After Nearly A Year…

…of constant violence that he encouraged not only with as many words but with as many actions, Portland, Oregon mayor Ted Wheeler says people are “sick of” the constant sturm und drang that has made parts of the city unlivable:

Portland became a hotbed of civil unrest last summer during demonstrations protesting the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis. Similar demonstrations in cities across the country were largely peaceful. But in Portland, some of the demonstrations have deteriorated into widespread arson, looting and assaults. ADVERTISEMENT

Rioters in the city, who have called for the defunding of the local police department along with other measures, have on several occasions targeted a federal courthouse, spraying it with graffiti, setting fires and destroying nearby storefronts and other property.  

“The people who work here support the voices of racial and social justice and will not be intimidated from doing our jobs by the ugly graffiti or broken windows,” Scott Erik Asphaug, a U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, said during the press conference, the AP reported. “We do not confuse the voices of the many with the shouts of the few who hope to hold our city hostage by petty crime and violence.”

The first two things that jumped to my mind?

  1. After ten months of Wheeler all but setting Portland up as an “Anti”-Fa staging area, I wonder what powerful “progressive” constituency finally figured it was time to rein the party in?
  2. Reading Asphaug’s quote, am I the only one who thinks it sounds like they’re trying to pin the violence on…”the right”?

Currying Favor

Here’s the team of lawyers volunteering their time to prosecute a Minneapolis police officer in the biggest racial lynching the city has ever seen. 

They must all be gunning for judge, hoping to impress Tim Walz with their sterling Liberal credentials so he appoints them to the bench.  Thank God I don’t live in Hennepin County.

Joe Doakes

Same. Although let’s not pretend for a moment that if this had happened in Saint Paul, the Ramco Attorney’s office wouldn’t be just as bad.

The Darkness Before The Darkness

A longtime friend of the blog emails:

With the impending Derek Chauvin trial, the fortification of the 4th Precinct has begun this morning.

A wall of cement traffic barricades are being set around the perimeter. Back last summer it was reinforced with razor wire.

I am so deeply saddened by what has happened to my city.

Sad. And disgusted.

Kevin Williamson was right. This isn’t decay. This is municipal suicide.

To Recap

We had a thorough discussion about Ryan Winkler’s tweet and established
that Democrats have a strong personal belief, perhaps even a moral
conviction, that public safety is a government responsibility.

We had a thorough discussion about a lawsuit against the City and
established that when citizens suffer because government abandoned its
responsibility, the citizens have no recourse against the government
under existing law.

So the obvious question is: Will Ryan Winkler introduce legislation
creating a right for citizens to sue the government for failing its
responsibility to protect them?  And will the new law be retroactive to
cover the riots?

Ryan Winkler talked the talk, but will he walk the walk?

Joe Doakes

There may be no more superficial person in Minnesota politics than Ryan Winkler.

Other than Erin Maye Quade. And Ilhan Omar.

OK, and probably a few others.

But you get the point.

The Walk

Our thorough discussion of Ryan Winkler’s tweet established that
Democrats have a strong personal belief, perhaps even a moral
conviction, that public safety is a government responsibility.

Our thorough discussion of the lawsuit against Minneapolis established
that when citizens suffer because government abandons its
responsibility, the citizens have no recourse under existing law.

You must rely on us; but you can’t rely on us. That’s Catch-22 and it’s
not a joke, it’s official policy.

So the obvious question is: When will Ryan Winkler introduce legislation
creating a right for citizens to sue the government for failing its
responsibility to protect them? And will the new law be retroactive to
cover the riots?

Ryan Winkler talked the talk, but will he walk the walk?

Joe Doakes

No point of Rep. Winkler’s career has been about “walking” any “walk”.

It’s been about pointing at others shortcomings, real or manufactured, and jumping up and down and pointing and flinging poo.

That should clarify things.

Civil Society And Its Abusers

One of domestic abusers most insidious forms of brainwashing is telling, and eventually convincing, their partners that the abuse is partly, or all, their own fault. “You provoked me”. “You shouldn’t have said __“. “You’re as much to blame as me. Maybe more”.

We’ll come back to that.


Years ago, I was at an event – political convention, election night coverage, something along those lines [1], in my capacity as a blogger and talk show host. I was hobnobbing with Big Minnesota Media.

As I was walking back from a concession stand, one of the Big Media people, someone who doesn’t have a byline or get seen on camera, walked up to me, and furtively whispered “Hey – PLEASE don’t tell anyone, but I’m a huge fan of you guys’s show. I’m a conservative. But I gotta keep it quiet. Anyway, keep up the good work”.

And then, as suddenly as the exchange began, it ended. The person peeled away and went back to work, making sure not to be seen talking to me. I felt like a Western reporter in East Berlin or Warsaw, in the seventies, getting a furtive, samizdat message from a covert dissident who was on the lookout for the Stasi or ZOMO.

This person – a successful media professional – was worried about being “canceled”. For being a conservative.

This was years ago – long before “Cancel Culture” was a term.



Last week, Erin Maye Quade, a former state rep and Lieutenant Governor candidate, tweeted this:

We covered this last week.

“People who rail against “cancel culture” are actually just upset about a culture of consequences.”
Is this just an isolated example of a person with an invincible sense of Urban Progressive Privilege #progsplaining people (“actually…”) to accept some premise that flies directly in the face of what they see with their own eyes?

Sadly, no.


A few weeks back, “progressive” theology site Patheos posted this article: “No, You’re Not Being Canceled Because You’re Conservative

The article makes one plausible but misguided point – “conservatives and Christians do it too” – using the examples of John McCain (who got attacked for bucking conservative orthodoxy, and got a political response from people in a political party that has political stances they argue about – seeing a theme, yet?), and the Dixie Chicks (an example they undercut later in the piece). Nothing about non-political people losing non -political jobs, oddly enough.

The other points are worse.

The author posits “Either you’re for the free market or you’re not” – thereby cutting his own “Dixie Chicks” argument off at the knees. And he finishes with a slightly more elegant version of Maye Quade’s bit of #progsplaining – “the stuff you’re being canceled over is neither Christian nor Conservative”, holding that everyone that’s been “canceled” has gotten it because they peddle QAnon theories or are Kloset Klansmen.

And the author doesn’t even address the notion that dishing out consequences to a person’s personal and vocational life over political differences is appropriate “consequences” for any mainstream political view. Indeed, the Patheos article makes the “hear no evil / see no evil / speak no evil” monkey face and ignores the real issue entirely. To this “progressive” Christian author, it’s a non issue.

Which must’ve come as news to the conservative professors, and in the past 20 years teachers and school administrators who’ve been hounded into silence, or out of academia, as a “consequence” of having a considered worldview based on Friedman rather than Alinsky.
Or to the conservative students who are bullied into silence or exile as a “consequence” for dissenting from academia’s oppressive leftist slant.

Or the actors, artists, journalists and other soft-skills professionals and craftspeople who worry, legitimately, about the “consequences” to their career of being “outed”. Like the person in my story at the top of this piece. They worried about being slandered, pilloried and ousted from a decent job in their field, for *being a mainstream Republican and conservative” , albeit not even an activist – something that wasn’t considered “thoughtcrime” 20 years earlier, when that person entered the field.

Or Gina Carano, whose views leading to her defenestration from Disney have been misrepresented by the Left’s noise machine to the point of slander. Carano did *not* say Republicans today were like the Jews of the 1930s. She said – quite correctly – that tyrants succeed by turning neighbor against neighbor. That is Totalitarianism 101 , a point made in fiction by Orwell and in history by Solzhenitzyn, among many others.

Or…me.

I get some flak for my blog and my show – the occasional demented stalker, no big deal. But I’ve also gotten harassed by ex-co-workers who learned about my alter ego life [2]. And there’ve been two jobs in the past ten years where managers with highly progressive views that they were (significantly) unafraid to espouse in the office gave off muted but pointed indications that my contracts were ending because while my work was just fine, even superlative, my views – which they had had to expend some significant effort to find, since not even a whiff of them came out in the office – were not.


So yes – “cancel” culture is about consequences. In most cases, consequences for principled, but not infrequently silent, dissent from a dominant world view.
And the current narrative – from Erin Maye Quade, Patheos, and much of the rest of the dominant culture in media, academia, education and Big Tech – that “you got canceled because you provoked it and have it coming?”

That’s gaslighting. It’s a key tactic of abusers – among many others that have become commonplace weapons in today’s culture war:

Is it any different from the tactics that abusers use to shut their partners up?
Convince me.

Good luck.


[1] I’m profusely concealing this person’s identity, to this day. Don’t even ask.

[2] Which I keep scrupulously out of the workplace – literally, I’ve never mentioned my radio or blog lives once over the past 19 years. In that time, I’ve had two people, both fans, ask me “aren’t you the Mitch Berg that’s on the radio”. And my response, every time, is “There IS a Mitch Berg who does that. But he’d never talk about that on company time”. Every single time.

UPDATE: Jenn at Redhead Ranting has a personal take on the whole thing.

Residual Forces

In Ben Shapiro’s Sunday interview with Gina Carano that I linked yesterday, there were several passages that resonated.

One in particular:

I would go to a barbecue on the beach in California, and all these people would go [switches to sotto voce] “Hey, I agree with you. Messed up, isn’t it?”.

And I’d be…’This is your house. Why are you whispering?'”

It reminded me of another episode.

I was talking with a couple of reps from a metro media organization – TV, newspaper, it matters not. And when one of the representatives and I had a moment without the others around, that person swiveled their head around to make sure nobody was listening, and whispered to me “Don’t tell anyone I said this, but I love [the NARN]. I’m on you guys side. I just have to keep quiet about it”. I felt a little like a reporting working in East Berlin or Warsaw in 1974, getting a furtive, samizdat note from a local that the Stasi or ZOMO wouldn’t be able to trace.

This was over a decade ago.

I think of this because it is now in vogue for lefties to tell people “there is no such thing as cancel culture. There’s just consequences for actions”.

Right. And that “action” is “dissenting from the progressive worldview in public”. No more.

Required Listening

“People tell me ‘I see what’s happening, and I”m so afraid’. And I tell them ‘you should feel more afraid that they’re making yiou feel afraid'”.

Get the truth about Gina Carano, because God knows the media won’t give it to you.

It’s from Sunday’s Ben Shapiro podcast. And while Carano isn’t a highly polished radio guest, her story – then and now – is utterly fascinating.

Big Left has been ideologically cleansing academia for decades. They’ve largely consolidating their control of the educational-industrial complex. They’re consolidating Hollywood and Big Tech now. Along with that, they – and a Big Sort – are doing the same with major metro areas.

And conservatives have in many cases obliged by moving on to greener/redder pastures.

But just as Eden Prairie is following Edina into the moldy blue camp as conservatives concede the battlefield, the culture war is coming for you, wherever you are.

At some point, the good guys and gals have to draw their lines in the sand.

Feniks > Penzey’s

A Michigan ammo company vows not to sell ammunition to Biden voters…

…and puts its marketing where its mouth is:

“Are you really willing to walk away from a paying customer simply because they voted for Joe Biden?” the company asked rhetorically. “Yes, yes we are. We’re dead serious.”

“We don’t want your money, and you shouldn’t want us to have it because we’re going to use it to make more ammo, sell it to the citizenry, and do everything in our power to prevent Joe Biden’s administration from usurping the rights of Americans,” the company wrote.

Not just its marketing, but its sales portal:

As a way to weed out the unwanted customers, the company reportedly inserted a questionnaire into its purchasing process that asks whether prospective customers voted for Biden in the 2020 presidential election. If they did, it’s no sale for them.

Some “progressive” companies led the way with partisan-based marketing after Trump’s election – Penzey’s very publicly told conservatives (not just Trump voters) to stop patronizing them (a request I could not comply with, as I’ve never shopped there before, either – which makes sense; I suspect their demographics, well-to-do white urbanites with lots of disposable income, overlaps with GOP voters only incidentally).

TL:dr – The good news: fighting cancel culture is a good thing, and I applaud Feniks.

The bad-ish news? Feniks is just as sold out of all stock as every other ammo shop.

This Is What Urban Progressive Privilege Looks Like [1]

Every spousal abuser in history: “Yeah, sure, I hit you. But you provoked me – again. So you’re at least partly to blame. Maybe mostly. I mean, actions have consequences, baby…”

Big Left’s latest line – through one of its local mouthpieces, former Reprentative and Lt. Gov. Candidate and Urban Progressive Privilege poster child, Erin Maye Quade:

This statement ticks off nearly half of the traits one associates with someone with a serious personality disorder.

And before anyone stars a’yappin’ – I’m not saying Ms. Maye Quade suffers from any psychological illness.

Merely the movement she’s part of.

[1] Not to mention a culture of abuse, and a serious collective group personality disorder.

For The Children

Lowering the voting age has long been a Democrat dream.  Phyllis Khan promoted it in 1989, saying: “If we trust them to drive at 16, why don’t we trust them to vote?”  The notion is back again, this time in Congress

On the one hand, the notion that people aren’t mature enough to vote until 18, drink alcohol or buy certain tools until 21, or take responsibility for their own health care until 25, is a recent conceit unknown in the prior five millennia.

On the other hand, teenagers are less prone to nuanced thinking, more prone to letting their emotions over-ride their logic, which makes for good cannon fodder both for demanding social change and to send against actual cannons.

I’d be tempted to agree with lowering the age of majority if we were consistent about it.  At 16, you are an adult: you can drink, smoke, make babies, marry, divorce, be drafted, get a tattoo or sex change operation, sign a contract, take out student loans, file for bankruptcy, and vote. 

Yes, it will hasten the fall of society, as starry-eyed children vote for manipulative politicians selling promises of utopia but delivering indentured servitude.  But that’s coming anyway, so we might as well get on with it.  And there should be some entertaining moments along the way, watching idealists become disillusioned and forced to admit we conservatives were right all along.   That’ll be satisfying.

Joe Doakes

I’m not quite to the point where I can see it being that satisfying.

But I can see the path to that feeling.

They’re Mad As Hell…

Owners of the iconic “Town Talk Diner” at Lake and MInnehaha in Minneapolis – which was turned into the “Town Talk Pile of Rubble” during the Floyd Riots – are sueing the City of Minneapolis for failing to protect…

…well, much of anyone or anything – notwithstanding it being one of the city’s only unambiguously legitimate jobs.

I’m not gonna do a pullquote – just read it.

And list for me in the comments:

  1. How the city will respond
  2. Why a “progressive” appointee will throw the case out. .

I was tempted to say “wrong answers only”, like all the kids are doing on social media these days.

But I figure even the right answers will test credulity these days.

Go to it.

Of Consequence

I’ll just commend to you this thread by John Hayward – perhaps the thing most worth reading on the misbegotten morass that is Twitter in a long, long time – without further comment:

Other than urging you to drill in and read the whole thing.

I’m Not Saying…

….that Ron DeSantis is high up on my short list of candidates for 2024.

I am saying that if he keeps up with his competent, fact-driven crisis management combined with his Trump-like ability to cut through the narrative BS while maintaining an air of measured acerbity…

…he could get there pretty quick.

AOC: “It’s All About Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

After spending the past week wrapping herself in traumatic victimhood (and sliming a Capitol cop in the bargain) for her experience in the January 6 riot, it turns out that she wasn’t nearly as close to the danger as her teary Instagram video might have made it seem:

Allahpundit looked into this on Tuesday, but the story behind Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s massively popular Instagram video where she describes her experience during the January 6th Capitol Hill riot keeps growing more convoluted. Despite claiming that she thought she “was going to die” and at least insinuating that rioters were attempting to break into her office, AOC wasn’t even in the actual Capitol Building when all of the action went down. Over at RedState, Nick Arama breaks down the distinctions between reality and perception. AOC’s office is in the Cannon Building which was never breached during the riot. She was briefly evacuated along with everyone else there, but other members were in immediate danger inside the Capitol Building and were far more at risk.

The writer – Jazz Shaw at Hot Air – points out he believes the #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett hashtag that erupted earlier this week on Twitter may have been a little off target – the Representative certainly didn’t concoct the riot from whole cloth.

I’m sure that AOC was legitimately afraid during the riot and with good reason. Assuming there’s a television in her office and she had the news on she would have known that hundreds of angry people were busting up the Capitol Building and acting in a threatening fashion. Given her unusually high profile for a very junior member, it would be reasonable for her to believe that some of the rioters could present a physical danger to her.

With all of that said, however, AOC failed to make one thing clear in her video (which quickly amassed more than six million views). At no time did any rioters enter the hallway where her office is located and it’s not clear that any of them ever entered any part of the Cannon Building at all. The one person who did reach her office was a Capitol Hill Police officer who was coming to evacuate her and her staffer. They had located a suspicious package (which was later cleared as being random and mundane) so they were getting everyone out of the building in an abundance of caution.

Leaving aside the sliming of the Capitol cop – who had a whole building to evacuate as his colleagues were being overrun a few blocks away – and even if you don’t make the Smollett comparison, I do find one thing intensely troubling.

The whole episode – the assault on the electoral process as well as a riot that led to five deaths, directly or indirectly – to her is nothing but a stage for…

…Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Her feelings, her sense of assumed victimnood…her.

To AOC, AOC is always the real story – by way of using that story to slime her boogeymen-du-jour.

UPDATE: I’m going to expand on this just a tad.

AOC was about as far from the Capitol riot as I was from the pharmacy that burned down, about 1000 feet from my house, during the riots.

Were either of us under immediate threat? No. Were both of us right to be nervous? Yep.

Should either of us be appropriating the experiences of those who were in immediate danger?

Let’s just call it emotionally manipulative overkill and hope everyone can do better in the future.

#Unity!

Turns out Americans can unify on one thing – gunning up.

Even in Minnesota?

Perhaps especially so.

the numbers: The National Shooting Sports Foundation tallied more than 37,600 statewide requests to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in January — nearly double from 18,990 in January 2020.

It wasn’t just January: More than 380,000 background checks were recorded here in 2020, up 49% from the previous year.

380,000 NICS checks in 2020 is more than one for every ten eligible Minnesotans (over 21 with a clean criminal record).

Feel that #Unity

Oversight…

Henco attorney Mike Freeman isn’t happy about the “Minnesota Freedom Fund” repeatedly bailing out violent offenders who can be linked, however tenuously, to political protest.

Which is fine, as far as it goes.

But have you noticed, in the wake of all the collective slander about “white supremacists” being “the real culprits” behind last spring’s riots, that not a single media report or government objection notes that the “Minnesota Freedom Fund” is financed by progressive plutocrats and aristocrats,

And why would they be bailing out “white supremacists?”

I keep asking Twin Cities media figured “reporting” on the story, to the extent anyone ever does.

There’s never an answer.

#Unexpected.

Planet Of The Humans, Part 3: Steam

Democracy can’t survive if we can’t trust our institutions.

We’ll come back to that.

Steamed

In Tom Wolfe’s 1987 satire Bonfire of the Vanities, a young black man is run over by a car driven y a millionaire bond trader. A Bronx DA and couple of New York cops investigate.

In one part of the story, a huckster minister, clearly modeled after Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or some such, explains his role in the community to the investigators.

In his metaphor, community anger is “steam”, building inexorably as the heat rises, ready to blow the boiler sky high if something isn’t done. That “something”, naturally, is the good reverend plying his services, as a “steam valve”.

For a price.

The book was head, shoulders and ankles better than the movie – a box office bomb that nearly ended Tom Hanks as an A-lister, thirty years back – but this scene more or less gets the point across:

The reference I’m calling out is 2:00 minutes into the clip

But remember – they’re the ones that cover the news to the highest of standards.

We’ll come back to that.

Answering Their Master

Republicans since Richard Nixon have known that the media was biased to the left. Over this past twenty years, it’s been almost beyond parody. Over the past five years, literally, parody has been more accurate than journalism.

But there’s a level of parody beyond which even The Onion or The Babylon Bee would feel awkward going. Our “elite” media has no such limits:

More locally? I could go back a bit, to the media’s response to conservative protest and the Tea Party – and that was the least of the problems. The IRS abused its power to try to shut the Tea Party down.

And there was nary a peep from the establishment media. “Law enforcement” under the Obama administration did nothing at all. The agent of the scandal, Lois Lerner, retired with her full government pension and the tacit thanks of the Obama regime.

More recently, there’ve been two episodes that show how very, very unequal we are in this country, depending on your politics.

On March 4, 2017, a group of Republicans held a rally at the Capitol. A group of “Anti”-Fa used a counter-demonstration for a delivery system, violently attacking the Republicans, injuring several.

And how did the justice system in Ramsey County work? Like a fraternity hazing. Without the hazing. The defendants – including the son of Hillary Clinton’s VP nominee, weren’t so much prosectuted as féted. Had John Choi done otherwise, he’d have never done lunch at the Lex again.

More recently? Last summer, a Minnesota state DFL legislative candidate famously threatened brutal violence on a Twin Cities suburb for being home to Bob Kroll.

It passed.

Fast.

This, of course, after a series of citywide riots for whichi justice was slow, dilatory and diverted by stories of “white supremacists with umbrellas” doing improbable feats of mischief.

And, behind it all, a long trail of elaborate rationalizations for the rioting: after centuries of (checks notes) systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, economic and environmental racism and mansplaining, a riot was a positive public health good, to deal with all that built up “steam”.

But only the correct rioting.

Because if Pro-Life Action tried to block a freeway, Jacob Frey would have water cannon and attack dogs out there before the protesters got over the fence. And everyone involved knows it.

As re protesting, there are Two Americas.

But only one America gets to release its “steam” in polite company.

What About

I’ve mentioned this to others in the past week.

Some have said “mind the ‘whataboutism'”.

This isn’t whataboutism.

This is pointing out that when sides perceive, correctly, that the deck is stacked against them, they will find coloring outside the lines more and more acceptable.

Which is the exact rationalization the left uses for BLM’s shenanigans; inequality begets rage!

Well, yeah. It does. As we’ve seen.

But it’s not just the usual enemies.

More tomorrow.

Planet Of The Humans, Part 1: The Devil Wears Orange

Donald Trump inspired clichés by the big-box store-load long before he dipped his toe into politics. Even back when he was a pop-culture hero of sorts among the crowd that worshipped blinged-out idols, even before MC Hammer brought it to the mainstream:

Y’know – back when he was a Democrat.

You don’t need me to list Trump’s faults as a person, politician and President – indeed, we have a multi-billion dollar industry devoted entirely not only to cataloging them, but making up new ones out of thin air.

We’ll come back to them.

The Usual Bla Bla Bla

But along with all of the faults imagined from whole cloth (the “Fine People” slander hops to mind – which, again, we’ll come back to later), and his many offenses against the supposed decorum of the Presidency (real or imagined – and I’ll skip past Bill Clinton’s desporting himself in the Oval Office to jump back to Woodrow Wilson using it as a de facto Ku Klux Klan field office to try to introduce a little context into the notion of decorum), he had some real ones; I can’t help but think if he’d just turned his Twitter feed over to a moderately clever mid-level staffer, he could have kept the “outflank the media” aspects of his social presence without the, let’s be honest, crazy and intemperate and, God help me for saying it, unpresidential parts of his public presence. Enough to have won the election? I wouldn’t bet against it.

Of course, to be intellectually honest, you – and by “you”, I mean “the Never Trump clacque” – need to admit he did some things very, very well. For starters, he did the one thing I, a Trump skeptic, had hoped for, and exceeded my hopes by half; he empaneled a genuine originalist majroitiy on the SCOTUS. And in foreign policy terms, he may have been the most successful President we’ve had since George HW Bush, and Reagan’st first term before him.

Never Never Land

The previous paragraph might be read as a swipe at the “Never Trump” crowd – which includes some people I respect very much, and some I never really did, and some for whom I’ve gradually lost regard over time.

“Never Trump” largely, if not completely, devolved into a bunch of scolds of no more political use than the Libertarian Party, chanting “I Told You So” with all the convincing authority of that “Karen” who yaps at you about putting your groceries on the conveyor before the cashier has sanitized it.

I say this as someone who has been an active Trump skeptic since 1986 – back when most Democrats and Never-Trumpers were making Trump a TV star through most of the 2000s, as I’m fond of pointing out – and who was actively interested in “Never Trump” activities up to and including reviving the Federalist party around this time five years ago.

The Real Deplorable Thing

But the biggest problem with Trump isn’t Trump. The media and pop culture would have said many of the same things about Mitt Romney or John McCain or Marco Rubio, or most likely Martin Luther King if he were alive today and voting Republican.

Trump won in the first place because he saw the left’s strategy – harness the populist power of identity politics – and, for five years, did it better than the Progressives. He turned blue collar whites, and people in Red state in general, into an identity group and fairly coherent voting bloc – finally ending the 100 year old notion that Democrats were “the party of the working man” once and for all.

So populism was the car that drove him to the White House. Where he governed in some ways as a conservative (in foreign policy terms, on the SCOTUS, in slashing regulation), and in some ways as the most profligate “progressive” in history (he spent like the Democrat he used to be).

But there was something worse.

Personality

Remember Ron Paul? In 2008 and 2012, a lot of Republicans, especially younger ones, staged and insurgency in the GOP behind the Texas Libertarian-Republican. Much as I supported much of what Paul stood for (domestically, at least – his foreign and defense policies were just as historically ignorant as the Libertarian Party’s), looking at his mobs of idealistic acolytes, I asked more than once “You do realize that even if he’s elected, he’ll be able to do nothing he promises, since there’s not a majority of Paulite House and Senate candidates running to help push the agenda, right? And that the only way to enact that idealistic vision of government would be for Paul to stage a libertarian coup, and impose an absolute Libertarian dictatorship, and force Liberty on the people against their will.

There was no telling that to the Paul Kids – not back then, anyway. Such is the allure of the personality cult, among those who haven’t really paid attention to how much drag and lag and need for consensus is (as of 2020) built into the system.

And Trump certainly developed his own personality cult in the GOP.

On the one hand – the Never Trumpers remind us – Trumpism is not conservatism. And they’re right. It’s populism, and populism, giving people what they want now, is only rhetorically distinguishable between the Left and the Right. “Trumpism” tramples the principles of conservatism behind which the GOP…

…er…

…I was going to say “behind which the GOP stands”. Of course, the GOP, at least in DC, hasn’t for a long time.

We’ll come back to that.

Anyway – “Trumpism” turned, at least at the point of the retail-political sphere, into a personality cult, no less impervious to logic than the Hillary or Obama cults, no less focused on the person rather than the policy than the Ron Paul fan club.

To far too many Trump supporters in all of our social circles, policy wasn’t the goal; Trump was.

And given the GOP’s behavior over the past decade, why wouldn’t someone who didn’t care about how the political sausage was made, but how awful it tasted, see it any differently?

We’ll come back to that two episodes down the road.

It’d be easy, and facile, but no more than a little inaccurate, to say last week’s riot at the Capitol was about keeping the person in office (assuming you discount the notion that “Anti”-Fa provocateurs did the job – and for purposes of this argument, I do), rather than the policies and the repudiation of the oppression of Big Left. To way too many people, Trump doesn’t lead the effort against the toxic, narcissistic marginalization that Democrats relentless focus on identity politics brings; he is that effort.

It’s a toxic perception – indeed, a toxic reality. Democracy dies in cultism.

That cult didn’t occur in a vacuum, of course.

More on that coming up next.

Planet Of The Humans, Part 0

I spent a lot of time thinking about this scene last week:

I first started paying serious attention to politics in about 1980. Like a lot of high school kids, then and now, I was somewhere out on what would be called “the left”; I wrote a platform for North Dakota Boys State (a statewide mock government program put on by the decidedly conservative American Legion) that called for systematic redistribution of wealth, abolishing nuclear energy and nuclear disarmament, and a whole bunch of stuff that would be pretty mainstream among the Bernie Bros today.

Three years later, due to the good graces of my English professor, Dr. Jim Blake, I had re-evaluated most of my assumptions. I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984, and never really looked back.

And I had no reason to. None of us did. Although the history books, all being written from the perspective of the Left, will never admit it, the two decades from 1980 to 2000 were, objectively, the last American Golden Age. I’ll squeak out an optimistic coda and add “so far”, but I’ll be honest – I haven’t been feeling it, but I’m a firm believer in acting like you want to feel, and so there is is. “So far”.

I’ll come back to that.

There’s no denying it was one of the high points of American history. We led an economic surge that brought more wealth to more people than any in history. We, as a nation, led a political surge that led to the collapse of one of the most evil regimes in history (although not the other one – so far).

Maybe it’s just the perspective of one guy’s lifetime – but I suspect you’d have to look long and hard to find a place and time when it was generally better to be a human.

Not just in material terms, but in terms of the tension between freedom and order, one of the hardest things about running a self-governing society, being in relative balance – and, more importantly, the general commitment to the system and process that kept all those moving parts in balance.

And it’s been downhill from there.

The arc from Morning in America in 1980 to last week’s skirmish at the Capitol – which, loathe as I am to come even close to Democrat chanting points, was a form of coup, not against President-Elect Biden, but against the states’ constitutional power to select electors – peaked…somewhere in the late ’90s – when one of the glories of the American system, gridlocked government, combined with a Peace Dividend brought about by the end of the Cold War (thanks, President Reagan), led to an outburst of technological, entrepreneurial and market power that brought so much wealth, and security, and general well-being, to so many people that it may have been as close to a uptopia, in some ways, as humanity can get. Because of the gridlock in government.

Somewhere between 1998 and 2005, things started to turn back south again. It’d be easy to point to the polarization of American politics, starting with the various Clinton scandals, through the fiasco of the 2000 election, the near-decade of squabbling over the War on Terror and the 2008 government-caused financial meltdown, as the cause – but it went in parallel with a lot of other changes in our nation’s political, moral and social lives that have led to their…

…I was going to say “culmination” last week at the Capitol. But of course, that’s not true. Last week’s sorry episode was, like last summer’s riots, and the social back and forth that gave us Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Trump himself, and the movements that supported them all in a way that was increasingly “un-American” (I’m still claiming a meaning for that term), and if you think that was the peak, or trough, or any sort of ending to the story, you just haven’t paid attention to 20,000 years of human nature.

So let’s not call it a culmination. Let’s call it a checkpoint, on a path that may be going up, or down, but control over which We The People need to take before the phrase “We The People” is forever relegated to the museum.

How have we gotten from the peak of Western Civilization to…this, in my adult lifetime?

Let’s talk about it.

We’ll start with President Trump, next.

But we’re damn sure not going to finish with him.

Democracy Dies In Self-Inflicted Darkness

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

President Trump got elected despite the near universal opposition of legacy media by going around them, using social media to communicate with the public.  President Trump believes he was re-elected despite the near universal opposition of legacy and social media, but his victory was stolen from him.

Twitter has banned President Trump, Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and other Trump supporters.  It has banned discussion of the disputed election results. 

Apple and Microsoft have banned Parler, a Twitter alternative, so President Trump and his supporters cannot simply switch software to get his message out. Facebook has a history of shadow banning, throttling and now outright banning Conservative voices such as Alex Jones, Milo Yainnopoulos, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, #WalkAway and President Trump himself.When the quote was uttered nearly a century ago, the State directly controlled the legacy media and social media did not exist.  Nowadays, the State doesn’t need to control anything: willing collaborators and eager fellow-travellers control all the information outlets. The Big Lie has been spoken.  It is endlessly repeated in Liberal messaging and dissent ruthlessly suppressed. 

Democracy dies in darkness and Liberals are thrilled to be doing it. My question: what comes after democracy?  

Joe Doakes

History has that answer.

It’s not pretty.

You Ain’t A Human Being

Dennis Prager has a great line – “Relationships can survive a lot, but no relationship can survive contempt”

When parties can’t see one another as human, forget about reaching common ground on differing ideas and ideals, can there be any point to trying to live together? I wouldn’t work for couples – why would it work for a nation?

It dawned on the world too late that when the Nazis actively portrayed the Jews as not very human…

…they meant it.

If there’s one thing more useful than one eliminationist Nazi cartoon, its’ two. Here goes:

Wait.

That wasn’t even in German.

That was the Washington Post.

On Christmas Eve.

This is up there with “bitter, gun-clinging Jeebus freaks” and “Deplorables” and the rest of the litany of conceits Blue America holds on Red America.

But most importantly? It’s about contempt.

I’ve been pointing out examples of Blue America’s contempt for the rest of us in this space since the beginning, really. And if the Trump era has done anything, it’s helped parts of the right come out of their shells (yes, some, like our friend Pete Strunk, haven’t been in their shells fir a very long time, but its fair to say Pete’s always been an outlier)

Priorities

A friend of the blog emails:

I don’t really like having police departments barricaded. But, I understand it. I look at [Saint Paul city councilwoman] Nelsie Yang’s post and I really don’t see a lot of support for her demand that the barricade be torn down, especially from non-White constituents, the very people she claims to be supporting in this action-

To social justice warriors like Yang and, let’s be honest, most of the Saint Paul and the entire Minneapolis City Councils, “social justice” with all its intellectual and political trappings is an abstract, academic concept that has little to do with the lives of their constituents – or at least the ones not employed in non-profits and academic humanities and soft science departments.

Rarely do people like Yang allow themselves to come into contact with the real life concerns of those they “represent”

When they do? It’s entertaining, at least.