One mark of a loser is the inability or unwillingness to lose graciously.
Why are leftists such pansies and whiny losers? Andrew Klavan:
But the left? Never mind the college snowflakes who can't even hear an idea they disagree with without retreating to a safe space. What about the adults?The New York Times, a former newspaper, now reads like a 12-year-old girls' sleepover after a mouse got in. It's embarrassing. "How to Cope With Trump?" "Trump's Threat to the Constitution?" "Trump's Agents of Idiocracy!"
The guy hasn't even done anything yet!
In the Washington Post, Stephanie Land writes a piece headlined, "Trump's Election Stole My Desire to Look for a Partner."
Once it was clear that Donald Trump would be president instead of Hillary Clinton, I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to gather my children in bed with me and cling to them like we would if thunder and lightning were raging outside, with winds high enough that they power might go out. The world felt that precarious to me.
Ben Stein here weighs in on the insanity of the crybaby Left.
You liberal-left crybullies need to get over it and try harder next time. But it looks as if you have a death wish. Nancy Pelosi? Keith Ellison? Joe Biden in 2020? The clown will be 78. What will his campaign slogan be? "Together into senility"?
She lost for many reasons, despite the incredibly powerful, ruthless, and well-funded machine behind her, not to mention all the illegal and 'dead' votes she got. And despite the fact that it was 'her turn.' One reason was her voice. (Via Burgess-Jackson.)
Do you doubt that significant numbers of illegals and 'dead people' vote? Then read this.
Over the weekend, Donald Trump bragged in signature style that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Lefties are calling the statement a lie. But it is no such thing. In the typical case, a lie is a false statement made with the intention to deceive. In the typical case, one who lies knows the truth, but misrepresents it to his audience out of a desire to deceive them. But no one knows the truth-value of Trump's braggadocious conditional. It could be true, but neither Trump nor anyone else has any evidence of its truth. Although verifiable in principle, it is not practically verifiable.
When lefties call a statement a lie which is not a lie should we say that they are lying about what it is?
Was Trump exaggerating when he made his remark? That's not right either.
I think what we have here is a species of bullshit in the sense pinned down by a noted philosopher. According to Harry Frankfurt, a statement is bullshit if it is
. . . grounded neither in a belief that it is true nor, as a lie must be, in a belief that it is not true. It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth — this indifference to how things really are — that I regard as of the essence of bullshit." (emphasis added)
Professor Frankfurt has a fine nose for the essence of bullshit. The bullshitter is one who 'doesn't give a shit' about the truth value of what he is saying. He doesn't care how things stand with reality. The liar, by contrast, must care: he must know (or at least attempt to know) how things are if he is to have any chance of deceiving his audience. Think of it this way: the bullshitter doesn't care whether he gets things right or gets them wrong; the liar cares to get them right so he can deceive you about them.
Now if the bullshitter does not care about truth, what does he care about? He cares about himself, about making a certain impression. His aim is to (mis)represent himself as knowing what he does not know or more than he actually knows. Frankfurt again:
. . . bullshitting involves a kind of bluff. It is closer to bluffing, surely than to telling a lie. But what is implied concerning its nature by the fact that it is more like the former than it is like the latter? Just what is the relevant difference here between a bluff and a lie? Lying and bluffing are both modes of misrepresentation or deception. Now the concept most central to the distinctive nature of a lie is that of falsity: the liar is essentially someone who deliberately promulgates a falsehood. Bluffing too is typically devoted to conveying something false. Unlike plain lying, however, it is more especially a matter not of falsity but of fakery. This is what accounts for its nearness to bullshit. For the essence of bullshit is not that it is false but that it is phony. In order to appreciate this distinction, one must recognize that a fake or a phony need not be in any respect (apart from authenticity itself) inferior to the real thing. What is not genuine need not also be defective in some other way. It may be, after all, an exact copy. What is wrong with a counterfeit is not what it is like, but how it was made. This points to a similar and fundamental aspect of the essential nature of bullshit: although it is produced without concern with the truth, it need not be false. The bullshitter is faking things. But this does not mean that he necessarily gets them wrong. (emphasis added)
When did the Age of Bullshit begin in American politics? Perhaps with the inauguration of Bill Clinton. But it really gets underway with Barack Obama. Obama is the shuck-and-jive precursor of Trump. So let's recall some of his antics.
As Frankfurt points out, the essence of bullshit is a lack of concern for truth. But truth and consistency are closely related notions. Two statements are consistent (inconsistent) just in case they can (cannot) both be true. Now I do not know if there are any cases of Obama contradicting himself synchronically (at a time), but there are plenty of examples of him contradicting himself diachronically. He said things as a senator the opposite of which he says now. Victor Davis Hanson supplies numerous examples in Obama as Chaos:
. . . when the president takes up a line of argument against his opponents, it cannot really be taken seriously — not just because it is usually not factual, but also because it always contradicts positions that Obama himself has taken earlier or things he has previously asserted. Whom to believe — Obama 1.0, Obama 2.0, or Obama 3.0?
When the president derides the idea of shutting down the government over the debt ceiling, we almost automatically assume that he himself tried to do just that when as a senator he voted against the Bush administration request in 2006, when the debt was about $6 trillion less than it is now.
The problem here is not merely logical; it is also ethical: the man is not truthful. Truth, falsity, consistency, inconsistency pertain to propositions, not persons. Truthfulness, deceitfulness, lack of concern for truth and consistency -- these are ethical attributes, properties of persons. Obama the bullshitter is an ethically defective president. When Nixon lied, he could be shamed by calling him on it. That is because he was brought up properly, to value truth and truthfulness. But the POMO Obama, like that "first black president" Bill Clinton, apparently can't be shamed. It's all bullshit and fakery and shuckin' and jivin'. There is no gravitas in these two 'black' presidents, the one wholly white, the other half-white. Everything's a 'narrative' -- good POMO word, that -- and the only question is whether the narrative works in the moment for political advantage. A narrative needn't be true to be a narrative, which is why the POMO types like it. Hanson has Obama's number:
But a third explanation is more likely. Obama simply couldn’t care less about what he says at any given moment, whether it is weighing in on the football name “Redskins” or the Travyon Martin trial. He is detached and unconcerned about the history of an issue, about which he is usually poorly informed. Raising the debt ceiling is an abstraction; all that matters is that when he is president it is a good thing and when he is opposing a president it is a bad one. Let aides sort out the chaos. Obamacare will lower premiums, not affect existing medical plans, and not require increased taxes; that all of the above are untrue matters nothing. Who could sort out the chaos?
[. . .]
The media, of course, accepts that what Obama says on any given day will contradict what he has said or done earlier, or will be an exaggeration or caricature of his opponents’ position, or simply be detached from reality. But in their daily calculus, that resulting chaos is minor in comparison to the symbolic meaning of Obama. He is, after all, both the nation’s first African-American president and our first left-wing progressive since Franklin Roosevelt.
In comparison with those two facts, no others really matter.
Lefties like to point out that the college-educated favored Hillary over Trump. But so what? Apart from the STEM disciplines, the colleges and universities of the land have become leftist seminaries, hotbeds of political correctness, and centers of Higher Infantilization. They have strayed far from their original charter.
So of course the college-indoctrinated will favor Hillary the leftist nanny-stater.
Leftists also crow over the fact that Hillary won the popular vote. But again, so what? Lefties congegate in certain densely populated enclaves wherein 'correct' views are enforced and 'incorrect' ones excluded. Most people, being highly suggestible, simply imbibe the circumambient suggestions. Few people form their political and social beliefs by any process of deep study and hard thinking. The more impressionable people crammed into places like San Francisco and New York City, the more leftist group-think. People naturally want to be liked, accepted, and get ahead. They go along to get along.
So how significant is it that Hillary won the popular vote?
But the finally trumping consideration is that our great system of government bequeathed to us by the greatest generation, that of the founders, prescribes that it is the members of the Electoral College, not the populace at large who decide presidential elections.
Here is an invited essay of mine at Rightly Considered. I am told that RC is snagging around 2,000 page views per day, which is very good for such a young weblog. It is infuriating all the usual suspects.
My contribution is the first in a series of reflections on the presidential election.
Feeling chagrined at being on the wrong side of history, you Never Trump conservatives could conceivably argue that by 'Never Trump' you just meant that you would never support him in his presidential bid, not that if he became president you would not support or even embrace him.
True, Hillary won the popular vote. But the popular vote is irrelevant. One reason you already know: the President is elected by the members of the Electoral College. The other reason is explained by Jonathan Adler:
In the election concluded Tuesday, Hillary Clinton received more popular votes than Trump. This does not mean, however, that Clinton would necessarily have prevailed in an election that was determined solely by the popular vote. This is because the popular vote total is itself a product of the electoral college system. As a consequence, we do not know what the result would have been under a popular vote system, let alone whether Clinton would have prevailed.
The reason for this is because the electoral college system encourages the campaigns (and their surrogates and allies) to concentrate their efforts on swing states — those states in which the electoral votes are up for grabs — at the expense of those states in which one party or the other has no meaningful chance to prevail. [. . .]
So dry your tears you wimps and wussies of the Hillary brigade. Put away your cuddly toys and accept the defeat you so richly deserved. There is always next time.
And the Left continues to melt down over the election result.
A curious exercise in hyperventilation from the pen of Andrew Sullivan. Here are a couple of gasps:
In the U.S., the [populist] movement — built on anti-political politics, economic disruption, and anti-immigration fears — had something else, far more lethal, in its bag of tricks: a supremely talented demagogue who created an authoritarian cult with unapologetically neo-fascist rhetoric.
Anti-political politics? That's like saying that proponents of limited government are anti-government. To oppose the politics of the Left is not to oppose politics unless the only politics is the politics of the Left -- which is not the case.
Anti-immigration fears? Andy is as mendacious as Hillary. Few conservatives, populist or not, oppose immigration. Conservatives oppose illegal immigration and an immigration policy that does not discriminate between those who share our values and are willing to assimilate, and those who do not and are not. Conservatives hold that immigration must have a net positive benefit for our nation.
That Sullivan elides the distinction between illegal and legal immigration shows that he is intellectually dishonest.
And then there is the endlessly deployed leftist tactic of reducing the political opponent's view to a mere product of emotion, in this case fear. Probably the only effective response to this shabby tactic is to reply in kind. "Look, Sullivan, you are just a hate-America leftist scumbag who wants to undermine the rule of law."
By the way, Trump understands that it does no good to respond to a leftist with a learned disquisition (not that Trump could produce one); he understands with his gut that punching back is far more effective. He understands that the leftist thug will ignore your careful and polite arguments and go right back to name-calling: racist, sexist, homophobe, Islamophobe, bigot, deplorable . . . .
This is now Trump’s America. He controls everything from here on forward. He has won this campaign in such a decisive fashion that he owes no one anything. He has destroyed the GOP and remade it in his image.
This is delusional. How delusional? An army of proctologists in a month of Sundays could not bring Sully's head into the unsullied light of day.
Trump controls everything? False: the Left controls almost all mainstream media outlets, the courts, public education K-12, the universities, and many of the churches. (Think of all the leftist termites in the Catholic Church.)
He won in a decisive fashion? False: he lost the popular vote, a fact the liberal-left crybullies trumpet repeatedly.
He has destroyed the GOP? False: The GOP retained both houses of Congress. The truth is that he destroyed the Dems and the legacy of Obama.
Sully's rant does not get better as it proceeds, as you may verify for yourself.
M.B. of Alexandria, VA writes:
You said: "Trump controls everything? False: the Left controls almost all mainstream media outlets, the courts, public education K-12, the universities, and many of the churches. (Think of all the leftist termites in the Catholic Church.) "
You could add: the federal bureaucracy, most charitable foundations (Rockefeller, Ford, Soros etc), and, not least, the human resources (HR) departments of most corporations, which are now heavily staffed with ideological diversicrats.
Excellent points which I shouldn't have omitted, especially the one about the HR departments of most corporations. Why can't leftists see the extent of leftist control of the culture? Well, why is the fish unaware of the medium that sustains it?
Here is the delusional Paul Krugman soiling, once again, the already piss-poor Op-Ed pages of The New York Times. His title is the hyperventilatory "Thoughts for the Horrified."
The political damage will extend far into the future, too. The odds are that some terrible people will become Supreme Court justices. States will feel empowered to engage in even more voter suppression than they did this year. At worst, we could see a slightly covert form of Jim Crow become the norm all across America.
Terrible people? Voter suppression? Jim Crow? This is crazy stuff, beneath reply. And Krugman's outburst is no isolated incident. Lefties can't seem to grasp that we reject their ideas and policies and that we have good grounds for doing so.
And then we have the leftist punks clogging the highways and byways. What are they protesting? The proper functioning of a democratic republic in which a bloodless transfer of power has occurred? The brainwashed punks have no legitimate grounds for protest. They simply don't like the outcome.
But we conservatives didn't like the outcome when Obama beat Romney in 2012. I don't recall any right-wing gangs in the streets protesting. Yet another difference between the Left and the Right. Perhaps now you understand why I often refer to the Left as destructive.
The Left's long march through the institutions has been successful. We now have hordes of young people with no understanding of the greatness of America. The punks have been brainwashed, and we conservatives can blame ourselves for retreating into our private lives and not battling the Marxist cultural termites early on.
But the focus on what really matters, the private, is of the essence of conservatism, and so it is our conservative attitude that unfits us for battle with the totalitarians of the Left who work to destroy the institutions of civil society.
. . . there is no way Trump can beat Hillary. He has alienated too many groups, women and Hispanics to name two. Add to that the fact that large numbers of conservatives will stay home, and Hillary is in like Flynn. Mark my words.
My prediction was not irrational; it was just WRONG. I underestimated the Jacksonian surge of support. It will be instructive to analyze how so many could have been so wrong.
In any case, Hillary the Corrupt is out like Stout, and thank God for that. What we have here is a stinging rebuke to the hate-America Left and their NeverTrump enablers.
I am already feeling Schadenfreude in anticipation of the howling of the likes of George Will and his band of bow-tied pussy-wussies.
This raises a very interesting question. Is there a righteous form of Schadenfreude or is it in every one of its forms as morally objectionable as I make it out to be here?
Brian Leiter, in despair at the election result, quotes Sartre, "We must live without hope." On the contrary. We now have real change and reason for hope. Maybe the Ladder Man -- so-called because of his careerism and obsession with ratings and rankings -- will leave the country. One can hope.
Change and hope.
This just in from London Karl:
Am loving it, absolutely loving it. All those smug, arrogant, close-minded left/liberal patronising jerks getting it in the nuts.
It is astonishing that there are Catholics who vote Democrat, when the Dems are the abortion party, and lately and increasingly a threat to religious liberty to boot. How then could any practicing Catholic vote for Hillary or support Hillary by voting for neither Hillary nor Trump?
So here's my final appeal on Election Day. It consists of a repost from August, substantially redacted, and an addendum in which I reproduce a recent bit of text from George Weigel.
Could a Catholic Support Trump?
Via Burgess-Jackson, I came to this piece by Robert P. George and George Weigel, An Appeal to Our Fellow Catholics (7 March 2016). Appended to it is a list of distinguished signatories. Excerpt:
Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States. His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity. His appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice are offensive to any genuinely Catholic sensibility. He promised to order U.S. military personnel to torture terrorist suspects and to kill terrorists’ families — actions condemned by the Church and policies that would bring shame upon our country. And there is nothing in his campaign or his previous record that gives us grounds for confidence that he genuinely shares our commitments to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government.
I will respond to these points seriatim.
A. It is true that Trump is unfit to be president, but so is Hillary. But that is the choice we face now that Trump has secured the Republican nomination. In the politics of the real world, as opposed to the politics of utopia, it will be either Trump or Hillary: not both and not neither. Are they equally unfit for the presidency? Arguably yes at the level of character. But at the level of policy no clear-thinking conservative or Catholic could possibly do anything to aid Hillary, whether by voting for her or by not voting for Trump. Consider just abortion and religious liberty and ask yourself which candidate is more likely to forward an agenda favorable to Catholics.
B. Yes, Trump has taken vulgarity in politics to new depths. Unlike milquetoast conservatives, however, he knows how to fight back against political enemies. He doesn't apologize and he doesn't wilt in the face of leftist lies and abuse. He realizes that in post-consensus politics there is little or no place for civility. There is no advantage in being civil to the viciously uncivil. He realizes that the Alinskyite tactics the uncivil Left has been using for decades have to be turned against them. To paraphrase Barack Obama, he understands that one needs to bring a gun to a gun fight.
C. The third sentence above, the one about appeals to racial fears, is something one would expect from a race-baiting leftist, not from a conservative. Besides, it borders on slander, something I should think a Catholic would want to avoid.
You slander Trump and his supporters when you ignore his and their entirely legitimate concern for the rule of law and for national sovereignty and suggest that what motivates him and them is bigotry and fear. Trump and Trump alone among the candidates has had the courage to face the Islamist threat to our country and to call for the vetting of Muslim immigrants. That is just common sense. The milquetoast conservatives are so fearful of being branded xenophobes, 'Islamophobes,' and racists and so desirous of being liked and accepted in respectable Establishment circles, that they will not speak out against the threat.
If they had, and if they had been courageous conservatives on other issues, there would be no need for Trump, he would have gained no traction, and his manifest negatives would have sunk him. Trump's traction is a direct result of conservative inaction. The milquetoasts and bow-tie boys need to look in the mirror and own up to their complicity in having created Trump the politician. But of course they will not do that; they will waste their energy attacking Trump, the only hope we have, in violation of Ronald Reagan's Eleventh Commandment. What a sorry bunch of self-serving pussy-wussies! They yap and scribble, but when it comes time to act and show civil courage, they wilt. They need to peer into a mirror; they will then know what a quisling looks like.
D. I concede that Trump's remarks about torture ought to worry a Catholic. But you should also realize that Trump's strategy is to shoot his mouth off like a rude, New York working stiff in order to energize his base, to intimidate his enemies, and to draw free media attention to himself. Then in prepared speeches he 'walks back' his unguarded comments and adds the necessary qualifications. It is a brilliant strategy, and it has worked.
Trump understands that politics is a practical struggle. It takes place in the street, in a broad sense of the term, not in the seminar room. We intellectuals cringe at Trump's absurd exaggerations, but Trump knows that Joe Sixpack and the blue-collared guys who do the real work of the world have contempt for 'pointy-headed intellekshuls' and he knows that the way to reach them is by speaking their language.
E. It is true that Trump's previous record supplies a reason to doubt whether Trump really shares Catholic commitments. But is it not possible that he has 'evolved'? You say the 'evolution' is merely opportunistic? That may well be. But how much does it matter what his motives are if he helps with the conservative agenda? It is obvious that his own ego and its enhancement is the cynosure of all his striving. He is out for himself, first, and a patriot, second. But Hillary is also out for herself, first, and she is manifestly not a patriot but a destructive hate-America leftist who will work to advance Obama's "fundamental transformation of America." (No one who loves his country seeks a fundamental transformation of it.)
We KNOW what Hillary and her ilk and entourage will do. We KNOW she will be inimical "to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government." Now I grant you that Trump is unreliable, mercurial, flaky, and other bad things to boot. But it is a very good bet that some of what he and his entourage will do will advance the conservative agenda. Trump is espousing the Right ideas, and it is they that count. Can't stand him as a person? Vote for him as a vehicle of the Right ideas!
So I say: if you are a conservative or a Catholic and you do not vote for Trump, you are a damned fool! Look in the mirror and see the quisling who is worried about his status in 'respectable society.'
Here is what George Weigel has to say in NRO today:
The most obvious con is the Trumpian one. Over the past year, the Republican party was captured by a narcissistic buccaneer who repudiated most of what conservatism and the Republican party have stood for over the past half-century, cast venomous aspersions on Republican leaders and those manifestly more qualified than he is for president, insulted our fellow citizens, demeaned women and minorities, played footsy with the Russian dictator Putin, threw NATO under the bus, displayed a dismal ignorance of both the Constitution and the grave matters at stake in current public-policy debates — and in general behaved like a vulgar, sinister bore. In doing all this, Trump the con artist confirmed in the eyes of a partisan mainstream media every one of its false conceptions of what modern conservatism stands for and is prepared to do when entrusted with the tasks of governance.
This outburst does not merit reply beyond what I have said above and elsewhere; Weigel the man needs to seek help for a bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
But one last shot: as for the Constitution, we KNOW that Hillary will shred it; Trump, however, has promised to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court, and he has provided a list. How can anyone's head be so far up his nether hole as not to understand this?
The nation is at a tipping point. Do your bit to save it.
. . . there is no way Trump can beat Hillary. He has alienated too many groups, women and Hispanics to name two. Add to that the fact that large numbers of conservatives will stay home, and Hillary is in like Flynn. Mark my words.
A bold asseveration somewhat justified by what had transpired up to that point. Things look differently now. I may have to eat my words. And I hope I do. I also wrote:
Let's hope that Trump does not get the Republican nomination. But if he gets it, you must vote for him. For the alternative is far worse. Politics is a practical business. It is not about maintaining your ideological purity, but about getting something accomplished in murky and complex circumstances. It is always about the lesser or least of evils. Trump would be bad, but Hillary worse.
That's right except that I no longer use the misleading phrase 'lesser of evils.' It seduces people into asking, 'Why vote for either if both are evil?' when in the vast majority of political contests like these none of the contenders is evil in a way that would justify voting for neither.
Not 'lesser of evils' but 'better and worse.' Trump is better than Hillary policy-wise even if not much better character-wise.
The state is not about to wither away. She shall abide, to oppress, but also to guide and provide. It obviously matters who has his hands on the levers of power. It matters who sets the tone and influences the culture in Washington and beyond.
Some are tempted to withdraw and have nothing to do with politics. That would make sense if one could expect politics to reciprocate by having nothing to do with one. A highly unreasonable expectation, especially when the Dems are in power. Never forget that the Left is totalitarian to the core and will lie brazenly to achieve its ends. A good example is the pack of brazen lies put forth by Obama and Co. to ram through ObamaCare, the unaffordable Affordable Care Act.
Hillary too lies brazenly as should be evident to all by now when it is helpful unto her personal ambition and the leftist agenda (in that order).
Then you had better vote for Trump, characterological warts and all.
By the way, a vote for Trump is not an endorsement of his character, but of the ideas and policies he stands for. As for you namby-pamby, quasi-conservative, crypto-quislings whose tender consciences cannot allow a vote for Trump, I ask you: will you feel any pricks of conscience if and when a Hillary administration of possibly eight years duration completes the leftist infiltration of our institutions and the "fundamental transformation" Obama promised?
Ambush-style killings of police officers are up 167% this year. At the same time the murder rate is way up in black ghettoes across the land due to the Ferguson effect. (Can you blame the boys in blue for drinking more coffee and eating more donuts?) Hillary is sure to continue the Obama administration's erosion of the rule of law. She has already thrown her support behind Black Lives Matter, a virulent anti-cop outfit that spreads the lie that the police are on the hunt for blacks, an outfit that is itself based on brazen lies about Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. She also peddles the myth of mass incarceration and spouts nonsense about 'systemic' racism, a figment of the febrile left-wing imagination. And of course what motivates her in all this inanity, insanity, and mendacity is simply the need for black votes.
Black votes matter!
And then there is Hillary's flouting of the law herself. She is now the target of two FBI investigations, one concerning her unspeakably irresponsible self-serving storage of state secrets on her private e-mail server, the other concerning the Clinton Foundation.
So if you care about the rule of law, you will vote for Trump.
The Hillary/Bill fortune — generated by pay-for-play influence peddling on the proposition that Bill would return to the White House under Hillary’s aegis and reward friends while punishing enemies — hit a reported $150 million some time ago, a fortune built not on farming, mining, insurance, finance, high-tech, or manufacturing, but on skimming off money. The Clintons are simply grifters whose insider access to government gave them the power to make rich people richer.
[. . .]
The Clintons suffer from greed, as defined by Aristotle: endless acquisition solely for the benefit of self. With their insatiable appetites, they resented the limits that multimillionaire status put on them, boundaries they could bypass only by accumulating ever greater riches. The billion-dollar foundation squared the circle of progressive politicians profiting from the public purse by offering a veneer of “doing good” while offering free luxury travel commensurate with the style of the global rich, by offering sinecures for their loyal but otherwise unemployable cronies, and by spinning off lobbying and speaking fees (the original font of their $100-million-plus personal fortune and the likely reason for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decision to put all her communications, mercantile included, on a private server safe from government scrutiny). Acquiring money to the extent that money would become superfluous was certainly a Clinton telos — and the subtext of the entire Podesta trove and the disclosures about the Clinton Foundation.
Power and pride were the other catalyst for Clinton criminality. I don’t think progressive politics mattered much to the Clintons, at least compared with what drives the more sincere Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Hillary, like Bill, has no real political beliefs — though she doesn’t hesitate to pursue a mostly opportunistic progressive political agenda. By temperament and background, the Clintons are leftists and will follow a leftist vision, sort of, but one predicated on doing so within the constraints of obtaining and keeping power.
That's right. Hillary is Ambition in a pant-suit. What drives her are lust for power and greed. Her leftism is merely the means to her personal ends. But the main reason she must be stopped is not because of her vices, but because of her destructive leftism which will "fundamentally transform," which is to say, destroy, America as she was founded to be.
Hanson ends with this curious sentence:
And one wonders whether, in fleeting seconds here at the end of things, they still believe that it was all worth what they have become.
Is Hanson predicting Hillary's defeat in the election with the suggestion that they sense her defeat? Or is Hanson alluding to the horror of those who, at the end of their lives, come to realize that they have sold their souls in pursuit of worthless things? Or both? Or neither? Perhaps all he means by "the end of things" is the end of the presidential campaign, the last Hillary-Billary power-grab.
On occasion a good writer may indulge in a bit of obscurity to make the reader think -- or, less nobly, to make himself appear profound.
The Op-Ed pages of The New York Times are piss-poor to be sure, but Ross Douthat and David Brooks are sometimes worth reading. But the following from Brooks (28 October) is singularly boneheaded although the opening sentence is exactly right:
The very essence of conservatism is the belief that politics is a limited activity, and that the most important realms are prepolitical: conscience, faith, culture, family and community. But recently conservatism has become more the talking arm of the Republican Party. Among social conservatives, for example, faith sometimes seems to come in second behind politics, Scripture behind voting guides. Today, most white evangelicals are willing to put aside the Christian virtues of humility, charity and grace for the sake of a Trump political victory.
Come on, man. Don't be stupid. The Left is out to suppress religious liberty. This didn't start yesterday. You yourself mention conscience, but you must be aware that bakers and florists have been forced by the state to violate their consciences by catering homosexual 'marriage' ceremonies. Is that a legitimate use of state power? And if the wielders of state power can get away with that outrage, where will they stop? Plenty of other examples can be adduced, e.g., the Obama administration's assault on the Little Sisters of the Poor.
The reason evangelicals and other Christians support Trump is that they know what that destructive and deeply mendacious stealth ideologue Hillary will do when she gets power. It is not because they think the Gotham sybarite lives the Christian life, but despite his not living it. They understand that ideas and policies trump character issues especially when Trump's opponent is even worse on the character plane. What's worse: compromising national security, using high public office to enrich oneself, and then endlessly lying about it all, or forcing oneself on a handful of women?
The practice of the Christian virtues and the living of the Christian life require freedom of religion. Our freedoms are under vicious assault by leftist scum like Hillary. This is why Trump garners the support of Christians.
The threat from the Left is very real indeed. See here and read the chilling remarks of Martin Castro of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights. Given Castro's comments the name of the commission counts as Orwellian.
As we go to press, the stunning news has broken that the FBI’s investigation is being reopened. It appears, based on early reports, that in the course of examining communications devices in a separate “sexting” investigation of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, the bureau stumbled on relevant e-mails — no doubt connected to Huma Abedin, Mr. Weiner’s wife and, more significantly, Mrs. Clinton’s closest confidant. According to the New York Times, the FBI has seized at least one electronic device belonging to Ms. Abedin as well. New e-mails, never before reviewed by the FBI, have been recovered.
Team Clinton has succeeded in perpetuating one of the greatest evils I have seen in my lifetime. Her side has branded Trump supporters (40%+ of voters) as Nazis, sexists, homophobes, racists, and a few other fighting words. Their argument is built on confirmation bias and persuasion. But facts don’t matter because facts never matter in politics. What matters is that Clinton’s framing of Trump provides moral cover for any bullying behavior online or in person. No one can be a bad person for opposing Hitler, right?
Some Trump supporters online have suggested that people who intend to vote for Trump should wear their Trump hats on election day. That is a dangerous idea, and I strongly discourage it. There would be riots in the streets because we already know the bullies would attack. But on election day, inviting those attacks is an extra-dangerous idea. Violence is bad on any day, but on election day, Republicans are far more likely to unholster in an effort to protect their voting rights. Things will get wet fast.
How does one explain to a victim of an unfortunate appellate panel’s ruling that “I could have voted for a federal judiciary that would protect the Constitution and refrain from legislating from the bench, but a braggart was recorded 11 years earlier, boasting in filthy terms, saying that he then did filthy, disgusting things that were less filthy and disgusting than what his opponent actively defended her husband and clients for doing. So I am sorry for losing the federal judiciary. And for abandoning America’s influence in the world. And for allowing more destructive drugs to enter the country illegally by permitting the border to become even more porous. And for the economy remaining mired with no meaningful job growth or income gains. And for the loss of affordable health coverage and for losing access to preferred doctors. And for not voting finally for change to stem the steep decline in the Judaeo-Christian religious and social values that built this great country and that shaped America’s extraordinary character.”
What follows is a re-post, slightly redacted, from 3 November 2012. Occasioned by the Biden-Ryan Veep debate in 2012, it is equally applicable to the 2016 Kaine-Pence Veep debate, except that in 2016 only Kaine is (nominally) Catholic.
The abortion question is almost always raised in the context of religion. The Vice-Presidential debate provides a good recent example. The moderator introduced the topic with these words: “We have two Catholic candidates, first time, on a stage such as this. And I would like to ask you both to tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion.” Why didn't the moderator just ask the candidates to state their positions on abortion? Why did she bring up religion? And why the phrase "personal views"? Are views on foreign policy and the economy also personal views? Below the surface lies the suggestion that opposition to abortion can only rest on antecedent religious commitments of a personal nature that have no place in the public square.
A question that never gets asked, however, is the one I raise in this post: What does the abortion issue have to do with religion? But I need to make the question more precise. Is the abortion question tied to religion in such a way that opposition to abortion can be based only on religious premises? Or are there good reasons to oppose abortion that are nor religiously based, reasons that secularists could accept? The answer to the last question is plainly in the affirmative. The following argument contains no religious premises.
1. Infanticide is morally wrong. 2. There is no morally relevant difference between (late-term) abortion and infancticide. Therefore 3. (Late-term) abortion is morally wrong.
Whether one accepts this argument or not, it clearly invokes no religious premise. It is therefore manifestly incorrect to say or imply that all opposition to abortion must be religiously-based. Theists and atheists alike could make use of the above argument.
But on abortion, Obama is an extremist. He has opposed the Supreme Court decision that finally upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act against that form of infanticide. Most startlingly, for a professed humanist, Obama -- in the Illinois Senate -- also voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. I have reported on several of those cases when, before the abortion was completed, an alive infant was suddenly in the room. It was disposed of as a horrified nurse who was not necessarily pro-life followed the doctors' orders to put the baby in a pail or otherwise get rid of the child.
Return to the above argument. Suppose someone demands to know why one should accept the first premise. Present this argument:
4. Killing innocent human beings is morally wrong. 5. Infanticide is the killing of innocent human beings. Therefore 1. Infanticide is morally wrong.
This second argument, like the first, invokes no specifically religious premise. Admittedly, the general prohibition of homicide -- general in the sense that it admits of exceptions -- comes from the Ten Commandments which isd part of our Judeo-Christian heritage. But if you take that as showing that (4) is religious, then the generally accepted views that theft and lying are morally wrong would have to be adjudged religious as well.
But I don't want to digress onto the topic of the sources of our secular moral convictions, convictions that are then codified in the positive law. My main point is that one can oppose abortion on secular grounds. A second point is that the two arguments I gave are very powerful. If you are not convinced by them, you need to ask yourself why.
Some will reply by saying that a woman has the right to do what she wants with her own body. This is the Woman's Body Argument:
6. The fetus is a part of a woman's body. 7. A woman has the right to do whatever she wants with any part of her body. Therefore 8. A woman has the right to do whatever she wants with the fetus, including having it killed.
For this argument to be valid, 'part' must be used in the very same sense in both premises. Otherwise, the argument equivocates on a key term. There are two possibilities. 'Part' can be taken in a wide sense that includes the fetus, or in a narrow sense that excludes it.
If 'part' is taken in a wide sense, then (6) is true. Surely there is a wide sense of 'part' according to which the fetus is part of its mother's body. But then (7) is reasonably rejected. Abortion is not relevantly like liposuction. Granted, a woman has a right to remove unwanted fat from her body via liposuction. Such fat is uncontroversially part of her body. But the fetus growing within her is not a part in the same sense: it is a separate individual life. The argument, then, is not compelling. Premise (7) is more reasonably rejected than accepted.
If, on the other hand, 'part' is taken in a narrow sense that excludes the fetus, then perhaps (7) is acceptable, but (6) is surely false: the fetus is plainly not a part of the woman's body in the narrow sense of 'part.'
I wrote "perhaps (7) is acceptable" because it is arguable that (7) is not acceptable. For a woman's body is an improper part of her body; hence if a woman has a right to do anything she wishes with her body, then she has a right to kill her body by blowing it up, say. One who has good reason to reject suicide, however, has good reason to reject (7) even when 'part' is construed narrowly. And even if we substitute 'proper part' for 'part' in the original argument, it is still not the case that a woman has a right to do whatever she wishes with any proper narrow part of her body. Arguably, she has no right to cut out her own heart, since that would lead to her death.
I am making two points about the Woman's Body Argument. The first is that my rejection of it does not rely on any religious premises. The second is that the argument is unsound.
Standing on solid, secular ground one has good reason to oppose abortion as immoral in the second and third trimesters (with some exceptions, e.g., threat to the life of the mother). Now not everything immoral should be illegal. But in this case the objective immorality of abortion entails that it ought to be illegal for the same reason that the objective immorality of the wanton killing of innocent adults requires that it be illegal.
Of course it follows that you should not vote for the abortion party, a.k.a. the Dems. And if you are a Catholic who votes Democratic then you are as foolish and confused as the benighted Joe Biden and the the benighted Tim Kaine.
“You shall not do injustice in judgment; you shall not show partiality to the powerless; you shall not give preference to the powerful; you shall judge your fellow citizen with justice." Alternate translations here.
In the third and final presidential debate, Hillary Clinton said the following about Supreme Court nominations. "And the kind of people that I would be looking to nominate to the court would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful, standing on behalf of our rights as Americans."
This is the sort of leftist claptrap according to which the judiciary assumes legislative functions and the Constitution is a tabula rasa on which anything can be written. The purpose of the court is not to stand up to the powerful or take the side of the powerless, but to apply the law and administer justice.
There must be no "partiality to the powerless." Might does not make right. But neither does lack of might.
(Credit where credit is due: I am riffing on a comment I heard Dennis Prager make yesterday.)
We are concupiscent from the ground up, and matters are only made worse by our living in sex-saturated societies. As a result our erotic 'ears' are continually being pricked up by salacious tales and rumors.
These distractions are exploited by the Clinton machine which knows that digging up ancient dirt on the opponent will trump any serious discussion of his ideas and policies.
And that is what we are seeing. Any intelligent and intellectually honest person should be able to grasp that what matters are the issues and the policies proposed to deal with them. The national debt, immigration legal and illegal, national sovereignty, free speech, religious liberty, gun rights, abortion, the composition of the Supreme Court, globalism, trade policy, radical Islam, and so forth.
This is what we should be discussing primarily, not the character defects of the candidates.
Policies first, persons second. Every man has his 'wobble,' and every woman too. Look hard enough and you will find it. But men and women come and go. Ideologies and institutional structures last a lot longer to either contribute to the flourishing of you, your children, and grand children -- or the opposite.
But as I said, we are concupiscent from the ground up. We will stay distracted, and Hillary will win.
Plenty of other factors are in play, no doubt, such as the large group of 'tribal' women who will vote for Hillary because she is one of them.
Trump’s defeat would translate into continued political subversion of once disinterested federal agencies, from the FBI and Justice Department to the IRS and the EPA. It would ensure a liberal Supreme Court for the next 20 years — or more. Republicans would be lucky to hold the Senate. Obama’s unconstitutional executive overreach would be the model for Hillary’s second wave of pen-and-phone executive orders. If, in Obama fashion, the debt doubled again in eight years, we would be in hock $40 trillion after paying for Hillary’s even more grandiose entitlements of free college tuition, student-loan debt relief, and open borders. She has already talked of upping income and estate taxes on those far less wealthy than the Clintons and of putting coal miners out of work (“We are going to put a whole lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business”) while promising more Solyndra-like ventures in failed crony capitalism.
We worry about what Citizen Trump did in the past in the private sector and fret more over what he might do as commander-in-chief. But these legitimate anxieties remain in the subjunctive mood; they are not facts in the indicative gleaned from Clinton’s long public record. As voters, we can only compare the respective Clinton and Trump published agendas on illegal immigration, taxes, regulation, defense spending, the Affordable Care Act, abortion, and other social issues to conclude that Trump’s platform is the far more conservative — and a rebuke of the last eight years.
[. . .]
Something has gone terribly wrong with the Republican party, and it has nothing to do with the flaws of Donald Trump.
[. . .]
The Beltway establishment grew more concerned about their sinecures in government and the media than about showing urgency in stopping Obamaism. When the Voz de Aztlan and the Wall Street Journal often share the same position on illegal immigration, or when Republicans of the Gang of Eight are as likely as their left-wing associates to disparage those who want federal immigration law enforced, the proverbial conservative masses feel they have lost their representation. How, under a supposedly obstructive, conservative-controlled House and Senate, did we reach $20 trillion in debt, institutionalize sanctuary cities, and put ourselves on track to a Navy of World War I size? Compared with all that, “making Mexico pay” for the wall does not seem all that radical. Under a Trump presidency the owner of Univision would not be stealthily writing, as he did to Team Clinton, to press harder for open borders — and thus the continuance of a permanent and profitable viewership of non-English speakers.
One does not need lectures about conservatism from Edmund Burke when, at the neighborhood school, English becomes a second language, or when one is rammed by a hit-and-run driver illegally in the United States who flees the scene of the accident. Do our elites ever enter their offices to find their opinion-journalism jobs outsourced at half the cost to writers in India? Are congressional staffers told to move to Alabama, where it is cheaper to telecommunicate their business? Trump’s outrageousness was not really new; it was more a 360-degree mirror of an already outrageous politics as usual.
I asked a reader whether the graphic to the left was too tasteless to post to my blog, adding, "But then these are times in which considerations of good taste and civility are easily 'trumped.'" My reader responded with a fine statement:
Of course it’s tasteless, but it’s funny. We should go to battle with a song in our heart. Never had patience for the hand-wringing by the beskirted Republicans and professional “conservatives”. How could anyone be surprised by the locker room braggadocio of a man who appeared on the Howard Stern show 600 times? Trump is a deeply flawed messenger of the right message, but politics is a practical affair. He’s a bastard, but he’s our bastard in this go-around. After all it’s only the very foundation of the republic at stake. So let’s have some fun while beating the drum for him.
My reader is right. Trump is all we've got. He has a rotten character, but then so does Hillary. This may not be obvious because, while Trump broadcasts his faults, she hides hers. This is part of her being a slimy, mendacious stealth ideologue.
Given that both are sorry specimens on the character front, it comes down to policy.
Another thing you must bear in mind is that a vote for Hillary is a vote for her entire ilk and entourage. Do you want Huma Abedin in the White House?
You say your conscience won't allow you to vote for a vulgarian who thinks, or used to think, that his celebrity entitles him to grab at the female anatomy? But your conscience is not troubled by Hllary's support for abortion? Then I humbly suggest that you are morally obtuse.
You tell me you won't vote for either Trump or Hillary? Then you support Hillary by your inaction. Is your conscience 'down' with that?
The readers of this site have heard often of that bill passed by the House over a year ago to punish surgeons killing those babies who survive abortions. The vote was 248-177, and all votes in opposition came from the Democrats.That, not merely partial-birth abortion, is the issue on the table right now.
For the official position now of the Democrats is that the right to abortion is not confined to pregnancy. It entails nothing less than the right to kill a child born alive, who survives the abortion. That is the position that Hillary should be made to defend.
And yet even more so Tim Kaine. He professes to be an earnest Catholic, that he had reservations about “partial-birth” abortion. And so: will he vote now in the Senate to bring to the floor for a vote that bill that passed the House a year ago? Will he break now from the pro-choice orthodoxy of his party, his president, and his presidential candidate? [emphasis added]
Pussy Bow is elliptical for 'Pussy Cat Bow,' the latter a well-established term in the world of women's fashion. Melania Trump sported one at the second debate. Was she out to implant some sly suggestion? I have no idea. But it occurred to me this morning that boy tie boys such as George Will also sport pussy cat bows. (As you know, pussy cats are both male and female.) And given the currency of 'pussy' in the politics of the day, it seems entirely appropriate to refer to the signature sartorial affectation of effete yap-and-scribble do-nothing quislings like Will as a pussy bow.
George Will is a good example of how Trump Derangement Syndrome can lead to cognitive meltdown.
We've known all along that Trump is crude and Clintonian in his sexual appetite, although not as bad as Bill in terms of deeds; but the Wikileaks data dump brought something new and objectively far more important to our attention. It is another revelation of Hillary's greed, mendacity, secretiveness, and lust for power. We get a whiff of her doctrine of 'two truths' one for the insiders, the other for public consumption. There is her assault on national sovereignty with her call for a borderless world. This supercilious stealth ideologue who has enriched herself in government 'service' absolutely must be stopped, and there is only one man who can do it. Jeb! never was up to the job.
What's worse, a P-grabber or a gun grabber? The former operates on occasion and in private in the 'noble' tradition of Jack Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. The latter would violate sacred American rights for all and forever. Don't believe Hillary's lies about supporting the Second Amendment. She lies whenever it is useful for advancing herself and her destructive agenda. In that order.
And then there is the utter hypocrisy of liberals who, having presided over when not promoting the injection of moral toxins into our culture, moralize about Trump's admittedly disgusting and puerile locker-room talk. Heather MacDonald gets it right in Trumped-Up Outrage. As does Margot Anderson who points out that Dems have no problem with the objectification of females if they are small enough. Rebecca Tetti offers this important insight:
These people who celebrate porn and abortion and make heroic figures out of small-souled, sex-deluded creatures such as Bill Maher and Lena Dunham and Sandra Fluke and lionize sick predator men like the Kennedys and Bill Clinton are not merely being hypocrites or playing politics when they denounce Trump. They are deliberately engaging in The Lie: the corruption of meaning itself. They aren’t outraged because they’re decent. They’re using our decency as a pawn in their quest for political power.
The insight is that the Left uses our decency, which they don't believe in, against us, mendaciously feigning moral outrage at what doesn't outrage them at all. (Cf. Saul Alinsky's RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”)
And then there are the milquetoast pseudo-conservatives who have withdrawn their support from Trump out of fear of losing their position, power, perquisites, and pelf. That other 'P-word,' to use Megyn Kelly's demure expression, seems rightly applicable to them. The motivations of Senator McCain and the boys are transparent enough.
. . . must be getting some 'Mean Tweets' along about now over his attack on Donald Trump.
I've admired De Niro as an actor ever since Martin Scorsese's 1973 Mean Streets.
Now actors and actresses have a right to their political opinions, but I can't see that most of them have a right to their high opinion of their political opinions. I wrote the following in June of 2013:
The encomia continue to pour in on the occasion of the passing of James Gandolfini. 'Tony Soprano' died young at 51, apparently of a heart attack, while vacationing in Italy. Given the subtlety of The Sopranos it would be unfair to say that Gandolfini wasted his talent portraying a scumbag and glorifying criminality, and leave it at that. But I wonder if people like him and De Niro and so many others give any thought to the proper use of their brief time on earth.
It's at least a question: if you have the talents of an actor or a novelist or a screen writer or a musician, should you have any moral scruples about playing to the basest sides of human nature? Are we so corrupted now that this is the only way to turn a buck in the arts?
Hillary got clobbered in last night's debate, but Trump missed an opportunity to refute her nonsensical claim that vetting Muslim immigrants involves the application of a "religious test."
In Article VI of the U. S. Constitution we read:
. . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Two questions. One concerns Muslim citizens of the U.S. The other concerns Muslims who are attempting to immigrate. The first question first.
Does it follow from the passage quoted that the U. S. Constitution allows a Muslim citizen who supports Sharia (Islamic law) to run for public office? No! For the same Constitution, in its First Amendment, enjoins a salutary separation of church/synagogue/mosque and state, though not in those words. Sharia and the values and principles enshrined in the founding documents are incompatible. On no sane interpretation is our great Constitution a suicide pact.
It is important to realize that Islam is as much an anti-Enlightenment political ideology as it is a religion. It is an unholy hybrid of the political and the religious. Our Enlightenment founders must be rolling around in their graves at the very suggestion that Sharia-subscribing Muslims are eligible for the presidency and other public offices.
A religion that requires the subverting of the U. S. Constitution is not an admissible religion when it comes to applying the "no religious Test" provision. On a sane interpretation of the Constitution, Islam, though a religion, is not an admissible religion where an admissible religion is one that does not contain core doctrines which, if implemented, would subvert the Constitution.
Or one might argue that Islam is not a religion at all. Damn near anything can and will be called a religion by somebody. Some say with a straight face that leftism is a religion, others that Communism is a religion. Neither is a religion on any adequate definition of 'religion.' I have heard it said that atheism is a religion. Surely it isn't. Is a heresy of a genuine religion itself a religion? Arguably not. Hillaire Belloc and others have maintained that Islam is a Christian heresy. Or one could argue that Islam, or perhaps radical Islam, is not a religion but a totalitarian political ideology masquerading as a religion. How to define religion is a hotly contested issue in the philosophy of religion.
The point here is that "religious" in ". . . no religious Test shall ever be required" is subject to interpretation. We are under no obligation to give it a latitudinarian reading that allows in a destructive ideology incompatible with our values and principles.
As for immigration, would-be immigrants have no rights under our Constitution. So Article VI doesn't apply to them at all.
As for gaseous talk of blocking Sharia-supporting Muslims as being "not who we are," it suffices to say that 'liberals' who gas off like this ought simply to be ignored.
There is no right to immigrate, and a nation is under no obligation to allow in subversive elements. But it does have every right to protect its culture and values. Here alone is a decisive reason to vote for Trump and block Hillary. Trump punched hard last night, but not hard enough. He should have pointed out that Hillary is a destructive leftist globalist who aims at the same "fundamental transformation" that Obama called for. He should have pointed out that no patriot calls for the fundamental transformation of his country. For what that implies in our case is the destruction of the U.S. as it was founded to be.
Indeed, in the debate Monday night, Clinton framed her discussion of “implicit bias” as a malady we all suffer from, telling Lester Holt:
“I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other.”
Well, yes, too many people do jump to conclusions. So, what’s the solution, Hillary? When it comes to policing, since it can have literally fatal consequences, I have said, in my first budget, we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by retraining a lot of our police officers. Wait. What? If we’re all biased, who’s training whom? Let’s be very clear: When it moves from abstract to concrete, all this talk about “implicit bias” gets very sinister, very quickly. It allows radicals to indict entire communities as bigoted, it relieves them of the obligation of actually proving their case, and it allows them to use virtually any negative event as a pretext for enforcing their ideological agenda.
What bothers me about David French is that, while he writes outstanding columns in support of the conservative cause, he is, last time I checked, a NeverTrumper.
Would it be fair to label him a yap-and-scribble milquetoast 'conservative'? He talks and talks, writes and writes, but refuses to support the one man who has any chance of impeding Hillary and the Left's destructive 'long march' (Mao) through the institutions of our society. That is so strange and so absurd that one may be justified in a bit of psychologizing. Perhaps the explanation of his behavior and that of others in his elite club is revealed in this column by F. H. Buckley:
I gave a talk to a conservative group not so long ago, when the NeverTrumper still lived in his fantasy wor[l]d. They believed that the voters and delegates would finally come to their senses and nominate the amiable Ted Cruz, or that somehow they’d jigger the Convention rules, or that the absurd Great White Hope, David French, would do the trick.
It was four months ago, and I gave my usual anti-Pollyanna talk of gloom and doom. When I finished people lined up to ask questions, and one of them was a senior executive at a prominent DC think tank. “It’s true we’re going to Hell in a hand-basket,” he said, “but this time we’ve got a lot of great think tanks on our side.” Right you are, I thought. Bad as it might be, you can say “I’ve got mine.”
I thought of that when I talked to a friend yesterday. He spoke of dinner parties ruined when NeverTrumpers start abusing Trump supporters. Then he told me of one dinner party at which two of the most prominent NeverTrumpers confessed why they want Hillary to win. They know they’ll have no access to the Trump White House if he wins. Nor would they have any access to a Hillary White House. The difference, however, is that their donor base would desert them in the event of a Trump victory, whereas they can raise money from donors in the event of a Hillary win.
We had figured this out. We’re just surprised to hear them admit it.
Why do people exaggerate in serious contexts? The logically prior question is: What is exaggeration, and how does it differ from joking, lying, bullshitting, and metaphorical uses of language?
Donald Trump in the first of his presidential debates with Hillary Clinton made the astonishing claim that she has been fighting ISIS all her adult life.
Note first that Trump was not joking but making a serious point. But he couched the serious point in a sentence which is plainly false and known by all to be false. So he cannot be taxed with an intention to deceive. Since he had no intention of deceiving his audience, and since the point he was making (not merely trying to make) about Clinton's fecklessness is true, he was not lying. He was not bullshitting either since he was not trying to misrepresent himself as knowing something he does not know or more than he knows.
Our man was exaggerating. That is different from joking, lying, and bullshitting.
Exaggeration bears some resemblance to metaphor. If I say, 'Sally is a block of ice,' I speak metaphorically or figuratively. What I say is literally false. But by saying it, I manage to convey to the listener some such proposition as that Sally is unemotional and (perhaps) sexually unresponsive. And when Trump exaggerated, though he said something literally false, he managed to convey to his audience the true proposition that the Obama-Clinton response to ISIS was and is a failure.
But I wouldn't want to say that the Orange Man was speaking metaphorically. I am merely pointing to a similarity between metaphor and exaggeration.
The similarity may consist in the coming apart of sentence meaning and speaker's meaning. In our example, the sentence meaning is that of a falsehood. The speaker, however, using a literally false sentence means something different from what the words 'by themselves' mean, and manages to convey a truth to his hearers.
So I suggest that to understand exaggeration we need to understand metaphor so that we can delimit the former from the latter. But what exactly is metaphor? That's a tough one.
But the main thing in politics and life is that exaggeration erodes credibility. He who exaggerates betrays an inability or unwillingness to adjust his discourse to the world as it is.
Trump could easily win the election if he could get a grip on his rhetoric. But he can't and he won't.
HereI catalog three specimens of exaggeration by well-known philosophers.
I spent the whole day yesterday at an auto dealership buying my wife a new car. But last night I didn't dream about the car, but about Hillary who appeared young and stunning and topless, but with very small breasts. What does this dream mean?
My subconscious was telling me that Hillary came across in the first debate much better than Trump (young and stunning) and that therefore she 'won' the debate despite her indefensible position (toplessness) and weak arguments (small breasts).
And 'win' she did. She threw the Orange Man onto the defensive and made him look bad. Despite his allegations of her lack of stamina, she stood there strong as a bull. She threw a lot of bull too, but it doesn't matter in these so-called debates. It's all about appearances. That's what the world runs on. That's what impresses people. Remember Ronald Reagan's contentless 'zingers'? "There you go again!" "Where's the beef?" (An allusion to a Wendy's restaurant commercial of the time.)
Some of us recall Nixon-Kennedy, 1960. You could see Nixon sweat. Sweat and scowl. An introvert in an extrovert's profession, he was no match for the charming and charismatic and lovable Jack Kennedy. He lost on appearances. But Nixon was the better man with the better arguments despite playing Captain Ahab to Kennedy's Prince Charming.
Trump missed opportunities to nail Hillary. She spouted standard liberal nonsense about 'gun violence' as if guns are violent, but nary a peep escaped her lying lips about the thug culture in black ghettos which is the real root of the problem. Similarly on the 'stop and frisk' matter. But Trump was stymied by his need to appeal to black voters.
You can't say to black people that, as a group, they, and in particular young black males, are more criminally inclined than whites, and that this is what justifies 'stop and 'frisk' profiling, for they will take it as racist insult, not as the plain truth, which is what it is.
I predict a win by Hillary in the general, by a small margin. I hope I am wrong.
A Hillary win will concern me as a citizen. But as a philosopher it will be of no concern. For the owl of Minerva spreads its wings at dusk.
Addendum 1. 'Gun epidemic' is another obfuscatory phrase Hillary used last night. A characteristic conflation of the moral and the epidemiological that could arise only in the febrile brain of a liberal. The problem in the black ghettos is not too many guns, but too few fathers.
Addendum 2. I said above that a Hillary win would concern me as a citizen but not as a philosopher. But this was an uncharacteristic undialectical lapse on my part. For one cannot flourish as a philosopher in prison or in a totalitarian regime. The embodied philosopher must concern himself to some extent with politics as with the material conditions of his philosophizing.
Corrigendum 1. Dennis M. writes,
A correction: “Where’s the beef?” was from a Reagan debate, but it was a line Mondale used against him. That one didn’t do much, but Reagan’s quip about not using Mondale’s youth and inexperience against him did a lot to kill the worries people had after his somewhat listless performance in their first debate.
One way to circumvent 'One man, one vote' is by cheating. That's the liberal way. Vote early and vote often. Vote even if you are dead. Vote by mail and then in person. That liberals intend to make the polling places safe for voter fraud is clear from their breath-takingly sham arguments against photo ID.
The conservative way is to persuade others to vote as one does. Suppose my posts have convinced 100 fence sitters to vote for Trump. Then I will have generated 101 votes for the Orange Man.
Suppose these 100 repeat my arguments to their friends. And these friends . . . . You can see how this could have a serious effect.
I am not worried about American fascism. We Americans are not a bunch of Germans about to start goose-stepping behind some dictator. Our traditions of liberty and self-reliance are long-standing and deep-running. A sizeable contingent of Trump supporters are gun rights activists who would be open to an extra-political remedy should anyone seek to instantiate the role of Der Fuehrer or Il Duce. True, Trump appeals to those having an authoritarian personality structure. But his supporters are also cussedly individualistic and liberty-loving. I expect the latter characteristic to mitigate the former.
There is also the following interesting question wanting our attention: why is it better to have the personality structure of the typical leftist? Why is it better to be a rebellious, adolescent, alienated, destructive, irreverent, tradition-despising, anti-authoritarian, ungrateful, utopian, dweller in Cloud Cuckoo Land?
Someone told me today that Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals is dedicated to Lucifer. Lucifer, not Lucifer Schwarz of Poughkeepsie, New York. Makes perfect sense.
Addendum (9/24): While the dominant press, the liberal press, is 'in the tank' for Hillary and her ilk, this won't be the case should the Orange Man make it to the White House. The lamestream media will be at his throat from Day One. This will serve as a brake on any incipient fascismo.
The most arresting sentence of the week came from a sophisticated Manhattan man friendly with all sides. I asked if he knows what he’ll do in November. “I know exactly,” he said with some spirit. “I will be one of the 40 million who will deny, the day after the election, that they voted for him. But I will.”
A high elected official, a Republican, got a faraway took when I asked what he thought was going to happen. “This is the unpollable election,” he said. People don’t want to tell you who they’re for. A lot aren’t sure. A lot don’t want to be pressed.
That’s exactly what I’ve seen the past few weeks in North Carolina, New Jersey, Tennessee and Minnesota.
[. . .]
Mr. Trump’s advantage? “Americans love to say they think outside the box. Trump lives outside the box. Hillary is the box.” [Noonan quoting Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager.]