The New Dune

I hear that Denis Villeneuve is making a reprise of Frank Herbert‘s Dune. It will take a supreme artistry to outdo the evil depicted by David Lynch’s version of Baron Harkonnen and his nephews.

Trump would make an excellent Baron Harkonnen, except he is an actual tough guy, not a fat actor playing one.

“He who controls the spice controls the universe!”

Though it was a commercial flop at the time, Lynch’s Dune is a triumph of the artistic imagination. It bears obsessive re-watching.

Also worthy of mention is the TV  miniseries.

Further on delusional frameworks

Richard III earliest surviving portrait.jpgImage result for trump

 

 

Andrew Sullivan engages in the only polemic against Trump that has ever caused me to consider I was wrong about him. I love it! It is so powerful, so over-the-top, it nearly had me for a moment. Try it, you will like it.

The piece is in three parts. It starts with a catalog of Trump’s errors, as he sees them, which is merely a warm-up for the indictment.

The second part assaults the Left in a way I believe to be a true description of their intentions and tactics. It is a dark though accurate vision.

 

Nothing could be further from the left’s current vision, which is that the very concept of post-racial integration is an illusion designed to mask the reality of an eternal “white supremacy.” Today’s left-liberal consensus is that Obama, however revered he may still be as president, was and is absurdly naïve in this respect: that there is no recovery from the original sin, no possible redemption, and certainly no space for the concept of an individual citizenship that transcends race and can unite Americans. There is no freedom here. There is just oppression. The question is merely about who oppresses whom.

The idea that African-Americans have some responsibility for their own advancement, that absent fatherhood and a cultural association of studying with “acting white” are part of the problem — themes Obama touched upon throughout his presidency — is now almost a definition of racism itself. And the animating goal of progressive politics is unvarnished race and gender warfare. What matters before anything else is what race and gender you are, and therefore what side you are on. And in this neo-Marxist worldview, fully embraced by a hefty majority of the next generation, the very idea of America as a liberating experiment, dissolving tribal loyalties in a common journey toward individual opportunity, is anathema.

There is no arc of history here, just an eternal grinding of the racist and sexist wheel. What matters is that nonwhites fight and defeat white supremacy, that women unite and defeat oppressive masculinity, and that the trans supplant and redefine the cis. What matters is equality of outcome, and it cannot be delayed. All the ideas that might complicate this — meritocracy, for example, or a color-blind vision of justice, or equality of opportunity rather than outcome — are to be mocked until they are dismantled. And the political goal is not a post-racial fusion, a unity of the red and the blue, but the rallying of the victims against the victimizers, animated by the core belief that a non-“white” and non-male majority will at some point come, after which the new hierarchies can be imposed by fiat. When you read the Jeremiah Wright speech today, it seems as if it is coming from a different era altogether.

In the third section, Sullivan likens Trump to King Richard III, as presented by Shakespeare. Truly this is a triumph of invective, and fully confirms my view that people are being driven mad – mad – by the breakdown of their cognitive apparatus in the wake of the Donald’s passage through time.

The tyrant is not in full control of himself, and has no real idea of what to do with power when he gets it — except purge his ranks and dispatch his rivals in an endless cycle of insecurity. No one lasts for long in Richard’s orbit, or Trump’s. He rages forward blindly, and his only constancy is his paranoia, loneliness, and willingness to cause collateral damage to anything around him. The only way to defeat him, Shakespeare implies, is from outside the system itself: via an invading army, led by an exile. Even then, the damage is deep and lasting. Richard’s reign is just two years long; but the scar is indelible.

And this is indeed the kernel of what I fear: that if Mueller at any point presents a real conflict between the rule of law and Trump’s ego, the ego will win. If Trump has to fire his attorney general, and anyone else, he will. If he has to initiate a catastrophic conflict to save face, he will. If he has to delegitimize the Department of Justice, empty the State Department, and turn law enforcement against itself, he will. If he has to unleash unspeakable racial demons to save himself from political oblivion, he will not hesitate to do so. If he has to separate children from parents, describe humans as animals, and turn Christians into pagans, he will not blink. This is what a tyrant does….

Trump, it seems to me, has established this tyrannical dynamic with remarkable speed. And what we are about to find out is whether the Founders who saw such a character as an eternal threat to their republic have constructed institutions capable of checking him without the impact of an external intervention, of a disaster so complete it finally breaks the tyrant’s spell. Watching what has transpired these past two years, seeing how truly weak the system is, and how unwilling so many have been to recognize our new disorder, I see no reason to be optimistic. The play is a tragedy, after all.

You are at liberty to view this as mere vaporing, however erudite and informed. Or deeply insightful, and which predicts tragedy.

I do not share this perspective.

I consider that Trump is more sinned against than sinning, to cite King Lear. I believe him to have been the object of a conspiracy of espionage agencies (Brennan, Comey, Clapper) using opposition research bought or purveyed by the Democrats, which is fabricated nonsense, in the attempt to cripple his regime by delegitimizing it from the beginning on the basis of a story of Russian collusion and interference.

I consider that the Mueller probe is a weapon of the permanent State and Democratic political appointees against the President, and predict that, after two years of turning over every page, it cannot and will not find any evidence of the collusion it was intended to find. But like any bureaucratic legal enterprize, it will seek eternal self-perpetuation.

In short, Trump’s enemies have nothing on him except political differences.

Those who hate Trump may fear a Richard III,  wandering the halls of power and calling for the assassination of enemies, if they had the culture and literary imagination. What they have, by contrast, is a vulgar and effective billionaire real estate developer, who is whipping their collective asses with his success.

So to Andrew Sullivan, I say, nice try. A very nice try. An erudite, informed and brilliant try. But I am not buying it. One of us is off his rocker, and it is not me. As Robert Frost once said, you have to have a certain coarseness to get through life: I have it, it would seem,  and Andrew Sullivan does not. Because I see Sullivan’s take on Trump-as-tyrant as an effusion of a certain type of gay excess, like the apartment in La Cage aux Folles. I dislike descending to stereotypes, yet in this case they are apposite.

The script writers are being fired

Ho ho ho!

Inspector General Horowitz found “reasonable grounds” for believing there has been a violation of federal criminal law in the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

The essential Democratic and Deep State illusion was that somehow they had not lost the election. That it was impossible for them to have lost it. So they concocted the Trump collusion-with-Putin story. That story is now unravelling. It looks like Obama and the Deep State conspired in many ways against the Trump campaign and swept Hillary’s misdeeds under the rug.

I predict this will eventuate in Obama being seen as the leftist villain that he is. That is to say, seen by the mass of moderate people who do not obsess with political blogs like this one.

The last time around, when George W. was President, the Democrats withdrew into the dream world of the West Wing, where wise Jeb Bartlett reigned as the alternative and very Democratic President. This time they were not content with realizing their fiction in television, and sought to achieve their fiction in reality, using the MSM and the Courts and the Special Investigator, Mueller.

Unfortunately for the scriptwriters, having tried to eliminate Trump by the two year long investigation into a fictional construct of Russian-Trump collusion, it turns out that the scriptwriters have themselves been revealed. They turn out to have been the senior levels of the FBI (James Comey) and the CIA (John Brennan). The audience is just as happy to see them dragged before the public for ritual abuse as they would have been happy to see Trump impeached.

Once you start concocting political fiction, using investigations, courts, the media and the full apparatus of US institutions, you are obliged to keep up the pace. The plot stalled. So a plot twist had to be devised to maintain public interest. Now Queen Hillary is being dragged in to save the ratings war.

To recap:

To Scott Adams, politics is an insult contest.

To the Z-man, it is a rock fight.

To Dalwhinnie, it is all a television series. When the television series stalls, the script writers are fired.

 

VDH on Conrad Black’s bio of Trump

Why Trump Is a President Like No Other

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

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

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

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

Why am I convinced of this? Several reasons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 for 5

 

My subject is the astonishing level of incomprehension of and contempt for Trump by the American elites.

A perfect illustration is available from Real Clear Politics’ Monday edition of the state of incomprehension of Trump by the American elite. It is called “the End of Intelligence”, and appeared first in the Sunday New York Times. It is written by Michael Hayden, who was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009 and the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005.

His concern is with ‘post truth’ America, and what follows is Hayden’s line of argument.

He illustrates his case with some whoppers (outright lies), exaggerations and nonsense that Trump told during the election. [No discussion is made of anything from Hillary].

Hayden writes:

We in the intelligence world have dealt with obstinate and argumentative presidents through the years. But we have never served a president for whom ground truth really doesn’t matter.

The case in point is the ill-conceived Presidential directive that has come to be called ‘the Muslim-ban’. Hayden detects a pattern: something starts with a Presidential tweet, then the legions of  experts are called in to dampen, palliate, or moderate the instincts of the President.

“Sometimes, almost magically, he gets it right”, as when Trump agreed with the establishment to keep troops in Afghanistan.

But most of the time, Trump does not agree with the establishment, as on sanctions against Russia. In fact Trump disagrees with large sections of official opinion.

In this post-truth world, intelligence agencies are in the bunker with some unlikely mates: journalism, academia, the courts, law enforcement and science — all of which, like intelligence gathering, are evidence-based. Intelligence shares a broader duty with these other truth-tellers to preserve the commitment and ability of our society to base important decisions on our best judgment of what constitutes objective reality.

On how many issues is the American establishment wrong? They consist of journalists, academia, the courts, law enforcement and science.  And on how many issues are the the general consensus of the establishments in North America and Europe absolutely, completely wrong?

  1. Global warming/climate change: a concatenation of errors in false analysis, false conclusions, and wrong-headed solutions that will impoverish us, all driven by an anti-development ideology masquerading as “science”
  2. Iran deceiving us about their nuclear plans, and we being willing to be deceived
  3. Russia, seen as if it were still the Soviet Union, a confusing the thuggish Putin with the mass-muderer Stalin
  4. Islamic terrorism – you cannot be allowed to see or speak to the link between Islam the religion and Islam the political idea
  5. Korea – seen as insoluble

I would say it is five for five, on the most important issues confronting the West today. And I am not talking about the ideological mess of our universities.

Of course Hayden and his ilk believe that Trump is irrational in opposing Establishment views, because it is impossible that they could be wrong. We have all read their 60-page memoranda; we have all taken our lessons from the professors; we have all bowed our heads to the liberals in robes on the courts; and the police are busy policing thoughts and attitudes, as they ought. How can we all be wrong?

How can the establishments in law, policing, science, foreign intelligence and academia be wrong? The answer is quite simple, really. They have been animated by wrong ideas for fifty or a hundred years, and the results are now being seen.

I was once subjected to spiteful derision from a man who thought my views on global warming were utterly wrong. Without his ever having researched the subject, he found most offensive the fact that I dared to have an opinion that was not the consensus of scientists, as he saw it. How could I be so bold? [As a Protestant I am culturally accustomed to taking on Establishments and declaring them without authority, is the answer.]

The heresy or sin is in having a view that is not an establishment view. And Trump is five for five. And that, my friends, is why the Establishment thinks that Trump is irrational. Because they cannot be wrong.

Barbara Bush 1925-2018

The late Barbara Bush was the most magnificent person to occupy the White House in the last 40 years, with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan. I recall one Christmas time when a suburban shopping mall in the Washington area had banned Salvation Army bellringers with their plastic spheres for cash donations. I assume it was one of those church-state issues that bedevil the States. Maybe it was just cheap meanness. Barbara Bush got into the presidential limousine, took a drive out to the mall, and arranged for a television crew to film  her dropping in 1980s twenty dollar bill into the lucite sphere of the Salvation Army bell ringers. The shopping centre lifted its ban that night. She had exactly the right touch.

You will find several clips on Barbara Bush on Youtube. Here is a review of her by Brett Hume. She was fierce, intelligent, down to earth, loved her family, and never struck a false note.

There is so an American upper class, and she was a paht of it.

 

Women and black students less likely to defend free speech

If you think the headline is provocative, that is because the facts are provoking.

Inclusivity is more important than speech, a majority of students say.

When forced to choose, a small majority of college students say inclusivity is more important than free speech, though they widely believe in the importance of both to democracy.

Diverse and inclusive society                       Protecting free speech

All                                                          53                         46
Men                                                       39                         61
Women                                                 64                         35
Whites                                                   47                         52
Blacks                                                    68                         31
At historically black institutions      53                         46
Democrats                                            66                         34
Independents                                       49                         50
Republicans                                          30                         60

The full report is given here.

Michael Barone comments:

So the difference between male and female students may reflect different power positions, with those most at risk of proscription more favorably disposed toward free speech. It may also reflect differences between male and female temperaments on average. Psychological studies over many years conclude that women tend to prize agreeableness and consensus, while men tend to seek out conflict and competition. One can easily imagine evolutionary explanations for this group difference, which of course would not be apparent in every individual.

Female students’ willingness to subordinate free speech to political values is disturbing, in a time when habits of mind and behavior developed on campus tend to leach out to the larger society.

Technical details:
Results for the college student sample are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 3,072 U.S. college students, aged 18 to 24, who are currently enrolled as full-time students at four-year colleges. Gallup selected a random sample of 240 U.S. four-year colleges, drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), that were stratified by college enrollment size, public or private affiliation, and region of the country.

 

Transgenderism as a metaphysical belief

From Commentary, and article by Sohrab Ahmari

The trans movement is asking Americans to accept and indeed to make their lives and their perceptions of reality conform to a set of extraordinary ideas based on very little debate. These claims are often put forth in the language of psychiatry and psychology, and they implicate the lives of real people, many of whom suffer genuine, sometimes unbearable anguish. Which good American can say no to the cries of a suffering minority, especially when they are amplified by scientific authority?

The science isn’t there yet, in point of fact. The case for accepting and advancing the cause of transgenderism is, at root, a radical philosophical argument—one that goes to the heart of what it means to be human. Accepting the trans movement’s argument requires us to lend credence to an extreme form of mind-matter dualism, and involves severing the links between bodily sex, gender identity, and erotic desire.

But first: What do the activists claim? If there is one unshakeable tenet, it is that gender identity and expression—a person’s self-concept as a gendered being and how that person outwardly manifests it—are different from the sex organs that have distinguished male from female since the emergence of the species. They argue that while a physician might “assign” a sex to a newborn, that label may well be at odds with the baby’s true gender. As the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) puts it in a guide for journalists, a transgender person is one “whose sex assigned at birth is different from who they know they are on the inside.”…

At the same time, the activists hold—and this is their second major tenet—that gender itself is largely a social construct, since it is society that labels various traits or characteristics “masculine” or “feminine.”…

The third tenet is that gender identity and sexual desire have nothing to do with each other. According to a model school-district transgender policy drawn up by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, sexual orientation is “a person’s romantic and/or physical attraction to people of the same or opposite gender or other genders. Transgender and gender nonconforming people may have any sexual orientation.” PFLAG likewise bifurcates gender identity and sexual preference: “It is important to note that gender identity neither relates to, nor determines, sexual orientation…. People who are transgender can also identify as gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, or queer….

Now we have the necessary elements to put together the vision of the human person offered by the trans movement. Each person has a strong innate sense of gender that, according to the activists, may or may not align with his or her physical sex. When the two don’t align, we are dealing, in essence, with brains or minds that are trapped in bodies with the wrong sex organs.2 It is incumbent on the rest of us, then, to recognize the “true” self that is so trapped and help it break free from the prison of the body.

This is a profoundly metaphysical, even spiritual, vision.

See the rest of the article. As usual, a few minutes of clear thought is enough to skewer the pretensions of folly.