Archive for December, 2016

on the left’s withdrawal from reality

December 14, 2016

Quote of the day:

“We are a country based on laws,” a horrified Clinton said. “And we’ve had hot, contested elections going back to the very beginning, but one of our hallmarks has always been that we accept the outcomes of our elections.”

Unless, of course, reality doesn’t turn out as expected, and a mind palace must be created, a place so lovely that some never leave and lock the gates from the inside.

John Kass

on credibility

December 9, 2016

The post-election examination of the state of society in the United States is going strong a month after the election itself. The role of the national media, established press outlets, and new media continues to get a lot of attention, especially in the context of claims about the rise of “fake news” and its affects on the decisions of voters.

The claims about “fake news” center on engagement with articles and websites, often through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The most serious charge is that the Russian government initiated a concerted effort to spread misleading information in order to 1) sway the election to Donald Trump, 2) undermine American confidence in its political processes and institutions, or 3) both.

The Washington Post made a substantial contribution to the claim in an article by Craig Timberg. Ironically enough, the Post article itself was quickly criticized for demonstrating the very characteristics of the sort of “fake news” that it was supposedly intended to expose. The situation added to a wider concern about the reputation of the media.

It was widely perceived during the campaign that the established press organizations had abandoned their perceived role as neutral providers of news in favor of promoting Hillary Clinton, or at least defeating Donald Trump. Much campaign coverage had begun to be transparently designed to avoid hurting Clinton’s campaign and to maximize damage to Trump’s. For a substantial portion of the population, this only served to undermine confidence in the truth of reporting. In other words, the reduction in credibility led to many people wondering if the reporting of the established media outlets was to that extent “fake news.”

With that perception of the media in place, it’s difficult to condemn other for the practice of purveying fake news. It will be interesting to see over the next several months whether an effort to reestablish a perception of credibility and fairness will be on the agenda for the national media.

Every one of the three major candidates in this election (Trump, Clinton, and Sanders) was hounded by fake or exaggerated news stories. Trump was accused of being a secret Russian agent. Clinton’s email scandal was blown out of all reasonable proportion. And Bernie Sanders was hounded by malicious and unrepresentative stereotypes about “BernieBros.” Yet none of these stories were from fringe blogs and conspiracy sites. They were all produced by the mainstream press, which gave this nonsense primacy over stories about climate change, nuclear proliferation, Syria, health care, poverty, and every other conceivable issue of consequence.

Concerns about fake news are justified. But instead of begging our Silicon Valley overlords to crack down on the free sharing of information, we might start by building a mainstream press that has credibility of its own.

Nathan J. Robinson

on illiberalism from the left

December 8, 2016

Will Donald Trump’s presidency bring about the end of liberty and freedom in the United States? I doubt it, but that seems to be a fear of some in light of their understanding of his campaign. Is this a new and unique concern? David French suggests that in fact it brings to light the fear of some in light of their understanding of the last decade or so of federal government actions.

The tragedy of Trump is that his voters ultimately chose to fight illiberalism with their own strongman. I wish they’d chosen to fight illiberalism with constitutionalism, but a constitutional restoration will have to wait until another day (if ever). In the meantime, however, we can’t pretend that Trump’s supporters weren’t reacting to illiberalism that was very real,  very serious, and profoundly affected many American lives.

David French

on leftwing hatred

December 4, 2016

It was observed frequently during the campaign that the progressive strategy of dismissing every dissent from its ideology, even mild representations like the Tea Party and Mitt Romney, as virulently evil racists had made it inevitable that the next iteration of dissent would be something rather less genteel. Thus Donald Trump, President-Elect of the United States.

This is a long piece, perhaps longer than it needs to be, but it covers a significant issue quite well, that being the role of hard-line social justice ideology in the election of Donald Trump. It could provide a Quote of the Day for at least a week. Here’s a sample:

The monster of Trumpism is in large measure a monster created by the social justice ideology and identity politics of the progressive left. The more that a demonizing and merciless ideological narrative is used as a weapon against particular demographics, the more that they will resist it. The social justice narrative calls for white people, and men in particular, to assume a crippling guilt, to be the scapegoats for America. Trump’s movement is exactly the sort of resistance that such a narrative will provoke.

White people and men refused the narrative. For all of the progressive left’s insistence upon the evilness of America on account of straight white Christian men, Trump’s movement is founded in large measure upon the counter-claim that, for all of its undeniable faults, the nation of America was once great, and it was predominantly white Christian men who made it great.

Trump is a shameless and guilt-free candidate. This is exactly the sort of candidate who will thrive in the current context. As Michael Story has observed, the progressive left so radically overused the necessary antibiotics of shame and guilt that they produced a shame and guilt resistant candidate and movement. When people appreciate that guilt and shame have been weaponized to force them into cultural dhimmitude, they will start to celebrate shamelessness and guilt-freeness.

on white privilege

December 3, 2016

It has seemed to me for awhile that a weakness of much current discourse that focuses on systemic analysis is the lack of attention to real lived lives of actual human beings. My concern is explained pretty well here:

Just as in the fight against heart disease or drunk driving, awareness only has value if it actually leads to a change in behavior, and there’s no sign that these quasi-religious renunciations of privilege have accomplished such change.

This, in turn, presents a larger problem. The discourse of this school of politics is resolutely immaterial in its language, with endless discussion of acknowledging and feeling and admitting and occupying, almost none of which amounts to what anyone might consider doing.
h/t Alastair Roberts

when you’ve lost Mika Brzezinski

December 1, 2016

She reiterates her love for Senator Warren, and uses “we” when discussing how the media and political Progressives need to listen and learn from the 2016 campaign. That makes her criticism very significant. These next few months into the first year or so of the new administration are going to be very bitter if Senator Warren sets the tone from the far left of the Democrats.

h/t Legal Insurrection