Post # 298 NICE

There would appear to be  many vocabulary words in the American-English lexicon, whose use, traditionally and universally, summon up positive feelings and colorfull  mental imagery; a few illustrtative examples are, “wonderful,” “victory,” “mealtime,” “chocolate,” “justice,” and “family.” Regular followers of plinyblog are well aware that we have a nuanced penchant, viz., to strive for the attainment of proper accreditation and recognition for deserving words, usually relegated to the “back of the bus,” in our language spectrum; i.e., words, that unfairly been given insufficient credit and short shrift. If there is such a phenomenon known as ” seeking verbal justice,” that would, funtionally, define our intended goal.

In pursuit of this nuanced motivation, we have in the past, published posts, recognizing the true intrinsic importance (and the general lack of due credit) for words, such as “like,” (the epoxy holding married couples together, in a long established marriage, after the early passion has  waned), “repetition,” (rather than meaning useless and boring, the dynamic that keeps us alive, physiologically,  maintains our jointure to  society, and vitally constituting the essential modus for experimentation and general learning), as well as several  others which we have deemed justly  deserving of mention.

“Nice” is a tiny, non-assuming adjective, which, like a valuable and well-cut diamond, has a great many precious, sparkling facets. As relevant, it will incorporate the facets of pleasant, empathic, kind, generous, thoughtful, tasty, accommodating, caring, equitable, fair, pleasant- smelling, attractive, and factors making for an acceptable family or societal member;  examples of such uses are, “he looks nice,” “that was a nice thing to do,” “you have a nice touch,” she served me a nice portion,” It is nice to make your acquaintence,” It was nice to see the way Grandpa held the baby,” “nice catch,” and, “She  received a  nice portion of the Estate. ”

To observe the casually spoken words, “that’s nice,” when used as an arrogant and dismissive response, often imperiously accompanied  with a hand gesture (usually, a bored wave), amounts, in our judgment, to verbal sacrilege, as well as the identification of an intolerant (and a not “nice”) person.

-p.

Post# 297 THE GRIFTER-IN- CHIEF AGAIN

If, by any chance, the reader incurs some degree of disbelief, or loses some faith, regarding the extent of the sincerity of our frequently stated resolve, to refrain from comment on the subject of our modern day, adolescent Nero, it would be understandable.  It is our humble estimation that there are a great many more worthwhile subjects of interest, concerning the progress of mankind, and its  hoped-for [continued] evolution, towards a wiser and more compassionate inhabitant of the planet. We would therefore, apologize for the sporatic episodes of abandoment of such sincerely intended resolve, and hope that forgiveness, and restored  credibility, will be mercifully afforded to us, when we explain that our alarm is unresistingly broadcast at each new instance of Trump’s progressive arrogation of the unlimited powers of an Emperor, and his utter disrespect for societal law and propriety.

We will not again undertake the prodigious task of recounting Donald Trump’s lack of fitness, his bigotted statements, his attrack on the virtue of “truth,” and his derogation of responsible media, his overt purchasing of silence from call girls, his ignorant and embarrassing acts and statements, nationally and internationally, and, a great many [historically] embarrassing others,  as so often previously noted. This brief note will, however,  treat specifically of his arrogant and sociopathic distain for our American law.

Starting with his successful refusal, as President -elect, to furnish his tax returns (which, when obtained by the newly- elected democratic House of Representatives, by means of its subpoena  power, is expected to demonstrate many illegal domestic and foreign transactions, and, predictibly, a tsunami of tax violations), his repeated violations of the Constitution  (most especially, the Emolument Clause), his permitted use of the Oval Office as a shopping mall for family profit, and his direct and treasonous liason with Russia, he has consistently and confidently, acted as if he were above the law. Because of his illegal and immoral, indications of possibly treasonous behavior, a Special Commision, under the experienced direction of the capable and experienced prosecutor, Robert Mueller, has been investigating Trump’s activities, and is expected to render its long, detailed report to the Justice Department, soon.

Mr. Trump, appointed Mr. Jeffrey Sessions, to the position of U.S. Attorney General, with his (usually, ignorant) assumption that such appointment would make Sessions his personal attorney. Trump’s devious attempts to quash the public report of his misdeeds [since the investigative report is submitted to the Attorney General] was outweighed by his colossal  ignorance. The Attorney General, as every informed citizen knows, is the head of the Justice Department, the attorney for the American government and people; not the President’s personal lawyer. In any event, Sessions,  by black letter law, was required to recuse himself ( for having personal dealings with the Russian Government, a subject of the Special Investigation). This naturally, and legally, resulted in the succession by the next official in line, of the Justice Department, Rob Rosenstein.

Rob Rosenstein evinced no desire to delimit the investigation and so, Donald, the brilliant chessplayer, attempted to hire Mark Whittaker, as successor Attorney General.  However, Mr. Whittaker had previously made several publicized statements to the effect that tthe investigation was a phony “witch hunt.”  He did so, apparently, without any knowledge, whatsoever, of the facts elicited by the Special Committee from the many involved witnesses [many of which pleaded guilty, or were indicted.] In many overt ways, the tactically appointed, selected successor has shown himself  (especially, to Trump), to be biased in thematter, (in his favor) and was therefore, by Statute and ethical proscript, completely unacceptable.

We would like to highlight the etiology of our exasperation, which, as above, excited our present breach of resolve.  Mr. Trump and his sycophantic White House lawyers, cynically choosing to ignore the many evidences of conflict of interest, regarding the putative successor,  and additionally,  the vital Constitutional requirement of his prior approval by the Senate, have chosen to cite a particular Federal Statute, dealing with the replacement of vacant  federal officials.

We are indeed heartened at their sudden recognition of the existence of Statutory Law and procedure; but in this precious instance, in addition to Mr. Whittaker’s fatal disqualifications, there is no vacancy, at all, to be filled; Rob Rosenstein is and has been, legally established as the next in line, as Assistant U.S. Attorney General. It is thought to have been Trump’s Machiavellian plan, that the newly appointed Whittraker, as AG.. would fire Rob Rosenstein, who, unlike the illegally intended appointment of the successor to Sessions, demonstrated  absolutely no enthusiasm for the downplaying or shelving, of the Mueller findings.

We cannot help expressing our exasperation and anger at Trump and his loyal base, who apparently have little understanding of the American ethic, yet strive to destroy it.

-p.

Post # 296 OUR ILLUSION OF DEMOCRACY

One would be well justified, historically and morally, in celebrating our American mantra, “one man, one vote,” if, in its empirical implementation,  it were accurate.

We have, in past writings, recounted the plethora of  wrongful practices, some institutionalized, amounting to tactical interference with the actual casting of votes.  These included, gerrymandering voting districts, interference with voters by local officials in declaring selected voters, ineligible to vote on de minimus “irregularities” such as the absence, or presence, of a hyphen, purging of voters lists by unscrupulous officials, moving, or eliminating voting places in native American areas of residence,  misinformation, and many other like, miscreant, undemocratic behavior; practiced  to affect voter results.

“One man, one vote”, obviously incorporates the implicit understanding that each vote cast will have appropriate, and equal, significance. This issue is the specific subject of concern of this writing.

In accordance with Article 12, of the U.S, constitution, our Presidential (and Vice Presidential)  elections, have never  been, legally and historically, the result  of the popular will of our citizenry; but are elected by a “College of Electors”, somewhat responsive to the popular (one man, one vote) franchise. It is the disparate number of State selected Electors that actually elect the President. In the most recent election, which gifted to America, an unfit, egotistic and ignorant chief executive, it was the Electoral College that elected him; the popular ( and larger)  vote was for his opponent. This selection of the Chief Executive, by the Board of Electors, contrary to the tally of American voters, was not unique, it has happened several times in the past.

This legal denial of “one man, one vote” has had several purported “justifications,” none of them admirable or useful; in fact we would characterize them at best, as outmoded and unrealistic, and at worst, aristocratically snobbish and stupid, as well as bigoted. The authors of Art. 12, had little confidence as to the knowledge of the issues, by a large, widely dispersed population. Even if we choose to forgive the arrogance of such assumption  (on the grounds that our Founders actually accomplished the creation of our unique republican democracy), the widespread knowledge of issues and events have  for a long time, been well communicated  throughout the nation. We have had  national parties, capable of the dessimination of such information, and above all a universally accessible media.

There was an arguement that the Electoral College system protects the smaller States. This, we feel is absurd, If anything, the small (largely agricultural) States, in our view, have always had many unfair advantages over the large (urban) areas. Every State has two Senators irrespective of population. Obviously, and most unfairly, the number of votes, required to elect two Senators, in Idaho, Montana and Nevada, are incomparably less than that necessary to elect two Senators in California, New York and Illinois. It is the largely populated States that bear the obvious and prejudicial disability. It is certainly indisputable, that at present, the Senate is controlled, by these smaller States and its dominance over the House of Representatives, lately, is evident.

There was an outmoided theory that the selection of the accurate formula would offset the disadvantage of the slave-owning States, since slaves were included in the population of such States, but couldn’t vote. This unsavory arguement, mercifully, is not today relevant.

It is not easy to Amend the Constitution, however, if such logistically complicated politics can result in a closer step to the attainment of a truly democratic vote, [ by eliminating the undemocratic  Electoral College], it certainly seems worth it.

-p.l

Post # 295 BEWARE THE MIMESIS!

Of all the  catalogued monsters, real, literary  or (merely) imagined, there is none so fearsome, nor lethally effective, as the dreaded “mimesis.” Any and all conceivable attempts at illustration, say, with T- Rex,  Godzilla, Sasquatch or the Jabberwocky would pale by comparison. This monster grows daily, and exponentially, and poses an ever- increasing, existential threat to mankind, and society. By reason of its yet unexperienced results there seems to be little effort to eradicate, or even control, the contemptible beast.

“Mimesis,”  a word of ancient Greek origin, denotes an attempt to replicate, or reproduce reality. Theatrical productions may be a useful example, in which real life, as expected, is imitated on the stage. Contrasted with the benign phenomenon of  theatrical imitation of reality, we have been troubled about a harmfull, pervasive, willingness, in the real world, to favor the appearance or, “mimesis,” of reality (“virtual reality”) as compared to it’s true authenticity.

We have, in past posts, expressed our  serious concern regarding the widespread, elective use of electronic devices (for example,” smartphones”) as a preferred alternate to real conversation.  We have especially criticised the impersonality of  interaction brought about by such practice.  The exchange of data-like symbols on a small lighted screen, instead of the benefits of  spontaneous response, voice nuance and  recognition, and the ability to express emphasis or emotion, makes for a very costly mimesis.  We worry about the loss of normal and useful societal interraction, especially,  in regard to the younger generations to whom this mimises is quite unremarkable and normal.

The greedy monster has hungrily devoured a significant portion of the individual’s way of life, selfishly taking, as its exhorbitant price, one’s personal assurance as to his own ability to exercise reason, and the pleasure and confidence that accompaniess the final  attainment of the solution. The smart phone’s factuual  response to requests for information, albeit correct, adds confidence and  prestige to no one. “It is faster and saves time”, you would declare; but time for what, more reliance upon other robotics; probably not valuable time to be spent in the exercise of reason and the pursuit of self-advancement, which does, in fact, take time.

Prior to the attack of our dreaded monster, one diligently pursued solutions to problems by frequenting the library, consulting experts, the encyclopedia and relevant texts, by empirical trial and error, and the proper exercise of personal contemplation and analysis. Such problem solving was evidence of the intended use of evolution’s most generous gift to homo sapiens of an advanced brain; it created confidence and was a pathway to the further development of man’s problem solving capability. Personal trial and error, instruction,  where available, and the use of reason was historically, man’s route to advancement. The failure to use and rely upon human reason, in favor of “more covenient” memises, could conceivably, lead to its  atrophy [see: earlier post, “THE BRAIN AND THE APPENDIX”]. The “easy way,” may actually lead, in time, to disasterous human disfunction, a casualty of the lethal monster, “Mimesis.”

Evolution’s development [by primates] of an  “opposable thumb” was, without question, a significant anatomical  advance; but Nature did not have the capability foresee its use for such retrograde purposes.

-p,

Post # 294 (poesie) Seasonal Vistas (“Hope”)

An apprehensive woodland waits,
The onslaught of Winter’s war machine
The iron-hard soil,the numbing cold
Gales,chanting pitched manic arias
Snap-crack sounds of arbor amputation-
Dull,snowy thuds of severed limbs.
The cold, perennial taker of life
Points its icy fingers downward-
To the hapless, shivering critters,
Left behind by the Autumn Exodus.

Evergreens, tho’ seem tranquil no doubt,
In meditation on the coming Spring
The blue skies, the billowed clouds
Empathic breezes healing winter’s wounds
Small green buds that manifest eternally,
Making solemn vows of new life and increase

With wisdom taught by evergreens,
We too await the coming Spring,
Woodland’s lover and restorer
-p.
Winter, 2018, Leonard N. Shapiro

Post # 293 JIM CROW AND DEMOCRACY

Research tells us that, in 1830, a white actor named, Thomas Dartmouth Rice, was propelled to stardom by his minstrel performances as the fictional “Jim Crow,”a comic caricature of a clumsy, dim-witted black slave.  As a result of Rice’s fame, “Jim Crow” became a popular Southern expression for the Negro, and the Southern segregationist laws became known as “Jim Crow Laws.”  Jim Crow laws were State and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern States, passed by White legislatures, after the Reconstructionist Period. Historically, those Black and White citizens that sought to defy such laws were met with violence and death.

Despite the enactment of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, (1868) guaranteeing equality to all Americans, and the landmark case of  Brown v. Board of Education (1954) outlawing the practice of segregation in the schools (“Separate is not Equal”), Jim Crow practices continued (and still continue) apace, despite subsequent legislation on the subject. Jim Crow, is still alive and in active commerce, particularly in the area of voter suppression. Since it appears that we are at the eve of  mid-term  voting, we choose to reflect specifically, on some of the manifestations of the unsightly Jim Crow  stain on our Democratic franchise.

Gerrymandering (tactically moving the voter district lines, to affect the outcome), purging voter lists to eliminate voters, likely to vote for the “opposition,” and voter suppression, aimed at preventing certain groups from voting, are pernicious and undemocratic strategies, designed to influence the outcome of an election. Such shameful cynicism is only exceeded by the responsible officials’, or legislators’, self-justified and arrogant delusion, that they know best, in accordance with their skewed perception of our nation and its purpose; or worse, for some other insidious, personal motivation.

No less than 24 State Legislatures, as advised (mostly Republican), have introduced measures that place tight restrictions on voting, many of which, reportedly, are designed to disproportionately affect people of color, and Hispanic people, who are perceived as Democratic Party voters. Local officials, in these venues, will deny voting eligibility to such groups  based upon de minimus reasons such as the absence of a hyphen in the voter’s identification (a meaningless detail, omitted by some unknown clerk ) or some other meritless and cynically alleged defect.

The Secretary of State in Georgia (white) who has by some miraculous avoidance of ethical principle, is simultaneously a candidate (Republican)  for Governor, has, somehow been permitted to tactically and immorally, purge selected voters from the voter list, who he perceives will vote for his opponent, a black and a Democrat. Native Americans, who have an ethnically nuanced system of designating residence, are being denied their right to vote. In other cases, in sparsely populated areas, where certain Native Americans reside, a single voting station has been moved or eliminated entirely. The States of Kentucky and Georgia have, among certain other jurisdictions, have legally permitted the purging of voters’ names from the register, for identically tactical reasons.

What can be the possible self-justification, or comforting rationalization, if any, of those cynical officials and legislators, who will loudly and enthusiastically endorse America’s laudable, “one man, one vote” mantra, and privately choose to exercise their authority, otherwise?

-p.

 

Post # 292 PRIMAL TRANSGRESSION

Despite our contrary resolve, we find ourselves in several instances, having posted on the subject of politics, in general, and Donald J. Trump, in particular. The previous two posts, “THE UNMISTAKEABLE SMELL OF ROTTING FISH” and “CODE BLUE,” evidenced a clear and obvious abandonment of such prior resolution. By way of explanation, we had weighed such aesthetic preference, against the felt threat of being guilty of the “sin of silence,” and our conscience seemed to dictate the overriding consideration. This is no mere political critique; indeed, we have become very concerned about the continued existence of our unique democratic republic.

We have, in previous writings, variously recounted Trump’s incompetence, his ego-driven, adolescent execution of the office of Chief Executive, his unseemly bigoted pronouncements, his mendacity and unequivocally unethical behavior, his violation of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, his accommodation of the rich and powerful to the exclusion of lower and middle class America (contrary to his campaign, “snake-oil” representations), his ignorance, which has embarrassed our nation, both domestically and internationally, his support of autocratic and historical  enemies of the free world, simultaneously with making enemies of our traditional allies and friends, his tacit, and visible, support of violence, combined with his irresponsible failure to maturely address the nation, concerning instances of horrific bigoted violence, and so many more miscreant acts and failures of responsibility, chief among which, may well be, the polarization and weakening of our previously compatible and strong nation.

While we sadly affirm the above enumerated transgressions, the intention of this note is to highlight a species of Trump’s wrongful behavior, to our mind, so vast and profound, as to, veritably, constitute offenses against mankind itself. This species of miscreant behavior consists of his unprecedented attacks upon the conception and utilitarian existence, of truth itself. The enumeration of Trump’s serious failures and transgressions, in the previous paragraph, may be deplorable, even frightening, but his actions demeaning truth Itself, has existential, truly anthropological impact. Man could not have survived, nor advanced from lone homo sapiens to societal life, based on falsehood. This would have been impossible with regard to the subjects of safety and joint defense, the sharing of skills and general mutual interdependence. The truth, is certainly, no less important to mankind today.

The report we consulted, tallied 5000 false and misleading statements in Trump’s first 600 days of taking office. He has visibly increased his output of intentionally mendacious statements since such period of time; at this writing, we are advised that fact checkers have discerned 1100 Trump falsehoods in this past month of October, alone.  Trump has consistently altered truthful facts, when they are unfavorable to him and has consistently derogated the established press. He has publicly, and arrogantly, recommended, that citizens look to him for the true facts; all contradictory reports, he shamelessly charges, are, in his now famous trademark expression, “fake news.”  Please note that, in previous posts, we have observed that the “big lie,” was an insidiously successful tactic in the Nazi rise to power in Germany, in the 1930’s.

Speaking the truth may not always be easy, but truthful interaction always was, and will remain, essential, for successful and reliable human [interactive] existence and development. In demeaning the value of truth, Trump has placed himself well beyond the pale of any conceivable redemption.

-p.