Gyre, Widening

I have to say: it would be hard to imagine a livelier political season, or one more fitting for these times.

Over on the left, Hillary Clinton is watching it all slip away all over again — this time to a pallid, septuagenarian Marxist from Vermont. (I’ve had many wonderful blessings in my life, but to be able to see this woman’s ambitions slowly burnt to ashes is about as good as it gets.)

Meanwhile, on the other side, the atavistic GOP is tearing itself to pieces. Conservatism, Inc. today has mounted a desperate assault on Donald Trump, as it watches its worst nightmare — irrelevance — come true. (You had your chance, guys.)

No, no, my friends, now things have changed. While the intellectuals of NRO, and of the Democratic editorial pages, have fiddled, the world has caught fire.

The blogger calling himself “Porter” summed it up perfectly in a recent tweet:

“Left and right are obsolete terms. All politics in the West are now State v. Nation.”

I’ve said for years now that this system was tottering. Now it’s beginning to tip right over. Who will win? Sanders? Trump?

“What difference, at this point, does it make?”


  1. Epicaric says

    Should the Whitehouse become another Trump property the establishment – hands clasped and eyes wide – will hardly be able to conceal its zeal in hoping for his failure. Never before will so many have wished so much for the failure of one man. But they have entirely missed the point: The metric for so many Trump supporters will not be his performance once in office, but the number of feet that he steps on getting there. Conservatism, Inc. should sit silently in awe of the destructive force that their craven careerism has begat. When the consultants coached the political class to triangulate; to flip and flop and to merely lie – the voters have a short memory after all – to bob and weave; to dissemble and deceive, they were right. The first time, and the second, and third…but without realizing it, and without even the rank and file realizing it, they had gone too far. So now the rank and file, the rubes, are content to watch it burn. “But he’s not a real conservative!”, they cry.
    Really? I hadn’t noticed. I was actually looking for a pitchfork.

    Posted January 22, 2016 at 10:24 pm | Permalink
  2. Whitewall says

    “Left and right are obsolete terms. All politics in the West are now State v. Nation.”
    Is there more context for that quote?

    Posted January 22, 2016 at 10:24 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Well, Robert, the original tweet is here.

    The full text was:

    Left and right are obsolete terms. All politics in the West are now State v. Nation. “He’s not conservative!” is an appeal from the former.

    But I’m not sure that’s what you’re asking for…

    Posted January 22, 2016 at 10:30 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    For a much broader context, a prescient 1996 essay by Samuel Francis makes Porter’s point:

    …the fundamental polarity in American politics and culture today is between a deracinated and self-serving Ruling Class centered on but not confined to the central state, on the one hand, and Middle American groups, on the other, with the latter constituting both the economic core of the nation through their labor and productive skills as well as the culturally defining core that sustains the identity of the nation itself. The economic interests as well as the cultural habits and ideologies of the Ruling Class drive it toward globalization—the managed destruction of the nation, its sovereignty, its culture, and its people—while those of Middle Americans drive them toward support for and re-enforcement of the nation and its organic way of life.

    Posted January 22, 2016 at 10:37 pm | Permalink
  5. Whitewall says

    Malcolm, thanks, that helped. I trust you are healing up well?

    Posted January 22, 2016 at 10:37 pm | Permalink
  6. JumpinJackFash says

    I wasnt aware that ol Bernie is doing well, my impression is that the Shrew still got this one in the bag. What evidence do we have of Bern’s taking away her nomination?

    To be honest, I would happily take a Bernie president over any establishment puke, and I mostly agree with everything you said. Blog more often please!

    Posted January 22, 2016 at 10:38 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says


    Yes, of course there’s no guarantee yet that Bernie’s taking this thing away from Hillary. But there are some very dark clouds gathering over her now, and Bernie’s now beating her in the polls for Iowa and New Hampshire. If nothing else, Hillary’s momentum has turned sharply downward.

    Sometimes I do blog more often. I’m just a little under the weather right now. Feel free to browse the archives.

    Posted January 22, 2016 at 10:49 pm | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says


    Thanks, yes, I am healing well. I’m working aggressively at the rehab, and walked nearly a mile today (which is not bad, I think, for ten days after a total knee replacement).

    That said, knee replacements are painful — and so I’m still depending on some powerful nostrums to keep that tamped down a bit. Those, in turn, make it really hard to think complex thoughts, or to read or write well. (And that, JJF, is why I’m not blogging “often”.)

    Posted January 22, 2016 at 10:55 pm | Permalink
  9. JK says

    I’d only suggest to drop the comma.

    Add a couple quotes marks ” and perhaps a question mark. (As if the interrogatory these days is necessary.)

    “Conservatism”[?] Incorporated.

    Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan[?] … McCain, et fu*king al, I’ve y’all in mind.

    I like this Edit function Malcolm. I’d add, now that I’ve considered it;

    “Conservatism”[?] Incorporated LLC.

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 1:37 am | Permalink
  10. Whitewall says

    Epicaric..I have read and re-read your post and like it better each time. “I was actually looking for a pitchfork”. What keeps the “pitchforks” out of the streets for now? The ultimate weapon of government…subsidy checks of every kind. At least that’s my opinion, for now. This election season, it almost seems that the voters are pretty much putting the whole of government on trial or something.

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  11. The one eyed man says

    Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by 25 points among Democratic primary voters. If that’s “slipping away,” I’d hate to see what losing looks like.

    The same NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds her ahead of Cruz, Trump, and Rubio, as do those who actually bet the elusive spondulicks on it:

    I hate to break it to you, Mac, but as things currently stand, Hillary Clinton is the odds on favorite to be your next President. In politics, anything can happen, but there is no candidate whose probability of winning remotely approaches Hillary’s.

    She is helped by demography, as well as the fact that the GOP lacks a credible candidate. Pants at NRO and the RNC are being soiled by the realization that Trump will lead them to a defeat of Goldwater-like proportions. The Senator from Goldman Sachs is a loathsome blowhard who achieved the rare fear of bipartisan unity: everyone in Washington despises him. Rubio can’t gain any traction and does not look likely to win a single primary. The rest of them are struggling at three or four percent. None of the GOP candidates can unify their own party, let alone appeal to independents. In their competition to see who can take the most extreme positions to win the primaries, they have written the attack ads against them in the general.

    Any of the Republican candidates would kill to have Hillary’s odds right now. But hey, look at the bright side: after President Obama becomes a private citizen next year – after leaving the country in a far, far better place than he found it – you’ll have eight years of stuff to blog about.

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  12. JK says

    Eh, the polls again the One-Eyed.

    Quirky little things they is ain’t they?

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink
  13. Whitewall says

    OEM, right now FBI Director James Comey is Hillary’s toughest opponent. As problematic as many of the R candidates are, none are under a two track investigation by the FBI. If she manages to become the nominee, even under this dark cloud, that is still a big problem as all focus of the eventual R nominee…may very well be Trump…will be trained on her and her fitness for any office. Should she make it to the WH, that will not remove the cloud over her. It will however be an indictment and condemnation of those voters who put her there. Trouble will follow.

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink
  14. the one eyed man says

    Hillary Clinton is not under investigation by the FBI, as Politifact explains:

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink
  15. Whitewall says

    OEM….bull feathers! Dance on that icy rail of word parsing and denial all you want. Investigations don’t equal charges, though if Gen. Petraeus is any guide, then there is more than enough known now to bring charges. Now the FBI has expanded to the Clinton Foundation and its foreign dealings while she was SoS.

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  16. JK says

    Well Gollee Peter.

    I’d make the timorous suggestion that this blog probably isn’t the best audience to point out the FBI rarely investigates individuals.

    You might have better luck putting that on your Faceboob page.

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
  17. Malcolm says

    Well, Peter, I’ll admit this post was a little troll-y. You are aware that there was stuff on her server that should only ever have been viewable inside a SCIF, right? And that it is rather a serious violation to have such material on a private server (whence, no doubt, it swiftly found its way to interested parties around the world)?

    Just so we’re clear here: do you still think Hillary Clinton is a decent and honest person, whom the passage of time will show to have been wholly untainted by scandal? Do you still believe that she will be a competent and capable president, that she correctly discerns America’s best interests, and will always put them first? In short, do you still think she deserves your (and our) support in her quest for the Oval Office?

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink
  18. Malcolm,

    I think you already know what the OEM’s answers are to your (presumably) rhetorical questions. He not only continues to support the perfidious HRC but is positively gleeful that she may succeed the equally despicable 0bama.

    How a supposedly intelligent American friend of yours can be so steeped in contrariness to choose such disgusting people to lead our nation is beyond my ken.

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
  19. Malcolm says

    Hillary Clinton is not under investigation by the FBI, as Politifact explains…

    Nice puff of squid-ink there.

    “Quick, swim away, Hillary!” Gloop-gloop!

    Here’s a clarifying post, by former Federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, about “targets” and “subjects”.

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  20. Malcolm says

    I think you already know what the OEM’s answers are to your (presumably) rhetorical questions.

    Oh, I don’t know. Maybe he’s coming round! Just thought I’d ask.

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink
  21. Epicaric says

    The interests of the State and the Nation began to diverge some 30 years ago. It was perceptible yet difficult to discern in the fog of warm bromides to equality, diversity, and multiculturalism. Few understood what these terms really meant, nor what they would portend. Indeed, I would expect that a good many of their advocates spoke these words with some degree of a wink and a nudge. Unfortunately, bereft of this nascent context, these ideas would pass to younger, virgin generations who had never received the memo. Now the aged professors sit in awkward silence, bidding their time till retirement with weakly painted smiles, as the faculty lounge bubbles with earnest faith in the new religion. Without the wink and the nudge, and like so much else in America today, it is sustained only by these silent lies of omission.
    We’ve been counseled that a “true conservative” should mind the capital gains tax and cheer for the Dow; in other words, that we should busy ourselves with the deck chairs, and pay no mind to the looming iceberg off the starboard bow.
    The men in the lifeboats insist that if the armed chairs are placed at the head of the table, and the folding chairs to the side, all will be right as rain. We look up from the deck and oblige. Yes, folding chairs to the side, armed at the head….The lifeboats are lowered now, and the men’s voices are more distant. They assure us that icebergs are a fine source of fresh water.
    It doesn’t matter whether Trump can right the ship. It’s sinking now, and we have abandoned our work on the deck chairs. Now it’s enough just to see the waves overturn the lifeboats and throw their passengers to the icy sea. Schadenfreude, indeed.

    Posted January 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink
  22. antiquarian says

    As far as I’m concerned, the primary season before the primaries actually begin is one long idiotic reality TV show, with a whole lot of useless maneuvering by candidates feeling pushed around by polls. They act like day traders with their possible policies, buying into them and selling out at the turn of a pollster’s phraseology. And polling accuracy has been deteriorating badly in the past few years. So, as a reason to claim the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I think the pre-primary nomination season is pretty poor.

    Posted January 26, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  23. antiquarian says

    One-eyed, I sincerely hope you continue to think that way. Matt Yglesias was talking about people like you when he said, “The Democratic Party is in much greater peril than its leaders or supporters recognize, and it has no plan to save itself.”

    As for demography, go to Nate Silver’s site and check out what they’re calling the Swing-O-Matic, an interactive tool for playing around with turnout and political swing. It’s striking to me the degree to which white votes still control much of the election. White voters are divided there into those with a college education and those without. Both lean Republican, the former 56-44 and the latter 62-38. It would only take a 6 percent swing in Republicans’ favor in either group, or a 4 percent swing in the former plus 3 percent in the latter, to swing the Presidency their way. If the black turnout recedes to somewhere around its historical average– say, about 55%– then it would take even less.

    It’s happened exactly once since WWII that a party has held the White House for three consecutive terms. I think that’s because stuff builds up and people vote against what they dislike a lot more than for what they like. Obamacare, to name one, is still unpopular and likely to get more so as premiums and fines (excuse me, “taxes”) for nonenrollment rise. The rise of SJWs and Leftist intolerance are another item.

    But as I say, go ahead. Please continue to insist that your poll-driven understanding of the world is accurate.

    Posted January 26, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

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