Pandemics? Future (and After) Shocks, and political maneuvers

First a brief linguistic note. The word “pandemic” has replaced “epidemic” in the press, and thus has lost its usefulness. What we are seeing so far is an epidemic, and not yet proved to be a big one. See below where I comment on another important symbol, terribly misused… the so-called “Doomsday Clock.”

== Books to help us through a minefield ==

Meanwhile, already available and causing ripples is my own recent volume about our current political crises and whether the patterns of 60 centuries can be broken, at last. See the chapter on “exit strategies” for prescient perspectives on the current impeachment imbroglio. Free chapters of Polemical Judo can be sampled here.

And here’s a piece I found that offers some biting cogency: 

“I can explain the art and purpose behind throwing a Purple Heart veteran under the Fox News bus. First, we must talk about narratives. In my time at Fox News, narratives were weapons of mass emotional manipulation…” 

The article goes on to show how carefully Fox executives craft each day’s counter-narrative not to be based on facts, but to sow distrust of every institution or expert who might loosen Fox’s grip on its viewers. Read about this aspect of the War on Facts.

== At last, some judo from dems? ==

1) all politically appointed officials, as well as president and VP, to “disclose any positions they or any members of their extended families hold with foreign-owned businesses, any intellectual property protected by a foreign country, and whether family members have stakes in significant foreign business dealings.

2) the President and Vice-President to disclose 5 years of tax returns and prohibit political appointees from accepting payments from foreign entities.

Yes, this would dig at Hunter Biden a bit and inconvenience some iffy behaviors practiced by pols of all parties. But it would devastate the Trump tree, root and branch, and scores of affiliated Republicans. Hence Fox-Putin-GOP cabal members must oppose and block it. And that opposition will put the lie to “drain the swamp.”  

(I’d add a section limiting the amount and types of travel expenses that can be charged to the taxpayer. Um, duh?

Admirably, these folks are edging toward my #1 recommendation in Polemical Judo. The very first lines of the book are:

“It was a brilliant political maneuver – and no Democrat seemed willing to learn from it. In 1994, Newt Gingrich’s innovative “Contract With America” made the Republican Party appear serious, pragmatic, reformist. No matter that every decent promise in the Contract later wound up neutered or betrayed. The electoral triumph that Gingrich wrought with this bait-and-switch was a historic phase change, demolishing what remained of the Roosevelt-era social and political compact.”

I then appraise why no one on the Union side of our civil war will even look at how we keep getting out-maneuvered. See recommendations how to evade trench warfare and instead wage this struggle with agility. I’m glad to see a couple of higher IQ reps edging in this direction.

A deeply cogent look at U.S. Middle Eastern policy has been published by the erudite Will Wechsler, Director of the Rafik Hariri Center and Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combating terrorism. The essay can be found on the Atlantic Council’s website here.  It’s part of an edited volume that can be found here.
More overtyly political: In The Washington Post, Anne Appelbaum offers a fascinating look back at the violent and merciless Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, tracing how an ideology that preached egalitarian “power to the people” was used to consolidate power in one of the steepest and most ruthless hierarchies in all of history. She shows how resugent this most-resilient and determined strain of anti-liberalism is, not just on a few college campuses (the revival of Karl Marx) but especially on the Trumpian right.

Yes, she argues convincingly that the Fox-Trump-Putin clique that has taken over the American right is essentially “bolshevik” in all except its surface incantations. And you are surprised, when the best pals of the entire GOP leadership caste are either communist or “ex”-communist tyrants and most alt-right memes come straight out of Kremlin basements/

To be clear, Putin’s dog has never taken an action against any of his master’s interests. Not one, and whenever a Kremlin interest is at stake, he tries to give Vlad what he wants. (Dare your RASR to bet on this!) The INF withdrawal absolutely benefited Putin since that treaty favored the U.S., whose air and sea launched cruise missiles weren’t affected, but withdrawing gave Putin an excuse to build up land launch batteries to threaten Europe.

Open Skies was the one treaty Dwight Eisenhower wanted above all others, that could maintain peace like no other. Putin wants out, so he has Trump trash it for him. Were there any Republicans with a requisite combination of sanity, patriotism, and neurons, they would see that the KGB has completely suborned their movement. There is still time to save something of a Goldwater-conservatism in America, but you guys need to act fast.

Even more important a neo-documentary is The Great Hack on Netflix, about the data-manipulators who are devastating every process of democracy. 
Yoni Appelbaum’s Atlantic essay – How America Ends – is one of the most cogent commentaries on the American dilemma, describes how U.S. conservatism has survived and often thrived not by futilely opposing in horizon-expansion and inclusion, but by participating in our unique process of absorption and inclusion.

“The conservative strands of America’s political heritage—a bias in favor of continuity, a love for traditions and institutions, a healthy skepticism of sharp departures—provide the nation with a requisite ballast. America is at once a land of continual change and a nation of strong continuities. Each new wave of immigration to the United States has altered its culture, but the immigrants themselves have embraced and thus conserved many of its core traditions. To the enormous frustration of their clergy, Jews and Catholics and Muslims arriving on these shores became a little bit congregationalist, shifting power from the pulpits to the pews. Peasants and laborers became more entrepreneurial. Many new arrivals became more egalitarian. And all became more American.

 “By accepting these immigrants, and inviting them to subscribe to the country’s founding ideals, American elites avoided displacement. The country’s dominant culture has continually redefined itself, enlarging its boundaries to retain a majority of a changing population. When the United States came into being, most Americans were white, Protestant, and English. But the ineradicable difference between a Welshman and a Scot soon became all but undetectable. Whiteness itself proved elastic, first excluding Jews and Italians and Irish, and then stretching to encompass them. Established Churches gave way to a variety of Protestant sects, and the proliferation of other faiths made “Christian” a coherent category; that broadened, too, into the Judeo-Christian tradition. If America’s white Christian majority is gone, then some new majority is already emerging to take its place—some new, more capacious way of understanding what it is to belong to the American mainstream.”

Alas, some versions of US conservatism — typified by the Know Nothings and Confederates and neocons and red-hatters, saw demographic widenings as inherently threatening and change as inherently evil. And their panic precipitated the nation’s worst crises. Including today’s frantic justifications of cheating at all levels, from gerrymandering and voter repression to stocking the courts with pre-blackmailed shills.

You’ll find much about all this in Polemical Judo. But if you need enlightenment in smaller – more digestible – dollops, see Appelbaum’s How America Ends. 

== And finally… that Doomsday Clock ==

I am remided of the fools who took over the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, a decade ago, who squandered the utility of one of the best pieces of visual polemic of our times. The previous management had wisely taken opportunity from the end of the Cold War to ratchet the Doomsday Clock back ten minutes, giving them room for future warnings. They were replaced by imbeciles who rushed, at first excuse, to yank it back to 4 minutes to midnight, to ignore every moment of good news, and to preen a couple times a year ratchting toward the apocalypse. Now the are reduced to captioning the Doomsday Clock counting down the seconds till we all die.

The care and feeding of polemical symbolism is well understood in advertising and the Kremlin/Fox alliance are masters. Liberals aren’t. But alas, they think they are. They badly need lessons in the martial arts.

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