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Rewording of my last post [Aug. 16th, 2016|12:18 am]
1) The difference between 'decadence' and 'wealth' in Western historian lingo is whether or not the Republic collapsed shortly afterward.

2) The Western right defines 'decadence' as decay of cultural and civic institutions, the Western left defines it as unsustainable and inequal consumption of resources.

3) The Republic collapses, but the 'decadence' doesn't. It just flees to other societies and advances them instead.


"Decadence Precedes Collapse" [Aug. 15th, 2016|11:57 pm]
An interesting sort of cognitive glitch can be found in the general mainstream recognition of "the decadence of the Weimar Republic." More or less, you can use the concept to explain how republics begin to collapse without controversy.

The problem?

That's basically some matter of opinion of which the Nazis have written lasting, generally accepted history. There was nothing wrong with the Weimar Republic culturally. It was the government and economic institutions that were fucked. And there certainly was some relationship there -- high inflation made it worthless to save, so people spent more frivolously, the recent demise of royalty meant less clear authority -- but culturally speaking, the art, philosophy, scientific, and sexual freedoms of the interwar period that weren't destroyed by the Nazis merely escaped to other countries and advanced their respective societies. Einstein, Fritz Lang, 'subversive art', and the 'sexual revolution'.

These things are discussed separately. A person today accepts 'the decadence of the Weimar Republic' AND the flight of intellectuals, Jews, artists, and others as mutual general truths of the era, not noticing that the former slander refers to the latter fleeing antecedents.

See also Caesar.

On the right, 'decadence' means the end of moral and civic institutions. On the left, it means unsustainable and unequal massive consumption of resources.

In that manner, everyone can claim that 'decadence precedes collapse.' But if the collapse never happens, it was merely wealth.


Then and Now [Aug. 12th, 2016|08:01 pm]
How I got the news in the 90s: "First African American to win a gold medal in swimming! TONIGHT AT 9 ON NBC!"

How I get news today: "The first African American to win a gold medal in swimming just happened this instant AND NBC SAYS NOTHING THOSE RACIST FUCKERS."

How events happened in the 90s: "The Olympics are coming to you live from Rio de Janiero."


How notable benchmarks were portrayed in the 90s: "First woman elected to this office!"



On Boycotting Shitty Products [Aug. 8th, 2016|10:46 pm]
My friends feed is alive with calls to boycott Taco Bell over its maxed out PAC donation to Trump's campaign. I guess I'd join the boycott too, if I did business with that shithole in the first place.

This follows a relatively long history of noticing that a lot of calls for boycotts rarely concern businesses I trade with. There have only been 1 business that I've had to make any decision to boycott and 2 businesses that I've sort of made the decision to boycott:

1) The business that I did boycott was a LOCAL hamburger franchise. The owner backed and invested in Proposition 8, that aimed to ban gay marriage in California. Note that neither the franchise owner nor I reside(d) in California at the time, which made it extra offensive to me.

My boycott wasn't just not going in, I made sure to write a letter to the company stating that I would no longer eat at their franchises do to this decision. I got a response apologizing for our difference of opinion and hoping that I would see cause to return in the future, so I think that was actually decent of them despite it being a form letter. At least they tried to respond.

Later the owner was outed by the board of directors, though not necessarily because of Prop 8. Turned out he had some shady business dealings too. The corporate side of the company got taken over by a new owner and the quality of the transition has been mixed -- they don't make as great hamburgers as they used to, but I'm no longer boycotting them and the hamburgers are worth buying when you're hungry. It's just that since then I haven't had as much opportunity to shop there, maybe have gone a total of three times in three years.

2) Hobby Lobby I am technically 'boycotting' but don't really have to because there's no need for me to shop there. The only reason there was a chance I would or that I had familiarity with the place is that my father, an artist, used to buy his paint there. But after he died, I only shopped there one time and one time only to get some materials for a student film shoot and found out that Hobby Lobby had far less than I expected.

So I could technically claim that I'm boycotting them because there's a potential to desire to do business there, I guess.

3) I've actually lifted my boycott of Wal-Mart, except that I was sort of raised into that boycott (long story involving Wal-Mart attempting to build a supercenter in an area of my community when I was a young, young DiB. The community protested and Wal-Mart never moved in. For years afterward I fondly collected and collated anti-Wal-Mart propaganda before I started noticing some things that I'm not so anti- about). The problem is that I've just never been used to shopping at Wal-Mart so I don't. Any time I've gone I've been underwhelmed and disliked the experience. So I just don't shop there.

So those three constitute businesses that technically lost a few of my dollars because of my political decisions. But the burger joint is the only business that I actually liked and made a conscientious decision to stop going to. That would be the only real 'boycott.'

The other stuff is hardly fazing. How can I get upset at a company and plan to boycott it when it's already a piece of shit 'the invisible hand of the market' should have smacked anyway, presuming capitalism is based around evaluating quality? (Hence the existence of these businesses proving that value isn't always the driver of financial success.)

Taco Bell is a perfect case in point. I don't eat there. Whenever I had Taco Bell as a little kid, I hated it. I though it tasted like poop, and I gave it a couple-three honest reappraisals as an elder DiB just to make sure, and elder DiB could confirm for younger DiB, Taco Bell tastes like utter dog feces.

(Nurr hurr how do you know what dog feces tastes like DiB bluuurrrrrg)

Anyway, I know I'm arguing taste here, so there's invariably that one person who is going to get upset with me when I say it, but,

in a lot of these boycotts, taste really does seem to correlate with business principles. It always seems like the shittiest fucking, worst value, dumbfuck businesses that end up joining the Stupid Side of history. This is probably because the businesses are run by people who only care about market share, not quality; margins, not value; advertising, not standards.

When a fast food chain is modeled around selling you the poorest quality meat legally available, of course they are going to back the candidate who wants to do away with the FDA.

Most of my friends are doing the teary eyed "NOOOoooOOOoooOOO!" boycott of their beloved Taco Bell. For me, the only upsetting news was learning that so many of my friends eat at Taco Bell.


Why Hillary Clinton Lacks Charisma [Jul. 30th, 2016|01:19 am]
I normally don't watch the conventions, but just read the general analysis of what happened afterward (with the associated risk of reading limited or biased accounts). I was going to skip watching the DNC until FiveThirtyEight reminded me that Clinton's speech was a historic first. Since I didn't miss Obama's 2008 acceptance speech, I figured I should catch Clinton's*.

And what I learned was, yes, I can see why people have a kneejerk, visceral reaction to dislike her, in much the same way they joke about Ted Cruz. She feels off, like a particularly strict and stern matriarch always frowning and looking for a reason to smack your knuckles with a ruler.

I don't have a very good survey of women national leaders, but what I do know is that Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel come off much the same way.

And my hypothesis of why that is is because for women to attain that level of power, they get scrutinized and resisted to degrees that would turn any person into flat affected monotonous speakers. They get subjected to pressures men can laugh off with a cigar.

Obama managed to retain some amount of warmth and charisma through much of his presidency, but he managed to get in while still young and idealistic, and even then he was still blamed for not being passionate enough, for seeming detached, for playing everything understated and careful. This is because as a black man, if he ever showed passion, anger, and resistance, he would have been crucified as a mad black person. In a choice between seeming weak and seeming crazy, while so many people have you under a microscope just waiting for you to do something wrong, seeming weak is better.

Obama and Hillary Clinton don't have the advantages George W. Bush (stupid) and Bill Clinton (careless) have. They're not white men. So when Bill gets a scandal, his approval ratings go UP, whereas when Hillary gets a scandal, her approval rating goes down EVEN THOUGH SHE NEVER DID ANYTHING WRONG. When Bush trusts his intuition rather than his facts to go into a war with Iraq, he gets institutional support from Congress (including Hillary Clinton, I will point out), but where Obama makes the case to intervene in Syria, he's considered some warhawk sellout trying to destroy young American's lives.



"In the attention economy, people are rewarded for extremism. They are rewarded for indulging their worst biases and stoking other people’s worst fears. They are rewarded for portraying the world as a place that is burning to the ground, whether it’s because of gay marriage, or police violence, or Islamic terrorism, or low interest rates. The internet has generated a platform where apocalyptic beliefs are celebrated and spread, and moderation and reason is something that becomes too arduous and boring to stand.

And this constant awareness of every fault and flaw of our humanity, combined with an inundation of doomsayers and narcissistic nihilists commanding our attention space, is what is causing this constant feeling of a chaotic and insecure world that doesn’t actually exist.

And then: it’s this feeling that is the cause of the renewed xenophobia and nationalism across the western world. It’s this feeling of insecurity and chaos that is igniting the platforms of divisive strong-men like Trump, Erdogan, and Putin. It’s this feeling that has consumed the consciousness of millions of people, and caused them to look at their country through the lens of a fun-house mirror: exaggerating all that is wrong and minimizing all that is right."

Emphasis isn't even mine.

Here's Newt Gingrich:


"The average American, I bet you this morning, does not think crime is down, does not think the economy is better [...] The current view is that the liberals have the whole set of statistics which may theoretically be right, but it's not what human beings think."

I think Gingrich is revealing while still being completely wrong.

Feelings matter. It's like I've said here before: "The pain is real, even if the complaint doesn't make sense."

But feelings are also propaganda. Goebbels has not been falsified in his notion that repeating a lie makes people believe it; that people crystalize their beliefs if they think they made their decision of their own free will; and that reason is undercut by emotion.

To balance those contrasting appeals is actually just that: balance. Feelings have to be backed up by data, and data has to be backed up by feelings.

So when all the data says the world is becoming a better place, but low income workers don't believe it, it shows the world is becoming a better place for everyone but low income workers. The intent there is then to find a method of providing a way of getting the low income workers to benefit from the advances the rest of the world is making. It is not to tear down the entire system because the entire system has failed to help specified demographics.

Whereas when conservatives are saying the world is becoming a worse place, and yet they live in a nice house with a nice car and a nice family and a nice job and generally have everything going for them, their complaint is mainly just a problem that people complain.

And there are low income conservatives who are NOT living nice lifestyles whose only frame of reference for making their complaints are the well-off conservatives. So they adopt that rhetoric.


"Hillary Clinton is inherently honest.": http://americannewsx.com/politics/why-cant-you-believe-hillary-clinton-is-inherently-honest/

A Martin O'Malley voter (!) makes the scientific case for Hillary.

"Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest": https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/28/hillary-clinton-honest-transparency-jill-abramson

A reporter who has covered decades of Hillary scandals makes the case for Hillary.

"Clinton distrusts the press more than any politician I have covered. In her view, journalists breach the perimeter and echo scurrilous claims about her circulated by unreliable rightwing foes. I attended a private gathering in South Carolina a month after Bill Clinton was elected in 1992. Only a few reporters were invited and we sat together at a luncheon where Hillary Clinton spoke. She glared down at us, launching into a diatribe about how the press had invaded the Clintons’ private life. The distrust continues.

These are not new thoughts, but they are fundamental to understanding her. Tough as she can seem, she doesn’t have rhino hide, and during her husband’s first term in the White House, according to Her Way, a critical (and excellent) investigative biography of Clinton by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta, she became very depressed during the Whitewater imbroglio. A few friends and aides have told me that the email controversy has upset her as badly."


My boss also watched Hillary's speech. He's a sensitive dude who pays very fine attention to emotions. He said that she didn't seem sincere or connected to her statements.

To me, she looks exactly like she is: a woman who has been witchhunted for three decades, to the point where she has had to shut off her emotion and protect her hide and put nose firmly to grindstone to get the shit done she believes has to get done.

The thing is, her and Obama's relatively high rankings for honesty over all politicians have to do with facts being their only recourse. All things being equal, considering higher scrutiny and identity politics and the constant watching and witching, literally the only way to be able to say something straight and not get 'caught' on it is pretty much to make sure you have factual evidence behind your claim.

You don't get through decades of being jerked around like Hillary Clinton and come out of it grinning like Bill. He at least got a blowjob out of his scandal, and lives in a patriarchal society that allows 'boys will be boys' but women victims have to explain to juries of men their clothing choices the night they got raped.

YOU try running for president as the latter demographic, and let's see how emotive and warm your face looks.

tl;dr: Hillary Clinton: President Resting Bitch Face. The voting public: 'Nice Guys.'


*To be fair though, Trump's speech was a historic first too in its own way, and I didn't watch it.

Ronald to Donald Inversion Number [Uncountable] [Jul. 27th, 2016|11:37 pm]
Yes, Donald, we get it: You're running for President of Russia.



This is another one of those delirious situations that would make this entire election feel like a Lynchian miniseries take on House of Cards, except that it's totally precedented in the same party that elected Ronald Reagan.

It's also another area where the left flank of the Democratic party doesn't help much.

In 2014, Obama had to make a decision to support a rebellion against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. A war weary American public was obstinately against it. Liberals don't like war regardless of reason, conservatives hate Obama no matter what.

The thing about Syria is that it's basically Putin's access to the Middle East, and Bashar al-Assad Russia's gatekeeper to that access. So sensing a power vacuum from the US's soft force approach, Russia steps in. This serves the double benefit of protecting Middle Eastern stakes and embarrassing the United States.

And of course, the conservatives, always happy to show how awful terrible Obama is, praise Putin.

And there you have it. Conservatives hate black people more than they hate foreign dictators. It's not surprising that Trump, regardless of being conservative or not, could pick up on that and praise Putin and ask for Russian hackers' backing of trashing Hillary Clinton and cede Crimea. Because hating Obama has always been more important than 'America First.'

In the end Russia overplayed their hand and attack Ukraine, so the United States lay on sanctions that (luckily) happen to coincide with plummeting oil prices and the Russian economy is squelched.

Meanwhile, the burgeoning terrorist bloc developed out of the chaotic borders around Iraq and Syria coalesced into ISIS.

Which is all to say, I remember when Obama was offending progressives by positing the need to put boots on ground in Syria. Maybe, if there were some better discourse about it and we worked out a strategy, neither Russia would have been emboldened nor ISIS able to coalesce.

But, you know. We deal with that because for the right, hating Obama is more important than hating terrorists, while from the left, hating war is more important than making strategic decisions.


What Will Fascism in America Look Like? [Jul. 25th, 2016|12:15 am]
I've been thinking about this since Ladd's "there is no redemption in being one of the 'good Nazis'" line.

One of the reasons I changed from a leftward aimed liberal as a teenager to more of a centrist as I got older was due to a lot of my friends arguing that Bush was a 'fascist.' Although I held no love for W's administration, it felt flat out wrong to go there with that term. Nothing about his administration came close to the strong-arming dictatorships I had read about in history books. I felt like the main reason to desist calling an elected official a fascist is because we'd need the term available for if an actual fascist tried rising to power.

We're here. This is it. Trump hits all the defining, historically situated standards of fascism. Sure, there are some differences: time and culture based; but everything he says and plans to do fits the profile.

And yet people are still largely discussing this election as if it's a bipartisan affair, the usual elephant versus donkey. 'They're both corrupt elitists', many people say. Or some go as far as to call Hillary a fascist too.

Meanwhile, the Republican party has spent more decades than I've been alive telling the American public over and over and over again not to trust the government or any of its officials, not to trust the media or any of its journalists, not to trust the scientists or any of their data, and not to trust the special interests or any of their causes, and when people like me have grown up with that as a consistent theme of all political discourse, it gets treated as a point of view rather than the hysteria it is. Even people who disagree with it disagree with a "I can see how it seems that way, but...."

The second greatest economic decline in American history left voters in despair, wars and global terrorism have left them afraid, and highly disruptive developments in the role of labor and trade have left them worried JUST at the moment when social media has finessed algorithms to feed them their own informational preferences to themselves, brought unknown and ignored issues to life, and forced a higher standard of transparency on old political tactics.

Trolling has become an acceptable form of discourse, a near decade of obstructionism has normalized extreme political tactics and statements, Russian and Chinese hackers have capitalized on this chaos to make Western citizens lose confidence in their own hegemony, and clickbait has learned to turn every article of analysis and reason into worse-written parrot screeches than tabloid periodicals.

In short, culture, governance, economies, and discourse have officially not caught up to technological and global change. This is the official 'human society hasn't kept pace with technology' moment. It's the exact moments like these, where the old system is highly disliked and the representatives and institutions of that system in decline, that fascists step in for their power bids. They can act earlier than leaders because leaders are still developing, growing out of that change. Fascists need only lack shame.

That is this, and it's our lived history, right now. And because of that, I have to seriously consider the risks. As regards risks, I always prefer to act under the assumption that the improbable happens and you always have to be prepared for the worst case scenario even if it's improbable.

And so it's with that last sense in mind that I now set my mind to how to prepare.

* What will fascism in the United States look like
* How will it affect me?
* How will it affect people I care for and love?
* How will it affect others I don't know?
* and finally, How will it affect the globe?

* What can I do to prevent it?
* What can I do to protect people who may become its victims if it happens?
* What can I do to resist it?
* What can I do to protect myself?

These are discussions I've had with friends over video games when I was fourteen. Now they're no longer flights of fiction with our own private role as super-powered protagonists who save the world.

These are real questions, that I would like to try to figure out as soon as possible,

because it doesn't matter if FiveThirtyEight rates Trump's chances at 99% or 1%,

the fact that he has a real chance at all means I need to be prepared for it.


Meme: "Argue FOR Hillary Clinton without mentioning Trump" [Jul. 24th, 2016|12:31 am]
Liberal justices on the Supreme Court, a minimum wage raise, free tuition for two year colleges, automatic voter registration added to the Voting Rights Act, ending immigrant detention, extending Medicare and Medicaid to cover Puerto Ricans, reopening of the debate over the public option for the ACA, double the Build American Bonds subsidy to update crumbling schools, attempt to pass the Buffett Rule (30% tax on incomes over $1million per year), proposes the Equality Act to turn Obama's executive orders that gender identity and sexual orientation be considered protected from discrimination, end conversion therapy, increase investment in the Global Equality Fund, transition Internet access away from providers to utilities and make WiFi available in most public spaces, combine infrastructural repair projects for dams, levees, and dykes with renewable energy and water sanitization to make all three more efficient, a proffered constitutional amendment to undo Citizen's United (though probably unlikely), and guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family (maternity OR paternity) and medical leave would be among the legislation she's offering that I would support, that is directly attainable through legislation she already has prepared, and that she has the political capital to attain some of.

There's far, far more on her platform, but those are the ones that are things I could see actually happening barring continued Republican obstruction which is at this point table stakes.

The leading paragraph of proposed legislation I opened with is from her own website; it's publicly available information and it's not that difficult to read. Many of her proposed ideas link to further documentation and evidence supporting what she's trying to do. I do not find this same level of depth and evidence based policy on any competing candidates' website. I make decisions based on content, not sloganeering.

I'm also not very concerned about her 'scandals'; I think the fact that she's survived 30 years of Republican witchhunt indicates she's actually MORE clean than you'd expect a regular every day human to be rather than less (counterintuitive but after all even if she 'gets away with it', that just shows she's fucking effective at what she does); I think Comey poisoned the well with his speech because he was the spearhead of the witchhunt and knew he had nothing technically against Hillary's e-mails even though he's a hardcore obstructionist Republican; I think even if you added up all the 'election scandals' and assumed that every single one of those ballots were actually uncounted (little proof) and every single one were actually Bernie's (stretching hardcore) that he'd still come short of his 4million and 10point loss against her; and that he shouldn't be surprised that a party he's never been a part of and never drawn votes, funding, major legislative accomplishments, or political capital for would support him over the long term associate of their institution that has been involved in the White House, State Department, and Senate; and I don't really give a shit if anyone doesn't like a politician as a person because I care more about what they can do over whether or not they give you nice little fuzzy butterflies in your tummy when they speak.

But speaking of fuzzy butterflies, I think the fact that many of the civil servants and representatives that have actually worked with her in real life have nothing but praise for her leadership and her character shows that she may not campaign well, but she does a good job where it matters. Anybody who's sweated an interview with full knowledge that they have the skills for the job itself should be able to relate.

I even think the fact that leftists consider Hillary a Republican to be a mark in her favor, because I like centrist technocratic wonks that can work with multiple platforms. I think the fact that everyone's upset she works with businesses shows she works with businesses. Hell, another way of looking at how much she got paid for her speeches at Goldman Sachs is that she got paid less than most male speakers for the same type of event work. Isn't that fun?

I find a lot of her 'contradictions' and 'hypocrisies' to be overstated and in most cases I find a leader who pivoted after learning additional information, largely toward the better solution determined by the newer information rather than away from it. A good example is the issue of imprisonment, which the Clinton's helped increase with bipartisan support in a decade where all trend-lines pointed toward increasing crime rates; mentioned crime rates subsequently decreased for complex and not fully understood reasons while the issues of aggressive confinement have shown to come out, and now she's on the side of prison reform due to new information learned over a quarter century. Another example is the pivot to the LGBT rights issues, which show just how effective pro-LGBT campaigning has been, and it's hard to understate the rapidity and nearly exponential growth that campaign managed, taking it from a largely not-talked-about issue on the federal level to a full on Supreme Court decision in favor of gay marriage in less than the period of time I've even been old enough to vote. I think expecting someone to know the same things now as they will in 25 years is total nonsense.

I don't think she's perfect, I don't think anyone's perfect, and precisely zero of the candidates running including Bernie proffered up some major changes I would personally prefer, but my biggest thing is that if people are so insistent of the continual decline of the United States despite a wealth of statistical evidence to the contrary, then their 'alternative candidates' should at least be better than the established candidates we have.

Nothing in this cycle has convinced me anyone could do a better job than she could, and the fact that I see leftists and progressives taking up Republican fucking talking points to shout her down because they didn't get their favorite crazy haired curmudgeon is a bunch of total nonsense.

Furthermore, why haven't many people been posting arguments for her like this? They have. Those voices have been dismissed as 'mainstream media,' sheep, naive, or simply ignored. I haven't found very many people at all willing to defend Hillary on the Internet, but I do find a plethora of them conversing about it in real life. This is because this election cycle has become the legitimization of trolling as a political tactic, and being pro-Hillary is putting a target on their social media profiles. I do not believe there is a 'silent majority' for Hillary, but I do believe there is a silent minority bloc, largely centrists, who are disengaging with the political debates because they don't feel a welcome and understanding environment conducive to these discussions. I think this silent minority accounts for Hillary's largely consistent 2-3% leads in actual votes over polls in most states.

I notice that Hillary has the best leads in terms of black votes, Hispanic votes, and women votes. Because as a white man I can't claim what is in 'their own interest', I prefer to defer to their judgment on the matter rather than try to tell them to change their mind.

What I've learned from this election cycle is that people'd rather feel disaffected than talk actual policy. I feel like I've personally learned not to dismiss individual's complaints despite the wealth of statistical evidence to the contrary because statistics doesn't ease pain, and the pain is real even if the argument doesn't make sense. I am hoping, personally, that such lessons will be a wake-up call and that the chaos of this election cycle causes a redistribution of interest groups, and that if the Republican party really does devolve to a white nationalist party, I hope many interests flee it and join some other including the Democrats and Libertarians and maybe a few Greens.

I'm REALLY hoping that what citizens have learned are the rules of engagement, and that you don't fucking change an entire system by protest-voting some feckless figurehead, but that the sorts of things that Bernie achieved can be accomplished on local levels; or more specifically, I'm hoping Green and Libertarian party members will start thinking about trying to get mayors, city councilmen, judges, and county clerks elected, build platforms, create tents to welcome people to, and generally actually engage in civics and discourse, rather than just expecting alternative choices to magically appear just because they don't like the current options.

I'm NOT upset. I do NOT believe the nation is going in the wrong direction. I do NOT agree that the world is getting worse. I believe social media amplifies and saturates the issues of the world so that we are more aware of wrong things that happen, but with that awareness comes progress and we are taking it on; the problem is an overstatement of evils that don't exist to the degree believed in. I think pessimism and cynicism is the problem, not the solution to the problem, and people acting out in anger and fear are causing more anger and fear rather than more solutions. I go as far as to state that if you're angry, you're NOT paying attention. The more attentive people I meet are the ones with the most ideas for solutions and who take the most enjoyment out of performing their duties. The people that I see most angry and fearful oftentimes don't seem to participate any further than ranting on Facebook.

I am happy with Obama's administration and stewardship of the federal government and I like his and Hillary's brand of representation over other options available at this time.

It's through considered and direct action with the support and companionship of colleagues and overlapping interested people that shit gets done, and I casually reject any implication that ideological purity tests will do anything but alienate and divide competing social groups, regardless of which ideology. And so I'm not going to give my position a name, but will simply remain available to help you achieve your own current goals if you think I have the skills and overlapping interests to do it.

And finally, fuck it. Might as well have the symbolic win of a female president, because YOLO.


Wikileak du Jour [Jul. 23rd, 2016|09:07 pm]
Some Russian hackers leaked 20,000 DNCommittee e-mails just in time to fuck over any good news coming from the Kaine pick and really undermine the DNConvention meeting this coming week. It was a good move by a group of people not at all concerned in any way with American or Western democracy, but rather undermining public confidence in it. That said, those motives don't make the e-mails any less real, which so far reportedly do dastardly things like,

discussing methods of subverting Bernie Sanders' campaign that the Clinton campaign never took.

Emphasis on that last part, because anybody who has worked with real people knows that when people are brainstorming ideas and strategies, they come up with an awful lot of truly terrible ones, including some, like the ones about his faith and character, that are really shitty ideas to harbor.

Of course the prevailing argument is that the DNCommittee should be neutral, and actually yes, I agree. I'm pro-Clinton but not particularly pro-Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I do think that this example should be a warning note to subsequent R and DNC (and other parties) to be very, well, 'politically correct' about what they say over e-mails, and for that matter, that they should try to exude in every way a confidence in neutral stewardship of the primary campaigns.

Good learning experience. Bad year.

Look. The Russians want Trump to win because they know he'll fuck shit up for us hardcore, allowing them to gain a much stronger influence in world politics. Just as Clinton isn't ideal but far better than Trump, you can grouse about American hegemony but it's far better than Russian or Chinese hegemony. The pick isn't between "Do you want American hegemony or do you want a brand new alternative?" the pick is between "Do you want American hegemony or do you want Russian hegemony?" Yet again, the biggest problem with all the anti-establishment bitching is that the options are worse than the establishment. This, it must be reasserted, from a fucking non-affiliated centrist who cares nothing for parties of any type.

So by all means, I feel criticism of the DNCommittee is justified, even as the planet inexorably rolls the days right into the convention.

Fine. Whatever. But there are two caveats that should be recognized, even though I know nobody reads this and anybody who should read this would never listen:

1) One thing you have to remember is that Bernie Sanders was never a Democrat. He caucused with them but he did not bring them funds, voters, votes, political capital, connections, keystone legislation, or really much support. This is where being a 'party' matters, at all: you have to build an infrastructure to support a platform.

Bernie stood on top of that platform and never put as much as a nail in the support structure underneath it.

Expecting the support of the workers who put those nails in leads to shit like this.

2) Over time we're going to gain increasing access to information and stuff like this will be de rigueur... and will include YOUR e-mails. Yes, you. The person reading this right now. YOUR e-mails will be scrutinized by other people, be they potential employers, legal teams, the public, people trying to steal your money, and so forth.

Can you assure me with 100% faith that there's NOTHING in around 20,000 of your own e-mails that doesn't make you look really bad?

There's nothing the DNCommittee emails reveal that actually truly undermine Bernie's campaign. There are discussions of things to do, but he still got 45% of the primary vote, pulled the Democratic platform left with several key legislation ideas, and got the country talking about income inequality seriously again.

And doing things like suing the DNCommittee and writing off the candidacy of the technocrat that civil service workers actually like over someone writing, "Well here's some demographic statistics of Catholics that determine that it's preferable to be a Jew than an atheist" is one of those baby versus bathwater issues. You have to be selective about what exactly needs to change and how to change it.

Because again, the alternative is a fascist who doesn't write down demographic analysis of Catholics' feelings about atheists, but rather spreads invented racist data from white supremacy groups through Twitter.


"There is no redemption in being one of the 'good Nazis.'" [Jul. 23rd, 2016|02:20 am]
Somewhere around 2014 I stumbled across a blog entitled GOPLifer. It was written by a man named Chris Ladd, who also wrote a political science / current event book called The Politics of Crazy. I don't remember exactly which article drew my attention there, but I do remember which article ignited my interest and kept me going back:

The Blue Wall: The Missing Story of the 2014 Election was what my generally liberal non-affiliated partisanship mind wanted to read. It read like 'data' that claimed that in 2016, the White House was prohibitively unlikely to go to any Republican due to straight up zoning and demographics.

In the end 2016 happened and it's not following data of any analysis. It's a black swan event and the only analyses you DON'T want to trust right now are the ones that sound certain or claim to know what's going on.

But let's put that aside a second. Because like everything in intellectual development, there's a reason you start to pay attention to certain information and there's certain information that gives you reasons to start paying attention. What Chris Ladd's GOPLifer blog answered for me was information I needed for a very long time:

What are the intellectual / philosophical roots of the Republican party?

I'm a Millennial. After the Republicans scandalled the only President I knew out of office due to a blowjob he was caught with, I had George W. Bush and a whole lot of hero worship of this man named Reagan as my frame of reference for what the Republican party 'is'. In very rapid succession came the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 2008 (PRE FUCKING OBAMA) Recession, the Tea Party, Ted Cruz, and now Trump. My mother could give me insight discussing Reagan (complicated) and Nixon (you know, Tricky Dick).

However, it nevertheless bears worth mentioning, the Republican Party is the party Lincoln was a member of, and Eisenhower. Chris Ladd has, over the course of my following his blog, given insight into How the GOP took in the Dixiecrats after the Civil Rights Act and began to go full retard.

It was nice having Ladd around. The reason he intrigued me is because so many people, especially older people, told me about this unicorn phenomenon called 'moderate Republicans', and meanwhile there were some Republicans that I knew who managed, after much discussion, to hint at values and ideas that I actually did resonate with, it was just very difficult to distinguish where those ideas deviated from the white supremacist yokel ideology of David Duke, former KKK activist terrorist and now official Trump surrogate for Senate.

Ladd convinced me: there's a heart and a soul and a principle to what Republicans originally were. In fact, the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower may have, at one point, been the sort of party I would have wanted to join were I to associate ideologically with a party. He helped me understand my Republican friends better and he helped me think about ways in which parties, though fluid, can birth and die and transition and schism and reconnect and generally operate, assuming one basic principle, and that's that

it coheres around well understood and humanistic principles,

which the Republican party no longer does. Which brings us to Chris Ladd's open resignation letter to his party chairman today:

From his fairy-tale wall to his schoolyard bullying and his flirtation with violent racists, Donald Trump offers America a singular narrative – a tale of cowards. Fearful people, convinced of our inadequacy, trembling before a world alight with imaginary threats, crave a demagogue. Neither party has ever elevated to this level a more toxic figure, one that calls forth the darkest elements of our national character.


I will not contribute my name, my work, or my character to an utterly indefensible cause. No sensible adult demands moral purity from a political party, but conscience is meaningless without constraints. A party willing to lend its collective capital to Donald Trump has entered a compromise beyond any credible threshold of legitimacy. There is no redemption in being one of the “good Nazis.”

I am no longer against parties as a concept. One thing I've learned over time that I've finally put into words this year is that 'protest vote' 'third parties' like Libertarians and Green are failing because they keep trying to put figureheads in executive office without the political capital to support them, when they really need to build that political capital by electing mayors, county clerks, judges, state representatives, then maybe start putting together coalitions and going after congress, POTUS, the Supreme Court.

In fact since 'the body politic' is a way of thinking about things, imagine politics as a tree and all the Congressmen and Senators and Presidents are really the fruit. For those fruit to grow ripe and be nourishing they need leaves to transform light to energy, branches to hold them, a strong trunk to stand on, and roots to nourish them.

How beautiful and poetic and shit. Point is if the fruit is rotten, it could be for any number of reasons affecting the tree, each of which could potentially be saved. The leaves don't get enough light, the trunk has bark beetle, etc.

What Chris Ladd constitutes of the Republican party is the roots. Without people like him, the entire logistical apparatus of a political institution falls over. The trunk has already been eaten away by the bark beetles of the Tea Party. The limbs have already been twisted up by racists and bigots. The leaves are nearing autumn and increasingly browned and dead in comparison to the woods around them. The leadership is rotten. But if more roots like Ladd, the actual people who stump out into the freezing cold election year Novembers to deliver pamphlets and write blogs analyzing the history and philosophy of their party, leave or die, then this whole tree is less than timber. It's dead.



The pro-Democrats or at least anti-Republicans may think that's an optimistic statement. It's not. It's the worst thing to happen at the worst time, even though the worst time is happening because this worst thing.

Trump did not win the GOP primary because he was a good candidate. He won the GOP primary because the Republican party is a weak institution. Whereas the Democrats are stronger, it's unclear to me to reasonably be able to state that they are strong enough either. Too many people have swallowed 30 years of poisoned well water regarding Hillary Clinton, and too many people are reactionary to their own echo chambered social network feeds to the point of being angry and disestablishmentarian for not always, or even often, solid reasons.

In fact simply stated, I'm going to take the privilege tactic, which I normally dislike, but here it is: minorities and women voted for Hillary in much higher margins against Bernie than white men. White men, some friends of mine, said with no sense of intended irony, "Why are so many black people voting against their own self interests?"

I've mentioned this before and I'm going to mention it again: if white people don't get what they want politically, they risk a long run of generally stressful institutional debates that may turn around and work out, or they can move to Canada or whatever. If black people don't get what they want politically,

they get strung up from fucking trees.

Minorities can't afford to fuck around. Trump constitutes a real and actual existential threat to their livelihoods and ability to be recognized as actual, breathing human beings. This is not a feeling that white people get. It's not a feeling that I have. It's something that's been told to me over, and over, and over again since I was little to now and it still took until only recently for me to fucking get it through my dense head.

And I know I sound like a 'Social Justice Warrior' when I say that, but the ironic thing is that the Social Justice Warriors are all too often voting Jill Stein for the same reason I pointed out above: because they can afford to register a meaningless 'protest' against the system rather than actually get off their Tumblr and build a local campaign for representative office toward the goal of designing a new party apparatus that promotes their interest.


And now it's come to this. We have an indication that Trump may attempt to purge civil servants from their government positions and attempt to directly challenge our free press. This is technical engagements he's promising in addition to what he's already done in terms of alienating and scapegoating marginalized communities to put them under attack for 'our' problems, giving voice to a culture of white grievance, and directly extracting nativist and isolationist propaganda to support his stance as a strongman demogogue.

That is form, function, definition, political science and theory, objectively straight up picture in the dictionary fascism. Full stop.

What this means is that Chris Ladd has done something very difficult for any single person to do in any situation: he's had to hold his own personal values and principles account against the sunk cost fallacy of thirty years membership in an organization he once believed in, AND he has to do that with no evidence of maintaining political capital. He risks criticism at best, and assuming an atavistic relapse of Western culture into another fascist period, could have potentially put a target on his back.


The main thing I'm wondering here is, I agree with him that there is no redemption for 'good Nazis.' I mainly worry, though, about what that really means.

What does it look like to live in a country run by a demogogue, from Erdogan to Putin to Mussolini to, you know, Hitler? What do you do in that sort of situation? How do you protect yourself without compromising your principles?

It was easy, when I was in high school or college, to say things like, "It's simple: you don't pull the trigger when the gun is put in your hand. You don't put the Zyklon B in the vents when it's your job. Conscientious objection. Free speech and protest. Speak your mind. Hold others accountable. Do what's necessary to subvert tyranny.

That's all good and well and easy to think of, but the banality of the banality of evil is that people have a really, really, really hard time doing the right thing in the face of systematic oppression, and people are really, really, really good at justifying themselves to themselves. All told, it's easier to keep your head down and your hand raised in salute and remain invisible in a crowd at a rally than to keep your fists firmly closed. To protect your family. To live to see another day.

What I'm hoping, of course, is that Trump loses; and if he wins, that the systems of checks and balances we have enacted keep him from abusing his power to the point of no return; and if he does, that it creates a resistance;

and that all of those considerations aside, that the world is just too fucking 'modern' to really support any sort of 20th century fascism in any meaningful way.

But Chris Ladd made a very difficult and unique decision that stands out because other people were not able to do it, and he hasn't even done the hard part yet. He still lives in a country with a choice and the ability to check out of a party apparatus and say "Goodbye."

The rest of us may have to make a decision like Ladd's too. And that decision will have to be over dealing with a country that we can't check out of because we live in it and it's the only place we have to live in (Canada aside, most can't afford to expatriate; and to be even more cynical, expatriatism at the point of oppression is being a refugee, not a retiree, and then you get to deal with what being a refugee in countries that don't like you feels like).

How does one resist the fascists when one actually lives in a fascist country?


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