Distracted by Distraction in Political Intrigue


In his meandering way, Rod Dreher moves from a survey of opinions about the Mueller report to a very important point about where our society is headed.  The transition comes with the following quotation from David Brooks, whose column predictably makes President Trump a culprit:

We are being threatened in a very distinct way. The infrastructure of the society is under threat — the procedures that shape government, the credibility of information, the privacy rules that make deliberation possible. And though the Chinese government does not play a big role here, it represents a similar sort of threat — to our intellectual infrastructure, the intellectual property rights that organize innovation.

Like Dreher, I’d suggest that the Trump presidency is the reaction to this, not the cause.  In some regards, he’s the medicine, maybe the only medicine that our variation of democracy would have allowed itself to take at this stage of the corruption.  And is that medicine so bad?  Consider Dreher:

The Iraq War, the greatest US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, was also a matter of hubris, but there were lies too. Consequential lies. The Mueller report gave us a glimpse of the rottenness in the Trump White House … but what if we could have seen a report on the rottenness of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld emerging for his daily Pentagon briefings during the war, lying to the press? That’s somehow not as bad as Trump because Rummy was a consummate creature of the system? Because he was respectable? Because he played by the rules, and still lied, and helped lead this country, and the world, into a needless catastrophe?

Now, I think Dreher loses sight of the attempted coup of the past two years in his willingness to go with the latest narrative that the report is all about Trump’s “rottenness.”  I also think he’s too much in line with the established narrative of the last decade regarding the Iraq War, but his point is well taken, and his conclusion is appropriate:

Trump is the corrupt man I can see coming. I’m far more afraid of the progressive, mission-minded zombies emerging from the knowledge-and-privilege factories.

This is founded in something more important than a simple ideological preference test:

The gist of [Shoshana Zuyboff’s book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism] is that nearly everything we do and say is monitored by multiple corporations, who are taking that data — usually without our knowledge or permission — and using it to figure out how to sell us things and, more crucially, to guide us toward behaving in particular ways without knowing that we are being manipulated. There is no real way to opt out of the system. It is overwhelming — and Zuboff shows how the tech companies have spent ungodly sums to manipulate politicians and regulators in order to maintain maximum access to the personal data of everyone. (The Obama administration was in Google’s pocket, for example.) Zuboff likens it to the Spanish conquistadores arriving in the New World.

Much of the hatred of Trump, from both sides of the aisle, has to do with his style, but his style is blunt and obvious.  Do you think he could pull off a real conspiracy?  I don’t, and that makes him exponentially preferable to those who could — those who code their conspiracy so thoroughly in their way of thinking that it isn’t really a conspiracy at all, but a cultural flow that just happens to head in the ideological direction of those who profit by it, and the are…

… sooner or later going to convince themselves to deploy the power of data in an aggressive way against deplorables like me, and every other person that they identify as an “oppressor.” They are already tearing American universities apart. In Barcelona, progressives in charge of schools have begun purging wicked non-progressive books from children’s libraries. In British Columbia, the provincial Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that parents cannot block minor children who wish to receive hormone injections to change their sex. In the Spanish province of Navarra, the left-wing provincial government is dismantling the concepts of male and female by compelling all schools, even private and religious ones, to teach radical left-wing gender theory. I could sit up till daylight citing particular egregious actions undertaken by progressive governments and private entities.

Therein lies the game of our political moment.  The rottenness of government power was used to target a political candidate as he became president, and we’re distracted by the personal rottenness his accusers decry in him.  His presidency has indisputably retarded the progress of the insinuating totalitarians who are seeking to force us to be, speak, and think like them, and they project their nature against him, declaring that he’s a dictator.

In their growing rage, the People have carried the jester through the gates as a gesture of contempt against their rulers, and those rulers have sent their whisperers to turn the people into a mob against him.  As his temporary reign continues, let’s focus on rebuilding the actual infrastructure of society while the totalitarians are distracted by their effort to distract us.


Featured image: “Masks of the Italian Theatre Mounted on Horseback: Harlequin” by Martin Engelbrecht, hearkening back to a post in this space in October 2016.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Perhaps a bit dramatic. But when the defense of our culture arises, this comes to mind
    Then spake out brave Horatius,
    Captain of the gate;
    For every man on this earth,
    death comes soon or late;
    what better way for a man to die
    than fighting fearsome odds;
    for the ashes of his fathers
    and the temples of his gods.
    McCauley, Lays of Ancient Rome

  • Rhett Hardwick
  • Rhett Hardwick

    For those who think we are too few, a little more drama


    • ShannonEntropy

      The best thing to happen since the ’16 election is Trump Derangement Syndrome… it’s kept me giggling for 18 months now !!


      • Rhett Hardwick

        I noticed the picture of Mussolini in the background. Several of my progressive “friends” in Providence referred to Trump on the day after election as the “orange haired Mussolini”, two times through tears.

        • ShannonEntropy

          I just finished reading a book called Stupid Cupid… it’s about the hilariously ridiculous online dating scene [ I’m not “looking”… it’s written by a woman for other women, but that duzn’t make it any less entertaining ]

          Anywho, she quotes one of her friends as saying “I haven’t had sex since the President was white” and then snarkily remarks that’s cuz Trump is orange

  • ShannonEntropy

    …nearly everything we do and say is monitored by multiple corporations, who are taking that data — usually without our knowledge or permission — and using it to figure out how to sell us things and, more crucially, to guide us toward behaving in particular ways without knowing that we
    are being manipulated.

    About a year or two after Google was founded back in ’98, they had this feature — might still have it for all I know — were they would guess your demographics & other stuff based on your search history

    They got every single thing right: my race; gender; education level and even my occupation. They had me just a few yrs older than I was then, prolly cuz I was planning my retirement so had done a lot of searches on stuff like social security, investing for retirement, etc.

    It still blows me away when I get *very* targeted ads from other web sites, stuff like “Hey, we know what do for a living; why don’t you come work for us in North Dakota ??”

    • Rhett Hardwick

      About 10 years ago I found a site which purported to report what the “Net knew about you”. It printed out about 11 pages, in sum, I was an 89 year old woman, living with two children in North Attleboro, MA , and driving a black Porsche 911. The car I understand, the rest I ascribed to an early understanding that nothing is free. So I always responded incorrectly to zip code requests and “clicksters” like “enter the year of your birth to see most popular movie”. I am reasonably certain there is a connection with eBay. I recently did a search for a pea coat (not exclusively eBay). Now my screen is swamped with “pop up” pea coat ads.

      • ShannonEntropy

        Whenever a store or web site asks me for my zip code, I say 99692. That’s the zip code for Dutch Harbor, Alaska — the western-most post office in the USA

        I’ve been thinking about switching to 20252. That’s Smokey the Bear’s personal zip code


        • Rhett Hardwick

          I need some windows and am unwilling to go the $900 a pop. So I have been searching Craig’s List and Facebook. My spam filter is now clogged with window emails. (I may have investigated at an Andersen or Pella site). What are the chances that the “deep state” now knows I need windows?

          • ShannonEntropy

            I wouldn’t worry too much about The Deep State

            There is a new theory the Conspiracy Theorists are tossing around lately: the Deep State actually tilted the election to Trump cuz they knew better than to trust the reins of power in the hands that greedy vicious back-stabbing villain Hillary Clinton

  • BasicCaruso

    “Much of the hatred of Trump, from both sides of the aisle, has to do with his style.”

    Well, that and the misogyny, xenophobia, and corruption. Actually, mostly the misogyny, xenophobia, and corruption.


    • Rhett Hardwick

      Never met a Xenophobe I didn’t like. I use Xenophon for posting where I don’t want to be found. My reference is to Xenophon and his 10,000 Greeks (Xenophon was a made up name in it’s ancient origins) Since Xenophon had to fight his way out of Asia, and everyone was his enemy, I thought Xenophobia derived from he and his Greeks. It does not, it is a combination of Greek words, as was the “nom d’plume” of the ancient Xenophon. Haven’t noticed much corruption. But he was in the real estate business in New York. There, as everywhere, pay offs to public officials is just a “cost of doing business”. I am sure if you dug into his background you would find spurious payments. Things have “wised up” so now you would look for wives with excavating companies. Perhaps decorators, the cops already hit you pretty hard for excavating in Manhattan. This led to the Serpico Investigation. The cops stopped by a site for a pay off from a retiring developer. He had the police car deposited on the 7th floor and then told them “tell your Captain how it got there”.

    • Mike678

      And all you lack is evidence and a lack of bias…..

  • bagida’wewinini

    This quote from Rod Dreher stands out to me:

    “Trump is the corrupt man I can see coming. I’m far more afraid of the progressive, mission-minded zombies emerging from the knowledge-and-privilege factories.”

    This serves as an example of the lengths that Republicans and religious conservatives will go to enable the President. For the Republicans it’s easy to see why; big tax cuts for their big donors and to maintain their power they need to keep the Trump voters. More perplexing are the religious conservatives and their continued support for this “rotten” and “corrupt “ President. Dreher in the quote above removes humanity from the political progressives with whom