It really is odd to me that anyone would base their worldview on the perceived hypocrisy of a different group of people. That’s strange enough. But whataboutism isn’t even really about hypocrisy. In comedy there’s a concept called “like-a-joke” which is something that has the structure and feel of a joke, but isn’t actually a joke. Often these are dressed up with a lewd reference to make it seem more edgy and, if you will, like a joke. (For examples, check out a CBS primetime comedy.) I guess whataboutism then is “like-a-hypocrisy charge” because it looks like one but isn’t. Liberals often say and do dumb shit because all people often say and do dumb shit. The leap of “one person said something dumb, therefore anyone who ever agreed with that person on other matters has to be held to account for that dumb thing” is sort of nuts. It’s all just red herrings designed to make people feel better about their own beliefs, and while you can no doubt find examples of liberals doing it, it’s essentially the predominant mode of discourse on the right.

I guess I don’t really get the appeal of hypocrisy arguments. I mean, I get that the media enjoys them because they provide the appearance of tough journalism, and the right likes them because they think liberals are beneath them. But I myself just assume that people aren’t rational and can use motivated reasoning to believe in just about anything they want, so the idea that someone might say or do something that violates their professed standards is not exactly a shocker. It’s pretty much a default, actually. Perhaps there’s some sense that certain people should just “have their shit together” but I don’t think anyone ever completely does.

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Went to Starbucks, found a discarded gift card that I was sure was empty but I picked it up because you never know. It had $17 on it still. Yay!

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I don’t think I’ve ever derived such satisfaction from seeing people killed on TV as when Arya Stark does it.

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It’s a fun game, try it at home! Obviously this isn’t so much about ideology as it is about the fundamentals. Not all are going to have equivalents (it’s very difficult to imagine Democrats nominating a Trump equivalent in any conceivable way), but some slot nicely. Here’s how I think some of them are going to turn out:

  • Mark Zuckerberg as Jeb Bush. He’ll have endless cash to burn and a total lack of what’s needed to succeed. The Trump comparisons are inevitable but Trump serviced an underserved segment of the marketplace: open bigots. Dog whistles from the rest of the field couldn’t compete with that. Zuckerberg’s inevitable platform of slightly left of center technocratic centrism is hardly going to set him apart. And from what I’ve seen in interviews, I can’t see him killing it in debates and such. Geeky wonkery doesn’t tend to come across well in such contexts.
  • Andrew Cuomo as Chris Christie. Cuomo is a bit smarter than Christie and has avoided some of the latter’s stupid mistakes, while still being essentially corrupt and nontransparent. Eastern media sources will treat him like a major contender, but Democratic regulars will be horrified by the transactional and often not very liberal record he’s compiled. Like Christie, Cuomo is not as clever as he thinks he is, and in spite of having had a moment of base adulation (over marriage equality), as Christie did when he yelled at teachers, that was a long time ago. Honestly, thinking he can actually compete having propped up New York Republicans and all the rest is about as unclever as it gets. Cuomo could run his corrupt state government forever but he refuses to know his place. I actually don’t think Trump can win another term–the reason he won the first one was by virtue of having a hopelessly lackluster opponent, and he’s unlikely to face another sub-John Kerry-level talent again–but Cuomo is perhaps someone who could actually lose to him.
  • Erskine Bowles/Evan Bayh as John Kasich. I doubt both of them will run, but I bet one will. There’s definitely going to be a “we need to move to the center and re-engage with bipartisanship” candidate, and just going by profile, it’s probably going to be one of them. Kasich wasn’t exactly that, but he was clearly positioning himself as the moderate-ish/”electable” candidate. A lot of bad assumptions in there, which is why he lost. Still, get ready to hear Evan Bayh start sentences in debates with, “Back when I was governor of Indiana…” Ancient history which nobody will give an earthly shit about. Bayh I would imagine dropping out after getting 12% or so in Iowa, based solely on his Midwestern friendliness. Bowles would fare a lot worse than that. He’d be lionized by centrist establishment types (as would Bayh, but with Bowles it’ll be deafening), and he’d be in a few debates championing a Simpson-Bowles for the 2020s (perhaps he’d even pledge to make Alan Simpson his VP), get a lot of funding from No Labels and the like, and then drop out after 2% in New Hampshire. Actually, I kind of hope he does run. I think that message needs that kind of repudiation.
  • Sherrod Brown as Mike Pence. As in, someone who could have won and will probably be preferable in terms of ideology and political ability to the base than the actual candidate will be, but who isn’t going to run. VP slot possible if Ohio elects a Democratic governor in 2018, though, which would be alright.
  • Joaquin Castro as Marco Rubio. Acceptably charismatic and telegenic Latino candidate who isn’t ready and squanders his potential. Unfortunately for Castro, he doesn’t have a statewide contest to parachute into when it doesn’t work out.
  • Bernie Sanders as Mitt Romney. The New England frontrunner who doesn’t run.
  • John Delaney as Jim Gilmore. You don’t remember him and neither do we.
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Lev filed this under: ,  

Yes, Trump is an ignoramus with a degenerative neurological condition. We can take that as read. However, it’s not like he’s an invalid or anything, and considering the less-than-24-hours in which he most recently became president before losing it, it may behoove the press to stop writing those articles altogether and just treat the man as skeptical by default when he delivers a scripted speech or orders some more war. He’s done something the media elites considered presidential and then turned around violently to his old feral self so many times that I couldn’t even catalog them all. Remember when he met with President Pena Nieto in Mexico City and then later that night went full Bannon in Phoenix? This isn’t mere happenstance. It’s too many times to be a coincidence. He’s doing it on purpose. He’s doing it to make people like Fareed Zakaria and Chuck Todd look like idiots. He’s trying to embarrass them deliberately. The guy knows weakness when he sees it, and he knows the obsessions that these guys have with glorifying the presidency and (false) balance are weaknesses that he can use to embarrass them constantly. And guess what? He’s fucking great at it. Not that they don’t deserve it, of course, but if they don’t want to be seen by all as complete idiots, they maybe should think of making a different choice the next time.

P.S. Also, the war thing. I suspect that these folks’ love of war has something to do with an idea of war being this unifying, bipartisan thing that can build a nation. Of course history provides the exact opposite lesson, with the perpetually looming WWII being a very notable exception…

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Lev filed this under: ,  

This is a pretty excellent Jonathan Bernstein article on the politics of taking down Confederate monuments. This gets to a gripe I have with the Democratic Party from the Clinton era onward, which is that it is palpably uncomfortable advancing issues that don’t focus group well/don’t have well over majority public support. Obviously this is a tradeoff and there’s a balance to be struck between keeping activists happy and appealing to a broader electorate, but Democrats act like The Economist readers are their only audience and just expect marginal voters to always turn out and activists to always be fired up to promote stuff that doesn’t get anybody’s blood pumping. You’d think that 2016 would finally be the breaking point for this outmoded, inflexible model of centrist politics but I think they’ll still be going until the Bernie movement finally storms the citadel and takes over the party completely.

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Lev filed this under:  

I take umbrage at this as both a rational liberal and a persnickety nerd:

The monster HBO hit Game of Thrones has long been seen as a climate change metaphor or parable, albeit one filled with nudity and violence. After all, a major theme from the start has been the fact that the climate is about to change for the worse in a way that endangers everyone.

Um, what?  Climate change in our modern world is an ongoing event caused by human industry that we’ve created for the first time in human history.  It won’t be cyclic.

In Westeros*, however, winter is a season of indeterminate length caused by some kind of opaque variable natural process (perhaps a weird wobbly planet tilt).  Winter is a season just like summer, which is ending.  After winter comes summer (do they have spring?  no idea).  After summer comes winter.

Oh, and the “danger” in Game of Thrones is an army of the undead, which prefers to appear in winter.  In our world, it’s the climate itself that’s the danger (e.g., hotter temperatures, superstorms, etc.).

Aside from the temperature getting hotter and colder, it’s quite a stretch to use that as a link between our world and Game of Thrones.

Might this post be click-bait?  Hmm…

(* I know, I don’t know the name of the planet.)

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Forever, of course! David Duke’s much more recent KKK affiliation/party registration, though, will continue to be irrelevant to that conversation.

It is not unique to religious conservatives, of course, to believe your tribe to be uniquely good and others to be uniquely bad, and that this means that you don’t have to actually follow any of your own rules or principles because the other side is as bad or worse. This is, in other words, “God Knows I’m Good” syndrome, though I think it’s a pretty common attitude among humans all over. Having said that, the actual texts of Christianity anticipate this problem, but a text is only as good as the person interpreting it, which is related to the influence of culture and other factors. “We’re all as bad as the worst racist, therefore we should just try to treat everybody with respect” would be a pretty authoritative Christian sentiment on the subject, though not one heeded by very many American Christians…

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