a New Year’s Resolution: less discipline

What often happens is someone somewhere says something, and I offer a simple response on twitter or perhaps in a blog comment.

I then set to writing a full explanation, and find myself in an investigation that may go far beyond or far afield from the initial inspiration. Quite often, I find this investigation more interesting than the original argument, but the “occasional justification,” the attachment to known “intents and purposes” has by that time all but completely receded from view.

I don’t think that all of this intentless and purposeless unjustified thinking is completely worthless. So, I’m going to experiment with some alternative formats and methods of organization of posts that allow me to use this material, to expose it to view at least half way, maybe while distinguishing thought-through-thinking from the still-being-thought-through. This post, for instance, is an example of the latter, though not of the alternative formats and methods.

May mean some repetition and confusion in presentation, and – Saints Preserve Us! – also the airing of some thoughts that really should have been thought through more. May be more in the Spirit of Blogging rather than the Spirit of Belles-Lettres, and I’ll state clearly for the eternal record that I’m not at all convinced that the former is preferable to the latter.

May mean more stupid mistakes – more typos, more misspellings, more embarrassments. Or it may turn out that my judgment of what deserves to be published has been faulty all along, or needs to improve. Goes without saying that the quality of one’s thinking and writing whatever the mode can always stand improvement. May be that publishing more will make eventually for less frequent mistake-making and for general improving. If not, can’t see how it’ll matter much anyway – even if the whole universe really is watching, hanging on my every word. If that’s what’s been going on, then presumably it’s been or will eventually get around to reading my unpublished drafts, too, so I’m safe/screwed either way.

Or it may of course turn out to have been wasted effort all along, and here, too – a thought that might also go without saying… as well as with saying.

So, anyway maybe we or anyway I, whatever that is, will see about erring on the side of the with-saying, for a change, for a while, God or gods or fates or nothing willing or allowing.

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Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution. 

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    Noted & Quoted

    TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

    For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

    The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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    Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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    [E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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