Category Archive 'The Establishment'
18 Jan 2022
Commentary’s Christine Rosen finds puzzling the Atlantic’s current obsessive dooming-and-glooming. Why is the American Establishment wallowing in self pity all the time?
The Atlantic is one of the most prestigious magazines in the nation—and almost certainly its most lavishly funded. When Laurene Powell Jobs (whose net worth is approximately $22 billion) bought former owner David Bradley’s stake in the magazine in 2017, she ushered in an era of almost unimaginable expansion for a publication created before the Civil War. Under its editor, Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic has added 100 new staff jobs. The once-staid monthly is now a round-the-clock Web content provider that releases dozens of new items a day.
The Atlantic’s prominence and seriousness—and the bottomless pockets of its multibillionaire owner—have made it a dream come true for literally hundreds of liberal American journalists who spent most of the past 20 years in a panic about the financial viability of their chosen profession. So why is the Atlantic an emotional train wreck of a publication? If the New Yorker’s annual cover model, the monocle-bearing dandy Eustace Tilley, is supposedly its personification, the Atlantic’s should be Munch’s Scream. …
The Atlantic reader who visits the website rather than simply journeying there through social-media links is turned into a doom-scroller, confronted time and again as she journeys down the homepage with headlines like this one: “America Is Running Out of Time.” Note how the title lacks specificity; it doesn’t need specificity, because this is what nearly every article in the Atlantic is about. (A recent feature in the January/February print issue of the magazine was titled, simply, “Are We Doomed?”)
“Bring Back the Nervous Breakdown,” urged a 2021 article. And so Goldberg’s Atlantic has. An astonishingly large number of stories in both the print and online versions of the magazine now focus on the irrational feelings of a very particular and privileged class of people—elite, left-of-center, educated people who ironically believe themselves too sophisticated to be emotionally manipulated like the unwashed Fox-viewing masses they abhor.
Pieces like Ian Bogost’s essay “I’m Starting to Give Up on Post-Pandemic Life” typify the Atlantic’s panic porn—the titillating personal account of a distorted negative emotional experience described lubriciously with no observable larger social purpose. “Even if this strain is less bad than it might have been,” he writes of the Omicron variant, “only dumb luck will have made it so. That’s neither victory nor a sign that the emergency is over.” He then spirals into despair: “The coronavirus was once ‘novel’ because it was new. Now it feels both ancient and eternal. Having endured the emergence of two major strains even since the rollout of vaccines, a difficult thought is planted in my head: What if the pandemic never ends?”
This Eeyore-meets-Nietzsche tone now dominates much of the magazine’s coverage.
12 Sep 2020
Helen Dale’s review of Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay’s Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity in The Critic is a Must-Read item analyzing the real content of the Critical Theory rubbish that has recently come to dominate the American intellectual establishment.
At one point in Winnie-The-Pooh, Pooh and Piglet start to follow footprints in the snow. The pair think they belong to a creature called a â€œWoozleâ€. The tracks keep multiplying, and the two become increasingly confused, until â€” finally â€” Christopher Robin explains theyâ€™ve been following their own tracks in circles around a tree, and that Woozles arenâ€™t real.
These days, if you go to university to read humanities and some social sciences â€” notably psychology and sociology â€” youâ€™ll find yourself retracing Pooh and Pigletâ€™s steps, hunting for Woozles that arenâ€™t there.
You will encounter radical scepticism about whether objective knowledge or truth is obtainable, along with a commitment to the notion that real things â€” like sex and race â€” are culturally constructed. Your lecturers will impress upon you the idea that society is formed into identity-based hierarchies and knowledge is an effect of power. Your position on a league-table of oppressed identities determine what can be known and how it is known. If you disagree you will at least be marked down, and sometimes formally disciplined. Worse, there is no Christopher Robin to save you. Itâ€™s Woozles all the way down, and donâ€™t you dare dissent. …
The shift from â€œitâ€™s immoral to tell another cultureâ€™s storyâ€ to â€œitâ€™s impossible to tell another cultureâ€™s story, but in any case, one shouldnâ€™t try for moral reasonsâ€ is part of a process Pluckrose and Lindsay describe as â€œreificationâ€, which emerged after Iâ€™d left the ivory tower and commenced moving companies around and drafting commercial leases for a living. Once reified, postmodern abstractions about the world are treated as though they are real things, and accorded the status of empirical truth. Contemporary social justice activism thus sees theory as reality, as though it were gravity or cell division or the atomic structure of uranium.
The correspondence theory of truth holds that objective truth exists and we can learn something about it through evidence and reason. That is, things are knowable and we gain reliable information about them when our beliefs align with reality. Itâ€™s termed â€œthe correspondence theory of truthâ€ because a statement is considered true when it corresponds with reality and false when it doesnâ€™t. Reality, of course, is the thing that does not change regardless of what you believe.
While advanced civilisations going back to classical antiquity employed this reasoning in selected areas (Ancient Rome to civil engineering and law, for example, or Medieval China to public administration), itâ€™s only since the Enlightenment that itâ€™s been applied consistently to nearly everything, at least in developed countries. It forms the foundation of modern scientific and administrative progress and accounts in large part for the safety and material comfort we now enjoy.
Reified â€œTheoryâ€ is no more and no less than a rejection of the correspondence theory of truth. There are no universal truths and no objective reality, only narratives expressed in discourses and language that reflect one groupâ€™s power over another. Science has no claim on objectivity, because science itself is a cultural construct, created out of power differentials, and ordered by straight white males. There are no arguments, merely identity showdowns; the most oppressed always wins.
And, because language makes the world, attempts by scholars in other disciplines and from across the political spectrum to do what I did and falsify Theoryâ€™s empirical claims are met not with reasoned debate but an accusation that those individuals are harming the oppressed or silencing the marginalised, because all someone higher up the hierarchical food chain is supposed to do when confronted by someone lower down is listen. Thatâ€™s the point of telling people to â€œcheck their privilegeâ€ before they open their mouths.
22 Aug 2020
In a just world, Peggy Noonan would have repented publicly for turning her coat and endorsing Barack Obama in 2008 and then retired to a nunnery to spend her remaining years making grape jelly. But, no, alas! she is still holding forth regularly as a “conservative” commentator at the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Just last week, Peggy horrified some of us afresh with a gushing puff-piece praising Joe Biden’s running-mate to the stars.
She is an excellent performer of politics. Like Bill Clinton she enjoys and has a talent for the necessary artifice. She takes obvious pleasure in campaigningâ€”making speeches, waving, laughing, pressing the flesh. In committee hearings she cocks her brow in the closeup to show skepticism. Her glamour, and her consciousness of it, were vivid enough to be spoofed by Maya Rudolph on â€œSaturday Night Live.â€
Reading her 2019 autobiography, â€œThe Truths We Hold: An American Journey,â€ it occurs to you that what sheâ€™s really bringing Joe Biden is the things she doesnâ€™t say and the stories she doesnâ€™t tell on the trail.
She was born and raised in a climate of liberal activism in Oakland and Berkeley, Calif., in the 1960s and â€™70s. Her father, Donald Harris, born in Jamaica in 1938, was a student there and went on to be an economics professor at Stanford. Her mother, Shyamala, was born in southern India, graduated from the University of Delhi at 19, and earned a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. Shyamala, who died in 2009, was expected to return home for an arranged marriage; instead she met Donald. They married, had two children and divorced.
When Kamala Harris was a toddler, her parents brought her to civil-rights marches. â€œI have young memories of a sea of legs moving about,â€ she writes. Her mother liked to tell a story. Once Kamala was fussing in her stroller, and Mrs. Harris leaned down and asked, â€œWhat do you want?â€ â€œ â€˜Fweedom!â€™ I yelled back.â€
The general atmosphere was â€™60s Berkeleyâ€”diverse, full of passion, consumed by identity politics and debates about liberation.
They took periodic trips to India. â€œMy mother, grandparents, aunts, and uncle instilled us with pride in our South Asian roots. . . . We were raised with a strong awareness of and appreciation for Indian culture.â€ (India looks to be an increasingly important ally as Americaâ€™s relationship with China deteriorates. If Biden-Harris wins and her background is helpful, good.)
She went to ballet class, sang in the choir in the 23rd Avenue Church of God, went to a black cultural center called Rainbow Sign on Thursdays. She saw Rep. Shirley Chisholm speak and was electrified.
By the time Ms. Harris graduated high school she wanted to become a lawyer like her heroes Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley. Also like her Uncle Sherman and a family friend named Henry. â€œAny time someone had a problem . . . the first thing youâ€™d hear was, â€˜Call Henry, call Sherman. Theyâ€™ll know what to do.â€™ . . . I wanted to be the one people called.â€ …
[W]e get a sense of gusto. She admires toughness. She is a natural pol. She was bred to achieve in an aspirational immigrant environment. She loves to compete.
She is warm, humorous. Like most of the men around her in politics, she enjoys being important. She isnâ€™t embarrassed by attention.
Peggy omits mentioning the unpleasant reality of exactly how a graduate of a third-rate law school, who flunked the bar exam, rose so rapidly to the upper levels of California democrat party machine politics.
This week, Peggy delivered a tepid critique of the democrat convention: boring, artificial, and way too full of grievance-mongering. But, she also endorsed, and enthusiastically echoes, all the scurrilous crap they flung at Donald Trump.
All summer Iâ€™ve been running into two kinds of people. One kind says, â€œThat man is a living shame on our country and must be removed.â€ The other kind says very little. They donâ€™t defend him. They say, â€œI canâ€™t believe I may vote for him, but . . .â€ And always they explain it this way: â€œWhat the other guys are gonna do on taxes,â€ â€œWhat the other guys will do to my industry,â€ â€œWhat the Democrats will do to the economy.â€
Iâ€™m getting the impression that for a lot of people, the ballot this fall wonâ€™t read â€œTrump vs. Bidenâ€ but â€œTrump vs. What the Other Guys Will Do.â€ …
Barack Obamaâ€™s speech will stick in history; it wonâ€™t just slide away. No former president has ever publicly leveled anything like this criticism at a sitting successor: â€œI did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously, that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care. But he never did. For close to four years now, he has shown no interest in putting in the work.â€
This is a former president calling the current one shallow and lazy. He also suggested heâ€™s greedy and intellectually incapable. Unprecedented? Yes. Unjustified? No, alas. And Iâ€™m not seeing Trump supporters rise up in indignant defense. They know itâ€™s true, too.
Reading this, my blood boiled and I marveled at the extent to which long residence in the elite community of fashion bubble has distorted and impaired her perception of reality.
OK, it is true that Donald Trump talks differently from the typical representative of the national upper middle class elite. He boasts and brags. He constantly indulges in exaggeration and he interrupts his own sentences, inserting annoying little modifiers like “the most beautiful.” Trump also dresses and grooms himself peculiarly. His suits are always identical and blue and look like they came from Robert Hall. He wears (almost always) monochrome neckties, usually red, and always tied too long. And he dyes his hair and wears it peculiarly long and combed over elaborately in a very strange fashion obviously contrived to cover at any cost his baldness.
Trump offends the delicate sensibilities of people like Peggy Noonan, too, by his conspicuous lack of inhibition and propriety. Trump gets online and tweets what he thinks and feels, insulting and attacking his opponents in government and the media with no consideration to his own dignity or that of his position. Trump obviously is not lazy. His problem is hyperactivity.
I think “shallow” is also not the mot juste. Trump is not so much shallow as undomesticated and unrefined. Donald Trump offends the dickens out of our national elite, because he is clearly “not one of us.” Trump is an outsider, a parvenu from the Outer Boroughs, who dresses, walks, talks, and behaves like –oh, dear! oh, dear!– one of the common people.
Donald Trump is not glib and smooth-talking. He cannot produce the same kind of ever-so-nice sounding gaseous rhetoric as Obama. He does not understand how he’s supposed to behave. He breaks all the rules and knocks over the tea set every time.
Why all this rankles, why this stings so sharply, lies precisely in the fact that the people’s elevation of Donald Trump constitutes a distinct rejection, an undeniable slap in the face to the entire America establishment elite. The people rejected the democrat elite’s left-wing insanity, and they also rejected the Republican elite for having failed for so long to defeat Leftism absolutely and decisively. And, there is an especially sharp, added level of pain for establishmentarians looking on: Trump is winning, Trump is faithfully, unprecedentedly fulfilling campaign promises. The horrible, uncouth and unworthy Trump shrugs off easily the worst the democrat opposition can do, and marches on, trampling taboos underfoot, from victory to victory.
I didn’t support Trump in 2016. I had all the same stylistic reservations as Peggy and George Will and all the other Never Trumpers. However, I gradually observed that Trump really is patriotic and sincere. I liked many of his appointments and I really like the majority of his policies. Sure, I recognize that Trump is eccentric and flawed, but I also recognize how much he has accomplished and how willing he is to fight. You can’t come to me and tell me that Donald Trump is too dumb and too shallow to be president, we have to have Joe Biden instead! If Donald Trump owned a dog, it would be smarter than Joe Biden. And that dog would be more principled.
Peggy Noonan ought to be ashamed.
12 Aug 2019
Andrew Mahon reports that David Mamet’s new play, Bitter Wheat, upset the establishment critics.
David Mametâ€™s latest play Bitter Wheat opened in Londonâ€™s West End in June to largely negative reviews, which is somewhat surprising, because itâ€™s terrific. Then again, maybe itâ€™s not so surprising. Most theatre critics are bleeding-heart leftists, and following his embrace of a more conservative attitude, they simply regard David Mamet as a traitor. Itâ€™s petty, but it really is that simple. …
John Malkovich is appropriately disgusting in the lead role of Barney Fein, clearly inspired by Harvey Weinstein, a loathsome, vile human being, who treats everyone around him like crap, manipulating and blackmailing his way to money, sex, fame and awards. He has no redeeming qualities â€” his appearance (complete with a flabby fatsuit) is grotesque. I would surmise that Mamet and Malkovich both have enough of a personal acquaintance with Harvey Weinstein that this comic exaggeration isnâ€™t all that far from the truth. Weinstein signifies the apex of the rotten, moralistic, hypocritical Hollywood money-making machine, and Bitter Wheat is a damning indictment not only of Weinstein, but of all of Hollywood-NY-liberal-progressive-Democratic-leftist elitism. …
Many leftists are obviously more virtuous than Weinstein on the personal side but on the corporate side, they canâ€™t match his credentials. He supports all the “right” causes with his considerable fortune. A brief look at Weinsteinâ€™s Wikipedia page reveals that he has been active in fighting poverty, AIDS, juvenile diabetes, and multiple sclerosis, and has served on the board of the Robin Hood Foundation, while advocating for gun control laws and universal healthcare. Heâ€™s a left-wing saint. In the play, Fein supports a charity for immigrants, passionately rejecting the term “illegal immigrant,” and lauds the bravery of migrants seeking a better life. He expresses his corporate leftist virtue most directly when heâ€™s trying to persuade the reluctant young actress, played by Ioanna Kimbook, to sleep with him, commenting with dismay, “Iâ€™m not sure you realise just how much money I give to the Democrat Party.” The audience exploded with laughter; Iâ€™ll bet the critics fumed.
25 Jul 2018
In 1843, well-educated people thought the Millerites were crackpots. In 2020, the consensus of the supposedly well-educated is the equivalent of Millerism.
Roy Scranton is a professor of English at Notre Dame. His discussion of his feelings of guilt over having brought a child into this doomed world appeared in the New York Times.
Anyone who pays much attention to climate change knows the outlook is grim. Itâ€™s not unreasonable to say that the challenge we face today is the greatest the human species has ever confronted. And anyone who pays much attention to politics can assume weâ€™re almost certainly going to botch it. To stop emitting waste carbon completely within the next five or 10 years, we would need to radically reorient almost all human economic and social production, a task thatâ€™s scarcely imaginable, much less feasible. It would demand centralized control of key economic sectors, enormous state investment in carbon capture and sequestration and global coordination on a scale never before seen, at the very time when the political and economic structures that held the capitalist world order together under American leadership after World War II are breaking apart. The very idea of unified national political action toward a single goal seems farcical, and unified action on a global scale mere whimsy.
And even if world leaders somehow got their act together, significant and dangerous levels of warming are still inevitable, baked into the system from all the carbon dioxide that has already been dumped. Thereâ€™s a time lag between carbon dioxide increase and subsequent effects, between the wind we sow and the whirlwind we reap. Our lives are lived in that gap. My daughter was born there.
Barring a miracle, the next 20 years are going to see increasingly chaotic systemic transformation in global climate patterns, unpredictable biological adaptation and a wild spectrum of human political and economic responses, including scapegoating and war. After that, things will get worse. The middle and later decades of the 21st century â€” my daughterâ€™s adult life â€” promise a global catastrophe whose full implications any reasonable person must turn away from in horror.
The irony here is that he may be right: civilization as we know it may be doomed. But the cause of doom is going to be the ineffable stupidity of the morons who took over our establishment institutions, not the junk science theory of Global Warming Catastrophism.
26 Jan 2018
We live in an appalling age. When the White House requested a (conventionally granted) loan of a painting by Van Gogh from New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the kind of request that constitutes an honor and an opportunity for institutional service to the nation, the museum’s chief curator proved incapable of rising above the most vicious kind of political partisanship and responded with a crude gesture of vulgarity designed to express the highest degree of contempt while supposedly flourishing that establishmentarian curator’s skill at drawing upon the canon of the Arts.
The Washington Post gloatingly reported:
The emailed response from the Guggenheimâ€™s chief curator to the White House was polite but firm: The museum could not accommodate a request to borrow a painting by Vincent van Gogh for President and Melania Trumpâ€™s private living quarters.
Instead, wrote the curator, Nancy Spector, another piece was available, one that was nothing like â€œLandscape With Snow,â€ the 1888 van Gogh rendering of a man in a black hat walking along a path in Arles, France, with his dog.
The curatorâ€™s alternative: an 18-karat, fully functioning, solid gold toilet â€” an interactive work titled â€œAmericaâ€ that critics have described as pointed satire aimed at the excess of wealth in this country.
For a year, the Guggenheim had exhibited â€œAmericaâ€ â€” the creation of contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan â€” in a public restroom on the museumâ€™s fifth floor for visitors to use.
But the exhibit was over and the toilet was available â€œshould the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House,â€ Spector wrote in an email obtained by The Washington Post.
The artist â€œwould like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,â€ wrote Spector, who has been critical of Trump. â€œIt is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.â€
Vincent van Gogh, Landscape with Snow, 1888, Guggenheim Museum.
Proving that the big brains at the Guggenheim, who so look down on Trump, are actually the kind of idiots willing to accept a gold-plated toilet, created as a slur on the same free enterprise system that funded the Guggenheim’s creation, as “art” worthy of presentation by a major museum. I’ve seen Donald Trump’s interior design choices, and I could picture Donald Trump having gold-plated thunderboxes in his penthouse, but he’d be sensible enough to use them practically. Trump wouldn’t take a gold-plated crapper as some kind of artistic statement unlike the dodos sitting atop our arts establishment.
Can anyone picture the head of a prominent museum, just a few decades ago, indulging in such a spiteful, vulgar, and scatological expression of partisanship? People simply did not behave like that. They had enough good sense to recognize that no political party possessed a monopoly of good intentions or virtue and that one’s preferred side inevitably sometimes lost. If someone in a responsible position did not happen to like the current occupant of the White House, he simply did his job and kept his feelings and political opinions to himself. Today’s establishment is made up of self-righteous simpletons, eaten up with self-entitlement, lacking common sense, decency, and good manners.
29 Oct 2017
The soon-to-be removed offending memorial to George Washington.
The Washington Times reports that the much-predicted and inevitable has occurred. This time, they are going after Washington as well as Lee.
George Washington was one of the founding members of Christ Church in Alexandria, buying pew No. 5 when the church first opened in 1773, and attending for more than two decades.
This week the church announced it was pulling down a memorial to its one-time vestryman and the countryâ€™s first president, saying he and another famous parishioner, Robert E. Lee, have become too controversial and are chasing away would-be parishioners.
While acknowledging â€œfrictionâ€ over the decision, the churchâ€™s leadership said the twin memorials, which are attached to the wall on either side of the altar, are relics of another era and have no business in a church that proclaims its motto as â€œAll are welcome â€” no exceptions.â€
â€œThe plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques,â€ the church leaders said.
A staffer at the church Friday said the decision was going to be announced to the church on Sunday.
The smarmy letter announcing this spectacular insult to American history signed by all 12 Vestry committee members and the local priestess herself is here.
They explain that this destructive, insulting, and revolutionary step was necessary because “discussion about the appropriateness of the plaques in our worship space caused friction in our parish family.” In other words, some extraordinary and outrageous assholes infected with a repulsive ideology hostile to America, our history, our founding fathers, and our national heroes, started making irrational complaints, and the useless, spineless, brainless nincompoops and poltroons on that Vestry committee lacked both the backbone and intellectual resources to defend even the memory of George Washington in his own church, and decided to surrender.
Traditionally, the Episcopal Church would be considered to represent a prominent pillar of upper middle class American culture. Episcopalians used to be expected to be, on the average, wealthier, better educated, and more prominent in the leadership of the community than members of other denominations.
I find myself muttering to myself in frustration, and wondering aloud: how did this country ever come to this? How did we wind up with, everywhere you look, from Yale and Harvard, to city halls all over the Southland, to Christ Church in Alexandria with nobody in charge who thinks or cares? How did it ever happen that the American Establishment sold its soul and gave away its conscience to the brainless demoniac Radical Left? How is it possible that that gentleman over there, a graduate of an elite university, in a tweed jacket and a club tie or that attractive older female graduate of a Seven Sisters school in pearls, are today prepared to throw both Washington and Lee under the bus as sacrifices to the Gospel of Howard Zinn?
Thank goodness we have flyover, Red State America, because coastal urban Establishment America is rotten to the core. Our Establishment today is no less ready to surrender to the Reds than the one in St. Petersburg a hundred years ago this week.
You can see it again right there, on the left.
21 Mar 2017
Glenn Reynolds points out that when members of today’s establishment class of credentialed experts complain that ordinary Americans commonly reject their scientific consensus on Climate Change, their moral consensus, and their economic and policy consensus, there are reasons that the prestige and authority of the credentialed experts class have dramatically declined within the lifetimes of the Baby Boom generation.
[T]he â€œexpertsâ€ donâ€™t have the kind of authority that they possessed in the decade or two following World War II. Back then, the experts had given us vaccines, antibiotics, jet airplanes, nuclear power and space flight. The idea that they might really know best seemed pretty plausible.
But it also seems pretty plausible that Americans might look back on the last 50 years and say, â€œWhat have experts done for us lately?â€ Not only have the experts failed to deliver on the moon bases and flying cars they promised back in the day, but their track record in general is looking a lot spottier than it was in, say, 1965.
It was the experts â€” characterized in terms of their self-image by David Halberstam in The Best and the Brightest â€” who brought us the twin debacles of the Vietnam War, which we lost, and the War On Poverty, where we spent trillions and certainly didnâ€™t win. In both cases, confident assertions by highly credentialed authorities foundered upon reality, at a dramatic cost in blood and treasure. Mostly other peopleâ€™s blood and treasure.
And these are not isolated failures. The history of government nutritional advice from the 1960s to the present is an appalling one: The advice of â€œexpertsâ€ was frequently wrong, and sometimes bought-and-paid-for by special interests, but always delivered with an air of unchallengeable certainty.
In the realm of foreign affairs, which should be of special interest to the people at Foreign Affairs, recent history has been particularly dreadful. Experts failed to foresee the fall of the Soviet Union, failed to deal especially well with that fall when it took place, and then failed to deal with the rise of Islamic terrorism that led to the 9/11 attacks. Post 9/11, experts botched the reconstruction of Iraq, then botched it again with a premature pullout.
On Syria, experts in Barack Obamaâ€™s administration produced a policy that led to countless deaths, millions of refugees flooding Europe, a new haven for Islamic terrorists, and the upending of established power relations in the mideast. In Libya, the experts urged a war, waged without the approval of Congress, to topple strongman Moammar Gadhafi, only to see â€” again â€” countless deaths, huge numbers of refugees and another haven for Islamist terror.
It was experts who brought us the housing bubble and the subprime crisis. It was experts who botched the Obamacare rollout. And, of course, the experts didnâ€™t see Brexit coming, and seem to have responded mostly with injured pride and assaults on the intelligence of the electorate, rather than with constructive solutions.
By its fruit the tree is known, and the tree of expertise hasnâ€™t been doing well lately. As Nassim Taleb recently observed: â€œWith psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers.â€
Then thereâ€™s the problem that, somehow, over the past half-century or so the educated classes that make up the â€œexpertâ€ demographic seem to have been doing pretty well, even as so many ordinary folks, in America and throughout the West, have seen their fortunes decaying. Is it any surprise that claims to authority in the form of â€œexpertiseâ€ donâ€™t carry the same weight that they once did?
If experts want to reclaim a position of authority, they need to make a few changes. First, they should make sure they know what theyâ€™re talking about, and they shouldnâ€™t talk about things where their knowledge isnâ€™t solid. Second, they should be appropriately modest in their claims of authority. And, third, they should check their egos. It doesnâ€™t matter what your SAT scores were, voters are under no obligation to listen to you unless they find what you say persuasive.
14 Jan 2017
notjaffo on Reddit explains.
Why is Hollywood (in particular) freaking out so badly over Trump?
First, because he’s a Republican who might actually do the things he said he wanted to do. But second, because this is the first cultural victory the right has scored since Reagan stumbled into one in the ’80s.
The left is used to losing political battles. They scream and cry over these but they don’t truly panic, because they know that as long as they maintain their hammerlock on the culture, Republicans can’t really change anything.
Blue Team Progressivism is a church, offering you moral superiority and a path to spiritual enlightenment. As a church it’s got a lot going for it. It runs religious programming on television, all day every day. Every modern primetime program is like a left-wing Andy Griffith show, reinforcing lessons of inclusion, tolerance, feminism, and anti-racism.
Watching a 90-pound Sci-Fi heroine beat up a room full of giant evil men is as satisfying to the left as John Wayne westerns were for the right.
The Blue Church controls the HR department, so even if you don’t go to church, you have to act like a loyal churchgoer in every way that matters while you’re on the clock. And off the clock, on any kind of public social media platform.
Jon Stewart and John Oliver are basically TV preachers. Watching them gives the same sense of quiet superiority your grandma gets from watching The 700 Club. The messages are constantly reinforced, providing that lovely dopamine hit, like an angel’s voice whispering, “You’re right, you’re better, you’re winning.”
Hollywood award shows are like church talent shows – the skits and jokes aren’t really funny, but it’s fun to look at the pretty girls, and you’re all on the same team.
Red Conservativism is a business, selling a set of political products. They don’t make you feel good, they don’t appeal to your morality or your spiritual sense of self, but sometimes you really NEED one of their core products like security, jobs, or national defense. Their appeals to “freedom” and “family values” ring hollow these days, but when people are flying planes into buildings, you need a strong member of Conservatism, Inc. in the big chair.
And when it came down to the things that really mattered – welfare, Medicare, Social Security, and foreign policy, you knew Red Team couldn’t really do anything Blue Team didn’t approve of, or the Blue faithful would kick them out of office next time.
But Donald Trump didn’t sign that contract. And Donald Trump didn’t win by selling the same old conservative products. Donald Trump started his own religion, and he won a religious victory.
The Blue Church is panicking because they’ve just witnessed the birth of a new Red Religion. Not the tired old Christian cliches they defeated back in the ’60s, but a new faith based on cultural identity and outright rejection of the Blue Faith.
For the first time in decades, voters explicitly rejected the Blue Church, defying hours of daily cultural programming, years of indoctrination from the schools, and dozens of explicit warnings from HR.
We’ve been trained since childhood to obey the pretty people on TV, but for the first time in decades, that didn’t work.
Donald Trump won because flyover America wants their culture back, and Blue Team has not been rejected like that before.
The younger ones have grown up in an environment where Blue Faith assumptions cannot even be questioned, except anonymously by the bad kids on Twitter.
But now the bad kids are getting bolder, posting funny memes that make you laugh even though John Oliver would not approve, like passing crude dirty pictures under the table in Sunday School.
Meryl Streep is panicking because for the first time voters have rejected HER, and everything her faith has taught her to believe.
There is a new faith rising on the right, not an explicit religious faith like old-school Christianity, but a wicked kind of counterculture movement. We laughed at the hippies in 1968, but by 1978 they were teaching in classrooms and sitting behind school administrator desks.
Where will the hippies of 2016 be sitting after eight years of Trump? How many of the shitposting Twitter bad boys will start up alternative media outlets, until one of them becomes the new Saturday Night Live?
Sam Hyde tried it on Adult Swim, but that was just the early prototype, like Mad Magazine was for the left. There will be many others after him, and they won’t be stopped by network filters. They’ll come “out of nowhere” on the web, from the secret places that the inquisitors at Google can’t shut down.
And that’s what Meryl Streep is really scared of. She’s not truly aware of it, just like fluttering housewives couldn’t really understand the counterculture threat in 1968. But they feel that something is changing in their safe little world, and they know they have to fight it, because this threat isn’t just passing pointless budget resolutions and selling pointless platitudes about family values – these guys mean business, and they’re fighting on her turf.
Hat tip to Thomas Lifson.
31 May 2011
Walter Russell Mead thinks the American intellectual establishment ought to have taken the occasion of this year’s Memorial Day to face the truth and applaud the victory delivered by American servicemen in the face of their own betrayal.
The story of Iraq has yet to be told. It is too politically sensitive for the intelligentsia to handle just yet; passions need to cool before the professors and the pundits who worked themselves into paroxysms of hatred and disdain for the Bush administration can come to grips with how wrongheaded theyâ€™ve been. It took decades for the intelligentsia to face the possibility that the cretinous Reagan-monster might have, um, helped win the Cold War, and even now they havenâ€™t asked themselves any tough questions about the Leftâ€™s blind hatred of the man who did more than any other human being to save the world from nuclear war.
It may take that long for the truth about the war in Iraq to dawn, but dawn it will. Americaâ€™s victory in Iraq broke the back of Al-Qaeda and left Osama bin Ladenâ€™s dream in ruins. He died a defeated fanatic in his Abbotabad hideaway; his dream was crushed in the Mesopotamian flatlands where he swore it would win.
Osamaâ€™s goal was to launch the Clash of Civilizations against the West. He would be Captain Islam, fighting against the Crusader-in-Chief George W. Bush. By his purity, wisdom, daring and above all by his special knowledge of the hidden ways of God, Captain Islam would crush and humiliate the evil Bush-fiend and unite the Muslim world behind the Truth. Osama would complete at a spiritual level the mission his father undertook on the physical plane. His fatherâ€™s construction company rebuilt and modernized the ancient holy city of Mecca; Osama would rebuild and restore the entire Muslim world.
The 9/11 attacks propelled Osama to the historical height he sought: in the minds of many he had become a caliph-in-waiting, the fierce servant of God whose claims to leadership were vindicated by the dramatic success of his plans. Angry young people across the Islamic world, frustrated by a host of frustrations and privations, wondered if this was the charismatic, God-aided figure who would overturn the world order and lead Islam to its old place on the commanding heights of the world.
9/11 was the trumpet, Iraq was the test. The US invaded an Arab country, overthrew its government, and found itself condemned to the hardest task in international politics: nation building under hostile fire. More, the US had taken a country run by its Sunni minority and put power into the hands of an inexperienced and fractious Shiâ€™a majority. Then the US occupation began to fail: the government institutions fell apart, there was no security in country or in town, the economy went into free fall, and basic services like electricity and health failed across the land. The provocations were serious and real; the Americans were clumsy and awkward. US checkpoints and raids were humiliating and degrading; the scalding Abu Ghraib scandal was a propagandistâ€™s dream come true. The ham-handed diplomacy and tongue-tied defense of American policy from Washington created a sense of rising, unstoppable global opposition to Bushâ€™s War. …
For roughly three years America writhed in the toils of our predicament in Iraq. The Democratic establishment had supported the war. Some leading Democrats did so out of conviction, some out of a political calculation that no other stand was viable in the post 9/11 atmosphere. Now the grand panjandrums of the Democratic Party, one after another, made their pilgrimage to Canossa. Some came to believe and perhaps more came to say that the war was lost and that their original backing for it had been a mistake.
Well do I remember the many impassioned statements in those dark years by leading politicians and pundits that the war was lost, lost, irretrievably lost. It was over now, they wailed on television and in print. The Iraqi government was a farce and could never take hold. These clowns made Diem look like Charles de Gaulle. We had no option but to get out as quickly as possible. On and on rolled the great choir of doom, smarter than the rest of us, deeper thinkers, capable of holding more complex thoughts behind their furrowed brows.
Now they have glibly moved on to other subjects; the mostly complicit media is helping us all to forget just how wrong â€” and how intolerant and moralistic â€” so many people were about the â€˜lostâ€™ war.
While the politicians washed their hands and hung up white flags, and while the press lords gibbered and foamed, the brass kept their heads and the troops stood tall. And gradually, a miracle happened. America started winning the war.
The French scholar Gilles Kepel, no friend of the war in Iraq and no admirer of George Bush, makes the core point. Osamaâ€™s dream was to shift history into the realm of myth. He passionately believed that the ordinary course of mundane history wasnâ€™t what really mattered: there was a divine and a miraculous history just behind the veil. Osama aimed to pierce the veil, to bring hundreds of millions of Muslims into his reality, transfixed and transported by the vision of a climactic fight of good against evil, of God against America and its local allies.
That dream died in Iraq.
But on this Memorial Day it is not enough to remember, and give thanks, that Osamaâ€™s dream died before he did and that the terror movement has been gravely wounded at its heart.
Because the dream didnâ€™t just die.
It was killed. ..
All wars are tragic; some are also victorious. The tragedies of Iraq are real and well known. The victory is equally real â€” but the politically fastidious donâ€™t want to look. The minimum we owe our lost and wounded warriors is to tell the story of what they so gloriously achieved.
On ths Memorial Day, a truth needs to be told.
We have not yet done justice to our dead.
Read the whole thing.
19 Dec 2010
San Francisco Gay Pride parade float
Our lords and masters of the national elite may have been defeated in the election last November, but they are still our rulers.
Just to drive home the point of who is in charge in this country, the liberal establishment took the lame duck congress it controls and delivered its own special Christmas present to a prized constituency. Now those second-class citizens who fail to attend elite institutions, who live outside the coastal cities and suburbs which call the shots, who bitterly cling to God and guns and are stupid enough to serve in the US military for chump change will have to accept as their equals (and often, undoubtedly, their superiors in rank and command) persons who choose to define themselves on the basis of an inclination to engage in certain kinds of unconventional (intrinsically non-reproductive) sexual activities.
Liberals don’t themselves actually serve in the military anymore. Liberals usually do not even support the military operations in which members of the armed forces risk their lives. Liberals frequently make strong efforts to undermine and delegitimitize the causes for which Americans serving in the military are fighting. Liberals routinely provide aid and comfort to the enemy opposing US forces in the field. Liberals undermine domestic support for our military’s efforts, destroy our national morale, and work tirelessly to bring about our Armed Forces’ failure and withdrawal. Liberals devote their energy to voiding and rendering useless all the American military’s efforts and sacrifices. But the liberals get to tell the American military with whom they will have to shower, beside whom they will have to sleep, who will be serving beside them, and on whom they will have to depend in action.
A certain amount of social friction and the occasional incident of abuse of authority to obtain affection is obviously an insignificant price for the American Armed Forces to pay to permit those wiser and better than themselves to deliver social equality to the oppressed and despised. Besides, along with the burden of providing a new field for the social engineering of a better future for all of mankind comes very possibly a rise to new social acceptability for the American military. Columbia’s President Lee Bollinger is quoted today predicting that, along with transgendered roommates and more interesting activities in the showers, military personnel can look forward to a “new era” in the relationship between American universities and “the uniforms that guard them while they sleep.”
Isn’t that just ducky? They may allow recruiters back on Ivy League campuses, just so long as drag queens can join the Marine Corps.
Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted
in the 'The Establishment' Category.