Politics, et Cetera
A publication from The Political Forum, LLC
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
They Said It:
“Trust me” government asks that we concentrate our hopes and dreams on one man; that we trust him to do what’s best for us. My view of government places trust not in one person or one party, but in those values that transcend persons and parties. The trust is where it belongs–in the people. The responsibility to live up to that trust is where it belongs, in their elected leaders. That kind of relationship, between the people and their elected leaders, is a special kind of compact.
Three hundred and sixty years ago, in 1620, a group of families dared to cross a mighty ocean to build a future for themselves in a new world. When they arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts, they formed what they called a “compact”; an agreement among themselves to build a community and abide by its laws.
The single act–the voluntary binding together of free people to live under the law–set the pattern for what was to come.
A century and a half later, the descendants of those people pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to found this nation. Some forfeited their fortunes and their lives; none sacrificed honor.
Four score and seven years later, Abraham Lincoln called upon the people of all America to renew their dedication and their commitment to a government of, for and by the people.
Isn’t it once again time to renew our compact of freedom; to pledge to each other all that is best in our lives; all that gives meaning to them–for the sake of this, our beloved and blessed land?
Ronald Reagan, Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Detroit, July 17, 1980.
THEY’RE LYING TO YOU, YOU KNOW.
Almost thirty years ago, when Ronald Reagan was still the President of these United States and the Soviet Union still existed, we penned a piece explaining why then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had implemented his famous and much celebrated domestic policy Glasnost. Glasnost, which in Russian means “publicity” or “being open to the public” was one of the two principal values for which Gorbachev is remembered – the other being Perestroika, meaning “restructuring” – and was thus one of the key contributing factors to the Nobel Peace Prize he won in 1990. Most mainstream Sovietologists then and almost everyone today view Glasnost as the defining feature of Gorbachev’s character. He was not just a great man, but a good man as well, which is to say that he altruistically undertook Glasnost in the hope of alleviating his people’s suffering and making their lives a little better. Or so the story goes.
Needless to say, we had something of a different take on both the man and the policy. Gorbachev was no altruist. He was, in truth, just like any other extremely powerful man. He was desperate to retain the power he had accumulated, and he was scared that if he didn’t, he would be consumed by the hatred his people had for their rulers. He instituted Glasnost not because he was a saint, but because he knew that his country was falling apart and he was frantic to save it. Specifically, we wrote:
I believe the picture began to form for Gorbachev following the April 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. Soviet experts with whom I have spoken believe the extensive investigation following Chernobyl opened Gorbachev’s eyes to the fact that the Kremlin didn’t have the foggiest notion about what was truly happening within the bureaucracies that rule the day-to-day operations of its vast empire.
Not only did Gorbachev learn that the bureaucrats at Chernobyl had been lying to the Kremlin about safety conditions at their plant, but he learned that this behavior obtained at all of the nation’s other nuclear facilities. Indeed, he found that Soviet bureaucrats have, since the days of the Stalin purges, systematically lied to the Kremlin big shots about how bad things are, finding that to do otherwise was to risk disfavor or worse.
Poor Gorby. Everyone was lying to him. Everyone, everywhere, from the lowliest peasant to the most powerful bureaucrat, was lying to him. And why wouldn’t they be? After all, two of his predecessors as the supreme leader of the Soviet Union – Lenin and Stalin – had, together, murdered some 50 million of their countrymen for various offenses against the regime. And who would want to be victim 50,000,001? Better just to tell the man what he wants to hear, never mind the effect that doing so might have on the country, or even the world.
Now, we mention this today not because we have an ax to grind with Gorbachev or because we want you to pat us on the back for our tremendous insight – although you’re welcome to do so, if you choose. No, our point in bringing this up is to postulate that a similar, though somewhat inverted problem exists in the United States today. Everyone is lying to everyone else. As in the Soviet Union, the bureaucrats are lying. The politicians are lying. The media – ESPECIALLY the media – are lying. Entertainers are lying. Teachers are lying. Everyone is lying.
The difference this time around is that everyone is lying not to the big cheeses in the government, but to the people instead. We have made a habit of pointing out, primarily just before elections, that the ruling class truly and enduringly hates the country class. It is important to note, we think, that this hatred carries over to the messages the ruling class sends the country class. It has to. They hate us, but they need us and so they lie to us, if for no other reason than to hide their hatred long enough to be returned to power. And all of this has real and serious consequences.
Recent events have even called into the question the honesty of the FBI, which was once the most trusted of all of the many bureaucracies in Washington. We should note also that that which is known as the “mainstream” media has not simply become a hotbed of fake news, but no longer really denies it. We should note that the situation has become so bad that one would be hard pressed to name one – just one – person in the entire nation whose word would be taken as gospel by a vast majority of the nation’s citizens. Years ago, George Will joked that the definition of a cynic is someone who when asked, “What color is that car?” responds, “It is green. On this side.” Today that statement would receive a nod, rather than a laugh. It is no longer funny.
If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, let us give you just a few examples. Some of these lies may seem trivial. Some of them may seem justified, for various reasons related to public safety or personal privacy. All of them, though, are deceptions perpetrated upon the people of the United States by those who purport to be their “betters.”
Consider, for example, the following, which was written by Megan Fox and published by PJ Media (the organization associated with such conservative/libertarian giants as Roger Simon, Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds, Roger Kimball, Michael Ledeen, Michael Walsh, David “Spengler” Goldman, and a host of others). We’ll concede up front that the subject matter is sensitive, but does it justify the deception/delicacy? You be the judge.
The Los Angeles Times calls anal cancer “the next big crisis” for the gay community. According to the American Cancer Society, the future looks grim.
The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 8,200 new anal cancer cases in 2017. In the absence of national screening recommendations, more than 50 percent of these individuals will be diagnosed at stage III or IV, when five-year survival is less than 40 percent. This creates a major public health concern.
The study shows that anal cancer comes from the sexually transmitted virus HPV. What it doesn’t mention is why the gay community is so susceptible to contracting HPV. Perhaps the answer is too politically incorrect for the L.A. Times. NBC reported on a similar study that was done in Hawaii involving women who contracted anal HPV. They danced around the cause in an almost laughable way.
It’s not clear exactly how the women contracted anal HPV. Those who developed infections were more likely to be young and white, with lower levels of education and income and a history of multiple sexual partners, the study showed. Women who engaged in anal sex were also at higher risk, though transmission could have occurred in other, non-sexual, ways . . . The findings are important because anal HPV infection is strongly linked with anal cancer. . .
Really? Non-sexual ways? What ways are those? The article does not elaborate but goes out of its way to deny the very findings discovered!
Ms. Fox goes to explain what neither NBC nor the Los Angeles Times was willing to discuss, simply by citing the American Cancer Society’s website. To wit:
Having multiple sex partners increases the risk of infection with HIV and HPV. It also increases the risk of anal cancer.
Receptive anal intercourse also increases the risk of anal cancer in both men and women, particularly in those younger than 30. Because of this, men who have sex with men have a high risk of this cancer.
There are, we’re afraid, real victims in this deception – or at least there will be, going forward.
We’ll note two additional details with respect to this specific story/lie. First, all of this takes place against the backdrop of California’s decision, more or less, to decriminalize the act of knowingly spreading HIV, either to sexual partners or through the blood supply. As the Los Angeles Times put it, “Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection. The measure also applies to those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.” The new law’s sponsors declare that modern medicine “nearly eliminates” the possibility of transmission – presumably through sex AND blood transfusions. What they don’t mention, though, is that one of the key factors in keeping the blood supply HIV free is the questionnaire that first-time donors complete. California has just rendered those questionnaires irrelevant. As with the anal cancer issue, sexual ideology triumphs over truth.
We note here as well that the REAL powers that be in this country – the masters of our technological universe – decided that Megan Fox needed to be punished for her efforts to discuss the truth about anal cancer. Google, which owns YouTube, was not especially pleased with Ms. Fox’s articles and videos. And so they hit her where it hurts – in the wallet. On October 6, just over a week after publishing her original story, Fox posted the following:
On the same day that Rush Limbaugh read my recent column on air, YouTube — in the dead of night — demonetized a large percentage of videos on my channel. My YouTube channel has been around for years with many recordings of very boring village meetings highlighting local Chicago-area corruption. . . .
Yesterday, October 5, after Rush read my article on his show, I made a video that included my reaction to him talking about it on the air. It wasn’t up for three hours before my videos started getting the dreaded yellow dollar signs — which means YouTube just took away my ability to be paid for them. YouTube made sure that whatever bump in subscribers or views I got from Rush would not benefit me in any way.
Those of you who have paid any attention to Washington at all over the last half-century or so are undoubtedly aware of the farcical event called “the comment period.” When a federal agency wants to issue a new rule/regulation, it files the proposed rule in the Federal Register, including dates for a comment period, usually lasting 30 or 60 days. During this period, anyone may comment on the rule, offering ideas for improvement, additional information, or even suggestions as to what part of the body of which bureaucrat the rule should be shoved. At the end of the comment period, the agency can and will do whatever it wants to do. It may revise the rule. It may not. The comments don’t have any real value at all, other than to placate those reactionaries who believe in the arcane notion of government of, by, and for the people.
We point out here that not everyone views the comment period as pointless. Activists – usually those favoring new regulation or opposed to the rescission of existing regulation – have decided that they can play the comment game to their advantage. The greater number of comments supporting their position, the more legitimate and irrevocable the regulation appears. “Democracy” in action, or something like that.
Of course, as is their wont, the Left has taken a seemingly legitimate notion and stood it on its head. Rather than grassroots comments delivered in the comment period, the leftist activists have taken to “astroturfing” the comments. Or, to put it more simply, they fake it. No one knew how badly they fake it, though, until recently. And to this end, consider the following, from software web site FileHippo, citing data collected by Gravwell, a data analytics firm.
New research has found that the vast majority of the 22 million comments submitted to the FCC over the summer have been against net neutrality, but that most of these ‘against’ comments were written or submitted by ‘bots’.
Research by Gravwell, a data analytics company claims that a mere 3,863,929 comments appear to have been individually written and were unique. The other 18 and a bit million appeared to be copied, pasted, and resubmitted multiple times, most likely by bots. . . .
People who submitted comments directly to the FCC website were ”overwhelming in support of net neutrality regulations”, said Gravwell lead researcher, Corey Thuen. Only 17.4% of the comments were unique. Of this number, around 95 percent of all organic comments favored net neutrality.
Gravwell also said that most comments had been submitted in bulk, were largely identical, and that further research indicated the submissions were the work of bots or automated processes.
The Motherboard website, a constant voice of sanity and reason in the age of technology, highlighted one email that has been submitted to the FCC 1,200,000 times word for word right down to the ‘\n” marks peppered throughout. A similar email was sent a reported 1 million times in August alone, as well.
Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, the comment submitted more than a million times opposes net neutrality, meaning that it was produced by a bot created to push a nominally conservative or libertarian position. And what that means, in turn, is that our hypothesis has additional support. Everyone – Right, Left, or otherwise – is lying to us.
Summing up the net neutrality comment mess, the Libertarian activist Seton Motley wrote a fitting eulogy for our sad, demoralized republic: “We have unelected bureaucrats. At little known bureaucracies. Engaging, nigh always, in huge power grabs. For which they have little renowned ‘Comment Periods.’ During which they pretend to listen . . . to a bunch of non-human respondents . . . “ Lincoln weeps.
Over the weekend, Matthew Dowd, a chief political analyst for ABC News, penned a tweet about guns, gun control, and terrorism that he thought was a real zinger, a factoid that would really show the gun “nuts” how stupidly they are behaving in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting. “More Americans were killed in Las Vegas in one night,” Dowd wrote, “than have been killed by radical islam in last ten years.”
Now, for the record, Dowd is more or less a Republican, having left the Democratic Party in 1999. He then served as the chief strategist on the Bush/Cheney reelection team in 2004. All of that said, Dowd, like his fellow Bush presidency alumnus David Frum, is uncomfortable with ordinary people owning guns and thinks the NRA is yucky; thus his tweet about Americans, Las Vegas, and terrorism.
Dowd’s zinger only had two problems. First, it’s stupid, since the arbitrary “ten years” business is a clear and shameless attempt to cherry-pick Islamic terrorism deaths by starting the counting after 9/11. This is an old media/Democrat trick. If you pretend 9/11 didn’t happen, then Islamic terrorism doesn’t look so bad. Americans are just silly, little children scared of the kinda, sorta non-existent outsider boogey-man. If you ignore the 3000 dead and the missing Twin Towers, that is.
Of course, even accounting for Dowd’s base deception here, the second problem with the tweet is that it’s just flat false. Dowd, so confident in his own righteousness, mocked “the Trump fan club” for taking him to task for his tweet, responding definitively that “It is a fact.” But it’s not. If you add up the death counts from domestic Islamic terrorist attacks over the last ten years – Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon, Chattanooga, San Bernardino, and Orlando – you get wind up with a total of 83. Moreover, if you take just the last two attacks – Orlando and San Bernardino – which is to say Islamic terrorism over the last TWO years, you still have more victims than Las Vegas. Dowd was, in short, absolutely full of it.
Not that he was alone among media and entertainment figures to try to use the Las Vegas mass shooting to support his personal political predilections and to try to do so by any means necessary. Some cheered the fact that country music fans are more likely than not to be Republicans. Some insisted that it’s too easy to buy “automatic” weapons, when, in fact, it’s not. And some insisted that new laws would prevent such shootings, despite the fact that shooter Stephen Paddock passed his federal background checks. Lies piled upon lies.
Last week, when Las Vegas police constructed their timeline of the incident, they said that Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos was shot by Paddock in the midst of all of the rest of the shooting, suggesting that Campos’s arrival on the 32nd floor of the hotel was the reason that Paddock stopped firing on the crowd below. Yesterday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joe Lombardo said that that timeline was inaccurate and that Campos was actually shot six minutes BEFORE Paddock opened fire on the crowd. Moreover, the police now say that Campos was shot when Paddock fired 200 shots into the hallway. Now, if you’re having trouble reconciling the fact that Paddock was a good enough shot to pick off concert goers at great range and yet needed 200 shots to hit the security guard in the leg, you’re not alone. None of this makes any sense. Additionally, now we don’t have any explanation for why Paddock quit firing. Did he get bored? Did he find God? Did the voices in his head tell him enough is enough? We have no idea, and the police have no working theories, or at least no theories they’re willing to share. To call this whole thing bizarre is, we think, to engage in gross understatement.
Is there anything at this point that the powers that be can say about the Las Vegas shooting that you would believe? Is there anything they can say that you wouldn’t believe? To be honest with you, our answer to both questions is “no.” The whole story to date is truly nuts, which means that nothing would surprise at this point. At the same time, given the government’s history of deception, particularly with respect to terrorism; given the media’s history of deception, particularly with respect to gun violence; and given the Las Vegas police department’s history of making statements that it later retracts with no explanation; it does not matter on whit what they tell us. In the end, we will take any explanation with a grain of salt. When everyone is lying to you, you have no idea whom or what to believe. And you have no idea who or what is legitimately trying to serve the public interest. And that can be very destructive to a society.
Last week, Peggy Noonan, the former speechwriter for both Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush, used her Wall Street Journal column to try to make a connection between the Las Vegas shooting and the public’s discomfort with and lack of faith in their ruling class. The people, she argued, are leery of their government. She put it this way:
When news broke at Christmastime five years ago of what had happened at Newtown a friend, a news anchor, called and said with a broken voice: “What is the word for what we feel?” I thought for a moment. “Shattered,” I said. “We are shattered, all of us.” . . .
When Columbine happened in the spring of 1999, it hit me like a wave of sickness. I wrote a piece about the culture of death that produced the teenage shooters: “Think of it this way. Your child is an intelligent little fish. He swims in deep water. Waves of sound and sight, of thought and fact, come invisibly through that water, like radar. . . . The sound from the television is a wave, and the sound from the radio; the headlines on the newsstand, on the magazines, on the ad on the bus as it whizzes by — all are waves. The fish — your child — is bombarded and barely knows it. . . .
And here is the horror for me of Las Vegas: I was not shattered. That shatters me. It was just another terrible story. It is not the new normal it is the new abnormal and deep down we know it’s not going to stop. There is too much instability in our country, too much rage and lovelessness, too many weapons . . . .
Why do so many Americans have guns? I don’t mean those who like to hunt and shoot or live far out and need protection. I don’t mean those who’ve been handed down the guns of their grandfather or father. Why do a significant number of Americans have so many guns?
Wouldn’t it help if we thought about that?
I think a lot of Americans have guns because they’re fearful — and for damn good reason. They fear a coming chaos, and know that when it happens it will be coming to a nation that no longer coheres. They think it’s all collapsing — our society, our culture, the baseline competence of our leadership class. They see the cultural infrastructure giving way — illegitimacy, abused children, neglect, racial tensions, kids on opioids staring at screens — and, unlike their cultural superiors, they understand the implications . . .
Americans have so many guns because drug gangs roam the streets, because they have less trust in their neighbors, because they read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Because all of their personal and financial information got hacked in the latest breach, because our country’s real overlords are in Silicon Valley and appear to be moral Martians who operate on some weird new postmodern ethical wavelength. And they’ll be the ones programming the robots that’ll soon take all the jobs! Maybe the robots will all look like Mark Zuckerberg, like those eyeless busts of Roman Emperors. Our leaders don’t even think about this technological revolution. They’re too busy with transgender rights.
If we unpack all of this, we are left with a couple of insights, one ours and one hers. First, we think it’s interesting how Noonan thinks she’s speaks for “the people” and is, therefore, not part of the cultural elite. And she states this belief in a piece that transitions, without any attempt to explain the connection, from mass murderers to ordinary Americans. One minute she’s talking about Las Vegas and Columbine, where PSYCHOPATHS committed mass murder, and the next moment she’s talking about why “normal” Americans have so many guns. Does she believe that normal Americans are likely to commit mass murder with those guns? Does she think guys like Paddock were normal Americans but then snapped, suggesting that any gun owner anywhere should be considered a potential future risk? What connection does she want to make between mass murderers and gun owners, who, naturally, have “too many weapons?” And if she wants to make no connection, then why does she speak of both in the same (virtual) breath, never suggesting that she’s transitioned to a different, possibly related topic?
The simple fact of the matter is that Peggy Noonan is part of the ruling class. She always has been and always will be. She doesn’t speak for “normal Americans.” She CAN’T speak for normal Americans from her perch on the Upper East Side. If you read the column in question, you’ll see that she mentions her interactions with various news anchors and well-known liberal journalists, not with the plumbers and pipe-fitters hanging out at the local Moose Lodge. She is NOT one of us, much as she may aspire to be. And it shows.
What we see in Noonan’s strange and unexplained transition from killers to normal folk is her unacknowledged distance from and therefore disregard for the country class. She doesn’t understand the people. She doesn’t realize that she is, even passively and unintentionally, attacking them, placing them on the same plane with truly evil, horrific monsters. And for the record, this is not a criticism specifically of Noonan. Rather, it a criticism of the ruling class more generally. Even those who are sympathetic to the country class are unable to truly empathize with the country class plight. It is difficult, if not impossible, to fear that which you consciously know is unreal. You can’t fake it. Noonan tries, but she fails, and rest of the members of the ruling class would as well.
All of that notwithstanding, the column does contain some strong points, Noonan’s compelling insights. She is absolutely right that the people of this country don’t trust their leaders. And she’s absolutely right that those leaders have earned that distrust and more. We’re not sure she grasps the incompetence, dishonesty, and flat out treachery of the ruling class – for reasons mentioned above – but at least she understands that the ruling class has earned the hostility from the country class.
A more complete assessment of the ruling class’s betrayal would, we think, include, among other things, the war over resources that has been one of our major themes over the years. If you go back to our original war for resources piece, published more than seven years ago (here), you’ll see that the issue that that helped form our ideas on the subject was a budget problem in Tulsa, Oklahoma. From The Wall Street Journal:
It has become a recession mantra: Do more with less.
Now, this heartland city [Tulsa, Oklahoma] is testing whether that’s possible when it comes to public safety.
Since January, Tulsa has laid off 89 police officers, 11% of its force. That has pushed the city to the forefront of a national movement, spurred by hard times, to revamp long-held policing strategies. In the crosshairs: community-policing initiatives created over the past two decades, such as having officers work in troubled schools, attend neighborhood-watch meetings and help small-business owners address nuisance crimes like graffiti.
Such efforts are popular, and some experts credit them with contributing to the steady drop in the national crime rate since 1991. But after years of expanding and taking on new duties, police chiefs say they have little choice but to retrench . . . .
Cuts have swept communities from Stockton, Calif., to Naperville, Ill., depleting some departments to 1980s-era staff levels . . . .
The strain in New York and communities nationwide reminds William Bratton, former police chief in New York and Los Angeles, of the 1970s and 1980s. Then, departments lacked resources to focus on crime prevention and community partnerships, or deal with crimes such as drug dealing and prostitution.
“You’d think we would have learned our lessons from the past,” says Mr. Bratton, who now runs Altegrity Security Consulting. “Policing still requires boots on the ground.”
Citizens and officers in Tulsa are finding out together what fewer cops means.
The police have curtailed community outreach, investigations, undercover work, surveillance, even traffic enforcement, and poured many remaining resources into bread-and-butter street patrols.
The domestic-violence unit lost two officers, leaving four to handle about 5,000 cases a year. The undercover units that used to focus on armed gangs in public housing projects have disbanded. Veteran narcotics detectives are back in cruisers, answering 911 calls.
Now, the reason these departments had to cut was the fact that their “leaders” has been foolish with their budgets and dishonest with their officers, promising retirement benefits and pensions they could never deliver. They lied to the people and to their employees, fomenting both distrust and fear.
And why, pray tell, would people need guns in this country? To protect themselves from the threats that the ruling class had made imminent. Again, from the Journal:
Average response time for top-priority 911 calls (generally felonies in progress) was 18% slower this February than the previous year, edging up to eight minutes, according to city data. Response time improved slightly in March, to 7 minutes 30 seconds, 6% slower than last March.
One evening in late March, a 6-year-old girl ran from her home in north Tulsa. The department owns two helicopters with heat-seeking technology to assist in searches, but they have been grounded for lack of funds. So more than three dozen officers fanned out.
They found the girl unharmed. But the three-hour search tied up so many units that 911 dispatchers held a burglary-in-progress call for six minutes before finding a free officer, according to Sgt. Ron Kawano, who reviewed city dispatch logs at the Journal’s request.
A call reporting a drunk man who was threatening to get a shotgun was held for nine minutes before an available patrol could be located, records show. And when three 911 calls in quick succession reported a woman being beaten, it took about 20 minutes for a single officer, with no backup, to reach the house. No arrests were made in any of the incidents.
Arrests citywide were down about 25% in February and March, compared with the previous year. Through the end of March, county prosecutors, who get most of their cases from Tulsa police, had fi led 20% fewer felony cases than last year.
If the trend holds, that could indicate the city is safer. But some officers believe arrests are down because the detective corps was cut by nearly 20%, so fewer crimes are being investigated.
The department has also stopped sending detectives to question many suspects in custody. “We are losing confessions. We are going to lose cases,” says Maj. Matt Kirkland, who oversees the detective division.
All of this is a direct reflection of ruling-class incompetence and especially ruling-class dishonesty. For years – decades, even – they insisted that they could have their cake and eat it too, that they could spend every last penny they raised through taxes and still fund pensions and the like, as if by magic. And the bill for this dishonesty and perfidy is finally coming due.
One would think, under these conditions that someone, somewhere among the ruling class would eventually figure out that the country class wants nothing more than to be told the truth, nothing more than to be allowed to take control of their own lives, to protect themselves and their families, and to try to live safe, happy lives, without ignorant, foolish people telling them what they can and cannot do to achieve those goals. Donald Trump senses some of that, but even he only addresses his appeals to half the country. To the other half, even he tells lies. Why do football players kneel? And why do young black men protest? In part, they do so because the ruling class has filled them with lies about the government’s ability and responsibility to make the world a better place.
In the end, it all comes back to the dishonesty and complacency of those who were supposed to know better and DO better.
They’re lying to you, you know.