Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Guest Omnivore: Ask A Goddamn Managing Director

Ask a Goddamn Managing Director
The Omnivore is gambling in Havana. While he sorts that out, he asked me to ‘make it look like his blog isn’t dead.’ I’m doing the best I can here.

So, for reasons too boring to go into, I ran across a professional workplace advice column called Ask A Manager, which, like all advice columns exists primarily to make you feel better about your own life.

But it also raises the question, ‘What if people asked me for advice??’

The actual answer is I’d give bland ‘do what you think is best, man,’ guidance so as to indemnify myself when things inevitably go pear-shaped, but in Imagination Land -- or the anonymity of the Internet -- I can give actual, real advice to imaginary askers.

Or, in this case, innocent bystanders who came here looking for politics.

You’re Welcome.
My credentials
The only credentials you need to be an advice columnist is to be asked. If you’re going to spew advice at people who didn’t ask, you to have credentials. But since this is the Internet, I’m not going to share mine. I’m going to ask, instead, that you imagine my words coming out of the mouth the last guy you saw yelling about the end of the world on the subway. His credentials are that God told him, and honestly? I can’t beat that.

Also: I, in case you hadn’t noticed, learned how to embed links in my articles. That shit’s going my resume.
What I want you to know
We’ll start with some of the basics and then I’ll get to the main point that moved me to write something. The ‘basics’ are all things you already know and I’ve included them because if I didn’t this would be super short.
Basics 1: #Me Too
Of course I have to sound off on MeToo. I’m only human. Here’s my advice if you’re worried about Me Too: get your dick back in your pants.

My advice if you’re being harassed and you’re thinking about complaining: by all means, complain. The odds of someone listening and doing something about it are higher than they’ve ever been! But also know that you’re complaining for the same reason that bees sting -- so that people will respect bees. This position may not age well, but I believe it’s true right now, and I’m going to stand by it -- if you complain, you’re getting hammered. Your HR department is not going to protect you, and your boss & his associates will exact revenge. You’ll need to -- at least -- leave your company and maybe your industry.

However: the complaint sticks. It goes in their file, and the next person who complains about the same guy adds to it. Now there are two complaints. At some number, the Power That Be decide that they need to do something to mitigate their risk and the harassing manager becomes a liability. Then they’re gone. The cost -- to individual complainers -- is huge. Your job, your career. Your reputation, maybe. But if people keep doing this... well... when was the last time you saw someone sexually harass a bee?
Basics 2: How to make people do their damn jobs or: Always. Be. Escalating.
I covered this a bit in my first go-round, but I’m nothing if not redundant.

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so hard to get people who work in your company’s service organizations (e.g. HR, IT, etc.) to do their jobs, wonder no more! I’ll tell you: their organization has been rightsized over the past 10 years so that they can handle about 70% of the expected demand. If 10 people ask them to do something they’re supposed to do, 3 are going to be gravely disappointed.

The drone service managers get to choose who gets disappointed. They choose the people who don’t matter, so if you’re wondering if your job matters to management ask your IT department to do something. If they won’t, there’s your answer.

You’re welcome.

But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. You have exactly one working play when you’re being ignored -- escalate. Call their boss’s boss and make a formal complaint. You’ll suddenly matter, and you’ll get that one-thing done and then they’ll go back to ignoring you. They’ll also hate you and complain about you.

So escalating, when you get screwed-over, has a bad reputation. There is a better way: don’t just ‘escalate’ -- always be escalating. This has two key parts

  1. As a matter of course, create a credible threat of escalation with through documented commitments
  2. Name-drop their executive’s name like a B-52 over Hanoi
Credibly Threatening and a Date-for-a-Date
To be credibly threatening, you need an email from them that says they’ll do <whatever it is> by some date. Note that they recognize how dangerous this is, and will refuse to give you a committed date. They simply ‘don’t know yet’ because there are ‘many factors.’

Your play is acknowledge that that’s fine (after all, you’re a reasonable guy) and ask them to tell you ‘by when’ they can have a date -- a ‘date for a date.’ Suggest a week. This is all professional behavior. You get to expect them to give you some kind of planning date. You get to expect them to do their job. And when they get back to you, you have their word that they’ll do X by Y.

Note that they will often want to do this verbally so they can deny it later. That’s fine. Document the date in the meeting minutes and publish to everyone who might possibly care. Keep your minutes short and to the point, and front-end them with a reiteration of the commitment. No one reads your damn emails, and if you ever have to go to court, a commitment buried in the 3rd bullet point is going to be plausibly deniable.
Preemptive Name Dropping
Everyone hates you for this, but if you can pull it off, they’ll believe that there’s a distinct possibility you might take their failed commitment to their boss. Name dropping creates the illusion of familiarity and demonstrates a lack of fear of the hierarchy. The more naturally and subtly you do it the better. If you make an obvious name-drop in a tense situation, you’re going to get laughed at.

So you do it preemptively, before there’s a problem. Maybe you refer to their boss and ask if ‘we should keep him in the loop’ or something. If you can credibly claim to be working with him on some other thing, mention that in passing. If they think you interact with that guy in the course of regular business, you’re terrifying. You could also offer to brief him on the hyper-important thing you’re working on with his people together. The best kind of name-dropping suggests that you might -- if everything goes swimmingly -- make them look good in front of their management. If you can pull that off, you’re not just engaging fear, you’re also playing on their desire to impress.

If you do these things -- operate with documented commitments and creating the illusion of familiarity with their management -- then you will rarely have to actually escalate. You’re credible, you’re dangerous, you matter. And your request get serviced and it’s some other poor slob who didn’t read this blog’s turn in the barrel.
Basics 3: Open Plan Offices: Take It Personally.
You know the kind -- they take away your walls, and make you sit in gen-pop with everyone else. They will justify this by saying it’s to ‘foster collaboration’ or ‘communication’ or whatever. Sometimes they’ll say that it’s how Facebook (or some other company they desperately aspire to be like) does it.

This is rank bullshit, and you should take it as what it is -- a direct, obvious insult.  If they really wanted to be “like Facebook” they could do the things Facebook does that actually matter (not a topic for this essay, but believe me -- Facebook didn’t become Facebook because they want the cheapest possible floorspace solution).

If you’re being put in open-plan office and you’re not working at facebook, you are being insulted by your management. They are doing it, of course, because it’s cheap and they don’t respect you or care about your comfort or sanity at work.

But I don’t have an office, the Big Boss says! Uh-huh. So: 1) The Big Boss takes all his calls -- which he’s on all day -- from a conference room. He basically has an office. It’s not like he does work, and because of who he is, his secretary can always get him space. If you try to get a conference room all day, every day, you’ll find they’re all allocated.  You’ll also note that even though everyone’s agreed that Work From Home went out when Yahoo figured out no one was actually, you know, working, that people who matter can work from wherever the fuck they want.

And the big-big boss? He has, like, the whole corner of the building to himself so even if there’s no walls, there’s plenty of space for him to look at porn or fart in peace.

So, yeah -- for those guys it’s fine. For you, it’s an insult and an unmistakable message that no one cares about what you think.
Basics 4: The Annual Employee Survey
Does your company do an annual survey of employee satisfaction? If you work for a big company, the answer is probably ‘yes’ --  their consultants told them to. If not, then just imagine that once or twice a year they have you go online and answer ~100 questions like, “My managers communicate the strategic direction” from a scale of Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree.

In the pure and perfect world of Management Consultant PowerPoint, these surveys are used to gather data about what’s working and what’s not, so moral, motivation, and perception issues can be addressed. To that point, most managers have some kind of formal goal around having decent employee morale so they’re, you know, motivated to get good scores.

This is the sort of thing that sounds like it would make a difference.
The Truth -- Management Does Not Feel Responsible or They Don’t Care
In practice, in the fallen world we actually live in, these things rarely drive any kind of change because the people reading them don’t accept that cultural and morale issues are caused by poor leadership.

If you’re not in management, this may sound absurd, but trust me: Management (as a whole) does not believe they are responsible for things like morale and culture. That’s “everyone’s” job, which means it’s “no one’s” job, which means if you have bad morale, it’s your problem. Occasionally -- once in awhile, maybe at an offsite or a retreat -- they will give lip service to issues being caused by “them” but that’s more taking credit for anything good happening and less any kind of introspection that would lead to change.

Now obviously if a particular manager is out of favor, then his bad employee morale ratings will be used to cook his goose along with any other metrics that can justify a poor review. But a guy they like? With bad ratings? It’s the rank-and-file’s fault.

But you knew this: the lowest scored questions on these surveys is always, “This Survey WIll Result In Positive Change.” People know better.

So what am I going to tell you?

This: Savvy managers know how to punish their employees into giving them good grades.
Collective punishment for a bad review: The Newsletter
Neophyte managers will just ignore poor results -- they’ll dutifully read off the stats at a staff meeting and then never speak of it again.

Rising stars know that the thing to do is reorganize the department right after the survey -- that way you can both discount the results (“that was the old configuration”) and credibly claim to be addressing the problem (“this new organization is gonna get great results!”).

Expert managers are always reorganizing because no one can distinguish progress from change.

But true masters: they teach their employees to give them good ratings... or else.

The ‘else’ is... the Newsletter. Or the Morale Project. Or whatever. Here’s how it works: when the bad news comes out, you take a bunch of low ranking employees of the sort who probably groused, and assign them do a special project to come up with ways to address the failings of the department. This is a real project with deliverables, presentations, etc. and it’s on top of all their regular work. It’s also pointless and doomed: Private Johnson can’t even recommend that anything substantial change, so all the deliverables will be degrading bullshit.

Look -- morale problems at work typically are caused by

  • Asshole coworkers
  • Asshole managers
  • Too much work (too few employees)
  • Horrible processes (too little automation or intentional obtuseness to save money)
  • No one gives a shit about your work unless you fuck it up and then they scream at you
  • Dead-end: no hope of advancement
  • Lousy work spaces (e g. Open plan offices)
  • Management doesn't tell you the things you need to know (like that they're moving the office someplace dire and you're all going to sit at picnic tables, and you'll have to pay for parking. And you'll all need tetnus shots)
  • Etc.

These are not problems management is willing to fix: they exist because management wants things that way (or doesn’t care enough to change things). They could fix any and all of those by adjusting funding, work-load, or just changing their attitude... but they won’t.

So the poor suckers who are stuck with finding solutions have the degrading job of pretending the real problems don't exist and then the even more debasing task of inventing fake ones, and then making some shit up that sounds decent.

And that's the dreaded News Letter. Or the Communication Lunch and Learns or other unnecessary and unwanted activities ostensibly meant to share information, improve communication, provide visibility, etc.

Common Example: the survey reports that ‘communication’ is an issue. The real problem is that management makes important plans for moves, reorgs and layoffs that really impact people, in secret. No one who’s going to be hurt by the new change is consulted and then they're told at the last minute so they don't have time to react.

It’s an ambush.

What people want, of course, is to be asked or at least given some kind of forewarning.

But management knows that if they told you what they had in mind
  • The good people would quit
  • They'd have to listen to everyone else bitch for six months
So, yeah. You're not getting the kind of 'communication’ you want.

If the Project team came back and proposed the Truth -- that management should stop plotting in secret like a goddamned team supervillains and treat the employees like adults who deserve some knowledge about their fates, the Project Team is getting laughed at. And then hammered.

So, instead, everyone pretends that what you really asked for is more of the kind of useless communication you already get. So the Morale Project comes up with nonsense like status readouts for the whole department, and a twice-a-week meeting where everyone has to explain what they do with themselves all day. Or they decide to publish a department newsletter and then every three weeks you have to come up with potentially career-threatening article that is calculatedly bland but not so worthless as to be embarrassing.

This is Hell. It's the punishment for saying you were unhappy on the damn survey.

Experienced managers know that if they do that once or twice no one will dare ask for more communication ever again!

You're welcome.
My Point, Finally: When your boss quits, it’s time for you to quit, too
So... You knew all that. It was pretty basic and I'm not claiming otherwise.

Here's something you might not know unless you lived through it: when your boss quits, you're screwed. It’s time to leave.

I’m not talking about getting a new boss with a re-org where you / your function is carefully and thoughtfully moved somewhere else. If someone fought for your group? Great. They have skin in the game and they spent political capital to get you. They’re invested, you’re wanted. It’s probably going to be okay.

But when your boss exits suddenly, your group is left without an advocate or a leader and, yes, you’re going to get stuck somewhere, but the commander of the Somewhere Refugee Camp didn’t ask for you, doesn’t expect you to stick around, and doesn’t really want you.

At best, you’re off his radar so he can focus on the things he really cares about: his actual job. At worst, you’re a liability. If something goes sideways, he’s getting blamed and then you are. So you can bet that when he’s given limited resources to reward high performers in the annual review, he’s giving his people all the best stuff and you’re getting whatever’s left over (i.e. nothing).

Even in a best case scenario, where upper management finds a new guy fast, the new guy probably

  • Has no idea why things are the way the are and in his ignorance...
  • ... is (odds are) functionally dumber than the old guy and in case you think you’re coming off as a super-star...
    • ... trust me: when you don’t understand the reasons, the current state looks stupid
  • Has his own cronies he’d like to bring in and...
  • ... even if he doesn’t, knows you have zero personal loyalty to him. Someone he romanced and hired would, atl least, be grateful. You? You’re just doing a bad job of showing how annoyed you are with him because he thinks you’re all stupid

So yeah. When your boss quits, it’s time to go.
Proactive Quitting: How You Know and What You Do

The minute you get an unexpected all-directs meeting that’s 30 minutes long with an innocuous, title like “synch up” or “touch-base,” update your Linked In and set your status to Seeking Work.

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Outrage Over The Banning of Farrakhan

Yesterday Facebook and Instagram banned not only a bunch of jerks  (including Alex Jones, Millo Y., and so on)--but got one particular jerk who hasn't come up a lot: Lewis Farrakhan. The guy is a raging anti-Semite and is more or less elevated because he was once important to black politics back when black politics was a niche thing.

The outcry over his banning (and, worse, a WaPo article fingering Farrakhan as "far right") was extreme:

Yes--first they came for the Nazis--and I was not a Nazi so I said nothing. Then, when they came for me there was no Nazi to speak up for--uh--something, something--eh.

The Incredible Power of Deplatforming
Guys like David French say "if you don't want to listen to the person, just block them." Good show, David. That'll be wonderful when I can block bullets from crazed Alex Jones nut-jobs. Today the QAnon guys took several random letters from a tweet by Comey, put together a backronym for the rest, looked it up on google, and an school fundraiser that happened to have the same letters got canceled due to threats.
There are two things that are incontrovertible at this point:

  1. These platforms are giving people whose message is literally deadly and figuratively poison a way to reach millions of vulnerable followers.
  2. Deplatforming works.

Lois Loomer was reduced to showing up at the CEO of Twitter's house with a megaphone, begging / demanding to be let back on. Alex Jones has been one enormous tantrum since he was kicked off his most profitable platforms. Milo is auctioning off his belongings, including a "throne" for 800.00 (someone on Twitter suggested that wouldn't cover the cost of properly sanitizing it) .

Free Speech--the way it is encoded in the 1st amendment is great thing. As a venue with no barrier to entry that thrives on the user's attention, though, social media platforms are, it turns out, a deadly threat when allowed to proliferate in the age of Trump, the alt-right, and the attendant white-genocide conspiracy theories.

What About Farrakhan?
The right loves Farrakhan--he is their poster-boy for "the Left Does It Too." He's best-buddies with Obama (they took a picture together). He's their guy--they love him. Mainstream liberals? Nobody complained that he got kicked off Twitter. None of the major mainstream voices cared.

That's how you know that there's a distinction here--The Right didn't complain about Farrakhan being booted--they hate him. They complained about WaPo calling him a right-wing activist. On the other hand, with the usual disclaimer of "I hate their message," lots of conservatives were upset about the other conspiracy and hate-mongers that were deplatformed.

Those are major voices on the The Right--sure, most senior Republicans think Alex Jones is a nut--but he reaches a necessary component of their constituency and keeps those people in the fold. They need the Milos because they know they are in a culture war--and if they cannot provoke antifa to attack (which Milo could) then they will lose if they're the only side with the Nazis.

Oh--well, yeah--they are the only side with the Nazis.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

If The Klan Liked Hillary . . .

Trumpsters would ask me the same question again and again when I told them that the nazi-right's love for Trump was a bad sign: "If the Klan liked Hillary would you stop supporting for her?" I'd patiently explain that "Yes, I would--because whatever the nazi-right found to like in Hillary's campaign would be a bad thing--and because if Hillary was tacitly accepting of their support, then she would be enabling them."

They, of course, didn't believe it--a Trumpaloo finds nothing wrong with the support of Stormfront on their side--they rationalize it, excuse it, minimize it, or ignore it. Why not? Almost none of them are on Stormfront's bad-side. It's win-win.

Andrew Yang, a long-shot candidate whose signature platform-plank is giving everyone 1k a month is beloved by a bunch of the 4chan alt-righties. It's not that they really like his positions--it's that they think getting 1k a month is the right answer when you assume that the country and western civilization is fucked and you might as well get some more X-Box games on the government dole.

It's like really voting for the Sweet Meteor of Death--the ultimate black-pill nihilism vote. They like him--so what about The Omnivore?

What About The Omnivore?
There are a few things to get out here really quickly and in no particular order.

  1. The Omnivore thinks we are looking at some kind of UBI (Universal Basic Income) no matter what our politics are in the next 40 years due to automation and AI. Yang's plan isn't really that--but it's not the black-pill-black-hole that the channers wish it to be.
  2. The Omnivore doesn't really know the rest of Yang's positions--but, yeah, the 4chan support is a strike against him without looking too deeply. 
  3. But . . . Ben Colins writes for NBC that the Yang-Team Internet guys have been pushing back against the 4chan invasion of his boards. It's had somewhat mixed results--but the pushback is for-real and is strong enough to make some headway. This, The Omnivore finds is actually a point in Yang's favor. It actually elevates Yang in The Omnivore's list of possible candidates. 
“Why is the official Yang discord shooting themselves in the foot?” a user on the 4chan-based board asks. “Don’t they realize we are in control of the memes and they can’t win without us?”
In other words: if the Klan liked Hillary for some reason and Hillary strenuously fought back against them? That'd be the right answer. That sure as hell wasn't / isn't Trump. Trumpaloos might self-reflect on that--but if they knew how to do that? They wouldn't be Trumpaloos.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Who is the Candace Owens Product For?

Today in a fit of what they probably believe to be brilliance, the Republicans had Candace Owens--the black, vocal, Turning Point (Charlie Kirk) spokes-person for the right-wing "get off the Democratic plantation" position of the Republican party.

She is well known for trying her hardest to be well known--but probably for ensnaring an off-his-meds Kanye West in her attempt to provide bogus history lessons to (what she hopes are) credulous black people. Anyway, she got to watch Sen. Ted Lieu play a clip of her talking up Adolf Hitler.

She apparently feels wronged.

If You Like Candace . . .
If you like Candace Owens then you already have a catalog of things in the above two paragraphs that The Omnivore has gotten wrong. After all, she wasn't "defending Adolf Hitler," was she? She was just talking up nationalism. She didn't ensnare Kanye--she just communicated with him--or whatever.

It doesn't matter. The fact that you are entertaining these thoughts is indicative that you are pretty badly taken in. You have been sold a product.

Here's how you know--what? Oh--yeah, there's a test, it turns out.

Here's the test--it's in two parts:

  1. How popular is Candace Owens with black people?
  2. Did you believe her "take" on history?

How Popular Is Candace With Black People?
The answer is "not very." If you look at interest in her you will see that it mostly comes from areas where the majority demographic is white--and Turning Point USA's target demographic is white donors who think they are fighting a war on campus.

Her signature Blexit movement caused Kanye to disassociate from her publicly and was, in fact, taken from other creators. The point is--she's not talking to black people who are democrats--that's the lie.

The truth is that she's telling you what you wish she was saying to black democrats. The problem is that black democrats have been hearing this stuff for quite some time and (correctly) don't buy it. Kanye aside, most people know their history better than Candace does.

The people who buy her stories aren't the theoretical black-people target market. No--the people who believe her position . . .are you, white guy Trumpaloo.

Did You Believe Her History?
Back in the day, Lee Atwater told us all that "well you can't go around saying nigger-nigger-nigger to woo southern voters--you gotta use coded messages." This was the Southern Strategy and a great deal of effort has gone into conservative thought to try to claim it never happened. What actual smart people on the right have determined is that "The Southern Strategy" as a single cause of the south moving from the Democrat-vote to the Republican-vote is overly simplistic.

However, what you heard was that racism didn't really have much to do with the shift. Of course you also heard that the KKK was all Democrats--and were told that meant today's Democrats. And you were told that the Civil War stuff was all about heritage--not hate.

And yet your lying eyes show you that the guys promoting the Confederate Flag (okay, the Confederate battle flag . . . okay, one of the Confederate battle flags . . .) are usually? Pretty racist. Your lying eyes also show you that the guys who want to keep all the Civil War statues are all Republicans and the guys who want to tear them down? Democrats.

So clearly something doesn't make any sense. Right?

You Are The Target Of Candace Owens -- Yes, You Should Be Ashamed
"Liking what she says" or "her message of thinking for yourself" or whatever nonsense you feed into your brain to paper over the fact that you get a serotonin hit from listening to her assuage your innate racism is all bullshit and you should just drop the pretense. Candace Owens isn't a good con artist--you're just the softest of soft targets.

You're so desperate for someone to tell you things that you wish were true--that you wish black people would hear and agree with so you wouldn't have to face the truth (that, uhm, they're basically the spoonful of sugar to make the racist messaging taste better in your mental mouth) --that you will buy someone who is attractive, optically black, and talks the sweet, sweet nonsense you need to hear.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

It'd been worth him doing it just so I could've caught him doing it

The title is the quote by Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction--he laments that not only did someone key his Malibu--but that he didn't catch the fucker. If he had caught the fucker, well, that'd have made the keying "almost worth it."

What if this is, sort of, the case for the Trump presidency? The story on The Right is that The Democrats are going cray-cray. Driven into derangement by Trump, they are overreaching and contorting themselves into a left-wing pretzel because of their hatred for Trump's tweets.

This, of course, comes as we learn that Trump's White House has cleared like 25 people about whom there were "serious concerns," gave us the longest shutdown in history, and has had the effect of elevating really marginal people like Alex Jones and the QAnon crowd.

To put it simply: the idea that the Trump-regime (and its attendant followers on the right) has a real precedent in American history is absolute bullshit. Even if you ignore the trappings of Trump-mania, the list of really unfortunate "firsts" under Trump is staggering.

So--what if . . . it's worth it?

Trump's ratings with the younger crowd--not to mention with blacks and women--are in the toilet. While it's conceivable that he could turn that around by artful campaigning, we can now see that either he's incapable of it--or just disinterested. It's probably the former: if he could figure out a way to do that and keep his base, he probably would.

But he can't.

The Right, of course, believes that these ratings are due to a hostile media--which, yes, the media is hostile--but the position poses the question: what would a "fair" pro-Trump media look like? The answer, of course, is OANN or Fox New's Hannity--both of which catastrophically fail even a basic sniff-test for "fairness" and, it turns out, the no-man's land between the mainstream media and the right-wing media is essentially non-existent from a factual perspective.

The media certainly doesn't like trump--and wants to see him fail--but, of course, he has worked very hard to earn that dislike with racist policies, ridiculous lies, and organizational incompetence. In other words: the media is fair--that isn't going to change either.

What To Make of 2018?
Of course the test-case for whether or not Trump is solving the problem he's generating (ironically, not a problem he intentionally created this time!) was the 2018 election. Both Democrats and Republicans turned out at historic levels and it was a blue-wave at that point. If that continues? Then The Right is in deep shit.

The problem is that they have "ingested the poison." The MAGA-Crowd is now statistically required for them to win. The guys who just want judges and the wall--and don't like the incompetency and the venal ass-kissing of dictators (or whichever--there's a long list) simply can't win without them.

Like: don't have a chance without them. The problem is that the MAGA crowd is pretty clearly stuff with racists, conspiracy theorists, and other turn-offs for the majority of Americans. There's no way to separate yourself from vocal QAnon supporters (Pence, yesterday, tweeted support for the abortion-movie--the movie's official account is tweeting QAnon slogans). As such, they're tied to it.

Worse: they may not realize it's a problem.

Remember, reader: what you tell yourself ("The right-wing violence isn't so bad--it's a tiny number of people--and antifa is way, way worse!") is just what gets you to bed at night. What other people are seeing ("Antifa who? I saw a that Nazi dick run over a buncha people!") isn't amenable to your self-soothing.

That's not how it works.

But if you have a tight enough echo chamber, you'll think it is.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

No Collusion And The Meltdown That Didn't Happen

It has been quite a while since The Omnivore posted--The Omnivore has some other stuff going on (all good stuff) that has been time consuming . . . and to add to that The Omnivore hasn't had anything brilliant to say about what's going on.

What's that? Yes--Yes, The Omnivore absolutely DOES like to hear himself talk--but even so.

However, there is one thing that The Omnivore has noted that is worth looking at: The Meltdown That Wasn't.

The Muller Synopsis
One of the things that a Trump-supporter The Omnivore knows kept harping on was "what will happen to the left when Trump is found innocent?" The theory that there would be massive unrest--riots--or whatever. Violence.

Well, it (sort of) happened--and everyone seems to be getting along okay. This doesn't surprise The Omnivore--why? And more importantly--where was this fear coming from?

Why It Doesn't Surprise The Omnivore
The reason that the lack of lefty-violence in the wake of the Mueller synopsis doesn't surprise The Omnivore is because (a) after the 2018 win, much of the D's focus is on winning back more of the government in 2020--and, as Nancy Pelosi well knows, that's easier against a fully armed-and-operational Trump than against a palatable-to-the-historical-right Pence (assuming the Trumpaloos would go along . . . which they might . . .despite what they say. Cruelty and Owning the Libs is the only real tenant of Trumpism). The other reason is (b) The Liberal (not The Left's) protests, thus far haven't been violent.

Think The Women's March--oh, sure, you want to go to Antifa--but that dog won't hunt for a number of reasons. No--by and large The Democrats have not cleaved to the rhetoric of revolution--it's the tankies who want blood in the streets (the hard-core fringe communists). This, despite what you might want to be true, isn't the case for The Right--which is now just "the whole right."

So Where's It Coming From?
You should look at QAnon--no, really--you should. It's important. QAnon, as a phenomena is growing. It's an absolute null-set grift: the whole idea has been self-dismantling from the get-go. The predictions have failed. The proofs are easily disproved. The theory is a heavy lift--even for conspiracy theory--but it's gaining steam.

One of the key tenants of QAnon is that the good-guys---Q--have to pull off their mass-arrests and executions (of Democrats and other world-wide-leaders) because if they were to come out with their irrefutable proof . . . that's right--there would be riots.

They have to slowly wake the world up with armies of meme-warriors--your 70+ year-old grannie shit-posting on Facebook.

This is really what they think the plan consists of (more or less). That's right: riots.

The right believed The Left would riot--because that was their projection. They know that if Trump did (or does) go down for breaking the law, they will not/cannot believe it was done fairly--and so: riot.

Would they really? Some would. We don't have to wonder--we've seen plenty of evidence of this recently. There would be random radicalizations--there would be small autonomous cells. The entire QAnon cult--large pieces of it, anyway, would see this as an attack by the Deep State--and they would, ideologically, have little choice but to respond with violence.

Let's say .1%? That's a ton of people.

That's a problem.

It isn't getting better. Algorithms and social media are pushing us towards greater radicalization on the fringes. The Right has been told, over and over, by people they trust, that they are deep victims of a vast swath of liberal bullies. They can point to things. There is no chance of convincing them that not only is this not true--the opposite is true--but it has made people like Alex Jones so much money that it is a self-sustaining hyper-targeted marketing operation.

They say you "can't kill an idea." That's probably no so much actually true. But you definitely can't kill a really good sales pitch.

Right now, The Right as being driven to violence with no other choice against an implacable enemy is, alas, a really good sales pitch. It feels so good it justifies everything you wanted to do anyway.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Gray States

The Omnivore was invited to a Facebook page that is devoted to having anyone from across the political spectrum air their views in a mature, respectful fashion that is intended to be devoid of personal attacks or trolling--and is supposed to foster not only debate--but actual thought--possibly with the intention towards changing minds through a rational respectful process.

The Omnivore is sad to report that this is doomed.

Oh--It's A Good Idea . . .

The idea of "purple states" (the name of the FB Page, as well) is that if we can just come together--talk seriously about our issues and perspectives--then maybe we can sort out our differences--our country's growing partisan divide.

This sounds like a good idea--and would be one The Omnivore supports.

But it's doomed.

The problem is that the partisan divide isn't based on policy or politics or any of the stuff that you could sit down and talk out. No--the core of Trumpism--which has taken over the right, like a virus (a media virus, to be precise, spread through, originally, Fox News--but with new and more virulent strains like OANN and NRA TV) is not based on policy or politics.

It's based on a platform of revenge--redress for the cultural humiliation that Trumpians believe they have experienced at the hands of "elites" and "journalists" and "lefties, socialists, or academics."

What do you manage to "sort out" or "come together on" when what the other person wants is you to be humiliated in the same way "they were."

This is an especially hard question when the original wrong-doing was more or less invented by people trying to grift their targets for viewers, votes, and profits.

The Right-Wing Victimization Machine

If there was an original sin, it was the media refusing to tell the Republican side of the story--after--well after--the Republican side of the story had drifted far enough from "a reasonable take" and into "heavy duty spin and propaganda."

This split, which The Omnivore will place around the Gingrich years (although you can trace backwards and forwards as necessary for your counter-argument) resulted in the creation and rise of Fox News. It was explicitly willing to carry water for Republicans--and, as such adopted a captive audience that grew more and more entrenched over time.

It also turned on the feelings of victimization and being bullied by The Left. In Fox-World the noble conservative is derided as a bigoted idiot--a millstone around the neck of America--by the actually-evil powers that be (closet communist, out and proud socialists, champions of North Korea, etc.).

This, it turned out, was very good for viewership. It was good for profits. It was great for the political connections between Fox and the GOP. It created some superstars like Hannity and Glenn Beck--on cable where, before the medium was AM Talk Radio.

When Obama was elected--and especially after his second election--Fox (and its growing cohort of explicitly political right-wing media sites) exploited its viewers unease, latent (or, in many cases, overt--see Fox News Comments) racism, and a sense of loss of place that they felt seeing a person who they had been told was a crypto-Muslim-anti-Patriot in the Oval Office.

Fox and the Republicans played up a massive list of "scandals" which they continuously tried to pin on the administration--and which, each of them, failed entirely to be the silver-bullet that would take Obama down.

The lack of traction these scandals got in the rest of the media was seen as proof positive that The Press was in league with The Left--and thus the divide in trust of the media grew larger and larger (we see the reverse with the very real scandals that Trump has and the right-wing's press refusal to engage them on any serious level).

By this time, conservatives were told--and because of their previous media-capture, were convinced--that "the rest of the world was out to get them." This, along with embedded messages of disdain and disgust that "Liberals allegedly felt" (and, of course, as racist messages were played up and played upon, became more and more legitimate) created a sense of humiliation that deeply hurt the conservatives who felt that they were the underdogs in America--the picked on minority--the scapegoats.

Now, well, now it's their turn.

They're in charge--and, of course, they're making a mess of everything because instead of being the noble patriots, by this time, their governing philosophy is based of incoherent lies (see the "much better replacement for Obamacare" that Trump promised), inexplicable xenophobia (see: illegal immigration is at a historic low and this is considered a multi-billion-dollar crisis for which Trump must seize the government or else lose the country), and pandering to aggrieved racists (see Steve King, "very fine people on both sides," and the rise of the alt-right).

So What Does Dialog Achieve?

So about this Facebook Page--what is supposed to happen? What happens with the Trumpian sits down with the non-Trumpian and they really talk . . . and really listen? Well, you find out that the Trumpian has got some . . . ideas. What are they? Oh--let's see.

  • America First: The suffering / trauma of children is meaningless--because they are not Americans (as such, if we can blame their parents for bringing them here, it is just fine to traumatize them).
  • America Alone: It is great to seek closer relationships with Russia--even though they are geopolitical enemies of us--because it upsets the smug liberal elites. America and Russia will not work together to make the world a better place--they will not defend American interests--but we should court them because for too long have we been in alliances where the American right was not well respected.
  • America Is A White Nation: In this view it is completely acceptable to be actually scared about the expansion of non-white people in America.  The reasons for this abound (and have "NOTHING TO DO WITH RACISM")--but we can see the pervasive unease in demographic changes.
  • Truth Is Lies: In this world, the statements of military experts (including General Mattis) that the Iran anti-nuclear deal was working are just liberal lies. North Korea is on its way to disarming. ISIS is completely defeated! In this world the media is a scheming communist/socialist combine designed only to present propaganda. Nothing can be trusted. Everything is suspect.
  • Conspiracy Theory Is Truth: The adjunct to this is that if the media is made of lies then under the surface may lurk dark currents of malevolence. The FBI is run by a cabal of Clintonites that register (and serve for years as) Republicans--but then become a praetorian guard when, finally, True Conservatives reach the White House. Dissenters are assassinated (Seth Rich), and so on. The degree of penetration of these lies varies (was Trump wiretapped? "Wiretapped," illegally unmasked, legitimately unmasked--but with nefarious political overtones, etc.?) but the vein of conspiratorial thinking remains--and is pervasive through the right-wing media and the administration itself.
A Conclusion

When you encounter these--even if they are dressed up in a nice suit and a smiling face, what are you supposed to do? Where do you compromise or seek unity? When you find out that, in the right-wing constellation, everyone who is not for Trump is against conservatives, what do you do? 

What does this dialog and openness show you and achieve? When the emotional engine behind Trumpism (and, to varying degrees, people who still find themselves aligned with the GOP for various internal tribal reasons) is seeking redress for imagined humiliation, where are you going to end up?

That's an exercise The Omnivore leaves to the reader.