Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Rev Reads it For You: The One Essential Quality (Rules for Radicals)

"One can lack any of the qualities of an organizer— with one exception— and still be effective and successful. That exception is the art of communication."
You can lack curiosity, irreverence, imagination, and indeed, organization and still be an effective and successful organizer.

"People only understand things in terms of their experience, which means that you must get within their experience. Further, communication is a two-way process. If you try to get your ideas across to others without paying attention to what they have to say to you, you can forget about the whole thing."
Aristotle and Bandler back Alinsky up. Rhetoric has a great breakdown on tailoring your message to specific audiences, where The Structure of Magic & Frogs Into Princes have great models for checking your experiences against those of your target/audience/partner.

In other words, part of being a great persuader is being a great listener. To be a miserable, useless persuader, either ignore what other people are saying or swallow it uncritically. Great listeners don't just pay attention to what people are saying, but to what they're omitting, when they're bullshiting, etc.

"I know that I have communicated with the other party when his eyes light up and he responds, “I know exactly what you mean. I had something just like that happen to me once. Let me tell you about it!” Then I know that there has been communication."
Communication occurs when it impacts the other party. Note that this can also be negative responses; 'his eyes light up and he responds, 'you racist, sexist, son of a bitch, I hope you get raped to death by cats.' This is part of being a good listener - you're able to confirm that you got the desired response.

We'll look at more Communication strategies after the jump.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Rev Reads it For You: How Do You Make an Effective Organizer? (Rules for Radicals)

Chapter Four is dedicated to "The Education of an Organizer," but it is less about educational methods than the type of characters who can become successful community organizers.

"The marriage record of organizers is with rare exception disastrous. Further, the tensions, the hours, the home situation, and the opportunities, do not argue for fidelity. Also, with rare exception, I have not known really competent organizers who were concerned about celibacy."
Mommas, don't let your children grow up to be community organizers. Perhaps this is why activists are so obsessed with sexual harassment: they're the sort of person most likely to be philanderers.

"The problem with so many of them was and is their failure to understand that a statement of a specific situation is significant only in its relationship to and its illumination of a general concept. Instead they see the specific action as a terminal point. They find it difficult to grasp the fact that no situation ever repeats itself, that no tactic can be precisely the same."
Speaking of students in a community organization course, Alinsky laments that they couldn't understand the difference between a tactic appropriate for a specific time and place and a universal rule. To put this in OODA loop terms, they wanted to skip OOD (observer, orient, decide) and just A(ct).

Anyone can act quickly and repeatedly, but if your tactics don't fit the situation, you'll just miss quickly and repeatedly.

We'll continue after the jump.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Distributed Thoughtware: The Coming Church Split

In the last post, we looked at why I suspect the 20% of White Evangelicals who voted against Trump were church leaders and the 80% who voted for Trump were followers. What we're going to look at today is what that model would predict.

My model (the "why") is that there is a major split between the values of White Evangelical church leaders and White Evangelical church-goers. That model could be wrong! But if it's right, it's an untenable situation.

Evangelicals are a fractitious lot. We'll split a local church over interior decorating and we'll split a denomination over electric guitars. So there's no reason to believe we wouldn't fracture over politics.

Up until Trump, White Evangelical denominations maintained a measure of unity on doctrinal niceties (Calvinism vs. Free Will, Adult Baptism vs. Child Baptism) and a sense of common political enemy (Democrats are Baby Killers). Evangelicals were pre-selected by politics; only esoteric doctrines divided us.

The problem is, White Evangelicals are arguing very loudly about who the enemy is. While we all agree the Dems are Baby Killers, it's less clear if Donald Trump is Good or Bad. Many church leaders are calling their parishioners' favored candidate Bad, Evil, Non-Christian and at the very least implying that anyone who supports Trump is the same.

The situation looks ripe for a round of denominational purges and splits like we haven't seen since the 60s-70s.

We'll look at variables and concrete predictions after the jump.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Distributed Thoughtware: 80% of White Evangelicals

I want to start by owning up to a mistake:
Here's the falsifiable bit: expect Trumps poll numbers among evangelicals to improve in the next few weeks, and up to the election assuming he doesn't say anything stupid about Jesus. Specifically, look for the number of evangelicals who strongly disapprove of Trump to start dropping.

My anecdotal evidence and gut feeling will be incorrect if the number of evangelicals who strongly disapprove of Trump to remain the same or increase (again, assuming that Trump doesn't say his daughter is the second coming of Christ or something equally offensive).
You can also call me an idiot if Trump says his daughter is the second coming of Christ and still improves his favorability among evangelicals.
- Killing Donald Trump Part Four: Really, Guys? Really?  (March 14, 2016)

Now obviously, I was correct about Trump improving his numbers with Evangelicals. He beat out Bush II's percentage for his first term among all Protestants (58% to 56%) and took fully 80% of the White Evangelical vote (couldn't find numbers for various non-white evangelical voters). The number of Evangelicals who supported Trump also went up significantly from April to November (only 15% of regular evangelical churchgoers supported Trump in April to 46% Strongly Support in November).

So the result was correct. What was wrong? The model, the "why this result will happen" was ambiguous. I expected Trump to gain evangelical support because of the riots. There was no accounting for other issues that might shore up his support.

Trump would likely have gained an Evangelical boost towards the end regardless since Hilary Clinton took the Dem nomination, Voting for Hilary Clinton would be even more of a betrayal to Evangelicals' self-image than voting for Trump. My model didn't account for that.

Even when you're right, the goal isn't to be right. The goal is to make your model of reality closer to reality. Scott Adams is right about Predicting rather than Rationalizing. If your model predicted incorrectly, or you were right for reasons outside of your model, you're wrong.

I'm going to try to include the why more into my predictions in the future. This time, I went off a gut feeling,

That said, I have one more gut feeling I need to pass from my stomach before moving onwards and upwards. It's about White Evangelicals, and we'll look at it after the break.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Top Six Lessons Liberals Can Learn From Trump (That They Should Have Learned from Saul Alinsky)

Donald Trump is the racist, sexist, misogynist outsider who rode a wave of liberal tears all the way to the White House. Saul Alinsky was the original Community Organizer, a liberal legend who wrote the book on effective protesting – Rules For Radicals. The two men could not be more different in their politics, but both could agree on one thing: the Left fucked up this election cycle.

The saddest part is that every wrong move the Left made and every Right move the Don made was called in advance by Alinsky, based on his involvement with community organization in the 60s. Rules for Radicals has taken on an eerily prophetic turn as the Left has returned to its vomit – the avoidable mistakes learned half a century ago.

As much as you may hate Trump, you can learn from him the things you should have already learned from Alinsky. Of those lessons, these are the top six.

1). The System Can Be Beat

“I can attack my government, try to organize to change it. That’s more than I can do in Moscow, Peking, or Havana.” – Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

This year, two outsider candidates took major political parties. While they had broad appeal with voters, they were despised by the party elites. Both parties took steps bordering on felony to throw their primaries to someone other than the most popular candidate.

Democrats and associated Liberals, do not lose heart. The Democratic party was able to smother the Bern, but in doing so, tipped their hand in a way that should infuriate you for years. The only danger is the trap that the party elite wants you to fall into: the thought that the system can’t be beat.

But take heart: Trump proves that the system can be beaten. No one but no one among the Republican party elite wanted him to be the candidate, and he beat them all. It’s too late for you to do anything about the 2016 election, but that means you have four years – four whole years! – to take the party back from its corrupt masters and mistresses.

You’re gonna have to work at least as hard as Trump, but it can be done. The only question is, will YOU do it?

[Continues after the jump]

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


I want to talk to my liberal friends for a moment - those still willing to read this blog!

You are upset and outraged about Trump's victory, You find yourself trapped in a country which is 48% unpeople - American racists, sexists, homophobes, etc.

I'm not going to take that away from you. You feel what you feel, and no one can tell you that it's wrong to feel that way. But I hope, once emotion has receded to its normal levels, once you are able to think normally, that you will keep a question in mind.

What have you learned from Trump?

To declare Trump a disaster, you also admit that he is an incredibly effective, powerful disaster. There were not enough psychotic racists in the USA to elect McCain, Romney, or indeed Jeb Bush. But Trump was not only electable, he was elected. He won where others failed. Vive la différence.

Now put aside all flippant answers in your heart (though feel free to shout them in public). What have you learned about how politics works? Public speaking? Media manipulation? Debate? In almost every situation, Trump did the opposite of what the experts advised, and yet toppled those experts and their chosen candidates.

So what have you learned from Trump?

You may want this to go away. It is here to stay. You may think this bitter cup, once drunk, will pass. You are wrong. A cottage industry already springs up to study the Trump, learn his ways, and turn this victory into your further defeat.

So! You had better learn from Trump. You had better swallow your pride and look him in the eye. You better let your preconceptions die and stare into that orange abyss.

I'm not one of the people who predicted the rise of Trump. I did, however, notice that the people predicting the rise of Trump made more sense than the people saying he couldn't possibly do any more winning.

It's not much credit to me that I could line up reality with which theory was best predicting reality. But apparently that skill is in short supply in the chattering classes.

Back when the first riots of the primary cycle started, I said this:
"This shouldn't be necessary, but I'll lay it out anyway. Shutting down a major city in response to a peaceful, lawful political rally and physically intimidating/attacking fellow citizens is as stupid as shit. Don't do it. Also, do not physically attack presidential candidates. Just...come on, guys. We shouldn't have to review this material.
I mean, you've basically just given Trump the nomination, if not the presidency."
Again, this is no credit to me. Anyone should have been able to see that the party of civic disorder, revolt, and riot would alienate the fence sitters and disturb the complacent. Hell, Saul Alinsky saw it in Rules for Radicals. Even if Trump was literally Hitler, 48% of the country prefered Hitler to Stalin. And in sheer number of murders ordered, that's the right choice.

So when you are tempted to think the worst is over and that you can retreat from this grim reality, remember what you thought when Trump said all Mexicans are rapist. When John Oliver told you to "Make Donald Drumpf again." When he couldn't possibly win the primary. When we hit Peak Trump six months in a row. When he grabbed America by the pussy. When he won.

If you think Trump is tired of winning, you are very, very wrong.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Why I Vote for Donald Trump

Let's cut to the chase: I don't like Trump. I wrote a series here speculating on how he could be stopped back in the Republican primaries.

But the evils of Donald Trump are evils I would forgive in a friend. The evils of Hilary Clinton make her my enemy, and the enemy of the Good.

It is clear who in this race is a flawed human being, and who is a partisan of Evil.

I will vote for a human being, flawed, against another flawed human, and I will vote for a flawed human being against Evil.

No one can tell you to vote for Evil against Evil. But then, anyone who tells you to vote only for perfect men is a fool.

No one will be saved or damned by God for their vote in this election. But if you restrain your hand at this time, when you might have stood against Evil at no cost to yourself, I pray your own conscience damn you and not give you rest.

The Rev Reads it For You: Let's Redefine Power (Rules for Radicals)

In this chapter, Alinksy redefines for us several words of the English language:

"The same discolorations attach to other words prevalent in the language of politics... They become twisted and warped, viewed as evil... This is why we pause here for a word about words."
Notice how Alinsky sets the stage. He is simply restoring these words to their true, original meanings! Removing the discolorations of politics! And what better word to first redeem, than Power?

Continues after the break.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Rev Reads it For You: The Eleven Ethics (Rules for Radicals)

Chapter Two is concerned with outlining Alinsky's 11 rules of "The Ethics of Means and Ends." Alinsky sets his moral foundation for community organization, but pay attention as he sets the deck against the Haves.

"To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles. The real arena is corrupt and bloody. Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life."
Alinsky first sets out by sidestepping the issue of morality altogether. 'Look, the real world isn't an Ethics textbook. Things are complicated. It's hard to stay clean. Everybody does it. Might as well give up.'

This shouldn't be new to anyone here, so I'll spare you the rant on moral relativism. Simply note that Alinsky uses examples/language that no one can deny and then skips over actually proving his point conclusively. It's a good maneuver!

Continues after the jump.