Sunday, April 30, 2017

The array of players shaping our current juncture

Allow me to attempt to systematize the various players shaping our current juncture.

I'll start with three broadly defined political actors - the president, the Republican Party, and the Democrat party - and the base for each. Then I'll look at other players having an impact on the present situation.

The president - He's proven, in these much-hyped first 100 days, to be the same man he was during the campaign season, during his run as a reality-television star, during his indulgences in sexual braggadocio on Howard Stern's radio show, and in his books - that is, a vulgar, shallow, rudderless, bombastic narcissist. The most recent evidence is last night's address to a rally at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

His base - It really has two components: the die-hard water-carriers who actually like a speech like last night's, the all-caps commenters who proudly wear the nationalist and populist labels, and then the conservatives who cling to the moves on the positive side of the ledger that Trump has made so far as evidence that all is going well.

The Republicans - By this, I pretty much mean federal-level Senators and House members. There are a few principled conservatives among them (Ben Sasse, Ted Cruz, Louis Gohmert, Mia Love and Trey Gowdy come to mind), but collectively speaking, this is a group that does not know how to act like victors. The glaring example is, of course, the lack of the requisite testicular fortitude for just repealing the "A"CA and responding to any howls of outrage with full-throated defense of the free market.

Their base - They really don't have one, as both slavish devotees of Trump and actual conservatives are disgusted by their spinelessness.

The Democrats - Again, I basically mean federal-level Senators and House members, but also include DNC officials. This crowd is the kind of Leftist that Orwell portrayed so chillingly in the Napoleon character in Animal Farm, the thoroughly cynical and corrupt power-seeker who talks a good game about Leftist values - equality and fairness and living in peace - but are completely guided by their nose for amassing goodies. (As with the handful of actual conservatives among Republicans, there are some sincerely Leftist lawmakers, but most of them seem to have pretty fancy homes and fat portfolios of assets.)

Their base - The students, faculty and administrators on the nation's college and university campuses, the writers for The New Republic, the organizers of the pussy-hat march and the march for "science," 99 percent of the arts-and-entertainment world. These people blindly invest trust in the above-described Democrats, but are better at acting on their impatience than grassroots conservatives are. These people are our society's jackboots, the  most dangerous force among those being enumerated here. They are determined to crush everyone's First Amendment rights, not to mention their determination to obliterate the family structure and the notion of human nature itself.

The media bubble - Shouldn't I differentiate between right-leaning and left-leaning outlets here? Make a distinction between MSNBC and the New York Times on the one hand and Fox News and the New York Post on the other? I'm afraid that doesn't accurately reflect the dynamics involved, especially since FNC has been exposed  for the sybaritic atmosphere attendant to its Roger Ailes years. And consider how many of its leading lights past and present were not actual conservatives. Exhibit A: Bill O'Reilly. These are people driven by advancing their careers, having their good looks affirmed, and getting good tables at prestigious restaurants.

Enemies of the United States, and adversaries that back them - North Korea, Iran and the jihadists in the first category, and Russia and China in the second.

It's interesting that I'm scrambling to finish this post so as to head off to church. The above cast of players, considered in toto, constitutes the picture of a fallen world.

Does it frustrate you, maybe bring you a bit too close to the brink of resignation, maybe even despair?

Then get clear about what you value.

This is no time to be a mere spectator to some passing parade, sighing with an it-was-ever-thus absence of stake.

Start with some prayer. It's Sunday morning.

Lord, bring clarity to this scenario, and courage to each of us so petitioning.


  1. And then there were the Generals, the scariest of the bunch and they sure have Trump's ear.

  2. You mean Mattis and Kelly? What's scary about those world-affairs-savvy patriots?

  3. Nothing to a hawk. Oh well, onto trying to rule the stars too....

  4. I dunno, I just feel a bit uneasy, but I'm sure they're winnahs and that's what we want, right? It will be beautiful and glorious. He must have an ear for someone who reads, or else he saw the movies:

    Born in 1946, a year after World War Two ended, Trump often praises MacArthur and Patton for the blunt ways he says they commanded respect. "George Patton was one of the roughest guys, he would talk rough to his men," Trump told an audience last week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "His men would die for him," Trump added. "We don't have that anymore." He said Patton would wipe out Islamic State without hesitation were he still in command.

    But military historians and retired generals say Trump has an inflated view of the two military men and especially their relevance to an era of modern warfare when armies rely more on technology and when battle successes and failures and civilian casualties are communicated far more rapidly than when MacArthur and Patton commanded troops 70 years ago.

    The candidate's spokeswoman Hope Hicks said Trump made a habit of citing the two World War Two figures to "emphasize the need to strengthen the U.S. military, talk less and do more to protect America." She declined to comment on the criticisms. She said Trump had consulted military experts, but declined to say how many, who they were or whether they were retired or active.

  5. But it's so wonderful to see your crazed ass happy again, like when Ronnie was pushing his weight down in Commie Country in Central America, with absolutely nothing to show for it but a lopsided body bag count. That's what you're counting on again, I presume: another lopsided body bag count. Oh well, have fun. It's gonna be a blast, ain't it?

  6. I don't know that "happy" is anywhere near accurate. "Relieved" would be more on-point. Relieved that we finally have serious people addressing the real degree to which this world is dangerous and filled with forces antithetical to the Western project.

  7. You really think highly of yourself. Bad ass!

  8. I personally feel about as relieved as I did during the Cuban Missile Crisis

  9. So now we have a Commander in Chief even you detest, using military hardware in 3 theaters. Not the sort of thing that eases my mind. You seem to be no better than the misguided fundies who voted for Trump because the immoral man espoused moral policies. He has revealed himself as a hawk because it's great showmanship and a huge adrenalin rush.

  10. What would you propose in the current North Korean situation? Trump himself, along with Tillerson and various other State Department people are in closer touch with Chinese counterparts, suggesting ways that China could apply leverage and scale back the brinkmanship. So far, it's not yielding results.

    How about Syria? Actually, my concern is that the 59 Tomahawks are looking like a one-off gesture that has not changed the equation in any real way.