Labels

Thursday, April 19, 2018

On Evangelicals and Trump



A recent data point shows that white Evangelicals still support Trump--according to a recent South Carolina poll, they find him "honest and capable, just not moral." Great! This cohort voted overwhelmingly for Trump and still largely supports him!

What is going on here? How can this be??

The Omnivore explains.

1. First Things First: WHITE Evangelicals

Black Evangelicals did not vote for Trump--and, in the Alabama special election (Moore vs. Jones) with Trump "on the ballot" they voted 95% against Moore in favor of the pro-choice Democrat (Black non-Evangelicals were about 3pts higher in favor of Jones). White Evangelicals went strongly for Moore--but he lost white non-Evangelicals by around 30pts.

What does this mean? It means that in this (admittedly limited) context:

  1. Moore's pro-choice position--a big deal for Evangelicals--only peeled off 3% of Black Evangelicals.
  2. Non-Evangelical Whites and Evangelical Blacks were both frankly disgusted by Moore--meaning that whatever his appeal on "the issues" it was far more about his character and / or Trump's racism than how Moore would vote in the Senate.
  3. White Evangelicals overlooked everything--they wanted Moore. They wanted Trump--probably for the same reasons.
This means: Something about Trump is overriding position issues and, instead, boiling it down to--uhm--race?

2. Not EXACTLY Race

What's going on in Evangelical land isn't precisely race. To be sure, in order to support Trump you have to be okay with his racial politics (meaning that the cheering sections in the Klan and Nazi demographics have to be explained away by you--they love his nationalism. Yeah, keep telling yourself that, sparky.)--but it isn't the only thing he brings to the table.

He also brings in your culture-war grievance politics.

Right now Rod Dreher (not a White Evangelical--a converted Catholic) is promoting his book The Benedict Option. This is a treatise on how religion may have to "go out into the wilderness" and disconnect from The World in order to survive the coming Liberal Culture Wave (The Omnivore's term, not his). 

His basic point is: the war happened, we (religious people) lost, now we need to do what Benedict did after the fall of the Roman empire: hunker down and wait out the dark ages.

The Omnivore actually has a soft spot for Rod (those soulful eyes?) and his thesis (yes, he periodically says racist things and such--but (a) he's tryin' so hard and (b) his plan is, actually, not insulting or pissy--it's a real, legitimate, emotionally honest and mature response).

White Evangelicals, by the definition of evangelizing cannot, probably, take off for the hinterlands, but they share a common perspective with Dreher: we're losing the culture war. Their decision is to fight back. Trump is their fighter--so they have jettisoned everything--everything--in order to (finally) have someone who fights.

The baby, he is laying outside in a puddle of bathwater wondering what the hell happened. Inside mom and dad are still yelling at the TeeVee.

This feeling has been artfully fed by people like Erick Erickson (You Will Be Made To Care--how Godless Liberals Won't Be Happy Until You Are Forced To Bake A Gay Wedding Cake) and plenty of other social signals about the evil men do--especially those awful Transgender people--of whom, you know, there are a lot (they hide among us--dressed like women--waiting until we go into the bathrooms to strike).

To be fair to them, a lot of what they believe codes as racist and bigoted to the rest of America. It is legitimate to feel that participating in the sacrament of marriage with gay people is not what Jesus intended. This is a logical position that isn't inherently bigoted: however similar arguments were made against mixed-race marriage--and those, we now can see, were pretty racist.

This poses the question: is the problem on the side of society? Or is it on the side of the Evangelicals who usually don't acknowledge that the bible was used to justify racism (and before that, slavery) until outside societal pressures made that stop?

Trump is a pretty good litmus test for that: after decade (forever) of demanding that the head of state in America be a moral Christian, they, when given a chance, decided none of that was important so long as he Triggered the Libs.

The Omnivore feels pretty sure that wasn't what Jesus would do.

But, while racism is mixed in with all of this, the driving factor is that they feel they are Under Siege and Donald Trump will be their Steven Segal, fighting for their right to say "Merry Christmas" again.

3. So What Now?

Clearly these guys need to get their heads out of their collective asses and tell their flocks that while society will always be pretty Godless in a fundamental sense and, yea, there are forces of progressivism out there looking to strike a blow against mom-and-pop pizza parlors who would not, even if asked, cater a gay wedding, this is an incredibly narrow form of oppression. Indeed, Jews get more actual oppression and hate-speech / crime directed at them and, while they take steps against it, they haven't decided that it's okay to give up their fundamental beliefs in morality to do so.

Evangelicals also need to take a hard look at driving black people out of their mega-churches. If the Benedict Compound is Whites Only, history will not look kindly on them.

Basically it's about getting some actual perspective. Yes, "Happy Holidays" is annoying if you are an Evangelical--but, you know, turn the other cheek or something. Today, wishing any normal person a "Merry Christmas" just makes you look a little out of step--not like an asshole.

And, as a final note, the legacy of Trump isn't going to be "Religious freedom laws" from coast to coast--it's going to be going down in history as a bunch of hypocrites who put worldly matters way, way, way ahead of their professed religious beliefs. White Evangelicals should take a hard look at that before they decide they're where they want to be.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

On Rightwing Media

It is an article of faith among the right that left wing media is not just dominant in America--but virtually all important. After all, the New York Times is the "paper of record" and the Washington Post is one of the most respected publications in the world. If you count CNN, MSNBC, and the three main networks as having not just a "liberal bias"--but actually being "liberal outlets" the same way that Fox News is a "conservative outlet" then the left outnumbers the right greatly in terms of production of news and, to a degree eyeballs.

If you look at the covers of Newsweek, Time, and other print publications, you can certainly see a difference between Obama and Trump:
It isn't just one "cover" either--pretty much the press loved Obama and, with the exception of right-wing media, really doesn't like Trump.

This is, to The Omnivore's mind, inarguable. If our basis is the covers of print publications and the internal (self-reported, even) biases of journalists alone, there can be no question: Trump is clearly disliked more than Obama.

If we assume both presidents were, objectively, fundamentally, the same, this would, indeed, be proof that the media (and, perhaps, the media alone) is fanning the flames against Trump.

Left-Wing Conspiracy Theory

Research shows that Conspiracy Theories Are for Losers--that is, the group that is out of power is more likely to believe and propagate conspiracy theories than the group in power. Research also shows that the more conspiracy theories you believe, the more you are likely to believe: Conspiracy Theory is a mindset more than just a reaction to "a set of facts" (where one set of facts is judged independently from another).

NOTE: There is one reader out there (at least) who will counsel The Omnivore not to make too much of these studies--as, of course, studies and statistics are often suspect. Yes, Daivd--The Omnivore isn't relying on these so much as saying (a) they certainly fit The Omnivore's experience and (b) they aren't the only studies that show this phenomena, if you don't like them as bolstering The Omnivore's thesis, show your own studies.

As such, we would expect that, having lost the 2016 election, liberals would descend into conspiracy theory thinking as the out-group. Indeed, The Omnivore was pointed to a Twitter Thread that marvels at exactly that:

Hah! This person thinks--see THAT, Omnivore?

Indeed, the phenomena that the Twitter guy describes is certainly plausible. After all, we don't know for a fact that Trump asked about the pee-tape, do we? We just have Lyin' Comey's word for that (one wonders what Ted Cruz thinks about his nickname being taken away and given to the FBI dude).

So--is this what we're seeing? Is the left just as conspiracy mired as the right? Are these conspiracy theories and belief in #fakenews what is pulling down the Trump presidency?

Nope.

Some Context For You

This is an analysis of traffic to conservative websites for December 2017.

There are a few takeaways here that we should note:

  1. Brietbart and The Daily Caller aren't #fakenews. Breitbart is heavily, heavily biased and has engaged in some bad behavior (a black-crime tag so their readers can be kept up to date on those crimes the negros are doin'--a very important thing in Conserva-land, apparently) nad The Washington Examiner, The Blaze, the Washington Times, Townhall, and National Review are all pretty straight up right-wing news.
  2. On the other hand, Infowars, Newsmax, and WND are all--uh--raw frothing conspiracy theory. The Federalist (down at 16--but still quite relevant) revived the Black-Crime-Tag (until caught--but apparently it's good for SEO, if you know what The Omnivore means--and he thinks you do!). These are not just bad news--they are fake-news.
  3. While these are explicitly "conservative news web sites" it should be noted that when you do the same for liberal news websites you get things that look like this: CNN, NYT, ABC, Slate, Politico, Time, and WaPo. In other words, "liberal news sites" are just "news." Conservative non-fake websites give you bias at the rate of Brietbart (after Fox) and then the Conservative Tribune--and then Infowars.
If you believe that, say, ABC is as biased as Brietbart, The Omnivore has some crypto-currency to sell you ("BUT Omni--they are as biased--or worse--YOU JUST CAN'T SEE IT!").

Yes, The Omnivore can. In fact--The Omnivore wants to look at that right now.

What People Are Being Told

It is important to review two things here:
  1. For the most part, the people visit news sources they trust. The Omnivore doesn't have trust data from Pew past 2014--but does not think it's a stretch to say that those outlets that are the most visited are generally trusted (there may be a rubber-necking element with InfoWars--The Omnivore certainly hopes so--but at #5, that's still a really ominous amount of traffic).
  2. The examples of Left Wing Conspiracy Theory that the Twitter Guy up there listed were (a) Quoting Comey as Trump "talking about the pee tape" and (b) referencing post on random blogs saying "wow, if true."--hold these in your mind for a second.
The  spectrum of Conspiracy Theory on the left and right looks something like this.
  • Real: Trump's campaign was favored by Russia. Russia may have made some moves to influence the campaign directly or indirectly. Trump Jr., at some point, certainly thought they were and was highly interested in help. Trump issued a statement lying about this. There is an investigation into what happened / how much the Trump campaign was intentionally involved. Also: Trump-Lawyer / Fixer may have done some shady or even illegal stuff that may or may not have been directly part of the campaign. It's also being investigated.
  • Liberal Spin: Jr. certainly tried to collude. Trump sure as hell "acts guilty" by firing Comey and giving different stories about why he did. Boy, it sure seems likely that Trump did something, doesn't it??
  • Conservative Spin: Trump wanted, desperately, to put the whole Russia thing behind him and Comey was definitely an ideological enemy. Trump did the obvious thing by firing him--but his whole newbie political deal blew up in his face. Same with Don Jr--it was just some bad decisions by a newbie politico. Nothing came of it. The investigation will turn up nothing on the collusion front and, if it goes beyond issues of Russia and the Campaign, it is Mueller over-stepping. Also: Russia hated Hillary more than they "liked Trump."
  • Liberal Conspiracy Spin: Trump was obsessed with the Pee-Tape (b/c IT'S REAL!) and Trump gave Cambridge Analytica voter targeting info to Russia to help them swing the campaign. MAYBE THEY DID! In office Trump is clearly a Russian puppet--resisting sanctions, talking up Putin, revealing state secrets! HE'S A PUPPET!!
  • Conservative Conspiracy Spin: A small group of insiders at the top of the Intelligence Community worked together as Trump Haters to Take Him Down. This started with the Dossier as an insurance program, should they lose (a small group realized they could/would) and was used to put the investigation "in motion," bamboozling FISA judges. This cabal extended to Rosenstein who pounced when Trump made a misstep and hired Comey's friend Mueller to do the dirty work. Now Mueller, who has clearly found nothing thus far is doing what he can to wreck the presidency through other means, such as the illegal Cohen Raid.
  • Liberal Bat-Shit Theory: Trump has already been deposed--so has Pence! Orin Hatch is running the country (or some shit, Trust The Omnivore, it's out there). Alternatively: Trump so caught up in Russia Gate that basically Putin is running the country.
  • Conservative Bat-Shit Theory: The Deep State is covering up a massive satanic pedophile ring that Trump is working tirelessly to bust (maybe with Mueller?). Clinton is going DOWN!! Obama is GOING DOWN!! Unless they can get him first. Alternatively: this is a slow-motion coup by #TheResistance, the IC, the FBI, the Media, and, ultimately, Obama/Clinton who are orchestrating a consolidated attack on our country.
Hopefully you'll read that wall-of-text and realize that while it doesn't cover everything (how could it??), it is The Omnivore avers, pretty fair to both sides.

Here's the problem: If we assume (and this is, in fact, the case) that media consumers are getting either the Liberal or Liberal Conspiracy spin on the Left or the Conservative / Conservative Conspiracy Spin on the right, there's a big difference. 

Do you see it?

The problem is that the Conservative Conspiracy Spin--that Mueller is a hostile agent working with a small cabal of people to take down Trump based on a network of carefully laid lies and political maneuvers who is doing clearly illegal things--is the Right-Hand side. On the Left-Hand Side, the theory is that Mueller will reveal conspiracy! And when he does, we can all watch the Pee Tape.

These two things are not symmetric--why so? Firstly: the Left-Wing theory doesn't hold Mueller as doing illegal things in pursuit Trump. If Mueller completely exonerates Trump, doubtless #TheResistance will be dumbstruck and hugely (YUGELY) disappointed--but it will take an extremely heavy lift for the news media involved to declare Mueller corrupt.

Read that again: We are talking about numerous people--across lots of media--who would need to reverse-course and declare that Mueller was corrupt all along. That could happen--but there is no evidence it will.

On the other hand, on the right, people are being told that Mueller is already corrupt

This is far-reaching and pervasive--it isn't bat-shit crazy--but it is deeply conspiratorial. Mark Levin has told his readers Mueller is corrupt. Trump has told his believers he's corrupt. Your average person going to those top 20 sites is going to get a steady diet of the theory that Mueller is exceeding his grasp with the Cohen investigation because he has turned up nothing in the regular one.

How does the conspiracy theory know this? Because they feel certain it would have leaked. In other words, lack of evidence is proof.

If you don't believe The Omnivore, go to some of those sites that have comments and look at them. There are two kinds of comments--anti-Trump trolls . . . and people who believe Mueller is corrupt. And let's keep in mind here that there is ZERO separation between the SDNY investigation of Cohen and Mueller's investigation of Trump.

This is despite having followed all the rules to the letter on the part of Mueller and even going to the federal agency (headed by an R--who recused himself) rather than the state agency (headed by a D). In other words, despite hewing to the rule-of-law, these readers are already decided: it's a corrupt fraud and a hack-job.

If Mueller does find collusion--or someone goes after Trump for dirty dealings with Cohen--these people will believe it was all an illegitimate set up--and that will have been strongly reinforced by their news media.

The Liberal Conspiracy Theory--that Trump was obsessed with the Pee Tape--or that Cohen lied about Prague and it's proven--is comparatively benign. The Twitter Guy up there doesn't say what websites are being re-tweeted with "Woah, if true"--but the amount of Liberal Conspiracy theory out there is strongly weighted in terms of "he's guilty and he's going down"--not "there is a large conspiracy working in the shadows, etc. etc."

To the extent that in the Liberal World a large conspiracy exists, it is a dark-money web (that, er, really does exist in all of politics) and a decision by Republicans to protect a president they know is corrupt (which is overstating the case, Kevin McCarthy's jokes aside).

These simply aren't comparable. One is setting up for disappointment. The other is refusing to acknowledge the rule of law and preparing for civil war.

Will #TheResistance take up guns when / if Trump is cleared? Maybe. But it doesn't seem likely to The Omnivore (someone, of course, may do something--but if The Omnivore had to bet, it is a much more likely thing that someone on the right will do something if Trump is accused / removed from office). 

These are all maybes--but right now? They aren't remotely comparable.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

On The Cohen Raid

Yesterday Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, was raided by the FBI. The blame (from Trump) goes to Mueller--however, it appears this is misguided:

  • While it originated with Mueller and Stormy, apparently Mueller decided (as with Trump-worlders) that this was outside his remit--and (likely) presented it to Rod Rosenstein. At this point they turned it over to New York.
  • They had a choice of the state attorney general or federal attorney for the Southern District of NY. The state AG is Democrat. The SDNY guy is a Republican, a Trump donor / supporter, and (The Omnivore understands) appointed by Trump. The FBI chose the Republican (even though Trump can pardon federal crimes). So whatever evidence was shown was, apparently, sufficient to convince a Trump-supporter that it was justified.
  • Articles are saying that, from what was seized, any evidence of any crime is fair game (this surprises The Omnivore--who would have thought that only evidence related to the search warrant was admissible).
  • Claims of attorney-client privilege being ignored appeared at 6 AM on Fox & Friends and POTUS tweeted that "ATTORNEY CLIENT PRIVILEGE IS DESTROYED" at 7. In fact, it turns out, that if you suspect the attorney and client in commission of a crime, it doesn't apply.
Today, The Federalist decided it was time for an American Divorce (before "things get dangerous"). He's suggesting this:
This is, of course, weapons-grade stupid. While not unexpected from The Federalist, who knows their readership will respond well to it, this is the Trumpian-base view of politics and not those of the rest of the country.

The Omnivore was asked, yesterday, if he would support the removal of Trump (actually he was asked about the impeachment of Trump) for campaign finance violations. This is his thinking:

1. Would You Remove Trump For The Stormy Daniels Pay-Off?

The first thing to recognize is that this isn't on the table. If all that comes out of the Mueller investigation is that Trump / Cohen violated campaign finance laws, not only would the Senate never convict, but attempting a House Impeachment over it would be a strategic mistake for the Democrats. If that's the worst Trump has done, he is better as a blue-wave generator in the White House than being martyred, ineffectively, for breaking the rules.

What if a hypothetical super-majority of Democrats could remove him--and then Pence, presumably--from the White House installing Speaker Pelosi as president? Would The Omnivore be in favor of it then?

The answer to that question is another questions: "How did you, question asker, feel about Mitch McConnell withholding even a vote on Merrick Garland--a bi-partisan choice for SCOTUS--for a record number of days in order to help Trump win the presidency?"

If your answer is: "It was legit by the rules." Then so is a Dem-Hostile-Takeover. If your answer was "it was bullshit"--but you voted for Trump because SCOTUS, then you don't have much to complain about either.

Of course removing Trump due to Stormy would be kind of like removing Bill Clinton for lying about an affair--kinda bullshit--however, we live in an era where anything that is in the rules seems like fair game (removing Blue-Slips) so, eh.

For the record: This hypothetical is not the way to get rid of Trump--if the Republicans have ceded responsible behavior, it is incumbent on the Democrats to uphold it. Somebody has to. But The Omnivore isn't all that hopeful. And worse, failure to take advantage of the rules wouldn't be seen as nobel by the Right. It would just be seen as "their due."

Eh.

2. How 'Bout That Divorce?

For the Trump-supporters, it certainly must look like a Deep State or Over-Zealous Prosecutor, or [ Whatever ] is OUT-TO-GET-TRUMP. This is because to a Trump-Supporter The Great Man can do no wrong (or, at least, very, very little wrong) and so these slings and arrows must be motivated by base-desires just like Trump's insults are.

However, this is, obviously, not the case.
  1. Everyone involved at the FBI is a Republican. This is all R-on-R violence. The idea that these people are all RINOS just means you define "real Republican" as "someone who supports Trump no matter what." Well, okay--but that's a tautology meaning it isn't useful for any analysis.
  2. Senate Republicans are finding their mid-term chances seem to be pretty closely related to their vocal support for Trump (the question of do-you-support-him is key on voter's minds) which means that the Republican Party is in the grips of a "hostile take-over" by Trump / Trump-Voters.
  3. So this means that the GOP's position is, really, Trump Could Shoot A Guy on 5th Avenue and If His Base Doesn't Desert, It's Cool.
This, frankly, would be grounds for a divorce and you really don't want to live in Trump-Country with this as its political philosophy. 

However, if one thing is clear, it's that what Trump is actually doing in this regard isn't popular. Forget about the polling that shows that even R's want Mueller to complete his investigation--much less the country as a whole--forget about special election successes (the Democrats are still only valued at "over 50% to take the House--definitely not a sure-thing). The fact that Rachel Maddow surpassed Hannity in viewership numbers is exactly the kind of leading indicator that Trump is losing credibility.

Also, the polling shows that older, college educated white people are moving away from Trump. This is, of course, due to his loutish behavior and not, specifically, his policies (his policies were baked in when they voted for him in the first place). As Trump is unable to change his personality, he doesn't seem to have the capability to "pivot."

Finally, the Trumpian Takeover looks to The Omnivore like it has a singular leader (Trump) and no heir. If the GOP sells their souls for Trump, even if they get two terms, it isn't clear who could take over that voter base after. Certainly not Pence.

So this may be an electoral dead-end.

Conclusions

At the end of the day, what probably gets Trump, if anything gets Trump, is the 2020 elections--however, the raid doesn't help things--and will likely expose some of the secrets the Trump campaign would rather keep. It may also, in the post Hope Hicks era, lead to some very bad decisions on the part of POTUS. He has, at any rate, always been his own worst enemy.

Friday, April 6, 2018

On The Williamson Firing

Kevin Williamson--conservative pundit--was hired by The Atlantic and then, before he even started--fired. Why?

Because he has said, and stoody by, his position that women who have an abortion are murders and should be hanged (also the doctors, nurses, etc.). This, if you just restrict this to women who have had abortions--never mind all the nurses and doctors and whatever--that's like 20% of the female population or something.

Now--let's be clear: Williamson doesn't want to go and kill these people now. No--what they did was morally worthy of wholesale execution--but thanks to it being legal at the time he doesn't think they should all die now.

So--uh--okay?

No--not okay.

According to what was said publicly, the hiring manager, J. Goldberg believed that Williamson had been somewhat misunderstood, and was worth a second chance anyway. However, as they baying of the mob increased, he checked back in with Williamson and discovered that Williamson wasn't backing down from his position (and had reiterated it in a podcast not so long ago) and would stick to it.

So he fired him.

The conservative pundits freaked out: this was proof of silencing conservative voices. One person told me they had inside information from Goldberg that the firing was, really, because of the mob and not, as the public statement said, because Williamson was going to say the same incendiary stuff again--this time under The Atlantic's masthead.

So--is it?

1. The Logical Position Problem

The problem that pro-life people have is that if abortion is murder then hiring a doctor to perform an abortion is hiring a hitman to kill your baby. If a woman really did want to get rid of her infant, couldn't bear to do it herself, and hired a literal hitman to kill the child? Yes--we would give her the death penalty. You bet we would.

And how.

So pro-life people have a problem: either their proposed solutions (make abortion illegal--go after the doctors alone) are inconsistent or they do not quite believe what they are saying they believe.

In fact, the problem is that a lot of Americans (most?) do not consider a 1st trimester fetus to quite be "a baby." This is an emotional line--medically, the fetus is certainly going to turn into a baby--but, still, if you hang women who have 1st or 2nd trimester abortions, you're going to be looked at as a monster.

In a secular democracy you don't want to look like a monster--so they have adopted a position that the woman is the victim of the evil abortion industry and she has been duped into making a horrible mistake. She's not culpable--the doctor is.

The other thing they do is focus hard on the incredibly rare 3rd term abortions which, in fact, do register as "killing a baby" with enough people to make an impact.

But Williamson didn't go for that dodge--no. He followed the stated logic through to its logical conclusion: abortion is murder, all these people need to be hanged for murder.

It's a solution--but it's not (a) the standard pro-life position (at all) or (b) a position that polite society considers reasonable.

So: on the face of it, Kevin Williamson is rhetorical bomb-thrower. He knows it--he embraces it. Whatever was going through The Atlantic's head when they hired him, it was probably some version of the "he was misunderstood" defenses we are seeing now.

He was not misunderstood*.

* Well, he was misunderstood by people who say he wants to have a mass, lethal purge of women--but his actual position--that those women are just morally worthy of execution isn't, in fact, any better.

2. The Baying Of The Mob

So was it the baying of the mob that got him fired? Well, according to "inside info" Goldberg said ti wasn't fair--but, hey, mob justice. The Omnivore can't compete with "inside info"--but let's make sure we're clear about a couple of things here despite that:

  1. You could always get fired for saying shit. In the history of work, there has always been some social position that you could get fired for holding. White supremacists Paul Nelhen just got BANNED from Gab--the Nazi-home that bans no one--for outing "Ricky Vaughn." (a topic of another Omnivore, to be sure!). So--yeah: despite what you may want to think, there is always a line.
  2. The Atlantic is not a fire-breathing publication. It's intellectual. It's thoughtful. It's not given to extremism. Williamson is not--in his entire oeuvre--an incendiary bomb-thrower--but he has staked out a position that is, in fact, very socially offensive--and defended it--and made it clear to Goldberg he would continue to defend it.
  3. This Is Clearly Over The Line. If we are to have a party of personal responsibility then we must acknowledge that holding a position that is out of step with the entire fucking pro-life movement--one that got President Trump chastised (in horror) by the pro-life movement--for suggesting punishment far less than execution by hanging--then that is going to risk being over the line.
Ergo: People who want Williamson to not-be-fired want him to cross the line and still keep his job. That's nice--but it's not the conservative position, is it?

3. What's Really Going On

What's really going on is that conservatism has had a history of saying things that were popular--but offensive (that gays were sub-human in some ways, for example, or that women, being emotional, should not be able to vote). Things have changed for various reasons and now these sorts of things have a social backlash.

That upsets a lot of people for far baser reasons than "the silencing of conservative voices."

Today what constitutes a conservative voice is Milo Yiannopoulos trying his best to start a riot or Ben Shapiro finding college kids to argue with. A lot of the problem here is that "conservative dialog" has been degraded over the past 8 years thanks to the necessity of mixing in a culture war that, to be blunt, had to encompass Trump-voters--without acknowledging that they are not, really, compatible with conservative ideology. 

Today it is hard to separate this--and it has degraded everything. Williamson, to be a rising star, has to be both conservative and provocative. He has chosen a position that would get you fired in an august publication . . . and, well, it did.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

On The Gun Control Kids

The Omnviore was in high school when driving drunk went from "proof you could hold your liquor" to "something assholes did." The switch was rapid--being in high school and neither, really, drinking nor driving (much) The Omnivore was not aware of the conversations going on in bars or parties--but as far as The Omnivore could tell, once the beer companies got on board with "don't be an asshole and Drink and Drive" it stuck.

They had credibility to make Designated Drivers cool--and bars and Taxi Cos helping out gave it further solidity. It was rapid, abrupt, and powerful.

We may be seeing a shift like that on guns. If we are it is due to a few things--and that's what The Omnivore wants to talk about here: what are the leading indicators and causes of the current (abnormal) energy we see?

1. The Kids Themselves

Clearly the gun-control movement has found a set of especially effective and articulate spokespeople in the Parkland shooting survivors. Regardless of their actual danger (many were in different buildings--but some did lose friends) or their "coaching by the left"--they, on their own, are effective at playing in this media space. They are good on Twitter---often better than the professional PR teams arrayed against them.

They are photogenic--at least reasonably so--and in the age of Facebook Live and Persicope and YouTube do pretty well on camera. They have standing to talk about this--they were at a school that got shot up.

On the conservative side there are kids too (at least one The Omnivore is aware of) who, so far as The Omnivore can tell, has the same attributes--but there are not as many--and the media is, certainly, not as interested in telling their side of the story.

And, to be fair, what exactly is "their side of the story"--my friends got killed by a raving gunman but I don't think we should ban guns? Okay, so far as it goes--but it's not exactly a position so much as a shrug. "My friends got killed and there's nothing anyone can really do about it" isn't a message that can be delivered with much punch (if you are claiming there ARE things you can do about it, The Omnivore will have words with you--after trying to cover up some laughter).

2. The Media

There is no way to straight-facedly claim that the media isn't anti-gun. They are almost all liberals and almost all non-gun guys--and certainly every major paper, when it writes about guns, gets the terminology all wrong. So give the kids a media boost in coverage. After Sandy Hook there was coverage--sure--but there was no message. Now there's a message and they're covering the fuck out of this.

NOTE: They did the same for Trump. Fair's fair.

3. Trump Himself

A great irony of Trump and guns is that (a) he was chosen by a lot of voters to safeguard their gun rights (b) he, himself, doesn't personally give much of a fuck about gun rights, and (c) although he may try to get jiggy with bump-stock bans or shooting down upping the age-limit to buy, the fact is that Trump is a creature of his base and will, eventually do what the NRA wants.

No--Trump, by action or inaction is not directly to blame if there is movement on guns.

What is to blame is that The Omnivore thinks it is terribly, unarguably clear that a lot of the energy behind the Parkland kids is given a boost by the generalized anti-Trump sentiment and focus. It is, in fact, likely that if Hillary were in charge, the gun vendors would be enjoying huge sales and there wouldn't be marches.

That, if anything comes of this, will be the great irony of Trump and guns: Sometimes getting everything you thought you wanted, turns out to be something you didn't want at all.

4. The NRA

People--on the conservative end of the spectrum--have pointed out that if kids were marching for the pro-life cause--and if they were smearing Dem-politicians who took money from Planned Parenthood with price tags of how much they valued the dead children at PP's hands--the media would be outraged. They're not wrong.

Of course if Planned Parenthood TV was making racially charged videos and showing Planned Parenthood moms smashing TVs with baseball bats, they might also be a lot less sympathetic. It's also worth noting that the equivalent of gun-grabbing--the late-term abortion for any reason--is not especially popular and not something that Planned Parenthood talks a lot about.

The NRA has, for a long time, taken the de-facto position that Joe The Plumber made clear: "Your dead kids don't trump my right to guns." It's true, constitutionally, and you should never say it out loud like that. The NRA has, essentially, been saying it outloud for a while and making it more and more clear.

If they had been less absolute they might have more cultural cachet and more credibility when buying politicians (such as if they had pursured a real mental health initiative--or raised age limits--or whatever).

The NRA also has a spate of bad investigative reporting coming out--from being really cozy with Russia to having massive anomolies in their taxes (related to lying about political donations) they are begining to look like more of a bad-actor than a mere consitutional bullwark.

By aligning themselves as angry MAGA people they have chosen a side in the culture wars that doesn't serve them in this climate and makes them easy to cast as villains.

5. The Pro-Gun Civilians

For people who are not the NRA and, perhaps, not explicitly pro-Trump--but are definitely pro-gun and enjoy owing and shooting AR-15s (etc.) this all feels terribly unfair. They keep trying to explain to the media and to non-gun America in general how the suggestions put forth won't help. After all, you can ban AR-15's and other guns with the same capabilities can be used.

You can ban 30 round magazines--but millions are already in circulation. Worse: the public seems  to want to ban assault rifles and machine guns--which are, of course, already illegal.

This is where the pro-gun civilians start to run into trouble and to run out of runway: No one who represents them is capable of putting together a plan that will make a difference--so the conversation devolves into  "why should I listen to you--you called a magazine a clip, you moron."

It's true: these are different things--and the anti-gun side is generally uneducated about the fine points of firearms and their terminology--but they are not wrong about the basic leathality of the AR-15 or that its profile resembles that of a military weapon in ways that likely appeal to would be shooters of people.

It is also problematic that arguing about whether an AR-15 is an Armalite Rifle or an Assault Rifle is pretty meaningless: if the Parkland shooter had had a full-auto setting he might have been less deadly (after all, if he was firing FA, he would have run through his magazine much more quickly and apparently his weapon jammed when changing mags and he was forced to abandon it--if a shooter doesn't know how to clear a jam or quick change a magazine, the last thing he wants is a full-auto setting).

So these guys get wrapped around an axel that convinces everyone watching that they simply feel your dead kids don't trump their right to own an AR. This doesn't make the problem of school shootings look like it's in line for a solution besides banning as many guns as the anti-gun side can.

6. But The Facts . . . 

The argument that banning assault weapons and limiting magazine sizes won't keep these shootings from happening runs up against the fact that doing nothing hasn't stopped them either. After a point enough dead kids becomes reason to try something.

It's also worth noting that some of the ideas on the table (raising the age limit, magazine size limits, and banning AR's) might actually have a positive impact. Certainly changing social standards around access to--and storage of--guns could change things if there is no direct material access--and, anyway, right now no one is too interested in facts: the ones we have--that disaffected young people sometimes decide to go on killing sprees for reasons that are hard to fathom and seem impervious to policy solutions--are grim.

Where Does This Leave Us?

The Omnivore thinks that if we see movement on gun-laws it will be less about the liberal media and the left's use of kids than about the more general partisan shifts that we have seen that the kids are well mobilized (utilized?) to take advantage of. The combination of Trump's reinvigoration of the Left and the fact that the pro-gun side has staked out the least sympathetic position and doubled down with some racism and unnecessary culture-warring--will be to blame for overcoming the basic facts (that pure access to guns is not the root cause of the problem--but rather a grossly aggravating factor).

In other words, instead of trying to solve the problem (remember abortion being safe, legal, and rare?) bringing it into the culture wars and tying Trump around its neck will be the thing that finally causes the change Trump was elected to prevent.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

What You Gotta Believe

If Trump has a knack for something, it's a use of language that is compact and effective. He isn't a great communicator, per se--but he's really good at branding. This is an example: what you see in the above 280 characters is a distiallation of what #MAGA is supposed to believe. Let's break it down:

  1. Trump and his campaign didn't in any way (collusion) conspire to work with the Russians to win the election. Certainly in no illegal way (crime).
  2. The FBI investigation is based on a series of frauds perpetrated by high-level FBI guys, Obama, and Hillary, which included illegally tapping / unmasking / surveilling Trump campaign members and setting up a scapegoat should they lose (that "Russia did it").
  3. A key part of this was the Steele dossier that was created by Team Hillary using Steele as the mechanism. It was then used to influence judges and leak information to the press (which was then used to further influence judges) in order to create a false narrative about Trump-Russia collusion.
  4. The Mueller investigation, spun up from this fraudlent FBI investigation, is a WITCH HUNT aimed at Trump by the same cabal in the FBI (of which, of course, Mueller is a part) designed to [ something something ] him.
This is, of course, extreme--and extremely obvious--bullshit--but #MAGA believes it. They have to. If it's not true then the Great Man is deluded . . . or worse.

What Must Be True For This To Be True

The problems with this story could (and will) fill several books--but let's just look at some of the more gaping holes. This is easy to do with material produced in defense of Trump or by Team Trump themsleves (or even himself).

It's that easy.

No Collusion--No Crime

The first stop on this "Trump-Train-To-Hell" is that the team didn't collude and certainly not to any criminal intent. For that, we have Don Jr.'s emails. He was trying to collude and had he been given information (something of value) from a foreign agent, that would be a crime. Did it happen? They say no--but they also tried saying the whole damn meeting didn't happen--which was a bald-faced lie they got caught in.

At this point, self-righteously asserting that there was no collusion and no crime means (a) it's necessary to lie about this non-collusive/criminal meeting in the first place and (b) it's cool to--because although it was an attempt at what (in the final story) would likely be criminal behavior, the crime didn't work out--so, eh.

In other words: we don't have to speculate about Team Trump's wish to collude: by their own words, it's a fact--and a fact POTUS tried to cover up.

MAGA-HAT: The meeting was a set-up because the lawywer worked for Fusion GPS! It's proof, man. Red-handed.

This is stupid bccause: If this were a set up, Fusion GPS would have audio of the meeting, would have handed over fake Hillary dirt, and pulled off the sting. In this case, allegedly, Fusion GPS set up Don Jr. in the early days of the campaing--but waited until after he won the election to spring the "trap" which consited of basically nothing other than his own self-incrimination in his emails. Uh-huh.

But MAGA-HAT gotta believe.

A Series Of Crimes By A Cabal
The second stop is that a group of high level FBI guys--run by Comey and McCabe--as well as Obama, Susan Rice, and Hillary--and, you know, whoever, cooked up a story to blame the Russians for any election loss.

Now: The Russians were certainly helping this evil plan out--they were, for example, sowing discord and hacking our power-grid. They were also pretending to be Americans who were Pro-Trump, Pro-Sanders, and anti-Clinton (unless it was the radical Islamics or the Blacks--they knew their racists well, Trump voters--and it was YOU).

We've got all this on record. No one disputes it--but the question is: did Team Hillary make up a story that would, later, match the discussion in the Don Jr. meetings--in order to start an illegal investigation?

Well -- 

1. Don Jr. was told flat out in the email that Russa was backing his dad. He didn't react with surprise or, well, anything. It was stated as a known fact and he reacted to it as a known fact.

2. The Devin Nunes memo itself says the investigation started with stories from extrenal diplomats about leaky Trump campaign people. Certainly if that was a lie, Nunes wouldn't have put it in his (incredibly bullshit) memo.

3. Other countries IC's have indicated they were seeing this too. How far does this small cabal spread?

4. The investigation involved following Carter Page after he left the campaign. Surely if you were going to cook something up, you'd want to cut a little closer to the bone?

5. All of these people are Republicans. Comey very arguably gave the election to Trump (and was fired for it--as an excuse--but it's one King-MAGA backs). This cabal is pretty bad at skullduggery since if they had an active investigation on Trump, leaking that to the press would've been the surest way to torpedo him.

MAGA-HAT: They thought Hillary would win so they [ something, didn't do anything meaningful, something something something ]. Also, the story about the Austrailian diplomat and the drunk Papadopulous is hinky.

This is stupid because: That story would be easy to puncture (ask the diplomat), there are dated records, etc. That Nunes didn't even try to puncture it is telling.

The Steele Dossier Is FAKE

Much is made of the fact that the Steele Dossier is hard to validate--after all, a whole lot of it (The Omnivore went through it piece by piece) is what was being said inside the Kremlin. Without copious contacts in the Kremlin who are willing to talk, how do you validate that? 

The answer is that you ask someone with those contacts: Steele. Does this prove he was / is telling the truth? No--but it also makes "It's not validated" . . .  erm . . . invalid (well, irrelevant). 

What we do know: 
1. According to Steele The Russians wanted Trump to win. This is echoed in the Mueller indictments which were echoed in the sanctions from the White House. 

2. The email dump from Podesta was fed through Wikileaks and was released right after the Access Hollywood tape hit. This is exactly in line with what the Dossier suggests was going on. We can see, because of the URL shortner used to hack Podesta, that the entity that did the hacking was a government / state player that looks, well, exactly like Russia.

In other words: the evidence we can see suggests that what Steele said was true.

3. The connections between Hillary, Fusion GPS, and Steele are, by all accounts very arms-length (through lawyers, etc.). You have to believe everyone involved threw caution to the wind and had a secret meeting. You also have to believe that guys like Steele and Fusion GPS would be willing to burn their professional reputations (remember: Fusion worked with Republicans on the first part of the Dossier. They aren't a Dem-Only shop). Steele has spent a life-time building a good reputation. You have to believe he'd torch it all for this lie.

MAGA-HAT: I believe in big conspiracies.

This is stupid because: In this case it's like a world-wide conspiracy (the Dutch intel people) and everyone is either cheap to buy off--or huge sums of dark money are being thrown around for--get this--a dossier that comes out after the fucking campaign. If I were going to fake a document that would fool a FISA judge, I'd sure as hell try to put stuff in there that outlets other than Buzzfeed would publish.

Also: if the FISA judges believed they were had, The Omnivore asserts that Devin Nunes and company would be hearing abou that. Loudly.

The fact is that 4 different judges, no of whom were appointed by Obama, continued to allow the investigation. This is the strongest evidence that they were finding something that kept the search alive.

The Mueller Investigation Is Based On The Fruit Of The Poison Dossier

Perhaps the stupidest belief of all: that Rosenstein launched Muller because of a fraudlent FBI investigation. Uh--no. Let's recap:

1. Sessions recused himself. If this was all dodgy, why'd he do that?

2. Then Trump fired Comey using a Rosenstein report that claimed he mishandled Lock-Her-Up Hillary.

3. Then Trump told NBC he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation.

4. He told Russia that too, while divulging CODEWORD information to them.

There is a clear, bright-line cause-and-effect connection between Trump's behavior and the Special Counsel.

MAGA-HAT: But Rosenstein, an Obama-holdover (uh, no) appointed Comey's best buddy in what is clearly a partisan, illegal conflict of interest. Also: he hired a TEAM OF KILLERS who are all DEMOCRATS!

This is stupid because: If this were what words like "conflict of interest" means then guys like Trey Gowdy would, instead of falling all over themselves to praise Mueller as a choice, raised the red flag. When the people with the actual law degrees tell you that this is okay, you've got to believe them--or else you are stupid.

The even stupider thing is the assumption--the world view--that someone's voter registration card indicates how they will conduct themselves privately and professionally. The Omnivore thinks the problem here is that it's true for MAGA-HATs. 

They know they are loyal unto-stupidity for the Great Man--so they assume everyone works like them. If someone is a Dem, they're corrupt and will lie, cheat, and steal to bring down Trump. If they're a Republican, they're slightly less suspect--but anyone who isn't on the Trump-Train is against Trump.

That's how they see the world--which is why they don't believe any source that tells them things they don't want to hear: if the source were trustworthy they wouldn't be saying those things, would they?

Would they.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The DACA Debacle

One of the strangest beliefs of Trump-Voters is that Trump's actions represent actual plans and manipulations. For example, the idea that DACA needed to actually be passed as a bill by Congress--and NOT an Executive Order as the lame Obama made it--so Trump threw DACA to Congress, so we'll finally get it done right--is simply crazy.

The reason Obama did DACA by EO was that Congress can't find its collective ass with both hands, a flashlight, and a compass--much less pass a decent DACA bill.

Rather than Trump making a savvy play to "do things right" he just fucked over DACA and then tossed the hot-potato to congress.

Now he's saying the Democrats are filbiustering bills that don't get 50, much less 60 votes (i.e. are not getting REPUBLICAN votes, much less being filibustered by Democrats). He's saying this, probably, because his base will believe it--and he hopes some DACA recepients might believe it to (?).

Maybe he just thinks his base is that stupid.

NARRATOR'S VOICE: "Trump was right, his base DID believe it."

Of course the reason that Congress can't pass a DACA bill is because they have all the wrong incentives to. In the house, deep red districts want sympathetic DACA kids gone--thrown out. So there are a handful of reps who couldn't vote for a solid DACA solution even if they wanted to.

Then there are people who want to trade DACA-for-a-wall. That could actually happen (the Democrats would take the hit--but they've offered to)--BUT--it comes with Stephen Milller's wish to flat-line legal immigration from brown countries.

That has some, erm, racist overtones, so it has problems with certain REPUBLICANS who don't agree with that.

Then there's the president's base--who want DACA out-out-out. Trump may have a judo-grip on his base--but a big part of that is because of how he, um, interacts, with, um, brown people. It might be a bridge too far for him to let DACA people stay--and eventually vote.

The Omnivore suspects he's aware of that.

So what now?

Well, what now is that Congress still can't get its act together--but the smart money says Donald doesn't start deporting DACA dudes on March 5th. That's because there was no plan--there was just chaos.

Of course it'll be seen as a brilliant move by his base.