A Theory about modern trends in the Republican party

Imagine a child of distant, busy parents, who is desperate for love and approval. What skills might this child develop? I think they would try to say and do things that make people react in an approving way. They would become very sensitive to people’s reactions to them.

If they were clever, they might learn that you can say a bunch of things quite fast, one after another, and look for reactions. When there is a positive reaction, double down on whatever statement got that reaction. If there is a negative or no reaction, just jettison that line. It’s a simple evolutionary algorithm.

Thus is born a bullshit artist and con man. That’s how we get a Trump.

I guess it’s an effective tactic to get people to have positive reactions. I think the twin skills, rapid bullshit generation coupled with hypersensitive reaction assessment, are pretty rare. A lot of Republican politicians are trying to emulate him, with varying success. I think the trend is to try to craft bullshit in private based on some kind of ideology, which only captures a piece of the art. Yes, Trump didn’t give a rat’s ass about whether what he said was “true”, but he also didn’t really care whether it was ideologically correct. His imitators have learned that lying doesn’t matter, but they are constrained by caution and by ideology, as well as by the limits of their own imagination.

And the perfect response to being called on for a lie: Outrage! How DARE you! Seems to work. Kavanaugh was a kind of field test, and now it’s used far and wide.

Final note – this is part of the skillset of a mentalist! That’s how they convince you they’re reading your mind: they say a lot of things that might be true and read your reactions. If something doesn’t get a reaction, they quickly move onto the next thing, maybe with a slight headshake, like “where did that signal from beyond come from.” If they do get a reaction, they double down and try for detail. I’ve seen mentalist acts, and it is uncanny (which is the whole idea). Naturally, people get the idea that the mentalist is “saying what I’m thinking”, and it feels intimate and moving.

It’s a neat trick.

The Perfectly Good Business (PGB)

There is such a thing as a Perfectly Good Business. It provides a Perfectly Good profit for its owners, a Perfectly Good living for its workers, a Perfectly Good product for its customers at a Perfectly Good price. It is a Perfectly Good neighbor to its community.

Obviously, the people running this PGB are total suckers. If a private equity (PE) firm sees such a business, you’d have one of those sequences from old cartoons where the PGB suddenly looks like a lollipop. Or maybe a pigeon.

I mean, if they’re providing a Perfectly Good living to its workers, clearly too much is going toward labor and those workers need to make less. If they’re unionized, the anti-union arsenal needs to be brought into play to crush the union.

If they’re providing a Perfectly Good product, there is money that can be squeezed out there. Can’t we reduce the quality? Why should it be Perfectly Good? Can’t it be made crummy, but spend some more on lawyers and marketing to mask that?

And, worst of all, if it’s a Perfectly Good member of its community, there’s certainly money to be made there. Why can’t it dump its waste into the groundwater, if that would save some money?

And all that money that comes from impoverishing the workers and denying their bargaining power, from reducing quality, from being a bad neighbor, all that new wealth and profit can go to some douchebag on Sutton Place who was clever enough to see this opening.