Get Another Goat

Michael Murry

Democrats need an honest post-mortem – not dishonest scapegoating – in the aftermath of their devastating 2016 defeat.

Transferred nationalism, like the use of scapegoats, is a way of attaining salvation without altering one’s conduct. – George Orwell, “Notes on Nationalism” (London: Polemic, 1945)

Many have written about the recent Women’s March in Washington, D.C. — and in other cities across the United States – which occurred in response to President Donald Trump’s early executive orders, cabinet appointments, in-your-face culture-war media-baiting, and (of course) his signature late-night twitter trolling. Lots of things to legitimately oppose and protest, surely, but to my knowledge, few of these articles have analyzed the women-led protest marches from the standpoint of exculpatory political scapegoating, if not transferred nationalism, as George Orwell explained the meaning of that term in his famous essay. For my part, I would like to try and address this imbalance.

First off, several signs that I saw from the Women’s March addressed President Donald Trump personally in terms that I had difficulty connecting with Women’s Rights, such as I understand them. I don’t have a problem with either the imagery or the language, however crude or even profane, since Donald Trump himself seems to delight in offending as many persons, nations, and institutions as he possibly can if it serves his purposes. So, if he receives rough treatment, in picture or word, then he has it coming. He gets no sympathy from me. My problem with these signs stems not from their tone of deserved disrespect, but from their strange fixation on Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin who – as far as I can tell – has no power to deny an American woman equal pay, access to a safe abortion, maternity leave, or quality public education for her children, among other issues that women – as women – typically consider important.

For example, take the following piece of work, a pointed paraphrase of an old children’s nursery rhyme:

tinkle

I saw other signs of a similar nature, another of which I will cite later as a further example. I cannot speak to the generality of such sentiments, and I would hope that only a few persons harbor them, but this unfortunate expression of malignant partisan irrelevancy immediately gets to the point raised by Robert Parry in an article he wrote for Consortium News (February 1, 2017): namely, “Dangers of Democratic Putin-Bashing – Exclusive: As national Democratic leaders continue to blame Russian President Putin for their 2016 defeat, they’re leading their party into a realignment with the neocons and other war hawks.”

While I concur with Mr. Parry’s article in the main, I have to disagree with his use of the present progressive tense and the word “realignment.” As a matter of fact, the alignment of the Democratic Party with “neocons and other war hawks” took place decades ago, with President Bill Clinton. President Barack Obama and the hapless Democrats in Congress, for their part, have only reinforced and strengthened this alignment.  To speak of this dreadful reality as if it exists only as a possible development in the future rather misstates the truly grim and long-established reality. Otherwise, and specifically as this article relates to the Women’s March, consider a comment I came across in response to Robert Parry’s article:

“evelync”
February 1, 2017 at 11:35 am

I have to admit that I was unable to drag myself to the women’s march because I was unsettled by the concern that it was being used, perhaps, to try to keep Hillary Clinton’s foot in the door.

Another commenter wrote:

“D5-5”
February 1, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I don’t know that having allowed themselves to sink into the behaviors employed to knock off [Senator Bernie] Sanders, then expanding these to Russia-bashing, as the Dems and Clinton did, will likely take them in the direction of an ‘oh, let’s get honest here and see why we lost the election, and straighten ourselves right out to become an actually decent alternative to offer to the American people.’

Two points here:

(1) Why not blame the Democratic Party and its deeply unpopular, demonstrably inept, largely unaccomplished, and repeatedly discredited candidate, You-Know-Her [Hillary Clinton], for losing instead of crediting the political rookie Donald Trump – and by extension, Russian President Vladimir Putin – for “winning”?

(2) Why not insist that the losing Democrats conduct a long-overdue autopsy, summarily purge their Wall-Street/Permanent-War “leadership” (the names Clinton and Obama come to mind here), and reform themselves into a truly working-class, anti-war party capable of winning back the loyalty of those impoverished Americans whom they have betrayed and abandoned for Ivy-League University degrees and swell vacations on Martha’s Vineyard with other newly rich members of their privileged “professional” class?

But attaining emotional salvation through scapegoating – so as not to require actually doing anything to cure the real political and economic disease of neoliberalism – does seem the order of the day among these marchers, most of whom one must suppose voted for You-Know-Her and the neoliberal status quo that downwardly dropping American workers hate with an abiding and vengeful passion. The Damsel of Distress has done it again, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as only a “New Democrat” named Clinton could manage. How that must hurt!

Moving right along, I came across another image from the Women’s March that showed a man holding a mask of Vladimir Putin in front of his face while holding what looked like marionette strings from which dangled the image of Donald Trump as a puppet.

puppet

Now, I know You-Know-Her openly called Donald Trump a “puppet” of Vladimir Putin during one of the fall campaign debates, so it does not surprise me that some of her partisan supporters would credulously accept this gratuitous slur without bothering to think through the preposterous illogic behind it. For as those who have read the WikiLeaks documents have explained, the Clinton campaign tried everything they could to promote the candidacy of Donald Trump on the theory that he would make the weakest opponent, one whom You-Know-Her would have the least trouble vanquishing. Consider the following excerpt from the articleThey Always Wanted Trump: Inside Team Clinton’s year-long struggle to find a strategy against the opponent they were most eager to face”, by Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico (November 07, 2016):

Clinton’s team drew up a plan to pump Trump up. Shortly after her kickoff, top aides organized a strategy call, whose agenda included a memo to the Democratic National Committee: “This memo is intended to outline the strategy and goals a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign would have regarding the 2016 Republican presidential field,” it read.

“The variety of candidates is a positive here, and many of the lesser known can serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right. In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the more extreme candidates, but make them more ‘Pied Piper’ candidates who actually represent the mainstream of the Republican Party,” read the memo.

“Pied Piper candidates include, but aren’t limited to: Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Ben Carson

We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to [take] them seriously.”

Now, aside from the arrogant (but not implausible) notion that You-Know-Her’s campaign could tell [as in, “command”] the press whom to take seriously, no one has ever questioned the accuracy of these memoranda from John Podesta to You-Know-Her’s campaign. But just consider what they tell us.

First, if Donald Trump owed his candidacy to You-Know-Her’s campaign to promote him as a Pied Piper over all the other Republican candidates, and if Russian President Vladimir Putin somehow contrived to make all this happen, then that would credit Vladimir Putin with first manipulating one puppet, You-Know-Her, to control Trump, another puppet. In the interest of metaphorical accuracy, then, the marching protester here should have worn a Putin mask while holding the strings to a puppet of You-Know-Her holding the strings to another puppet, All-About-Him [Trump].

Second, if President Putin had successfully pulled off this convoluted manipulation of both presidential candidates, then why would he possibly let that fact come to light in these WikiLeaks memos? Wouldn’t he want to keep his sinister Machiavellian machinations a secret, so as not – as America’s CIA spooks like to say – reveal his “sources and methods”? As a former KGB intelligence officer, surely he knows his espionage tradecraft better than that. So, logically, President Putin would have no interest in revealing his omnipotent control of America’s two hapless presidential candidates. It makes no sense that Russia would leak anything about this to WikiLeaks or any other journalistic source. That would only discredit Trump as a dupe of both You-Know-Her and Vladimir Putin.

Complete bullshit, either way. It would appear that – in truth – John Podesta and You-Know-Her got just the opponent they wanted to run against: Donald Trump. Then they lost to their own “Pied Piper” puppet. But still they want to scapegoat Russian President Vladimir Putin for their own manifest failure to recognize and respond to the seething desperation of America’s working class. The people want jobs and incomes, not more NAFTA or TPP trade deals. You-Know-Her promised more of the latter. Trump promised at least some of the former. Gee whiz. Who could have ever figured out which way that “choice” would go?

Not that Republican Donald Trump will necessarily deliver anything more than tax cuts and deregulation to the Corporate Oligarchy while shoveling loads of crappy culture war to the proles who voted for him, but sheer luck, some media-sense, and good timing have given him the chance. I seriously doubt that he has the knowledge and competence to pull off anything resembling PEACE, but he does now have that opportunity. Who knows if he has the wit to seize it?

At any rate, it appears as if the defeated Democrats have chosen Russian President Putin as an attractive scapegoat simply due to (1) his “foreignness” and (2) the nature of transferred nationalism. This psychological transference, Orwell wrote, “has an important function. … It makes it possible for [the nationalist] to be much more nationalistic – more vulgar, more silly, more malignant, more dishonest – than he [or she] could ever be on behalf of [their] native country, or any unit of which [they] had real knowledge.”

Americans know little, if anything, about the Russian Federation or its duly elected, competent, domestically popular, and internationally respected president. Creative costumes and too-clever-by-half slogans aside, it seems like a monumental waste of time, energy, and limited American attention span for the Democrats to scapegoat President Putin for their own stupidity, arrogance, and insensitivity to their party’s traditional base.

The Democrats had better look inward and get their own act together. Either that, or get another goat.

Michael Murry is a Vietnam Veteran, gargoyle sculptor, and poet.  A loyal correspondent to Bracing Views, he is also a contributor to The Contrary Perspective.

10 thoughts on “Get Another Goat

  1. How does one get in touch with Michael Murry to say bravo and thank you? Fine and energizing march in nearby Ashland, OR two weeks ago but many liberal Democrat/progressive activists who supported Bernie refuse to look back and in the mirror at Clinton and Obama for their warmongering, Wall Street policies that have devastated millions here and abroad.

    Scapegoating is on the table as we plunge deeper into the New Cold War, especially pushed by Democrats and Republican Neo-cons with lockstep lapdog support in the mass media and Washington political circles—at least challenged by the fine articles and commentary by Norman Solomon, Robert Parry, Stephen Cohen, Chris Hedges, et al. who are mostly marginalized to the Internet Left sites.

    Stay the course Murry wherever you are.

    John Marciano Author, The American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration? Monthly Review Press, 2016; The Russians are Coming (Again): What We Didn’t Learn About the First Cold War (with historian Jeremy Kuzmarov), forthcoming from MR Press, 2018. >

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    1. John,
      Totally onboard with you and this article. I’ve been fighting neoliberalism for years and now heading ORSO (Our Revolution Southern Oregon). You’ve probably seen some of my op.eds. in the Daily Tidings. Feel free to get in touch with me andyseles@gmail.com
      Would love to have you join us in taking back the Democratic Party.
      Andy

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  2. What a tangled web the Democrats have weaved! Worse still, blind hypocritical partisanship continues to hold sway among much of the public.
    And it appears that the Trump Administration is hell-bent on putting the screws to Iran, serving up Netanyahu talking points, having a stupid mouthpiece at the U.N., and other assorted inanities.
    Thanks Michael for your, as always, insightful & clear-headed analysis.

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  3. Judas Priest! Just when I get ready to write off Donald Trump as an ignorant, inept buffoon with the Keystone Cops and Marx Brothers for a cabinet, he comes out and says something rational and real. I just caught this little snippet at the Huffing and Puffing Post, a.k.a., the hyperventilating home base for the National Neoliberal Nutcase Know-nothings — i.e., Putin-bashing Peacock Pugilists, all too many of them obvious You-Know-Her “Democrats.” Check it out, fellow Crimestoppers:

    Bill O’Reilly Calls Vladimir Putin A ‘Killer’, Donald Trump Says Americans Are Just As Bad.

    “Trump: I do respect [Russian President Vladimir Putin], but I respect a lot of people. That doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him. He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight — and Islamic terrorism all over the world — that’s a good thing.

    O’Reilly: But he’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer.

    Trump: There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”

    How weird that Fox Noise Blowhard Bill O’Reilly sounds like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and You-Know-Her rolled into one, while Donald Trump, of all people, sounds like the rational realist in the room.

    Now, if Trump could only get retired general and foaming-at-the-mouth Iranophobe Mike Flynn to shut his flapping lips and cease trying to gin up another Gulf of Tonkin farce in the Persian Gulf, then we might begin to see some hope for our collective future existence.

    I do, however, take issue with President Trump here in that I would not imply an equivalence between Russian and American murderers. We Americans have way more claim to the undisputed championship in that area. Just take the latest Special Ops fuck-up by Seal Team Six (i.e., “Murder, Inc.”) in Yemen the other day. These homicidal heroes of ours just flew into another ambush, panicked, called in the Reaper drones, and killed everyone in the neighborhood after blowing up their own Osprey Death Trap hover-craft that crashed instead of landed. Reminds me of that Jimmy Carter “Desert Classic” Special Ops disaster of a “hostage rescue” mission in the deserts of Iran several decades ago. That debacle cost President Carter his job. I wonder what this one will cost Donald Trump, who just joined America’s cast of killer presidents without blinking an eye. One tough hombre, that Donald Trump. Incompetent, true, but at least he seems to honestly recognize his — and our — cavalier inhumanity. Can’t say the same thing for Fox Noise and the Huffing-and-Puffing Post.

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    1. With all those Predator and Reaper drones circling, all the bombs being dropped, all those Special Ops raids, and all the money being invested in deadly weaponry (to include new nukes), it’s truly hard to deny that America has done more than its share of killing. Trump dares to state the obvious here, without all the usual qualifications about America being “exceptional” and using force only for “defensive” purposes.

      What’s remarkable is that Republicans and his followers will excuse or overlook or explain away this statement. Whereas if a Democrat had said this (say, Bernie Sanders), he’d be attacked and pilloried as unpatriotic, un-American, and probably as unhinged.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, but it cuts both ways. Partisan Democrats suddenly find a voice and cry “fascism” and have hysterical delusions about unreal menaces when right under their noses Obama and Clinton were betraying much of what they supposedly “think” they “believe in” for eight years.
        The commentary on the Huffing & Puffing Post by Clinton supporters is the epitome of partisan, hypocritical blindness and outright ignorance of contextual reality. I am certainly wary of the new Administration, but am not going to snipe at and demonize everything Trump says and does when some of it is entirely palatable and reasonable.
        Trump’s way of handling O’Reilly’s question is indeed refreshing.

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  4. Hi Michael, Thank you for your well written/thought out article. I agree the Democratic Party needs to do a postmortem on itself, however it does not yet seem to realize it is dead. How many more seats lost will it take?

    I feel you totally missed the point on the women’s march. Read what the organizers put out. According to them it was born from the horror of Trump’s election and designed as an outlet for the pain and frustration many women feel in our paternalistic/misogynistic culture. There was a large variety of signs. The ones about Putin were likely due to the headlines that week, rather than a way to blame shift.

    Keep up the good work all of you. And a question, do female writers ever get published on Bracing Views? If not not, or just a few, is there a reason for that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. Of course female writers get published. See the previous article by Linda Roller.

      I’d love to have more contributors, especially from differing points of view. If you know of any, please send them my way.

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    2. Thank you for your reply, Tom. I especially appreciated your one-word description of today’s Democratic Party: namely, “dead.” How appropriate.

      Still, I don’t think that I missed the point of the Women’s March. According to its own leaders and organizers (as you correctly note), it consisted primarily of emotional venting, which I completely understand but consider irrelvant if unaccompanied by demands for specific corrective actions.

      As a three-times-married, sixty-nine year old American male, I make no claims whatsoever to an understanding of women. As far as the American variety goes, I learned long ago that they have only two uses for us American men: vehicle repair and lawn maintenance. I have also learned that “no woman has a worse enemy than her best friend,” and if you don’t believe that, ask Monica Lewinsky what she thinks of Linda Tripp.” Or consider that 53% of white women and 43% of all women voted for the misogynist Donald Trump instead of another woman, You-Know-Her. But worst of all, as my Taiwanese wife tells me, American men simply cannot just “listen without fixing”. Women only want to dump their emotional baggage on us men and then walk away feeling so much better. But we men stupidly insist on thinking that if we just fix what our wives or lady friends find so distressing, then we won’t have to listen to the same bitching about the same thing over and over again. So, in self defense, we frustrated DIY electricians, plumbers, and auto-mechanics just tune out the complaints about that which our women don’t really expect us to fix. “Yes, dear.” “Sure, dear.” “Whatever you say, dear.” That sort of thing. Then our wives or lady friends complain that we never listen to them, which we have learned the hard way not to do if we wish to remain sane.

      Frederick Douglass said that “Power never concedes anything without a demand. It never did and it never will.” So, personally, I would like to see American women not just march and vent, but demand the resignation of every Democratic Party Congressman and Senator on the grounds that they have proven absolutely useless when it comes to fixing the U.S. economy so that it benefits working-class American women, men, and their families.

      You can’t fight something with nothing. You can’t fight culture-war Republicans with identity-politics Democrats. You can’t fight the living with the dead, and the Democratic Party crawled up its own ass and died many long years ago. Time to organize and elect a Labor Party, like so many other advanced countries have.

      No. I don’t think that I missed the essential nature of the Women’s March. I just keep thinking about what my widowed, working-class mother told me a long time ago: “Women don’t know what they want,” she said. “They only know what they don’t want when they see it.” As Forrest Gump would say: “Mama always had a way of explaining things to me so that I could understand them.”

      Liked by 1 person

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