October 23, 2020

The "sexy enemy" Halloween costume: Carnivalesque role inversion and sexual taboo bending to strengthen Us-Them boundary

As Halloween has become adult-oriented over the past 20 years, the "sexy Halloween costume" has become standard, and was satirized as early as 2004 in Mean Girls.

For the most part, the roles that the girls assume are not inherently repulsive, which would thwart their main goal of exuding sexiness at a Halloween party. Some roles are typically warm and feminine like the pet cat or nurse. Others are threatening and dangerous but not necessarily ugly, like the witch or devil -- both of which may deceive with outward attractiveness.

The sole possible exception is the sexy zombie, whose bloody / wounded / decaying body is inherently repulsive. Even there, most girls try to dial down the gore and play up the pallor, vacant stare, and so on, so as to be less disgusting. At the party, they do not move around lethargically and clumsily like corpses, and their normal-to-high energy level makes them seem actually alive rather than (un)dead.

Since Halloween is a holiday for the carnivalesque inversion of rules and roles, the trend is for girls to choose the threatening-but-not-ugly category, rather than the safe-and-familiar category. For one night, they don't have to project propriety, and they can take on the persona of someone they are prohibited from being during the rest of the year.

A similar logic plays out among the guys at the party: for one night, they are allowed to openly desire a member of some group that is otherwise forbidden for them to get horny over. The rest of the year, they must only openly desire nice respectable types, not a witch, devil, zombie, leopard, lusty schoolgirl, etc. -- all of which represent various sexually taboo groups (spirits, dead humans, animals, underage humans, and so on).

Even on Halloween, they are not violating these taboos outright, but only bending them. They're not lusting after an actual leopard, but a human girl wearing a leopard-print body suit. Not an actual high-schooler, but a 24 year-old in a plaid mini-skirt and white button-down shirt.

This is the social control function of a collective ritual like wearing costumes for Halloween. The carnivalesque inversion of roles maintains the status quo by allowing for some exciting -- if temporary -- dynamism, to counteract what would otherwise be an oppressively tedious static system. And the more rare the occasion, the more intense its expression -- which serves to satiate the participants with one great big indulgence, rather than leave them forever craving more if they were to only provide a lot of weak hits. The massive dose sends them into a refractory phase, like a hangover, and ensures that they won't be bending the rules for a long while afterward.

During the rise of Halloween-for-adults, the society has become increasingly polarized by political and cultural membership. That has given the holiday a new source of dangerous, threatening, forbidden types to dress up as (for girls), and to lust after (for guys) -- those who belong to a different political party or a different sub-culture. Call this the "sexy enemy" category of costumes. Not a personal enemy who you, the individual, has beef with -- but who you, as a member of Team A, are opposed to because they belong to the rival Team B. Someone from a group who your own group would never allow you to marry or have children with.

The earliest example is the sexy nun, which I can only date back to 2005 (see here). That sacrilegious trope has existed for far longer, I mean its form as a Halloween costume. That came in the wake of the Catholic Church pedophile scandal of the early 2000s, but has remained common through today, as part of the church-going vs. atheist culture war. As with the other examples, nuns are not inherently ugly, and their roles run the gamut from nurse to teacher to disciplinarian. But within the groups where the costume is worn, their role is "evil religious extremist".

The sexy lady cop can sometimes take on an Us vs. Them character. Generally the Halloween costume party fanatics are on the left half of the political spectrum, where cops are a political enemy group from the right half. That is compounded by the racial divide if the lady cop is white and the male spectator is black or Latino. It's hard to think of a group that black men bitterly hate more than "white cops" -- but if it's a white-woman cop wearing booty shorts and fishnets, then suddenly it's socially permissible among their group to back the blue (for one night, anyway.)

More clearly political is the case of right-wing talking head Tomi Lahren dressing up as celebrity leftist AOC:


Here, she's not dressing up as a generic "sexy leftist" -- perhaps wearing a Che Guevara shirt and dying her hair blue for the night -- but specifically AOC. This means that she and her audience believe that AOC is hot enough to serve as a sexy Halloween costume. The red-blooded red-staters in her audience could never be allowed to marry or have kids with AOC, but they still want to "fuck the liberalism right out of her". That too would violate sexual taboos, though -- you're not supposed to even sleep with an outgroup member.

However, if it's not the true AOC -- but a right-wing babe cosplaying as her -- then it's socially permissible among them to lust after the Commie from Queens. It's bending the norms rather than breaking them. And for the rest of the year, these left vs. right boundaries become stronger after being bent and tested on Halloween night. As in the lady cop example, this case has compounded thrills due to the racial factor, with a Nordic right-winger cosplaying as a left-wing Latina.

There was a similar case in the late 2000s and early 2010s, where left-wing guys lusted after Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin, but could only express this in a socially permissible way if it were actually a left-wing woman cosplaying as Palin (comedian Tina Fey or pornstar Lisa Ann). I wasn't at parties with the middle-aged target audience, but Google Images turns up plenty of results for "Sarah Palin Halloween costume".

Notwithstanding these left vs. right examples, polarization is a fractal phenomenon. It's not just the highest-level group, like the nation, that is polarized, but every level on down. The left is highly fractured within itself, as is the right. And each fragment of the left (or right) is itself fragmented, and so on down the line.

So by now it's not just the left dressing up as the right, but one camp within the left dressing up as another left camp. For example, here is Anna Khachiyan's costume from last year. She's dressing up as a basic Becky from the East Coast suburbs who's a regular at Starbucks, has a marketing consultant career, and loved Hillary Clinton in 2016. In other words, a "fellow" member of the left half of the spectrum, but still separated by a sub-cultural divide from the Bohemian olive-skinned ethnic from the urban core who's a regular at Sweet Green, has a niche podcast career, and loved Bernie in 2016. Her audience is from the same in-group, and instantly recognizes which out-group she is cosplaying as.

Choosing the Starbucks Becky reveals that the guys and girls of her sub-culture believe that this out-group is attractive, even if they would distance themselves from them by saying "conventionally attractive". To them, Starbucks Becky's are so attractive that they can serve as a sexy Halloween costume. Anna's fellow urbanite arts majors are prohibited from marrying or having children with someone whose favorite musician is Taylor Swift, and yet they can't help but lust after their long luscious waves, thigh-high boots, and intimacy-enabling lack of irony poisoning. However, if it's not a true Starbucks Becky -- but an art-hoe podcaster cosplaying as one -- then it's socially permissible among their group to openly lust after the type. (For one night, anyway, then it's back to the sub-culture war, whose faultline has been clarified by this boundary-bending exercise.)

Finally there was the case of strengthening the boundary between two factions within the Bernie left, the stylistically radical neoliberals vs. the anti-woke left. Although technically not for a party since she was only hanging out with herself on Halloween, here is a radlib girl cosplaying as the anti-woke left princess, Aimee Terese. As with Tomi Lahren dressing up as AOC, this girl did not wear generic signifiers to look like a generic "sexy anti-woke leftist," but specifically modeled herself after Aimee's iconic Twitter avatar. Both she and her audience feel that Aimee is unambiguously hot enough to serve as a sexy Halloween costume.

Normally, the radlib soyboys would never be permitted to openly thirst after a boo-hiss class-reductionist and anti-feminist, as much as they might want her. But if it's not actually Aimee, only a radlib thot cosplaying as her, then it's off to the horndog races. For one night, anyway, and then the radlib vs. anti-woke boundary gets stronger for the rest of the year after it's been bent and tested.

I'll add other examples in the comments if I think of them. But that covers the phenomenon from the highest to the lowest scale of group polarization.

October 22, 2020

Programming note: Halloween season, and Millennials' inability to celebrate Halloween outside a Saturday

Just a brief note that I will continue ignoring the 24-hour news cycle, the cravings of take junkies from social media, and so on and so forth, notwithstanding the upcoming election.

The last few posts could've been written at any time, and are more of an update on the media's abject failure to figure out what planet they're on. Standard, boring stuff that's not intriguing, or original, or insightful -- but that needs to be spelled out in detail, at least once, ahead of another major election that they're going to completely fuck up in predicting.

There might be a final lighthearted post when the libtard tears start flowing on election night, but until then, it's going to be Halloween themed around here. I didn't want to delve into these topics right when October began because it dilutes the holiday's energy when it's spread across the entire month, and people are basically habituated to it by the time October 31st rolls around.

It's too bad that the coronavirus pandemic has shut down the party atmosphere this year, because this is one of the rare years where Halloween falls on a Saturday.

For the past decade, the socially awkward Millennial generation has altered the day for celebrating Halloween, to suit their inability to cut loose and have fun every once in awhile. For them, the only acceptable day is "the Saturday before Halloween" -- everybody's routine already includes Saturday night as the consensus night for going out to party, so why disturb the routine?

If you celebrated Halloween on October 31st, that could very well fall on a school night / night before work. That's part of the carnivalesque inversion of rules and roles that these holidays allow us to indulge in. But for the hidebound Millennials, you can't just show up to school or work the next day in a post-party buzz or hangover -- that would disturb the routine of school and work! You need that buffer of Sunday before things return to normal on Monday, with any mischief and merrymaking safely quarantined to Saturday.

Since Halloween coincides with Saturday this year, the awkward Millennials wouldn't have their typical excuse not to celebrate the holiday on its real date. That ought to make it feel like a rare treat for them: "Wow, it's been so many years since we got to party on literal Halloween night!"

As in so many other areas of life, Millennials have a knack for cucking themselves. They're self-chaperones. "Don't worry, Mom and Dad / Mr. Principal / Supervisor Karen, we're not going to party on a Tuesday night or anything crazy like that..."

It's not that they're so responsible or conscientious -- they're used to half-assing everything due to grade inflation being the norm in school. It's that they're socially awkward because their helicopter parents raised them in a bubble, and they've grown up incapable of adjusting to the social-cultural world beyond the bubble. Helicopter parents would never allow partying on a Tuesday night, but they would convene a family meeting with their children, and reach a sensible compromise of partying on "the Saturday before Halloween". Crisis averted -- bubble integrity unbreached!

Like the Silent Generation before them, the Millennials are going to absolutely go off the deep-end when the social-cultural mood becomes outgoing instead of cocooning, and crime rates start steadily rising again. They'll be in their late 20s, 30s, even 40s, and they'll feel the irresistible urge to live bubble-wrap-free for the first time in their whole lives, once the social mood has shifted to make it acceptable and standard to let your guard down, go with the flow, etc.

It wasn't Boomers who the hippies drew from, but the Silents who were shaped by the cocooning Midcentury. But, unaccustomed to the novel environment, they were unadapted and unprepared for it, and they were the ones who got easily sucked into drugs, divorce, and the rest of the bad parts of the late '60s.

If you think that won't happen to Millennials when the culture becomes more guard-down, just remember they can't even celebrate Halloween outside of a Saturday because it would threaten their humdrum workday routine. How are they going to handle the next "let it all hang out" kind of zeitgeist?

October 14, 2020

Which groups are most dissimulating about Trump support, and which DGAF about elite media pressure?

Part 1 and part 2 on the brokenness of the polls in predicting the outcome of the upcoming election. Now we'll look inside the cross-tabs of the IBD poll to see who feels the strongest pressure to appease the elite media inquisitors by responding "don't know," "third party," or "Biden," when in fact they're voting Trump. We'll also see who feels the weakest pressure to disguise their voting intention.

Supposedly, Trump is trailing among so many groups, perhaps doing worse than last time among some (like whites). It's easier to look at which groups show an increase in support, compared to the 2016 exit polls. They are most definitely not hiding their support, if it's even greater than during the last election. Dissimulation is only compatible with falling support in poll responses.

Trump is winning those with only high school education by 60-38, widening his lead from last time of 51-46. Among those making less than $30K in income, he's losing 44-50, but that's only half the gap from last time, 40-53, and light-years beyond what you'd expect for a Republican in the Reagan era. He's losing urban residents 36-59, but that too is a small improvement over losing them 34-60 last time. And he's losing Hispanics 39-54, but that's dramatically better than losing them 28-66 last time.

All it took for the GOP to win nearly half the Hispanic vote was a nuclear neg from the presidential nominee -- calling them murderers, rapists, and drug dealers, and threatening them with deportation. "Ey mang, I ain't no bad guy, I'm a good guy, let me prove it to you, mang." Trump has overseen skyrocketing immigration and border crossings from the south, far more than under Obama, so by now they assume he was just bluffing, negging, or empty dog-whistling, or that the party / the rest of the government over-rode his orders.

If you haven't noticed, there are hardly any Hispanics at the psycho libtard marches, protests, riots, etc. They know first-hand that Trump is not "rounding up minorities" or whatever the affluent white liberals are getting hysterical about. They can see directly that their kids are not in cages. Their gangs kept out would-be rioters in Chicago by chasing away any black person who entered their neighborhoods -- hardly a group that's on board with "Black" Lives Matter, let alone white Antifa.

The major open question about them is their turnout. Hispanics show the least civic engagement, including voting in elections. Their lack of participation in the libtard protests is part of that pattern -- even the liberals among them are too apathetic to get psyched up with the white and black long-term base of the Democrat party. They aren't that deeply incorporated into its patronage networks, so why should they invest so much in the party?

This shift among Hispanics pretty much secures Florida for Trump, and puts Nevada and (to a lesser extent) New Mexico in play for the GOP (both have voted GOP several times in the Reagan era). It definitively removes any Sun Belt state from flipping blue (Arizona, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, or whatever else the delusional Dems are imagining). It doesn't have much influence over the Rust Belt, since it's the least Hispanic or immigrant region in the nation. But if those races are close for other reasons, a little increase in Hispanic support could help him eke out another narrow win in one of those states.

As an aside on the Electoral College, a new path has opened up through the Southwest. Namely, the Romney states, the swing states of Ohio and Florida, the Southwestern states of Nevada and New Mexico, and only his widest-margin flip in the Midwest from 2016, Iowa. That's exactly 270, and allows him to lose Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and the one district in Maine. It's a close race, so the party is likely not switching tracks to throw the big states that they've already won in the Rust Belt and rely solely on their reach goals in the Southwest. But it's worth pointing out a new path this time, or a way for his 2016 map to expand.

Trump's support from poor people and those without degrees -- "I love the poorly educated," he ad-libbed in 2016 -- is a further consolidation from last time. It's not that the GOP is a working-class party, it's that they're a party of elites and commoners, while the left / Democrats have alienated themselves into a party of managers without subjects.

This is not a steady-state, though, but nearing the end of the pendulum swing in the direction it's headed for decades. It will swing around when the Dems realign by competing for the Deplorable vote with material goodies and an end of cultural shaming. Libtards have delayed realignment at least until 2024, but could go until 2028 if they keep up their puritanical polarization when they're the opposition party of their era.

What do these demographics have in common? They're the least likely to be locked in the elite media bubble, or to be striving their way toward the elite stratum. Whatever pressures would be put on them in order to be accepted among respectable elite circles, do not faze them. They don't care if some yuppie prick from the media thinks they're evil for voting Trump, they'll tell him so anyway.

Conversely, those who are most insecure in their economic and cultural status are most susceptible to appeasing the pollsters, while eventually voting Trump like last time. These are somewhat above-median income earners (not the rich), suburbanites, with some college but not a bachelor's or more, whites, and women.

This is not the AWFL / wine mom demographic, despite being white suburban women who are not poor and who have attended college classes. The key difference is that they are "lower-middle" income and have only "some college" education.

The AWFLs were already bitterly anti-Trump last time, and no more blood could be squeezed from that stone -- only ginning up a higher turnout, not a higher percent opposition to Trump. Hence the pussy hat marches, flipping a handful of House districts, and so on. But that does not scale up to the level of a state, which is why the "blue wave" mid-terms saw Dems losing Senate seats. By catering to the agitated yet tiny pool of pussy hat marchers, to narrowly win back the House, they alienated the rest of the state that these AWFL districts were in.

Naturally that means they won't be a path to flipping a single state in the Electoral College, when they will also get swamped by normie participation in a presidential election year, unlike the fringe mid-terms for obsessives. They may pad the margin for Biden in the pseudo-popular vote, though.

The lower-middle class women with only some college classes, are the ones who the AWFLs were ruthlessly castigating during the pussy hat marches. "How dare white women give Trump the edge he needed!" Four years of relentless cultural pressure on them, and they're now unwilling to openly state their views to their cry-bully frenemies above them on the class pyramid. They know they'll just get yelled at some more, and lose any shot at climbing higher on the respectability ladder.

But that doesn't mean the propaganda campaign has altered their voting behavior. It was AWFLs and other wealthy educated elites who flipped the House in 2018. If the lower-middle / some-college suburban women had succumbed to the pressure once inside the voting booth, the Dems would've flipped dozens more districts, and would've at least held or even gained seats in the Senate.

Women value security more than men, especially if they're not wealthy and elite enough to afford living far from violent areas or hiring private security. So these taqiya Trump voters are really not going to resonate with the BLM / Antifa riots that have burned down the cities that they live right on the edge of. They might not say so openly to pollsters, but like hell they're going to vote for the party responsible for setting off and sustaining the most destructive riots in 50 years.

Some of the huge swing away from Trump in polls of white suburban women is real, if the women do not have families to ground them (not necessarily husbands or children, but their own non-marital family). Then their only source of social pressure is the media stream that they beam into their brain for a simulation of belonging to a solid respectable middle class, rather than struggling lower-middle. But that's not as common as women who are still involved in their family's activities -- especially in the Rust Belt where residents are deeply rooted, and there are few transplants.

At any rate, it's hard to see even the true shift among lower-middles overwhelming the dramatic increase in support from the no-college group.

In all likelihood, the true shift among white suburban women -- the AWFLs getting ginned up in turnout, and a minority of lower-middle ones decreasing their preference for Trump -- just means that the coastal elite states will vote even more strongly for the Democrat, without affecting the election. That's where these psycho strivers and their status-insecure followers are concentrated -- not in flyover country, and not in the unglamorous Rust Belt.

Anyone from flyover country who would be susceptible to such pressure has already moved out to the coastal elite states, making the composition of their home states more stubbornly anti-elite (as any of the bitter Midwestern transplants in coastal mega-cities will endlessly complain about, near family-time holidays).

How many over-produced elites do the over-produced elites think there are in the Rust Belt? Hint: Wisconsin ranks 35 out of 50 in advanced degree-holders per capita, identical to South Carolina and Texas. And Ohio is only a tad higher. So much for all of that "revenge of the nerds" triumphalism -- the poorly educated are about to shove the elite strivers into the smelliest locker they've ever been stuffed into.

If Trump's first victory made them hysterical, his re-election will leave them shell-shocked. Inshallah, we can get back to a normal climate if the libs descend into Trump Catatonia Syndrome. Rather like the late 2000s when Bush Jr. got re-elected, compared to the deranged early 2000s.

RAWR-ing Twenties, here we come. xD

October 13, 2020

"Shy" Trump vote stronger in 2020, only revealed by impersonal questions that let respondent avoid feeling shamed by media hysteria

Building on the previous post about how the polls are still wrong due to the warping effect of media hysteria, let's take a look at how the form of the question massively alters the outcomes -- from an apparent Biden landslide to a dead-even race.

There are really only two polls worth looking at this time, and they're the same two from last time -- the USC poll and the IBD poll. They were the most accurate, and they're tracking polls, which means they're sampling the same people over and over, not recruiting new samples every time. That eliminates response bias as a potential corrupter.

Response bias occurs when the people who do vs. do not agree to participate in the poll also differ in how they would answer the questions. For example, if Trump has a bad debate performance, it will demoralize his supporters and make them less inclined to answer the poll, while emboldening those of his rival and make them more inclined to answer.

If you recruit your sample after this influential event, it will bias the outcomes toward whoever the event cast in a better light. By recruiting a single sample in advance, and questioning that same group over and over, you're measuring true changes in their preferences, rather than people with some traits being weeded out and those with other traits being attracted to participate.

However, that still leaves the large problem of how forthcoming the participants are in their responses. Normally they wouldn't have to worry about telling the truth, but given the absolutely psychotic climate of hysteria that the media has created over the past 4-5 years, there's now an immense pressure to give the cultural elite approved answer -- i.e., against the fascist Nazi dictator Trump.

The media have made that portrayal so widespread that it's a background assumption of their poll questions. Namely, "Are you going to vote for the fascist Nazi dictator, or the guy who is not a fascist Nazi dictator -- just curious?"

Some people feel fine defying the fake news media, taunting them to their face at Trump rallies and so on. They will answer truthfully, denying the premise of the pollster's question. "He's not that -- that's just your BS propaganda about him -- and yes I am voting for him."

But others are not so comfortable with confrontation, especially if they're up against a representative of an elite sector like the media. They don't want to be mistaken for one of those uncouth types who screams "fake news," or they don't feel like getting dragged into yet another conversation about Trump that will not only go nowhere, but will result in them feeling shamed by the other side. These people are not going to open up, and will either give a non-committal answer like "don't know / third party," or will straight-up lie and say they're voting for Biden.

Given how hysterical and judgmental the cultural climate has become, I wouldn't be surprised if most of these types are answering "Biden" rather than "don't know / third party". If you give the non-committal answer, you're not really doing your fullest to stop the fascist Nazi dictator, and "don't know" implies you could actually vote for the Orange Bad Man by election day.

If you really want to be cleared of the charges brought against you -- "you're not one of those evil Trump voters, are you?" -- and not feel the spotlight of shame beaming down on you, you have to give an affirmative response for the anti-fascist Democrat superhero (the guy who voted for NAFTA and the Iraq War, and whose brain is melting out of his nose).

If the problem were just non-committal answers, then it would understate Trump's support but have no bearing on Biden's support. If the problem is saying "Biden" to escape the inquisitors unequivocally, then it both understates Trump and overstates Biden, warping the point gap between them even worse.

To overcome this obstacle created by the media, some pollsters, including the two good ones, have added questions that don't ask about the respondent's personal choice, which might activate that impulse to avoid or appease the inquisitors. Rather, they ask who the respondent expects to win among their social circle, or among their entire state.

This displaces responsibility for a potential Trump win away from the individual being questioned, and onto a diffuse group of others who cannot be identified for interrogation of their own. So if Trump wins, it wasn't me -- it was the Boogedy Voter! Don't punish me, go look over there in the shadows for the culprit, I know he must be lurking there somewhere!

Not surprisingly, these de-responsibilizing questions yield much more accurate answers. In the USC poll for Oct 11, their standard question (your choice, weighted by likelihood of turnout) produces Biden 54 vs. Trump 41 -- an utter wipe-out. How about your expectation for those in your social contacts? Suddenly the gap gets cut in half to Biden 52 vs. Trump 45. How about what you expect of those in your state? Now it comes down to a coin-flip with Biden 48 vs. Trump 46, statistically indistinguishable.

In fact, that question about those in your state has shown results that are statistically insignificant, because they're basically overlapping, for the entire tracking period back to Aug 17. Just like in 2016, this has always been a tight race for the pseudo-popular vote, and nobody is going to win it by big margins (over 5 points). It's likely Biden will wind up a bit ahead in the pseudo-popular vote, while losing the actual election to the first-term incumbent from the dominant party of the current period, beginning with Reagan.

(To see these charts for yourself, click on "All Graphs" near the top of the USC site, and mess around with the drop-down menus.)

The key thing for now is how drastically different the results are depending on the form of the question -- crucially, how tightly focused the spotlight of shame and blame is on the respondent. The standard questions produce risible outcomes -- predicting the unprecedented, while ruling out the amply attested. The de-responsibilizing questions produce outcomes that are within the realm of possibility.

That proves that it's a social pressure on the individual that's warping the picture in the standard questions. Anyone remotely in touch with the media of the Trump era knows what that pressure is, where it's coming from, and why some groups would want to escape its force.

We may have a priori guesses about which demographic groups would be most susceptible to these pressures from the elite media, but we can always look empirically and see which groups show the most risible results in the standard-question polls. For that, we'll look at the cross-tabs in the link above to the IBD / TIPP tracking poll, in a follow-up post.

October 9, 2020

The polls are wrong again: expecting the unprecedented, and ruling out the amply attested, in a status quo election

By this point, the results of presidential opinion polls reveal more about their own methodology, and the broader climate of opinion that is heavily shaped by the media, than they do about the outcome of the election. I'm not going to micro-analyze any single poll, because the failures are systemic and require the pollsters themselves -- not me -- to inspect each step of their process to locate where all the failures are.

How do we know that the polls are broken? Because their results are off in outer space, with little to no precedent throughout the entire political era we're currently in (the neoliberal / Reagan era, beginning in 1980). If a poll's design, methodology, and execution produce such risible results, then they are in need of one hell of a "de-bugging," to borrow a term from software programming.

Imagine if their result said that "Hillary Clinton, the Republican, will win X percent of the vote in 2020, while Donald Trump, the Democrat, will win 100-X percent." We would dismiss everything that this poll yielded because it is so fundamentally broken that it got the candidates' parties reversed, and even then it thinks that Clinton, not Biden, is the 2020 Dem nominee.

These would not be isolated flukes, like typos, that could be easily corrected and put our worries to rest. They would only be the tip of the iceberg -- the most starkly visible symptoms of a broader underlying syndrome. For example, if the guy coding the candidates' parties was stoned out of his mind, he likely introduced other errors into the process, just ones that will take a finer-grained investigation to root out and correct.

The results of the polls act as a test of the underlying design, methodology, and execution. If it is ridiculous, we don't accept it just because it came from some design and methodology -- it means we should be suspicious of the design and methods that yielded it. To blindly accept whatever any old model generates is to practice cargo-cult science. We would then subject each step of the process to ruthless scrutiny, to be sure that the process generating an extreme result is sound. In all likelihood, it means the process is not sound.

In fairness, maybe it would pass the ruthless inspection, and we are about to experience an extreme result. However, none of the polls yielding these ridiculous results are in fact being subjected to such de-bugging, to fully reassure what ought to be a highly skeptical audience. Instead the results are being accepted at face value -- not that they take any single one to be correct, but that in some aggregate, they are correct. But averaging a bunch of risible results does not make their processes any more sound or reliable. The average of a pile of garbage is still garbage.

What are some of the most flagrant examples of these results? I might add others in the comments as I come across them, but here are the big whoppers.

1. The challenger (Biden) is going to unseat a one-term incumbent (Trump) from the dominant party (GOP) of the era (Reaganism).

This has never happened in our era, and the last time it did was the realignment election that started it all -- Reagan unseating Carter in 1980. The 2020 election is not one of realignment -- indeed, Biden is adamantly campaigning on returning to the status quo ante Trump, who is disjunctive, rather than trying to steal Trump's anti-Reaganite themes from 2016 and promising to deliver on them in a way that Trump himself has been mostly unable to. (Reagan out-Cartered Carter on dismantling the New Deal.)

2. The winner is going to win the popular vote by 9-10 points.

Also has not happened since the realigner Reagan. In '84, he won by nearly 18 points -- but that was a re-election, not his first win, and he was from the dominant party of his era, not the opposition. Plus he was a realigner. None of those conditions is true for Biden in 2020. Reagan also won by nearly 10 points in '80, when he was an opposition-party challenger to a one-term incumbent from the dominant party of the era. So again, this reduces to how analogous 2020 is to 1980 (not at all).

3. The Democrat in the Reagan era will win voters aged 65 and older -- and if the flashy polls are to be believed, by something like 60% to 40%.

Qualitatively, this does have some precedent, albeit 20 years ago or longer: Clinton won them in both '92 and '96, and Gore won them in 2000. But quantitatively, the result is without precedent. Gore only narrowly won them (51% to 47%), and both of Clinton's elections had a major third-party candidate (Perot) who drew more from Republicans than Democrats. Putting Perot voters back to their usual party, Clinton would still have won seniors, but again only narrowly (low 50-something percent range). That is also the typical range for how this age group usually votes in the Reagan era, i.e. Republican (Trump won them 52% to 45%).

Once again, you'd have to go back to realigner Reagan to find seniors voting 60% for either party. Even if Trump did narrowly lose them, that would not prevent a win -- Obama lost them both times and won both times, and Bush lost them in 2000 and still won. The 45-64 age group is more important.

4. Third party vote share will be in the 5-10 point range.

Much of the reason why polls show Biden leading by so much is because there are so many saying they'll vote third party, are unsure, etc. There is some precedent for that in our era: 6% voted third parties in 2016, Perot exceeded that in '92 and '96, and Anderson got over 6% in '80. But we know that's not happening this time because third parties are effectively invisible and inactive, and each major party is far more unified than four years ago.

There's no Jill Stein leading a march of angry Bernie bros and babes outside the DNC, nor a Gary Johnson being constantly platformed by MSNBC to target suburban moderates, nor a McCuckin platformed by CNN to steal Utah (he ended up robbing Trump of Minnesota instead). Most people could not name the Green or Libertarian nominee this time around.

Perhaps 0.5% will go to the Greens, 1% Libertarian, and no more than another 0.5% combined for the others. Most of the supposed non-major party support from polling will wind up in Trump's column on election day: the Libertarians are far more numerous than the Greens, wary right-wingers no longer consider Trump a wild card or beyond the pale, and Republicans are the only ones with an incentive to say "not sure" when polled, since the climate of hysteria and fear makes them, not the Democrats, the evil witches whose homes must be burned down to save humanity.

The parties are more unified than in 2016, but the GOP is more united than the Dems, since there was no contest for the primary on the GOP side (incumbent president), whereas there was a decent contest from the Bernie bros on the Dem side (albeit far less enthusiastic and effective than in 2016). Bitter or disillusioned voters, who make up the target for third parties, will be more common on the Dem rather than GOP side.

5. Battlegrounds: Arizona flipping blue, no Rust Belters remaining red

The current RCP average has Biden up over 3 points in Arizona, a state that has only voted Democrat once in the Reagan era, in '96 -- when there was a big third-party wild card (Perot), and when the Democrat was the first-term incumbent president, neither of which applies today. Rationalizers try to paper over this ridiculous prediction by pointing to Trump's narrower margin there in 2016, compared to Romney's or McCain's performance in the two elections before that. But that was due to "respectable" Republicans chafing at Trump and voting third party -- Clinton got no more of the vote than Obama did either time. Since those wary Republicans are coming home this time, Trump's margin will be closer to McCain's or Romney's than it was last time. Arizona is not a battleground.

On the flipside of the loyal Republican Sun Belt, there was the disaffected Rust Belt that defected from blue to red last time. Current polling averages show none of them remaining red this time. This systemic model failure is the flipside of expecting the unprecedented -- ruling out the amply attested. The Rust Belt voted for Reagan twice, and while Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa voted blue in '88, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania voted for George Bush Sr. Iowa voted for Bush Jr. during re-election in '04, and Trump is now up for re-election. Not to mention the even more recent history -- namely, the very last election, when Trump swept the region.

The models do not have to predict that Trump is going to sweep the region to the same degree as last time, but ruling out even a single hold (including the purple / swing state of Ohio) is an absurdity. And worse than that, a biased absurdity. These results are not all over the place, some ridiculously pro-Biden and some ridiculously pro-Trump -- they are uniformly in the pro-Democrat direction. They are not predicting Trump to win New Jersey, or to expand his popular vote share by 10 points.

These failures interact with the problem of the third party estimates. On the eve of the last election, polls in the Rust Belt suggested that 5-10% would vote third party. In reality, only half of the estimate actually did, and the other half voted Trump, while hardly any voted Clinton. This kept the estimates of Clinton's share pretty accurate, but then "delivered" Trump a "bump" of several points over his polling. In most states, that was enough to overtake Clinton, although in Minnesota the degree was not enough to win outright (though it was qualitatively the same pattern).

The terms "deliver" and "bump" are in quotes because those people did not actually make up their minds last-minute, or "break for" Trump. They were going to vote for him, but did not want to tell that to the pollsters. Clinton supporters felt no pressure to keep their intentions secret, so they saw no apparent last-minute bump of undecideds in their favor.

This pattern is repeating itself this election: Biden's estimates on the eve of the election will be pretty accurate, but half of the undecideds will be Trump voters and give him an apparent last-minute bump. We're still weeks away from the eve of the election, so the polls will narrow in Trump's favor over that period, just as they did last time. The narrowing in polls, plus the apparent bump, will win Trump at least some of these states again. Regardless of which ones are held, the net effect will be a Trump re-election, although perhaps by a smaller Electoral College margin than last time.

Without going into a whole 'nother post about the causes of these failures, suffice it to say that the media themselves are to blame for the systemic failures of their polling models. They have bombarded the culture with unrelenting hysterical propaganda not only against Trump but against everyone who voted for him, or even sympathized with his campaign. Naturally that will make a lot of his supporters unwilling to respond to the pollster in the first place, or to guard their answer behind a non-committal "third party / don't know" response. They have not only not hammered the same propaganda campaign against Democrat voters, they have sanctified them, so there is no counter-balancing pressure for them to hide their intentions.

Republican elites do not control the informational sectors of society, but the material sectors, and they have not used them to intimidate, demonize, or otherwise pressure the voters of the other side. The military is not withholding national defense, say by waving foreign armies in to freely occupy urban Democrat strongholds. The agriculture cartel is not starving the cities of food shipments. Big oil and big coal are not turning off the power in blue zip codes. And the manufacturing cartel is not withholding cars, clothing, or other products from liberal customers.

And even if they were, the military et al. don't control the polling firms -- why would a hypothetical Democrat who got harmed by GOP elite sectors feel intimidated to reveal his voting preference to the media, which is on the other side of the political spectrum? Maybe they wouldn't want to say they're Democrats if they faced a military checkpoint outside of a voting station, but to a pollster from the mainstream liberal media? They'd feel perfectly fine venting to fellow Democrats.

Because the media, entertainment, and info-tech sectors have only ramped up their psychotic attacks against half the population, do not expect presidential polling to get better anytime soon. Rather, the results will only reveal in what ways and to what degree the polls are systematically broken, due to the climate of hysteria created by those sectors themselves.

October 6, 2020

TikTok trend: late 2000s revival (scene girls, Manic Pixie Dream Girls, pop punk)

As of this year, we've left the vulnerable / refractory phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, and entered the restless / warm-up phase -- the most recent one being the late 2000s. So it's only natural for there to be a revival and fondness for that mini-era today (the RAWRing '20s).

That revival is finally making its way into TikTok trends. Here is one that's already over 1 million views in a few days, along with two follow-up videos here and here. It's hard to call a "trend" with only one example, but something that insanely popular is bound to be repeated by others.

It's not just the references to pop culture of the time that make this a revival, but the social-emotional zeitgeist that she's channeling. Namely, one where guys and girls were starting to come out of their shells, after the refractory phase of the early 2000s, which we will see repeating over the next several years, after the refractory phase of the late 2010s. Her nurturing and encouraging role in rehabilitating her anon bf, and her fun-loving and free-spirited persona, are right out of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl movie of that time.

Since TikTok is for much younger users than other major online platforms, this is quasi-cosplay of one mini-generation by another, rather than those who were the main participants reminiscing about their own experiences. Girls in their late teens now were just kindergarteners in 2008.

There is a sweet spot for those born in the late '90s, though -- they were in middle school in the late 2000s, and could have easily gone through a scene-girl phase. And they're just in their early 20s, so re-enacting a youth culture would still fit with their current life stage (as opposed to trying to do so in their 30s or later).

I think even the original scene girls, who were born in the early '90s, could still pull off a re-enactment in their late 20s, if they haven't ruined their looks and energy levels in the meantime.

This is similar to the '80s revival of the late 2000s, BTW, which was mainly conducted by people born in the '80s and therefore too young to have participated in the teenage or adult culture of the time, but who were still alive and had memories of the zeitgeist. Only now, they were going to re-live the time as adolescents or young adults.

To close, a reminder that TikTok is the least politicized of the major platforms. Think of how easy it would've been for her to insert a reference to "that guy from The Apprentice" being the president. Instead she chose the coronavirus pandemic from today to emphasize how much better the good ol' days were.

Every politicized TikTok that you see on social media has been deliberately curated for hate-views by Millennials, whose online consumption habits are still stuck in the parasocial and parapolitical 2010s.

The largely Zoomer user base for TikTok doesn't know who RBG is, or that there's even an election about to happen. They're too engrossed in the coming-out-of-your-shell zeitgeist -- simple step dances, calling your crush, kissing your best friend, and playing an earthly guardian angel role to your down-but-not-out bf. None of these feature parasocial personas with armies of followers who remain glued to whatever their idol is doing at the moment, but are super-individual trends whose viral stars may never have another big moment.

If you're a Millennial driving yourself crazy from social media, you're doing it to yourself, to compete for cyber-status with your fellow Millennial online striver peers. Ditch Twitter and start a blog if you want to do something cerebral, or make wholesome fun TikTok videos for mindless corporeal entertainment. In other words, RETVRN to the late 2000s online culture, where early YouTube was like TikTok.

September 29, 2020

Realignment only after Trump's 2nd term, not during / after Biden: Disjunctive vs. rehabilitating phases of the regime cycle

The phrase "realignment" has gotten thrown around so much over the past several years, 99% of which has been nothing more than wish-casting from partisans. In that usage, "realignment" means "my cadre will finally become the governing elites, implementing our custom plans for all of society".

Shut up, moron, no it does not -- and no you will not.

This is not a pedantic squabble over the meaning of words. It's about descriptive analysis vs. prescriptive emoting ("takes," "reactions," etc.).

Realignment means that the current structure of political coalitions will be shaken up somehow, not necessarily in any specific way, and that as a result of this shifting balance of power, the government will pursue programs that are different from the status quo somehow, not in any particular way.

* * *

The current structure of coalitions has the military controlling the Republican party, which represented a dramatic shift during the most recent realignment under Reagan, since the military bases (the Greater South) used to be rock-solid Democrat territory. But during both periods -- the New Deal and the neoliberal -- the military was part of the dominant coalition that kicked off their period's realignment (the Democrats of the New Deal, and then the Republicans of the Reagan era).

That was the major defection that defined the realignment away from the New Deal coalitions, and into the Reaganite coalitions. The GOP was already controlled by the manufacturing and agriculture sectors during the New Deal, when they were the weaker opposition coalition. But by picking up the defectors from the military elites -- and along with them, the geographical turf of their client base, i.e. Southern voters -- the GOP suddenly became the dominant coalition of the neoliberal era. (They also picked up Texas oil and West Virginia coal, but these were not decisive, and Texas would've flipped on the basis of the military defection alone.)

As a result of that realignment, the finance sector was dethroned from membership in the dominant coalition. It controlled the Democrat party under both the New Deal and neoliberal eras, but their party lost dominant status when the military and the Greater South defected to the GOP.

This describes the basic shake-up of political coalitions between those two eras. What were the major changes in how the government ran society, based on the shift in the balance of power? Well, it has been consistently militaristic during both eras, since the military has belonged to the dominant coalition of each era. However, it has been financially unrestrained in the neoliberal era, since the finance sector no longer enjoys dominant status, and can therefore no longer wield as much power of the purse (and printing presses) as it used to during the New Deal.

The military of the New Deal era pursued WWII, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam (and Southeast Asia), not to mention lesser adventures. But, all that unprofitable militarism did not bankrupt the nation because the finance sector made sure that the debts were paid off. After the realignment of 1980, public debt has exploded because the unprofitable military is still in the driver's seat, but now the finance sector is the little kid in the backseat powerlessly pleading for his dad to stop driving like such a maniac.

(I use the term "unprofitable" despite the obvious pork-barrel patronage flowing to the military sector, to emphasize that this represents waste from the financiers' perspective of "return-on-investment". All those trillions spent on wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and how much richer is any sector of society outside of the military?)

Likewise, the manufacturing sector went from opposition to dominant status, and that too has contributed to the explosion of public debt, as the trade deficit has taken off like a rocket. Manufacturing elites benefit by cutting costs, mainly by off-shoring their factories to cheap-labor colonies. Now that much of the manufacturing-related wealth is being generated outside of the US -- and with profits only flowing to the private pockets of the manufacturing elites -- we've lost a major source of revenue to tax in order to pay for the government.

Those are the two defining trends of the Reagan realignment -- debt-bursting militarism and de-industrialization. Also, the explosion in immigration since Reagan, which is just the flipside of off-shoring factories -- bringing the cheap labor here, when the work-sites cannot be transplanted outside of the nation (food service, landscaping, chauffeuring, etc.).

Realignment away from the current arrangement does not mean we're going right back to the good ol' Wonder Years of the New Deal era, and its pattern of which sectors controlled which political parties. It just means that some elite sectors -- and their geographically defined client base -- will defect from one party to the other party, shifting the balance of power not merely away from the GOP, but away from the sectors that will make up the new opposition coalition, and toward the sectors that will belong to the new dominant coalition.

* * *

Back in 2018 when I wrote on these topics, I suspected that at least one big sector to switch will have to be industrial commodities, such as steel, who produce the raw ingredients that go into the manufucturing of final goods. As the manufacturing of final goods has been off-shored, the domestic demand for the ingredients into those processes has dried up. That leaves the elites of the industrial commodity sector bitter, and ripe for defection.

One of them, Wilbur Ross (steel), was a key supporter of the intended re-industrialization policies of the Trump 2016 campaign and his eventual administration. It was not just tariffs on foreign steel within the US, which can only affect how much of the tiny domestic demand for steel goes to American steel companies. The main problem is the tiny domestic demand for steel of any origin, due to our lack of industrial-scale manufacturing, now that the factories have been sent to cheap-labor colonies. Bringing the factories back would do exponentially more to boost demand for US steel than even 100% tariffs, under the current trend of off-shoring factories that require steel to make their final goods.

If the industrial commodity sector defected to the Democrats, and brought along with them the current and new legions of steelworkers, that would be a realignment. The populous state of Pennsylvania would become a Democrat stronghold, instead of a state that voted for Reagan twice, Bush Sr., Trump once, and likely Trump again, while never being a deep-blue state even under Clinton and Obama.

More importantly for realignment, though, would be the currently deep-red state of Indiana -- which, if all your knowledge comes from the propaganda complex, you probably didn't know was the #1 steel producing state, since Pennsylvania got gutted during de-industrialization. Granted, most of that is in the Chicago metro area that extends just over the border, but that includes a lot of people. Being part of the Rust Belt -- not the Great Plains breadbasket -- means that its population has been and continues to be huge, since industrialization supports a much higher population size than agriculture. It's in the top 15-20 states by population, along with Massachusetts, and way bigger than all those dinky little blue states along the East Coast and out West (aside from New York and California). Media junkies and lib-arts majors don't know any of this -- but now you do.

At the intersection of these trends is the shuttering of military bases all over the country, while expanding the military's presence outside of the nation, especially in the Middle East and Afghanistan. That is the primary reason that several states and regions flipped from red or toss-up to reliably blue under the neoliberal era. California values are no less libertarian and libertine than they were back in the '70s, but their material economic base used to rely heavily on military bases and defense manufacturing, whereas that's almost entirely gone now, outside of San Diego's naval base. When the military patrons removed Californians from their client base, that was the end of the Republican party's appeal in the Golden State.

Demographics are not destiny -- patronage networks are. If the GOP wanted to realign California back into their coalition, their Pentagon puppetmasters could open up 10 new gigantic military bases there, with assorted defense factories feeding into them. But 75 years after our peak of territorial expansion during WWII, the military has descended even further into the "impotent grasp at further territory on the periphery" stage of imperial decline, and sneers at the "defense of the core nation" function. So they won't be giving money to employ ordinary Americans anytime soon, whether in California or elsewhere domestically.

The shuttering of domestic military bases is another source of the dried-up domestic demand for industrial commodities. This is yet another reason why the steelmakers are bitter over the GOP becoming dominant since 1980 -- not just the truly private sector, but now also the quasi-public sector of manufacturing for the military has little need for domestic steel. And all the more reason for them to defect away from the GOP.

* * *

That brings us to the final topic, the most boring and hated election of all time, Trump vs. Biden 2020. Is realignment happening already? If not, is it possible with either of these two choices? If not, how will it happen next time (or after that)?

Plainly, realignment has not happened under Trump. None of the Democrat sectors -- finance, info tech, media / entertainment, education -- have defected to the GOP. Neither have any of their client bases, nor therefore the safe blue states. Some of the Rust Belt states took a gamble on Trump, but they are not only not re-industrializing, the trade deficit has exploded far worse under Trump than under Obama. So they are not like the Southern states voting for Reagan, which heralded a long-term lock. They're desperately taking a risk at the end of a moribund regime cycle, for a seemingly anti-establishment candidate from the dominant party who promised to blow up Reaganism from the inside.

With no realignment among elites or commoners, there has been no realignment of outcomes. The military is more expansionist and pathetically losing than ever, adding more Eastern European nations to NATO (Montenegro), bombing and occupying a new Middle Eastern country (Syria), and sending tens of thousands of Americans back into Afghanistan. De-industrialization has accelerated, and so has immigration, legal and illegal.

What about Trump or Biden in 2020? Neither of them is campaigning on realignment either. Trump has abandoned his 2016 campaign, and has been captured by Reaganism. No more appeal to the white working class, in the Rust Belt or elsewhere, on the themes of 2016. At most, try to whip them up into a backlash against the Democrat riots that have burned down cities in their states over the summer. No more promises of a manufacturing renaissance, though. The GOP are trying to make up for this depression in white working-class votes by appealing to professional-class non-whites. None of that is a departure from the trends of the Reagan era, hence not realignment.

But then, neither is Biden campaigning on shaking up the party coalitions, base membership, or policy outcomes. "Suburban yuppie moderates" are squishy swing voters, not a key member of the Reaganite GOP -- so if they end up voting for Biden, that's not a defection from one party to the other. It would all just be warmed-over Obama crap, and like it or hate it, it would still be Reaganism, not realignment. Faced with two non-realignment choices, voters will likely favor Trump over Biden, since Trump has at least some track record of promises and a few minor deliveries on the realignment theme (some tariffs, diplomacy with North Korea).

I'm not interested in who's going to win the election, though, just charting the course of the regime cycle. That is the other big piece that all of the realignment "takes" willfully obscure. Political events are structured into enduring eras, not moment-to-moment coin flips and random walks. They have phases that repeat in a cycle. To see where things are going next, we have to at least know what phase we're in now.

Stephen Skowronek is the main source for describing the dynamics of the regime cycle, although he focuses more on the traits of the leaders (presidents) than on the ecology of the government as a whole. If you've heard the term "disjunctive" in the past 4 years, that's where it came from. And that's where we are now -- not with a realigner president who is ushering in a new era, but the last of the line of the status quo, who promises something bold and new in a last-ditch attempt to keep the status quo relevant and popular, but who is ultimately unable to deliver on that vision due to the sclerosis that has built up within the dominant coalition after so much success, resting-on-laurels, and internal contradictions becoming irreconcilable.

That means the realignment phase is coming in the short-term, but not right now. And more to the point for 2020, it means a Biden victory would delay realignment even further away than a Trump victory would. All a Biden term would deliver is another disjunctive GOP Reaganite term after it, similar to Trump's. Aside from the purely chronological delay -- another 4 years without a disjunctive dominant-party president -- there would be bi-partisan re-legitimization of the status quo. That would release some of the internal pressures that are nearly bursting within the dominant party (GOP today), and allow them to re-group and hang on for another moribund term.

The next realigner will not simply be a Democrat -- or a non-Republican, if some new party replaces the Dems -- he will be a Democrat after a Republican, namely the disjunctive Republican who is the end of the line of Reaganism. There will be no realigner Democrat who follows an old-guard Democrat, as in the imaginations of those leftists who see a Bernie-style leader triumphing after a Biden administration.

There would have been no FDR in 1932 if the old-guard Democrat Al Smith had won in 1928. The realigner Democrat had to take over from an internally unraveled GOP presided over by the disjunctive Republican Hoover. An old-guard Democrat victory in '28 would have only prolonged the Progressive GOP era until another Republican of that mold won in '32, and only in '36 or later would the New Deal Democrats realign the system. And that would have been true with or without the Great Depression hitting during the '29-'33 term, which is more of an exogenous shock than a matter of internal dynamics. Merely re-legitimating the old guard from the oppositition coalition would have delayed realignment, even if their party had escaped a depression under an imaginary president Al Smith.

Not that you can will things into being simply by understanding the dynamics of complex systems, but assuming you had divine intervention powers, and wanted realignment out of Reagnism, you would weigh in for Trump rather than Biden in 2020. And more than that -- for any future Reaganite Republicans, when an old-guard Democrat (not a realigner Democrat) is their rival. That is the way to hasten the demise of the dominant coalition of our era, the Reaganite GOP.

* * *

As far as the more distant question of which leader could be that eventual realigner Democrat, Bernie removed himself from that role over the past 4 years. He won groups in the 2016 Democrat primary who, if they had stuck to him in the general and ever after, would have been defections from GOP loyalists (in presidential election), like West Virginia coal miners. But he gave into the libtard takeover of his campaign in the meantime, and by now he's just another Reaganite-era Dem, and his most ardent supporters right before voting began in February were fellow Reaganite Dems.

That only leaves Tulsi Gabbard from the existing Democrats with any national recognition. You can tell she would be a true realigner because most Democrats, both centrists and leftists, can't stand her, while she enjoys warm support from both cultural moderates and conservatives within the GOP base. Bernie will not shake up the membership of political coalitions, but Tulsi would. The extent to which someone loathes her -- or passive-aggressively / ironically dismisses her -- reveals how wedded they are to the partisan status quo. Their deepest fear, disgust, or anxiety is for the Democrat party base to take in, long-term, a critical mass of MAGA chuds, Joe Rogan fans, and other assorted Deplorables.

The last realignment, under Reagan, did not happen by the old opposition splintering itself down into the narrowest and most impotent of cadres -- which was the desire of the cultural right during the New Deal. If the GOP had allowed that to continue, they would never have gained dominant status since 1980. Rather, they have systematically marginalized the Moral Majority types over the past 40 years, and welcomed in legions of defectors from the New Deal Democrat coalition (critically, the military network in the South).

That means the next realigner president will be the Democrat (or non-Republican) who can most successfully compete for the votes of the Deplorables, not some dead-end dedicated to out-progging the other progs, or the equally pathetic meme candidate for the Never-Trumpers, who could only swing back Virginia into the GOP column.

The Democrat party elites will therefore have to discipline their base away from their "ewww, yucky, cooties" view of Trump voters, and center those Democrat bodies that are hot and ready for hate-fucking the "MAGA defectors for Tulsi".

September 26, 2020

Slovenly chic for haughty individualist strivers


Not a butler, but Uber Wipes (or Wipr).

The slovenly chic among affluent gentrifiers stems from their status insecurity. Their main concern is preserving or rising in status, and that means no manual labor or maintenance of personal and domestic spaces, including their own body. They're not going to stoop that low.

However, they don't have enough money to hire a live-in staff to perform that lowly service labor. They've already blown their one-percenter wealth on housing in a 1% zip code -- living elsewhere would be just as fatal of a blow to their status-striving as doing their own laundry every week.

So that leaves little for outsourcing the domestic labor. Maybe they can hire some foreign scabs for this or that task, like delivering their overpriced meals, or chauffeuring them around without having to pay unionized rates.

Largely, though, the bugmen will just forgo that stuff altogether. Their slovenliness is a signal of their haughtiness combined with entry-level nouveau-riche wealth.

All the rest is just rationalization and branding. So punk, so indie, so against-the-grain. As usual, the punk realm of the contempo subculture-verse is the most compatible with neoliberal / libertarian goals. Rebel against society's rules, like paying unionized labor rates, doing your own laundry, preparing your own meals, taking others' concerns into account when grooming and dressing yourself, etc.

Collectivism = conformism. Or as Matt's even punkier co-host Amber repeatedly said on their neo-Daily Show, "community is reactionary".

September 20, 2020

Riots target squishy Democrats in (failed) attempt to amp up turnout, not Republicans to intimidate enemies

When the riots first started, I discussed the importance of who they were targeting -- namely, their fellow liberal urbanite Democrats. The rioters were not heading off to the suburbs, rural areas, small towns, or red states -- where their conservative, non-urban Republican enemies live. It is a fragmenting of the Democrat electoral coalition, which portends defeat in the general election just as it did in 2016. (GOP elites had plenty of internecine warfare back then, but not among the actual voters, who overwhelmingly backed Trump over all the other Republicans.)

As the rioters have continued to terrorize their fellow Democrats over the summer, and now especially after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it finally clicked for me what they're doing. It's not aimless destruction in an urban area that coincidentally catches their fellow Dems in a friendly fire -- they're deliberately targeting squishy Democrat supporters just like the whip does in a legislature.

They're the enforcers of party discipline, making sure everyone on the team attends the proper meetings, performs the proper rituals, shows up to vote, votes the proper way, and does second-order enforcement on their own -- dragging others out to vote, badgering those acquaintances into voting the proper way, putting the proper signs in their windows, donating their life savings and 40 hours a week of their time, and so on and so forth.

In a system where the patrons and their clients are in a symbiotic relationship, the patrons offer positive patronage in exchange for the collective support of the client base -- buildings, roads, water, electricity, security, etc. But when the elites devolve into parasitism, they only offer negative patronage -- all stick, no carrot. Drop everything you're doing and devote your life to helping our campaign win, or we'll burn down your neighborhood next, your city next.

Is there a rational basis to the whip's desperation? Of course -- lots of the urban working and middle class did not show up to vote in 2016, out of apathy and disenchantment with the neolib Dems, when Trump offered a break with the rotting status quo. And a large-enough minority actually voted for Trump outright -- that's how he flipped all those blue states. There's no more blood for the GOP to squeeze out of the rural and suburban stone.

Rather, it was counties with at least 100,000 residents that were decisive, ones that hadn't voted red for decades. Erie, PA; Dayton, OH; Saginaw, MI; and many others. These Rust Belt states are the ones seeing major rioting, in addition to safe blue states. The one region that is being entirely spared is the suburban Sun Belt -- some of the major counties there flipped from GOP to Democrat for the first time in decades, the mirror-image of Rust Belters for Trump. Orange County, CA; suburban Houston, TX; and suburban Atlanta, GA. No way are the Democrat party's paramilitary whips going to attack the brand new defectors from the other party -- they need to be welcomed and integrated first, before they get the stick like old-timer members.

This time around, the DNC is not taking any chances with squishy Rust Belt urbanites. The yuppies are already gung-ho, and are therefore being spared punishment. But the working class and lower-middle class in the non-yuppie neighborhoods? They might just stay home like last time, and a handful may even vote for Trump. The party thought they had the election in the bag last time, and didn't bother cracking the whip ahead of the election. But now that it's likely Trump will win, they're leaving nothing to chance and are pulling out all the stops to motivate the squishes.

That's why they've amped up the rhetoric about this being "the election of our lifetimes" etc. They're obviously not talking to Republicans, nor are they just preaching to the choir of fellow hardcore Democrat partisans -- they're letting the squishes know that this is not just any old game that they can sit out if they feel like it. It requires 100% turnout, and 100% Democrat votes from those turning out. They're not offering anything positive in exchange, it's still negative -- but just chastising words, with the destruction and terrorizing left up to their paramilitary arm of Antifa, BLM, etc.

When they only looked to lose the presidential election again, that was bad enough. But now they're going to have an even smaller minority presence on the Supreme Court, so that's only going to make the elites crack the whip harder on their reluctant and apathetic client base. The only potential mitigating factor now is that summer weather is over, and testosterone levels are going to fall from their seasonal peak. That still leaves plenty of fuel for the fire, though.

There's simply no other way to interpret this. "We'll burn down every city if our guy doesn't win" -- that cannot be a threat to Republicans or Trump voters, who don't live there. Oh, no, please, don't burn down a libtard city, please, no, don't. Republican voters don't care about urbanites, whether of the working or yuppie classes, whether white or non-white. It's a separate galaxy, one they wouldn't mind seeing go out of existence.

Republican politicians manifestly do not care either, else they would've at least attempted to quell the riots. But how do riots in urban areas prevent the GOP from executing the agenda for their elite sponsors like the National Association of Manufacturers, the Pentagon and other military bases, Big Oil and Coal, and the agriculture cartel? Today's riots are not even targeting an oil pipeline like a few years ago.

Rather, these unhinged Democrat pronouncements are meant as a notice of conscription to the less-than-gung-ho urbanites. You're going to drop everything and join the crusade for our party in the election, or else -- and we're going to burn down a few neighborhoods in a few cities up front, just to prove that the threats are not empty. Don't make us burn down even more -- donate money to our elites now, put the signs on your lawns now, rope 50 acquaintances into mail voting now. We're monitoring your enthusiasm levels, and if we don't see progress in your behavior, we'll unleash the hordes on your neighborhood next.

But as far as I can tell around this Rust Belt metro area, the punishment will not work. I only see BLM and related signs in the rich neighborhoods and on wealthy people's cars, not in working-class areas or on the bumpers of beater cars. The response of the squishes will be similar to 2016 -- mostly apathy that translates into not voting at all, and a handful of angry defectors to Trump, who has pivoted from a general "law and order" theme to one narrowly aimed at these urbanite victims of Democrat party punishment. "Vote for us -- our party discipline doesn't involve burning down the communities of slacker members."

On top of the realignment in the broad agenda that the Democrats need in order to become the new dominant party in a post-Reaganite era, they will also have to start offering positive patronage again. In the deranged conservative's mind, the Democrats are the party of promising "free shit" and letting their voters run amok. In reality, the Democrats insist on tight-fisted non-promises of any goodies, and deploy an elite of enforcers to relentlessly destroy the livelihoods of all lowly voters who aren't 100% on board with each electoral crusade.

No army becomes a dominant force that way, through the privation and humiliation of its conscripts. Expanding armies are held together and driven forward by camaraderie (or really "asabiya," for the Peter Turchin readers).

As for how the party can reverse this trend, it'll take divine intervention -- by the finance gods, who control the party. Simply de-financialize the sub-groups within the party who are responsible for their polarizing behavior that alienates the critical mass of defectors from the Trump base necessary to form a new dominant electoral coalition. De-financialize those who are hell-bent on demolishing solidarity and camaraderie. De-financialize all political aspirants (including think-tankers, NGOs, and the rest of them) who are not going to promise some free shit for once.

And given the abysmal trust that the voting public has in the Democrat party, the finance gods will have to make some kind of down payment first, to prove they're trustworthy. Again, a down payment to the voting public, not to the polarizing partisan retards who have driven the party itself into oblivion.

That's really the only leverage that any member of the Democrat elite coalition can wield against the others. They don't have military force, they don't control food, or the production and distribution of things, or natural resources. But if the finance elites can snap their fingers and make it so Antifa and BLM cannot have a bank account or receive payments, that will go a long way toward weeding out the vindictive enforcers. If a successor to Biden doesn't make some kind of "free shit" part of their platform, no campaign contributions from Wall Street -- maybe outright de-financialization of their campaign.

The media / entertainment elites are the least able or willing to make the changes. They've been stoking the riots worse than any other sector of society. And even if they wanted to weigh in against Antifa and BLM, all they could do is give them bad reputations through their coverage. Oh no, rioters will get a bad reputation! That won't motivate them. But closing them off from all financial services would.

Nor is the IT cartel of Silicon Valley going to lead the way toward realignment. They've been working hand-in-glove with their media / entertainment partners in stoking the resentment and vindictiveness toward apathetic or wayward urbanites. Plus, what could they do even if they wanted to stop them? Ban the rioters from all social media platforms? OK, so they'll communicate through some other way. Coordinate with the media to stain their reputations? The rioters don't care what the internet thinks about them -- only if they're getting their threats through to the squishy urbanites in the neighborhoods they're terrorizing.

The only way to really hit them where it hurts is through the finance sector. If this problem were within the GOP coalition, their elites could send in the police or military to use armed force against their party-destroyers. But Democrats don't have that. Their strongest form of leverage is their monopoly on the creation and flow of money.

It may take this electoral cycle and the next -- and perhaps the next after that -- for the money men to get it. But they have too much invested in the outcome to just let pure vindictiveness among their enforcers drive their party into extinction.

September 17, 2020

Left-right power-pop tribute, "Aimee's Pod" (to the tune of "Stacy's Mom")

To round out the summer concert season here, one final tribute to the anti-woke left muse, Aimee Terese. It's written in the voice of any disaffected cultural conservative who also wants the economy of the New Deal back, and found a kindred spirit in Bernie-boosting leftists like her.

The second verse is specific to me, though -- not to be self-indulgent but to reference a key event that I precipitated in the history of the anti-woke left. Namely, a series of posts on their ethnic composition, and why those cultural groups are less invested in wokeness -- ethnically reserved seats at the elite table do not include theirs (see here, here, and here).

Sticking with the 2000s kick I've been on, the tune is "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains of Wayne (original lyrics here). Political realignment feels like going through puberty in many ways -- the shift from hating a group to falling in love with them. And no genre captures that feeling better than earnest, eager power-pop.



* * *

"Aimee's Pod"


Aimee's pod, her takes are glowing hot
Aimee's pod, her takes are glowing hot
Aimee's pod, her takes are glowing hot
Aimee's pod, her takes are glowing hot

Aimee can I come posting, with your populist crew? (populist crew)
We can troll blue checks, break their asinine rules (break their rules)
Did your pod bounce back from their censorship? (censorship)
Are hoes still mad, or have they finally gotten a grip? (gotten a grip)

You know we're not the partisans that we used to be
We're all realigned now, against the PMC

Aimee's pod, her takes are glowing hot
No prog facade, and it leaves me so awed
Aimee can't you see? You're our prophesying queen
I know the left is flawed, but I'll be sub'd to Aimee's pod

Aimee's pod, her takes are glowing hot
Aimee's pod, her takes are glowing hot

Aimee do you remember when you found my blog? (found my blog)
"The List" came out, your name by Lebanon (Lebanon)
I could tell you liked me from the link you shared (link you shared)
And the way you said, "I never knew someone cared" (knew someone cared)

And I know that you think it's parasocial cheese
But since they banned your account, your pod could use some songs like these

Aimee's pod, her takes are glowing hot
No prog facade, and it leaves me so awed
Aimee can't you see? You're our prophesying queen
I know the left is flawed, but I'll be sub'd to Aimee's pod

Aimee's pod, her takes are glowing hot
No prog facade, and it leaves me so awed
Aimee can't you see? You're our prophesying queen
I know the left is flawed...

I'll be sub'd to Aimee's pod, woah-oh-oh
Aimee's pod, woah-oh-oh

Aimee can't you see? You're our prophesying queen
I know the left is flawed, but I'll be sub'd to Aimee's pod

September 15, 2020

More on Tik Tok's uniquely non-parasocial nature (and blasting "Electric Love" in public to get young people in a flirty mood)

A little update on what songs have been well received when I'm blasting them out the car windows, now that we're in the restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, and people are eager to come out of their vulnerable-phase shells.

Ever since I learned of the insanely popular Tik Tok trend of surprise kissing your friend, I've been digging the main song they use as background music -- "Electric Love" by Borns. The album it's on came out in 2015 and was not a mega-hit at the time, but by a stroke of good luck I found the CD this weekend -- and in the clearance section for only $2, no less! Thanks to its popularity on Tik Tok, it has re-entered the charts in multiple countries five years after its initial release.

I've only brought it with me on two car trips so far, but I can verify that everyone under 25 knows this song and what it's associated with. And unlike all other forms of online memes, they don't respond as though you're breaking a necessary barrier between online and IRL culture. They're intrigued and pleased to experience this intrusion of online into IRL, so much so that it stops them dead in their tracks.

Two high schoolers walking a lap around the park paused, turned toward my car, and began smiling and talking to each other. A group of track-and-field joggers near the college campus had their concentration broken for a moment, suppressed a laugh, and had to strain to stare straight ahead to get back into the flow of their run. And when I was stuck at a busy intersection, three high school girls sitting outdoors at the Starbucks across the street went dead silent, looked at each other, then started smiling and talking about the random hot guy in the car playing that song (you know the one). At first they might've voyeuristically thought there were people in the car about to participate in the Tik Tok trend, but when they saw it was just me, they continued looking and smiling, like "are u just gonna play that song all the way over there or...?"

That's actually a common theme if you search Twitter for the song name -- usually a girl, lamenting that she still has yet to be kissed by someone to "Electric Love". Kind of like missing out on the mistletoe ritual, only the opportunity is year-round. And unlike other forms of pop culture, Tik Tok trends are not the product of the media and entertainment cartel. They aren't fairytale endings that are too unrealistic for the average person to expect to happen to them. It's happened to all those other ordinary people -- not parasocial personas with a large following -- who are uploading their experiences to Tik Tok, so why can't it happen to me?

Contrast this welcome intermingling of online and IRL culture to when these young people's Resistard teachers and parents were lecturing them a few years ago about how Pepe the frog was a dangerous white supremacist symbol. The kids took to social media to say it made them want to jump out a window -- not just because it was abjectly retarded, but because you aren't supposed to have IRL conversations about a meme that exists entirely online. The two worlds were colliding, and it made them deeply uncomfortable.

The same is true even if the intended connotation is positive. You don't see anyone who's a groyper online wearing a groyper t-shirt IRL, in the way fans of a band do. That's because a band and their music are part of real-life culture, whereas avatars and memes exist solely online. Only the most hardcore nerds would actually show up in public wearing the "merch" of some online persona they're a fan of (and even then, more likely in a convention or meet-up with other fans, rather than in a setting among the general public).

These kinds of Tik Tok trends do not require any form of media to catch on, they could explode in popularity just as any number of fads have done through face-to-face transmission. Those that are sight gags of course require the technology to make and distribute them. But having friends and kissing people does not. Nor does dancing, another major category of Tik Tok trends. Dance crazes have caught on entirely through in-person transmission.

They are akin to the planking fad of the early 2010s -- a physical activity performed IRL, and transmitted mainly IRL, with cameras and social media platforms only serving to document the phenomenon and speed up the transmission. It did not belong to the realm of online memes.

Nor do the most popular Tik Tok trends. They are made by zillions of nobody accounts, not a concentrated elite of personas who have enough followers and clicks to monetize their "content". In fact, nobody in the audience will ever "follow" them -- anymore than a viewer of the planking fad decided to "follow" the rest of any given planker's online "content". They're made all over the country, not just in major cities in coastal blue states -- and by normies rather than by insular sub-cultures.

Tik Tok trends are an example of uploading IRL phenomena to the cyber-realm (via a camera phone and an app), where others may view it (and maybe, but probably not, "interact" with it). That directional arrow between worlds is the opposite of the parasocial case, where people try to download online personas into their IRL social circle, or "make memes real" in any other way. The split between comfort and discomfort stems from our moral intuitions about how the natural and the artificial ought to relate to each other: the artificial may preserve shadowy copies of the natural, but we should not corrupt the purity of what is natural by bringing the artificial into it.

Toward that end, I highly recommend playing "Electric Love" in public places, especially where young people congregate, to encourage them to let their emotional guard down, take social risks, and form meaningful bonds with their friends -- and potential future spouses. Probably best to do it in a car or on a bike, since they might assume you're inviting someone to kiss you if you're a pedestrian. You want to make it clear you're playing the role of mood-setting DJ, not one of the kissy-kissy parties themselves. If you don't have a vehicle, you live in a densely populated area, where you could always open the windows of your house or apartment and play it for anyone within earshot.

And if house parties ever come back during / after the pandemic, include this on the playlist. Where else will there be such a high concentration of friends who have crushes on each other? Especially after imbibing a little liquid courage. The pandemic is the only reason this trend hasn't exploded to the next level, where a large group of people take part at the same time, like a group of people finding partners when the slow-dance song plays at a party from pre-Millennial times. So far it's confined to a single pair hanging out together, maybe with a friend or two watching nearby.

But with normalization through repetition of the song, maybe we can get them to just go for it in public outdoor spaces as well. Like during Christmastime, driving leisurely along a sidewalk with a mistletoe hanging out over the curb side of the car. Who are they to refuse to conform to the trend when the call is made? They'll come out of their shells in no time.

September 7, 2020

The geography of emo: Sun Belt anxiety vs. Rust Belt depression

As I explore the emo / scene / pop-punk genre, two major types stand out, each one tying into a different standard personality disorder. And as it turns out (see this entry on emo pop), they have origins in different regions of the country, reflecting the different demographic and economic trends within each one. Two different strains of negative emotions, stemming from two different material causes of bad vibes.

The first type is based in the Sun Belt, where young people have no roots but do have a future. Their parents (or even grandparents) uprooted their nuclear family from the extended family back where Americans have been living for a long time, and transplanted them to a carpetbagging colony.

This is where all the internal demographic growth has been happening during the neoliberal era, and where job growth is most promising. They aren't great jobs, but whatever the economy is actually offering, will continue to be invested in the Sun Belt. Originally this was to avoid higher taxes, regulation, and union power in the North, but by now it's taken on a life of its own.

So, there's less cause for doom and gloom among these young people. Their economic future is marked more by boredom than by deterioration and decay. And yet their so-called communities have no roots whatsoever, and they lack the extended family support that young people enjoy where they have deep roots. This leads to feelings of alienation and atomization, but in a way that is more bright than dark in tone.

Their negative emotions mainly take the form of anxiety, or nervousness, restlessness, worrying, being on-edge, tense, etc. These are symptoms of a lack of broad, reliable social support that would stabilize them, leaving members of a social species like ours to feel unsafe and insecure as we try to fend for ourselves. They are less gloomy and brooding, and more tender, vulnerable, and bittersweet. Softer rather than harder.

Major bands from the western Sun Belt include Jimmy Eat World from Mesa, AZ, Panic! at the Disco from Las Vegas, NV, and Metro Station from Los Angeles, CA. From the eastern Sun Belt, there's Paramore from the Nashville metro, TN, We the Kings from the Sarasota metro, FL, and Dashboard Confessional from Boca Raton, FL. They're kindred spirits with pop-punk Sun Belt groups like blink-182 (San Diego, CA), Green Day (East Bay, CA), and Bowling For Soup (Dallas, TX). A representative hit song:



The second type is based in the Rust Belt, where young people do have roots but do not have a material future, as deindustrialization has gutted their economic base and shows no signs of stopping in the near-term. Their communities are losing members in droves, rather than gaining hordes of transplants. If anything, their demographic decline is only balanced by legions of immigrants arriving from poor countries (a group to which we'll return later).

Young people's job prospects only look to get bleaker and bleaker in this region, and their physical environment and infrastructure is visibly in decay, resembling ruins in the bad areas. These portentous material conditions lead to a sense of doom and gloom, brooding, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. If there's no future, why bother living?

Apart from the depressive symptoms, there's a pronounced streak of anger and rage. If the vanishing future is not just an accident, then someone is responsible -- and getting angry and raging against them may force them into turning the situation around, and redressing your grievances. Not necessarily because you're addressing the responsible forces directly, but at least they might want to make things better in order to not have to deal with so much undirected anger and unrest.

Anger, rage, and resentment also reflect the feelings of being abandoned by those who are leaving in droves -- it's an attempt to shame or coerce them into staying or returning, to provide critical social support for the majority of Rust Belters who remain in the Rust Belt.

Unlike the utterly unmoored Sun Belters, young people in the Rust Belt do enjoy a healthy level of social support (especially from extended families), owing to the deep rootedness of the region. But they can still sense the decreasing level of that support over their lifetimes, as a larger and larger minority flee to the Sun Belt. So they don't feel free-floating anxiety, tension, and insecurity, but doom, rage, and abandonment. It's a type of alienation and atomization that is darker in tone, and gives the music that appeals to them a harder edge.

Though fewer in number, the Rust Belt emo bands are more influential, including two members of the emo trinity. From the western Rust Belt, there's Fall Out Boy and Plain White T's (less rage-y, but still gloomy / depressive), both from the Chicago metro, IL. From the eastern Rust Belt, there's Taking Back Sunday from Long Island, NY, and the summit of the emo pantheon, My Chemical Romance from nearby Newark, NJ. They're kindred spirits with other dark, depressive, hard-edged Rust Belters like Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails in the Great Lakes region, and hardcore scenes from New York to DC in the eastern Rust Belt. A representative hit song:



That takes care of the majority of the emo creators and fan base, native-born whites. But from what I remember living out West in the late 2000s and early 2010s, emo / scene culture had a decent appeal to Hispanics as well. These were primarily children of recent immigrants, and not so much Tejanos or other groups who have roots going back many generations. They, too, were another group of rootless young people whose parents were (international) transplants, leaving them in a state of boredom, tension, and anxiety, while not really dreading their economic future.

Blacks are a different case, since most of them live in the Sun Belt but are not recent transplants with shallow roots. So their situation doesn't match that of most white and Hispanic youth in the Sun Belt. And as far as I know, they were never into emo of any kind, whether the original or emo-inflected rap.

The one exception is recent immigrants of African descent, and sure enough the biggest emo rapper from the South, XXXTentacion, was the rootless child of Jamaican immigrants, growing up in the Miami, FL metro. Even if he were an American descendant of slaves, he would've been rootless there, since no one of any race lived in southern Florida until a few decades ago. And like the original emo from the Sun Belt, his style is more on the vulnerable and bittersweet side than the doom-and-rage side.

The major emo rapper from the Rust Belt is not black, but white -- Eminem, from Detroit, MI -- and decidedly more on the doom-and-rage side than the anxious and bittersweet side. I haven't listened to much emo rap, though, so I'm not going to weigh in on how much it parallels emo rock in the Rust Belt. I expect it to sound harder and more doom-y / suicidal / apocalyptic than the Sun Belt variety.