As some of you know, Chris Arnade is a refugee from the financial services business.  He was a quant analyst and a bond trader who, in time, grew tired of the “intellectual grift” that he considered most of Wall Street to be.  When he left the business, he started taking pictures, and, in time, found fame documenting the plight of working-class and other “forgotten” Americans.  His depiction of America’s ruling class/country class divisions – which he likened to the differences between “front-row” and “back-row” kids in school – has become one of the most powerful explanations for the growth of social and political populism in this country.

Currently, Arnade is walking around the county – literally – taking pictures and talking to people.  He picks a city a week – he’s been to Buffalo, for example, and Orlando, plus about a dozen others – and he walks from end to end, documenting his trip in images and prose.  Earlier this week, the self-proclaimed socialist tweeted:

As someone who has literally been walking around the country, I can tell you Virginia wasn’t a fluke. Unless something radically changes (mostly with a Covid crisis they can’t control), Dems gonna get crushed in 2022.

Not sure there is really anything they can do about it though. …

It isn’t that anyone particularly loves GOP, they mostly don’t. It is that the country feels “off” & stuff feels “weird”. Again.

Arnade attributes much of this to Covid and the Democrats’ stupidity during the initial stages of the pandemic – blaming Trump for the whole thing and promising that they’d clean it up, which, of course, they haven’t and can’t.

We don’t agree with him about Covid being the cause, but we do think he’s spot on about the mood of the country.  We’d argue that the frustration has been building since 2006 or so, was exacerbated by the financial crisis 0f 2008-09, and has been gaining steam ever since.  Covid was just the straw that broke the ol’ camel’s back.

In any case, Arnade’s observation that “the country feels ‘off’” is quite astute.  Just how “off” is the question.

Yesterday, we noted that we shelved our original Kyle Rittenhouse piece on Wednesday because one of the two predictions we made therein was already clearly wrong.  We mentioned the first prediction – the one we still think is highly likely, that Rittenhouse will be acquitted – but we never mentioned the other one, the wrong one.  It went like this:  “No one will care.  No one will make a big deal about it.  No one will scream or shout about it.  Life will carry on, uninterrupted by the usual oUtRaGe that accompanies every other thing that happens any time, anywhere in the world.”

Our thinking was that people are tired of being outraged and just as tired of having outrage shoved down their throats.  Arnade writes that the majority of Americans voted for Biden because “He was a normal dude promising normal stuff.”  But, he continues, “That hasn’t, in their minds, materialized. Stuff is still crazy, weird, & wrong.”  Again, he’s spot on.  He continues to blame Trump for the chaos, which is clearly mistaken, but he’s right that people are worn out and just want to be “normal” again.  And they’re not getting that.

Where we miscalculated in our prediction was in overestimating mainstream and social media’s ability to be decent and civil, “normal,” in other words.  (We know, right?  How stupid of us.)

As we noted yesterday, by Tuesday night, when it became clear that the trial was going badly for the prosecution, the media and social media influencers had already begun cranking up the outrage machine.  And they’re still cranking away, prepping the field for what they see as an imminent disaster on this battlefield in the broader culture war.  Over at MSNBC, for example, someone named Ja’han Jones wrote the following, in a piece titled, “Kyle Rittenhouse’s White Crocodile Tears Hold Value in America”:

Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is presiding over the trial, has already appeared to tip the scales in their favor by refusing to punish Rittenhouse after prosecutors said he violated the terms of his releaseprohibiting prosecutors from referring to the men shot by Rittenhouse as “victims” and barring potentially useful evidence prosecutors argued showed Rittenhouse fantasized about being a vigilante.

While testifying about the moment he shot Joseph Rosenbaum, one of the protesters, Rittenhouse sniffled, quivered, contorted his face, bloated his cheeks and did just about everything else you’d expect of a novice actor attempting to convey sorrow. Pictures even showed him peeking around the courtroom as he worked himself into a lather. Though photos captured a single tear streaming down his face, I couldn’t tell whether it was from actually crying, or if he’d merely worked up a sweat from trying. 

It was a Razzie-worthy performance in my view, but I’m not the target audience for this sick show.

The Rittenhouse murder trial is being prosecuted in front of a nearly all-white jury, before a white judge who uses conservative lingo to describe protesters, in a country where white vigilantism is often excused, if not worshipped.


Merriam Webster, the publishing company best known for its dictionary, immediately tweeted a definition (along with an ugly picture) of “crocodile tears.” The Washington Post published a piece scrutinizing the judge in the case (a Democratic appointee, for what it’s worth).  Twitter itself compared Rittenhouse’s tears to those shed by Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearings.  And on and on and on….

It is clear, we think, that our ruling class is afraid that Rittenhouse will be acquitted and even more afraid that when they respond by giving a war, no one will come.  They are trying their damnedest, in other words, to make sure that there is violence on the streets of Kenosha if the rule of law prevails in its courtrooms.  Talk about your insurrections….

This, then, is a test.  If our initial instincts were correct and if Chris Arnade’s instincts are correct as well, then an acquittal in the Rittenhouse case will result in a very muted, very undramatic revival of last year’s street theater, which will mean that the desire for normalcy is, indeed, profound.  But if our instincts are wrong, and if Kenosha and other cities go up in flames as the result of an acquittal, then it will be clear that the media and its outrage machine are still powerful enough to alter the course of political events.

Either way, we still think that the Democrats are headed for disaster next November.  How big and how permanent that disaster is may, however, depend on what happens in Kenosha in the next several days.


Comments coming soon