No One Can Say: Before Us (OAG #5)

The question before us now, the version for us of the question Constable says is now before Trump himself, seems to be whether the election must be taken as an irrevocable decision for Trumpism in principle, the equivalent of a permanent voiding of an American public sphere, and irreversible end of the American experiment as an experiment in liberal democracy or government of reason.

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Posted in Internet, Operation American Greatness, Politics Tagged with:

Is This Solution for Caches vs Cookies Going to Get Me in Trouble?

ck_macleod_ignoredThis post consists of a a question I posed at StackExchange/”WordPress Development,” relating to the Commenter Ignore and Commenter Highlight Buttons plug-ins that I’ve been working on (debuting at this site in unfinished form, as of this writing). Won’t likely be of any interest to non-developers!

I’ve come up with a provisional solution for a not exactly common, but far from unprecedented problem with the interaction of popular WP caching solutions with cookies, in this case the standard WP comment cookies. My solution also bears on the rarely well-defined “known users” exception to serving cached files. Whether what I stumbled upon is usable or not, I figure that explaining it and possibly learning why it’s a bad idea might be generally instructive. Read more ›

Posted in WordPress Plug-Ins Tagged with: ,

Commenter Ignore Button Preview Video

Commenter Ignore Button Preview

Posted in Internet, Videos, WordPress Plug-Ins

No One Can Say: Absurdifaction (OAG #4)

A widely quoted observation of the campaign season, generally taken as a critique of they-just-don’t-get-it left-liberals, held that Trump’s followers knew to take him seriously, but not literally – while the benighted liberals had it backwards. Yet a discourse that can and must be taken both seriously and literally – “by the letter” – is the sine qua non of liberal-democratic or constitutional or lawful self-governance. For the same reason, if law is the spirit of the age in words, but we elect a spirit of lawlessness to preserve, protect, and defend the law, then the spirit of our age is self-annihilation.

We might say that the bases for a functional or meaningful social-political sphere seem to have disappeared. In personal-individual terms, we experience disorientation and insecurity – and at some point the suspicion and fear that the meaning, or possible meaning, of our own lives has been lessened, threatened with erasure.

Marianne Constable’s post-election observations both explain and express this discomfort, indeed the dread, that many of us have felt about the Trump candidacy and about Donald J. Trump as a political figure at all, from the beginning of his political campaign and from before its beginning:

Regardless of what kind of president Trump turns out to be, or of the policies he puts in place, the rhetoric of this election season has shaken our faith in the possibility of meaningful public exchange. This is not because persons are afraid to speak, although some will be. Nor is it because mainstream media has missed or mischaracterized the story, although it has. Our faith is shaken because to deny one’s words is to disregard what is. When this disregard coincides with more talk than ever before, the upshot is a mistrust in the possibility of genuine public exchange. […] Catastrophe comes when lying becomes routine and fact can no longer be distinguished from falsehood. When this happens, what words say no longer matters. Whether or not Trump’s lies are any more responsible for the current catastrophe than are the lies of others, his words leave us at sea.

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Posted in Internet, Operation American Greatness, Politics, Twitter Tagged with:

No One Can Say: Context/Contest (OAG #3)

In a piece click-baitingly entitled “Trump Doesn’t Just Benefit From ‘Fake News’ Sites; He Is One,” Max Read, whose name must be either a nom de pixel or a serendipity, makes a general observation about social media:

[S]ocial media as an activity isn’t only about distributing information to one’s peers. It often isn’t about that at all. Generally, we post on social media as a way of establishing an identity in a crowded online environment, and in the hopes of receiving some degree of validation in the form of “engagement” — likes, comments, shares. So not only does “consuming information” (or, you know, “reading”) become less and less often distinguishable from “distributing information,” those two activities become wrapped up in the public shaping of individual identity. The news-media economy, in which a small number of publishers competed to deliver new information to a large number of readers, is in the process of being swallowed into a much larger media economy, in which hundreds of millions of functionally identical publishers compete with each other for attention from each other in an environment whose chief function isn’t the dissemination of information, but socially performed identity formation.

In the next paragraph, the concluding one of the post, Read proceeds from getting the matter rather right to, in my view, getting it entirely wrong: Read more ›

Posted in Internet, Operation American Greatness, Politics, Twitter Tagged with:

“The Kremlin Didn’t Elect Trump – Obama Did”: Outline of Implications of Russian Information Operations in the 2016 Elections

Observers from center right to left, and including recognized security experts as well as pundits or political intellectuals, are now claiming that the Russian government under Vladimir Putin made war upon the United State of America; that the government and people of the United States, under the presidency of Barack Obama, failed to offer a serious defense; and that we in America as well as friends and allies have suffered an historic defeat.

I offer this post to explain and expand upon an argument I have been making on Twitter, and to collect some reference material on a subject, or a set of extraordinary claims, whose potential for lasting significance I find difficult to estimate. Please feel free, as always, to provide further links or your own thoughts in the comments (or by email – let me know if you prefer not to be identified in future discussion).

* * *

The argument is widely being made over Thanksgiving Weekend 2016 that Russian-sponsored interference in the U.S. electoral process, by diverse means, unexpectedly tipped a close decision to Republican candidate Donald J Trump.

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Posted in International Relations, notes, Operation American Greatness, Politics, War Tagged with: , ,

Troll-Stomping and Other Sensible Things: #WordPress Plug-In Beta Test/Preview

commenter_highlight_ignore_archives

Comment Author Area with Ignore, Highlight Commenter, Highlight Comment, Comments This Thread, and Commenter Archive Buttons

Tis a frequent though by no means widely indulged ask from commenters, especially when a request to ban or at least warn some annoying other-commenter has been rejected. Why can’t we have an “ignore” button? Usually, the answer is, “We can’t because we can’t: Putting someone on ignore is an old-fashioned chat-room or forum thing, or maybe a Twitter blocking or muting thing – we’re just a blog!”

Yet it occurred to me the other day or week that it wouldn’t be hard to create a jQuery-enabled ignore button, and it wouldn’t be too hard to add cookies to make the ignoring persistent, and it wouldn’t be too hard to un-ignore, too. While I was at it, and feeling that enabling ignore was kind of negative, how about making it possible to highlight commenters using about the same methods used to ignore them, or particular comments, so they’re easy to pick out in a thread?

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Posted in Meta, WordPress Plug-Ins Tagged with: , ,

Operation American Greatness

After 9/11, As Hal Brands observes in his study of post-World War II American grand strategy1, the “general presumption” took hold in the Bush Administration and beyond “that action— even dramatic and potentially disruptive action— was now less dangerous than inaction.”

Among the generally unobserved, minor ironies of the election campaign is the manner in which Trump apologists, especially certain types of “American Conservative” paleo-cons, self-styled “republican constitutionalists,” and diverse fellow travelers all the way extending to everyday “Deplorables” have adopted the same idea – in other words, a primary if not the primary strategic rationale of the despised Neocons and Globalists.  Read more ›

Notes:

  1. What Good Is Grand Strategy?: Power and Purpose in American Statecraft from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush (p. 164). Cornell University Press. Kindle Edition. []
Posted in Featured, Neo-Imperialism, notes, Operation American Greatness, Politics, War Tagged with: , , ,

Sign of the Sign

Bridget O’Neil directs us to this signature, from a letter written in 2007 to the LA Times by this year’s Republican Party nominee for the Presidency of the United States of America:

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Posted in notes, Politics, Twitter Tagged with:

I alone have solved (the question of 2016)

The more seriously we take Trump, the less seriously we find ourselves having to take Trump, and the less seriously we take Trump, the more seriously we have to take him.

The nature of Trump’s “threat” hasn’t altered in character since the first moment we found ourselves forced to take him seriously. The more seriously we are or have been forced to take him, the greater the threat, and it works the other way as well. Yet at the same time, or following as a result, the more seriously “we” take the threat, producing a decreased apparent likelihood of his victory, the less seriously “we” need to take the threat, or the less real the actual threat, so the less serious the threat itself.

In other words, the more seriously we take Trump, the less seriously we find ourselves having to take Trump, and the less seriously we take Trump, the more seriously we have to take him. Got it?

Posted in Comments Elsewhere, Politics Tagged with:

Noted & Quoted

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And this programmer suggested a way to avoid user input all together:

Eventually, programmers on Reddit started making fully-functioning, interactive versions of the awful forms, like this and this and this. Someone even created one out of the classic game Snake. The meme hasn’t stopped for weeks now, and iterations of it seem to be growing more detailed and elaborate.

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Trump actually congratulated Erdogan on the outcome. Trump apparently thought it was a good thing that, despite all the flaws in the process, a bare majority of Turkey’s citizens voted to strengthen their populist leader. I don’t think any other post-Cold War president would have congratulated a democratic ally that held a flawed referendum leading to a less democratic outcome. This is not that far off from Trump congratulating Putin on a successful referendum result in Crimea if that event had been held in 2017 rather than 2014.

Public disquiet and behind-the-scenes pressure on key illiberal allies is an imperfect policy position. It is still a heck of a lot more consistent with America’s core interests than congratulating allies on moving in an illiberal direction. In congratulating Erdogan, Trump did the latter.

For all the talk about Trump’s moderation, for all the talk about an Axis of Adults, it’s time that American foreign policy-watchers craving normality acknowledge three brute facts:

  1. Donald Trump is the president of the United States;
  2. Trump has little comprehension of how foreign policy actually works;
  3. The few instincts that Trump applies to foreign policy are antithetical to American values.
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He sensed that the public wanted relief from the burdens of global leadership without losing the thrill of nationalist self-assertion. America could cut back its investment in world order with no whiff of retreat. It would still boss others around, even bend them to its will...

There was, to be sure, one other candidate in the 2016 field who also tried to have it both ways—more activism and more retrenchment at the same time. This was, oddly enough, Hillary Clinton... Yet merely to recall Clinton’s hybrid foreign-policy platform is to see how pallid it was next to Trump’s. While she quibbled about the TPP (which few seemed to believe she was really against), her opponent ferociously denounced all trade agreements—those still being negotiated, like the TPP, and those, like NAFTA and China’s WTO membership, that had long been on the books. “Disasters” one and all, he said. For anyone genuinely angry about globalization, it was hard to see Clinton as a stronger champion than Trump. She was at a similar disadvantage trying to compete with Trump on toughness. His anti-terrorism policy—keep Muslims out of the country and bomb isis back to the Stone Age—was wild talk, barely thought through. But for anyone who really cared about hurting America’s enemies, it gave Trump more credibility than Clinton’s vague, muddled talk of “safe zones” ever gave her.

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