From 2004: A behind-the-scenes look back at the man himself—detached yet accessible, astute and prophetic, colorful and complex.
June 28, 2004 Issue: There they lie in their guttered drawers, projecting from the rosewood desk I had specially made for them: four yards of cards, each eight inches wide, five inches tall, most of them with his initials handwritten, headline style, in the top left-hand corner, from “rr’s birth zodiac—feb. 6, 1911” to “rr dies of pneumonia—june 5, 2004.” In between these two extremes, some eighteen thousand cards document whatever I was able to find out about thirty-four thousand of Ronald Reagan’s days. Which leaves sixteen thousand days unaccounted for. Lost leaves. “The leavings of a life,” as D. H. Lawrence might say.
“All the rhetorical arts—gesture, timing, comedy, pathos—were at his command.”
I once planned to show Reagan this card file, just to see him react as drawer after drawer rolled out yard by yard, green tabs demarcating his years, yellow tabs his careers, blue tabs his triumphs and disappointments. He could have looked down, as it were, on the topography of his biography, and seen the shoe salesman’s son moving from town to town across northern Illinois, in the teens of the last century; the adolescent achieving some sort of stability at Dixon High School in 1924; the Eureka College student and summer lifeguard through 1933; then, successively—each divider spaced farther from the next, as he grew in worldly importance—the Des Moines sportscaster and ardent New Dealer; the Hollywood film star; the cavalry officer and Air Corps adjutant; the postwar union leader and anti-Communist; the television host and corporate spokesman for General Electric; the governor of California, 1967-75; the twice-defeated, ultimately successful candidate for his party’s Presidential nomination; and, last, the septuagenarian statesman, so prodigiously carded that the nine tabs “1981” through “1989” stand isolated like stumps in snow.
He never visited my study, however, and on reflection I am glad he did not, because he might have been disturbed to see how far he had come in nearly eighty years, and how few more cards he was likely to generate after leaving the White House. Besides, I would have had to keep my forearm over a file more than a foot long, practically bristling with tabs descriptive of “rr the man.” Now that the man is no more, and subject to the soft focus of sentimental recall, a riffle through some of these tabs might help restore his image in all its color and complexity.
The first subsection deals with Ronald Reagan’s body. In 1988, at seventy-seven years of age, the President stood six feet one and weighed a hundred and ninety pounds, none of it flab. He boasted that any punch aimed at his abdomen would be jarringly repulsed. After a lifetime of working out with wheels and bars, he had broadened his chest to a formidably walled cavern forty-four inches in circumference. He was a natural athlete, with a peculiarly graceful Algonquin gait that brought him into rooms almost soundlessly. No matter how fast he moved (that big body could turn on a dime), he was always balanced.
One recalls how elegantly he choreographed Mikhail Gorbachev up the steps at the 1985 Geneva summit: an arabesque of dark blue flowing around awkward gray. Reagan loved to swim, ride, and foxtrot. (Doris Day remembers him as “the only man I ever knew who really liked to dance.”) Eleven weeks after nearly dying in the assassination attempt of 1981, he climbed onto the springboard at the Camp David swimming pool and threw a perfect half pike before anybody could protest.
Gorbachev once remarked on Reagan’s “balance” to me in an interview. But he used the Russian word ravnovesie in its wider sense, of psychological equilibrium. The President’s poised body and smooth yet inexorable motion telegraphed a larger force that came of a lifetime of no self-doubt (except for two years of despair in 1948-49, after Jane Wyman, his first wife, left him for boring her). Reagan redux did not care whom he bored, as long as nobody tried to stop him. His famous anecdotes, recounted with a speed and economy that were the verbal equivalent of balance, were persuasive on the first, and even the fourth, telling. But when you heard them for the fourteenth, or the fortieth, time, always with exactly the same inflections and chuckles and glances, you realized that he was a bore in the sense that a combine harvester is boring: its only purpose is to bear down upon and thresh whatever grain lies in its path. Reagan used homilies to harvest people.
He was always meticulously dressed in tailored suits and handmade shoes and boots. But he was neither a dandy nor a spendthrift. In 1976, he still stepped out in a pair of high-cut, big-tongued alligator pumps that predated the Cold War: “Do you realize what I paid for these thirty years ago?” His personal taste never advanced beyond the first affectations of the nouveau riche. Hence the Corum twenty-dollar-face wristwatch, the Countess Mara ties, the Glen checks too large or too pale, and a weekend tartan blazer that was, in Bertie Wooster’s phrase, “rather sudden, till you got used to it.” Yet Reagan avoided vulgarity, because he sported such things without self-consciousness. And he wore the plainer suits that rotated through his wardrobe just as unpretentiously. No man ever looked better in navy blue, or black tie.
On a card inscribed “alcohol”—his father’s cross—appears the comment of an old Hollywood friend: “Ronnie never had a booze problem, but once every coupla years, he wasn’t averse to a lot of drink. Its only effect was to make him more genial.” His face would flush after a mere half glass of Pinot Noir, giving rise to repeated rumors that he used rouge.
Actually, Reagan never required makeup, even when he was a movie actor. He didn’t sweat under hot lights: he basked in them. A young photographer who did a cover portrait of him in 1984 for Fortune told me, “When I walked into the Oval Office, I thought my career was made. He was just back from a long campaign swing, and looked terrible, all drained and lined. I hit him with every harsh spot I had, and etched out those wrinkles, figuring I’d do what Richard Avedon did to Dottie Parker. Know what? When my contacts came back from the darkroom, the old bastard looked like a million bucks. Taught me a real lesson. Ronald Reagan wasn’t just born for the camera. There’s something about him that film likes.”
Several of my cards itemize the President’s deafness. People who sat to his right imagined that they were privileged. In fact, he heard nothing on that side, having blown an eardrum during a shoot-out scene in one of his old movies. His left ear was not much better, so he relied increasingly on hearing aids, although their distortion pained him. One learned not to sneeze in his presence. When the room was crowded and voice levels rose, he would furtively switch off his sound box. I could tell from a slight frown in his gaze that he was lip-reading.
The quietness that insulated him was accentuated by severe myopia. As a boy, “Dutch” Reagan assumed that nature was a blur. Not until he put on his mother’s spectacles, around the age of thirteen, did he perceive the world in all its sharp-edged intricacy. He did not find it disorienting, as somebody who had been blind from birth might. Perhaps his later, Rothko-like preference for large, luminous policy blocks (as opposed to, say, Bill Clinton’s fly’s-eye view of government as a multifacetted montage, endlessly adjustable) derived from his unfocussed childhood.
Or perhaps the novelist Ray Bradbury, who also grew up four-eyed in small-town Illinois, has a more informed theory. “I often wonder whether or not you become myopic for a physical reason of not wanting to face the world,” Bradbury says in an oral history. Like Dutch, he competed with a popular, extrovert elder brother by “making happy things for myself and creating new images of the world for myself.” Reagan was not introverted, yet from infancy he had the same kind of “happy” self-centeredness that Bradbury speaks of, the same need to inhabit an imaginative construct in which outside reality was refracted, or reordered, to his liking. “I was completely surrounded by a wall of light,” Reagan wrote of his first venture onto a movie set. It was clear that the sensation was agreeable. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s the 106th birthday of Ronald Reagan, and since he was one of the most widely recognized world leaders, it’s not hard to find some interesting facts about the 40th president.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. Reagan had a long career as an actor and union leader before he became the governor of California in the 1960s and won presidential elections in 1980 and 1984.
Here are 10 facts about President Reagan you may not know.
1. Reagan really did enjoy jelly beans. According to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, his favorite flavor was licorice. Reagan started eating jelly beans in 1967 as he was trying to quit a pipe-smoking habit. He switched to Jelly Bellies a decade later.
2. One food that Reagan didn’t like was brussels sprouts. This is according to the Reagan Library website. In her autobiography, Nancy Reagan said her husband wasn’t a fussy eater since he traveled on the public speaking circuit for decades, but he also didn’t like tomatoes.
3. Reagan’s nickname of “Dutch” was given to him at an early age by his family. Reagan’s ancestry is Irish on his father’s side and Scots-English on his mother’s side. The name came from his childhood haircut, among other things.
4. The future President’s last movie role was in the 1964 release, The Killers. Based on an Ernest Hemingway story, it was Reagan’s only role as a villain in a film, and it was the first made-for-TV movie. However, The Killers was considered too violent for TV, and released to movie theaters instead.
5. The future President lost partial hearing in one ear when he was hurt on a movie set in the late 1930s, after a gun was fired next to his ear. Decades later, President Reagan wrote to Michael Jackson offering his support after Jackson was burned filming a TV commercial.
6. Ronald Reagan started out in life as a Democrat and supported the New Deal efforts of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Reagan officially became a Republican in 1962, but he had grown more conservative during the 1950s as he toured as a General Electric spokesman.
7. Reagan was not the original choice to star in “Casablanca,” instead of Humphrey Bogart. The urban legend over the issue is documented on snopes.com, and it started with a paragraph in a Warner Brothers’ press release issued before the movie was made. Bogart was always expected to play the lead role. Read the rest of this entry »
Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch, celebrates her Sapphire Jubilee.
Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch, has celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee as Britain commemorates 65 years since she ascended the throne.
The 90-year-old monarch, who became the kingdom’s longest-reigning sovereign in 2015, did not publicly mark the occasion herself, but a 41-gun royal salute was fired in a central London park to honour the landmark.
“Today’s Sapphire Jubilee marks yet another remarkable milestone for our remarkable Queen,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.
“It is a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation that she is not marking becoming the first monarch to reign for 65 years with any special celebration, but instead getting on with the job to which she has dedicated her life.”
Elizabeth became Queen aged 25 on February 6, 1952, following the death of her father George VI.
She is the 41st monarch in a royal line that traces its origin back to Norman King William the Conqueror who claimed the throne in 1066.
When she overtook her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s record of 63 years on the throne, she remarked it was not something to which she had ever aspired.
A video crash-up covering the political landscape of the 1960’s, featuring MLK, RFK, JFK, Malcom X, Ronald Reagan, and Barry Goldwater.
PARIS (AP) — The Louvre Museum reopened to the public Saturday, less than 24 hours after a machete-wielding assailant shouting “Allahu akbar!” attacked French soldiers guarding the sprawling building and was shot by them.
The worldwide draw of the iconic museum in central Paris, host to thousands of artworks including the “Mona Lisa,” was on full display on a drizzly winter day as international tourists filed by armed police and soldiers patrolling outside the site, which had been closed immediately after Friday’s attack.
The attacker was shot four times after slightly injuring a soldier patrolling the nearby underground mall but his injuries on Saturday were no longer life-threatening, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
French President Francois Hollande said there is “no doubt” the suspect’s actions were a terror attack, and he will be questioned as soon as that is possible.
An Egyptian Interior Ministry official confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that the attacker is Egyptian-born Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy, who is 28, not 29 as widely reported.
The official said an initial investigation in Egypt found no record of political activism, criminal activity or membership in any militant group by him. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
French authorities said they are not yet ready to name the suspect, but confirmed they thought he was Egyptian.
The suspect was believed to have been living in the United Arab Emirates and came to Paris on Jan. 26 on a tourist visa, prosecutor Francois Molins said. The suspect bought two military machetes at a gun store in Paris and paid 1,700 euros ($1,834) for a one-week stay at a Paris apartment in the chic 8th arrondissement, near the Champs-Elysees Avenue.
On the Twitter account of an “Abdallah El-Hamahmy,” a tweet was posted about a trip from Dubai to Paris on Jan. 26. In the profile photo, Hamahmy is seen smiling and leaning against a wall in a blue-and-white sports jacket. Read the rest of this entry »
The phone will be sold by Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland, and is expected to sell for between $200,000 and $300,000. It was taken from Hitler’s bunker shortly after his death by Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner, who died in 1977; his son Ranulf inherited the phone. According to the auction listing, Rayner was given the phone by Russian officers:
Very likely the first non-Soviet victor to enter the city, Rayner went to the Chancellery where Russian officers offered him a tour. On entering Hitler’s private quarters, Rayner was first offered Eva Braun’s telephone, but politely declined claiming that his favorite color was red. His Russian hosts were pleased to hand him a red telephone – the telephone offered here.
The listing goes on to note the phone’s uniquely horrific history:
It would be impossible to find a more impactful relic than the primary tool used by the most evil man in history to annihilate countless innocents, lay waste to hundreds of thousands of square miles of land, and in the end, destroy his own country and people…with effects that still menacingly reverberate today. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] REWIND ‘Frederick Douglass’: Drunk History Vol. 5, with Will Ferrell, Don Cheadle & Zooey DeschanelPosted: February 1, 2017
American Populism and the Liberal Order
Walter Russell Mead writes: For the first time in 70 years, the American people have elected a president who disparages the policies, ideas, and institutions at the heart of postwar U.S. foreign policy. No one knows how the foreign policy of the Trump administration will take shape, or how the new president’s priorities and preferences will shift as he encounters the torrent of events and crises ahead. But not since Franklin Roosevelt’s administration has U.S. foreign policy witnessed debates this fundamental.
Since World War II, U.S. grand strategy has been shaped by two major schools of thought, both focused on achieving a stable international system with the United States at the center. Hamiltonians believed that it was in the American interest for the United States to replace the United Kingdom as “the gyroscope of world order,” in the words of President Woodrow Wilson’s adviser Edward House during World War I, putting the financial and security architecture in place for a reviving global economy after World War II—something that would both contain the Soviet Union and advance U.S. interests. When the Soviet Union fell, Hamiltonians responded by doubling down on the creation of a global liberal order, understood primarily in economic terms.
Wilsonians, meanwhile, also believed that the creation of a global liberal order was a vital U.S. interest, but they conceived of it in terms of values rather than economics. Seeing corrupt and authoritarian regimes abroad as a leading cause of conflict and violence, Wilsonians sought peace through the promotion of human rights, democratic governance, and the rule of law. In the later stages of the Cold War, one branch of this camp, liberal institutionalists, focused on the promotion of international institutions and ever-closer global integration, while another branch, neoconservatives, believed that a liberal agenda could best be advanced through Washington’s unilateral efforts (or in voluntary conjunction with like-minded partners).
The disputes between and among these factions were intense and consequential, but they took place within a common commitment to a common project of global order. As that project came under increasing strain in recent decades, however, the unquestioned grip of the globalists on U.S. foreign policy thinking began to loosen. More nationalist, less globally minded voices began to be heard, and a public increasingly disenchanted with what it saw as the costly failures the global order-building project began to challenge what the foreign policy establishment was preaching. The Jeffersonian and Jacksonian schools of thought, prominent before World War II but out of favor during the heyday of the liberal order, have come back with a vengeance.
Jeffersonians, including today’s so-called realists, argue that reducing the United States’ global profile would reduce the costs and risks of foreign policy. They seek to define U.S. interests narrowly and advance them in the safest and most economical ways. Libertarians take this proposition to its limits and find allies among many on the left who oppose interventionism, want to cut military spending, and favor redeploying the government’s efforts and resources at home. Both Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas seemed to think that they could surf the rising tide of Jeffersonian thinking during the Republican presidential primary. But Donald Trump sensed something that his political rivals failed to grasp: that the truly surging force in American politics wasn’t Jeffersonian minimalism. It was Jacksonian populist nationalism.
The distinctively American populism Trump espouses is rooted in the thought and culture of the country’s first populist president, Andrew Jackson. For Jacksonians—who formed the core of Trump’s passionately supportive base—the United States is not a political entity created and defined by a set of intellectual propositions rooted in the Enlightenment and oriented toward the fulfillment of a universal mission. Rather, it is the nation-state of the American people, and its chief business lies at home. Jacksonians see American exceptionalism not as a function of the universal appeal of American ideas, or even as a function of a unique American vocation to transform the world, but rather as rooted in the country’s singular commitment to the equality and dignity of individual American citizens. The role of the U.S. government, Jacksonians believe, is to fulfill the country’s destiny by looking after the physical security and economic well-being of the American people in their national home—and to do that while interfering as little as possible with the individual freedom that makes the country unique. Read the rest of this entry »
The January 13, 1967 issue of TIME magazine featured Mao Zedong on its cover with the headline “China in Chaos.” Fifty years later, TIME made U.S. President-elect Donald Trump its Man of The Year. With a groundswell of mass support, both men rebelled against the established order in their respective countries and set about throwing the world into confusion. Both share an autocratic mind set, Mao Zedong as Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, Donald Trump as Chairman of the Board. As Jiaying Fan noted in May 2016, both also share a taste for “polemical excess and xenophobic paranoia.” For his part, Mao’s rebellion led to national catastrophe and untold human misery.
On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America. Although some of China’s New Leftists hailed Trump’s November 2016 win as a validation of ever-victorious Mao Zedong Thought, there is little reason to think that a Trump-led America will give much succor to China’s ideologues. In the two months since the U.S. election, through a phone call to Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen, repeated comments on China’s currency manipulation, the appointment of Peter Navarro (an economic hawk and author, among other things, of the 2011 book Death by China: Confronting the Dragon—A Global Call to Action) as director of the National Trade Council, and his intervention in a dispute over an underwater U.S. drone waylaid by the Chinese navy in the South China Sea, Trump has indicated that he is taking an unpredictable approach to the most important global bilateral relationship. Even long-standing friends and allies of the U.S. have been thrown off guard as they learn how to live with the Great Disrupter.
The Chinese Communist Party under its Chairman of Everything, Xi Jinping, hasn’t had to confront such an erratic and populist leader since Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolutionary 50 years ago.
Uproar in Heaven
In Official China, the anniversary of the Cultural Revolution passed in silence, even though today’s People’s Republic, whether in terms of its achievements or of its egregious failures, continues to live in the shadow of that political maelstrom.
In 1966, Mao observed that his personality was a mixture of contradictory elements. There was the self-assured sense of destiny and confidence that led him to challenge and overturn earlier leaders of the Communist Party, confront Chiang Kai-shek, and lead the Chinese revolution. This was, he said, an expression of his “Tiger Spirit,” something that was in constant interplay with his “Monkey Spirit,” one that was skittish, paranoid, and unpredictable. The Monkey was always ready to take on the Tiger with devilish glee. In the last two decades of his life, Mao’s China reflected this deep-seated contradiction as the country lurched between authoritarian control and anarchic confusion. What for the Great Helmsman was his life force writ large would rend the fabric of the society he ruled and threatened everything he had worked to achieve.
At the time of the Sino-Soviet split in 1961, Mao wrote a poem in praise of China’s most famous monkey, Sun Wukong, the hero of the popular late-Ming novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. The international order established following WWII was under increasing pressure, and the Socialist Bloc, led by the Soviet Union, was riven by rebellion and disquiet as a result both of repressive Soviet expansionism in Europe and the ideological uncertainty generated by Nikita Khrushchev’s secret denunciation of Joseph Stalin in 1956. Mao, giving vent to his Tiger Spirit, would now lay claim to the mantle of world revolution.
A thunderstorm burst over the earth,
So a devil rose from a heap of white bones.
The deluded monk was not beyond the light,
But the malignant demon must wreak havoc.
The Golden Monkey wrathfully swung his massive cudgel,
And the jade-like firmament was cleared of dust.
Today, a miasmal mist once more rising,
We hail Sun Wu-kung, the wonder-worker.
Having delivered this challenge, Mao’s unpredictable Monkey Spirit would attempt to turn the world upside down. His poem and Uproar in Heaven, a 1964 film adaptation of Wu Cheng’en’s novel, struck a cord with the restive youth of China, many of whom closely followed China’s ideological contest with the Soviet Union. Like Mao, they too felt that their country was being stymied by a hidebound Soviet-style bureaucracy; the normalization of the revolutionary ardor of the past was frustrating China’s ability to lead history and achieve greatness. They related to Mao as he portrayed himself as an outsider who championed an uprising of the masses against a sclerotic system.
When, in 1966, Mao both engineered and supported a grassroots youthful rebellion against the very party-state he had created, a group of middle-school students in Beijing responded by composing a series of manifestos declaring that they, like Monkey, would support the Chairman, create an uproar in heaven, and smash the old world to pieces. In particular, they proclaimed “Rebellion is Justified” and quoted a line from Mao’s 1961 poem:
The Golden Monkey wrathfully swung his massive cudgel,
And the jade-like firmament was cleared of dust.
Mao responded to the young rebels and, to use today’s parlance, an alt-left movement of radicalism was born. The students called themselves Red Guards.
In August 1966, Mao and his deputy, Lin Biao, encouraged the Red Guards to Destroy the Four Olds and a wave of iconoclasm swept the country while the violence against people victimized as representing the old order were denounced, attacked, beaten, and even killed. During what would be known as Bloody August, Mao is said to have written to Jiang Qing, his wife and partner in revolutionary extremism, declaring that “Once heaven is in great disorder a new kind of order can emerge.” He believed that throwing the political establishment and social order into confusion would liberate the true potential of people to achieve what was otherwise seemingly impossible. A high-tide of revolutionary enthusiasm would allow people to cast aside the deadening bureaucracy and revitalize industry, agriculture, research, and society itself. Under the guidance of Mao Zedong Thought, the goal of making China great again could be realized on the world stage.
The Instincts of an Autocrat
The similarities between Mao Zedong and Donald Trump don’t end with the autocrat’s mindset touched on in the opening paragraph of this essay, or with the clash between tiger-like brio and the dyspathy of the monkey. The will to autocracy means that both figures share (with elected or self-appointed strong men historically and worldwide) some disturbing parallels:
Quotations Vs. Tweets: In the Mao era, the mysterious, contradictory, and yet powerfully inciting utterances of the Chairman were conveyed not by Twitter, but through quotations broadcast over national radio and carried in the newspapers. In the print media, Mao’s gnomic utterances were always highlighted by being printed in bold, while on radio they were recited in the stentorian voice of authority. A daily quotation called “The Highest Directive” featured in the top right-hand corner of the People’s Daily and was mimicked by every paper across the land. The quotations demanded a response and action and sent the country lurching in different directions while confusion reigned supreme in Beijing.
Progadanda Vs. the Lying Media: Like Mao, Trump has trouble sleeping, and his early morning Tweets reveal whatever has caught the leader’s flickering attention, alerting the world to some new twist or turn in his feverish thinking. With Twitter, Trump bypasses both the formal bureaucracy of Washington and what he and his followers dub “The Lying Media.”
Mao too distrusted the state media based in the capital, Beijing, and with the support of his wife, Jiang Qing, and her Shanghai comrades he got his message of rebellion out in other cities. He extolled The Right to Rebel and, in essence, he launched the Cultural Revolution to “drain the swamp” of the Chinese Communist Party bureaucracy. He called enemies within the Party nomenklatura “Capitalist Roaders,” the permanent political class, that is men and women who were pursuing policies that undermined his ideas and which, he believe, held back China’s productive capacity and frustrated the country’s global revolutionary preeminence.
Climate Change Vs. Human Will: The effects of climate change and the mismanagement of natural resources were evident in Mao’s China. There was a profligate depletion of water resources; increasing desertification starting from Outer Mongolia; unmodulated industrial pollution from the Great Leap Forward era onwards; denial of contaminants in food and water supplies. . . the list goes on. Mao believed that “man can conquer heaven,” that human will could triumph over nature. China now faces the challenge of climate change and environmental degradation with sober clarity; Trump’s America will be led by climate skeptics, deniers, and those who would sign up for Mao’s axiom.
The Smartest Men in the Room: Like Trump, Mao thought he was “smart,” and he distrusted experts and the educated. An autodidact, he believed that he did not need to rely on others to understand complex issues and resolve problems. He declared that the more education you have, the more dangerous you may be. Read the rest of this entry »
Victor Davis Hanson writes: After the election, Democrats could not explain the inexplicable defeat of Hillary Clinton, who would be, they thought, the shoo-in winner in November. Over the next three months until Inauguration Day, progressives floated a variety of explanations for the Trump win—none of them, though, mentioned that the Clinton campaign had proven uninspired, tactically inept, and never voiced a message designed to appeal to the working classes.
When a particular exegesis of defeat failed to catch on, it was mostly dropped—and then replaced by a new narrative. We were told that the Electoral College wrongly nullified the popular vote—and that electors had a duty to renege on their obligations to vote for their respective state’s presidential winner.
“Fake news is something quite different. It is not merely a public figure’s spinning of half-truths. It is largely a media-driven, and deliberate attempt to spread a false narrative to advance a political agenda that otherwise would be rejected by a common-sense public.”
Then followed the narrative of Trump’s racist dog-whistle appeals to the white working classes. When it was reported that Barack Obama had received a greater percentage of the white votes than did either John Kerry in 2004 or Hillary Clinton in 2016, the complaint of white chauvinism too faded.
“The methodology is to manufacture a narrative attractive to a herd-like progressive media that will then devour and brand it as fact—and even lobby for government redress.”
Then came the allegation that FBI Director James Comey had given the election to Trump by reopening the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails just days before Election Day. That fable too evaporated when it was acknowledged that Comey had earlier intervened to declare Clinton without culpability and would so again before November 8.
Then came the trope that Vladimir Putin’s hackers stole the election—on the theory that the Wikileaks revelations had turned off the electorate in a way the Clinton candidacy otherwise would not have. That storyline then evolved into the idea of Russian propagandists and Trump supporters variously peddling “fake news” to websites to promulgate myths and distortions—as a grand plan to Hillary Clinton and give Trump the election.
More specifically, it was alleged that Trump’s exaggerations and fabrications—from his allegations about Barack Obama’s birth certificate to rumor-mongering about Ted Cruz’s father—had so imperiled journalism that the media in general was forced to pronounce there was no longer a need to adhere to disinterested reporting in the traditional sense.
“No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes.”
The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour confessed that they could not be fair in reporting the news in the era of Donald Trump. Apparently, being fair had become tantamount to being a co-conspirator in Trump falsity. The New York Times in a post-election op-ed explained why it had missed the Trump phenomenon, admitting, but not necessarily lamenting, that its own coverage of the election had not been fair and balanced.
“Ben Rhodes cynically bragged about how the Obama administration had sold the dubious Iran deal through misinformation picked up by an adolescent but sympathetic media (for which Rhodes had only contempt).
Yet all politicians fib and distort the truth—and they’ve been doing so since the freewheeling days of the Athenian ekklesia. Trump’s various bombastic allegations and claims fall into the same realm of truthfulness as Obama’s statement “if you like your health plan, you can keep it”—and were thus similarly cross-examined by the media.
“As Rhodes put it, ‘The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.’”
Yet fake news is something quite different. It is not merely a public figure’s spinning of half-truths. It is largely a media-driven, and deliberate attempt to spread a false narrative to advance a political agenda that otherwise would be rejected by a common-sense public. The methodology is to manufacture a narrative attractive to a herd-like progressive media that will then devour and brand it as fact—and even lobby for government redress.
Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen has never been to Prague to negotiate quid pro quo deals with the Russians. Trump did not watch Russian strippers perform pornographic acts in the bedroom that Barack Obama once stayed in during a visit to Moscow. Yet political operatives, journalists, and even intelligence officers, in their respective shared antipathy to Trump, managed to lodge these narratives into the public consciousness and thereby establish the “truth” that a degenerate Trump was also a Russian patsy.
No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes. Read the rest of this entry »
An association of astronomers has convened to listen to the plan of Professor Barbenfouillis, their president, to fly to the moon. With the one dissenting voice quashed by Barbenfouillis and the other members, the plan is approved with Barbenfouillis choosing five others to accompany him. Most of the preparation for the trip is in building the vessel and launching mechanism, which resemble a large bullet and a large gun respectively.
Hitting the moon in the eye, the six land safely at their destination. They find that much about the moon is wonderful and fantastical, but also that much is not what they would have liked to encounter as it is life threatening. They have to find a way to get out of their alien predicament to get back home safely.
Trump’s Foreign-Policy Revolution
His intimations of a new American isolationism are heard in capitals around the world.
Charles Krauthammer writes: The flurry of bold executive orders and of highly provocative Cabinet nominations (such as a secretary of education who actually believes in school choice) has been encouraging to conservative skeptics of Donald Trump. But it shouldn’t erase the troubling memory of one major element of Trump’s inaugural address.
“For 70 years, we sustained an international system of open commerce and democratic alliances that has enabled America and the West to grow and thrive. Global leadership is what made America great. We abandon it at our peril.”
The foreign-policy section has received far less attention than so revolutionary a declaration deserved. It radically redefined the American national interest as understood since World War II.
“Trump outlined a world in which foreign relations are collapsed into a zero-sum game. They gain, we lose.”
Trump outlined a world in which foreign relations are collapsed into a zero-sum game. They gain, we lose. As in: “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries” while depleting our own. And most provocatively, this: “The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.”
“Imagine how this resonates abroad. ‘America First’ was the name of the organization led by Charles Lindbergh that bitterly fought FDR before U.S. entry into World War II — right through the Battle of Britain — to keep America neutral between Churchill’s Britain and Hitler’s Reich.”
JFK’s inaugural pledged to support any friend and oppose any foe to assure the success of liberty. Note that Trump makes no distinction between friend and foe (and no reference to liberty). They’re all out to use, exploit, and surpass us.
[Read the full story here, at National Review]
No more, declared Trump: “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First.”
Imagine how this resonates abroad. “America First” was the name of the organization led by Charles Lindbergh that bitterly fought FDR before U.S. entry into World War II — right through the Battle of Britain — to keep America neutral between Churchill’s Britain and Hitler’s Reich.
Read the rest of this entry »
By suppressing debate about Islam, nationalism and terror, the left set the stage for today’s backlash, says Sohrab Ahmari in The Wall Street Journal.
Sohrab Ahmari writes: Donald Trump’s double-layer fence along America’s southern border, and his plan to suspend all immigration from terror-producing countries, are dramatic and consequential pieces of public policy. But they’re also palliative symbols. The message they send to the president’s supporters is: “Your days of anxiety are behind you. We will be a coherent nation once more.”
Politicians across the West are beginning to tell their voters the same thing in what is shaping up to be the widest rollback of the freedom of movement in decades.
It’s not just right-wing nationalists like Marine Le Pen in France or Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. Centrists get it, too. Some, like Angela Merkel, are still-reluctant restrictionists. Others, like Theresa May, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French presidential aspirant François Fillon, are more forthright. All have wised up to the popular demand for drastically lower immigration rates.
The paradox here is that freedom of movement is unraveling now because liberals won central debates—about Islamism, social cohesion and nationalism. Rather than give ground on any of these fronts, they accused opponents of being phobic and reactionary. Now liberals are reaping the rewards of those underhanded victories.
Liberals “won” the debate about the link between Islamist ideology and terrorism.
For eight years under President Obama, the U.S. government eschewed even the term “Islamism.” The preferred nomenclature created the ludicrous effect that U.S. service members were sent to war against people passionate about “violent extremism.” But voters could read and hear about jihadists offering up their actions to Allah before opening automatic fire on shoppers and blasphemous cartoonists. Read the rest of this entry »
Trump’s pace is frantic, and many of his daily events are being captured by television cameras in his first week in office.
Amie Parnes reports: In his first days in office, President Trump is taking on a dizzying schedule that is decidedly different from those of his immediate predecessors.
Trump is in the Oval Office to take meetings earlier than President Obama, and he’s worked through dinner to stay in the West Wing later than President George W. Bush, who would generaly return to his residence at 6 p.m. sharp.
Trump doesn’t like to read books, those who know him say. And he doesn’t work out because he believes it’s an energy drain, according to the 2016 book “Trump Revealed.”
“When you’re making speeches for 25,000 people and shouting and screaming and having fun with everybody and making America great again, you get a lot of exercise,” he told People magazine last summer.
Trump does like to watch TV, and he is partial to cable news. On Tuesday night, he tweeted about sending help to Chicago shortly after Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s show aired a segment about crime in the city.
One Trump ally familiar with the president’s routines said his White House schedule is similar to the one he’s held for years, and described him as “a late-night guy and early morning riser.”
“His body clock is one that is very conducive to running on little sleep,” the ally said, adding that Trump is known to get up before 6 a.m.
The White House has to adapt to each new occupant, including their management styles and lifestyles.
Obama sent a clear message to aides early on that he intended to be home for dinner with his family. But after dinner, the self-dubbed “night guy” would make his way into his personal office in the Treaty Room and resume work, tweaking his speeches and sending emails to staff.
Bush, also an early riser, started his day by getting his wife, former first lady Laura Bush, her coffee and reading the morning papers.
He told his advisers he wanted to be in the Oval Office at 7 a.m. on the dot. But he indicated he wanted downtime in the evenings to exercise and liked to be in bed no later than 10 p.m. and often earlier, Bush’s aides recalled. Read the rest of this entry »
It is an event that neither Hong Kong, China nor Britain are likely to be celebrating. Nevertheless, on this day – January 26 – in 1841, the British flag was first unfurled at Possession Point by Royal Navy sailors.
Photo: Chris Needos.
At the time, Hong Kong was a sleepy backwater, though it would prove to be a handy trading outpost. “Albert is so amused at my having got the island of Hong Kong”,wrote Queen Victoria in 1841.
First Opium War, via Wikicommons
The Convention of Chuenpee ceded Hong Kong to the British after the First Opium War in which 600 Chinese soldiers died.
Within five months, British officials began selling land in Hong Kong and the territory formally became a British possession a year later.
Possession Point was originally named Tai Hang Hau, or “Big Puddle”. The area was redeveloped into a Chinese-style garden which is today known as Hollywood Road park.
Gallup Poll: President Obama’s Average Approval Rating was Among the Worst of the Post-War PresidentsPosted: January 26, 2017
Only three presidents scored worse than Obama since Gallup started doing these surveys in 1945.
As President Obama left the White House, the mainstream press was falling over itself proclaiming how popular he was.
“Obama leaving office on a very high note,” was a typical headline.
Yet despite the media’s fixation with polls, the press completely buried one of the more newsworthy poll findings — a Gallup report that came out last Friday, which took a final look at the President Obama’s popularity over his eight years in office.
“Obama even did worse overall than Richard Nixon, whose average approval was 49%, and was less popular overall than George W. Bush, who got an average 49.4%.”
That poll found that Obama’s overall average approval rating was a dismal 47.9%.
Obama even did worse overall than Richard Nixon, whose average approval was 49%, and was less popular overall than George W. Bush, who got an average 49.4%.
That sounds newsworthy, doesn’t it? But you’d never know this if you relied on the mainstream press for information. That’s because not one of them reported on Gallup’s finding. Read the rest of this entry »