Looking for the Attractor

There’s a crisis in punditry. Disasters have become altogether too predictable. Almost everyone saw the costs of instability in Eastern Europe coming. The bill is now due, as Ukrainian artillery destroyed a “significant” part of a Russian armored column alleged to have entered Ukraine. Russia denied this occurred, but the tumbril of disaster jolts along yet another rut and the State Department has accused the Russians of violating an arms control agreement, too late to make a difference. Just another opportunity missed.


“Vladimir Putin does not take his obligations seriously, whether they be arms control or respect for the integrity of Ukraine and Georgia,” [Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces] Rogers said in a statement announcing the legislation

“He doesn’t believe he has anything to fear from President Obama,” he added.

True Mike, but tell us something we don’t know. The West African Ebola outbreak continues to spread as WHO admits the “the magnitude of the Ebola outbreak had been ‘vastly’ underestimated.” “WHO officials also said in a Thursday statement that they share concerns that current numbers do not reflect the true gravity of the situation.”

Ebola treatment centers are filling fast as they are opened. “The World Health Organization says beds in Ebola treatment centers in West Africa are filling up faster than they can be provided.”  Reality is overcoming the narrative. Ebola, 2,000+: Spin doctors, 0.

Spokesman Gregory Hartl said in Geneva Friday that the flood of patients to newly opened treatment centers shows that the outbreak’s size is far larger than official counts show. WHO said Thursday that recorded death and case tolls may “vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.”

Hartl said that an 80-bed treatment center opened in Liberia’s capital in recent days filled up immediately. The next day, dozens more people showed up to be treated.

And the administration is being sucked back into the Middle East by strategic considerations they chose to ignore, but found they could not.  It would be altogether too tiresome to recapitulate the observations that this would happen. Nobody read the map, except ISIS and the map, like Ebola, won.


Speaking of narratives, what happened to the post-racial America or the post-fascist America Obama was supposed to herald? Gone already. Perhaps the most striking thing about the reaction to the race riots in Ferguson, Missouri is that the public can’t make up their minds who to dislike more, the looters or the paramilitary police.

Recent polls show that most people are aware we are not in the promised era of Hope and Change.  They know they are in the Epoch of Hopelessness and Stasis..

“With an ‘everything is terrible’ mindset, I’m mostly thinking about how after several years of cantankerous and unproductive lawmaking in Washington, there are very few political figures or institutions who the public trusts anymore,” the Washington Post’s polling analyst Scott Clement told Politico.

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are at a record low. A new Gallup Poll shows confidence in the economy is dropping. And overall, poll ratings for Republicans and Democrats are down, according to a CBS Poll.

Nobody really believes that the leaders of the nation or the West in general can find their way out of the mess they’ve created. Not after all that huffing and puffing about climate change, transgender initiatives, Obamaphones, “getting engaged with your disease” and other varieties of trivial pursuit.

The Big Ticket problems they’ve pooh-poohed for so long are here. Food, energy, security and demography.  In a short, the world of things. Boo. Your design margin has been canceled. Politicians are running for cover. New York Magazine acidly mocked the failure of Hillary and Barack to publicly “hug it out” over foreign policy differences, accompanying the story with a picture that looked more like two pickpockets trying to palm off the evidence on each other.

Did she plant the evidence in my pocket?

Did she plant the evidence in my pocket?

Two has-been boxers hanging on to the ropes. Stayin’ alive. Stayin’ alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive.

But all of these developments were too predictable. They are hardly worth a post. President Obama’s political fortunes look as broke as Robin Williams after two alimony settlements and he seems just as depressed as the late comedian. Peter Wehner, writing in Commentary, quotes Joe Scarborough as saying that president Obama “has checked out… He wants to be the next, I hear it time and time again from his close political allies. This man wants to be an ex-president.”  Being a leader when everything you’ve touched has turned to dust is no fun.  He’s not coming out of this one with his likeness carved on Mount Rushmore. But you knew that already.

That the current system is in flux is no longer in doubt. What everyone wants to know is where the attractor is. “In dynamical systems, an attractor is a set of physical properties toward which a system tends to evolve.”  Where is the world going? Who is going to lead it? The conventional wisdom is that it was Barack or Hillary who would do the leading.  But it looks more like no mas!

What punditry needs now is not someone who can interpret the past — that’s easy — but someone who can glimpse the further future.  But even the greatest minds have no crystal ball. The mists of uncertainty shroud all. One can only repeat what Winston Churchill said: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”


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