This hashtag started trending on Twitter after Hillary Clinton’s speech about the Alt-Right movement.  As some readers may remember, I’ve had lively debates with some Alt-Right writers in the past, so I was interested to see that the existence of this ideology is seemingly news to many people.

I started thinking about how I’d concisely describe the Alt-Right.  The best I could come up with was “unabashed nationalism”, but that seems inadequate.

After thinking about it a bit more, I settled on this definition:

The Traditional Right got outraged about movies that they believed blasphemed against the Bible, like The Last Temptation of Christ and The Life of Brian.  The Alternative Right gets outraged about a movie that they believe blasphemed against Ghostbusters.

It’s a rather awkward definition, but very revealing, in my opinion.

 

Roone Howard was the best strategist to ever write a political ad.

He could convince starving men that entitlements were bad;

He could make you self-disenfranchise to prevent voter-fraud;

It is said that he made the Holy Spirit believe there wasn’t a God.

If you employed him, your head would lie easy underneath of its crown;

Because he would lie easy to cut all of your challengers down!

But if you opposed him; then may Heaven have pity on you,

For he’d tell your fam’ly and friends  you weren’t anything like who they knew.

 

Oh, no one likes to hear it said,

But he could paint McCarthy “Red”

If that’s what was needed to serve the empowered.

By stroking feelings barbaric,

Or stressing facts esoteric,

No one persuaded like that Devil, Roone Howard!

 

One day, his most prominent client, a National candidate, came to see him and ask

Him to set about working on what he reckoned a well-nigh impossible task.

His opponent, it seemed, was lovely and charismatic with a great reputation;

She wore her good deeds and record like armor against character assassination.

She spoke like a Cicero, and was quite incorruptible; her personal life was above suspicion;

While Howard’s client was deficient in every category but that of ruthless ambition.

So old Roone Howard set straight to work on how to stain and destroy and annihilate

The political chances of this candidate with the resume seemingly so inviolate.

 

                For weeks on end did he toil,

                Burning each night the midnight oil

                As for any shred of a scandal he scoured.

                But never even a trace

                Of shamefulness or disgrace

                Ever met the eye of the clever Roone Howard.

 

At last, just when all hope seemed utterly lost, Howard hit on an ingenious scheme.

He at once called a meeting to announce  the whole plan to his political team.

“’As ours is a business that’s dirty and vile,” this political Clausewitz reasoned,

“A lady this good has no place in it–let it go instead to a man tough and seasoned.

This, gentlemen, I feel is a message which our cynical populace is bound to feel true!”

He proved to be right! In a matter of weeks, the lady in question up and withdrew.

Howard’s man could then run unopposed, and his targeted office he easily won;

Howard was given a government job, and the lady they’d beaten could find herself none.

 

                O, Howard took comfort, I’m sure,

                That he’d destroyed someone so pure;

                And laughed at her whose votes his campaign devoured.

                For even perfection complete

                Couldn’t hope to compete

                Against the devious mind of that scoundrel, Roone Howard!

(more…)

{Sung to the tune of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General“}

I am the very model of a charismatic candidate,
I have thwarted ev’rything the GOP has planned to date.
From starting as a dark horse, I’ve become the odds-on favorite
Saying I will build a wall and then force Mexico to pay for it.
And though Establishment Republicans think I am despicable
Ev’ry charge they level at me has proved totally unstickable.
And even though I’ve said disgusting things about my progeny
And made so many statements that are dripping with misogyny–
By thwarting ev’ry action that the GOP has planned to date,
I’ve proved myself the model of a charismatic candidate.

My “Apprenticeship” in showbiz has undoubtedly done well for me–
I am so telegenic, all the major networks fell for me.
My domineering manner plays so well when I’m debating folks
It doesn’t even matter that I sometimes tell degrading jokes.
Believe me, folks, I’m so very, very big-league entertaining
That I have no need coherent policies to be maintaining.
I’ll be so much like Reagan, it will make your head spin, I insist–
Heads will spin so much it will all be like the film The Exorcist.
Since I’ve thwarted ev’rything the GOP has planned to date.
I am the very model of a charismatic candidate.

 
In fact, when I know whether Judges “sign” on “bills” or not
When I’ve decided what to do with all the immigrants we’ve got–
When I’ve some idea what is and isn’t Constitutional–
When I’ve proved my economic plans are not delusional
When I have shown I will not always act impulsively–
When I behave towards women just a little less repulsively–
In short, when I have turned into my very living opposite–
You’ll say a better candidate has never run for office yet!
Though all my civic knowledge is just stuff I learned in real estate,
I am sure a brand-new wall will make our location really great.
And since a country is the only thing I’ve yet to brand to date,
I am the very model of a charismatic candidate!

I had it in mind to write two posts today: one was going to be about our broken political system as exemplified by, among other things, the sequester.  The other post was going to be about video game writing and criticism thereof.  But as I was mulling over these ideas, I came to a startling realization: the points I wanted to make about both were essentially the same.

The point of video games is interactivity, and in the kind of games I mostly play–Role Playing Games–that means you’re given choices in dialogue and influence over how the story plays out.  In a well-written RPG the player has a lot of control over how the story develops.  In a poorly-written RPG, the player gets “railroaded” into following what the writers want, or is given poorly-explained choices, an artificial or unfair set of choices.

The same is true of politics. As I have written before, (using this same gaming analogy) the system forces us into making sub-optimal choices. The two major parties enjoy too much power to set the agenda for the voters.  In this way, they are like bad video game writers, imposing their ideas on the player, or, in this case, the average citizen.

But where this analogy specifically relates to the sequester mess is in another, related problem that crops up in choice-based gaming. This is The Choice That Exists For No Reason.  I won’t spoil it here, but there is an example of it late in Mass Effect 3, where the player is presented with what appears at first to be a choice, but in which there is really only one “right” decision to make, because to do anything else results in losing the game.

The politicians have created just this sort of choice for themselves, and then failed to make the right choice.  The sequester was designed by them to be so awful no one would ever let it happen, and then they let it happen anyway. In general, you should never commit to doing things that are meant never to be done.

“Apocalypse ‘12”,

So the Mayans had said.

“Mark on your calendars

That you’ll all be dead.”

And ev’ryone came

To the center of town,

To look at the clock

As the minutes ticked down.

We all knew it would end

But we didn’t know how.

“Be ready” we said,

“For anything now”.

They primed all the missiles,

The oceans did rise,

The sun started growing

To no one’s surprise.

Bob Frost, he took bets

On “fire” or “ice”.

I said “10-to-1 water”

And he said “no dice”.

A relieved Harold Camping

Lit a vict’ry cigar;

And even  Cthulhu

Drove up in his car.

Behind him by barely

So much as a step

Came old Yog-Sothoth

And Nyarlathotep.

As twilight approached

We only could stare

And wait for the horsemen

We knew would be there.

The sky opened up

And there they appeared,

Looking as awful

As everyone feared.

There came a grim hush

To all of our chatter’n’

As those four moved into

Their last landing pattern.

Then one of the riders

Lost hold of his steed,

And the blasphemous bronco

Was off at full speed.

The Unearthly rider

Into space he was thrown;

‘Twas like the “Ghost Riders”

Meet “The Strawberry Roan”.

The next day the feeling,

As the headline explains:

Was “Apocalypse Called

On Account of the Reins.”

This is your Solar System:

This is your Solar System on black holes:

Any questions?

It seems that a black hole was ejected from its galaxy by another black hole.  This gives some insight as to what happens when an immovable object meets another immovable object. That isn’t the important bit, though:

This discovery… implies that there may be supermassive black holes moving through the universe outside of galaxies. And we currently have no way of knowing that they’re there.

Does that mean we could all be sitting around, minding our own business, and suddenly we’re all crushed to a point of infinite density?  ‘Cause that’s enough to ruin my whole day.

I honestly cannot believe that Hollywood has been reduced to making movies based on board games. I haven’t seen the movie, but from the trailer it’s not clear to me if it has anything to do with the game “Battleship” besides the license and the fact that it has battleships in it. I’d say this is the clearest sign yet that they’re running out of ideas.

So, what other board or pen-and-paper guessing games could get the Hollywood treatment? I’m thinking “Parcheesi” myself. Although they could also do an adaptation of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and say it’s a “Hangman” movie. The posters almost make themselves:

As if on cue, a guy named Rob Flickenger has invented a Tesla energy gun:

Cool. I like electricity. But notice that the thing’s range is apparently 12 inches. And it took only took a little over a hundred years to do it! To me, this somewhat long development time does explain why the armies of the world weren’t lining up to pay Tesla when he first talked about his energy weapon.

By the way, people keep calling it a “Tesla coil gun”. I believe there is also a “coil gun” that is a different thing altogether, invented by Carl Gauss–sometimes called a “Gauss gun”. And yes, I only know about this stuff from playing Fallout. With Science!

But, we can sleep soundly in our beds knowing that our best and brightest are devising new and better weapons. Hey, wait…

Nikola Tesla, via Wikipedia.

Amused at This Ruthless World (thanks for liking my last post, BTW) wrote a really good post awhile back in response to an essay written by one “John J. Wall”. I’d never read Wall’s piece before, but I have heard the idea advanced within it many times in the past. It is this: that the “liberals” and “conservatives” are so deeply divided on all issues that it would be better for both if each group formed separate countries. Amused’s post inspired me to write something of my own on the matter.

Of course, if you’re a reader of this blog, you know that there are actually three groups: materialists, nationalists and cosmopolitans. But still, let that not dissuade us from this engaging in this thought-experiment. It is still only a simple matter of dividing the country into three instead of two.

The nationalists may have the southeast–the old Confederacy minus Virginia. The materialists may have the West; that is, the area extending from California to east Texas. A vast area to be sure, but one which they will no doubt set about harvesting every inch of for resources. And the cosmopolitans shall retain the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. Everything east of Kansas and north of Tennessee would remain in cosmopolitan hands. Cosmopolitans would also get Hawaii, and Nationalists would hold Alaska.

(Oddly enough, this division into regions mimics a similar scheme by economic historian Douglass North. But he was writing only about the United States internal trade flows in the early 1800s. And then, evidently, something happened around 1861 to fundamentally alter the structure of the country.)

As part of the deal, suppose everyone starts with the same governmental structure and Constitution as we have today.  so, now we just go ahead and simulate to see where it will all go.

I imagine the taxation issue would quickly cease to be of interest to the nationalists, once they are no longer trying to destroy a cosmopolitan government. Presumably, they would focus their immediate efforts on bulking up their immigration laws. They would also probably raise tariffs in order to keep their manufacturing sector strong. It might even be a mini-boom along the lines of the 1950s auto-industry. Naturally, in the Nationalist State, minorities and foreigners would be viewed with suspicion until their Nationalist-credentials had been soundly proven. I imagine congressman Allen West would make a successful career in this place, as would Sarah Palin. The political structure would change to be based more heavily on charismatic authority. No doubt the social structure would closely resemble that of 1950s America for the most part, with women being encouraged to be housewives and men being seen as heads of house. Gay marriage, the issue under so much discussion at present, would be utterly unthinkable, as would Civil Unions etc. Gays would also likely be barred from military service, but it is likely that this country would reinstate the draft, so there would be no problem with lack of personnel.  Fashion and art would both become considerably more conservative, quite possibly up to the point of introducing government censors.

In the materialist West, meanwhile, it is likely that the world would come to resemble the United States as a whole in the 1870-90s. Almost all environmental regulations would be removed, and worker safety laws would be scaled back. Unions would cease to exist. Tariffs would also be very low or nil, so as to encourage foreign investment. Immigration laws, likewise, would be quite lax so as to gain a cheap labor force. Military force would assume the character of a highly-paid internal security outfit, and be largely defensive in nature. (One imagines the Erik Princes of the world would have to think long and hard over whether his fortune lay to the South or the West.) Social issues would be non-existent; societal mores being relaxed to please the fancies of the wealthiest. Indeed, the city of Los Angeles as it exists today, would probably go on functioning as if nothing had happened under the new arrangement. Art and fashion would all go as the popular will dictated; thus movies, for example, would be solely of the “summer blockbuster” variety all year round.

Of the cosmopolitan North, there is less to say; perhaps because the area is well on its way to being that already. It is probable that taxes would be raised, of course; as it would no longer be so politically abhorrent to do so. A massive influx of public money go to support higher education, which would likely lead to the Academy being the primary institution in the country. Other than that, however, things would change less, principally because the cosmopolitan sees diversity as a strength, and would need to undergo less modification to suit its philosophical beliefs. The military would be fairly small, and probably what there was of it would be based heavily on technological superiority, not man-power.

It would be interesting to see how long this state of affairs persisted. It would not be long, surely, before each country recognized that there was much to be gained from the others. The materialist sector, in particular, might look an inviting target for conquest; though of course it is questionable whether it would be profitable to do so. Also, the nationalist and cosmopolitan states by their nature invite comparison to ancient Athens and Sparta.

Ultimately, the optimal move for each country would be strategic alliances with its neighbors, as each would have something to provide to the others. However, there is also the dark possibility that two would form an alliance against the third, and thereby destroy it either militarily or economically.

And there I conclude this experiment, but you are welcome to add thoughts of your own.

For myself, I see this as rather a gloomy idea. I believe each type has something to contribute to the country. But then, I would, wouldn’t I? I’m a cosmopolitan.

…of abysmally boring Presidential campaigns, that is.

Whether singing the praises of ancient Sparta or doing his best Joseph McCarthy impression, Congressman Allen West has shown himself more than capable of being to Mitt Romney’s ticket what Sarah Palin was to John McCain’s.

Really, why not have West for VP? No less than Ted Nugent has testified to Mr. West’s readiness for this role. (I assume he did so only after his own Presidential campaign floundered on finding that “Commodus 2012″ made a poor slogan.) But Nugent is surely right that West would be a much-needed “game changer” for Romney’s campaign. Specifically, he would change Romney’s game from The Corporate Machine to Gears of War.

Moreover, it would give the writers at Saturday Night Live something to work with, which, as Maureen Dowd reports, is something they desperately want. The only real question would be: could they get Samuel L. Jackson to portray West? If yes, then the catchphrases very nearly write themselves.

Yes, all in all, I think West definitely has the potential to be 2012’s version of Sarah Palin. Don’t you agree?