Bern Means Business!

Let it be told that Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic Primary not on Super Tuesday, but shortly after his victory in Nevada. For it was at that time that The Bern committed two needless, imbecilic own goals.

First, Sanders hectored both AIPAC and Israel’s PM Netanyahu, calling both the conference and the PM “racist”. Usually, “racist” is an epitaph reserved for, well, actual racists, like David Duke. This was no doubt a delight to to the cadre of Islamic supremacist anti-Semites such as Linda Sarsour and Reps. Omar & Tlaib that the Bern Out has surrounded himself with, who know a good dhimmi when they encounter one. For the the preponderence of American Jews, and one suspects “swing” suburban women, calling a conference that all of Bernos fellow candidates attended (save The Liz) one way or another, is absurd and obnoxious, even if many may not like Bibi himself.

El Bern followed that up by cheerleading Castro’s Cuban literacy program in a 60 Minutes interview. True, he made an obligatory ho hum denouncement of the whole authoritarian thing, but that clearly was not where his joy was. For many Cubans, that small matter of the dictatorship aspect of Castro’s Cuba makes celebrating its literacy akin to enjoying the punctuality of Mousslini’s train service.

Having stuck his thumb in the eye of broad swaths of Jews, Cubans and other latinos, Berning Man not just lowered his chances of winning Florida in the General, he took Florida off the map. One suspects, this was the “oh shit” moment that finally coalesced the Moderates around Uncle Joe.

Berns burn out was avoidable.

With AIPAC, Bernie could have sent in a milquetoast taped address and gone on with his “proud to be Jewish” (as a “good Jew” of course, not an uppity Zionist one) subterfuge or just said nothing and skipped it. The Castro bit was a more complicated gotcha, but Bernt could have said that the positive of literacy programs he mentioned in the 80s in no way excuses the horrors of dictatorship.

Instead, Bernmetheus doubled down on rhetoric that did nothing to expand his base while pre-emptively losing a bell weather swing state.

Why would a professional politician make such a blunder?

During this crucial stretch, the New York Times produced a fascinating overview of “The Dirt Bag” left, Ur-Bernie Bros that have a popular, pugnacious “teabagger for the left” (Thus Dirt Bag), podcast and road show hosted by a fivesome called the “Chapo Trap House”.

During the three-hour show, there is little vision laid out for what they want, beyond a Sanders presidency. There is a vision for what they want destroyed and how good it will feel to do that. The idea of actually taking power is terrifying, and they say so.

“’What’s scary is the idea that this could end,’” Mr. Biederman said. “What’s scary is we’re not just tossing catharsis into the void, that this is something real. We are there.’”

Of course winning is horrifying! The Chapos make a combined 168K per month just from their podcast. Assuming that is their only revenue stream (which seems unlikely) then they are raking in north of 2M per year. Split five ways, that’s 400K apiece. Unless MC Hammer is managing their finances, almost assuredly the Chapos are all ‘mill-yon-aaahrs’, as is Bernito himself.

That is the ultimate tasty irony of Bernie Sanders and his most stout Sandernistas: They Are Businessmen! Like any good Capitalists that have built a strong brand, they are ferocious in defense of that brand. The Bernie Brand is one of uncompromising purity as a perch to heckle impure moderates and rage against systematic establishments and lambaste a “billionaire class” (that apparently includes almost every black person in the deep south) to be “Anti” to, while promising grande and even laudable ideas that have no chance of becoming law. Ah, but that’s where the true sizzle of Brand Bernie pops off of the steak: You see, the grand strategems will all come to pass once the the revolution arrives in the form of million upon millions upon millions of new, mostly younger, voters. The Bernvoluton, like all revolutions, shall be pure!!!!

As an electoral strategy, The Youth Vote is dubious. Young people passionate about politics is a wondrous thing. They fill rallies, knock on doors, persuade peers, contribute beer money, and invigorate by their presence. They just don’t vote. In 2008 Barak Obama, a once in a generation political talent running at the perfect moment, increased the youth vote by about 10% comparable to 2004, or ~2.3 million votes. That’s a lot, but Democrats actually won back the gerrymandered House in 2018 by winning moderate suburban women. Bernie is an effective and inspirational leader. He truly does have a powerful brand. But Bernie Sanders, you’re no BHO.

Still, the revolution that never arrives is the perfect Ghost in the Machine for Brand Bernie. It allows all of the outrageous promises, it makes it unnecessary to be diplomatic towards AIPAC (Abu Mazen is apparently the only billionaire Bernie likes) or forcibly denounce Castro or do any of the frustrating (and grossly impure work) of actually succeeding and getting anything accomplished. And then, when the revolution does not arrive all that is needed is to warm over some Gramsci theorizing about how elite bourgeoise institutions thwarted the revolution by controlling mass culture, and then go back to sneering at liberals, heckling moderates, fulminating against Israel, snarking the impure, being bitter about rigged establishments, and all of the other simplistic drivel that stands in the place of actually doing the grim work of moving the ball forward on issues you purport to be passionate about.

Indeed, a 40 state loss in The General would be the best outcome possible for the Bernie Brand. Just think of the power structures to blame, the legions of petit bourgeoises that were fooled and can be mocked, and oh the glorious dreams of what could have been if only.

For the USA of course, untethered President Great Pumpkin and a Republican House, Senate and Supreme Court would be a nightmare. But Businessman Bernie and his Capitalist Bros will be laughing all the way to the Credit Union.

The American Century.

About 100 years ago, the United States began to take center stage in world affairs. Europe had destroyed itself and was gearing up to do it again. This was the end of the first era of globalization that had the British Empire at its heart. You can draw a lot of parallels, but there are, of course, many differences. For one, the British Empire decayed largely from external pressure.

The most remarkable feature of American politics at present isn’t so much the polarization, but the intellectual bankruptcy of the bases of both political parties. The Republican base has turned into a cult of personality; the Democratic base has turned into a cult of orthodoxy.

Things that used to be the trademarks of the conservative movement such as free trade and small government are close to meaningless in the current Republican party, and subject to change on the whim of the President. Even the post-war Hawkishness (including the anti-Soviet flavor) of the Republican party is lost.

Likewise, liberalism has no meaning anymore. Concepts like due process are discarded if they conflict with the prevailing orthodoxy. While the liberal left at one time distinguished itself on the basis of its deference to science, like all orthodoxies, inconvenient truths cannot survive the its inquisitions. Meanwhile, what science is part of the the orthodoxy is used to demand maximal outcomes in accordance with the orthodoxy instead of a solution.

The result is that each side gets very narrow results according to its immediate priorities, but only in the short term. Nothing long-term gets accomplished.

A vicious cycle of identity conflict has also arisen. Many whites are acting like a minority. Diagnosing the blame is irrelevant. This is going to get worse.

So, the American century looks set to end with the proverbial whimper with a farcical government of incompetence being manipulated by the lilliputian Russians while the Chinese advance.

The military believes it will lose in a conflict with China, according to its wargaming. We have failed to strengthen our alliances in the Pacific, and will ultimately lose our influence there, whether you want to call it “hegemony” or underwriting globalization. Will we fight for it?

In the west, Europe already understands that we are waning. Iran is challenging us in the Middle East.

There is no problem that a new President can fix, not that we will see a new one in 2021. That is not probable. Even if we did, the storm of scandal and obstruction that would follow would prevent any meaningful change. The United States will be more unequal in 2025 regardless of who is President. It will have done nothing meaningful about the environment in 2025, regardless of who is President. The dollar will be a less widely used currency in 2025, regardless of who is President. Adults will be deeper in student loan debt in 2025, regardless of who is President. Less people will have affordable medical care. And so on.

Will the Right Welcome the Kremlin Coup?

America has lost the Cold War in the post-game interviews.

The President is an asset of the Russian government.

It’s already known that Trump financed his businesses with Russian money. The pee tape and other dadaist absurdities are also likely real. Those two things are enough to undermine his finances and, maybe, his reputation. But at a more base level, it doesn’t matter what Russia has on Trump. Why should Trump not act as a Russian Agent when it has brought him fortune and power?

The hacking of the 2016 election was not the equivalent of Pearl Harbor or 9/11. No Americans wanted the Pacific fleet destroyed or the twin towers felled. Forty some odd million Americans did want Trump to be President. At the base College Football level, they don’t care that his win was dirty. Are the Dallas Stars really sweating their skate in the crease Stanley Cup? Of course not! While the 2016 election is revolting it is also bloodless. It hasn’t changed workaday life in an obvious, direct and negative manner. Mueller is not quite the equivalent of an exasperated Sabres blogger — but Hillary Clinton won’t get the Stanley Cup either.

Team Putin and the Russian jinns have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The pertinent question is whether they are satisfied with one victory, or do they want to take a chance to win the war? Trump is likely most useful as a Russian Asset today. Despite his relative unpopularity, he commands a Republican apparatus that maintains all federal elected power. From the GRU’s perspective, the Asset’s strength could slip easily. Fatso Trump could die or become medically incapacitated. Democrats could win one House in November and weaken his hand, and have subpoena power. Mueller could find a ‘smoking gun’ . Trump’s tax returns could leak, perhaps revealing his financial ties to Russian oligarchs. The economy could take a natural downturn. His inherent gonzo douche baggery may undermine Trump unexpectedly.

The Asset could get more powerful if Republicans hold on in the mid-terms and Trump wins re-election (which he probably will). Still, the Russian Asset is a ‘sure thing’ today and will likely remain so through November or possibly next January.

From a game theory perspective applied to the GRU and Putin, is now the time to go for a maximalist gain? Namely, is now the time for a real 9/11 or Peal Harbor — an unquestionably ugly event,  but one that produces a reaction that strengthens Moscow’s hand? Japan awoke a sleeping giant. Al Qaeda won 9/11 and its aftermath in many ways, until a real President came along and contained and decapitated al Qaeda (if not ISIS).

How could Russia win during this window that it’s Asset is at maximal usefulness? My theory: a cyberattack creates a nationwide electrical blackout in mid-October. In the chaos, scores of plants or terror cells start mass casualty shooting sprees. They are neutralized. Some turn out to be Islamic terrorists, others neo-Nazis or white nationalists, a few are eco terrorists or the most radical elements of the anti-semitic BDS Left. The DC Security establishment immediately identifies Russia as behind the electrical grid hack and as coordinators of the shooting sprees. Trump notes the randomness of the shooters and insists that it is not clear who initiated the cyber attack. Meanwhile, with the electricity out for 96 hours the basic elements of food, water and shelter become more strained. Trump uses it as an excuse to declare limited martial law to have the military keep order and maintain supplies, More intelligence officials testify that Russia initiated the attack. Many citizens are convinced that Trump colluded with Putin on the attack as a “Reichstag Fire”, or was asleep at the wheel and let it happen. Millions take to the streets to demand Trump’s resignation or ouster, leading to counter protesters certain that the black out was a “deep state” false flag, demanding that Trump maintain power. Sporadic violence breaks out between the two groups, leading to more calls for calm via military law. With the USA in chaos Russia begins making incursions to Eastern European countries like Montenegro or Slovenia. America stiffs NATO, leaving its European allies to contend with an emboldened Russia. Electricity is restored, but then is ‘hacked off again. Other cyber attacks lead to more infrastructure failures. Trump cancels the mid-term elections leading to more protests, more counter protests, more violence and more chaos which begats more military order that the mushy middle supports if only to obtain their bread ration. Meanwhile, scape goating and blame over the cause of the black out intensifies leading to more chaos and violence. Authoritarian order keeping becomes the norm. NATO is left weakened, Russia gains territory and their compromised Asset, Donald Trump, is now firmly entrenched ruling over a divided and weakened former super power in North America.

Far fetched? Paranoid? Ridiculous? Yes. But Donald Frikkin’ Trump, a compromised Russian Asset, is President.  He is likely most useful to his Russian masters right now. The Director of National Intelligence is stating that the ‘lights are blinking red’ warning of another cyber attack.

Something is coming. Something is coming that will not be good. Something is coming that America is not ready for.

MOAB Morons

This isn’t complicated. Trump throws some missiles at Syria and gets press kudos. Trump does the same trick in Afghanistan and takes advantage of free advertising associated with the kitcshy MOAB moniker. Everyone, including his stalwart critics, clickbaits about it; thereby continuing the pathetic symbiotic relationship between Trump and our worthless media. Yes, I mean you, clickbait-in-fury purportedly liberal Mother Jones!

Nothing practical is accomplished. The non-articulation of any strategy makes it obvious that MOABing is not part of a broader ME strategy because none exists. Meaningless.

Another day of our lives crests and oozes away.

Thoughts on Intersectionality

Originally a critical studies concept that was used to talk about the “intersection” of questions of race and gender in the United States, the term has become an organizing principle of today’s left.

It’s a pretty broadly accepted concept, but it has its critics. Marxists think it doesn’t focus enough on class. Natch. Or that it’s not complex enough, or it’s American-centric. Outside of the “critical studies” world, it’s easy enough to imagine that the idea is impossible to accept by political conservatives.

My problem with it is a bit different. It has absolutely no empirical basis. There is no formula for figuring out who is more oppressed. Is it a black transwoman muslim? Or a poor gay Amerindian? How do we measure “oppression.” We can’t. The reason for that is that “oppression” is not one thing, pace Marxists.

For some, oppression is unfair scrutiny by police. For others it is identity-based difficulty in acquiring a job. There is no one oppression. It is not created by capitalism (prove me wrong). It is not created by colonialism. Not alone. All of the different kinds of oppression are just that: different. Some are, quite frankly, trivial and others are crimes against humanity.

I do agree that the catalog of “intersections” seems to depend on an American-centric choice, but if you look closer, it’s who is part of the American left. And herein lies the problem:

The politics of intersectionality define it, it and its theory of identity do not define a politics. If you are part of a group opposed to U.S. policy on any level, you are almost surely “oppressed” in some metaphysically compatible way with African Americans or gays.

This is reductive. It’s Manichean. It is just not correct.

Race-based slavery is the Original Sin of the United States and we aren’t done reckoning with it. Gender equality, on the other hand, was largely pioneered here. Religious freedom and gay rights also emanate from the United States rather than being founded on their negation.

Intersectionalism is so readily contradicted by its—ahem—intersection with religious identity that it’s hard to believe it’s taken seriously at all, given that most religions have teachings that are the source of some of the oppressions that the other groups feel.

When these problems become too plain to ignore, they resort to Colonialism. In other words, inside every Muslim is a LGBT ally trying to get out, but they are held back by their legacy of colonial oppression.

No.

You can’t have diversity that way, by seeing a teleological end point of different groups’ views of identity.

But nobody does more to dissolve this “theory” into absurdity than the Jews. Jews are white, antisemitism is a second-class problem, and Israelis are colonialists.

That’s right. The world’s longest still-existing oppressed group, who have been chased from land to land for literally millennia and who number maybe 15 million–maybe 2% of the entire planet–are part of the oppressor class because they live in the tiny sliver of land called Israel and are rich in the United States.

Jews aren’t a race, so why are they “white”? Jews aren’t all rich unless you’re a Victorian-age antisemite. Jews are only a “majority” capable of oppressing anyone in that tiny piece of land called Israel, which, just happens to be the most liberal country in the area.

Yet unless you’re one of the “Good Jews” willing to despise your co-religionists who feel the need to live in that place (which gets treated worse than North Korea by the international community) you aren’t Intersectional.®

This is simple: Israel is not part of the global left and hasn’t been since the early 50s. Therefore, it’s not Intersectional.® That is the only logical explanation. And that is why Intersectionality is really just a groupthink orthodoxy for the far left.

Quit Trying To Make Legal Arguments Against Trump

Oh boy. Fred Kaplan says Trump’s appointing Bannon to the NSC may be illegal. His legal analysis hinges on a few vague terms and barely justifies the headline. But a broader point:

It is problematic to tell the President who can give him advice in the first place. Maybe Bannon can’t have a “seat” but what difference does this make? None.

You will not solve the problems of the Trump administration with resort to legal arguments and appeals to the courts, especially once his hand-picked justice gets on the Supreme Court.

If people cared about this stuff, he wouldn’t be there in the first place. And if you block him from doing things people support on technicalities, it’s unlikely to be helpful electorally.

Unless we are talking coup, the only remedy for Trump is at the ballot box and that will unfortunately take more than clever legal arguments.

The Unfortunate Uncoolness of Anti-Trumpisms

Admit it.

He’s the worst President-elect in history already, but just because something shows defiance to him doesn’t mean it’s cool or smart or catchy. And we’re going to have to do a lot better to do much good.

The best anti-Trumpisms are the caricatures of him that are only barely exaggerations, like Alec Baldwin on SNL. But so much of what we see online and elsewhere is just … lame.

For example: “pussy grabs back?” And look, I’m not even getting into the fact that the Berniecrats are taking over the Democratic party. They think Bernie would have won, but they are basically saying that moving the party to the left is the way to… capture the white voters who cost the Dems the election?

The problem with that is that what they think Bernie says is different than what he actually says. He says, “focus on wealth inequality” and talks in policy specifics. What they hear is “send everyone to transgender reeducation camp and protest in the streets shutting down the freeway.”

No, unfortunately, Democrats don’t want to—or aren’t ready—to hear what will win them elections again. And it ain’t moving to the left.

It’s this very bitter pill: some white people now behave as a minority even though they aren’t. Call them what you want. They behave this way. To win them over, you need to speak to their issues the same way you do with any minority group or interest.

It might be possible to win without them in a re-run Presidential election, but if you ever hope to get Congress back or even approach parity in governorships and statehouses, this is just what you have to do.

Ready? OK. You won’t like it. I don’t like it. But this is just how shit is.

• It’s the economy, stupid. Which means:

• Stop demanding all social change to occur overnight.

• Apply the same kind of results-based, empirical governance to guns that you want done on issues like the climate. This means you probably need to give up on “assault rifles.” Cheap handguns are the top two dozens most confiscated guns and guns used in crimes. “Assault rifles” look scary but are basically impossible to conceal and are expensive and are used in less than 10% of crimes. Handguns, on the other hand, are used in more than 85% of crimes!  Anyway, gun control will be largely a waste of time as long as the  Trumpish Supreme Court-in-waiting stays alive. School shootings should be a time to focus on why we need universal healthcare that includes mental health coverage. This issue has killed Democrats in enough elections that this should be obvious by now.

• Apply the same kind of results-based, empirical governance to the crime issue that you want done on issues like the climate. This means you probably need to give up on “mass incarceration” as a buzzword because you can’t guarantee that it isn’t one of many different reasons that crime is (or was!) at historical lows. Promoting racial equality in sentencing and encouraging state-run prisons to replace private ones is fine, but fundamentally different than emptying the prisons. This has killed Democrats in enough elections in the past that the thought of making it a viable attack again should horrify you.

• Apply the same kind of harassment-free, warm-fuzzy mentality you expect everyone to show toward the groups you like to religious people, police, and white people. Yes, I know. Racism=prejudice+power. Tell it to your dorm-mates. The white virtual minority either doesn’t or won’t understand that. Stop trying.

• Stop making excuses for terrorists. Enough with muh colonialism. You’re trying to explain how to stop it. What is heard is why we should feel bad when they try to kill us.

• Stop making excuses for hostile foreign nations.

• Stop means testing any government program. Things that are only for poors (welfare/Medicaid) are hated; things that are for everyone are loved (Social Security/Medicare)

Do these things and you have a decent chance of being put in a place where you could work the kind of radical economic reforms we need to the problem of wealth inequality. Expanding Social Security to 55+s and making Medicare available to everyone would go a long way. All those people retiring at 55 would create a flood of jobs. No more pretending Republican answers to healthcare work.

Now, what would happen if we could get to a place where we had a strong, more equal economy? All the social problems would be much more easy to handle. Not simple, but simpler.

Oh, yes. This would also have the added benefit of completely weakening the Trump coalition since reachable voters are the ones you can reverse wedge on some of these issues that aren’t the doctrinaire conservatives.