I Support Dollary Clump

Ok, I’ve read the commentaries on both sides (even diving into the Pro-Trump and Pro-Clinton Reddit threads), read the transcript, and lastly watched the actual debate. Gotta say that debate does not look like a clear win for either candidate.

From outside the USA, I’d be looking at either option as a bad deal. You’re getting Crazy Weird or Crazy Evil. Friend and foe alike must be wary. But then again, these days it is Crazy’s world. Walmart is the world’s wealthiest company and the terrorist equivalent of GI Joe’s Cobra is actually toppling governments.

It’s been interesting rewatching different segments of the debate immediately after reading different commentaries and how this affects perception — how one interprets certain words, pauses, glances and phrases, for example.

With that in mind, I don’t know how much this debate sways “on the fence” folks at this point. I think your starting point before the debate affected where you came out at the end.

If you’re pro-Trump, you saw an outsider fighting a crooked system (e.g. the political Left colluding with special interest groups, a Left-leaning media bias, etc.) You saw a moderator who attacked your candidate and let the other candidate slide. You saw your candidate score tremendous hits on Hillary for her emails, the Left’s terrible handling of the economy and international security, and all that. You saw a candidate who was making reasonable points.

If you’re pro-Hillary, you saw Hillary demonstrate her intelligence and masterfully leverage her image as the Strong and Smart Woman. You saw a candidate who is in sync with Progress for the non-rich, the non-male and the non-white…or if not “in sync” than at least not in opposition. You saw a Hillary who acts polite but isn’t afraid to throw a punch…especially in self-defense. You saw a Hillary with a track record of hard-won victories in situations where the choices are Bad Option A, Bad Option B and Worse Option C.

Now, we all know damn well that both Trump and Hillary have devils on their shoulders. We should worry about what will happen when Reality crashes its car through the Oval Office window. Hillary’s track record is *not* one without outbreaks of bloodshed, destructively distorted trades, economic/political exclusion, etc. And who knows what would remain intact after Trump gets over the learning curve and realizes just how much larger and more dangerous the world is than his microscopic-by-comparison business deals.

From my perspective, I think the debate showed that Hillary can lead in the current System (she grew up in it and she’s part of the Clan that runs the current System)…but the debate also showed that the current System could be more appearance than reality, that it really is failing/under attack and that Trump is perhaps more in sync with that spirit of disruption.

I think your choice of Trump or Hillary depends on how you feel about the System, where you think its going and how you think its going to treat you you (plus your friends and family). If you think it’s going to elevate you or at least not strongly threaten your desired status quo.

It’s where you see yourself in the System.

That’s what it all boils down to. Everything else — immigrants, health care, jobs, what are the right laws, trade deals, taxes, energy policies, who gets hit with what kind of military action, blah blah principles blah blah doing the math blah blah justice — is noise.

Trump Protesters: Agent Provocateurs or Punches for Peace?

Inside the Protest That Stopped the Trump Rally, Politico

Donald Trump’s baffling explanation for violence at his campaign rallies, Washington Post

I’m wondering about the purpose of protesting at Trump rallies. It certainly seems unlikely to make a statistically significant number of Trump supporters change positions. Same for anyone who doesn’t already see Trump as “risky” (for the country, the GOP, for whomever).

Even if the point is to agitate against Trump supporters (i.e. provoke a response), I have to raise the same questions.

Maybe the point is to provoke Trump and Trump’s more extreme supporters into behavior that publicly destroys the Trump “brand”, i.e. makes his campaign toxic for donors, career campaign staff, etc. Get more video/audio of protesters being punched, of racist/sexist language/gestures from Trump supporters.

If *that’s* the goal, then I hope the protesters are well-organized, well-disciplined and strongly motivated, because they will need to take punches while not throwing them. And they’ll need excellent PR/journalism support.

I’m comparing this in my head to the protests and rallies (and boycotts) of the Civil Rights movement and opposing American involvement in Vietnam. There, the protests had a more measurable impact because (a) they created discomfort for politicians and voters, (b) these protests/rallies/boycotts were tied to a set of successful PR/outreach campaigns (see the history of the Rosa Parks story), and maybe most importantly, (c) they were working *against* something that was directly and tangibly at odds with widespread American values.

That’s not the case with the Trump rallies. So if the purpose of the Trump protests is not to provoke the Trump Campaign into a public relations meltdown, what does one do with a protest at a Trump rally?

What does one even protest? Certainly not the legality of Trump’s campaign: his right to run for office, his followers’ right to support him, even his right to voice his most extreme campaign platforms.

What about protesting Trump’s campaign and rallies as inciting violence? One can point to inflammatory rhetoric. Especially at Trump rallies, the Trump campaign (personnel, narrative, etc.) either tolerates or at times even condones aggressive physical confrontation with any non-White/non-female persons openly opposed to Trump.

Is that the goal — to dissuade the Trump campaign from its open tolerance of those who abuse non-Whites/non-Males (physically, verbally, through economic/social discrimination, etc.)?

If so, they’d have to follow up with a Chicago-style disruption at most major Trump rallies. That kind of coordination and effort is hard. And unlike the Civil Rights/Vietnam protests, it’s hard to link the protests to a PR-appropriate legal or moral issue.

And if that’s the only approach available, that will *certainly* bring out the more verbally/physically extreme Trump supporters. That may already be happening, depending on whether you believe Russia Today (“Twitter group vows to protect Donald’s supporters following clashes & stage attack”)

What the hell the U.S. presidency’s for

I’m reading some of Robert Caro’s excellent biography of President Lyndon Johnson.

By those accounts LBJ was unscrupulously power hungry, Machiavellian, corrupt and possibly even a wicked man even by Washington standards. Yet the USA survived when it came to navigating through the volatile socio-political flux of the 1960’s. Maybe even came out a little bit on top of the game.

This makes me think of the complexity of what makes a good choice of President. Maybe we can call this “election epistemology”?

We want an election choice that will make better off the people we care about — ourselves, our kids, our compatriots, etc. We want to anchor this choice to an anchor of facts.

Problem is, we don’t have facts or what facts we do have are subjective. Stats and other measurements are subjective. Talented politicians can lie effectively to others (or “massage the truth”) because they have mastered the art of self-deception. Even language is a game (e.g. Can you say that “government builds roads” when the government hires a construction company? Can you say that a “company builds cars” when they receive government subsidies and the manual labor is done by individual persons?)

That hurts my brain and it makes me feel like I’m in a dark room where curiosity brings dim comfort: just a light I can touch but not see.

If politicians can even lie to themselves about what they believe true, then in some ways all we can know about the candidates and the choice context is what we *make* ourselves know.

What the heck does that mean? For one thing we should assume that our choice is rooted in an unconscious map of reality formed over generations of humanity and countless permutations of biological evolution. We might talk about our choice in terms of contemporary issues (Climate change, Daesh/ISIS) but our brains are making the calculation with a primordial abacus.

(For example, despite the rhetoric about wanting a leader who is “trustworthy” or “honest”, we all practice deceit at some level or another and we value a leader who can effectively mislead others — likewise with the prowess of cajoling and intimidation.

And speaking of the natural context of a U.S. Presidential election, what is the purpose of the democratically selected president and of the “nation” as a construct? As LBJ himself put it, ““Well, what the hell’s the presidency for?”

Robert Caro, “The Years of Lyndon Johnson”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Years_of_Lyndon_Johnson

“Politicians are good liars”: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2582730/Politicians-good-liars-convince-telling-truth-research-suggests.html

Elector of None

[Note: Someone please(!) shout at me if I sound too “White Male Privilege” — sometimes my head slips into the inter-buttocks zone]

Elections like any time of political change are an exciting time, in a chemical sense. Exogenous and endogenous heat, movement, and substances changing shape and willing themselves to break out of their containers. In other words an incredibly dangerous experiment. And we do it both as often as possible and as little as possible in a democracy.

Case in point: here we are in the USA imagining ourselves a choice between Capitalism, Socialism, Militarism, Pacifism, Statism and maybe a cleverly disguised ounce or two of Anarchism in the mix.

Poppycock. Our candidates get to be our candidates only *after* a process of severe inter/intra-group selection (i.e. within their own parties, funding networks etc.).

So what we’re really doing is choosing a face for a leader who’s actions are already mostly scripted by nature, a train conductor who can adjust our speed and the occasional choice of Left Fork/Right Fork but who has no control over where the tracks are laid.

After all, does anyone think that we’ll still have this same national configuration and this same form of representative democracy some 100 years from now? The USA will devolve along the lines of the EU at the same time it evolves into a continental body: a greater North American Affiliation.

So what are we looking at here in 2016? Just a small slice of the “now”. Even when we look at long term problems (climate change, nuclear catastrophe) we are forever in the short term (one reason why our efforts always come up short). Yet we know ourselves to also exist in a context. We know we exist in a greater place, a greater time than our maps and clocks and calendars show us. We look for leaders that can guide us from the “now” to the “future”.

Chasing the long term wearing short term pants, we take so much for granted in our faiths and our -isms that we lose sight of what we are aiming for: truth. A true knowledge not just of our drives and impulses but also our intents. A true knowledge of purpose. A true knowledge of when we must help and when we must harm.

Truth, in other words, that is still missing.

We have found no answers. We build on trial and error, conjuring a rope upwards into the sky as if up from the bottom of a bottomless well, with those buried in the past shouting their memories to those climbing up into the future: memories heard distantly and selectively. Did that patch of ground just say something? Did that spot of earth just move?

We fire round after round at the truth: words and ideas aimed at the truth like Zeno’s arrow seeking its target. Our bodies are some configuration of electricity and chemistry, our world is some troupe of imperceptible monads dancing unintelligible patterns.

Feel the Bern, stand with Hillary, make American great again with Trump, trust Ted Cruz or just stay home to polish your guns and wait for the Revolution. No matter what, this is all just another step towards something else.

Remember the words of Bob Dylan: “Nothing is better, nothing is best/Take care of your health and get plenty of rest.”
(i.e. take care of yourself and your friends and your family, so you can make it to the next level)