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.

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.

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

What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

I don’t know if you heard it here first, but if you heard it here first remember that you heard it here first:

Trump’s gonna win.

I don’t have a lot of logic to back it up. Yet. But something about this seems weirdly inevitable. I think the main thing has to do with my hypothesis about “white moderates,” who are basically conservatives with enough liberal friends that they only vote for “nice” Republicans to avoid social opprobrium.

Short version: Trump’s going to nominate someone really cool and compelling for Vice President, and he’ll throw enough (extra) economic populism into his stump speech to sway people who feel a lot of economic uncertainty, and he’ll cut way back on the theatrics to create a media narrative that makes his detractors look ridiculous. (Remember, media people are not very bright and they have very short memories.)

If nominated, Hillary will lose by continually trying to split the difference and seem reasonable.

If nominated, Bernie will lose by being so earnest and geeky that Trump’s bullying will push everyone’s lizard-brain buttons and the public will join in.

I’m serious about this.

 

Really bad reason for not supporting Bernie Sanders

I don’t know why people keep saying this.

Another on my list of “things people fervently believe and argue on Facebook that do not make any sense at all.”

Stated:

I’d love to support Bernie but he’s so far left he won’t get anything done with Congress.

Why that makes no sense:

Continue reading “Really bad reason for not supporting Bernie Sanders”

Nobody will save you, Cleveland.

LeBron to save Cleveland? Spare me. This is exactly what’s wrong with Cleveland.

We keep expecting someone with money and fame to “save” the city. It’s always LeBron or the Browns or the or the fracking people or the Rock Hall inductions or that goddamn Republican convention. Along with the stupid bridge over the railroad tracks and the $60,000,000.00 spent on rearranging Public Square to make public transportation more difficult for everyone. And the $400,000,000.00 spent on a “Medical Mart” idea that didn’t even last as long as the building took to build.

No. It doesn’t work like that.

It’s kind of like that thing going around Facebook now, with the woman who says she encourages her granddaughters to date a guy like Mark Zuckerberg and then Zuckerberg shows up and says no, encourage children to be someone like me.

You don’t improve your personal life by marrying someone rich and competent. You don’t improve your city by throwing yourself at the next big money fad. You find the things that you are good at and work from there.

Things that Cleveland is really good at:

  • Medical research is huge here.
  • The music scene is diverse, including the third best classical orchestra in the world. And if you don’t mind a half-hour drive into the exoburbs, you can enjoy the performances in your lawn chair for $12. Come on.
  • Locally grown food is abundant even with the relatively short growing season.
  • We have access to incredible amounts of fresh water at any time of year.
  • We’re strong in Eastern European and Irish heritage.
  • Our Black communities are producing great art and thinking, and it’s coming so much from younger people who have decades more to create.
  • Land is cheap so you can have a huge garden or a ridiculously large house if you want.
  • Infrastructure in general is overbuilt for a city of 400,000, so expanding your business is easy.
  • Cleveland State University. Case. John Carroll. Notre Dame (the other one). Oberlin isn’t far away either.

Get it straight

There is no savior. There are people and resources and ideas.

Stop talking like it’s everyone else’s job to discover Cleveland and make it stop sucking. That’s our job.

But “let’s keep Company X” and “let’s attract Convention Y” aren’t ideas. They are scams. There is no shortcut.

What "moderates" don't get

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A friend posted this fantastic image on Facebook just now. It’s from early this afternoon in Chicago, with the following text: “Over two and a half hours later much of Michigan Ave, Water Tower & many surrounded stores are still SHUTDOWN for Laquan McDonald.” (Photo credit to @MinkuAzad from Chicago.)

Now let me get out in front of something here.

The point of this kind of tactic, I believe, is to take a problem that pretty much only black people care about and make it a problem that corporations have to care about.

It’s a way of creating leverage.

If powerful people in government think this is just about black people who live in the “ghetto” and don’t have much economic power, they will keep doing what they’re doing–which is essentially nothing.

If the same powerful people in government are getting pissed off phone calls from CEOs about losing their supposedly biggest shopping days, and if they’re getting threats from those same CEOs about moving to the suburbs, well… the idea is that they’ll see fit to dole out just enough justice to get the protesters to get out of the street.

I’m not saying it will necessarily work, but it’s logical. If you don’t have direct power over someone, you find a way to get the focused attention of someone who does have direct power over them.

(Yes, I’m implying a few other things here: that the protesters don’t have an effective grip on the electoral process, that the politicians have never really answered to them, and that the corporations that sell things on Michigan Avenue are the real bosses of Chicago.)

What this means for white people

Many people who fancy themselves Black Lives Matter “supporters” continually object to tactics that inconvenience third parties because they fail to understand the concept of leverage.

Either that, or they have a moral objection to causing any harm, no matter how slight, to these “innocent” third parties. But then those people are actually saying “Black Lives Matter, Just Not As Much As Marshall Fields Does.”

If you don’t believe me:

Check out these comments on the original Facebook post.

  • “No justice. No profits.”
  • “Cops tried to cover up a murder…..stores should sue them.”

Stores should sue them. Yes. Well no, not really, the law doesn’t work like that, but people get the power dynamic here.  You don’t go after the most isolated, reinforced, protected part of the power structure; you go after the levers that are unprotected, like downtown traffic. If that makes the store owners angry enough to turn on the political leadership, then it worked.