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Category: news

How’d that work out for them, by the way?

I’m old enough to remember when a version of the ‘Great Replacement’ just-so story was published by two Democratic consultants to wide acclaim, in 2002, under the title The Emerging Democratic Majority. It forecast unbreakable control of government by Democrats in the coming decades due, in no small measure, to demographic determinism: women vote Dem, blacks and hispanics vote Dem, high-paid professionals (men and women of every colour, esp. the young) vote Dem, it’s just inevitable.

The book was wrong about many things, let’s not dwell on it.

The explicitly conspiracist ‘replacement’ myth that’s long been bandied about by antisemites, fascists, and sundry far-right imbeciles and racist dipshits — demographic revolution is being encouraged, funded, even legally mandated by the Radical Left in order to brown/queer our God-fearing nation and commit ‘white genocide’ — is too stupid and evil to consider. It’s incorrect, ‘white genocide’ is a concept with no analytical value, and people who make such accusations should be dismissed from adult conversation. But you can imagine sane intelligent people, particularly working-class white hyphenates (e.g. Italian-Americans), believing a related story: as America becomes a majority-minority country, hostility to some idea of ‘whiteness’ drives the promotion, by political and media figures, of a vision of America being morally improved by becoming ‘less white.’ Not less racist, not less hostile toward minorities, but ‘less white’ per se.

If you’re an American (or bourgeois cosmopolitan) reading this, you probably agree with both the demographic fact claim and the moral claim. You probably feel, too, that racist\^H\^H\^H\^H\^Hworking-class whites ‘have it coming’ in a sense, whatever exactly ‘it’ is, for reaping the benefits of racial/racist hegemony and not doing their part to Lift Up the less fortunate. (Let’s not quibble about the fact that the working class has spend decades under the boot-heel of the same elites now most loudly trumpeting the virtues of DEI, etc., nor ask how ‘fortunate’ working-class voters of any race have been over the last half-century; nor should we quibble about the sincerity of elite trumpeting. Mouths gonna open, teeth gonna grind.)

Which is to ask: what part of the non-conspiracist (consensus) ‘replacement’ story do you object to, if any? What part do you think the New York Times objects to?

If you think the Democratic Party — an actual elite conspiracy against the laity, like the Republican Party — actually ‘cares about immigrants’ (or racial/ethnic/sexual minorities or indeed anyone else) then you’re a sucker and a fool or worse. Elite Dems care about guarding their prerogatives, like Republicans; they do what Capital tells them. Indeed they are Capital. And because the Democrats have no idea how to appeal to actual humans, they fucking love the condescending idea that Democratic voters can be made…which is why Trump’s successful appeals to minority voters took Dem elites (and rubes) by surprise in 2016 and again in 2020. They desperately want the ’emerging Democratic majority’ replacement-theory to be true, so that they can keep fundraising without actually doing anything for voters.

The Republicans want it to be true for the same reason. Remember: the minority party gets rich too.

Remember too that if demographic shifts are emergent systemic phenomena and no one’s driving — if, in other words, the ‘browning’ of the West is a mundane fact — then Capital is already efficiently moving to exploit it, everyone who can read a graph has begun to ‘price it in,’ and all that’s left open is how human beings feel about it. Regardless of what you want this country to be like, regardless of how you feel about Western Cultural Heritage (tired, wired?) and the many matters of identity wrapped up in how you look or speak and who raised you or didn’t and where you grew up or were kept down and what the State is or isn’t and has probably never been, there’s this nagging question right here and now: Who’s telling you how to feel? Are you cool with that?

Mash those Like/Subscribe buttons and try not to let your suffering interrupt the show, please and thanks.


Gonna fall.

The 18-year-old bastard who killed 10 people at a Tops in Buffalo was from Conklin NY.

His earliest memories may, in other words, include not one but two historic floods — in 2006 and 2011 — which displaced 20,000 people from his town and county. Floodwaters in Conklin eclipsed all previous records in both those floods. Hundreds of homes in the area were destroyed.

In 2019 the Army Corps of Engineers opted not to implement additional flood protections for the region. ‘Not worth it’ is the summary finding, in case you were wondering, though some may disagree:

Damage in Broome and Tioga counties [from the 2011 flooding alone] was pegged at $500 million, with damage to an estimated 7,000 structures, including crippling the major wastewater treatment plant in the region.

The existing flood protections had been sufficient prior to 2006, but the next two major floods exceeded the design spec. Surely you heard about this on the national news, right? Even Chuck Schumer made concerned gestures about it. The same thing happened in New Orleans and caused a major political crisis for then-president Bush; surely there must have been some national coverage of two enormously costly natural disasters displacing tens of thousands of rural residents and the government deciding that taking additional prevention/mitigation measures was a bad investment.


There is, as they say, nothing to be done. Some people are just born unlucky.

Irreal Life Top 10: Musk/Twitter edition.

  1. Twitter was already owned and operated by a coalition of fantastically rich dilettantes. Now there will just be one. There’s no evidence at all that the unusually vicious Musk has anything resembling a moral outlook or even a spine, but within his world of autistic trust-fund babies he’s fairly normal. Jack Dorsey, former Twitter CEO, is a similar sort of fool, but he at least gives the impression of having a social life, i.e. a network of interpersonal connections (theoretically) capable of expanding his sense of self. Musk gives no such impression. This is worrisome, but if it surprises you then that’s worrisome too.
  2. Tesla has done enormous good for the world, thus far, by rapidly forcing electric cars into the mainstream. (Diminishing returns have obviously kicked in; Tesla’s ‘software/battery company that also makes cars’ approach is increasingly dangerous. But its existence mattered enormously.) No such revolutionary transformation is possible from Twitter — it’s an advertising platform populated by lunatics, imbeciles, sociopaths, corporate predators, and hundreds of millions of increasingly deranged status-seekers and increasingly vegetative followers. Twitter, like Facebook, is incapable of doing anything net-good for the world at this point.
  3. Musk is borrowing much of the money for this purchase.
  4. One (unintentionally) interesting thing about Musk is that he embodies many of the repugnant things about his rich, cruel, insulated, disconnected tech-industry cohort: he and his silly ex-girlfriend Grimes named their children ‘X’ and ‘Exa’; he owns no home (despite supposedly having ‘joint custody’ of five kids plus the two he conceived with Grimes) and ‘literally couch-surfs’ at friends’ houses; he has no aesthetic sense of any kind; he postures in ‘fuck your feelings’ fashion about the ‘woke mind-virus’ and has teams of private investigators destroy the lives of his critics; uses technical jargon to obfuscate his 101-level grasp of topics his lifestyle insulates him from having to actually understand (e.g. ‘tunnels’); he’s evidently convinced that he can figure out complex problems from first principles and is entitled to be paid to do so; he engages in ordinary college-boy sophistry to justify his unvaryingly self-serving hypocrisies; he opines grandly about war and politics despite having left his home country to avoid military service, etc., etc. These are all perfectly ordinary tech-bourgeois behaviours, amplified by social isolation and deranging levels of wealth (including a massive inheritance). The most pernicious myth about Elon Musk is that he is in any way unique.
  5. The Elon cult/fandom is of no interest to me.
  6. At present I’m convinced that Twitter, like Facebook, is a net liability for the human species, albeit for different reasons. Twitter amplifies dangerous and costly species-tendencies and -traits while mostly suppressing what’s good about interpersonal communication. One of its core use cases is ‘using a telephone to read short self-promoting messages from celebrities, corporate spokesmen, and status-seeking media professionals.’ The one thing that Twitter users agree on, universally, is that everything about the Twitter experience is terrible. It’s long been known that the only sane way to use Twitter is to employ lists as something like broadcast media — a worse version of the previous decade’s RSS feeds which incentivizes bad thinking, hollow writing, and lazy reading. It is universally agreed upon, moreover, that Twitter has monotonically worsened for years now.
  7. The key problem with Twitter isn’t ‘free speech’ or impingements thereon, it’s that Twitter is an intrinsically stupefying and debilitating medium. This is tied to its revenue model — Twitter’s money comes from (1) advertising and (2) selling your private information — but the fundamental problem is that Twitter consists of unthreaded pseudonymous 280-character messages and images, broken up by ads and sorted by the worst possible polarizing algorithmic filters. Twitter benefits from zombification and outrage; its users don’t…
  8. …which doesn’t matter to the company, because the users aren’t its customers, they’re (we’re) the product. Twitter’s customers are advertisers and data-harvesters.
  9. The solution to Twitter’s problems isn’t ‘name verification’ — that’s solely a data-harvesting move, as it was for Facebook. Pseuodonymity is quite healthy at a small scale with sane high-effort moderation and useful barriers to entry, i.e. medium- to high-trust pseudonymity works, and requires thoughtful investment. The poisonous nature of Twitter discourse results from early design choices essential to the platform, and its lunatic devotion to growth and reliance on advertising. The ability to downvote would mitigate some of its flaws, but hopefully you can see what’s problematic about that; if not, trying imagining every subreddit combined into one.
  10. Elon Musk has no idea whatsoever how to run a social network. The most successful Twitter user of all time is Donald Trump; do you think Trump should run Twitter, or own it? Of course not, he shouldn’t even be allowed to use it. (He used Twitter to incite violence, that’s obviously why.) Musk believes he can help Twitter succeed in the role of online public square, but he is incorrect about what that means and delusional about both his and Twitter’s ability to change the network’s role/nature/function.

Melanial dispensationalism.

Idiots do you not understand that she does not care about any of this

The national ‘news’ media love to talk about Trump — he’s good for ratings, if nothing else.

Melania is Trump’s longest appendage: surgically attached to his genitals at enormous cost, with all the charisma of a hair plug. Melania ‘news’ stories excite gullible readers/viewers, hence this CNN headline: ‘Melania Trump departing White House with lowest favorability of her tenure.’ What a cute word, there: ‘tenure.’

Melania Trump’s ‘approval ratings’ don’t matter. She’s not doing ‘the job’ of First Lady — there isn’t one, really, especially when there’s no one coming to the White House due to plague, but she wouldn’t have done it if there were. The position is ceremonial and the Trump administration has starved all White House ceremony of dignity and meaning. Not by accident, either, though Trump can’t help himself — no, that was always part of the sales pitch. ‘They thought they were too good for us,’ says the man with a golden toilet. ‘Fuck them.’ The barbaric Capitol riot matched his sensibilities exactly, which is one reason he didn’t do anything to stop it: he liked seeing his betters, his moral superiors, afraid of him — and loves seeing poor (i.e. not-rich) people do what he tells them.

Melania Trump is a ‘glorified’ prostitute who married evil money and now has to raise an autistic son by herself in a setting she openly loathes and has helped poison. She deserves some bad things in this life but not this bad, and what difference does it make whether Panelist #281 ‘approves’ of her ‘performance’ as First Lady? Has she commissioned insufficiently cheery shoulder pads or fucked a poolboy or bodyguard who wasn’t woke enough? Did she pucker and scowl at an unflattering angle to the camera-eye? Does she call up Marla Maples on the people’s dime and ask what to buy her imbecilic husband for Father’s Day, only to hear cold laughter from the other end of the line? Does the FBI listen in? Do they laugh too?

Melania Trump doesn’t matter and her ‘approval rating’ matters even less. CNN is an entertainment company that sometimes accidentally spills some journalism on its bib. In two days, some fresh hell.

Really dont care do u

On choosing to vote for Trump.

Epistemic status note: I can’t be bothered to look any of this up. I’m just ranting.

I voted for Biden/Harris — crucially, I voted against Trump with a song in my heart — and unexpectedly wept during their first big post-victory speeches in Wilmington. Harris’s speech was excellent, Biden’s was adequate; both gave me hope, which has been in short supply.

Donald Trump is a vicious incompetent criminal quisling who has been incalculably harmful to the world and is directly responsible for tens of thousands of Covid-19 deaths, with many more to come.

Biden will be an ordinary mainstream Democrat in the Clinton(s)/Obama mode: a centrist neoliberal who panders to ‘progressives’ without being one.

I believe it’s important to understand why people voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.

Our mixed feelings

The first and most important step to understanding Trump-voter behaviour — for me and (I’m willing to bet), with small variations, for every Biden voter under the age of 50ish — is this:

I voted for Warren in the primary, supported Biden in the general with mixed feelings, expect to disagree with many of Biden’s policy preferences, and frankly don’t think he will be anything but a competent caretaker president, hamstrung by inevitable Republican subversion led by Mitch McConnell, while Kamala Harris prepares to run in 2024.

I also cannot imagine failing to support Biden in the general election, am truly glad that I did so, look forward to his administration, and (as I mentioned above) felt a rush of such intense joyful relief when he and Kamala Harris came out to acknowledge their victory a couple of evenings after the polls closed.

In other words, I am conscious of a complex mix of feelings:

  • intellectual disagreement with every wing of the Democratic Party
  • visceral hatred of the ‘New Democrats’ who came into power with Bill Clinton
  • hatred, too, of the fundamentally antidemocratic late-capitalist identitarianism that Biden has shown nonzero willingness to pander to
  • awareness of Biden’s mixed record in the Senate
  • awareness of Biden’s mixed record as VP
  • personal affection and sympathy for Biden-from-afar as an authentically practicing Catholic grandfather who seems implausibly genuine in both his love of family and his (American liberal) faith
  • desperate desire for a return of bipartisan cooperation in the name of shared national interest
  • utter lack of faith in the degraded, cancerous national Republican Party’s intentions
  • utter lack of faith in the degraded, bumbling national Democratic Party’s competence
  • a deep belief in the scientific method, rational inquiry, learned disputation, and dialectical thinking and cooperation, all of which the Trump administration and its enablers reject out of hand
  • horror — though not surprise — at the GOP’s eager embrace of Trump’s criminality, venality, and ‘light treason’
  • a deep abiding hatred of the hypercapitalist villains who continue to poison every aspect of American life
  • total alienation from the thoroughly corrupt D.C. government
  • total sympathy for the civil servants who somehow keep the wheels turning
  • an intense, ugly, frankly unwelcome desire to see the forces of reaction, bigotry, and resentment not just defeated but beaten down for what they continue to do to this country and this world
  • creeping fear that the ongoing climate catastrophe makes all of this both more pressing and ultimately irrelevant

This list is not comprehensive.

(I also feel, but want to mark separately, a deep ambivalence about Harris, an extraordinarily impressive but machine-approved political maneuverer who’s shown both principled seriousness and worrisome incompetence in her political career, whom I expect to run again in 2024 and have a hard time beating a Republican woman.)

In summary, I voted for Biden, but I voted against Trump just as much, and while I’m happy to participate in his victory — and even happier to live in an America that turned out in record numbers to repudiate the imbecilic anti-American criminal Trump, even while maintaining a predictable split in terms of party-line voting — I’m not under any illusion that he’ll be great. He’s a Democrat, for Christ’s sake; they’re a mess.

An imaginative exercise

If you’re a Trump voter, I’d encourage you to make a similar inventory of your responses and motivations re: Biden/Harris and Trump/Pence — and, while I’ve got your attention, to read about other countries’ responses to Covid-19. (Trump really has catastrophically fucked it up in every possible way.)

But if you’re reading this then you’re probably not a Trump voter. In that case, think this through with me:

Biden voters can acknowledge, amongst ourselves, that ‘our guy’ was a limited, imperfect, compromise candidate in 2020 — it’s not as if any but a tiny handful of Americans voted for him in Democratic Party primaries in 2008, when he was comparatively spry! — and still back him with an eagerness bordering on the unseemly in a 2020 election. We’re going to tell and our kids for the rest of our lives that we did the right thing, that Trump was a world-historical threat to democracy, that Biden differed in kind from Trump, that ‘decency prevailed’ and so forth.

We believe these things because doing so feels better than the alternative, and because we’ve been told to, by NPR or The Economist or a professor we happen to like or a handful of Twitter nonentities retweeting one another’s ‘takes.’

Let’s be frank, we’re all friends here: you don’t read position papers or policy briefs or even entire NYT articles, do you. You don’t read scientific papers before developing Feelings about them, of course (maybe an occasional abstract/conclusion survey and a quick look at the graphs, if you have an advanced degree). And you ‘don’t watch TV news’ either, right? Because that’s for losers and you’re not one. Needless to say, you eagerly watch hours and hours and fucking hours of stupid context-free video clips of TV news, drink them up like wine knowing exactly how they’ll make you feel. Indeed their predictability is the reason you watch them.

Plus the occasional John Oliver episode, even though it’s those same video clips plus jokes. Because he’s funny and because the English accent gives you the vicarious thrill of standing juuuuust a bit outside The System.

You came by your political beliefs secondhand, almost certainly, like I did. And our political beliefs differ not because one or both of us bravely pursued a path of intellectual independence, but because different options caught our eyes at the ideological buffet and we invested emotional and maybe even intellectual energy in affiliating ourselves with them.

If you’re less than 50ish years old you probably ‘hate-read’ and ‘doomscroll’ and I’m happy to bet that you ‘support’ organizations whose beliefs and political/cultural positions you can’t name and would be horrified to discover — leaving aside the Democratic Party itself…

…but THEY are much worse

There is a ‘They,’ everyone has a ‘They’ and ‘Them,’ and what makes them Them instead of Us is that They are fucking terrible dupes and/or complicit, corrupt, sellouts and opportunists, compromisers and fantasists, intellectually or physically lazy, emotionally stunted, less (or worse-) educated, resentful, hateful, bad — and y’know, We might be imperfect but we are Trying and Hopeful and In Progress and really Engaged and Community-Minded and Good and Thoughtful and we Do the Homework and really we’re here to Support One Another and blah blah blah stop lying.

A couple of weeks ago Biden quoted Obama’s ‘not Red states and Blue states but the United States’ line and its purpose was to trigger your memory of feeling really good when you heard Barack Obama say it in 2004 (or on Youtube in 2016 or whatever). Crucially, you probably didn’t believe Biden but wanted to — if you’re anything like me, and you are (only less good-looking and impressive), you’re keenly aware of massive cultural and political divisions in this country and you’re never quite sure, from day to day, how the similarity/difference balance will work out in a given interaction, on a given issue, under a given circumstance. But because you’re not completely stupid and evil you understand that it’s important to both acknowledge our similarities and attend to our differences, i.e. to participate in a shared struggle and understand that we share a destiny even with those we think of as our opposites. Not just in the grave, but before then, right here on the rapidly sickening earth.

Apply the Golden Rule: do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

What do you suppose the experience of voting for Trump was like?

Fools, liars, and us

What was Trump, to his voters in 2015-16? Different.

Different from Hillary Clinton — because she married power, and resents her ostensible allies while holding her ideological opponents in humourless contempt; plus her husband’s a sex criminal and the Clinton Foundation is a ‘charitable concern’ run by rich jet-setters so only a sucker would give it or them the benefit of the doubt.

Different from Jeb Bush — because he’s a Bush and nothing more.

Different from Obama — because Obama campaigned on his opposition to Middle Eastern wars he then escalated and widened, and was The Kind of Person who tells coal miners (my neighbours, my friends, my dad) to ‘retrain’ for new jobs instead of ever being able to relax a fucking day in their lives, and because he came to work in custom-fitted suits but actually expected voters to believe he ‘cared about (some of) the poor,’ and because he gave money to Wall Street criminals hand over fist and then didn’t prosecute a motherfucking one of them. Because he is the definition of hypocrisy, and if you’re open to his self-justifications then why wouldn’t you give the benefit of the doubt to the self-justifications of a man like Trump, who ‘earned’ ‘billions’?

Trump was different because he wasn’t a politician (all politicians are bad), and because he told the truth about things that everyone knows (e.g. militarist USA foreign policy is, among other things, the biggest moneymaking scam in the history of the world). He was different because he didn’t recite lines, he’d spit freestyle; even Obama’s stump speech was canned, y’know. He was funny (and remained so in 2020, when talking to friendly/captive audiences) — and sometimes ‘funny’ is mean, get over it.1

Trump was different because he didn’t pander; some people he was gonna help, some people he intended to fuck over, and you knew who they were. For once, what you knew to be true and what They were telling you were the same. And as a bonus, you could convince yourself it was He and not They. No invisible forces, no invisible hand.

Trump is obviously a grifter, but Americans love grifters, as long as they’re soaking off the right people. And Trump would tell you exactly who he was going to go after! He donates to both parties because the game is rigged in favour of the rich! He knows how to play political games because he’s part of the unindicted-criminal cohort that owns the politicians! He is exactly as corrupt as every other asshole in his gated tax(-avoidance) bracket, and for once you didn’t have to lie about it! He said that shit on television!! Trump is obviously a liar, but Americans love liars, because they tend to reveal certain truths along the way too…

You ‘know’ that all politicians lie. They avoid, they evade, they elide, they shade, they talk openly with megadonors (think of Hillary Clinton’s extraordinarily lucrative Wall Street talks; think of the fact that all her friends give the same talks) and with contemptuous false sincerity tell everyone else what they want/need to hear.

Trump voters ‘know’ these same things. They watch their ‘viral’ video clips, you watch yours; they read their pundits, you read yours; they recite their stupid transparently nonsensical ideological mantras, you recite yours. They hold The System in the same contempt you do — moreso, in many cases, for complex reasons. And in the end, they vote for the party and the figurehead that they feel affirm their deeply personal private cluster of tribal beliefs/practices, just like you do.

I grew up an hour south of Buffalo; to give you a sense of its rural character, The Buffalo News was our ‘local’ paper. The Southern Tier is deep in the Republican part of NYS — there aren’t enough folks out there for their votes to matter in a statewide election, but maddeningly they continue to exist. It’s a nice place to grow up, assuming you’re not from one of the many families who slipped into penury as the Rust Belt rusted. It’s the kind of place whose young people either stick around to get buried next to their grandparents, or leave early and never ever come back.

A Trump voter in my village looks at the News, or more likely USA Today (or The Today Show, frankly), and sees coastal-elite cultural consensus, bipartisan financial predation, climate inaction coupled with scolding rhetoric, the steady collapse of American Christianity,2 a wholesale rejection of liberal norms like guaranteed freedom of speech, a thriving financial sector just a decade out from unprosecuted crimes that nearly shattered the entire global economy…a shitshow, in other words, presided over by the Ruling Party.

A Trump voter in my village looks at Trump and recognizes him — from a TV game show — and looks at Clinton, or Biden, and recognizes them from the nakedly false world of onscreen political news.

Trump’s a self-dealing criminal who ‘tells it like it is’ and the Democrats, as most Democrats will tell you, are ‘Good People’ who lie to your face about their agenda. (After all, ‘everyone knows’ Obamacare was both an insurance-industry giveaway and a statist power grab, and where did you have to go to hear the truth about that…?)

And if you’re the average American, if you have a typical education and typical viewing/reading habits, then you have no media access to an honest accounting of the truth of things — except your intuition. Y’know, that gut that pig-ignorant but expensively educated 20somethings make fun of you for trusting.

The ideological machine considers you deplorable, frankly. The machine hates you and it’ll never stop until there’s no more blood to drain. But Trump doesn’t hate you — he hates Them.

Now vote.

On protest

For right-wingers and millions of others, Trump ran in 2015-16 as a protest candidate. This is hard for lefties to understand, because in standard terms he had no business being on the debate stage. But be honest: what qualifies you to get up there? What the hell was Jeb Bush doing running for president? (Remember ‘Please clap’?) Ted Cruz daily betrays the legal profession and is only loyal to his own self-interest; Marco Rubio has literally no principles or ideas, not one. Rand Paul’s allowed to run on behalf of glibertarian nuts, Carly fucking Fiorina is allowed up there if she can find the debate venue — even Mike Huckabee is allowed to pretend to be a thoughtful adult for as long as he can manage the charade. Trump absolutely belonged onstage in that crowd of buffoons and grifters…

…and what set him apart was, he told the truth about their game. It’s rigged in favour of (transnational) capital; it’s played for real in private rooms offscreen; it’s ultimately built on elite conspiracy. Ted Cruz doesn’t care about your job, Jeb Bush doesn’t ‘feel your pain.’

Trump doesn’t either! To be clear: Trump is the most nakedly hateful president since Reagan.

But remember the Lucky Strike scene in Mad Men? Don Draper pitches an ad campaign to a cigarette maker:

DON: This is the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal. We have six identical companies with six identical products… We can say anything we want. How do you make your cigarettes?

GARNER: We breed insect-resistant tobacco seeds, plant ‘em in the North Carolina sunshine, grow it, cut it, cure it, toast it, treat it–

DON: There you go. (He writes on the board: ‘LUCKY STRIKE — IT’S TOASTED’)

GARNER JR: But everybody else’s tobacco is toasted.

DON: No, everybody else’s tobacco is poisonous. Lucky Strike is toasted.

Trump told the truth about the losers first; after that, anything they said about him was sour grapes: mere political speech.

And of course, anything the Democrats said about Trump was that too. Admit it, the Party only took notice of him because of his political influence — everything else he’s ever done, every evil he’s perpetrated, every crime he’s committed was fine (was Someone Else’s Problem) until he got in Hillary Clinton’s way.

Trump is a drug-addled, unprecedentedly ignorant, unashamedly racist piece of shit. He was a rapist, a money launderer, and a thief long before he entered the race in 2015 (with no intention of winning) — indeed, long before his ‘birther’ horseshit, which came as naturally to him as breathing.

But the President isn’t a person, he’s a symbol. And to his supporters, Trump symbolizes something wholly different from any of the meanings the mainstream media have attached to him.

On winning

The Republican Party and Democratic Party differ essentially at the cultural level. The Democrats embody the belief that how you play — the meaning of victory, if you luck into it — is more important than whether you win.

Republicans like winning.

Republican voters love beating Democrats. Why do they vote for policies that punish them, over and over and over? Because they win. Because winning feels good right now — so good that you might think it’s a kind of universal Good in itself. You could start to think that. You could get behind a man, even a liar and a thief, who seems to be selling the platonic ideal of Winning.

Democratic voters are told by their Party, over and over again, that each small victory, each compromise measure, means a Bright Future. But victory is now. You win or lose now, and if you win a competition then someone else loses, and if you lie about who loses then you’re a piece of shit.

You might argue that the Democrats are the Party of emancipation and so it’ll always be that way. But you’d be a sucker.

Mitch McConnell won’t live to see the fruits of his labours and doesn’t mind. McConnell is rotten to the core, one of the worst living Americans. His support of Donald Trump, a man he obviously loathes, demonstrates McConnell’s fundamental, pathological emptiness. He’s a quisling and collaborator and in a just world (borrowing a phrase from Malcolm Tucker) he’d be hounded to an assisted suicide.

What Mitch McConnell wants is to win (on behalf of Power). And he does, over and over, because unlike the Democrats he chooses victory over ‘honour’ every time, without exception. Which is why his wife has a Cabinet job that Trump oddly hasn’t fired her from.

(McConnell’s in a ‘mixed marriage,’ did you know?)

Nationally, the Democrats are punished by the vicious antidemocratic politics of the American republic, but because they chase the same (antidemocratic) money as the Republicans, it’s not as if they can push for fundamental change. But they wouldn’t anyway.


Biden has won as expected, but McConnell — an enemy of American democracy and a threat to the Republic — controls the Senate. Trump gained ground among voters whose support Democrats took for granted. Biden will have to govern a nation half-full of Republicans, just like Obama and Bush and Trump. It’s going to be a bad time for everyone.

Trump himself is both stupid and evil, but it does no good to pretend that only stupidity and evil explain Americans’ support for Trump. The Republican Party is flirting with fascism, yet it doesn’t have to sell fascism to its voters — it just has to seem preferable to the alternative at election time.

The Democrats make that easier than it should be. Theirs is the saner political party, in most ways, but they don’t ‘deserve’ to win. What a grotesque idea.

The Democrats should be trying to win over everyone. ‘Undecided’ voters are rare at election time, but 6-12 months from now there will be millions of them again. And it’s not like there’s any mystery to it! Helping working people without explicitly demonizing them for being The Wrong Kind of Working People is not actually difficult. Fighting for climate justice plays well if you make it about working people’s job- and food-security rather than ‘Prius owners pretending to be scientists, scolding vo-tech rubes in Carhartts.’ If Democratic policies are good, tell the truth about them; if not, get better policies, i.e. serve better masters. Every American hates this System that’s very obviously aligned against people in favour of transnational capital; abjure the easy money and do the right fucking thing!

The Democrats won’t, of course. The money’s too good. They’re a center-right party that caters to ‘progressives’ on a made-for-TV subset of cultural issues and tramples on workers whenever Capital says to.

People voted for Trump because they preferred Trump to the Democrats and the Republicans, and after four years of malign incompetence and decent stock market performance, he got more votes than any candidate in history (except Joe Biden).

It’s a problem. Today’s Republican Party is a problem. The only workable short- to medium-term solution is a better, more honest Democratic Party.

I’m not holding my breath.

  1. Trump is seen as an unfunny bully by the national ‘news’ media and his ideological opponents, while his supporters see him as a funny bully — discomfort and unfamiliarity make him brittle, because he’s a cowardly narcissist, and nothing is more unfamiliar and uncomfortable for him than having to answer substantive questions about policy from ‘political’ ‘journalists.’ (I use scare quotes because TV interviewers barely qualify as either.) This is why it’s so dangerous that mainstream news outlets endlessly recycle the same couple of clips from every Trump media appearance, helping convince lazy liberal/progressive viewers that there’s no way a sane person could ‘fall for’ Trump’s routine. Millions of people love it because it’s good entertainment. Evil? Stupid? Yes. But good entertainment. 
  2. You’re probably rooting for Christianity to go away, since you’re reading my blog, but you should remember that the disintegration of the central ordering principle of a society is a terrible thing — no matter what’s on its other side. 

Broadcast conspiracism.

If you’re being shown it, it’s probably not that important.

They don’t televise the backroom deals by which Supreme Court justices are selected — only the pageant-hearings which introduce them to the public.

They don’t televise the legal challenges to ballot-stuffing and -closing and -rejecting, only the pundit-morons and ‘journo’ cosplayers in the ‘news’ rooms opining about what they can’t see and don’t understand anyway.

They don’t televise Lebron James’s contract negotiations and private foregone-conclusion maneuvers, only ‘The Decision,’ at which time the public is permitted to learn about the billions of dollars being moved around.

They don’t televise the university board meetings at which lunatic Covid-19 policies are set by innumerate corporatists — only the keggers at which the consequences of those policies rain down on the easiest of targets, teenage boys and girls, literally some of the least insightful and self-preserving humans on the planet. Easy targets.

They don’t televise the White House discussions at which Osama bin Laden’s location is known at a moment when assassination is politically inadvisable.

They don’t televise Mark Zuckerberg selling ads to the Trump campaign at reduced rates to make sure your grandmother keeps clicking.

When it’s more profitable to expose it than to keep it secret, they show it to you.

On Election Day we’ll be presented with an absolute torrent of bullshit in the guise of ‘journalism.’ Its purpose, deep down, will be to obscure the true nature and location of power. Once you know the trick, you might still be impressed or grateful or even awed, but you’ll never be afraid. They need us afraid.

They need us afraid of the unknown — otherwise we might support the abolition of the 18th-century relic known as the Electoral College.

They need us afraid of one another — otherwise we might discover class solidarity.

They need us afraid of meaningful autonomy — otherwise we might not consent to corporate serfdom.

Our government — by which I mean the System of gov’t and financial interests that holds the whip — moves to regulate (and ban outright) pleasure it can’t control, organization it can’t infiltrate, communication it can’t surveil. Both major political parties eagerly take part, and handsomely reward their collaborators while moving to marginalize and exile meaningful opponents. Power serves power. It’s always been this way.

Meanwhile the planet burns, and drowns, and suffocates.

Contrast effects and calling his bluff.

Epistemic status: diary entry, nothing more.

Trump constantly says things like ‘I’m going to be nice’ for whatever tangle of private reasons, but the effect is to imply at all times that he could be nastier (about the targets of his endless verbal abuse) if he wanted to. Which is a threat, duh, but most of the time crucially it’s an empty one: there’s a certain amount of truth-to-power he’d be able to speak (if he wants) because he doesn’t care about political capital as such, which served him well four years go on the campaign trail, but beyond that he’s got nothing, because he’s a deeply stupid coward who bluffed his way into his job and at some level knows it.

Which is why calling Trump’s bluff always works.

Which is why it’s sickening that the press, Trump’s true love, never does that.

So for instance:

Trump replied that Chicago is “a disaster” because its mayor says “don’t come in,” which he believes is for “negative political reasons.”

“She’s a Democrat, I’m going to be nice, she’s a Democrat,” Trump said. “She’s making a big mistake. People are dying in Chicago and other cities and we can solve the problem — they have to ask us but we can solve the problem.”

‘I’m going to be nice’? And then he points out that she’s a Democrat? What he means here — all he means — is that Mayor Lori Lightfoot is an old unattractive black lady. Trump is ‘going to be nice’…by not saying so explicitly. That’s it. He knows literally nothing else about her. Go ahead, fucking ask him! He’s ‘being nice’ by not resorting to imbecilic schoolyard taunts and racist slurs, because he has no idea what he’s talking about. You think Trump is up on Chicago politics? He’s not even up on NYC politics and he’s been a parasite on that city his whole life!

(Fun fact for the day: Lightfoot never held elected office before running for mayor — and won every ward in the city on election day. One thing Trump hates is other people’s success.)

Trump’s constant suggestion of hidden knowledge was compelling when he was an ‘outsider’ mostly known for/through his carefully managed media reputation (i.e. only a political outsider, but very much a part of the media industry, which he still is). In 2016 it was possible for desperate foolish people to believe that Trump would ‘drain the swamp’ — tens of millions of us didn’t fall for that obvious lie, but I hope you can understand why some did, why their need (which Trump instantly perceived) made them susceptible. But Trump’s promise of occult/hidden knowledge has come true only in the breach of faith, of course: his administration might be the most corrupt and secretive of modern times, and as ‘leaky’ as his White House is, we still keep finding out about its worst failures only after the fact.

Trump has never had to be strong or courageous but he knows he’s supposed to look that way, so he’s always out to create contrast effects. Politics is perfect for him — everyone around him is a shabbily dressed bet-hedging backroom dealer, but Trump lives for the cameras. (He hates Obama partly because Obama has natural charisma and intelligence — and he’s unforgivably dark-skinned.)

The American news media, profiting from their abjection and cooptation, now have no idea how to be strong or courageous either — so they pull the same trick. ‘I’m going to be nice.’ ‘Up next: the real truth about _____, brought to you by Exxon-Mobil.’

Trump is good business for the ‘news’ media, which is why they don’t call his bluff.

Why are young people killing themselves more often?

‘Social media’ is too glib an answer.

I suggest a better one: anxious pseudoconnection replacing sometimes-fearful (but survivable) connection. Absent parents, and emotionally absent parents, totally unable to manage their own anxiety and having no system, no code, by which to organize such emotional management. Pseudofriendships carried out onscreen over the wires, simulating social connection but providing none of the sustenance of real copresence, codevelopment. No family around, no older people, no survivors to remind you that the world is survivable.

If you don’t have a support network you fall apart, and a ‘social network’ is not a support network, your coworkers at the company you intend to leave in a couple of years are not a support network, the students at the school you’ll soon pull your child out of in search of ‘better academic opportunity’ aren’t a support network.

Are they.

News, news.

Without checking, I suspect that the ideas (note the plural) of ‘newsworthiness’ haven’t qualitatively changed over the last century. Old papers were full of silly stories about rains of frogs, horses getting stuck in dumbwaiters, velocipedes careering through churches. Papers still print what sells, TV stations know that ‘if it bleeds it leads,’ and — crucially — audiences tend not to think about this stuff only superficially if at all. We slowly accept the agendas of our gatekeepers as natural: this too is a very old phenomenon, as old as we are.

Don’t tell the campus Marxists or the fundy nimrods yelling about ‘liberal bias,’ but real heterodoxy about ‘newsworthiness’ is all but nonexistent. Where are the people pointing out that national murder coverage is not only a waste of time but a cancer, an actual danger to humans beings, and that we should almost exclusively cover murder statistics? Who’s calling for CNN to switch to six-hour blocks dealing solely with climate change? Who else thinks MSNBC should be replaced wholesale by historical documentaries about the labour movement and the birth of the personal computing movement, and Fox News should be permitted to run nothing but hourlong videos of sunsets?

‘Slightly rude orthodoxy’ isn’t heterodoxy, as literate people have no right not to know.

Not in the least.

No. Same background, same interests. Couple years apart but that’s the same.

Oh but he’s nothing like me.

Same anger.

Well but look here —

Same loneliness, but look hereSameemptinessLOOKhereThismanisnothinglike /same–ME