…May be going down the tubes sooner than I thought. I’m not predicting a crack-up yet, but we do seem to be talking ourselves into it. It’s not exactly a conspiracy, let alone a conspiracy to end all conspiracies. There really does seem to be some kind of virus going round. If it manages to amplify again and again and again (and again and again and again) over the coming year, it might end up being as bad as the flu.
But the panic is real–and fully approved.
Remember, if enough people with enough power want the same thing, it usually happens one way or another. They don’t need to gather in smoky back rooms or get a group Twitter page. They just have to wait, watch and seize any opportunity to hand.
If nothing else works they’ll take away your toilet paper, your antibiotics, your pension to remind you of the consequences of venturing down any path they didn’t designate.
That’s all that’s happening now. The Overlords finally found a can they can tie to Donald Trump’s tail. I have no idea if he can shake this off. It’s not looking good so far…so all my previous predictions are off. P.T. Barnum (Trump’s real role model) once said there was a sucker born every minute and two to take him. My fellow citizens are now once more firmly on course to prove he was off by 59 seconds.
For now I can’t turn to Gene or Eddie…They were right of course, but now they’re for the days when the crack-up is still a generation or two down the road. I’ll hope for a return to those sunnier days. Meanwhile…
Today, Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3-10 years in prison for sexual assault.
Really, it was a non-event, but I found two interesting takes on Twitter.
First, Terry Teachout:
In the midst of all the other roiling chaos, it’s worth remembering—and strangely easy to forget—that what happened to Bill Cosby today will be remembered as a turning point in American social and cultural history.
Terry is a reliable indicator of conventional wisdom among what’s now called Never Trump Conservatism. He hails from a small town in Missouri and has spent most of his adult life inside the beltway, working for periodicals like National Review and the Wall Street Journal. He’s pretty darn sure Bill Cosby is guilty because, like most white people from small town America, he thinks this here darn system works pretty well and wasn’t the fellow convicted?
Here’s Curtis Scoon (an actual black man, who is not from small town America):
Now that Cosby is convicted for a crime he settled out of court for a decade ago every woman he’s ever bedded or attempted to bed outside of his marriage can now pursue civil lawsuits. Clearly this case was all about “justice.” What else could’ve been the motivation?
Followed soon thereafter by:
I have a question for the black ACTORivist/feminist types on twitter. You keep emphasizing the conviction of Bill Cosby as PROOF of his guilt, so why doesn’t Assata Shakur’s conviction prove hers’? Neither does Mumia’s conviction. George Zimmerman’s acquittal gets tossed as well.
I follow Teachout because he’s utterly predictable. That’s why I follow nearly everyone I follow–to tap into what the position is on any given issue from a given perspective. By following enough predictable people representing enough predictable positions, I’m able to discern what almost everyone is thinking because few people ever take any position that isn’t predictable based on even one previous opinion they’ve held and shared.
That’s the world we live in.
Maybe it was ever thus, but, if so, it seems Social Media has hardened the parameters of convention.
I follow Scoon because he’s the only person I know of, on-line, who isn’t predictable. And because he asks questions that have uncomfortable answers (like because it doesn’t jibe with MY narrative, that’s why!) which cannot be articulated by those being asked. No one likes to risk blowing their own mind.
I like to think he’s a kindred spirit in that respect. For instance, if I was on Twitter for some purpose other than following others, I’d probably Tweet something like:
Between Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, I have no idea who is telling the Truth. Neither do you. No matter how much you think he/she reminds you of someone you knew in high school.
…Is eternal. Because every belief system requires a priesthood. “Science”–even mathematics–included:
But, that same day, the Mathematical Intelligencer’s editor-in-chief Marjorie Senechal notified us that, with “deep regret,” she was rescinding her previous acceptance of our paper. “Several colleagues,” she wrote, had warned her that publication would provoke “extremely strong reactions” and there existed a “very real possibility that the right-wing media may pick this up and hype it internationally.” For the second time in a single day I was left flabbergasted. Working mathematicians are usually thrilled if even five people in the world read our latest article. Now some progressive faction was worried that a fairly straightforward logical argument about male variability might encourage the conservative press to actually read and cite a science paper?
In my 40 years of publishing research papers I had never heard of the rejection of an already-accepted paper. And so I emailed Professor Senechal. She replied that she had received no criticisms on scientific grounds and that her decision to rescind was entirely about the reaction she feared our paper would elicit. By way of further explanation, Senechal even compared our paper to the Confederate statues that had recently been removed from the courthouse lawn in Lexington, Kentucky. In the interests of setting our arguments in a more responsible context, she proposed instead that Sergei and I participate in a ‘Round Table’ discussion of our hypothesis argument, the proceedings of which the Intelligencer would publish in lieu of our paper. Her decision, we learned, enjoyed the approval of Springer, one of the world’s leading publishers of scientific books and journals. An editorial director of Springer Mathematics later apologized to me twice, in person, but did nothing to reverse the decision or to support us at the time.
If you read Hill’s entire piece at the link (highly recommended), you will note the thoroughness with which any ideas that do not conform with specifically political goals are hunted down and banished, in this case by his fellow scientists. I don’t have a great interest in modern science (or whatever particular arguments Hill and his colleagues were making). But I do have an interest in priesthoods and the way they emerge to regulate specific patterns of human behavior. Of the dozens of essays I’ve read (online and in books and magazines) about the way even the most thoroughly researched dissent is suppressed in the halls where The God of Science is worshiped (always in the name of Reason) this is at once the most detailed and succinct.
It’s also the best example I’ve seen yet of the far reach of Confederate Statue Syndrome. As I tried to point out, ad nauseam, a year-plus ago, when CSS was making almost daily headlines–and as the subsequent removals of memorials to, among others, Ohio’s William McKinley (a Union war hero), Pennsylvania’s Stephen Foster and Laura Ingalls Wilder, (who spent most of her formative years in Wisconsin, Kansas and Minnesota before moving on to the Dakotas) not to mention incidents like a Bernie-bro being savagely beaten by Antifa street fighters, at one of Portland, Oregon’s protests, for carrying an American flag–it was never about the Confederacy and it was never about statues.
What was it Orwell said? Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
Talk about obscure connections. Even the blogs I follow (forget the paid media, who are mostly paid to look the other way and, contra popular opinion, are very good…at what they are paid for), haven’t picked up on this:
Immediately prior to his death, Hastings had published a strong critique of the Obama administration titled “Why Democrats Love to Spy on Americans,” which exposed the party’s hypocrisy regarding some of the civil liberty overreaches they had criticized under Bush but embraced under Obama.San Diego 6 News reported that Hastings had been investigating CIA Director John Brennan for an upcoming exposé prior to the crash. (You can read the whole thing here but the quote I pulled is the story.)
Remember that Republicans and Democrats alike could have avoided Donald Trump if they had been willing to conduct a full investigation into Hastings’ suspicious death and follow it to to its logical conclusion.
Also, you can keep this one in your memory banks during the months to come as Brennan–just hired by MSNBC/NBC to provide cover for the Security State and, of course, keep their “news” operation in order–is hailed as a champion of Liberty.
I paid a little tribute to Hastings here. There are no more of his kind around, but you’ll know the CIA is back on top when they knock off some reporter who’s been as openly critical of Trump as Hastings purportedly was of Obama in the shadows and blame it on the current administration.
The FBI is a bunch of overpublicized characters, Hoover himself being a first rate publicity hound. All secret police forces come to the same end. I’ll bet the s.o.b. has a dossier on everybody who could do him damage. The FBI throws up such a smoke screen that they make the public forget all the tough ones they never broke. Sometimes I wonder if they ever did break a really tough one.
(Raymond Chandler, Letter to James Fox, Jan. 18, 1954, from Raymond Chandler: A Biography, Tom Hiney, Grove Press, 1997, p 181)
The open question that bled through most of last year was whether Donald Trump was willing/able to wage war against the enforcement arm of Security State tasked (by Democrats, Never Trump Republicans, the Media, the Permanent Bureaucracy, etc.) with waging war against him.
We now have the answer. He’s willing. He’s able. And he has, for the first time, significant allies.
Oh, the other side is still fighting on. My favorite moment of this week was when the media (well, CNN anyway) briefly toyed with the idea of tagging Devin Nunes as a Russian agent (as in, anyone who’s not specifically working to remove Donald Trump from office must be with the Russians too!). It’s true that the events of the last few months, culminating in the release of “the Nunes Memo” today, would be head-spinning–and deeply disturbing–if we actually lived in one of those “constitutional republics” or “liberal democracies” that prize the rule of law and such.
I mean, if there were such a thing, and Donald Trump was the only thing standing between us and its dissolution, there would be cause for concern.
Of course, my loyal readers should, by now, be inoculated against such illusions or the news of any given day, but, just in case you need a reminder, you can go here for a refresher.
Like a lot of people, I took a real hit from Google changing their search parameters (or whatever it is they do) in June. Up to that point, this blog had steady quarter-by-quarter growth for five years. In the last six months of 2017, views and visits dropped off about 25 percent, making this the first year I didn’t improve over the previous one (I was down about eight percent for the year).
On the other hand, the comments increased dramatically, so I traded some quantity for a lot of quality. That’s a deal I’ll take any day, though I hope things will get cracking in the new year so it’s not a choice I have to make!
Anyway, that’s one of the main reasons I slacked off considerably in December, hoping to recharge the batteries and hit the ground running in 2018.
The other reason is I ran up against a sort of existential spiritual dilemma (I hesitate to call it a crisis) which is going to require me to make some serious decisions about my personal life and goals in the next few months…Don’t worry, if anything major happens, I’m sure I’ll be blogging about it!
Meanwhile, here are posts I have in the hopper, just waiting a moment of inspiration for me to finish them…
-A continuation of my meditations on John Ford’s People (beginning with the latest on The Searchers)
-Vocalist of the Month features on Brenda Lee (pretty far along) and Sandy Denny (nascent but promising)
-The revelation of My Favorite Book of Movie Criticism
-A new category called Track-By-Track where I break down some classic albums with what I hope will be a fresh approach to record reviewing.
-Nothing specific, but I’ll step in on the Trump Era when a moment of clarity arrives. Just FYI, my gut had him a slight favorite to win the election throughout 2016 (which put my gut in a very small minority). My gut has him a slight favorite to emerge the winner in his war with the Security State which will almost certainly come to a head in 2018. Stay tuned….
-Plus a continuation of my other new category of Handy Tens and all the other usual ongoing features.
It almost doesn’t do to point these things out. I’m good with (or is that guilty of?) slang and euphemisms myself, especially in every day conversation.
So I’m not exactly a paid up member of the Language Police.
But it starts to grate a little when language is being specifically abused in epidemic proportions by people who really should know better.
I realize “really should know better” is itself a slippery concept in a society so fiercely anti-intellectual that we haven’t produced an actual intellectual in decades. I couldn’t even name the last one worthy of the name. These days we settle for Noam Chomsky and George Will.
Still, in regards to one particular word, the tidal wave of self-righteousness that has attended the almost daily revelations of some new figure from Hollywood, the publishing industry, Broadway or the world of politics being accused of inappropriate behavior towards adolescent boys and girls has swept the beach of all reason and left a state of pure delusion in its place.
News flash: Having sex (or attempted sex, or behaving in a sexual manner without actually having or even attempting sex) with a fourteen-year-old is not pedophilia.
There is a word for that behavior and that word is pederasty (see clarifciation below).
And there’s a reason why I–and probably you, and probably no one–haven’t seen that word appear a single time in the feverish condemnations of Roman Polanski, Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore, et al. who are specifically accused (in Polanski’s case convicted, though “accused” is often attached even in news reports) of sexual misconduct toward young teenagers ranging from inappropriate touching to exposure to rape.
The reason is simple.
Pederasty is no longer a dirty word.
We’ve been sexualizing adolescents for so long–roughly, and not coincidentally, the amount of time we’ve been infantilizing adults–that we’ve obliterated the distinction. And now, at last, when we feel a need to condemn atrocious behavior, we have no word for what has actually happened.
So we reach for another word, one that still has a bit–though only a bit–of sting in it.
To all those who participated in the long fall–and who by their newly feigned ignorance of their own language are participating still–I ask the same question I asked of those who lined up on one side or other of a meaningless political divide in the three-and-a-half decades of unrelenting cultural and political pollution that finally produced Donald Trump as either culmination or antidote, take your pick.
What did you think would happen?
Take it Gene…
UPDATE: Commenter Neal correctly pointed out that Pederasty only applies to man/boy relations. For the cases where underage girls were molested (Polanski and Moore in my examples, though the Moore case is thus far only an allegation), substitute real or attempted Statutory Rape or simple misconduct, which also do not carry the weight of “Pedophile”…witness the standing ovation given Polanski when he won an Oscar in absentia.
My apologies for getting off course. My original idea was to post on Spacey specifically and Pederast got stuck in my mind. Like I said, I’m not a good member of the Language Police, but I should have been more careful, especially in a post where I was criticizing others for misusing the language, so thanks to Neal for riding herd.
I should have stuck with Spacey, but I believe my main points still stand.
But before I do that, first I should remind everyone that I don’t monitor social media (political division) for information. I monitor it for the articulation of conventional attitudes. That’s a much better way to track human folly. The blogger I go to for Liberal Attitude (doesn’t matter who it is, he’s useful precisely because he never breaks with his tribe’s conventions, so he could be any member of it…I’ve got a similar go to for every tribe out there and no, my dear reader, it’s not you, because dammit you’ve proved you’re better than that just by being here!) just wrote this:
Trump has surrounded himself with incompetents, knaves, and fools. Who else would work for him? He’s an incompetent, knave,and fool himself. But you can only turn to incompetents, knaves, and fools for advice if you want advice on how to screw up, behave knavishly, or make a fool of yourself. They’re not the best people to advise you how to escape the legal snares you’ve set for yourself and which a determined, intelligent, honest prosecutor like Robert Mueller is bent on seeing that you don’t escape.
I would remind all and sundry (not the blogger I’m quoting, because I certainly don’t want him to start questioning who he is and possibly force me to come up with a replacement), that these definers of Liberal Attitude once said the very same things about James Comey…both before and after the definers of Conservative Attitude said the same things (about Comey, that is), though never at the same time. No doubt, Mueller, (like Comey, already known to be hip-deep in the very buckets of Security State sleaze from which he just pulled forth the indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates) will come through and inspire similar flip-flops in the future.