Pluralistic: 01 Feb 2021

Today's links

Someone Comes to Town Part 30 (permalink)

This week on my podcast: part 30 of my serialized reading of "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town," my 2006 novel that Gene Wolfe called "a glorious book unlike any book you’ve ever read."

This week's installment features a cameo from Clifford Geertz's classic "Thick Description":

You can catch up on the other installments here:

and subscribe to my podcast feed here:

Here's a direct link to the MP3 (hosting courtesy of the Internet Archive; they'll host your stuff for free, forever, too!):

Unidirectional entryism (permalink)

2022 is shaping up to be a bloodbath. The Trump census cooked the numbers to advantage Republicans, and GOP statehouses are poised to redistrict in ways that will hand potentially permanent minority rule to the GOP in Congress.

There's a potential way out: HR1, an omnibus bill of electoral reforms that would create durable, structural protections for voting rights and a level playing field for campaigning.

To get a sense of how urgent the looming crisis is – and of how important HR1 is – listen to Ryan Grim interviewing Jon Schwarz and Rep John Sarbanes [D-MD] on this week's Intercepted.

In theory, HR1 could be blasted through – Dems control the Senate, Congress, and the White House, and the future of the party depends on it, but I'm far from confident that they'll find the discipline and political will to make it happen.

The Democrats keep squandering their majorities and wasting opportunities to make real change – changes that are must-haves, not nice-to-haves; changes needed to head off existential threats to the nation itself.

Take the stimulus, which every Republican will vote against, which will only become reality if the Dems use their majority. Why are they bargaining themselves down?

Yes, as Bernie Sanders says, the Dems "have the votes" for a larger stimulus, but only if they use it, and everyone understands that they won't – not if it is bold, and reflects the will and priorities of the people, rather than the donor class.

That's because the Democrats – like the Republicans – are a coalition, not a party, but there's a fundamental difference between the two coalitions. The GOP coalition is between finance ghouls, religious maniacs, white nationalists and paranoid latter-day Birchers.

Whereas the Democrats are a coalition between leftists, liberals…and Republicans. The party establishment includes figures whose policies are squarely in the GOP mainstream – if they were on the other side of the aisle, they be "hard liners," not "moderates."

I'm not talking about people like Pelosi who want to reform a system governed by 80 rich old white men by replacing half of them with women and people of color.

I'm talking about Joe Liberman. Dan Lipinski. Michael Bloomberg. Richie Neal.


But while the right has been doing entryism into the Democrats for a generation-plus, there's no reciprocal left-entryism into the GOP.

In states like California where Dems have solid majorities, Republicans join the Democratic party and primaries are the real elections.

It's not even subtle! In NYC, 1.6m independent and GOP voters just switched their party affiliation to Democrat and lifelong Republican hard-liners are running for mayor as Democrats.

It's a completely understandable urge. If the real contest over policy is intra-party (whoever wins the primary wins the election), then you'd expect people who care about policy to form a faction in the party, irrespective of whether their politics align with the party.

But it only seems to go one way. When Ontario shifted for the NDP, Bob Rae stood for leader and governed like he was from the Liberal party (which he later joined and spent the rest of his political career in).

Blair and his cohort were Tories who took over the Labour Party. The safest Labour seats are also the most anti-Labour – thinking of my MP, Meg Hillier, who could easily have served as a Thatcher back-bencher.

Why is there no left-entryism into right parties? In part, it's got to be because there's no business-model for it. Lipinski and Lieberman and Ritchie absorb titanic fortunes in corporate money.

There's no comparable source of money for leftists who join the Missouri GOP.

Maybe that's all there is to it: the GOP – the right – stands for the rule of the few over the many, whether that's billionaires, white people, men, Christians, or the US empire.

The people who support this position have power, which means they have money (power can be converted to money and vice-versa) so they can fund DINOs.

But it's weird to think that a RINO is "a Republican who isn't racist or conspiratorial enough" while a DNO is "a Democrat who supports the unchecked power of wealthy people and multinational corporations."

You know, a Republican.

The good news about vaccination bad news (permalink)

Silver linings pop up where you least expect 'em. Like you, I've been worried about the chaos in vaccine distribution.

I'm not talking about the maniacs who blockaded Dodger Stadium to prevent vaccinations:

Or the guy who literally thinks the sky is a hoax who destroyed 500 vaccine doses:

Nor the man-child who turned Philly vaccinations into an incompetent grift:

I mean the common, garden variety clusterfuck of the parts of the vaccination process that aren't being actively sabotaged – the parts that are being run by people who are trying their hardest, who want to succeed, and are failing anyway.

After all, this mass vaccination is just the latest in a string of first-in-history long shots. The development of the vaccines was an incredible feat, but maybe we used up our supply of moonshot successes and we're gonna regress to the mean during the distribution.

Or maybe not! Silver linings are weird. It turns out that Trump's top Health and Human Services officials lobbied against giving the states any money to help with vaccine rollout. The harder they begged, the louder the no.

The mass murderer Paul Mango served as HHS's deputy chief of staff for policy under Trump, and he was convinced that the states were faking it – that they were only begging for vaccine rollout funding to cover shortfalls in their general treasury.

He insisted that they should just vaccinate millions of people, all at once, without access to federal funds. Just, you know, figure it out.

Here's why this is a silver lining: it's evidence that the problems with vaccine rollout were the result of sabotage after all.

That as difficult as this first-of-its-kind vaccination program is, the reason it's been failing isn't that it's impossible – it's that Paul Mango and his co-conspirators did everything they could to make it fail.

And that implies that now that Mango has been replaced by someone who doesn't want to murder millions of people, we might start succeeding!

After all, the NHS just vaccinated 1.2% of the entire population of the UK in a single day. Coordinating mass vaccination is hard, but it's looking more and more possible.

I'll take my silver linings where I can get 'em.

This day in history (permalink)

#10yrsago If London’s police were in charge of Egyptian crowd-estimates

#10yrsago Harper’s publisher rejects $50K worth of pledges, will lay off staff anyway

#10yrsago IPv4 is exhausted

#5yrsago Hollow rock turns into a router full of survival info when you build a fire beside it

#5yrsago UK Snooper’s Charter is so broad, no one can figure out what it means

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (

Currently writing:

  • My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. Friday's progress: 522 words (105202 total).

  • A short story, "Jeffty is Five," for The Last Dangerous Visions. Friday's progress: 252 words (2395 total).

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 30)

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"When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla" -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla