chaitalancheBecause Jonathan Chait tweeted out a link to my post on his complete insanity, we experienced a bit of a hiccup in these here parts on Thursday.

Normally this blog is easily a low enough traffic place not to require page caching (a process that enables a web server to feed visitors pre-fab versions of pages rather than have to churn out new ones on each new arrival), and I rather long ago stopped believing that this blog, or I, would ever prove fit enough for general human consumption for such measures, which entail minor inconveniences to the blogger, to be required. I had put Mr. Chait’s twitter handle on the end of my usual “new” tweet as much to keyword its content as to invite his personal attention – though, of course, one never knows, and, anyway, it seems the polite thing to do in such cases, since I also notified root_e, the other writer discussed at length. To my surprise, this time around the bigger fish re-tweeted my post-link with a plea for his readers to read it, and with a complimentary description.

The resultant eyeball acceleration, with the help of additional minor boosts from other re-tweeters, pushed us to the rough blog equivalent of Mach 1. In raw numbers, that meant 690 views on Thursday, tailing off to 139 on Friday, and a return to near normal very low levels by Saturday and today [actually today is turning into a very above average day, though I suspect a lasting uptick is unlikely]. The vast majority of the first day’s (D+0) visits were generated by the first of two tweeted links, the one that led to the initial site crash. Upon verifiying that the site really was visitable after I turned on caching, I sent out a second link addressed to known re-tweeters (including Chait), with the objective of letting those who got 500 errors the first time around know they would now get through. Chait was kind enough to re-alert his followership, as was at least one of the other re-tweeters, which multi-part process could I suppose be taken by some as a model for generating additional traffic off a single re-tweet, akin to booking a hot band in a small venue, creating the appearance of unmet demand, though, really, what difference does it make for a micro-blogger in the grand scheme of things?

2nd_chance_tweetAnyway, of “views” directly traceable to re-tweets of my original links, around half of them on D+1, +2, and +3 were traceable to the first re-tweet, the other half to the re-re-tweet.

In relation to the always-implicit goal of inspiring further conversation, out of the roughly 1,000 visits to the blog traceable directly to the ‘lanche, only a couple took advantage of social media links to pass the post on further, a paltry click rate in other words of ca. 0.1 to 0.2%. The only comments other than several on twitter were from our regular don miguel. root_e still has not responded. For all I know, he’s decided to drop the subject. I guess maybe we’ll see if he’s interested if I post a follow-up that I’ve been working on. It also is of course possible that days, weeks, months, or centuries from now someone will find something here useful enough to be re-considered. If so, and I’m still around, I hope they’ll let me know.

Otherwise, though I’m grateful either way for the attention and consideration from a respected political commentator, I’m also aware that Chait would, quite understandably, have had his own motivation for citing my post beyond whatever judgment of its intrinsic merit. He may lately have been feeling a bit head-and-shoulders-beaten-up by reactions from friends and usually allies both to the essay of his that I discussed, and possibly also to his recent debate with Ta-Nehisi Coates on overlapping subjects. (I had thought Chait the clear “winner” of that debate, but I recently ran into some conversation among Coates fans who clearly had the opposite impression.) I intend no criticism of him nor any hypocritical show of modesty when I note that he may have tweeted out my piece simply because, despite incidental criticisms, it amounted overall to a defense if not precisely of his position, then of its tenability.

As for follow-up, I do plan to pursue these thoughts and issues further, with my usual combined incompetence and anxiety in regard to self-promotion. I find repeated twitter links to one’s own posts and other “boosting” tactics pathetic and demeaning: If people want to read my writing, they should by now know where to find it. Anyone “enticed” to come by cannot be expected to deal well with what they find. Still, I confess that my first thoughts turned to monetization  – which should be taken as an indication of my, um, income uncertainties, not, I hope, of my greed: I moon wistfully at traffic to my contact page, visions of un-refusable offers dancing in my head, think about putting up donation links or discreet ads, or flat out trawling for new work, but I’m also reluctant to revive the sources of old and abiding frustrations.

At the risk of seeming to compound unseemly self-involvement further, I’ll add that, whatever my pessimisms, I am as desperately grateful for attention, especially with compliments, as the next writer, and am cognizant of the value, indeed of the potential real market value, of praise from the established put up in real honest-to-God pixels. I know the size of my pond well enough to have been thrilled by the unusual splash – and to experience concern that even this one day of nano-fame might twist me or my work into (even more) undesirable shapes. All the same, I took pleasure in the event, and decided to count it as a reward from on very high for a good deed, an honoring of my father, I was concurrently being compelled or commanded to perform.

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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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