Nate Silver in the Hands of an Angry God


All throughout the Obama years, the opinionating liberal press couldn’t genuflect low enough for the forecasts of folks like Nate Silver and the “brilliant” explainers delivered daily by Vox, et. al. A new breed of data-driven blogger had arisen to show us the way! Like the neoliberal system itself, whose water they carried so gratefully, this new strain of explainer-style analysis would be unalarming, orderly, and smugly self-regarding in the manner of the socially liberal, economically corporatist readership to whom it catered.

Imagine their shock last night, when a real estate developer and reality show host with the aesthetic sensibility of Tony Montana ground their bien pensant Hobbiton-on-Hudson world into gravel beneath the heel of his in-all-likelihood-gold-lamé-lined Bruno Maglis.

What the Slates, the WaPos, the NYTimes, New Republics, FiveThirtyEights, Voxes, and other respectable bobo organs failed to understand is that they weren’t heralding the arrival of a new breed of brilliant, impartial forecaster. This was merely the ascendent moment of a new generation of partisan press hacks justifying their own self-interested political prejudices.

Pundits of the FiveThirtyEight and Vox ilk turned out to be not brilliant oracles so much as avatars of a conformist, bourgeois, liberal Upper West Side and Dupont Circle Gen-Xer class, at last come into its own. They saw what they hoped to see, predicted what they hoped would happen. And, well, what the thinker thinks, the prover proves.

During the Obama years, when their neoliberal order went unchallenged, these pundits could do no wrong. But now that Larry David and the villain from a long lost Mark Twain story are violently challenging the neoliberal dispensation, it’s clear these people couldn’t predict a sunset. That’s because their analysis was never based on an impartial gathering and crunching of data. It was based on a careful selection of data confirming what good coastal liberals already “knew.”

In fairness, I’m no better. I was correct in predicting the rise of Trump, but only because, like the Nate Silvers and Matt Yglesiases of the world, it confirmed what I already believed: the white working class is coming apart at the seams, and it will try any desperate measure to save itself. If the country implodes as a result, well, at least those smug Democrats and movement conservatives who have been so brazen in their contempt for the precarious working class will suffer alongside everybody else. In my way, I’m no better than the hacks whose humiliation I’m celebrating this morning. If there’s a hell below, we’re all gonna go.

Truth be told, the only consistently reliable forecaster in the whole political blogosphere is Steve Sailer, mostly because he is every bit as contemptible and Machiavellian as the American political system itself. Morally, I’d say the scourge is too good for him. But an accurate barometer is an accurate barometer. Sailer’s reliability is a cruel fact of nature, like dolphin rape, or gerbils eating their offspring. We must learn to accept reality on its own terms. I recommend reading him, and then doing weekly penance.

So look, we’re all sinners in the hands of an angry God. And by God, I of course mean the neoliberal globalist order, because like God it is a preexisting force of nature that we must never question. In a way, I’m not even upset. I’m just another jaded decadent, grateful for one moment of relief from a life of neverending ennui. I believe the French have a word for it.

No matter how this shakes out, a lot of people are going to be even more pissed off six months from now. So knuckle up, goons. It’s gonna be a sick, deranged summer. And you didn’t have to graduate Columbia j-school to see it coming.


Now I’m Covering American Extremism, Too


Discussing Muslim-world politics requires a lot of thoughtful study and reflection. It’s a tough subject to report on from the West, since the cultural context is by definition foreign. Before writing anything I usually have to do days, if not weeks, of contextual research to avoid making a Michael Weiss of myself. All of which makes it a great subject for academic work, but a tough topic to blog about.

So since my general area of expertise is extremism and media, and the American election is turning out to be, uh, extremely extreme, I’m going to be writing about that too from now on. Since I live this madness every day, it’ll be easier to shoot from the hip. And since I’m commenting on my own culture and country, I don’t feel bad being a little mean, which (let’s face it) makes for better reading.