Monday, December 25, 2017
Obsessing Over the Utterly Trivial
Andrew Sullivan, whom I used to like a lot, has continued an ever downward slide into journalistic irrelevance. Here is a recent example: Putin's First Year in the White House. Nothing at all hyperbolic about that headline.
His first mistake is to believe anything James Clapper says. Has there ever been a dimmer head of an intelligence service? Clapper lies a lot too; and his saying Trump is acting like a Russian foreign agent is laugh out loud stupid. But on his own, Mr. Sullivan's pervasive mistake is what he believes is Vladimir Putin's major concern as the leader of Russia. Behold.
[Putin's] core concern, as with any despot, is the legitimacy of his pseudo-democratic autocracy - which means, in turn, discrediting the very different features of the liberal democracies of the West.
It may well be a concern of Russia's leader that his leadership is secure, but it is way down the list of current concerns. The "pseudo-democratic" autocrat is very popular with the Russian people and he has very little to fear regarding his continued position in the driver's seat. And the whole idea that Putin would bolster his image as leader by discrediting the image of other leaders and other governments is way the heck out on a limb. Especially the wimpy way Putin is alleged to have discredited our Republic. The major concern Putin clearly has is economic. Russia is struggling mainly because of low natural gas prices due to the American fracking glut. And Trump is not helping Vlad out on that at all. Back to this wasted outrage.
Trump has exhibited contempt for a free press, describing the bulk of Western journalism as “fake news,” words that have gladdened the hearts of dictators across the planet.
I guess Mr. Sullivan thinks that the press has been very fair to Trump's administration and that no mistakes putting it in a lesser light have ever been made. If I were being treated as unfairly by the press as Trump has been, I'd be contemptuous of the press too. But no, Mr. Sullivan is having none of that. Trump believing the press has sunk to new lows is more like a dictator shutting down the press he doesn't like (something Putin actually does). It get's sillier. After a list of minor atrocities by Trump in governing in a way different from what lefties would prefer, Mr. Sullivan trots out this particularly stupid lefty meme:
the looting of the treasury by oligarchs — I give you the latest tax bill.Letting citizens keep more of the money they have earned is as far from "looting" as it is possible to be. You're not taking anything at all. To think that tax rate cuts are a form of theft must necessarily be based on a belief that all income belongs to the government in the first place. Putin probably believes that. Trump, not so much. Criticism of the tax rate cuts is one of the biggest and stupidest mistakes the left has recently made -- is continuing to make. Tax payers who start getting bigger paychecks next February because less is withheld due to the rate cuts will probably think that's a good thing and the wailing and over the top false criticism of tax rate cuts by the Democrats must be wrong, perhaps an out and out lie. What else does Mr. Sullivan muster to support his premise that Trump is a proto-dictator and enemy agent?
Then there is Russia’s permanent interest in deepening the racial and partisan divides in America — the better to force the United States to be more concerned with internal strife than with foreign affairs.
I would have to say that Sullivan and his ilk are far more guilty of this than any Russian has ever been. The support I have for that observation is gargantuan and it takes a whole lot of effort by the left to pretend they aren't doing anything like that at all. Wow, this is really thin -- to fan partisan and racial discord in America is to act like a Russian agent?
What better propaganda could the Kremlin get than the Charlottesville horrors, the racial divide crippling the NFL, or the candidacy of Roy Moore?
Is Sullivan saying that Trump engineered any of these? I remember during the Cold War that the Soviets were constantly criticizing us about crime and to a much lesser extent the racial problems the Democrats had created, but they criticized everything the West did. The racial part was not a constant drumbeat. If you want to see constant criticism of America, especially about race, look no further than the Democrat Party.
As for the stability and legitimacy of liberal capitalism, Putin could scarcely do better than the GOP tax proposal. When economic inequality is at record highs, undermining the social compact that undergirds capitalism, the GOP is making things far worse. It would also add well over a trillion dollars to the U.S. debt. Trump is not just looting the Treasury for himself and his buddies, he is looting the younger generation as well.
Back to looting. He keeps using that word. I do not think it means what he thinks it means. $9 Trillion added to our national debt in the 8 years of the Obama administration was hunky dory. Adding just over a $Trillion over 10 years is the worst thing in the world. Got it.
Let's end with this major mistake by Sullivan because the piece after that is virtually unreadable:
In the Middle East, Russia has never been stronger — it is now the key player in the future of Syria, while Putin’s naked annexation of Crimea and sections of eastern Ukraine remains in place, unmentioned by the White House.
Russia has indeed been supportive of Syria since 2011 and militarily involved in Syria since 2015. Clearly that was Trump's fault. And the military action undertaken by Trump against Syria for their atrocities (our 'bombing' the airfield at Al Shayret) was the only military action taken by the United States during the entirety of that nation's civil war. Obama did absolutely nothing. So clearly the bombing of Russia's new ally Syria is evidence of Trump's being in cahoots with Russia regarding a nation it supports. Nothing could be clearer. Oh, wait. Except for arming the Ukrainians with weapons. That might be clearer evidence of the White House helping out the Russians. No one could doubt how pleased the Russians would be with sophisticated American anti-tank weapons in Ukrainian hands. It's a no-brainer. I'll stop with the sarcasm now and point out that Sullivan possibly might not have been aware of the military weapons deal when he wrote his piece. But I doubt it. The WSJ was reporting the deal was in the works in July 2017. It's almost as if he was ignoring the actual help the "silent" White House was planning to give the Ukrainians so he could falsely accuse the current administration of doing nothing for the Ukraine.
It is difficult for me to square Andrew Sullivan's former clear eyed assessments of the world with the drivel he now writes. It is a crying shame.
UPDATE: Tyler O'Neil agrees with me here that calling tax rate cuts theft or "looting" means the Democrats must no longer believe in private property. All your income belongs to the government, apparently, and allowing you to keep more of it than last year is therefore theft from the government. Tough to come to any other conclusion (except plain old lefty incoherence).