Why They Turned to a Demagogue

Commentary on why some Trump followers won’t listen to reality:

These are the same people that have been voting to gut the social safety net for a solid three decades. When they had great-paying jobs in manufacturing and what-not, then social programs were just the government taking their money to give to lazy (brown) people in these Dickensian inner cities. So they kept electing politicians whose campaigns were designed to one-up the austerity of the one before. But since they were hardworking people, they would never be looking for some kind of government welfare or handout. I mean, they might collect unemployment from time to time, but that’s different, since their taxes paid for that.

“Now that the rich “job creators” have won their propaganda victories and completely upended the economy, suddenly those same folks don’t have jobs like they used to. And now all those social programs and “welfare” and all that aren’t there. But rather than recognize their own short-sightedness, they did what most of us do rather than admit mistake and heard what they wanted to hear. So after getting hosed by the economic elite and corporations while simultaneously voting in droves to undermine the only possible checks on the Greed Class, they’ve now turned to a demagogue from that same Class who suddenly tells them that the government is going to help them. Sure, it’ll “help” them by poisoning the environment, giving even more of their tax dollars to wealthy businesses, and raising taxes on consumer goods (through tariffs).

But he does one thing that’s even more important: he makes it not their fault. It’s not their fault they (and their parents and grandparents) torpedoed their own school systems, so there was no way for them to adapt to changes in the economy. It’s not their fault they voted time and again to reduce or outright kill social programs, so that when they fell on hard times there’d be nothing there to help. It’s not their fault that they put all their eggs in one economic basket. It’s not their fault that they turned to politicians who, rather than spend taxpayer dollars on re-training them once it became clear that manufacturing was on its way out, decided to give themselves and their fellow rich more tax cuts (and blow a few more hundred billion on military spending). Don’t forget too that the government that’s going to save them also licenses drug dealers, while the corporation that sells narcan has been free to jack the price up through the roof. Instead, our demagogue made it someone else’s fault, namely immigrants. Never mind that this isn’t remotely true, but it fits in with long-established narratives and, again, makes it someone else’s fault. Better to be victims than responsible.

“This mentality, in addition to being poisonous for the communities where it prevails, also makes it hard for other narratives to take hold. The left has done an abysmal job of framing the debate, and explaining why e.g. environmental regulations are not only good for public health, but actually save money. For some reason, though, Democrats are unwilling to talk in these terms, and so it’s easy to paint them as effete and out of touch. When they do address economic issues, it tends to be in ways that don’t really address what folks in the middle part of the country actually see on a day-to-day basis. During the last presidential campaign, Clinton wasn’t able to do much more than give vague platitudes that boiled down to “trust your coastal masters, we know what’s best for you.” Our demagogue, meanwhile, gave these people something they could chew. Never mind that it had little connection to reality, but it made sense in the gut. (The “why”s of Trump’s victory have been done to death, so I won’t belabor that point.)

“At the end of the day, virtue is a hard sell. I’m reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton, and a line from one of Hamilton’s letters has stuck with me. John Laurens, a close friend of Hamilton, had proposed that black regiments be raised to fight in the Continental Army in exchange for their freedom. The plan met stiff resistance in Congress, however. Hamilton shared his pessimism with his friend in a letter, saying:
Prejudice and private interest will be antagonists too powerful for public spirit and public good.

“So with all that schadenfreude (and catharsis) out of the way, the more important question is what to do now. I’ve seen plenty of comments from the left that amount to letting these folks reap what they’ve sowed. I get the instinct, but I think that’s both morally wrong in itself and frightfully hypocritical.

“But this is as far as I’ve gotten. I recognize that just sitting here from my educated, East-Coast perch and yelling at people isn’t really productive, however satisfying it may be in the short term. On the one hand I do think we have to try to understand what motivates Trump supporters, but at the same time we shouldn’t make excuses for them either. Maybe all we can do is try to insulate ourselves, but I’m not sure how possible that is. More significantly, I’m not sure it’s possible to do that without torpedoing the country (and I’ll admit to sometimes wondering if this is what the beginning of the decline looks like).

“The usual tools simply don’t work here. I don’t know how you talk someone around when their entire approach to the world is to ignore facts that they dislike. I’m more and more convinced that all we can do is wait for the Fall and hope people will be willing to admit their mistake. I don’t know how the rest of us make that possible in the future while at the same time resisting and fighting against Trump’s harmful policies. Perhaps there is no right answer, and we’re back to trying to insulate ourselves as much as we can from the inevitable collapse. If that’s really the only option, I’m glad I’m a gun owner.”

Full discussion in context.

Photo from The Economist.

5 Reasons Why Your Grandma Is A Perfect Wingman

Discussion of a photo of a elderly woman doing shots with some beach babes:

“1) First off, she doesn’t give a fuck. She probably saw a war or two in her time and to her life is as precious as it is short. She will walk up to the crowd of the hottest girls by the pool, I am talking the girls you wouldn’t dream of having the balls to talk to, and she will make sure they know who you are.

“2) Now the hottest girls know who you are. She is pointing you out and you are a tad embarrassed. Well don’t be. Fucking grandma will talk you up in a way women not only understand but highly appreciate. She isn’t your best bud who is far too drunk and just tells them how nice and honest you are and how they should give you a chance, she is speaking in fucking women-tongue and they will be interested to talk to you regardless of what you look like or how shy you are.

“3) She WANTS you to get laid. She wants you to find the hottest fucking most gorgeous girl around the pool/pub/bar/whatever because she wants her genes to be not only passed on, but passed UP the genetic lottery chain. She will do everything in her power to make sure her perfect little grandson is seeing a girl she is incredibly proud to say is now her granddaughter in law. She WANTS YOU TO GET LAID.

Read reasons #4 and #5 and full discussion.

The Red Pill Mindset

Describing the /r/redpill mindset:

“The redpill crowd is so interesting. People who have an easy time attracting sexual partners don’t have to focus their entire lives around strategies for getting laid, it’s that simple.

“RP represents a certain spectrum of unwanted males who respond to loneliness and rejection by attempting to mimick the alpha male ideal that they personally view as desirable. Like a harmless but deadly-looking false coral snake bedecked in bright red warning bands, they have decided that appearance is paramount.

“The fact that they have fixated on certain concepts that most adults don’t spend their time obsessing over: “cuck” and “alpha” and various heirarchies of male sexuality that evaporate for most men after puberty ends and comfort with ones own body and sexuality starts to fall into place with the validation that comes from other people’s interest is itself a handicap that prevents them from becoming normal human beings. They stop being individuals and become clones of some sex-pest master pattern.

“By becoming so single-mindedly obsessed with getting laid and appearing tough and desirable they become creepy caricatures of their “alpha” ideal. There is no talking sense into them, and there is no explaining to them that most women find their behavior abhorant and off-putting.

“You can’t explain that most other men view them as potential rapists, not guys we would want to hang out with. One can only hope that the majority of them find their way out of the lifestyle before they go on some murderous, mysogenistic rampage.

“So here we are, with a flock of like-minded man-children echo-chambering themselves to the point where they enthusiastically follow some frail bearded weirdo who appears to live on a futon as if he is Adonis.”

Full discussion in context.

Baldfaced Wretchedness, Greed, and Spite

From a Metafilter thread about the new administation:

These people are doing their dirt completely in public, and openly lying their faces off to the entire world, and they’re just going to repeat their lies.

I don’t think they expect us to believe them, I think they lie as they do to let those who are against them know they don’t care what we think and that don’t care if they’re hurting anyone. They would have to be utter idiots to think anyone outside of their small base actually believes anything they say, including “a”, “and” and “the”.

“Do we get the picture, shut up, and go away so they can finish their dirt? And their base thinks it’s marvelous.

“How does anyone counter such baldfaced wretchedness, greed, and spite?”

Full comment in context.

Defense Spending Overview

From a thread on Reddit:

“Yes, the US spends $600 billion dollars on defense. And yes, that’s more than the next 7-8 countries combined (assuming China’s budget is honest, which we believe is not). And yes, the US spends about 36% of the worlds total spending on military.

“But, as [the original author] also mentioned, as a function of GDP, the US is at 3.3% – lower than some nations (like Russia) and a far cry from the 5.6% the US spent in 1988 near the tail end of the Cold War. Source: World Bank.

“In the post WW2 world, this is at an all time low per the CFR with it having peaked at 16% around the time of the Korean War.

“Per the DOD budget request, this chart shows that:

  • $130 billion was requested just for military personnel wages for the 2.1 million active + reserve
  • A total of $177.9 billion was requested on just military personnel wages + benefits
  • Another $72.9 billion was requested for civilian pay and benefits for the 760,000 civilian FTEs in the DOD
  • A full $250.8 billion or 48% of the DOD base budget is allocated to JUST pay and benefits

“What does this mean? Consider that a Chinese soldier is paid roughly a tenth of the wages of a US soldier. So sure, if we went to a Chinese pay scale, we could save $120 billion overnight. But that’s neither feasible, wise, nor is it a good indicator of relative strength with China.

“This is further exacerbated by the fact that both China and Russia have huge domestic arms industries producing goods at domestic prices. Furthermore, the world arms industry isn’t an open market – the US doesn’t compete with China or Russia directly as nations only buy from other nations they trust. The US buys domestic or buys from close allies like Belgium and Germany, who have comparable costs of production. End result? The US often pays 2-4x as much for a fighter jet than the Russian equivalent because US wages, US suppliers, and US maintainers all cost US prices, not Russian prices.

“As a side note, this also irks me about the whole “arms trade” statistic and how the US is the number one exporter. Sure, by dollar amounts, we are – but our goods are magnitudes more expensive. The fact that Russia and China – producing goods at Russian and Chinese prices – are even close, should tell you who is exporting more physical quantity of goods, but I digress.

“In sum, using nominal spending gives you eye popping numbers, but it tells you little about relative strength between nations. If anything, it should tell you how little Europe actually spends on defense (especially in comparison to Russian strength), and that China is a lot closer to the US than most people realize.

Full thread.

Modernism, Post-Modernism, and Dada in a Nutshell

This is so much more compelling and easy to understand – yes a lot of loss of nuance but a good nutshell:

“There were two massive world changing events in the 20th century and they changed art forever: The World Wars. And what they did was break Modernism.

“[I]n Modernism there is the basic premise that: The more work you put into something the better it becomes and the more meaning it has. While with Post-Modernism the basic premise is that: Effort is redundant. Art is everywhere.

“[M]ost people are Modernists even if they do not know the meaning of the word. They like art that took effort. They like seeing someone’s passion and craftsmanship focussed into specific works: Painting, sculpture, literature, achitecture and little else. This was the aspiration of a civilisation that was rich on the success of industry. Everyone was getting richer. Starvation was nearly over. Electricity lit up the cities for pennies a day and mankind had straddled the Earth with automobiles, steam ships and locomotive. Industrial and scientific progress was headed towards perfection, and likewise, perfect art would one day be made by the correct application of human effort.

“Now, the first elements of Post-Modernism were sprung from Dada art. Dada has a slightly different premise: Effort is wasted. The dada movement wanted to create nonsense art, to point out how silly art is, and helpless in the face of the horror of WW1, the event that inspired Dada. Dada is art making fun of the effort artists put in.

“But Post-Modernism came after the Atomic bomb. Both Dada and Post-Modernism are born from fear of death, but compared to post-modernism Dada seems like a pointless teenage waste, because sure, artists are wasting their time on something pointless but so is everyone else in a world of nuclear war. We’re all going to die. Today, tomorrow, in 50 years time, we’re all going to die and we have very little time to embrace the beauty of this world.

“So, Post-Modernism embraces everything that the viewer thinks has artistic value. If any thought went into its design then it is worthy of artistic appraisal. That appraisal might decide it is uninteresting, but it deserved the attempt. … Wherever a human hand has shaped an aspect of the world: There sits art. Because in this tiny amount of time we have on Earth who wants to ignore something that is beautiful simply because its “not art”.

“A lot of people hate that. It’s fine, you’re allowed to hate it. A lot of terrible pieces of art have been made in the name of postmodernism, and its demand that everything be appraised. And it’s fine to point that out.

“But 99% of the time people don’t say ‘Oh, I believe in the modernist philosophy of art so I would really rather we went to the local portrait gallery than the pop art gallery. They just say they hate modern art.

“Which is ironic, because Modernism is actually what they want to come back.”

Full discussion in context.

Jurassic Park Is About Smart People, Jurassic World Just the Opposite

Comparing how Jurassic Park and Jurassic World treat smart people in the plot:

“The thing that made jurassic Park great was a reverence for intelligence. Everyone in that movie, literally everyone, is smart and capable. The kids, the snivelling Lawyer, Even the fat slob bad guy Dennis Nedry. The movie goes to great pains to show that he’s the best there is at his job.

“For an early 90’s action movie, this was a revelation. The 80’s was full of ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ action heroes that were idolised for their can-do attitude and straight talkin’, ‘ folksy stupidity. Smart people filled exactly two roles: the bad guy (whose smartness was a weakness exploited by the hero) or the bumbling sidekick and bully victim. Smart people were a plot device, existing only to be protected by the strong-yet-stupid hero, or defeated by their overthinking and their evil commie ways. Nerds are to be mocked. Jocks are the heroes. As for smart women, forget about it. Nerd ladies don’t get to be married, let alone heroic.

“Then along comes Jurassic Park. Here was a film where the baddest motherfucker on the screen was a chaos-mathlete ladykiller with a black leather leather jacket and 400 dollar shoes. The idea of a rockstar mathematician blew my mind when I saw it as a kid. You can be cool AND smart? sign me up! It’s not limited to Ian Malcolm. A Teenage hacker girl and a shotgun weilding paleo-botanist to this day are some of my favourite female characters of all time. They’re both Feminist as fuck. Some of the exchanges between them and the men around them are just epic. That’s what makes this film so great. Sure the dinosaurs are awesomebut the film isn’t about them. We’ve seen dinosaurs before. The film is about a bunch of smart people being smart, and being celebrated for that smartness not shit all over for it. Can you imagine anything more inspiring to an insecure smart kid who had been fed a steady diet of movies where the only characters you can relate to are punchbags for the hero? I know I’m not the only one who feels like that.

“Then we get Jurassic World. Fuck. That. Movie.

“All of the progress that the first film had made was suddenly thrown out of the window. The 80’s tropes are right back in there; The hero is a fucking cowboy military man. One female character is literally choosing between work and life, as though being good at your job is unseemly for a lady. And she runs in high heels.

“There are exactly two smart people in this film. Number one is Henry Wu, mad scientist. He’s the bad guy. In case you couldn’t tell, he literally wears a bad guy black rollneck shirt from the moment you first see him on screen. Boo, mad scientist! Science is bad!

“Number two is the nerdy little brother. His entire character arc is essentially ‘man up, stop crying and thinking about things so much, and jump off this cliff.’ thats it. He is there literally to tell children to stop being such a fucking geek.

“This is why I hate this movie. I saw it in the cinema and I happened to be sat right by some young kids seeing the film with their parents. They were giggling and whooping at the spectacle, and it was spectacular, but did they leave the cinema feeling validated for who they are? Did they feel like the film gavr them permission to be a fucking mathematician bad ass or a riot grrl hacker? I doubt it.”

Full discussion in context.