Me: Aftermath or An 11/9 Twitterography – Here

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Late on election night, after the matter and the immediate after-matter had passed, I turned, only a little drunkenly, to the latest episode of Aftermath on my DVR. The production is far from the level of premium TV product like, among newish shows, Quarry and Westworld, but the scenario and its development seem even more timely now than they did before 11/9. In short, Aftermath is a show in which a typically exceptional very whitebread American family heads off in its RV to cope with the Apocalypse, which takes the form of just one damn thing after another, mostly as drawn from ancient myths, with a particular emphasis on entities described by local indigenous or formerly indigenous peoples, but with a few novel terrors and several dollops of possibly merely conventionally scientifically explicable catastrophe also in the mix.

Now, I’m not going to recommend Aftermath to anyone., I would not necessarily even call it a “good” show, whatever that means, but, like I said: very 2016 – to me more 2016, and more watchable, than say, Designated Survivor, even if the latter’s central narrative device, based on the nearly-complete collective decapitation of the nation’s political class, via destruction of the Capitol, comes across as the dream-like fulfillment of a massively shared wish.

And that’s all I have to say today, except: Here is an up to the moment reverse-chronological Twitterography of things I’d read if I had the time, and may get to or mostly or partly get to as time goes by, and as I also resume “Noted And Quoted” operations. Please feel free to direct my attention to anything on the list, or to use the comments to add or suggest anything of note. Also, please let me know if this post is impractically slow-loading for you. There are measures I might be able to take, and will likely get to anyway.

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2 comments on “Me: Aftermath or An 11/9 Twitterography – Here

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  1. I’ve mostly been not reading analysis, rants, predictions etc. My take is that the past is now an especially poor guide to the near future, and that the best approach is to, for the time being regard the whole steaming mess as a black box. Input ==> Output. What happens in between is unknowable for the immediate future.

    For what its worth, my assessment of that fellow includes the idea that he is both impulsive and indecisive. Which may be an only somewhat finer grain assessment than to say “erratic”. But the indecisive aspect I think is underappreciated because of all the bluster.

    So it matters more than usual, and it always matters a lot, who he surrounds himself with, or who succeeds in surrounding themselves around him.

    A lot also depends on what exactly the first few controversies are. They could easily equally propel or impede policy initiatives. They will be the “initial conditions”, the movement of the butterfly wings, that set in motion the force and direction of the hurricane.

    • I’ve been kind of avoidant, too. Found myself enjoying the Soderbergh SOLARIS on a movie channel this morning across from my yogurt, instead of the news. I agree with your other observations, too.

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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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