Friday, October 28, 2022

For the Record: Hypothesis


Wallenstein's siege of Stralsund, May-August 1628, by the workshop of Frans Hogenberg, 1628, via Wikipedia.

And a hypothesis below the fold:

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

October Surmise

This is kind of weird (and gets much weirder below the fold)—a letter to President Biden issued yesterday from 30 members of the House Progressive Caucus urging him, very respectfully, and without any cheap bothsidesing of the respective positions of Ukraine and Russia, to work toward a negotiated settlement of the Ukraine war, mainly reacting to the scarily increased risk of nuclear conflict:

Given the destruction created by this war for Ukraine and the world, as well as the risk of catastrophic escalation, we also believe it is in the interests of Ukraine, the United States, and the world to avoid a prolonged conflict. For this reason, we urge you to pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire. This is consistent with your recognition that “there’s going to have to be a negotiated settlement here,” and your concern that Vladimir Putin “doesn't have a way out right now, and I'm trying to figure out what we do about that.” 

We are under no illusions regarding the difficulties involved in engaging Russia given its outrageous and illegal invasion of Ukraine and its decision to make additional illegal annexations of Ukrainian territory. However, if there is a way to end the war while preserving a free and independent Ukraine, it is America’s responsibility to pursue every diplomatic avenue to support such a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine.

I wouldn't sign it myself—looks like a signal of doubt and disagreement among Democrats that I don't think it's helpful for Russians to see, and then I'm pretty confident that whatever negotiation with Russia is possible right now is being done anyway, not just by US but NATO as a whole, maybe with Türkiye (formerly known as Turkey) in the lead—but it's really hard to object to the substance of the thing, such as it is ("Mr. President, please do what I think you're doing"). But why, and why now?

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Concern Trolling: Go Truss Yourselves

 (Part 3, I think, of a continuing series)

Via Scottish Daily Express.

What might help Republicans’ prospects? Losing the House in November.

Hear me out, Republicans! It's true that, as Steve M was arguing the other day, you're not in anything like the awful position Britain's Conservatives are in—deeply unpopular, no doubt, but nowhere near as unpopular as the Tories in the short unhappy life of the Truss premiership, and besides, Democrats are pretty unpopular too.

Then again, one of the reasons you're not as unpopular as the Tories is that you haven't been in power for the last 12 years, and most particularly the last two years, when you've been locked out altogether, except for a Supreme Court determined to do the most unpopular things it can right away, as if they expected to be losing their own majority next year. You can't really be blamed for anything else, especially the thing you've managed to focus public attention on, the pump price of gasoline and the other price rises that go along with it. You can block almost anything you don't like in the Senate, and you have no responsibility for offering anything better. You can spend all your time on Twitter, like Ronny Jackson or Marjorie Taylor Greene or Gym Jordan, and not think about legislation at all. The setup is working for you.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Coroner Brooks


Autopsy seen by Thomas Eakins, 1875. Imagine if the patient wasn't dead yet!

David Brooks ("Why Republicans Are Surging") has posted his autopsy of how Democrats lost the House and perhaps even the Senate, which gives me a little wan hope that that may not happen—it's not November 9 yet, and the proverbial fat lady just started her warmups in early voting in Georgia, where turnout began with an extraordinary bang, in numbers exceeding those of presidential-year 2020, suggesting a wild Democratic enthusiasm, or rage against those who have tried to suppress it if you prefer to think of it that way, at least in Georgia, which is a pretty important state this year.

And besides, most of Brooks's analysis is pretty weak-looking, dependent on that annoying Times-Siena poll Steve M and Joan Walsh have been dunking on, in which the likely voter screen focused on people who voted in one of the last four national or local elections (somebody with an effective 25% chance of showing up is a likely voter?) and underestimating the floods of mostly women who registered for the first time after the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Raging Centrist


The "raging centrist" in question is a market researcher called Rich Thau who is running a Swing Voter Project in six battleground states  (AZ, GA, FL, NC, PA, WI) for Axios, studying voters who went for Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020 in monthly focus group meetings, who has gotten the attention of Paul Kane, Washington Post's congressional bureau chief, with his finding that these swingers don't want a Congress full of "mini-Trumps" but are "quite sour" on Democrats as well, who leave them "indifferent... mixed to indifferent.. bored... ambivalent... "

Even though they strongly back abortion rights and disapprove of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and don't blame Democrats for inflation, which they understand as a consequence of the fight against COVID-19, and really don't have a lot of ideas one way of the other about current policy debates (not well covered in their preferred news sources of local TV, CNN, Fox, and Facebook).

So of course inevitably Thau and his colleagues are "pleading" with candidates to "steer toward the middle".:

Friday, October 14, 2022

Lite Supremacy


Protestors outside Los Angeles City Hall on Wednesday. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images, via The New York Times.

The Times used the above photo twice this week, once yesterday in news coverage of the big scandal of the Los Angeles City Council, and once in a blown-up splash under the headline for today's David Brooks column ("This Is What Happens When Race Is Everything"), without any explanation of what it is actually a picture of, or in the Brooks piece even a passing reference, which isn't what you'd easily think of if you were following the story anywhere other than the L.A. Times (I heard about it on NPR but noticed I was hearing it only because it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately).

Namely, these people are protesting something quite different from the thing Brooks wrote about, or thought he was writing about:

Council President Nury Martinez — who has since resigned from the Council — along with two colleagues and a labor ally talked about a range of subjects, including redistricting, but two assumptions undergirded much of what they said. Their first assumption was that America is divided into monolithic racial blocs. The world they take for granted is not a world of persons; it’s a world of rigid racial categories.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Thy Hand, Great Anarch! Two kinds of stupid



Apparently President Putin has spent the last four days raining death and destruction on Ukrainian civilians not because it's some kind of military strategy—wrong, it's of no strategic value at all—and also not because he just has too much weaponry and is trying to use it up, like trad Catholics using up all the animal fat in the house on Pancake Tuesday, but out of fear of people in his orbit who are even more rabid than he is. It's the "more serious" response he was promising last month if Ukraine continued refusing to be conquered:

“Recently, the Russian armed forces have inflicted a couple of sensitive blows. Let’s assume they’re a warning. If the situation continues to develop like this, then the response will be more serious,” he said.

Though there's nothing serious about it, other than that he seems to be seriously afraid of his own puppets:

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Narratology: Eastman's First Draft


Video (no longer new) of Roger Stone and his boys at a rally on December 11 2020, via Just Security

Christian Vanderbrouk of The Bulwark has turned me on to a fascinating document issued by the Claremont Institute and Texas Public Policy Foundation a couple of weeks before the 2020 election, in a kind of Bizarro-World counterpoint to a paper of August 2020 by the bipartisan Transition Integrity Project, "Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition", reporting on a scholarly gaming out of what the nation might do to deal with the likely event that Donald Trump lost the November election and refused to concede defeat, making some kind of attempt to stop Biden's inauguration.

The Claremont/Texas paper, in contrast, "79 Days to Inauguration", presents a literal "wargame" simulation of how such an attempt might succeed, starting with an ambiguous election night in which an apparently easy call of victory for Biden yields to confusion, as Texas (initially an upset Biden victory) reports its systems have been hacked by a foreign power, Pennsylvania and Florida remain too close to call, and in Michigan, where Trump is ahead, thousands of those pesky mail-in ballots are destroyed in an unexplained fire in Detroit.