Tag: impulse control

Nope, Not Impressed

I really should have become a political pundit. I mean, how hard can it be?

These people snag a lot of cash to make predictions, but studies have shown that “although they are paid for their keen insights into world affairs, they often perform worse than random chance.” In fact, “a dart-throwing chimp would have beaten the vast majority of professionals” when it comes to forecasting political outcomes.

That would also make for a substantially more entertaining Sunday morning talk show.

 

To be fair, predictions are extremely difficult to make (especially about the future). After all, most of us thought that we would be calling Hillary Clinton “Madam President” by this point.

However, one would think that pundits could at least analyze the current situation. One would hope that so-called experts could use their vast knowledge about the political climate and their experience with the players involved to come to a reasonable conclusion about what is going on right in front of them, with no need to predict anything.

One would be wrong.

For example, recently our illustrious president set out to strangle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with his own grimy, tiny hands. But then he said, “Ha, just kidding. I love the Hispanics.” And he then “signaled his embrace of granting permanent legal status to the Dreamers as part of a deal with Democrats that he said is close to being finalized.”

This is of course comes shortly after Trump “bucked his own party’s leaders and sided with Democrats on a deal to bundle Hurricane Harvey relief funds, a three-month debt-limit increase, and a three-month continuing resolution to keep the government funded.”

And of course, pundits have responded with acclaim that Trump is finally acting presidential, and is listening to his advisors to be more reasonable. Yes, the narcissistic bully with no regard for the truth is at long last buckling down and working to move the country forward — right?

Um, no — that’s optimistic to the point of delusional.

Trump is not pivoting, or moving to the middle, or any other form of wishful thinking that implies he is suddenly going to be more reasonable. Nor is he executing some grand master plan to advance his agenda, or springing an intricate trap to ensnare Democrats.

The man has no agenda, other than self-glorification. And he is not capable of devising any complicated, ingenious schemes whatsoever.

It should be clear to everyone — and I mean, everyone — that the real Trump was revealed long ago and is never going to change.

He is a thin-skinned old man with minimal impulse control and a bottomless pit of rage. Everything he does is about the moment, with no regard to the future, and he relies on his base instincts to get him through the day.

So when Trump got into a room with a bunch of Republicans he hates, and a few Democrats whom he could tolerate, he just went with his gut. When it came to the budget deal, Trump agreed with a stance that he didn’t really understand, because he has no patience for in-depth analysis. All he knew is that the boring meeting would be over soon, and he would get to humiliate Mitch McConnell while he was at it. That’s a rare win-win for him.

He repeated this process, more or less, with DACA. Although this time, he belatedly realized that he had unwittingly come across as almost human, thereby angering his fearful, venom-spewing supporters. And so he has since backtracked (a rare maneuver for him) and wound up contradicting himself (a common maneuver for him).

In any case, his full strategy has always been based upon split-second indifference.

It’s baffling why people see his hasty decision-making and obliviousness to political considerations as somehow “presidential.” He did what he has always done, and it just so happened that in these cases, it has benefitted Democrats (the law of averages dictates that this would eventually happen). And it could possibly even benefit the Dreamers, which would be a happy accident.

Yes, it’s amusing to see Republicans suddenly come to the realization that Trump doesn’t give a fuck about them or their agenda. He never did.

But there is no real change here. By next week, Trump will be tweeting some new threat, or sabotaging the political process, or otherwise infesting American democracy with every second he spends in the Oval Office.

And some political pundit will say that this time it will be different.

 


Winners and Losers

Recently, everybody’s favorite crazy uncle of old media, the New York Times, asked the loaded question, “What Drives Success?” The article pointed out that some ethnic groups are more economically successful than others, and it pinpointed three reasons for this. The first is “a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.”

It’s an interesting thesis. But lost in the analysis and point-by-point explanation was this side note: “Most fundamentally, groups rise and fall over time. The fortunes of WASP elites have been declining for decades.”

In other words, nobody stays at the top or the bottom forever. And as the article points out, “The fact that groups rise and fall this way punctures the whole idea of ‘model minorities’ or that groups succeed because of innate, biological differences.”

dna strands

So for all the people who think Latinos are innately inferior, keep in mind that there are some “Hispanic groups in America that far outperform some white and Asian groups,” and that this trend is likely to accelerate.

The fortunes of groups twist and turn in a perpetual cycle. And one can choose to find that either comforting or terrifying.

 


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