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Monday, January 9, 2017

The Blackest of Swans



The Omnivore has become convinced that the Trexpits (Trump-Exits) are increasingly unlikely to happen. What the Trexpits, you ask? Here are some:

  1. Impeachment - if the GOP were even inclined (they are not) they are more terrified of the Trump base than they are ethical (see 'Ethics Committee' vote). They might prefer Pence in some vague ideological sense. They will stick with Trump.
  2. Voter Dissatisfaction - The release of the IC report, bringing the FBI inline with the CIA, NSA, etc. changed nothing for Trump's voters (nor his left-flank's support). In short: while the FBI disagreed (or seemed to), the FBI was good. When the FBI agrees, the FBI is bad. 
  3. Resignation - Some people think Trump will resign. They clearly haven't been paying attention.
If the Trexpits will not, and never would have, removed Trump--will the left manage to mount a successful resistance?

No.

Why not?

Firstly, it worked for the GOP because they held the House. The Dems will not capture the House for, likely, a decade. Secondly, it worked because of 2010--a good Senate election for the GOP. The 2018 Election is also good for the GOP. Finally, because of a Black Swan: Obama decided to focus on Obamacare as his first major policy. The death of Ted Kennedy and the loss of the Mass special-election seat gave them only a few actual working months of super-majority and then forced them into a chaotic scramble. This helped the GOP, even if they did not ultimately defeat the bill.

The left can't rely on a black swan (but more on that in a few).

The second problem is that the Democrats will be beset by the same kind of civil-war that plagued the GOP. It's the far-(left/right) vs. the establishment. In this election, the GOP coalesced by destroying the establishment (kinda). Basically there won't be unity until victory--and we don't know which way it'll go.

Are There Any Bright Spots For The Left?

There are some scenarios that result in bright spots. Let's look:


Michelle Obama 2020

An outside possibility of a candidate (M. Obama or not) who could generate wide-scale excitement could, yes, create a possible win for the Democrats. As Michelle has said she is in no way interested in running, this counts as a Dark Horse.


Central Fire 2018

If you are a Republican who think Trump is too cozy with the Russians, nothing he has done has acted in any way to dissuade this opinion--in fact, quite the opposite. If enough centrist Democrats and enough centrist Republicans can find agreement, there might be room for a new party (called the The Independents?). We'd know this by 2018 if there is fall-off in GOP voting or the GOP senators from more moderate states are anti-Trump. Look for Zuckerberg 2020.

Demographic Summer

Part of Trump being unwilling to act to unify the country (see: winning over Republican doubters as Job 1) is that minorities and young people are likely to be anti-Trump unless he gets terrific results. Slate Star Codex describes The Batman Effect where Trump (or Batman) makes small, flashy differences and so the press and his believers love him--but Gotham (or America) remains a shithole because beating up criminals (or personally convincing companies to say they are not moving jobs--even when they do) isn't really scale-able.

HOWEVER, The Batman Effect works much better on the Trump-Friendly. The Trump-Dubious will not be as easily swayed. Thus, if demographic trends continue, the march may bend away from the GOP. 

The Sleeping Giant Effect

Ordinary people have not been given a very good sense of the far left. They have been given confusing, contradictory information about the state of reality (the 'center'). But they are definitely opposed to Nazis. We see an effort on Twitter (@slpng_giants) to get companies to stop advertising on Breitbart. Now, note: Breitbart is huge -- they are an Alexa Score of 45. The Daily Kos is like 1005. To get an advertiser off them is a big deal. Some have refused. Over 400 have pulled their ads.

The Right has always had an economic power-factor. Either Buy American, or Shop Chick Fil'a, or whatever gold-certificates Fox News heads were selling (or right-wing book imprints) have done very well. The "left" doesn't seem to have this--although the "left" can claim a lot of the center with media / entertainment programming if you want to add that in.

In this scenario, however, affiliation with the Right / Trump becomes an anathema to The Center. In this case, companies and, following that, political winds, will work against being associated with the Trumpian GOP. 

This could also lead to ending the lack of Democratic Turn-Out (both in Mid-Terms, but even in general elections). Don't hold your breath for that, though.


Another Option - Disaster / Collapse

The Omnivore is of the opinion that America will muddle through. Fewer people will be insured--and those that are, if on their own dime, won't be insured as well. People with pre-existing conditions will technically be able to buy insurance--but it'll be out of everyone but the rich's price-range.

Russia will expand--and perhaps rebuild the Soviet Union--but we won't have a shooting war. In a fragmented EU, countries that were formerly US Allies, unassured by Trump, will find themselves siding with Putin in an attempt at security.

American Trade, hurt in Asia-Pacific by China and the death of the TPP, in Europe, by Putin, and in South America by animosity with Trump and the coming destruction of NAFTA may also find themselves less-than-willing trade partners. Americans in general will have no idea why this is happening and will be told a blizzard of conflicting stories.

However, none of this will be a disaster--probably. 

But what if there is one? What if we get into a for-real trade-war with China? A shooting war with many dead in the Middle East against ISIS? A conflict with North Korea? These are all potential scenarios--especially if Trump tries his hand at military adventurism (he's said he's unlikely to do that--but if he feels provoked, he may feel he has to hit back. A successful terrorist attack launched by ISIS could do this. Or a ballistic missile nuke-test by North Korea?).

What if the economy crashes?

In these scenarios--none to be hoped for--there is a possibility of a re-alignment. This is the ultimate black swan and the result could be the end of America (if you think it's impossible, what'd you think of Trump's chances in 2015?). But if things get bad enough we may see anything from nuclear fireballs to two new national parties.

The Useless Far Left

The one thing that The Omnivore is pretty sure won't happen is that Bernie Sanders won't be elected president and the Sanders-Left won't accomplish anything other than belatedly helping Trump. This is because their strategy was never designed to win power--just fight it. They have no clear plan to sell their affirmative vision to America (it's vote for us and win  . . . Utopia! We'll work out the details later!).

The Omnivore's hope is that young people, living through Trump-likely, will feel the "Bern" the same way Nader voters did when the Iraq war started and they knew in their hearts that Al Gore, however bad he might have been, would never have done that.

Final Black Swan: TRUMP-TASTIC!

It would be remiss to rule out that it is possible that Trump could turn out to be one of the great presidents. The Omnivore would like nothing more than, at the end of 4 years, to be able to say "I'm voting for that guy for a 2nd term!" Unfortunately this seems to be running parallel with The Omnivore also saying "And it turned out the Russians weren't so bad at all!"

. . .  and actually meaning it.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Horseshoe Theory and the Left



Someone asked The Omnivore if The Omnivore actually believed the Horseshoe Theory. The theory is that in the far left and the far right are actually closer (the case Wikipedia cites is anti-Jewish rhetoric) than the center or the general left / right.

The topic is too complex for Twitter, where the question was raised, so it gets a blog-post answer.

There Are Different Groups of Far-Left and Far-Right

On the ends of the Horseshoe are categories that contain reasonably unlike things. For example on the far-right end, you've got:
  • The Tea Party: (Yeah, less prevalent today). Basically a strong dislike of Obama, vocal anti-tax philosophy, no outright racism.
  • The Alt-Right: Actual Nazis. Ask about "The Jewish Question." Throw Nazi salutes. This includes the KKK.
  • The Trump-Right (Also called the Alt-Light): Breitbart-reading, Trump-believing core of voters who think everything is terrible in America because of (a) Obama and (b) Craven Republicans.
On the left we see, for example:
  • The SJW Left: The extreme, weaponized, sometimes pro-violence (or, at least, rhetorical violence) end of the social justice spectrum that results in things like defending BLM (demonstration) chants of "Pigs in a blanket" (killing police officers), aggressive call-out culture and privilege-check lectures, and so on.
  • The Sanders-Left: The Omnivore hates to tar Bernie Sanders with all this--but there's no way around it. The core of Sanders voters who flipped over to Trump after he lost the nomination still consider themselves "left" (somehow). Includes Glenn Greenwald appearing on Fox as a friendly.
These are not all the same thing.

Which Of These Are Alike?

The Omnivore is going to use three criteria for looking at "the closeness"--these three criteria are the key drivers of extreme behavior. These are the source of most of the toxicity that comes out of the "far" designator and makes behavior the least tractable to reason.
  1. Importance of Minority Racial Politics vs. Majority Racial Politics.
  2. The, erm, "JQ" (that's "Jewish Question").This is about markers of a Jewish conspiracy of international bankers and such. The use of Anti-Jewish symbolism and language. Actual policies can be quite complex. Anti-Semities who rail against Israel hate being called on it and defend their attacks as purely policy based. Conversely, a lot of people who believe in a malevolent Jewish conspiracy liked Sanders even though he is Jewish (sometimes they don't know. Sometimes they dismiss him as 'secular.'). Finally, plenty of people who hate the Jewish bankers like Israel because it hurts Arabs. As noted, you can usually look for the use of anti-Jewish symbols and rhetoric as the 'tell.'
  3. Importance of conspiracy theory to the organization's philosophy.
We can also note that these filter out almost all mainstream politics. While the left may pay more lipservice to race, neither the left nor right is promoting or at war with any race. There is no antisemetic plank in any major platform, and while it's unfortunately less common on the mainstream right, most voters still trust the Mainstream Media for the majority of their news.


The Test: Let's Compare Three And See How The Horseshoe Holds

The Sanders Left and the Trump-Right



Rating
Sanders-Left
Trump-Right
Category
Rating
Rationale
Rating
Rationale
Racial Politics
LOW
The Sanders hard-core was never that in to Black Lives Matter. They also weren’t preaching white supremacy.
LOW
The Trump-Right had Confederate flags--but did not practice racial politics like the Alt-Right did. There was racism--but no textual white supremacy (and it was anti-illegal immigrant more than anti-black--which is different).
Jewish Question
HIGH
Israel is EVIL in the Sander’s Left world. To a startling degree the Palestinians are GOOD. Iran isn’t planning Nuclear Bombs, that’s a CIA lie. There is also a serious dislike of International Banker Jews (like Soros)
MED
While the Trump-Right Loves Israel and hates Arabs, they are also wary of International Bankers. Anti-Jewish symbology flourished on the Trump-Right and not JUST in Alt-Right contexts (although much of it originated there).
Conspiracy Theory
HIGH
Bernie was literally sabotaged--direct action was taken and the emails PROVE it.

Votes were changed or altered in multiple states to deny him his rightful victory.

Hillary is a serial killer with a literal string of bodies she has killed or had killed.

The MSM is the enemy.
HIGH
The Republican Governance allowed Obama to have his way because they are cowards.

Obama is an unconstitutional Tyrant.

Jade Helm is a prelude to Martial Law.

Etc.

The MSM is the enemy.

Analysis: The Horseshoe theory works pretty well here. The difference is specifically around Israel, but it's suddenly no mystery about Greenwald on Fox.

Now Let's Compare The SJW Left to the Trump-Right


Rating
SWJ-Left
Trump-Right
Category
Rating
Rationale
Rating
Rationale
Racial Politics
HIGH
The SJW progressive approach is all about race (and class, and other axes of privilege).
LOW
The Trump-Right had Confederate flags--but did not practice racial politics like the Alt-Right did. There was racism--but no textual white supremacy (and it was anti-illegal immigrant more than anti-black--which is different).
Jewish Question
LOW
While there is dislike for Israel, there is no grand Jewish Conspiracy.
MED
While the Trump-Right Loves Israel and hates Arabs, they are also wary of International Bankers. Anti-Jewish symbology flourished on the Trump-Right and not JUST in Alt-Right contexts (although much of it originated there).
Conspiracy Theory
LOW
The “Hands Up - Don’t Shoot” story was bad reporting and a rumor--but it wasn’t a conspiracy theory. The SJW Left still mostly trusts the MSM for their news.
HIGH
The Republican Governance allowed Obama to have his way because they are cowards.

Obama is an unconstitutional Tyrant.

Jade Helm is a prelude to Martial Law.

Etc.

Analysis: The Horseshoe theory fails here for these two factions. The SJW-Left is incompatible with the Trump-Right in almost every area.

Conclusions

If you hate the horseshoe theory, you're probably not going to like this--even though it fails one out of two tests. That's because if you hate the horseshoe theory, you're likely closer to the one that passed.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Alt-Left Alliance



The IC report is out--and it's conclusive: Russia did it. Russia (in the process of doing it) decided they liked Trump. Russia was behind Wikileaks. Russia's RT propaganda outlet had substantial penetration on social media (especially YouTube). Russia had gathered data on Republican targets--but did not disclose.

What Did Trump Say?

Before the briefing, he said it was a witch hunt. After the briefing he said that the report concluded that the hacking had no impact on the election--which the report, in fact, did not state. The report said the impact wasn't studied by the IC. 

Trump, notably, did not issue a statement saying he supported the findings and believed them (he noted that all kinds of people are trying to hack us--which is true--but at this point confirmation is, well, confirmed).

What Did Anyone Else Say?

Pelosi called for a bi-partisan response against Russia.

The usual suspects (the alt-left) didn't like the report:
Or focused on the DNC's reluctance to let the FBI examine their servers. But overall, unless you believe that everyone--every last person in the IC (including the FBI) is lying--or that there is some magical force at work that makes them sure about what happened--when there's "no evidence"--you have to conclude that what the US Government said all along was, in fact, the case.

So What Now?

The Omnivore doesn't know how to handle geo-political back-lash. In theory Trump would be the kind of bull-in-a-China-shop type of president who would scare foreign powers from messing with us--but if he's in a bro-mance with Putin? Can we count on that? Time will tell--but The Omnivore is not currently encouraged.

No--what The Omnivore wants to look at is the far left. Something should be done about the far left.

Jacobin Magazine, usually a hive of super-left nonsense, has a fucking startling article where the author in a very, very lucid manner compares the far-left to the far right in ways more material than just symbolism or fervor. What he points out is that the alt-right (Nazis) sees the Sanders-Left as actual allies.
It should go without saying that left-liberal identity politics and alt-right white nationalism are not comparable. The problem is that they are compatible.
For example, they're white. They hate The Power. They oppose minority politics (the Sanders-Left was none-too-happy with Black Lives Matter), and so on. He makes the case that they are terrifyingly compatible.

Now, he does make the lucid point that the left really wants a class-less society and one that is non-racial so they oppose minority power-blocs on the basis of the stratification--and that if they got their act together they would be inhospitable to the alt-right.

But that isn't what happened.
This graphic is from the IC Report and it shows the dominance of RT (Russia Today, a propaganda outlet) on YouTube. RT did far less well on Facebook or Twitter--which are both big (although other Fake News initiatives dominated FB)--but The Omnivore did, in fact, watch with concern as "leftists" like Glenn Greenwald or Michael Tracey (the guy above) fell in behind RT.

Did they not know it was a propaganda outlet? Or just not care? Once the fantasy that Bernie was sabotaged beyond all hope set in (for which there is zero actual proof--it's clear that the DNC didn't especially like him--but there is zero evidence they sabotaged him--and The Omnivore has seen all of it)--they turned away from the "Mainstream Media" and instead went for sources like Wikileaks, RT, and The Intercept (to be fair, Greenwald runs The Intercept--but still).

These people must have--or should have--known they were ingesting heavy doses of Russian propaganda and they just didn't care. Why?

Well, it's hard to know for sure--probably anger. The same anger that propelled Trump--but with a leftist spin--they wanted change and when their guy didn't win the primary they fell to conspiracy-theory fury.

These people are the equivalent of the Freedom Caucus voters who believe that Sharia Law rules in Michigan and ISIS is crossing the Mexico-Texas border (or that Jade Spear was a set up for martial law). The symmetry isn't just, again, in fervor or symbolism--it's in the literal alliance space. The difference is that the alt-left doesn't have the gerrymandering power the right does--so they can't easily elect congressmen.

In an ideal world, following failure by Trump to take action against Russia, what we would see is a new two-party system emerge: the alts as one bloc. The middle as another. This would be a win-win (well, a win-lose for the alts)--but The Omnivore has no hope that anyone will do something like that because nobody in power has a spine.

So we're left waiting . . . and watching.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Rhetorical "Magic Trick"



'The Red Pill' is an umbrella term taken from The Matrix which refers to the idea of people (men) being "woken up" to the reality of feminism and Social Justice's assault of men and Western Culture.

This is a YouTube of an interview with Joe Rogan and professor Jordan Peterson (University of Toronto). Rogan is a comedian, media personality, and Mixed Martial Arts commentator. Peterson is (apparently) a for-real professor who is notable for being a Canadian who opposes political correctness.

Both these guys are [ right-wing (ish?) ]. The Omnivore expects that they both back Trump to some degree. The Omnivore tells you this to give you some shorthand. During this video, at least as far as The Omnivore got, neither of them went into Alt-Right Nazism or talked about Trump (or Hillary) specifically. It wasn't, to The Omnivore's watch, offensive.

What was interesting about it was that it was reasonably fact-based. For example:
  1. Rogan called out Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau's saying nice things about Castro as an example of some of the weird shit going on up in Canada (Don't they know about [ X-Attrocity ]).
  2. The Left holding white men responsible for American slavery--something that no white man alive today participated in.
  3. They pointed out, with wonder, that something like 1 in for sociologists (?) identify as Marxists--don't they know what happened in the Soviet Union? In China?
  4. They talked about the gender-wage gap: it's not between men and women in the same career/position--but between the genders as a whole. There are many different career choices that men and women make which lead to differences in pay-scales and careers.
  5. They talked about Jordan's particular hobby-horse: a Canadian bill to enforce the use of gendered pronouns that the person refers to wants--rather than what the caller wants. That is: if you are a land lord with a person who is transgender, and you don't call them by the gender they want, you could be sanctioned.

What Does Peterson Think Is Going On?

Peterson seems to think that the problem with being forced to use the preferred pronoun is bad because it's driven by an ideological will-to-power where the transgender person (or other non-traditional pronoun user) sees the conversation--any conversation--as a zero-sum game and wants to use the organ of the state to enforce their vision of reality, justice, etc. over the world in general.

NOTE: The bill in question doesn't sanction speech between peers (as The Omnivore understands it)--but rather between employers, government organizations, etc.

The Omnivore supposes that it also goes without saying that Peterson thinks girls-are-girls and boys-are-boys (and he might acknowledge cases where there is actual medical question about biological gender--but would probably find them rare).

The idea here is that The Left is obsessed with a false reality--one where Castro is alright. Where Marxism had some good ideas and 20mm+ dead is just an "oops," where women are paid less because of white-male-oppression, and where language is a battle-front for an insurgent force of leftist cultural warriors.

This is, in fact, the view of The Red Pill philosophy as a whole. Peterson is fairly polite about it--but you can easily find pages dripping in offensive misogyny that hold an identical position. The only real tonal difference is that The Red Pill people are angrily "fighting back" whereas Peterson's approach is just "making commentary."

If The Red Pill has some of its facts right, what do they get wrong?

The Rhetorical Sleight Of Hand

What you are seeing here is a magic trick (well, one half of a magic trick) that uses an "invisible switch" in context to make it appear that things are being said which aren't actually what the speaker means. This is done by taking someone's position in one context and then swapping it deftly to another context.

What does the Omnivore mean? Let's look:

Praising Castro

The Omnivore is no fan of Castro--and, in fact, was perfectly happy to see him gone. The Omnivore knows from Castro--with direct family members being impacted. So why wasn't The Omnivore upset about Trudeau's praise of him? Two things--the first is ideological amity (The Omnivore more or less likes Trudeau and so is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt)--but also an direct understanding of the context of that speech.

Castro just died, Cuba is going to undergo a potentially dangerous transition. They are still in the grips of a military dictatorship which is enforcing a period of mourning. Trudeau makes a speech praising Castro's love of country, improvements to medical and education status, and skill as an orator.

This is an attempt to politically maneuver the transition government from feeling threatened and to encourage continued opening. Is Trudeau unaware of the stuff Castro has done? Of course not. However the context of his speech wasn't speaking on Castro as a living dictator--but rather as one whose death has potential to cause geopolitical chaos in North America.

NOTE: There are plenty of Americans (and Canadians) who liked and defended Castro when he was alive and made apologies for his murderous behavior. Trudeau, so far as The Omnivore knows, is not one of them.

Holding White People Responsible for Slavery

Jordan is right that no one alive today participated in Confederate slavery--however it is pretty easy to show that even though that specific institution ended, its remnants were, in fact, perpetuated against some still-living people. Jim Crow laws (a direct fragment of slavery), US housing codes, and voter disenfranchisement (in the south), can all be shown to have direct lineage to the institutions that engaged in and profited from slavery--but also had real, substantial impacts both against black people and to the relative advantage of white people who are alive today.

While some people will refute specific facts on the above positions, as a whole, they are pretty unassailable (The Omnivore sees some people saying "Well, black people owned slaves!--no, really, The Omnivore has seen that shit). 

The magic trick comes when you are told that discussion of the disparate and continuing impacts of slavery mean that you (a white person) are being held responsible for essentially owning slaves. If done deftly enough, you can, unless you, uhm, owned a slave, get your indignation on.

NOTE: There are some people who definitely want white people to feel emotionally guilty about America's history or want to engender a kind of fuzzy, blanket "white guilt." The idea of there still being fallout from slavery, however is much more empirical and does not need to have a specific emotional valence (i.e. "guilt").

Marxism In Social Sciences

According to a 2015 survey sociologists identifying as 'Marxist' outnumber those identifying as 'conservative.' Is this because they have no idea what actually happened under Marxism? Doubtfully. Firstly, there were some pro-communists, such as Helen Keller, who, back in the day, did not have access to conclusive facts about what was going on in the Soviet Union--but were sympathetic to the worker's plight. It seems likely that had they known the (presently undisputed) facts about the millions dead under the communist regimes they would not have supported them (Helen Keller was definitely pro-worker--but does not seem to have been pro-genocide or an especially fuzzy-headed thinker in general).

Secondly, today no one is claiming Soviet Union style--or, indeed, any style of Marxism "actually worked."

What The Omnivore suspects is happening here is not ignorance or acceptance of millions of dead people under the Marxist flag but, instead, a sympathy to the ideas of Marxism in a climate where Marxism itself seems unlikely to establish any cultural credence.

NOTE: We can argue about Bernie Sanders and young people's socialism--that's an argument for a different post.

Basically, The Omnivore suspects that if you talk to these people they aren't in favor what the USSR actually tried to do--they just really, really don't like the current state of the economy and see its drivers as being what's good for the "capital-owning" class.

Whatever nuanced ideas you may or may not have about that, consider that at the same 50,000 ft. level is this also what Trump appealed to. If you think it's substantially different, you're kidding yourself.

NOTE: There are certainly people who do advocate for a violent socialist revolution. These people are probably not a high percent of academics--but if we could distinguish what these people mean by identifying as a "Marxist" then we'd have something to talk about.

The Gender Wage Gap

Proponents of various "equal pay"  initiatives have focused, at the "headline level," on the gender gap in wages. Opponents have focused on the internals of the research showing that women go into different jobs and work more part-time hours.

The nuance here is that people who are really active in this field are looking at why women have different work profiles. To be sure, some of it may be personal preference--but some of it is societal too. It seems hard to argue with the massive body of reporting that suggests that women face some societal barriers to joining certain male dominated fields (and, yes, vice-versa--but female dominated fields are as likely to be things like librarian and elementary school teacher as male dominated fields are things like system admin or chief technologist).

It's the societal gender-based sorting process that underlies the visible wage-gap which needs examination. Trying to call off the entire conversation be because women in the same position get the same pay as men is being disingenuous (or uninformed).

NOTE: There are certainly people who either misunderstand or intentionally misuse the top-line wage numbers in lieu of a more nuanced discussion. In that context it is fine to call them out as to what the numbers actually say.

Enforced Use of Pronouns

The law trying to enforce the use of preferred pronouns is an attempt to constrain "free speech" (i.e. my freedom to call you whatever I want to call you) in a particular, and fairly unusual, instance. The context here is that it is being done to prevent people in positions of more-power from harassing or bullying weaker ones.

So long as this context is kept clear, it is fine to have a discussion about what "should be" allowed (and Canada is a very different from the US in what its laws are trying to accomplish). The law in question exists not around mistakes in using pronouns but in continuous use of a non-preferred pronoun after the speaker and subject are very clear on the matter.

In other words, a form of harassment (imagine if you, a male reader, were being consistently called female pronouns by government functionaries you had to deal with--yes, you would undoubtedly "suck it up" like you do every other minor outrage in your life--and you would bravely "soldier on"--but just remember that next time you get outraged about anything else online).

If the people discussing this law (or similar initiatives) move away from "they're fighting for power-over-language"--or "they want to make it illegal to speak the truth"--and just settle for: "Hey, if someone transitions from a man to a woman it should be totally okay to bully them about that" the conversation will be much more honest.

NOTE: There are certainly some people--activists--who will use legislation as an attempt to win fights they plan to start with targets who are likely to be drawn in--but when discussing the vast majority of these laws and situations the tiny percent of people who identify as non-standard genders are not in any position whatsoever to be "the oppressors."

Conclusions

The Mott & Bailey fallacy refers to a pattern where an activist wants to use some language in a more general sense (the "Bailey") but then falls back to a very specific interpretation when challenged (the Mott). Some examples are:

  • All Sex Is Rape: It sounds really horrible in the Bailey (where those words mean what you think they would)--but in the Mott, it's a trivial observation about how very wide swaths of gender relationships impact a hypothetical vision of "true consent to sex" that the speaker thinks can't exist in modern reality.
  • Blacks Can't Be Racist: This, again, sounds like a stunning argument that any broad-brush negative thing a black person believes about whites is somehow justified (in the Bailey where the words mean what you'd generally think they do)--but collapses in the Mott to be speaking about a very specific interpretation of "racist" where it combines racial bigotry with "holds the levers of power in society." In other words, it's just saying that on the whole white people have more social capital than black people do--a pretty trivial statement.
In the of the above examples, it isn't Mott & Bailey but something similar:
  1. Take a high-level view of an opposing position (but not necessarily a straw-man version).
  2. Impute ignorance of reality / facts to it.
  3. Discuss the position with regards not to its natural context--but with its context to your particular set of facts.
  4. Dismiss it as ignorant or disingenuous.
This works pretty well since (a) you can usually find someone who holds the non-contextual view (i.e. Marxists who want--or at least say they want--violent revolution with blood in the streets) and (b) anyone who has ever participated in a debate knows that trying to discuss context or nuance is for losers. 

Literally: if you wind up trying to justify your argument with context and nuance you have probably lost the debate.

The Omnivore will discuss what to do about this in a later post. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Why Doesn't The Right Have a Fact-Check Organ?



If you look in to fact-checking you will quickly realize that all ("all") the fact checkers are either associated with main-stream (i.e. liberal) newspapers and/or accused of having an innately liberal bias. Since Facebook is about to start relying on fact checkers to flag fake-news, couldn't they maybe get some conservative sources in there too?

The Awful Truth: There Aren't Any

Oh, sure, there are some things that kind of appear to be fact-checkers on the right (RealTrueNews.org has a fact checker page that is anything but real/true) but in the game? for real? No. The right has no celebrated fact checker organization to turn to.

Why?

It Would Hurt More Than It Helps

A right-wing fact-check org could provide a needed service in, for example, outing fake hate-crimes. It could provide a look at the stat-based truth around organizations like Planned Parenthood. A conservative fact-checker could provide a strong counter-narrative to the liberal perspective.

The problem with all of this is that:

  1. This is just what the conservative media does when it gets things right. The first (hoax-hate-crimes) is where you'll find the investigative journalism aimed by right-wing sources. The perspective issue isn't a fact-check situation at all. That's just Op-Ed pieces.
  2. It would hurt more than it helps. Suppose that a right-wing fact-checker decided to see what services Planned Parenthood provides--by the numbers--you get something like this: Planned Parenthood Services Fact Check. This makes it clear that trying to sound-bite a 94%-of-the-services-performed-are-abortions isn't nearly that cut and dried (by over-all services it may be closer to 12%--although impact-wise, they do, yes, perform a lot of abortions. Some of those additional services are, for example, pregnancy tests). The point is: if you are interested in making a political point, muddying the water isn't helpful.
Above all else, the right-wing media exists to be helpful to right wing politics.

Seriously? Above All Else?

Well, yeah. Duh. The right-wing media exists to further conservative causes. The problem is that when you have news in the service of politics you get necessary distortions. The right created right-wing media because they felt that they were not being served by, just, "the media" which they see as an agent of the left.

Is it? The answer is no. The Mainstream Media certainly is composed of people with biases, much of whom are on the left (overwhelmingly, in fact)--but the main process of the Mainstream Media is the practice of actual journalism. For example, the Washington Post reached out to a fake news site for comment--even though it was cursory and pro forma. The Intercept (so far left it's out of the Mainstream) wrote about the same site but never attempted contact (this included an article imputing motive to the site).

One is a basic journalistic practice. One isn't.

So long as the foundational elements of journalistic practice are in place in a news organization, it's going to be fundamentally resistant to the kind of politicized fabrication that the right suffers from. NOTE: Fox News counts as actual journalism. They have a fact-checking organ, they have a reputational stake in reporting real news, they may not excel at investigative journalism but they practice it. They are also within the sphere of the Mainstream Media (if, in some cases, only barely).

So that's why they don't have fact checks: doing so would create more uncertainty about their political positions than not doing so.


Isn't The Same True of Liberal Positions?

Not in the same way. For example, the liberal position on gun control is based on the (true) position that if mass shooters couldn't get their hands on guns they would be far less effective. The plans to prevent potential shooters from getting any kind of gun are generally non-starters--but that doesn't change the fact that the basis of the argument is true.

If you attack the argument that "Without access to guns, the killer would be less effective," you are going to have to lie to some degree. If you are going to grant the facts--but attack the methods--you are on much firmer ground (stopping potential shooters from getting guns is, in fact, very hard and probably unconstitutional)--but the GOP doesn't always fight on that front.

The default on the Debt Limit was another example: if  you want to argue that America not-paying-its-debt is anything other than catastrophic, you are going to lose to fact-checks. If you want to argue that Obama once spoke out against raising the debt ceiling, you are going to have a much easier time. The GOP wanted to fight more on the first front than the second: fact-checking is not your friend there.

Conclusions

If you go look at Conservapedia you can see, quickly, the kind of problem that fact-based narratives have compared to Wikipedia. Wikipedia does, almost certainly, have a left-bias. Conservapedia is a mess of birtherism, homosexual agenda conspiracy theory, and creationism. It's not a good mix.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Why You Want Lots Of Things To Be Fake News



The conversation is happening in all quarters--as Facebook plans to flag fake news and use fact-checkers to determine what is fake and what isn't--conservatives and some of the further left liberals have joined forces in denouncing the attempts of intermediaries to judge the truthfulness of news. Here, a Bernista writes an article deciding that some legitimate news will be suppressed by the fake-news filters:
The news I’m referring to in the above [real news that will be suppressed] instance comes from only-recently-reviled-by-the-left WikiLeaks. Just today the U.S. government chastised and lectured the media for having “reported on information they know to have been stolen” & “effectively having acted as a Russian propaganda wing.”
He's not the only one. Here are some examples where people want to put things into the fake news bucket that they think probably won't go in:
  1. Media reporting on faked hate crimes.
  2. The Rolling Stone rape story which turned out to be incorrect and poorly reported on for ideological reasons.
  3. People who don't like positioning from a given media outlet.

Why These Reasons Are Bullshit

In each case the example is something that isn't actually fake news. Fake news is pretty easy to define (yes, there are edge-cases--but these aren't them) and people who don't like the above want to make it fake news for ideological reasons. For example:

The Wikileaks Incident

Although the Sanders-Left article writer doesn't call it out explicitly, the case where a MSM National Security expert tweeted that readers should be careful of the Podesta-Email as there was fake stuff in there was not part of an MSM ploy to suppress the truth (as was claimed by both The Intercept and Russia's propaganda outlet Sputnik)--it was instead a zero-day error of the kind that all media outlets make when dealing with an evolving situation. It also wouldn't trigger a fake-news filter as ten seconds of research would clear it up.


Hoax Hate-Crimes

We have a current real-life example of an activist Muslim woman claiming she was harassed and assaulted by Trump supporters. It was reported--and then turned out to be fake. We've seen this in other cases too (the anti-gay Publix cake claim, for example). The charge that this is fake news, though is baseless. In the case of the reporting they are (1) reporting on real events (the 'victim' said 'X-happened' and the 'victim' did, in fact, actually say that) and (2) there is no clear evidence that the bar for publishing these stories is lower than other kinds of crime reporting.

It's just that cases where ideological crimes are uncovered to be fakes are more sensational (the same way that non-fake ideological crimes are more sensational).


The Rolling Stone Case (and Other Bad Reporting)

This is a case of bad reporting. The reporter did her research--but she didn't want to expose the victim out of ideological concern for her safety / privacy. This is Exhibit A in the "always believe the victim" position but it isn't fake news. The reporter didn't fabricate the case or report in an intentionally disingenuous manner.

The Truck Did It

This is more of a snide comment than a real analysis--but it illustrates the point as to why the guy wants to classify the reporting as fake news: Because he doesn't agree with it. He wants the news outlet to say that the people were killed by a refugee, by radical Islam, or any other category that will give him political rhetorical advantage.

Why You ('You') Want To Make Things Fake News

The last point is what it's all about: when the news outlets don't want to spin things in the way that is rhetorically politically advantageous to you--or ideologically pleasant to you--deeming it fake is both a way to fight back and, if fake-news-suppression actually works, could be a way to take some ideological bite out of "the other side."

Of course that's because you're on one side and not the other. People who complain about hoax hate-crimes don't usually complain about Breitbart reporting on The Knock Out game--wherein there is a (fake) epidemic of black youths assaulting white people for no reason other than to "score points" by knocking them out in one punch.

People who complain about knock-out game reporting don't usually complain about Trump-Crime hoaxes.

However: center-left liberals will not (generally) defend continuing to tell the fake story after the hoax has been revealed. Conservative Breitbart readers will continue to support the epidemic KO-Game-As Legitimate News narrative even if presented with stats that say it's not relevant to anything, in many cases isn't even actually a knock-out game style assault, and is pretty clearly used to inflame racial animus.

Why? Because reporting on the KO game justifies their racial animus.

The same for Radical Islam. The people who most hate that Obama wouldn't call out 'Radical Islam' weren't conservatives--it was Daesh (and if you think ISIS doesn't care about what they're called, keep in mind that they execute you for calling them Daesh). The frustration with ABC saying the victims were killed by a truck is not that it "doesn't help defeat ISIS"--it's that it doesn't give people who want to paint all immigrants as terrorists a pleasant feeling when they read it.

For the Rolling Stone story, again, the issue was not the mechanics of the creation of the story but, instead, the forwarding of the seen-as-left men-get-away-with-rape narrative. While it is true that report exposed a weakness in the counter-narrative, the idea that it's not that hard to get away with rape (assuming you are not caught in the act and there is no evidence of violence) isn't really up for discussion.

The Bullshit Information Front

If you don't be clear about what fake news is (wholly fabricated news--absent any journalistic process--that is presented as real) then your option is this:

This is a search engine called "We Are The New Media" that explicitly searches the "free media." Simply put, what's being peddled here is bullshit--of many different dimensions (perhaps the Bitcoin link is less bullshit than wishful thinking)--but it shows you the scale of the problem. These are sources that, combined, millions and millions of Americans consider credible. 

The key to this is that they're all lumped together. If you think Breitbart doesn't deserve to be on that list (for example) what does it mean to you that it's also on this list:
InfoWars News Map
The answer is that these are more alike than you might want to think. The Daily Caller, for example, isn't the same kind of bullshit factory that Prison Planet is--but the levels of bias involved are similar. The difference is that The Daily Caller employs a set of journalistic practices that Prison Planet doesn't--but the distinction is invisible to most readers (who, if the understood how those practices work would flock to the left of the map rather than to the right who it's aimed at).

The point is that there is an entire ecosystem of toxic information and targeting specifically fake news is with its actual fake-news focus is necessary to prevent a much, much wider net that wouldn't just entrap left-wing journalistic sources but vast, vast swaths of the right as well. The fake news focus will, kind of ironically, prevent that from happening.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Virtual Wife


What you see above is a shot YouTube video of the apparently-real Gatebox. This is a Japanese product that is an answer to something like Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri. It's a "virtual wife" who wakes the actor up in the morning (gently), warns him of rain, texts him to come home early, turns the lights on before he gets home, and says, lovingly, "good night" when he falls asleep.

This highlights a couple of things:
  • Their target market seems to be men with no social life, no hope of getting a real girlfriend, and maybe no interest in one anyway (judging from the size of his apartment one person can barely fit).
  • The promise of "electronic love" (vs. artificial sex) is definitely what they're selling. This isn't a tech-toy (at least it's not presented as one), or a virtual valet (like Alexa or Siri). This is a waifu.
  • It's freakin' high end. Apparently 2600.00 and goes on sale next year in December.

Is This An Abomination?

Eh. Probably not. So there are some concerns The Omnivore has. The first one is whether or not you can hurt the character. Either her artificial feelings or her imaginary nerve endings. The reason The Omnivore asks about that is because if you can then even play-acting torturing an imaginary character is something that makes The Omnivore ethically queasy.

If you can't? The Omnivore is pretty sure they're leaving a bundle of money on the table.

However, probably: you can't--and won't be able to (in the TV show Humans, the humanoid android's most common illegal modification was to make the robot pretend to experience pain--something The Omnivore found pretty realistic)--so that problem is likely (hopefully) taken care of.

The second issue is about the size of this target market.

The 'Radicalization' Of Young White Men Online

In The Age of Trump, of course we have a Vox article about how online misogyny is a "gateway drug" to the alt-right's hard-core racism. The Omnivore isn't especially hysterical about this stuff--the whole RedPill thing seems like the result of being a loser rather than a path to it and The Omnivore suspects that a lot of these alt-right people would probably be pretty repulsive in real life with or without the online movement anyway.

But we're seeing some trends that, if they continue unchecked, probably are not good. This Gatebox thing plays into it. The "thing" is the general consensus among a group of guys that flesh and blood women should act, more or less, like the virtual one above. This is fine if you're both into it--but generally you have to give to get and today that kind of relationship pretty much requires that the guy part of the equation be a big shot.

If you can give your spouse the job of making sure you're happily taken care of all the time--then they likely expect to get their needs met too. That, thinks The Omnivore, is a bridge too far for a lot of these guys. As such, the historical gender dynamics are, according to stats, not doing so well in America and have totally and utterly collapsed in Japan.

Hence: electronic waifu.

Basically, this thing is a 2600.00 white flag of giving up on anything resembling traditional gender roles and marriage. It isn't even substituting it for free love or poly-relationships or anything like that: it's replacing it with Skyrim and a Fleshlight. 

This Gatebox thing is the canary in the coal-mine: if it takes off in America, especially at that price, then it means that America is having the same kind of difficulty that Japan is already pretty deep into.

That isn't good.
They plan to add new characters. This is the stats for the first one shown. 

Could This Enable The Breakdown?

If you go online there is not shortage of stories of women trying to lure their men away from Call of Duty to have sex. Usually, when these stories get posted, it's because they failed spectacularly. The idea that a video game--for a large swath of young men--could be more enticing than sex--would have seemed like absolute madness 20 years ago.

Today, The Omnivore suspects that most guys can . . . kinda see it. Maybe they have to squint real hard--and maybe Call of Duty isn't the the game for everyone--and, you know, sex with the imaginary supermodel will still pull those guys away--but in real life?

The Omnivore doesn't think this scenario is so far out there.

If we assume that your eWaifu is about 20% of what you want from a relationship and that some percentage of people can actually manage to feel "taken care of" by the machine, could this tip some non-insignificant number of people into the virtual-relationship realm?

The Omnivore isn't sure--but doesn't entirely discount it. That's at current tech-levels. In a decade this thing could be much savvier. 

Disruption

The real impetus for writing this article isn't exactly about the dangers of lonely guys hooking up with VR characters or even about the impending Manosphere / Beta Uprising. It's really about the way that technology can suddenly and abruptly disrupt the current state. Alexa and Siri are a lot more like tools than people. But with a (comparatively) minor tech upgrade they can certainly become more like people.

While it seems clear that we are not going to manufacture the robots from Westworld (even if we could, it seems unlikely) it just takes a small team to come up with something like Gatebox and, the next thing you know, you're falling in love with Windows-Tan. Don't say The Omnivore didn't warn you.