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Mike Jurney
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The easiest way to get the point across is to make it clear that there are lots of times where we use the terms "wealth" and "worth" interchangeably.

"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first."

If you had unlimited continuous time with Trump, how many hours do you think it would take for you to personally flatter/frighten/cajole/coax him into understanding this thing that he signed?

I mean, how long would it take you to get him to understand what "AD" even means?

Now take that perspective and make it the context that you use to understand every decision he makes.

When I was in second grade, there was an animated TV show that I really loved called G-FORCE. The next year we moved to a house without cable service, so it was a long time before I had access to the same range of channels and I've always wondered what happened to G-FORCE.

I learned this morning that the show was actually Battle of The Planets, which is super well-known. Life is weird sometimes.

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Feelin' this way.

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While everyone's being distracted by tweets and the congressional oversight drama, this is happening. I don't think people appreciate how extraordinary a program the National Park Service is, and so I don't think they appreciate how much pressure there is to scrap it for private exploitation.

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I don't think I'm emotionally or intellectually equipped to understand politics anymore.

In the linked post, +Yonatan Zunger makes a point that I think dovetails with something I've seen discussed a bit recently: the difference between taking Trump literally and taking him seriously.

It's arguable that journalism's biggest single institutional failing this election cycle was in taking Donald Trump literally but not seriously, while failing to realize or report that Donald Trump's supporters for the most part were taking him seriously but not literally.

This led to reporting like fact checking his many spurious claims without getting deeper into what a Trump presidency would presumably mean, while assuming that his supporters in "the heartland" were existing in media bubbles that shielded them from their debunking. (At best; some journalists took a harsher view, namely that many Trump supporters were dunces, conspiracy theorists, or willfully ignorant.)

I understand why they'd do this. Certainly, since the election when I've managed to have a somewhat civil interaction with a Trump supporter, inevitably we get to a place where I quote Donald Trump to try to make a point, and the Trump supporter dismisses the quote by insisting I was treating him and his supporters unfairly by assuming that he meant what he said and supporters supported what he said rather than what (they believe) he meant.

Perhaps the most ostentatious and disarming example of this has been Peter Thiel's statements about what he thinks President Trump will do. He personally has attacked "the media" specifically for taking him literally but not seriously, but when you examine what Thiel thinks President Trump will do, it works out—remarkably enough—to be exactly what Peter Thiel would like President Trump to do.

Politically, if you can pull it off—and it seems like Republican nominee Donald Trump did—it's absolutely ingenious, because your supporters will love everything you say that they agree with, while assuming that anything you say that they don't agree with is something that shouldn't be taken literally. You can do no wrong. (Perhaps Trump himself had an inkling of this when he said that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose any supporters.)

This is why in one such exchange with a Trump supporter, I wrote, "You're saying that you can't take a candidate's statements, or his past behavior, as offering any indication of how he might govern. This is insane, and you seem to have no comprehension of how insane it is. In fact, my own inability to see your way of thinking and magically divine Trump's intentions as separate from what he's said, as you apparently can and do, is making you furious at me and further proving to you how out of touch I am. If this is how politics works now, then good lord: we're lost. Democracy is now inoperative."

And in response, I was told I was being blocked.

I've been writing about politics for a long time. You who read me know I've been posting about politics for the entire time Google+ has existed; well before that, I had a weekly political newspaper column in college. Thinking about politics is second nature to me, and I've always felt like I had a certain knack for it. But over the past week or so, I've felt increasingly unmoored. The world of politics no longer makes sense to me. I suddenly feel unequipped to handle the news.

It's not that I don't know how to deal with a government of the other party. I was writing on another platform when the 2000 election happened. The Florida recount was crazy, but I could make some sense of it. 9/11 was terrible, but if I couldn't explain the event itself, I could follow the aftermath. I knew how to distinguish partisan spin from reality. I could say with pretty fair certainty that people to my left were wrong, that we weren't going to war in Iraq for the oil. I could say with pretty fair certainty that people to my right were wrong, that the evidence Saddam Hussein supported Osama bin Laden seemed flimsy at best. When the horror of the "missing" WMD's and later, the Cheney manipulation of the news media came to light, I was appalled, but I could engage with it.

But this... I've never lived in a third-world country, I've never tried to analyze the internal politics of authoritarian regimes. The things I could always count on in the United States were that the truth would out, that petty corruption would be caught sooner or later, that corruption wouldn't escalate to the point where it undermined our institutions, that Tammany Hall was gone forever, that political patronage happened but was limited to appointments where a donor's lack of competence wouldn't do much harm (mostly to ambassadorships to sunny countries; Michael Brown's appointment to FEMA, by its very controversy, showed how rare patronage like that had become).

Most of all, I could count on the power of shame. Politicians might do almost anything until they were caught—but once they were caught, shame kicked in. The confessional press conference with the spouse, dabbing tears, beside the contrite politician; the only question being if the politician was going to resign on the spot, try to serve out the current term but announce an intent to then retire, or ride it out hoping for rehabilitation through pleas to God and excuses about moral or psychological or substance-abuse failings.

I could count on the flip side of shame, saving face. The announcement that a privately shamed politician had decided to spend more time with family. The embarrassing attempt at playing off a naked lie as a joke, ignorance, or a big misunderstanding. The magnanimous words spoken by the winner in the moment of triumph; the conciliatory and uniting words spoken by the loser in defeat.

I could count on the civil service being used, for the most part, apolitically. When former GE CEO Jack Welch proclaimed that the Obama administration's Bureau of Labor Statistics had "cooked" the unemployment numbers to help Obama's reelection, this was a laughable claim; the BLS were bureaucrats, number-crunchers, their every tweak to a formula announced in requests for comments, their corrections made as regularly and as publicly as their announcements. Nixon had used the bureaucrats for political ends and it nearly tore the presidency asunder; I could count on this lesson having been learned well.

I could count on access for the press. Friday night and pre-holiday news dumps, venue shopping, going on the record and off the record and on background, the softball interview, the "humanizing profile", the rush to a scoop, the strategic leak, the "press statement" the politician delivers before rushing off stage without taking questions: these were the tools of the game, often frowned upon but permitted because there was a hard backstop, always: at some point, sooner or later, the politician would have to "meet the press", would have to answer even the questions that had been dodged.

I could count on bigotry always being an institutional force echoing from history into now; sometimes being a personal failing of a politician, staffer, or other public persona; but rarely being nakedly expressed, and never with pride. To do so was to invite shunning, excommunication from the body politic. There was nothing so quickly and surely ruinous to someone's reputation than to baldly express blatant bigotry on the record. Of course, I knew what was considered bigotry was always changing; I knew that, by my year of birth, I had only just missed seeing overt racism and anti-Semitism being "acceptable". I was privileged to watch some of the "long arc of history bend towards justice" as homophobia, prejudice towards the disabled, and Islamophobia move from one side of that boundary to the other; I watched with fascination as transphobia began to move in that direction as well. You could tell it had happened by two easy markers: one, the press no longer felt bound to get a bigoted opinion from "the other side" as "balance"; and two, an expression of bigotry openly and on the record would lead to personal political ruin.

I could count on power or ideology, not personal enrichment, being the primary motivator of the politician. "Primary" being a key word there; the machinations to try to ensure a comfortable post-government life, the revolving-door of lobbyists, the perks of a trip on a private plane and junkets to sunny places with nice golf courses, those were always there, but they were always secondary. ("[T]he primary motivator of the politician" was also key: for the power brokers, the major donors, the bundlers, the super PACs, personal enrichment of someone was always at play; you just followed the money to see where it intersected with the power.)

These were the things I could count on. These were the things that anchored my analysis of current events, that guided me in figuring out what had really happened and in predicting what tomorrow might bring.

You very well might think me amazingly naïve—for someone who claims to have had some understanding of politics—to say I "could count on" these things. No; to be utterly clear, these were things that were never, by any means, universal, and sometimes were privately not even common, but were, publicly, the norms by which outliers were judged. Deviation—when eventually discovered because of the access of the press—was harshly punished using that all-powerful force, public shame.

But now, those things I could count on, those norms that anchored me to reality, they all seem to have come undone in an absurdly short period of time. Before, I analyzed current events knowing that these norms pertained even if they were being violated: that was what we called "scandal".

But now I face a reality where nakedly expressed bigotry is no longer scandal; where denying press access is no longer scandal; where personal enrichment from serving in office is no longer scandal. I face a reality where denying reality is no longer scandal.

In this new reality, I don't know how to understand politics, or make predictions about it. I lack the tools, I lack the frameworks. I feel like an artlover in the eighteenth century trying to appreciate modern art, or a contemporary devotee of baroque music trying to make sense of hip hop.

I think I'm beginning to understand why, when I was a child, some of my older relatives who were electrical and mechanical engineers kept books on computers and electronics and solid-state physics by their bedsides and struggled so mightily, and so emotionally, with them, as if they weren't just new things to know, but were malevolent forces inflicting terrible change upon the world—worse, were inflicting these changes at them.

In other words, I think I may be beginning to understand what it may feel like to be a Trump voter.

Is it just me, or have there been severe stream loading delays over the past few days?

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I have absolutely no way of verifying or disproving this idea, but it seems pretty obvious to me that Facebook has a grief metric that they plugged into whether or not to assume someone is dead.

Something like "if more than X% of your friends are saying things that evaluate as intensely grieving, we can assume you're dead."

So it's unsurprising that a lot of progressive people's loved ones suddenly seemed, from that perspective, dead after Trump started announcing cabinet appointments.

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There's a presidential transition website that exists now, and it's www.greatagain.gov. The fact that there's staff in place that know about DNS and can put together a classic-looking logo only reinforces my suspicion of people's optimism that the Trump administration won't be able to get much done.
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