If Trump pressed the button

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Given the recent Mattis resignation, conventional wisdom holds that the last adult — or, at least, the last senior official willing to question their president’s wisdom — has left the building. Ominously, there are reports that Mattis had a system where he would be notified if the president attempted to use his gravest power of all to initiate a nuclear attack, a protective system that is now presumably defunct. So where does that actually leave us? Is there any way he would ever actually go down that road?

Now on the one hand, it’s not like he makes nuclear threats nearly as often as Putin. Happily, it’s just not one of his obsessions the way his wall is. I can’t recall any nuclear threats since he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea long before the current best-buds relationship with dictator Kim Jong-Un. And on that note, whom would he even target, since he loves America’s enemies so much? It’s not like even he would try to nuke CNN’s headquarters, no matter what Ann Coulter tweets, right? Nuclear fears are just more fake news from biased liberals trying to whip up panic. That’s just gotta be the case.

Let’s hope it stays that way. On the other hand:

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DJT, natural philosopher

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I too-briefly touched upon a peculiarly Aristotelian character trait on my subtly-named Aristotle: Wrong About Everything piece, when I really should have expended a thousand more words on this true legacy of that poisonous old Macedonian bastard. You see, almost everything Aristotle came up with was fundamentally, ridiculously, often immorally wrong, whether we’re talking about his absurd views on astronomy, anatomy, biology, or the arts — but few people in history were more assured of their own greatness and correctness than Aristotle, and that towering conviction, the utter lack of any self-doubt or reservation, no matter how half-baked the idea he was espousing, convinced succeeding Western generations for over two thousand years into making him the #1 guiding light of Western civ on the basis of gee, if that guy is that convinced he’s right, there must be really something to him.

bustFew men in history had the raw, animal dominance, and the resulting reception and excitement among more submissive people, of Aristotle. And this unique trait would go along way to explaining our current politics.

Now, both sides have been hammering Mitt Romney for his recent op-ed and its quite accurate assessment of our president’s moral character; but #MAGA in particular has been hammering him with a viciousness outdoing anything liberals ever came up with in 2012. One of NRO’s more Trumpified acolytes, Victor Davis Hanson, came out with his own rebuttal which, surprisingly, avoided most of the personal attacks, thereby providing some illumination as to why these guys are so enthralled by such an oafish, blundering buffoon.

VDH starts by rolling out the cliche’d but-Gorsuch and but-Hillary routines, and the what-about-that-endorsement bit, as if those had anything to do with the question of Trump’s personal character. Because the president’s ethical and moral self, which lands somewhere in the spectrum between “vile” and “pondscum,” is what we’re talking about, not the damn judges. Neither Mitt nor conservative stalwarts with impeccable lib-owning street cred like Jonah Goldberg, David French, Alexandra DeSanctis, Amanda Carpenter or Kevin Williamson have one cross word to say about Gorsuch or Kavanaugh. As I sonorously repeat over and over, it’s all about his moral character. And as VDH’s colleague Goldberg notes, the fact that our president makes your average mob boss look like a model citizen most likely spells disaster for his presidency — and the country. In real-life, practical ways — because, as conservatives used to believe until two years ago, character is destiny. For instance, the brewing recession stupidly triggered by his clumsy trade wars were only possible from someone too profoundly ignorant of economics and too convinced of his own half-assed opinions, someone who is only enraged when a subordinate offers disagreement.

And recessions don’t care who you voted for when the layoffs start hitting your firm.

But VDH really gives the game away here:

And given that Trump was a known quantity (and known often to be abrasive) for decades, why would Romney have sought out and accepted his endorsement in 2012 for his own presidential run? The obvious answers are that in a world of political pragmatism, all candidates are foolish to turn down endorsements from celebrities and sitting presidents. But is not the bar higher for ethicists who argue that traditional definitions of character adjudicate successful or unsuccessful governance? (emphasis mine)

There you have it. A different set of standards applies to you, me, and Mitt than they do to Trump. The bar is higher, the penalties harsher for us plebes, as opposed to, and forgive me for bringing in another philosopher, a beautiful Nietzschen Übermenschen like Donald Trump (try not to laugh).

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Trumpkin declare this so baldly, but that has been the bedrock of their arguments, such as they are, since Trump descended on his escalator. It’s the basis of the Fifth Avenue rule, and they would never attempt the same outrageous defense with anyone named Bush or Cruz. VDH and his peers truly believe the laws and morals that govern regular people should not and do not apply to Donald Trump, as he is history’s true greatest genius, its towering figure from whose shining brow all the gifts of Western Civilization arise.

All that, of course, we already knew. But the big question remains: why?

Why do people believe this, especially over someone as laughably incompetent, dull-witted, uncreative and amoral as our president, who ol’ Friedrich would have had a good chuckle over? Perhaps VDH’s “Trump is above your petty laws and codes” stance gives us a clue.

I believe the answer is how Trump’s magnetism has the same ferrous core as Aristotle’s, that absolute, unshakable faith in his own genius, one that somehow becomes stronger the wronger he is — and drawing in everyone around that narcissist, especially those of weak and/or submissive temperament like VDH’s confederate, Rich Lowry. (It also naturally attracts the perpetually-furious subsection of #MAGA including the likes of Kurt Schlichter, Dan “Roid Rage” Bongino, and John Nolte, guys who see Trump as a useful battering ram against civilized society and who’ve always thought Jesus and his Golden Rule were for cucks, anyway.)

Not everyone is drawn in — those of solid moral backing are left confused and wondering what just happened with their former friends. But that doesn’t change the fact that Trump has totally dominated his own party to an extent unprecedented with either party since WWII, to the point where the GOP chairwoman denounced Mitt Romney, her own uncle — and it isn’t from the president ever being right about much of anything. It isn’t from his spectacular failures as a businessman, one who couldn’t even succeed at running a casino during Atlantic City’s boom years. It isn’t from any kind of genius policy proposal. His only success came from convincing others he was some kind of business virtuoso (i.e. the basis his old reality show), despite his track record proving otherwise. And his political success came from convincing the same kind of rubes and suckers that, in his words, “I alone can fix” the nation’s troubles.

The problem is that, despite what conservative moral relativists like VDH and Roger Kimball believe, not only can the president be wrong in an absolute sense, but that wrongness can and will have deleterious real-world consequences, just as Aristotle was more responsible for the European Dark Ages than any single other person in history. Besides the recession, we have a world looking down on America as a kind of joke, the insulting of allies (or outright betrayal, with the Kurds), the emboldening of the world’s worst dictators, ever-more-division between American citizens to the delight of both Trump and Putin, and a Republican Party that has formally renounced character and family values.

That last isn’t an exaggeration. “Railing about character hurts the president, and Republicans know that,” wrote Henry Olsen in another op-ed, getting straight to the point. Caring about morals hurts the Great Leader; therefore, we should not care. This has always been a tenet of the New Right, along with there being a different set of rules for their ochre overlord; they’re just getting more brazen in admitting it.

Would any of that have happened under Jeb! or Little Marco?

There have been other world leaders with the same Aristotelian core, and with the same resulting cadre of awe-struck submissives serving as yes-men, as our dear leader. Napoleon comes to mind, although he at least also had some real-world military genius to carry him through. That said: how did his story end for France and for himself? How many were left dead by the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution instituted by Mao, a man completely immune to the self-crticism he demanded of his subjects? And I hate to go there, but: how did a certain mid-century leader’s unassailable conviction of his own genius end for Germany, especially compared to his counterpart Stalin, who by contrast was at least aware of his own lack of genius in military strategy and who was therefore able to delegate effectively?

Our president may be many things, but he is neither new or unique, and neither is the almost erotic submission of men like VDH, Lowry, Lindsey Graham, and Rand Paul to their self-declared alpha, the latter two engaged in a chronic, catty, and repulsive one-upmanship with each other to be the dominant’s favored submissive of the moment.

One core tenet that conservatives used to believe in is the immutability of human nature, across the world and across time — and though the Right is abandoning this along with every other principle, it has never been more true than now. The vulnerability to dominance by the alpha male is the same as it was two thousand years ago, as is the completely dominant personality eager to exploit this. It may be fascinating that our current-day president has relearned the same nefarious lessons discovered by Aristotle so long ago, but it is also disheartening that it still works so well. Few things Aristotle ever uttered endured as truth, but the man himself is evidence of a hard truth of human nature. Our institutions were carefully constructed to protect against this, among other human frailties — which is precisely why the Alinskyite New Right aims to tear our institutions down.

 

The brewing right-wing revolt against their conman president

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It’s common and lazy journalism to mistake the hurlyburly of Twitter as anything more meaningful than the equivalent of bathroom-wall scrawlings, so I’ve been hesitant to read too much into this for a while…

…but it’s clear that a discontent among right-wingers against a POTUS who, quite obviously, sold them a bill of goods is growing. And by this I mean deep-red, hardened, Neanderthal arch-conservatives. We’re not talking ex-conservatives like Max Boot, or moderate #NeverTrumpers like Tom Nichols. We’re also not talking about mercenaries at FoxNews or the Federalist who are purely in the #MAGA business for the money. This is the praise-the-Lord-and-pass-the-ammunition kernel of the president’s base, and it’s increasingly easy to say: he’s losing them.

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To reiterate: These are not RINO squishes selling out to the liberal media. These are among the most hardcore wingers among us today, as the appearance of Ann Coulter should suggest. They do not back down one iota on their stances on the 2nd Amendment or the Wall. All were vocal and loyal Trumpistas before the election, and all are as dedicated to owning the libs as your average Breitbart editor. Their anger toward Clintons and Obamas is unequaled by anyone employed by the Daily Wire or Daily Caller.

But the key is: None of these people enjoy cushy, coastal-media sinecures. They are not buffered from the passion of the right-wing base the way elite, well-compensated pundits are. They don’t have studios on Sixth Avenue. They don’t have social-media assistants who filter out all the negative tweets before they begin another lazy rehash of an hour-long show they already did in early 2017 or before collecting another easy paycheck from a foreign owner who couldn’t give a shit what Americans think about their president.

Politically, I may disagree quite strongly with, say, Shannon Joy on most issues. But I do not believe for one second she doesn’t say what she means, unlike craven sellouts like Rich Lowry or Mollie Hemingway who are directly paid by billionaires. The billionaires couldn’t care less about a wall or about guns, so neither do the NYC, LA, and DC-based conservative media elite. Joy, Deace, and Horowitz, on the other hand, live or die by their fans in flyover country. They literally cannot afford to ignore their listeners or viewers. Their livelihoods depend on it.

And they’re increasingly saying that Donald Trump has sold them a bill of goods.

To which I say, of course he did. Googling “Trump Roy Cohn cufflinks” should tell them all they needed to know about the moral character of our president. Oh sure, yeah, I’m just a NYC coastal elite myself, so my saying this is irrelevant.

But the right-wing base saying this? The bedrock of the party wising up to the president? Oh, that is relevant. One could say, that will be quite relevant in 2020.

Climate and the destiny of the species. (part 1 of 2).

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I generally don’t blog or even tweet about climate change for the same reason why I don’t blog about gamma-ray bursts.

For at least a couple of decades, establishment media outlets and climate researchers run their climate-change articles specifically with the agenda to push the ruling class to make changes. The hook of nearly all pieces on climate change running in mass media is the reporter waving their arms and yelling, “Somebody, do something!” From a random assortment from the last 24 hours alone, we have: “How limiting greenhouse gases would substantially benefit the US economy” (The Guardian); “…but Chinowsky said there is a real opportunity to start the conversation, for state leaders and agencies to enact change…” (a Denver ABC affiliate); “Wake up, Australia.” (news.com.au).

They even tipped their hand to this intentional massaging of climate articles after NY Mag ran a piece last year that didn’t hew to the usual cliches, drawing tut-tutting from some of the usual names. Don’t stray off the reservation, they said. Stay laser-focused on influencing people to change, to cut carbon emissions, to beat climate change.

Which is, and always has been, quite hilarious.

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Why are NFL ratings rising this season? Parity’s in remission.

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Revisiting this post from two NFL seasons ago:

“There are too few dominant teams, too few absolutely hopeless teams, and too many in the mushy, Tennessee Titans middle. Way, way too many…. By what I mean by “too much parity” is this. Fans in sports accept, even expect, the presence of a certain number dynasty teams on one hand, and perennial loser squads on the other.”

mahomesHappily, this trend has reversed itself, and the league is enjoying the resulting rebound in ratings. Two years ago, I argued that if Tom Brady had been suspended for the whole year over deflategate, there would not have been a single top-tier team in the league. Now, tier 1 cozily welcomes the Rams, Chiefs, and, as usual, the Patriots (out of a six-tier system). Tier 2 is also well-stocked with the Saints, Vikings, and Chargers(!) reporting for the “playoff contender” slot.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Baltimore RavensAnd just as importantly for the strength of the sport, the cellar is also populated. Perennial losers are almost as important to any sports league as the dynasties — partly for the bingo free spot on other teams’ schedules, partly because one of the most reliable sports stories is on the long-suffering fans of such organizations, but mostly because they provide a foil to the average teams and their bases. “Well, at least we’re not the Padres;” that sort of thing. Dynasties could not exist without anti-dynasties to balance them out.

And on that note, 2018 enjoys a bottom-tier populated by the Cardinals, Raiders, Giants, Niners, Bills, and Raiders. That’s six absolutely hopeless squads that cannot even be charitably described as “rebuilding,” out of 32. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more shit-soup teams in a single season, and the boost they provide to the morale of the other 26 is hard to exaggerate. I haven’t seen any pieces on how laugher teams are almost as important to any given league as the champs, but it’s true.

Add in the six tier 1+2 squads, and we’re left with only 20 teams this year in the muddled mediocre middle defined, as always, by the Tennessee Titans.

Because too many Tennessee Titan squads are a cancer on any sports league. The more .500-average teams, the worse the league suffers. This is sports. Fans rightly expect winners and they expect losers, not a grey morass of adequacy. Stories last year were written about the Patriots and also the Browns, but not the fucking Titans. People tune in to a sports league because, at the end of the day, it’s a TV or streaming series with winners and losers, heroes and villains, same as any superhero movie franchise. They don’t tune in for the point-of-view of just some random guy.

It’s not even midseason yet, and already, twelve NFL teams have carved out their narratives for the year — for better or worse, and it almost doesn’t matter which. That right there is why ratings are up.

The normalization of nativism

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The Proud Boys and their founder Gavin McInnes resurface in the news from time to time, thrown in typically in association with, or even as a synonym to, the hardcore white supremacists. “Neo-nazis and Proud Boys gathered in Charlottesville,” for instance, or “the SPLC-designated hate group held a rally today.” This technique puts McInnes and his thugs in the exact same toxic extreme as Richard Spender and Andrew Anglin — and badly misses the point.

As I’ve noted before, the media really needs to do a better job of differentiating between the white supremacist alt.right, carrying on the legacy of the older neo-Nazis and Klan, and the newer, far more media-savvy groups sometimes called “alt.light” or, in the words of Steve Bannon, “economic nationalists.” (I like to call them white nationalists, in order to make clear this term should mean something a bit different than white supremacists; alas, the two terms remain stubbornly the same thing.)

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Fox & Friends, huh. Well, good thing nobody important watches that show.

For while Gavin McInnes may be a complete degenerate and moral monstrosity who literally stuffs objects up his anus on video (don’t google it unless you want to lose your sanity), he is also well-versed in the modern-day media landscape as a co-founder of VICE. Like Bannon, he has taken lessons from European nativist parties like the Sweden Democrats and has learned to reject the worst and scariest of their racist propaganda. He won’t call for a banning of the free press; he’ll just say CNN needs to go. Unlike Anglin or Spencer, he won’t actually call for an ethnic cleansing. Instead, he’s just say white people should be proud to be white. Or, he doesn’t have a problem with Arabs; only the Islamic religion. He probably won’t be dumb enough to say whites are genetically superior; he’ll just say Western culture is superior.

McInnes, as with Bannon before him, is not actually out to create a Holocaust. They know this isn’t the 20th century and, more importantly in their minds, the Nazis were losers anyway. They aren’t out to create a revolution and overthrow the government a la the Turner diaries. They are out to corrupt the state from within, a strategy that the rageheads at the Daily Stormer could never have the patience or the intelligence for. Specifically, the alt.light (or whatever you want to call them) is out to permanently convert the Republican Party, and they have a two-pronged attack.

One is to move the oft-discussed racial “Overton window” in their direction by slowly merging white-nationalist (I’m still not giving up on changing how that term is used) discourse into normal conservative thought-shaping channels — and it’s working. Tucker Carlson is deliberately introducing language to FoxNews that even an asshole like Roger Ailes would have found a firing offense just four years ago. Tucker knows damn well what kind of people like to use the specific phrase “white genocide” — that’s exactly why he uttered it two weeks ago. Suddenly, the concept isn’t on the fringe with all those scary skinheads anymore. Now, it’s a legitimate topic of conversation on America’s most important mainstream conservative outlet. Tucker would not have been able to let that one fly if McInnes, Bannon, and others such as Milo (who was once a thing, remember) and even Trump had not laid the groundwork first. Similarly, Tucker’s colleague Laura Ingraham rants about “demographic change,” and everyone knows precisely what she’s getting at.

The other way McInnes sells his merry band is to lean heavily on a platform of owning the libs, which he knows gets the rapt attention from the GOP. It’s difficult to exaggerate how important the goal of making life miserable for average liberal-leaning Americans has become to the conservative establishment (easily its #2 guiding philosophy at this point, second only behind personal fealty to their Orange Julius.) The NRA has been transformed from a gun lobby into an own-the-libs lobby, with the typical rant from Dana Loesch or Dan Bongino having absolutely nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment. Charlie Kirk and his sidekick Candace Owens took Ben Shapiro’s schtick, stripped it of absolutely any and all ideological underpinnings, and now sell it as purified, high-octane owning-of-the-libs to young whites. All this going on after Mitch McConnell shredded the old rules and decorum of the Senate, partly to get judges confirmed but mostly for no reason other than just to drive the Dems batty.

In this setting, McInnes makes sure his street thugs won’t be trading blows with #BlackLivesMatter; instead, they hit the streets to fight Antifa, who exist as the great boogeymen of the Right, always one step away from setting the Reichstag Congress on fire in the imagination of your typical FoxNews junkie. This gets McInnes a rapturous audience with the GOP establishment, even among those not receptive to his white-pride message. With the far-left this close to instituting Communism (somehow), isn’t it great to have some rough-and-tumble dudes on our side? they’ll ask you.

I believe the media underplay what McInnes and his ilk are doing because liberals in NYC and DC remain completely horrified of him and therefore could not conceive of him going mainstream. Which suits the alt.light just fine. They have zero interest in changing liberals, or liberal institutions. That’s not who they’re converting.

It was never the Democratic party the alt.light was out to destroy.

What’s the end-game here? Once all remnants of the old Reagan establishment have been swept away, it will be time to invoke an Article V convention, legally dismantle the republic, and institute an authoritarian, racially conscious regime with someone named Trump as president-for-life. It won’t be hard with a base driven mad with lurid fables of fearsome masked Antifa assassins and dark-skinned Mexicans and Muslims, all funded by Soros of course, out to get them. If that requires a civil war against liberals along the way, so much the better.

We are in the middle of another 80-year crisis, and unlike the ones from 1941, 1861, and 1776, I’m not so sure the country will survive.

The Party of Trump

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Ramesh Ponnuru pushes back on the idea that the GOP, meaning the actual politicians in Congress as opposed to the base, is now the Party of Trump.

“He’s got a lot of [sway], no question,” Ponnuru writes. “But the extent to which the Republican party has become a cult of Trump is often exaggerated… Trump has wanted a lot of things that congressional Republicans haven’t given him: Obamacare repeal, action on infrastructure, immigration reductions. (In February, fourteen Republicans voted against the immigration legislation Trump favored, and none of them seems to be paying any price for it.)”

I see roughly five levels of Trump allegiance on the right these days.

  1. Trump fanaticism: This is where much of the base, and where the typical FoxNews opinion host, lies. It’s true that the fanatics who openly put fealty to Trump as their defining feature are a minority in the House and Senate, for the moment. And, happily, one of their number announced today that he’s quitting in disgrace. But on the other hand, #Cult45 members such as Devin Nunes don’t exactly fear any backlash from party leadership, no matter how badly they twist their jobs or the rule of law to favor and protect their lord and master. More importantly, the number of GOP primary candidates openly swearing fealty to Trump are growing, such as this specimen from Florida. And speaking of the Sunshine state, one of its more famously spineless products wilted under the pressure to bend the knee. I expect the cultists’ percentage in the House, Senate, and statehouses to swell after the midterms.
  2. Trump allies: This is where your garden-variety GOP politician finds himself. He’s had his job since before 2016 and was probably nonplussed at the rise of the Ochre Joker. But whatever his reservations about Trump’s moral character, he sees the Democrats as the far bigger threat, and spends his days attacking the liberal agenda, and playing whataboutism to move the conversation back to liberals whenever some fresh Trumpian outrage emerges. Thus, in punditry circles, this has become known as the “anti-anti-Trump” position. They’ll also point to Trump’s successes such as judges while preferring to ignore his failures and, especially, his tweets. There isn’t much material difference between these guys and category 1, although Trump allies won’t make a big show of being #MAGA on their campaign websites and, as Ramesh notes, a minority of them may sometimes feel brave enough to vote against his less popular proposals. Good examples are Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, and Ponnuru’s colleague Rich Lowry.
  3. Trump snarkers: At this level of dissidence, politicians and pundits no longer hide their disgust for Orange Julius’ moral character or his ridiculous tweets. Great examples are Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake, who will actually register their distaste at the latest bimbo eruption or racist tweet. Still, even they will shake their heads and say, at least he isn’t Hillary, and will eventually hold their noses and vote for him again in 2020. This is about as far as a GOP politician can go and still keep his job (and even then he may face trouble — just ask Bob Corker). Charles Cooke holds down the Trump-snarker fort at National Review. Some former Trump snarkers like Ben Shapiro have instead melted away into category 2.
  4. Trump skeptics: We finally reach a level of dissent where the conservative is no longer so sure Trump’s victory was the preferable outcome. Not that he’ll be sitting around pining for Hillary, either. Most likely, he didn’t vote for either, writing in Mitt Romney or something instead, arguing that both options were about equally repellent. Of course, he’ll still voice his appreciation for Justice Gorsuch and other conservative policy wins. Rep. Justin Amash will be the sole representative of this faction in the U.S. Congress after this year; Gov. Charlie Baker gets away with it in his deep-blue state of Connecticut. Rep. Mark Sanford was famously sent packing for this stance — while he had other, Appalachian-Trail-sized vulnerabilities, I believe Sanford himself is right and Ponnuru is wrong — it really was his public scoffing at Trump that cost him his job. Jonah Goldberg is the Trump-skeptic voice in Ponnuru’s magazine.
  5. #NeverTrump: Ah, the great bugaboo of FoxNews, the people that Hannity is convinced are a bigger threat to his master than actual liberals, despite NT’s lack of any representation in any level of politics. To qualify as NT, one must oppose this president as much as any Democrat does, yet still hold onto conservative beliefs — ex-conservatives like Jennifer Rubin or that one random dude on your Facebook timeline don’t qualify. As you can imagine, NT’s numbers are therefore quite tiny, despite their regular appearance on CNN. Their members such as Tom Nichols, Rick Wilson, Bill Kristol and David French may have great moral character, but they don’t seem to really have any meaningful impact in GOP electoral politics any longer. Even the term “NeverTrump” itself has become a snarl word for the right, as much as an invective as “snowflake” and “fake news.”

So what we have are a growing minority faction within the GOP that holds personal fealty to Trump as the most important conservative value; a Trump-allied majority that does nothing to oppose #Cult45, even if they aren’t wearing red ballcaps in public; and a dwindling number of Trump skeptics who either decide to go silent in the face of a threat of being primaried, or have actually been primaried (or have quit in the face of near-certain defeat). All the movement I’ve seen is in the direction of categories 1 and 2 from above; apostates going the other direction like Joe Walsh (who’s been out of Congress for years) are incredibly rare. Is there really any ideal, principle, or person more important to today’s GOP than Donald J. Trump?

In the end, they will always kneel

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Do soybean farmers hurt by Trump’s trade wars still support him?

FARMER 1: “I do. I’m a good American. I believe we all have to toe the line.”

Link. And: Ouch. So much for that rugged American individualism and traditional skepticism of authority. But that’s not the worst of it:

INTERVIEWER: “You’re willing to weather the storm for a certain amount of time; but how long is too long?”

FARMER 2: “Well, the Scottish in me says, to the death.”

<FARMER 1 beams in approval>

kneelersI know these farmers’ mindset; I know what they’re thinking. They are Owning The Fake News Liberal Media’s representative before them by shocking her with their diehard adherence to their insane mentality. It’s no different than anti-vaxxers, 9/11 truthers, and all the rest: the more contradictory logic and facts that they face, the more, and not the less, that they embrace their peculiar cult. In this case, the cult of Donald Trump.

But the most distressing part of all of this is not the insanity of these people. It is the need to be ruled. Or as Loki memorably put it in the original The Avengers:

“Kneel before me. I said… KNEEL! <crowd kneels> Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”

And they do.

Before a man who makes Mussolini look like Augustus Caesar.

They kneel before Donald Trump.

Adoration and Rage

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A reasonable defense of Trump, from a conservative, might go something like this:


“You may ask why I like a son of a bitch like Donald Trump, and the answer is: hell no, do I like the lying cheating son of a bitch. He’s crooked, he’s racist, he has no idea what he’s doing with North Korea, and he went and made my local NFL team look like a bunch of flag-burning hippies all over one guy who isn’t even playing anymore.

Look, I didn’t vote for him in the primaries. I would have loved to see Cruz, Rubio, or Bush. But the voters in all their wisdom went with this guy instead, and well, all that said: he’s delivered on the three things most important to me:

  1. Nominating solid, Republican judges, and not just dipshits like Chris Christie who happen to be his lackeys or golfing buddies. I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised by this.
  2. He signs whatever conservative legislation like the tax bill that Ryan and McConnell put on his desk, no questions asked. Sure, he falsely takes credit for it; but you and I both know it’s Mitch who’s really steering this train, and as long as the president doesn’t interfere, who cares what he tweets?
  3. He says the right things from the bully pulpit about abortion, Israel, and guns.

Look, between an adulterous, pussy-grabbing ragehead who does that, or a crook like Hillary who would put liberal pro-abortion judges on the bench, raise taxes, and funnel away just as much taxpayer money as Trump has to that corrupt “foundation” of hers? It’s not a pleasant choice, but still a no-brainer of a choice.

And it’ll be the same thing in 2020. Ok, I’m not looking forward to voting for him again. Honestly, I’ll be holding my nose all the way to and from the polls. But the Dems will either put up a crazy socialist like Bernie, or else another Hillarybot like Kamala Harris. I mean, if they actually nominate Mike Bloomberg, who’s a reasonable, pro-business centrist, I might change my mind. But we all know they aren’t going to do that.

Again, I’d much rather be re-electing Ted Cruz. But really, the voters had a reason to send a message to the establishment of both parties. They haven’t been doing a great job over the past 30 years. Hell, let’s just say it: the establishment sucks, pure and simple. Take any sector of the country you want. Health care. Universities. Jobs. Whatever. These people, these elites who run everything, make everything worse, cost more, and pay less. That’s what they do. And then they wonder how we got an adulterous cretin like Trump. Maybe stop blaming me, and start blaming the people who keep hiking tuitions and slashing your paycheck.”


But that’s not what you hear from conservatives, is it? (A few exceptions like Ben Shapiro, who would rather talk about anything besides Trump, aside.) An essay like the above would get you fired from the Federalist, wouldn’t it?

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Arguably understated compared to Ben Garrison’s ouevre. 

It’s a cult of personality, the likes of which America has never seen with a president. Take Obama. For all the conservative snickering about supposed liberal worship of “The One,” the most “cultish” thing I’ve seen the mainstream media say about him was when Chris Matthews said Obama gave him a “thrill going up my leg,” a remark which people laugh at to this day. Now compare that to the enforced worship from almost all media personalities at almost all major conservative outlets. People wondering why FoxNews has become state media should see the rapturous love their viewers have of this man, one that brooks not even the slightest dissent. Even the mildest of criticisms from a normally pro-Trump figure like Neil Cavuto leads to calvacades of hate mail. In addition, there is pressure on writers and anchors from the oligarchs who run conservative media, from the Murdochs to the cartoonishly evil Mercers to David J. Pecker to Sinclair’s David D. Smith: the pressure to choose between the party line or the unemployment line. With the fire coming from both sides, what would you do if you wrote for your typical conservative site?

Here’s just a few examples of this Maoist cult of personality at work, when loyalty to one leader takes precedence over almost anything else: Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. It’s all blind obedience, nurtured with regular infusions of hate towards the Non-Trump. You don’t get any attempts at logic from these people because they don’t bother to make any. They’ll blindly rage at whomever their Glorious Leader tells them to rage at, and cut themselves off from any friends or family who dares disagree. I mean that — everybody’s got a family member who chose to end contact with their own flesh and blood rather than entertain a cross word against Chairman Donald. Compared to that, the routine blocking of anyone they disagree with on Facebook and Twitter seems minor.

There is no rationality. It’s all Sturm und Drang, all the time. This does not end well.

It’s not about liberalism or conservatism.

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Not sure how much more clear he can get. What’s more, the president knows his followers want, no, need a strong dictator, to balance a fundamental moral weakness within themselves. These are not Americans who can fight and die for the Constitution and rule of law. These are “Americans” who must grovel before a King and rejoice when his enemies are caged, banished, or worse.

But forget Trump for the moment. He didn’t elect himself. His voters didn’t suddenly rise up out of the swamps in 2016. They were here all along. Who are these people? A representative sample of their thought leaders:

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By comparison, here is a representative sample of Americans who would rather live, and die, free:

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Not all of the latter people are exactly moral paragons. That’s not the point. The only thing they have in common is a shared disgust with autocracy and those who promote it. A strong instinct that they refused to suppress, that this is not right. They often suffered personally for it, too. Erick Erickson, despite being a perfect right-wing nutjob in every other way, was fired from FoxNews for refusing to kneel before Zod and now struggles to make ends meet. Amanda Carpenter, despite being a photogenic conservative bombshell perfect for Murdoch’s network, must make do with being Meghan McCain’s second fiddle on The View. Bill Kristol must someday answer to a higher authority for his zealous promotion of the Iraq war; yet in this world, he is ostracized only over Trump; a former partisan neither at home on the Right nor the Left. Joe Walsh there, despite being squarely in the target demo for #MAGA and who in fact was once on the Trump Train, refused to surrender to Trump’s assault on law and order (hard to believe the GOP used to be for that), and says he sleeps with his shotgun over death threats triggered by his heresies. Anthony Bourdain was neither liberal nor conservative, but hated bullshit and evil wherever he saw it… one may only theorize if this had something to do with his eventual passing.

And as far as Jessica and Nicki go, well, they are simply beautiful souls. Hell, Bourdain too. That’s the difference. The people in the last collage are sometimes beautiful, often damaged, often tainted yet never fully surrendered to the darkness of our worst instincts. And the people on top are some of the ugliest Americans to have ever disgraced our soil. Forget Trump. Forget the idiotic culture wars over something as spurious as the NFL. Take away the political zeitgeist, remove them from our time, pretend it’s 1860 or 1938 or 2101. Whatever the specific issues of the day, would you want to be included in that number?

Again, forget for a moment your own politics. Pretend they’re all Socialists or Whigs. Pretend this is all a feud among an association of furries in Utica, NY. Doesn’t matter. Would you like to be part of any movement that hails a misshapen Gollum like Dinesh as a hero? That mistakes a pathetic weakling like Charlie Kirk as a leader of men? That has as its electoral base, twisted older men like Schilling and Nolte who are comprised of nothing but seething, roiling, irrational hate? That thinks a cynical manipulator and political chameleon like Candace Owens is a woman of principles? That views circus acts like Alex Jones and Laura Loomer as prophets of our time?

This is not liberal vs. conservative. Ben Shapiro, for instance, does not belong in the rogues gallery of these people. This is something else.

I’ve long mourned how the concepts of “good” and “evil” are considered too trite, too comic-book simplistic for our urbane, morally relativistic times. Using such terms is considered more damning to one’s arguments than even Godwinning. Yet these concepts are not only valid, they are the most fundamental descriptors of a person’s soul. Good and evil render such descriptors as liberal, conservative, populist, globalist, promiscuous, prudish, young, old, white, black almost as irrelevant of a descriptor as whether one prefers Five Guys or In-and-Out. Yet those who wish to discuss moral character are dismissed as a sad parody of a father figure from a 1950s sitcom.

Moral character means doing what’s right even when it costs you personally, as it has conservatives who still oppose Trump. Now it’s easy for a liberal to oppose Trump; but would they oppose a liberal equivalent? Some anti-democratic, Communist tyrant who openly fantasizes about throwing capitalists into gulags? I have no science to back this up but I really believe Chastain, Minaj, and some other lefty figures would fiercely oppose such a bastard — at the cost of being blacklisted out of their entertainment careers. Rachel Maddow would oppose such a figure and probably lose her job; Joy Reid, on the other hand, would be such a figure’s own Sean Hannity. Piers Morgan would enjoy the distinction of being on the wrong side of history in both scenarios.

Good and evil are far too ancient and unchanging for the petty red-vs-blue politics of this time and date. It’s not about liberalism or conservatism. It’s about freedom vs. the yoke of tyranny, law and order vs. the law of man, tried-and-true principles vs. momentary pleasures and fears. And it’s not even about being pure good, as none of us are capable of coming even near that. When the stakes suddenly get high, and history turns in a matter of days or weeks instead of decades, does one overcome their baser nature, or surrender to it? Transport the above cast of characters to any critical moment in history, and they’d still shake down into the same two sides.

Which side would you be on?