Saturday, January 30, 2016 - Volume 7, Number 1

© Copyright 2016, The Ultrapolis Project.  All Rights Reserved.

A Trumpian Civil War Brews in a Fracturing US

The Embrace of the Confederate Flag in the Age of the Obama “Conversation”


·        2016 Presidential Election Watch: Rubio Will Rise

·        Cartoon Commentaries: Nate Beeler on Obama State of Union, Convenient Prez







The Trumpian Civil War

‘The Conversation’ as More Poison for the Festering Divide


Obama Morally Earnest

and Blind


So we begin another year, the earth has turned, and now moves to make anew its annual year long bow, lowering then raising its crown before the sun; and we, its both blessed and hapless riders, make our own way to war, to peace, and to all the love, hate, brilliance and folly that lies in between - but, mostly hate and folly. 


Even the president, in his final State of the Union address, referred to the divide and called on us, lectured us - and we believe with all earnest sincerity - to set aside the venom and poison we are gathering for our fellow Americans of different persuasions, in favor of patient ears, extended hands, and presumption of good faith.


And yet the president, in that very same speech, made clear why in his own seven-going-on-eight years of ‘hope and change’, the racial, religious, sex (and now ‘gender’), and ideological divides - all of them - have grown starker and more shrill.  To summarize what he did in that speech, we call to mind the image of an unselfconsciously self-centered lover telling the other that if only the other would give up and surrender, and stop being so ridiculous, childish, selfish, ignorant, and remember who is the winner and who is the loser, then everything would be fine.


The “Conversation” as

Solicited Confession


“Johnny, why can’t we get along?  I just want us to be friends and be nice to each other, if only you could stop being such an idiotic, disgusting, hateful, ignorant, bigoted jackass.  Besides, you’re a loser.  C’mon, whaddaya’ say?”  Of course, the point here is that Johnny is a jackass if he does not admit that he is a jackass.   There is no other option offered, only one-sided judgment before any peace.  Well, it appears that millions of Johnnies are now saying “fine, call me a jackass, I no longer care, and I will do and say what I want; and while we are at it, I have a few choice words for you.”


This is actually “the conversation” the liberal progressives are always telling us they want.  On the surface it’s presented as a fair and open reach for mutually respectful dialogue.  But in actual practice It’s never an exchange of ideas and understanding between opposing sides they seek; instead “the conversation” they intend is only one where they preach and the rest of us repent.


And so we have the rise of Trump.


Reap, then Protest What You Sow


Past national cultural agreements are beginning to fracture.  The cultural schisms are real, and Donald J. Trump is only but the easiest to spot.  Norms of speech and manners that used to be expected from all educated people, then later only from adults, and more recently only from people in the ‘serious’ professions (doctors, lawyers, office holders, etc.), have lost their last hold on normal expectations.  And, ironically, as we so often try to warn our friends on the left as they giddily, but fervently, go about dismantling our social framework, those first to feel the bite of disorder are those our leftist friends claim they are so eager to protect.

Yes, those liberal progressives who have for decades supported, if not produced, an avalanche of rudeness, coarse language, and disregard for social norms, and have applauded the open disrespect of those who are socially conservative, now recoil at the sight of that same avalanche and disrespect aimed right at them.  Sadly, the damage is real, and will be almost impossible to reverse before it gets worse.  For as coarse speech goes so goes coarse thought, taking us slowly back to the days when we found the need to invent all these norms in the first place.


In the meantime, the Hollywood-led liberal progressive infotainment media are now shown to have lost the influence they had on public figures.  Not sure what is worse - a biased information cop, or no cop at all - but leftist causes will ultimately suffer the more from the social lack of decorum - though we all still will suffer.


Left and Right Join to Split


Another evident sign of these new failing clamps of the national culture is found in our fracturing view of history.  Even now, as Confederate flags are lowered across civic and academic spaces across the South by way of new political demands, a new, more robust and unapologetic defense of that flag, and what it stood for, is growing and gaining more open expression.


Moreover, against all historical evidence and scholarly consensus from both left and right historians, we have a new assault on one of the core agreements of the national view of what the Civil War was about, what it meant and what it said about America.  The attack from the strident left says the war was not over slavery because it is not possible for America, let alone white America, to do anything good and noble, ever, and especially not for a minority.  Any advances are despite its every effort, if they are not outright illusions.


The attack from the right, concentrated now in the South but spreading everywhere, is growing from a new willingness to deny any moral guilt over slavery.  The South was just trying to protect its rights, the war had nothing to do with slavery, and Lincoln was a racist, don’t you know?  In that mutual denial process, there is less of a United States.


See next column >



Ultrapolis World Forecast & Review

Ultrapolis Project – ultrapolisproject.com



Editor: Marco Antonio Roberts

Copy Editor: Michael Alberts

Contributing Editors:

Mark Eastman

Mark Steele





Our forecast record cannot be beat.  One can follow the herd chasing the latest hyperbolic, melodramatic, and soon-forgotten micro-trend, or one can be wisely and judiciously in front of it with UWFR. 





< From column 1


To Judge a Mockingbird


Yet, looking at the American Civil War, America’s deadliest in both absolute and relative terms, there is a lesson there for us today.  It is the lesson of the context of human morality, and moral judgment.


During the summer of last year, a controversy arose over the release of a new book which was really an old book, “Go Set a Watchman” by Lee Harper.  Written as a first draft for what eventually became the seminal uplifting story of courageous heroic nobility of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird”, the earlier draft released as a new story, a sequel, reveals Finch as a pro-segregation racist, to the shock and distress of millions who now for decades had greatly admired the character described in the first book.


But here is the question:  is the moral nature of an individual person, or a people, totally and absolutely defined by any single view that offends people in a different place and time?  If the semi-fictional Atticus Finch, a character based on the author’s own lawyer father, did defend a black, underprivileged man in court against unfair charges from a biased, white supremacist system, yet still harbored segregationist views like most everyone around him, do we then say that there was no good there at all, not in him, and certainly not in anyone in his world?


Blue jays All!


What are we to say of the millions of pre-Civil War people of the 19th century, or even the pre-Civil Rights Act 20th century, that held tightly to views on race that most of us today not only find abhorrent, but hard to understand?  Shall we say they were all inhuman monsters?  That they were an evil people, irredeemable to their core?  That nothing in their lives was of any value, bore any glimmer of nobility, the totality of their existence contained by their blindness to a single sin common to most everyone they knew? That no true kindness or sacrifice they ever gave for another could ever count for anything because they could not cleanly rise above their morally compromised surroundings?  Can we say this when we have witnessed millions abandon bigoted or wrong-headed views when exposed to new views and ideas? 


White European guilt aside, how total should be our condemnation of the Aztecs and their horrific human sacrifices, the peoples of slave-selling African tribes that started the whole nasty business, the people of Rome who enjoyed watching fellow human beings murdered and devoured by wild animals, or the Native American tribes that had no concept of sparing women and children in war? Haters all?


Now for some added perspective: if that gives us any pause, then should it not more so in today’s age of a Court-divined law requiring recognition of same-sex marriage? After all, what do we say about the 90% of the human race that still objects to it, and the nearly 100% of the near past who would have found the idea anywhere from objectionable to abominable? 


If we give in to that self-righteous and self-serving temptation, than what are we really saying when we look back at the past whole human race, not to mention about how we should be judged ourselves in a far future by standards we cannot even imagine?


And yet, we do have people, millions of them, who will say “haters all!”


Exceptionalism for Me

None for You


Do people really walk about our country today, thinking that they individually, unlike their fellow countrymen, are some kind of lofty lot of moral exceptionalism?  Yes they do.  We do. 


Hint: If you often find yourself calling people “haters”, look in the mirror: you are exactly the same.


We don’t speak here of the exceptionalism of America, for America is truly exceptional as a nation, a union of people under a visionary and brilliant star of freedom powered at its core by the Declaration of Independence and its Constitution.  Rather, we refer to the self-proclaimed exceptionalism of individuals who deny it in the union with their fellow citizens as they reserve it for themselves.


We have always done this, but in the mid-20th century we seemed to have progressed momentarily to a point where people on both sides appeared to culturally, perhaps only half-consciously, to understand the reality of this temptation, and even occasionally recognized this fault in themselves.  These were the days when no one knew the news anchor’s politics, and educated adults could and did argue politics without angry words.   Restraint, decorum, dignity, the dutiful and personally taxing polishing of words before they left our conscious mind and made contact with another fellow human being - these things adults practiced more often then than they do today, and we are seeing the effects.


Humans ought to be celebrated for every step taken in the opposite direction from the caves, up from where they stand, to reach higher and above from where they can see with their own eyes.  Too many, instead, judge others by the experience of their own lives – exactly the opposite of what we were taught to do by the most influential moral Teacher in all of human history.  We are very slow learners.


A Failed Conversation


It is interesting to note that decades prior to the Civil War, Americans on opposite sides of the slavery issue were not as angrily divided as they became over time; after all, they forged a new nation together.  But, the contentious issue of slavery, there from the very conception of the country, truly America’s original sin, instead of resolving itself gradually over time, as some hoped it would, instead became ever more polarizing, and the souring rhetoric of the early 19th century reflected that change.


Continued column 3 >

< From column 2


Pro-slavery Southerners actually evolved to embracing slavery evermore tightly, discarding an apologetic argument (it’s a necessary evil) for a proud and incredibly insolent one (it’s good for them).   Conditions for slaves actually grew worse, and new outrageous laws were passed forcing even people in northern states to protect and return escaped slaves back to their southern masters.  White and black abolitionists were beaten and killed. Abolitionists, who were then largely Christian activists, retaliated, and often also violently.  In some cases, the existence itself of slavery was moral provocation enough to kill.


As past political compromises collapsed, and lawlessness began to break out in frontier zones like Kansas over whether slavery would grow or wither, there was only one path left for resolution, and over 600,000 men would have to die to make its way.  At the time, that was one out of every six men of fighting age.  We in these United States have not seen a cataclysm of that magnitude since.  Fortunately for us, out of the ashes of whole cities and half the country burned to the ground, and the painful loss of a son or father, husband or brother felt by almost every American family, a new, nobler and more enlightened nation, truer to the promises of its star of freedom, did rise.  It does not always happen that way.  Could slavery have been dismantled without passing through the blistering gates of war? We don’t know.


The Truth Will Make You


Today is not just like it was then.  Everything is different, and critically - Oregon aside - there is no single issue over which people are taking up arms.  And yet, though we may wince to consider it, we are not as different from those past Americans as we might like to think.


We are all, in some form or manner, and to varying degrees, not all that different from Ms. Harper’s more perplexing and morally flawed hero, in both the vices we cling to and the virtues we aspire to, and sometimes attain. 


To face that uncomfortable truth is to take a step towards our own redemption, to elevate all human existence ever so slightly, to open the door to where God would have us go.


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2016 Presidential Watch

Rubio Will Rise

Fox News Rewards Trump

On Iowa Caucus Eve


As we watched the Republican debate Thursday night, it became apparent that GOP front-runner Donald Trump made a smart decision in skipping the debate.  While Fox News showed video clips during the debate of Mr. Trump’s closest rivals that put those rivals in a very uncomfortable light, it simultaneously spared Mr. Trump himself.  As the footage flashed across the screen showing those rivals seemingly contradict their current claims of what their positions have always been on immigration, and those rivals then proceeded to defend themselves by trying their best to turn each other into liars, we realized just how smart, or lucky, Mr. Trump’s move turned out to be.  In a sense, by showing those past video clips of Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, polling in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, and of former Florida Governor John “Jeb” Bush to a lesser extent, but not doing so for Mr. Trump, Fox News essentially rewarded the snub by the maverick billionaire who made a ‘hyooooge’ point of it.


Nevertheless, while this may hurt Senator Cruz in the polls a bit, and maybe the others, we believe that come Tuesday morning we will find that that debate did not really make a difference in the minds of those who bothered to show up to caucus in Iowa. 


You may recall that February last year we made predictions on the presidential prospects of former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Governor Bush, then in April, of Senator Cruz, and lastly in August of the late entrant Mr. Trump.  All have turned out true to date – almost exactly true – except for one: the prediction on Trump.  We forecast his ceiling at 25% of Republican voters.  This turned out to be a major underestimation of his potential appeal to frustrated voters. Mr. Trump is a political mutant, a “Mule” a la Issac Assimov, a historical wild card where normal rules of cultural reactions and political analysis are suspended.  Nevertheless, while we agree that there is a hard floor for his support that, as Mr. Trump himself says, would allow him to shoot someone in Times Square without a suffering a dent in his poll numbers, we also believe that there is still an equally hard ceiling of potential support which remains hidden by the splitting of the opposition among so many candidates.


It is our assessment that in a race that narrows to Mr. Trump, Senator Cruz and Senator Rubio, once the other candidates withdraw or trail so badly that further support seems a waste, Rand, Christie, Kasich, and eventually Bush supporters will all fall into the Rubio camp before they do into the other two (Rubio supporters, by the way, would not similarly flow to the other candidates – easily half would prefer Cruz or Rand to the others).  Carson supporters will likely split between Cruz and Rubio. Huckabee supporters go to Cruz, Fiorina supporters to Rubio, and Santorum supporters split.   Probably a smattering go to Trump.  Nationally, based on current polls, this would put Mr. Trump, Senator Cruz, and Senator Rubio roughly split three ways, with Senator Rubio on the rise. 


The danger is a three-way race that does not resolve itself before the national Republican Convention to be held in Cleveland, Ohio, in July.  In that case, it may all come down to art of the deal.  The Bush campaign will likely exhaust all options, even those that risk destroying better odds for the GOP.  Still, we are putting our money on Marco.


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