Eric Trump Needs My Help!

Camestros, I have no other choice but to ask for your help.

No. Other. Choice. people. This is where the Trump campaign is at. They’ve tried everything else but now, after much soul-searching, they know it is time to get Timothy on their side – and that means talking to me. They get to Timothy without going through me.

OK, Eric – take a seat and outline your proposal. You’ve got 4 minutes, so you’d better make it good.

Now that Labor Day weekend has come and gone, we’re in the final sprint towards Election Day. Will you please chip in $50 immediately to fund our voter-turnout operations? We need to raise $10 million in September and we need your urgent help to meet our goal.

Wait? Did you not read my last email? Eric, Eric, Eric, don’t come here with some lame plan to raise $10 million in $50 drips. You need a BIG idea, Eric. Something that will capture the imagination of a nation:

DINNER WITH TRUMP’S TAX ACCOUNTANT.

Timothy has worked it up into a PowerPoint. I say “PowerPoint”, it’s mainly a photo of him writing ‘dinner with trmps tax man guy’ with a sharpie on a cereal box but you get the idea.

During the past year, my father has activated a movement of patriotic, pro-America voters all across the country.

This is a nationwide movement of proud citizens who are fed up with the failures, the lies and the cowardice of career politicians and D.C. insiders.

Less with the ‘activated’ Eric – we aren’t supposed to let people know about the remote controlled satsuma-spider god zombie army.

You stand out as a leading supporter, Camestros, and you should be proud of the role you are playing in this incredible 50-state uprising of fed-up Americans.

I think you might be getting me confused with Timothy.

But the reality is that the presidential election will be decided in just a handful of “swing states.”

Also best to avoid ‘swinging’ references.

While my father has spent his time growing businesses and creating jobs, Hillary Clinton has been laying the groundwork for this campaign for many, many years.

Our team is growing fast!.  And to continue our momentum going into the final days of the campaign, we are launching a September Victory Fund to ramp up our get-out-the-vote operations in key states.

Yes, that Hillary is a cunning operator. While Donald has been busy arguing with Scotland about golf course windmills, she has been perniciously out and about gathering skills and experience to do the job of US President well. She has been using her feminine whiles to research the issues and develop policy.

For September, we’re setting a $10 million online goal, and it’s a big number but I know we’ll hit it because of all the support we’re getting from loyal supporters like you, Camestros.

Aww shucks.

Every dollar you donate will help identify and turn out Republicans, right-thinking Independents, and disaffected Trump-supporting Democrats who are sick and tired of D.C. failures and ready to take back our government with a real outsider leading the charge.

When you put it like that, it sounds a bit sinister. Is it RFID chips in the hats isn’t it? I knew it! Come the Ascension day, all the hats activate! The Satsuma-Spider God Army Will Awaken! Thanks for the tip-off. I know you can’t talk about this openly so I’ll ixnay the references to the atsumasay iderspay odgay onsumingcay allway ourway oulsay.

Thank you, Eric Trump

No worries mate. You can see yourself out?

P.S.

Yesssss….

My father will be getting a list from me later,…

Tell me more about this list…

…with all the names of the people who donated to the Victory Fund today . . . ‘launch day’ for this September $10 million fund drive. I hope he sees your name at the top of the list, Camestros.

Wait, how is the list of names going to be sorted? Won’t Aaron A Aardvark be top of the list? If it is purely on cash value then how are you going to put a dollar-amount on priceless ideas like ‘dinner with trmps tax man guy’. Have you SEEN how tiny Timothy’s paws are? We aren’t talking opposable thumbs here. He has to grip that pen using his claws.

OK, here’s the deal. Timothy’s name goes on the list as 000#AAAA.TimothyTheTalkingCat OK? I’ll be checking with your dad, so don’t mess us around.

 

 

 

The POTUS election tightens! Timothy may get the casting vote!

Newt Gingrich has written to us with some exciting news!*

Camestros,

In 6O days, you get to vote for the next president of the United States.

There will be no turning back. No more votes will be cast. No more dollars will be raised.

Because these last 6O days will determine the fate of this election, a group of conservative donors have stepped up to match all contributions between now and Election Day, 2 to 1.

But in order to ensure that your dollar is effectively used in the field to turn out voters, you will need to contribute by tonight at midnight.

Please make your contribution into our Grassroots Victory Fund to get your contribution MATCHED.

Camestros: please don’t forget that absentee ballots are being mailed in the battleground state of North Carolina TODAY — and in other states soon after that.

There is truly no time to wait. We need to keep making significant investments in the key states that will determine whether or not Donald Trump wins and whether or not we still have control of our Republican majorities.

Recent polling shows that enthusiasm is on our side. Republicans, not Democrats, are excited to cast their votes.

But it’s our job to turn that enthusiasm into real votes that will win this election. And our Party needs your help to successfully accomplish that.

Please contribute $100, $75, $50, $35, or $15 into our Grassroots Victory Fund to ensure we have the resources to WIN big in the states will determine this election.
Your friend,


Newt Gingrich

NOTE: YOUR FRIEND, NEWT GINGRICH. It’s there in black and white people – my friend Newt. He wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t true.

My reply was:

Hi Newt,
Great to hear from you. I’m a bit strapped for cash right now and I’m afraid Timothy spent all his allowance on a “military grade flashlight, buy it now before it’s banned” which he is using to alarm squirrels in the middle of the night.
Don’t worry though we get the ‘nod, nod, wink, wink’ about those postal ballots in North Carolina. Timothy’s looking into it but he is a bit concerned because the nice lady at the post office doesn’t like him.
Anyway, as we can’t contribute money, Timothy and I put our heads together and thought of what we could do to help. Then it hit us! Ouch, we said and threw the brick back at the squirrels. Then an idea hit us! We could send you FREE ebooks of THERE WILL BE WALRUS: SECOND VOLUME FIVE!
Timothy the Talking Cat made me publish this. I’m so very, very sorry. Camestros Felapton

You can use these charming and informative books to boost morale among your party faithful or even use Timothy’s brilliant tactical advice (with maps) to help plan your campaign. Timothy is really excited to see what your campaign will look like and hopes that you start it soon

All the best from Felapton Towers.

*[I’m assuming a puppy-adjacent web inhabitant has signed me up on an email list – if so they have given me extraordinary amounts of joy]

What is the US election campaign about for the alt-right?

The alt-right isn’t campaigning against Hillary Campaign so much as campaigning against conservative rivals. Nor are they particularly campaigning for Trump. This election campaign on the right is oddly warped by the alt-rights faith in masculine dominance games.

In another adventure of reading Vox Day so you all don’t have to, I spent some time trawling through his posts from 1 August until now. I saw something quite remarkable. Almost zero (exactly zero if I didn’t miss one) posts were direct attacks on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Instead, posts critical of Clinton split into two types:

  • Clinton is supposedly a murderer conspiracy claims. Essentially a warmed over version of 1990s hunting around for anybody in some way linked to Clinton who has died.
  • Clinton is supposedly unwell in some way. This is the odd ‘health truther‘ thing that is doing the rounds of the alt-right.

The split is 2 spooky murders versus 4 health-truther posts. 6 posts in total.

Now a lot of Vox’s posts are political in some way and obviously many of them are various kinds of bemoanings about ‘SJWs’ or rants about immigration. However, by comparison, I decided to count up posts that are specific attacks on conservatives.

In that same period Vox has posted at least 10 posts that are substantial attacks on conservatives and conservatism.

Now Vox is a bit of a nobody outside of his followers and assorted folks like myself who encountered his antics via the Hugo Award kerfuffles. However, he is a reasonable example of what the alt-right are saying and doing. While Vox doesn’t need to convince his audience one way or another on the election, normally his kind of site is where people would rehearse their arguments and talking points.

With the Trump campaign now directly aligned with the alt-right outlet Brietbart, it is interesting to see how the campaign will continue. I think we can expect to see even more overt attempts to squeeze conservativism.

The alt-right sees politics as a manichean struggle between their white-nationalism and some sort of globalist-elitist-not-elists-egalitarian-socialist-feminist-anythingtheydontlikeist conspiracy. Hence their efforts are primarily concerned with trying to radicalise conservatives rather than winning.

When it comes to Clinton not winning the elections, at this point their main focus is a kind of wishful thinking.

The Alt-Right Two-Step: Castalia/VD Goes After Baen

I like mental models – ways of simplifying complex real world events to the point where they are useful enough without becoming grossly misleading. In current politics, we are seeing a resurgence of an extreme nativist right that rejects the free-market/libertarian-lite elements of recent conservatism. That phenomenon is complex, multifaceted and playing out on different stages in different ways.

So I must give some brief and limited praise to Vox Day – a minor player in the reassertion of crypto-fascism but one who acts like a petri-dish culture of the essence of it. His plays tend to either echo or pre-empt what we see playing out by more dangerous and powerful forces elsewhere.

I was working on a post describing one element of mental model of how the alt-right operates when Vox Day posts an elegant example of exactly what I wanted to talk about: https://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2016/07/mailvox-sjw-convergence-at-baen.html Warning: nonsense follows:

Despite what many SJWs think, Baen is not actually on our side, rather, Baen is the No Man’s Land between the SJW and the Right. I suspect we’ll know Baen has fully converged when it abandons its garish trademark covers in favor of the washed-out faux literary style favored by Tor. Not that there is anything right about one or wrong about the other, but SJWs always have the need to let everyone know they have taken control, and that would be the most public way of making it clear to all and sundry.

Anyhow, should Baen eventually go the way of its big brother, Castalia will be here to assist any of its authors who prefer to align with the Alt and Traditional Rights rather than with the cultural Marxists.

I’d love to say I saw that coming but sadly I never said anything overtly pointing that out. However, it is so obvious that Castalia would eventually have to start bad-mouthing Baen from both a commercial and political point-of-view that it almost hides the wider process.

The process is this:

  1. Attack the left, vehemently, vocally but not necessarily EFFECTIVELY. They do not need to win a vote (although they are happy if they do) or stage an effective boycott, they just need to ESTABLISH CREDENTIALS. The point is to show that they are the ‘true’ right by being loudly (even absurdly or self-damagingly) anti-left. An actual coherent right-leaning ideology isn’t needed.
  2. Attack the right from the right. Having established their credentials in step 1, the alt-right then attacks the right on whatever point they are weakest rhetorically. This can even include co-opting left-leaning critiques but may be more focused on nativism.

This process can be repeated recursively at multiple levels. Take a basic Trump example:

  1. Attack President Obama by full-on birtherism. In the last US presidential election cycle, Trump adopted birtherism – the confused claim that Obama was somehow not a natural-born-citizen. For Republicans, this had become a self-damaging position to take that tended to lose them appeal rather than gain it. To a wider audience, it made Trump seem *less* relevant. However, the pay-off was that the self-damage to his wider public credibility enforced his rightwing credentials.
  2. Attack Bush, the GOP establishment and lingering neo-conservatism during this election cycle by using the Iraq War as an example of incompetence. True, the libertarian wing of the GOP had been doing this for longer but Trump could make it stick without sounding like he was siding with the left.

In terms of Vox Day you can see lots of micro-examples:

  •  1. Publish SJWs Always Lie to establish credentials. 2. Follow-up with a book attacking conservatives.
  • 1. Validate and boost Sad Puppy leaders such as Sarah Hoyt in a supposedly anti-SJW attack on the Hugo awards 2. Follow-up with personal attacks on Hoyt’s Portuguese background.
  • 1. Publically announce a list of SJW’s to help ’employers’ identify dangerous leftist. 2. Populate said list with ex-Brietbart journalists, centrist Jewish people etc.
  • 1. Push a quixotic boycott of supposedly ‘SJW converged’ Tor Books. 2. See above for the start of bad-mouthing Baen books.

This is not to say that the alt-right has a wider objective of actually attacking the left and social progress. Obviously, they do. However, their shorter-term goals are competing against the more established forms of rightwing ideology.

With Castalia, Baen and Tor, the commercial strategy and the political strategy work in exactly the same way. Castalia positions itself very loudly as the anti-Tor. Aside from publicity and branding (which are important), this is not a deep commercial attack – Castalia isn’t actually going to win over many readers from Tor books nor is the apparently on-going boycott of Tor Books going to hurt Tor. However, it is publicity of a kind, branding and *credentials*. In terms of winning readers, Baen is a bigger competitor.

If Sad Puppies had remained a stronger coalition then we would probably now be seeing more aggressive attacks by Rabid Puppies on them as a group. As it is, the more low-key approach for Sad Puppies 4 has probably saved them a lot of Vox-directed vitriol.

 

 

 

 

Australian Gun Laws – Did they Work? (spolier: yes they did)

University of Sydney academic Professor Simon Chapman is the lead author of a study that has examined the impact of the late 1990’s tightening of Australian gun laws. The Liberal government of the time (for ‘liberal’ read ‘conservative’) enacted tougher gun laws in response to the Port Arthur mass shooting in Tasmania. Australia’s gun laws did not become as strict as the UK’s and the emphasis was on  guns that could be used in mass shootings and a general reduction in gun availability.

So what happened? The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association here: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2530362 [abstract is directly avaialble but I think it is possible to get the full article by a free sign-up]

There is also an editorial in the same edition of the journal here: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2530361

What is most clear from the current study is that Australia’s NFA coincided with an elimination of mass killings with firearms. It is difficult to pinpoint precisely which aspect of the policy contributed to this success, but the substantial reduction in the population’s exposure to semiautomatic long guns capable of accepting large-capacity magazines (LCMs) for ammunition is likely to have been key. Examinations of fatal mass shootings in the United States have found that when assault weapons or pistols with LCMs are used in these shootings, the number of victims shot is about 2.5 times higher than in mass shootings with other firearms.7,8

The study is particularly interesting because it aims to disentangle the effect of the gun law changes from other brother shifts – for example  the trend in many developing nations of declines in homicide that occurred anyway. It also shows that the laws had an impact on suicide and importantly, shows that banning some kinds of weapons does not just lead to shift to still-legal weapons with no resulting decline in mass-killings or suicides. Instead a selective ban and gun buy-back schemes does seem to have resulted in a net reduction in deaths.

From a Guardian news article on the study:

The lead author of the study, Professor Simon Chapman, said a similar study had been conducted 10 years ago, and that the researchers had repeated it to see if gun-related deaths were continuing to decline, finding that they had.

“I’ve calculated that for every person in Australia shot in a massacre, 139 [people] are shot through firearm-related suicide or homicides, so they are much more common,” Chapman said.

“We found that homicide and suicide firearms deaths had been falling before the reforms, but the rate of the fall accelerated for both of them after the reforms. We’ve shown that a major policy intervention designed to stop mass shootings has had an effect on other gun-related deaths as well.”

He said the researchers had chosen to publish the results in an American medical journal not just because the title was a prestigious one, but also because the findings would have a greater impact.

However, he does not believe the findings will have an impact on gun ownership laws in the US.

“The US is a good example of where evidence is going to take longer to prevail over fear and ideology,” he said.

“When people like [Republican candidate] Donald Trump talk about gun violence, he’s essentially not talking about the facts or the evidence, he’s talking about ideology and saying people want the right to protect themselves and their homes.

“The irony is the person you have to protect yourself most from in a home is the person who owns the gun.”

Chapman said more than half of those who had conducted mass shootings in Australia and New Zealand had been licensed gun holders.

Will Trump Actually Be the GOP Candidate?

platonictrumpNo, not another post about what kind of shenanigans the Republican Party might employ at the convention, but rather whether Trump himself will stand.

Now, like all political prognostication, I must surround this with caveats. Things change, Clinton may become more embroiled in scandal, events may derail the campaigns, Trump may suddenly show a previous untapped popularity outside his core supporters. However, lets assume things are as they appear to be right now. Will Trump actually stand for President and if he doesn’t, then what?

  1. Was his candidacy ever serious to begin with? When he first put his name forward it was regarded as something as a joke. As we’ve all seen the joke turned into an electoral monster that consumed the Republican Party. However, Trump was presumably not delusional when he started and probably also believed that his chances were slim. He didn’t invest much in campaigning compared to other candidates and road a wave of disaffection. Assuming his commitment to becoming President has always been low then his capacity to just quit from the race is much higher than your typical candidate. This is a substantial reason why he would quit but it does mean it is easier for him to do so than it would be for another candidate.
  2. Currently it looks like he will lose badly. A humiliating defeat may be in the cards based on current polling and there is good reason to think that Trump would lose badly anyway. The counterargument amounts to the fact that standard political analysis has repeatedly failed to predict Trump’s success…but Trump doesn’t actually have magical powers and his rhetoric is frightening moderate voters and encourages major demographic chunks of the US population to actively turn out and vote against him. If Trump isn’t delusional then he is looking at the same numbers and must be wondering whether ending up looking like a loser is something he wants.
  3. Everybody is out to get him – not literally everybody but the man has made more enemies than usual and that includes many very wealthy Republican donors. This means more dirt, more investigations into his affairs and more scrutiny. If Trump feels he has a decent shot at winning the Presidency then he might think that extra scrutiny into his business affairs is worth it. However, he thinks he is going to lose then he isn’t going to want to not only have lost a Presidential election but also find himself with his business affairs publicly exposed – with possible legal ramifications around that.
  4. It costs money to run for President and Trump isn’t going to want to spend his own money. The GOP donor class apparently hates Trump, the quasi-libertarian Koch brothers hate Trump, the usual rich suspects aren’t going to be bank rolling his campaign. Maybe he’ll be able to fund a campaign from more grassroots donations and maybe he can even find a way of making an extra dollar or two for himself that way…maybe. However, again if we assume that Trump is to some extent not delusional and does actually think sometimes like a business owner, the downsides of this ‘deal’ look bigger than the up sides.
  5. The magic isn’t working. Trump had an amazing ride in the primaries. He was a deeply flawed candidate but by picking up some support early, his rivals treated him cautiously. Each one of the many other candidates assumed that Trump would flare out at some point and then his supporters would be up for grabs. Consequently the Republican candidates were cautious about saying anything that might alienate Trumps core supporters. None of that is true anymore. The Democrats aren’t interested in winning over Trump supporters, they are interested in grabbing the anti-Trump vote and more importantly getting that anti-Trump vote OUT on the day.
  6. Trump would probably prefer to leave the race on his own terms than to lose or be maneuvered out by shenanigans.

Having sunk very little into the campaign so far (comparatively), Trump has fewer reasons not to leave than most. He also owes the Republican Party establishment nothing. Normally a candidate just dropping out and leaving their party candidateless and in the lurch would be a reputational disaster but Trump notably does not give a shit. Trump could use maneuvers by the GOP establishment to side line him as a pretext for a giant F___-You! to the party hierarchy.

That would NOT be a good outcome. There is an obvious benefit that it would remove the possibility of Trump winning. However, it would be bad for US democracy for a Presidential race to be effectively uncontested. The Republicans might struggle to get a candidate on ballots. In addition it would leave Trumpism undefeated (another reason why he might quit). Trumpism being massively defeated in a Presidential race is the best outcome (but Trump winning is obviously the worst outcome).

And that’s all my pseudo-pundity for the day 🙂

 

The Alt Right Ruin Everything – Even Laughing at Conservatives

platonictrumpWe segue from the antipodes and back to US politics.  In the farce that mainstream conservative has become, commentator and pundit William Kristol has been a tragi-comic figure. During this election cycle his capacity to make wholly wrong prognostications has only increased. However, he deserves at least some little kudos for sticking to his anti-Trump guns.

Kristol announced that he would back an independent third candidate rather than vote for Trump or (presumably) Hillary Clinton. To this end he recently announced who that third candidate would be…and the answer was David French. An answer that was greeted by the world (or at least those people still listening to Kristol) with ‘who?’

French has the following qualities:

  • He is, by training, a constitutional lawyer
  • He writes for the conservative National Review Online
  • He is very conservative both socially and economically
  • He isn’t Donald Trump

Quite why anybody thinks he’d been an attractive candidate for US President is a mystery. He looks like an insider but with zero name recognition. In an election cycle where populism (always a strong feature of US elections) is the dominant theme, he is the antithesis of a populist choice. Too far to the right to attract the center from Clinton (or possibly even moderate Republicans disenchanted by Trump), lacking any name recognition or any particular feature that distinguishes him from ‘random conservative guy that Bill Kristol knows’. Possibly the most positive feature froma Republican perspective (and a negative feature from a Democrat or left perspective) is that he is unlikely to split the vote or generate any additional party disunity.

Enter the Alt Right. Their reaction has been vitriolic. https://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/ladies-and-gentlemen-your-third-party.html and this race/sexual themed attack of course is neither new or even an escalation. That is pretty much their business as usual position on anybody perceived as enemies IN PARTICULAR those on the right. The trolling/harassment tactics developed by the Alt Right and used against ‘SJWs’ are now deployed to their more immediate rivals – other right wingers.Meanwhile the non-Alt Right (which note is broad enough to still cover a slice of transphobic racist misogynists) is discombobulated.

Unfortunately this drains what pleasure there might be in laughing at Kristol’s gambit.