Friday, May 26, 2017

Americans Today...


Greg Gianforte, Montana's newly elected Republican Representative

A day or so after Montana's sole House seat candidate, Greg Gianforte, physically assaulted a journalist for asking an important question, he became the next Republican Representative from Montana.  Of course, 2/3rds of the ballots had already been cast and couldn't be changed, but that 1/3rd left?  Makes ya' wonder about the people of Montana... well, that's not fair... It makes you wonder about Americans.  Trump won Montana with almost 56% of the vote, well above the national average, but demographically very similar to the rest of rural America, and Montana is very rural - and always controlled by a few powerful resource interests, two essentials for GOP victories, regardless of the species running.

What's happened to us?  We were never the brightest people, Americans.  "The Love Boat," anyone?  But watch a Japanese cartoon for a few minutes and you'll feel much better about yourself.  At least we're sane... but are we anymore?  It would have been unthinkable to me, years ago, cruising down the Jersey Turnpike, listening to Howard Stern and Donald Trump goof around on K-Rock, that one day Howard Stern would be President, and as for Trump, it would have been just acid-trip crazy.

When the movie "Idiocracy" came out, I thought it was kinda clever.  I wasn't surprised that it became kind of the cult classic, as camp.  The way it was made, it was hard to take seriously in any way.  It was no 'Dr. Strangelove' or 'Clockwork Orange,' or even the rather cheesy 'Soylent Green.'  But 'Idiocracy' was more prescient than any of them.  Eventually, we are going to become so stupid, we're simply going to collapse from the weight of the dead brain matter.  If all the great empires eventually die of sin, our fatal sin will be Willful Ignorance.

Here's a story from the WAPO based on a survey from last December.  It's essentially all about Willful Ignorance, tribal identity manifested as ridiculous beliefs.

A boss of mine a few years ago opened a conversation with me by asking, "What church do you go to?"  He assumed I must be a church-going kinda guy because of my personality (in person, I'm very outgoing, warm, and strongly and actively ethical).  I told him, "I don't go to church. I'm not religious."  He said, "Well, I'm not really 'religious' either, but I believe in God," or to that effect - it's a common response to that answer, and sure enough he does attend a non-denominational evangelical, kinda fundy, Christian church and takes his faith very seriously.  Nice guy.  Anyway, I said, "I don't believe anything.  Either I know or I don't.  I'm a big fan of Jesus, but I do not believe in miracles and magic."  And that's exactly how I phrased it.  And he left it at that.

I think the problem we're having these days is a deep insecurity about about the scope and complexity of the modern, rapidly changing, world around us.  So, we pull the blanket up over our heads and hope the scary monster doesn't see us, or goes away.  This is easily on display when you look at the link from WAPO above.  It's the Bogeyman Syndrome.  We're easily distracted by sensationalist Bogeyman stories that keep our attentions away from the serious and troubling real problems we must face.  We need to "man-up" and deal with these issues, but given what many Americans seem to think "being a man" is, I don't think we can.  I think we will become an Idiocracy, if we're not already there.

JMJ

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Roger Ailes Died




It's hard to believe this really happened... and it worked!

Roger Ailes died on Thursday.  There hasn't been much talk about it in the media.  I can understand why.  He was an extraordinarily divisive figure.  The kind of guy who when when spoken of inspires fist fights in bars.  I read Gabriel Sherman's 'Loudest Voice in the Room,' a topical biography of Ailes when it came out a few years ago.  I highly recommend it.

Ailes was responsible for much of what is wrong with politics, and society, in America, and therefore the rest of the world, today.  I'm going to keep this short, because I don't have anything nice to say about the man.  But I strongly suggest reading Sherman's 'Loudest Voice,' and while your at it, David Brock's 'The Fox Effect,' if you would like to learn more about the man who played such an important role in making everyone's lives a little worse.

JMJ