How We Elect: A Decaying Republic’s Broken System (Part Two)


It’s a commonplace in American politics to ascribe corruption to every elected official.  They’re all crooks, we say… and the system makes such sweeping condemnation credible.  You can’t get elected without publicizing your candidacy, you can’t publicize without advertising, you can’t advertise without campaign contributions… and you can’t elicit meaningful contributions unless a body of deep-pocketed donors has reason to believe that you favor a certain agenda.  So… there you are, bought and paid for in the eyes of the casual cynic.

As I ponder the misery of conservative Americans, forever watching their government slide farther left by promising more and more goodies to possible voters, I share in the cynic’s disgust.  We who just want to be left alone (How about a “Back Off” party, with the Yosemite Sam who used to appear on trailer mud-flaps as our mascot?) are constantly being served the challenge, “Well, look at what the other side’s offering!”  We have to be content, then, with a slower rate of drift into the national debt chasm that yawns as millions of ne’er-do-wells sell their vote to the highest bidder.  Or we don’t have to be content, of course: we can sit out elections and opt for a straight nosedive.  Maybe the more abrupt catastrophe will be more fruitful—maybe those who survive it can get about piecing something together from the rubble sooner.

I’ve grown so familiar with both sides of this Hobson’s Choice over the years that I can argue for and against either one with equal vigor… and equal despair.  I don’t know how we find and promote candidates who genuinely wish to save the republic rather than feed off her decaying carcass—or, in the unlikely event that we elect them, how we keep them from going flabby within their first term.

Lately, though (and maybe thanks to a steady water-boarding in cynicism), I’ve begun to envision a new kind of candidate.  This worthy would already have amassed a small fortune, would already have very broad “name recognition”—and, most importantly, would already have experienced mistreatment at the hands of the info-tainment industry.  For the last criterion is essential: it’s what is permanently, fatally missing in our patriotic, clean-cut saviors who turn two-faced during their freshman term.  Someone—I think it may have been Chris Putnam—explained recently on Daniel Horowitz’s Conservative Review that mere surrender to the barrage of media criticism is a major cause of our champions going Judas.  It makes sense, if you consider the following picture.  Just who is this bright young star of ours?  A pleasant man or woman who’s very used to pleasing—who has known nothing else since being class president for several years running in high school.  This person has the smile, has the wave, has the walk.  He’s always charmed everyone… until now.  Now, alarmingly, the magic is gone.  That has to be terrifying.  How to get the magic back?  What does Orpheus do when the trees no longer uproot themselves to dance to his sweet lyre?  One has to suppose that he lets the strangely unmoved audience call the tune, and the tempo.

Consider, by way of example, the current game of rope-a-dope that “wise Latina grandmother” Sonya Sotomayor is playing with Chief Justice John Roberts.  She’ll get results; she usually does.  Roberts is more concerned over his acceptance by the beltway intellectual elite than he is about preserving the Constitution.  Ironically, his new compatriot Brett Kavanaugh is cut from the same cloth, despite a take-no-prisoners confirmation hearing that duped most of us into supposing our rock-bottom values to be the stake.  Kavanaugh is another prep-school party boy, though admittedly (hopefully—please-God-surely) almost as wise now as a Latina grandmother.  Sotomayor was correct in her snarky talking out of school to this extent: we do tend to preserve bits and pieces of the prejudices in which we were raised.  For Kavanaugh, the corrosive residue upon his judgment is one of wanting to please, of expecting to be praised.  It’s what he has always known.  (For Sotomayor, it’s a default retreat to the “Latina” trump card that has always won the hand in the past, even though her confidence in that strategy utterly undermines—patently contradicts—her sworn duty to consider all human beings as individuals equally endowed with rights.)

So… so who, then, is our superhero candidate capable of leaping over such obstacles in a single bound?  What about a figure from the world of professional athletics whose gilded reputation provides a breastplate against media slings and arrows?  What about Curt Schilling, the should-have-been (perhaps soon-to-be) Hall of Fame pitcher?  What about New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick—or his protégé, quarterback Tom Brady?  Wrestling superstar Tyrus has established his political gravitas on Greg Gutfeld’s show, and enjoys the additional advantage of being black.  Does that matter?  Am I really clinging to the notion of identity politics?  Why, yes: inasmuch as the name of this new game is vanquishing the propaganda machine at work behind news desks everywhere, any contradiction of the simplistic profiles spewed over our air waves is welcome.  We’re playing a game, precisely.  Our society is in a degenerative stage which its founding fathers would have recognized as fatal.  We can no longer merely rely upon sound arguments made by honest people—for a shocking percentage of the electorate reasons by pure association, and elected representatives of routine qualifications soon lose their honesty.  Those are the game’s ground rules.

The new candidate, therefore, needs an “in your face” attitude.  And his defiance has to be such that the public credits it to his established “bad ass” persona.  He must be able to jump down Jim Acosta’s throat, come back out with a fistful of viscera, and throw them in the impudent punk’s face.

Albert Pujols: he’ll be retiring soon.  First-ballot Hall of Famer.  The most terrifying batsman of the new millennium’s opening decade, and a giant of a man (a Latin giant) who silenced questions about his possible steroids use with little more than a scowl.  What sticks in my mind about Alberto’s political inclination is a proud remark I once heard Glenn Beck make about the world’s mightiest clean-up hitter being one of his fans… and also a much more recent, very understated regret voiced by Pujols about California taxes.  He’s Latino-wise enough, I’m sure, to keep his mouth shut on more hot-button issues until the Cooperstown vote is recorded.  He doesn’t want to get “schillinged”.  Wise, very wise.

But you see how this plays, anyway.  Would an actor also meet our specifications?  Maybe.  Dean Cain has played Superman, and doesn’t appear (in truly Superman fashion) to fear the Twitter spittle drawn by his conservative views.  Our man Ronaldus Magnus seemed to have mastered the art of ignoring flights of rotten eggs and tomatoes thanks to his screen career.  One could wish that Schwarzenegger had been a little less impressed with social engineering… but he, too, serves to sustain the main point.

Which is simply this.  Our broken system is preserved in constant shambles primarily (speaking from a purely mechanical perspective) by the unremitting slanders that educational institutions and broadcast media heap upon non-progressive, “back off” candidates.  We look for new faces who have “done things”: created jobs, served in the military, fought infanticide in the courts… and these tyros keep getting themselves shot down or captured in the first sally.  (Oh, by the way… yeah, how has Martha McSally worked out?)  It’s time now to pay attention to character rather than accomplishment—and when I say “character”, I don’t mean church attendance and fidelity to one spouse.  Maybe I should have said “personality”.  We need tough guys.  We need people who will stuff the slanders in their mouth, chew them into nails, and spit them back where they came from.  We need not to put nice guys on the ballot, guys like you and me.  We need a bad-ass.

Okay, so I’ve been describing Donald Trump… I guess.  I could argue with you about that.  For my taste, Trump spends too much time tweeting intercepted missiles back where they came from and too little time actually attending to policy.  (There’s an enormous amount of matter, for instance, capable of exposing the Swamp in all its stench that he could declassify tomorrow; why, oh why, doesn’t he do so?)  Imagine Bill Belichick giving the State of the Union instead of the Donald.  No celebration of Jevonka’s “jailbreak” bill, nor even a Medal of Freedom for Rush (though I’m fine with that: hell, Barack Obama dished out 123 of the things to people like Isabel Allende, Barbra Streisand, and Bruce Springsteen).  No, I picture Bill at the rostrum quietly, almost monotonously detailing all the duties not performed by the House, the Senate, the courts, the media, the universities, the banking sector… and then he raps his thin stack of notes sharply on the mahogany, turns to leave, and leans into the microphone for one last, very dry comment.  “Just do your job.”

Will I leave to hear those words from that stage?

“I Believe,” “Me, Too”: Women and Transferred or Postponed Rage (Part Two)

Words like “transference” do not typically grow in my author’s garden.  “Postponement” is a little more characteristic of literary haunts, and seems to me (in my amateur’s carelessness) to point to a very similar psychological phenomenon.  That women in Western societies have delayed or suppressed a lot of rage at the male sex is smack-in-the-face obvious to me.  Today I will try to extend my case to the idea of how that rage, broken loose at last, might transfer itself to a particular target (the original source of outrage having vanished, quite often, into murky decades).

First, to recap: I accept that many women today have been abused and violated by men in the past.  It’s grossly unfair to accuse all of us men of such behavior… but we who minded our manners were not “players” in the Seventies and Eighties, only mute bystanders.  Indeed, academic feminism, which I hold ultimately most responsible for the contemporary woman’s plight, began in the assumption that “men get to play around”.  I recall that notion from fifty years ago—I recall such blather flying from the mouth of a high school English teacher; and I further recall muttering to myself in futile protest, “Men in my family don’t play around.”

That was the point of departure: take the most reprehensible behavior of the most undisciplined males… and make it the standard which, in simple fairness, should also apply to females.  Once women began stooping to pass beneath a steeply lowered bar, men either followed their lead or… well, to repeat, some of us were left spectating from the game’s sidelines in gaping disbelief.

I didn’t write this last time, but I should say it now in so many words.  Today’s women don’t live up to men’s expectations: those times are branded “the patriarchy” and consigned to the Dark Ages.  Instead, men adapt themselves to women’s expectations in modern Western society—and the vector of those expectations was decidedly downward in 1980.

A second quick addendum: women are far less apt than men, in my experience, to be shamed by the example of an upright individual and to alter their habits accordingly.  Instead, they are likely to savage the “good girl” mercilessly until they drag her into the mud wrestling.  The female ego is stunningly fragile in that regard: it will sooner transform the whole world into a gallery of the macabre than recognize that it has allowed itself to be disfigured and corrupted.  (In that respect, women are natural progressives: they prefer blundering forward with back firmly turned on a dubious past to brooding over errors in a confessional, corrective frame of mind.)  No doubt, we men bear some of the blame for this.  To become “unpleasant” or to acquire “soiling” experiences is practically a death sentence in the female mind, whereas to a male it can be viewed as the Prodigal Son’s constructive adventure to the bottom.

Imagine, then (and here I pivot to this day’s subject), a woman whose head was filled from early adolescence with the “virtues” of freedom and self-assertion as expressed by giving her body casually to a different male every month, or every weekend… or every day or hour.  (There’s a satanic progression in such conditioning, just as may be observed when the gang recruit’s initiatory shooting graduates to cold-blooded mass-executions.) Imagine, for instance, someone like singer/actress Alyssa Milano: endowed (cursed?) with an angelic face, swallowed up before the age of consent into the most malodorous cesspool of moral degeneracy in American life (the entertainment industry), submitted to more kinds of assault and seduction than were ever seen by patrons of a Tiberian bath house, and finally spewed out with fading looks upon a pile of money with a mic and camera never far away.  At whom would such a person flail, now that she may safely throw a punch or two?  The agents and producers on whose couches she first auditioned have long, long ago drifted far, far out to sea (where, as this male hopes, the fishes gnaw their rotten bones).  The soirées where memory has “redacted” all the details with the thick black stylus of booze and drugs are not likely to yield back their secrets… unless under hypnosis or “therapy”.  In any case, much of life remains to be lived, even though the leading roles for “hot, sexy” young things are no longer forthcoming.  Is it wise to accuse Pilate of the Crucifixion at this point instead of a palace guard?

If I single out Ms. Milano, it’s because a) her voice in these matters is among the most persistent, audible, and imbecilic; and b) because I cannot quite shake myself of utter infatuation with her lovely face (male pig that I am: it’s infuriating sometimes, ladies, to be subjugated to the hard-wired male adoration of beauty).  Yet I should append here a bit of wisdom imparted by the roommate to whose nuggets I was briefly privy at the College of Willian and Mary: plain girls are easier prey, because they’re grateful for any attention they receive.  As the irrepressibly randy old Ben Franklin put it, all cats are gray in the dark.

A man needn’t be so naive as to suppose, therefore, that beautiful women were most tarnished by the sexual revolution’s debacle.  It may very well have been Plain Jane, rather, who had the widest experience of one-night stands in her bid to be pleasing and “hip”.  O vocal chorus of outraged women, address your wails to people like my roommate (who was on probation for drug-dealing, and from whose company I soon parted) for some of those raw mornings on the trash heap—but devote a strophe to Gloria Steinem, as well: louder, longer round of outraged wails.

According to the hair-rending logic of shrieking choruses… who pays?  Now that #MeToo has attracted a supportive mass of victims from the backstreets, whose neck gets fitted for a noose?  Every man a girl has ever dated?  But you can’t hang them all, much as you’d like to.  Who most deserves to be hanged… who, symbolically, is the most compelling villain?

Why, Dad, of course!  You know: the Man Who Wasn’t There, just when you needed him—the guy who was busy making tubs of money to send you to the very best schools.  During your high school years, you could coax a smile from his weary face (on rare occasions when you saw him) by bringing home A’s from Saint Tiffany’s Academy… and you secured an A in English by writing about how women should be allowed to sleep around just as men have always done.  (Did Dad really do that?  You knew he didn’t… he just wouldn’t.)  Then it was off to Rutgers or Purdue; and Daddy Dearest certainly couldn’t have disapproved of keg parties and weekend hook-ups, because he was oh-so-proud of you for getting accepting into one of the nation’s premier ivory towers.  (So maybe… maybe the other stuff really was part of his secret life.)  How were you supposed to figure out, at eighteen, that physically walking these ivy-draped corridors was a high honor, but that listening to the subversive, nihilistic rigmarole echoing through them was a plunge into the abyss?

Why didn’t Daddy explain all this to you, if he approved but disapproved?  It needed sorting out.  Why did he turn his back on you, once more and at the most critical moment?

Yes, Dad should pay… but he’s your father, and you love him (between and behind the times when you hate him).  Daddy should hang for letting you be taken out with the trash… but not precisely Daddy.  Somebody like him.  Some very prominent spokesman for his “values”: for God, country, family, free enterprise… for rationality, objectivity, order… for the System.  The System that let boys treat you like a toiletry before flushing you away.  All rise for the Pledge!

Who gets croaked for all that?  Why, Brett Kananaugh, of course.

To the Alyssa Milanos of this world, and to their Plain Jane sisters, I believe there is a weirdly logical cogency in the “I believe her” professions.  Yes, he did it!  The wrapped-in-flag Mr. Clean who made straight A’s as you were supposed to do and drew the priest’s benediction that was supposed to be yours—all the while enjoying his beer-guzzling games with rowdy mates and being Man About Campus though saving himself for his future bride… what nauseating hypocrisy!  The sham of it all!  The lie of it all!  Oh, yes, the specifics—the details!  They make it look as though the truth is on his side and the lies on yours.  You always get snared in details, because that’s how the game’s creators set it up.  So Justice Kavanaugh gets off on a technicality?  Not on your life!

He’s worse than the boy who wouldn’t stop when you said “no”, the young man whose panting face on top of you doesn’t quite crystallize from the fraternity house’s drunken mob, the boss who showed up in your apartment to go over tomorrow’s presentation and wouldn’t leave… he’s the man who facilitated it all.  The pimp.  The hypocrite who nods, smiles, collects his fee, and shuts the door on you.  He needs to hang till his face turns black and puffy.

I can understand all that.  It’s wrong-headed thinking.  It’s miserably misguided: the degree of transfer is pitiful, surely pathological.  And yet… and yet, is such a transfer of fury entirely irrational?  The lunacy must stop—but the hypocrisy which drives weaker characters to lunacy must stop, as well.

We should no longer surrender our daughters for sacrifice, like Aztec maidens about to have their hearts cut out, to polluted “institutions of higher learning”—and we should no longer patronize an industry that degrades them for our amusement.  Both of these cultural burn barrels are radioactive with hatred of the American mainstream… and the American mainstream, in retaliation, continues to channel its impressionable youth straight into their furnaces.  Why is that?

Mendacity and Lunacy Do Not Qualify as “Views”

I’m not going to attempt to state the following ethical impasses in a “fair” manner, as a shallow mind might style it.  My overarching point is intended to be precisely that the ethical common ground is lacking to justify our being considered a single society or a coherent culture.  Personally, I find that I can neither make a convincing case for two and two being five—in pursuit of “presenting both of the issue’s sides fairly”—nor do I have any desire to gesture at such well-balanced absurdity.

A man should not have his reputation ruined over a 36-year-old accusation without any details of time and place, its supposed corroboration a string of puzzled “witnesses” who either remember nothing or remember circumstances entirely at odds with the charge.  When the barbarity alleged by the accuser is grotesquely out of tune with every other validated fact about the man, especially, elected representatives should not be queuing up at the microphone to call for his lynching.  And, no, women do not always tell the truth.  About thirty years ago, I briefly dated a very troubled woman (in an irreproachably Victorian fashion not exactly current in the Eighties) with whom I was “fixed up” by a well-intentioned third party.  I had no warning of what loomed.  When this tormented soul’s drinking problem and troubles with a physically abusive father (with whom she still lived) became more and more apparent, I tried easing my way out the door.  That wasn’t destined to happen.  Instead, I was threatened with being slandered all about my workplace if I even thought about exiting.  I had to disconnect my phone for about three months… and the pathetic threats, as far as I know, were never executed.

No, women do not always automatically tell the truth.  On the ledger’s other side, a man’s history of punctilious propriety does not mean nothing just because he’s a man.  It certainly doesn’t mean that he must be sweeping dirt under the rug, which would be equivalent to saying that the accused is guilty if the evidence shows it, and even more guilty if the evidence is missing.  Absurd—outrageously absurd.  To attempt a “fair” representation of such bigoted, perverse, self-serving claptrap would be to give consideration to lunatic hostility or runaway stupidity.

I cannot talk to such people.  I have no wish to talk to them, or to listen to them.  I am uncomfortable knowing that they inhabit my part of the planet.  If I could easily ferry one of them out of a flood’s path or travel an extra mile to retrieve an old man resolved upon dying in his rocker, I’d lean to my oars and go talk grandpa around.

Much of this malarkey is said to orbit the sacred right to abort babies.  The claim of an imminent threat to the “right” is itself false on its face: no judge can constitutionally legislate from the bench.  The real animus surrounding this case arises precisely from the contrary—and covert—objective of placing a judge-dictator on the bench as a way of circumventing elected representation.

But take the protesting, screeching Furies at their word: why is abortion the passkey to freedom and progress, and its abridgement a return to chains and slavery?  Any woman with a calendar and a pencil may circle three days of the month when she will abstain from having sex.  Is that demand medieval—or is the calendar too sophisticated a technology?

Or are the men of the world, as many of the unhinged opposition insist, so brutal that a woman may not pass a single day of the month unmolested?  Is every woman raped at least once a day?  The derangement of so paranoid a fantasy is beyond anything that Apuleius could have cooked up.  Inasmuch as most of the nightmare-fantasy’s peddlers are not clinically insane, one must attribute the whole line of argument to unprincipled mendacity—and truly arrogant mendacity, as if someone should look you dead in the eye, declare that you have horns, and expect to be believed by every observer.  These maenads are boldfaced liars by default if they are not raging psychotics.  Actually, a pregnancy for any woman outside the window of 14 to 30 years old is rather difficult to achieve even in six months of regular sexual exchanges.  Yet many of the same harridans who paint their crotches red and wave coat-hangars are also delivering ghoulishly joyous speeches and cutting YouTube videos “celebrating” an abortion (or abortions) that they have relished, apparently after refusing all contraception with a determination that would awe a Catholic washerwoman.

It disgusts me to be sharing the relics of a community with people who revel in baby-slaughter, not as a right, but as a rite.  And it disgusts me well beyond my descriptive abilities that such unnatural hellhounds wrapped in a woman’s hide should be mimicking the outrage of their virtuous sisters who have been assaulted by some male jackal.  Perhaps traditional Islam is the best answer for them: a man who will keep them shrouded and walled away from any worldly contact.  But, no, they say that they want no part of raising a family… they apparently just want the “right” to sex thirty times a month (and once more on January, March, May, July, August, October, and December).  If, indeed, they really live their lives in such a manner, it may be just possible that most men in their circle are sociopaths; for a magnet attracts stray shavings, and carrion draws vultures.

I am long, long past the point, of course, where my words have rendered me damned per saecula saeculorum and excommunicate from the community of “sensitive” people—people who never utter a hateful word and harm no one, who live and let live… who would allow you to “identify” male today and female tomorrow, and to enter two different restrooms within the space of an hour.  In my place of outer darkness, I would ask of the neighboring black hole just how all the male head-hunting jibes with such liberality.  If a woman is always to be believed and a man never, then why may the man not declare himself a woman upon the witness stand and charge his accuser with being male?  For women never lie… and our defendant is now a defendante.

I seriously believe that, if anything, my inclination to sympathize with lame ducks and crippled sparrows is excessive.  I should never have anguished so over the alcoholic woman with the brutal father, otherwise.  I’m not a stranger to depression; and, indeed, I would disagree with many of the cultural cheerleaders (with whom I tend to be politically ranked by “the Resistance”) that America is the greatest nation the world has ever seen.  Our society generates insecurity, neurosis, and loneliness the way a steam locomotive generates smoke.  That isn’t to say that I wish to topple everything over in favor of some hare-brained utopia: it’s just to acknowledge the facts.

For the very reason that I cry foul, however, when commentators drape the US in a Superman cape, I cry a dozen fouls when critics of the opposing persuasion spout vicious lunacy and then dare anyone to indict their self-contradiction.  For the very reason that the perplexed and confused excite compassion in me, ideological profiteers who use others’ suffering as a club to beat down their rivals for supreme power stir in me a bottomless contempt.  I can take issue calmly with those who attempt to index quality of life simplistically with per capita income; I can’t restrain my temper in the presence of those who size up my color, my gender, my age, and my probable culture at a glance, then tell me to pay a fine and go to the back of the line in sackcloth.

There’s no possible basis of community with such self-righteous stormtroopers.  There’s nothing to talk about, no negotiation to be made.  When I am in attendance at a flag-raising (since I lately wrote of this issue), I do not feel inclined to take a knee, because the gesture’s intent would be susceptible to wild misinterpretation… but I certainly don’t feel overtaken, on the other hand, by any sense of bonding with the mass around me.  Not any more.  Too many warpainted head-hunters are in their midst.  They are not my fellow citizens: I scarcely find them recognizable as fellow human beings.

Some idiotic poll or other has recently proclaimed that about half of us suppose civil war to be imminent.  Civil war… I very much doubt it.  But massive civil disobedience?  Rioting in the streets?  Refusal to pay taxes to public schools… refusal to admit those from that part of town into this part of town?  Something on the order of serial secession—something like the dissolution of the Union into five parts—such as Soviet analysts foresaw two decades ago may be in the tea leaves.  And far from wishing to avert it, I more and more find myself disposed to think that it’s our best way out of the evolving hell over which our flag waves.

I learned a while back that there’s no easy exit from a room where a bipolar, substance-addicted psychotic expects you to stay.