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External v Internal

(Not to imply that everything is all-or-nothing.)

I've decided that I do not think Romney can be president. He's too fake. He's just a big uncomfortable, scared of being exposed faker of fakiness. He has true belief, I believe, but that is not the lens through which he allows himself to speak, publicly. His public persona's expressed paradigm is far more pragmatic. Far more "polished". By that I mean buffed to a sterling Sheen. Shine. 

Mitt Romney suffers from Internal Dissonance Disorder. That is, unlike all of the presidents (and most candidates) he doesn't lay claim to what he actually *is* and express that fully, if thoroughly edited by his team. Romney lays claim to *what you want him to be*. Explicitly. This is a strategy that President Obama used to great success *implicitly*. He advertised Hope, which is something we all want to have. He never has to speak about race, because of the color of his skin. So we project upon him. His intelligence is never questioned. His public persona, while irritatingly frustrated-with-his-sub-par-students professorial in nature, is essentially him. The mistakes that he makes are Obama mistakes. The mistakes G.W. Bush made were Dubya mistakes. Clinton clearly made Clinton mistakes. And so on. What are Romney mistakes? 

Mitt keeps trying to be one of us, deny that he's a cold-blooded money machine, claim that he was never moderate and will not compromise, and give the same damn speech to everyone, whether they like it or not. And the speech stinks. Not his ideas or whatever, it just stinks. It is not fun to listen to, and it does not reach out to anything but my wallet and his ideas on what I should do with it. And other wallets around the country, for corpora-eople everywhere. He believes he knows what will fix our wallets. And it is by fixing education and reducing the government that he proposes to do this. Wait... what? Is that because your plan is to replace public sector teacher jobs with non-unionized private sector teacher jobs? Slowly destroy any and all unions piece by piece? 

I think I went off there again. 

My point is, about about the rest of our lives that aren't our wallets? 

 I don't know what Mitt feels/thinks about the world. I don't know how Mitt wants to shape the world. I don't know which issues get to the core of him. I know that Mitt is about the Money (and this is America-- That's Great.) but why won't he just say "I love making money, and I am an effective dispassionate calculator of expected returns " and get it over with? Then we can move on to other things and stop with the pretending. Would it put him too close to The Donald? 

 I don't want someone playing at being someone they're not as my President. 

For his failings, President Obama is not different in persona despite his power and his up and down experiences. He has not meet all of his promises, and he has failed and succeeded in his first term. He has put some ideals-based legislation forward in what he believes (and is not too far off from what he expressed as a candidate) is best for the country. This is what most first-term presidents are like. Reasonably consistent persona, reasonable anticipated agendas. Nothing totally dissonant. 

Romney is totally dissonant. Publicly dissonant. And frankly, he tends to look uncomfortable with and around his fellow humans. 

What happens when he meets with foreign (and domestic for that matter) leaders and all they feel is "goddamnitall I'm not sure his words would recognize his brain in the parking lot"? 

If he would just be himself and believe that was enough, or if he could just hide his dissonance better (I would argue that this is what made the first President Bush so weird-- is that his intelligence&willpower allowed him to reconcile most internal dissonance before the brain engaged the body, but having your guard up 100% of the time is impossible. And it takes a damn toll.) he'd be fine. But he can't or hasn't learned that he needs to. Or to be very cynical, he feels that the best cold calculation to election is to appear dissonant. Which seems an odd tactic. Anyway. 

 If Al Gore was the amazingly life-like candidate who invented the Internet, Mitt Romney is the Wax Statue candidate who refuses to talk about what's underneath his ice-cream paintjob because he's no meteorologist, but golly, he sure knows that D.C. is hotter-n-heck.

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the future world

is just one big viewer-controlled

reality show.

In H3D.

Cameras everywhere
Everyone watches everyone
All of the time.

High Cameras like
Watching Great Migrations.

Personal Cameras like
Watching everything else.

We pay for ad space in the real world
Which is really part of the show's world.

You can't fast-forward through reality
Unless you're watching it at home from your hard drive.

We will record murders and chases and supreme court hearings.
We will record nothing and everything and mundane and historic.

These words are all one word.

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Wizards: 0111012

There is a chance Michael Lee not a particularly observant spectator.

A mere four sentences in to his recap of the Wizards loss to the Timberwolves, he reports that "Coach Flip Saunders helplessly searched for a player who would at least show mock interest in competing". Garbage. And I will name names.

The list starts with Chris Singleton. Unmentioned in the article, Singleton, with the help of Rashard Lewis's absence, (Also unmentioned in the article. These were the two most remarkable things from the game.) started his first career NBA game after doing more than compete in each home game this season. He flusters a variety of opponents on the defensive end in the SF to G slots and passes the ball on offense.

The list does not include Andray Blatche, who, as best as I can tell, does not like playing basketball and isn't particularly good at anything other than being appropriately sized and wanting to score. Noncontextually, of course.

The list includes John Wall, whose one-man fastbreak layups are not only the best offensive option the Wizards possess, but they are his inexplicable otherworldy talent. This is what is worth watching about Wall. This is his gift. He will take the ball from below the defensive FT line, look upcourt, see 3-4 defenders and 1-2 teammates and proceed beat them all to the basket. John Wall + Water = Fast Break.

The list does not include Jordan Crawford. He's like a cross between Andray Blatche and Jamal Crawford. Except without Jamal's ability to get scorching hot or Blatche's ability to collect rebounds by default.

The list includes JaVale McGee. This guy is a true NBA center. He's, admittedly, still developing moves other than "Fake to the lane, pivot to the baseline and out-freak-athlete the defender toward the rim somehow", but he blocks shots, rebounds, runs the floor and finishes at the rim. Plus the announcer loves his name.

The list includes Nick Young. I know it looks like he isn't trying. And his chronic inability to pass to the wide-open player is spellbinding. The thing is, he simply doesn't do either of those things. He also doesn't play defense. He is, however, the most reliable isolation scoring option on the team. He can score buckets against NBA-level defenders. He cannot read a defense and make decisions. One-on-one, he's a tough cover. Oh, and he's constantly using his lack of obvious effort to trick you into a cheap turnover or two.

The list includes Booker, Seraphin, Mason and Mack. They're all good. None of them seem particularly great at anything. They don't stand out, but they can play. They don't know when it is their turn and when it is someone else's turn, but they're not black holes on offense, and they're not terrible at defense. They are system guys. They have to be taught the O and D and how to make decisions based on the system, rather than what they are individually thinking. Heck, McGee, Singleton and Wall are ALL system players in a half-court offense. They do each shine at other individual aspects of the game though.

The list does not include Flip Saunders. He has a young athletic team which thrives on being aggressive. To wit:

1. The 10 blocked shots by the Wizards against the Timberwolves.
2. The Wizards lead the league in blocked shots and average 3.25 more blocks than their opponents per game.
3. The Wizards are 8th in the league in total steals and outsteal their opponents by 2.38 per game, good for 4th best in the league.

I don't mean to suggest that the Wizards are particularly good at defense. That would be dumb: They are giving up the 4th most points per game in the league, and are being outrebounded by 8 per game, the worst in the league. Sure, this has to do with their lack of an actual PF who beats the piss out of his opponents down low to compliment McGee's athleticism, but it also has to do with a lack of belief. To commit yourself to rebounding is to commit yourself to punishment and redemption. You must believe that even though your idiot teammate can't shoot, that you'll give up your body and the team will do better with this extra possession. You must believe that even though your opponent got off a shot, they missed it and now you will give up your body so that the team will score on offense.

The Wizards, as a collective, totally lack this belief.
Individually, players believe they can score. Systemically, they do not. They do not believe that they get easy buckets from their offense, because they don't. The ball stops at inappropriate times and continues at worse. The players run the plays, but they don't know what, exactly, is supposed to come out of them.

On the other hand, they go on runs. They get a generate a couple of steals/blocks back-to-back and Wall generates a couple of one-man fastbreaks. The pace of the game increases. The heartrate in the building and the opponents goes up.
They show off how athletic they are by taking risks and covering for each other. Steals and blocks indicate activity and effort.

Then the Wizards lose hope. Blatche tries to ride someone else's fire. Crawford self-immolates. Someone other than Nick Young tries to create on offense. (I'm looking at YOU, Singleton and Wall.) JaVale doesn't jump for a board. They lose belief in their ability to compete.

This team needs to play faster. This team needs to press. This team needs to gamble. This team, the youngest team in the league, needs to run their opponents out of the gym. They need to run into their opponents on fastbreaks. They need to run right up their defender's chest on the break. They need to never be in a half-court offense. They need to learn the slow break to compliment the fast break. The best way to forget about failure is to move on to the next act as quickly as possible.

This team needs to know their roles. They do not. They are all alternately overreaching and under-efforting. Taking it easy during the parts of the game they need to work harder and putting too much on their own shoulders when they need to share the load. These are things a coach teaches them to do.

When I first started watching the Wizards this season, Flip Saunders looked like he was in his first season. I was shocked to learn that he's been here for years. Then, I read Mike Wise's piece on the Wizards being "dismal by design" which inexplicably exonerates Saunders from any wrong-doing. While the piece does succinctly recap what, exactly, led to this team being 0-8 over the years, it paints a picture of Flip painfully sitting on the sideline while Blatche says crazy shit, JaVale says ignorant shit and players-only meetings are the end of the world. Well, Blatche is lost on this team, JaVale is trying to be friendly while playing rather well, and player-only meetings are just meetings.

Then Mr. Wise plays a quick round of the Blame Game, as if something like an 0-8 start can be directed at an individual. The problem is systemic. The players do not believe in their system, Flip is powerless in Leonsis&Grunfeld's system, Leonsis&Grunfeld system is built within the league system which works over years rather than games.

Flip is therefore one who must change his system. He has already lost the ability to make these players believe that they can compete. As he was quoted in Mr. Lee's article, "You can't give 82 Knute Rockne speeches every night." Yes, I agree. The issue is that speeches, while they can pull deeply-felt truths to the surface, cannot create belief. In competition, success creates belief. With the Wizards, Mr. Saunders has not created success. No, 49-123 is not all his fault, as Mr. Wise adeptly explains on his behalf. It is, however, the record the Wizards see when they look at their coach as well as the record they feel in the ruts of the offensive and defensive strategies they implement.

The Wizards do not have hope, redemption, faith, belief or science to cling to. They simply need change. They need something exciting. They need new traditions. Dig out that old full and 3/4 court press. Opponents are scoring just fine, maybe they'll be caught off-guard. Drop into some trap-zone and trap-man looks in the half court. Losses don't come by much more than 13 pts per night, which leads the league. Convince your opponents to sign the turnover compact and plot a more variable course for the evening. Bring out an irrational box-and-one or a goofy 2-2-1. Increase the total number of possessions in the game for both teams by encouraging quicker shots on both ends with defensive gambles matched with a constant dead sprint on offense. More possessions equals more steals and more blocks. More abrupt changes from half-court defense to full-court offense. More running, more gunning. There is literally nowhere to go but up.

This is the turnaround moment in the movie. The moment when the old ball coach tries something new, or the moment when the old ball coach is fired for a new experimental ball coach. This is when we receive grainy footage transmitted by slightly arcane technology of something fresh, yet totally ancient. An inspiration for a group of rebels, waging an uneven war. Mobilizing the youth to believe in an iconic, photogenic leader. Decked out in an interpretation of the colors of his home nation's flag: Red, white and blue.

No, not President Obama in 2008 as HOPE for the legions who had not felt their vote mattered before him. A reference far more lasting:

"Help me Obi-[J]an, you're my only hope."

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"He's just this guy, you know?"