Muted post-horn

It's nearly 8pm in San Francisco.

I like to imagine Janet Yellen somewhere, probably San Francisco, fishing a pair of disposable wooden chopsticks through a lukewarm cup of office desk cup ramen in a glass cubical beside an open office lit almost entirely of computer monitors pumping in news and economic data from over the entire world, except her cozy corner under the incandescent glow of a desklamp with one of those sunlight-energy bulbs.

She's finishing up some last minute paperwork. On a desktop in front of her is a Powerpoint presentation she has been preparing for the next Federal Reserve board meeting in which they're all feeling pretty confident about announcing an interest rate raise of less than a half of one percent.

Her office aide approaches to say goodbye for the night. "Oh by the way," the aide says, "Jenny from the White House got in touch with me and asked if you wanted to schedule a time to meet with the President. She says the visitor log is getting full up really quick and if you don't schedule now, you might not be able to speak with him for as much as six months."

Yellen nods her head a bit and thinks. "He's probably really busy right now. If anyone in Washington needs me, they'll reach out."

Yellen and her aide share a restrained quarter smile, before the aide gathers up her purse and spring jacket and turns to leave. With no further hesitation, Yellen gulps down the last dregs of the cup ramen and turns back to signing off on the next little iteration of bureaucratic procedure.
Muted post-horn

Lack of Confidence Leads to Lack of Competence

Ten years ago February, HSBC shocked the market by raising its bad-debt provisions to $10.5billion, $1.8billion more than analysts had expected, because of failing American subprime mortgages. On May 6th, 2007, Chuck Prince, CEO of Citigroup, told the Financial Times "As long as the music is still playing, you've got to get up and dance." By November he would be fired. A year later Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Financial meltdown became likely, and all levels of the federal government and finance industries were in high alert. In the middle of it all was a fussy bureaucrat named Henry 'Hank' Paulson, who was appointed Secretary of the Treasury after a stint at Goldman Sachs. Hank stepped in and forced mergers between imploding banks and otherwise structurally sound big banks, such as JP Morgan Chase's rushed union of Bear Stearns. This 'bail-in' reaching its limit, he then lead stewardship of the Troubled Assets Relief Program which forced all banks, struggling or not, to take ~$125billion of loans from the federal government. This monetary program was propped by the FED, at the time lead by Ben Bernanke, who bought Treasury bonds at a brisk pace in a program now known as 'quantitative easing.'

In November 2008, shaken Americans elected their first black President, who walked into an office currently under the workload of developing a bipartisan bill to prevent future meltdowns called the Dodd-Frank Act. In addition, the new President sought for relief spending funds from Congress to bailout others struggling in the American economy. The Congress gave him the funds, most famously to bail out struggling automakers in Detroit, but not before Republicans in the Senate stripped out the new President's spending proposal to cover and insure underwater mortgages from American citizens ravaged by the second worst economic disaster after the Great Depression. Instead, the new president lengthened unemployment benefit periods, pushed a signature medical insurance reform bill through Congress, and closed the deal on the Dodd-Frank Act.

By the time the market bottomed out at the end of the year in 2009, Americans were pissed. From their perspective, they had lost homes, jobs, retirements, their futures, and the only people who got 'bailed out' were the (now even bigger) banks and car companies. This is understandable, but hopefully the summary above indicates something few people seem to talk about that period:

The forced mergers worked. The banks were more systemically stable than they had been before. TARP worked. The US Federal Government profited by $30billion from TARP paybacks, which concluded in 2011. Quantitative Easing left money cheap for businesses to borrow and consolidate. Bailing out the car companies (in return for new emission and mileage standards as well as other regulation) worked, saving hundreds of thousands of American jobs and leading to dramatic investment in better quality vehicles.

Meanwhile, in Europe, most countries decided on rigorous and painful spending cuts to service their debt, in a measure known as 'austerity.' 10 years on, neither the US nor the EU are as 'well off' as they were before the recession -- but the US's recovery is far better, with a 4.4% unemployment rate, new stock market highs, the beginning reversals of wage stagnation, and banks that are frankly pummeling European ones. Although this is the place where somebody wants to jump in and talk about the many ways in which the US people and their economy is still struggling, if not outright suffering, in comparison to Europe, America's recovery was bold, remarkable... and fast.

Hank Paulson was never meant to be a household name. Under 'normal' circumstances, nobody should have known, or cared, much about him. Ben Bernanke would still be a pet whipping boy by End-the-Fed libertarians but their whip wouldn't be so smart or large.

These detested men worked under extreme pressure and made very hard, and very risky, decisions using specialized knowledge very, very few people have to solve a legitimate crisis that could have pulled down the entire global economy.


They weren't good at television. They were number men, wonks, old grim-faced grumps. After solving the problem they had no story to tell, just a few interviews to answer questions as best they could. Hank Paulson eventually wrote a memoir on the experience and had a documentary made about him, but in the latter he talks like paint drying and the former, which I haven't read, is likely ghostwritten.

And because they weren't good at creating a narrative, even an easy one like "I just saved the world economy motherfuckers!," and because they were attached to an outgoing presidential administration that was nothing but war-tired, world-weary, and wanting no more responsibility or questions, in the end the prevailing American narrative is the one of popular resentment stoked up by feckless billionaires and the bureaucrats who enable them.

Following the Iraq War, which sheered Americans' faith in the credibility of their leadership, the Great Recession destroyed it. Hank Paulson was removed from administration and was probably glad to be rid of it.

On this day, ten years later, an illiterate President who cannot even speak in complete sentences fired FBI director James Comey. At the point in which Comey was fired, he couldn't be more unpopular from both the left and the right.

Let's be clear. Comey likes to quietly, privately do his work, and only some of that is because the FBI historically is meant to. He's also, like Hank Paulson, not good at television as he has harder and more pressing issues in mind. His brain is full of complex information very few individual people can understand. He was also mentored by a former FBI director who navigated the department cleanly through moments of partisan bickering by essentially keeping his mouth shut and staying away from the conflict.

During the 2016 election he got caught in the middle of the crossfire of vicious partisanship. Whilst investigating one major candidate, he couldn't afford to seem partial to either. By not saying anything about the investigation, he came across as hiding evidence from it. So once he determined that the investigation didn't find fault, he tried to clear the air publicly: by saying Clinton couldn't be prosecuted, he advantaged one side. So he tried to balance it by shaming her for being neglectful. Instead of calming the partisanship, it only excited it: liberals saw the Republican registered FBI chief as trying to ruin Clinton's reputation; his scathing remarks, rather than calming the conservatives, made them more certain he was hiding her offense.

Later, when further e-mails were found in an unrelated case, Comey had to re-open the investigation on Clinton. The problem was, if she got elected and he didn't say anything about the investigation being open, the FBI would take a major hit to its credibility and trustworthiness. So he decides to tell Congress five days before the election. Clinton's polls plummet. The man who would then fire Comey is now the President of the United States.

Comey is widely blamed for the fallout; meanwhile, he's still not popular with the right. He has that pesky need to keep showing up at Congress saying foreboding things about the new commander in chief. And furthermore, for some reason, he just insists on not prosecuting Hillary Clinton. Clearly an awful guy.

So let's touch briefly on the reasons for his firing. Technically, he was fired for misrepresenting the volume of emails exchanged between Clinton and Weiner as 'hundreds to thousands' (when it was more like a few dozen). Recall that Comey has a bad habit of overemphasis, lending to exaggeration. Also keep in mind that what Comey lied about was that Clinton's problems were worse than they actually are. If the big man in the Oval Office was truly concerned about someone in his administration lying, it wouldn't be someone who is misrepresenting the scale of culpability of a political opponent. You get my drift?

Now the usual Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and late night comedians-as-advocacy programmers are salivating at the coincidence between Comey's firing and the Department of Justice's subpoena of Trump administration officials and associates. Clearly, obviously, Trump has something goin' on with Russia.

I'm still not sure. I know it sounds weird, but I'm both next to 100% certain that Trump has something going on with Russia, and that it's not nearly as big of a deal as the liberal talking heads expect it to be. Liberals want outright Trump blood-money found in cavities of Putin's high castle. In the long run they'll probably find a few Russian billionaires have met a few American billionaires and they went about being billionaires together.

This is not to say that 45 has not committed a crime. He's a criminal. We already know he rapes. There are more lawsuits surrounding him with words like 'bankruptcy' and 'fraud' than can be even be accounted for. But regarding Russia? There's as much chance of him having committed a crime there or not, and if he did it was probably unknowingly, because where I'm going with is

the issue isn't that 45 is hiding something specific, it's that he's incompetent. And any close look into literally anything he's ever done, in the history of his life ever, on ever level ever, has shown incompetence. He can't give transparency into any part of his life because any close look shows he can't handle shit. And you don't even need a close look. He's pretty much despised by the industries he works in, and by the time he ran for office his business and his brand were essentially run by his daughter and son-in-law.

The reason he fired Comey ranges from either, "Shit, I'm going to get caught," to, "What if they find something?" Either way even the firing is still merely an example of flat out, unadulterated incompetence. Any competent kleptocrat would have purged Comey months ago and already finished stacking the administration; 110 days in, 45 hasn't even finished the top level nominations and has only now clicked that Comey isn't his guy. Even if the competent kleptocrat had realized too late that Comey had to go, it wouldn't be so immediate and obvious. A longer term con on Comey's character would go -- in fact probably a simple request for Comey to resign.

Firing Comey shows 45 is as stuttering and poorly considered in his own guilt as he is in speaking English.

Where I'm going with this is, ten years ago a highly competent man saved the world and induced the anger of literally generations of Americans who will constantly use his name as an example of the fraudulent and therefore illegitimate nature of American federal stewardship. His work was followed by a BLACK PRESIDENT who induced the existential terror of aging upper-middle class Baby Boomers who had come to maturity in the era of Jim Crow. They subsequently stacked the Congress with an assortment of previously marginal and fringe representatives, a coterie of individuals who had always failed to get elected anywhere significant before but saw an opportunity in popular racism anger. That same Congress, facing a one-party government with probably their best possible friend in the White House, a man so stupid he actually believed the dog whistles traditional Republicans used to dangle to get the racist vote and then subsequently ignore (minus minor bones thrown for show), suddenly realized that they don't know how to write legislation and are now beholden to the same partisan firebranding without the excuse of resisting the black man. They've already begun trying to flee the ship before it sinks.

The saddest thing about all of this is that partisanship has reached such shrill, entangled nightmarish proportions of anxiety and stress, that the American people not only don't trust their government, they've subsequently spent a decade purging that government of competence. Keep in mind: good or bad. Malevolent or well-intentioned. I'm talking mere competence.

The really shitty part about 45's complete inability to NOT act like a fucking crook is that the rest of the partisan system is so incompetent that it may not be able to actually do anything about his malfeasance. This means in addition to how he manages to destroy standards of dignity and accountability of the office just by fucking being in it, he also manages to destroy the ability of the American people to do anything about that office just by fucking up too quickly, loudly, and obviously before the incompetent people in Congress gain their feet and realize that they've propped a monster. Now they probably can't notice what they're propping up because they'll be too busy straining against the props to notice what's shaking it above. It's fractal incompetence: incompetence at every observable level.

This is why I joked last year when watching House of Cards that it was more like a nostalgia piece than a thriller: a throwback to the politics of yesteryear when the evil people in office at least knew what they were doing.

Hank Paulson, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and James Comey all have one major similar quality: they are fucking smart. Two of them are Republican, two are Democrat. Two of them I like, two of them I don't (I like Paulson and Obama. I don't like Clinton and Comey). All of them I have places where I agree with their decisions, and places where I don't.

But the one thing I can appreciate about having people like them around, is that they are, fundamentally, competent.

And THEY are the ones that are on the losing side of partisanship. Make no mistake: activated liberals have their own incompetent marginal dumbfucks to sweep into the 2018 election. Watch out, Schumer, Warren, and company. The Bernie bros are coming for you. You're too fucking smart to survive in this era.


Edit: Oh, and one hour later:

Reminder that when I saw Dick Cheney debate John Edwards, I realized how bad we truly had it with Dubya. It wasn't just that I disagreed with their policies. It's that Cheney was clearly a viciously smart and wicked sharp individual, and instead of him as head representative of our right side, we had a dude named Dubya.

Maybe someday I'll have an example to regret wishing that people I find evil were also intelligent. But the stupidity really gets to me more than the evil. Evil people still want to preserve enough of the country to lead and prosper in, even if only personally. Stupid people are as much a danger to their own self-interest as they are to everyone else's.
Muted post-horn

On Comfort and Death

The Economist recently published an in-depth article on palliative care, that is to say, the issue of balancing human comfort with the existential conflict of staving off death at all costs.

It's been ages since I've even thought about the issue. I wish this article came out, or an article like it was shown to me, around high school. From 1997 to 2004 saw a period of death of quite a few family members, friends, and close acquaintances. It definitely felt meaningful at the time, and of course it was. However, time has softened the blow such that death doesn't feel as encompassing as before. It wasn't until I read this article that I remember how absurd and politicized death felt in the era of Terry Schiavo. I'm unclear as to whether that issue hasn't re-risen due to lack of euthanasia, or whether it normalized it enough that it was no longer given as much news. Either way, it was a civil rights fight not fully appreciated at the time and mostly forgotten today.

The United States especially seems to have a raging, angry focus on survival at all costs; or, in fact, the survival is made all the more important based on the difficulty level. Some terrible mixture of our Protestant flagellation and our capitalist workaholism that commits us to the abusive relationship we call The American Dream has lead to the sort of gut reaction against merely accepting a comfortable death instead of taking every option, however expensive and painful, in protracting mere existence.

This is a darker and more visceral side of the adage, "Americans always do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other possibilities." In this though, as The Economist article investigates, Americans aren't unique. Humans tend to stave off death at all costs; it's Americans that merely add a patina of stress by treating death as a character flaw.

(Also I notice that the article takes some time to describe what sounds like a correlation between religious belief and dislike of talking frankly about how to make death comfortable and less traumatic. I would argue that even if the United States became more atheist, nevertheless they would retain their aggression against comfortable death because survivalism is the underlying cult religion of the nation.)

I tend to be suspicious of artists who focus on 'deaht' as their topic but it's struck me that perhaps there's something important I can explore there. I didn't think about it simply because, you know what?, life has been good. I've been focused on life. I'm not interested in death as a death wish or as an exploration of the 7 year trauma of my young adulthood.

What I'm interested in is pleasant death, and how communities can come together to honor it.

Muted post-horn

The Future is Binary:

either 45's presidency will go like this last week did for the remainder of his time in office, making the chances of a 2020 re-election threateningly possible; or he'll overreach and things will get too extreme. But we're not going back to the heady days of the early administration where he incompetently bumbled around in the White House without lights on. He's finally a President now.

Now what do I mean by 'he's finally a President now'. What I mean by that is that people elected him for various reasons. One of the major ones and the focus of the last three months was that he was elected to destroy institutions. That process he threw himself into gladly, and he can't fail because he's only capable of destroying shit, not building anything, so the outcome of that matter is next to predetermined. But another reason why he was elected was to erase Obama's presidency.

Erasure in racism involves both the undoing and the co-opting. It doesn't matter which is employed as long as the action is taken to do it. 45 ran as white America's primal scream against the very existence of a black President, and as such he has a role to fulfill as the new POTUS to either destroy or co-opt everything Obama has done to erase Obama's influence from history. It's not even great for Obama to be a bad president: he also has to be a useless one.

And making Obama useless is where it was less clear whether 45 would succeed, but he's now taken a great step forward. With the last week, 45 has officially proved himself capable of erasing Obama's presidency, which means he may just prove to be the popular President he thinks he should be.


No, this post isn't about Merrick Garland vs. Neil Gorsuch, but it could be, equally. At this point the Gorsuch win is a multiplier. But the Gorsuch win is also a perfect example of the why's of a more difficult and complex subject, so I'm going to return to it as the simple, base-level explanation of the wider erasure.

In August 2013, President Obama asked for Congressional approval on targeted air strikes of airforce and military equipment in Syria. The response was immediate and clear: 'America' wasn't having it. Obama's airstrikes in Syria were a no-go with no discussion, dead on arrival.

Why? Because liberals are reflexively anti-war and conservatives are reflexively anti-Obama. They made a perfect coalition with war-weary moderates suspicious of 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' style adventurism from the Bush Wars, along with growing controversial over-reach regarding drone attacks in places like Pakistan and Libya.

Except that what Obama was asking for was the right thing to do and is what we should have done. And once Putin popped his head in and actually showed initiative to jump in and broker agreements regarding poisonous gas weaponry, that should have been the first sign for any American with even limited political awareness that something here was very wrong; because if America was not willing to jump into a potential miasma, why in the name of fuck would Russia actually offer to?

And in a great, in fact spectacular preview of 2016 to come, 2013 was the perfect Bizarroworld moment where liberals found themselves actually praising Putin for being a peacebroker and conservatives celebrating isolation and demilitarization. And it was perfectly wrong on every level. I remember being in New Mexico, watching this happen, and realizing that I had nobody to talk to about it, because literally every single person I knew had opted for the wrong choice for the wrong reasons.

Going back to Gorsuch, the problem with liberals is that they. fucking. suck at picking battles. Why does Republican obstruction work so well? Because they have fucking horizon lines. Republicans can say, "Oh, you want Merrick? Fuck you, elections are coming." Democrats can only, "Oh, you want Gorsuch? Uh, uh, fuck you, we're, uh, we don't have any leverage, so but like fuck you right?" Big fucking difference. Same thing with Syria. Liberals were so intensely interested in preventing American adventurism on ANY. FUCKING. ARENA. that they actively blocked one of the few times a nation of people had specifically reached out to us for help and, while we're at it, were being attacked by a totalitarian so vicious he was even breaking some of the few laws of war.

But conservatives are hawkish and they knew, somewhere deep inside of them, that they wanted to pound some Arab sand again. That's what conservatives do. They fight people. They're built out of aggression. All of that was suppressed by the terrifying concept of a black person actually achieving something they want. So they had to deny him that and leave the action ready to go once a white man could throw the punch. Now he's there and Obama's initiative is co-opted: it's erased. Obama's history is no longer effective; it was the white billionaire from Queens who actually did what America promises and challenged a despot. It's perfect.*

Just like Obama could never sit a justice to the Supreme Court. That writes history. History had to be erased so that a white person could sit a justice on the Supreme Court. In the case of Gorsuch and Syria, it's co-option. In the case of the Paris Agreement, Dodd-Frank, the TPP, it's reversal. Both are erasure.

45's attack on Syria is going to be, and already is, popular. Sorry liberals. Read today's New York Times for proof. Watch CNN for proof. Sure, there's debate over it, but the net narrative is that 45 'took decisive action' and that 'Russia neglected to or failed to fully live up to their promise to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria.' Yeah, a few liberal rags are throwing out there the cost of each of the 59 missiles (and the fact that this attack does little to reduce Assad's ability to continue to be a totalitarian despot), a few libertarian rags are upset that even a Trump Presidency doesn't magically make America exist in a closed system, and your sarcastic meme-addicted friend of Facebook thinks that 45 and Obama and Bush and Clinton are all the same person because lulz there's no distinction between literally three completely different wars (Afghanistan [ground war with specific defined enemy popular with the public and targeting a specific cause of 9/11], Iraq [useless adventurism by an overreaching and overenthusiastic warmonger], Syria [a totalitarian despot in desperate need of deposing for the security and safety of a region as a whole]; the three basically showing the examples of what war with a country really is); but the net fact of the matter is that 45 did what Obama should have gotten to do and what Obama should have gotten to do is the right thing to do. The people who KNOW it's the right thing to do are happy. The people who want 45 to do what they purposefully caused Obama to fail to do are happy. Those two groups constitute the larger and more influential demographics that actually run the United States.

Now. 'Let me be clear.'

45 still didn't do enough. He should have hit ALL of the airbases, the basic idea being confining Assad's military capabilities for both the benefit of the rebels and also limiting the spillover effect (but too late for all that now*). AND 45 didn't do it for the right reason. Obama looked into the issue and with his typically measured, technocratic style, decided that intervention may be necessary to prevent even worse consequences (* again). 45, it's reported, looked at a picture of mangled children corpses and suddenly had a Grinch heart-explosion moment.** His 'reversal' is pretty typical of the reactionary manner in which he deals with anything in his life.

45 has now achieved something, actually achieved something in the Oval Office. In terms of erasure, he's fulfilled his mission to co-opt meaningful agenda from Obama. But like a broken clock being right twice a day, it also happened to be something that needed to get done. Since need and achievement cohere in this brief moment, he's going to get positive feedback, he's going to get praise, he lives for that praise, and so now he is going to pursue replicating that success.

That's why the future is no longer about how chaotic his administration is versus the damage he's doing to American stability. The future, after this week, is whether he is so well persuaded by the people he's surrounded with to Do The Right Thing that he achieves the erasure of Obama via finishing things on Obama's to-do list; or, more simply, he connects "flexing muscle = people love me" and decides to start throwing missiles at all sorts of countries.

The liberals are already sure it'll be the latter, but hey, to be fair, apparently Bannon somehow got on 45's bad side and now the establishmentarians are starting to persuade 45 more. SOooooOOOOOoooooOOOooo... we'll only be screwed 80%, not completely?


* And that's before we get into the negative consequences we COULDN'T expect, like say:

Russia's adventurism into the Ukraine.

ISIS' rapid expansion into Syria's power vacuum.

A refugee crisis that...

... disinterred every rotten fascist from whatever dustheap section of Europe and the United States they've been hiding in.

** I believe it but I don't. I believe that he actually did see the pictures, actually was effected, actually did feel the way he mentions. I don't believe that's the reason 45 decided to call for a strike. I'm pretty sure he's been looking for a reason to flex some muscle. If 45 was driven by pictures to make sudden reversals of course, then the Philandro Castile video would have made him a sudden advocate for Black Lives Matter. That didn't happen because he's not interested in empathizing with black people bleeding to death: he's only interested in empathizing with a victim he can throw punches for.
Muted post-horn

"Watch This Man Shut Down Racism in Less than a Minute!"

Shit man, that's all it took? Millennia of conflict and deepset cognitive biases only required a few choice words to completely shut down?

Fuck me, there I thought racism was a problem I should care about, but now that I know I can invoke an incantation to completely eliminate it to all that hear it, I guess it wasn't that big of a deal in the first place.

I mean that's what you're trying to tell me, right? That this issue is a big deal? And if that's the case, then why do you think it's so easy to shut down?

Like, share, and include the comment "This one LJ post completely shuts down clickbait titles." That way no media outlet will ever share a stupid headline ever again. Problem fucking solved.

Muted post-horn

A Guide to How None of This is about Race

Look, none of this is about race.

Republicans AREN'T racist. They're just registering anxiety centered in state taxation.

The Alt-Right AREN'T racist. They're just raising aggressive cultural inquiry, strategies, and tactics.

Donald Trump is NOT racist. He's just reining administrative cabinets into tougher standards. (He also can't spell, but we won't hold that against him.)

All of these things are not meant to disproportionately affect people of color. They're meant to disproportionately affect poor people.

It's an accident of history has nothing to do with white people's behavior that people of color are disproportionately poor.

Muted post-horn

An Optimistic Method of Looking at What I Said Yesterday

There've been a few articles floating around, as well as off-hand comments on forums political and otherwise, and additionally mentions in conversation IRL, to the point that people have been activated who otherwise were never activated before.

The tone hits a certain hushed amazement when it comes to a specific group of activated individuals. These would be Millennials or slightly older, early or mid-career, largely urban and suburban, and mostly white collar. The amazement isn't that they're throwing in with liberal causes or complaining about the government on Facebook: that's just demographics and digital marketing bubbles at this point. The awe isn't the 'with liberals' part of that phrase. The awe is for the 'throwing in.'

And the reason is thus: despite being largely, to use Neo-Nazis' own new marketing term, 'globalist' and for 'the administrative state', these individuals also tend to be slacktivist and disengaged at best, if they aren't outright 'apolitical.' 'Apolitical' to them doesn't really mean they don't have an opinion: it's a statement of intent to not engage in the first place. 'Apolitical' people are like 'atheists': they believe in a contrary only supported by an initial supposition. You can't have atheists without religion, in the same way nobody would bother being apolitical without partisanship.

There are two reasons people are apolitical: they either brandish a well-defended and purposeful naivety (see: that ridiculously over-cheery lady at work surrounded by trinkets at her desk; bubbly Christians bubbly about Christianity; New Age retreatists who believe they can bring peace but willfully ignoring war, thus starving it of 'attraction' and 'negative energy'), or they're too fucking busy and their risk-reward ratio requires not getting into disagreements with people who potentially hold opportunity.

I'm of the latter group, including the willful 'apolitical-ness'. I made a decision awhile ago to be 'friends with everybody' for the purposes of my career. Right now I have to fill out tax forms to send to co-members of an LLC I created; I have graphics work to do on a side-project; I spent the day setting up an HSA for myself and looking into money market funds; and I rebudgeted and replanned for the next six weeks. All of those things I did aren't just tasks, they're prep --> they all lead to other tasks I have to do over the next week, two weeks, month, and usually those tasks when 'finished' come back around to be done again or get replaced by the next step of some larger task (eventually a task large enough to be considered a 'goal', the attainment of which is supposed to provide fulfillment of some sorts --> or maybe I just like making myself really fucking busy).

And I'm lightweight in this industry, in this culture, in this city. New York is the geography of workaholics, and my generation's creative-class mentality (even to less creative-class jobs) is sort of a constant incorporated branding of 'self'. We're energized by doing shit ('having experiences' is the commercial advertising term, as in whenever some Medium post breaks down how 'we' value 'experiences' more than 'stuff', a completely consumerist method of holding anti-consumerist values). New York is heightened levels of this, but New Mexico is this too, Denver is this, Chicago is this, Facebook is this, LinkedIn is this.

Note also Silicon Valley's parallel apolitical world, where they seemingly exhibited 'libertarianism' basically by avoiding building any institutional relationship with the government in the first place. The expectation: that government would just have to catch up with The Future(®™ the Alphabet Corporation), or cancel all its redundant and atavistic services. Just stop providing taxi medallions, yo, kids these days use Uber! Stop printing money, we have bitcoin. You just don't get it yet.

Same deal. That 'class' of whatever you want to call it can also appropriately be called the white nationalist pejorative 'coastal elites.' The distinction here is that the white nationalists believe the coastal elites are specifically trying to destroy their lives in order to enrich themselves, when the really real world of real people is just a bunch of mid-to-upper-middle-class people who make themselves too busy to really think much about how the ACA affects or doesn't people in 'coal country,' and even when the subject comes up just don't want to piss anyone off by doing anything about it.

Well anyway, where I'm going with this is that THOSE people, the 'apolitical' purposefully too-busy 'Hey, I don't want to miss an option' class are putting aside their 'experiences' and are activated. They're activated because the current administrative stands to destroy the infrastructure of what makes their lives possible... much to the white nationalists' misplaced, ill-wished delight.

The problem the administration and all their fascist firebrand base have right now is the same exact mistake the apolitical class made with the Tea Party: they think this sort of activism just goes away, a silly minority of random people, probably bought out by some billionaire or another, Astroturf, dumb mixed up because of bad media, will choke on their own arguments once they realize their obvious badness, hell I don't know whether to feel sorry for them or take a clear schadenfreude from their misfortunes, but either way I really hope they burn out and schism amongst themselves quickly because boy howdy, they're REALLY obnoxious and keep fucking up our progress.

Sound familiar?

Yeah, but the problem here is that once you get the busy apolitical types, you get the type of people who, you know, do things like I did today. They make lists. They structure. They research. They figure out next steps. They talk to people. They make agreements. They move together. And they don't stop even when things stop working, they just pivot.

So that's the optimistic side of what I said yesterday. I'm not the only one who is putting aside a lot of personal and highly valued goals in order to activate for the next four years (and probably longer, 45 or beyond). Literally millions of people whose energy would be spent trying to teach themselves a new hobby with some ideas on how to integrate them into further individualized sources of cross-disciplinary income are now interested in how to start influencing public institutions. At this point it's a race between the administration to destroy those institutions, because whatever institutions remain will be irrevocably altered by the influx of creative workaholics... somehow.

Muted post-horn

Anger and Resentment

Been going through a lot of emotions lately. Lots of ups and downs, roller coaster stuff, being 'activated'. Every now and then it's actually fun. Sometimes it's downright despairing. Others, anger inducing.

But I think one of the most consistent and increasingly strongest emotions is pure resentment.

This time last year, I was on the cusp of turning thirty. I was making my first real efforts to date. I was going on salary and for the first time since I moved to New York was growing my accounts rather than shrinking them and worrying about losing them entirely.

The very night the fascist got elected, I was a few months into a very nice relationship that I was enjoying. I had enough money to go home for the holidays and I had a few strong long term and larger projects to whittle away at.

None of that changed. Well, the relationship ended, but it never ended terribly. The dating I simply haven't had time for, but I may have someone new in my life (we'll see). But the problem is that none of that changed and some of it simply will have to.

Because I'm getting worn out. There aren't enough hours in the day to a) work full time, which usually turns out to more like 45-50 hours rather than 40; b) do all of my side projects, a part time job itself of 20-25 hours per week; c) keep active in all the ways I want to, a full time job in and of itself; and d) date and continue to focus on my long term personal self actualization goals.

And frankly, I don't trust part d to be possible under the circumstances. Every time I try to think I shouldn't let myself freak out about the future, 45 literally threatens it.

And again, I'm resentful. In some ways, partisanship is resentment, so I can to a degree almost empathize with Tea Party and conservative activists of the 2010-2016 era who got pissed at the happiness of liberals. But I'm not even pissed at the happiness of conservatives -- they don't seem very happy either. I'm pissed that some black swan event of marginal effects stacked to existentially threaten my entire fucking future, when at WORST the alternative was kicking the can down the road for four years before actual options came on board. But that's already been covered.

The point is that I can't, actually, sustainably live under constant duress, even punctuated by a few moments of elation. I've never been so stressed in my life. But I'm having an atrocious time finding any sort of balance, either.

The seeking of balance and socializing has actually, ironically, resulted in the opposite: binging and periods of feeling toothless. I definitely end up with a better drive when active. But I'm crashing harder and harder.

I assume, long run, I'm going to figure something out. Unsustainable sometimes means crash, but sometimes it just means reversion to mean.

That assumption, however, is just an assumption. I don't know what to do for myself to keep sane (though I've read advice and tried certain tactics), but I figure at this point I'll either come out of it weathered or, simply, insane.

You know what I would love to be doing right now? Dating and tinkering away at a feature length screenplay; even with some general conservative or neo-con on board in the administration and an occasional letter or call to a representative, "This is annoying and long-term costly, could you do something about it?"

But no. Instead I've learned more about bylaws and floor rules of two different state legislatures than I believe legislative staffers do.

Which is one of the more perverse things about this whole situation: my information addiction combined with rageaholicism has translated to a true passion only tempered by the interests that got me into my career and lead to my investments and equities. And now this third passion displaces that sort of energy I'd rather use for something like a hobby, regarding my glitch or photography or urbex or something. Nope. Calling the fucking district town hall board member every Tuesday. It's actually kinda perfect for me.

If only I had the other shit I wanted to get together together. But now my life is sidelined.

Fuck every piece of this.

Muted post-horn

Neither Ignorance Nor Brainwashing

"No doubt, the fact that totalitarian government, its open criminality notwithstanding, rests on mass support is very disquieting. [...] A recent publication of secret reports on German public opinion during the war (from 1939 to 1944), issued by the Security Service of the SS [...] is very revealing in this respect. It shows, first, that the population was remarkably well informed about all so-called secrets--massacres of Jews in Poland, preparation of the attack on Russia, etc.--and, second, the 'extent to which the victims of propaganda had remained able to form independent opinions.' However, the point of the matter is that this did not in the least weaken the general support of the Hitler regime. It is quite obvious that mass support for totalitarianism comes from neither ignorance nor from brainwashing."

~~ Hannah Arendt, "Preface to Part Three: Totalitarianism", Footnote 1, The Origins of Totalitarianism, p. xxiii.