Monday, December 14, 2020

Response to Fed on Fantasies Forever

(See: Just Above Sunset : Fed on Fantasies Forever)

You still hear people claiming that Trump was, at one time in the vague past, a Democrat, but given the fact that he’s apparently willing to demolish the whole "self-governing" part of how our country picks its leaders, I would argue that he’s never been a Democrat, nor even been a small-d democrat.

I think these people may be confusing the word “Democrat" with a similar-sounding word, seen here in Wikipedia:

“Demagogue … a leader who gains popularity by exploiting emotions, prejudice, hatred, and ignorance to arouse the common people against elites, whipping up the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation. Demagogues overturn established norms of political conduct, or promise or threaten to do so. Demagogues frequently present themselves as populists, to the point where ‘populism' itself has now acquired a negative connotation.”

I wonder whether this was written before Trump was elected, or whether it was written since. It sounds too spot-on to be the former. But it’s strange we don’t hear this word used more often these days. Maybe it’s just too obvious.

Why do people follow a demagogue? For the same reason that more people watch fictional dramas, 
sitcoms or popular movies on television than boring news. Non-fiction may have the advantage of being factual and truthful, but slogging through it is just not as much fun, especially when it tries to teach you something you don’t really want to know.

Fiction has the same appeal to our senses that demagoguery does. For one thing, it’s filled with whiz-bang in-your-face excitement, designed to get your attention and entertain you, and for another, since every average American schmo knows that “being responsible” is totally overrated, there’s no real responsibility on your part to actually believe any of it.

But when you think about it, digging for the truth beneath all these fun-filled election-fraud claims is actually tedious work, and plunges us into the hazy realm of a certain boring philosophical topic that, back in the day, could be counted on to put kids to sleep in Philosophy 101, and that would be:


And just in case we forget what that is, here’s Wikipedia again:

"Epistemology ... is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature of knowledge, epistemic justification, the rationality of belief, and various related issues. Epistemology is considered one of the four main branches of philosophy, along with ethics, logic, and metaphysics."

(What’s that you say? You feel your eyelids getting heavy?)

It’s all well and good for you, along with every cable news anchor, to continually insist that, as every right-thinking person knows, Biden won that election fair and square, with there being no evidence of massive fraud, but don’t even try to explain how you know this to be true (mostly because most people will have dozed off by the time you get to the meat of your argument) except to say you know it’s true for the same reason you know two-plus-two equals four and not five.

But wait! How DO you even know two-plus-two equals four, and not five?

Maybe because you can demonstrate it’s true with sugar cubes, but more likely it’s just that you’ve always heard it’s true from people you trust wouldn’t lie to you.

Or maybe you could also demonstrate to the MAGAs, by nattering on in torturous detail about how states nowadays ensure that elections are virtually impossible to rig, and that had the millions of votes in all these various states been rigged, the fix would have had to be so massive and blatant that even astronauts could see it from space, and that nobody, not even the most biased Obama-appointed judges in all those courts could get away with denying it.

But the MAGAs still won’t buy it, because they don’t share your world view and don’t see evidence the same way you do, but also because, deep down, they’re more loyal to their dear leader than they are to their country, and don’t even see the worth of living in a country that won’t elect the guy they want to be president, so threatening officials who won’t join their scheme, and thusly destroying the country itself in the process, isn’t all that big a deal it might be to you and me.

And so, because it’s much more entertaining, they choose "Reality TV" over “Reality”!

And so maybe it’s not epistemology after all, since, with these people, it’s a case of — to paraphrase what people in the 1950s used to say about art — “I may not know much about truth, but I know what I like!"

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Response to As Good as Gone

(See: Just Above Sunset : As Good as Gone)

If all goes as it should, yes, Trump is as good as gone, but that’s becoming a really big “if”.

For example, if Texas scores a surprise win in SCOTUS — or worse yet, if Republicans somehow prevail in that joint session of Congress — I can’t see any way of this country surviving as a nation state. Can’t you already hear the dead-enders? “If Donald Trump is not kept on as president, then the country doesn’t deserve to survive!”

Then again, so what? Republicans have been working too hard for too long, and without noticeable success, to squeeze what they've wanted out of America as it is.

It seems hugely trivial now, but I can’t help but remember Trump and his poodles all yapping about 2016 
 falsely, that Democrats’ suspicions that Trump could not have won without Russian collusion was just Democrats not being able to accept that Hillary Clinton could have even possibly lost the election — as I now watch the Republicans sputter in dismay that there had to have been "massive” fraud involved in 2020, since how else can anyone explain Trump's loss?

In truth, Donald Trump’s whole presidency has apparently been a publicity stunt, and the fact that so many in his own party can’t distinguish between governance and this wicky-wacky clown show they’ve been putting on speaks volumes about their capacity to govern. We seem to have come to that point in our history at which — to borrow from my day as a platoon leader in the Air Force ROTC when I accidentally marched my whole platoon into a huge bush — the whole Republican party should simply all “halt, fall out, and regroup somewhere else."

But then, why even bother regrouping somewhere else? There’s nothing for them to do there that they haven’t tried already.

Back those many years ago when I was born in this country, little did I suspect it wouldn’t live forever.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Response to No More Pretending

First of all, from the
 Washington Post:

At a rally Wednesday in Alpharetta, a few miles north of Atlanta, pro-Trump lawyers Lin Wood and Sidney Powell cast doubt on the legitimacy of any election held with the equipment and rules used on Nov. 3. It was, essentially, a don’t-get-out-and-vote rally...

“As far as I’m concerned, lock him up,” Wood said of [Governor Brian] Kemp, who certified Biden’s win in Georgia two weeks ago.

This is hilarious! Trump Republicans now find themselves sloshing through their own doo-doo!

I suppose someone needs to inform this "Boycott-The-Vote" group that that whole "fraudulent illegitimacy of the vote" business was only a useful myth, just some made-up story to fall back on to explain Trump’s election loss, but not really a real thing! To get the public to help us win the senate, everyone now has to switch gears, to put aside that old narrative of a broken voting system, and quickly, switch back to reality! 

"When I count to three and snap my fingers, you will wake up! You will forget everything we told you before about voting being a Democrat scam, and will now start believing that voting is safe! One! Two! Three!"

Maybe it hasn’t occurred to the Republicans that some right-wing brains just aren’t that agile! Once some brains sink too deep into the bullshit, it’s virtually impossible to pull them out.

Lying all the time, as a strategy, has its drawbacks. For one thing, it’s hard to get some people to stop believing your lies when you need them to stop.

But secondly, while I like your claim that Trump is not a Republican, in fact, after some thought, I disagree.

Yes, the Republicans ended up tolerating him mostly because of his judges, they had other reasons as well, such as tax cuts (that made rich people richer, but did nothing for anybody else, but still); cut back on regulations, including pollution; an imaginary Middle-East peace deal (that inexplicably forgot to include the Palestinians); cut ties with allies and weakened ties with international organizations (NATO, UN); we now take in no refugees, and scare away all other immigrants; he ripped up that Iran deal, which Republicans wanted for some reason; he may have gotten rid of Obamacare, pending a SCOTUS ruling, effectively leaving America with no national health care program whatsoever, which is what Republicans have been afraid to admit they always wanted; and lots of other stuff, including I’m sure lots we don’t even know about.

Yes, he’s damaged democracy, but that’s something else Republicans are afraid to admit they don’t really care for anyway. Yes, he’s a bit over-the-top in his wanting to kick everybody’s ass, which has been an embarrassment to the party, but also something conservatives have all secretly admired about him.

So come to think of it, yes, Donald Trump's the Republican that Republicans wish they themselves could be. He’s been the devil-may-care sugar rush of ice cream and cake, to the Democrat’s healthy green vegetables. He’s been just dumb enough to get away with what the rest of us would need courage to achieve.

He will be missed, but more importantly, probably emulated in one way or another for years to come.