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Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Toxicology of #GamerGate

Despite the (loads) of analysis, claims, and counter-claims, The Omnivore had had, to this point, relatively little interaction with flag-flying #GamerGaters (if you don't know what that is, the Wikipedia entry is good). The Omnivore, of course, had questions.  If you have read any of this blog, you know that The Omnivore distinguishes ruthlessly between why someone says they are doing what they are doing--and where the emotional energy for what they are doing really seems to come from (Example: "I really care about Saving The Whales!" vs. "I am going out with GreenPeace to piss off my father!")

How did these things line up--were there justifications? Was there a particular spark of emotion that lit the whole fire? Conspiracy theory? What. After several days (and this interaction never really ends--it's part of the charm) of talking with the GG'ers, The Omnivore has some observations--a sort of "Toxicology Report" on the emotional framework of #GamerGate.

The Toxicology Report appears as follows:

  • The initial wound was the "Gamers Are Dead" set of articles which upset a set of hard-core overly entitled, often bigoted (or at least using various slurs) gamers as a demographic that was shrinking in the Video Games markets.
  • Being stung by the description (which, again, was not applied to any one person specifically) the GG'ers needed to both avenge themselves but also not validate the accusations. This led to:
    • The Just Asking Questions approach also known as sea-lioning and
    • Attempts to dismiss any accusations of bad behavior as fakes, lies, false-flags, etc.


We Didn't Start The Fire

Discussions with the GG'ers should not be used to over-generalize--but The Omnivore wants to be clear: he came into this exercise with a partial view of "stated goals" vs. "actual goals" that GG'ers seemed to exhibit.  A place to start is with the genesis of #GamerGate. The foundational wound was a set of articles referred to as the "Gamers Are Dead" articles (they don't say that--but that's how they are referenced).

The Omnivore had known about these before, of course--but had not been able to talk to the GG'ers about their reactions to them. For the most part, they simply felt insulted--but there was a claim that was called out by  few that seemed to "hit home." This was the accusation that Gamers were entitled (Overly entitled, to be specific).

The Omnivore is here to tell you: for this sample size, man oh man is that right. The dimensions of Gamer Entitlement are wide and varied (see 'Taking it personally that Diablo 4 was released as a Mobile Game' to 'All these critically acclaimed Walking Simulators will destroy our hobby!') but essentially the Gamers were told they were behaving like unpleasant brats . . . and they were. So they took it, as they say, personally.

The Shape of #GamerGate Argumentation

The evolving #GamerGate movement, springing from this wound, had some operational constraints built in: If you were accused of being overly entitled jerks--and you took it personally--how did you defend yourself without being . . . an overly entitled jerk?

The answer was obvious: Use Absolute Deniability as your shield and use "Just Asking Questions" as your sword. These are metaphors--but basically: hound people to debate with you about your bad-behavior--do it relentlessly and persistently--and complain if the mob is auto-blocked because "that's not fair"--it also means that all action that could be considered "over the line" must religiously be attributed to someone else. If these two things seem strange, well, they are. Let's look at each separately.

Just Asking Questions (Sea-Lioning)

The wonderful Wondermark Comic hit the nail on the head with the (now infamous) sea-lioning cartoon. This cartoon illustrates how the sea-lion (the #GamerGater) plies his trade by continuously and relentlessly asking questions. Is he doing it in bad faith? Who can say--but it certainly seems like it. How would we tell? Well, The Omnivore tried (a) telling people that they would receive no more answers on a topic and (b) that he had already answered the question several times (which he had) and (c) ignoring the persistent asker. Of course, predictably, none of that worked.

One of the Sea Lions, despite not receiving a response for a while, followed around, trying to get other people to take up his "unanswered" questions. *

Furthermore, in addition to working up a lather of justified sea-lioning, there is also the wide-spread #GamerGate belief that, to reference a well known piece of nonsense, 'The Sea lion Did Nothing Wrong." The excuses for this are just as tortured: the Sea Lion is only (on Twitter) pursuing their targets in a public place (Twitter--but the sea lion is upset if he is placed on a block-list--because block-lists are inefficient! uh-huh).

In any event, the sea lion is in the right--he's been wronged--and he's being polite. In this case, the act of sea-lioning, which is defined explicitly as harassing--is said by the GG'ers not to be harassing (note: GGers in The Omnivore's interaction got upset when they felt they were being asked questions in a relentless fashion. The Omnivore weeps for the lost irony).

The other pillar of #GamerGate argumentation is . . .

Absolute Deniability

A religious article of faith of #GamerGate is, necessarily, that they--the collective-they, in their movement has done nothing wrong. It's a consumer revolt of angels. Coming from the chan environments, this is prima facie bullshit--but it's also intricate. How does this work?

1. No One (But Us) Was Harassed. The first claim--and the most astonishing--is that no one was actually harassed. This means (a) SWATTING reports are likely fake (as though the local PD would not know) (b) what was reported as harassment was just, you know, snow-flakes being unable to take the heat, and, since no charges were filed, nothing "fitting harassment" by a legal-eagle definition happened--so clearly it's all lies!

Of course the documents make it clear that the #GamerGate targets did receive threatening and repeated phone calls, SWATTING attacks, doxing, and so on--but if you start by deciding that All Media Always Lies and The FBI Report Only Counts If They Pressed Charges (they didn't) then you can get most of the way there with your true believers.

2. They Did It To Themselves / Had It Coming. The next circle of #GamerGate hell is the "They did it to themselves" theory. In this one numerous critics all got together to fake harassment so they could get sweet, sweet, pateron dollars in donations. A part of this also is that the targets were so objectionable that of course some harassment may have happened--but it was just natural and unrelated to #GG.

The False Flag theory is nonsense (the evidence of it: No Evidence!) and there are serious structural issues (would these people all come up with the same plan? Would families and such who were relocated go along with it? Would all major media outlets be in on it? (Yes! It's a Conspiracy!). And so on.

3. Okay, Maybe Someone Was Harassed--but Not By #GamerGate. One GG'er tried hard to get The Omnivore into a discussion of the SWATTING of one of the targets (referenced in the FBI report). The GG'er, after refusing to back off on repeated questions when asked to, finally wanted The Omnivore to go into the report and tell him Where This Allegation Of SWATTing Was!

The Omnivore assured him it was in there--and that he could go check. It was, of course--but that wasn't what the #GG'er wanted to verify. What the #GamerGater wanted to do was take a specific SWATTing incident (which definitely happened) and use the link to the archived /baphomet/ doxing/swatting page where gleeful anons wait for a pro-SWATTER to rain down misery or perhaps even death on a target and have chosen one who is disliked by #GamerGate so "#GamerGate will take the blame!"

Of course the target herself was identified by #GamerGate and they cast their ire at her--without them, she would not have been a SWATTing target whatsoever. Even if we grant that the posters on /baphomet (the board where the SWATTING was driven from) were serious about 'not being part of #GamerGate . . . how could we possibly know/) it is very, very hard to argue against the understanding #GamerGate picked the target and /baphomet pulled the trigger.

This (The Omnivore avers) wasn't the conversation the GG'er wanted to have. He wanted to trick The Omnivore into claiming that #GamerGate itself had definitely doxed and SWATTed the target--but all The Omnivore had ever claimed was that the people disliked by #GameGate got harassed (a claim numerous #GGer's also disputed--but with far less convincing evidence).

4. Okay--But It Was A Tiny Number. The final fallback position is that, sure--some people who affiliated themselves with #GamerGate might've done something--okay--but most of us didn't! This would make a certain amount of sense until you realize that it is basically just a protective convention. The #GamerGaters were certainly interested in making sure their targets suffered. They felt wronged--personally insulted--attacked--vilified.

Their organization is designed so that anyone and no one might actually belong (how do you know? There is no structure). The nature of the Internet message boards they flourished on (and were commonly kicked off of) are places set up to allow anonymous bad behavior. Yes, they also have My Little Pony and cooking channels--but those weren't relentlessly kicked off of one platform after another after another. #GamerGate and other bad-behavior movements (child pornography posting) did get groups evicted from 4chan, for example).

Conclusions

The Omnivore's takeaway from this is that #GamerGate is every bit the result of an ego-wound that the participants were eager to be a part of. They recognized their bad-behavior in the articles, justified it, and then attached themselves to the idea that they, personally were accused of any-and-all bad things. Armed with this justification to go-forth and sea-lion, they did so . . . and thus cemented their reputation in every major examination.**


NOTE: The GG'er in question rationalized his persistence (sea lioning--even when this was pointed out to him) by claiming that he, personally had been accused of SWATTING people (this was clearly untrue--he used a set of logical hoops to try to construct the personal wronging). Thus, as he was personally wronged, he decided he was justified in seeking sea-lion-justice as his rightful redress.

Of course he also persisted after being told not to in asking questions relentlessly about a meme The Omnivore referenced (this was dropped from his later claims to others as it would undermine his I-was-wronged stance--but it was very clearly not about thinking he'd been wrongly accused of SWATTING).

** NOTE: Something that is notable--but out of scope for this article--is that #GamerGaters have a very strong inclination to "defend freedom of speech." This is presented as a high-minded idea. It's really a justification as to how they can't / shouldn't be banned from various boards, twitter, etc. for speaking their minds over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. As with the nazis (lowercase 'n') who "defend free speech" because they are going to use racial slurs, the #GGers are also pretty well versed in using racial slurs (even if many claim they 'wouldn't do it personally.')

Anyone going into a #GamerGate space may see slurs used (or be called one) and then, if they take offense, they are dubbed a censor--and an enemy of free speech. This is double ironic as the #GamerGaters were offended for far less (having a group they chose to belong to referred to as "entitled") and they didn't waste time defending the article's author's freedom from the consequences of their speech.

Someone should call Alanis Morisette.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

About That Trump-Russia Data Strategy . . .

So we've learned a few things recently.

  1. Manafort's lawyers say that Mueller says that Manafort lied about his (Manafort's) hand-over of Trump insider polling data to a Russian. 
  2. Phillip Bump of WaPo notes that, even though this is collusion (it may or may not be conspiracy--the criminal charge) there isn't any resounding evidence of a tip-top data targeting campaign by Russia. After all, he says, THIS is one of the most successful ads that ran in Michigan (and other places) just before the election.
He notes "Not exactly a strong exhortation to vote for Trump."

Or is it? Today we revisit THIS story:
Yes, a Texas county has an appointed long-time Republican, stand-up-guy doctor who was appointed vice chairman--and the county is holding a vote to remove him--because--and only because (explicitly) he is a Muslim.

It is possible that Team Trump know something (obvious) about the Trump-curious electorate that more refined pallets like Phillip Bump can't really allow themselves to know. 

Remember all the kerfuffle over Obama saying the words "Radical Islam"? Conservatives complained that we could not defeat that which we could not name! This, of course, was bullshit. Obama didn't say it because an American president invoking Islam--of any type--was a problem both abroad where Americans (and especially American presidents) are not trusted--and at home where . . .

Wait for it . . .

A certain segment of the population is darn certain that any Islam is Radical Islam. So when these guys see the graphic, how do they respond? 

"We don't want those terrorists coming in from those countries!" This was the genesis of Trump's shambolic Muslim-Ban (whatever it was, Rudy called it a Muslim Ban, so anyone who wants to quibble can call Rudy and do it with him). 

In other words? Not only was this an ad for Trump--for people in the target demographic--it was a brilliant one.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Another Brick In The Wall


The Omnivore wonders if the Trumpers still think the wall is being built and going up just fine? We are now in a government shutdown which is projected to last through Christmas because the Senate has adjourned until the 27th.

It's not clear what will change after the 27th though--so, hey.

The Facts About The Shutdown

As far as The Omnivore knows, these are the facts about the Shutdown.

  1. The Senate passed a unanimous (bi-partisan bill) to send to the House. The President said he would sign it. It had 1.6bn for border security)
  2. The President changed his mind and refused to sign it--so the House cobbled together a vote and sent it to the Senate (with 5+bn for The Wall).
  3. The Senate was unable to come up with 51 votes to pass it--so it floundered and failed. NOTE: this means Republican votes were also lacking (in addition to Democratic votes).
  4. The president bragged on live TV that he would take responsibility for the shutdown.
  5. Illegal Immigration peaked 11 years ago and is at a low-point.
Did The Omnivore miss anything?

What Now?

On Jan 3rd the Democrats will take control of the House, pass a budget sans-wall, send it to the Senate. There:
  • It will likely pass the Senate--or, if it does not, it will be because of Republican votes (or Mitch McConnell refusing to bring it to a vote).
  • If it passes the Senate then Trump will have to veto it.
  • If Trump vetoes it then the Senate will have to override the veto (which, at least in theory from the first vote, they have the votes to do).
Who Owns The Shutdown?

The owner of a shutdown is based on the following:
  • Who caused it?
  • Who could stop it?
In this case the shutdown was caused by Trump changing his mind about signing the bill. The bill passed the Senate by 100-0 and would have easily passed the House.

Worse, the bill did not get filibustered in the Senate--meaning that the Democrats would have some fingerprints on the failure to advance the bill. It failed for bi-partisan reasons. Essentially a "push." 

Who could stop it? Well, McConnell could have stopped it with the Nuclear Option if the bill had 51 votes in the Senate but it didn't--so he couldn't literally advance the bill (it is not clear he could have successfully invoked the nuclear option--and would have been amazingly foolish for this bill anyway). 

Only Trump can stop it--but signaling he will sign a bill that has enough votes--or a 2/3rd majority in the Senate can stop it in the future if he vetoes a bill they manage to pass.

In other words, it's Trump's shutdown.

Okay--So, How Does This Play Out?

This is a bad time for Trump to go to war with Congress. Firstly the Democrats will take control of the House and, it appears, Pelosi is going to be highly disciplined in going after Trump. If she does not overplay her hand she can do a lot of damage to him with investigations, passing bills that are popular in the Senate (DACA? Re-Open the government, etc.) and forcing him and McConnell to stand them down.

Secondly, it is unclear that the issue is even resonate with most voters. The midterms were a mess despite relying on an immigration message. There isn't a great factual argument in favor of the The Wall--it's symbolic and The Omnivore thinks more people are starting to realize that. Furthermore, outside the Right Wing news bubble, stories about DHS people not getting paid (having horrible Christmases?) are going to dominate the media.

That doesn't sound like a winning position. Finally, with several high-profile resignations happening the news is not going to be able to focus on what the President wants the message to be (illegals, MS-13, etc.). It's going to have to cover a bunch of other things (ISIS . . . again?) which is going to weaken him.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Mainstream Conspiracy Theory on the Far Right

Yesterday we saw a collision of the mainstream right-wing Conspiracy Theory with a court of law. It wasn't pretty.

What Happened?

Michael Flynn got his sentencing day in court--which was primed to go well for him. He had uber-cooperated with the FBI--had been the first-to-cooperate--which means he got the big prize: a suggestion of no jail time from the prosecutors.

However, in his brief, he suggested he'd been set-up by the FBI. Furthermore, the judge requested to see the "original 302s" which were the subject of much speculation--that there was evidence of FBI wrongdoing in them that would come out.

These theories were not (just) fringe beliefs--or the mark of a few Internet randos--no--they were promoted by Fox, National Review Online, and other big-name, mainstream news sources.

When the judge asked to see--and then release the 302s (records of the initial interview)--it became clear that there was nothing exonerating in there--in fact--it looked worse for Flynn than before. Before the judge, Flynn was asked if he wanted to stand by his "I'm-a-victim" narrative--and, wisely, he disavowed all of it. He now has a chance to super-duper cooperate or he'll face jail time despite what the prosecutors asked for.

What Is The Conspiracy Theory?

 What mainstream voices (the Wall Street Journal, Fox, Andrew McCarthy, etc.) all seem to believe is, in fact, a version of what QAnon believes (without the satanic baby-eating that QAnon believes in)--that there is a cabal of Obama people (Republicans) who broke the law repeatedly in their pursuit of Trump for purely political reasons.

They believed that McCabe had altered the interview reports to entrap Flynn and had used unusual and misleading tactics to illegally induce him to lie to them. This was all clearly nonsense. He lied. He knew he lied. He knew it was wrong--and he copped to it.

In fact the "Secret Cabal" theory is one which has no basis in fact or visible evidence. It's just a big-conspiracy-theory that tries to explain why there is all this smoke (lying, criminal behavior, cover-ups) without any fire.The problem isn't that crazy people believe it--the problem is that most Republicans seem to believe it.


Now, to be fair, the GOP has had a problem with conspiracy-theory (helped along by Russia) for quite some time--but it has now, apparently, metastasized to the point where even Flynn's (reasonably good?) lawyers fell into the trap of trying to advocate for their client using an excuse that plays well on TV--but everyone involved with the legal system knows is bunk.

Ken White (former federal prosecutor now defense lawyer) writes today in The Atlantic:

What Is Going On Here?

It's a bunch of things--conspiracy theory in America isn't limited to the right--but the specific case here is that Donald Trump--to whom loyalty is absolutely required on the right--has embraced a conspiracy theory that the Department of Justice is secretly against him.

If you contradict that position then you are not-loyal and are #fakenews--so you have to come up with explanations that keep you in Trump's camp. It turns out: there's no shortage--the fringe is a conspiracy-theory machine. It churns out nonsense and rabid theories effectively A/B testing them in 4chan and on Reddit and VOAT before they bubble up to the Internet influencers (like Cernovich) who then distribute them to a wider audience.

These are effectively milled for maximal penetration and they provide a basis--a backdrop--for mainstream organizations like Fox to ingest and then redistribute.

Today Flynn ran into the wall of normal reality--most people don't believe the FBI is run by secret-Obama-masters. They don't think that Trump was illegally surveilled by an angry Hillary-partisan government--no, it looks like Russia interfered with the election, Trump knew about it, and at very least did nothing.

At very least.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Russian 'Conspiracy Theory'

The Omnivore was sent a link to an NY Post article where an Iranian takes Democrats to task for believing conspiracy theory.
Across the Atlantic, there is the Russian “collusion” narrative that has gripped Democrats ever since Election Day 2016. President Trump didn’t help with some of his gross rhetoric and refusal to criticize Vladimir Putin. But as a matter of policy, he has proved far tougher on Moscow than President Barack Obama. Trump has armed Ukraine, bombed Russian operatives in Syria and squeezed Putin’s clients in Tehran, among other things.
Yes, Russian operatives flooded social media with misleading (and often comically amateurish) posts, as a Senate Intelligence Committee report this week reaffirmed. But it takes a deeply cynical view of voters in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to think they cast their ballots for Trump because of online memes — rather than, say, because he spoke to their anxieties over immigration and working-class jobs and wages.
This was a person who had been breathlessly following the right's reporting that Michael Flynn's 302s (the FBI interview report) would, if the original ones were released, show intentional meddling by the FBI to make it look like Flynn was lying--when he was not.

This belief--promulgated by Internet instigator Mike Cernovich--came to a head last night when, in a blaze of excitement, the judge sentencing Flynn ordered the original 302 reports released and it turned out? Nothing. Well, there was something--they showed pretty conclusively that Flynn was lying on behalf of Trump.

Considering that Mueller really wants Trump to answer some more questions, there is likely a reason he didn't want those out in the open.

What does this tell us?

The NY Post Author Does Not Understand Conspiracy Theory

The NY Post writer makes a pretty basic "mistake"--it's actually a rhetorical slight-of-hand switch where he goes from "of course the Russians did what the Democrats (and the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.) said they did--but the conspiracy theory is believing it had any impact."

That's not what a Conspiracy Theory is. The reason social media--all of which was targeted by a reasonably sophisticated campaign of disinformation--is free is because millions of people--advertisers--believe that if they can reach you with their message you will buy their product.

Is it conspiratorial to think that voters believe things they've seen online--things that are obviously not true? Well, The Omnivore is something of an expert in Fake News. Here are some things voters believe--because they saw them online.

  • Obama was getting ready to take over Texas and was moving in UN troops through secret tunnels under Walmarts.
  • Hillary and her pollster, the Beneson Group was planning to stage a fake alien invasion--to try to swing the 2016 election.
  • Democrats were running a child-trafficking ring out of a (non-existent) basement in a pizza parlor.
  • Obama was arresting or removing generals who wouldn't "command fire" on Americans so he could cement his take-over plans.
  • Hillary has killed everyone who has ever been set to testify against her.
  • The earth is flat.
Even the idea--which the NY Post author suggests--that Trump has been "harder on Russian than Obama ever was" is false.  Obama implemented the Magnitsky sanctions--which Putin hates. And he responded to to Russia's information warfare (and real warfare in Ukraine) pretty strongly--Trump comparatively? Has done everything in his power not to act against Russia.


The Omnivore made a Greatest Hits graphic.

Information War

It is worth remembering too that Russia invests quite a lot in its propaganda / disinformation operations. They consider this, correctly, a strategic advantage--one they use not just against us--but against Western Europe and countries they wish to run real operations in. It is safe to say that the Post author is not an expert on propaganda (remember: armies have utilized propaganda for a very, very long time)--or on information war--or on fake news.

No--he ignores a real history of successful propaganda ops in favor of trying to defend the GOP for not taking actions against Russia which, obviously, should have been taken.

That, in itself, is a kind of #fakenews.


Friday, December 14, 2018

How Does This All End?

If the news is to be believed, we are at an inflection point in the Trump presidency:
  • Mueller is said to be "about finished" (one quoted expert says within the first 3 months of 2019).
  • Trump, although presently unindicted, is found to have committed a felony by violating Federal Election law. This--as per the John Edwards precedent--is likely worth some jail time.
  • There are indications there's more coming--including on Russia.
  • We are seeing firm evidence that Russian Ops worked through the NRA to set up communications and channels with high-ranking GOP politicians.
  • Trump's White House appears to be ill prepared (he can't get a new Chief of Staff, his legal team is thin, he got schooled by Nancy Pelosi, etc.)
So How Does This Begin?

Let's analyze two basic fundamentals:
  1. If it appears that Trump will be tried and jailed if/when he leaves office then having him remain in office for two years with a potential prison sentence hanging over his head seems . . . erm . . . like a bad idea. Of course he can step down, install Pence, and get a pardon at the last minute--or win reelection in 2020 and have the statute of limitations run out--but the first seems like an ugly situation and the second seems less likely than it might have two years ago.
  2. It looks like at the very best Team Trump was unable to execute on collusion with Russia. Certainly they met a whole bunch--and certainly they knew Russia was pulling for them--and certainly they were interested in Russian information or help. If that's the best-bet, it is not a far stretch to imagine a case where members of the Trump coalition told Kremlin agents that Trump would relax the hated sanctions since they were "friends."
Of course the Trump faithful won't believe anything that comes from the Mueller investigation no matter how well documented--and the bar for proving "treason" is, still, realistically pretty high. If there was a for-real "you hack, I un-sanction" deal in place, well, that's one thing. But if it was just "let's all be friends" that seems less actionable.

There's also, for Democrats, one important rule: The GOP will only vote to remove Trump when you are just finally wishing he would stay.

Removing Trump will only be viable when he is obviously doing more damage in office than he'd do out of office. So long as (a) he holds his base and (b) the GOP feels that they have a chance with Base + Independents + Russian ops, they will keep him. Only when he is nuclear-levels of toxic will they jettison him like stinky-fish-ballast in the hopes of salvaging their careers.

Nixon stepped down when his general popularity was at 24%. Trump's is still around 40%. The kind of tectonic event it would take to move that by 15 points is hard to imagine--he really could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and keep most of his current supporters (so long as he, like, shot a lib or something).

Okay? So What's the End Game?

The Omnivore isn't sure how non-indictment of a sitting president really works--the charges are made public--does it all just sit frozen for 2 years and then the charges happen when he leaves office? Would him stepping down, say, after a loss and being pardoned by the Veep actually work? Assuming the trial hasn't even happened yet? He would have to plead guilty to crimes that haven't even been through trial if that's the case. 

Could he be tried on state charges for any of that? Unlikely--it's Federal Election Laws--but if he pleads guilty to the illegal pay-off does he open himself up for civil suits? The Omnivore doesn't know--and it seems like a mess. That's the best case.

The second problem is that the Trumpian die-hards live in an alternate universe where he has committed no crime. Their delusion is aided and abetted by conservative media and basic misunderstandings about how the law works. Presumably, for example, Michael Cohen's excellent lawyers know the arguments Team Trump put out--and decided pleading and getting 3 years was a better bet. 

So--we have an unstoppable force of various law-suits (let's assume non-"treason" for now) hitting an immovable object of Trump's delusional base. What happens when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object?

As Ian Banks taught us: "The unstoppable force stops. The Immovable Object moves."

If we use this principle that means: Trump finds some way to evade the various lawsuits but his base comes to accept that he needed to GTFO of politics. The GOP finds some way for him to declare victory, retire a hero, and stay out of jail?

Maybe?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

What IF: No Collusion

The Omnivore was asked if he would be okay if, in the final analysis, Mueller finds no evidence of "collusion" with the Russians--just illegal felony campaign payoffs to mistresses? Would The Omnivore be okay with impeachment and removal--just for that?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: If The Omnivore were somehow "in charge" of the proceedings The Omnivore's preference would be as follows:

  1. Trump is indicted for felony campaign law violations
  2. Trump loses in 2020
  3. Trump goes to prison for  a few years for said campaign-finance violations
How Come?

Why is this the case? Well, we certainly do not want politicians of all stripes paying off witnesses to cover up things they have done. For the Trumpaloos the idea that Trump is a bad person is baked in (they believe he is somehow "not bad" despite doing all kinds of things they would not want done to them). For everyone else, though, if Obama pays off his partners in taking advantage of people we would want to know.

Same with Trump pursuing deals with the Russians during and up to the general election--it's not illegal--but The Omnivore believes we can all agree it's the sort of thing we should know about a candidate.

So--those laws are there for a reason--Trump violated them--he can do the time. 

That Said, Though

Removing a sitting president is playing bumper-cars with our nation. To be sure: Trump is doing a ton of damage right now but we don't want to needlessly enhance that. Remember that acts of party succession are the specific thing that America does better than almost anyone else historically. We are able to move from a Republican to a Democratic administration without wrecking the country.

That is endangered if we remove him.

So The Omnivore would prefer the system to play out.

Of Course If There IS Collusion . . . .

Rightly said, this is actually conspiracy and it looks like it's pretty clear the Trump team came, at least, right up the line if not over it. If there IS evidence they crossed the line then we have to remove Trump and his crew from office. We have no choice--violence be damned.

And The Omnivore thinks this is still quite possible--even probable--given what we've seen from Mueller recently. 

So this may all be moot, ultimately.

The Other Side Of The Coin

The real question is: "What do we do if there is evidence that Trump / Trump's people worked with Russia [ on something ]"--but the GOP Senate declines to remove him? What then? Well, that's pretty likely, really. Unless there is tape of Trump colluding (and there likely is not--and, even then . . .) the investigation will be spun as a purely partisan witch hunt.

This is, of course, projection--the Republicans in power know they are purely partisan and their constituents believe all kinds of false things--so they assume the same must be true on the other side. If Trump did collude there is no choice but to impeach him--it is something the House has to do (that the GOP House would not do it was integral to their stunning defeat in the midterms).

But what do we do then?

The Omnivore doesn't have a good answer for that. There isn't one--it's a constitutional crisis and there is no good solution for it.