the states. Now each national election/supreme court confirmation becomes a battle royale because the stakes are so high. A truly federal system reduces the need for the “winner-take-all” Game of Thrones style political deathmatches. Control of the levers of power is seen as the existential imperative it is in so many other war-torn, God-forsaken countries across the globe (see the Sunnis in Iraq and Alawites in Syria for two recent examples).

    Devolving power back to the states (and breaking up large states like California into smaller, more homogenous polities) would allow each area of the country a great deal of autonomy to choose their preferred modus operandi. It would also allow people to easily “vote with their feet”. Not perfect (there will always be political minorities), but it made sense when our country was a patchwork of ex-colonies clinging to the eastern seaboard, and it makes even more sense now that we are an enormous and diverse continent-spanning global colossus.

    Comment by default tranche gamma — October 11, 2018 @ 10:18 am

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