The Transcript

The main thing to keep in mind is not what it says, but where it comes from: the most lawless, secretive, and dishonest administration in U.S. history. As such, the accuracy of its contents is not to be trusted.

Alas, the media seems to be taking the whole thing much more at face value than it deserves. I will note that it is very early in the process (the alleged transcript was released only this morning), but this is still disturbing, as it amounts to intentionally inaccurate reporting in a way that benefits the Trump regime.

Given that the odds strongly favor the transcript being deliberately crafted to make the administration look good, anything it contains that does not make it look good should be taken as particularly damning, because it means that despite the Trump regime’s efforts to whitewash it, it is still clear that impeachable conduct occurred.

Whatever the transcript says, odds favor what was actually said was even worse.

Will the Democrats Wake Up? They Better.

  1. Trump cheated once, colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election.
  2. He just got caught cheating again, attempting to collude with Ukraine.
  3. These are just the instances of cheating we’ve heard about. There may well be others.
  4. He will certainly try to cheat again. Why shouldn’t he? Literally everything in his life up to this point (in both politics and business) has taught him he can get away with cheating.
  5. You think it’s bad now? It’s just the primaries. Wait until the final election.

More Democrats are thankfully getting it. But will Pelosi?

If she doesn’t, it’s past time to replace her with a speaker who is serious about acting like a member of the opposition in an open political system, instead of a victim with Stockholm syndrome.

Andrew Sullivan’s Brexit Blindness

In this collection of recent essays, Andrew Sullivan starts out by making a convincing case that just because blatant hypocrisy about racism and slavery is a narrative of U.S. history, this doesn’t necessarily make it the narrative.

Then, a few essays later, is a piece by Sullivan that makes a very similar error. It starts by presenting how being independent for over 1,000 years is a narrative of British history, then artfully slides into arguing as if it is the narrative that pertains to the Brexit issue. No mention is made of other factors, such as lying and conniving politicians, ones who recently passed off a Brexit bait-and-switch on the British people.

Bringing that factor into the picture suggests a completely different course of action: a Brexit referendum redo: now that you know what Brexit really entails, is it still worth it to proceed with the process? This doesn’t reject the narrative that Sullivan set forth, and if the redo vote comes out pro-Brexit, then it really should be game over for continued U.K. membership in the E.U. Likewise, if the Remain vote prevails in the redo, then it should be game over for Brexit.

But Sullivan apparently couldn’t see that, despite recently writing another essay where he easily perceived the same principle. It all goes to show how one’s own proclivities (conservative nationalism, in Sullivan’s case) can cloud one’s vision. Sullivan seems to have a measure of “Brexit Blindness” of his own.

Facts and Logic Are Overrated

Look, I don’t like the fact that people don’t politically act rationally very much, either.

The words in that opening paragraph were chosen carefully: “politically act rationally,” not “vote rationally.” Voting is merely one form of possible political action amongst many, and it’s questionable how rational being satisfied with the “choice” of voting for Establishment Candidate A versus Establishment Candidate B really is, anyhow.

But, to reiterate, people don’t politically act rationally very much. Not all people, of course, but most. It’s a general rule, and the exceptions prove the rule; they don’t refute it.

After all, if people acted rationally, class society would have died a long, long time (as in millennia) ago. But it didn’t. People do not by and large act in their rational self-interest; they tend to be quite willing to support authority hierarchies which are personally harmful to them. Like it or not, them’s the facts.

Faced with that, one must choose between making positive change with people as they actually are, or clinging to some comfortable myths about making change with people as one might hope they were. Yes, there’s the option of persuading people to change (and people have changed; slavery and feudalism were once considered inevitable), but that takes time, and we don’t have time. There’s a fascist (thankfully, an incompetent one, but he’s doing plenty of damage even so) in the White House and a climate crisis that’s getting worse with each passing year.

And it is in that light we come to some advice from former GOP political consultant Rick Wilson. I’m actually somewhat pleasantly surprised by how good most of the advice is; I was expecting him to waste much ink on his wincingly stupid “this is a referendum on Trump, nothing more” strategy. He didn’t.

Instead, he took issue with:

  1. The importance Democrats place on policies,
  2. The lack of importance Democrats place on the electoral college, and
  3. The importance the Democrats place on various shibboleths.

As he wrote, a good slogan or two is going to matter more than policy papers, no matter how logical and well-written the latter might be. People tend to vote based on emotions, not facts, and a well-chosen slogan can do a vastly better job of engaging emotions than the best possible policy paper can ever hope to do.

So far as the electoral college goes, it’s a hot mess, and no cogent argument exists for it continuing to exist; it just ended up facilitating the same intemperate extremism it was purportedly put in place to frustrate. But none of that matters: it’s in the United States Constitution, getting it out or neutering it is going to be a protracted process, and there’s absolutely no conceivable scenario for completing that process before the next presidential election. Like it or not, the 2020 election will happen via the electoral college. As such, it only makes sense to campaign in a way compatible with that fact.

And so far as the hot button issues go, most of them are either identity politics things which are nowhere near as important (or universally appealing) as class politics, or they’re just plain stupid things that miss the point. In the latter category we have the insistence on making health insurance government-run instead of making health care as universal and egalitarian as possible (don’t confuse ends with means, Democrats).

Then we have a recent article by Jennifer Rubin which goes into how Trump just pushed some big hot buttons for conservative and middle America types by stupidly planning to invite the Taliban to Camp David in the same week as the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

One could argue that it logically doesn’t much matter for the mechanics of negotiating a treaty, but this forgets the whole point of this essay: facts and logic are overrated when it comes to campaigns. Emotions matter a lot. Many people have a very negative gut reaction to what Trump just did. So why not capitalize on it and hit Trump hard where he’s weak?

Those who despise Trump might think the attacks a bit odd, but by and large we won’t be turned off by them. We’ll just think them odd, and vote to defeat Trump anyhow. Meanwhile, they might just persuade a few wavering both-sides-ists that the Democrats are better than the GOP (and to vote accordingly), as well as helping to demoralize a few Republicans into sitting this one out or casting a protest vote for a third party. And there’s only a few votes that need to be changed in a few key swing states to tilt the coming elections against Trump.

Yes, yes: This all sucks, and people arguably should approach things more logically. No arguments there. But, at this time, there is real value in hitting a reset button and getting a more sane Establishment (as opposed to a basically fascist one) in power. Therefore, there is real value in doing whatever it takes to unseat Trump, even if it means playing the standard stupid political games.

Yes, It Is Political

The miners might claim their struggle isn’t a political one, but they are wrong. That the law acts as iron chains on the poor and working class but merely gossamer threads on the rich is a key characteristic of class society, and simply a natural outcome of gross inequality of power. As such, anyone taking issue with any aspect of this principle is being profoundly political.

The Democrats would have to be abject fools (or mere tools of the ruling elite) if they fail to take up this issue. (Which, of course, means there is a very good chance that they won’t take it up.)

Two Points on the G7 Summit

Trump is Scared of the Fellow Class

The business class is now very frightened of an imminent recession, and they have been using their lobbying power to read the riot act to Trump and underscore their disfavor with his trade war. This is why he made an attempt at being more cooperative at the summit.

There is No Better Trump

Trump has made fleeting attempts at being presidential before. The key word here is fleeting. The attempts never last. Trump lacks the maturity and discipline to stifle his gut impulses. As such, he will go back to being a combative buffoon, and sooner rather than later.

Made It

Well, I made it. By some miracle, all the transactions closed on time Friday. Today was moving day and it went uneventfully. Now for the unpacking, cleaning up, fixing up, and customization at the new place.

It’s been something of an emotionally costly experience. I think this is for several reasons:

  1. I’ve never done a “leap of faith” move like this. The closest was in 2012 when I moved to Seattle without a job on the line. But then, I was pretty sure I could find one in my field, sogtware development (and I did, because at that point I had not quite aged to the point of becoming virtually unemployable in that field). This time, I’m not even sure what I will do for income yet (though I have some ideas).
  2. I put more of myself into my previous home than at any other home I’ve ever had. In Portland, I had a lot of my vision implemented by others. That was fun, and the result was great, but this time I did the painting and drywall work myself, teaching myself how to do the latter. Plus, I did more gardening than I’ve done anywhere else I’ve lived. Leaving all that has been like leaving a bit of myself behind.
  3. I’m older, and there’s probably an older person’s desire for stability at play here, too.

Maybe the thing to do at this point is to simply have more faith in the future. Going into this move, I really doubted that I’d be able to do what I just did: move from one owned home directly to another, without having to make any intermediate stop in temporary rental housing.

E-Begging, or, Needs versus Wants

It seems as if GoFundMe requests are proliferating in my social network.

Now, if the predominant motive behind such requests were genuine instances of needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, or health care, I’d find it upsetting because it serves as evidence the economy is failing increasingly more people.

Most requests, however, are not for needs; they are for wants, things like name changes, transatlantic plane fares, recreational vehicles (that are used recreationally and not as a primary residence) and whatnot. I find that upsetting because of the whiny attitude of self-centered entitlement it represents.

Sorry, e-beggars, your wants are your problem—not mine. Figure out how to fund them yourself. I believe people are entitled to the necessities of life, but I do not believe anyone is entitled to luxuries at my expense.

That’s particularly the case given that we’re in a world where so many people are lacking basic needs, and in one where I am myself a person of limited means who can’t dream of things like taking a transatlantic vacation. And, guess what? I don’t go begging to other people to fund such luxuries which are unaffordable to me.

If I once more become able to afford discretionary donations, rest assured I will be making such donations to those who need them, not those who merely want them. After all, every dollar I would donate to fund a mere want is a dollar I cannot donate to fund a geniune need.

The Outcome Will Be Escalation

No matter how I look at it, I can’t foresee any positive outcome from the coming round of dueling demonstrations in Portland. The far right is going to come away from it all feeling even more bitter and aggrieved, and even more justified (in their own minds) in using violence.

If Portland Antifa obliges the right-wingers’ wish and attacks first, and/or attacks non-fascists (and they might, given that multiple instances of past behavior indicate the presence of hotheads in that group), then of course there will be more grievance.

But suppose the right-wingers attack first (which is at least as likely), then what? The same thing, of course. That they started it will be irrelevant; a narrative, supported by the right-wing media, contrary to the facts will be developed. The quality of any evidence will be irrelevant. Video footage, for example, can easily be selectively edited to make aggressors look like the attacked.

Perhaps the best possible outcome would be something which, like Charlottsville, clearly exhibits the violence and depravity of the poliical right, and thus serves to further alienate moderates from it and Trump. (Let’s hope it will not be as violent and deadly as Charlottsville.) But even in that case, the right will walk away feeling that they are the ones being wronged, and as a result escalate their rhetoric and tactics (see above).

This is, at best, the end of the beginning. In no way is it the beginning of the end.