My Blog Week: October 13 to October 19
All the Latest from Torsade!
A Word on the Week
(Accusations, that is)
Hillary Clinton this week dropped the phrase “Russian asset”, in speaking of feckless Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Many of her remarks were aimed at Tulsi Gabbard, who was quick to respond on Twitter with samples of paranoid rhetoric (“queen of warmongers”, “personification of rot”).
One might suppose the only thing, at least the chief thing, a presidential candidate needs to do, is demonstrate the meeting of challenges presidentially.
[Example: I repudiate all foreign intervention in American elections. I stand with my fellow Democrats in seeking to restore America’s reputation and strong allegiances abroad. I call on social media companies to identify and quarantine the accounts of individuals who spread hate and misinformation at home…etc.]
And, presidential hasn’t evolved to mean the name-calling, quick-to-escalate-a-fight, stylings of Donald Trump, minus the all-caps and misspellings.
How many ways have people, in associating themselves with this tempest-in-a-teapot, gone wrong? Well, for one, third-party candidates have the right to run for office in a democratic nation, and if their niche better represents the view of a percentage of voters, those voters have the right to pick whom they choose. Neither the candidate’s campaign nor the support for it, can be a betrayal of either major party; it is graceless for politicians to characterize it as such. Warning us to look out for interference is fine. In fact, we deserve a little praise for how far we’ve come…the American people’s general political education, and our troll-spotting powers, have made great strides since 2016. But our political spirit remains a wandering orphan, and we need our elder statespersons to be wise parents for us, not bitter grandpas and grandmas mumbling hints. The Russians will try, but among voters the social media messaging can only recruit the recruitable.
The Russians will succeed if they have collaborators running state elections.
Other candidates—Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke—weighed in with a theme Trumpian in its own right. When the present administration is deporting service members and their families, it is excessively ironic to use the Free Pass motif on Gabbard’s behalf—that military service alone is a defense of character. Trump has also moved to pardon soldiers accused of war crimes. These considerations assuredly don’t reflect on Gabbard as a person or a soldier…but—
That it might be necessary to jump right in with that mitigation, is to the point. Torsade will always have an eye on propaganda. What we’re seeing is a very old form of bad argumentation. Presumably, you won’t prove someone is a Russian asset, unless you run a sting operation, so the application of the term can’t be, in ordinary circumstances, “true”. For the purposes of the technique, a name, or allegation, can be anything. The goal is to have everyone agree that this is what the contention is about, and when the decoy is easily shot down, when even reasonable people feel the need to disassociate themselves from the allegation, the accuser looks put in the wrong, and the subject one that must be closed. Of course, the subject has never been broached. (The subject, as mentioned, is what do we expect of a candidate in proving her understanding of, and good faith towards, the presidential role?)
A Democratic president, if elected, will have to begin with a lot of root and branch work; equally, a lot of olive branch work. She will have to normalize trade, and galvanize environmental initiatives. She may have to create a new cabinet position: Secretary of Cultural Oversight, in charge of teaching us to trust and help each other again.
On Monday, “Bride to Be”, part three, the heroine confided to, of Alderic’s plan to regain his inheritance. Tuesday’s Impresario was part eleven, the impresario caught by a dangerous man, the torturer Friar Gaspard. Wednesday, the conclusion of the epilogue of the short novel Hammersmith‘s first polished draft. In the future will be thorough revisions for those continuity issues not known until the story is done. On Thursday, Frédéric Boutet’s short story, “The Ghost of M. Imberger”, part three, Inspector Barfin’s frustrations, and a friend of Imberger’s testimony. Friday, a Jumping Off poem, “An Encounter”. And on Saturday, the last four pages of Celebrated‘s main story, prior to the winding up of the characters’ fates.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: October 13 to October 19
Bride to Be (part three)
Poetry Foundation: Robert Penn Warren, “Evening Hawk”
The Impresario (part eleven)
YouTube: Styx, “Man in the Wilderness”
(One of my all-time favorite songs.)
Hammersmith: Epilogue (conclusion)
The Ghost of M. Imberger (part three)
An Encounter (poem)
Poetry Foundation: Czeslaw Milosz, “Encounter”
Celebrated (part twenty-one)