Trump and the tiresome Alabama hurricane issue

That’s how knees in graphs work. They don’t appear because anything changed. They appear because consistent self-compounding growth does that, and humans consistently fail to see it coming because the left side of the knee looks near enough to linear that people intuitively extrapolate as if it were linear, even if they ought to know otherwise. When the curve transitions from a more-horizontal tangent to a more-vertical one, it happens incredibly quickly and the people who didn’t see it coming start looking for something that caused the apparent acceleration, but there was no cause apart from imagining you had all the time in the world back when the growth was slow.

See climate change.

I should actually correct myself: I would put the middle of the knee at the late 90s. You can divide the history of American fascism into before- and after-Gingrich. But he was not in any sense transformative. His attitudes built on trends that do indeed extend back far before any of us was born. Someone like Gingrich was inevitable. So, I’d argue, was someone like Trump. In fact, although it’s fair to accuse me of hindsight prophecy, I said during the Bush years that if we got another Republican President without a major course correction, he’d make Bush look like a saint and genius. I only half believed it myself because even at that time it seemed intuitively incredible, but boy do I hate having been right.

The thing that will ultimately be their undoing is that their sense of entitlement to power for its own sake has eroded their ability to even pretend to have principles or reasons they ought to have power. The terrifying case would be Trump’s ethics combined with even a little bit of competence, but we won’t see that because accelerating incompetence is part of the trend. What would be competent in a President will look like weakness in a candidate. Witness Jeb Bush, not somebody I would have voted for, but he got demolished in primaries because being the sanest patient in the asylum is boring. Among those still faithful to the GOP someone who isn’t a lunatic is, for that reason, also not electable.

We cannot have another Republican President on this trajectory without becoming North Korea on a massive scale. David Frum was correct when he observed that American conservatives, faced with overwhelming public opposition to their policies, will abandon democracy before their policies. They have invested too much in painting themselves as the heroes in a Manichaean conflict, and bought into their own propaganda even as they become more and more obvious villains.

If we were smart we would abolish and obliterate the Republican Party now, but evidence suggests we aren’t that smart. We, like the Germans before us, will have to await the emergence of a horror that, in the cold light of the morning after, no one wants to admit they were associated with. The thing about asymptotic trends in practice is, time keeps moving relentlessly to the right even when the trend hits a wall. The other side of that wall, too, is inevitable, but there’s a lot of misery left to inflict on this side.

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News today is that it wasn’t Wilbur Ross (NOAA is under the Commerce Dept.) that put pressure on the NWS. It was the Orange One himself who threatened to fire the scientists unless they retracted their interpretation of the storm track evidence.

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Observing Donald Trump’s behavior in office is a lot like making astronomical observations of the sun. His awfulness is so blinding, its really only possible to make useful observations by stucking your thumb up and covering the noisiest part.

Like the corona becoming visible during a solar eclipse, there is lots to observe without calling out his horribleness directly.

But far beyond Mutch McConnel and his surrounding satellites of enablers, there is the press itself.

The nagging question that wont go away for me is this: If it was possible in the first place for such an inappropriate candidate to get elevated to this office, what makes anyone think that a 25th amendment or impeachment is going to function any better? Its not as if anything is very surprising about his character… this is working out about as well as any reasonable person would expect it to.

I pity the poor social studies teacher who is tasked with teaching civics to students of this age, its really hard to sell the promise of American Democracy under these conditions.

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My comment was more about how that comic took a serious turn.

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I got that astute observation of yours. My comment was about somewhat “breaking” news. Sorry if I pissed on your parade.

Eighteen years ago, today, that curve got a good boost. The Patriot Act, Homeland Security, ICE… Pretty much everyone under the age of about 25 doesn’t remember what life was like before then. To them, it’s normal to need a passport to go anywhere – the idea of crossing between Canada and the US without one is bizarre. That you could just get on an airplane without six layers of security and a strip-search or full-body scan? Unpossible!

I am not going all conspiracy here, except to point out how fast this was all enacted, in political terms. There was always a faction looking for the opportunity, and when it was handed to them, they grabbed it and have never let it go. Any time anyone tries to criticize the existence of any of the above, people cry “do you want another 9/11?” as a way to shut down the conversation. They had plans already… they just got the chance to put them in place all at once. “For security”, you know.

It’s a thing that will only get worse as climate change worsens and disasters become more common. “Temporarily” heightened security that somehow becomes permanent. Gun control that somehow only affects certain people (and not those who are the actual threat) and enables more intense scrutiny and less privacy for those people. More camps, more “papers please.”

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Related thread:

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“We used to think checks and balances would work. But it turned out that the founding fathers never anticipated someone might just completely ignore the rules to consolidate power.”

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Again, with the caves, they weren’t these crazy mazes or labyrinths of caves that they described. Most of them were natural caves. Some were supported with some pieces of wood maybe about the size of a 10-foot by 24-foot room, at the largest. They weren’t real big. I know they made a spectacle out of that, and how are we going to be able to get into them? We worried about that too, because we see all these reports. Then it turns out, when you actually go up there, there’s really just small bunkers, and a lot of different ammo storage is up there.

— Jeff, Staff Sgt. ODA 572[32]

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Oh, I wouldn’t call that conspiracy at all. All those post-9/11 bills were things authoritarians in government had been pushing for decades. Those fuckers are like boa constrictors and everybody has to exhale sometime.

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Combined with the fact that all this crap makes for great business opportunities.

I’m glad you brought up Save the Cat, the bane of modern film and books.

I think a part of the widespread apathy in the context of political insanity is our cultural conditioning that all crises can and will be resolved in 3 acts.

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One might argue that’s not even a prediction - it’s literally how the modern Republican party was formed, crystalizing around opposition to the civil rights act, i.e. against democracy. They’re just changing how that anti-democratic impulse gets expressed, at best, though giving into that impulse has increasingly existential ramifications.

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