“Why the differences? I’ve long argued that United States politics resolves around the tension between advancing individual liberty and promoting the common good. The regional cultures we think of as “blue” today have traditions championing the building and maintenance of free communities, today’s “red” ones on maximizing individual freedom of action. Our presidential contests almost always present a clear choice between the two, and the regions act accordingly.
The 2016 election was an exception, largely because Mr. Trump did not campaign as a traditional laissez faire Republican. Rather, he promised government would rebuild infrastructure and the manufacturing sector, shield workers from imports and migrant workers, replace the Affordable Care Act with “something terrific” and protect Social Security and Medicare. This delivered critical dividends in rural parts of the communitarian-minded Midlands and Yankeedom, flipping scores of counties that had voted for Mr. Obama twice, most of them in the Upper Mississippi Valley, northern New England and upstate New York.”
By Colin Woodward
New York Times
FREEPORT, Maine — Contrary to conventional wisdom, the most significant and abiding divide in American politics isn’t between city and countryside, but rather among regional cultures. Rural and urban places certainly have distinct interests and priorities, but in our awkward federation their differences have taken a back seat to the broader struggle between our constituent regions.
Sectionalism isn’t, and never has been, as simple as North versus South or an effete and domineering East against a rugged, freedom-minded West. Rather, our true regional fissures can be traced back to the contrasting ideals of the distinct European colonial cultures that first took root on the eastern and southern rims of what is now the United States, and then spread across much of the continent in mutually exclusive settlement bands, laying down the institutions, symbols and cultural norms later arrivals would encounter and, by and large, assimilate into.
Understanding this is essential to comprehending our political reality or developing strategies to change it — especially as we approach a momentously consequential midterm election.
By Aaron Mate
No single act of Donald Trump’s presidency has engendered more criticism than his performance at the Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin. For declining to endorse US intelligence claims that the Kremlin meddled in our election and faulting both countries for the poor state of US-Russia relations, Trump was roundly accused of “shameful,” “disgraceful,” and “treasonous” behavior that has sparked a full-blown “national security crisis.”
But does the American public at large share the prevailing elite assessment? Save for a White House vigil led by two longtime Hillary Clinton staffers and a few scattered rallies—and in stark contrast to mass protests over Trump’s misogyny, Muslim ban, and zero-tolerance immigration policy—Americans have not poured into the streets to confront the “crisis.” A poll by The Hill and the HarrisX polling company found 54 percent support for Trump’s now-scuttled plan for a follow-up summit with Putin at the White House. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that Trump’s post-Helsinki approval rating slightly increased to 45 percent. While the uptick does not necessarily signal an embrace of Trump’s behavior, it is not difficult to see why his numbers did not plummet. In a recent Gallup poll on problems facing the country, the “Situation with Russia” was such a marginal concern that it did not even register. While an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 64 percent believe Trump has not been tough enough on Russia, it also saw a near-even split on whether Putin is a foe or an ally, and 59 percent support for better relations.
The gap between elite and public priorities highlights an endemic problem that long predates Trump. Since his election, however, the elite fixation on alleged Russian meddling and the president’s suspected collusion has exacerbated that divide.
A writer from the New York Times describes how while the Right controls the foreign policy, economy and legal system of the United States, the Left controls the culture, with offenses to PC taking the place of traditional forms of obscenity.
This speaker’s perspective is interesting given that she seems to be a conventional urban professional class liberal with standard center-left Democratic Party politics, i.e. the primary constituency for PC. Increasingly, I am noticing that more people from the various PC constituencies are starting to have second thoughts about it all.
Anyone who wishes to be a critic of the existing society, and does not recognize the role that the totalitarian humanist ideology of what Joel Kotkin calls the “new clerisy” plays in legitimizing the system is already of the game before it starts.
Bari Weiss “The New Seven Dirty Words” Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater Speaking during Week Five 2018, “The Ethics of Dissent” July 26, 2018 Bari Weiss is a writer and editor for The New York Times opinion section, where she writes about culture and politics. Before joining the Times a year ago, Bari was an op-ed editor at The Wall Street Journal and an associate book review editor there. For two years, she was a senior editor at Tablet, the online magazine of Jewish news, politics, and culture, where she edited the site’s political and news coverage. Earlier this month, Bari won the Reason Foundation’s 2018 Bastiat Prize, which annually honors writing that “best demonstrates the importance of freedom with originality, wit, and eloquence.” The judges cited “her brilliant, incisive journalism defends that cornerstone of individual liberty and civil society: freedom of speech.” Bari is a proud Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Columbia.
One of the best and most thorough analysis of Trump voters I have seen to date. Trump ran a Ross Perot-like campaign, and was able to take the Rust Belt away from the Democrats. That’s how he won. The question is how sustainable will that be over time in light of demographic and cultural change?
By Robert W. Merry
The American Conservative
Bonnie Smith is a 63-year-old bakery entrepreneur in Jefferson, Ohio, in Ashtabula County. She begins her day in the bakery at 2:30 a.m., making doughnuts, then moving on to breads and pies “or whatever I have going out.” Married with three grown children, she started her business two years ago after more than three decades at the county sheriff’s office, where she rose from cook to dispatcher and then to deputy. Like nearly all her neighbors throughout Ashtabula County, she is a lifelong Democrat. Her parents were Democrats. She married a Democrat. She worked exclusively for Democratic county sheriffs.
But in 2016 she voted for Donald Trump. “I’ve seen the job losses here,” she says, “the rise in crime, the meth and heroin problem, society essentially losing hope; something just gave in with me.”
It’s Going Down
Since the conclusion of our previous survey, two interesting events occurred in various Amazon facilities. In one instance, a fulfillment center was torched in the British Midlands. In another instance, coordinated strikes hit Amazon in Germany and Northern Italy. All of this preceded the holiday sales blitz and threw Amazon into internal chaos. At the end of the holiday season, all Amazon could tout was its toxic accomplishment of shipping one billion commodities and selling “tens of millions” of talking Alexa units. When the shopping extravaganza was over, the corporate employees of Amazon were rewarded with a lavish spectacle to sooth their overworked souls.
GILAD ATZMON – New Left, ID politics & Tyranny of Correctness: What is Left? @ Second International N-AM Conference in UK,June 23-24 2018 More info : http://www.national-anarchist.net FIND US ON FACEBOOK!
Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
What if Putin did it? That’s the question I’ve been getting a lot of lately. The proverbial ‘it’ being the oft-repeated accusation that the Russian government, under the direction of Czar ubermensch Vladimir Putin, colluded with Donald Trump in the 2016 election. I happen to be one of a handful of people on the left who has never bought into this half baked conspiracy theory, cooked up by Democrats to explain how they lost the White House to a reality TV monster and picked up by the so-called intelligence community to justify their purse shriveling budgets. But still I get asked, usually by some limp-wristed Whole-Foods progressive, what if Putin did it?
Since I’ve grown blue in the face trying to explain to these well intentioned morons that after 18+ months the worst thing that the biggest investigation since Watergate has managed to uncover is a mercenary Slavic clickbait farm and the kind of casual run-ins with Russian oligarchs that are sadly de rigueur for existence in the Washington swamplands, I figured I might as well just answer the goddamn question, which has developed a vibrant new layer of cacophony in the wake of Robert Mueller’s latest wave of baseless indictments against Russian nationals who will never stand trial. So what if Putin did it? I would have to shrug my shoulders and say Karma’s a bitch.
A Facebook reader comments:
“The original Black Panthers were pretty awesome too. I haven’t seen any leftist groups that are even on their level either these days. Even the 70’s radical groups were more respectable. I rate The Weathermen who were the most notorious toilet bombers of that time more highly. Granted, I think they may have had more malevolent intentions than they claim now, for instance, Cathy Wilkerson trained FALN members how to make bombs and they actually did blow up people. But also George Jackson, Raymond Levasseur. I am sure I can think of others. Those guys were not effete pussies. Granted, their violence did more harm than good imo, they caused the government to pass more restrictive laws and since people don’t tend to like extremists and violence, they pushed voters to the right resulting in that scumbag Reagan being elected.
A Facebook commentator recently added this response to this debate:
In any polarised debate, seek the excluded middle! What neither position here seems to address is the question of commons, which historically acted as a mediator between private property and collectively owned resources. Meanwhile, the allocation of commons necessitates the definition of those who manage those commons, which will be to the exclusion of those who are not. This is, in a sense, a border, albeit on a much smaller scale than that of a nation state. Here are Elinor Ostrom’s 8 Principles for Managing a Commons (or common-pool resource(s) = CPR) – note the first point.
1. The CPR has clearly-defined boundaries (effective exclusion of external unentitled parties)
2. There is congruence between the resource environment and its governance structure or rules
3. Decisions are made through collective-choice arrangements that allow most resource appropriators to participate
4. Rules are enforced through effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators
5. Violations are punished with graduated sanctions
6. Conflicts and issues are addressed with low-cost and easy-to-access conflict resolution mechanisms
7. Higher-level authorities recognize the right of the resource appropriators to self-govern
8. In the case of larger common-pool resources: rules are organized and enforced through multiple layers of nested enterprises
…and I suppose the reason they fail to mention commons is that as far as I’m aware, in European-American settler culture, they didn’t play the role that they have in most other societies.
Recently, a reader asked for me for an assessment of the present condition of the Alt-Right due to my past associated with that particular milieu. Here is my response:
Regrettably, the Alt-Right has become a mirror image of the Left in the sense of operating as a self-marginalizing freak show.
As I see it the entire range of domestic US politics-far left, far right, center left, center right-is largely just a collection of tribes motivated by ressentiment and victimology, and which are increasingly oriented toward self-parody. The public persona that many Alt-Right leaders have created for themselves is essentially that of wrestling heel characters, which fits well with the cartoonist nature of US politics generally, and the blending of political and celebrity entertainment culture that we see going on right now. And the same is true of the public persona of leading figures of all the other tribes.
The Alt-Right/Lite configuration and the Antifa/SJW/Left configuration are merely the self-parody wings of the Red Tribe and Blue Tribe respectively, with the two established tribes largely being a self-parody of themselves.
US politics is basically just a glorified version of the WWE, and it’s perfectly appropriate that the US head of state is a guy is who actually in the WWE Hall of Fame. And the hardcore partisans (i.e. folks who take all this shit seriously) are like wrestling fans who think it’s all a real sport as a opposed to a theatrical production. In many ways, the blissfully ignorant like the folks in this Mark Dice video are the most sensible (and probably the largest) political faction, because they at least have the inclination to be indifferent to it all.
By Ilya Somin
The Trump administration recently adopted a “zero tolerance” policy under which undocumented immigrants apprehended by federal officials are forcibly separated from their children. In April and May alone, almost 2000 children were torn from their parents and detained separately, often under cruel conditions likely to cause trauma and inflict longterm developmental damage. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claims that separation of families is justified by the need to enforce the law, and even asserts that the administration’s policy is supported by the Bible. I will leave the Biblical issues to theologians and cardinals, who have addressed them far better than I could. But Sessions’ secular argument is no better than his religious one. There is no law requiring family separation at the border. And even if there was, that still would not be enough to justify the administration’s cruel policy.
The federal law criminalizing “improper entry” by aliens does not require family separation. The law also provides for the use of civil penalties, as well as criminal ones. While it states that the application of civil penalties does not preclude application of criminal ones, it also does not compel federal prosecutors to pursue both. Until the administration’s recent policy change, civil proceedings were in fact the usual approach in case of families with minor children, under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The use of civil proceedings generally does not require pretrial detention, and therefore obviates the need to detain either parents or children; some civil defendants were detained, nonetheless, but in facilities where families can stay together. The Trump administration, by contrast, has sometimes even forcibly separated children from migrants who have not violated any law, but instead have legally crossed the border to petition for asylum in the United States.
Kanye and Kim 2024. Make it happen.
By Eileen Rivers
Is America going to cheer for Kim Kardashian for president in 2020?
After the Keeping up with the Kardashians reality TV star took a photo with another reality TV star in the Oval Office, late-night comic Trevor Noah couldn’t help but think about who appeared more presidential. His conclusion? The Kardashian beat the Donald.
Kardashian met with President Trump at the White House this week to talk about prison reform and to request that the president pardon Alice Marie Johnson, a great-grandmother in her 60s who was sentenced to life after a first-time nonviolent drug offense.
Noah also takes a look at various Oval Office photos and deems several others more presidential than Trump. Take a look at today’s Best of Late Night, above, to find out who they are.
Jimmy Kimmel isn’t ready to accept that the meeting between Kardashian and Trump actually happened. He’s wondering if we’ve all been Ambiened.
Take a look at our favorite jokes from last night’s late-night lineup, then vote for yours in the poll below.
Michael Barone assesses the state of the culture war 26 years after Pat Buchanan’s famous speech at the 1992 Republican convention where the term “culture war” entered public discourse. I tend to concur with Barone’s analysis. The Left has won on sexual and religious issues, and for the most part on abortion (with some exceptions). But the Right has done better on guns, welfare, education and crime.
By Michael Barone
The American Conservative
On Monday, August 17, 1992, Patrick Buchanan took the stage at the Republican National Convention in Houston. Buchanan had run against incumbent President George H. W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination and in the first primary, in New Hampshire in February, had won 37 percent of the vote to Bush’s 53 percent. That turned out to be Buchanan’s high point: overall he won just 23 percent of primary votes to Bush’s 73 percent, and under Republicans’ winner-take-all delegate allocation rules he had only a handful of delegates at the convention—the official roll call credited him with just 18. In contrast, the last challenger of an incumbent Democratic president, Edward Kennedy, held the loyalty of about 40 percent of the delegates at the party’s 1980 national convention.
Buchanan, unlike Kennedy, warmly endorsed the president who defeated him. He credited Ronald Reagan, not Bush, with “leading America to victory in the Cold War,” but noted that “under President George Bush more human beings escaped from the prison house of tyranny to freedom than in any other four-year period in history.” But he had little else to say about foreign policy. And on the economy—thought then to be in a recession which, the official arbiters ruled later, had bottomed out in March 1991—Buchanan was emphatically downbeat, devoting long stretches of his speech to people he’d met on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, Georgia, and California who were terrified of losing their jobs. This was hardly helpful to an incumbent seeking a second term.
Losers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose because you’re already losers.
By Ann Sterzinger
If you’re a digital native, you probably have no idea what genuine loneliness is. Before you get off my lawn, let me finesse that (oh, god, Ann, finessing anything on the Internet is always your first mistake): back during the analog age, if you were a freak or a weirdo, you were a freak or a weirdo. Period. That was it. No way out. No online community of equally gothy souls. Even if you went to some big nice suburban high school, you weren’t going to do much better than being Duckie from Pretty in Pink.
The downside of this is that you were sad.
The upside of this is that you learned to live with the various feelings you get when no one else will back up or even understand your thoughts and opinions.
Weirdos got used to being weirdos. And after a while, we liked it. When we finally escaped home and found the other oddballs in a slightly larger town, we tended to cobble punk rock scenes or the like out of whomever happened to be in the immediate area. Which meant that restricting your social life to people with your own politics or taste or thoughts was fucking impossible; you settled for hanging out with anyone who thought anything at all instead of shuffling through life like quiet sheep.
Like all presidents, Trump is just an administrative manager for the power elite (much to his own frustration, I would imagine).
By Caitlin Johnstone
It’s been a weird last couple of days. I wrote an article about WikiLeaks’ dismissal of “QAnon”, the anonymous 8chan poster that hundreds of thousands of conspiracy newbies believe is sharing secret, coded information about Donald Trump’s heroic war against the US deep state.
Ever since I hit publish I’ve been getting a bunch of angry Q enthusiasts in my social media notifications accusing me of being a shill for the establishment. Because I don’t believe someone who says that we should all trust the President of the United States. Blind faith in the executive branch of the US government is anti-establishment now.
As bizarre as these interactions have been, they are still vastly more pleasant than my typical interactions with the faction I see as QAnon’s mirror image, the Russiagaters. Though enthusiasts of the Russiagate conspiracy theory are far more nasty and vituperative than the Q crowd, there are many similarities. Like QAnon, Russiagate is fueled by about ten percent information and ninety percent desperate need to believe. Like QAnon, Russiagate is so thinly substantiated it doesn’t begin to look legitimate until you’ve spent weeks crawling down the rabbit holes of its bulletproof echo chambers and squinting just right at everything you see until it feels true. Like QAnon, the evangelists of Russiagate center their revolutionary sentiment around President Donald Trump. Like QAnon, they shouldn’t.
Apparently, this is what “progressive” government looks like under Justin Trudeau’s totalitarian humanist regime.
By Justine Calma
Canada is coughing up $3.5 billion to buy the floundering Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project from Kinder Morgan. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had vowed “to get that pipeline built,” but pipeline resistance groups aren’t backing down, either.
“This is a declaration of war against indigenous people because they’re not recognizing our own sovereignty,” says Kanahus Manuel, a Secwepemc midwife and mother of four. “So we are putting on our war paint and we are putting on our battle gear and we’re going to fight.”
The Houston-based company had stopped all non-essential spending on the project last month after facing broad opposition from environmental groups, indigenous communities, and the province of British Columbia. Canada says it plans to fund construction of the project until it can find another buyer to take over. If completed, it would nearly triple the pipeline’s capacity to transport crude and refined oil from Alberta to B.C.
This speech might have just as well been delivered by a member of the Bloods and titled, “Anti-Cripism and the Bloods’ Fear of Power.” Although it’s probably more appropriate to compare this stuff to “Ghostbusters” than to street gangs. Increasingly, I am leaning toward the view that the key to developing a new kind of radicalism is cultivating the ability to break out of these cultic paradigms.
Neither West nor East. Against all imperialisms. Neither Left nor Right. Against all states. Neither Red nor Blue. Peace between all tribes. Neither State nor Corporation. Against the power elite in all its manifestations. Neither Alt-Right nor Antifa. Against all authoritarians.
By Maximillian Alvarez
This article has been adapted from a talk delivered at Purdue University on April 18, 2018, hosted by the Purdue chapter of the Campus Antifascist Network.
In the United States today people tend to squirm with profound discomfort, if not sneer with outright revulsion, when they hear talk of “antifascism.” It is, by most accounts, a dirty word. That alone should be proof enough that we desperately need it.
It is fascinating to observe the kind of paranoia that is now being disseminated by the Western elites in the face of the rising though very modest challenges that are now being presented by the BRICS-Shia-Global South alliance in international relations, and by left/right populist tendencies within Western nations. It seems the neoliberal ruling classes are working to invent a New Cold War. They tried once before with the “War on Terrorism.” But nobody outside the realm of FOX News junkies was buying that. So they came up with an enemy that wine and cheese liberals and “progressive activists” could hate as well, with Russia as the supposed headquarters of “world fascism,” allegedly sponsoring insurgent fascist regimes, parties, and movements all over the world. Joe McCarthy would be proud.
The Left has Refuse Fascism. The Right has Resist Marxism. Fair enough.
By Luke Barnes
Resist Marxism markets itself as a harmless conservative and libertarian group. But they have plenty of connections to the far-right.
Over the past few months, the so-called “alt-right” has found itself in a state of disarray.
Prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer has been booted from social media and is facing a funding crisis. The Traditionalist Workers Party has fallen apart after its leader, Matthew Heimbach, was arrested for assault and, now, been sent to jail for 38 days on the separate charge of violating his parole. In Charlottesville, Virginia, the groups that helped organize last year’s violent “Unite the Right” rally are being sued. Online infighting has prompted some far-right leaders to dox each other.
But while the far-right may be losing influence, the so-called “alt-lite” isn’t. This loosely connected movement of groups and individuals doesn’t outwardly emphasize racism and bigotry in the same way the far-right does. Instead, they focus on the “dangers” posed to free speech, and how political correctness, feminism, and identity politics are destroying the West.
By Diana Johnstone
CounterPunch has astonished many of its old fans by its current fundraising ad portraying the site as a prime target of Russia hostility. Under the slogan, “We have all the right enemies”, CP portrays itself as a brave little crew being blown off the water by an evil Russian warship out to eliminate “lefty scum.”
Ha Ha Ha, it’s all a joke of course. But it’s a joke that plays into the dangerous, current Russophobia promoted by Clintonite media, the deep state and the War Party. This is a reminder that Russophobia finds a variant in the writing of several prominent CounterPunch contributors.
Yes, CounterPunch continues to publish many good articles, but appears also to be paying its tribute to the establishment narrative.
Put on the defensive by the “fake news” assault against independent media, CP senior editor Jeffrey St Clair seemed to be shaken by Washington Post allegations that he had published articles by a “Russian troll” named Alice Donovan. St Clair never publicly questioned the FBI claim that the ephemeral plagiarist worked for the Kremlin, when she could as well have been planted by the FBI itself or some other agency, precisely in order to embarrass and intimidate the independent website.