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Archive for July, 2016

Fox News Chieftain

Fox News Chieftain

The newswires are reporting that Headman Roger Ailes is, or soon will be, defenestrated from the Fox News citadel by Clan Murdoch. The Sparkspread reports and you decide: will Ailes be fired, or will he tender his resignation? Vote now!

If you think he’ll be fired, pick the first headline, but if you think he’ll walk beforehand, pick the second.

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey

In order to subvert Turkey’s supposedly democratic system, it appears that Sultan Erdogan has staged (as in theatrically staged) a coup. After the coup was defeated he rounded up the most guilty culprits: the judiciary and the prosecutors. Like Hitler, Erdogan uses the excuse of an emergency situation to arrogate extraordinary powers to himself and eliminate political opposition.

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth B. Ginsburg

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth B. Ginsburg

As Mark Stern at Slate writes, “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has decided to take a stand against a major party’s presidential candidate in a way that she—and arguably no prior justice—has ever done before.”

Apart from any principle as to what sitting judges should or should not say or do, the reason one doesn’t wrestle with a pig is that you get really dirty and, besides, the pig likes it.

Then again, anyone fortunate enough to reach her age and still be working a full-time job arguably has earned certain privileges, among them the right to make those comments.

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Trump Pout 4

Hats off to Daniel Henninger of the WSJ for a very fine neologism in his July 6, 2016 column: Trumpenproletariat. This represents a very creative mixing of the current Republican nominee’s name with Marx’s lumpenproletariat, and presents them essentially as opposite of the Perhapsburgs we wrote about a few days ago. Mr. Henninger states:

But for the longest time, the American media saw the Trump base as an “indefinite, disintegrated mass” of mostly angry, lower-middle-class white males. The early Trump adopters often looked like bikers, with or without jobs. The Trumpen proletariat.

Credit should be given where it’s due, and Mr. Henninger get’s today’s gold medal for new terminology. True, he expresses it as two words rather than the one in which it appears in German, but that’s just a quibble.

He mentions various things that have united people behind Trump, including “flatlined incomes and the sense of economic loss.” But he considers the real driver to be a backlash against political correctness, or PC. I don’t think that’s correct because if it were we’d have seen a revolt sooner. Conservative talk radio is just one outlet for letting some steam out of the PC kettle. Even Bill Maher, a die-hard liberal, critiques PC every week on his show.

Blaming PC as the prime mover behind Trump simply idealizes PC, and anything idealized is vastly overestimated. Incomes and economic anxiety are the real drivers. All of that brings us to another one of Marx’s terms: Verelendung, which does not have a direct English translation, but has been stated as increasing misery, “pauperization,” or “immiseration.” If, in 2016, the economy were steaming ahead at full tilt, if incomes were good, if job openings went unfilled instead of each one being mobbed by thousands of resumes, political correctness wouldn’t matter. Money issues have more to do with Trump than any amount of political correctness, and money issues are driving the Trump train.

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Archduke Franz Andrew Sullivan, a leading Perhapsburg

Archduke Franz Andrew Sullivan, a leading Perhapsburg

Because new things are happening in the world, and in the U.S. in particular, we need to find new ways to express ourselves so that we can make our thoughts clear to others. Accordingly, The Sparkspread brings you the first in a series of useful neologisms:

Perhapsburgs

(Noun; pronounced purr-haps-bergz).

This word derives from the English adverb perhaps and the proper name of the Habsburgs (in German, “b” is usually pronounced like “p” in English), the aristocratic family that ruled the Holy Roman Empire for about 400 years, and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire until its dissolution in the aftermath of World War I.

Perhapsburgs, in a word, think they might be kings, or at least aristocrats, and should be treated as such by the commoners.

Perhapsburgs can best be used as a descriptive noun for a clueless and out-of-touch financial, political and media elite. They remain in office or in their jobs, even as their entire world spins out of control, often, if not always, due to their mistakes. Political affiliation is not determinative of one’s character as a Perhapsburg. They can be Republicans, Democrats or Independents. A Perhapsburg knows what’s in the best interest of the common people better than the common people do. Democracy is flawed, in their view. That’s why the Rise of Trump and the Brexit have completely removed the floors from beneath their feet. We could call them “the elites,” but that’s a rather old and plain term and just doesn’t have as much oomph. Their sense of entitlement is vastly out of proportion to anything that their accomplishments can justify. Indeed, a peculiar characteristic of Perhapsburgs is that they fail upwards: often, the more massive their mistakes (e.g., Iraq War, Bank Bailout, AIG Bonuses, etc.), the more they tend to rise in the pompous hierarchy they have created for themselves.

In the United States today, the largest Perhapsburg habitat is the “Acela Corridor,” also known as the Wall Street-Washington Axis. Other cities have them as well, so don’t be surprised to find Perhapsburgs living in your town.

They know more about the Renminbi Index than they do about why many Americans have been unemployed for a year or more, or why all those stores on Main Street are covered with plywood sheets. And they don’t really care. The Perhapsburgs form an uppercrust in which everybody knows everybody else, and business and policy decisions are traded, one for the other, with only the interests of the Perhapsburgs considered. Thus, when a Perhapsburg proclaims: “This new international trade deal will be good for everybody,” the term “everybody” includes only other Perhapsburgs. The Washington Perhapsburgs exploit their political power to make themselves fabulously rich, while the Wall Street Perhapsburgs exploit their fabulous wealth (via campaign contributions, special interest PACs, etc.) to make themselves politically invincible. See? Good for everybody!

The Perhapsburgs have seen Trump, and they’ve seen Brexit, and they do not like what they see. They are threatened down to the soles of their Gucci loafers. The Perhapsburgs are very much like the German Herrenklub of aristocrats, Prussian junkers, wealthy industrialists and bankers who eventually shuffled Adolf Hitler into the Chancellorship, even though Hitler lost the 1932 election (he received about 30% of the vote, compared to Hindenburg’s 49%). Like the Perhapsburgs, the Herrenklub cast aside the results of a democratic election because they believed they could control that mustachioed little ex-corporal.

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