Horror Vacui. Nature abhors a vacuum. So do humans. Where there is a lack of knowledge, or a lack of answers, humans will make up stuff to fill the void. That might be comforting, but it can be dangerous. It is how superstitions are created, and it also can be the genesis for everything from racism to social division, strife, and violence. It is the sort of thing that gets “witches” burned at the stake.
This place, which is to say the Comments Section, never ceases to amaze! Similar to other Open Comment sites, it tends to gather a specific type of person and then structures itself into a uniform community, with nary a dissonant voice. Years ago Tyler told me that less than 1% of the readership wrote comments. That was back when the site was primarily financial. I don’t know what the percent is today, but I would guess the demo has changed, and many who once came for financial insight now just visit occasionally for a few laughs. So long as there are clicks and eyeballs, it’s all good. The cash register still rings.
I wonder if the vocal membership ever stops to ask themselves why they think what they think, and what has convinced them to believe the most outlandish things? Do they really know what they think they know, or do they just assume a set of beliefs that has some odd internal psychological agenda, but about which they really know absolutely nothing?
Never have so many been so wrong about that which they are so sure. Yes, I’m talking to you with your endless conspiracies and your chemtrails and your Deep State and your debilitating fear of your own shadows—you know, because those shadows just might be CIA-generated ninja assassin 2D holograms armed with mini-HAARP neural disrupters!
I appreciate some of the folks here are batshit crazy—way too many—and that explains their bizarre world view. Sadly, nothing can be done about them. We’ll forever have them with us. I do believe Tyler gets a good chuckle out of the nonsense you guys produce, and he is expert at pushing your panic buttons. Kudos to him for capturing the moonbat demographic and monetizing it. Other folks, however, who may be sane, but who are viewing all sorts of events from outside of the arena, still become cocksure in their views merely because they had a pre-existing belief and searched the internet until they found something that corroborated it. They call that becoming ‘awake’, or ‘taking the red pill’, but to call a spade a spade, it is simply confirmation bias. One belief then becomes the base against which subsequent events are assessed and analyzed. “This one feels like a false flag” is a function of them assuming all of the previous events they believe were false flags actually were, which of course they were not. Foundations get built on quicksand. That is truly an odd thing, seemingly the result of that aforementioned vacuum, plus a sense of personal victimhood and self-esteem issues. It drives people to manufacture answers, and even bad answers are good enough. There isn’t any quality control, because the mental infrastructure that spews out thoughts is flawed.
This wonderful—and often not so wonderful—internet thing has replaced the old neighborhood coffee shop or greasy spoon diner, the place where like-minded people gather to reinforce each other’s beliefs and to find comfort in belonging. It has never been so easy for an individual to find an echo chamber, to feel they are independent free thinkers by becoming part of a flock. Yes, that is a contradiction, but the point is that vacuum filling, and finding a way to salve the pain of victimhood, is the goal. The internet delivers in a way, and to a degree, no coffee shop ever could.
This site is very much that echo chamber, a kind of cyber neighborhood coffee shop. Folks gather, memes are introduced, gnawed on, embraced, and ‘corroborated’ by posting LINKS to websites that ‘make sense’ (but where the original author likely knows absolutely nothing). Soon a sort of circularity or tail-chasing occurs, where LINKS stumble upon themselves so many times, that something someone somewhere pulled straight from his or her backside becomes gospel.
Once the meme morphs into gospel status, believers congratulate themselves on their sophistication and for ‘figuring it out’. Anyone who doubts is either a ‘paid troll’, woefully naïve, or something worse. It doesn’t matter whether the common song in the echo chamber is melodious or not, only that it fills the vacuum and offers solace to the victims of whatever the injustice from which they believe they suffer. Nobody can really imagine what the world would be if all the dragons were slayed, partly because it is far too complicated, and mostly because the majority of the concepts are wrong from the get-go. In any event, it really is all about the journey, not the destination.
There are countless examples of this process, though I will only mention one. Some of the unmentioned have resulted in needless violence born from pure stupidity (Dylann Roof, Edgar Madison Welch), while some have just served to generate lots of self-inflicted pain in the form of anger and bitterness (just scroll any comment section on this site for proof). One wonders if anger and bitterness do not become a need or an addiction. Certainly plenty of people go out of their way to fuel it and nurse it.
My personal favorite fantasy-turned-fact is the term, or entity, “Deep State”. What the hell do people think that means? That there is some constant cadre of self-appointed folks who run the country or the world? THAT is woefully naïve. Painfully naïve, even childish. It is a silly belief fed by a combination of Hollywood, pulp fiction, ignorance, and insanity, and it is about as real as Star Wars or Men in Black (I know, I know—some here will tell me those are actually documentaries—and they can prove it with LINKS).
The good news is that nobody is as clever as he or she would have to be to be able to pull off any of what so many sad souls believe to be true. A world of 210 countries and 7.3 billion individuals simply has too many variables. The bad news is that despite that lack of omnipotent beings, leaders and power brokers are, in a relative sense, still way above the conspiracy junkies.
So here is a quick overview of the actual State, and while it might be deep, lumbering and somewhat opaque, nefarious it is not:
There are three branches of government, as most learned in grammar school Civics Class. No news there. They check and balance each other. They also try to defend their turf, battling each other. Each branch has some turnover—political appointments or elected officials at the highest level, deaths or retirements, and tens of thousands of GS-employees, who spend careers working under many Administrations.
Most appointments last a maximum of eight years, but generally less. (Under Trump, it can be as little as a week—The Mooch).
Legislators can last longer than someone in the Executive Branch, though there are many one or two term Congresspeople.
Judges can hang around a long time, but there are so many courts at various levels that they have their own intramural competition, which explains why there is an appeals process.
Bureaucrats can linger for 20+ years, but most are just that: bureaucrats. They take a paycheck, do some work, and either go shopping on the weekend or binge watch something on Netflix. They worry about their kids’ grades, or try to remember what time they have to pick up little Noah or Amelia from soccer practice.
The elected officials and the appointees are the ones who push policy, not the bureaucrats, because it is the temporary players whose ego is at play, and who think they have all the answers.
Inside the Beltway, in is in, and out is out. One day a person is a Senior Official with access to the deepest intelligence, policy and military secrets of the nation. The next day, the same person is sitting in his or her pajamas on the couch watching the morning shows, completely out of the loop. Once Administrations change, former officials have a limited shelf life—perhaps six months—where they can be guests on panel shows or the Sunday Talk Shows, though a few land a corner office with an IB or hedge fund who wildly overpays and comes to feel Buyer’s Remorse (aka, they get Eric Cantor’d). After that, they become Jeopardy answers—unless they are really engaging guests on TV or write a best seller. The ones who last longest spend their final years as ‘Photo Ops’ or ‘Selfie Targets’. Lots of people want a picture to frame for their office standing, for example, with Henry Kissinger or James Baker. Bill Clinton has now officially entered Selfie Target status, and Hillary will, too, as soon as she comes to terms with her self-inflicted defeat (this writer has his share of such photos…somewhere, in some closet or box).
Outside of actual government officials, there are business leaders and lobbyists who tend to have longer term influence than political appointees, but even their influence is limited both by the tenure of their position as well as the changing landscape of American business. Competition and technological advancement bring new faces to the fore and old faces fade away. For example, one day Harold Geneen (“Not ‘J’ as in ‘Jesus’, but ‘G’ as in ‘God’”) gives way to Lee Iococca, who gives way to Jack Welch, who gives way to Jamie Dimon, who gives way to Mark Zuckerberg. Influence, or ‘Power’ is rather fleeting.
Even fortunes tend to dissipate with time, as neer-do-well kids eat up the corpus, or inflation makes yesterday’s fortune chump change compared to the newest next best thing. Thirty years ago the Bass Brothers were at the top of the Forbes 400. Remember them? Today, the combined Bass fortune is not even a fifth of Jeff Bezos’ wealth. Paul Ryan might tell his secretary to tell a Bass that ‘I’ll call him back”, but he’ll take Jeff Bezos’ call immediately That’s how it works. How about one of the internet’s bigly baddest Bogeymen, the Rockefellers? ZIRP and risk aversion killed that fortune’s clout. No matter how large the fortune, Bezos and Zuckerberg sped past it like Usain Bolt in an Olympic final. How much clout does the Rockefeller Foundation have compared to the Washington Post or Facebook?
The only thing constant in the halls of power is change. Deep State is a wading pool, with a leak, in the middle of a desert. Power lasts only slightly longer than a Higgs Boson.
If Steve Bannon learned anything during his seven months in Trumpistan, it is likely that he learned Deep State is a silly myth. If he still believed in it, he wouldn’t be going to a relatively small internet media site funded by a single man’s fortune. If Deep State was a reality, a David as small as Breitbart wouldn’t dare trying to stand up to the Deep State Goliath. Of course Bannon might still use the term if he thinks doing so will work to his advantage, just as he plays Pied Piper to the more virulent elements of Alt-Right, when in point of fact he considers them clowns.
Reality is likely disappointing to many. Things like Deep State or Secret Cabals provide excuses to people who fail to succeed. For others, such beliefs are just entertainment, and do no harm so long as they are not taken too seriously. For the former group, however, the ones who use such beliefs as excuses, it can be debilitating and lead to a kind of bitterness that never goes away. Every time I visit this website now, and scroll through comments, I see that bitterness. It is wasteful. It foments anger or rage that can’t be doing a body much good. It is also purely self-inflicted.