Of course this will never be over, not even all the way through Trump’s second term. The Democrats howled about the vote to not have witnesses, even though Adam Schiff was a big part of why this happened. President Trump said back in December that he wanted a big trial, with a lot of witnesses. For my part, I wanted the same. There were two basic reasons why this did not happen.
First, the whistleblower was ruled out as a possible witness—this was essentially done behind the scenes, and in reality can be called a Deep State operation, though one exposed to some extent by Rand Paul. This has nothing to do with protecting the whistleblower or upholding the whistleblower statute, but instead with the fact that the whistleblower was a CIA plant in the White House.
That the whistleblower works for the CIA is a matter of public record, not some conspiracy theory. Furthermore, for some time before the impeachment proceedings began, the whistleblower had been coordinating his efforts to undermine Trump with the head of the House Intelligence Committee, who happens to be Adam Schiff. It is possible that the connections with Schiff go even further or deeper. Obviously the Democrats do not want these things exposed.
Second, though, the other problem was more from the Republican side (though efforts to keep hidden things hidden is largely a bipartisan effort). The Democrats howled when Mitch McConnell said that he was coordinating the efforts of Senate Republicans to support the president. The real story is just the opposite: McConnell was signaling to the president that, if he wanted the Republican Party politicians and leadership to support him, he would have to go along with their game plan on impeachment.
Perhaps there is a moment, now that Trump has been acquitted (for now!) and the Democrats have performed their little stunts, culminating in Nancy Pelosi’s obnoxious act of contempt at the end of the State of the Union address, to reflect on what has transpired in the last couple of months without everything being immediately overtaken by events.
Actually, I’m not counting on this, as the Democrats have little else that they can reveal publicly other than to paint Trump as a monster (“fascist,” etc.) and to oppose everything Trump says or does. Hatred of Trump will also serve as a cover for the efforts of the DNC and leading Dem politicians and power-players to destroy Bernie Sanders. Most OP (ordinary people) Democrats and leftists will go right along with this, as messed-up as that seems to anyone outside of those camps.
To blow my own horn momentarily, I think my previous article, “Bernie Sanders: Real resistance and the steep learning curve”, has become even more relevant in the wake of the Iowa debacle. I’ve been recommending the article to my Democrat and leftist friends, suggesting something they might do with their time and energy rather than bleat on about Trump endlessly.
(Interactions regarding this article have revealed a significant split within the anti-Trump camp, between those who appreciate what I meant as a generally positive proposal for taking resistance seriously, in a way that at least opens up systemic questions, and those who automatically dismiss anything that comes from a position of support for the Trump Clarification and Disruption.
Significantly, the response from the latter camp tends to consist in personal attacks, with no response on the actual arguments I make, because, according to a representative of this camp, “You seem to think you’re saying something here, but you aren’t,” and, “If I was pressed to look for a single idea in this piece…,” and, “you generate ‘controversy’ through assholery, basically.” Good stuff.
There are those who disagree with me, often vehemently, and then there are those who say there is “nothing” in anything I write. This latter view would seem to mark something approaching an absolute difference, certainly in the discursive field—and something beyond mere questions of style or form. One of my arguments in the Bernie Sanders article was to raise the issue of what real resistance would mean, and to contrast it with what seems to me to be a fantasy of resistance, the LARP version of resistance.
Those who think the argument says nothing rather than something—an idea that does stimulate my Zen Buddhist and John Cage-ian sensibilities—are, in my view, happy enough in their fantasy world; but in any case, certainly both sides to this dispute would accept that each side is in a very different world, and it seems that things that will remain that way for some time to come.
In short, this is because, for all that the Disruption, Clarification, etc., are valuable and perhaps signal possibilities for really opening things up, we are not in the presence of an Event, in the sense advanced by Alain Badiou. In other words, as much as Disruption, etc., challenges the existing order of things, still there is no fundamental break with this order, not yet.)
Looking back at the impeachment episode, there is the issue of witnesses for which I would like to offer my own assessment, and there were some moments in the testimony of certain House “witnesses” (that is, the constitutional scholars, hence the scare-quotes) that bear a little more exploration.
1. Let’s go crazy, the bigger the trial the better
This sub-heading is anachronistic, obviously—expressing what I was hoping for as the impeachment process was starting in the House.
In the last week of January, it was pleasant to hear how President Trump’s lawyers responded to the case laid out by Adam Schiff the previous week. The President’s lawyers spoke in a calm, deliberate, and careful manner, providing a nice counterpoint to Schiff’s maniacal, unhinged rhetoric. This rhetoric, in particular the two-and-a-half-hour speech of January 22, was praised in glowing terms on CNN and MSNBC; someone even said that high-school students will study this speech for decades to come. Yep, it was a regular Gettysburg Address. There’s a perfect alignment there, and I say this without pleasure: those who think that Schiff’s rhetoric is not unhinged are themselves unhinged.
However, these were the President’s lawyers; what also needed to be addressed was the approach to this impeachment process by the Republicans in Congress more generally. That’s old news, now. Still, let’s not pass over too quickly any opportunity to mark the moments when important principles are either advanced or undermined; after all, the core of the impeachment agenda does not appear to have changed.
At the beginning of December 2019 it was “a matter of national security” that President Donald J. Trump be impeached. One could have made some argument back then that this national-security urgency was why the “hearings” were so farcical and the resulting case so slipshod—and “open-ended” because essentially undefined. This argument was completely undermined, obviously, because as soon as the articles were drawn up, the U.S. Congress left for its winter break, and Nancy Pelosi did not deliver the “urgent” articles to the Senate for another month. So much for urgency or any argument predicated thereupon.
What we really see here is some moving line in the minds of everyone who is on board for impeachment, most likely different from individual to individual, and almost certainly different depending on whether one is an actual power-player in this process or just one of the millions who think they are really a part of something. Certainly it helps with the charade of “government by the people” if there is some division into sides, and if some significant number of people can take one side or another and feel as if this matters.
This truly is a spectacle, specifically for our time of postmodern capitalism, of what used to be called “legitimacy.” For legitimacy to mean anything, however, there must be the possibility of a “legitimation crisis,” and the postmodern form of spectacle takes care of that issue. The moving line of “reason” for those completely caught up in this spectacle is between the bullshit they believe and the bullshit that they don’t actually believe, but that they go along with anyway.
Again, old news: there was the period in the weeks before the Iowa debacle, in which many who are committed to supporting the Democrats and their agendas (larger, in economics and military matters, or more narrowly, such as impeachment), were trying to justify to themselves the now-growing effort to stick the knife back into Bernie Sanders’ back.
I find it not surprising that Elizabeth Warren was taking point on this effort; it seems to me that it is her role to espouse positions that, at least on economic matters, are close to Bernie’s, meanwhile assuring rich people that they don’t have anything (or not nearly so much) to worry about. It is also not surprising that the means for taking Bernie down are Identity-Politics “feminist” ploys that depend on the “believe women” demand.
Somehow it never occurs to the people who support this kind of crap that, when we’re talking about women such as Warren, Christine Blasey Ford, and of course Hillary Clinton, the opposite message is sent instead; they are doing great harm to any real politics of women’s liberation. Here again, the moving line comes in very handy.
For Alain Badiou (who is my main philosophical inspiration among contemporary figures), for there to be real politics (or real art, real science, or real love—these are what Badiou calls the “conditions of philosophy”), there has to be an opening to what he calls “infinite thought.” We might call what is going on here with the moving line of bullshit the effort to stave off—through fear, hatred, or what might be called, paradoxically, enormous pettiness—infinite thought, to pull even the possibility of such thought down into the basest of finitudes.
Marx outlined in great detail the processes by which, in terms of human creative labor and the products of this labor, all qualities are made to submit to the ruthless quantifications of the cash nexus, even while the “violence of abstraction” plays its role as well.
In this same “critique of political economy” (the subtitle of Capital, vol. 1), Marx has the famous chapter on commodity fetishism, which has some essential features in common with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. How does humanity get out of the cave? Both Marx and Badiou argue that it will take the discovery of something new, something that makes a break with the existing order of things.
Where Badiou excels is in creating a mathematical analytic of breakthroughs in form; he leaves behind, for the most part, the kind of cultural critique that Marx also excelled in, and that was taken up by figures such as Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse.
(This is a subject that ought to be explored further in the present circumstances; although I do not want to further complicate the present discussion by pursuing this exploration here, I do want to emphasize the importance of pursuing this critical work of negativity. For readers who are not familiar with the idea of “critical negativity,” suffice it to say that the idea is not just “to be negative about everything.”
The discussion requires renewal in our present situation because, on the one hand, the Left, for various reasons, has allowed the project of critical negative and cultural critique to be assimilated to Identity Politics and State Feminism, and even State Marxism, and therefore to be rendered bereft of any emancipatory politics, and, on the other hand, the actual work of this project has lately been condemned on the Right, as “Cultural Marxism.”
This latter move takes the Identity Politics-driven work of the epigones of Adorno, etc., as the whole, or the outcome, of what this project has created; this is an unfair, but also largely opportunistic, assessment. None of this would matter much at all, other than as a purely academic issue, if it were not the case that there is an essential role to be played by this project of critical negativity and cultural critique in getting out of the cave.)
One of the two main terms I have used to discuss Donald Trump’s contribution to our present situation is “Disruption.” The now old-news impeachment process was a response on behalf of the various elements of the existing system to this Disruption. What was excellent in this was that the Senate stage of impeachment could have opened the door to even a great deal more disruption.
This had to do with the question of witnesses; again, though, the big problem here was not the Democrats, but instead the Republicans. We have here a very important reminder that, at the end of the day, Trump is something different from what is mainly represented by either of the establishment parties.
In early December, as the House impeachment hearings were getting underway, Trump said he wanted a trial, indeed a big trial, and that he looked forward to getting everything out there. On his Fox News Channel program, “The Next Revolution,” Steve Hilton lobbied forcefully over several weeks for a full array of witnesses, in terms that I completely agree with—namely, things need to be blown wide open, the workings of establishment-, ruling class-, State-, and Deep State- power needed to be exposed.
Every week Hilton would make the case, and then interview a Republican Senator or other Republican leader and ask about this. In every case, the response was that it would be better just to get things done with, that “the country just wants to move on.” For whom would this be better? The aforementioned establishment, etc., of course, but certainly also the many Republican politicians, including those in the Senate, who are also implicated in dirty business in Ukraine and elsewhere.
There are some who argue that not only is Donald Trump just another Republican—if also an “oligarch,” a term that will have to receive separate treatment—but that, further, he has remade the Republican Party in his image. That there are many Republican Senators, along with the Senate Majority Leader, who want to just pack things away and not take a chance on what witnesses will reveal, despite the wishes of President Trump, shows that none of this is the case.
For a few days it appeared that the Senate Republicans would have no choice in this matter. There was the clamor to hear the testimony of John Bolton, a clamor that continues; one would think he should be cross-examined, given that his “testimony” is already out there, thanks to what has been leaked to the New York Times. Obviously this clamor gives the lie to what Adam Schiff and others claim about national security—if it serves to take down Trump, then “national security” be damned.
There was also the fact that, without witnesses in the Senate, it will appear that the Republicans have swept things under the rug. Schiff and company did a brilliant job of creating this appearance, even while his Intelligence Committee in the House could have called actual witnesses if they had them, rather than dubious, interested parties who presented third-hand accounts and bad arguments about the constitution.
In larger terms, what we see here is that most Republican politicians and power-players do not want the Trump Disruption any more than most similarly-situated Democrats do. All the more reason for the Disruption to be pressed forward.
In this regard, there was a very special moment on January 29, when Chief Justice John Roberts refused to allow the reading of a question from Sen. Rand Paul that identified the alleged whistleblower. Paul then held a press conference in which he read his question.
The question was directed at Adam Schiff, who claims not to have communicated with the whistleblower, despite much evidence to the contrary. (Further details can be read at here.) A propos of what I was just saying, Paul is described in the Politico article as “a longtime antagonist of Republican leaders.” Excellent, good on you, Rand Paul.
Whether this was a case of unintended consequences or not, one could say that this episode fed into the case against calling witnesses—certainly the Democrats should not have been allowed to call witnesses if the Republicans could not call the whistleblower. But clearly this point is completely lost on those working in terms of the moving line of bullshit.
One would think that Democrats would be happy with a Republican Senator who antagonizes leaders of his own party, but of course Rand Paul’s effort only led to further “outrage” on the part of Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.
The Democrats did not want Adam Schiff to have to answer questions about the whistleblower, and they don’t want the whistleblower’s identity to be officially revealed. Such things do not contribute to the greatest cause of our time, the destruction of Donald Trump.
However, you see, there is a complementary purpose at work here, too. The whole point of having the House impeachment investigation proceed from the House Intelligence Committee, headed by Adam Schiff, was to send the signal that Trump is unacceptable to the nefarious powers that make up the Deep State, especially the intelligence agencies, especially the CIA.
The only way these machinations can be combatted is to pull the curtain back further—but the Republicans do not want this any more than the Democrats do, with a few possible exceptions such as Rand Paul. (As the Politico article states, Paul was chastised publicly by McConnell for submitting his question in the first place, and for criticizing Roberts in the press conference.)
What a world, then, when OP Democrats are cheering on John Bolton, hoping again for a savior to their sacred resistance cause, and meanwhile they aren’t too excited about Rand Paul’s intervention. For sure, it is a sign that a “resistance” isn’t real when it needs a savior; it’s not as if the French Resistance sat back waiting for Gen. de Gaulle. In any case, in the procession of horrible reactionary figures that Democrats have embraced, Bolton is probably the worst, and that’s saying quite a lot.
2. The Left has fallen into reactionary insanity
Is there a “real Left” out there somewhere, a Left that still connects to the radicalism of the last two centuries, that connects to the great wave of global revolt of the Sixties, that hopes to contribute to the radical recasting of all existing social conditions? I’m sure there are pockets out there, but even these seem either narcoleptic, folded into the Democratic Party agenda, or at least trailing along behind this agenda.
Now we are at a moment when “the Left” is recognizing the role that the CIA and the rest of the “intelligence community” is played in the impeachment nonsense. This “Left” was already on board for the “impeachment process” itself, perhaps at moments with caveats about “not leaving everything up to the Democrats,” “not just relying on the Democrats,” but still accepting their assigned role as cheerleaders and self-important internet commentators. (And, sure, maybe that’s all I am, too—but the inability to distinguish form from content is one of the main problems of the existing Left.)
Now, though, people on the Left are trying to get comfortable with, and trying to explain to themselves how they can get comfortable with, the obvious role of the “intelligence community” (with, in my view, the CIA in the leading role, but of course I’m not privy to the inner workings of this scene) in the impeachment process and other efforts to take down Trump’s presidency.
People are even talking about “getting used to accepting the help of the CIA with the impeachment,” and the like. (I realize I’m being repetitious here, but this stuff blows my mind, it is so disturbing.) At least they are recognizing the reality—at least partially; that’s something. But then what they do with this recognition is something that requires epic levels of TDS—and, somehow, a great deal of the Left is going down this path.
They might think about the “help” that the CIA gave to the military in Bolivia to remove Evo Morales from office. They might think about the picture of Donald Trump that they find necessary to paint to justify what they are willing to swallow to remove him from office. They might think about the fact that ordinary Democrats are fine with this role for the CIA, and that Adam Schiff and others routinely offer the criticism/condemnation of Donald Trump that he doesn’t accept the findings of the CIA or the rest of the intelligence agencies at face value.
The moment for the Left, what calls itself and thinks of itself as that, to break with this lunacy has passed some time ago, but let us take this moment, of “accepting the help of the CIA, because Trump,” as truly marking a point of no return.
There were two major themes in the House impeachment testimony of Prof. Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School that bear further discussion.
One of these themes is the extension of what I call “State Feminist” and “State Identity Politics” methods beyond academia into U.S. society and legal structures broadly.
The other theme, which goes to what is supposedly the most “urgent” reason to remove Trump, feeds into the Russia narrative—and this was underlined again in Schiff’s Jan. 22 speech.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States and NATO have been pressing ever-closer to Russia with high-powered weapons systems, something that presidents since George H. W. Bush have said they would not do. President Trump has distinguished himself from both Democrats and Republicans on this question. In his typically-craven style, Schiff said,
Russia is not a threat … to Eastern Europe alone. Ukraine has become the de facto proving ground for just the types of hybrid warfare that the twenty-first century will become defined by: cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, efforts to undermine the legitimacy of state institutions, whether that is voting systems or financial markets. The Kremlin showed boldly in 2016 that with the malign skills it honed in Ukraine, they would not stay in Ukraine. Instead, Russia employed them here to attack our institutions, and they will do so again.”
Schiff also quoted Prof. Karlan’s statement that the Ukrainians are “fighting the Russians so that we don’t have to.”
Schiff argued that any inquiry into what Joe and Hunter were doing in Ukraine and with Burisma now has to be set aside, and cannot be a part of the impeachment hearings, not only because it is “completely-debunked conspiracy theory,” but also because Russia will “weaponize” the results of any such inquiry and deploy it against presidential candidate Joe Biden.
(Obviously we can note once again the crazy irony of the fact that, apparently, being a presidential candidate—against Trump, that is, though certainly against Bernie Sanders as well—is an excellent cover for abusing the Vice-President’s office, but being President does not confer enough status to ask about this abuse and corruption.)
As Daniel Lazare writes at AntiWar.com:
We must all put such sentiments behind us now Russia is seeking to “weaponize” such information, according to Schiff, and deploy it “against Mr. Biden just like it did against Hillary Clinton in 2016 when Russia hacked and released emails from her presidential campaign.” If Russia wants to weaponize it, then it’s best for the rest of us not to breathe a word of it lest people think we’ve been weaponized as well.
Bottom line: we must impeach Trump, according to Schiff’s epic presentation, not only because he’s overstepped his proper constitutional bounds, but because he’s part of a grand Russian conspiracy to spread disinformation, undercut US security, undermine faith in US intelligence agencies, and “remake the map of Europe by dent of military force.”
In order to counter this all-encompassing threat, it is our patriotic duty to do the opposite by believing the CIA and redoubling US defense. If anyone tells us that Biden was guilty of a flagrant conflict of interest, we must stop up our ears because that’s what Moscow wants us to think. If anyone says that the entire Russian-interference narrative is just a silly conspiracy theory based on a paucity of facts and an abundance of paranoid speculation, we must do likewise because it’s just the Kremlin trying to worm its way into our minds.”
– “Adam Schiff’s Very Scary Warmongering Speech,” January 24, 2020; originalantiwar.com
To further emphasize, Prof. Pamela Karlan did an excellent job of laying out what the impeachment “inquiry” has been all about:
America is not just ‘the last best hope,’ … it’s also the shining city on a hill. We can’t be the shining city on a hill and promote democracy around the world if we’re not promoting it here at home. This is not just about our national interests to protect elections or make sure Ukraine stays strong and fights the Russians so we don’t have to fight them here, but it’s in our national interest to promote democracy worldwide.”
The aforementioned point of no return has arrived when one has to try to explain to Democrats and leftists what is wrong with this reactionary crap—and finding that one cannot do it. For most Democrats, in fact, there is nothing wrong with the content of this statement; what is incredibly shameful is that leftists do know what is wrong here, but they go along (trail along, that is) with the Democrats because no price is too high to pay for getting rid of Trump—especially when they are not the people paying the price. Once again, the moving line of bullshit.
An added bit of reactionary garbage here is that Democrats and some who at least call themselves “leftists” are hailing Prof. Karlan as a feminist and Identity-Politics hero, because she is a woman and, apparently, bisexual or lesbian or something. I state this last part a bit glibly because one might wonder how this matters. But of course it does matter if you are using Identity Politics to advance both the agenda of trying to get rid of Trump, and at the same time using the impeachment agenda to put the “procedural” methods of Identity Politics on display, in the hope that contempt for and abrogation of due process can become the way things are done in general, just as they have been done in academia since the “Dear Colleagues” (Title IX) letter of 2011.
Prof. Karlan scored a brilliant point with the IdPol Left with her stunning analysis of the difference between a name and a title: “President Trump can name his son Barron, but he cannot make him a baron.” To any ordinary working person Karlan simply demonstrated that it doesn’t seem to take much to make one a respected genius-scholar at Yale (from which Karlan has her law degree) and Stanford. I’m sure, though, that Prof. Karlan is so smart that she knows that ordinary, deplorable people are in no position to judge what counts as wisdom in elite institutions.
Of the three constitutional scholars who were brought in to make their case for impeaching President Trump (yes, clearly, their case), the other two besides Karlan were white males—so why people should listen to them, it’s hard to know. The other scholar, Jonathan Turley from George Washington University (sniff), testified that, while he is no fan of Trump, did not vote for him, and champions a “socially liberal agenda” (his term), the case for impeachment was very weak.
Prof. Turley characterized the Democratic case against Trump as “pointillism.” As a critical instrument, this seems a good deal more powerful than fomenting confusion between names and titles. (My parents named me “Bill,” but they weren’t expecting your waiter to bring me to you—or were they?!) Turley argued that the dots in the Democrats’ “painting” are too few and too far apart to really create a coherent picture. This had to be a horrible blow to Adam Schiff, who undoubtedly considers himself to be a veritable Courbet of politics, whereas he’d be doing good to duct tape a banana to a wall somewhere. (See Turley’s editorial in the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 9, 2019.)
Note, significantly, that Turley repeatedly called for George W. Bush- administration officials to be prosecuted for war crimes, which is another way that he is out of step with the Democratic impeachers, and almost all of the Republican Party too. Prof. Turley didn’t stop with the Bush II administration (that is, the Cheney/Bush administration); in a 2013, editorial, titled “Fire Eric Holder,” Turley wrote:
For Obama, there has been no better sin eater than Holder. When the president promised CIA employees early in his first term that they would not be investigated for torture, it was the attorney general who shielded officials from prosecution. When the Obama administration decided it would expand secret and warrantless surveillance, it was Holder who justified it. When the president wanted the authority to kill any American he deemed a threat without charge or trial, it was Holder who went public to announce the “kill list” policy.
Last week, the Justice Department confirmed that it was Holder who personally approved the equally abusive search of Fox News correspondent James Rosen’s e-mail and phone records in another story involving leaked classified information. In the 2010 application for a secret warrant, the Obama administration named Rosen as “an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” to the leaking of classified materials. The Justice Department even investigated Rosen’s parents’ telephone number, and Holder was there to justify every attack on the news media.”
– USA Today, May 29, 2013.
Prof. Turley is far out of step with the neoconservative/neoliberal compact well-represented by the chummy relationship among the Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas (and nowadays Dick Cheney is more likely to be seen on CNN than Fox), in their anti-Trump coalition.
And let’s remember, please let’s remember, that during the 2016 campaign Trump did a truly great thing in taking Jeb Bush, G. W. Bush, and their horrible family down for lying the United States into war with Iraq. That is the kind of fire — that is, the CIA and the “intelligence community” — that Trump has been playing with since he entered the presidential race, and this is the heart of why he has been under very serious attack since Nov. 9, 2016, and why this impeachment nonsense occurred.
Incidentally, what Prof. Turley politely called “pointillism” is, by other names, death by a thousand cuts, or simply throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks. While Turley is out of step with the Democratic Party agenda on impeachment, there is a way in which his criticisms of the “impeachment process” were fairly mild.
In the pointillism/duct-tape banana editorial, Turley says that he “encouraged the Democrats to wait and build a more complete case.” This has led to his being pilloried by anti-Trumpers, because he is not fully in lockstep. Turley said that the Democrats have to go beyond their “impressionistic case” and build instead a “realistic case”:
As it stands now, with so much in the Democrats’ case relying on inference, how one views the impeachment is entirely based on one’s view of the president. That is the trouble with impressionistic impeachments: They leave too much in the eye of the beholder.”
One would think that, with all of the surveillance capabilities that Adam Schiff apparently has access to, he would have been all set to go photorealist on Trump. That Schiff isn’t even remotely a David Hockney of politics tells us two things about the Democratic agenda on impeachment:
- that, apparently, they don’t really have the goods on Trump (as Turley said, “This would be the first presidential impeachment to go forward with no credible (or at least uncontested) crime at its heart”);
- none of this is about removing Trump from office, it is about doing as much damage to Trump as can be done on the way to November 2020. Certainly, neither of these things is any kind of revelation.
What could really be said, though, is that the system has now made a qualitative shift, toward openly declaring feelings, impressions, and unsubstantiated third-hand accounts from interested and shadowy parties, as even more of a substantive basis for important legal findings than what we used to call “evidence.”
Donald (and Melania, one assumes) named their kid “Barron,” clearly a sign that Trump considers himself a king or emperor figure. Who knows, maybe he does think of himself that way—though most royal figures are not even remotely as good at connecting with ordinary people through humor as Trump is; then again, neither are most regular comedians these days, infected with TDS as they are.
But this Title IX-style theater of power cannot be what is really going on, not any more than Bill Clinton was impeached for having been orally-serviced in the Oval Office and then “lying about it.” For the moment I will leave this scene with the observation that it really does seem like so much regarding the Trump phenomena comes down to whether it is really the case that there is something like the Deep State, with the CIA at its core, with an effective hold on how power operates throughout the system.
Lastly, on Identity Politics/Title IX-style power-plays: Okay, I felt bad about the “bisexual or lesbian or whatever” remark; it may be fair in the way I am using it, but it wasn’t nice to my lesbian friends, especially. Apparently Karlan’s self-description is “snarky bisexual,” as reported with great excitement at pinknews.co.uk on Dec. 5.
They lauded her as having “stole[n] the show at Donald Trump’s impeachment hearing with her scathing and quick-witted put-downs.” There is no end of women of actual brilliant accomplishments, and I’m sure many of them are lesbian or otherwise non-binary. Some of them are even brilliant legal scholars.
We do nothing but take away from these women (and, yes, men too, a few of whom occasionally do something worthwhile as well) when the Identity Politics path to power and fame is allowed to displace the hard work and creativity that actually makes a contribution to humanity.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren has pledged to subject her choice for Secretary of Education to the judgment of a nine-year-old trans child. No word from Joe Biden as to whether “bad dude” Corn Pop will play a similar role in his administration.
Anything can happen, but it seems that both Warren and Biden are going down the tubes, and without yet having been able to stop Bernie. Buttegieg seems to be doing well, but the only reason to expect that to last is that he is a Deep State/CIA-creation like Obama was.
Just as Democrat-supporters have had to find the path to accepting—or embracing–whatever they are told is necessary to defeat Trump (the CIA, the defiant heroism of Nancy Pelosi in tearing up Trump’s speech, the “principled stands” of militarist reactionaries such as John Bolton, Alexander Vindman, and Mitt Romney, and deep hatred and contempt for ordinary people in general—is there any doubt that there is no limit to how reactionary Democrats and “the Left” can get?), now they will have to accept Michael Bloomberg as the “alternative.”
My own view is that Trump is not an “oligarch,” because oligarchs exist among other oligarchs; that’s a subject for further exploration, but it is clear that Bloomberg is, in fact, such an oligarch.
A thesis regarding the postmodern spectacle: What one might accept, even minimally, at one point, perhaps as necessary in a purely tactical sense (“the Left,” broadly speaking), one can come to embrace at a later moment (confirmed OP Democrats who will vote “BNMW”). This is the moving line of bullshit as it moves around what stands in as a “principle” in this scene: “Because Trump.”
The moving line really does some fantastic work for the neoliberal-globalist forces who want a “return to normalcy.” What people who think of themselves as some kind of “resistance” at first grudgingly accept will later come to embrace.
In the wake of Iowa, and now New Hampshire, there are already good liberals talking up Bloomberg as the best chance for beating Trump—this includes people who claim they would prefer Bernie. Somehow they are getting past the fact that only Bernie is given a realistic chance of beating Trump in an election. Certainly, things can change, but what is really going on here?
Among OP Dems it seems likely that the instinct for neoliberal globalist “normalcy” is kicking in, and so Dems are proposing to go with an oligarch billionaire—just yesterday the worst thing on earth—who has many times the wealth of Trump, and who represents the ugliest sector of globalist capital.
Will those supposedly in the left, and those supposedly to the left, of the Democratic Party, remain dutiful and accept (and then enthusiastically embrace—again, any- and everything is possible here) this “alternative”?
They have failed every test thus far, but perhaps Sanders can turn them around. As I argued previously, this will take a movement of great strength and depth. Even if Sanders cannot win the general election, he would be doing the world a great favor in defeating Bloomberg. Despite serious reservations, I wish him well in this pursuit.
Of course, if Sanders were to win the nomination but not the general, those who despise him now would despise him that much more, and very likely even many who like him now would turn against him. It is hard not to see the maneuverings of the Clintons here, and even more the Clintonist mainstream of the Democratic Party, and just in recent days trial balloons are floating around with the proposal that Hillary could be Bloomberg’s VP pick. No one should be surprised if things turn out the other way ‘round.
When one considers this whole mess, and adds to it the way that Identity Politics, at least in its current predominant form as woke ideology for resistance LARPers, fits hand in glove with globalist economic and military agendas, I find it difficult to see how the Trump Disruption, Clarification, and the bits of Experiment that have gained traction are not qualitatively superior.
Of one thing we can be sure, however, namely that the circumnavigations and circumlocutions of those who claim to the contrary will continue to kick into ever-higher gears.
Bill Martin is a philosopher and musician, retired from DePaul University. He is completing a book with the title, “The Trump Clarification: Disruption at the Edge of the System (toward a theory).” His most recent albums are “Raga Chaturanga” (Bill Martin + Zugzwang; Avant-Bass 3) and “Emptiness, Garden: String Quartets nos. 1 and 2 (Ryokucha Bass Guitar Quartet; Avant-Bass 4). He lives in Salina, Kansas, and plays bass guitar with The Radicles.
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