Categories
Covid-19 Politics

Three grim notes

But ultimately, some unknown percentage of those 80 million still unvaccinated will dig in and continue refusing vaccinations, even if they have to risk unemployment and other penalties. Some surveys indicate that the defiance is deep-seated, so we should expect a sizable number of marginalized, unvaccinated, unemployed, and profoundly angry Americans. These are the groups who might gravitate to leading or taking part in political violence, as we got a taste of with anti-lockdown protests last year.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-latest-covid-surge-is-just-the-start-of-a-new-nightmare?source=us-news&via=rss

But why would they do that? Let’s turn the microphone to LGM:

The whole key to understanding the anti-vax pro-horse dewormer mentality is that it’s not just this one thing for these people. Admitting that they’ve been wrong about this isn’t like admitting you were wrong about thinking that Willie Mays hit 700 home runs or that Detroit is the capital of Michigan. To admit you were wrong about this thing in particular would be to pull on a thread that could unravel your entire social and political identity. For those in the right wing bubble/base, admitting error on this point basically requires a literal conversion experience. It would be like a former Christian fundamentalist coming to the view that the Bible isn’t actually the inerrant word of God. In other words, that’s not just some random fact, but THE fact, that holds every other part of the person’s world view together.

https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/09/the-herman-cain-freedom-award

One last, less grim but much more difficult question: How much risk are we willing, as a people, to accept? Who bears that risk?

Will Americans accept the deaths of tens of thousands of people, as they do with the flu, if it means life returning to normal? Can the public tolerate an even higher death toll — akin to the drug overdose crisis, which killed an estimated 94,000 people in 2020 — if that’s what it takes to truly end social distancing and other precautions?

https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/22651046/covid-19-delta-vaccines-social-distancing-masking-lockdowns

I highly recommend all three essays. I’ve had them swirling around in my head for a few days now.

Categories
essays Politics

A nice bit of psychological insight into vaccine and mask resistance

Via the reliably-excellent ‘No more mister nice blog’:

If conservatives can’t be protected without being bound, they’d rather not be protected at all.

Steve M

That is, of course, his corollary to Wilhoit’s definition of conservatism:

There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

Frank Wilhoit

Read the whole thing. It’s excellent.

Categories
essays Politics Uncategorized

Immigration Enforcement and the Afterlife of the Slave Ship | Boston Review

Immigration Enforcement and the Afterlife of the Slave Ship from Boston Review. Coast Guard techniques for blocking Haitian asylum seekers have their roots in the slave trade. Understanding these connections can help us disentangle immigration policy from white nationalism.
— Read on bostonreview.net/race/ryan-fontanilla-immigration-enforcement-and-afterlife-slave-ship

Damn. I had literally no idea.

Categories
Politics

Eschaton: What Will We Call The New Tea Party

It was a neat trick that for 4 years ‘Trump supporters’ were somehow distinct from ‘Republicans,’ and now we will inevitably have some other exciting new political movement that isn’t precisely associated with either of them, but they love America and freedom and are skeptical of Democrats but could be persuaded (but never are).
They will be the protagonists of our politics story, as they always are. Angry, racist, relatively affluent white people who are covered obsessively by our political press who somehow never manage to convey who they actually are, who is funding them, and what they actually want
— Read on www.eschatonblog.com/2021/01/what-will-we-call-new-tea-party.html

A good kickoff for the presidential transition.

Categories
essays Politics

Understanding power and status

The past four years of the Trump presidency have been dizzying. Watching Trump, honestly a master communicator, whip audiences into frenzies of rage over shared grievance was like, “Damn, he’s a master of triggering his audience” … but what are the sources of the rage? Well, racism was explicit, as was precarity, well larded with disdain/rage for ‘the elites.’

Yet the right wing is and has been dominating. McConnell completely controls the Senate, the House was Republican in 2016, Trump of course, and the Federalist society clones are stuffing the judicial branch with remorseless reactionaries. They have power, and lots of it, well fortified with antimajoritarian structures of electoral college, gerrymandering, Census manipulation and of course the Senate. So where’s the rage from?

All of the above made much more sense after reading this NYT column by Thomas Edsall titled “The Resentment That Never Sleeps” – the two keys are status and last place aversion. Let me explain.

Last place aversion, from this paper of the same name, is a terrible aspect of human nature. We don’t want to be last. Politicians have long understood this on a visceral level:

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” – LBJ

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/lbj-convince-the-lowest-white-man/

Trump uses the combination of precarity and last place aversion to drive his base: “The black and brown people are bad and they’re going to be higher status than you.”

Status is more interesting and more complex. They key thing I learned from Edsall is that the two parties have different status measures and goals – the Democrats use “prestige” based on “notable achievement in a field” and Republicans are using “dominance” based on threats and bullying.

Re-read that last bit. Think: any Trump speech, ‘Fuck your feelings’ campaign shirts, rolling coal, police riots, “owning the libs”, right wing militias and much more. They all make sense if the goal is to intimidate, to cause fear, to dominate.

There’s a ton more in the Edsall piece, it’s superbly researched and linked and worth reading several times.

It’s a bleak read. I don’t expect Biden to be effective in this climate, and I fully expect Trump and McConnell to continue their sabotage. At the same time, as well explained in “Listen, Liberal” the Democrats remain focused only on their white collar constituents and seem deaf to the plight of everyone else:

They are a party of the professional class—a.k.a. the “learning class” or the “creative class”—and they are infatuated with the idea of a post-ideological society in which competence is all that matters.

https://tcfrank.com/product/listen-liberal/

Sound like the prestige status hierarchy to me.

I fear for my country, and that’s no joke.

Categories
essays Politics

Rebecca Solnit: On Not Meeting Nazis Halfway | Literary Hub

When Trump won the 2016 election—while losing the popular vote—the New York Times seemed obsessed with running features about what Trump voters were feeling and
— Read on lithub.com/rebecca-solnit-on-not-meeting-nazis-halfway/

A superb essay that I can’t recommend enough.

Categories
Politics

The Border Wall Is a National Monument to Trump’s Nativism

When you look at the eight prototypes as art, what do you see?
— Read on www.vulture.com/2018/01/the-border-wall-is-a-national-monument-to-trumps-nativism.html

Best idea I’ve seen in ages.

Categories
Politics

Did you vote?

Damn, what a year.

Categories
Covid-19 Politics

The Disconnect Between the Stock Market and the Real Economy Is Destroying Our Lives – In These Times

This political choice is also a moral choice. It is a choice of whether or not to value fairness. Either the incentives of everyone in society are aligned, or they are not. In America, they are not. In fact, they are the opposite: the incentives of the rich, who live through stocks and the accumulation of corporate power, are in fact opposed to the incentives of the vast majority of people, whose existence is reduced to nothing more than labor income to be minimized as much as possible. An economy devised to prop up stock prices is an economy devised not to encourage widespread public wealth, but rather the concentration of private wealth. That is a choice. That is the incentive structure we have built in this country. The mystifying government response that allows a crisis of unemployment and sudden poverty to happen and then refuses to solve it even while doling out trillions of dollars to business is in fact just American capitalism working as we have designed it to.

The Disconnect Between the Stock Market and the Real Economy Is Destroying Our Lives – In These Times

Brilliant post, start to finish. Highly recommended. Found via the reliably-excellent Eschaton.

Categories
Covid-19 Politics recommendations

Domestic surveillance and police riots

San Diego has so far escaped the worst of the 2020 police riots, but I’ve still been keeping an eye out. My primary tool for doing so is ADS-B aircraft broadcasts and the OpenADSB iOS app. Here are some sample traces, showing the police helicopters over the city:

It’s notable that the helicopter probably has unbelievably good cameras (gyro stabilizers with long zoom lenses are better than you think) and could well have infrared also. And yesterday, Timothy Shea brought in the DEA to surveill the protests too. That’s not just human intelligence and AT&T’s massive data; it’s also flying dirt boxes.

What the heck is a dirtbox?

TL;DR – it mimics a cell tower and grabs the unique IDs from a phone. They can also intercept text messages and phone calls, and you should assume that they see all non-encrypted communications. All.

Yesterday, I saw this on the app:

That’s a Cessna 206, owned by the DEA, flying out of Montgomery field and meandering over San Diego. I should have gotten more screenshots, but it flew around for a while and followed the coastline north. I consider this high-probability that they’re flying dirtboxes over our cities and recording who’s at the protests.

Take action

  • If you go to a protest, read this EFF guide before leaving home.
  • The ACLU has a good primer on your legal rights.
  • Then read this Wired guide.
  • If you need a device, consider this one (I got one for Android testing and projects and it’s excellent). Strongly consider not installing a SIM card in it. That flying dirtbox will grab it and link you to it via the cell providers’ database of who’s paying for the account. Maybe keep the SIM card taped to the phone for an emergency or later call?
  • Read this about photography.

Consider donating to the EFF and/or ACLU. Vote when you can.