Politico: "He's a Performance Artist Pretending to be a Great Manager."

“I don’t think there’s anything of scale that he’s had his hands on that he hasn’t made a hash of,” biographer Tim O’Brien said in an interview last week.

“Ramping up,” fellow biographer Gwenda Blair added, her tone dry, “is something he’s maybe not so good at.”

And as the ‘80s flipped to the ‘90s, the consequences of Trump’s unorthodox decisions were clear. “All those businesses are gone, of course,” Nobles said, “because they weren’t as successful as they could have been—and should have been.”

I'm starting to think this guy isn't very good at this job.

A Note on the Electoral College

Another mismatch between the electoral college and the popular vote. A short(er) note on the subject, as a preface to much more on this election, our politics, and our country.

TL;DR: It's here to stay, to help defend against city rule by fiat.  The closer you look, the worse it gets.

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How Trump Will Win

Here's how Donald Trump wins this election.

Right now, the electorate is made up of four distinct and relevant groups. They are, in order of size and significance:

  • Group 1: Trump Supporters

Trump supporters have a different value system than the media and the political class. Trump speaks to them and to the issues they care about. They will never vote for Hillary Clinton.

  • Group 2: Clinton Supporters

Clinton supporters are the political establishment and traditional Democrats. They will never vote for Donald Trump.

  • Group 3: #NeverTrump

These are voters that would not normally be in the Clinton camp, but are so mortified by the concept of a Trump presidency that they will vote against him, or not vote at all.

  • Group 4: #NeverHillary

These are voters that would not normally vote for Donald Trump (or any Republican), but are so mortified by the concept of a Clinton presidency that they will vote against her, or stay home.

Groups 1 and 2 are secure. Groups 3 and 4 are secure in their intentions, but whether they actually can be mobilized is another thing. Politically speaking, it is much harder to mobilize a group against a thing than for a thing: in general, the thing that motivates people against it must be way worse than the thing motivating people in support of it is good, often by a factor of 2 or 3.

All Donald Trump has to do is, by Election Day, be just good enough for Group 3 to stay home and bet that in a race between Group 1 and Group 2, Group 1 will win.

If the media succeeds in creating an equivalency between Trump and Hillary, and the NeverTrumpers lose enthusiasm, Trump wins.

A Note on Criticism

Most of the time, when you read a movie review or any other analysis of a cultural event, you only get half the story. To tell you the truth, I doubt you even get a quarter of what's really going on, once you do the math.

Let me start over.

This publication, as sporadic and periodic as I design to publish it, is concerned with greatness. This means I spend my letters most directly on objects of wide appeal and influence, because it is here that greatness can be most useful and impactful. In doing so, however, I then enter the realm immediately outside these objects, which is the area of popular criticism. It seems, then, that I should both concern myself with what it means for those objects to be great and what it means to be a great and effective critic of those things.

To be a generally effective critic, I have to do three things:
1. First, I have to state and clarify my expectations. This includes assessing what the maker sought to do, as well as what I expect it to do.
2. Next, I assess the object based on how it meets, exceeds, or fails my expectations.
3. Last, I assess my expectations in light of this new object.

The first part, I think, is actually most important, as it would otherwise be an unconscious undercurrent throughout the criticism. It would be the rubric by which I grade a test: the rubric must be sound first before the test can even be judged. So often, though, it's the part that's least clear, and rarely defined.

Take, for instance, the hubbub that surrounds Apple product releases, and the waterfall of content that flows forth from them. Each take on the "quality" of the product and the "success" of its release is launched from a berth of unknown and unstated expectations of that event, and those expectations range from "this product is of no consequence as I expect not to replace my current device" to "this product will be the most remarkable and revolutionary device ever made" to "this product will be an improvement on the current product". The review that comes will undoubtedly be a product of the object's fulfillment of those expectations, regardless of how much sense those expectations make. But, how often do we accept the star rating or collated score as-is, and how often do we reject criticism based on unreasonable expectations?

I submit that most of the time, we choose not to judge based on what's unsaid. We do that because we implicitly trust the publication, or maybe because we're reading in the aggregate and want to develop a wider perspective of opinions, which a lot of the time means you can't dive too deep.

But these are important objects, and criticism of those objects could be just as important if people trusted them to do what they ought to do. It's this goal I aspire to for the next few objects I'm going to criticize, and I thought I should stop fucking around about standards and throw my cap over the wall.