TBT: Populists and Elites

One of the blessings of the Trump administration was that Trump reminded us how fun regular people are.  Sure, I love the symphony and all that stuff, but a representative government should be basically populist—it should care about the people it governs, and look out for their interests.  Leaders should reflect the people, not set themselves against the people.  At most, our officials should strive to set examples for how a good life can be lived.

The thrust of this piece—written one year ago today—is that elitism is shockingly ignorant:  it presumes that anything that does not interest the elitist is somehow barbaric and simplistic.  That our own elites embrace the vulgar and raise up vice as a virtue suggests their elitism is supremely misguided—or lacking entirely.

Few remember now Michael Bloomberg’s disastrous run for the Democratic primary last year—it was so long ago!—but it was the political embodiment of clueless elitism against Trumpian populism.  Bloomberg had the resources and the softly center-Left stance to buy himself into the White House, or at least the Democratic nomination, but he bungled it so badly, even his supporters were in awe of his ineptitude.

Well, now we have a senile, fraudulent feebster leading a puppet regime, so it seems gross incompetence is no longer a barrier to entry to the highest office in the land.  Perhaps a healthy dose of elitism is needed after all.

Regardless, here is 18 February 2021’s “Populists and Elites“:

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Second Presidential Debate Review

Last night was the second and final presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Biden.  Overall, it was far more measured in tone and richer in substance than the first debate, and it accomplished what President Trump needed to do:  reassure squishy independents and critical undecided voters that he’s not just a loose cannon, but can actually govern, and govern well.

I also found the moderator to be surprisingly fair.  The questions obviously were slanted in favor of the Democrats, as these questions always are (again, who cares about climate change anymore?), but she gave President Trump the opportunity to respond to criticisms, and also had some tough questions for Biden.

President Trump did what he should have done in the first debate:  he gave Biden the rope with which to hang himself.  It was Biden who brought up China and Ukraine, which opened the door for Trump to attack Hunter Biden’s lucrative salaries from foreign companies and governments—the result of Biden’s influence peddling.

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Presidential Debate Review

Last night was the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Biden.  It was a grudge match; “hard to watch” and similar sentiments are the main comments I’m seeing on social media.

As a Trump supporter, I enjoyed the debate for GEOTUS’s zingers and no-nonsense combativeness.  He was aggressive and feisty, and clearly understood the Leftist slanting of the questioning (as Milo Telegramed, “Why are we still talking about climate change?”  Chris Wallace was clearly in Biden’s corner in terms of the tack of his questions, and he didn’t interrupt Biden the way he interrupted Trump.

To be fair to Wallace, Trump was talking over Biden and Wallace frequently, and as the role of a moderator is to moderate the debate, Wallace’s job was to try to keep the candidates to the two-minute rule.  That said, Trump was responding to a number of inaccurate and false accusations against him, including the widely debunked but oft-repeated Charlottesville myth.

I do think on the substance of the issues, Trump hammered Biden.  Trump has facts, history, accomplishments, and morality on his side.  His first term has been wildly successful by any metric.  The irony of Trump’s presidency is that if it were anyone else in his position, they’d be lauded as the greatest president in a generation, but anyone else wouldn’t have had the cajones to accomplish what Trump has.

Unfortunately, for all that I loved Trump’s aggressive attempt to rattle the ailing Biden, I’m afraid it came across as bullying and unprofessional to squishy swing voters.  Trump’s base is with him no matter what (especially after he refused to be maneuvered into denouncing the Proud Boys, a completely benign organization unfairly slandered as “white supremacists”).  He’s got to win over those undecided folks in key swing States who probably love the president’s policies, but find the president personally distasteful.

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Lazy Sunday LXXIII: Forgotten Posts, Volume II

It’s another Lazy Sunday dive into some of my deep cuts—the forgotten or neglected posts of yesteryear.  As a reminder, here’s my loose criteria for selecting these posts, as spelled out last Sunday:

That’s all a long way of saying that I’m doing some deep dives for an indeterminate number of Sundays into some forgotten posts.  These are posts that don’t immediately spring to my mind when I’m referencing my own work.  These posts may or may not have had high or low hit counts; they are just posts that don’t linger strongly in my memory.  They’re the red-headed stepchildren of my churning mind.

The following three posts all date from Summer 2018, an important summer for me:  it’s when I relaunched the blog on WordPress, and when my old apartment flooded for the second time, prompting my ultimate move to Lamar:

  • Breaking: Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize” – I used to do these “breaking” news posts periodically—dashing off a couple hundred words about some major development.  I was perhaps overly optimistic about Trump’s peace talks in Korea, but while they might not have ended the Korean War’s long cease-fire, they definitely calmed down tensions between the US and North Korea.
  • George Will’s Self-Destruct Sequence” – The Never Trump phenomenon was gasping for air in 2018, but it still had some loyal adherents (and still does, if you check out National ReviewThe Dispatch, and The Bulwark, the last of which is blatantly progressive, despite its claims to be a conservative site).  One of the first major figures to succumb publicly and wildly to the disease was George Will, the long-time WaPo columnist and tweedy neocon.  Will argued that Republicans in Congress should be voted out to avoid giving Trump dictatorial powers—a ludicrous obsession with the Left and the Never Trumpers, and completely deleterious to the future of the nation.  Sure, we Republicans might be the “Stupid Party” sometimes, stupidity in the highest halls of power is generally preferable to the “Evil Party” of intentional wickedness.  Now we have so-called conservatives plumping for Joe Biden on similarly faulty premises.  Yeesh!
  • HSAs are A-Okay” – I’m a big fan of health savings accounts, or HSAs, thanks in large part to my younger brother’s financial wizardry.  Health savings accounts allow account holders to deposit funds that can be used to cover future, out-of-pocket medical expenses.  Since my cut-rate insurance comes with a hefty $6750 annual deductible, squirreling away cash into my HSA helps in the event of a catastrophic injury or health crisis.  But the real beauty of an HSA is that the deposited funds can be invested in mutual funds and grow in value—tax-free.  They’re the ultimate investment vehicle, and you can save medical receipts for years before using them to withdraw HSA funds (if you use an emergency fund to cover medical expenses on the front-end, the HSA funds can grow unmolested until you decide to use them).

That’s it for another edition of Lazy Sunday—one of the last truly lazy ones for some time, as I report back to school tomorrow morning.  Classes resume 20 August 2020, so I still have about eleven days to prepare for the return of students.

Now I’m off to tickle the ivories for morning service.  Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Law and Order?

It’s an election year, in case you’d missed that point, and our man Trump is up for reelection.  Trump is not doing well in the polls at the moment, but George H. W. Bush was similarly down against Michael Dukakis at this point in 1988, and won in a blowout victory.  Of course, Dukakis was an exceptionally feeble and excessively nerdy politician, and Lee Atwater’s Willie Horton ad was a gutsy, effective attack on Dukakis’s program of weekend release for prisoners.

1988 was also a very different America.  Even 2016 seems like another world.  Trump’s election was the paradigm shift of our age, spawning four years of constant resistance from progressives and neocons alike.  Joe Biden, like Hillary Clinton before him, enjoys the full support of the media and the institutions; even in his advancing senility, they are determined to drag him into the White House, where he will serve as a dull-witted, mentally-diminished puppet for every crazy Left-wing policy ever concocted in the faculty lounge of a women’s studies department.

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Resist the Black Pill

Lately, it’s been easy to give in to despair.  Trump is way down in the polls, we’ve suffered reversals on DACA (and Trump’s own reversals on rescinding foreign student visas for colleges going online-only in the fall and on suspending foreign worker visas through the end of the year), BLM is murdering people for saying “All Lives Matter,” and so on.

Despair is a sin.  Like most situations in life, doing the opposite of what you feel is virtuous.  Wallowing in self-pity (or shouting angrily during one of Tucker Carlson‘s litanies of unpunished progressive malfeasance) is the emotionally satisfying approach, but it’s not very productive.

I’m noticing that a number of folks on our side of this great culture war are taking the “black pill.”  Z Man railed against Trump in this week’s podcast, and in a post earlier this week (which I referenced yesterday).  Milo had all-but written Trump off until the Roger Stone commutation.

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Populists and Elites

This past weekend gave Americans two studies in contrasts, between President Trump and Democratic hopeful Michael Bloomberg.  Contrasting these two men and their attitudes highlights the wide divide between populists and elites.

On the one hand, President Trump made a grand entrance to the Daytona 500, where he served as the iconic race’s grand marshal.  NASCAR is a hugely popular sport among President Trump’s core supporters, so that move was good politics.  But it was also an acknowledgment of the humanity of his supporters, and an endorsement of a key event in their lives.

I’ve never understood the appeal of NASCAR personally (other than the crashes… and then you realize that a real person is inside that hunk of steel, and the thrill quickly vanishes).  But that doesn’t matter.  Millions of Americans love the sport, and my inability or unwillingness to understand or appreciate it doesn’t detract from their enjoyment.  Nor does it mean they’re wrong to enjoy the sport.

That’s the trap most elitists fall into—“if I don’t like something, then it’s the height of philistinism!”  I confess I get this way about rap music, but I can at least articulate an objective case against rap (it lacks melody, its subject matter is often foul and dehumanizing, it is often unsophisticated in its musical structure, etc.).  Nor do I seek to destroy it, even if I believe—sincerely—that it is detrimental to the health of our society.

There’s also a haughty arrogance to most elitists:  they presume that they what they like is nuanced and complex, whereas everything else is simplistic rubbish for rubes.

Such was the case of former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, who ostentatiously proclaimed that farming is a job any moron could do, while information technology work is difficult and requires more “gray matter.”  Here is the quotation from the linked Fox News article:

“You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn. You could learn that,” Bloomberg said during a 2016 appearance at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. “At one point, 98 percent of the world worked in agriculture, now it’s 2 percent in the United States,” he continued.

Ask any gardener how easy it is to grow even the simplest of plants.  How many of us have killed a potted plant due to lack of watering, or overwatering?

Now, apply that to hundreds of acres of crops, many of which are complex, genetically-engineered supercrops that depend on a deep understanding of agronomy, horticulture, biology, and chemistry.  There’s a reason people go to school for four years to become farmers.

And farming is hard work.  That’s nothing against all the code monkeys out there slaving over a hot C++ compressor (that reference probably dates me, and illustrates my ignorance of coding).  But both professions require focus, attention to detail, and a degree of erudition.

If anything, coding is probably easier.  Lest I indulge in the same arrogance as Bloomberg, just consider how we’re importing Third Worlders (mostly from India) to write code for us (undercutting the ability of native-born Americans to make a good salary in tech).  Indians are bright, hardworking people, but their ability to code well is more the result of relentless focus and intense family and social pressures.  Anyone willing to apply the effort could figure it out.

And it’s not slaving away in a field, sweating every weather forecast, wondering if it will rain too much this winter, or if the late frost does or does not come.  Will a hurricane hit and wipe out an entire crop?  Will hail destroy my barn?  The code monkey’s biggest worry is when his next shipment of Mountain Dew Code Red is coming in, and if he’ll have it in time to help him meet his next deadline.

Regardless, President Trump is the model of respect for Middle America:  he respects the people that work hard, and he respects their interests and traditions.  Michael Bloomberg is an out-of-touch elitist who disdains everyone who doesn’t have enough money to buy the Democratic nomination.

When NeverTrumpers ring their hands over “decorum” and “character,” they should understand that President Trump has shown his character through his actions:  he cares about his voters, and about Americans generally.  Michael Bloomberg only cares about Michael Bloomberg.

Best SOTU Ever II: Extra Most Bestest

Dang.  Trump just keeps getting better and better.  If you thought last year’s State of the Union Address was good, then listen to THIS:



President Trump turned last night’s State of the Union Address into prime time television.  It was informative, persuasive, and downright entertaining.

Indeed, I can already picture the wags at National Review and other NeverTrump and Trump-skeptical outlets tut-tutting that Trump’s address is “beneath the decorum of the office” and the like.  Talk about a bunch of scrooges.

It was a powerful speech.  Trump started detailing all of the accomplishments of the past few years, with a specific focus on the improved conditions of black America.  That’s a clever way to put the pressure on Democrats:  compared to President Obama’s abysmal economic record, President Trump—so often slandered, unfairly, as a “racist”—has done far more to improve the lives of black Americans.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Kabuki Theatre

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This coming January, two theatrical events will occur:  I’m playing the role of “Brett,” the father of a drug-addicted son, in a play one of my former students wrote called Catching Icarus (the hook:  both acts take place in a Waffle House in South Carolina); and the Senate trial against President Trump will (allegedly) begin.

From the rehearsals I’ve been to so far, I can say that acting is difficult—and I get to spend most of the first act in a booth drinking coffee.  It takes a special kind of conviction (or delusion) to invest in a role, to become another person.

For congressional Democrats, they sure seem right at home on the political stage.  They are masters of the kabuki theatre of outrage.

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