Now that the dust has settled from the long-anticipated Jim Comey testimony, I have had some time to reflect on it. The former FBI director presented himself in earnest fashion and continued his “aw shucks, I did my best” boy-scout routine for which he is well known. Overall there were no bombshells, despite what the pop media claims. There was some confirmation and a whole lot of innuendo (Something at which Jimmy excels and uses masterfully). The most important moment, I believe, is his explanation for why he began writing memos: the first meeting with Trump. Everything that came after this is merely a detail, since that first conversation set the tone for whatever followed. I tend to look at history and human interaction as one long chemical reaction, so this meeting was a catalyzing moment in which the collection of elements that is Comey reacted with the collection of elements that is Trump. Metaphors aside, (God knows Comey loves those) we only received the account of the catalyzing moment from one perspective, which makes Comey our narrator. The natural question to follow is: how reliable is our narrator in this case? What assumptions did he bring into that catalyzing moment? I think Comey brought in a set of preconceived notions about Trump which tainted their relationship from the start.
I don’t pretend to know what the Alt-right is. In fact, I’m not sure most supposed members of the group even agree on what it means.
According to white supremacists like Richard Spencer, the alt right is about white identity politics, but I have heard arguments from proponents of the alt-right that reject such beliefs entirely. One thing is clear, however, and that is that the media oligarchs wish to define the group with types like Spencer as the ultimate definition. This is why the left wins so well. They understand the age-old concept: He who controls language controls the conversation. If you can blast the airwaves and television channels with enough association of “alt-right” and other terms like “white-nationalist” and “anti-Semite”, then it starts to stick. Repetition creates memory which then forms assumptions. Once you provide a definition for the term, then the conversation moves onward, and nobody is listening to the dissenters who never agreed to being a reincarnation of Hitler’s ghost. This is because we live in a post-truth world of political media. The grinning newsreaders may look pleasant, but they are merely mouthpieces of an (mis)information fatwa. All of this is somewhat beside the point. What really interests me is why the far left despises types like Spencer so much, when he has much more in common with them than the new and surging populist conservatism of this election cycle.
Truly, Richard Spencer is a progressive. Yes, he may call back to historical examples of more ethnically homogeneous cultures as “traditional” in some way, but one of his primary examples of peaceful creation of ethnic statehood is the restructuring of nations following the first world war. I’m not exactly sure how the Paris Peace Accords and the formation of the League of Nations with the involvement of the most progressive American president of all time is supposed to represent any kind of “conservatism”, but I’m open to arguments. Spencer’s beloved concept of ethnic redistribution by fiat in order to form homogenous nations is utopian by definition. If only X social issue could be corrected by fiat, then society would be much better. This is how people talk about enacting gun control and mandating common core, neither of which are conservative in the least bit.
Look no further than what people like Spencer react against to understand how progressive he is. Spencer’s white nationalist corner of the alt-right is just as obsessed with identity politics as the radical leftists who sneer at him. In fact, he is exactly the caricature of the oppressive and self-important white male that they want to believe exists. Of course they hold Spencer up as the definition of the alt-right because he speaks their language. He lacks the nuance of conservatism because he is just as radical as the supposedly “liberal” identity politicians who are trying to make him the figurehead of the alt-right. He is the straw-man who actually believes in the white patriarchy as some kind of self-aware entity and revels in it. He’s playing their game by their rules. As a white male in the world of identity politics, you can either be a misogynist white supremacist or a flagellating self-hating eunuch. These two archetypes love and hate each-other equally, since they depend on the existence of the other to confirm the legitimacy of their paradigm.
I’ve said to people in everyday conversation about politics that the alt-right sprang into existence the day Salon started posting articles about how white men are a disease that must be stopped. The Richard Spencer wing of the alt-right is not only an invention of the left but an extension as well. Progressives compare them to Nazis because the progressives understand the underpinnings of Nazism from firsthand experience. After all, Nazism did not come from the rural plains of Germany but the universities and intelligentsia. As the old proverb goes: one fisherman recognizes another from afar. Progressive identity politics is entirely based on mythic narratives of racial power struggles, just like the Nazi ideology. If you replace the Jewish scapegoat with white males, then the picture becomes clearer. A shadowy ethno-homogenous cabal seeks to hold back the potential of a struggling race(s) and must be cast off for society to flourish. The progressive, identity politics obsessed elites choosing Spencer as the representative of their nebulous foes leaves no middle ground. It gives them the direct racial conflict they really want. Once politics boil down to a simplistic racial power struggle, there is no “liberal” or “conservative” to be found between the Richard Spencer types or the victim-autocrats of the social justice movement. They’re all just fighting over the armbands.
Today I finished watching Mr. Robot. I don’t mean that I caught up completely on the show. What I mean is that I tossed it aside into the tomb of the other shows I dropped because they didn’t make the cut. Some people find it odd that I drop shows like yesterday’s garbage, but that has always been easy for me. I am very jealous of my time. Now Mr. Robot will rust away beside the ruined forms of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Affair and all the other victims of my jealousy. Why would I do such a thing? Well, the short answer is that Mr. Robot is a badly written show. I don’t know how else to put it. It Is not very often that I am so repulsively driven away from something. If I must, then I will extrapolate a little.
Mr. Robot is a painfully laborious metaphor for adolescent angst and daddy issues that are felt strongly by this young generation. It’s simple and boring. The protagonist is robotically controlled by his father manifested as some kind of stress induced hallucination. We’re talking high school creative project level concepts here. Aside from that not a whole lot happens. A hacker group takes down society, but not really because most everything still functions. The entire plot (and I use that term very loosely) is framed by a character that is not simply an unreliable narrator but an incomprehensible one. Obviously that doesn’t make for good storytelling. A better name for the show would be maybe “Let’s Do Drugs and Mope Around Because Capitalism,” or “Screw the System with a System Reacting to the System”. Everything evolved is involved, and the writers of the show don’t seem to understand that basic reality. In fact Mr. Robot is only superficially involved and to an extent that watching it is like a never-ending car crash somehow spiraling into an infinite navel gaze because dad wanted me to get a job.
My final argument for why Mr. Robot did not make the cut will be made in the form of a simile: Mr. Robot is like a few high school boys got high while reading about Nietzsche and computer software before somehow finding a robotic replica of Bernie Sanders’ hand and using it to masturbate onto a bunch of strawmen.
As this year’s election process carries on, I (as an independent who has never voted R or D) am more and more convinced that we are all living in the closest example yet of reality being split into two separate universes. In Universe A there is an insane racist who attacks the families of war heroes and wants to open internment camps for the purpose of religio-ethnic cleansing running against a genius and misunderstood policy wonk with the biggest resumé since the guys who actually penned the founding documents. In universe B there is a flawed but honest candidate who can bring America into a golden age running against a hell-woman who bathes in the blood of young virgins to keep her skin looking fresh for her meetings with the Saudi princes to whom she plans to sell the United States of America. Both of these scenarios are ridiculous and have little basis in reality, but that’s no fun. Reality is boring.
I often find myself in the odd position of siding with the evidence that points toward this boring middle ground. I don’t believe Trump is a crazed neo-fascist racist. I don’t believe Hillary is some demon-spawned war criminal. I also don’t think Trump can fulfill much if any of his promises, and I don’t think Hillary is some kind of hyper-intelligent policy genius. But who would want to live in that world? It lacks the thrills of Universe A or B. But where do universe A or B come from? The quickest answer is: the media. Simply put, the media doesn’t want anything to be boring. They make money off of sensationalism and intrigue, and the facts of reality are often inconvenient for maintaining that profit margin. Another answer is the political cycle. The more dire the alternative, the more of a push to fight for your side.
Donald Trump has bungled his response to Khizr Khan, and I think it is pretty obvious. The biggest reason for this was due to one of his most significant weaknesses: his inability to say nothing. Having watched Khan’s speech at the DNC I can say that it was pretty much a non-factor. As far as speeches go it was not great. The media has been going on and on about how powerful it was, but I don’t really see it. Obviously their son’s sacrifice is something to be respected and not belittled, but that’s not the issue here. Is seems to me that there were two good ways Trump could have dealt with Khan’s claim that he “sacrificed nothing and no one” for America.
My new format for posting on The Feral Yawp will take the vague outline of a rambling rant on the recent events in politics and culture. Due to my [mental] inability to write out a concise post related to one topic I have decided to eschew the format of my former posts and just put down my recent observations. This first post will be comparatively short, but later on I’ll likely have more to mull over.
Obviously the media refrain, on the subject of the wikileaks email dump, that Trump is somehow Putin’s lapdog is a weak attempt at turning focus away from the damning implications of said emails. It doesn’t matter how they saw the light of day. What matters is the content. Just because a guy you don’t like turned on the lights does not distract from the myriad of rats and cockroaches running for cover after the switch is flipped.
That being said, if this is a Russian operation, then it is genius. How sad is it that the only thing Russia has to do to weaken American’s trust in their leaders is to simply show us the truth about them? Currently, as far as a battle for transparency goes, the enemy of the average American citizen’s enemy appears to be Vladimir Putin. Of course at this point one is supposed to become incensed at Russia’s meddling in our election process. Not really. As someone who wants all the bums out, I say bring it on Vlad and make them squirm.
David Brooks has once again proven to be entirely out of touch with the general political conversation in America. By general I mean the conversations happening during lunch breaks, the conversations through cigarette smoke or over beers, the conversations that accompany barbeque or a bar’s neon lights, the settings of political conversation all over middle America, a place even he admits he has ignored for far too long. In a recent article titled “If Not Trump, What?”, Brooks reveals, without due shame, his realization that he has been entirely disconnected from whatever circumstances have attracted republicans, and much of blue-collar America, to Donald Trump. Elitists be not afraid, however, since he avoids learning any enduring lessons in the process or tackling any real ideas, aside from their shallowest definitions.