Category Archive 'Richard Fernandez'
20 Sep 2019
John Steuart Curry, Tragic Prelude, 1937-1942, Kansas State Capitol.
Richard Fernandez gloomily forsees the fight between the Establishment Left and the Populist Right as an inevitably escalating conflict that will be fought to the finish.
The last time that happened, 1861-1865, it cost the lives of 2 1/2% of the entire population of the United States.
If anyone thought the status quo would fold up after the hammer blows of the 2016 populist revolt they were wrong. Ben Rhodes noted the effects of unremitting resistance with approval. “Bibi backsliding. Boris flailing. … Fight back. It will work.” Victor Davis Hanson conceded the crushing weight of the establishment riposte. “After nearly four years of ceaseless attacks by Democrats and the press, the strange thing is not that Trump can be occasionally wearisome, but that he is even still breathing.”
The tone of the fight was set by Greta Thunberg’s declaration to a crowd of environmental supporters, “we can’t save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to change.” It was a ringing call to victory over the Deplorables, victory by any means necessary. It was as if the old legalisms themselves had become too restrictive to allow the truly good guys to win. As Hillary Clinton told an audience at George Washington University: â€œYou can run the best campaign and have the best plans and get the nomination and win the popular vote and you can lose the Electoral College and therefore the election.â€
â€œThis is one of those moments we stand at a crossroads of our own a crisis in democracy. Racists and white supremacist views are lifted up in the media and the White House. Hard fought for civil rights are stripped back. Rule of law is being undermined, our norms and institutions … are under assault, and that includes the single most important fight of our timesâ€¦the fight to protect the right to vote.â€
She deserved to win but the rules betrayed her. If you can’t win the old way, change the rules. To avoid another setback to history Elizabeth Warren proposes to abolish the Electoral College. â€œEvery vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College,â€ Ms. Warren said. If that doesn’t work keep getting rid of stuff until it does.
The sentiment is not confined to America. David Cameron told CNN that some people “will never forgive me for holding a referendum.” Rules which let Brexit to advance have also stirred the outrage of the British ruling class. “Remainers were alarmed to realize that no-deal Brexit … would automatically become reality on March 29, 2019, unless something could be done to stop it. It was surprising how much could be done to stop it.”
They had an infinity of tools, and they were no longer scared of the voters. No one wanted to be so contemptuous as to repeal Brexit, but Parliament could put a â€œno-deal Brexitâ€ on hold, which it did. … Some of the most extraordinary moments of these winter debates involved the interventions of the Speaker of the House, John Bercow. Elected as a Conservative, he had, in David Souter-esque fashion, discovered once in power that he actually opposed Conservative policies on most things, very much including Brexit. … Anti-Brexiteers used their control of debate to pass the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019, which ordered Theresa May to seek an extension of Brexit from the European Union. And that began the process that led to postponing the Brexit deadline until October 31.
Oct 31 and they may delay it yet again. Boris Johnson “says Britain must leave the EU at the end of next month with or without a divorce deal. But many UK lawmakers believe a no-deal Brexit would be economically devastating and socially destabilizing, and are determined to thwart him. Lawyer David Pannick, who represents one of the campaigners challenging the government, told 11 Supreme Court judges that Johnson had improperly suspended the legislature ‘to silence Parliament'”.
Such extraordinary measures are justified on grounds that the danger of populism is too great to be held back by mere punctilio. â€œWe just canâ€™t sit on our asses and leave the political process to neanderthals who donâ€™t want to believe in the future,â€ former US secretary of state John Kerry told an audience in Melbourne. The future must be saved and in that quest nothing must be allowed to stand in its way. …
nothing is off limits. But the downside of this militance is it engenders its mirror image. As Megan McArdle pointed out, in a zero sum game there are no points for second place. “Democrats who think court packing is justified by Garland forget that [Whispers] Garland was justified by Bork. In this game, you don’t move last.” When one side attacks the other must counterattack. The first side to falter loses. That fear, as Victor Davis Hanson notes, is what keeps the weary populists together. They will stand fast because for them the alternative to Trump is the abyss.
18 Jan 2019
Richard Fernandez is skeptical, but nonetheless willing to take the establishment’s Russian-conspiracy theory and run with it.
The outbreak of unrest [of the rebellion of the commons against the elites from Britain to France to the USA] … is so vast …. that the Washington Post had an op-ed explaining it: Putin at work. The hand of Russian collusion is seen everywhere. “From Brexit to NATO and the shutdown, Putin is winning so much he might get tired of winning,” it said.
We donâ€™t know exactly how much Moscow spent supporting influence operations to impact the U.K. and U.S. elections in 2016, but it seems hard to overstate how good the Kremlinâ€™s return has been on what Western intelligence agencies believe was a relatively modest investment.
Russian efforts to manipulate American voters during the last presidential campaign have been aggressively covered in this space, but the Kremlinâ€™s bid to boost Brexit was perhaps even more brazen. The Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released a meaty report last week about Russian influence operations overseas, but it was entirely overshadowed by the latest bombshells stemming from special counsel Bob Muellerâ€™s investigation. The 206-page report outlines Russian disinformation campaigns across 19 countries. It highlights loopholes in U.K. campaign finance laws that might have allowed an influx of Russian money to boost the referendum. Thatâ€™s not to mention the propaganda from Russian-run Twitter and Facebook accounts, plus state-funded media.
It’s worldwide conspiracy. If anything the problem with the Mueller investigation is it is too small — like sending a rowboat after a megalodon. If the op-ed is right then they’re going to need a bigger special prosecutor. The alternative explanation for the perfect political storm now rocking the West is that a substantial number of people actually voted for Brexit, Donald Trump and are angry with the policies of Emmanuel Macron, reflecting some kind of global revolt by the Western ‘have nots’ against the ‘haves’.
This possibility was advanced by Glenn Reynolds writing in USA Today. “Donald Trump is a symptom of a new kind of class warfare raging at home and abroad.” It’s the Deplorables versus the New Class.
Yugoslav dissident Milovan Djilas called these party hacks the â€œNew Class,â€ noting that instead of workers and peasants against capitalists, it was now a case of workers and peasants being ruled by a managerial new class of technocrats who, while purporting to act for the benefit of the workers and peasants, somehow wound up with the lionâ€™s share of the goodies. …
But the New Class isnâ€™t limited to communist countries, really. Around the world in the postwar era, power was taken up by unelected professional and managerial elites. To understand whatâ€™s going on with President Donald Trump and his opposition, and in other countries as diverse as France, Hungary, Italy and Brazil, itâ€™s important to realize that the post-World War II institutional arrangements of the Western democracies are being renegotiated, and that those democraciesâ€™ professional and managerial elites donâ€™t like that very much, because they have done very well under those arrangements. And, like all elites who are doing very well, they donâ€™t want that to change.
09 Dec 2017
Richard Fernandez gloats:
In the last 12 months, U.S.-backed combat operations drove ISIS from its last bits of territory. America withdrew from the Paris agreement on climate change, UNESCO, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The House and Senate have come within sight of overhauling the tax code and dismantling Obamacare. Most recently, Donald Trump — in a spectacular departure from his predecessor’s Middle Eastern diplomacy — has moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
It is as if a hurricane has swept through Washington. Each fallen pillar represents a very deliberate reversal of the status quo ante policies of Barack Obama. The entire edifice the former president erected in his eight years in office is in the process of being systematically demolished.
09 Nov 2017
09 Jul 2017
Richard Fernandez finds cause for ultimate optimism.
David Gerlenter writing in the Wall Street Journal says something self-evidently true. The Left seems to have won every single culture battle fought.
Although the right reads the left, the left rarely reads the right. Why should it, when the left owns American culture? Nearly every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation. The left wrapped up the culture war two generations ago. Throughout my own adult lifetime, the right has never made one significant move against the liberal culture machine.
The late Andrew Breitbart noticed the same thing. Observing that “politics is downstream from culture,” he argued the Left has made us the villains of our own stories.
Our lives â€” indeed, our very species â€” has storytelling wound into our DNA. … Popular culture is delivered to us in the form of story via books, TV, film, music, video games, and new media. …
Thus we come to politics … the vast majority of those with the power of content creation are Liberals. … Liberals control story. …What is some of that messaging? Think about movies and TV. Corporations are evil â€” using unwitting poor Africans for pharmaceutical testing (Constant Gardener) or dumping toxic chemicals into nature (Erin Brockovich, A Civil Action) or responsible for the end of mankind (Rise of the Planet of the Apes). American soldiers are bloodthirsty lawbreaking maniacs (Any military film). The CIA conducts illegal, secret operations that have nothing to do with protecting America. Radical Muslim terrorists are never villains. Trial lawyers are crusading do-gooders. David Letterman and Saturday Night Live ridicule the Right 95% of the time. Jon Stewart pretends to be centrist, but in fact jumps all over the Right far more often than the Left.
Liberal political candidates are the embodiments of those Liberal tenets. The goal is to associate them in voter minds via the vehicle of popular culture.
Even before Breitbart’s warning there was Orwell, who understood that the Left’s ultimate ability was to uproot the past and plant their chosen seed for the future. His famous dictum “he who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past” is an unsurpassed indictment of groupthink totalitarianism. There seemed no doubt they would succeed. Within its bubble, the Left’s control of culture is so absolute they can watch 1984 without realizing it’s about them.
Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why,
Look around you. Every single country that adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation.” The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago,” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.
24 Dec 2016
One normally would avoid politics on Christmas Eve, but it is impossible to overlook Barack Obama’s hopefully last characteristically spiteful gesture of radical leftist partisanship. Americans overwhelmingly support the state of Israel and despise the Palestinian cause. Only members of the extreme left like Obama reflexively oppose European colonialism.
The United States on Friday allowed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction to be adopted, defying extraordinary pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in alliance with President-elect Donald Trump.
The Security Council approved the resolution with 14 votes, with the US abstaining. There was applause in the chamber following the vote, which represented perhaps the final bitter chapter in the years of antagonism between President Barack Obama’s administration and Netanyahu’s government.
Richard Fernandez responded well on Facebook:
The most instructive thing about Obama’s Security Council abstention is he didn’t have the guts to do it earlier, when he stood to lose something by doing it. Only after he calculated there was nothing more to squeeze from that particular quarter did he run up the Jolly Roger. Had it cost him it would have meant something, even as a gesture.
But even more interesting was his willingness to damage the Democratic party who he’s leaving with political bill, not to mention the fact that the policy his abstention represents makes little sense.
Israel is likely to emerge as a linchpin in the region, after Obama’s power vacuum bomb reduces the nearby countries to waste. If Turkey and Iran fall apart, which is not inconceivable, then Obama will have antagonized the last man standing.
It was bad timing and pointless, like a punch thrown by a fighter lying on the canvas — at the referee. That would leave his legacy a consistently dysfunctional whole: conceived in delusion, executed in incompetence.
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