Archive for September, 2023

Performance Floors

Saturday, September 30th, 2023

I’m thinking about them pretty much all the time now. I got started on it in the aftermath of Nancy Pelosi’s weird interview with Anderson Cooper:

He asks her (8:36) if Kamala Harris is really the best running mate for President Biden. Her first answer is full of schmegegge. People don’t give Kamala enough credit; Pelosi’s opinion about that, and about a zillion other things, is relevant but with regard to the actual question she has been asked her opinion is so insignificant that it has to remain unmentioned. So he has to ask (9:22) again…

Imagine if Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi were Republicans. Just think about that. Think about, oh, just anything Chris Christie has had to say at any hour of the day or night, for the last three months. Politically, former Gov. Christie exists right now because of the supposed shortcomings of Donald “Duck” Trump. Pressed on this, I’m sure the average Christie supporter — if you can find one — would point to Trump’s “baggage” and insist that those who put some importance on it, and see the only path to success for Republicans in the dismissal of Trump, deserve representation. And he’d be right.

That’s rather silly as the sole reason for a challenger to exist. But it’s an adequate reason.

More to my point, it is a purely Republican reason. The democrats don’t do that. Pelosi is a married woman, is commenting on another woman whose political career started because she was Willie Brown’s girlfriend. Married women, by and large, don’t like that sort of thing. So if you’re under the impression there’s something negative here that’s being stripped out of the purified, filtered syllables that make it past the former Speaker’s judicious tongue, you can take it to the bank you’re not imagining it.

It’s not like democrats are too smart to attack their own. They are; smarter than Republicans, at least this way. But there’s something else.

There’s no performance floor. None.

With anything.

And I mean anywhere. A noun is a person, place or thing? Out of all persons, places or things, if you listen to all the complaining going on about any & all person places or things, Donald Trump is the only one out of any of them falling short of what he should be, to be where he is. Nothing else is falling short of any standard, because there’s no standards anywhere for anything to fall short. Except perhaps for the direction of the country right now; people aren’t happy with that.

Well. You know what? I see a connection.

I don’t see performance floors anywhere, except when it’s time for Republicans to beat up on other Republicans for failing to live up to one. They don’t apply anywhere else. I mean, by that a real “floor”: Performance descends, and descends some more, until it reaches a threshold that changes the situation and sinks beneath that. There’s an event. Something changes, or at least, someone somewhere with an opinion that matters, realizes something has to change. Then some things happen. I miss this. The entire scenario seems to have gone extinct…except when it comes to bitching about Trump.

Or…some of the things that have soured for us, since Trump “lost” the last election.

But that last one doesn’t seem to put any events in motion. Just bitch about the price of eggs, then go back to whatever. There’s no necessity to do anything about any of it, except for the complaining about Trump.

Without performance floors, no standard actually applies. Without standards, there’s no definition, and without definition, everything else comes undone. We’re wondering why so many people think the country is on the wrong track. Well, hmmmm.

It would be absurd to think it isn’t. The dollar is losing value so rapidly, that as Congressman Matt Gaetz cheekily pointed out, you have to use gold bars to do your bribing of democrat politicians. Heh heh. This month a lot of people started complaining because they’d come to realize men think a lot about ancient Rome. What’s wrong with men? After a whole summer of fantasizing about doll-universes in which men are to be properly stripped of any influence, people are ready to find yet more problems with the male sex. The question should be: Why is it so hard for someone knowledgeable of history, to think of anything besides Rome? The inflation is killing us. Just like Rome.

If my complaint were that there isn’t enough complaining, the complaint would be short-lived. There is complaining everywhere you look now. I’m looking for something more than that. Is the complaining about actual performance? Is it relevant? Did we really need someone to show up and bring their A-game, and instead, they just kind of dialed it in & called it good? Did the performance slip beneath some watermark that demarcates a change in the situation when the performance falls short?

Is this tolerated by someone whose opinion matters…like, whatever unmentioned shortcomings apply to the Vice President, as so blandly critiqued by the Former House Speaker, above? Is the deficiency in performance even detected? Is there a process for improving the performance? If the process fails, is there a process for dislodging the component or person falling short? Can the replacement complete with a minimum of disruption and drama? Without damaging agendas of revenge by the replaced person, or his/her sympathizers? Is there a plan to bring the replacement up to speed?

If yes to all of the above, then maybe you have a system that accommodates changes in demand and environment, across time. It’s got a shot at remaining useful over the long haul. Just a shot.

If no to any of the above, then you don’t have that.

And therein lies my observation. We are, indeed, like Rome; the gentlemen have it right. We don’t have many of those things. We are arguably lacking in all of them.

Again: We do have complaining. But even when the complaining is entirely valid, there arises immediately a wave of counter-complaining, typically involving name calling against the criticis as racist, sexist or transphobe. See, this is why there are no performance floors. For performance to fall beneath a floor, the performance effort itself has to exist. And we’ve taken on an unseemly habit of crystallizing these narratives about how wonderful and glorious some effort is, before anybody has put together the effort. Any valid observations about how the effort fell short, therefore, will run afoul of these crystallized narratives and so once they’re made, a shouting match immediately begins and we find ourselves awash and eyeballs deep in the latest round of “You’re a sexist” and “No I’m not.” We don’t have time to evaluate the critique itself. Might as well not even bother making it.

Congress keeps spending money. We wonder why there’s inflation. When our current President was just a Vice-President, he counter-complained against the complainers who were calling out the waste. He didn’t bother to contradict them. “We know some of this money is going to be wasted,” he said. “There are going to be mistakes made…Some people are being scammed already.” He then launched into entirely opinion-based summations of the benefits of the stimulus spending. “We’re seeing solid hints of stabilization in many markets, including housing.” The Press dutifully fell in line.

So they spend money after taxing it away from you…for a little while, they didn’t even have to put on pants to do it. The money gets wasted, and that’s okay. Inflation is the result, you’re just supposed to live with it. No floor. Nothing changes. Thankfully, the dress code did get reinstated after the great hue & cry. But how did things get that far? I guess there’s a floor after all…but it’s way down there. You have to put on pants to earn the money, but Congress doesn’t have to bother when it taxes it away, to raise the price of things you have to buy with what little money is left over?

It’s not just money things. The President’s dog has bitten a Secret Service agent — yet again. The eleventh known biting incident. Oh well! We’re continuing to work through it…but, as the article notes, it’s devolved into a workplace safety issue. Well no kidding. How many times can your dog bite people before something has to be done about it? “…[T]he improper removal of classified documents from Biden’s office when he left the White House in 2017 was [seemingly] more likely a mistake than a criminal act.” The performance floor is missing there too. How do you distinguish between a mistake vs. a criminal act? They’re not mutually exclusive. Is it a matter of intent? Does intent matter with regard to the issue of Trump’s classified documents? Why here, and not there?

No floor. People just do, like, whatever. You’re supposed to accept it. There’s no expectation placed on anybody anywhere, except on people who are doing the expecting. And of course, Trump.

Seattle is a mess. A shithole. Why is that? Seattle was beautiful. It was always run by smarmy jackass liberals, and I resented that when I lived there. Thought I had little-to-no affection for the city. Well now, my heart is breaking. What the Hell are you people doing to my old stomping grounds? No floor.

The statistics demand performance floors. They prove something is wrong, somewhere. It could be with our formation of the statistics themselves. The homeless people living in Seattle: Used to be, here & there, now and then, you run into or hear about a homeless person. Now, all throughout the West Coast, homelessness is merely an alternative lifestyle, adhered to by a huge and swelling portion of the citizenry. Is that all economic? That seems to be the implication…but…no performance floor. More homeless, and the answer is to spend money “to solve the problem of homelessness once and for all.” No one whose opinion means anything, takes it as a warning sign that we’re doing something wrong. Queer kids in the public schools: Another one-percenter phenomenon, one-percenter no longer. The skyrocketing is impossible to measure with any precision, but we know it’s there. So Why? We’re left to discuss it in a shouting match, between people who point out the recent efforts to indoctrinate, and those who deny the indoctrination affects the numbers in any way, some of whom assert the increase is a good thing. Learning disabilities are pretty much the same way: It used to be one or two percent. Now it’s double digits. Just like with the others, here we could benefit from a reasoned discussion about whether we’re doing something to increase the numbers, either in reality or in the way we’re doing the measurements and formulating the numbers. But we just get shouting matches.

There’s a difference between the two. Discussion is fact finding, and deliberation about what the facts mean (along with whether or not you really found them). Shouting matches are just conflicts between two or more factions, each of which is seeking to win. With homelessness, queer kids and spectrum disorders, we have these Career People who have established careers tied to the statistics; and they’re understandably eager to participate in these shouting matches, and devolve any reasoned discussion that might take place, into the shouting matches. They all insist that the swelling statistics are accurate and true, and their dramatic increase doesn’t signal any need for reform in how they’re gathered, but rather a need for…something else. Something that has to do with giving them more business, and money.

The problem with shouting matches is that they involve a common narrative of: I am right, and so is everyone who agrees with me. Those other guys are wrong. And this is in all things, across the board. We’re smart, they’re stupid. It doesn’t allow for any exceptions, any nuance. It’s a jackhammer used where a surgical scalpel is needed.

We are losing our ability to discuss things. As a result of our loss of these performance floors.

Or: We are losing the performance floors, as a consequence of losing our ability to discuss things.

Which one is cause, and which one is effect, is an intriguing question. Both may apply; we could be living in a self-perpetuating whirlpool of despair. But we know both these things are happening, and they’re both happening in spades. This swelling consensus that the country is on the “wrong track,” is effect that is caused by the vanishing performance floors. I mean, how can you feel anything but despair, when everywhere you turn, every direction you look, you see shit where there’s supposed to be some decent performance, and a near total absence of any incentive or reason to make anything better?

Who are these people who think the country’s on the right track?

That is yet another intriguing question.