Monday, July 16, 2018

Antireligion

In this blog, I sometimes invent words by adding the prefix anti- to some existing word. I picked this up from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile. He points out that English doesn't contain a proper antonym for the word fragile. It would seem that the opposite of fragile should be durable, resilient, tough, etc. A similar (imaginary) word with the same meaning would be unfragile. This supposes there are two extremes of fragileness: fragile and not fragile. We might imagine dishes being mailed and trying to gauge which ones would arrive broken. That would amount to assessing the likeliness of something being damaged by chaos. Taleb notes there is another possibility: something being improved or strengthened by chaos. Trump has a penchant for lobbing chaos towards his opponents, which they swing at wildly to his benefit. The crack veteran soldier is hardened by the turmoil and brutality of war. Modern warfare doctrine has been heavily influenced by John Boyd's maneuver warfare, which is an abstract process that guides a belligerent to respond to the chaotic battlefield faster than their opponents. It was used to great effect in the first Iraq war. When war planners implement maneuver warfare, they are not just building an army that won't break in the face of chaos, but one that excels in chaos. An army that is not just unfragile, but antifragile.

In many domains we do see anti- used properly as a prefix. We can describe a spin as counter-clockwise, which the British call anti-clockwise. It is used correctly. It is not just the lack of clockwise, but the opposite. Sometimes the prefix is misused. A dud movie is called anticlimactic. Well, what is the opposite of climactic? The intended meaning is that the movie was weakly climactic or without climax. There are other prefixes that should have been used. Unclimactic, nonclimactic, aclimactic, etc.

If I decide to coin a new term - antireligion (technically, the term already exists, and just means opposition to religion) - it helps to know which variety of anti- is intended. We will actually use a 3rd version: anti- in the sense of the antijoke. The antijoke is a joke that pretends to not be a joke. Yet it has all the essence of a joke: setup, punchline, people laugh...or groan. It's ironically funny, but still a joke. Currently in theaters is the newest iteration of Deadpool, described as an anti-hero flick because he lacks the normal superficial virtues of a hero. Still, Deadpool generally does what all heroes do: confront forces of chaos to restore order. There are all kinds of similar examples of anti- used to describe things that are ironically pretending to be the opposite of what they are - mostly by hipsters.

It wouldn't be wise to criticize religions on principle, because nearly any social organization will be "religious" in a sense. It should be noted that the definition of religion that is normally used on this blog is the one described in Religions, Cults, and the Alt-Right, which described religion as an organization where members make logically improbable statements to earn social status. That is not a definitive definition, but it is certainly valid. You could tighten the definition to say that a religion requires belief in the supernatural, which is the most common usage. But, as William Briggs points out in his post today, Dissolving & Not Resolving the Fermi Paradox, often the opposite of a religious stance is just as much a matter of faith.

While one couldn't criticize religion as defined without taking on an enormous swath of the social order, we can still make valid claims that some religions are better than others, and that some organizations are more "religiousy" than others. We like to beat up on the leftist religion - referred to as The Cult around here - not just because they are super religiousy, but because they so thoroughly believe that they are the antidote to irrationality, the opposite of religion. They are the antireligion. The antireligion is a religion that pretends not to be a religion. They are ironically religious. While they constantly mock believers, what do they do? Recite a dogma of logically improbable beliefs, virtue signal for social status, and burn heretics. Hmm, sure sounds like the leftist stereotype of a religion to me.

Let's close this with an antireligion antijoke.

Why did the leftist cross the road?
To protest irrational Christians because diversity is our strength.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Partially Accurate Vomit

A recent article from USAToday ran with the headline: Baltimore police stopped noticing crime after Freddie Gray's death. A wave of killings followed. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but this strikes me as a strangely worded headline. There use to be something of an artistic style to writing headlines. Probably it was out of necessity, as the message had to be conveyed in limited print space. Those restrictions are eased in the online setting. The two terse sentences of this headline read more like the brief descriptions that generally follow catchier headlines. The tempo of it strikes me as that of your typical internet click-bait. Baltimore police stopped noticing crime after Freddie Gray's death. You won't believe what happened next... It reads as a strangely artless headline because that's exactly what it is. It's written in a dying medium suffering serious brain drain. The papers' major activity is to compose sensationalism to lure in the diminishing crowd of dimwits who still turn to the big corporate outlets for their worldviews. [When I scroll to the bottom, the first promoted headline is: Professor speaks out after shutting down penis size study amid backlash. It really is a tabloid.]

Focusing on the content of the headline...if you didn't know better, you'd almost think there was an epiphany in the mainstream media. Conservatives, of course, have been saying forever that Obama's war on police would cause crime in the inner cities to increase. Life would become much worse for the typical citizens just trying to make it day to day. (And much better for the criminals.) Now, the papers are printing just the outcome we all predicted. Do they finally realize there is some merit to what conservatives have been saying? Of course they don't! As proof, let me cherry-pick a couple lines from the article.
During the Obama administration, the department launched wide-ranging civil rights investigations of troubled police forces, then took them to court to compel reforms. Under President Donald Trump, Washington has largely given up that effort.
Tuggle blames a shortage of patrol officers and the fallout from a blistering 2016 Justice Department investigation that found the city's police regularly violated residents' constitutional rights and prompted new limits on how officers there carry out what had once been routine parts of their job.
No matter the news, cops and and conservatives can always be blamed for something. When you see headlines like this, you may sometimes be tempted to think the media is finally coming around in some domain where they had previously rejected reality or basic reasoning. Never assume that to be the case. The more cynical among us respond to such articles by saying, "Even a broken clock is right twice a day." That is the proper analogy.

If I wanted to insult you (totally hypothetical, of course), I could slew random insults until finally something stuck. No one is perfect. Everyone is subject to some criticism, and thus some valid insult must exist. If I called you a hundred terrible things and one hit a nerve, would you say I was partially accurate? No, it wouldn't even make sense to issue a judgement on my correctness, because we wouldn't then be operating at the same level of analysis. You'd be responding in the domain of assessing truth. But I'm in the domain of inflicting harm. If I threw three punches and one landed solid you wouldn't give me some credit for being partially accurate.

The papers are operating in a similar sense. They constantly attack the political opponents of the left. Any truth that can be find in the text is merely incidental. Insult someone long enough and there must occasionally be an element of truth. It is inevitable that these publications would at times display apparent moments of partial honesty. They deserve no credit for such inadvertent deeds.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Schumer has Thrown Himself Under the Bus

Today Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took a few minutes from his busy schedule of other Trump-hating duties to pre-emptively attack Trump's Supreme Court pick, and to throw in a little Gorsuch bashing on the side. The former is to be expected, but the latter never ceases to amaze me, and brings us back to the last Supreme Court extravaganza, just last year. Schumer bashed Gorsuch then too, likening him to a right-wing activist and urging for a filibuster. What was most fascinating was not just that Gorsuch was a straight-laced vanilla judge with no clear political leanings, but that Schumer himself had voted along with other Democrat bigwigs like Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, and Joe Biden to confirm Gorsuch to a federal circuit court in 2006.

We've noted often here that for liberals there is not a principle they won't violate and not a fellow Democrat they won't throw under the bus in their zeal to attack Trump. It is quite a thing to see someone like Schumer throw himself under the bus. He admits that he confirmed a right wing ideologue as federal judge. He should resign! He's utterly failed his party and ultimately enabled Gorsuch to become a Supreme Court Justice. Of course, this doesn't really matter to his base, who don't care much about reality. Oceana has always been at war with East Asia, and Chuck Schumer has always been opposed to Neil Gorsuch.

Still, this reality denial has its costs, and we're seeing them now. Just take a minute to appreciate how well this has been played by Trump, and how poorly by Chuck and the rest of his demented gang. Trump's first pick was a solid, apolitical judge, with a strong reputation and legal mind. He easily handled the Congressional grilling session and, most importantly, he was until so recently a Democrat-approved judge. And still Schumer came out firing from all barrels, a fight which he lost after 3 Democrat senators from red states defected.

Now Trump has nominated an actual conservative. What does Schumer have left? He's already fired everything he has. No sane person would find Schumer credible this time around. He has already demonstrated he will attack Trump's pick, whoever it may be. This one will be really grilled in his Senate confirmation hearing, and will probably be appointed. And if not, that may be okay too. It's another one of those situations where Trump wins either way. If his nominee is appointed, he gets a big win to add to his "Promise Made, Promise Kept" war chest he is building for 2020. If the conservative judge gets borked, it will ignite red America just in time for the 2018 elections, and Republicans probably pick up some seats as a result. The liberals still own the media, and no doubt we'll be hearing all about how Brett Kavanaugh is a racist who kills puppies, but the truth is Schumer is in a terrible political pickle, and it's all because he threw himself under the bus, a common symptom of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Monday, July 2, 2018

There Are Either 2 Genders or 1,577 Trillion

One of the major tenets of the liberal belief system is that gender is a social construct, which is a roundabout way of saying that science is not allowed into gender debate. If gender is merely a social construct, then society is free to make gender whatever it wants. A good Critical Theorist would not only want gender to be not just non-traditional, but something really ludicrous, for no other reason than to rub it into conservatives' noses.

Gender is no longer seen as an observed natural phenomenon, but as a shackles used to enslave people into an oppressive social order. Two genders was too limiting, so a third was created, and a fourth, and a fifth, and so on. We are currently at, apparently, 112 genders. (Read a few for some good entertainment.) Well if 111 genders wasn't enough, surely 112 is oppressively limiting as well, yes? For instance, maybe my gender is the morning mist that settles on wild mountain clover. (Not actually ridiculous if you read the genders already created.) Because each person is unique, and each person's sexuality is unique, there must be one gender per person. So not just 7.2 billion, one for each living human, but 108 billion, one for each human who has ever lived. Not only that, but we are told by Harvard that gender can change daily. So there must exist a gender for each human, for each day they ever lived. Average lifespan throughout history is about 40 years. That means there are approximately 1,577 trillion genders, and that number is growing by 7.2 billion per day. Or, perhaps, there are only two. It seems those are the only options. Two, or a number that approximates infinity.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Staring at Stone

No, this blog hasn't disappeared, if anyone was worried. I've been on vacation. I had good intentions of writing while away, but you know how good intentions can go. We did a fairly aggressive road trip through Alaska. You would think that driving all day would leave you energized to do something after being cooped up all day, but that doesn't seem to be the case. In fact, I'm just now finding myself finally shaking off the grogginess, after half a week back. I thought vacations were supposed to be breaks from the daily grind of life, but always find myself having to recover from vacations and long weekends.

At any rate, we're back, and I plan to return to regular blogging. And since we're on the subject of traveling, lets go with that subject today.

While it may not be helpful to stereotype people on their modes of vacation travel, it can be interesting to consider how our existing stereotypes map to travel destinations. Think of how liberals travel. There seem to be about three loose categories of liberals: the radical left, the hippies, and the mainstream left.

The hippies, especially the country hippies, largely travel like I do. They go in to nature. They camp, hike, and fish. They're drawn to music and often can be found at music festival in droves.

The radical leftists...honestly I have no idea where they go. I'm not friends with any of them. They all deleted me on facebook. [I have noticed that, out of 50 or so liberals that unfriended me for supporting Trump, I can't recall any that kept a garden. On the other hand, of the outspoken liberals that I'm surprised haven't deleted me, they all keep a garden or engage in similar activities. They must fit into the category of country hippies, and are good people - as vocal (and wrong!) as they may be about politics.] Perhaps the radical leftists don't travel at all because they're too busy smashing the fash to skip down to Acapulco, or even more likely because they're broke.

The final group, the mainstream liberals, tend to travel all over, to be sure, but there is something about their travel that is very status signally. They pick locations they can brag about and use to show off their sophistication. Largely, that means going to Europe. There is nothing wrong at all with vacationing in Europe. I have a great desire to go and visit some of the sites written about by the great historians, especially Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch. Those are the places where the great stories took place that forged western civilization. For me, going to those places would be akin to a pilgrimage to Mecca. They're the places a nationalist would go, if we consider western society as a nation.

The liberals who visit Europe tend to hit the spots with the greatest cultural significance. The irony is that the art they visit and pretend to care about represents a culture they reject. (Or at least pretend to.) Man, do they love their Michaelangelo. I see fervent leftists post selfies with The David, and at the Sistine Chapel, even though they see the Bible not just as mystical hocus pocus, but as the major source of evil and oppression in the world. They don't know who David was, or why he was significant to the people of the era, and, if they did, they would denounce him for moral impurity. Your standard Christophobic liberal gushing at their appreciation for the artistic significance of The David is just about the fakest thing imaginable. You can't appreciate The David if you don't appreciate David, let alone despise him.

Even more so with the Sistine Chapel. In a grandiose way, it illustrates the stories of the Bible. The artwork is significant for the same reason that Tolkien and Rowling fans flock to the cinemas to watch movie adaptations of their favorite books. Everyone knows that the movie is never as good as the book, but they go anyway. They just can't resist the chance to see how the stories might look outside of their own imaginations. Biblical artwork would have carried a similar appeal, giving people the chance to see a lifelike representation of the stories most significant to them.

How can you dismiss Christianity as a cult of ignorance and then marvel at the depiction of God touching the hand of Adam? Well, you fake it. Sure, there's some historical significance to consider, but the notion of having some deep appreciation for the piece is asinine. They couldn't possibly be contemplating the significance of the piece because to do so would require them to reject it entirely. They aren't contemplating anything at all when viewing The David. They're just staring at stone. They snap the picture, feign admiration, check it off their list, and move on to the next waypoint in their vacuous walk through life. A stoned hippie fishing off the dock is spending his time in a much more profound way than your typical Euro-grazer. At least he is not playing pretend.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Tribe Beats Cult

Referring again to the recent New York Times article on Ben Rhodes and Obama. Here are the first few sentences again. I've taken the editorial liberty to combine them into a single paragraph. One thing I noted when reading the Times article is how short the paragraphs are. I counted the sentences and determined that the average paragraph length was 2.25 sentences. Liberals believe themselves to be quite sophisticated, and yet the editorial staff at the premier liberal paper doesn't believe their reader have the attention span to manage much more than two sentences at a time.
Riding in a motorcade in Lima, Peru, shortly after the 2016 election, President Barack Obama was struggling to understand Donald J. Trump’s victory. “What if we were wrong?” he asked aides riding with him in the armored presidential limousine. He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind. “Maybe we pushed too far,” Mr. Obama said. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.
The defining characteristics displayed in that article were:

Hubris. These people's worlds are defined by their blind allegiance to progressivism and of their own moral certainty. They are so convinced of their righteousness that anyone working against them must be inherently evil. That is sort of the the character basis for all supervillains. (The other be narcissistic injury, but the two can go in hand.) The relevant quote I've heard is that liberals have such profound love for man in general that they are able to justify great tyranny and violence against man in particular.

Impotence. Obama throws his hands in the air and laments, "There was nothing I could do, I just too far ahead of my time."

Naivete. Most entertaining is how sideswiped they all were at Trump's victory. They were all as certain in Hillary's inevitable victory as they are in their belief that diversity = strength. There apparently is an HBO documentary of Obama's last year that captured Ben Rhodes as completely speechless after the election outcome was announced. That is one of Obama's key advisors - who crafted the Iran deal - so jolted by reality that he couldn't talk.

Delusion. Of course there is the delusion that Obama left a strong foreign policy legacy, which was discussed in the last post. But there is also delusion in this opening paragraph. He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people [...]. Liberals, who are completely obsessed with identity, who think about identity night and day more than anything else, forgot it was important to people? These people can't see their own hand in front their face for the fog of their own delusions - it's no wonder they're constantly surprised at reality as it unfolds.

Self-reflection.  Much of the focus is on how Obama's team could have done things differently. A little self-reflection isn't a bad thing. Is it a virtue? They say patience is a virtue, but what if you found out I was patiently waiting for the best time to kill you? Maybe it's not so simple after all. These people seem to be chronically self-reflecting. (Which is also something that narcissists do.) This is another facet where Obama and Trump could not be more different. Obama likes to engage in cerebral self-reflection, where he measures his own actions against his values (of which he is certain are divine). Do you think Trump sits around self-reflecting? I'd reckon he does very little of that. Instead, he acts on the world and carefully scrutinizes for feedback. He doesn't steer himself by personal self-reflection, but by seeing himself reflected by the world.

Rationale. Another one that seems like it shouldn't be that bad. What's wrong with rationale? And isn't rationale just exactly what this blog is always pining for - and complaining about when it's in short supply? Yes, it is, but you have to be careful with rationale. When using logic you must always work from facts & observations towards conclusions. We use the term rationalization when someone uses sounds logic but pares away the context until the conclusion matches the desired outcome.

These characteristics culminated in the electoral loss of Obama anointed successor, which has led to the erosion of most of Obama's legacy in less than 18 months. He dismisses it as "people just want to fall back in to their tribe." Or in other words, people want something out of life besides what the author aptly terms as empty cosmopolitan globalism. Well, he must be correct here. Tribe means culture, family, tradition, language, race, nation...all the things that give people meaning. Cosmopolitan globalism gives people meaning too, but at the cost of all the other things. She is a jealous lover. She won't tolerate national pride or traditional values. Obama most clearly demarked his loyalties when he quipped, "you didn't build that." There is no such thing as national heritage with him; just a sea of interchangeable individuals. Any half-wit thug in a faraway cesspool has just as much claim to Western civilization as you do.

Tribe beats cult in the long-run. Tribe has staying power, cult peters out. In tribe you are encouraged to raise healthy & strong children. In cult its okay to be a back-alley crack whore and die of AIDS in your 30s. (West Hollywood just awarded a ceremonial key to the city to a prostitute.) Darwinian forces favor tribe, and scorn cult. Liberals, so embubbled by their own virtual supremacy, can't even bring themselves to ask the most obvious Darwinian questions - especially for a group that like to use Darwin to rub in in Christians noses. Questions like Why do successful societies normally implement religious systems, matrimony, scorn for homosexuality, self-reliance, delayed sexuality, etc. Best as I can tell, it's not possible to be both a Darwinist and a liberal, at least not the type obsessed with notions of equality...which I think may be all of them. The contradictions are brutal. Rake them over the coals for it every chance you get. If we do our jobs they'll be renouncing Darwin by the end of the year!

If tribe beats cult, then why is there ever cult at all? It should just be tribe all the time. Well, tribe isn't infallible, it is flawed for all the ways that jump to mind with we think of tribalism. Mostly it's the instability and distraction caused by constant sectarian power struggles. So what beats tribe? Democracy does, to use the term loosely. In democracy there is the contract that (1) political struggles will be resolved through formal, non-violent processes, and (2) people will abide by the results of the process. Democracy is like taking a head count to see who would have won the war, and accepting the outcome and sparing the tremendous internal damage that civil wars bring. Evolutionarily speaking, it's sound. A nation that weakens itself through internecine warfare may end up dominated by an outside power. It's the same reason why, in the animal kingdom, contests over territory don't normally lead to serious injury.

So tribe beats cult, but democracy beats tribe. So it's democracy then, right? The rub is that cult beats democracy. In democracy, you lie, cheat, and steal to get the majority vote. Democracy only really works as long as the people mostly work in good faith, but eventually they won't do that. Liberals have found the best way to get the vote is to constantly expand the electorate and promise the newcomers wealth taken from the old guard, just so long as they can get power. Now the left wants completely open borders, so that any destitute soul can show up and vote D and get social welfare. The cult must also brainwash a large portion of the electorate to believe that what they are doing is virtuous. For instance, rich white liberals, or working class blacks, don't benefit at all from liberal policies, but they must be convinced that they do, or that it is the morally acceptable choice.

The result is a perversion of the democratic underpinning. In late democracy, the winners of elections are not who the winners of battle would be. The fittest 40% could easily subdue the inept 60% on the battlefield, but not at the ballot box. Once the cult pits the haves against the have nots, the democratic contract decays.

What the cult does to a nation is sort of what happens in a hostile corporate takeover. The successful brand name is taken, and profits can be made by marketing with that name, but ruthlessly cutting quality. Eventually the brand loses its reputation and dies. Similarly, the cult does kill the host, eventually. But that's fine...that's how diseases work after all.

People want to fall back to their tribe, says Obama. If only he spent as much time reflecting on the plights of others as he does reflecting on himself. Eventually the democracy dies, and all that's left is tribe.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

How Trump’s Election Shook Obama: ‘What if We Were Wrong?’

After Trump took office, I had hoped that I would never have to hear about Barrack Hussein Obama ever again. As it turns out, the further he slips from relevancy, the more enjoyable I find him. The New York Times, covering Ben Rhodes upcoming book in an article titled How Trump’s Election Shook Obama: ‘What if We Were Wrong?’ is so full of spin and hubris that the only way to fully summarize it is to go line by line and comment as necessary.

WASHINGTON — Riding in a motorcade in Lima, Peru, shortly after the 2016 election, President Barack Obama was struggling to understand Donald J. Trump’s victory. [First sentence: Obama the great sage truly didn't see it coming.]

“What if we were wrong?” he asked aides riding with him in the armored presidential limousine.
He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind. “Maybe we pushed too far,” Mr. Obama said. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.” [Damn backwards rubes need to get out of their tribes and into the progressive era, where you must say exactly what the PC mafia expect you to say, otherwise you are a deplorable bigot.]

His aides reassured him that he still would have won had he been able to run for another term and that the next generation had more in common with him than with Mr. Trump. [They sought to reassure him with a hypothetical. Great.] Mr. Obama, the first black man elected president, [After 8 years of presidency, he's still best known as "the black guy."] did not seem convinced. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” he said. [Imagine the hubris necessary to claim - a year after it's conclusion, that your tenure was just ahead of its time.]

In the weeks after Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Obama went through multiple emotional stages, [Just as we'd expect from the first feminine president.] according to a new book by his longtime adviser Benjamin J. Rhodes. At times, the departing president took the long view, at other points, he flashed anger. He called Mr. Trump a “cartoon” figure who cared more about his crowd sizes than any particular policy. [They can never acknowledge how brilliant Trump is. Which is why I already have money down on his re-election.] And he expressed rare self-doubt, wondering whether he had misjudged his own influence on American history.

Set to be published next week by Random House, Mr. Rhodes’s memoir, “The World as It Is,” [Again with the hubris just off the charts.] offers a peek into Mr. Obama’s tightly sealed inner sanctum from the perspective of one of the few people who saw him up close through all eight years of his presidency. Few moments shook Mr. Obama more than the decision by voters to replace him with a candidate who had questioned his very birth [certificate].

Mr. Rhodes served as Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser through some of the most consequential points of his presidency, including decisions to authorize the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, send more troops to Afghanistan, pull most troops out of Iraq, restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, seal a nuclear agreement with Iran, intervene militarily in Libya and refuse to intervene militarily in Syria. [Jesus you'd have to have amnesia to read the Times. Obama and Kerry both lobbied for weeks to go to war with Iran, but failed to garner support domestically or in Europe. So they engaged in a covert war against Assad by funding radical Islamic insurgents.] 

But his book offers a new window, if only slightly cracked open, into the 44th president’s handling of Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election to help Mr. Trump get elected and the aftermath.
In handing over power to someone determined to tear down all he had accomplished, Mr. Obama alluded to “The Godfather” mafia movie: “I feel like Michael Corleone. I almost got out.” [Obama is just so gangster.] 

Mr. Rhodes describes the reaction of foreign leaders. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan apologized for breaching protocol by meeting with Mr. Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan after the election. Mr. Obama urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to take on a more vocal role defending the values they shared. [The Canadian boy wonder has done a fine job of that.]

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama that she felt more obliged to run for another term because of Mr. Trump’s election to defend the liberal international order. When they parted for the final time, Ms. Merkel had a single tear in her eye. [Seeing Angela Merkel cry because Trump got elected would bring me more joy than a pool full of puppies.] “She’s all alone,” Mr. Obama noted. [She's all alone, save for her hyperliberal counterparts in Sweden, France, Britain, Ireland, the EU, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland...]

And yet despite criticism even from former advisers to Mr. Obama, Mr. Rhodes offers little sense that the former president thought he could have done more to counter Russian involvement in the election. Mr. Obama had authorized a statement to be issued by intelligence agency leaders a month before the election warning of Russian interference, but was thwarted from doing more because Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, refused to go along with a bipartisan statement. [There's always a Republican to blame. Of course, McConnell had nothing to do with the President's ability to direct the executive branch in response to a foreign threat to our democratic process. We've noted on this blog that Trump likes to set up situations where he wins either way. However it goes, his upside still outweighs his downside. Notice Obama's ability to do the opposite. In the one case, Russia didn't corrupt the outcome of our political process, in which case Obama and all his Democrat allies are liars of the highest order. In the other case, he is the most limp-wristed executive in world history. Listen to what he's saying. He issued a statement! And if it weren't for those meddling Republicans, he could have issued an even stronger statement. Rhodes is making a strong case that Obama was feckless to the extreme.]

Mr. Rhodes called Mr. McConnell’s refusal “staggeringly partisan and unpatriotic.” But Mr. Obama, whose Supreme Court nomination had been blocked by Mr. McConnell for months, seemed less surprised.

“What else did you expect from McConnell?” he asked. “He won’t even give us a hearing on Merrick Garland.” [I never understood why Democrats didn't push back on that harder than they did. Clearly Obama felt powerless about it.]

Still, in preparatory sessions before meetings with the news media before the election, aides pressed Mr. Obama to respond to criticism that he should speak out more about Russian meddling. “I talk about it every time I’m asked,” he responded. “What else are we going to do? We’ve warned folks.” [Can you imagine if that man ever had to defend the country from an actual military threat? Well, I warned folks...]

He noted that Mr. Trump was already claiming that the election would be manipulated if Hillary Clinton won. “If I speak out more, he’ll just say it’s rigged,” Mr. Obama said. [Either way, Trump wins.]

Mr. Rhodes writes that neither he nor Mr. Obama knew at that time that there was an F.B.I. investigation into contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia [this claim will almost certainly be disproven], despite Mr. Trump’s recent unsubstantiated claims [published by the Times] that the departing president placed a “spy” or multiple spies in his campaign.

Mr. Rhodes writes he did not learn about the F.B.I. investigation until after leaving office, and then from the news media. Mr. Obama did not impose sanctions on Russia in retaliation for the meddling before the election because he believed it might prompt Moscow into hacking into Election Day vote tabulations. [Obama could not punish Russia for alleged meddling out of fear of actual meddling.] Mr. Obama did impose sanctions after the election but Mr. Rhodes’s suggestion that the targets include President Vladimir V. Putin was rebuffed on the theory that such a move would go too far. [But statements were issued.]

Mr. Obama and his team were confident that Mrs. Clinton would win and, like much of the country, were shocked when she did not. “I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should have seen it coming,” Mr. Rhodes writes. “Because when you distilled it, stripped out the racism and misogyny, we’d run against Hillary eight years ago with the same message Trump had used: She’s part of a corrupt establishment that can’t be trusted to bring change.” [Nah, stick with the Russia story. It sounds better than, you know, agreeing with what Trump supporters have been saying the entire time.]

On election night, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone with Cody Keenan, his chief speechwriter, and Mr. Rhodes to figure out what he should say. Mr. Rhodes asked if he should offer reassurance to allies. “No, I don’t think that I’m the one to tell them that,” he said.

The next day, Mr. Obama focused on cheering up his despondent staff. At one point, he sent a message to Mr. Rhodes saying, “There are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on the earth.”
But days later, Mr. Obama seemed more less sanguine. “I don’t know,” he told aides. “Maybe this is what people want. I’ve got the economy set up well for him. No facts. No consequences. They can just have a cartoon.”

He added that “we’re about to find out just how resilient our institutions are, at home and around the world.”

The day Mr. Obama hosted Mr. Trump at the White House after the election seemed surreal. Mr. Trump kept steering the conversation back to the size of his rallies, noting that he and Mr. Obama could draw big crowds, but Mrs. Clinton could not, Mr. Rhodes writes.

Afterward, Mr. Obama called a few aides to the Oval Office to ruminate on the encounter. “I’m trying to place him in American history,” he said. [Update: he's the cartoon who dismantled almost your entire legacy in about a year.]

“He peddles” bull, Mr. Rhodes answered. “That character has always been part of the American story. You can see it right back to some of the characters in Huckleberry Finn.”

“Maybe,” Mr. Obama answered, “that’s the best we can hope for.” [The best they could hope for was that Trump would renege on his campaign rhetoric as solidly as Obama had.]