Kludge Government

Washington DC crashes, but doesn't burn.

kludge kloo͞j

  • n. A system, especially a computer system, that is constituted of poorly matched elements or of elements originally intended for other applications.

  • n. A clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem.

  • n. an improvised device, usually crudely constructed. Typically used to test the validity of a principle before doing a finished design.

Dateline: Washington DC. Rioters break into the Capitol and steal podiums. As riots and protests go, this one was small. Smaller than Kenosha. Smaller than Berkeley. Much smaller than Portland and Seattle. A drop in the Rodney King bucket. I hear lots of big symbolic words from the media and partisans on all sides. I suppose if I were an Israeli or Palestinian I would chuckle dismissively. The worst I should feel is embarrassed, but I actually don’t. The center of my American gravity isn’t Washington DC, or the presidency, or elections quite frankly. These are systems that should work but are chock full of bugs because people pay attention to the big screens instead of the cogs and gears and sources of electricity. So they crash. Just like California has crashed and rebooted. People snap to attention when the power goes out, but still California doesn’t build new power plants. Because Green symbolism. It will crash and reboot again. 

Washington DC crashed and is rebooting as we speak. I predict a hasty workaround, some kicking of various cans down the road, adjustment in rhetoric and declaration of a new normal. This play acted revolution will be all be televised for your partisan delights, where ever you stand (or sit). I’m still not watching. 

Instead I listen to what people tell me. I have been hearing excited talk about destroying the Electoral College for over a year now. I happen to think that the National Popular Vote Compact is a reasonable idea, but it’s complex and requires a bit of thinking and it doesn’t deliver on the spot. So no politician will stand up for it because the Electoral College Ban meme is more powerful. This is as transparently expedient as redistricting and it would take place if the procedural hurdles were lower. It’s clear that you can get 70 million partisans to believe just about anything. It’s really a shame that we don’t have a real third party as demonstrated by the cringe inducements of anyone in the duopoly that bends over to make deals with Bernie Sanders. I wonder if I’m going to start looking back on bipartisanship as collusion. Only a viable third party will tell.

Unfortunately, the third party will be the rabble that find themselves unrepresented in the great upcoming series of compromises, subterfuges and clammy handshakes. “The business of the people” awaits. As an engineer, I am disgusted of course. As a Californian I have stop being embarrassed. I’m here for my family, friends, the environment and I can afford the cost of living, now. Somehow, sooner or later, the logic vacuums may shift and our politics will mature into something competent and responsible. Not today.

I don’t know how to tell you without sounding cynical. You must understand that American politics are soap opera. The media is selling the soap and the electorate is hooked on the drama. Meanwhile there are people who know better, to whom I generally refer as the Smart Money, who are conducting business with rational actors here in the US and elsewhere. I’m here to remind you that on January 7, 2021 the day after knuckleheads broke into the US Capitol and took selfies, the Dow is up and the Vix is down. Every stock in my portfolio, including and especially my cryptocurrency assets are worth more today than they were yesterday. What did Bill Clinton say “It’s the economy, stupid.” Yes it’s that and the industrial base and the natural resources and the world that revolves around the hard sciences rather than the feelings in soft hearts. Sorry, Virginia. Santa Claus has gone back to the North Pole and Trump will be exiting the stage in a matter of weeks.

I was kind of hoping for the Park Service to take an aerial photograph of the rally, and expected Trump to tweet that it was the really really biggest protest ever. Twitter blocked his account, and the drones were evidently out of service. Facebook has banned Trump ‘indefinitely’. Clearly there are other powers in America.

I have one last metaphor to spend on this sorry episode, but I am brought to mind of the defeat of Mike Tyson to Buster Douglas, and some years later to Lennox Lewis. For four years between 1986 and 1990, Mike Tyson was a raging force of nature, unpredictably powerful and destructive of his opponents. Then Buster Douglas ended him. He wandered in the wilderness for six years and came back scrapping with a bunch of also-rans and failing drug tests until he got into the ring with Lewis who knocked him on his ass the 8th round. I remember watching the fight and wondering as Lewis towered over and toyed with Tyson, how I ever believed Mike was made of iron. He wasn’t so tough after all, and he crashed for the fourth, but not final time.

For months now, millions of Americans have suspended their disbelief that Donald Trump was a lame duck, just like every other lame duck that preceded him. A ragtag band of diehards sought yesterday to prop him up somehow. Now, feelings are hurt and people are wondering what to do, again. Washington DC, that old rustbucket, rumbles forth mechanically dripping oil and spewing smoke. It will crash and reboot again, predictably, piloted as it will be by a slightly different cast of clowns, cads and connivers. Now we can all put it behind us and get into some golf. Well, those of us in California.