Saturday, November 17, 2018

Author and social critic Bruce Thornton

DEMOCRACY DIES IN TRIVIA

How the media's obsession with superficiality threatens our freedom.

FrontPageMag

November 16, 2018 

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“Democracy Dies in Darkness” is the motto of the post-Trump Washington Post. This pompous and self-congratulatory bit of virtue-signaling is meant to proclaim the essential function the media play in protecting the political order against the supposed threat of tyranny embodied in Donald Trump. The hypocrisy of a media that wear its progressive ideology on its sleeve, and that blatantly skew their coverage of the president at a 90% negative clip, has exposed the motto as mere marketing to the leftist choir.

The truth is, “darkness” is not a problem in the klieg-lit media carnival of 24-7-365-day online commentary, blogs, videos, tweets, cable-news talking heads, and Facebook posts. The problem is the trivial, often childish, usually stupid content of our Madisonian “passions” that we indulge, even as our political dysfunctions relentlessly worsen.

That politics is a form of entertainment has long been obvious since Time-Life Inc. fabricated and marketed the Kennedy clan as a celebrity “Camelot.” 

Each subsequent decade has seen the worsening of the process whereby images and narratives appealing to the emotions or pleasure have increasingly crowded out verifiable facts and coherent arguments.

Gratifying our feelings rather than our reason was most obvious in the rise of Barack Obama. “The One” succeeded in becoming the most powerful leader on the planet despite being a political tyro with a poorly attended single term in the Senate, a negligently vetted candidate with a Swiss-cheese personal biography and a stable of unsavory associates like “free as a bird” terrorist Bill Ayers and “God-damn America” racist Jeremiah Wright, and a zombie leftist of the sort produced for decades by our decaying universities.

And Obama did so not just because of the duplicitous rhetoric of “unity” and “moderation” typical of all candidates, but because of the racial melodrama of white guilt and redemption promised by his light skin, lack of a “negro accent,” as Joe Biden put it, and photogenic smile and family the media made as ubiquitous as McDonalds. That’s all it took for the worst president since World War II to get elected twice.

But the descent into trivia accelerated with the arrival of Donald Trump, who infuriated the left with his uncanny understanding of the new mediaverse and its potential for bypassing the legacy media and speaking directly to the masses of disgruntled voters scorned as “bitter clingers” and “deplorables.” 

His critics became obsessed with his straight-talking, vulgar, braggadocious style that daily scorned their politically correct and elite-sanctioned decorum. But beneath that storm of tweets and insults, Trump addressed important issues –– immigration, over-regulation of the economy, growth-killing taxes, the tyranny of political correctness, and an international contempt for this country fostered during the Obama years –– that long had disgruntled millions of Americans and insulted their common sense.

And when Trump started to govern, that flamboyant rhetoric –– unlike Obama’s silver-tongued catalogue of empty promises and camouflaged “social justice” bromides –– actually produced not legislative IEDs like Obamacare or a sluggish economy, but economic growth and jobs at home, and renewed respect from our adversaries and allies abroad. Trump’s blunt banter may have sounded trivial, but his accomplishments are real.

Enraged by this success, the progressive media and politicians sank further into the swamps of the trivial and superficial –– their attention dominated by porn-star gold-diggers, preposterous opposition research, careless associates snagged in two-bit process crimes, obsessing over phantom “Russian collusion,” murky allegations about violations of campaign finance laws, serial hysteria about threats to “democratic norms,” warnings of looming “fascism,” first Amendment vapors over chastising a boorish media hack like Jim Acosta, and of course the continuing manic parsing of every transient tweet.

The recent midterm election pushed the Dems even deeper into bottomless pit of the trivial and the juvenile. 

The attempted immolation of Brett Kavanaugh stooped to elevating unsubstantiated 35-year-old charges from high school into “sexual assault.” Nor did the media restrain from publicizing lurid charges of gang-rape rings now recanted by their creator. Crude question-begging epithets like “racist,” “sexist,” or “xenophobe” flew fast and thick despite their obvious lack of any real meaning for decades. 

Having no program to pit against Trump’s substantive achievements, progressives have resorted to smears about trivia.

Madisonian “passions,” of course, are not the only motive for voters. “Interests” count as well. The unending trivial pursuits give cover to progressives for seeking what the left always wants –– the ability to achieve its agenda of technocratic centralized power at the expense of freedom. And for decades it’s worked. 

Democrats have done well at cultivating clients –– recipients of redistributive largesse from entitlements and corporate pork, to government agencies and public unions –– whose interests Democrats exchange for votes and campaign funds.

Hence the hysteria over the Kavanaugh nomination, and the anger that despite losing the House, Trump and the Republican Senate will continue to reshape the federal judiciary away from its role as the go-to branch of government for a party that can’t take its case to the voters to whom they would be accountable. 

That’s why right now in Florida, serial gross violations of election law are reducing Rick Scott’s total votes, in order to whittle down the Republican margin of votes in the Senate and create opportunities for blocking the next judicial nominee.

Unfortunately, these tactics of distraction convince enough voters, as the midterm results show to have an undesirable effect. Partly this reflects the long tradition of choosing “divided government,” in fulfillment of Madison’s aim that “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” 

This Constitutional principle has become our default impulse to prune back either party’s power when it appears to become overweening. Perhaps it also expresses some voters’ impatience with the Republican House’s failure to advance campaign goals like beefing up border security and reforming failed immigration policies, or finally putting a stake in the heart of Obamacare. But it also shows that emotion, sentiment, melodrama, and disgust with the president’s style contributed to election day decisions.

This oscillation between irrationality and common-sense thinking has defined every participatory government since ancient Athens. For 230 years our government has survived such swings in power between parties, and between bouts of thoughtless  passion and more sober calculations, including a civil war that threatened the very existence of the Union. Yet several changes have made such swings more dangerous.

Most important has been the near-century-long-assault on the Constitutional order by progressive technocracy through an expansion of federal power at the expense of the states and individuals. 

The divided and balanced powers of the Constitution, and the federation of sovereign states, both functioned to protect citizens against the tyranny of the majority and the oligarchical elite. 

But federalism has been weakened by the direct election of Senators, stripping from state governments a powerful check of both majoritarian and executive ambitions. The federal income tax has provided what every tyrant needs –– the funds for the redistribution of wealth to supporters. And federal entitlements have corrupted the independence of state governments by getting them hooked on federal money to fund programs.

Second, we Americans enjoy an unprecedented level of material comfort. We are rich beyond the dreams of nearly all the human beings who have existed before us. There is no precedent in history for judging what impact widespread prosperity and freedom can have on the character of a democratic republic such as ours. 

But we do have a long historical record of human behavior based on a human nature consistent over space and time. And what it teaches us is that the richer a people become, their extravagant expectations grow exponentially. So, it follows naturally they become increasingly impatient and reasonable when air affluence and comfort seem  threatened.

And threats are looming. Even as we indulge the trivialization of our politics and the progressive utopianism of “social justice,” the ever-growing federal budget, financed by borrowing and deficit spending, every day devours more and more of future growth. 

The confluence of growing numbers of beneficiaries, the decline in payroll taxes to fund them, and the continuation of deficit spending are sure to collide in th near future. Even without some unforeseen economic melt-down or foreign policy crisis, such challenges will be politically disruptive.

Then we will see if our obsessive indulgence in   political triviality will bring us to the point where our long tradition of balanced and divided powers protecting our freedom will survive, or whether it dies in the garish light of our feckless passions and selfish, short-sighted interests.


[NOTE: Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.]

Thursday, November 15, 2018

GET IT?


'TWOULD BE GREAT for TRUMP

or don't you agree?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


CONCERNING CATS

I've never met a one I didn't like
Most impossible not to adore
No two I've ever known are just alike
Some content, som always wanting more.

Affectionate? Aloof? It doesn't matter.
'Tis their indpendence makes them most appealing
Even if they only mean to flatter
And engage in shameless double dealing.

A Frenchamn asked, "Do I play with my cat ––
Or is it that the creature plays with me?"
I feel most think the latter. Don't doubt that.
It's obvious to all with eyes to see.

I'll make right now an honest revelation
I never mind a cat's manipulation!.
Most are quite astonishingly agile
Few if any think that they are fragile

And yet, because they make me feel I'm needed,
This guarantees their getting what they want
No matter what they've done, they have succeeded.
In always getting me to bear the brunt!


FreeThinke


If you want politics, please go somewhere else today. Cats are 
much better for our 
mental health.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Ivor Gurney, British composer and poet

A GLOUCESETERSHIRE RHAPSODY

by

Ivor Gurney (1890-1937)


DOES ENGLAND STILL EXIST?

“Where did the beautiful England I knew and loved go? I miss it so!“ a friend wrote to me the other day.

I loved it too. Even though I am still proud to be an American, I was raised to be an inveterate Anglophile. 

Where did the England we remembered go? 

It has been debased, demeaned, and rotted out from within by misguided notions of fairness, equality, and the pernicious, corruptive non-ideals of multiculturalism.  But take heart, the gentle, bucolic splendor and majesty of the England we will always love lives on in her great literature, poetry, magnificent architecture, beautiful gardens, and perhaps most of all in the wonderfully evocative music composed in the late-nineteenth and early-twenties centuries by the British composers of that period –– a great tribute and poignant farewell to a magnificent civilization overwhelmed, and all but snuffed out by the diabolical forces of modernity.

~ §~

MEANWHILE, BACK at the D'RAT DEBACLE:


NEED ANYONE SAY MORE?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Brenda Snipes, Supervisor of Elections, Broward County, FL

But of course! 
We KNEW this 
was coming

It simply HAD 
to be, RIGHT?

LEADING HEADLINES 
at the 
DRUDGE REPORT
LINKED






~ § ~

BREAKING: Voter Fraud Allegedly Found In Deep Blue Florida County

by Ryan Saavedra

The DAILY WIRE

November 8, 2018


Over 100 provisional ballots were rejected in Miami-Dade County on Thursday after election officials said that those people showed up to vote a second time in the same election, according to a local media reporter.

The news comes as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)  claimed earlier in the day that the Democrats and Florida election officials with questionable records were trying to "steal" the election in Broward County, which is just north of Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Dade County is one of the bluest counties in the state of Florida, as nearly two-thirds of the county voted county for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election

"Stream of aggressive red stamping at Miami-Dade canvassing board as panel rejects provisional ballots from 108 people who showed up to vote a second time in the same election," Miami Herald reporter Doug Hanks said.

Hanks added in a subsequent tweet "Miami-Dade lawyer tells me provisional ballots from people who tried to vote twice do get referred to prosecutors. But voter has to be shown with criminal intent to face charges.

The news comes after Rubio cast serious doubts about actions by election officials in Broward County on Thursday, noting the questionable past of Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes.

"#Broward election supervisors ongoing violation of #Florida law requiring timely reporting isn’t just annoying incompetence," Rubio wrote on Twitter on Thursday. "It has opened the door for lawyers to come here & try to steal a seat in the U.S. Senate & Florida Cabinet."

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also weighed in on the developments coming out of Broward County, writing: "#Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes is no stranger to destroying ballots and violating Florida election laws. Snipes has shown herself to be trouble. Voters in Florida should be paying attention!"

Multiple reports of Democratic voter fraud have surfaced in recent weeks.

In late October, court documents filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton alleged that four women arrested by authorities had targeted elderly voters in a "voter fraud ring" during the 2016 elections which was funded by a then-Democratic Party leader.

This week in California, Democratic Bakersfield City Council candidate Gilberto de la Torre was charged with election fraud.

James O'Keefe's Project Veritas released an undercover sting on election day this week from a polling station in Texas that appeared to show an election official telling Project Veritas' undercover journalist that they had 'tons' of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients voting in the election.



HOW WE WISH!





Author and social critic Bruce Thornton DEMOCRACY DIES IN TRIVIA How the media's obsession with superficiality threatens our...