My autobiographical comic 2020: A Year in Taiwan is now available for the Kindle app on Amazon:
Previous: 2014 – 2015: Love and Publishing
2016 – 2019: Terrible politics, book tour, leaving China and coming to Taiwan! Various family trips from Israel to South Africa and California. Art and comics and Burning herein. At last, we catch up to now (so meta) and I reflect… Thus, an ending.
Thanks so much to you all for reading this, my humble life story!
The Mueller Report by Robert S. Mueller makes for a somewhat different kind of book review.
Well, I did it. I slugged through the entire report. It’s all free online, don’t even have to steal it.
As eBooks go, this is not the most entertaining page-turner. There are a lot of footnotes, for example, which tend to interrupt the flow.
Moreover, as a narrative this is one of the all-time most anticlimactic stories ever told.
Rather than a book to be judged on its own merits, it’s really more about the news cycle context than anything else.
All this makes it rather difficult to review.
But let us try. Firstly, the context of Volume I: This section heavily details Russian interference in that infamous 2016 election via social media spamming as well the DNC hack. Is this still a controversial fact in some circles? If you are interested in learning about the IRA—the Internet Research Agency—this report is as good a source as any. If you dismiss it as a left-wing conspiracy theory fake news or something, then apparently nothing will truly convince especially some legalistic government report.
The schizophrenia of the U.S. government at this time is quite fascinating, how the highest level of the executive branch can have such a different spin than the entire intelligence apparatus (although recent tweets may have finally admitted that he had help, if tweets are something we are going to get into then).
Which perhaps is the whole point. In these post-truth times, can anyone be convinced of anything anymore?
Then we have endless detail on collusion. Yes, outright collusion. There’s a colorful cast of characters, such as foreign policy “expert” George Papadopoulos and the ever-present diplomat Sergey Kislyak. There’s Richard Gates, Roger Stone, and of course Don Jr. and the big tower meeting. What a stream of reports and reports and reports about how much they welcomed Russian help and even tried and failed to further collude but couldn’t get as far as they’d have liked due to incompetence.
It does not make for a very satisfying read. To learn all this, and then find out that the legal definition for conspiracy is so narrow that they ultimately find it inconclusive and ultimately don’t charge the big guy. Cue the insipid right-wing exoneration talking points.
One particularly close example of what may be illegal, as far as specifically trading campaign work for favors, is the question of the Republican party changing their stance on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine at the RNC convention. This highlights the entire problem with the report right there–we have a question that is unanswered. Did or didn’t officials in the campaign trade influence? This subject even part of the written answers with the president, which were dismissed and sadly not followed up on. More on that failure of a Q & A below.
These near-misses continue; again and again it’s a running theme. Was it illegal for Don Jr. to have a meeting with Russians, whether or not it was really about adoptions? The answer is yes, due to campaign finance law, that’s clearly against the law. But then… they say let’s go ahead and not charge him because he probably didn’t know it was illegal and it would be hard to prove intent in court and whatever in this case ignorance of the law is apparently a valid excuse.
So much painstaking research, and so much giving up. These impossible standards keep making it frustrating for the reader.
Not that there aren’t plenty of convictions and crimes uncovered. Paul Manafort was a pretty large get, let’s acknowledge that. But when it comes to the most powerful of the powerful, there is a sense of exasperation. That in the end, America is about protecting those who are too big to lose and the system will always find a way to make sure those on top will never face the consequences they deserve.
And at least we reach Volume II: Obstruction. Here is where it may or may not get good. There are the ten examples of the president unambiguously obstructing justice to the best of his ability. Public witness-tampering, changing the story on firing Comey, live on TV no less, demands of loyalty, et al. There’s quite a lot of that whole thing.
[And please don’t give me that line about how there can’t be obstruction if there’s no underlying crime. 1: That’s not true, period. If it was true, wouldn’t it be an incentive to obstruct because if it works criminals would get away with the crime? 2: More importantly, there were so many crimes! The president’s own personal lawyer Cohen lied about the Moscow tower, is in jail now, and let’s not even get into the campaign finance violation with the porn star affair hush money. If nothing else simply firing Comey in order to protect his friend Michael Flynn, a convicted criminal, then that is clearly obstructing justice. It’s not only about evidence of collusion/conspiracy at the top. There’s still plenty of obstructing investigations if only to protect his dirty circle. If that’s not corrupt, what is?]
So, then it all ends in a pathetically lame copout in which DOJ guidelines say they can’t indict so they don’t bother indicting. Yes, Mueller went on television trying to explain his logic puzzle of how you can’t charge a crime against someone who can’t go to trial, even though at the same time it’s not an exoneration, punting to Congress as he hints that only they can hold the office to account. Yeah, like oversight is going to go well.
This is the core frustration of this document, and of this entire era we live in. It is postmodern enough that everybody gets their own talking point. You get to interpret the entire investigation however you want. Witch hunt or a valid call for impeachment, pick and chose your own interpretation. Attorney General Barr certainly wants you to interpret it in a political way that benefits his side, based on his initial coverup-y behavior. Mueller simply wants you to be smart enough to read 400 pages and decide for yourself (one of the most naïve positions possible in this age).
In the end, everyone is unsatisfied and the waters couldn’t be muddier. So if you want a sense of closure after reading this, you will still have a long while to wait as we see how history unfolds. So far, to put it lightly, I’m not sensing anything close to a national consensus in the near future.
Isn’t it amazing? This was supposed to be it, and the polls show that right-wingers still believe what they believe, they even have a few quotes to highlight to defend their extreme rationalizations. While the rest of the country vaguely listen to mainstream news summations and have ever so slightly leaned towards kinda’ maybe let’s-investigate-more-and-maybe-impeach-even-though-it’s-for-naught-cause-of-the-Senate.
Sadly, it seems that perhaps obstruction totally works and the people will never know. The appendix in which the president submits his written answers are certainly more of the same. Mueller even says more or less outright that the questionnaire isn’t enough, but he must give up because a subpoena would take too long and he wants to get this damn thing over with. Over thirty answers of “I don’t remember” with no chance to follow up. Once again, the system let’s the powerful get away with anything.
Hell, perhaps all the good stuff is redacted. There are a lot of redactions. So if this is a coverup, then one can only conclude that coverups work.
The story is still continuing. The television drama won’t be over any time soon. In the meantime, the vast majority of Americans will not read this free report. They won’t even read the summaries.
I suppose all that’s left is to depend on the Democrats, and that is a sad notion indeed.
The country is in trouble.
For these reasons above, for this humble reader at this particular time in history, one can only judge this book however full of facts to be a terrible disappointment.
Happy New Year!
So at this time of reflection, I think back on 2018 and all that’s happened. It was yet another great personal year, while the world around seemed to fall apart…
Obviously, if you’ve been paying attention, my own big news is that I’ve been working on my autobiographical comic Always Goodbye. Stay tuned for more. Eventually, a completed book. (Guess this is replacing my ‘career’ as a prose author, huh)
This past year I moved to the more central part of Taipei, and I’m continuing to enjoy living in Taiwan. As more and more news develops from the bamboo curtain–like that social credit score everyone is talking about but I’m not even going to get into–I’m quite glad to have escaped the People’s Republic.
I kind of did a ridiculous amount of travel in ’18. I started out last New Year’s in Japan, then went to Africa, and in the summer I returned to America to sadly sell my entire comics collection. For 2019, I plan to not get into an airplane even once.
As for the rest of the world. Well, politics. It was an exhausting year in which most things seem to have gotten worse, but there was also a bit of hope. Personally, I’m so very over it. Perhaps it’s all finally coming to a head. This chapter of history needs to close already, doesn’t it?
It’s been a while since I felt like writing an entire overt political post, and I’m sure you all know by now how I truly feel. American has learned some dark things about itself, and the time has come to get better. Consequences may be in the coming. And once it’s over with, I hope to never ever say the T-word for the rest of my life because that guy has gotten enough of my bloody attention and I’d just rather focus on other things.
Well, here’s hoping!
Please have yourselves a great 2019, everyone 😀
I don’t know what else I can say about the current events. No doubt you all know what is bothering me. That time I concluded America is irreconcilable seems to apply. I don’t even want to get into the details now, it’s too damn much.
I simply do not feel like summing up the events of the last few days in you-know-where and the comments by you-know-who. All I can say is just when it seems it can’t get any more disgraceful and internationally embarrassing, new depths are uncovered. Surely we cannot get used to this?
I especially don’t feel like calmly debating the merits of opposing racism and why Nazism is a uniquely negative thing compared to other forms of protest. The very normalization and mainstreaming of white supremacy is of itself outrageous.
Well, thanks for ruining everything Internet!
But really, I mean, there are so many other things politically that the United States and the world should be focusing on. Shouldn’t unequivocally denouncing Nazism be the lowest possible bloody standard?! Sadly, there’s a lot of backtracking and soul-searching to be done before anything else can progress. It is overwhelming to think about how much education is needed.
I also must say that I feel rather guilty for not being in the United States at this time. I wish I could do more. Here I am, comfortably typing from thousands of miles away. I should be there and I should be doing more. Another sadder part of me however is glad that I am thousands of miles away and not in that weird country. If there was ever a time to be a citizen of the world, or what.
And now here we are. A fringe group known as the alt right, the worst possible people in the heart of my homeland, the very worst of America, and they are actually being encouraged by the highest levels of government. I will never understand how we got here. Turns out I was rather naive wasn’t I.
It will be interesting to see what will be in the next three years. Impeachment cannot come soon enough. The tweeting and the impromptu press conferences and petty party (and tribal) politics, all of that needs to be over. We cannot take any more of this.
In the meantime, it won’t be easy to keep sane. I wish the good guys luck.
Anyway, the very least I can do is share this extremely important and extremely distrurbing Vice report which absolutely everyone must see:
In my series of political blogs of which I am in now way qualified to write (the last one’s concluding America is irreconcilable), I would like to explore the topic of cyberwarfare. Note that I am just one American citizen who tries to be thoughtful and learn what I can. Maybe I am slightly more worldly than average. Mainly, I simply like to think about these things and I occasionally share. If my perspective matters, here you are.
Let us think about the big picture a bit. Looking back on this time in the future, how will future generations remember the ever-evolving landscape of the 21st Century?
So, I recently made a Facebook post in an attempt to sum up my current thoughts as pithily as possible:
Been thinking about the real narrative that will define the 21st century: Cyberwarfare
Russia now attacking the United Kingdom, completely devastating the Ukraine, failing in France, and of course there is the fall of the former United States of the America. DNC hack a premonition of much more to come? The previous American administration revealed to have completely blown it, and the current administration along with their cult-like followers refusing to acknowledge this is happening (either for reasons of politically not being able to admit it, or more disturbingly because of collusion).
This is the future that cyberpunk science fiction promised us all these years. It’s finally here. Except it turns out not to be terrorist hacker kids to worry about, but entire nation-states—incidentally, the threat of Islamic terrorism may turn out to be a minor footnote in the grand scheme of all this.
2016 was only the beginning. We are in the middle of it right now, but we are too close to realize how big a deal this is. China’s PLA seems to know what they are doing, especially relative to the western powers. Israel seems very compromised by that American administration. So many players, from the ransomware attempts to IS and the entire European Union, who knows what is to come next and who is going to survive the century. Misinformation and illegitimate democracy, oh my.
Comey tried to warn us, “They are coming after America. They will be back.” He may have understated it.
The FBI and CIA better lax their standards, and hire potheads already.
It looks like the next world war is going to be a cyberwar…
The 21st century is going to be quite a ride
And that is about it. I contend that we are in even more extraordinary times than we even know, and we already know crazy shit is going down.
I refer you to this important article from Wired: How an Entire Nation Became Russia’s Test Lab For Cyberwar. This is very likely a blueprint for what is to come indeed. Unfortunate for the Ukraine, and the west can’t even seem to this warning seriously…
I’ve given this a lot of thought. The talking point defense of that certain executive branch it is that we should be skeptical of Russia-bashing. And also be against the deep state, or something. Right?
I just can’t buy it. To suggest that the intelligence agencies are unanimously in on a conspiracy to discredit the 2016 election is outrageous. It is on par with 9/11 conspiracies, in which hundreds of people would be in on it. Sorry but I can no longer live in conspiracy lala land, and we must deal with verifiable reality. There is definitely fire where there is smoke this time. Something is happening.
The DNC hack was *not* a false flag framing Russia. This developing investigation is *not* just an excuse to explain why the democrats lost. Outright cyberwarfare *is* happening in the Ukraine. And Putin is certainly no good guy fighting against some evil globalist status quo.
(Incidentally, it would be nice if republicans were so skeptical back in the days when the American gov was pushing the invasion of Iraq based off false WMD intelligence. Then again the mistakes of that era were pushed by the executive branch, so perhaps the lesson is that we should trust the independent agencies and distrust the politicians with corrupt agendas…?)
I have to admit I wasn’t sure about this at first. There was enough reason to oppose the monster in the office of president without getting into hacking and traitors and such. But concerned humans can no longer ignore the new reality. And waiting for 2020, or even horrifyingly 2024, to go back to “normal” is not enough. We now need to prepare for a century of cyberwarfare if we know what’s good for us.
Keep following the Washington Post for updates. Don’t follow you-know-who’s Twitter account. Obama failed us in preventing the fall of legitimate democracy in the United States if not the western world. Now the world must deal with an executive branch either guilty of collusion or in the best-case scenario they are merely incredibly incompetent. Russia is ahead of the game. China seems to know what they are doing, as America and their ally Israel are falling way behind. At least Europeans voters are getting savvy.
For fuck’s sake, American intelligence agencies just need to hire stoner hackers to keep up. Get it together already.
In a way, these are exciting times. Hey in the past week there’s even been a new international ransomware attack. It’s like Mr. Robot, except the stakes are even worse because these are entire nation-states fighting against each other.
Meanwhile the masses are easily distracted and the middle-America set would rather ban Mexicans and Iranians — but never the Saudis — than deal with the actual major threat. Misinformation is at an all-time high. Thanks, Internet!
Well, that’s that. And all the while I just wish I was raised to be better at computers. Why oh why didn’t I learn code??
Stay secure and vigilant, citizens of the world~
There has been so much in the news lately to fret over, hasn’t there~
With the 100 days marker having come and gone, there’s been plenty of review over how horrible this current administration is.
Luckily, if you call that luck, it seems that the problem hasn’t turned out so much to be ruthless fascism but instead it’s simply that the president is a total idiot and his people are completely incompetent. What else to expect from such a lying con artist? So not much at all has been accomplished, other than the very low bar of not a government shutdown and that they narrowly approved a supreme court justice which should have been a sure thing anyway.
Overall, the main takeaway is that the whole world is in an anxious mess worrying about what madness is to come next. The point is, constant worrying is apparently the new normal. Try rejecting that normalization.
Hell, perhaps my analysis last month that America is without a President is correct and we can hold out for hope if we only wait patiently. There’s even the interpretation that this mess is in a partisan political sense, because the party with record-low approval ratings may have technically won but in the long term the other party is going to make gains next.
But you know what? Fuck that interpretation. Too much damage has already been done to the American character. It’s not worth it.
I for one am sick of the double-standard in which America’s default is to have idiotic leadership, and the rational leadership has to try that much harder. Just why is it that everything is Clinton’s fault (which she herself has to acknowledge) but the right can get away with anything? Is this truly how the system works, that the left has to be perfectly flawless and excite voter turnout and have a charismatic leader at all times, and anything less that that must result in America being like this? Seriously, it’s not enough to win by 3 million votes!
What a ridiculously broken system.
In fact, I am currently debating with myself whether my moral next step is is to figure out how give up American citizenship altogether or to register to vote in my home swing state of Ohio. That’s a lot of inner conflict.
Anyway, I do have a point to get at. I think that America is irreconcilable. The nation-state as a thing is probably over. The nationalist surges around the world are the death throws of a failed system, and whatever corporate dystopia that is to come may or may not be that bad but in any case don’t depend on the government to take care of the people. Whether one wants healthcare or bringing back factory jobs, it’s not going to work. And it raises the question if there is much reason to have such things as nation-states anymore.
The reason that the situation is irreconcilable, in America specifically, is mostly because of the stupidity and bigotry of the people. Yeah, that makes me an arrogant liberal or something to say that out loud. Now it’s bad political strategy to admit it, or whatever.
But come on. The latest extreme confirmation of this is the recent poll that shows 98% of those voters do not regret their vote. Doesn’t get much more dire for faith in humanity than that.
I can only conclude that it is useless to debate with these people. No matter what happens, no matter what executive orders fail or what petty tweets praise dictators, a major segment of the American population is literally in a cult of personality. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. These people will declare any information they don’t like as fake news. They may not be the majority, but the pendulum swinging back and forth no longer matters. The whole system is a lost cause.
It’s interesting to note that the the latest bizarre statement controversy is about the Civil War, y’know those shockingly ignorant comments about Andrew Jackson. It makes one one wonder if it was a mistake to preserve the Union, and if the South should have been left alone to become a failed state without the support of the North. But then, that wouldn’t have been very good for the slaves, and slavery is the obvious historical reason for the Civil war no matter what neo-confederate racists think.
I just can’t even try to empathize with these people anymore. They are not my people. We have nothing in common. Maybe they should just have their own country and leave the rest of the world alone. Fine, try out your traditional values/theocratic form of government. While I do feel bad for the minorities who suffer under this, perhaps the best-case scenario is that they move somewhere better. Nowhere’s perfect, but truly some places are a lot worse.
And I honestly hope that the California secessionist movement takes off and the state becomes it’s own country. In that case, I would be proud to be a California citizen. Would definitely solve my personal quandary.
Anyway, this is old news from 2013 but I find it more pertinent that ever. Check out this theory from Colin Woodard about how the country should more accurately be referred to as 11 nations — including Canada and Mexico by the way. More a cultural North American thing, than that that outdated nation-state with borders thing.
This truly explains it so well. I may be a Midlander myself, but Yankees and Left Coasters for all their flaws are alright and can at least run a decent country and economy with a minimal decency of human rights. I blame those voters in the Far West and Deep South who have irrevocably ruined it all for western civilization.
And that there is all the sense I can make of it:
2016 was, to say the least, a tumultuous year.
It’s already something of a meme to say that 2016 sucks so much. And yeah, that’s largely true specifically in the political sense anyway.
However, in my personal life I can definitely declare that though it’s been hard I can claim lot of positive growth over the past year. I traveled the world, I promoted some writing, I published here and there, wrote another book, and I even moved in with my girlfriend!
There has been a lot on this very blog worth share. I reviewed, I interviewed. And although at this stage it’s hard to say if it will lead anywhere, one of my personal productive favorites of the year was starting anew on my hobby of drawing silly little comics.
In thinking over this arbitrary marking of the Earth going around the sun that we all mark on our calendars, I have thought about it most nostalgically and created a list of links below. Here, a few posts that stand out to me to sum up the crazy intensities of this most epically year:
In February, right after Chinese New Year, I was lucky enough to be detained by the Chinese police after attending an unlicensed rave party. I tested negative for drugs and was soon released, while sadly others I knew tested positive, leaving me with the opportunity to write what proved to be my most popular piece of writing ever. The guys over at Reddit China were somewhat opinionated. But I had my say.
Hey it even led to a piece I wrote for the Wall Street Journal.
With my novel South China Morning Blues published — from Blacksmith Books, Hong Kong — in late 2015, I was very focused on promoting the book all over Shenzhen (and Guangzhou, and Hong Kong) over the beginning of the following year and on. It was a big part of my job for months on end. The highlight was definitely in March when I went to both Beijing and Chengdu for a little get-together known as the Bookworm Literary Festival.
The travel it did continue. I visited the great country/not country of Taiwan as part of my girlfriend Bronwen’s art residency in May. Absolutely wonderful place. There will be more on Taiwan come the next new year.
And in June it was time to go to Israel for the bi-annual visiting of the family. What a trip I met some little nieces and nephews, saw my parents, had emotions, all the while some legal complications came up and had to be dealt with.
One event that really stood out in the summer was the art exhibition by Bronwen and some other locally sourced artists over at Sin Sin Fine Art in Hong Kong. Great work. I happened to write an article about it.
At last, the dreaded subject of American politics. Over the second half of 2016, I carried on with my life and moved and wrote and promoted, meanwhile in America (totally affecting the rest of the world) it all went well and truly insane. I became rather consumed in following the politics of the horrible election cycle. Finally, of all things, I was forced to start writing political columns. The anxieties of the day before, then November’s horrific results, and a touch of conspiracy theory commentary.
Sadly, at this rate I will probably have yet more to say in 2017. A lot more. Despite the apocalyptic scenarios at hand, I’ll try to be optimistic about the new year. What’s certainly true is that nobody knows what will happen next.
Thus was the year. I and you survived. Thanks for paying attention to me and my humble perspective. On a concluding note, let us mourn the actual concept of truth and facts with this cartoon by Tom Tomorrow… RIP truth~
Good luck to 2017, we’ll need it!
And I said wasn’t going to be a political blogger…
Been a devastating week since I posted about what I really think of American politics.
I’m not taking the election results well. I, like most people in my world, did not see that coming. Does this mean we should’ve trusted Michael Moore and Ann Coulter?
Seriously, I don’t mean expats who are far from America didn’t see this coming, I mean everyone I know back in America as well as Americans I know in Shenzhen and all over the world. I had no idea I was so out of touch. That’s what really hurts.
I feel betrayed by the news media. Those liberal websites I followed with their pundits and polls — which I guess is no longer a thing in this brave new world– they had no idea what was going on. Huffington Post was worst of all, but all the sites suck. I’m over it. Since then, no more talk shows for me either, no topical comedy, no SNL skits. I want none of it. I deeply regret all that time I spent trying to keep in touch with America and it turned out to be a complete waste.
(No, I won’t getting into right-wing propaganda :post-facts” websites either. I am thinking of only following British news sources from now on. At least international news has a good excuse for being out of touch with middle Americans.)
I didn’t sleep the first day. I talked to my best friend back home for hours, analyzing and analyzing and trying to make sense. He didn’t take it well either. I ranted to my poor girlfriend nonstop about the American system and how everything is so much worse than I realized.
I want to be an optimistic person, believe it or not, I really do. But now that I realize the entire global system is so fragile it’s very difficult to anticipate anything good can come of this. Sure it was flawed. But now this? All the gains of the past have been thrown out the window. Nobody knows for sure what will happen next. Most likely, if you believe that the shit-spouting candidate will do what he said he was going to do, real fascism is coming.
Why did this happen? Because of the FBI? Because Hillary Clinton truly is that bad a candidate? Because of apathetic voters who stayed home, or the nationwide gerry-mandering that is the electoral college?
I mean, how can this be the same country that elected Obama? It’s so hard to make sense of it.
In terms of numbers, what apparently occurred is that the same amount of Republicans voted in 2008 and 2012, but Democrats voted in smaller numbers and hence lost all the swing states. So it’s not a popular vote country. Perhaps Obama is the aberration, an incredible individual who turned the tide on America on his own yet now the pendulum swung way back into the gutter more Americans are used to.
God, why couldn’t it at least have been a normal Republican who won…
There are new rules for politics. I suppose it might be interesting to see what may come next. I realize that Obama even beat Clinton in 2008 because he had such little experience, not despite it even that that was what the right criticized him for. Turns out experience is a liability. Americans like “outsiders” now or something.
And while third parties never did gain any traction, just about anybody can take over the major parties. What a damn tragedy that the DNC cheated Bernie Sanders out of winning the candidacy, how amazing it would have been to see how that would turn out.
I still replay this all in my mind and it’s so hard to find a narrative that makes sense. Just what is the lesson?
He didn’t even really try. He lost all the debates, his campaign staff was a mess, and his rhetoric was all over the place. Only the fascistic elements were consistent. It seemed obvious to me that he just wanted to launch a TV network.
I mean, it was the most negative campaign in modern history. Is it going to be this way now, everyone has to be as ruthless as possible to win?
And he lied so much. Pathologically. Anyone can look it up on Politico, or debunk myths on Snopes, but for some reason most don’t care about the lies. His base doesn’t care about his lies whatsoever.
Apparently, the biggest problem today is that so many people live in different bubbles due to their own Internet medias of choice. The right likes to whine about the “mainstream media” but there’s no such thing. Reality TV had a hell of a lot more influence than the news media. The new culture of anti-intellectualism rejects fact-checking and chooses their own facts. Thanks, Facebook.
And fool that I am I always though digital technology was going to save humanity… Shows what the hell I know.
So currently the narrative is forming that we are supposed to respect the supporters, because they’ve had it bad and it was liberal arrogance that pushed them away. We shouldn’t have called them racists or whatever.
Sure, snobby liberals can have their faults but I find this election a serious overreaction! I mean, seriously?! Boo hoo, people got mad because of political correctness and so you nominate a disgusting vulgar fascist.
Don’t even get me started on how I don’t understand women voters.
The truth is that humans are fundamentally stupid. We are instinctual animals that can sometimes be rational, not rational beings who sometimes give in to emotions. People do not want to learn. People want “strong leaders”, that is they want dictators.
I will certainly concede that the supporters are not all necessarily hardcore white supremacists (though many many indeed are). But the majority did turn a blind eye to some very dark forces indeed. They chose being willfully ignorant and made excuses for bigotry — be it against Muslims or Hispanics or women — and instead of thinking deeply about personal bias they had a temper tantrum because they don’t like being labeled as what they are. Well at best, they are suckers.
I don’t think this new era is going to go well for the white working class. Let’s bet on it.
I guess it will be “different,” whatever that means, whatever it is people want so bad.
Seriously, this is different than George W. Bush’s presidency, which was very bad, or McCain or Romney or even what Ted Cruz could have been. This is ushering in a new paradigm of embracing the worst of humanity.
So here we are with a documented explosion of hate crimes and an unprecedentedly corrupt — from not releasing tax records to refusing a blind trust and giving his kids positions like a third-world tyrant — executive branch with no idea what it’s doing. It begins.
I’m lucky to be in China, now that China is pretty much certain to take over the world.
I may never go back to America. To be fair, I wasn’t planning on going back any time soon.
I do admire the new protest movement. I wish I was there to express my horror at what is happening and fight the good fight, I wish I could.
But what to do? Efficient governance has failed, due to a completely broken democratic system. I can only conclude that anarcho-libertarianism is the appropriate ideology in this age, everyone has got to take care of themselves. Let’s just hope that the environmental damage to the planet Earth doesn’t ruin it forever for every selfish individual out there.
Funny thing about being a hopeless white guy right now, my black friend really did see this coming. Damn I was naive. I assured him the monster candidate couldn’t win, yeah he wasn’t supposed to get this far but his base was fringe, that this was a story of Republicans imploding, and history would progress. He really knew better. He’s planning on leaving the country and I support that decision; it’s not hyperbole, he has the means to do it.
There will probably be a hero of the new left in four years time, that ol’ pendulum will swing back, but by then things will have changed so drastically it may be impossible to repair. I do hold out hope that something can happen in the next two months, like he’ll quit to work on Drumpf TV and we’ll be left with Mike Pence as a weak status quo Republican. It’s not ideal but the world would make a bit more sense.
I wonder if this is one of those “great men” theories of history or if this was inevitable because of historical forces. Is he such an enormous personality that he gets to change history, or would that have happened to someone else regardless at the rate America is going?
It seems around the world authoritarianism is gaining ground. Xi, Putin, Brexit, Neo-Nazi parties in Europe, Duterte, the recent coup in Brazil, Thailand crackdowns, the Likud Party in my homeland (I’m just going to go ahead and introduce myself as Israeli nowadays, not American. Never thought I’d see the day), and so much more everywhere. I wish people were educated enough to know how to properly blame corporatist elites for the ruined economy around the world, I wish they had better ideas about alleviating poverty and violence, but maybe it’s because of Internet bubbles or maybe it’s because of the human tribal instincts but in any case this is happening.
It really feels like we’re in an alternate reality. I for one fully believe in the many worlds multiverse more than ever.
That’s about all I can say. No endless links, no articles to quote with the hopes of changing minds. That never worked. That did no good.
It’s over, and this is the world we live in.
So, I am admittedly writing this at the last possible moment. Not trying to change minds here, I guess, I’m just trying to figure things out for myself and express it as rationally and sincerely as possible. These issues are important and should be thought about deeply. That’s all I’m generally attempting to do.
I follow politics as much as I can, and as an American abroad I think it’s even more important to be aware of what is happening in the world. It matters. The times, they are serious. If you happen to be friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed the articles I choose to share. While I try not to be too annoying or angry when it comes to political rants, there are things worth being aware of and I say what I can.
However, I’m not truly qualified to be a columnist and a pundit and I don’t usually take up this sort of writing. My journalism tends to be light, and my fiction tends to be about human experiences in small scales. I am not the kind of blogger to try to save the world or anything.
Yet now I am writing this post in a rush in an attempt to organize all that is going on in my mind. History is unfolding right before the world’s eyes, and I must attempt to comment upon it before the results of the polls come in and it’s too late. Here I go.
* * *
First of all, as someone who generally tries to be a moral person I am going to start this out by talking about Nazis. Yeah, went there, let’s get it out of the way already. There is indeed a valid reason every argument seems to get into Nazis eventually, and that’s because it really is a point in world history worth making comparisons. And is it just me, or is it more poignant that ever?
I do have a point I’m getting to. The main question remains: Was the average German citizen in the 1930s particularly evil, or were they merely caught up in historical forces beyond their understanding? And moreover, where they victims of propaganda or do they deserve to be held responsible for supporting the worst dictatorship in history?
I used to lean towards the side that it wasn’t quite the average person’s fault. Both cynically and sympathetically, I used to conclude that the average folk of most societies would probably support a Nazi party if historical forces added up, and that it wasn’t really their fault. We must be ever more wary and question ourselves for that reason, so that we can have the perspective to not get caught up in evil ideologies. I mean, we should hope that future historians don’t look back and ask the question of why we of today are so evil. Shouldn’t that be a good benchmark for inner contemplation on human morality?
That’s what I used to think. I don’t think that way that any longer. Today, I can no longer help but think that the average German citizenry who supported Nazism – or at least was too apathetic to care so long as they’re Aryan – were terrible people and should be judged accordingly for it. I think this because contemporary Trump supporters are the modern equivalent.
That’s what I’m saying. As a (hopefully) thoughtful American, I believe that Trump supporters are terrible human beings and they should know better and don’t deserve sympathy and history will judge them as monsters.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a greater perspective. Like, pretty much everywhere is evil when you break it down. I live in the People’s Republic of China, which one used to at least be able to say was going in a positive direction until Xi Jinging took power. I have connections to Israel, which certainly does have its human-rights abusing issues and currently the Likud party in particular. I went to South Africa last year, full of upper-class whites who got where they are by way of apartheid. Even the United States has a complicated history of aboriginal genocide and slavery and oppression throughout the 20th century, and hell the Bush years of illegal war-mongering wasn’t that long ago and the Obama administration wasn’t as different as it was supposed to be! And that just goes for the countries with the most power, plenty of less developed nations have terrible challenges. It’s a complex web of historical privilege, apathy, and some brainwashing that usually makes it not totally the fault of citizens that their governments can be forces of evil.
Yet something else is going on right now. Something ugly. There is a powerful new movement within my country and it can’t be excused as them just getting caught up in a manipulated framework they don’t understand. No, they are willfully-ignorant people who support authoritarian policies. There is no other way to put it.
The Trump legions are not supporters of conservative economic policy which we can debate. They do not have some rational thoughts about being hawkish on defense policy. They don’t want to fix immigration. They don’t really care about how an outsider of politics can save the country.
No, what they have are racial resentments, serious problems with hypocrisy, and for some reason support a strongman dictatorship which is against everything good that America is supposed to stand for.
They are supporters of bigotry. They are supporters of hate. That is what’s going on.
I probably won’t change any minds by being all arrogant and mad. I do wish I had some brilliant arguments that would cause Trump supporters to soul search and question themselves. It doesn’t work that way though. Hey, it’s a post-fact political world.
Still, I have a lot to say and I must say it.
Something dark is happening in my country. There’s always been partisanship, and there have been ugly times in history worse than we remember regardless of the mythical “Great Again” that they’re supposed to make America. But specifically it appears that Internet culture is the difference these days, and it disturbs me.
Dammit, society was supposed to be evolving. When Obama was elected in ’08 – who clearly did sell out on many issues but didn’t deserve the vitriol of the opposition party the past eight years – it was heralded as a new era in terms of online participation. Internet-savvy young people, we were told, turned the tide.
Nowadays, with you-know-who on Twitter, the fury of ignorance has become the loudest voice in the digital sphere. As experts smarter than me have explained, the danger of online media is that people become lost in their own echo chamber and ignore news that disagrees with their preconceived notion, and they believe things that aren’t true. Facts don’t matter. It’s confirmation bias on steroids. Furthermore, the anonymity of the medium has let loose millions of fully racist commentors. The trolls are attempting to take over the most powerful government on earth.
Here is an intelligent article about the white supremacist alt-right movement which forms the backbone of Trump supporters, and everyone needs to read this:
To summarize, the young generation of white supremacists (or white separatists, or racial realists, or whatever shit these people call themselves lately) are very savvy when it comes to memes and propaganda etc. and have started taking their own trolling seriously. The worst of YouTube comments basically have a political movement now, and it is organized.
It really is that bad.
* * *
What happened? Is it the fault of new media technologies? I am scared it’s deeper than the usual pattern of how when the economy gets bad far isolationist right-wing parties take power – as happened in many places in Europe. I get that it happens. What I am afraid of is that although they will lose they are still going to be a permanent part of the modern American landscape from now on.
How the hell has this happened?! I mean, I used to follow conservative media. I did. I used to watch Fox News and listen to talk radio. I used to be… I shudder to say it… a libertarian. Of course, I do feel it’s important to be an independent and get all sides of the various issues that affect our world.
The conservative ideology used to be quite clear. The mainstream was liberal biased, and the best way to grow an economy was through free market principals. Oh, and welfare is bad. Then some optional religious stuff. That was the gist as I understood it.
I have since come to recognize that it was all a lie. For years conservatives told a certain story, and their audience ate it up, and it was a lie. Sure we know that the Tea Party was kind of a monster the Republican Party propped up and then couldn’t control any more. But it’s an even worse mess than that. Because Donald Trump does not even pretend to be a conservative on any issue. He is an extremist nationalist, and that is the main issue that his people believe in. That’s all it ever was.
Like really, Sean Hannity turned around on the Iraq War? Really, Hannity?!?! They believe in nothing. Except for bigotry.
Say, for example, with welfare. Turns out those masses of people were lying when they said they were against the dole due to economic and moral grounds. No, they don’t care about taxes or incentives to work. They just care that certain ethnic groups don’t deserve the welfare that they deserve.
It has turned out that it was always more about white identity politics more than anything else.
Take the fact that Trump’s base are evangelicals, and the fact that Catholics and especially Mormons have largely rejected him (good on them). This truly pisses me off. It shows that evangelicals are ignorant about even the very basics of the Christian religion, and that they always have been, and what they care about in fact is being part of an ethnic community and rejecting other communities. Seriously, does anyone with a brain believe that Trump is a real Christian? What else can it be with those people? At least Catholics and Mormons have the ability to be consistent in their values.
It is not a left-right thing anymore. Not even close. The right has abandoned everything they ever said they believe in just to prop up a nationalist monster.
Hell, even the conspiracy theory land people like with Infowars have abandoned everything they used to stand for. (I know it was a crazy site, but during the Bush years it was something of a source for the anti-war movement. Even in the early Obama years there were valid points about the banking corruption in the ol’ Alex Jones documentaries. Now he gave it all up for nothing more than the bigotry of being anti-feminist or something, along with the whole uber-nationalism shitck.)
* * *
There is a certain narrative going around that intelligent people are supposed to feel sorry for Trump supporters because they are blue-collar working class who have sadly lost their jobs due to globalist free trade policies.
There is this Cracked article about how to empathize with Trump supporters because it’s a city versus country thing: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-one-talks-about/
Usually I like Cracked. Good with myth-busting. But this one wasn’t good.
Obviously Republicans do tend to be more rural and Democrats tend to be more urban. And one could argue that it’s lack of education which causes people to inadvertently have such awful politics.
But that isn’t the case. Here’s what’s really going on to a much larger degree:
Got it? To sum it up, evidence shows that Trump’s base isn’t necessarily that poor. Polling shows that racial anxiety is the real issue that worries the majority. This is what is happening, this is what kind of people they are.
Again, the fact that Trump’s other main issue besides kicking out Mexicans and Muslims is protectionist trade policies – long thought the purview of the radical left – shows how out of whack the usual liberal vs conservative definitions are.
And yet I still contend that the factories going to China issue isn’t even what they’re serious about in the first place. Deep down, only the bigotry matters.
For me, 2013 was the most dramatic of years. It started slow, with early episodes displaying a simple lack of confidence and success. Then I tried to make up for lost time, and went too far. I found myself stuck in the quagmire of drama and heartache and stalking.
Throughout the year, while I did go to a whole other country for romance, in the meantime I tried my best to put myself out there and meet cooler girls, and was subsequently rejected multiple times. Chinese and foreigners alike. Former coworkers, girls I met on the subway, all those I met in real life seemed not to be impressed by me. So I went by the tried-and-true method of online dating, and that means the website of POF…
Early into the year’s journeys, I emailed a pleasant helo to Sonia. She was an engineer from Iran who lived in the outer suburbs of Shenzhen. (A suburb in a Chinese doesn’t mean picket fences. It means desolate places near factories and far from the interesting, modern parts of the city.) We flirted and I invited her on a tour of downtown, with me as guide.
Being from Iran, it was very interesting to talk to Sophia about politics and culture. Nothing was off-limits. I was left with a very good impression of modern Iran, which sadly is an impression that many Americans do not get these days.
I could put out a disclaimer to everyone: Not only am I Jewish, I was born in Israel. It is my heritage and my ethnicity, but I don’t think of it as having that much to do with my identity these days. My father is American and I moved to the U.S. as a baby. I know no Hebrew. I am basically an atheist — I like to call myself a “mystical atheist” but no time for an extensive theological discussion here — and I feel great antagonism towards organized religion. I have zero interest in going to Israel and joining the military to fight for an apartheid state surrounded by brainwashed lunatics, thank you very much.
Culturally, the Jewish people have brought great advances to Western culture as well as science. I think history has shown educated liberal Jews going to America is a perfect fit. Politically and culturally, Israel is another story. It is a somewhat messier and more complex place, and I do not think history has shown that Zionism has accomplished much of anything at all. Well, too late now. The region is what it is. I do not wish to delve too deeply into controversial politics, that’s not the point of this blog. Just letting you know how I feel, just letting you know where I’m coming from when it comes to meeting Persian girls.
Sonia did not seem to be racist against Jews whatsoever. She came across as a very worldly open-minded person, and she gave me a hell of a chance. She did tell me that it was hell to be in Saudi Arabia, and Iranians liked traveling to Turkey so they could act out more freely. She was politically very much against Israel, and on that I pretty much agreed.
Iranians abroad, from my understanding, tend to reject theocratic-conservative values and do whatever they want to do as 21st century human beings. Sonia confirmed this. She had no issues with being the naively feminine sort; and yeah there was intimacy that first night.
She wasn’t my type, to be perfectly honest. Attraction-wise. A big girl albeit with a pretty face, but I’m simply not into big girls. What we had between us was an opportunity I wanted to experience, and hence we shared an experience. I have now learned on an intrinsic level that young Iranians are absolutely not religious fundamentalists, I know it as deeply as possible, and hey I hope that can be good for American-Iranian relations.
So, it definitely wasn’t any potential boyfriend-girlfriend dating situation and she knew it. I guess we were supposed to be fuckbuddies, as certain expats abroad like to do to pass the time, but we never ended up repeating the experience.
She invited me to her place to cook one another time, and it was very nice of her. But I didn’t like that area. I didn’t stay over. We made some other plans but kept cancelling and it didn’t develop. I don’t remember the details, but I do recall a text saying that it was over and she got mad at me. Perhaps I was dating someone else, perhaps there was some overlapping drama at that junction. It all became something of a blur in the midst of that year.
I hope I wasn’t too rude.
I hope I didn’t leave her with a poor impression of Jewish Americans.
I met Jing on POF, and we corresponded a while before meeting. Always too busy, she was yet another girl who lived far away, and even our first date when we finally did meet it was a bad date. Luckily, she gave me another chance.
Somehow, over the course of the year, Jing became my most stable friend-with-benefits. For several months, she was my most drama-free of dates and for that I will forever be grateful to her.