So, No Political Motive

Published at 13:00 on 16 July 2024

If Thomas Crooks had a political motive, it would have to come with strong beliefs. Beliefs strong enough to literally inspire him to kill. It would have been easy to find multiple examples of friends, neighbours, and/or relatives who could all testify to how big a righty or lefty he was. Instead, nothing. Just a quiet, somewhat mysterious guy without a lot of friends and no strong evident beliefs.

As such, it is pretty clear that the motive was almost certainly not political.

Most plausible working theory I have come across is the guy knew he was a loser and a nobody, and wanted to ensure he got his name into the history books. (Mission accomplished.)

Answer: He Won’t

Published at 07:50 on 15 July 2024

Biden won’t step aside. The assassination attempt has shifted the news cycle and distracted people from Biden’s disastrous and revealing debate performance.

Which, of course, means a sure Trump win. This would be the case even without the sympathy factor now acting in his favour due to the botched assassination attempt. Now that there is such a factor, it is not even remotely a close call.

Conspiracy Theory and the Authoritarian Mindset

Published at 09:27 on 14 July 2024

You’re already starting to hear it: The assassination attempt just must be more than it seems on the surface, because no way could a random nobody do this to one of the most powerful and well-protected men on the planet.

There is exactly zero hard evidence behind this theory at the moment, yet many people are already buying into it, on no more “logic” than that presented above.

One of the key attributes of any hierarchical class society is that the lives of those higher up on the social pyramid are considered to be intrinsically more valuable than the lives of those lower down. Any time a higher-up harms a lower-down, the typical reaction ranges somewhere between rationalization (“well, what did you think would happen”) and outright celebration (“justice is served, he got what he deserved”). Any time a lower-down harms a higher-up, the typical reaction is shock, revulsion, and disbelief.

This despite the clearly evident fact that the individuals involved in all circumstances are mere humans, with the same general physiological characteristics. Trump is every bit as vulnerable to the effects of bullets as was his would-be assassin.

Likewise, the Secret Service is not run by supermen. It is run by fallible human beings, capable of making mistakes. Like most organizations with important missions, it has numerous procedures designed to minimize the chance of oversights being made in its work, but that’s all they can do: minimize the chance. They can’t eliminate it. It doesn’t matter how many contingencies their strategists think up, sometimes sh*t happens and a chance sequence of events occurs that causes unrectified errors to be made.

Authoritarians don’t like the fact that their authority relies mostly on organized brute force. It pisses the hell out of them when we anarchists say so. They want people to believe that their authority is natural and rightfully earned, not arbitrary and propped up by force. So they establish taboos against questioning their authority, and use their force-backed power to indoctrinate people into following those taboos, and to marginalize (at best) or harm (or even kill, at worst) those who refuse to adhere to the taboos.

Assuming that it simply “couldn’t” have happened the way currently it appears, that the Secret Service “couldn’t” neglect to properly secure a rooftop, and some random loser “couldn’t” almost prematurely end an ex-president’s life as a result, is assuming into existence, due to indoctrination into authoritarian values, attributes which humans do not in fact possess. It is the authoritarian mindset at work.

Note here that I am not saying that there definitively was not a deeper conspiracy, only that there is currently zero hard evidence of one, and that in the absence of such evidence, Occam’s razor applies. The simplest working theory, that a conspiracy for which there is zero evidence does not exist and that a random loser lucked out due to oversights by the Secret Service, should apply until and unless hard evidence to the contrary emerges.

Seriously, This Is Bad News

Published at 22:41 on 13 July 2024

Assassinations (or attempted assassinations) seldom work out the way the assassin (or would-be assassin) thinks they will.

First, assassination attempts, like this one, might fail. They typically fail, in fact. The biggest targets (and ex-presidents are certainly a big target) all have professional security teams. And the Secret Service is one of the best. Failure is by far the most likely option.

In fact, such attempts happen all the time, and fail, due to law enforcement (primarily the Secret Service) foiling them. We don’t hear about them because:

  1. The Secret Service lives up to its name.
  2. In the name of not inspiring copycat attacks, the media cooperate by refusing to cover foiled attacks, unless (like this one) they get way too close to being successful and as a result become basically impossible to suppress coverage of.

It failed, so the logical result is to benefit the would be target via the sympathy effect.

But it’s worse than that. This particular would-be target has a fantasy about seeking revenge on his political enemies. He now has ammunition in pursuing this fantasy: those enemies are violent and tried to kill him.

The Nazis used assassinations and attempted assassinations to rationalize their own political violence. Kristallnacht happened in response to an assassination.

That’s right, even when they “succeed,” many assassinations, in the final analysis, fail.

There’s already some conspiracy theories emerging that Trump and his security team deliberately allowed the assassination attempt to happen. I would not be surprised to soon hear claims that it was all an inside job.

So far, there is no evidence of this, other than poorly-argued circumstantial evidence (“how could he circumvent Secret Service measures?”).

The Secret Service is indeed very good at what it does (to reiterate, assassination attempts are foiled all the time), but it is not perfect. Mistakes happen. We will probably hear how they slipped up and failed to secure the roof that served as the sniper’s nest in this one.

Time will tell, and maybe good evidence that it was, in some sense, an inside job will emerge. But so far, it has not. It is entirely possible that this thing was all sheer luck. In fact, that is currently the most plausible explanation.

Will He or Won’t He?

Published at 20:44 on 10 July 2024

In other words, will Biden step aside or not?

Biden is clearly being a stubborn old man and refusing to see the obvious, but the voices clamouring for him to step down are pretty loud.

It’s been interesting to watch. One thing is clear: the leadership clique of which I wrote recently has not been uniting around Biden despite it all. His debate performance was so bad that it got even their attention.

Rather, it seems to be Biden’s inner circle (and a few allies of that inner circle) versus just about everyone else. And those allies of Biden are not just his fellow centrists.

What’s distressing to me is how Trumpy the president and his allies are getting. Biden is clinging tightly to his selfish goal of being a two-term president, and engaging in all sorts of rationalizations that fly in the face of self-evident facts to do so. And suddenly, questions about the basic fitness to serve are being swept aside by Biden’s allies, much like Trump’s allies have long swept aside such concerns. It doesn’t seem to matter so much as long as they can use Biden for their ideological purposes.

It’s all making it increasingly likely I cast a protest vote for Vermin Supreme this November. At least he knows he’s a clown.

The Stephanopoulos Interview: Not Great, Not Terrible

Published at 20:22 on 5 July 2024

The good news is that Biden wasn’t totally out of it like he was at the debate last week. The bad news for Biden is that he needed to really hit it out of the park, and he didn’t. He still came off sounding like an old man.

Some were worried that Stephanopoulos would only ask softball questions. He didn’t. He asked numerous pointed questions and was quite persistent when Biden evaded answering them forthrightly.

Of particular note is that Biden admitted that he has not yet watched his debate performance. It as if deep inside, he knows the uncomfortable truth of how much he has aged, how this affects his fitness for the office, and that he does not want to face it.

It was not a live interview, which limits how convincing it can be. It is difficult to definitively refute accusations that some senior moments ended up on the cutting-room floor, although I suspect they did not, for the simple reason that Stephanopoulos has a stake in this: he is a lifelong Democrat, and has reason to be concerned about Biden’s electability. This is probably why he was also not shy about asking his interviewee pointed questions.

P.S. The more I think about it, the more that Biden has been unwilling to watch his own debate performance is revealing, and not in a good way. It means he has serious mental hangups about assessing his own competence. That is not something we want to see in a president.

Harris, the Democratic Party Establishment, Competence, and Conspiracy

Published at 17:48 on 2 July 2024

Have I told you recently just how much I despise the Democratic Party leadership clique? I don’t mean all Democrats (although I am to the left of that party), I mean the leadership clique. The people who decided Hillary Clinton was a viable candidate in 2016. The people who decided to coronate Biden as nominee instead of having a primary competition this cycle. Those people.

They have the unmitigated gall to smugly act as if they are the responsible adults in the room. This, despite blunder after overwhelming blunder.

This brings us to the Vice-President. Unlike the leadership clique, she is one of the party’s liberals, not one of its centrists. Biden, a centrist, nominated her because he had to nominate a liberal as a running mate in order to maximize his ticket’s appeal to the progressive base.

Now that Biden has demonstrated his unfitness for office, Harris is the logical choice for someone to fill his post. Because of course she is. Just read the United States Constitution.

Biden has to plain old resign. If he doesn’t resign, if he stays in office for the remainder of his term while trying to coronate a centrist replacement at a brokered convention, it is going to piss off Blacks and progressives and cost Biden votes. We know dirty pool when we see it.

That puts the leadership clique in a quandary. They don’t like Harris. They really don’t like Harris. She is not one of them, she is a heartbeat away from the presidency, and they can’t stand it. So many of them are saying that Biden can’t resign, because Harris is, in their words, “unelectable.”

Listen, you morons: Biden just blew a presidential debate worse than any candidate has ever blown such a debate in my lifetime. Quite possibly, he blew it worse than any candidate in any presidential debate in all of United States history. This is no exaggeration, it is cold, hard fact.

Yet somehow you think this disaster of a candidate, who has manifestly exhibited his unfitness for the office he occupies and seeks reelection to, is less of a lift to reelect than a Vice-President who is 59 years old, in good mental and physical health, but just happens to be a bit too far left for your personal political tastes?

Suck it up, buttercups. You don’t get to call all the shots all the time. Either a fascist goes to the White House or a liberal does. Your choice.

I don’t normally ascribe to conspiracy theories, but if there was one I would buy in to, it is that the Democratic Party exists primarily as a conspiracy to control, contain, and disempower the Left, and that those who run it know this and are deliberately in the game to do so. I will note that the current line on Kamala Harris fits this narrative like a glove.

About Biden’s “Cold”

Published at 20:37 on 28 June 2024

First, if Biden really was sick, why did we only learn this after the fact, when his team was desperate to make excuses for his poor performance? Why didn’t the White House warn us beforehand, so that expectations could be tempered?

Second, it is conceivable that he might have indeed had a cold (his voice was hoarse, after all), and his team wanted him to persevere because they were afraid of the damage admitting frail health might do.

Third, it doesn’t much matter in the end analysis whether or not Biden had a cold. He works at, and is campaigning for another term of, the hardest job in the world. One of the things that makes it a hard job is its physically demanding nature. You really don’t get much of a chance to rest and recuperate during physical illness. You are generally expected to plow through periods of sickness and keep working a demanding schedule.

Those are the terms of the job, and Biden just showed to all that he is no longer capable of them. And that is the most favourable honest assessment possible of Biden’s performance. If, as is more likely than not, he was not actually fighting a cold, he is even less up to the physical and mental demands of the job.