Post # 550 VOTING FOR THE HOME TEAM

According to the American theory of democracy, voting for President constitutes making a choice between two candidates, each respectively representing alternate philosophies on political, economic or social issues, for desired approval by the larger number of voting citizens. Fundamentally, a true republican democracy may be defined as a government’s policy of rule in accordance with the perceived will as expressed by the greater number of voting citizens. However, the bizarre abnormality of the Trump victory and performance has altered our perceptions and awakened us to an unprecedented, dysfunctional dynamic concerning the elective choices of a great many contemporary voters.  

We, and knowledgeably many others, have puzzled and agonized over the millions of Americans who are expected to vote for Trump, despite his well-known incapacity regarding the stewardship of the Nation, both domestically and internationally, his rejection of accepted moral values, his serial mendacity, his lack of empathy towards the unfortunate, his lack of sufficient comprehension or acumen concerning his office, his lack of respect for academic education, gender and racial prejudice, absence of empathy and assistance toward the disabled and needy, his financial dishonesty, disloyalty to his Nation by transacting business with its historic enemies, his lethal malpractice concerning the pandemic, his denial of science, including global warming and the environment in general, and a plethora of other matters, not to overlook his  tacit and shocking endorsement of White Christian Nationalism.

Moreover, President Trump has never given evidence of any held political, social or economic position, and it is authoritatively reported that he lacks doctrinaire beliefs on any subject. He is known, to act on and decide issues, ignorantly and impulsively, following the most recent advice proffered by any confident appearing faux savant. The latter being empirically demonstrated, the desire to support him, by elimination, must reside in considerations that are exclusively financial, cultural or sociological.

To digress for the purpose of offering an explanatory analogy, we would initially point to the sociology of small- town America. An assertion that all the residents of such a venue would root for the home team in any sporting contest would be to state the painfully obvious. Such unanimity of support would be solely based upon residence, as compared with any other criteria, such as considerations of proficiency or character. Not to do so, or far worse, to root for the opposing team would constitute unpardonable and, no doubt, unforgettable, residential treason.

Additionally, there exists an amorphous conglomerate of voters, not unlike the inhabitants of the small town, who consistently and loyally, vote for candidates thought to be (tribally) preferred by their group or supportive of its jointly held position. Crucial matters like the character and capability of the candidate is not relevant to their interest, which is solely focused on his perceived position on the specific topic of interest.  

Polls taken and authoritative studies conducted, consistently indicate that young white men without college degrees (lower educated whites) tend to support Trump, while white young men with college and advanced degrees are opposed to him. The latter findings may indicate a self-conscious and mutually defensive tribal disrespect for education and academic achievement. It has been noted that it is within the groups of uneducated white young men that are  those sharing the sentiments of the repulsive white Christian Nationalists, winked at by Trump, and guilty of many destructive incidents and even homicide.

Rural areas often populated by many inadequately educated and unsophisticated people evincing anti-Big City sentiment, will predictably favor Trump over any opponent. Common vulnerability to tactical demagoguery can lead to the displacement of blame for felt inadequacies and facilitate an identification with a less literate and unsophisticated candidate, regardless of capability and known low character.

We fully expect that anti-abortion and anti-gun regulation people to vote for Donald Trump since his opposition is publicly known to be in favor of a woman’s right to abortion and is a proponent of the prudent regulation of firearms. For similarly unjust and anti-societal reasons, people who privately harbor bias in their heart, will vote for Trump. These groups or tribes of single-issue voters, are willing to ignore or overlook considerations of poor character and incapacity.

A large conglomerate of people who are unrelated but who, in common, are angry and discontented with their life for various and sundry reasons and who uniformly, find it useful to employ the trite, face-saving predilection, to blame “the establishment” (?) for their failures, and who perceive Trump’s unorthodox, unprincipled acts and errant behavior as anti-establishment and thus relatable to their defensive assertions, will vote for him.

Large industrial polluters, in their own mutual pecuniary interest, will  vote for Trump, regardless of how poor, unconscionable and embarrassing his performance in office, because he, like they, immorally and psychopathically, values profit above the life and health of citizens and thus opposes governmental health protective regulations.

The foregoing is certainly not presented as a complete accounting but, hopefully, is enough to be sufficiently illustrative of some of the personal motivations to vote for a President like Trump. The point especially to be noted, is that not one of the described criteria of the cited voting groups or interests relates to character or capability, but are instead, mono focused on the candidate’s position on issues with which they are concerned. Like the small towner’s eternal vote for the home team, such voter support is not related to any consideration of the performance record, the poor character of the candidate nor his views.

-p

Post # 549 THE DYSTOPIAN STATES OF AMERICA

Initially, we were undecided about the more accurate description of our contemporary Nation,  “Post-Apocalyptic,” referring to a mortally damaged Nation following an Armageddon type disaster, such as portrayed in the novels, “The Road”, By Cormac McCarthy and “The Silence,” by Tim Lebbon, or, a “Dystopian” Nation, as presented in the “Handmaid’s Tale,” by Dorothy Atwood and “1984” by George Orwell. Regarding the first category, the qualifying horrific disaster might be the ill-fated election of Donald J. Trump to the office of the President of the United States. The Alice-In- Wonderland category, “Dystopian,” is attributable acceptably to the warped nature of our altered American society, which emerged after that tragic election result. We came to the determination, that the more descriptive choice was “Dystopian,” for the reason that its existing surreal nature is due to aberrant social change, and not a silent state of still smoking ruins, caused by a nuclear bomb or scientific experimental excess.

Any wide-awake person can observe the rancor, tribal divisiveness and complete lack of civil amity between Americans holding diverse views, the frightening growth of White Christian Nationalism, the evil excesses, the many abuses by Municipal Police including homicide( particularly against unarmed black citizens), the overt practice of bigotry, racial, religious and gender, the widespread citizen possession of lethal weapons, the disrespect  for governmental authority and Law in general, the violence, the pathological disregard for human life and health by large industrial profiteering polluters, the general disrespect for learning, scholarship, arts and good music as opposed to populist,  temporary,  and superficial diversion, the xenophobia and opposition (by our own immigrant Nation) to immigration, the disbelief in well- proven Darwinian evolution, the opposition to woman’s rights of family planning, the frequent child and spousal abuse, the utter disregard for environmental issues, including the existential threat of global warming, the eschewing of family responsibility, the excessive use of  alcohol and drugs, the derogation of the respectable and authoritative press, in favor of the tabloid extremist media, the lack of support for programs of government compassion for the needy (even when against their interests), and other acts, incompatible with a civilized and peaceful society.

The American mainstream of law abiding and responsible citizens, are unjustly affected by this large cohort of miscreant citizens whose actions are detrimental to societal good order and function. The logical question may be posed, where did these malevolent actors come from, and when did they arrive? This question, in fact, is the intended theme of this writing.

Our view, is that individuals inclined to such anti-societal expression, have eternally, but covertly, been here, existing in sub rosa fashion, below the visible strata, pending an opportunity to reveal themselves when perceived to be publicly tolerable and permissive. The universal atmosphere created by the election and re-election of Barack Obama, an avatar of Presidential capability and excellent character, was certainly not conducive to the self-disclosure of these unsavory individuals. The surprising elevation of the miscreant and unconventional Donald J. Trump to the American Presidency, had the energizing and functional effect of a catalyst for the awaited green (orange?) light to, all those repressed anti-societal ideologues and low information flat earthers, to publicly arise from their protective cover in the anti- intellectual and perverse human dumpster, and manifest their malevolence.

Despite the hope, expressed in many of our essays, for the success in the encouragement of self-advancement of these flat-earth, poorly informed people (See, for ex. recent blogpost, “Infodemic”) we candidly, have little practical expectation that a person, living his  lifestyle in the thoughtless, mental couch potato world of atavistic, dark ages America, will respond positively to sincere encouragement and evolve to a more enlightened, informed and meaningful existence; but we are morally obliged to keep trying, especially regarding the young. The rest of America, living in the societal mainstream, who read newspapers and books, and honestly possess a positive self-image as an enlightened citizen, must continue to maintain its positive outlook, nonetheless, and continue to vote in accordance with its informed and considered opinion.

-p.

Post # 548 (poesie) SELF-FULFILLMENT

I never truly got to scratch
That way down deep eternal itch
Nor ever wrote the sort of words
That changed the reader and his world

I never braved a mountain peak
Or dove in water from a cliff
Nor ever garnered world-wide fame
Or got the adulation of the crowd

My happiness, tho’ does consist
In stuff that’s simpler, yet more profound,
The fall planting of yellow tulips
And the priceless gift of loving hugs.

-p.

Leonard N. Shapiro (Oct 2020)

Post # 547 THE INFODEMIC

Relying on past experience and taking into consideration, the ongoing fervent rate of intensive scientific research, it is reasonable to suppose that a relevant vaccine will be developed soon to assuage the threat of the present coronavirus epidemic. An enormous variety of diseases to date, have been prevented by the development and public administration of vaccines including, diphtheria, flu, mumps, polio and pneumonia. By bright contrast, we have scant assurance that the long-standing pathology of ignorance and misinformation, which we have labeled, “the infodemic,” will be abated, anytime soon.

It is inarguable, that a thoughtful man, in deciding, whether or not to act, and if so, the chosen nature of his action, or to refrain from acting altogether, is completely reliant upon his apprehension of relevant information, real or perceived. It might well be said that lack of information, or worse, misinformation, depending upon the circumstances, may be more societally toxic than any selected medical pathology.

The very existence of society, from the homo sapiens Paleolithic era to date, has vitally  depended upon a commonly understood language and man’s consideration and response to acquired or received information, ranging from matters of interactive socialization to those of urgent and existential nature. With the acquisition of accurate information, patients get healed from dire disease, bridges are properly erected, families are shielded from harm, and businesses and careers prosper. With inadequate or misleading information, buildings collapse from poor engineering, people lose their way, dinner is burnt, superstition and bigotry are accommodated, and errors, big and small, are facilitated.

In our view, the most colossally tragic result of misinformation, was the American participation in the Vietnam War (1950’s to the mid 75’s). The war was not only costly in blood (58,000 deaths, 1,601 MIA) and treasure, but effected a deep and enduring schism in our population. Violent, as well as peaceful protests erupted throughout the country, disrespect for the mainstream of  life was expressed through the growth of a young drug  culture, hippies (“make love not war”), famously publicized by the cinema and the historic, 1969 Woodstock Festival, divisions within families, and general disrespect for authority.

General Robert S. McNamara was the architect- in- chief of this travesty and, with many others, oversaw the nationally promulgated and propagandic proposition, that unless we stopped the Communists  in North Vietnam, (“containment”) that an entire “Communist Bloc” would ensue, consisting of China, Korea, the various countries of Indochina (Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia) constituting an existential threat to the United States and the democratic world. The numbers of troops and civilians killed and horribly disabled was uncountable, the domestic affairs of our Nation were traumatized by deep division and street protests, and America’s traditional brand of peace and justice was tarnished forever.

Not very long after the two decades long, painful wait for the unpopular war to end, Robert S. McNamara, himself, the orchestral conductor and popular steward of this unwarranted, bloody war, authored a book, “Lessons Learned From Vietnam,” in which he purported to apologize for his mistake as the chief architect of the wasteful, tragic and costly war, in that (he claims) he did not know that the countries which he warned would join together in a Communist led Armageddon, were in truth, historically,  mutual enemies, so that no practical threat of a “Communist Bloc was ever possible. The Nation had been grossly misinformed causing irreparably major damage to its previous moral standing, tens of thousands of military and civilians were killed and maimed, and the Nation’s Treasury, along with its name, took a serious nose- dive. Misinformation, or lack of it, apparently, can accrue small or Olympian size repercussions.

As an aside, we, at plinyblog do not, for a moment, belief that McNamara’s apology, for this colossal dissemination of misinformation, purportedly realized by him, suddenly, after two decades of major bloodshed to be in the slightest degree credible. But this, for a future essay. We are here discussing the pathology of wide-spread ignorance or the dissemination of wrongful information (“the infodemic”)

The provenance for damaging misinformation du jour is confidently bestowed upon the inept, corrupt and egocentric (former second- rate television gameshow host) President of the United States) Donald J. Trump.  (See: plinyblog # 546 “Schadefreude Vindicated”). From his first days in Office, Trump, solely interested in “winning,” with little or no understanding or capability to perform the complex and multi-faceted job of POTUS, was relegated to a program of defensive  mendacity, and attacks on the critical  media, including the prestigious New York Times and Washington Post, as purported perpetrators of “fake news.” His defensive program of anti-media rants, apparently, appealed to those inadequately educated and poorly informed “flat earth” supporters (his loyal “base”) who were largely responsible for his election victory. To their delight, and to the dismay of the informed citizenry, he embarked on a program to minimize factual truth and with his tactical, but ignorant mendacity, issue statements that have little resemblance to actual reality; while simultaneously attacking accurate media accounts of events,  as “fake news.” We have observed in past writings that any serious programmatic attack upon the dissemination of vital information is anti-societal and dangerous.

The (fool’s) gold medal for disinformation and mendacity, is inarguably awarded to Trump, as delineated in past writings. In essay “#546” cited above, we noted his covering up of the serious and lethal significance of the coronavirus, burlesquing and mocking medically preventative advice and useful information given by the nation’s health experts, and his broadcasted misinformation, caused tens of thousands of unnecessary cases of illness and death. As the “President” his ignorance and tactically false information was relied on, illustrating the hazard and danger of misinformation, intentional or ignorant.

These two examples of the disastrous impact of inadequate information or misinformation are by no means (except for scale) at variance with the information problem that characterizes by far too many Americans. In many of our mini- essays, we have lamented the public’s metastasizing disinterest in activities which promote self- advancement and the acquisition of knowledge. Over recent decades we have, most regrettably, observed a decline in the reading of good literature, interest in the arts and educative pursuits in general, in favor of ephemeral and superficial diversion. Such surrender to the status of mental couch potato, in time, predictably, results in a useless and low information citizen lacking in considered thought or opinion on any matter, except basic creature comfort. It is this limited individual who never develops an independent persona with its own confident perception of objective rectitude and no aspiration to learn about life and the world around him. His felt insecurity when unavoidably confronted with the perception of informed and aware others, results in insecurity and makes him vulnerable to demagoguery and a needed sense of belonging, by surrendering his mind to tribal, or “group think.”

It is our considered view that such low information mindlessness, evangelized by demagoguery and financially supported by unconscionable (anti-health regulation) big money corporate interests to vote for the most incapable, ignorant and egotistical Presidential in American history. We have often quoted the admonition of Thomas Jefferson to the effect that, for a Democracy to succeed, it requires an informed and literate public. This fundamental requirement was negatively confirmed, by the elevation of an ignorant travesty like Donald Trump to the Oval Office. It is instructive that from the first day of his surprising ascendancy to office, Trump initiated his ongoing, defensive attack on science, education and the press, by his mendacity and the regular dissemination of false information.  

A disappointingly large segment of our population seems fixedly resolved to rely on outmoded, and disproven thinking, rather than on developments in empirical science and medicine, on aphorism, on  bug-a-boos and taboos against vaccination, on the denial of the well- proven theory of Darwinian evolution, on the foolhardy denial of climate issues (in the face of confirmation by a consensus of the world’s leading scientists), by its disbelief in astrophysics and in scholarly revelations concerning the origins of the Universe and the Earth, in the denial of equality of the sexes (and races) and the acceptance of homosexuality and same sex marriage, in psychotherapy, in environmental issues, in birth control and rational family planning and in genetic research.    

 There does not seem to be an empirical possibility of a corrective vaccination for this problem. The enlightened and discerning citizen should, alternatively, consult the responsible media on current issues and, if felt warranted, pursue his own independent inquiry, by the use of authoritative sources to ascertain and confirm the desired accurate facts.

-p. 

Post # 546 SCHADENFREUDE VINDICATED

When the suitable occasion warrants, various negative or demeaning urgings may be normal, however, unless situationally obligated, they are customarily relegated to private thought. Subjective feelings and emotional reactions like jealousy, dislike, hatred, distrust, annoyance, are usually withheld from verbal revelation, in the interest of societal restraint and peace. By contrast, socially approved reactions to positive stimuli such as empathy, generosity, approval, admiration, respect and love, are often energetically expressed and overtly demonstrated.

We have written extensively, in past essays such as, “Songs Without Words,” on the admirable and generous feelings of empathy, sensitivity and awareness for others; personal inclinations which empirically demonstrate the positive aspects of the human persona. By contrast, we have consistently castigated feelings of insensitivity, selfishness and bigotry and their overt expression, in words and actions, as revealing the ignorant, neurotic and atavistic side, of far too many individuals.

Nevertheless, life has taught us, that despite our better inclinations and moral self-image, there are rare times (fortunately) when the most execrable and despicable thoughts and words are rationally warranted.  For example, the noun, “hatred” represents, in our view, the most vile and censorious emotion, and as expressed, in word and action, the most detestable. Yet, it is a legitimate word in the American-English lexicon, and has an appropriate (but, hopefully, extremely rare) utility. We do acknowledge the propriety of the extreme emotion of hatred, as well as the relevant words in its expression in response to the of subject of Adolph Hitler and his genocidal program of death camps. In such case, the use of the extreme expression is based upon the consensus of history, which validates as appropriate, the use of the noun, and not, the inclination of the speaker.

The intended point is that there do exist extreme, negative words responsive to instances of anti-social or immoral behavior which, although usually properly withheld and left unexpressed, are fitting, relevant and permissible, under appropriate circumstances.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the German word, “schadenfreude,” the same translates to the unacceptable and unhealthy feeling of pleasure or satisfaction, at another individual’s pain or trouble. There seems to be no English equivalent word for it. This shameful response is diametrically opposed to the virtue and generosity encapsulated in the word and emotion of empathy.

Despite the absence of an equivalent English word for the contemptible word and concept, the reality of the neurotic noun, schadenfreude, is alive well and healthy in our literature, art and sophisticated conversation. We are pleased to candidly report that in our many decades of life, we have never felt that repugnant emotion which we prefer to believe is in direct contravention to our self-image and identity. We have eternally stressed the values of empathy, or, at the least, in concerned sympathy, for others who are troubled or in need.

Having always considered ourselves benevolently moral with a mature interest in the well-being of others as well as ourselves, we have considered the term, schadenfreude, repulsive and neurotic; until now. This repulsive, highly objectionable emotion has, for the first time, crept into our emotional inventory of feelings, admittedly upon the news that President Donald J Trump and his robotic barbie doll first lady, have contracted the coronavirus. It was surprising to us, that in this singular case (as with the word “hatred,” when used in connection with the psychopathic maniac, Adolph Hitler) we feel no misgivings nor guilt, about the confessed personal attribution of the word.

Every American who is at least somewhat familiar with the news, is aware that by reason of Trump’s ignorant narcissism and political ambition, the Nation was not advised about the worldwide pandemic until it reached a virtually uncontrollable stage(despite his prior information about the same) stage,  resulting in tragic sickness and mortality for hundreds of thousands of souls. It is hard to believe, that a  President of the United States, who, responsibly, should be working on programs to deal with the deadly virus, spent months advising initially, that it was a Democratic Party hoax (“fake news”) later, that it was no more serious than a common cold or  flu and then, ridiculing the National Health experts who advised wearing masks, distancing, avoidance of crowds, quarantining if possible, and thorough handwashing. He mocked those preventatives on television, undoubtedly resulting in an even wider spread of the virus and thousands upon thousands of preventable deaths.

It was difficult for us to remain dispassionate, when we learned, that among the initial acts of this ego-centric, ignorant, former second -rate television game show host, was the immediate discharge of a medically specialized group, headed by a physician who was a rear Admiral and comprised of experts charged with the all-important responsibility of monitoring the globe for the possible outbreak of disease. He admittedly did so because it was an Obama inspired program. Consider the timing; it was not too long before the surprise attack of the present epidemic. It was Trump’s insatiable ego, in common with his colossal ignorance, like much of his incapable leadership, that resulted in multitudes of avoidable death and suffering.

It may be unnecessary to recount the publicized plethora of immorality and criminal behavior of this aberrant President who encourages white supremacy, pays hush money to prostitutes with whom he has had assignations, illegally profits from the office of President, committed treasonous acts with Russia, embarrassing our Nation before the World, and too many unpardonable acts that clearly indicate that he does not share our country’s value system.

There is however, one singular act of this psychopathic Chief Executive, which we rate as the very worst of all of Trump’s serious misdeeds and malevolence, separate and apart from his many reprehensible behaviors, bigotry and serial mendacity. This was his well-publicized, public mimicry and tasteless burlesque, in the presence of a reporter’s abnormally jerking and palsied movements due to his tragic cerebral palsy, on prime- time media television. It does not get worse.

In the singular case of Donald Trump, we, completely free of bad conscience, confess to our unprecedented feeling of schadenfreude and wonder if there are others similarly inclined.

-p.