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Friday, January 19, 2018

Who Wins The Shutdown?

The Omnivore was asked who he thought would win the Government Shutdown--it's a hard call.

Some Of The Facts

Here are some relevant facts:

  1. The president was presented with a bipartisan agreement which he seemed initially very fond of. Later he wasn't. This (in theory) could have solved the whole problem right there. The Omnivore thinks the theory that immigration hardliners got to Trump and turned him around on it seems credible. Responsible Party: Republican Immigration Hard-Liners.
  2. On the other hand, the House passed a bill that offers a CR + CHIP. Now, the President tweeted he didn't want CHIP in a short-term deal--but whatevs. This is a clean bill that everyone, in theory, agrees on. The Democrats won't pass it beacause DACA. Responsible Party: Democrat High Command (some squishes might defect)
  3. HOWEVER: Both parties, in theory, want to do something about the Dreamers. There were promises made both by Trump and to Jeff Flake and others that there'd be a vote. Secondly, enough Republicans either are okay with the Dreamers or don't want to throw themselves on the "third rail" that there is likely a pretty decent compromise for the DACA recipients. If both sides say they want it then putting it in shouldn't be hard. But the R's won't because they want to use DACA for leverage. When you are using something you want for leverage, that's hostage-taking behavior. Responsible Party: Republican Establishment.
The Battlefield

This isn't all taking place in a vacumm--if it were the Republicans might have an edge on the Clean Bill + CHIP--aside from Democrats quoting the president saying "no," it's the kind of thing voters generally like (clean bills without stuff--especially immigration stuff--crammed in).

But it's not a fresh start. The Republicans have two headwins. The first is that they're the party of shutdowns--it's their brand. They speak fondly of the last one after which they won a bunch of seats in Congress (there's no cause & effect here--but it didn't sink them either).

Still--it's their brand.

The second problem is the media. If the media tells exactly the (true) story that the Republicans want to tell then the Democrats are choosing illegal immigrants over kids. If the media expands the (true) story to say things like "The Republicans let CHIP lapse because they were focused on tax cuts" then things get worse.

If the media tells the (true) Democrat version of the story that the Republicans are forcing a Sophie's choice between "DACA kids" (who are not kids--but were when they came) and "healthy kids" then it gets even worse. It's a super-villain move.

So which story will the mainstream media tell? The Omnivore expects one of the last two and some outlets leaning heavily on the last one. That isn't good for R's.

The Other Thing

The other sore point for the Republicans is that they do control Congress and the White House. Yes--not with a super-majority--but they suffer defections in their own ranks on this bill and internal criticisms and some unseemly power-plays. For casual observers it may look just like a mess and everyone loses--but the R's need to win this in order for it to be worthwhile (that is either get some good concessions like a "Wall For DACA" or have Dem-favs go down while R's go up or at least stay steady).

Betting on this to happen based on the cold facts of the matter seems risky to The Omnivore.

Net-Net

Will there be a shutdown? The Omnivore puts the odds at, what? 80% now? Assuming they have 3 hours left to make a deal--The Omnivore bets against it.

Who wins? That's a lot tougher to say. But The Omnivore goes 60-40 D's because of the media bias (no joke here--there are multiple factually true stories and the media will determine which one they like best).

Update: Last night it happened--the government shut down. It might last until Monday--it could last longer. Some of the press (AP and NYT) blamed the Democrats in their headline--so that's good for Republicans but The Omnivore thinks this still has a few twists and turns to go.

McConnell baldly pitting CHIP against DACA may backfire as unseemly (it makes the choice "too obvious" and too clearly engineered). Also there were 5 Democrats voting in favor of the Senate bill and 4 Republicans voting against it.

If the Democrats had been forced to filbuster it would be easier to pin on them--but they weren't: McConnell couldn't get his entire caucus in line.

So we're still out at sea here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Is Trump Cray?

The spectacle of Trump giving a 55 minute press conference to try to refute the charges that he's lost it is humiliating on a national level in and of itself--but The Omnivore has been charged with thinking / assuming the president is mentally incapacitated and, you know, has this blog-thing wherein he can actually say what he thinks.

So he will.

Here you go . . .

The Definition of an Alcoholic

The first thing about diagnosing mental illness is that part of the definition is suffering. That is: being an alcoholic is defined by having persistent and significant problems in your life due to drinking. If you are drinking a bottle of vodka every day for lunch and doing fine? You're not an alcoholic.

Same for narcissism or pathological lying: if you lie all the time and people are good with it--you don't fit the disease. Indeed, why would you stop?? Trump certainly thinks highly of himself--but he is wealthy and is president--so why shouldn't he.

Trump certainly says things that aren't true all the time. Is this part of marketing and branding? Or can he not help himself? No one can say.

These are not pathologies in the technical sense (although they may fall under the "being a jerk" category if you wish to place them there).

So, no--as it stands, The Omnivore doesn't think you can diagnose the president with an actual psychological illness?

What About Dementia?

The Wolff book and several other observers have claimed that either (a) Trump is showing signs of dementia (slurred speech, less use of language facility, whatever-whatever-whatever) or (b) in private is repeating the same stories over and over, not recognizing friends, etc. These are charges--are they true?

The Omnivore likes the recent David Brooks column where he notes that people who meet 1:1 with the president usually come away pleasantly surprised. The Omnivore can't confirm that this is the case (not knowing anyone who has recently met with the president) but thinks there is strong reason to believe it is likely true: if random people were meeting with the president and he was drooling on the presidential desk, we'd know.

So what gives?

Well, here's what The Omnivore does think:

  1. Trump is in way over his head and can't recognize that. At the prove-I'm-lucid meeting, Trump indicated that he has very little idea how immigration policy works and his response to being asked for a "clean bill" was not lucid. That means he doesn't have a grip on policy vision. It doesn't mean his mind is going.
  2. Trump was there for 55 minutes. He did a good job for 55 minutes--but we don't know how his temperament would hold up for, say, the 11 hours Hillary spent under questioning. Issues of mental facility aside, The Omnivore isn't sure he'd bet on the president making it through that without a temper-tantrum. 
  3. There are reports that his attention span and willingness to take in information is limited (that the daily briefing is simplified, that there is a folder-of-praise created for him, that flattery is required to hold his interest). Certainly other countries believe this is the case, wining and dining him like no other president The Omnivore can remember. The president's published videos of sycophantic praise are cringe-inducing. So there are at least several publicly available data points in this direction.
So what have we got?

What HAVE We Got?

He's probably about average for a 71 year old guy--meaning he's likely slowed down from where he was a few decades ago. He definitely doesn't seem to be a big thinker about policy--he didn't seem conversant with health care or his tax bill. He has more or less said he'll sign anything they'll put in front of him. He understands some issues with immigration but agreed verbally to a "clean DACA bill" which is both at odds with his party's position and was redacted from the published transcript.

So this isn't a genius we're talking about here. This is a guy whose priority is to "rack up wins" and doesn't care how he gets them. Statesmanship this ain't.

This is also someone who may very well not pay a lot of attention to things that are outside his expertise. He seems to think highly of himself as an expert in all things--but when put to the test (design a health care plan that helps his base and is better than Obamacare) fails and blames others. 

So crazy? No. Demented? Probably not. Slower than he'd like us to think? Yeah--probably. Emotionally volatile? Definitely. Priority on wins over any specific policy vision or outcome? Looks that way.

But not crazy. 

On "President Oprah"

At this point it should go without saying that it could happen. If Oprah decided to run she would (a) enjoy an edge over other celebrity aspirants and (b) offer the Democrats a way out of their own internal civil war that would not involve the hard work of picking a platform and running on it.

People laughing at the idea of an Oprah-administration should not underestimate how powerful those two things are: the will to win is a powerful thing and Oprah, arguably, would provide that. We should understand that a huge--if hard to quantify--part of the presidency is the wielding of charisma. The taller candidate has an edge. The more handsome candidate usually has an edge. The ability to look good and connect on TV is a significant driver--policy is for the wonks.

The have-a-beer-with test is a real thing.

Women across the spectrum would love to have a mimosa with Oprah, avers The Omnivore. The Omnivore feels pretty safe in that analysis too.

The Shoulder Angel

Trump won the GOP nomination and then--barely--the presidency. He did this, however, despite representing the most troublesome part of the GOP. He represented the inchoate insurgency against the imaginary swamp (notably: no one who hates the swamp can figure out what to replace it with, save for grand culture-war gestures of vanishingly little merit. Attempts to replace it with 'real conservatives' give us people like Roy Moore).

He appealed strongly to the racists--and to the ethno-nationalists for whom making America great again hearkened back to a time when the military didn't allow transgendered troops and gays couldn't marry--and it was okay to say "nigger."

Worse, for party unity, Trump held no deep conservative vision. He felt that women should be punished for seeking abortions--a view that while reasonably logical was at odds with decades of careful positioning for the Pro-Life community. He claimed religiosity--while clearly understanding none of it. He had "secret plans" to defeat ISIS and would end Obamacare and replace it with something great.

And so on--and so on. For deep conservative thinkers he was the parody of what Democrats said conservatives were: shallow, racist, and mean.

Oprah, on the other hand, probably has a similar depth of policy ideas (The Omnivore shudders to think of what her foreign policy would consist of) but in terms of appeal she is the "shoulder angel" to Trump's shoulder-devil.

She isn't mean. She would enjoy bi-partisan and cross-racial support. She is hawkish enough not to alienate moderates on both sides of the aisle (she apparently had reasonable support for the Iraq war). She has great oration skills and empathy. In short, she presents a caricature of the centrist idea of a candidate (albeit one with no governance experience).

So she provides a medium-cooked-steak to Trump's bloody, raw one.

This is exactly the kind of get-out-of-jail-free card the Democrats would love to have--and presently don't. There is no ideal candidate in their roster. There are some young guns who are too young (and hated by the Bernie-base). There are a bunch of old hands who are way too old. 

There's Bernie Sanders.

The Omnivore would probably vote Oprah over Sanders if it somehow came to it.

:: shudder ::

One more thing . . .

Oprah Upsets All The "Right People"

Don't, erm, misunderestimate the power of political office as a tool for cultural vengeance--that was arguably Trump's biggest appeal. Oprah would be the converse: the serious misogynists would certainly hate her. The racists would hate her--but she isn't a hairy-arm-pitted lesbian feminist burning her bra while shouting "HASHTAG-YES-ALL-MENZ!!"

She isn't a Black-Lives-Matter rioter.

Sanders voters would hate her because she isn't Bernie and isn't a self-professed socialist.

Part of Oprah's appeal to the center also means she would be an anathema to the fringes--that is just "how these things work" but it's also a point of appeal to the people who would be considering her nomination. The fact that she would strongly appeal to voters "in the center" (meaning the vast hordes of voters who have muddy ideas about policy and are making choices based on limited intellectual contact with the political process) would, The Omnivore thinks, mean she strongly antagonizes the outer edges.

That's a selling point right there if you're the right (or, uhm, wrong) kind of person.

So Will She Do It?

Good question--but as much as The Omnivore hates making predictions, there is little reason to ask a question on a blog no one reads without coming down somewhere. So The Omnivore comes down here:

  1. She Runs - She is one of the most accomplished people in the world. You don't get there without ambition and drive. She doesn't seem old and dried up and bored. The American presidency is a great mountain to climb. The Omnivore holds she tries to climb it.
  2. She Has A Good Chance of Winning The Nomination - She will be running against people like Corey Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, and so on. Do you know all those names well? No? Well then--that's part of the test right there.
  3. In The General She Has as Good A Chance As Anyone - Let's be real, folks--the press would love her. Like, "Obama-who??" levels of love. Assuming that it's Oprah v Trump (which is likely--Trump could be primaried or indicted--but these are marginal chances) then it's a real showdown--with the exception that Trump polls in the 30's right now and it seems unlikely that Hillary voters would cross over to Trump instead of Winfrey.  She might even get Obama to campaign for her.
  4. President Oprah - IT HAS COME TO THIS
Will this happen? Man, The Omnivore hopes not--but the above scenario is not the path of "greatest resistance."

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Bannon: Why Now?


The Fire and the Fury is hot-hot-hot off the presses and while author Michael Wolff may not be exactly reliable, the Bannon excerpts have not drawn a protest from The Steve-One--but instead they promoted the book on their website. The reaction was certainly fast and furious--albeit probably one of the ones missing Vin Diesel.

Breitbart commenters were furious with Steve--many of them deciding that Wolff was a fake-news liberal hack. Still with the president's scorching rejoinder (when he lost his job he also lost his mind) and having crossed the red line with the Pepes and other Trump-stalwarts of attacking Don Jr. (Javanka are fair game, The Omnivore understands) it appears that unless Bannon comes out and says he was pranking everyone and Donald was in on it that the bridges are pretty scorched (apparently one never really burns a bridge with Donald Trump--so who knows?).

The question The Omnivore has is "Why now?"

Apparently Wolff had a semi-permanent slot inside the West Wing and 18 months of access. If we presume that Bannon said all this after he got fired--likely--is it possible he knew that his foray into politics would be the end of the Trump-Bannon bromance? Or did he say all this stuff after Alabama and the book was changed just before print or something?

The Omnivore doesn't know--but thinks it makes a difference.

As seems likely, the quotes--seemingly calculated for maximal damage--most likely came in the wake of Bannon's removal from the White House--and as retaliation. So was this his plan all along? When Trump chose Kelley over Bannon, was Bannon's move to try to eviscerate Trump laid in then--and only now landed?

If so that's a lot of hang-time for a back-stab.

Still, Trump should not be surprised that he inspires more opportunism than loyalty in his picks. Certainly people see Trump's favor in terms of what it can do for them. There doesn't seem to be a lot of for the country in the Trumpian cabinet or orbit.

Some Residual Thoughts

Bannon says that Trump has money-laundering exposure through Deutsche Bank and Mueller will "crack Don Jr. like an egg." If there is leverage, The Omnivore has his bets on Kush-Just-Doesn't-Go-To-Jail as the guy to crack most completely (Manafort seems like more of a rock-hard operator who'll go down lips sealed if he has to. But who really knows?).

In any event, if there is there-there, then it seems very possible that Bannon is on to something: Manafort sure seems like the kind of guy who would be using his position as quickly as possible for personal gain. If millions of dollars were shlushing around the campaign, Manafort appears to be a hand-in-the-cookie-jar kind of guy.

Would that lead to Trump? Not necessarily--but it could. It could also get to the kids (including The Kush) who have, let us say, evidenced bad judgment in all of this. The Omnivore would expect Kushner to fabricate evidence against Trump if his ass was on the line. His purty face wouldn't last a minute in the big house. At least Don Jr. can potentially take a punch.

The other thing is that Mueller, although accused of everything from racism to intentional leaking, has, to The Omnivore's view, been pretty air-tight. We don't know what he's thinking or when this will wrap up. If people are nervous over at la Casa Blanca, the silence has got to be prisoner-delimminating the ever-living-fuck out of them.

Who wants to be the last Trump-child to roll over and get nothing? Probably Tiffany. So Bannon saying all this stuff in public likely raises the heat on Trump to do something (Fire Mueller) which would be a bad idea (like firing Mueller) but probably not as bad as goading Rocket-Boy into nuclear exchange.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

On Obama and Iran

Right now we are seeing:

  1. Rising protests in Iran (albeit apparently poorly covered by the media if Twitter is to be believed).
  2. A situation where Trump is tough on Iran--at least pretty tough.
  3. A lot of anger by conservatives directed at Obama for (a) bribing Iran into the nuclear deal and (b) not being tough enough on Iran either during the protests (previously) or geopolitically in general.
  4. This includes, apparently, letting crime fund Iranian proxies in order to get his nuclear deal.
What The Omnivore Thinks

If we wind up in a WMD exchange with North Korea people--the world--but especially conservatives reprimanding Obama for either not going in to support the Green Revolution or for bending over backwards to get the nuclear deal signed (including, yes, bribing them, allowing their practices to go unchecked, etc.) will get an object-lesson in what happens if a country with nuclear capacity is attacked.

It will be, according to the current admin's experts unthinkable.

This is what Obama was trying to prevent with Iran. Was he right to do it? The Omnivore has no idea--but he had better access to intel than The Omnivore or most of his critics do. 

Here's What You Need To Know

Firstly, Iran isn't Iraq or North Korea--they are far more sophisticated militarily than Iraq was. They are far closer to the nexus of global petrol-trade than North Korea is. They can do damage to America and American interest on a global scale in a way North Korea cannot.

Secondly, there was no good battle plan for taking out their nuclear capacity. It is dug in deep in Qom. It is hardened. Pieces of it are hard to locate. An attack would require, essentially, nuclear weapons or a land invasion. Both are unthinkable in terms of American doctrine. There wasn't a good military solution and they were definitely getting closer and closer to a bomb.

Thirdly, Obama--as little a friend of Israel as most conservatives think he was, did two things to help Israel against Iran. The first was the Iron Dome defense system--which was pricey. He didn't even suggest they pay for it and then back off. The second was Stuxnet. If you don't know what that is, it's the co-developed computer cyber-weapon that wrecked Iranian centrifuges. The extent of the damage it did is hard to determine--but it may have cost them 2 years.

Fourthly, the Nuclear Deal is, according to nuclear experts, pretty good. The Omnivore knows it doesn't seem that way--but apparently to be a nuclear expert you have to go to school and shit. Who knew?? So, like, according to people who have studied this, it can actually act as a preventative measure--even if not 100%--against Iran acquiring nukes.

There may be a reason Trump hasn't torn it up yet.

So, today, so far as we know, Iran doesn't have nukes.

If they did, the result would be what we might see in North Korea and Asia-Pacific.

Unthinkable.

So when you're upset with Obama for how he dealt with Iran, The Omnivore hears you bro--but just know that whatever it is you're asking for--it tilts the balance further in the direction of the unthinkable than what he did do.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

On Trumpeachment

The Omnivore has been leaning away from thinking that Trump would be charged by Mueller--much less impeached--and probably still cannot be removed from office (and, really, at this point, would the Democrats want to?).

Why?

The NRO's former prosecutor, Andrew McCarthy has been saying that Mueller is gearing up to exonerate Trump and charge a bunch of his people with crimes not-related to the campaign. Why? Well, because they charged Flynn with lying to the FBI. He says--and this makes sense--that when you are going after a conspiracy charge, you don't charge your (supposedly) key witness with being a liar--you charge them with the conspiracy. This makes sense. When you charge them with being a liar it's because you are hunting something else--like Obstruction of Justice, maybe--not conspiracy to collude with Russia.

However.

The Omnivore's calculus has changed on this--and not necessarily in a "good" way. What has changed?

The Omnivore has finally seen some legal analysis that makes as much sense as McCarthy's position: that the way that Mueller charged Flynn indicates he is serious--but reveals nothing. If Flynn had been charged with conspiracy to collude with Russia, the analysis said (can't find link right now) it would have given away strategy. It would have put cards on the table. Mueller hasn't--and very, very intentionally hasn't done that. This, to the lay-Omnivore's-eye makes sense at least on par with McCarthy's analysis. So who knows.

The Problem: Conspiracy Theory

The Omnivore's Twitter-Truther-Friend believes there was rampant election fraud in Alabama. He believes this for lots of reasons--but his go-to, and The Omnivore is not making this up, is a video of a Doug Jones volunteer who, in the midst of a Doug Jones-just-got-elected party is asked why he's so excited and says he and his friend volunteers came in from out of state and went door to door motivating people 'and voted.'

For Truthers this is an admission on video--from "the top" (it's a rando dude) that the bussed in activist illegally voted. It's RIGHT THERE ON VIDEO.

He also re-tweet's Bill Mitchell's statement that "election experts" claim there were "massive anomalies" in the AL vote. To be fair, here, Moore probably does believe the vote against him was illegitimate. After all, those black votes should only count 3/5ths and the women's votes shouldn't count at all.

But to the faithful--to the Roy Moore / Trump-voters--nothing can ever be convincing if it is bad about their candidate. They are easily persuaded that one of (apparently) the most stand-up guys in law-enforcement--one whom many Republicans breathed a sigh of relief when he was appointed--is now a political hitman working for the Clintons.

This is #pizzagate-level stupid--but then a surprising number of these guys believe in #pizzagate too.

Even pretty rational Trump-supporters The Omnivore sees online--are convinced that the fix is in because there is no "appearance of fairness" and Mueller was in charge when the Uranium / Iran stuff was happening. So they think he's clearly dirty.

The problem here is that there is no one other than Sean Hannity who could conduct the investigation and come away with proof of guilt. How does The Omnivore know? Simple: the people who believe this are getting their information filtered by Sean Hannity and other people like him. These people can present evidence so as to make a cogent case (by only showing a little piece of it) that Mueller is dirty--so they believe he's dirty.

Does it pass the sniff test? That Mueller has thrown away a lifetime of Republican principle and ethical behavior to go after Trump in illegal and immoral ways? Sure--but for the same reason it's okay for Trump to lie and self-deal and all that: because if you support Trump you have to believe that the deck is cheatingly stacked against him--so it's okay if he cheats back.

In other words: the conspiracy against Trump is baked into the Trump-position from the start. If the game isn't rigged, you don't need Trump. If you like Trump, ergo, the game is rigged.

So when / if Mueller does charge Trump with something--and it meets  a lot of people's standards of reasonability--but not Trump Supporters (which it cannot) what happens?

Well, you know what happens: Trump's popularity dives. Democrats take the House. If they get the Senate--and get Pence indicted in the bargain? Who winds up in the Oval Office?

First Woman President: Nancy Pelosi.

The Omnivore warned y'all.

Friday, December 22, 2017

On UFOs

As you may have seen, both the Washington Post and the New York Times have published a story about a secret government program that, allegedly, spent millions of dollars studying UFOs after a 2004 Navy Pilot's encounter off the coast of California with a "flying white tic-tac" an estimated 40' long.

THIS is a good summary of both articles.

The WaPo story included footage of the plane's camera-sensor and there was audio of pilots having an encounter with "a whole fleet of them" (at least on sensors). The description was, well, standard: a generally featureless object, flying, hovering, changing direction in contradiction to the known mechanics of possible aircraft, and accelerating possibly outside the bounds of known physics.

According to NPR's "On Point" podcast / radio-show, who interviewed the guy who was the head of the UFO-Program (called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program), as per the Pentagon program there is "no question" that "these things" are flying around up there. It's just not clear what they are.

He also said that, for the money spent, the government had gotten a "much better handle" on the physics of the thing.

The guy who was the head of the program now works for UFOs 'R' Us--To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences (run by no less august personage that Tom DeLong, the guitarist for Blink-182!) and before that was an intelligence analyst for the DoD. So he could, at least, probably pass a psych exam.

What Does The Omnivore Make of This?
Let us be perfectly clear here: this, as presented, is mind-blowing to The Omnivore. Like, in the way that The Omnivore cannot really process it--or even think about it too hard. It's that kind of Mind Blowing. It's Lovecraftian.

Why?

Well, let's first do "Why it isn't Mind Blowing"--because that kind of negative-space analysis is one that The Omnivore prefers when putting things in perspective.


  1. It is not super-duper credible because it's a "Navy Pilot" saying things. Firstly, aircraft pilots have been reporting strange things in the sky since, pretty much, flying began. The Omnivore has read those reports and concluded that while, yeah, credible in the sense of "not a crank" people can, and do, convincingly see strange things. Also--your intellectual / emotional priors (such as being a extreme skeptic or a kinda-believer) are so important here--and so unknown--as to make these reports simply non-entities. The credibility of the subject does not meet the absurd standard of proof for a flying saucer (which, yes, despite what UFO literally means, is what "UFO" actually means).
  2. It is not because the government spent several million bucks studying things. The Air Force probably spent a lot on Project Blue Book and the stated conclusion there was "Nothing to See Here." Sure--maybe it "went black budget" and "covered everything up"--but as far as we can tell without conjecture, it looked into it and found nothing to study. Remember that in the 60's the CIA was giving people LSD and the military trying to see if people could walk through walls or kill goats with their minds (these reports are also credible). The government is quite capable of spending money on stupid or crazy things just "to see."
  3. It is not because the NYT or WaPo reported it. They are, yes, credible sources (despite what the politics-golem in your head may tell you)--but in this case (and very carefully) the story is factual: Blah-Money was spent. Air-Man-Bleh said this, and so on. The reports are true: the Pentagon admits the program exists and happened, etc.
No--the scenario is mind blowing because if the guy is taken at his word then it is "generally considered fact" that "these things are flying around up there" and we have 'learned something about physics from studying them.' If these baldly stated claims are true then things are fucked.

Why Are Things Fucked?
Well, things are fucked (in The Omnivore's world view) because The Omnivore sees a crisis coming of the battle between Conspiracy Theory and Rationality (yes, yes, the CIA invented Conspiracy Theory to discredit--blah, blah, blah: you think orbital weapons blew up the Twin Towers even if you won't admit it, dude--or, at least, that's where your conclusions go).

No, the problem is the governor of Texas calling out the National Guard to "keep an eye on" the Army for Operation Jade Helm '15 because his constituents were convinced that it was an attempt to seize America by Obama. It's #pizzagate. It's "Seth Rich was assassinated." It's all this shit that people are believing because it fits a psychological need and overpowers their rational mind.

We're awash in that stuff. Trump is the Conspiracy Theory president (3MM illegal voters, Deep-State, etc.). This stuff is bad. When otherwise intelligent people believe insane things because of a dysfunctional matrix of misguided trust (conservative personalities who have taken advantage of their listeners / viewers) and emotional neediness they wind up making very bad decisions (taking an AR-15 to a pizza parlor, voting for Trump to protect their health care). 

Even worse, The Omnivore's bullshit detector pinged pretty strongly on UFOs--they can fill enough psychological needs that you don't have to go beyond that for an explanation for them. The visual evidence is, it turns out, hard to validate (The Omnivore is not a photo-intelligence analyst--that's an actual skill. You don't have it either--so it isn't seeing-is-believing but rather believing-is-seeing. 

If UFOs turn out to be real, then things are fucked because a Truth--and one of the least likely Truths--comes out of the conspiracy cloud and . . . buzzes Navy fighters. The idea that "things have been learned" from them would really meet the bar of "extraordinary evidence for an extraordinary claim." 

The idea that people in the military simply "accept that these things are real and flying around up there" would mean that the military has actual gnosis (hidden truths). That they accept things as true The Omnivore finds mind boggling. It would mean that the world is not as it appears (that the speed-of-light is a serious limit even for advanced technology, that We Are Not Alone, that, maybe, The Government has been keeping mega-secrets?).

It Goes Nowhere Good
There are not many very-good (in the beneficial sense) scenarios where alien-visitation turns out to be real. Why aren't they talking to us? The best scenario is a Federation of Planets prohibition on contact--but then why fly around where we can see? For what purpose? Even if we assume abductions are fake--but flying saucers are real, it doesn't explain what they are doing here. Or why. 

If they are "so alien that they cannot communicate" then we have an even bigger problem: they build ships, they take evasive maneuvers. They clearly seem to recognize an artificially made jet-fighter. This is pretty "human-like behavior" for something that has nothing in common for us as a basis of discussion. It, instead, suggests they are either afraid of jets--or have other reasons for evading (they don't want their activity exposed to us?). That isn't good--either one. If they're scared of jets, and can travel across interstellar space, a confrontation . . . would not go well.

Maybe they are talking to us? To some of us. If so, what the heck are they saying? That doesn't sound too good to The Omnivore. If it's good stuff then why not, you know, come out with it? Yes, it would be disruptive--but . . . well, the options don't seem good here either.

Maybe these things are self-replicating probes that are the answer to the Fermi Paradox? If so, maybe they're just flying cameras. Maybe they evade because they can't really communicate--they just take data and send it home? Could be. What's home like?

So Where Does The Omnivore Come Down?
The Omnivore lands on "there's some angle of this story we definitely have not been told." The story is that the head guy quit because he wasn't getting enough funding pursuant to the importance of this stuff. If what he says was true--that we have learned things, that they are generally regarded as "real," that doesn't make sense.

Studying these things would be the most important thing humanity could do. The level of potential threat would be off the charts. In the story, Harry Reid acknowledges that he made the program secret because it wouldn't have passed muster in the senate.

That, pretty much, limits how true "everyone knows/believes" and "we've learned things" could be. No--it looks like, here, there is not enough hard evidence to convince people with real-world pressing problems and that whatever has been "learned" is speculative conjecture rather than any serious advance.

So The Omnivore is still a skeptic. 

But hey, maybe we'll shoot one down and get a look inside.

KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES