John Holbo Profile picture
13 Jan, 10 tweets, 2 min read
The drama of 'lawful evil cleric joins party of chaotic neutral thieves for profit' has played out more than once this admin. (Jeff Sessions.) Such moral tragedy provokes audiences to ask: how to be true to law, in a crisis, yet without abandoning evil?…
OK, joking aside, do I really think Pence is evil? Like, EVIL-evil? He and I don't just have policy disagreements? Let's ask, instead: why does it make perfect sense that Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence would both get in bed with Trump, and both find the experience so debasing?
The short answer is that Pence and Sessions are not that different from Trump in SOME ways, though they are his opposite in OTHERS. (This is not a truth caught by Gary Gygax's moral compass.)
They time-share a political id, consisting largely of white, ethnonationalist resentments. And they are both creatures of ego. But Trump is all id and ego, and Pence has a superego.
Trump wants to chaos-farm 'monsters of the id' on the right, so he can crime and bask, egotistically, in the glory of release - 'he did it!' Pence wants to channel those same dark forces, those 'passions', in a more 'orderly', prosocial (by his lights) upwards direction.
Putting it another way: Trump and Pence have dueling 1619 Projects. The US has a dark past, a splinter in its moral mind's eye, due to the stain of slavery. Trump wants to release resentments, to cause chaos; Pence wants to harness them more securely for socially orderly ends.
Thus there comes a moment. The id is loose. Is it just going to run riot (Trump's plan) or it going to be harnessed to power Conservative Christianity at the ballot box (Pence)?
It really is important, I think, that the likes of Pence (and Sessions) are quite obsessed with 'lawful Christian order'. But their instinct is also that there is no realistic alternative but to draw on very dark forces to turn the wheels of that. That is their 'alignment'.
I can't believe I didn't make the first tweet 'lawful evil cleric joins party of chaotic neutral thieves for one campaign'. That is it. He was hoping to do just the one, and pile up some loot, and gain some experience. Level up his character - but no permanent alignment shift!
(If you shift alignment permanently, you lose levels - at least on some systems. D&D ought to have involuntary alignment shifts. Since that's how it always goes, don't it?)

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More from @jholbo1

11 Jan
So I get off the news to go read about heresies - no kidding! - and, just before I go, this - THIS!
So Belle and I are like, is Pelagianism top 10 heresy material? Y/N?

Me: hey, Siri, what are the top-10 Christian heresies?
Siri: I found this on the web.…
My pics were, off the top of my head:

Lutheranism (call it Protestantism)
Pantheism (Spinozism)
Catharism (Albigensianism)

And then I kind of got stumped.
Read 9 tweets
11 Jan
McCarthy thinks Trump deserves to be impeached. Image
But also that Trump shouldn't get what he deserves. It's so little! a few days! But the same consideration should cut the other way: it's so little. Just a few days. Why not do the right thing? Image
Because the R base wants Congress NOT to do the right thing, is why. But is that a good reason not to do the right thing, on a basic point of principle? McCarthy is basically saying: our base won't tolerate their reps upholding the constitution. Well, what should leaders do?
Read 5 tweets
11 Jan… OK. The good thing is: he admits Trump should be impeached. That's good. Image
And good on him for apologizing to the Never Trumpers. Image
But he needs to work on this part. Image
Read 6 tweets
11 Jan
In other words: two dueling narratives.
1) Trump understandably tried to stop what much evidence suggests was the theft of the election; and heroic constitutional conservatives like Cruz and Hawley stood by him, although, tragically, patriotic protests went over the line. 1/
2) Trump is a mentally ill seditionist; accusations of election theft are baseless. No reason to suppose the election was other than fair and free, hence cynical attempts to cast doubt, for profit, are, at best, para-fascist LARPing for profit. The base: lots of rubes & thugs. 2/
Does Twitter have an obligation to be agnostic between 1 & 2, merely because 2) is the line one major party, the D's, is taking, but the other party, the R's, even though its leaders know 2) is true, needs to save face by feigning 1) has merit? 2) is too insulting to the base! 3/
Read 8 tweets
11 Jan
If you want to break up Big Tech, propose an even-handed, muscular response to monopoly danger. Dust off anti-trust, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Great! But don't just whine about how you can't get away with being an awful troll, but the Ayatollahs are on Twitter. 1/ Image
Both can be true:
1) Twitter should not get to decide who speaks, in the whole world.
2) If you conduct yourself with bare, civic decency, respecting baseline norms and ideals all citizens of an advanced liberal democracy should share, Twitter currently won't ban you! 2/
Conservatives look at the low bar of 2 and shriek, 'there's no way we can clear THAT, we're conservatives! If we're politicians, the base will have our hides for that!' That is ALSO a problem, in addition to the real problem that Twitter shouldn't police the speech world. 3/
Read 8 tweets
8 Jan
I've got to read this and think about it. But here's my first negative thought. To what degree is this bothsidesism valid? Not very, I think. 1/… Image
The comparison is between BLM protests - and riots - and Stop The Steal. But these aren't comparable. Why not? BLM was and is a reasonable civil rights protest movement, addressing actual existing problems of policing. Stop the Steal is an insane, delusional conspiracy theory. 2/
Now, normally you need to be even-handed about these things, in a formal way. 'Everyone has a right to their opinion'. 'Crazy people have the same free speech rights as everyone else'. 'You don't convince people by dismissing them as crazy.' All that's true. 3/
Read 25 tweets

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