The Eve of Something

…but we don’t know what.

By virtue of time zones, it is already Tuesday 3 November here. In a normal year, this would be Melbourne Cup day — the big Australian horse race that everybody bets on and people wear hats and get drunk. This year, things are a bit more subdued.

Meanwhile, it is still Monday in the USA. The final vote tally for the US Presidential election won’t be known for awhile but tomorrow things will be changing rapidly towards a conclusion. The polls and the models point toward a victory for the Biden/Harris ticket. Over shadowing those polls is the fact that Trump won last time and, more darkly, that Trump may not accept defeat even if he does lose.

Nate Silver at 538 is busy reminding people that a 10% chance is not a 0% chance https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/im-here-to-remind-you-that-trump-can-still-win/ There are uncertainties of many kinds, particularly around Pennsylvania and Florida where the chance of a Trump winning the state is much closer than in national polls.

In addition, the polls and models are unlikely to have adequately compensated for a number of factors:

  • Increased early voting
  • Potentially increased turn out
  • Attempts at voter suppression
  • Attempts at vote intimidation

There are also claims of a “shy Trump voter” bias in the polls — more centre-leaning Trump voters not wanting to say they are Trump voters out of shame or fear. This last one I am doubtful of.

Back in 2016 I thought it would be interesting to see how people associated with the Sad/Rabid Puppies movement would shift (or not) during the Trump years. As reflected more broadly in the polls, people who were already solidly right wing have only consolidated more in their support of Trump. Where a number of notable Sad Puppies were dubious (or even hostile) towards Trump during the GOP Presidential nomination process all those years ago, most shifted towards some degree of support by the election (or at the very least overt hostility towards his opponent). In between times, that has only strengthened. John C Wright and Sarah Hoyt shifted from sceptical/grudging support to full on Trump-advocacy. Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen have been more circumspect and adopted an ‘anti-anti-Trump’ position. I don’t think either of them have overtly said they’d vote for him but their anti-Biden position is unambiguous and also shallow (focusing on Biden’s age and his dodgy son — qualities which don’t distinguish him from Trump). Vox Day has been an avid Trump supporter and remains so.

On the whole, most of this former leaders of the Puppy groups remain bullish about the election. There is an underlying belief that Trump is very popular and the polls are very wrong. That is compounded with a confusion about how wrong the polls were in 2016 — as if dismissing the result of the popular vote for constitutional reasons also (magically) means the polls got it wrong that Hillary Clinton was more popular than Trump.

Adjacent to the Puppy leaders we have other puppy-characters like Michael A Rothman being super bullish on Facebook:

“Mark this as my official prediction:
Trump wins electoral with at least the same margin as last time.
Trump likely wins popular vote as well.”

https://www.facebook.com/MARothman/posts/10217545584647542

That seems unlikely.

If the opposite happens and Biden’s win is more substantial then maybe some Republicans will re-evaluate their support of the Electoral College. That will be interesting to see. Because of the above, I’ve ended up watching Utah conservatives extolling the virtue of the EC, even though it remains a bad deal for Utah conservatives (the way the Senate works is a different question). Ironically, the 2016 election would have been an opportunity for Utah Republicans to leverage the EC by voting Democratic and ironically giving themselves far more influence over the GOP as a result…but that’s not how people actually vote or behave.

Speaking of which, I was gifted yesterday a cursed item: a book! Entitled “Divided we Fall: One Possible Future” it is a political-science fiction anthology edited by the pseudonymous Mack Henckel and according to the cover features:

“Stories by Sarah Hoyt, Brad Torgersen, Jon Del Arroz and More!”

The premise is all the bad things that will happen to America if Trump loses. This is the flip side of the apparent bullishness: a deep seated fear of what happens next.

You won’t be astonished to hear that it isn’t very good but let me reassure you that even by standards of Hoyt’s, Torgersen’s and Arroz’s writing, it isn’t very good. Indeed, all three are more than capable of word-smithing readable fiction — they aren’t inherently bad writers and Hoyt in particular gains a lot more clarity when she writes fiction. This book though, is rushed and poorly edited both in a broad sense and in a copy-editing sense. It falls even below my extraordinarily low standards for typos.

Torgersen’s persecution fantasy is that the Federal Government will outlaw the Mormons:

“Ephraim Roberts watched the feds from behind his own sunglasses. Until six months prior, he’d been among their number. The injunction—which had come swift on the heels of the church having its tax-exempt status revoked—had put paid to any plans Ephraim had of retiring on a federal pension. He’d watched two nephews and one niece go to jail during the early days, when idealistic church members still actively challenged the blockades that had sprung up around every single Latter-Day Saint temple in the United States.”

Secret Combinations by Brad Torgersen, in Divided we Fall: One Possible Future

Jon Del Arroz’s story is more unpleasant but is basically just trolling for outrage. Sarah Hoyt’s story is quasi-autobiographical which has the unfortunate effect of making it read like one of her not-intended-to-be-fiction columns. The protagonist lives in Colorado and in 2016 is considering voting Libertarian but is persuaded reluctantly to vote for Trump. Unlike Hoyt, the protagonist is gay and has a liberal wife but the dialogue from either of them reads like direct quotes from her columns. For example take this dialogue about Covid19:

‘“Sure. Very dangerous, if you’re like 80. Maybe. Look, I did a deep dive into the Diamond Princess numbers. It can’t be that dangerous. Those ships are plague vessels at the best of times.”
“Ah.”
“And what they’re doing is putting an entire country under house arrest. A lot of the economy won’t come back, can’t come back.’

Teach the Children by Sarah Hoyt, in Divided we Fall: One Possible Future

Anyway then tomorrow happens and society collapses:

‘Well, you know what happened. The election was called for Joe and the Ho, and Trump didn’t dispute it. And things got crazy. Really crazy. It was hard to know what was actually happening, you know, because the news was all bizarre. They’d started the fiction with their Tales of the Covid, and they just ramped that up. The Green New Deal was going to save us. The Native Americans were coming out of the reservations to teach us to love Mother Earth. Police were disbanded. The committees of reconciliation…’

Teach the Children by Sarah Hoyt, in Divided we Fall: One Possible Future

The story rapidly skips into an apocalypse society but the protagonist and friends keep the faith and at the end have started a kind of religion whose faith is the USA (a theme Hoyt has used before).

…and so on. Yes, obviously the anthology is an attempt to make a quick buck (and a quick book) but the fear mongering is both cynical and sincere. That combination is quintessentially the story of the Puppy years — a mix of grift, confabulation and paranoia.

63 thoughts on “The Eve of Something

    1. But unsurprising. “She’s a slut” is the go-to insult (in Clinton’s case they had to settle for “she’s a lesbian!”). I have pointed out to people that if they vote Trump they obviously can’t claim to care about a candidate’s sex life, but they just keep insisting Harris is a Ho.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The double standard is the only one the RWNJ consistently uphold. Trump repeatedly divorcing and banging porn stars is awesome; Harris being happily married exactly once, her stepchildren actually liking her, and she and their mother getting along well is still somehow wrong.

        Well, that and her having way too much melanin for their taste.

        It’s the 21st century; having a half-Black, half-South Asian Indian woman as vice president doesn’t seem that outlandish to most people. Go back a few decades and your average American would be less surprised by that than by the fact that all of us are carrying powerful computers in our pockets which also make phone calls and take photos. ST:TOS had a Black woman and an Asian man on the bridge, but their computers were still giant whirry boxes and the communicators didn’t take pictures and let you play solitaire.

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  1. “The injunction—which had come swift on the heels of the church having its tax-exempt status revoked”
    An interesting choice of issue. Segregated churches losing tax exempt status in the 1970s was the flashpoint that got the religious right going as a political movement.
    Regarding Trump his chance of winning the popular vote, even with suppression is zero. His chance of winning the electoral college is not zero, nor his chance of having the courts rig the game for him (as they’re already doing). But comparisons to 2016 are dubious at best. Clinton was a woman; the press had been hunting for something damning on the Clintons for years and didn’t stop; Russian interference and James Comey helped shift the balance. Some people thought Trump was that star businessman of the Apprentice; even people who did it could believe “he doesn’t have to have all the answers, like any businessman he’ll hire the best people who do” — I didn’t vote Trump but I still thought that was likely. Now we’ve seen the train wreck.
    None of which proves he can’t win, but I’m hopeful. Actually more than I was in 2016, when I half-suspected things would play out as they did.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Also, a church losing its tax-exempt status does not mean this church, let alone a whole religion is banned. The Church of Scientology lost its tax-exempt status in Germany many years ago and keeps complaining about religious persecution. Even though no one closed down their branches or banned them, they simply have to pay taxes like any other company.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was pointing out on FB that the Obama era predictions of FEMA concentration camps never happened when a conservative equated losing tax exempt status to going in “financial concentration camp!”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Well of course not, but I can’t speak for Germany but in the US however, evangelicals and far right religious nuts have acted like it is, and have done so for other minor slights (for example, a state not funding a religious school because it discriminated against LGBTQ people). For the religious right, separation of church and state is the enemy and any sign of it is a sign the government means to destroy them.

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      3. @frasersherman: “the Obama era predictions of FEMA concentration camps never happened”

        Trying to make me feel old, are you? Back in my day we had the Reagan-era predictions of FEMA concentration camps, based on a whisper-down-the-lane version of actual creepy shit Reagan’s creepy crew had talked about. I’m not sure how high-profile this idea was on the left at the time, but it certainly got into pop culture here and there. When Reagan and Bush I were out and nothing like that had happened, it seamlessly transitioned over to the right and became the Clinton-era predictions of FEMA concentration camps. Then from 2000 to 2008 it was something Bush II was going to do. Obama was a Johnny-come-lately!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. As I understand segregated churches still retain tax-exempt status. It was segregated schools which lost their tax-exempt status.

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      1. Yep. As many have noted, the Supreme Court case that kicked off the Religious Right wasn’t Roe v. Wade, no matter how much they claim it was (because publicly saying you’re fighting for your right to discriminate doesn’t give you the moral high ground). It was Bob Jones University v. United States.

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  2. Huh. I wonder how the right will take it if Biden wins a solid majority in the EC with
    a minority of the vote?

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      1. Prior to the result of 2016, some Republicans had already begun arguing for state votes to be split into districts (as some states already do). If they lose Texas, then I expect this will be asserted more strongly. They then have some hope of improving their EC vote with gerrymandering.

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  3. Re: Hoyt, I’m just trying to figure out how a character says “Joe and the Ho” to a ‘liberal’ wife and doesn’t get punched out for it. If I said anything like that to my spouse I’d be in serious danger.

    And if that dialogue was from a ‘looking back, this is where things fell apart’ bit, why in God’s name would a youngster know who the fuck the Ho would be anyway? My early 20’s son has no idea who Nixon’s VP was, for example.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. In fairness that’s a common problem. People in future SF often show an implausible familiarity with 20th century pop culture, the equivalent of millennials who don’t read anything more recent than Victorian novels.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Which reminds me, gaaaaaah, of a scene in Mike Shepherd’s first Kris Longknife book, Mutineer.

        So here we are, roughly 400 years in the future and **on another planet**, and Kris is baking chocolate chip cookies (don’t get me started on the scene as a whole, just stay with me here). She reaches for — and I Kid You Not — Ghirardelli brand chips. By name.

        Gaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.

        Yes, I did dnf that book with great prejudice, why do you ask?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I often have cooking and baking scenes in my fiction, including my SFF, because I do think that people will continue to cook and bake in the future. However, I never mention brandnames, unless I share a recipe in the Author’s Note, which I sometimes do.

        As for people in the future being uncommonly familiar with 19th and 20th century pop culture, see how many characters quote Shakespeare and Dickens or holodeck cosplay Sherlock Holmes or midcentury pulp fiction, as if no new culture of interest had been created after approx. 1960.

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        1. Yep. Similarly Marvel’s Ghost Rider 2099 series has a group of future AIs manifesting to the protagonist as 20th century TV characters. Even a generation after most shows leave the air, they’re not going to have any resonance.

          Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s a failing of copyright law, sadly. If it isn’t public domain, you can’t use it, generally.

        I suppose now that Disney has Borg-ified so much of the industry, maybe Marvel can start mentioning Pixar stories or something.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You can of course always mention made up pop culture such as have Kirk praising an icon of 22nd century nature neo-rap or rvenge sitcoms or something like that. And indeed, the pulp fiction holodeck stuff was all made up, but similar to models we recognise, e.g. Captain Proton = Flash Gordon or Picard pretending to be a hardboiled detective.

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      1. Yeah, I’d really like to be able to binge-watch The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon. Amazon or Netflix need to get on this, stat!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. They’d started the fiction with their Tales of the Covid,

    What part of “pan”demic do these people not understand? It’s just amazing that they seem to think that it is only happening in their country and thus it must be a conspiracy to make us all, um, wear masks and realise that there are other people besides themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also…if the pandemic is a big lie…who is behind it all? All clues point to New Zealand. Just as Kubrick manufactured the moon landings, Peter Jackson directed the Covids.

      Notice how before LotR, you never saw any Kiwis anywhere and now they are everywhere? Makes you think…

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Right now, I think the American right is essentially a bunch of con artists who suffer from Dunning Kruger and think that that everybody else are marks (including their fellow members). Most of them know that they’re buying into a lot of nonsense but since they are the “smart ones,” they will be able to take advantage of everybody else and be the one on top. The only thing that most of them believe in is their own greatness.

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  6. I imagine this flow chart will come in handy the next several days:

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      1. My plan is to emulate Murderbot, except with my Steam library instead of Sanctuary Moon. And a bottle of wine or two.

        Wednesday morning I plan to look south to see how much smoke I see floating across Lake Ontario from the charred remains of the United States. Then and only then will I look to see what’s happened.

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  7. Methinks Brad misses the olden days when the Mormons did come under government opprobrium; once about polygamy and once about saying Black people were cursed and couldn’t be clergy. Both times, a very convenient revelation just so happened to agree with government policy. God told ’em to do exactly what the government wanted. And both times, it only involved money — not threats of banning them entirely.

    The idea of the extremely Catholic Joe Biden and the married-to-a-nice-Jewish-lawyer Harris deciding to ban any religion is… as stupid and as far removed from reality as Puppies usually are. Status quo there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Back in 2016 on Vox Day’s blog, because Utah Republicans were being insufficiently pro-Trump many of Day’s minions were joking about the mass murder of Mormons. If many Christian dominonists had their way, Mormons would also be outlawed and many rightwing Christians regarded Mormons as heretics. Not a peep from Brad.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mormons are definitely conscious of being in a religious minority. They may agree on the issues with Protestant evangelicals, but there’s no way that Trumpist identitarian rhetoric isn’t making a lot of them nervous.

        There’s a reason Sen Romney (R-UT) could get away with voting to impeach.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. For a lot of the Protestant religious right, Catholics aren’t real Christians either. Some fundamentalists think fundamentalist churches are the only real Christians. And so on.
        That’s why we have a first amendment. without it, things gonna get ugly.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. camestrosfelapton: >Yup. The biggest threat to religious freedom in the US is the same threat it has always had: extremist Christians wanting to enforce their orthodoxy on other Christians.

            … and on non-Christians. 😐

            Liked by 4 people

      3. When I was teaching religious studies classes, I had a few students use the phrase “Catholicism and Christianity” in some of their writtwn reading responses.

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      4. Mormons ARE heretics in both the Western and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

        They’re non-Trinitarians. Which means God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit aren’t the same and equal to them.* Like the Arians and the Cathars. That’s why “Christian” dominionists and rightwingers are against them, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a few other small groups.

        (Well, that and preaching that a man who does everything right gets to eventually be God of his own planet. If that sounds sci-fi… remember, BSG is based on Mormon theology.)

        But I guess Brad thinks it’s fine when RWNJ like the Teddy Boys say it. Even though they’re the ones with the guns and the stated willingness to use them against other Americans. He also still hasn’t said a peep about Teddy’s considering Black people sub-human, even though Brad’s wife and children are Black. Teddy made Brad his bitch and it stuck.

        *Take it up with the First Council of Nicaea in 325, not me.

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        1. And don’t forget Mrs. God. They don’t talk about it much in public, but of course God is married — so there’s a little woman waiting for him back at home.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Two immediate thoughts:

    1: “It falls even below my extraordinarily low standards for typos” made me LOL. If Cam thinks the amount of typos are worth commenting on, obviously nobody involved bothered proofreading at all. Did they run spell-check?

    2: Scrappy-Doo Johnny the Rice must be so excited to be in the same book as actual Puppy leaders! Senpai noticed him! ::hearteyes::

    Liked by 3 people

  9. And apropos of absolutely nothing, today’s free public domain nicely repackaged book (till 9 PM Eastern US time) is “Leviathan” by Thomas Hobbes.

    Apparently this book talks about something called a “social contract”, where government and people have responsibilities to look after one another.

    Interesting concept.

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    1. And the SparkNotes summary of this book led me to a Halloween candy quiz which revealed I am Beatrice from “Much Ado About Nothing”. I shall go do my best Emma Thompson for a bit, although Mr. LT has a better jawline than Branagh. Will inform you if Denzel et al come riding up to the house.

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  10. At least the title of Torgerson’s story is amusing. It might even be intentionally amusing. I just don’t want to spoil the joke by reading any more.

    (If you don’t get it, look up “temple garment”).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. But it is also an LDS term for a conspiracy. But the joke meaning works well with the Mormons supposedly being persecuted, implausible as it is.

        Maybe it would work better in an alternate universe where Orson Scott Card went through with his threats, and murdered the Supreme Court in a Danite terrorist attack. Or – less implausibly – where his threat inspired radical younger Mormons to do it.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s the case with so many of the Puppy authors isn’t it? Their crankdom and the rants derived from it is so much more interesting (if icky) than their rather boring and pedestrian real corpus.

        Liked by 1 person

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