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[(A guest blogpost by my slightly right-of-centre friend Peter. Enjoy. Discuss. ~DD)]

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Nobody really likes him. At least, nobody will publicly defend his character and integrity. He has no discernible politil principles. He is a vainglorious boaster and moral alley-t who gives new meaning to the word unpresidential in a country where presidents are expected to reflect what is noble in the national character. He tweets like a high school student and his specialty is the personal insult, often cruel and demeaning. His personal life is a trail of tasteless excess, financial shenanigans and piggish behaviour towards women. His administration is said to mirror his temperament—erratic, cutthroat and fractious. He makes a mockery of anyone who believes government is a sober matter best served by leaders of honesty and rectitude.

Yet this flawed and vulgar man who no one would choose as a neighbour has proven repeatedly he n better anyone who tries to go full-frontal by attacking him personally as unsuitable for office, high or low. Coming from nowhere with no discernible financial backing and a base seemingly restricted to his family, he won the GOP primary and dethroned a major dynasty, despite being dismissed widely as a joke. reer Republins who prided themselves as principled and who openly disdained Trump were swept away by angry crowds who red little for their blessed “conservative values” and loudly expressed their deep alienation from mainstream politics and politicians. Then, as everyone continued to mock and dismiss him, Trump confounded the establishment, the media and indeed the world by winning the general election and destroying another dynasty.

For a few short weeks, some thoughtful progressives lled for serious soul-searching about how the Democrats lost the support of so many they believed they had always championed, but while individuals n sometimes repent and reform, masses rarely n. A stunned and wounded incomprehension soon morphed into a burning, visceral rage and a collective determination to dethrone this illegitimate pretender by any means available. Forget “reaching out” to anyone, those who voted for him were summarily condemned and ostracized as no less morally stained then he. Efforts to force a recount, challenge the election in court or have the president declared mentally incompetent were initiated, only to be stillborn. Shrill efforts to pin labels like fascist, racist or other “-ists” on him went nowhere as frustrated progressives were forced to confront a truth about the sui generis Trump: the earthy language of the sports bar is a more empirilly accurate and persuasive description of his character than the formal tegories of politil theory or the DSM. Finally, progressives settled on the charge he was willingly aided and abetted by a hostile Russia. For two years, with daily high-profile assistance from a reckless and shamelessly biased media, half of Ameri talked of little else and prayed each night their president would be revealed to be a foreign spy.

So knee-jerk and emotional was the antipathy that much of progressive Ameri, unwittingly or not, began to let Trump set their policies and positions on the grounds that he was so irredeemably appalling that anything he said or did had to be opposed. Thus, when he at least temporarily diffused a dangerous nuclear threat by reaching out to North Korea, many progressives sniffed he was compromising human rights. Russo-phobia on the left reached Mcrthyite levels of paranoia. Trump’s border wall proposal was seen as so politilly and aesthetilly offensive that many Dems began talking as if immigration and border enforcement should be dispensed with entirely. Most bewildering of all was to watch so many soi-disant progressives champion the FBI and CIA as bulwarks against tyranny. Trump Derangement Syndrome even infected cultural life. Under his watch, the public face of feminism shifted from talented, pable women proudly asserting their professional and sexual equality to prissy-toned figures penning tweets and op-eds on how they were made uncomfortable, if not traumatized, by unwelcome knee or shoulder-touching years ago. Hollywood talk shows compulsively delivered nightly menus of insipid Trump jokes.

A shrewd adviser hired by the Democrats to craft a winning platform and strategy for 2020 could complete the task in half a day. Run on universal healthre, student debt and tuition relief, higher taxes on the wealthy and their wealth, serious investment in infrastructure and issues like prison reform and opiate addiction. Polls show they are on the right side of all those issues and would sail to victory on such a programme. If they succeeded in implementing it, their tenure would be remembered as transformative. Avoid wild promises about nceling a trillion dollars of debt with the stroke of a pen or abolishing hydrorbons (deplorable is not a synonym for stupid), don’t ll the electorate names, don’t talk as if money is no object, don’t describe Amerin history as a long series of outrages, and don’t paint the federal government as everybody’s best friend. But above all, don’t talk about Donald Trump. Don’t criticize him personally. Don’t respond to his taunts and tweets. Don’t promise to put him in prison. Don’t speak of him as if he were an Antichrist who threatens all that is good and decent in Ameri. If you must refer to him, talk as if he were one those those inexplible, irksome little quirks history ocsionally throws our way. In other words, act like he’s a nobody not worth your time or the attention of any serious person.

Sadly for the Dems, the odds against their doing this are long. This is partly beuse, as the GOP discovered in 2016, the interminable and completely irrational primary system will force ndidates to engage in internecine battles that risk collective self-immolation and to curry favour with an agitated base by declaring support for positions on the wrong side of public opinion. Willing or not, they will be pressured to prove their purity by declaring for unpopular uses like reparations for slavery, a one-eighty on Israel, purist environmental fantasies, open borders and matters of great importance on the fringes of identity politics advocy. Win the battle, lose the war. But the principal Achilles Heel is that they will not be allowed to ignore Donald Trump. Blood is demanded and blood must be had. Like the old time Protestant pastor who never speaks of the serenity and spiritual succour his faith promises beuse he is so obsessed with the sin that he sees all around him, the Dems will forgo many an opportunity to preach inspiring visions in order to vilify Trump and vow to bring him down to an inglorious end.

By all rights, the Mueller Report should have ended the controversy and left progressives humbled and the media contrite, but it is already clear they aren’t going to miss a beat. They are doubling down and intend to continue to give Ameri a daily mega-dose of Trump horror stories. Like lawyers who sense they are losing a trial, they will point with increasing desperation to ambiguities and evidentiary gaps and insist their se would be proven righteous if only the “whole truth” were revealed and everyone on the other side disbelieved. This will no doubt be a soothing soul salve for anyone who wouldn’t vote for Trump to save their mother, but it may do little to sway waverers who don’t necessarily believe that to be a progressive Democrat is by definition to sing with the angels. Moreover, it may prove to be like administering oxygen to a dying patient for one who rode many a path to triumph by winning street fights against fools determined to scorn, humiliate and destroy him.

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Balbulin

An Easter Miracle

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Miraculously recovered from the ashes of Notre Dame thedral: an actual, physil excerpt from King Henry’s Response to rdinal Mueller’s Investigation of the murder of Thomas Becket.

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Dr. Dawg

Gaslighting media

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“You are a slow learner, Winston,” said O’Brien gently. “How n I help it?” he blubbered. “How n I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.” “Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.” ~George Orwell

Revisionist history isn’t just denying the Holoust. Sometimes it’s done on the fly—and the Amerin media have just provided a ripe example of it.

The story, in brief: Kentucky’s Covington tholic High School, already known for rape and blackface, sent a bevy of MAGA-hatted male teenagers to Washington to demonstrate against women’s reproductive rights. Whilst there, they harassed a few women for the hell of it, and at the end of the day, waiting at the Lincoln Memorial for transportation home, they got into it with a small group of cultists (four in all) lling themselves Black Hebrew Israelites.

The latter seems to have been an all-purpose insult machine, throwing provotive comments at the youths, vilely insulting the one Black student in their ranks, and—for good measure—mocking a small group of Native Amerin protesters who were approaching. The students reacted by engaging in chants to drown them out. The Native Amerins, led by elder Nathan Philips, walked between them, Philips beating a ceremonial drum and singing.

There’s your wider context. Does it change anything about the photo? The smirking, entitled white teen facing down a Native elder?

I’ve seen that superior smile before. So have you.

But the liberal media and their punditocracy got cold feet. Gosh, maybe they overreacted. They’re sorry, so sorry. They didn’t have the whole story. Etc., ad nauseam.

The picture is worth more than a thousand words, in fact worth far more than the tens of thousands of words uttered by whinging liberals flagellating themselves for having been so foolish as to rush in to condemn rich white kids for being snotty racist punks.

Anyway, I’m with Deadspin. Just believe your own damn eyes.

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Balbulin

Bristling

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pture.JPGThe Gillette corporation recently released one of those warm and fuzzy prosocial lifestyle ads. It was an innocuous little string of inspirational skits, a bit of virtue-signalling whose message, basilly, is “Don’t Be A Dick”. It’s a #MeToo update of those nice vignettes from the Church of Latter Day Saints that used to make you either tear up or retch.

Well, it certainly got the Breitbart/PJ Media set bristling. One headline declared the ad “A War on Trump”. Given that the message was “Don’t Be Dick”, it’s hard to disagree.

But my favourite response me from an apoplectic Ezra Levant, who decided to beard Gillette in their very den. He points out indignantly that Gillette hired a “feminist woman” (!!!) to direct the commercial. This astonishes Ezra. “Imagine having a middle aged male direct an ad for tampons,” he marvels. “Why would you do that?”

Well, between 8% and 11% of film and video directors, from commercials to industrials to features, are women. That means that since the invention of television advertising, there’s a strong likelihood that almost all ads for tampons have been directed by (and probably shot by, lit by, edited by, and even written by) men.

Given that Ezra once freaked about a curriculum beuse it included the word “vagina” (you should have seen him speaking “the word” - he looked as though he were chewing garlic-flavoured glass shards), his peculiar notion that men couldn’t possible direct a tampon commercial (“Does anyone on the set know what the heck these things are for, anyway?”), and his apparent unawareness that women actually use razors, one really has to wonder about the state of things in the Levant family manor.

Bottom line: Gillette has nnily and cynilly associated itself with a popular movement, avoiding Pepsi’s astonishingly clumsy failure to do the same two years ago. But only by a whisker.

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Dr. Dawg

False flag

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It’s an overworked phrase, and too often the stuff of conspiracy theories, but—this one’s real. And once again the Usual Suspects either fell for it—or were part of the unfunny joke.

nadian Islamic Party, eh? If you figured it was too ripe to be true, your instincts were sound. Unlike those of the Usual Suspects.

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Dr. Dawg

Birth of a year

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A belated happy and secure New Year everyone. First, an apology.

Life has been stressful recently, to put it mildly—family matters—and I seem to have hit a wall of writer’s block. So I have not been assiduous about posting articles here.

Yet it’s a good, cheap, even therapeutic way of keeping my grip on things. I love words, and everything they do. My first New Year’s resolution is to get this blog back up to speed. My second one—but I haven’t kept it—was to get the hell off Twitter. For the second time, having relapsed a few months back. It’s genuinely addictive. It’s a time-waster if ever there was one. It serves little useful purpose, other than to get ahead of breaking news stories. It’s Usenet v.2.0, with all of the latter’s flaws, encouraging laziness, self-indulgence and incivility. I like it.

This past year, the remains of which we’re still scraping off our shoes, has seen the metastatic progression of a disease that seems to have infected the entire world. It could well be fatal. Its symptoms have been many: a large orange pustule, delirious monomanial raving, recurrent fever, sores that will not heal, partial necrosis. It’s hard to be hopeful at this stage.

No doubt my fading optimism is partly age talking. I get impatient too easily, which was a virtue in my youth, but may now be a vice. But things have gone much too far ever to be restored to factory settings.

In any se, here are some random notes on the year we have just put behind us.

  • The (perhaps welcome) shoddifition of politil discourse.

Diefenbaker was a bit of a windbag, Stanfield was a gentleman who dropped a football, and Mulroney was an oily fellow indeed, but they operated within Parliamentary convention and civil bounds. Harper did not, and was found in contempt of Parliament—a first in the Commonwealth—but he was not a grinning riture of a Conservative. Harper was the tragedy; Andrew Scheer is the farce. The same might be said of Mike Harris and the oaf who currently squats at Queen’s Park, respectively. Today too much politil utterance is obvious bullshit, expressed moronilly, without pretence.

Then there is the leader of the free world. They broke the mould before they made him.

Social media is not to blame, although they n be counted upon to hasten the discursive drop. It’s more a loss of fade—that curtain of politesse and formal courtesies that has masked (for example) murderous geopolitics, accelerating global warming, increasing poverty, job losses, and a bleak future, especially for millennials.

Everyone remembers Obama with fondness, even though he executed Amerin citizens without trial, unleashed drone warfare, and deported more people than Trump. I offer that as only one example of fade politics. If Trump ever did anything good in his life, perhaps tearing down the screen between reality and its polite and fake portrayal is the one ironilly positive thing he has accomplished. Trump is raw, unmediated politics. Maybe not “as usual,” but not far away from it either. And (for all the wrong reasons, and in the wrong way, but still) he’s made more people critil of the “objective” media.

So yes, politil discourse is now mostly grunts and flung dung, and sometimes we old folks yearn for polite, nuanced discussions with friendly antagonists, but that’s never been what politics is about. Politil words should match politil acts, and at last they appear to be doing so.

  • Politics and tapu

Sometime we n gain insight from the practices and beliefs of far different societies than our own. The South Pacific notion of tapu is a se in point. Tapu is a complex notion involving the binding, ordering, or containing of the sacred life-force/spirit of mana. What is tapu is both sacred and forbidden; it involves a maze of rules and restrictions. For Māori, for instance, you don’t tread upon wahi tapu (a place that is tapu), you don’t touch a person’s head unless invited to do so, you don’t inhabit a new building until its tapu has been ceremonially lifted, you watch your words in various contexts (using different vobulary if you are snaring birds, for example), you don’t just blunder onto a marae, and so on.

Let me refer, then, to the se of Marc Lamont Hill, who lost his CNN side-hustle and me within a whisker of losing his gig at Temple University. He had lled for freedom and equality for all in Israel and the occupied territories, using the phrase “from the river to the sea.”

Israel, as concept and country, is effectively tapu. It is a sacred “space” where one does not lightly tread. The foolhardy ones who ignore the tapu face retribution. Certain words must not be spoken, certain things must not be done.

Patrick O’Connor, the chairman of Temple University’s Board of Trustees, accused Hill—with a completely straight face—of “unnecessarily blackening” the image of the school. Ponder the resonances of that. In the event, Hill kept his job, but the tapu he conveyed by his presence at the university had to be lifted, in the form of a disparaging official statement from Temple.

Whano, whano,
Haramai te toki,
Haumi ē!

  • Normalization of the abnormal.

Even in its day, Nazism was an abnormal, depraved politics. After its defeat in 1945, the notion of white supremacy, which had been around since the “Age of Discovery,” was melded in some murky quarters with the Hitlerian project. It remained on the fringes of society until relatively recently, with the ascent to the Presidency of the US of white supremacist Donald Trump, who counted developed “alt-right” ideologues in his entourage (Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Sebastian Gorka). The encouragement that this sharp turn to the far-right gave to the dregs of society, not only in the US but in nada as well, will only get worse. But. more importantly, it has mainstreamed what used to be confined to Klaverns and seamy compounds in the woods.

A white supremacist who hangs with Nazis and recites the “Fourteen Words” ran for Mayor of Toronto: a Toronto Sun columnist lled her a “good kid” and the Premier of Ontario had his picture taken with her. That same “newspaper” gleefully publishes bigoted commentary, including the memorable “refugees slaughtering goats in a hotel” story. The Munk Debates recently hosted Steve Bannon, giving this fascist unprecedented respectability. The leader of the Conservative Party of nada flirts with the far-right and includes three of them in his inner circle.

On Amerin television, white supremacists like Tucker rlson rule the airwaves. Good old-fashioned anti-Semitism is making a comeback, too, not only in the form of one-man pogroms as in Pittsburgh, but in regular public commentary. It has always been present, of course, but is now openly expressed, if in somewhat coded form, by mainstream commentators, who use “Soros” and “globalism” as the stand-in words for “international Jewish Conspiracy.”

The most alarming thing about this politil teratogenesis is its rapid infiltration into normal politil commentary. There is a gawping, slack-jawed tendency by the mainstream media to see fascism, racism and other forms of bigotry as just more ideas to be taken down, stenographer-style, and passed on to the public without critique—or presented as one of two “sides” in that inimitably lazy practice that marks today’s “journalism.” Here’s a ripe example of the latter. It never occurred to the writer that going to Obama’s house to see for himself might settle the matter.

How does the obscenely abnormal become normalized? By being embraced, either out of design or relessness.

  • Nationalism, populism and the honing of hatred

nada being a civic state, not an ethnic one, it is hard for some people to grasp the blunt appeal of nationalism, which is always more about who doesn’t belong than who does. Attempts to make this ugly form of populism a force in the country do not seem overly promising at the grassroots level yet, although the death threats and yokel-daft accusations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a traitor are worrying. What is more of a concern is that the Official Opposition is borrowing far-right anti-immigration rhetoric from some sketchy European far-right movements, as well as from the Trump administration, and playing directly to this fringe.

Don’t let Maxime Bernier’s attempt to summon the spirit of Réal ouette fool you—that’s just the Overton Window being shifted. Andrew Scheer’s party is doing not badly in the polls. He has lauded a far-right anti-immigration activist, and proceeded to disingenuously misrepresent a UN declaration on migrants. The federal election this year promises to be an ugly one, with this kind of lculated pandering to the bigots, and we’re likely to see more of it.

  • Is democracy wasted on the people?

And this brings me to my last point, in the form of a question that I was tempted simply to leave here. For better or worse, the people will and must decide how history is made. But as I’ve said before, if vox populi, vox dei, the Lord surely does work in mysterious ways, at least on ocsion. There was the overwhelming majority decision in BC to vote against representative democracy. There was the election of a genocidal fascist in Brazil, and several far-right governments in Europe. There was the recent elevation almost to sainthood of a Ukrainian Nazi collaborator, to wild applause and celebration in that republic.

These stories and others give one pause, encouraging us to reflect upon the nature of democracy, its imperfect forms, its obvious limitations in our own society and in others, and the tools and pacities required to make it work better, however “it” is defined.

That’s a discussion that may be highlighted in the coming year, which indeed promises to force us all back to the basics. Commentary, as always, is welcome.

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Mandos

I have to vent this somewhere

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I always pronounced “Hebrides” as “He-brides” and imagined it as the island headquarters of the Drag Queen International.

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“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” ~1984

A few days ago, I lost a Facebook friend who (as it turns out) is rather partial to Donald Trump, and thinks the “leftist” media are in hoots to make this rain-averse President look bad. She was convinced that the now-infamous exchanges between #45 and CNN’s peppery Jim Acosta had included “violence against women” when a Trump staffer tried to snatch away Acosta’s microphone. I put up the clip and asked her what she saw.

She was adamant. Acosta attacked the young female intern. She believed not only the White House version (Sarah Huckabee-Sanders hadn’t distributed the doctored version of the clip at that point), but her own lying eyes.

Fascinated, I reviewed the clip half a dozen times. Could I have missed something?

Well, no, I don’t think so. In my corner, by the way, is a former Breitbart journo, so I shall plead innocent of any stubborn ideologil blindness of my own here.

The Orwell quotation at the beginning of this article n be found all over the Internet addressing just this matter. It’s important to underline that the Party’s command would not always require months of torture to prevail—at some point in the future, the Party would control the present, and we would see, hear and remember what we were told to at any moment. We are even now meeting the avatars of that model citizenry.

There is no “Party” today, of course, but there is the crazed ideology of Trumpism in which the President, not the media (“Fake News”), and not even the senses (fallible and sometimes disturbingly off-narrative), defines the reality of his adherents.

I’m not talking common-or-garden self-delusion here—God knows we’re all guilty of that from time to time, and in the politil sphere it appears to operate almost in plain sight as both a virtue and a vice. This Trump thing goes exponentially further—pretty nearly at the “How many fingers am I holding up, Winston” level. If he says “three,” it is utterly irrelevant to his cult following how many are actually in the air. And, frankly, to him as well.

The question is left, then: how is politil discourse possible with the 40% or so of Amerins prepared to follow their Leader through fire and ice if he asks? And the answer is: it is not. We might just as well attempt to converse with the gentleman who won his election to the Nevada legislature without, at least in the three weeks preceding his victory, being able to engage in any dialogue at all.

(“I’m fine with him being dead and winning,” said a woman of her Nevadan representative. She had been violently raped by him. “I know a lot of people who were going to vote Democrat if he were alive, but will now vote Republin beuse he’s dead.” There is a logic there, of course, but this does sum up, in one splendid metaphoril thunderclap, everything that is maddening about current Amerin politics.)

The great politil divide, in any se, has now progressed well beyond mere questions of civility: we are talking about nothing less than two incommensurable ontologies. And in such a se, where each side’s words are but empty sounds signifying nothing to the other, all that is left to us is an increasingly brutal struggle for dominance. Get ready, folks, beuse here they come. And they’re in no mood to talk.

UPDATE: (November 12) A similar if less apolyptic take:

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