2024-07-20

Still Biden

I've made my position on Joe quite clear - I think he's a fucking racist monster. Just deeply fucking racist and in that super hard "actually racist" way where the bigot doesn't give a shit whether the subhumans live or die. But despite this, I believe that the efforts to replace him are bullshit.

Has he slowed down? Yes. Is he incompetent and senile? No. Joe clearly still has at least as good a grasp on the world as he always has. Does he forget names sometimes? Yes, he does - but also, he's done this basically his entire public life. Joe Biden misspeaks - a lot. He sometimes has long extended pauses in the middle of a sentence which he will then abandon and start on a different tangent. That is Joe - he's always done this sort of shit. To be clear - he's done that more often the past couple weeks, but he has always done it.

The speculation of whether or not Joe is up to the crazy pace of a presidential campaign and then four more years of governance? Maybe there's a bit more reason to be concerned if Joe can do this - but really, not that much more than any other candidate. The past few weeks Joe has seemed like Joe. Never a great orator, and actually kind of famous for his gaffes and slip ups.

One of the issues here is that people have a stupid idea of what it takes to be president. That it requires one to be functioning at 100% of super-genius brain levels 24 hours a day, every day. This is bullshit. Donald Trump managed four years as president and in that time also managed to completely subsume the entire Republican Party, forcing them to abandon every thing they have ever stood for and replaced it with loyalty to his own self. Despite spending like half his waking hours golfing. So you can be POTUS as a sidegig even if you are a narcissistic moron.

It's not hard to be president. Yes, you get to make all the big decisions - as another shockingly mediocre man who managed to put in two full terms said, the president is "the Deciderer". But making those decisions is not hard - and choosing wrong does not necessarily ever have any consequences. It does not require high levels of intellect or perception or self-awareness. Arguably, these things might hamper an Administration's ability to get shit done.

The arguments that Joe is not up to the job or that there exists someone who has a better shot at beating Trump despite not being able to start their campaign until late July - are purely vibes based. And also are handwaving aside a lot of very strong arguments about how their position is delusional bullshit.

All of that said - I've now been convinced. Joe must go. He cannot be the candidate - and the reason why is entirely on him.

He's had weeks to put this to bed. Weeks to answer the criticisms and reassure the public that his brain hasn't turned to mush. And how has he done on that?

I said earlier that it doesn't matter much how good a job the president does at deciderer-ing the deciderer-choices. And it really doesn't. But it does matter how he sells those decisions. His job is to lead - which involves getting people on side and following. Joe has not been able to do that with members of his own party. It's just been a steady stream of mutineers sticking him in the back, one after another after another. He has lost control and influence among his allies - how the hell is he supposed to get anything done? He can't. He has to go.

It was that first week after the debate that did him in. He knew he had a bad debate. And instead of reassuring the public that it was just an off day - he fucking turtled. He answered zero questions for a full week - just small and brief appearances where he read a couple paragraphs off a teleprompter and then vanished to the undisclosed location. Now I get it - the president is a busy man. He has a lot of shit to do. But he and his team clearly fucked up beyond imagining when they looked at the whisper campaign and considered it low priority. And then this belief that one interview - 20 ish minutes long - with George Stephanopoulos was going to settle everyone down? Come on.

In those early days, the strategy from the Biden camp was described as "this will all blow over". And I was Team Blow Over then. The criticisms of Biden's debate performance were massively overexaggerated. All Joe had to do was make himself available to the press and demonstrate in person that he still had his marbles. And he didn't. For way too long. And then we were all left with the impression that "omg, maybe Joe is senile and that's why they are hiding him away in a shoe box!" For things to blow over, the story has to be replaced by something else. There was no something else to go in there - so it was replaced by confusion as to why Joe hasn't faced the public. The original story did blow over - but a much worse version of the same story took its place. And that was entirely the fault of Biden and his team. He dug his own hole here.

2024-07-17

Blogging the ICC Warrants

So anyways, there was some good news in that Labour was thinking about cancelling their challenge to the ICC warrant requests for Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant. This was framed as a concession they were making due to the very strong performance of pro-Palestine candidates in the UK general election. They haven't pulled their challenge yet - and now there's word they likely won't.

There's also another view on it. Now - grain of salt, &c - the only place I could find this story in English was on JNS - Sheldon Adelson's pro-Israel news service. IOW - not necessarily trustworthy, but also - an outlet with access to Israeli politicians and large segments of Israel's defenders. Also, it is mostly reporting on Channel 14 reporting (which is in Hebrew) - so their claims would be easy to check. Here's that story.

Some notes:

According to a European source cited by Channel 14, the new Labour government would not pull the challenge, if only because all indications are that the court intends to ignore it, allowing Labour to avoid souring relations with Israel without angering its anti-Israel supporters at home.

How does this make sense? Not pulling the challenge is going to anger anti-Israel people in the UK. That said - it's the Labour party, I totally believe that they totally believe this.  Anyways - it's not so much that the ICC is going to ignore the request - I bet they are delighted for the opportunity to stall some more. The issue is that the ICC has already ruled on the question of jurisdiction. It's been settled - specifically regarding Israel-Palestine. This argument made by the UK has already been defeated.

In either case, Israeli legal officials agree that it’s “highly probable” the ICC will issue arrest warrants in the next two weeks, said Channel 14 reporter Tamir Morag.

Nice.  A timeline. This is longer than it took to issue warrants for Putin, but not ridiculously so. These warrants look like they are being treated fairly. Also too,

On June 25, Netanyahu also said that he expected the ICC would approve its chief prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants, Ynet reported. Netanyahu suggested that the warrants could be issued before his address to the U.S. Congress on July 24.

Well two weeks takes us to after Bibi's visit - so we will get to avoid the indignity of  a wanted war criminal addressing a Joint Session of Congress. But quite possibly only by a very narrow margin of time. The International Rules Based Order everyone!

The Time of Monsters

Content warning - long rambling "I'm 13 and this is deep" level stream of consciousness follows.  I am trying to work something out.

Here's a thing to consider. Trump is a symptom. As much as we find it incomprehensible and offensive - Trump commands the adoration of a very large number of people. Now it's true that Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by millions - but at the same time, why the hell was it close enough for him to steal it through the Electoral College? Tens of millions of people voted for him in 2016, and despite the dumpster fire that was his first term, even more people voted for him in 2020.

Is American society really that sick and depraved that such a larger chunk of it wants this shit? Why is it that running transphobic bullshit in the NY Times ends up being a successful business strategy? There's something much deeper than just the current freakout over the "Dictator on Day One".

A lot of it is that the alternatives suck. Neither Hilary nor Joe inspired people - their main selling point was that they weren't Trump. This is still like 99% of Joe's current campaign. But that only explains why they didn't get blow-out victories like they would have in a rational world. Trump still got a lot of people to vote for him. Crazy shit.

Maybe that's really it - the end of the experiment in American democracy. Maybe there is no reversing late stage capitalism and the twilight of empire. How does it go? The old world is dying while the new one struggles to be born, we are in the time of monsters. 

But then again, fighting monsters is what we are supposed to do. This is the human condition - the struggle against something larger than ourselves. This is where heroes come from - rising up against adversity to defeat the threat to us all. Or at least that's how it works in the story books.

I guess we're supposed to be the heroes. That we're supposed to do our part to stop the slide into fascism and decay. But none of us know how to. This isn't a Hero's Journey with sign-posted stops along the way. It's one where we can't even identify the monster. Who knows - maybe the monster is us.

Everyone has their own priorities and perspectives. Maybe your monster is someone else's hero. There's legions of people who have Trump as their hero.

Here's my perspective. My monster is those people. The ones who idolize Trump. And yes - they are being taken advantage of. They too are victims in all this. But that does not make them not-monsters. Also too, Trump is not the first to have exploited their small minded bigotries - they keep falling for a long line of grifting assholes promising them that "the bad guys" are really gonna get theirs. Maybe they have honest non-monster excuses to believe what they do - but surely some of them (and I venture to guess that it is a large majority) do not.

Anyways - my current confusion, the one that's been eating at me in some way or other for as long as I can remember - is trying to figure out what to do about it. How do you fight a monster like this? Clearly the act of actually fighting them only makes things worse. But letting the bullshit fester and showing people that there are no consequences for anti-social behaviour also makes things worse.

I guess this is all just a bad framework to view the world through. Maybe all of us are monsters, and as a result - none of us are monsters. Maybe the thing which makes monsters is identifying someone else as the monster - that desire for "the bad guys" to really get it this time. 

No. There are monsters - they reveal themselves to us all the time. It's just that society values monsters and rewards them and I have no idea how to make it stop.

Biden

 I have thoughts. Lots of them. And as much as I have serious issues with Biden’s  passively deadly racism, it’s actually the reactions to Biden now that bother me most. 

Just one point here. There’s an appeal to Biden to step aside in order to save his legacy. To avoid going down in history as someone who tried to cling on to power too long. 

Motherfuckers, this would be a massive to his legacy! Right now, his legacy is the genocide of Gaza. The racist asshole values Palestinian lives o poorly that he is proud of going to extreme lengths to facilitate their mass slaughter. If he is remembered as a dottering old fool who overstayed his welcome, that’s way better than being remembered as the fucking deeply racist monster he has proven himself to be. 

2024-07-12

Using "Literally" to mean "Figuratively" is an Egregious Use of the English Language

Egregious comes from a Latin word meaning "distinguished" or "eminent." It was once a compliment to someone who had a remarkably good quality that placed him or her above others. Today, the meaning of the word is noticeably less complimentary, possibly as a result of ironic use of its original sense.

2024-07-08

Elections Have Consequences for Blogging

So Labour won a monster landslide victory in the UK general elections, and they did so with Keith "I think Israel does have that right" Starmer running on a pretty expressly pro-Israel platform. So much so that they faced multiple challenges from pro-Palestine independent candidates. Four or five of them (depending on whether you include Jeremy Corbyn in this group) won, including shadow minister Jonathan Ashworth losing to a first time independent candidate. Another senior Labour shadow minister came within 528 votes to losing to a 23 year old independent candidate.

This has forced them to shift their stance on the genocide. One of the last things the Conservative government did was to intervene in the request for war crimes warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant. Well, now the word is the incoming Labour government is dropping that request. Now to be sure, we won't know if this is real until the warrants are issued and governments love to talk about how they are concerned with the ongoing massive casualties and destruction in Gaza all while steadfastly doing nothing to prevent it. Also on the "possible good news but I won't believe it until I see it" front - the UK is reviewing their decision to cut off UNRWA funding and to continue supplying military equipment to Israel.

Meanwhile in France, the left wing coalition that just won the most seats is talking about recognizing Palestinian statehood.

Is this all massively inadequate to meet the moment? Yes. But also, it is a big difference - tiny steps in the right direction don't seem like much until you notice that the prior trend was just plummeting down a hole into normalizing ethnic cleansing.

2024-07-07

Lancet Blogging

Some housekeeping. I’ve been quiet on here because I have been very distracted by the fallout from Biden’s debate performance. The aggravation at so much of the American discourse thinking a poor debate performance was disqualifying while fucking hidamned genocide is a-ok - made it my impossible to think straight. Holy shit these people are so fucking terrible. 

Anyways, back to the regular schedule of noting how bad shit has gotten in Gaza. The Lancet has a number. 186,000.

For scaling, the Lancet took a couple cracks at Iraq War deaths. 600K to 800K in four years. Roughly the same pace as the 186.000 over nine months that Israel has inflicted. IOW, the pace of killing in Gaza is about the same as the first four years of the invasion of Iraq. 

The big difference of course is that Iraq is significantly bigger than Gaza. The population of Iraq at the time of invasion was some 26 million people - ten times more than Gaza. So another way of putting it is that what Israel is doing to the Gaza Strip is like the invasion of Iraq, only ten times more intense. The experience for people living in Gaza is like the experience of people living through the Iraq War - only it’s a week and a half of violence crammed into a single day. Every day. Since October 7.