The War in Ukraine Is a Blow to the Nationalist, Postliberal Right -- David French at The Dispatch

It’s increasingly clear to me that the “new right” is mainly a social media phenomenon, one that exercises outsized influence mainly because the political and journalistic class spends so much time on Twitter. But move into the real world, and the strange new respect for authoritarianism starts to vanish. The Very Online skepticism of classical liberalism of the American founding starts to wane.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, the American people responded with overwhelming solidarity with Ukraine. The very idea of sympathy for the Russian autocrat seemed bizarre. It seemed fringe. That’s because it is bizarre. It is fringe. And just as America’s political class needs a dose of perspective on the gravity of our domestic disputes, it also needs a dose of perspective on the relative influence of online ideas.

Our political class is constantly overreacting to Twitter trends, and no matter how many times ordinary Americans seek a course correction, the political class veers back into Twitter discourse and online disputes. Part of this is human nature. The loudest voices tend to get the most attention, and Twitter is full of loud voices that are braying day and night.

The majority of the people, by contrast, tend to shout loudly only occasionally. On Election Day, for example, or in times of extreme crisis. Then they fall back to their normal lives, and leave the daily conversations to the political professionals and the political hobbyists.

The postliberal right derives most of its energy from Twitter. It hectors and insults and memes day and night. Its small numbers of extremely energetic tweeters creates a false impression that they’re at the front edge of a much larger movement. In reality, they’re marching away from the majority, and moments like this remind us why.

Authoritarians have been writing liberalism’s obituary for generations. They see freedom in all its messy manifestations, watch democracies make concessions for peace, and then wrongly conclude that liberalism is a spent force, too weak to stand in the face of strength and order.

Yet liberalism endures. It is still stronger than its authoritarian foes, and when American postliberals offer an authoritarian solution to the maladies that plague our land, they’re appealing to forms of government that corrupt the church, turn citizens into subjects, and prove ultimately to be both weaker and more dangerous than the systems they seek to replace.

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The argument that Donald Trump was an authoritarian doesn’t really hold water, although he was often effusive in his praise of authoritarian leaders and remarked upon his enthusiasm for certain authoritarian trappings (like military parades). But make no mistakes, behind the scenes he was quite a bit tougher than previous presidents in matters of policy. He penalised Russians over cyberattacks and election meddling, despite his rhetoric on the subject, he withdrew the US from the INF treaty- something previous administrations had been loathe to do, despite clear and ongoing violations by America’s principal antagonists, he imposed harsh penalties on Russia for evasions of sanctions against North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Venezuela and he placed strong sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, warning Germany and other nations about the dangers of relying on Russian energy.

Yet at home, despite his often tough talking rhetoric he was anything but an authoritarian. He left most decisions to the states, which is what an American president is for the most part supposed to do- even though during his watch over $2 billion in damages was caused by BLM and Antifa riots- when almost all previous Republican presidents and many Democrat ones would have sent in the National Guard. He avoided vaccine mandates and vaccine passports, letting the states decide policy for themselves. It’s one of the reasons why we now know masks, social distancing and lockdowns were mostly ineffective (with the exception of two countries with the unusual option of stopping Covid at the border, at least with the earlier variants), despite the fact that many people who were against them ultimately turned out to be against the one thing proven to prevent hospitalisations and death- vaccinations as a means of mitigating personal risks.

But even on vaccines there were myths, legends and outright lies. We know that with the advent of Delta vaccination only reduced the risk of catching and spreading Delta to others by about 40% (WHO)- which given the infectiousness of the pathogen and its ability to circumvent human barriers to infect the immunologically vulnerable, was about as useful as a chocolate fireguard for the purposes of herd immunity.

By contrast Biden has been far more authoritarian and dictatorial. Mandating vaccines at the threat of people losing their jobs was a humanitarian violation of the first order, given we knew at the time the people who were dying from Covid were also overwhelmingly those who had refused the vaccine. It is a core tenet of medical ethics that one never forces treatment upon a patient if they refuse it, and for the most part this is something which our courts have upheld. But this is the type of cosmopolitan paternalism accomplished through the proxy mechanism of irrational fears for oneself (whilst virtue signalling concern for others), which typified the thinking of the 10% to 20% of Western populations whose opinions are the only ones which mattered.

But it shouldn’t surprise us. There has long been a well-established phenomenon which we’ve seen in less sophisticated cultures around the world- and unlike the whole mass formation psychosis fiasco, it is not some tenuous academic theory- it has been proven to exist through the study of various cultures around the world. It’s called Parasite Stress and has a proven link with nascent authoritarianism. We thought it was a superstition which we had put behind us, but it would appear that even the smartest and most educated cling to established anchor biases when said biases provide them with the self-comforting illusion of safety- and most especially clinging to obsolete notions when circumstances change. Many experts were loathe to admit, even to the themselves, that with the advent of Delta almost all levels of restriction were inevitably doomed to fail. Further, they didn’t stop to think that personal vaccination actually protected the overwhelming majority of people who had chosen to take the shots (although I know full well you do not fall into this category, Claire, because we discussed the matter of how vaccine hesitancy might slow the return of civil liberties during the Australian vaccine rollout).

But the really bizarre thing is that had Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, then it is highly unlikely that Putin would have dared invade Ukraine. Don’t take my word for it though- let’s here from a Quillette author who has been right about every aspect of Russia and the Ukraine invasion (and out-predicted leading experts in the field), Konstantine Kisin:

(7.20)
Kudos to Megyn Kelly for crediting a man who single-handedly inspired an entire stalking and harassment campaign against her.

Of course, I would argue (along with Megyn Kelly) that Trump’s strength wasn’t anything to do with his ability, his acumen of any grand strategy on his part- but rather that his erratic and unpredictable nature, often deferring to whatever the talking heads on Fox had to say on any particular issue, precluded any Russian aggression against Ukraine. One doesn’t give the order to execute a military campaign when the man in the White House might decide to bomb your troops simply because Fox encouraged him to do it.

I do find it ironic, though, that David French chooses to focus upon the Russian nationalist desire to overthrow the Western liberal order, when both Ukraine’s desire to assert their independence from the Russian sphere of influence and the very reason why they are resisting so fiercely is also borne of a nationalistic instinct.

One wonders whether if Steve Bannon had called it economic patriotism rather than economic nationalism, the whole concept might have been less thoroughly tarnished, but quite divisively, the Bannon strategy always revolved around using provocative language and political theatre to bring the crazy out of the Democratic Party. As a strategy it may well have proved successful (the numbers show that both independents and Democrats have been reregistering as Republicans in large numbers for some time), causing the activist branch to create unforced errors for the Democrats with which the American people have little sympathy, but few can doubt that is has ultimately been corrosive to the American system of governance and established norms.

Populism was always going to happen. Although the neoliberal order was an absolute boon for the Developing world, raising over a billion people out of absolute poverty between 2000 and 2012, there can also be little doubt that it disenfranchised almost all blue collar workers in Western countries. It why Trump-like populism is a feature throughout the West- with populist parties gaining ground at the expense of the cosmopolitan centre Left, throughout Europe and beyond. Quite often the populism manifests as Left populism, but it is a feature not a bug of neoliberalism- too many people have been left out in the cold as a result of societal labour shifts.

On a recent visit to Sweden, for my brother’s wedding, I was surprised to find that Sweden’s Nordic model had adopted an Australian style point system for immigration. I wouldn’t even know about it- were it not for that fact that he plans to arrange a work visa, once he has finished learning Swedish, and happens to be lucky enough to score well in their newly introduced version of Australia’s Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List. The changes were introduced in mid-2016- at right around the time Trump was running for office and the rest of Europe was under siege from populist parties.

Trump was always the symptom not the disease. Australia stands alone as an example of an immigration system which can cope with a population which is compromised of 30% foreign-born citizens, where in most countries populism begins to rear its head at around the 14% mark. The key is in preserving blue collar interests- Australia was successful as a model because it prevented migrants from taking the types of blue collar labour jobs from those who don’t do well at school. This in turn prevents the wage dilution and labour displacement which has long been proven by economic analysis of the socio-economic spectrum. Australia also benefits from the fact that people migrating into a country further up the socio-economic spectrum tend to self-sort by interest, income and occupation, rather than self-segregate (which only causes cultural friction). This in turn is a great aid to integration.

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True. Thus, they say, only something like 8% of the population is actually woke, but a majority are willing to go along with it. Only a tiny percentage are actually fascists but a significant number are willing to throw in their lot with the fascists, tho mostly only because they want to oppose the other pole. As for me, I’m trying to make a lot of noise on behalf of the center.

Seems to me it’s the wrong question. Authoritarian or not, Trump was an incompetent moron – so say almost all the people who served in his cabinet, including dedicated GOPies who have reason to lie but tell the truth anyway. He is also, very clearly, a traitor who tried to overturn an election and IMHO he should be shot for treason. That might also free the GOP to reorganize themselves around someone respectable.

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I agree with this part.

But not this. In order for a coup to be attempted one has to imagine that the conspirators would believe the coup to have at least some chances of success. Even a complete moron would come to the conclusion that the Jan 6th protests turned riots had a chance of success of nil. On the other hand, to Trump’s petty and narcissistic mind it was revenge for all those ‘Not my prez’ rallies.

He is also very sensitive to matters of size- whether we are talking hands or crowd sizes. He was probably still smarting over the inadequate size of his crowd at his inauguration, and wanted to show that his support was more widespread. Don’t get me wrong- he was completely irresponsible for not conceding the election- part of an outgoing presidents job is to console his supporters and allow for the peaceful transition of power. But like so many others, including the Mayor of Washington, he didn’t see a conservative crowd as having any chance of rioting because it really hadn’t happened before- whether we are talking 1A protests or the overwhelmingly peaceful Tea Party movement. What he failed to take into account was that many of his most ardent supporters weren’t really conservatives in the truest sense of the movement- and of the principal protagonists 118 had either lost businesses or had their homes foreclosed.

It was a powder keg which is was deeply responsible for causing, but it wasn’t an insurrection- not when we weigh the zero chances likelihood of it succeeding- which even Trump would have fully realised. Instead, the main motive for Jan 6th can be seen as a completely misjudged attempt to fire up the base, consolidate his hold on the Republican party and shore up support for a 2024 run.

But there is another level, one which operates at the purely Machiavellian. By forcing establishment Republicans to choose between him and constitutional process, he was wiping out his political competition for a 2024 run in one fell swoop. Either way they would have been seen as traitors to significant parts of the Republican base- either to the Constitution or in terms of personal loyalty. The worst of all sins for a Republican is betrayal.

I will leave you with a quote from Robert Hanlon, described as Hanlon’s Razor- “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

I refer you to your previous comment:

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Well, not to split hairs – your summary of the situation I don’t disagree with but I’d say you mistake chance of success with intention. I disagree with folks who say things like ‘the insurrection nearly toppled American democracy’ – nope, it didn’t come anywhere near to actually succeeding. ‘Insurrection’ is unearned flattery, it was just a riot, basically, tho one turned on the seat of one’s own government made it particularly shocking. (Contrast The Truckers who didn’t assault the Parliament Buildings whatsoever.)

But the ‘insurrection’ was the least of it. Trump’s treason is demonstrated in things like his phone call to what’s his face in Georgia, looking for 11,000 (and some) votes, his attempt to get Pence to stop the certification, and a dozen (or hundred?) similar efforts to overturn the election. IMHO these efforts were clear treason notwithstanding their complete failure. So, contra Hanlon, I’d say that neither malice nor stupidity are the point – the point was intention, and Trump’s intentions were treasonous. Treasonous on their face, treasonous for one and all to plainly see.

Switching to the defense, a skilled lawyer might try to tear-jerk a jury into believing that Trump is so stupid, and so absolutely narcissistic, and so completely consumed by his own ego that he actually believed that he won the election and so wasn’t trying to be treasonous, only to continue ‘winning’ – like he imagines himself to always do. Yes, perhaps we can be charitable and send him to an institution … but I still prefer the firing squad, personally.

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See Bush v. Gore. Biden and the Logan act. The warnings issued by the four main intelligence chiefs on the fabricated document called the Steele dossier as a pretext to leaking it to the press. Or how about the fact that Adam Schiff bleated about proof of Trump’s wrongdoing when such evidence was either not forthcoming or completely discredited. Worst at all was the scandal which erupted over Burisma. Joe Biden threatened to withhold vital military aid to Ukraine unless the investigation into the corrupt practices of Burisma, and by intimation Joe Biden ‘the Big Guy’ himself, was shut down- something which he publicly bragged about, on the record.

Let’s not forget that Trump sent Giuliani to investigate in Ukraine because he felt, quite justifiably, that he couldn’t trust the FBI. As it turned out, he was partially wrong- it wasn’t that the FBI didn’t investigate the various of subsequently convicted Clinton aides or former FBI agents- they simply waited until Trump was safely out of office and the media’s attention was focused elsewhere. A bit like Hunter Biden’s laptop- it was Russian disinformation until Joe Biden had safely won the election, and then the day after the election is was fair game again, and safe to report.

What you fail to recognise is that in most instances these arguments were predicated on legal arguments. In most instances they mirror arguments made in courtrooms across the country, and subsequently dismissed as spurious. It is only media spin which casts them in a different light- although I will admit that Trump’s tendency to put his foot in his mouth when making a perfectly legal request- crossing the line into possible illegality with the Georgia call as it did with the Ukraine call- was his greatest liability, and probably the reason why his lawyers repeatedly requested that they handle his calls on his behalf (they wouldn’t let him testify or even be subject to deposition, given his propensity for waffling his way into potentially indictable statements). The main difference is that former Presidents didn’t have a permanent civil service bureaucracy which loathed them with a passion, and saw as an existential threat to their careers and pensions. But although ignorance is no defence, stupidity isn’t a crime- hence the Hanlon’s Razor statement still holds.

The point of my earlier rambling is that sitting Democrats have done far worse, and provably so- in the case of Michael Flynn and the illegal invocation of the Logan Act, although thankfully the discussion never amounted to anything- the same can be said of Trump. It should be noted that the FBI’s investigation of Michael Flynn has since been to determined to have no merit, the aim was to get him to perjure himself as part of an investigation for which the FBI knew they had no substantive grounds.

It should also be noted that Biden himself violated the Logan act when he was President Elect, as have many before him. It was even featured in the West Wing, when the character Matt Santos was President Elect (although of course he did it indirectly, through the press)!

In the spirit of fairness the Clinton emails were also blown out of all proportion and amounted to little more than a fishing expedition to gain access to internal and confidential DNC communiques.

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I won’t play whataboutism, all the stuff you mention stands on it’s own merits. Having to choose between Rat corruption and Rep corruption is like choosing between crucifixion and burning at the stake. I hate them all.

It’s a matter of personal judgement to what extent Trump was outright treasonous vs. stupid, but my call is that it was outright treason, YMMV of course and I respect your judgement. But, one can quite directly compare Biden’s naked threat to Ukraine against Trump’s asking for a favor from them and I refuse to even attempt to justify one by sighting the other. Off the record, between you and me, Biden was the worse, and he is surely the more spectacular hypocrite. But as Kurt likes to say, Biden is corrupt and incompetent within normal parameters – damning him with the faintest of praise.

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I assume this is mostly a statement about America or the American sphere of influence. Because, worldwide, it’s not like Erdogan, Orban, Putin et al are just a social media phenomenon.

I can’t see the whole of French’s article, but judging by the discussion so far, apparently it considers Trump part of the “nationalist, postliberal right”? But in that case, you can’t dismiss support for Trump as a social media phantasm. Tens of millions voted for him to have a second term. I suspect he would now be in office if it weren’t for Covid, although that’s an unprovable counterfactual.

So there are several issues that need discussion here. One is whether Trump is an anti-liberal authoritarian. (A side issue might be the role of leadership in liberal societies, whether a strong executive can coexist with liberalism, and whether liberalism needs that option in order to survive.)

Another is, exactly who are the American “new right” that are sympathetic to dictators? When Trump came along, I remember noticing that the “sympathy for Putin” at places like Free Republic had dried up, precisely because American conservatives finally had a populist leader of their own, they didn’t need to look wistfully at Russia any more.

Still another issue is whether the decline of the “postliberal right” is an organic phenomenon, as opposed to the result of concerted attacks by liberal (and postliberal-left??) institutions. Hundreds or thousands of people have been kicked off social media in the past few years, all the way up to Trump himself. I have little doubt that some of the “netwar” tactics developed to break up jihadist social networks, are now being used against white nationalists.

My own thoughts on all this are not very clear, these are complicated topics, but this is some of what comes to mind.

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A superb riposte.

Thats why youre supposed to pay, durr. Give these backscratchers their money.

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Ah, Geary – there’s your partisan bias rearing its ugly head again. Always sorry to see it mar your otherwise cogent analysis. Of course, you’re completely ignoring numerous corrupt and antidemocratic moves that Trump and his cronies made both in plain view and behind the scenes, including his blatant attempt to remain in power by stealing the 2020 election. I’m opposed to broad vaccine mandates and I’m glad the courts shut down Biden’s overreaching executive order, but your Trump-sized blind spot is embarrassing. French has a far better understanding of his malignant toxicity than you ever will. No matter how many times you say it, Trump is not just a symptom of an underlying problem: he’s a metastasizing accelerant. I’m sorry to say that you don’t understand American politics nearly as well as you think you do.

This right-wing talking point has been thoroughly debunked. Your “heterodox” sources are misleading you yet again.

You seem to be incapable of recognizing the spin that your preferred media place on stories, including their anti-anti-Trump bias.

No it hasn’t. Joe Biden openly bragged about using his influence to quash the investigation during the Obama years. There may have been an extent to which Biden pressured Ukraine to fire Viktor Shotkin because he was unable or unwilling to find evidence of corruption of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, but he should have recused himself over his own son’s involvement in the Burisma corruption scandal.

Oh really, how about this The Hill article on the inappropriateness of Biden acting in the Viktor Shotkin firing:

“possibility of a perception of a conflict of interest" Is an understatement. Biden shouldn’t have acted in this matter. It doesn’t make what Trump did right, but it does show that there was at least a fair amount of smoke to the suggestion of Burisma corruption and the entanglement of Joe Biden into his son’s fiasco.

We’ve been over this one before. The FBI themselves have looked into this and found ‘scant evidence’ of coordination in relation to the Jan 6th riots. Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve stated before Trump’s rhetoric was dangerous and deeply irresponsible- he should have conceded the election gracefully and aided in the peaceful transition of power. But one can hardly misattribute a little bit of theatre directed at Pence and others, aimed at removing them as serious contenders for a prospective 2024 run (for what, to Republicans, has always been the worst of all sins- disloyalty or betrayal), as a serious attempt to overturn the election. It simply isn’t a feasible position, because there was zero likelihood of it ever happening. One can even divine an equivalency between the two parties, with Hilary Clinton telling Joe Biden in the run-up to the election not to concede the election under any circumstances.

And this is not the only way in which the two parties has shown similar derangements. The percentage of Republicans who believe that the 2020 election was stolen is roughly the same as the percentage of Democrats who believe that the 2016 election election was stolen by the Russians.

I read exactly the same sources as you. The Hill, WaPo, NYT, The Atlantic, NPR, the Intercept, Reuters, The Guardian and The Independent. The difference is that I now employ a huge degree of scepticism to what I read. I thoroughly fact-check any major claims in the realms of politics or culture, which is why I know, for example that the influence of Russia’s Internet Research Agency on the 2016 election was far less important than the for profit troll forms sited in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Perhaps it is because I am an outsider to American politics, and have no real ‘skin in the game’, but from this side of the Pond it looks as though political derangement is a feature of anyone who is strongly in favour of either political party (or sees the opposition as an existential threat), not simply the preserve of Trump supporters. A good example can be seen in the way that many in the corporate media cable news environment covered the Greg Youngkin victory. Partisans on both side of the political divide would have the exhausted middle believe that the victory has everything to do with CRT and gender ideology being taught in schools, when on the ground reporting from the state show that parents were far more concerned about the continued closure of schools and the impact on their kids, than these heavily partisan issues.

The parents were right to be concerned. Research has now shown that the likely impact of lockdowns, school closures and the deranged belief that children were at risk (and hence shouldn’t freely mix and play during the pandemic, which they should have been able to do- if for no better reason than because the far lower viral load children are capable of carrying, would have made them ideal vectors for drastically lower risk infections) has lead to an impairment of between 27 and 37 IQ points in terms of cognitive development, at least a portion of which will be non-recoverable:

In a recent Real Time with Bill Maher, Newsweek Deputy Opinion Editor Batya Ungar-Sargon gave a prime example of why your corporate media is so dangerous. She highlighted that last Monday both sides in the Russian invasion of Ukraine has agreed in principle to three core conditions of a negotiated peace- the legal recognised annexation of Crimea by Russia, independence for the Donbas region and no NATO membership for Ukraine. Yet if one were to look at America’s visual media landscape at the time, one would have found this important and crucial news all but omitted from the American visual media landscape and all one would have found is calls for a ‘No Fly’ zone and demands for further sanctions, when the West has probably already gone beyond the point of rational non-escalatory sanctions.

Thankfully American views on enforcing a ‘No Fly’ zone have shifted (given it would almost inevitably lead to an escalation towards all-out nuclear war)- due no doubt to the ‘wisdom of the crowd’- it is reassuring that it would now appears to be a critical mass of Americans who are now sceptical enough of the toxic triangle of cable news, Fox, CNN and MSNBC that they are able to keep themselves better informed and contradict their peers when it comes to the hate and misinformation these bad actors spew. But it should alarm us all that at one point, less than two weeks ago 74% of Americans supported the imposition of a ‘No Fly’ zone, when now the answer has dropped to between 30% and 40% depending upon how the question is asked:

Polling taken with 24 hours of the American polling (4th March), showed that Britons opposed a No Fly Zone by 39% to 28%.

On a more conciliatory note, I’ve been thinking a lot recently on why we differ so much on our views of American media. In the past, I’ve always thought about it in terms of the harms American media has caused- as the primary instigators of the 1994 Crime Bill and Mass Incarceration or, more recently, as uncritical supporters of BLM, unwittingly leading America back to crime levels not seen since the nineties (by causing police officers to back-off nationally from the types of discretionary observation-based proactive policing which interdicts violent gang activity).

But I’ve been to think it may be more due to the differences in our media consumption. We both read the same written sources, but where we differ is in exposure to visual media- I think you’ve said in the past you don’t really watch much in the way of cable or network news. The thing is, because I now use Breaking Points as my main American visual media source through YouTube, I frequently get YouTube trying to jam content from Fox, CNN and MSNBC down my throat- I may only rarely click on these sources, but I get a ringside seat to some of the derangements readily proffered to your fellow countrymen.

You may not watch cable or network news. Your main sources of news are presented in the written format and likely tend to be more nuanced and highly informed as a result. But make no mistake, many of your compatriots rely almost exclusively on corporate visual media sources, either directly, or increasingly, through the corporate media outlets which are the default setting on most social media and smartphones.

This is where our differences lie and why we have such differing views on the state of the American media landscape. In the light of the one-time 74% American support for a ‘No Fly’ zone- tell me I’m wrong to be deeply concerned about the state of American media…

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Yes, you’ve made this point numerous times. Which is odd because I’ve never argued otherwise. I’m referring to the now well-documented efforts Trump made to pressure state and federal officials to change the election results and block certification of the vote.

This is false. I’m fairly confident that Joe Biden would have eventually prevailed in the courts, but less courageous decisions on the part of key state officials could have resulted in competing slates of electors and might have enabled the Congress to decide the election.

FIFY. You’re comparing an off-hand comment by a failed candidate with a months-long campaign to cast doubt on the election both before it occurred (“there’s no way I can lose”), while the votes were being counted (“stop while I’m ahead”), and after the results were clear – a campaign which continues to this day and has convinced a majority of Republicans that the election was stolen. FFS, Geary!

Agreed. None of the media I consume made the risible case that Youngkin’s victory was the result of racism or white supremacy, except to criticize such claims.

I watched that episode – she made some reasonable points but is an incredibly irritating speaker (IMHO). Moreover, I have the same issue with her that I have with the hosts of Breaking Points. I listened to the podcast version of their daily show for several months and found it to be intermittently insightful but ultimately exasperating. The hosts’ constant state of outrage and indignation wears rather thin. Instead of providing a balanced analysis of what the MSM does well and how it (frequently) falls short, they fall into a contrarian pattern of insisting that mainstream coverage is always deceptive and distorted. Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald have the same problem, which I blame (in part) on audience capture.

I fervently hope that a negotiated settlement is in the works, but this assumes that Putin is a rational actor. His recent behavior calls that presupposition into question. Also, should the international community really set the precedent of rewarding a brutal and unprovoked invasion by agreeing to the terms insisted upon by a war criminal? This concession might be necessary in order to save Ukrainian lives (and those of Russian soldiers), but it remains a difficult question.

Assuming facts not in evidence! You need to scale back your certitude and acknowledge that this is a disputed issue with valid arguments on both sides of the debate.

Of course the media is partly responsible, but (a) crime was historically high in the early 1990s; (b) surely politicians – who campaigned on the issue, eviscerated “weak-on-crime” opponents and drafted/passed the actual bill – bear most of the blame; and (c) voters themselves were demanding legislative action, including a majority of non-whites. Yes, the electorate was influenced by media coverage, but they nevertheless bear some culpability.

I don’t watch any and never have, although when I was younger I would watch the nightly network news and the PBS Newshour.

This is only partially true. For some people MSM outlets have been eclipsed by alternative sources spread via social media.

You’re not wrong; I agree with Taibbi’s indictment in Hate Inc. that much of the media makes us angry and stupid. I also agree that quality mainstream sources should be subjected to rigorous criticism and it’s important to consume information from a variety of perspectives. What I oppose is the contrarian approach that vilifies the NYT et al. while failing to acknowledge the fact that alternative sources and media critics like Breaking Points have their own limitations and biases.

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Just as a similar number of Democrats believe that the 2016 election was stolen by the Russians, a case for which I quite pointedly dismissed by linking the Macedonia for profit operation.

It depends how you define stolen. Can an election be stolen legally? A Republican would so say. So to would a Gore supporter in 2000. I believe it was you who linked me the study which showed that mail-in ballots didn’t influence the election, and which amply demonstrated that it did in its appendices, by mentioning that mail-in ballots shifted the composition of the electorate by 1.5% towards to the young and away from the generally more conservative over 65 vote. If you are a Democrat allowing the young to vote by smartphone would guarantee that Democrats always get elected, but a Republican would argue that it not so much to ask that the reasonably well-informed voter upon which democracy hinges should at least go through the process of registering to vote themselves and take half a day once every four years, to attend a voting station in person.

It all depends one which partisan lenses one happens to be wearing at the time. Democrats have used the same argument as Trump on numerous occasions- although admittedly the argument usually relates to elections at a state or city level.

Also the main problem with the MSM. The NYT wouldn’t be featuring articles and Julie Andrews Black Face in Mary Poppins, if they weren’t convinced that it would gain them subscriptions from affluent white wokesters with the high disposable incomes their sponsors crave.

Well, they were his conditions as well, although I have seen and read some coverage which claims that the broad demands aren’t the current issue at stake- their is evidence to suggest that the Russians are deliberately degrading Ukraine’s defence industrial base with a view to insisting they not remilitarise their defence sector, and I have heard some rumours of an insistence upon the insertion of a prime minister with all the political power, with Zelensky kept in place as little more than a figurehead.

The front pages of the Times yesterday was Zelensky: We can’t join NATO. My biggest fear is that the neocons capture the zeitgeist and try to insist upon regime change through continued economic pressure- a dangerous scenario, which makes nuclear holocaust the captive of brinksmanship.

Well, the off ramp will have to include the racketing down of some sanctions (such as the possible reintegration of Russia into Swift, and ending the curtailment of their Central Bank), whilst keeping enough sanctions in place over the long-term to make the division of Ukraine into a rump state sufficiently painful to outweigh any benefits gained. Long-term tariffs on their main exports would be a great idea, because this would force these sectors to shave their profit margins, reducing Russian government revenue and curtailing future investment from non-Russian sources. It also hands the rest of the world comparative advantage, meaning that the West would be less likely to experience supply shocks of the type we are experiencing now, in future.

Good point.

How so? A No Fly zone would require the shooting down of any Russian aircraft which violated the zone, and many military commanders would see the bombing of Russian forward radar and mobile missile launch assets as a prerequisite to enforce such a zone safely. A No Fly zone sounds good on corporate media, but many lack the military knowledge to realise that a No Fly zone inherently possesses the likelihood of escalation. Of those military sources who are recommending a No Fly zone, all are neocons, hawks or at the more aggressive end of the military spectrum. Don’t get me wrong- such individuals are highly valued within the military for their aggression, but not at the strategic decision-making or advice level- instead their usual role is to plan and execute operations in theatre, once somebody more sensible has made the decision.

Of course, and a blame they are unwilling to bear in hindsight. But media are the ones who generate the ecosystem which leads to such poor decision-making at a political level. It took decades of the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ mentality within media, and footage of Black men in orange jumpsuits in perp walks every night to shift the needle.

It is also worth noting the terrible availability heuristic within the judiciary. The exceptional instances at the extremes of the judicial spectrum, with ultra-liberals at one end and judges of the hang 'em high variety at the other, gave voters the impression such types were common. A similar dynamic is false perceptions has been induced today, in relation to police officers- the overwhelmingly majority of whom bear relation to the extremely rare exceptions. You would have thought that media might stop to consider the impact of false narratives, or caption a warning label at the bottom of the screen- ‘this story might lead the public to false conclusions about judges/black men/ police officers’- but we can only live in hope.

Yes, well- I don’t always agree with them- but I like the optics of seeing a conservative and a progressive on the same stage- and not one of the Lincoln Projects country clubbing neoliberals who don’t represent anyone these days. Their Forever Wars have long since become deeply unpopular with the vast majority of the electorate.

Incidentally, did you hear that a few months ago Ben Shapiro had his own audience turn on him for a short while? Apparently, he was talking trash about Unions and had a large number of paid subscribers contradict him- saying that wasn’t their experience of Unions, who had been nothing but supportive and caring in difficult times. Just goes to show how much things seems to shifting in terms of the ways in which the old single axis political spectrum no longer applies.

The model has shifted to 3D. Now one has to think about the libertarian axis, the class axis, and the extent to which pushing towards blue collar on the class axis might alienate moderate independents, with neoliberal sympathies…

It bears thinking about the fact that the Latino trend has only accelerated post-Trump and even being seen more in the African American community, amongst men. My sense is that there is an extent to which racial interests will increasingly become class interests. If the Dems want any chances of winning after the pending midterm disaster, they will look very closely at the 2020 Arizona ground game.

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aye

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No, it doesn’t. There are legitimate arguments to be had about whether different states implemented pandemic measures (like expanded mail voting) in the proper way, but there are no serious allegations that votes were fraudulently cast or improperly counted. Trump was attempting to invalidate the ballots of registered voters in order to wrest victory out of a clear defeat. This is dishonest and undemocratic and no amount of false equivalency about bad actors on the other side of the aisle can obscure this fact.

Republicans believe that they will lose if more people vote and scaremonger about “voter fraud” in order to pass more restrictive measures. Of course, Democrats scaremonger as well, comparing rather modest (and usually ineffective) GOP attempts to suppress the vote to Jim Crow. In a functioning political system the two parties would agree on commonsense reforms that expand access to voting and address concerns about security (e.g., by requiring an ID to vote) without providing a partisan advantage to either side.

Fair point, but it’s easy to exaggerate the number of articles in the NYT etc. that are Woke claptrap. Critics of the MSM engage in nut-picking (pretending that the worst excesses are typical) to create the false impression that journalistic standards have collapsed.

True, but there’s a rather massive gap between “the likelihood of escalation” and “the inevitability of nuclear war” – I’m questioning your invocation of a slippery slope to the latter.

True, but why do local media focus on sensationalized crime? Because that’s what viewers want to watch.

Agreed. The MSM have been dangerously negligent in reporting about police abuses.

I certainly hope this happens! I also hope that the Republican politicians will start pursuing policies that match their populist rhetoric in order to actually help the working class instead of cynically exploiting their grievances.

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I consider myself part of the New Right (to be specific, I am an American nationalist). In conversations with various under-40 family members over the last couple years, I think quite a few of my kin, none of whom are “very online” people, are at least moderately aligned with what I would call New Right priorities (though they thought I was joking when I said we should repeal the 19th amendment). All we want, at the end of the day, is to live in a nice neighborhood with strong ties, low crime, good schools, and where we don’t feel like a stranger in my own community. Clearly the post-WWII liberal order cannot deliver on this, so give us something that can. Bring back the Strong Gods that can bind us together as a nation, as R.R. Reno would put it. I am tired of living in an economic zone; I want something more than decent GDP growth and better foreign food than my parents.

Honestly none of this has to do with Ukraine. I wish them luck, but we need to sort out our own house first. To paraphrase a Tweet I saw, “‘I support Ukraine’ I typed into Twitter, while stepping over a man overdosing on fentanyl on the sidewalk.”

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It can’t? I live in a county with about 100,000 inhabitants in a blue/purple state and have all of these amenities. I’m hardly unique. My area is majority white but is becoming increasingly diverse due to immigration, which the vast majority of my neighbors welcome. Generally speaking, the new arrivals are doing an exemplary job of assimilating to American culture and integrating into the community. Not sure where you live, but maybe you should consider moving?

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