I'm alternating between postings about science and - well - the crisis of saving civilization from a deeply dangerous/feral world oligarchy, bent on restoring 6000 years of insanely stupid feudalism. Last week was science, so... this (alas 'tl;dr') political riff tries to make clear what's going on BENEATH the headlines.
I may have (slightly) contributed to nudging the MAGA movement even crazier. (Well, a little). I seem to have done it - in at least a few places - by urging a bigger perspective on the mad right’s all-out war to discredit and demoralize the true enemies of world oligarchy.
Those enemies are all fact-using professions. Science, medicine, law, journalism, teaching, civil service ... the list of fact-folks under attack by the Mad Right now includes even the intel/FBI/military officer corps who won the Cold War and the War on Terror.
Take when Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, campaigning for Herschel Walker in Georgia, repeatedly taunted kale-eating “high-IQ stupid people.” Esquire responded to this hypocritical graduate of an elite British university: “Aw, Shucks, Senator Kennedy, Your Hayseed Act Is a Disgrace.” Yet Esquire missed the core point. When Kennedy and Graham, Cruz, DeSantis, Trump etc. spend so much time railing against universities and educated folks, there’s something truly systematic going on!
Keep score several evenings on Fox. Hatred toward Folks Who Know Stuff – called ‘snobs’ by Tucker & Hannity & Judge Jeanine – spews-forth far more often than their despicable dog whistles for racism & sexism. Go ahead and keep count. Once you see the pattern, nerd-baiting leaps out everywhere. Yet it’s scarcely-mentioned as a whole, almost anywhere. Certainly, almost never by pundits or pols of the left or middle.
I’m not the one lumping the FBI and intel agencies and military officers together. It is MAGA world doing that, labeling all of them as enemies. See my article: The War on Expertise.
So, two questions: Why are the Foxites and oligarchy-shills doing this? And why is this general theme of hatred toward nerds not more widely denounced by those on the other side?
== Why they’re doing it ==
Well, for starters, the FBI (just doing their job) now helps grand juries across America to indict – and other juries to convict - a veritable tsunami of corrupt Republicans. The rate is appalling, almost 100x the rate for Democratic politicians or factotums.
Either tens of thousands of agents, prosecutors, grand-jurors, trial jurors and judges (many of them Bush and Trump appointees) are in on a perfectly coordinated plot, without a single hiccup or leak… or else (and it’s proved) today’s GOP overflows with criminals.
As for those despised intel folks, there’s plenty of reason to believe they have disrupted the plans that Trump/Lavrov/Kisliak/Putin and their cabal of “ex” commissars had for us, back when this photo of utter glee was taken, in their agent’s first days of office.
I have strong reason to believe our intel folks have been fighting for us, quietly. We’ll never know the full story, of course. But no less a Trumpist than former National Security Advisor John Bolton has said as much, recently.
Then there’s the military officer corps. U.S. generals and admirals are easily the third best educated clade in American life. You don’t achieve flag rank without the equivalent of a PhD, or three masters degrees. Sure they’ve always given off a conservative vibe, even though the military’s desegregation in 1947 was the one biggest, most irreversible step toward the justice path. So what’s their crime, according to MAGAdom?
They dare to answer Foxite anti-fact yammers and incantations with a lethal phrase: “Sir, that is simply untrue.”
Oh, the shills try not to pour hate on the officer corps explicitly! That’d spark cognitive dissonance in too many Republicans, driving the smartest/best out of the MAGA cult. (It’s already largely happened.) But a campaign to undermine the credibility of the officer corps is slyly repeated as a standard Mad Right mantra.
And hence, below, I’ll dissect the line that Tucker Carlson and other shills have been trying out – that the admirals and generals all got promoted because of ‘politics.’
But first, how do I assert that *I* may have made things worse?
By coming up with a counter-tactic that works.
To a limited degree, it works all the time. Every time.
Indeed, it is the only tactic that reliably works.
And while not a single Democratic politician or liberal or moderate pundit has noticed, some on the right have. And it’s made a few of them very unhappy.
== What is it that works? ==
First off, public fact-checking does NOT work. By now you know it does no good to refute some lie-meme by linking to a fact-check service or reliable source. All that happens then is that your MAGA uncle responds with a jpeg or meme of his own, declaring his sources to be better.
The philosophical underpinning here is utter, subjective relativism. There is no such thing as repeatable objective reality! It’s all just your corrupt authorities vs. mine, who are also blessed by God. (And note that rejection of objective reality is also rife on the postmodernist far-left.)
There is a second reason why fact-checking fails. Let’s say you present proof that's unassailable! For example that ocean acidification has zero alternative explanations to human carbon pollution. Well, in that event, the fellow simply moves on. He changes the subject. It does no good to point out that his credibility should diminish, after being proved wrong! He shrugs and ignores you, in favor of the next packaged meme.
That combination – denial of fact-provable reality and dancing off to the next meme – is so hard to overcome that many – most – of you have simply given up.
But there is a way to overcome both of these lethal flaws in argument.
It is the same method that works in our older, adversarial truth-determining systems: markets and democracy and especially science and courts. That method is to insist that the argument focus on weighing one assertion at a time… one of yours or one of his…
...and ensure in advance that factual proof will have actual consequences.
One at a time and with consequences?
There are many ways to do this. But by far the most efficient and effective is by demanding wagers.
Yeah, yeah. I know. Brin and his damn betting-obsession.
After pushing this for ten years, I know the reflex excuses offered by supposedly mature folks on our side in this civil war over the existence of facts. Murmurs about immaturity, or the tactic being sexist or macho, or blather about how Mitt Romney tried it in 2016 and came across as a rich bully… I’ve heard em all!
And sorry. They all boil down to laziness and cowardice and a culpable, utter unwillingness to understand Confederate psychology. The mental sickness that Thomas Paine and Abe Lincoln and Mark Twain and Robert Heinlein all knew so well and denounced as the greatest danger to the American Enlightenment Experiment.
That psychology is a macho psychology. It always has been! Through all 8+ phases of the U.S. Civil War, all the way back to the 1770s. And if you haven’t studied that recurring sickness, to understand its weaknesses, then you aren’t really trying to win this life or death struggle for a nation, civilization, planet and children you love.
== The method that makes them run ==
You won’t get any cash out of it, because they always run away. But they run amid the smoldering ashes of their macho.
I’ve done this though in-yer-face wager demands, insisting that MAGAs actually back up their blowhard memes – one at a time - with $$$ stakes. The way an actual man would.
And to corner them further, I demand that we'll put evidence before a nonpartisan panel of retired, senior military/intel officers. Most of them former lifelong Republicans. (Now with emphasis on former.)
It’s the part that puts them into a blind panic.
Note that the Wager Demand gambit works. If you prepare, and tenaciously refuse to let em change the subject, it always works. It is the ONLY thing that ever works. That is, it works in making MAGA blowhards scream in dismay and then flee whatever scene it is, amid the smoldering shambles of their macho.
And sometimes, rarely but crucially, some onlooker, witnessing this is honest enough to have an epiphany -- to realize: “Hey, maybe I am on the wrong side.”
And here’s the deal. We Americans outnumber the Confederates. Always have. They are in demographic collapse and survive politically by cheating. Strip away just a few – less than a million – and the whole rotten mutant version of conservatism will collapse. And when a new, saner version arises, Barry Goldwater will finally stop spinning in his grave.
== Do I regret this ‘judo’ tactic? ==
And so, we get to the inadvertent harm I’ve done! By demanding fact-verifiable wagers, put before a nonpartisan panel of retired, senior military/intel officers, I have cornered a few borderline folks to wake up and leave the cult! (Have you, ever?)
I also got many more MAGAs to get much more open about their spite!
In order to evade the wager demand they claim there’s no such thing as a trustworthy fact-arbiter. They whine, especially, that such retired, senior officers can’t be trusted!
“All the generals and admirals – at top levels – got their ranks through POLITICS! Or they were promoted because they were experts at PROCUREMENT!”
Oy, what a despicably/ horrid refuge! Of course, the #1 answer is:
“That’s quite an assertion – and insult. Can you prove it? Show us a chart of topmost flag officers and how many of them advanced most through 'procurement' or close association with politicians?
“If you cannot bring forth such support, aren’t you just yammering a chant to discredit men and women who are better than you by miles, by any metric of human quality, from service and patriotism to intelligence and factual savvy and courage?”
There are two more responses, though:
#2 Military procurement involves tightly controlled design, bidding, prototyping, testing, contracting, production… then iterative improvement and integration into a system of professionally capable combined arms. That process involves vast professionalism in order to overcome the inevitable traps of group-think, personal investment and even (occasionally) attempted corruption. Hence all officers on a promotion trajectory serve in procurement, for a while. All of them.
And now we can measure outcomes emerging from the Ukraine war! These outcomes appear to be, at all levels, spectacularly successful. NATO – and especially U.S. – arms and equipment appear to be performing outstandingly! Light years better than the military that we assumed to be our near-peer rivals. I could offer some interesting perspectives on WHY this has happened… in reforms going back to my hero, George Marshall. But this is not the place.
What stands out, though is that “procurement” in the US military – while sometimes problematic and occasionally corrupting – does not seem to have been the gravy train for crooks that it clearly has been in Russia. In other words, we… got… what… we… have been paying for.
Shouldn’t that make you marginally glad?
And finally #3: I keep running into MAGA asshats who whine, when challenged to bet like a man, and especially when I offer a panel of politically neutral, retired senior officers to adjudicate...
...they screech nastiness toward senior officers for one reason, above all. Because so many of them have openly and respectfully-but-adamantly said to lying-psychopathic monsters like Donald Trump “that’s not true, sir.”
And a central, frequent target of MAGA dopes? I have seen a number of shrill spews aimed at the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley.
Um, seriously? Attacking General Milley as a "procurement bureaucrat" shows dismal ignorance of the badges that he earned, that are right there, visible in photos. Shall we look at them?
Paratrooper/Airborne. Ranger. Many action & theater commendations. His home unit is the "band of brothers" 101st Airborne. And noblest of them all, the Combat Infantryman insignia.
Also, most senior officers have either a PhD or 2-3 masters or equivalents! They are well-versed in science and fact, making them desperately concerned about climate change and pandemics and the blatant meddling of foreign despots in one of our political parties.
Those hurling 'traitor' at such heroes should use the word into a mirror.
And of course, the same twits attack every other fact-using profession, from science to teaching, medicine and law to journalism. Again Name one exception to the Foxite all-out war on all fact people. Make that challenge viral.
== The fundamental reason for the War on Nerds ==
Hence the deeper question… why do no Democratic politicians or liberal or moderate pundits comment on this, at all?
All right let's make one thing clear... I am not denigrating the suffering experienced at confederate hands by minorities, the poor, races and genders and the marginalized! Absolutely the poor, races and genders and the marginalized are the ones who SUFFER more, due to quasi-Nazi politics.
And yes, I am pointing at persecution of a nerdy clade in which I am a member... multiple times over. As do activists who are personally among the poor, racial minorities or oppressed genders and the marginalized. We all see our 'folk' as central.
Only think, before we finish here. Not about the confederate/MAGA/putin-loving ground troops who respond to the racist dog whistles... but about their masters in the world oligarchy. Those mighty annual migrants to Davos and Dubai and Macao. The ones financing this great World Putsch Against Democracy.
Do such mighty Olympians have any real reason to hate the powerless?
Sure the powerless HURT because of rising fascism, but they are not the clades hated or raged - against most by the Masters. Or by the shills on Fox screeching nightly against high IQ 'snobs.'
The oligarchy most hates and fears those who have SOME POWER to thwart them! Clades who do have some might, collectively, to fight for the Enlightenment Experiment and who are doing so, effectively every day. Scientists, journalists, teachers, civil servants, practicialers of law, medicine and intel... If they are crushed - as Fox daily tries to do - then there will be no obstacle to a return of 6000 years of dismal, inheritance-based feudalism.
Sure, after that there will eventually be Revolution. Because today's oligarchs show every sign of flattery-addiction and massive causal stupidity. If they achieve their goal, then all their prepper compounds will be for naught, in the radicalized torching that follows.
We mustn't let it come to that.
So yes, fight for the nerds.
Like it or not, they are the ones trying to bring the Enlightenment to a soft landing at a higher plateau.
PS here's a lagniappe. A jpeg that stirs discomfort in any MAGA you show it to...