This Is Mostly Crap

Published at 22:02 on 1 June 2023

This is how a member of the center-right might want to see Florida politics, because it lets him play pin the blame on the liberals, but it really doesn’t explain what happened very well.

The Florida Democrats already tried the hardcore centrist strategy. In 2022, in fact. And we all know how well that worked out. Charlie Crist, their candidate for governor, had previously served as the Republican governor of Florida.

The Florida Democrats fail, not because they tack to the right or to the left, but simply because they are grossly incompetent as an organization.

I have told this story before, and I will now tell it again: I have done some volunteer work for the Florida Democrats. It entailed making get-out-the-vote calls. They gave me a spiel to use which had been invalidated by recent news stories. I contacted them for an updated spiel. They had none. I had to spend the first thirty minutes of my shift coming up with a spiel on my own. This is just about the absolute last thing you want your volunteers to do. You want to put out a unified, coherent message!

And it gets worse. The list they gave me was out of date as well. I called people who had already voted early or absentee. I called people exasperated because they had requested to be on the do not call list, some of them multiple times. This is very basic stuff. If someone tells you to stop calling them, you honor their request. You do not want to piss people off by continuing to call them!

Florida could be a competitive swing state today, as it once was not too long ago, were only the Florida Democrats capable of campaigning their way out of a wet paper bag.

More Drone Attacks in Russia

Published at 07:53 on 31 May 2023

The Russians call it “terrorism,” of course. And, guess what? They are right! By pretty much any measure, such things are terrorism.

They are also totally to be expected in a wartime situation. During World War II, there were routine acts of terrorism in the belligerent nations. Often, their enemy nations were involved in some fashion.

War is unpredictable. Always has been, probably always will be. Putin was supremely foolish to believe that something as high risk (and as much a stretch strategically) as attempting to invade and subjugate all of Ukraine would go smoothly, according to plan, and expose the Russian heartland to only minimal risk.

So far as this undermining support for the war in Russia, probably not, sorry. Hitler thought the Blitz would do that to the United Kingdom, and it had precisely the opposite effect, despite imposing much more hardship and danger on the British public than the few insignificant pinpricks that we have seen so far against Russia. Putin’s line has after all long been that this whole “special military operation” is about Russia’s security, and now that Russia is getting attacked well inside its borders, this whole “we are fighting because our security is in danger” line now has more traction.

What it will do is boost morale inside Ukraine even more. It is always good news when a war goes far worse for one’s enemy than that enemy ever believed possible.

But yes, it’s all quite ugly. News flash: war itself is ugly. Don’t like the ugliness of war? Don’t start one! If you have started one, stop it! Putin could totally kneecap Ukraine’s causus belli by negotiating a ceasefire and withdrawing back across Russia’s internationally recognized borders.

Until that happens, however, as Garrison Keillor once quipped: “If you didn’t want to go to St. Cloud, then why did you get on that train?”

Turkish Elections

Published at 21:50 on 30 May 2023

The guy the West wanted to win, Kılıçdaroğlu, lost. Erdoğan, Turkey’s longstanding president with an authoritarian streak, won yet another term in office.

But here’s the thing. Kılıçdaroğlu sounded positively Trump-like in his non-concession “concession” speech, going on as he did about how the election had been stolen from him. And his anti-refugee stance (he promised to summarily expel all refugees from the country) also comes across as more than a little bit Trump-like.

In other words, it really doesn’t look like the narrative in the Western media of a brave liberal democrat challenging an evil entrenched authoritarian is all that accurate. Maybe if the opposition hadn’t chosen such an obviously flawed figure as their standard-bearer, they would have fared better?

Trump’s Ace in the Hole

Published at 21:46 on 3 April 2023

Trump has far better chances of winning in 2024 than some informed observers seem to think.

It all rests on what the group No Labels does. They have been rightly castigated as being mostly a benefit to Trump, and boy could they ever.

You see, despite how the media loves to fawn over them as the rational and reasonable ones, centrists have a really seamy and dare I say even militant underside. They know what they want, they want it really bad, and they will act on those wants, even to the ultimate detriment of their preferences.

It is exactly the same criticism often made of the Left, but it applies to centrists even more. Those of us on the left are at least constantly being lectured to about the dangers of refusing to compromise. But the same chattering classes that never tire of sermonizing the Left tend to see the Center as intrinsically “responsible.”

Witness what happened to Humphrey in 1968 (lost votes on the left) and McGovern in 1972 (lost votes in the center). There’s no shortage of voices blaming Humphrey’s lost on voters to the left sitting it out. By contrast, when it comes to McGovern those same voices… blame left/liberal voters for having selected McGovern in the first place! In other words: if you don’t support our preferred candidate, it’s all your fault, and if we don’t support your preferred candidate, it’s also all your fault.

Many centrists are so beset with feelings of entitlement, and so coddled and pandered to by the media, that they are largely shielded from being confronted with the downsides of their own political behavior. And many of them to this day have trouble seeing their hypocrisy.

It is in this light that the seriousness of a threat by a centrist No Labels candidate can fully be seen.

To the above you can add that Republicans tend to be more extreme and inflexible in general, meaning it will be much easier for a centrist to peel votes away from the Democrats. No Labels itself is aware of this; here is one of their initial projection maps showing how they hoped to win. Note how most of the states they think they can flip went for Biden in the last election:

They probably won’t do that well, of course. All it would take is them failing to flip Texas and Florida and boom! Second Trump term.

Why the Indictment Matters… and Why It Does Not

Published at 08:45 on 31 March 2023

It matters because it breaks the precedent that presidents and ex-presidents are above the law.

It does not matter because of the seriousness of the charges. The particular charges of the indictment are still not known, but all sources claim they have to do with a fraudulent payment of hush money to keep Stormy Daniels silent about an affair she had five or more years ago now. An affair is really not a major political scandal (despite how much Republicans wish it was when Clinton was caught having one).

But the precedent is now broken. That having been done so, it becomes more likely that indictments might be filed over inciting the January 6th putsch and/or the attempted corrupting of the vote tabulating process in Georgia. Both of those, by contrast, are truly serious charges; they relate to acts that are direct attacks on democracy.

If other, more serious charges are not fired, it will be as Judge Luttig has said: a great disservice to democracy and to the rule of law.

And there is still a lot of moral rot in the system. I may have been wrong about Trump not being indicted for anything, but I am not wrong about that general observation. That there still is, is evidenced by a more serious indictment being a sufficiently unsure thing that Luttig is openly worrying that it might not happen. Luttig is a lifelong conservative. It is not personally convenient for him to come to the conclusions he has. It is much more convenient for a conservative to conclude that our existing institutions, representing the wisdom of tested experience, are functioning relatively well.

And Luttig is hardly the only conservative running around saying how alarming Trumpism is. There are enough of them, in fact, that a special term has arisen to refer to such individuals: never-Trump conservatives. It has long been a key insight of mine that when there is a significant group of individuals asserting something they are ideologically inconvenienced by, that something is almost certainly a relevant political fact that should be paid serious attention to.

Well, I Was Wrong

Published at 17:40 on 30 March 2023

Trump was indicted today.

And I am very happy to be wrong. It means the disgusting precedent that the president is above the law is looking more and more like a has-been of a precedent. It means the danger of a transition to fascism is distinctly less than it was just this morning.

Nobody won USD $100 out of it, by the way, because nobody took me up on my offer. Which, of course, is now void now that the outcome is no longer in doubt.

Now we get to see a number of other questions be answered:

  1. Now that the precedent has been broken, will there be other indictments?
  2. Will the indictment get rescinded somehow? (I am not a legal expert, and I do not even know if this is possible, but if it is, it would not be a surprise if it happens. American Führerprincip may not go quietly into that good night.)
  3. Will he be convicted? If he is acquitted, will it happen because anyone in his situation would have been acquitted, or will it happen because he’s an ex-president and is therefore getting special treatment?

This is a precedent-setting moment, but there were really two options here:

  1. Set the precedent that presidents and ex-presidents are not, in fact, above the law, and that what Trump did was wrong and deserves to be punished, or
  2. Set the precedent that nothing Trump did (up to and including his coup attempt) was, in fact, wrong. In this case, it all becomes just standard political tactics, to be applied as needed from now on.

One More Reason Why DeSantis Is Less Dangerous

Published at 20:45 on 27 March 2023

There are basically two types of Republicans left these days:

  1. Those who worship Trump and who will not vote for anyone else.
  2. Those willing to hold their noses and vote for Trump.

That’s it. There are effectively no other types of Republican. The ones who couldn’t stand Trump have, basically to a last person, left the party.

Therefore, if by some miracle DeSantis wins the primary, Trump will yell “Rigged!” and the Type 1 Republicans will either cast write-in, independent, or third-party votes for Trump, or sit at home and sulk on Election Day. Either action dooms the Republicans, who cannot afford to lose any votes.

So if DeSantis wins the primary, the Republicans lose the general. Guaranteed.

While if Trump wins, the odds are still against them (Trump has high negatives), but still not as dismal as if DeSantis wins. To reiterate, Trump managed to win once already, and he could do it again.

DeSantis Is Not More Dangerous than Trump

Published at 09:46 on 25 March 2023

You can find a lot of pundits arguing that DeSantis is even more dangerous than Trump, such as this one, this one, and this one. While it is clear that DeSantis has authoritarian, fascistic tendencies, and is more intellectually mature, and thus better able to strategize, than Trump, in one important aspect he falls far short of Trump. It is my contention that this aspect is a limiting factor that makes DeSantis less of a threat.

That aspect is capitalism. Specifically, the authoritarianism of capitalism, the contradiction between that authoritarian and the value of liberty professed by post-Enlightenment liberalism, Trump’s possession of capitalist status, and DeSantis’ lack of it.

Any capitalist democracy is in fact a weird amalgamation of public democracy and private fascism. The latter is not just socialist hyperbole; the model for the authoritarian fascist state was in fact the capitalist corporation. Mussolini called his system the corporate state for a reason.

But this presents a contradiction: could not workers use the democracy and openness of liberal society to advocate for post-capitalist economic systems that dispense with the arbitrary authority of the capitalist boss? And in fact this is not merely theoretical: every capitalist democracy, with the notable exception of the USA, has had a strong social democratic/democratic socialist party, that got where it is precisely by arguing based on this contradiction.

The solution is to indoctrinate people, starting in early childhood, as to the virtuousness and indispensability of the capitalist boss, whose authority must be held to be an unquestionable good. Instead of being a threat to liberty, it is held to be an expression of liberty; the capitalist must have the liberty to use his wealth to manipulate as many other individuals as possible.

Only the capitalist gets this special treatment. When a politician tries to coerce others, it is generally considered (and rightly so) to be oppression, not liberty.

It is into this value system that Donald Trump stepped. He actually wasn’t all that big a capitalist or that great at the capitalist game, but his media image was that he was; one can say that in politics, appearance Trumps substance. Perhaps even more critically, his media image is a celebration of the authority of the capitalist. Just ask yourself what the most famous two-word phrase from his role as the star of The Apprentice was if you have any doubts about my assertion.

By contrast, Ron DeSantis is an individual who has not spent so much as a single day of his adult life as the owner or manager of a business. He hasn’t even held a private sector job! He went from law school to a career in the military to a career as a politician. It might have been possible for him to avoid this problem if he had an acting career as a capitalist somewhere on his résumé, but alas for him he does not.

So when DeSantis acts authoritarian, or proposes doing so on the campaign trail, he is just a politician promising authoritarianism competing against a businessman promising same. He’s going to lose that contest.

Trump, by contrast, just might win it all again. He did once already, after all. Therefore Trump, and not DeSantis, is the more dangerous one.

…And He Won’t Be Indicted Today, Either

Published at 09:04 on 22 March 2023

In the least surprising news since the Sun rising on time, Trump wasn’t indicted yesterday. This is for the simple reason that he will not be indicted. The system acts to protect the most powerful, even when those most powerful threaten the system itself. It is that rotten and corrupted.

I mean, really now, I am supposed to believe that a relatively minor hush money payment to a porn star is an indictable offense for someone whom the system refuses to indict for a fucking coup attempt? How is that the least bit plausible?

Get it straight. Trump was not indicted for the events of January 6th, he won’t be indicted for paying hush money to Stormy Daniels, and he won’t be indicted for anything else.

I am sorry that it greatly inconveniences some of you to believe the state of democratic decline in the USA is as severe as I have written it is here, time and time again, but all the best available evidence is thoroughly consistent with my thesis.

The old Republic has basically already died at this point. It is merely that the corpse has not started bloating and stinking yet, so many can still be in denial about it.

P.S. Nobody took me up on my USD $100 offer. That alone should serve as evidence that even though many won’t openly admit I am right, in the depths of their heart they know I probably am. Money talks, bullshit walks.

A $100 Offer

Published at 09:48 on 18 March 2023

I feel like making a little easy money. As such, I will bet the first taker USD $100 (CAD $137 if you prefer to wager in Canadian funds) that Trump will not be indicted in the next 14 days (i.e. by 9:00 AM Pacific time, 1 April 2023). Any takers? This is an honest offer. Comment on this post if interested.