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VDH on Conrad Black’s bio of Trump

Why Trump Is a President Like No Other

“What made Trump different from his competitors? Likely, his cunning, his almost Thucydidean reading of human nature, and his sixth sense about timing and salesmanship. In Plutarchian fashion, Black focuses on Trump’s physicality, especially his boundless energy and his impatience with nuance and self-doubt (“desperate cunning, unflagging determination, unshakeable self-confidence, ruthless Darwinian instincts of survival, and a sublime assurance that celebrity will heal all wounds”). Of course, the media and politicians were not ready for the naked applicability of these traits to the White House. But, as Black notes, the American people after decades of misgovernance were—as if to let loose Trump on their country as both avenger and deliverer.”

Trying to make sense of it all: All Trump, all the time, chapter 67, cognitive dissonance

As I sift through the political Internet, I feel like a giant whale taking in a ton of water with every mouthful, then squeezing it out through my baleen, leaving behind the tasty krill.  It is hard work. As I vacuum up the ocean of bafflegab, utterly predictable views, and outright hysteria on the subject of US politics in general and Trump in particular, I have occasion to consider that I have not seen US politics so demented since the era of President Nixon.

Only this time the MSM, the deep state and the Democratic power structure is not going to bring down the President.

Why am I convinced of this? Several reasons.

  1. There is nothing to the Trump-Russian collusion story. Even the Democratic New York Times occasionally allows this to be admitted. The analysis by Mollie Hemingway in the Federalist of the New York Times piece is very useful. She wrote:

“In paragraph 69 of the lengthy story, The New York Times takes itself to task for burying the lede in its October 31, 2016, story about the FBI not finding any proof of involvement with Russian election meddling.

The key fact of the article — that the F.B.I. had opened a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — was published in the 10th paragraph.

It is somewhat funny, then, to read what The New York Times buries in paragraph 70 of the story:

A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts.

No evidence of collusion after two years of investigation with unlimited resources? You don’t say! What could that mean?”

Through all the brouhaha of Democratic and MSM agitation, if you read closely, the flagship voice of the MSM admits that the story is void of merit. Think about that for a moment. Two years of relentless agitation and political theatre, all predicated on something they now admit is nothing.

2. Trump keeps winning. Be it North Korea or Iran, or tax reform and putting America back to work, the decisions and actions of Trump have led away from nuclear war, they confront the wicked, confirm that the professional diplomatic class  is consistently wrong, and (I gloat) offend left wing opinion. Much could go wrong in any direction, and always can. Yet it is a relief to have someone in the White House who can deal with thugs, because the bad parts of the world are governed by them, and not by left-wing professors, or people who think the opinion of the Harvard University Faculty Club actually matters.

The deeper mystery is why the apparent insanity of Establishment opinion on the subject of Trump. By insanity I refer to the obsession with him, the assumption that he understands nothing, that he is a fascist, racist, homophobe. and so forth, menace to the Constitution, illegally in power, and so forth. The under-estimation is endless, and leads the opposition to Trump into vast errors. Why are the intelligent so stupid?

 

I have not seen such political dementia on the part of so many otherwise intelligent people. It occurred during Nixon, and it may have been present in Republican circles during the time of Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s.

Scott Adams explains this as a complete breakdown of the predictive value of their world view. “This side has been wrong about everything for two years”.

Dysfunctional and non-predictive. Nothing makes  sense to them anymore. Hence the insanity.

Adams has been making predictions since 2015 that have become true. He says his success is based on his idea of political discourse, which is that it is an insult contest. If you adopt this view, then you have no cognitive dissonance, and reality makes sense to you. Hence you are not angry. Hence you can appreciate Trump without adoring him, evaluate him without hatred or passion. I feel cool or mild toward Trump; I feel I watch him carefully, evaluate what he is doing and come to what I think are reasonable judgments. I am not excited, or offended, or adulatory.

Those on the other side of the debate cannot hear me, or you. Their picture of the world has broken down and nothing is making sense any more. For instance, they keep assuming you are saying something different when you speak. Just as Jordan Peterson kept saying to his interviewer, Cathy Newman, “no I am not saying A, I am saying B” and she could not hear him until the moment when she realized she was being absurd. But Newman was intelligent enough, and honest enough, to know that she had been fairly caught. Most anti-Trumpers are too distracted by their cognitive dissonance, too enmeshed in their outrage, to realize they are just spluttering.

Reframing, rebranding, that is the business of politics. And Trump has been a genius at it.

Two good pieces from Warren on the state of Canada

David Warren continues to dismay me somewhat with the quality of his writing. Here are two recent pieces on the state of Canada. I am unable to disagree with the overall assessment, though by temperament I am more hopeful. Which is to say that I disagree with his gloominess, though unable to reason why.

Tutti in coda (I)

Canadians thus find themselves in the vanguard of something happening throughout the West, and indeed, around the world. We don’t go out because it’s cold outside. The average Canadian, more than, say, the average Italian, is trapped in a centrally-heated interior. More and more, we live inside our computers. In a larger, cosmic sense we go stir-crazy.

But no revolutionary impulse follows from this. We’ve all come a long way, since 1968. Instead there is a growing disconnexion, from reality in all its known human forms. Canada may be a little more disconnected, but the direction we are travelling from our former orbit is much the same. We have the illusion of being at the front of a social revolution, when really we’re at the back of beyond, merely witnessing our own social dissolution.

Now, add in the evaporation of Christianity, and a further difficulty appears. We are without the moral or spiritual means to make a recovery.

Is it that bad? Sometimes I think so.

Badly behaved children grow up to be left wing

Study shows….. was the favourite expression of a long dead friend of mine. Say it with appropriate tones of cynicism.

Check the questions that were asked of the people in the study. This is a study a conservative might like to believe but, like anthropogenic global warming, deserves a wary eye.

 

Badly behaved children are more likely to grow up to be left-wing, a study has shown.

A study of 16,000 British people in their 30s found those with troubled childhoods were more likely to favour radical socialist policies.

The study was a follow-up to research conducted when they were children at the ages of five and seven.

Those whose parents reported they had ‘conduct problems’ at in primary school were more likely to favour radical socialist polices and to smash the status quo.

Badly behaved children are more likely to grow up to be left-wing, a study has shown

….The parents of the children in the study completed an assessment of their chilld’s behaviour at the ages of either five or seven.

They were asked to say whether their children had problems relating to anxiety, conduct or hyperactivity.

When adults – at the ages of 30 or 33 – the participants filled in questionaires that assessed a variety of traits.

These included economic conservatism, political cynicism, racism, authoritarianism, and attitudes about gender inequality.

The participants were asked how much they agreed with statements such as: ‘Government should redistribute income”, ‘People like me have no say in what Government does”, “Would not want a person from another race to be boss”, “law breakers should be given stiffer sentences” and “Men and women should have [the] chance to do [the] same kind of work.’ The researchers combined the scores into two broad factors: economic and political discontent and social conservatism.

(My own answers to those questions would be:

  1. It already does enough of that, thank you.
  2. no, and neither do you.
  3. It would depened on whether they were affirmative action candidates. I have seen enough over-promoted women French Canadian civil service managers to be skeptical of all forms of affirmative action in management, which always comes down to the idea that there are too many white males in positions of authority. Out goes Reginald Skippon from Yorkshire and in comes Claudette Blanchard from Rimouski to manage ship’s engine repair in the Coast Guard. You know the drill.
  4. Penalties are hard enough already. Someone should read the penal code if they disagree.
  5. Yes, they should. But see answer 3 above.)

 

Dr Lewis found that childhood conduct problems led to economic and political discontent in adulthood – and this was true across social classes and regardless of the individual’s intelligence.

He added that conduct problems in childhood may reflect difficulty with self-control and long-term planning or early rejection of authority – either of which could lead to economic or political discontent.

Dr Lewis said: ‘We all wonder from time to time why it is that those on the other side of the fence came to be that way,’ Lewis notes. ‘These findings take us a little further down the road to answering that question.’

There will always be turbulent and clamorous people. Nowadays they are called “left wing”.

The Double Threat to Liberal Democracy

While the usual types opine about rising populism as the great threat to democracy, the article referenced in the title by Dani Rodrik reminds us of the other enemy of our way of life, which he terms “undemocratic liberalism”:

But fewer analysts have noted that illiberal democracy – or populism – is not the only political threat. Liberal democracy is also being undermined by a tendency to emphasize “liberal” at the expense of “democracy.” In this kind of politics, rulers are insulated from democratic accountability by a panoply of restraints that limit the range of policies they can deliver. Bureaucratic bodies, autonomous regulators, and independent courts set policies, or they are imposed from outside by the rules of the global economy.

The article delves further into a paper by the author and a new book by political theorist Yascha Mounk, “The People vs. Democracy”, that addresses both issues.

Your daily dose of Jordan Peterson

You need to hear him. The BBC interviewer interrupts constantly and it is obvious that nothing Peterson says fits her preconceived notions. Yet he calmly prevails. I wish I had as much precision of speech when under pressure.

Worth watching just to see how a careful answer can influence even a BBC interrogator. She interrupts, she fails to listen, she is disagreeable, she acts is unfair.  She projects madly from stuff she misinterprets. In fact, she argues like your wife, your girl friend.

He points out she has the right to be disagreeable, and that she is being disagreeable, and she agrees with him. So how come Jordan Peterson does not have the right to be disagreeable to radical leftist ideologues?

 

 

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Two of my favourite thinkers speak of disgust, exposure to foreign matter, the body, and how people divide politically: openness versus security – Jordan Peterson and Jonathan Haidt. It leads to a very interesting discussion of Hitler, in passing. It shows how much we are slaves to metaphors.

Haidt situates the problem in

  • loss of unsupervised play as children, so that they arrive at university expecting a parent will always intervene;
  • excessive exposure to social media as children, and the pervasive use of media platforms (Facebook etc) that expose women and girls to reputation damage by mob;
  • Political polarization and segregation of people into hostile tribes; no one has been exposed to a differing opinion.

Haidt recommends everyone read Lenore Skenazy’s “Free Range Kids“. Why should kids always be confined to organized play?

 

 

 

George Friedman says something fundamental

George Friedman is the head of Stratfor, a strategic foreign policy thinker and writer. If you have not read his many books, you ought to. In this video, he speaks in a different way. He speaks first of the experience of his father as a Hungarian Jew, who survived a Hungarian labour battalion in the German-allied Hungarian army at Stalingrad, escaped, got back to Budapest, then escaped the Nazi round up of Jews in 1945, and then escaped the round up of Social Democrats by the Communists in 1947, got to Israel, and then to the United States.

Clearly his father was a man who was happy that there was no gunfire aimed at him on any particular day.

This is a clearly important testimony to what Europe is, and what it ever could be. As he says, any civilization that could invent a Mozart, he is ready to extent some slack to. But he says, as many have, that the Europeans destroyed themselves from 1914 to 1945, with over 100 million dead. He is persuaded they will do something catastrophic again.

This was published on February 12, 2015. It is still highly relevant, and a moving personal testament. “Who will die to save the European Union?” No one. The guns we hear in the Ukraine, he says, are the precursor to a larger split.

 

 

Amy Wax

I need not dilate further on this woman’s virtues of bravery and truth telling. That she remains so free from rancor after her recent experience of the left-wing mob of law professors howling for her head is  a testament to her character. And she is right, the university is rendering itself irrelevant, and the question we tax payers must ask is: why are we paying these people?

Why are we paying for universities? What are we getting from them but ill-educated mobs of leftists? Indeed, positively badly educated people, who think they know everything and really know nothing.

 

 

 

You might also want to look at Heterodox Academy for a statement of the underlying problem.

The Problem

Snapshot of “far-right” in Europe

Daily Mail provides a summary of where things stand for center-right in Europe after the Austrian election.

Austria

The eurosceptic and anti-immigrant Freedom Party (FPOe) came close to winning the presidency in December, which would have made its leader the European Union’s first far-right president.

One of Europe’s most established nationalist parties, it is forecast to come second or third in this weekend’s vote and could become junior coalition partners to the favourites, the conservative People’s Party (OeVP).

Founded in 1956 by ex-Nazis, the party earned a stunning second place in 1999 elections with nearly 27 percent.

Last year its candidate Norbert Hofer narrowly lost a presidential runoff against Greens-backed economics professor Alexander Van der Bellen.

Germany

The openly anti-immigration and Islamophobic Alternative for Germany (AfD) is the third-biggest party in the Bundestag after the September election, a political earthquake for post-war Germany.

The party took nearly 13 percent of the votes, having failed in the 2013 election to make even the five percent required for representation in parliament.

It has more than 90 seats on the benches of the parliament that meets for the first time on October 24.

France

Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN), founded by her firebrand father Jean-Marie in 1972, took nearly 34 percent of votes in the May presidential election run-off won by Emmanuel Macron

This was double her father’s 17.8 percent score when he reached the second round in 2002.

In campaigning, Le Pen vowed to abandon the euro, reinstate control of the nation’s borders and curb immigration if she won.

But the party fared badly in June parliamentary elections, taking just eight seats out of 577.

Tensions since then burst into the open when Le Pen’s right-hand man Florian Philippot quit and looks set to go his own way. 

Hungary

The Movement for a Better Hungary, known as Jobbik, is ultra-nationalist and eurosceptic. It is the second largest party in the legislature but has been outflanked by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s own hardline anti-immigration stance.

Italy

The Northern League is a ‘regionalist’ formation that evolved into an anti-euro and anti-immigrant party that secured 18 seats in the 2013 parliamentary election.

The next general election must be held by spring 2018 and the party is hovering at around 14 percent of voter intentions.

Greece

The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn finished third in the September 2015 election, with seven percent of the vote and 18 MPs. One later defected and the party is now the fourth biggest in parliament.

Sweden

The Sweden Democrats party, with roots in the neo-Nazi movement, made a breakthrough in September 2014 to become the country’s third biggest party with 48 of 349 seats and nearly 13 percent of the vote.

Netherlands

The anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders in March became the second party in parliament, with 20 seats in the 150-member parliament.

Bulgaria

The nationalist United Patriots coalition entered government for the first time in May after coming third in a March election. It is the junior party in the governing coalition.

Slovakia

In March 2016 the People’s Party Our Slovakia benefited from Europe’s refugee crisis to enter parliament for the first time, winning 14 seats out of 150.