The US Attorney General and living cliche Jeff Sessions has ramped up the failed and counter-productive war on drugs: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/12/528086525/sessions-tells-prosecutors-to-seek-most-serious-charges-stricter-sentences
There have been many reactions to this but part of the left-leaning reaction has been a competition between two perspectives:
- That this move is Sessions trying to distract from Trump’s and his own entanglement with Russia and the recent sacking of the head of the FBI.
- That point 1. is missing the point that this is something Sessions has been wanting to do his whole career and is an example of his overall nastiness and, given the skewed way in which the War on Drugs falls on different communities in the US, his overall racism.
Sure both could be true at the same time without creating a logical contradiction but we really should aim for parsimonious explanations of events. Yet this kind of duplication of interpretations of the Trump regime’s acts makes simple motives hard to pin down. Is policy X because Trump is evil/incompetent/corrupt or is X simply a ‘distraction’ from some previous thing?
Whether by intent or happenstance, the Trump electoral campaign often succeeded in pushing past scandals by simply moving on to some new kind of outrage. As a kind of denial-of-service attack on normal news media processes, Trump could shift the news cycle onto a new topic (I assume often inadvertently) by saying or doing something else that would capture the headlines. So it is reasonable to see such things as Sessions’s new drug enforcement policy as fitting that model: something intended to outrage those who oppose Trump so we’ll be talking about that rather than the growing constitutional crisis.
Unfortunately for parsimony, we have to accept that it is both a distraction and an evil thing in itself. I’ve no doubt that Session will try to get away with as many regressive, racist and authoritarian policies as he can regardless of how it may aid the regime’s management of the news cycle. However, Sessions isn’t an idiot and he (and others in the regime) will continue to use other scandals as cover and as distractions to push their agenda. This is why generic obstruction is a wise tactic: the various people under Trump pushing their own nasty agendas aim to do as much harm as they can as quickly as they can while they still can. Put another way: Sessions always intended to try this move but he can’t be oblivious to the fact that the Comey-sacking scandal is a distraction from his actions and that his actions serve as a distraction to the Comey-sacking scandal.
The difference here from a normal executive is that Trump’s regime is not scandal-averse in a normal way. Any normal government would seek to minimise scandals (often unsuccessfully) in terms of number, length and intensity. Trump now sits at the top of a kind of scandal Ponzi scheme – a pyramid selling model of scandal but with more sustainability due to a substantial supply of neo-Nazis, unreformed Confederates and omnifallacious right-wing policies that have been floating around pseudo-think tanks since the 1990s.
So yes, it’s both and you can’t let it distract from the Russian scandal nor can you let the Russian scandal distract from the genuine harm Sessions will inflict on many, many people and communities with this policy.
OK, that’s a depressing conclusion, particularly for US readers. Sorry. The positive side? Every shitty, nasty move pushes somebody, somewhere from unsure-about-Trump to opposed-to-Trump. Moves like this don’t expand Trump’s base but only inspire the narrow core of his support. I know that is small comfort to the families that will bear the brunt of these policies.
This arose out of writing up Volume 2 of Notes Ignota (i.e. notes on Seven Surrenders – coming soon) but it seemed so apt to recent events that it is worth quoting in a more lengthy manner.
Those who have read Too Like the Lightning will have already come across the notable Enlightenment writer Denis Diderot (or those who haven’t and just know lots of stuff). He and Jean le Rond d’Alembert were key figures in the writing/compilation of the Encyclopédie – the Wikipedia of the Enlightenment.
Via the University of Michigan here is a translation of how Diderot described the nature of a tyrant (empahis mine). http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0001.238
Of all of the plagues that afflict humanity, there is none more fatal than that of a tyrant ; occupied solely with the objective of satisfying his passions, and those of the unworthy ministers of his power, he regards his subjects only as vile slaves, as beings of an inferior species, destined only to satisfy his caprices, and toward whom anything seems to him permissible; when pride and flattery have filled him with these ideas, the only laws he knows are those which he imposes; these absurd laws dictated by his interest and his fantasies, are unjust and vary according to his changes of heart. Because of the impossibility of exercising his tyranny on his own, and in order to force the people to submit to the yoke of his dissolute desires, he is forced to consort with corrupt ministers; his choice falls only upon wicked men who know justice only to violate it, virtue to transgress it, and laws to evade them…
…The suspicions, the guilt, and the terror besiege him from all directions; he knows no one worthy of his confidence, he has only accomplices, he has no friends. The people, exhausted, degraded, and demeaned by the tyrant , are insensitive to changes in him, the laws he has violated cannot help him; in vain he again appeals to the fatherland, but is there one where a tyrant reigns?
“Tyrant.” The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Thomas Zemanek. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2009. Web. [fill in today’s date in the form 18 Apr. 2009 and remove square brackets]. <http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0001.238>. Trans. of “Tyran,” Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 16. Paris, 1765.
Seems suddenly very familiar.
Chris Chupik mentions this piece in the comment section at Sarah Hoyt’s blog.
Oddly he says this:
Christopher M. Chupik March 26, 2017 at 12:09 pm
If you believe the commenters, I’m an American Christian Conservative Trump-supporter.
News to me.
Except…well nobody (i.e. zero people) call him either an American, Christian or a Trump supporter. I expect non-sequiturs and claims of persecution but I’m actually a bit baffled by this. Naturally, he doesn’t quote anybody but wow, talk about people running in mid-air with no ground below them.
Hoyt also adds, counterfactually:
accordingtohoyt | March 26, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Reply
Oh, we all are. In fact I was going to do a post on this. They don’t understand quite a number of us are not Christian, not straight, not cis anything. They divide by conformist group, so the only reason we don’t belong to them must be our unacceptably characteristics and being members of the establishment they imagine (which hasn’t existed for at least 100 years.) The scientific name for them is “Asshats.”
Huh? Is it the quip about modern conservatives thinking demons are real and nazis are imaginary that annoyed them? Because Hoyt just appended her comment to a piece that complains about witches and which disputes the existence of Nazis. The comment relates not to what I think conservatives ARE but as to how conservatives PORTRAY themselves, as amply documented by fellow pups in recent weeks.
Are conservatives all kinds of people? I assume so, because I’ve never met a group of people that wasn’t diverse at least on some dimensions. Do modern right wing conservatives/libertarians let straight Christian men call the shots and control the debate? Hmmm, yup. Indeed we all saw how that dynamic played out in the Puppy-debacles.
We’ve been busy watching Rabid shenanigans with books covers, but meanwhile over in Sad Puppy domains, Chris Chupik has decided that modern Nazis are largely imaginary. Chupik, for those who don’t know, is notable mainly as a regular commenter on Puppy blogs but sometimes he guest-posts at According to Hoyt. https://accordingtohoyt.com/2017/03/25/coyote-gravity-by-christopher-m-chupik/
[This get’s long so more below the fold…also ‘Spencer‘ is usually an external link but each time to a different article rather than peppering this piece with quotes]
A follow up from the earlier post on John C Wright’s belief that the left (in general) is essentially a religion of witchcraft. I failed to include a link so here http://www.scifiwright.com/2017/03/the-last-crusade-in-the-kingdom-of-witches/
And again, recently, many throngs of lunatics in a ghastly display of vulgarity, completely with nudity, swearing, and other degradations, wearing images of women’s genitalia on their heads. The gathering was called a protest, but no protester could articulate for what cause they gathered. It was yet again called a political movement, albeit, again, no law nor policy nor any specific political act was demanded to be done or undone. What was it for?
They are rituals, ceremonial, magical. They are sacraments, symbols intended to create the result they symbolize.
In the comments to my post, Doris V Sutherland pointed to some statements made by Wright’s fellow Dragon Award winner, Brian Neimmeier. I’ll link to one of his posts that goes into some detail: http://www.brianniemeier.com/2015/12/the-demonic-obsession-of-cultural.html
Extraordinary demonic activity may occur in various ways. Some refer to these phenomena as “stages”, but they’re more properly called “areas”, since they don’t necessarily follow an orderly progression.
The areas of extraordinary demonic activity are:
External physical attacks: pain and/or harm inflicted by a demon.
Oppression: various external torments that often masquerade as extreme bad luck.
Obsession: uncontrollable, irrational thoughts induced by demonic activity.
Infestation: refers to demonic attachment to a place, an object, or even an animal.
Possession: one or more demons takes control of a person’s body (not the soul).
Subjugation: voluntary submission to demonic influence.
Brian then goes on to ask whether SJW’s show signs of demonic possession and concludes that most don’t show the signs but do show the signs of ‘demonic obsession’. He later concludes:
Since the current social crisis more likely involves external demonic obsession than internal possession, mass exorcisms aren’t required to address the problem. Just as physicians can mediate divine healing through their skill, ordinary people can mediate deliverance from evil through prayer and fasting on behalf of our afflicted brethren.
Phew! I for one, strongly encourage those concerned about SJWs to wholeheartedly put their efforts into prayer and (reasonable) fasting. Also, check under your bed for talking cats. Oh and maybe check your calendar to see if it is the sixteenth century still.
Oh, and one last sppoooookkkky thought – remember how the right keep projecting their own faults onto others? And now they think people are controlled by demonic forces? Sleep tight.
The thing with the Evan McMullin killed Milo’s Career theory from our Puppy pals that really is bugging me is that it is just really, really, poor story telling. It’s too elaborate as a factual piece (unless, as I noted, moderate conservatives are pathetic at skullduggery) but worse, it’s just really bad as fiction.
No, if we are going to do fiction let us do it properly.
Who benefits specifically, with the timing and the events leading up to Milo’s fall from grace? I’ll credit the Puppies with at least getting you need a specific villain in a fictional story – the story can’t just be ‘people who don’t like nazi punks in general’.
Plotwise, for fiction rather than fact:
- You need a bad guy.
- It can’t be who you immediately expect.
- They have to directly benefit from both Milo’s rise & fall.
- When it is revealed, it all has to make sense in retrospect.
Ergo, Steve Bannon did it. I mean not really because we live in a real world where Ockham’s razor cuts such a story to shreds.
Bannon- Breitbart – Milo. Milo was great for Breitbart – stirring up shit, pulling in some angry young men and generally running interference for the alt-Right. But that was then. Bannon is next to the centre of power. Breitbart, which was once on the out fringes of conservatism is now accepted. CPAC will be Bannon’s chance to seal the deal – an alliance between wider conservatism and his own reactionary-nihilism.
Breitbart has a big presence at CPAC this year (in truth as well as in our fiction) and Bannon will appear with Reince Priebus. Donald Trump will give a keynote speech and…well some idiot invites Milo Yiannopolus. Can Bannon ensure Milo behaves? Probably not – after all he’s never needed Milo to behave, he has only ever needed Milo to stir shit. Worse, even Milo does behave at CPAC, everybody knows he has said some crazy shit which would alienate the still sceptical social conservative wing.
Solution (in fictional land): explode the scandal bomb early before it can do any collateral damage to CPAC, Trump, Breitbart or Bannon (that’s in reverse priority order).
Note only three things have actually happened to Milo:
- He got disinvited to a conference held by people he doesn’t like.
- He lost a book deal with a publisher he doesn’t like
- He ‘resigned’ from Breitbart.
Only one of those things looks like a betrayal…
Yeah, but in reality…nope. Events don’t need secret plots or sinister villains.
During the election, I mentioned that some kind soul had put me on a Trump mailing list (cheers).
Some months after the election and the begging letters are coming at an increased frequency:
Now firstly, as I’m not normally a recipient of US party political fund raising, I don’t know if this kind of frequency of requests for donations is typical. Second, I doubt there is any one kind of explanation for the Trump regime’s behaviour. However, I’d like to suggest that “make as much money as possible out of the 15% reactionary core of the US population as quickly as possible” makes a lot of explanatory sense. That doesn’t mean the other strong hypothesis “destroy the rule of law in screaming howl of hatred torn between the forces of chaos and fascism” is false, just that “…and let’s make a pile of cash out of the rubes while we do it” is a relevant coda.