The Danger of a Centrist Democrat

Published at 00:56 on 26 April 2019

(Yes, this means you, Biden and Buttigieg.)

The danger lies in the reality that capitalism is failing more and more people, and that no centrist is capable of squarely addressing this fact. The latter is for the simple reason that doing so will require a degree of confrontation with capitalists that no centrist is likely to possess the personal constitution for. Just for openers, it will endanger said centrist’s access to the campaign cash that he or she needs.

A centrist is capable of winning the election. All that takes is the correct amount of the correct sort of propaganda, and (thanks to the capitalist class) any centrist can reasonably expect to be rolling in the campaign cash necessary to procure the needed propagandists for that exercise. (It would amount to a snow job, of course, but since when have snow jobs stopped politicians from winning?)

The problems start after the hypothetical centrist Democrat wins. The economy is only going to get worse (there will be a recession; recessions always happen sooner or later). And it doesn’t even take a recession for a centrist’s tone deafness to hurt him: witness what happened to Marcon (now polling below 30% in public support) in France.

In France, that’s not necessarily a big tragedy. That nation has a multi-party political system, and parties on the left seem to be successfully capitalizing on Marcon’s deficiency of class consciousness. Then you have the energy in the streets, and a long and time-honored tradition of a populace being willing (and sufficiently organized) to exercise it.

In the USA, it’s rather different. The centrist will be president under the Democratic Party label, and will taint the rest of that party with his stench. There are no viable third parties. There is no viable radical movement with a history of semi-regularly making its presence in the streets known.

There is only a Republican Party that has discovered how compatible fascism and the bourgeois state can really be. And odds are the next fascist to lead the Republicans will be significantly more competent than the current one. (The odds have to be such, given how low on the competency curve their current standard-bearer ranks.)

And all the above is assuming the centrist will win in 2020 in the first place. That’s hardly a given, particularly if the candidate simply runs on not being Donald Trump and nothing more.

None of this is to say that a liberal or left democrat is guaranteed victory, or that the concerns of non-leftist voters can be ignored. For example, there is a real pitfall in pushing for Medicare for all in a way that immediately abolishes private insurance, because it will alienate many economically privileged voters who might otherwise vote Democratic to get Trump out of office.

It’s just that this street runs both ways: you can’t ignore the concerns of the less-affluent voters, the ones who have lost out big in recent decades, either. At least, you can’t ignore those concerns unless pandering to wealth is more important to you than preserving the future of a free society.

Biden Looks Like a Horrible Candidate

Published at 08:19 on 25 April 2019

If his 3-minute campaign kickoff video is any indication, Biden looks like a disaster in the making. I am serious. Just consider:

  1. He’s apparently trying to run as the Not Trump candidate. There is no other message in that video. None.
  2. Hillary ran as the Not Trump candidate—and lost to Trump.
  3. A variety of Italians ran as the Not Berlusconi candidate when Berlusconi was PM—and lost.
  4. A variety of Venezuelans ran as the Not Chávez candidate—and lost.
  5. An opposition victory only happened in Venezuela when the opposition ran as something more than just the Not the Current Guy in Power candidate.
  6. By then it was too late; opposition control of congress did not matter because Venezuela was already a dictatorship.
  7. The opposition never managed to win an election on their own in Italy; the E.U. forced Berlusconi out by threatening to not bail out Italy’s debts unless he resigned.

Be very careful, Democrats: this is not a test, and the consequences of getting this one wrong could be truly dire.

Update: I’ve taken a look at his campaign web site, and it’s better than his kickoff speech led me to believe it was (it’s not nearly so Trump-obsessed, and it mentions stuff about “rebuilding the middle class”). Yes, the latter isn’t terribly class-conscious, but dream on: you never were going to get that from Mr. Establishment in the first place. At least he’s putting forth positive reasons to vote for him. The question is, can he stay on that message, or will he continue to be Trump-obsessed in his speeches to the point of distracting from it?

Odds Favor Impeachment

Published at 17:23 on 24 April 2019

Things started trending that way when it became clear that while the Mueller Report showed no smoking gun on illegal collusion with Russia, it did show multiple smoking guns on obstruction of justice, or attempted obstruction of justice. Now that Trump is refusing to honor Congress’ lawful requests for information (including but not limited to Trump’s tax returns), there are even more grounds for impeachment being created.

More voices are now calling for impeachment, including an increasing number of voices on the center and (anti-Trump) right who were previously hesitant to do so. Interestingly, Bernie Sanders is (at the time of writing this) still hesitant. That’s because he fears it will be an exercise in futility that distracts the Democrats from being more than an anti-Trump party.

On the exercise in futility part, yes. It is all but certain that the GOP majority in the Senate will refuse to convict; to the loyal fascist, Il Duce can by definition do no wrong. On the distraction part, maybe. It should be possible for Democrats to walk and chew gum at the same time. But it’s a valid worry, since the Democrats do definitely need to be more than just the anti-Trump party.

I am compelled to reiterate (I mentioned it in passing above) that impeachment and conviction are two entirely different things, and odds do not favor conviction and removal from office by the Senate.

Attention Supreme Court Justices

Published at 06:55 on 23 April 2019

Attention liberal justices worried about Trump.

Attention conservative justices who don’t want to see the Second Amendment eviscerated.

My earlier prediction here is looking increasingly correct. Your choice in the upcoming matter of Trump’s executive order is if you really want to set an extremely dangerous precedent, one likely to turn the USA into a full dictatorship in a decade or less, or not. Please rule accordingly.

Meet the Candidates

Published at 22:22 on 21 April 2019

Mr. Establishment (a.k.a. Joe Biden) is, well, Mr. Establishment. That’s not the sort of person I want. Yes, I realize whomever the Dems nominate is, is going to be nauseatingly pro-Establishment to me. I’m an anarchist, after all. Of course, anarchists are not even 1% of the US population, so I’m not a very representative voter. But the success of Trump and Sanders in 2016 shows there’s lots of pissed voters sick of the Establishment out there. So color me skeptical about Mr. Establishment’s electoral viability.

Phony Baloney (a.k.a. Pete Buttigieg) is not as overtly a creature of the Establishment as Mr. Establishment, but if you look at his campaign material, or his autobiography, it’s very hard to find evidence of him actually standing for anything of consequence. It’s all platitudes and no policy with this one.

The Schoolmarm (a.k.a. Elizabeth Warren) has some of the best policy proposals one could expect from a Democrat (and plenty of them, in refreshing contrast to Phony Baloney), but do voters really want to be lectured to by The Schoolmarm? Is that a winning sales strategy (and that’s really the vibe she tends to put out, sorry, Schoolmarm fans)? I think not.

The Mummy (a.k.a. Bernie Sanders) may look dead, but he’s apparently still alive and taking another crack at the presidency, despite being almost an octogenarian. Yes, his policies are about as good as The Schoolmarm’s, but for some reason he’s never been able to get much support from African-Americans, despite having a pretty damn good record on racial equality (going way back to his college days when he led sit-ins to protest racist housing policies in Chicago). (But hey, if people chose their candidates rationally, Trump wouldn’t have gotten within a hundred miles of the White House.) Worse, The Mummy has spent years tweaking the noses of the Democratic Party Establishment. Yes, they deserved it. But they don’t think they deserved it, and they would rather have Trump be a two-term president than to see their old nemesis in the Oval Office. They’re that spiteful. I doubt a candidate with two big strikes against him can prevail in November of next year.

So, of the above, who actually would have the best chance of winning against Trump? Phony Baloney might be that person. The most important thing in politics is authenticity, and if you can fake that (and Phony Baloney sure can), you’ve got it made. Mind you, he’ll be better than Trump. Also mind you, “better than Trump” is the mother of faint praise.

It’s Establishment politics, after all. You were expecting, perhaps, something other than a sack of shit from it?

Assange and Wikileaks Worked for the Trump Campaign

Published at 10:20 on 19 April 2019

The Mueller report makes that crystal-clear. Wikileaks directly communicated with Donald Trump, Jr. and deliberately timed its releases to benefit its preferred candidate.

Wikileaks also worked to actively deny that the GRU, Russia’s state intelligence agency, was the ultimate source of the information being passed on to them by “DC Leaks” and “Guccifer 2.0” (two sources later shown to be GRU pseudonyms).

Whether or not Wikileaks knew that Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks were the GRU is a different story. I have found no definitive evidence for this proposition in the report, though it’s a lengthy document and thus entirely possible my searching has missed something.

I will note, however, that Wikileaks has to the best of my knowledge never leaked damning inside information on the Russian state. Curious, isn’t it, that a self-professed “transparency” organization is so uninterested in blowing the whistle on a secretive, right-wing dictatorship yet at the same time is so persistently interested in blowing it on more open and free societies?

Just makes one wonder.

So, the Report is Out

Published at 11:57 on 18 April 2019

And it has some pretty bad stuff in it. Remember, this is the redacted report, and the redaction was done by an Attorney General who was appointed because he believes Dear Leader can do no wrong.

It is a common censorship technique to deliberately include some bad stuff about your own side in a censored document. This lets those consuming the censored news believe they are getting both sides of the story, enabling the censorship to ultimately be more effective than that which excludes all unfavorable information.

Keep that in mind over the coming days.

On the “Threat” of G5

Published at 19:22 on 17 April 2019

I started writing a long rant on this, but I just don’t have the time to do something super-comprehensive. Hence this shorter, less-comprehensive rant.

Suffice it to say that the professed concern about radiation from G5 cellular networks has all the hallmarks of pseudoscience. Radiation is harmful primarily if it is what is called ionizing radiation, and radio frequencies are so far from being ionizing that it’s not even funny. (Radio waves are some of the longest, lowest-frequency electromagnetic waves around; it is the shortest, highest-frequency waves that are ionizing.)

Because of how radiation-induced ionization works at the quantum level, you simply must have waves of a sufficiently high frequency to get ionization. The quanta of electromagnetic energy, photons, have an energy value proportional to their frequency, and ionization happens when a single photon interacts with a single electron. So low-energy, non-ionizing photons simply can’t ionize things, no matter how many of them you have. Physicists have amassed over 100 years of evidence which testifies to this fact.

Sure, there could theoretically be something as of yet undiscovered that makes non-ionizing radiation harmful, but so far there really isn’t much evidence in favor of this. Moreover, most of the alarmist propaganda about G5 is obviously written by those ignorant of the basic physics of electromagnetic radiation, given how much it confuses ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

By far, the man-made non-ionizing radiation most harmful to life is… visible light from various forms of electric lighting! It’s known to have an adverse impact on many animal and plant species, including us humans, whose circadian rhythms it is prone to disrupt. But you don’t hear much concern about that, because visible light is a normal, everyday phenomenon. It’s less mysterious than radio waves, which lend themselves much better to unscientific fear-mongering by and for the gullible.

On top of that, the G5 fear-mongering I’ve run across is without exception about the base stations. None of it is about radiation from consumer handsets, and that is responsible for subjecting people to by far the strongest fields, for the simple reason your phone’s transmitter is so much physically closer to you than the transmitter on the cell tower. Again, your own phone is a familiar everyday object, making it harder to engage in fear-mongering about.

In other words, all available evidence points to the whole thing being driven by emotion and ignorance, not science. Mind you, I’m certainly open to a science-based critique of G5 technology from a health and safety standpoint. It’s just that so far, I haven’t seen one.

Apple Mail Searching: Still Broken

Published at 20:13 on 10 April 2019

It’s pretty pathetic. It was back in 2013 that I gave up on Apple Mail, in part because its searching function had gotten more and more broken as the years passed.

The other day I had a chance to use Apple Mail, mainly because while searching works OK in Thunderbird, printing is broken. Well, it works fine if you think it’s acceptable to waste a page of paper printing every damn header in your message in a ridiculously small font.

Really, now: just what’s their problem? It’s a trivial operation to filter out all but the most significant headers before printing. Do most people care about seeing every relay hop the message went through, and its antispam heuristics? No, of course not; most of us just want the message body and a few of the most important headers (time stamp, subject, origination address, and destination address, primarily). Make that the default and have the option of also printing with full headers. Is that so hard?

But I digress. I wanted to print a message without all that extra header crap so decided to print it from Apple Mail. Of course, that meant finding it. No problem: it contained some pretty unique keywords; searching should uncover it in a snap. No dice.

Again: Just what’s their problem? It’s not as if searching for a substring in a file is that difficult a problem to code. Is there some “intelligent” indexing at work? Is there a “smart” search heuristic deciding that my keyword isn’t “important” enough to merit reporting as a match? Who knows, but it’s enough to keep me away from Apple Mail for another five years.

I’ll point out that even Thunderbird is somewhat broken when it comes to searching. The default search function is one of those useless “smart” searches that is always hiding messages because it decides they are not “relevant” enough to match (even though they do). Thankfully, Thunderbird has a Quick Filter option that has a good old-fashioned plain vanilla search. No stupid indexing or “smart” heuristic to get in the way.

Really, if I can remember an unusual keyword or two, I should be able to use it to find a message. Anything that gets in the way of this is a huge step backwards. Come the revolution, software developers who make “smart” searches the only possible option get the guillotine.  They will not be missed.