If Anyone Says They Know What Will Happen, They Are Lying

Published at 09:36 on 27 September 2019

Impeachment is an unusual process. There’s only three other ones in the past to look to for precedents. Moreover, none of those three had accusations as serious as the present one.

Of the three, only the Andrew Johnson impeachment happened in a situation anywhere near as polarized as the present one, and that one happened in an effectively less polarized situation, since (with the exception of Tennessee) the states which had seceded had not yet been readmitted to the Union and therefore had no formal representation in Congress.

We are, in other words, in uncharted territory. There is really no saying how this will all play out.

The Transcript

Published at 07:42 on 25 September 2019

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.

Published at 23:45 on 23 September 2019

  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

Published at 21:00 on 22 September 2019

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.

Back Online

Published at 20:50 on 22 September 2019

This whole goof-up on the part of the ISP that hosts this site underscores yet again how crucial it is to get out from under them and to self-host it on my own virtual host, that I fully (or almost fully) control.

Facts and Logic Are Overrated

Published at 09:52 on 10 September 2019

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

Published at 07:44 on 1 September 2019

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.)