One of many memes that must die.

The United States is a republic, not a democracy.

People say that like it’s the most insightful thing ever, but it’s meaningless. It’s like saying your dog is an animal, not a pet.

These things are not opposites, nor are they mutually exclusive.

If you want to say “a republic, not a direct democracy,” you might be onto something at least factual. But you know exactly why the people who love to say this don’t use the qualifier: it’s a sophomoric debating trick to deflect any legitimate criticism of our system as being undemocratic.

Us: “Voter purges are undemocratic!” Them: “It’s a republic, not a democracy!” Er, that’s not on point but it sounds cool if you’re gullible.

I’m pretty sure Rumsfeld would endorse this.

Can we be clear on this one bit of meta-bullshit?

Suppose hypothetically that I am telling you that your hair is on fire. By that I’m really saying two things:

0. Your hair is in fact on fire.
1. I know for a fact that #0 is true. I’m not just guessing.

Now if I randomly tell a stranger their hair is on fire without even bothering to look at their hair? That’s a lie EVEN IF their hair happens to be on fire.

When Trump says that X number of people voted illegally, the fact that he has no idea whether that’s true or not doesn’t make it not a lie. It’s a lie because he’s asserting knowledge that he absolutely doesn’t have.

Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns

Remember this fantastic statement by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld?

[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

Trump here is going into a new quadrant: The unknown knowns! These are the things we supposedly know, but we have no way of knowing we know them.

(Oddly, Wikipedia has a really interesting analysis of this thing called “the Johari Window” that applies.)

Tom Friedman has a new book.

Look, Thomas “Suck. On. This.” Friedman has a new book out! It’s called Thank You For Being Late and I’ll let you google it yourself.

Just to make one thing clear, okay? I’m not so much a fan of Friedman ever since he used his New York Times column to make the case for invading Iraq because it would make the United States look badass:

But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world.

Aside: That’s not one simple reason, that’s three. The first of the three stated reasons is simply evil. The second one is arguable at best, and the third one makes no damn sense at all. I mean by the standard of being “right in the heart of that world” we should be going after Israel too.

But this is how Friedman writes. I’m afraid it’s how he thinks. He can’t hold one coherent thought in his head long enough to make a short paragraph out of it without contradicting himself.

What’s worse is that somehow this guy has become influential in big media circles even though he often makes literally no sense.

My disgust is further enhanced by the honorary “doctor of humane letters” (!) granted to Friedman six years later by my alma mater. What the hell, Grinnell? (I tried to organize a protest at the time but couldn’t get anyone else to join in.)

Long story short: Friedman writes nonsense. He’s dangerously stupid. Too damn many people take his stupid thoughts seriously. And it’s embarrassing that Grinnell College thought it was a good idea to endorse and reward him for a career of spewing oversimplified nonsense that conveniently always supports everything that’s wrong with the status quo.

My “angry white Florida man” story.

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/watch-angry-white-florida-man-cries-racism-after-deli-serves-dark-skinned-guy-before-him/

This reminds me of something that happened several years ago at the Utilities Building in Cleveland. It still makes me laugh.

I was paying my electric bill at the last minute or something (instead of mailing it in) and had taken a number like everyone else. Probably about 3/4 of the people waiting were black. We were all sitting around, you know, talking and looking at our phones and stuff.

I happened to be standing not too far inside the front door, and there were these two black women, kind of conservatively dressed, maybe both a little over age 60 or so, also waiting to take care of their utility bills.

Then this white woman strides through the front door, she’s thirtyish, she’s all professionally dressed, she’s got some blonde highlights and a sharp-looking camel coat, and she’s completely oblivious to the fact that everyone else has a number. She’s not even slowing down, blowing past the three of us at the entrance, not remotely noticing the crowd waiting with their numbers, and going right up to the teller window.

Everyone is really quiet. Staring. Including my two neighbors who clearly have no idea what to say or do.

I look over to the teller window, I look at my awkward neighbors, I look down, and I shake my head. And shrug very slightly. And look down and mutter… “White people.”

My awkward neighbors explode with laughter. I’m pretty sure I said exactly what they were thinking.

RNC: Trubek nails it.

I never saw it all put together so clearly and directly. Anne Trubek at BELTmag wrote:

The city is still ten million short of what they need, and even committed sponsors may pull out. The federal money going into the convention is hard to track, and the Cleveland Police Department seems to be behind on its orders for body armor and extra security while it is now requesting funding to — get this — build a wall. (The city council long ago waived its right to oversee how the mayor spends the $50 million in federal money it will receive to cover security.)

 

Rule of thumb

When encountering any article or publication or statement about Cleveland’s “renaissance” or “recovery” or “comeback,” you must mentally eliminate any and all claims based on entertainment venues or any kind of real estate development. Those are trailing indicators; they don’t build anything.

Examples