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Self Awareness

At what point, when you’re trying to prevent people from reading books, do you not begin self reflection and start asking. “Are we the baddies?”

The Great Crackdown

The most insightful observation of the past four years was that China is not importing our liberal values: instead we are importing their authoritarian values. I see this everywhere now that it’s been pointed out.

The tech monopolies aren’t even bothering to couch their censorship anymore. They’ve had their Reichstag fire, and now that they have nothing to fear.

I’ve thought the past four years Trump and the GOP weren’t doing nearly enough to curtail the tech monopolies. They’d call the oligarchs in for hearings, make them a little uncomfortable, but took no serious anti-trust action or started enforcement of the laws against anti-competitive practices, or even bothered to use campaign finance laws. The Dems have always been very effective at using government as a weapon, but the GOP frankly sucks at it, and I don’t notice that Trump was any good at it either.

My current internal debate is whether quitting social media is just giving in, and we wouldn’t do better to move communications to a lower profile and to trusted networks of people. I think I will greatly curtail my personal activities on social media. I cannot quit totally since I manage pages.

I will be focusing on traditional community building locally. I will try to get the blog back to some base level of activity, because the network of bloggers used to be a great tool for us before social media came along. We used to do just fine without the tech monopolies. It’s time to route around their censorship. We should stop trying to make another Facebook or Twitter. That is playing by their rules, and the network effects and anti-competitive practices of big tech make that an impossible prospect now. We need to focus on federated services and building networks they can’t shut down.

We need an open source movement for social media. Microsoft’s monopoly on the operating system was brought to an end by the first wave of open source technology. We need a second wave to commoditize the tech monopolists into irrelevance.

Where Does It End?

Good conversations are being had among the sensible, but for the most part no one is backing away from the precipice we find ourselves at. My more fever swamp righty sources spent the better part of the day saying the cosplay revolutionaries were Antifa trying to make MAGA look bad. Once that was thoroughly debunked, they switched to “no riot at all.” Some are even suggesting that Ashli Babbit who was shot dead by Capitol Police isn’t really dead, and it’s all a false flag op. It’s classic: “my team can never do wrong.” I see more and more people descending into Q-anon bullshit. People who should know better. I see more and more lefties descending into their own fever swamps, where they are the anti-racist saviors who will defeat fascism. This is all a lie. None of this shit is real. Instead of trying to understand what drove Trump supporters to Trump, are doubling down on shaming the deplorables for supporting white supremacy.

This will not fix a damned thing, and will only make things worse.

Trump was often his own worst enemy. Historically, leaders who bring about political realignments are politically talented, but total lunatics. Think of Napoleon as being the archetype of this. Met his Waterloo and ended up in exile, but he changed the entire political landscape of Europe for generations. FDR might be the rare exception who was successful at effecting a long realignment but managed to not be a complete lunatic.

Would be change agents often their success is short lived because their own megalomania defeats them. Trump had that in spades. His strength was in media, which I think he has a very strong instinct for. But when it came to political survival, and moving the ball forward, he wasn’t able to carry much over the finish line. He almost certainly revealed the possibilities of a coalition that is more diverse racially, and more working class. I hope someone comes along who can carry that coalition forward who has fewer self-destructive tendencies than Trump. But that’s liable to be an insider, and I don’t think that coalition would tolerate someone on the inside.

Trumpism is not fundamentally an economic grievance, though economics is downstream from that. It is a deficit of dignity. The anger over politicians and elites who seem to care more about people in other countries than they do Americans here at home, that don’t care about the decay of small towns and cities due to job flight, that want to solve the problem by offering Universal Basic Income, which will only make the dignity deficit worse.

All it takes is a little respect, and maybe accepting that it’s better to pay extra for some things to ensure other Americans can make a decent living and provide. Maybe every election shouldn’t be about owning the “libturds” or the deplorables. Maybe we could agree that politicians are generally horrible people that shouldn’t be trusted with a lot of power. Maybe we can accept that we do actually need police reform in this country. Or that if Congress wants to make something illegal, it should have to pass a law, rather than having most of our laws made by people who are unaccountable.

But one thing is for sure, if we double down on hating our political opponents, calling them names, and descending farther down into the fever swamps, conspiracy theories, and thinking half of your fellow Americans are flaming racist xenophobes, this is going to end very badly.

The Only Losing Move is Not to Play

The thing R-leaning people need to understand is that mail-in voting is just easier to manipulate than in-person voting. I’m not talking fraud, necessarily, though mail-in voting is also easier to manipulate in a fraudulent way too. But that’s not what I’m speaking about here.

Never underestimate the friction of having to get a warm body before a poll worker. It’s significant. In fact, GOTV for in-person voting is considered a critical part of that game. We all know how that works, and how to play. But this game is different.With mail-in voting, its easier for activists to get legit votes from people who don’t give a shit, and who are easily influenced on-the-spot, by promises of free shit, or just a good salesman. That’s fundamentally why I oppose it. You should have to give a shit enough to go wait in line yourself. Social media brings another whole bunch of dynamics that make it easy for activists to generate votes from people who otherwise were going to find better things to do on election day.

The problem Republicans have is the Dems are much better at playing this game. The GOP just whines that it’s unfair or unethical and refuses to play. They are beating you at the mail-in ballot game. Yes, there’s probably some fraud in there, but I do believe the Dems own the mail-in game even if you don’t count fraud, because it plays to their strengths.Your only choice is to change the game so they can’t use those techniques, or play along with them, and be just as shameless. You’ll have to work harder, because they have some structural advantages that you don’t. But if you want that overnight vote dump to look more realistic, you have to play. This is the opposite of War Games: here the only losing move is not to play.

PS – I’m looking at heading in a new direction for the blog, but I just don’t have time anymore. I used to make time come hell or high water, but that gets tiring. But we’re headed into dark times, and I feel like we made a horrible mistake moving to social media. I can’t easily be silenced here, except by Verizon pulling my business-class FiOS. I own all my servers. I used to get people asking me why I self-hosted. I’ll bet you aren’t asking that anymore!

LA Forced to Write Check to NRA

To be honest, if they knew the price of their virtue signaling ahead of time, they probably would have still done it. Why wouldn’t they? It’s not like it’s their money. I expect ACB will change the balance of the Second Amendment on the Supreme Court, offering the lower courts the smack down they so richly deserve. But don’t get cocky. Next time the Dems are in charge, we’re probably looking at some court packing!

Speaking of that, Glenn Reynolds has a pretty good take on court packing, suggesting that maybe it would lower the stakes if the court were bigger anyway. My big problem with a packing scheme is that once it starts, what’s the limiting principle? But maybe it’s when an individual justice just doesn’t matter that much.

We could stand to do a lot of de-escalating. Politicians and bureaucrats are, for the most part, the worst kind of people to be found in society. The solution to what ails us, if you ask me, is to give them a lot less power.

Debate Thread

Naked Power Plays

The McConnell hate is palpable right now. If you don’t think the Dems would have done the same thing if the situation were reversed, I have a bridge to sell you. They would be fools not to.

Most of politics is slinging bullshit. You weave a narrative for the rubes to rally around.

“Let the next President fill the seat!”

“Do your job!”

“It was her dying wish!”

“Mitch is a hypocrite!”

It’s all nonsense that will be repeated mindlessly by partisan cheerleaders. If the Dems had been in charge of the Senate, Merrick Gardland or someone more liberal would be on the court right now, and to me that’s a consequence of losing elections. If Hillary had won and the Dems won back the Senate in 2018, no one vilifying Cocaine Mitch right now would be complaining about Schumer allowing a vote on RBG’s replacement. What surprises me is how many educated people are fall for “The Narrative.”

This is raw, naked, political power, as our system is designed to allow. Anyone who thinks higher principles are involved here is a fool. Mitch McConnell is doing exactly what Chuck Schumer would be doing if the party was reversed. When the party in the White House, controls the Senate, they can put whoever they want on the federal courts without compromise. That’s how the system is designed to work. If you want a check, the party that doesn’t hold the White House needs to take the Senate. If you fail to do that, these are the consequences.

I had no greater principle to espouse when Scalia died suddenly and unexpectedly and the GOP moved to block the Garland nomination. Why did the GOP do that? Because it could. There needs to be no higher explanation than that.

I spent a lot of time on here telling people “This is how the system works. If you don’t like reality, learn how things work then work harder than your opponents and outmaneuver them.” If you’ve ever read “Rules for Radicals,” even a lot of Alinsky’s advice amounted to “Don’t be a crybaby. Work for the change you want to see.” A lot of Dems very desperately need this lesson, but no one is telling them.

As for the current Supreme Court situation: there may now be a prayer for the Second Amendment. They won’t need to worry so much about holding Weeble Woberts. But if I were a fan of Roe or Obergefell, I’d be worried. I understand the Dems freaking out. But the temper tantrums I can’t abide by.

BTW, I’ll also make a prediction, because I like predictions. John Roberts is the next David Souter. He’ll move further left to rebalance the Court. If I were the Dems, I’d be inviting the Chief Justice to all the cool kid parties and try for that play.

Happenings

While I’m heartened by the victory in the 9th circuit, I fear it might be short lived. Trump has very nearly flipped the balance, but nearly isn’t flipped, and I’d say an en banc review will be difficult. The Duncan case might be a good setup for taking a case into the Supreme Court if there’s a change, and I think before too long there will be a change.

But who knows what will happen next year. Will there even be an NRA? I’d like to think a judge is going to scoff at politicians dissolving their political opposition, but get the wrong judge, and the worst could happen. Either way, I’m not sure how useful the NRA will be as long as it’s a cash cow for Bill Brewer’s law firm, which I’m sorry to say looks worse to me than NRA being a cash cow for Ackerman-McQueen.

One reason I’m not blogging as much is because who the hell knows anything? I feel like anyone who claims to know where this is all going is selling you something. I still believe we’re going through a political realignment, sure, but what new order is being born? Can’t tell you. The global trend is a populist backlash against globalism, but the wealthy have a habit of getting what they want. All I can tell you is that no one is happy with the old order, except the people who benefit from it.

I’m focusing on a new job, which has more challenges than I’ve faced in past work. They are actually a pretty competent outfit, compared to other places I’ve been, which means their problems are harder. Still, I’m surprised by how fast even good outfits grow their technical debt.

Being a club officer is also becoming a part-time job I don’t get paid for, and that shit is getting old fast. We’re going through tumultuous times, just as the country is, as problems that were mounting for years are now being addressed for good or ill. That costs time, money, and energy. Also, working in the technology sector, where people either adapt to change or wash out of the industry, I did not have an appreciation for how dispositionally conservative most people are. I don’t mean politically conservative, I mean it in the sense of distrusting and disliking change. I think that becomes more true the older people get. On a daily basis, the thing I struggle the most with is: “We’ve done it this way for 30 years. Why change it?”

Countersuit

NRA filed a civil rights lawsuit in the Northern District of New York yesterday. It is possible that Letitia James is a second rate tyrant who is violating the NRA’s civil rights, and that Wayne LaPierre is a hapless grifter. Both things can be true. I believe that both things are true. James does not have your best interests at heart as a gun owner and NRA member. She is trying to silence political opposition, and she should be ruined for it. I sincerely hope this suit succeeds. I’m surprised by how many gun people I see who seem fine with dissolution. James’ move here is unconscionable and naked totalitarianism. It will invite tit for tat if the courts are silent (note that SPLC is in Alabama, and probably has more skeletons in its closet than NRA does by far).

New York AG Moves for NRA Dissolution

If I’m a judge, no way would I allow a politician to dissolve their political opposition. This is Soviet level shit. I would consider the remedy of removing Wayne. That needs to happen. But as guilty as they might be, most charities and non-profits are going to show issues if put under a microscope. Not saying Wayne is a straight shooter. We’ve known for years a lot of this stuff was going on, and shame on us as members for looking the other way because times were good.

I suspect James knows she won’t get dissolution, but she has political ambitions, and the Dem base will eat this shit up. The cancel cultural warriors will love this. But hopefully adults will intervene and we can just be rid of the problem at the top and move on.

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