Hot Air: Huxley’s World

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture.

— Neil Postman

 

Integration

I wonder if Bloomington will soon have its first African-American City Council member since seemingly forever when the local Democratic Party meets next month to select a replacement for the outgoing Tim Mayer.

One of the talked-about possibilities is a fellow named Jim Sims. He’s an area manager for Indiana University’s Residential and Environmental Service operation. He’s also the newly-installed president of the Monroe County NAACP. His wife Doris Sims is a big shot at City Hall, serving as director of Bloomington’s Housing and Neighborhood Development dept.

It’d be a nice gesture on the part of party sachems who are charged with replaced the retiring Mayer. Acc’d’g to state law, when an elected municipal official quits or dies — or gets thrown in jail, I suppose, as well — in the middle of her or his term, that person’s party meets in caucus to select a replacement. That’s going to happen next month, the day of the total solar eclipse, so a lot of folks who must participate in the caucus will miss the once-in-a-lifetime event.

[Sims Image: Rodney Margison/Bloom Magazine]

Hint to county party boss Mark Fraley — switch the date. That’d be a nice gesture, too.

[Odd Piece of Trivia: Bloomington’s guy isn’t the first James Sims to be president of a city’s NAACP. Another James Sims, of Spokane, Washington, headed that town’s civil rights outfit beginning in 1956. Spokane’s Sims got heavily involved in the civil rights fight after he applied for a state job and scored well on the civil service test but was passed over largely because his skin was the wrong color. Even though it often seems our holy land’s progress on race relations moves glacially — and it usually does — it’s good to keep in mind it ain’t 1956 anymore.]

Greatest Hits

I pulled a fast one — or so I thought when I came up with the idea — on yesterday’s Big Talk. I’d figured I would save myself some time and effort during these dog days by putting together a best-of show. And, considering this week’s episode would be the last under outgoing WFHB news director Joe Crawford, I could dedicate it to him.

Perfect, right?

Only it took me twice as long — at the very least! — to produce this week’s show as opposed to my normal one-guest offering. I was thinking I’d simply scan some old audio files, pick out the best clips, and mash them up into one full program. Easy.

Not so. I worked my poor fingers to the bone searching, placing, editing, smoothing, and sound engineering a half dozen clips from some of my fave guests. Don’t get me wrong, I loved doing the task. But in terms of my sked, I shot myself in the foot.

Ah, well, such is the life of a local radio superstar.

So, hey, here are a couple of links to yesterday’s Big Talk. Clip voices include:

  • Nate Powell
  • Charlotte Zietlow
  • Jeff Isaac
  • Nancy Hiller
  • Doug Wissing
  • Sue Rall

Enjoy. And tune in next week, ‘kay?

Alone

All my adult life I’ve tried to run away from the crowd. I’ve hewed to this impulse, some might say, to a fault. Why do I do it? Because crowds scare me. They’re too big and powerful. They can swallow a single human — me — up.

Terrifying

If the majority thinks something, I’m almost automatically suspicious of it. I’d rather be wrong for it than for following the pack and watching it steamroll over some truth.

Anyway, Shankar Vedantem, the Hidden Brain guy from NPR’s Morning Edition, gave me a sort of imprimatur the other day.

Here’s a pile of quotes from his report:

Very simply, being around other people seems to increase our propensity to believe in fake news.

Groups trigger a certain attitude in us when it comes to evaluating information.

[Columbia University marketing professor Gita Johar] conducted a series of experiments…. People were presented with ambiguous statements. Volunteers could say they either believed it, disbelieved it or they could keep an open but skeptical mind and demand evidence, in other words, ask for fact checking. Here’s the catch. Some of the volunteers heard these claims while they were by themselves.

Others felt they were in a group setting or in a social media environment where other people were present and also hearing the same claims. In group settings, people quickly accepted or rejected claims that were in line with their prior beliefs. But compared to when they were by themselves, they were significantly less interested in being skeptical but open-minded.

Volunteers did 30 to 50 percent less fact checking when they heard information presented to them in a social media context compared to when they were alone.

I’m feelin’ smug right about now.

Hot Air: Picture Imperfect

We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so “realistic” that they can live in them. We are the most illusioned people on Earth.

— Daniel Boorstin

Boorstin, an historian and contemporary culture observer, wrote these words in his 1961 book, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. They’re are true now as they were back then, almost 60 years ago. The only thing I’d change today would be his use of the present imperfect, “we risk being.” In this year of somebody’s lord 2017, the proper wordage is “we are.”

Still, in ’61 Boorstin observed that we’d already fallen into a fantasy world. He shared this possibly apocryphal anecdote:

ADMIRING FRIEND: “My, that’s a beautiful baby you have there.”

MOTHER: “Oh, that’s nothing — you should see his photograph!”

And we wonder why we can’t convince President Gag’s fans that he’s a fraud, a trickster, a con-artist, a used-car salesman, the spiritual brother of Professor Harold Hill, Elmer Gantry, and Charles Ponzi.

We can’t because he is their fraud, trickster, con-artist, used-car salesman, and spiritual brother of Professor Harold Hill, Elmer Gantry, and Charles Ponzi. And how dare we try to rob them of their precious photograph?

For the umpteenth time, let’s hope with fingers and toes crossed they only comprise 35 percent of the voting public in this holy land.

A Big Goodbye To A Cool Guy

Tune in tonight for a celebration of the first year anniversary of Big Talk. I mash up clips from some of my favorite interviews (see the slideshow).

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The whole shebang is dedicated to a very cool and professional guy, Joe Crawford, who’s leaving his position as WFHB’s news director. His last day at the station is tomorrow. When I call him cool, I mean it on a couple of levels. He’s a guitarist for a band called Ray Creature (it’s been called “pretty cool” by his sister). Even more importantly, nothing rattles Joe. He’s one of the most unflappable human beings I’ve ever met. During live broadcasts, when a piece of equipment goes haywire or a soundbite is misplaced and the rest of us are going into fibrillation, he’s as calm as a Tibetan monk contemplating a leaf on a tree. Then he presses a button or moves a slider and everything’s fine again. Don’t ask me how he does it.

He’s Even Cool In An IHOP

Anyway, Joe gave me the go-ahead to produce Big Talk some three years ago. After a few fits and starts we went weekly in July, 2016. I thank him from the bottom of my defib-ed heart for the opportunity and I dedicate today’s episode to him. Tune in at 5:00pm on WFHB, 91.3FM. Or, catch my links to the podcasts here, tomorrow.

Metastasis

Hearing the news that Senator John McCain has a particularly pernicious form of brain cancer immediately made me think someone, somewhere, on one form of social media or another, is going to either rejoice in the news that he’s dying or use this malady to explain how he could have held his shockingly stupid positions.

[Image: CNN]

The democratization of mass media means even the troglodytes among us get to air their belchings to a wide audience.

Not that meanness or stupidity is anything new, of course. The revelation of McCain’s glioblastoma reminds me of a similar story back when I was a holy terror in the mid-sixties. At the time, my beloved hometown Chicago was undergoing the upheaval of integration. Civil rights activists were calling for some way — any way — to bring the education of the black kids from the slums up to par with that of middle-class white kids. If busing was the way to do it, then so be it. White Chicago had apoplexy.

The city’s Roman Catholic archbishop, Albert Cardinal Meyer, known as an intellectual among America’s archbishops, long had condemned racism and even gave a speech or two on the same dais as Martin Luther King. None of this endeared him to his white ethnic flock.

(L to R) Meyer, King, And Oklahoma City Bishop Victor Reed In 1963

Then one day in 1965 it was announced Cardinal Meyer had brain cancer. He would soon die during surgery to remove the tumor. A sad end for a decent guy — only an alarming number of white ethnic Chicagoans neither considered him decent nor his end sad.

Over the next couple of years as the fight over busing and desegregation grew uglier, lots of whites huffed at other whites who seemed sympathetic to those causes, “Cardinal Meyer had brain cancer; what’s your excuse?”

Of course, back in those days people who’d dare to say something like that were considered, among polite society, assholes. Today they may be lining up to be considered for positions in Li’l Duce‘s Cabinet.

 

Hot Air: Credibility

Here are some pretty good rules of thumb regarding what you should trust — and what you shouldn’t — when reading news stories with unnamed sources.

This piece ran in FiveThirtyEight. The author makes the New York Times look like the paragon of all that is good and great in journalism so it’s important to keep in mind that FiveThirtyEight itself was for a few years owned and operated by the NYT. It was sold to ESPN in 2013 and remains under the control of that company. That caveat out of the way, NYT is generally more dependable than most other news sources today. That is, when one takes into account the Gray Lady has a vested interest in maintaining whatever status quo is extant at the moment and it buys hook line and sinker into what is often — and lazily — referred to as neoliberal economics.

Nevertheless, this piece is particularly timely today. Whenever a major scandal is breaking in Washington, the months and even years of revelations come from unnamed sources. People like to keep their jobs even if they’re aghast at some cardinal or venial sin being committed by their bosses. The Watergate affair, for example, played out over a period of 26 months, from June, 1972 through August, 1974. Pretty much every single revelation originally was attributed to an unnamed source and then, eventually, verified either by primary documents or by officials speaking for attribution.

BTW: The biggest scandal that rocked the Obama administration was, natch, his reputed birth in Kenya or whatever other godforsaken hellhole where he was trained to take over our holy land and place the good among us in chains. Now, that scandal has lasted years and years. It began way back in 2004 when BHO ran for the US Senate from Illinois and has lasted through this very day. Yep, social media commenters still are calling for the ex-president to be jailed for forging his birth certificate and otherwise fooling the sheeple of America in order to lead them over the cliff.

Funny thing is, there have never been unnamed sources for this scandal. The whole shebang has been dependent upon the certainty among many that a brown-skinned guy with a foreign-sounding name must of course have been born in some other country — or even on some other planet — and possessed special powers to finagle his way into the White — emphasis on white — House.

Plus, He’s One Of The Lizard People

There are no rules of thumb governing that kind of news sourcing.

Hot Air: Words & War

[Another in a sporadic series of rants about language.]

I first heard (or, more accurately, read) the word some 25 or so years ago.

Wellness.

I hated the sound of it. Like all good readers, I sound a new word both in my head and aloud.

Wellness.

It’s clumsy. Contrived.

The more I saw of it, the more I realized it was a marketing tool. “Natural” food companies and alternative medicine hawkers seemed to fall in love with the word overnight. Buy their spelt bread or homeopathic remedies, these sellers said, and you’ll come ever so fabulously and wonderfully closer to the nirvana that is wellness.

Then the traditional medical establishment and the health insurance rackets caught up to the word. Doctor’s offices became wellness centers. HMOs urged their members to strive every second of the live-long day for wellness.

Oy.

We have, I said to the empty room, a perfectly good word already for it. We say health.

Health, though, was old hat. Health is what’d been pushed by those corrupt doctors who put guns to patients’ heads to get them to demand more pills that’d get them to sleep at night or relieve them of unpleasant thoughts of sadness or loss. By gosh, these new marketers swore, you don’t need Ambien™ to get you to sleep! Get off that Prozac™, you fools!

Ugh, pills! We’re all — doctors and patients — under the thumb of those sinister, mighty pharmaceutical companies. Instead, take our pills! Wanna sleep, pop a Nux Moschata. Depressed? Try curkuma longa.

Health is not just old school — it’s bad for you.

Wellness. Ah. Green leaves and flowing brooks. Fresh air. Nutmeg. And turmeric.

Yep. That’s what Nux Moschata and curkuma longa are, respectively. Nutmeg and turmeric. I wonder if spice cake bakers and mustard preparers discovered the miraculous benefits of those two key ingredients in their products.

I mentioned this bugbear to a friend. She said, Hey, whatsa matter with you? Don’t you want a lively, evolving language?

Sure I do. I just don’t want snake oil salesmen and health insurers’ advertising agencies driving that evolution.

Two

Ever hear of a fellow named Two Stickney?

What’s that? You haven’t? Why, this is an outrage! He was, in fact, an heroic combatant in one of our growing nation’s lengthiest wars. From 1820 through 1836, the state of Ohio and the territory of Michigan fought a bloody border battle, one of the participants of which was the future Confederate General Robert E. Lee, at the time a lieutenant in the US Army.

Background: Benjamin Franklin Stickney, for a time a Hoosier who lived near Ft. Wayne, has been described as an historian, linguist, author, mineralogist, land speculator, spy, postmaster, justice of the peace, Indian agent and newspaper publisher. He was the son of a niece of Benjamin Franklin himself. He went on to become one of the founders of the city of Toledo (Ohio).

Stickney was an oddball, too. Witness the names he bestowed upon his two sons: One and Two. He wanted to name his three daughters after states but his wife refused until the third girl was born. She was dubbed Indiana. He was one of the most powerful white settlers in northern Ohio. He proposed to flood a seven-mile-wide stretch of plain between the Wabash and Maumee rivers as part of a plan to create a waterway from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

That waterway would make his land near Toledo extremely valuable. But Ohio had hefty property taxes. So Stickney persuaded the residents of the area to secede from Ohio and become part of the Michigan Territory, where he wouldn’t have to pay taxes. He finagled getting himself named justice of the peace of the secessionist area and then when the people of Michigan exhibited no interest in having Toledo become a port on the proposed waterway, he threw his loyalties back to Ohio. He convinced the residents of the newly-attached part of Michigan to vote to reattach themselves to their original state. In any case, the issue of where the border between the two states should be became hot enough that militias were called up. For thirteen years, armed men faced off against each other — and shots were fired — in what would become known as the Toledo War. By the mid-1830s, militiamen from Michigan were rounding up leaders of the Toledo re-secessionist movement and throwing them in prison, Stickney included.

Hostilities only ceased when the US Congress in 1836 ruled Toledo to be part of Ohio and, to keep Michigan happy, gave it what’s now known as the Upper Peninsula when it applied for statehood.

BTW: Recall me mentioning the Toledo War being a bloody conflict? It was. In 1835, a Monroe County (Michigan) sheriff’s deputy grabbed Two Stickney by the shoulder in an attempt to arrest him. Two shouted “Damn you, sir!” and stabbed the deputy in the thigh with his pocket knife. Two escaped by horse to the safety of Ohio proper.

No one else was hurt in the war and no one was killed.

[Thanks to Steve Volan for the tip.]

Hot Air: Big Dreams; Big Money

I don’t know if he can win in this congressional district but, given what he’s done in his life already, I’d hate to bet against him.

Dan Canon was raised by a single mother and then dropped out of high school because he was bored. He played in a rock ‘n roll band for the next ten years and then decided to put his life in order. He put himself through college and then law school. And — wouldn’t you know it? — he finished first in his law school class at the University of Louisville

Next thing anybody knew, he was arguing a landmark case before the nine justices of the Supreme Court of the United Sates of America. Yep, Canon was one of the lead attorneys in Obergefell vs. Hodges, the 2015 decison that made same-sex marriage legal in this holy land. And now he’s running for Congress in Indiana’s 9th District.

Canon

Canon hopes to unseat Republican Trey Hollingsworth, who made a splash in 2016 by moving here so he could run for the House from this district and — wouldn’t you know it again? — won on the coattails of Li’l Duce. Hollingsworth knocked off one of my fave pols extant, Shelli Yoder, who is not running again in the 2018 race but, rumor has it, is mulling a dash for statewide office. Both Canon and his campaign manager, Dustin Collins, like this correspondent, dig Yoder the most.

In any case, Canon must face several Dems also hoping to bust Hollingsworth out of office in the May, 2018 primary.

Can anybody beat Hollingsworth with his war chest bursting at the seams, thanks to his daddy-o’s millions? Who knows? Somebody’s got to try, though. The first Q. I posed to Canon during my interview with him on Thursday’s Big Talk was, How can you win in this reddest of red states?

For his part, Canon took me — and anybody else who suggests Indiana is a die-hard red state — to task. He spoke of this Congressional district’s Democratic past. I didn’t have the heart to counter that the key word in that response is past.

Canon’s smart and earnest and determined. Plus, he’s energized some of the more progressive elements around these parts, as evidenced by the turnout for his meet-and-greet Thursday evening at the Uptown Cafe.

Anyway, here are a couple of links to my Big Talk feature with him and here’s one to the entire interview.

Payday

Indiana University isn’t the only bad guy in this case. Pretty much every single big-time institution of higher education is committing this same mortal sin. That is, the amount of dough each spends fielding sports teams.

The Herald Times this morning lists The Top Ten Base Salaries at IU for this year. The big boss, president Michael McRobbie leads the way at $627,300 per annum. He’s followed by the athletic director, Fred Glass at $561,300, then brand new head basketball coach, Archie Miller — who hasn’t won a single game for the faithful yet — at $550,000. In fact, an academic doesn’t turn up on the list until No. 8, Kelley School of Business dean Idie Kesner at $400,289 a year.

But, immeditaely following Kesler is a fellow named Darren Hiller, just hired this past February. Hiller, the HT notes, makes a sweet $400,000 a year.

Now, let me repeat: He’s the assistant football coach. In charge of the offensive line and, acc’d’g to the IU Athletic Dep.t website, he’s also the “run game coordinator.”

Here, let me try this a third time: Darren Hiller is the assistant football coach. Assistant. Not even the top guy. A helper. A second in command, if that — I was under the impression such specialists as the offensive and defensive coordinators were co-seconds-in-command in the hallowed flow chart of football team leadership, the pantheon, as it were.

I’ll say this: Were I a top notch physicist, say, or mathematical genius, or a recognized authority on the works of the Beat writers, I’d be mightily pissed. Why some dude whose expertise in life is the proper formation that eleven guys must assume in order to facilitate a running back gaining, say, 3.7 yards per carry (the Hoosiers’ overall 2016 average; a figure, it must be assumed, Hiller is charged with improving) is scheduled to make something approaching half a mill a year while…, well, I’m not would be a question haunting me as I lay my head on my pillow each night of the 2017-18 school year.

Hiller

An assistant. Did I mention that?

Hot Air: Local Hope

Worry all you’d like about the future, in terms of politics and the people you’d hope would represent you (and often — way too often — don’t), but we’ve got a pretty good pair of public servants just starting their respective careers right here in Bloomington. First-term Monroe County Commissioner Amanda Clerkin Barge, repping Dist. 3, is the goods, pure and simple. Also among the all-too-scarce Dem victors on last Nov.’s Black Tuesday was Monroe County Community Schools Corp. board member Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer.

They’re a mighty nice core pair of pols around whom tomorrow’s leaders can gather. Here’s hoping that 20, 25 years from now, we’ll be talking about both of them the way we now talk about the likes of Charlotte Zietlow or Frank McCloskey.

The Heart Of The Matter

We can scream all we want about that Li’l Duce/Russkie plot that went down last summer. And, believe me, I’m screaming too. The truth is, though, this scandal ain’t got no traction, ‘cept among those of us who are thrilled to pieces over the everyday revelations thereof.

A further truth: the overwhelming majority of voters in this holy land couldn’t care less about whether or not Russian spooks fed the Trump campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton or manipulated news gatherers and social media to air libels and horror stories about her. People want jobs, health care, a comfortable retirement, and assurances that terrorists won’t blow up a ballpark or a power plant. The Russian story has nothing at all to do with those issues.

Sunday, The Loved One and I went for a spin around these parts and passed through Morgantown, a dot on the map in Morgan County. All of 988 souls live there, per the 2014 census.

Smack in the middle of town on SR 252/135 stands a biker bar on the north side of the street. Frenchy’s Pub.  Right across the street from Kathy’s Cafe, one of those breakfast/lunch/dinner diners that we all promise ourselves we’ll eat at one day but never seem to get around to actually doing so. A good 20 irons were parked out in front of Frenchy’s, with three bikers just pulling up. Here’s one visitor’s rave about it on the joint’s Facebook page:

I absolutely love this place.. great environment… laid back and very friendly people!!! I tell my husband all the time it’s the exact type of bar I’d love to work in!! Great food as well!!!

And here’s an invitation from Frenchy him- (or her-?) self:

Saint pattys day party friday night karaoke door prizes drink specials good food good freinds good time come see us ……love frenchy (sic)

Frenchy’s Pub, Morgantown

Sounds pleasant, no? I could imagine it being one of those small town, salt-of-the-earth places where you drop in, pay $2.75 for a domestic beer, and get reassured about the goodness and stability of the heartland. Y’know, live and let live. Work hard. Care for your family and neighbors. Enjoy a holiday. Sing a song. And, just for spice, tool around the countryside on your Road King or your vintage Flathead.

Three big flags hung above the entrance. One was, natch, the American flag. The middle one — the position, acc’d’g to the rules of flag etiquette, meant for the most important — was a blue Trump flag. Next to that was the red “Make America Great Again” flag.

(The Trump flags were not unfurled on the date the above image was taken.)

So here we are, six months into the the most embarrassing, hurtful, baffling, terrifying presidency of my lifetime and a prominent business deep in the heart of this holy land, in contradiction to all those admonitions that businesses should remain politically neutral, is screaming loud and hard how loyal it and, presumably, its clientele are to President Gag.

The ongoing revelations in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and the continuing nightmarish disclosures in less revered media outlets, mean nothing to these people. A parade of FBI agents and investigative journalists could march into the place and lay out a damning bill of particulars against our sitting president, and these folks’d still pledge loyalty and fealty to our demagogic strongman.

So, yeah, the Russian interference in our national election last year means nothing to a large swath of the American citizenry. The question is, How big is that swath? A 538 polling algorithm, updated daily, shows 39.3 percent of your fellow countrymen this morning approve of the job the Greed-Monkey-in-Chief is doing.

That makes sense. My take on the November election was 35 percent of those who voted for Trump actually voted for Trump. The remainder of the votes that brought him to 46.1% of the turnout total included all those who bore that irrational, visceral hatred of Hillary Clinton and would have voted for a convicted child molester rather than her if given the choice.

Hillary Clinton’s never going to run a president again, despite the terrors and night-sweats of my Hillary-hating friends on the Left. She’ll be 73 y.o. in January, 2021, when the next prez is sworn in. Plus, Jesus H. Christ, she’s got to grasp by this time the amount of toxic hatred she engenders on both sides of the political spectrum. Unless she’s a pathological masochist, she isn’t going to submit herself to a third strike.

So, while Trump likely — very likely; in fact, I guarantee it — isn’t going to be impeached, I get the feeling this term will be his only one. You can’t win with only 35 percent of the country behind you.

Fingers crossed.

Then again, should a ballpark or a power plant be blown up, all bets are off.

Hot Air: Digging In

I hope you’re not holding your breath in anticipation of President Gag’s followers shrugging and saying, “Gee, you were right about the bastard,” in light of this latest revelation in the Russkie election interference story.

Acc’d’g to a report in today’s New York Times, D. Trump, Jr, unfortunate spawn of the sitting American Head of State, got an email before a meeting with a Russian operative telling him this particular spook was bringing him info that would damage Hillary Clinton. That, and the reason he was getting the dope at all was because, well, Russia had an interest in the outcome of the 2016 race.

Pretty damning stuff, no?

Well, sure, to you and me. Then again, should the information be revealed that Li’l Duce bites his fingernails, the folks on my side of the fence are likely to say, “Aha!”

Those on the other side of the fence? They’re prob. going to say “Aha!” too. But that doesn’t mean they’re on our side now. Nope. They’re going to hear this — if at all; it’s even money Fox News won’t give this report the same weight the NYT does, so there’s that — but if they do hear of it, that triumphant splutter will preamble their now reinforced smug assurance that Hillary Clinton did something horribly rotten that the Russians just had to report to the Gag campaign, because even they are good global citizens when compared to Hillary. In fact, Gag-ists will assert, she’s an arch-criminal.

Good Guy (L), Bad Guy

So, as I say, don’t hold your breath. You’ll turn blue.

 

Hot Air: They’re Out To Get Us!

I’ve been noticing memes and links on social media as well as news stories about what appears to be a new phenomenon in American crazy. That is, more and more people are bleating that gravity, for chrissakes, is a hoax.

You may think I jest and all I can say is, I wish.

I posted something re: this a few months back when it became known that a passel of NBA players is proudly and loudly pushing the same line of dementia. Their “reasoning” is based on the truism that our schools for years (and, more likely, forever) have been pushing subtle untruths and outright fabrications about our holy land’s history. Example: the fairy tale that the northern states since the beginning of our nation were dead set against slavery and welcomed their black brothers and sisters with open arms. The truth was way more complicated and nuanced than that. A lot of black folks take that and extrapolate it to conclude that nothing we are taught in schools can be believed, to the point that when teacher says all things must fall down, why, it’s a dirty lie.

As Mark Twain once observed, when a cat learns the hard way not to sit on a hot stove lid, he resolves never to sit on a stove lid, hot or cold.

White people are jumping on the anti-gravity bandwagon for whatever bizarre reasons they have, including loads of Bible hokum. In both cases, the proponents of the gravity/hoax psychosis tie it into their assertion that — oh, yeah, it gets crazier — the world is flat.

The World As A Flat Disc Surrounded By An Ice Border

The weirdness is, none of these souls are saying, Y’know, we’ve looked into this and the theory of gravity just doesn’t work out for us. There must be something better. We as a nation must fund research on it. Or some such thing.

No, it’s never that simple. There must always be an arch-villain — or, better yet, a sneaky cabal of them — out to screw us all over in the worst way possible. The physics establishment, in collusion with the federal gov’t (natch), and a compliant mainstream media all are participating in this elaborate psy-op designed to trick us into believing the world is round.

Why? I haven’t the foggiest idea and, try as I might, I can’t find any cogent argument other than the world is full of bad guys who are dead set on screwing us all over by making us believe in gravity and a round Earth.

Sigh.

This all brings to mind that think piece that’s been going around, the one written by a guy who says he grew up in white, Christian, rural America and who says it’s not the Democrats’ or the Left’s misunderstanding of those people that drove them to Li’l Duce, it’s simply the way those people think. They cannot be reasoned with. They are immune to argument or evidence. They are rock hard in the assurance that they have the answers. This fellow writes:

In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism is what has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, change. When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t understand itself and will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.

At some point during the discussion, “That’s your education talking,” will be said, derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts.

And it ain’t just the Christianists who distrust education. Throughout America’s history, there’s been that strain of anti-intellectualism. Mostly it had been contained within the non-urban, plow-pulling precincts as HL Mencken documented in his 1924 essay, “The Husbandman“:

The same mountebanks who get to Washington by promising to augment [the farmer’s] gains and make good his losses devote whatever time is left over from that enterprise to saddling the rest of us with oppressive and idiotic laws. … There is the reservoir of all the nonsensical legislation which now makes the United States a buffoon among the great nations. It was among country Methodists, practitioners of a religion degraded almost to the level of voodooism, that Prohibition was invented. … What lies under it is no more and no less than the yokel’s congenital and incurable hatred of the city man—his simian rage against everyone who, as he sees it, is having a better time than he is….

With Genesis firmly lodged in the Testament of the Fathers, [the country man] will be ten times as potent as he is now and a hundred times as assiduous. No constitutional impediment will remain to cripple his moral fancy. The Wesleyan code… will be forced upon us by the full military and naval power of the United States. Civilization will gradually become felonious everywhere in the Republic, as it already is in Arkansas.

You’d have thought this willful ignorance, etc. would have pretty much disappeared in this enlightened day and age. If you do think that, think again. Take, for example, the ridiculously titled book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum. Released in 1988 it ascended to the New York Times bestseller list and remained their for two freaking years! I suppose if the sum total of your life’s education is confined to the knowledge of which two Crayola colors combine to make green, Fulghum’s book is the ticket for you. Otherwise…, well, y’know.

See, Fulghum’s literary ditty is full of cute, trite truisms but underneath its popularity is the seemingly unshakable assurance on the part of your and my national sisteren and brethren that lifelong learning and intellectual curiosity are somehow untrustworthy.

There’s something within us Americans that makes us not want to learn.

Hot Air: Putin Nailed It

Perhaps one reason — maybe the only real reason — President Gag is…, well, gagging at the notion that a social media and ersatz news campaign waged by Vladimir Putin and his Russian spooks last year might have propelled him into office is the plot’s agents were salivating over the prospect of a ditzy, ill-prepared, unqualified, divisive clown taking over this holy land.

[Image: AP]

Putin et al weren’t pulling their dirty tricks to benefit their swell friend Li’l Duce. It wasn’t as if they wanted him to succeed and be all he could be. Nah. They meddled and hoped he’d win because what better way would there be to weaken America and isolate it in the world community? The Li’l Duce win last Nov. put the world’s last remaining superpower in the hands of a dope who has no idea how to run a country and whose risible efforts to do so are putting us behind the eight ball in pretty much every diplomatic and trade scenario extant.

Putin is clever. And he ain’t nobody’s friend.

Dramatic Acts

Six people were charged — four with felonies and two with misdemeanors — for hanging a big “Resist” banner on Chicago’s Trump Tower Friday afternoon. They are affiliated with Greenpeace. Through the years since its founding in 1971, the global environmental activist org. has hung banners, well…, all over the world. Greenpeace’s website as of this afternoon features a photo of the banner hanging on the Tower’s curtain wall.

It’s an interesting illustration of my post yesterday wherein I cite philosopher Richard Rorty, who two decades ago said the Left, basically, will shoot itself in the foot so much that eventually America will respond by electing a strongman demagogue.

Which has happened.

But is the ascension of President Gag Greenpeace’s fault? No, inasmuch as Greenpeace has been largely out of the news the past few years. The org.’s colorful and dramatic demonstrations — their small dinghies blocking enormous aircraft carriers, disrupting GMO crop acreage, and, yes, hanging big banners from tall buildings — have become, in the public eye, rather ho-hum.

Rorty said the Left is “more likely to mobilize to occupy a park or shut down a freeway than to register voters.” IIRC, Li’l Duce was declared president when the electoral votes were tallied last fall, not the number of banners hung on tall buildings.

Dig: Two of the four who were charged with felonies this weekend came from Chicago’s tonier suburbs, Deerfield and Glencoe. The latter town, as a matter of fact, is America’s twelfth wealthiest locale, acc’d’g to a Bloomberg survey published in March. Given our holy land’s history and the stacking of the deck that has evolved over the past 241 years, a daughter or son of Glencoe or Deerfield ought to be in line to become president, or at least senator. But the daughter and son in Q. have decided instead to hang a big banner on Trump’s Chi-town phallic symbol and subsequently were invited to cool their heels in a lockup. They weren’t given the option to decline the invitation.

I honestly don’t know if such arm-waving is effective. Some say Greenpeace is responsible for the growing worldwide awareness of climate change in the 1990s. I wouldn’t say that’s ridiculous but I’ve yet to see any hard data proving it. I do know that the six who were charged likely aren’t ringing doorbells and registering voters.

And we can safely assume that the hanging of the banner won’t win a single extra vote for whoever runs for Congress on the anti-insanity ticket in 2018 or against Li’l Duce himself in ’20.

Hot Air: The Philosopher Who Foresaw The Future

This fellow sings to me:

[The] Left is more likely to participate in a public shaming than to lobby for a new law; it is more likely to mobilize to occupy a park or shut down a freeway than to register voters. It “exaggerates the importance of philosophy for politics, and wastes its energy on sophisticated theoretical analyses of the significance of current events.” Its adherents “have permitted cultural politics to supplant real politics, and have collaborated with the Right in making cultural issues central to the public debate.”

Yet framing the public debate in that manner plays to the strengths of the political Right.

That’s from an article in The Atlantic magazine about a philosopher named Richard Rorty. Twenty years ago he predicted the rise of President Gag. Well…, if not Li’l Duce himself, then someone just like him. He wrote of a burgeoning “spectatorial, disgusted, mocking Left,” that would result in the rise of a strongman demagogue who’d promise to defang, de-tooth, and otherwise quash “smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors.”

In other words, the sad, clownish greed monkey who fancies himself the new Leader of the Free World.\

Rorty

Read the piece. Rorty also has some tips for how the Left can rebound. Plus, he stresses something I’ve been harping on for years:

[The Left] wastes its energy on sophisticated theoretical analyses of the significance of current events.” Its adherents “have permitted cultural politics to supplant real politics, and have collaborated with the Right in making cultural issues central to the public debate.”

Time for us to get serious, kids. We’ve got to be politicians, not theoreticians.

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