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Metaphorical's Journal
Metaphorical's Journal
May 21, 2024

Trump is preparing to lose


Some thoughts here: Trump's strategy is to sew distrust of the balloting process, presumably with him being the victim. However, there's an interesting side effect of this. If people (especially Republicans) are distrustful of the election, won't they simply not vote at all? What this means in effect is that you're going to see a contestion of nearly every election, including those elections this year in which the Republicans actually do win, because at that point, why wouldn't the Democrats contest a Republican win for Senate or HR or Governor?

I can't see any way that this strategy can do anything BUT backfire.
March 17, 2024

Phishing Alert

Just got a text message from Go.Democratic-Strategy.org asking if I (actually my wife) had switched parties. It's a Phishing scam, just posting this to make people aware of it.

March 12, 2024

We may be in trouble

We had a whale of a fight in our house tonight, my kids telling me that they wouldn't vote for Biden because "he's bombing the Palestinians in Gaza". This comes from their social media groups, as well as from their very alt-Left grandmother who is very pro-Hamas. We are not, I understand that, but this seems to be a very pervasive sentiment among the Tik-Tok generation.

August 7, 2023

Barbie Tops $1B at the Box Office


Culture Warriors beware. This movie is the definition of Woke, and makes me suspect that the GQP has awakened a Juggernaut that's going to reshape the political landscape dramatically next November.
June 12, 2023

Kings, Constitutional Republics, Democracies

I'm seeing the Constitution Republic meme continue to gain traction. The arguments usually vary but generally come down to the notion that the US is not a Representative Democracy (one person - one vote) but is instead a Constitutional Republic. Technically, these are different but not exclusive:

Representative Democracy - All citizens have an equal vote in choosing representatives to represent their interests at the Federal level.
Constitutional Republic - A constitution or charter outlines the rights and responsibilities of the citizens of a country, rather than such rights being determined by a defacto absolute monarch or autocrat.

Roughly 95% of all countries fit into the formal definition of a constitutional republic, including China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Many modern monarchies (on the other hand) have figurehead rulers and a strong bicameral tradition. Other countries, such as North Korea, incorporate the Republic in their name, even if they happen to be autocratic states.

The purpose of this meme is simple but insidious - it argues that the US is not really a Democracy, because that's not what was in the constitution (which is also patently false). This effort is an effort to delegitimize democracies in general, because strong democracies typically are much harder to corrupt and have better checks and balances on power, not to mention weakening the "Democratic" brand.

May 16, 2023

Will America Split?

America has, from its inception, been an expanding country. It and Canada split from one another very early on, as most Canadians were American British colonists that did not want to separate from England (or French colonists that did not want to leave France), and I think it's important to realize how much American and Canadian history really is intertwined.

In the first eighty years, the opportunities for growth, wealth, and finding like-minded people let to the expansion of the country to the West Coast, but already the seeds of conflict, primarily over slavery, were planted. The more early industrialized north developed a mercantilist attitude very much at odds with the plantation-centric states in the South, which were borrowing an economic model that it really wasn't suited for. The worst excesses of slavery happened in the Caribbean, Central America and the northern parts of South America, and cotton, rum, and tobacco were very much secondary crops in the vast trade network triangle of the Atlantic. Most economists have concluded that slavery would have likely persisted only to about 1885, even if the civil war had not happened, because it was becoming less and less economically viable.

Similarly, the Civil War's conclusion was pretty much inevitable. The South had the better generals, but that was really their own advantage - the North had advanced technology, the ability to manufacture rifles of superior quality in far greater numbers, and the economic base sufficient to continue to do so long after the South's economy had been destroyed. The North urbanized the South, and in the process set the groundwork for what has come since.

By 1912, New Mexico and Arizona became the last contiguous states to join the union. Alaska and Hawaii would be the last two territorial states to become fully recognized states, in 1949. After World War II, the US gained much of the British Empire by proxy, having effectively replaced British garrisons globally with Americans, and it boosted the American economy to become the largest in the world. However, empires are expensive, especially when colonies no longer significantly contribute to the Imperial well-being. Yet America's Empire has become more a formality as country after country has nationalized their primary exports, and this erosion, which started in the late 1970s, has been reversing the tide of globalism and the increased standard of life for many, exposing islands of greater wealth while leaving more and more people facing decline.

Empires do not remain empires for long. The Ottoman Empire split in the late 19th century, the German empire expanded from multiple states to eventually expanding nearly to Moscow, the British Empire began to dissolve even before World War I, the Soviet Empire peaked in the 1970s, collapsed in the 1990s, and looks to be collapsing even more now. The Chinese Empire is now expanding, but it's a tenuous one - my guess is that it will likely expand primarily by absorbing the Russian oblasts in Siberia, but that's only a guess.

When Empires collapse, internal divisions within the Imperial host become more stressed. Oligarchs in the US have come to realize that retaining the whole country is no longer feasible - demographics are against them in the long run, and oil, which is what the current generation of oligarchy is built on directly or indirectly, is threatened by nuclear power, green energy, and within twenty years, fusion.

Their current strategy, funded by deep pockets, is to split the country along cultural lines. They are succeeding. I would argue that neither Trump norDeSantis would be able to become President today, let alone win the Trifecta as they did in 2016, if the US overall. Yet, lose the West Coast, the Northeast, and arguably most of the Canadian adjacent North, and they end up with a Red America that is half the size with perhaps 35% of the economic strength of the current United States, still making it (by a considerably margin) the 3rd largest economy on the planet, behind the Blue United States (China immediately vaults to 1st place, at least for a few decades).

Even if Blue America united with Canada, (unlikely but not completely out of the question) this really wouldn't change much. Red America would at least on paper be a country with a GDP of USD$8 Trillion, with roughly 1,000 nuclear weapons and one Fleet (4th Fleet (South Atlantic), out of Mayport, Florida. It may seem like a worthwhile gamble if you're an oligarch wanting to be even more powerful.

How likely is this? Currently, 19 states have passed legislation calling for a constitutional convention. However, an additional 15 currently have active legislation, and another 6 have had such legislation pass one chamber (this includes DC). 34 of 50 states would be required to call a constitutional convention, and 38 votes would be needed to pass. The latter is an almost unattainable goal (76% of all states). Still, I suspect it wouldn't matter - having called such a convention, the likelihood that a Red American coalition would form and then vote for succession from the convention would be sufficient as it is likely they would take a hard-line stance guaranteed to be at odds with the rest of the states.

Now, as to what would happen after, that's where things likely get interesting. Most states are more purple than red or blue. Central and Southeast Texas, home to military bases, universities, and research facilities, may very well be loathe to leave the union - and indeed, I suspect that most plebiscites (if they were allowed to be held) would put the kibosh on any secession plans. In other places where you have large minority populations relative to the apartheid governments, the areas may turn into a bloody civil war that did not go the way the apartheid government intended.

Over the long run, I suspect cooler voices will prevail, and the secession attempt will end with more comedy than tragedy. A second convention may very well be called (or the first simply resumed), the hard issue of resolving some very serious inequalities of representation should be rectified, the rights and responsibilities of corporate personhood need to be ironed out, the Equal Rights Amendment needs to be approved, and the direction of the country, as it moves into the twenty-first century, needs to be determined.

My personal belief? We have long had de-facto regional governments - the US district court of appeals, for instance, has 14 divisions + (Fed and DC). A system which placed more political power at this District level might better balance power than exists today, and can be done without threatening the integrity of the US as a country. Similarly, we can expand the number of Supreme Court judges to fifteen by assuming that each district has one justice appointment. The districts would also have a number of representatives proportional to their population, with the districts then being redrawn every census.

However, that's my own opinion. There are no doubt many others.

May 15, 2023

The GOP is in a race with the Mouse, and they are losing

2024 will be the first presidential election in which anti-abortion legislation will have been implemented in many states. It is also the first election in which DeSantis vs. the Mouse will be an issue. This may sound shallow, but the latter may be a much bigger factor in the election because for anyone under the age of 45, Disney is a much more powerful symbol than DeSantis' fascist makeover of Florida.

In 2019, Millennials exceeded Boomers for the first time.

In 2019, Millennials exceeded Boomers for the first time. In 2024, there will be seven million more Millennials than there will be Boomers. In 2028, Boomers will be eclipsed by GenXers (which is smaller, but generally politically more independent) in 2028, making it the third largest bloc. Also note that this information predates the Pandemic, which disproportionately hit Boomers, so it is likely that this may be underestimating the difference by as much as two million people today, and five million people by 2028.

October 21, 2022

But is the economy really all that bad?

Back when recession was being used as a euphemism for depression, there was.a running joke that went "When the other guy has lost his job, its a recession. When you lose your job its a depression."

I am not saying that the economy is great.

The unemployment rate is around 3.8% M6, where 4.0% is considered full employment. Companies are terrified of cutting jobs, because they may never find replacements. Prices are high because retailers have become greedy, and don't want to be the first to capitulate, but inventory is beginning to bust the doors off the warehouses .

I foresee discounts on most consumer goods by December, and a frenzy of discounting by February. It is also likely that this may be the first year where people weather a Covid uptick with comparatively mild effects, primarily because we are better prepared to treat Covid before it gets to the hospitalization stage. This means diminishing inflationary pressures.

So who is seeing recessions? Business owners and investors. Labor is getting more expensive, and businesses that exploit labor are failing. That labor is not as geofenced -they can choose from a larger potential pool of employers in many cases, and can increasingly do jobs that provide some financial support vs jobs that require irregular schedules, commute costs and the like for very little more. Employers hate Obamacare because people become less afraid of changing jobs, which only exacerbates flight from bad jobs.

Finally, we are getting perilously close to exposing the big lie that business owners create jobs. When an auto manufacturer gets a huge tax break for creating jobs in a state then fills that factory with state of the art automation running the latest AI rather than hiring people, people remember. The GOP has done a pretty good job of running the long con, but the cognitive fog machine is breaking down.

When you hear people bemoaning the state of the economy, ask them if they are still employed. Ask them if they are making more today than three years ago, and if they personally are really worse off. Chances are good that they will either admit that they are or will change the subject.

August 2, 2022

Open Primaries

I and my family just voted here in Issaquah, WA, and it hit home to me that we are an open primary state ... and it was dramatic the number of candidates on the ballot who aren't declaring themselves GOP but identifying as independent/local parties. I'm seeing that on signage as well - Dems generally display party affiliations, but Republicans are avoiding it, from the admittedly limited survey I've done. My suspicion is that the GOP brand may be getting toxic, even for extremist candidates, and it may be an indication of how things will go in the fall.

July 1, 2022

The Coming Uncivil War

Twenty five years ago, I predicted that the United States will have become two or more countries by 2040. Today, I'm convinced that it will happen sooner than that.

The Supreme Court is systematically dismantling the progressive agenda and making no excuses about it. Gerrymandering is next up in the queue, which will be followed by every red state locking in draconian maps. Civil rights of all sorts will soon follow. Should, by some miracle, the House and Senate stay in Democratic hands in 2022, you will see defeated Republicans refusing to accept the results of even seemingly clear elections. If Republicans do manage to take the House and Senate, you'll see kangaroo courts attempting to impeach and remove Biden and Harris within days of being sworn in. By 2024, it will not matter whether Trump is running or not - the coup will have been successful.

Most people in the US think about Civil War in the context of the American Civil War of 1861-1865, with states breaking away from the Union, creating a separate country, fielding armies with uniforms, guns, and cannons. What most people (especially those unfamiliar with history) do not understand is how anomalous that war really was, that it was a reflection of 19th century social and warfare conventions.

I believe that we are actually in an Uncivil War, denoted by coup attempts, increasing polarization, authoritarianism vs democratic structures, fundamentalism, and radicalism. It becomes feasible when one party no longer has any interest in following any rules but its own, and who actively subvert the rule of law in favor of the rule of might (in this case, financial, rather than physical, might). The problem that Democrats face ultimately is that almost by definition are the Party of Law - they have to follow the rules, even when those rules are being turned against them, or they lose any real authority that they may have.

My expectation is that, as the Republicans continue into overreach territory, their actions are going to be seen as unpalatable to a larger and larger cross-section of the electorate. There will be a counter-backlash, and when that happens, they will lack the numbers to keep hold of the government. At that point, I think at that point that you'll see a formal break and secession, more than likely starting with Texas.

I've heard (and made) a number of arguments about why individual secession is likely to fail. Secession is illegal, of course, but there's a paradox there - once you have seceded, you are no longer a part of the political structure. In places like Texas, there is a heavy US military presence, but the question comes down to whether the commanding officers for enough bases can be subverted - the right bribes to the right generals could very easily pay off handsomely. Texas is purple, but the Texas political structure is quite red. Yes, Texas would lose key companies and people if they chose to secede, but Texas would also take with it Louisianna, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Kansas, possibly Arkansas and Missouri, and perhaps even as far north as Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Iowa, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota. Collectively, these states account for about 42 percent of the population, but they also separate East from West.

Would a plebiscite of the people vote to secede in each state? Not likely. Would the far right, gerrymandered to hell legislatures? In a heartbeat. In some cases like Virginia, you might even see Northern Virginia break off from Virginia even as West Virginia gets reabsorbed. In this scenario, you end up with resistances, red and blue, forming in their respective states. This doesn't become North against South. It becomes fifty individual battle zones. It becomes clumps of states banding together because the federal authority has been deliberately compromised. and ultimately, it will end up devastating the rural zones even as control devolves from the states to cities along the various highway corridors. This is what "civil" war looks like today.

Such a war would be fought with both flying and tank-like drones, with "liberated" artillery, and with stealth attacks on civilian targets. It might look vaguely like what's happening in Ukraine, but the Russians and the Ukranians are battling with twenty year old technology. It might even go nuclear. In the end, the war won't end with a bang but with a whimper, as war weary states that haven't been bombed into the stone age establish a new, very raw peace.

I hope this nightmare scenarios doesn't happen, but I'm becoming increasingly pessimistic.

Profile Information

Name: Kurt Cagle
Gender: Male
Hometown: Cascadia
Member since: Sat Dec 3, 2016, 02:02 AM
Number of posts: 1,615

About Metaphorical

Contributing Writer, Forbes Magazine
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