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The Pieties of the Liberal Class

By       Message Jason Hirthler       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   9 comments

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Reprinted from www.counterpunch.org

From flickr.com: road narrows : mural,  san francisco (2012) {MID-320044}
road narrows : mural, san francisco (2012)
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From the west side of the island, a pedestrian can see, high in the misty gray sky of Manhattan, the carmine lettering of The New Yorker hotel. The art-deco staple of the Jazz Age has graced the skyline of the city since 1930. It has hosted movie stars and starlets, ballplayers and boxers, heroic firefighters and geniuses of science. Barack Obama's parents were married there. It is a beacon of bourgeois New York life. City dwellers and tourists see it as a kind of marker of pedigree, its neon serifs floating like a semaphore of sophistication above the bustling metropolis below. Fittingly, it is where elitist insider and liberal icon Hillary Clinton conceded the 2016 election to Donald Trump. Pale and proud, she positioned herself as a champion of women, her flour-haired e'minence grise clapping in the background.

From that moment until today, the Democratic Party and its acolytes have lived in deep denial. It is still cobbling together its tapestry of thinly stitched storylines supposedly outing Russia for its nefarious plot to "attack our democracy". In so doing, the tribe refuses to engage in self-reflection, never acknowledging the accommodation of capital that has triggered its demise. It is still launching flaming rhetorical volleys at the president with rare fury, convinced he has compromised America behind the back of the freedom-loving naifs that so innocently trusted our great institutions. It lifts him up as the embodiment of evil against which they nobly rage. It decries his policy actions even as it hides their own like deeds. The piety of the Party is on full display.

Too Righteous for Reality

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Sharing the same name and a comparable role, the city's elitist manual of manners and opinion, The New Yorker, recently published a breathless new report on election media that attributes Russian trolls with the "decisive" content in the world-historical fiasco of Donald Trump's election. The billion dollars flung into the mediasphere by the actual candidates is shoved aside, fodder for this year's midterm campaign strategists but of little consequence in 2016. The report is a feverish campaign to keep the fragile egotism of Democratic elites on life-support, to rejuvenate a party that cannot bear to face the fact that its own sellout to corporate donors has wrecked the party. This is but one of dozens of reports fastidiously produced by incalculable hordes of liberal resisters scurrying along the horizon of the web like wildebeest in flight. Subverting elections, the magazine wisely intones, "doesn't require tampering with voting machines."

Here the bar is lowered. From a multi-layered high-tech hacking job to a simple "influence campaign," the criterion for blaming Russia continues to slide toward absurdity. "Russian masterminds" are parenthetically mentioned but never named. At least until our lantern-jawed paladin, Robert

Mueller, swaggers into the press room to gravely announce the indictment of a sundry list of Russians currently residing in distant Russian climes and never likely to see the inside of an American court. Yet they shall be indicted in absentia. These faceless trolls are said to have waged "information warfare against the United States of America" (the name of our nation doubtless spelled out in full to underscore the gravity of the event). U.S. intelligence weighs in with "high confidence" on hacking allegations. No evidence is released; national security requires relentless secrecy. We would have to take their word for it, though they never examined the servers in question, though later evidence revealed it was a leak, not a hack. Yet this grave declaration issued from behind the beveled door of the National Director of Intelligence is sufficient for hyperventilating liberals to embrace.

Living in Gore Vidal's "United States of Amnesia," Democratic stalwarts have naturally forgotten the litany of lies the intelligence community has shamelessly produced at the behest of their political betters. Forget the Lusitania. Forget the missile gap. Forget the Gulf of Tonkin. Laugh off the incubator babies. Skip those lingering 9/11 questions. Shelve the torture memos. Ditch the WMD threats and trash the yellow cake expose, Libyan Viagra sprees, and Syrian chemical attacks. Surely this time we can trust our government. "Russian saboteurs" amplified Trump's vile and "divisive" rhetoric, an implicit kind of collusion that perhaps did not require an actual meeting of minds, maybe just a telepathic understanding. Again the evidentiary standards slip. The report, like most of its kind, concludes barking about "likelihood" and probabilities, but concedes that it is "hard to know" if "Russian propaganda and dirty tricks" put The Donald into the Oval Office.

Policy Warriors Man the Barricades

On a more quotidian level, it is half-amusing, half-nauseating to witness the social media myopia of former government employees as they condemn in the Trump administration what they themselves enabled in their own era.

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On federal wages, David Axelrod fulminates that the president's denial of a federal wage hike because a trillion-dollar tax break created new deficits was "beyond outrageous." The clever account, "Kamala Harris is a cop" replied, "It's almost as shitty as bailing out the banks while 10 million people lost their homes." Even Eric Holder, Obama's Brooks Brothers AG, weighed in with some sanctimonious cant about Trump and his "fat cat friends". (By the way, by my count, Holder made four grammatical mistakes in that single tweet.) Sure, Trump's tax cuts are outrage-worthy public bribes to big capital. But Axelrod either forgets, or neatly hides beneath the blanket of his rectitude, that Obama froze federal workers pay using deficit fears to justify it, and made one-percent tax cuts permanent. But only Trump generates the wild fury of the liberal class at such injustices. Another instance of that most pernicious kind of fidelity: blind loyalty.

On the Middle East, Samantha Power tweets with ecclesiastical fervor about the horror of Trump's fealty to his Saudi pals at the expense of millions of Yemenis. She forgets--or is the word "compartmentalizes"?--that her boss launched America's support for the KSA's criminal war. Sold them guns to kill with, even after the war began. In other words, it's bipartisan policy. But for Sam, it's all about the optics. In public relations, perception becomes the highest value, just as in capitalist societies, profit is the singular ethic. How curious it would be to unfurl the Ariadne's Thread that leads to Power's justification for such obtuse piety. One can imagine dear Sam on a weekday morning in her tony brownstone, tapping out her tweets while her Darjeeling steeps quietly on the mahogany desk.

On war, numerous liberal outlets attacked Trump for not having a strategy on Syria when he bombed an air base last year, viewing his one-off strike related to alleged chemical weapons use with contempt. One must have a "strategy", the pundits sniffed. Yet Barack Obama began the Syrian war and provided such baffling backdoor guidance that the Pentagon and CIA were actually fighting at cross-purposes, sometimes slaughtering ISIS terrorists and sometimes arming and providing air cover for their comrades. "Well," says the Democratic foot soldier, "war is a complicated thing. Truth is the first casualty. You've seen the Burns' documentary? Like he said, bad things were done by good men. The fog of war is real."

On immigration, liberals hyperventilate over Trump's derisive treatment of immigrants. But where were they when their heroic changemaker Barack Obama did much the same? They were silent. Asleep at the switch. Doting giddily over their slim-suited feminist with his supple vocabulary and luminous smile. If there was ever an empirical instance of sheeple, this was it. This is that very loyalty that Democrats angrily demand from independents. "Come on, now!" barks the fed-up liberal, as he slams his neatly folded Times to the table, "Come back to the real world. Only two parties can win. You want Republicans running this country? You're being insanely idealistic. Change is slow and incremental. Progress is measured in centuries, not great leaps. Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good!" And on other occasions, as the dinner party pinot loosens the tongue, "You know if you vote third party again, you're culpable if Trump wins. It's on you! You and your utopian socialist peers."

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Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire and Imperial Fictions, essay collections from between 2012-2017. He lives in New York City

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DAVID KANEGIS

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Hello, Clearly you are incredibly well informed about so much of what goes on in government! My only comment is really a question. You railed against the liberal establishment, and certainly raised many valid points. My question is to what end? Perhaps I missed something, it's possible, though I read this article thoroughly. But what is it you are suggesting? Are you trying to get liberals to understand that in your opinion the Democrats are just as complicit as the Republicans in all that is wrong with our society? And there certainly is a lot wrong! Are you suggesting that everyone vote third-party and if so is there a particular third-party? Also, I am unclear if you were saying that the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans on global warming. I'm not referring to whether or not there are corporate influences and money being made. Rather, are you equating both parties outlook. I certainmy don't. And, do you really think we would be in the same place if Hillary Clinton had been elected? I would be interested in seeing reference on the negative aspects of Merrick Garland. However, the fact that he and Kavanaugh voted the same way in about 70% of cases means very little unless we know what the cases are. I believe the system is corrupt! And, I believe perhaps we need to regroup, retool and ultimately end up with representation that really represents all of us. At the moment, despite my displeasure with the DNC, particularly as it relates to Senator Sanders, I am going to volunteer with them to get Democrats in the Congress of the United States. If you would let readers know what you are proposing as an alternative that would be fantastic. Until that time, I would much rather have a Democrat than a Republican in office. It's great to read articles that educate! But without clear alternatives it simply becomes an effort in futility. Certainly, very informative article despite my reservations. Thanks.

Submitted on Monday, Oct 22, 2018 at 1:59:39 AM

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BFalcon

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Reply to DAVID KANEGIS:   New Content

This article is exactly what we don't need.

Sure, Democrats acted as idiots, had way too many mistakes and have lost touch with their ideals.

But Republicans are true to their criminal enterprise and extremist agenda.

A friend told me that propaganda is not "planting a lie" but "sowing doubt" .

This article does it well.

Offering no alternative it paints a picture of despair where we have no choice.

We do, on Election Day. A clear choice. Against criminal Republicans.

Submitted on Monday, Oct 22, 2018 at 4:01:37 PM

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DAVID KANEGIS

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Reply to BFalcon:   New Content

Exactly what I tried to point out in my lengthy comment above.


You did it much better with less words!!!

Submitted on Monday, Oct 22, 2018 at 4:22:37 PM

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BFalcon

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Reply to DAVID KANEGIS:   New Content

You did it so well on a very high level, I just summarized it into a call for action.

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018 at 7:51:05 PM

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kappie

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Reply to DAVID KANEGIS:   New Content

Mr. kanegis,there is an alternative to the throughly corrupt republicans and almost equally corrupt Democrats and Bernie sanders party within a party is providing that alternative.Yes,i will hold my nose tightly and vote democratic because they are slightly less evil but i wish more people would wake up and vote for bernies party.There have been some successes but also many failures as i don't think most people really know what is going on or what is at stake for this country.The one thing i get tired of is always blaming the liberals when it is the neo liberals or moderate Democrats who so often side with the corporations and republicans.It doesn't help that the neo liberals sided with the conservatives to give control of the news media to the republicans.Most Democrats are as brainwashed as their republican counterparts and i am quite sure even i don't have most of the facts because of news censorship

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018 at 3:43:43 PM

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Art Costa

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Jason Hirthler spot on and Mr. Kanegis's comment demonstrates it to the T.

Submitted on Monday, Oct 22, 2018 at 2:44:04 PM

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BFalcon

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Reply to Art Costa:   New Content

My comment does it better.

Submitted on Monday, Oct 22, 2018 at 4:03:45 PM

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DAVID KANEGIS

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Reply to BFalcon:   New Content

BFalcon,


I don't think Art is complementing my comment:)) I believe he is saying I demonstrate what the author is saying,


I could be mistaken, but I don't think so.

Submitted on Monday, Oct 22, 2018 at 4:25:35 PM

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Lois Gagnon

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Reply to DAVID KANEGIS:   New Content

That is indeed what Art is saying and I completely agree. The alternative is to boycott the sponsors and the broadcast stations that host candidate debates that refuse to include all candidates that are on the ballot. This lock out of legitimate candidates is going on all over the country. Complaining to the media does no good. They believe they can ignore our extreme displeasure at their water carrying for the corporate state without consequence. We need to make it too uncomfortable for them to continue this censorship.


I will vote for my Green candidates in the midterms plus ballot questions. I will never vote for either of the two thoroughly corrupted parties ever again. Those races that don't include Greens or Independents will be left blank.


The reality is Democracy is in the streets. It always has been. We've been brainwashed into thinking our only duty is to vote. Voting is the minimum that is required of us.

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018 at 12:07:27 AM

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