Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Socialist Revolution Will Be Led By the Billionaire Financiers

One of the nice things about antisemitic conspiracy theories encompassing everything (even mutually contradictory things) is that one can blame the Jews for anything.

One of the weirder things about antisemitic conspiracy theories encompassing everything, even mutually contradictory things is that one can somehow manage to knit them all together in a single person.

So it is that NRA chieftain Wayne LaPierre informs a pulsing CPAC crowd that socialism is coming on the backs of ... George Soros. And Michael Bloomberg. And Tom Steyer. (Also, they're all backed by the ghost of Saul Alinsky -- because let's throw in another Jew for good measure).

Soros, as you may recall, grew up under Communist oppression and has devoted a substantial portion of his life to bringing market values to former Eastern bloc states. Bloomberg is perhaps America's most prominent independent political figure, apparently holding down the "Democrats are too liberal but socialism sounds great!" political bloc. Steyer is a run-of-the-mill Democratic Party donor. Each of them made their wealth in ways that are, shall we say, not typically part of the socialist revolutionary gameplan. And none of them have shown the slightest interest in anything but bog-standard liberal (or in Bloomberg's case, Wall Street centrist) political engagement.

No matter. It makes perfect sense to say the billionaires are the heralds of the socialist revolution ... if said billionaires are Jews. That's the logic here. One doesn't need a dogwhistle if one has a bullhorn.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Kucinich: Because Fervent Hatred of Anyone Not Reviled By Mainstream Democrats is its Own Rationale

There are some people who want the Democratic Party to be more progressive. This is generally a good thing. These are the people who, for example, rather quickly ensured that the DNC chieftain race quickly coalesced around two staunchly progressive candidates in Tom Perez and Keith Ellison.

There are some people who want the Democratic Party to simply lash out in a blind fury against "the establishment". These are the people who, for example, went far beyond having a preference between Perez and Ellison and crossed into a groundless and seemingly random fervor insisting that Tom Perez was unacceptably right-wing because something-something-most-progressive-Labor-Secretary-in-recent-memory-is-neoliberal, and swore to dynamite the entire Democratic Party if he won (by the way, Democrats just picked up their 37th special election seat-flip since Trump was elected after swinging a Kentucky state House seat 86 points from its 2016 presidential margin).

The people who endorse Dennis Kucinich -- Dennis Kucinich!, shilling for Assad and Putin when he isn't playing the "Trump is speaking to real American outrage" card* -- over Richard Cordray for the Ohio Democratic gubernatorial nomination are definitively in the latter category.

As always, the question isn't whether Cordray is perfect (though one expects the Jill Stein bait-and-switch -- laboring to make a mountain out of a molehill's worth of liberal heresy when the candidate is "establishment" while resolutely ignoring all the ways the "insurgent" is ideologically terrible in her own right -- is coming). But there's very little reason why a Elizabeth Warren-esque former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should be so unacceptable as to provoke a turn to a cartoon character like Kucinich (in this way, it's far worse than Perez/Ellison, as at least there the alternative candidate was perfectly fine in his own right). The motive rather seems to be just an undirected form of contrariness towards anyone who establishment Democrats are content with -- if they like him, then he must be unacceptable for ... reasons (probably something to do with neoliberalism). But that's not actually a way of building a progressive movement.

Loomis is too generous in saying it's a problem of progressives not being "smart" (though it is profoundly stupid). Independent of it being bad tactics, it's also bad on the level of ideals. It's difficult to know what to do with that sort of blind self-destructiveness (again, shades of the Stein voters who answered the question "why should I vote for the lesser of two evils" by electing to vote for the middle of three). The best thing that can be said about it is that so far, it hasn't actually had that much influence on actual Democratic voting patterns (which is more than can be said about the Republican Party, which has been entirely consumed by a pure id of reactionary anti-"establishment" ressentiment).

* Researching this post, I rediscovered that Kucinich was one of 12 Democrats to vote against the House resolution of "disapproval" after Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) famously exclaimed "you lie!" in the middle of President Obama's State of the Union. So add that to the list.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Ranking Winter Olympic Sports

I love the Olympics -- Summer and Winter. A few of my favorite activities include rooting for Winter Olympians from countries which have no snow, rooting for formerly colonized nations to defeat their colonial overlords, and being a sucker for any good personal drama story.

Also, the some of the events are interesting. Here's the full ranking:

Short Track Speed Skating

Demolition derby on ice. This is a sport I'd totally watch off-season. I haven't gotten the chance to watch the mass start version yet, but it seems particularly ludicrously dangerous and therefore extra delightful. It makes me wish that Olympic sprinting didn't have lanes. A+

Snowboard/Skiing Cross

If you're the sort of person who thinks "NASCAR would be better if they had speed bumps and jumps" (also: hurtling downhill) -- this is for you. Another event with great demolition derby character. But what I really want is for downhill ice cross skating to make it to the Olympics. That's a sport where at the bottom everyone just looks grateful that they've survived the evening. A

Long Track Speed Skating

Like middle-distance running, but more interesting because it's on blades. Something about watching the skaters criss-cross lanes is deeply hypnotic. A-


The best of the "trick" events, mostly because it most closely approximates a Tony Hawk game (or, to be technical, a Cool Boarders game). I hate to say it, as a die-hard skier, but the snowboard version is more interesting. B+


"Who's ready for death sledding!" We can't call it that. Okay, we'll call it "skeleton." Seriously, if the Summer Olympics is about pitting the world's greatest athletes against each other in head-to-head competition, the Winter Olympics seems to be about finding ever-more creative ways to get Europeans to kill themselves. B+


Nothing will ever top Robin Williams referring to this sport as "Norwegian Drive-by". But of all the long-distance sports -- Winter or Summer -- this one's the best. Not just because it involves gunfire, but because the shooting segments actually allow the race to get shaken up on a dime, adding interest and variety to what otherwise would (literally) be a marathon. B


I love the camera shots on Luge, which last for approximately a quarter of a second on each turn as an insane German hurtles ball-first down an ice chute (another steal from Robin Williams). B

Figure Skating (individual and pairs)

The marquee event of the Winter Games. It's not that I dislike it, but it's virtually impossible for me to tell the difference between the tricks, so I'm left rooting for falls just to create some visual distance between the competitors. I do appreciate that the area the skaters sit in to wait for scores is officially called the "kiss and cry" area (seriously: I saw it on an official's nametag). B

Ice Hockey

The only sport I can watch regularly outside of the Olympics, which diminishes its Olympic appeal somewhat. Its ranking would shoot way up if the women's game was full-check (it looks like they're using every fiber of self-restraint to avoid laying each other out for sixty consecutive minutes). B

Aerials/Big Air

"Ski jumping? That's for pussies. Make them do a few tricks while they're in the air and get back to me." This is the only trick event where I think skiing does better than snowboarding. B


The ranking of Skeleton, Luge, and Bobsled depends heavily on what you prioritize. In terms of raw speed, Bobsled is fastest, then Luge, then Skeleton. But in terms of reckless disregard for one's personal safety, it goes Skeleton, then Luge, then Bobsled. You can obviously see what my preferences are. B-


The breakout hit of Sochi now feels a little overcooked in Pyeongchang. It's perfectly entertaining, and it's the only Olympic sport I could even vaguely conceive of competing in, but it takes a long time to complete and there are apparently 142 games scheduled over the course of the Olympic Games, which take up valuable TV time that could be used for speed skating. B-

Alpine Skiing

As a skier, I should like this, but once again I can't really tell what makes someone fast or slow so there's not a lot to watch here. Now mass start alpine skiing -- that I could get behind. C+


The marquee snowboard event (and generally-forgotten skiing event) is also the worst of the lot. To the naked eye, at least, it has less speed, less air, and less interesting tricks. C+


All Olympic sports are physically punishing, but moguls is the only one I can't actually watch without feeling my knees twitch in sympathetic pain. As my brother observed: "you'll never see a 30-year old Moguls skier." C+

Ski Jump

It says a lot about the reckless disregard for human safety that characterizes the Winter Olympics that you can take a sport where competitors jump the length of a football field from 35 stories in the air and I can be like "but it's kinda boring?"  C

Nordic (Cross-Country) Skiing

The same problem as distance running, or cycling. Not enough happens for too long. More than any other sport in the games though, competitors earn their "collapse in exhaustion at the finish line" moment. C-

Ice Dancing

"Let's start with figure skating, and then remove all of the most interesting parts of it and ensure that at least one competitor always stays firmly planted on the ground, where it's safe." Why? D

Conservatives No Longer Can Conceive of Non-Partisan Motives, Part II

The Mueller investigation is not going to turn out well for the Trump administration.

One would think that's uncontroversial, given that it's already secured guilty pleas from several Trump associates and indictments against several more. "How bad" is an open question, but "bad" surely isn't.

In the wake of indictments against several Russian nationals for interfering in Election 2016, Democratic Senator Bob Casey (PA) suggested that Mueller not release any final report on his investigation immediately before the 2018 midterms.
Casey said he couldn't make any assumptions about where the Mueller investigation is going in light of indictments issued on Friday. But he added that he would recommend Mueller not release a report on his findings near the midterms, when it would distract from elections or cause people to question the election's integrity.
One can agree with this analysis or disagree. The case for disagreement is that the Russia scandal is a valid and important issue that voters should have full information on when making their choice come 2018. The case for agreement is that Russian interference has already badly frayed our collective faith in the integrity of our democratic system and a last-minute FBI report would only further their goal of sowing chaos.

But Glenn Reynolds reacted to the news somewhat differently:


But seriously -- remember last year when (talking about the Russia investigation!) I wrote that conservatives can no longer conceive of non-partisan motives? Great example right here. The only possible motivation of anyone talking about the FBI probe into Russian interference in our elections is a partisan one. Hence, if a Democrat -- one in no position to know what Mueller will end up finding, but one who (like the rest of us) already see it ensnaring Trump associates -- says that he doesn't want a bombshell release right before the election, the only possible motive is ... the report will somehow hurt Democrats. The proffered rationale -- "bombshell revelations of foreign electoral interference right before an election where voters are already mistrustful of each other and on edge is a bad idea" -- doesn't even register. It's like the very concept of being a good civic citizen is just beyond comprehension.