Saturday, September 09, 2023

To Infinity and Beyond

Well, I bought an Xbox. And Starfield. Basically, I've decided to write off the rest of the month of September (at least). Wish me luck!

[Very early thoughts: It's definitely overwhelming to begin. I'm a semi-Bethesda veteran -- yes to Skyrim, Oblivion, and Morrowind, but no Fallout -- and I'm not sure if that experience is truly helping me. There's little question the game overwhelms with menus and options. Already, the ship-based portions of the game are far more involved than I anticipated (contrast a game like Mass Effect, where your ship is basically a glorified fast travel nexus). Planetside traveling is extremely difficult to navigate because the local area maps are truly terrible. But the scope of the game already feels breath-taking, and it does feel like the sort of game where once you get past a somewhat-stiff learning curve, it will be worth your while. I'm excited!]

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Vivek Ramaswamy: I Didn't Know My Host Was Antisemitic Until After I Made My Own Antisemitic Statements

Upstart GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has come under scrutiny after appearing on an antisemitic podcast (the host has said, for example, that Jews "own almost everything" and that we pay Black celebrities to attack White people).

Ramaswamy's campaign has defended him by saying he didn't know the host's views on Jews prior to coming on the show.

Problem #1 is that, given Ramaswamy's campaign is built primarily around "anti-woke" hysteria that's shot through with antisemitism, it's inevitable that the waters he swims in will regularly include antisemites. This was not bad luck. Scratch an anti-woke extremist, and it's a very good bet you're going to find an antisemite.

But larger problem #2 is that Ramaswamy decided to give his own antisemitic riff on the podcast. Responding to the fact that he was a recipient of a Soros Fellowship (sidenote: LOLOL), Ramaswamy took pains to distinguish Paul Soros (the funder of the fellowship) from his brother George Soros. What's the difference, you might ask? Answer: George Soros is, according to Ramaswamy, “the bogey man pulling the strings.”

Subtle! And to think Ramaswamy belted out that dogwhistle foghorn without even knowing his host was an antisemite too! It's so nice when things work out.

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Media Alt-Centrists in Disarray


When I first saw this Tweet (Xeet?), my eye was drawn to "Dems should pursue working-class voters of all races." It's a great example of something that is simultaneously (a) alt-center conventional wisdom and (b) utterly inane. What are the sorts of policies Dems should pursue to working-class voters of all races? Answer: the ones they're already supporting! 

Price negotiations for prescription drugs is a great, obvious example of a policy that's geared to the interest of working-class voters of all races. Standing with the incipient wave of labor mobilization is another. The infrastructure bill was yet another. All of these are centerpiece items of the Democratic Party's economic agenda. But the alt-center punditry acts as if they don't exist. The "advice" on offer is "do what you're already doing, but make me pay attention to it." And one cannot help but think that the price the pundits have put on "make me pay attention to it" is "stop distracting me by also supporting policies that are distinctively to the benefit of specific historically marginalized communities."

At the same time, there is a separate vapidity in the "advice" that Biden shouldn't run for reelection. Again, as advice this is just terrible: Biden has a proven electoral track record and has already beaten Trump once. There's no universe where a chaotic primary free-for-all would actually be healthy for the Democratic Party or the broader prospect of ensuring that Trump or any of his lackeys stay out of the White House. The desire for "a real primary" is just thinly-disguised thirst for the good old days of "Dems in disarray" and the chaotic intraparty knife fights that aren't happening on the GOP side because virtually all of Trump's "challengers" can't help but cozy up to him (with a not-so-subtle wink to the various factions within the Democratic Party whose definition of a "real primary" excludes any primary where their preferred candidate doesn't march to victory).

Finally, "faculty lounge" politics is also a meaningless phrase. If it's meant to refer to the notion that Democratic party politics take their cues from whatever petition is currently being passed around the Wesleyan anthropology department email list, it's delusional. If it's meant to be a general referent to so-called "culture war" politics, then it's horribly outdated -- we are long past the days where the main "culture" wedge issues favored Republicans over Democrats. Republicans are getting absolutely blitzed on reproductive rights as their radical campaigns to imprison, maim, and murder women are predictably reviled. And their anti-LGBTQ agenda doesn't fare much better. Democrats have a lot of room to punish Republicans for their extremism here, and absolutely should.

Biden should run for reelection, and in the process will no doubt trounce token primary opposition. He should promote his policies which will improve the lives of working class voters of all races, and he should absolutely torch Republicans for their unabashed extremism in desiring to take American "culture" back to the 19th century.