Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012



On the Treyvon Martin murder

But Trayvon Martin pushes the envelope too far again, because his killing was so much more extreme. He was a kid, for starters. He wasn’t shot by cops, but by some random idiot with a gun who didn’t even get arrested. When the conflict started he walked away. These facts are not in dispute.

(Naturally, this means conservatives have started trying to justify Trayvon’s death, which tells you all you need to know about modern American conservatism.

From bold mine for emphasis.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Great Crooked Timber post about the Greek/euro financial crisis. Creatively in the form of a choose your own adventure.

also CT:

Salient 03.18.12 at 6:57 pm

geo, lots of love and all as always, but we might have to go toe-to-toe on this one.

have persuaded people who are, rightly or wrongly, unhappy with the state of popular culture and social morality that everything wrong with the world is the fault of un-American liberal elite

Everything wrong with the world is the fault of un-American liberal elite. These voters have not been misled in any way. Their definition of ‘wrong’ predated any kind of Republican reclamation, and in fact ‘we’ exploited them far more crassly for forty years not quite one century ago, in order to install a welfare state.

And we really did dump a massive and ongoing categorical betrayal on the ‘working class’ (which, c’mon folks, in America means ‘white male bigot’ class, and nothing more than that—ever notice that approximately zero females or persons of color are pointed out as representatives of the American working class? ever wonder why? ever notice that a waiter or bus driver is not under any circumstances American working class? There’s a reason white male plumbers have been the quintessential American working class person for some time now, and it has a lot to do with a not-well-acknowledged stereotype of plumbers as ‘no-nonsense’ ‘common-sense’ ‘ordinary-guy’ bigots.)

The problem is twofold. One, these folks have wised up to our misleading of them in the early 20th century, and two, their understanding of the world is now getting accurately acknowledged and explicitly catered to by the conservative party. What’s actually the matter with Kansas is (1) their definition of ‘wrong’ is awful, and (2) there is now a party that is willing to acknowledge their perspective and represent it accurately.

Just because we managed to trick them for a couple of generations into fighting for the wrong side doesn’t mean we’re entitled to their alliance.

whose worst offense, by the way, is that they want to interfere with the workings of the free market

No. The worst offense is that a black man can marry their daughter and there’s fuck all they can do about it now. Our country’s culture has become absolutely insufferable, and that ‘worst offense’ example sums up exactly what’s so insufferable about it. Try thinking about it for a minute. A black man. Marrying your daughter. Doesn’t it make you feel sick inside? [If it doesn’t, either your imagination is failing you or you’re not trying hard enough. Occupy the mindset in which this is the worst future for your daughter that you can imagine.]

Anyway, the rest of this writes itself. The second-worst offense is, of course, that we let a pregnant woman interfere with God’s plan for a fetus in her body (unless a black man inseminated a white woman who now expresses appropriate regret for her malfeasance; you might be surprised what a large contingent of staunch ‘pro-life’ working-class people will feel honestly conflicted about the prospect of aborting such a monstrosity).

And, of course, the third-worst offense is that we tricked them into supporting a welfare state that treats black people and women like human beings that are not beneath them. This idea that conservative economics conflicts in any way with the desires of social conservatives is obviously wrong. If your societal goal is to reinforce bigotry, then your economic goal is to reinforce bigotry. This is exactly what conservative economics does: it attempts to destroy the welfare system that we tricked them into enshrining into law.

Doesn’t make sense?

Makes perfect sense. ‘We’ want a world that ‘they find repellent. Might as well acknowledge that.


Salient 03.19.12 at 1:14 am

Salient (38.), I’ll be rude and say this reads like an exercise in essentializing to me.

Neither rude nor incorrect. You might say it’s counter-essentializing, in the direction opposite to the essentializing that Thomas Frank does.

The biggest of the problems with what I’m saying (and there are several) is that I’m whitewashing the fact that ‘white male bigot’ and ‘American lefty social-democrat’ are categories that overlapped extensively and gradually decoupled over time and then got blown in different directions during and immediately after WWII. There are still a number of white male bigot American lefty social-democrat folks, but they’re a relatively small and completely unorganized and somewhat marginalized subgroup of lefty folks at this point, composed of folks who are generally speaking quite chronically self-unaware of their own racist or misogynist streaks, and testy about getting called on ‘em.

Salient seems pretty upset in 38. I take he or she is channeling conservative Republicans.

I do write in a style that sometimes sounds much more upset than I actually am (something I’ve been working on correcting for years, with only slow and partial progress) but the second sentence is probably accurate, I am channeling the white male bigot, just in a kind of indirect way.

I guess academics are liberal elites in the US. But, here in Ghana we are unionized so we are definitely working class.

In America, being ‘working class’ has nothing to do with being working class, and everything to do with being a prig. Yarrow’s got a perfect example of someone who is literally working class, but not ‘working class’ in the evocative sense the phrase is used by, say, David Brooks.

I suspect I’ve missed a good many subtleties in the rest of your comment, which would render this reply to the above sentence nugatory.

In what follows I try to use brackets to be clearer about the subtleties, but I’m struggling to express them successfully, so it might take me a couple tries…

But just to be literal-minded about it: by “liberal elites,” Republican propagandists mean

…wellll, let me pause there, the whole thing we’re arguing about (or at least the whole thing I’m on about) is whether this is something deviously implanted in the white male bigot’s mind by crafty Republican propagandists, or whether this is something in the white male bigot’s mind that is explicitly acknowledged and catered to by modern-day Republican operatives who want to undo the damage [to white male bigot security and comfort and supremacy] that liberal elites inflicted [by pursuing the establishment of civil rights].

In other words, we’re disagreeing about who is leading whom. Did the Republican operatives mislead the white male bigot, or did the Republican operatives read the white male bigot mindset and decide to represent it accurately? You would say the former, I would say the latter—and yes, this definitely includes the vast majority of the Republican businessman’s platform both in letter and in spirit (but I feel a need to try to be clear about my basic perspective before getting into that, so I don’t say much about the details of that).

The pre-1950s are the archetypal time that [white male bigot] Americans wish to revert to because at that time [white male] Americans got all the advantages of a fully functioning welfare state [read: the GI bill, the GI bill, the (white) Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, and the GI bill] but didn’t yet have to contend with any of the destruction that liberal elites [e.g. civil rights activists] inflicted on [white male bigot] America in the decades that followed [by extending the goodies of the welfare state to persons who were not white male veterans; seriously, the heyday of the white male bigot began in 1944 and ended less than a decade later with Brown v. Board of Education].

By this definition, you are an un-American liberal elitist. I am an un-American liberal elitist.

(nodding) … are you trying to suggest we’re not? I’d take that as an insult.

But we are not responsible for all the ills—both real and fancied—that afflict Kansas and the rest of the Republican base.

…but we are. If it wasn’t for us [so to speak], they’d be able to contentedly enjoy the spoils of the GI Bill welfare state, without any trace of concern that colored persons or WMB-unapproved women would be eligible to compete for them. What ills are you talking about? There’s only one ill, and it’s the provision of opportunity to people who shouldn’t get a share of the opportunity [because they are not white men].

[Given that in these comments I’m conceding the language to the white male bigot crowd without conceding the correctness of their perspective,] I am personally quite proud to be an un-American liberal elitist [which means ‘supporter of undermining white male bigot supremacy’], I am pleased to be in some way partially responsible for at least some of the ills affecting [white male bigots in] Kansas [such as the unprecedented destructive horror of women having more extensive control over their own reproductive, marital, and economic fates], and I’m thoroughly relieved that liberal elites destroyed this country [for white male bigots] as far as they were able. I see the work of destroying [white male bigot dominance in] America [by extending civil rights, security, privacy, and liberty, to persons who are not white male bigots] as an important and explicit goal of my political self.

(Brackets throughout are a kludge, and probably are so obviously redundant as to be painful to wade through, but I wasn’t sure what else to try. I tried to go back and put scare quotes in to emphasize this, but I ended up with nearly every word in everything I’ve typed scare-quoted, making it illegible. Which brackets probably also did. This stuff is hard…)

From Crooked Timber:

Bruce Wilder 03.18.12 at 8:13 pm

It seems to me that the NYTimes editor, who chose the headline for Haidt’s op-ed, probably understood the truth. The headline is: “Forget the Money, Follow the Sacredness”. Of course, one should do the exact opposite, to understand American politics.

I find much that is persuasive in Haidt’s analysis, but not his own pose of political centrism of the “very serious person” kind. This privileged son-of-Scarsdale ending his piece with talk of a “Grand Bargain”, which has become code for gutting Social Security and further destroying the middle classes to pay for taxcuts for the rich, undermines the legitimacy of his argument for me.

Someone is paying for American politics, and if “Repubs seem to have little remaining interest in arguing that their preferred policies will actually benefit anyone outside the 1 per cent”, well, that might be a clue as to who is paying for this on-going horror show, and why.

You cannot possibly have total political domination by a tiny hoi oligoi, and democracy governing on issues of economic substance at the same time. Maybe, you can have a little, side-show democracy on issue the hoi oligoi largely do not care about, but I doubt even that can last long, under the kind of authoritarianism, which will be required to enforce economic exploitation on the prospective scale and depth.

I think Democrats are being herded like cattle, just as much as Republicans, prodded by the repulsive spectacle on the Right, to be sure, but mostly willing to remain uncritical of the pro-plutocratic, authoritarian character of the Obama Administration.

Liberalism cannot achieve political power in a democracy without taking responsibility for leading large blocs of people, who are likely to have the political attitudes of “authoritarian followers”. Liberals (using the term for American ideological meaning) like to wonder why hoi polloi would vote against their economic interest, without recognizing that pursuit of the economic interest of the masses requires considerable political organization, including membership organization. That kind of organization scarely exists; ordinary working class and middle class people do not feel themselves part of any effective organization, pursuing or protecting their economic interests—certainly the Democratic Party under Obama is demonstrably not doing so. There’s plenty of evidence of plutocratic corruption undermining even the faint remnants of such organization, from AARP to New Deal 2.0.

The same people, whose resentments and ignorance are being exploited by cynical Republicans, could, in other circumstances, be stalwart supporters of egalitarian projects and values. The kind of crude, clumsy social dominance demonstrated by a Santorum advocating for curbs on contraception are not inherent characteristics of the mass of followers, who are abandoned to the Republican machine, by liberals and Democrats, and vilified for their alleged racial bigotry for their trouble. The alleged racial bigotry is closer to the truth, since people, whose political attitudes and psychology are in “authoritarian” cluster are very sensitive to in-group appeals and out-group vilifications. High-minded liberals may have a hard time grasping what it is like to be scared, vulnerable and ignorant, I guess. A lot of liberals reject polititical solidarity as a matter of principle; it makes liberals untrustworthy as representatives of economic mass interests—liberal positions on immigration and free trade and lukewarm support for unions mark them out as likely to betray the interests of ordinary workers, but liberals seem unaware of the consequences of their high-mindedness.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Krugthulhu rises from the Keynesian depths to devour the soul of Drill Baby Drill.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Friday, March 09, 2012

the Realm has been portrayed in a fairly consistent fashion for the last decade of publication. Essentially, the Realm has always been described as a dwindling power in the shadow of a Greater age. As the Realm has continued to persist, it has diminished more and more as the miracles of the ancients vanished from the World. At the head of all of this was the Empress, who was intensely shrewd and managed to secure a very posh position for herself. She managed the decline well but soon, not much more will be left.

Now, see, that's significantly different in theme, tone and execution from the following - The Realm has been ground into near-defeat by a constant, millenia-spanning war against the Anathama.

Let's address the subject of the Anathama, as well, because these new authorial directions have implications there, too.

How does the Realm view the Anathama?

It might surprise you, but the material is relatively consistent in saying - they are not particularly concerned. In order to understand that, first understand that not everybody in the Realm can read charmblocks and the 'tiers of power' meme that is so common on the forum is not widely held knowledge. Let me propose to you some very realistic statements --

'Aren't the Anathama mostly defeated?'
'Why are we continuing to fund the Wyld Hunt? Who is in charge of it? Are they being payed too much?'
'How dangerous are the Anathama -really-. Isn't a Dragonblooded just as powerful, or even more potent than one of these things?'
'I wonder if the history of the world is actually genuine. I've noticed people in this country tend to play fast and lose with historical accuracy, and it's fairly common knowledge that history is written by the victor. Did the 'empire of the Anathama' even really -exist- as they describe it?'
'I bet the Anathama aren't really a big deal at all. I mean, we run the whole world now, pretty much. What the hell is -one guy- gonna do against our cultural inertia? Please. The old empire became what it was because it was in the right place at the right time; any farfetched notion that the Anathama could even come -close- to defeating us now is a paranoid delusion.'

Now, from our OOC perspective?... these are all incredibly stupid statements. However, the Realm is not exposed to what we are exposed to. Rather, they are constantly educated in how awesome and infallible the Terrestial Exalted are; which leads on to naturally speculate whether the olden kings can even meaningfully -threaten- the Glorious Imperial Dynasty.

So, this leads us to the modern Realm, where actual -ANATHAMA CULTS- exist amongst -DYNASTS-. This is a world where Dragonblooded will actually make backroom dealings with a Solar and really only worry about getting caught. Never portray a modern dynast as overly hostile, if you want to be authentic - confronted with a Celestial, they are likely to vastly underestimate the mortal danger such a being poses (both socially and martially) in order to try to subvert the situation or twist it to personal benefit. After all, what's the harm? How bad could it get? They have been told since birth they are FUCKING AWESOME and they can handle most situations. This tends to affect people.

Is every modern Dragonblooded this ignorant? Nope. But most of them are.

THIS is why the Wyld Hunt keeps getting less and less funding every year.

Now, examining this, you can see it's reasonably gameable. It produces an environment where you can have many varied, nuanced interactions between Dynasts and Celestial Exalted.

So, now we can begin to see another potential problem of introducing the notion that an ongoing conflict with the Anathama has ground the Realm into dust --

This makes this far less reasonable. Anathama Cults change in tone and character completely; they are described in the book as being 'bored dynasts', but now they take on a feel more like terrorist cells. The Wyld Hunt becomes not only a priority, it becomes the MAJOR NATIONAL PRIORITY and is no longer a dwindling branch of government thought largely obselete, it's -the central purpose of current governance-.

So, this actually changed not only the theme and tone of Lunars quite a bit, but it adjusts Dragonblooded and Realm theme as well.

These are observations, not complaints. So don't read this and think of it as an attack on this -- this is meant to be a description of what is happening, so the ideas can be examined and refined/dismissed/attacked as required.

It’s simply shocking to find a country which would allow its political class to be dominated by those who “have profited from the crony capitalism that has come to define its economic order” and who “nearly brought down” its banking system. What must it be like to live in such a country? But even more bewildering still is that the Afghans simply refuse to prosecute their high-levels financial criminals, even though the U.S. is providing advice and oversight! Maybe it’s unsurprising to see a country treat its powerful criminals with impunity, but not when they have the United States of America providing guidance and wise counsel. What could possibly explain this? Are they simply ignoring the important lessons we’re teaching and the shining example we’ve set?

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