Lol of the Rings

It’s unfortunate that certain SFF properties have become somewhat politicized in recent times. Harry Potter, Star Wars, and the Hunger Games are favorites of the Left. I mean, isn’t Trump just like Voldemort/the First Order/President Snow? Alas, Star Wars can’t just be a fun, conservative morality play anymore.

There have been a number of decent Lord of the Rings memes in the years since the production of the Peter Jackson films. You may remember this golden oldie:

 

Lately I’ve noticed that the Right has begun to adopt LOTR to convey its own political messaging – not so much to make outright moral indictments (most conservatives wouldn’t be so crass or facile as to compare, say, Obama to Sauron), but to skewer the ridiculous and illogical arguments coming from the Left.

And so I present some without further comment.

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-Bushi

bushi

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Overwrought Think-Piece O’ the Day

  • by Gitabushi

Progressive ideology. Political power shifts. Societal pendulums. Global Warming. Defeating Evil.

What do these things have in common, besides the letter “l”?

All these different issues cannot be discussed rationally without accurately identifying and applying feedback loops.

For instance, in the case of Global Warming Climate Change, the theory is that the increase in carbon dioxide from human activity is driving the Earth’s temperature spiraling upward. However, the only way this can be true is if factors influencing or controlling the earth’s temperature are, in total, a positive feedback loop. Meaning, the various elements snowball, so the more carbon gets into the atmosphere, the easier it is for carbon to get into the atmosphere in the future.

However, to make this argument, one has to be aware of several negative feedback loops, such as the logarithmic nature of carbon’s impact (the more carbon is in the atmosphere, the smaller effect any given unit of carbon has) and the likelihood that increased carbon in the atmosphere encourages plant growth that has a cooling effect.  Meaning, there are certainly elements that tend to resist change, that absorb changes into a cycle that brings temperature back to equilibrium.  The fact that the world has had both extreme temperatures during different ages, yet keeps within a relatively small, stable range, indicates that negative feedback loops are more powerful than the positive feedback loops in our global climate system.

Regarding defeating evil, the one thing I remember from the 1st Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever is that evil can never be fully defeated. Individual incarnations of evil can be defeated, but since some measure of evil exists in every single human being, evil will always return.

lrdflsbncc1978

Setting aside the notion of evil, that’s why it is so difficult for there to be a permanent one-party rule in the United States.  One significant negative feedback loop is the election interests of individual politicians.  If one party succeeded in complete domination of the political scene, the powerless party would dissolve and the in-power party would split in order for individual politicians to seek power by championing the interests of a minority.  Party overreach usually means that it never even gets to that point.  The Democrats were hailing their permanent majority just 8 years ago.  Now they almost lack the power to stop Constitutional Amendments.

Progressive Ideology assumes a social Positive Feedback Loop, in which human society inevitably progresses toward their assumed and preferred utopia of human enlightenment.

As a fan of science fiction, I have imagined what an Individual Rights Society might look like (call it Conservative, or Libertarian, if you with…neither seem to be fully appropriate terms), but even in my imagination, it is impossible to sustain.  Human nature is too obvious: there will always be people who see their advantage in claiming group rights over individual rights, and there will always be people eager to dictate groups rights to the exclusion of individual rights.

But is the reverse true?

Consider this tweet:

I think she’s 100% correct. However, the problem is that even after the precedent is set, it isn’t a precedent the GOP can use in retaliation against the Democrats.  This is because there simply is no GOP-leaning senior bureaucrat population.  The federal bureaucracy mostly embraces the Progressive mindset.  Where it doesn’t, it correctly sees the Democrat Party as more supportive of the unelected bureaucracy’s power.

As a result, where there should be a negative feedback loop that acts as a check on Progressive overreach, I fear that Democrats (and/or Progressives, and/or Leftists…there’s a huge overlap, but not complete) have metastasized in government to the point that they can enforce a positive feedback loop for their preferred policies.

Maybe not.  The Deep State’s attack on the US Constitution is out in the open now, and the GOP does have an unprecedented advantageous position to begin dismantling it, just like Walker is doing in Wisconsin.

However, let me clarify what I mean by the Left enforcing a positive feedback loop.

Normally, overreach results in the pendulum swinging back, as individuals exercise their political and social rights to disagree and oppose.  But the nature of Leftist ideology is to embrace and empower group rights, not individual rights.  They control education, so they can teach you the history and values they want you to have.  They control entertainment, so they can craft narratives in which the Progressive ideology always turns out to be correct. They control the news, so they can make it seem like the GOP following Democrat precedents is an outrageous, unprecedented scandal.  They control the federal bureaucracy, so they can pick and choose which of the millions of pages of regulations to enforce to punish individuals for opposing their agenda.  They can make the process be the punishment so that you can’t even fight back against things like EPA overreach without bankrupting yourself.  They control the judiciary (mostly), so they can re-legislate and nullify laws they don’t like (up to and including declaring a Constitutional Amendment to be Unconstitutional).  They can allow non-citizens to flood the nation to outnumber citizens and get representation and federal funding based on illegal aliens.  They can channel taxpayer money to Progressive organizations like Planned Parenthood, and get money back from Planned Parenthood to fund Democrat politicians.  And they can use all these various institutions to move the Overton Window to make it impossible to even talk about alternatives to their vision.

If Hillary Clinton had been elected, there would have been significant erosion of 1A and 2A rights.  So we dodged a bullet there.

But even with Donald Trump duly winning the election, even with the GOP controlling Congress, controlling approximately 2/3 of the governorships, controlling a majority of state legislatures, and conservatives about to control the Supreme Court, we find ourselves on the defense from the Deep State attempting to sabotage the Trump Administration.

The battle is in the open now, but despite it being open, I’m not at all certain the GOP can win.  Too many people would rather be right about Trump than protect the normal order of Constitutional governance.

If we lose this, we won’t lose our rights immediately.  But it will be a slow erosion.  Some negative feedback elements do still exist to slow, and sometimes even turn back, the growth of the Leviathan State.  But if the Deep State wins, expect to see more and more of the negative feedback loop mechanisms dismantled.

My bottom line: sure, a Trump administration is going to be a shit-show. It will be clumsy. It will make mistakes. But the more conservatives pile on, the easier it will be for the Deep State to win in their battle against the POTUS, and we’ll all be the worse off for it.

The Deep State has declared war on the rightfully-elected President of the United States.  By choosing to go to war against the President of the United States, the Deep State has declared war on the US Constitution.  You have to choose a side. There’s gotta be away you can defend the Office of the Presidency without defending Trump the man himself. Find it.

 

Video games, SFF, politics, and contempt!

Yesterday Rod Walker posted about our little conversation on Harry Potter, political ideology, and SFF. I think Rod hit upon a key point, which I want to highlight here.

Generally, the best books are written by writers who appreciate human nature for its foibles without being contemptuous of them, and RW thinks that is hard for hyper-political people to do.

Indeed. He added in the comment section in reply to me:

Agreed! Contempt is a dangerous vice in which to indulge, because it distorts one’s thinking and causes one to make decisions based on incorrect premises.

Bingo. Perhaps this is the word or idea that I needed to complete my thoughts in the Harry Potter post. Contempt is a nasty thing. While it can galvanize a particular group against another, it can just as easily destroy one’s chances of conversion, repulse those who aren’t hardcore believers one way or another, or distance allies who feel it to be an unworthy or unfair expression of disagreement.

I myself do some shit-posting and trolling of Leftist or PC activities. And I comment on politics and culture. What’s the difference? Well, first off I’ve got to be careful not to elevate myself here. Perhaps I’ve been guilty of the very thing I’m complaining about. If so, feel free to call me out on it any time. But if you follow me on Twitter or scroll through some of our post titles, you can pretty easily guess what our shtick is here. So first off, we’ve got a target audience. If someone else wants to engage and tell me I’m a cuck or rightwing nutjob, feel free to drop a comment. Your level of reasonableness and civility may determine whether we actually interact, but there you go.

When it comes to entertainment, I may criticize the statements or actions of creators, but I try to keep that separate from the quality of a given work.

Increasingly my beef has become with sites that bill themselves as focused on something like, oh, I don’t know, video games, and then start injecting politics. And you can guess what kind of politics they’re usually foisting. Even that is forgivable in and of itself, though it is tiresome to the max. Writers have opinions on politics, sure. And sometimes they absolutely can’t help themselves and must talk about how phallically-shaped swords are another oppressive tool of the Patriarchy, or why the new GOP-headed FCC is going to destroy the internet. People who get tired of that crap can either push back in comments or stop reading. That’s why I don’t follow many gaming websites anymore.

The latest – Touch Arcade. I used to check in pretty regularly to keep an eye on interesting-looking iOS games. Their reviews were always timely and of decent quality.

But now we’re starting to see stuff like this gem:

papers

So now that we’ve got a temporary moratorium on foreigners from 7 high-risk terrorist countries, the US is really becoming like an oppressive, corrupt superstate. And Touch Arcade felt this was an interesting thing to talk about.

Well, not all gamers are liberals, and not all gamers are interested in being sermonized to on political topics.

After Kaiju messaged me about this article, I gave it a quick look to see if there was any pushback. Well, the comments have bravely been disabled. How about on Twitter? Why yes:

https://twitter.com/Sicklefickle/status/829812335892103168

Touch Arcade, as you might imagine, is respectful of its readers and prepared to dialogue.

I followed up, but it was about as productive as you might guess.

ta1

ta2

There you go. And so we circle back to “contempt.” If you want to start a discussion with your readers, that’s one thing. But if you want to spoon-feed them your ideology and spurn any opportunity for divergent opinion or dialogue, that’s another. So yes, TA may have only gotten two or three people voicing their dissatisfaction with this kind of behavior from a gaming website. It’s possible they picked up a few regular readers who thought to themselves “Hey I too hate Donald Trump and like mobile games – let me bookmark this site.” But there are also plenty of folk who clicked (there’s your stats), couldn’t comment, and didn’t feel like trying to find you on Twitter. If you don’t care whether or not you alienate these readers, then come what may. Some people don’t want to frequent sites that make them feel like they’re being held in contempt.

As you said Touch Arcade – seeya!

-Bushi

bushi

 

Walking Dead, Season 7: Far-Right Tutorial

  • by Gitabushi

There are plenty of spoilers in the following piece.  If you aren’t caught up on the story, well, at some point you have to take responsibility for being weeks behind.  There has been plenty of time for everyone to catch up on the storyline, so I’m not even going to try to avoid spoilers.  I’ll put it below the jump, however.  And the spoilers will be minor, I think.

Continue reading “Walking Dead, Season 7: Far-Right Tutorial”

Political Strategery

  • by Gitabushi

I am a semi-skilled amateur in many, many fields.  One field that I feel like I can fumble my way to some useful insights is Games Theory.

My career has centered around analysis in general, and mainland China in specific.  One of the interesting aspects has been watching other analysts make assessments based on nations as if they were unchanging monoliths.  Perhaps that yields analytic results that are good enough. But to me, that always seemed inadequate.

Consider the US. Should other countries make their Geopolitical plans based on the US always being the World’s Policeman, committed to global trade and attempting to keep the peace worldwide while maintaining shipping lanes, eager to use military force to protect our National Interests?  Or put it another way: did the basic character of our actions on the world stage change from Bush to Obama, and will they change from Obama to Trump?  And even more subtly, did they change from SecState Clinton to SecState Kerry, and from SecState Powell to SecState Rice?  I think the answer to all these questions is “yes.”

I am convinced that the nature of the PRC-Taiwan conflict changed significantly when the leader of Taiwan changed from Lee Teng-hui to Chen Shui-bian.  President Chen was extremely good at giving Jiang Zemin (the leader of the PRC) no-win options.  If Jiang accepted what Chen did, Taiwan gained some measure of independence, but if he fought it, he made the PRC look like a bully and hardened the resolve of Taiwanese citizens to remain independent.  I can’t think of a good example at the moment.  Jiang Zemin knew how to exercise power, and he exercised it against Taiwan as much as he could, rattling sabers and making threats and blustering.

However, when Hu Jintao succeeded Jiang Zemin, that again changed the character.  Suddenly, the PRC was giving Taiwan no-win options.  The best example I can think of is when Taiwan was going through a minor recession.  Hu Jintao offered to let Taiwan fruit farmers sell their products to the Chinese mainland. That would immediately increase the demand for their goods without increasing the supply, which would help struggling farmers and perhaps even help them get rich quickly.  The problem for Chen Shui-bian was that Taiwan farmers almost exclusively supported his party.  If he allowed them to sell their fruit to the PRC, they would benefit from a stronger relationship with the PRC, which would likely soften their resolve to remain independent. But if he refused to let them sell their product, then he was harming their livelihood for politics, and perhaps for mere churlishness.

Prior to Hu Jintao, the PRC did everything they could to block Taiwan from participating in international organizations.  The PRC claimed that both the PRC and Taiwan were part of One China, and that China needed only one representative at the UN, the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, etc.  Taiwan could be represented by joining the PRC, or not be represented at all.  Under Hu, however, the PRC suddenly allowed Taiwan to participate as a region of the PRC.  That gave Chen an unhappy option: if they chose to gain a voice in international organizations, it was tantamount to accepting the PRC’s authority over Taiwan; if they rejected the opportunity, at least some of the international opinion would note that Taiwan cared more about political words than, say, the opportunity to participate in vital public health activities like preventing the spread of Avian Influenza.

And Hu Jintao continually forced Taiwan to make these choices. During his tenure, the PRC offered Taiwan the economic opportunities with mainland China they had been seeking for years…but with each economic deal, Taiwan tied its economy more closely to the PRC, meaning that the PRC could theoretically force re-unification by threatening to tank Taiwan’s economy at only an inconvenience to themselves.

So here’s the point:

The GOP, as a whole, seems to split our intellectual time and effort between trying to persuade people that conservative philosophy is correct and trying to enact conservative policy.  What I don’t think is happening enough, however, is trying to craft policy that puts Progressives into untenable positions.

Self-defense rights. Over-incarceration. Voting integrity. Right to Life. Lower taxes. Countering speech we don’t like with speech we do (trying to erase Political Correctness). I’ve seen it done in persuasion attempts, like pointing out that abortion is killing more black women than anything else. I’ve seen some steps toward the GOP fighting over-incarceration as a waste of money.

But why can’t we craft policy that puts the Democrats in the position of either admitting the GOP is helping blacks, or in preventing blacks from getting help?

Why can’t we craft policy that puts Democrats in the position of either allowing us to ensure the integrity of voting, or admitting they want illegal votes to cancel out the votes of citizens?

Is it just that the mainstream news media (the Democrat Operatives with Bylines) won’t allow the GOP to get that message out?  Is it also that too many in the GOP have no desire to defeat Progressive ideology (seeing themselves as the Washington Generals to the Progressive Political Harlem Globetrotters in order to push political policy they only pretend to oppose to get elected)?

The Opposite of Populism

  • by Gitabushi

Have you noticed the mainstream media, pundits, and even Democratic Party officials are decrying populism lately?  Actually, if you pay attention to the news at all, I don’t see how you could miss it.  Barrels of ink have been spilled by the Democrat Operatives with Bylines (Glenn Reynolds’ characterization of the mainstream media, although the phrase has been taken up by his guest blogger, Ed Driscoll, as shown by the posts in the link) decrying populism since Donald Trump won the election.

Barrels of ink could be spilled exploring the phenomenon that populism, a cornerstone of Democratic Party policy and power, is suddenly a problem when Republicans embrace it (temporarily or not).

They hate populism because Trump rode a wave of populism to win the election.

As I am fond of noting, to Progressives/Leftists, “democracy” is whatever gives them power or helps them retain it, and “fascism” is any process or act that results in them losing power.  That’s why every Republican is always Literally Hitler.

If Populism is so bad, what is the opposite of Populism?  Elitism? Has that served us well?

Actually, I think the opposite of Populism is Principles.

Populism is the notion that whatever the majority of The People want to happen should become law simply because the people want it. Usually the Court system is the way Leftists make this argument, but they will use Congress when they can (“We have to pass the law to find out what’s in it”), and lately have fallen in love with Executive Orders (“If Congress doesn’t act, I will“). And, of course, mob rule has also been one of their favorite weapons, if it is their mob and their rule.

Principle is when you want to follow the rules, even if it harms you personally; and when you want to follow the system, even if it makes it more difficult to do the things that are already obvious should be done.

An example: I am currently a government contractor. It is not a bad way to make a living, but there is no security. The contract you work under is usually re-competed every year, and another company could win the bid at any time. The rules for your employment are also far less friendly than that of government employees.  I would like to be employed by the government.  In fact, I have even applied for a position.  Donald Trump promised he would institute a hiring freeze on government employees. If I voted in a populist manner, I would have voted for Hillary Clinton. It was actually voting against my personal interests to vote for Donald Trump. I stuck with principles.  I want the future to be better for my children and grand children.  I think that as bad as Trump might be, electing Hillary Clinton to be POTUS will result in her establishing many more incentives that will make life worse for all people in my children’s and grandchildren’s adult life.

So what is Elitism, then?

In my opinion, Elitism is merely Populism for Elites.  The Elites want a huge influx of Illegal Immigrants, so they get the huge influx, even if the federal government has to sue to keep a state from enforcing federal laws. The Elites want same sex marriage to be legal, and so a fundamental Right to Marriage suddenly appears where none existed before.

I assert that we should resist and reject Populism in all its forms.  We should follow the laws of the United States, as written. If we do not like the laws, they should be changed by the processes allowed to us. Executive Orders should not be used to legislate. Executive Orders should not be allowed to stipulate not enforcing duly-enacted laws.  The Supreme Court should never re-write a law to make it Constitutional, like it did in Obergefell and “Obamacare” rulings.  If a law is UnConstitutional, it should be temporarily halted until Congress writes a new law.

Maybe we need a Constitutional Amendment to establish the process by which SCOTUS strikes down laws and how they are then re-written?  Because I don’t think it would be helpful to the United States if a law was passed, then overturned by the Supreme Court, but the rewriting vetoed by a President who didn’t want the law.  Without any rules for the process, the system could be exploited for Leftist gain.  More than it already is, I mean.

And while we’re at it, I think we need to develop a Constitutional Process for the other two branches to be able to overrule SCOTUS in some circumstances.  SCOTUS deciding to re-write laws to fit what it considered Populist Wishes, and the inability for anyone to stop it, is the biggest gap in our system of checks and balances.

An Attempt at Even-Handedness: District Gerrymandering

  • by Gitabushi

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/supreme-court-out-of-redistricting-thicket/article/2608902

So here’s the issue, as the article above explains, and as non-partisan and objective as I can make it:
When you set up districts for House of Representative elections, you must try to have approximately equal number of voters.   You can’t let one Representative represent 100k people and other represent 4k people in the same state (due to rules of minimum representation and a cap on there being only 435 Representatives, there will be an unavoidable disparity in total number of voters represented by a Congressman between, say, California and Wyoming).
Because population is not even, the size and the shape of the districts will be uneven.  It only takes a second of thought to realize there are many ways to draw the districts to include approximately the same number of people, and different lines have different strategic impacts.

But let’s say districts in your state have 100k people each.  You can put the mix any way you want it.  Let’s also assume there are only two groups we are dealing with: whites (notional majority at 70%) and blacks (notional minority at 30%)

Obviously, not all blacks vote Democrat, and the Democrat political message also appeals to a significant number of whites, but for the sake of the mental exercise, let’s just assume black = Democrat and white = Republican.

You can draw the lines so that blacks are spread out across districts, say no more than 20% of any district.  That means that to the extent that blacks political wants/needs are different from whites, they have been effectively silenced.

Since the Democrat political message was calibrated to appeal to almost all blacks (through playing up racial differences, stirring up resentment and distrust between the races, etc), arranging to allow them greater political voice would result in more political power for Democrats.

They redrew districts so that blacks would be a sufficient majority in more districts, thus pretty much guaranteeing those districts would elect a Democrat Representative.  To the extent that blacks political wants/needs are different than whites, the whites in those districts have been effectively silenced.  But it maximized the number of districts whose representatives were elected by blacks, and thus maximized the number of Democrat Representatives.

But those districts can also be redrawn so that blacks are all concentrated in the smallest number of districts possible. To the extent that the Democrat message appeals to blacks, it would guarantee those districts would vote Democrat, that blacks had a voice, and no other voices were political silenced. But it minimized the number of Democrat Representatives by concentrating blacks into the smallest number of districts.

This is what the GOP has done since taking over legislatures and governorships across the nation.

To be fair, this last method is probably the most “fair”, in that (to the extent that the political wants/needs of blacks are different from those of whites), blacks have a number of Representatives proportional to their actual portion of the citizenry.  In our notional example, 30%.  Obviously, Democrats would prefer to maximize the voice/power of a group they consider (for good reason) to be the most reliably-Democrat population group in the US.  As a result, GOP gerrymandering is Evil and Racist and Unprecedented, unlike Democrat gerrymandering, which is Noble and Done for All the Morally Superior Reasons (because, if pressed, they’ll admit that defeating the GOP is *always* the morally superior outcome. Which just means that to Democrats, seizing and holding political power is a moral imperative).

Now, one unavoidable fact is that the GOP has broadened its appeal at the state level so that they were able to capture more state legislatures and governor seats.  Those political victories mean that they have the support of a significant majority of people.  It would actually be immoral to ignore or silence those voters to impose a system that favors Democrats just because it favors Democrats.

The interesting thing brought up in the above article is that there are risks for Democrats in their strategy to maximize their power.

If the GOP gerrymandering plan is maintained, then to the extent that Democrat political stances represent or are preferred by blacks, they are guaranteed victories in the black districts.
If the Democrat gerrymandering plan is restored, then to the extent that their political stances represent or are preferred by blacks, they maximize their political power, but at the risk that the GOP might split off black voters and/or the risk that black turnout might be lower than whites for reasons of enthusiasm.  Compare the difference in vote percentages and voter enthusiasm between the two Obama elections on the one hand and the Trump election on the other. Trump received a higher percentage of the black vote than McCain or Romney, mainly because of the Democrat candidate. But the black turnout was also lower for Trump than for either of the Obama elections, again, mainly because of the Democrat candidate.

What that means, however, is that if you have your districts set up to have, say 55% black voters, that might deliver the district to Democrats in a normal year.  But what is a “normal” election year?  At 55%, it doesn’t take much voter discouragement to make the percentage of black voters drop below a critical number and deliver the district (and Representative) to the GOP. Or it doesn’t take many blacks deciding that Democrat regulation is killing the jobs they want, so maybe voting for Trump *can* Make America Great Again.

And that’s exactly what we saw in this past election.

The House and Senate did swing a few seats to Democrats.  But not many, and far below what was expected to be a significant pendulum swing back to Democrats.

It makes me think that the GOP should redistrict exactly like Democrats want it, but with the margin for black representation razor thin.  And then campaign in those black districts to the maximum extent possible, and be sure to work hard to represent them as effectively as possible in Congress, delivering on promises, providing jobs, getting blacks off of welfare, keeping their families intact, etc.

It could be interesting.