Wednesday, March 17, 2021

I had to come back for this one...


The Georgia spa killer isn't a racist, and he isn't a sex addict.  He's just another pathetic incel, getting revenge on the women who rejected him.

There certainly is racism involved, though.  At this moment, most of America is assuming that those dead Asian women who worked at those spas were prostitutes.  They weren't.  According to the local police chief, there never had been any complaints against the massage parlors where they worked.  They were killed because they wouldn't provide any sexual services.

It's still a hate crime, though — not racist, but misogynist.

Maybe I'm wrong -- but I'm not.

Saturday, March 13, 2021


After twelve years of shouting into the wind, I'm hitting the pause button. Maybe I'll start again, maybe not.  The wind is pretty noisy these days.

The commentariat has discovered Leon Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory, almost certainly with no help from me.  Festinger remains relevant, to be sure, but I think Anthony F. C. Wallace's classic 1956 monograph, Revitalization Movements, seems more to the point.  You can find the complete text here.

Thanks to those who have followed this blog.  I sincerely you have been amused from time to time.  Haven't had enough of me?  I have some fiction in print now, which you can find here and here.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

The Fat Lady Sings


Tr*mp the Opera approaches the finale faster than I anticipated, with a climax somewhat more surprising than it should have been.  I wonder what they were saying from the pulpits of the megachurches this morning.

While impeachment at this point seems like a long shot, it would be worth the effort if it can deprive Tr*mp of his post-presidential retirement benefits, including a million bucks a year in travel expenses (and half-a-million more for Melania), lifetime Secret Service protection, and a pension equal to the salary of a Cabinet official.  Fittingly, he won't get lifetime health insurance, which only kicks in after five years of Federal employment.  I can't object if he's signed up for Medicare.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Republican Party is fracturing, which is not necessarily good news for progressives.  If there is "bipartisan cooperation" between Republican and Democratic "moderates," the Senate may as well elect Joe Manchin the new Majority Leader.  Granted, even that would be better than having McConnell in charge.

As for Tr*mp's "base," it will survive, albeit somewhat diminished.  Just how diminished remains to be seen: those who get their "news" from One America Network, Parler, and 4chan, or who live in communities where Romney is seen as a liberal, can cling to their alternative realities for a long time.  (FOX will follow the eyeballs and the ad revenue.)

Needless to say, Biden's FBI will have to pay a lot more attention to domestic terrorism.

Monday, January 4, 2021



I've been trying to tune out the Opera for a while, but it's impossible.  Yes, I suppose I'll be watching the election returns from Georgia tomorrow night.  Just as significant will be the Tr*mpists' decision to force every Republican member of Congress to go on record as pro- or anti-Tr*mp when they vote to accept or reject the Biden victory on Wednesday — a move that might lead to a schism within the party that has lasting repercussions.  McConnell is very unhappy about that.

That bizarre Tr*mp-Raffensperger telephone tape has a lot of people wondering if Tr*mp actually believes the fantasies he's been promulgating, given how bizarre his behavior has been lately.  My guess is that his cognitive dissonance is raging, but he still can't accept the idea of being a loser.  Fred Tr*mp has a lot to answer for in hell.

As if the Senate and the Electoral College weren't enough, the vaccine rollout truly points out the weakness of our federal system of government.  I'd say it were time for a Constitutional Convention if I had any confidence in the people who would wind up writing the new one.  Anyway, it looks like Tr*mp the Opera is headed for a finale.  For Wagner, though, just one opera was never enough.  Let's hope the next one doesn't have too many Aryan warriors in the cast.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Darkest December


What will become of the Republican Party?  Will the Tr*mpists stay in power, solidifying its drift towards fascism?  Will the more "moderate" neoliberal corporatists regain power?  (Unlikely.)  Will Republican corporatists abandon the GOP and find common cause with Democratic neoliberal corporatists?  If that happens, what becomes of the progressives, who make up (according to Bernie) about 40% of the Democratic Party, and so about 20% of voters?

Historically, corporate interests (think Krupp and I.G.Farben) have been far more accommodative of fascism than of anything smacking of socialism.  Mind you, this is not a prediction: just one of a number of things I've found to worry about lately.  Another worry is Tr*mp choking on a Whopper (pun intended) and dropping dead.  "Murdered" by the "deep state," he becomes Christlike to his conspiracy-addled followers.  Tr*umpism becomes a religion, zealously protected by Tr*mp's Supreme Court, and we're in big trouble.

That kind of thinking has no place in a reality-based blog; but reality is more than a little screwy these days.  It's also possible that the Democrats could win both seats in Georgia, and Biden could appoint Stacey Abrams Attorney General; and she could order a review of the redactions of the Mueller report, possibly satisfying a lot of curiosity.  The biggest problem of dealing with now is that the possibilities are endless, and the chance of making any kind of accurate prediction is negligible.

Add in an underwhelming "relief package" from Congress, and Biden could still find a superspreading homeless encampment on the front lawn of the White House when he moves in.  Or not.  That's the problem with reality-based blogging these days: too much reality.  Any internally consistent explanation of what's going on is most likely a conspiracy theory, whether or not you're inclined to believe it.

A very merry Winter Solstice to all, the time of the year when the days start getting brighter.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Waiting for Brunhilde


The opera has grown increasingly Wagnerian, and I never had much tolerance for Wagner — too long and just too noisy to sleep through.  Although all the major news outlets have accepted the idea that Biden won the election, a distressingly large number of Americans still firmly believe that Tr*mp was “robbed” of  victory.  The cognitive dissonance suffered by Our President is shared by his loyal base; and their news sources are working hard to preserve their illusions.

Trump still seems to be counting on “his” Supreme Court to back up his play to remain in power, and the first test of loyalty will be his attempt to discount illegal immigrants when allocating representation in the House.  Frankly, I can’t see how self-proclaimed “Originalists” and “Literalists” can twist the plain language of the Constitution to exclude them, but logical consistency, of late, hasn’t been held in especially high regard.

For all the optimism around the Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines, it’s hard to imagine a two-dose protocol having enough impact to make much of a difference. It’s hard enough to get people inoculated even once, much less have them return for a second dose a month later.  In the Third World especially, dispensing on-time second doses will be next to impossible.

Wagner’s painfully long Ring Cycle “ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings” — and it looks like the fat lady, this time around, isn’t even waiting in the wings.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Tr*mp, the Opera


Reality being what it is at the moment, I’ve found it easier to cope by viewing current events as a kind of dramatic performance which, sooner or later, will have to be over.  Too tragic for farce and too farcical for tragedy, it has to be opera.  The music is in my head.

In my libretto, Tr*mp sincerely believes the craziness he’s been spouting (and Giuliani sings the role of Tr*mp’s id.). All his life, Tr*mp has been a devotee of Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking.  He genuinely believed he would win a second term: after all, positive thinking always had worked for him before!  (It often works pretty well for those who are born to rich fathers who bail them out of all their failures.)

Friedenberg’s cognitive dissonance theory gives us a useful description of how people behave when their deeply held beliefs are disconfirmed.  Their first response is to double-down, finding rationalizations for why the disconfirmed belief remains valid.  With a decent number of fellow believers (or sychophantic enablers) around them, they can cling to their delusions for a long time.  

Chorus: Indeed, Sir, ’tis a dark conspiracy!
             If you believe it, we, of course, agree!

Rudy:    And I, your knight, shall rout the enemy
              Including Soros, Gates, and AOC!

(In a subplot, Christian Soldier Mike Pompeo is off in the Middle East, pursuing policies aimed at hastening the Apocalypse and the Second Coming.  He has his own delusions, and his own agenda.)

I don’t know when the curtain finally will come down on Tr*mp, and I expect that Tr*mpism will outlast him.  Meanwhile, the virus thuds along the bass clef like a tympani, impossible to ignore for long, however hard we try.  This opera, I’m afraid, is Wagnerian — too dark, too noisy, and too damned long.