It finally happened. The wonderful Dr. Seuss books have been cited for racism. One of his cartoons showed a Chinaman eating rice with chopsticks. As a Jew, I would not be offended by a cartoon of a Jew eating matzoh. This is what we do. It is an accurate stereotype. Though not all Jews eat matzoh nor do all Chinese use chopsticks, many or most do. Microaggression is when another assumes something about someone else (e.g., he likes matzoh or uses chopsticks) that the other does not agree with (e.g., I don’t like matzoh). Maybe people should not be “cancelled” due to having committed microaggressions. The ‘micro’ is the issue. Give the guy a break.
The other day I wrote a blog about old sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. Since then I have been blasted with ads for videos, toys, recordings, etc. related to the movie. Certainly, marketers are watching me and everyone else. It causes us to think about things longer than we wished to. Others with their own motives want us to keep thinking of a past thing so that they can predict and control our buying habits in the immediate future. I wonder how this affects the creativity of the society. It reminds me of the fact that machines beat humans every time now at chess. The competition is between the programmers of the game software. So, can you make your own decisions or are they being gamed by professionals who rarely lose? The only way to know is to cut off from internet influence. (You may need to drink more than usual).
My sister just went to get hearing aids. She could get two of the best ones that the technician said, “filter out noise better”. The next level of quality was “it works okay”. She could have good enough ($1400), or First Class ($2100) hearing with two new hearing aids.
The inclusion of services that make something first rather than second or third class allows the higher class person to feel good about him or herself. They are ‘above the fray’. Life can be a quality experience if one can pay. At least I can strive to get into first class. Get education, a better job, and so on. If there is some class mobility things are sort of okay. Without it, however, frustrations with class limitations grow. We will see what happens over the next years perhaps in America and the rest of the world.
Trumpf built his entire administration upon demanding unctuous loyalty from his allies and now finds himself wounded by what he sees as their shabby betrayal of him. He is entirely without integrity, using one standard for assessing the self and another for judging others depending on egoistic motives. This sort of switch can occur more or less consciously. When mental habits are very strong little conscious effort is needed to have them be executed. Hence, they playout more or less automatically.
Should the duplicity become apparent to the self one can use rationalization to feel better (i.e. cognitive dissonance reduction operations). These include: Coming to believe more strongly than ever that one’s positions are right, and denigrating the others as themselves being without integrity. When the treasonous person really starts to lose it they can have psychotic delusions of grandeur that go beyond the distortions of dissonance reduction. Psychosis is the Big Leagues of psychological defense. (By the way when Trump was thought to say ‘Bigly’ he was saying ‘Big League’ in New Yawkese. Few if any seem to have noted this).
In any case, leaders set examples of ‘how to think’ for followers. Currently a bit less than half your neighbors think like Trumpf. The horror of this is illustrated by seeing the ten commandments through the eyes of Trump-like thinking:
The Ten Commandments as seen by a Trump personality
- I am the Lord your God (“I am a stable genius.” )
- You shall have no other gods before me (“I will be very angry at Mike Pence if he doesn’t listen to me.”)
- You shall not take my name in vain (Say whatever comes to mind. Be wild and impulsive.)
- Observe the Sabbath (“Kosher, Shmosher. Let’s play golf!”)
- Honor your father and mother (If they have given you millions of dollars.)
- You shall not kill (Have your followers do it for you.)
- You shall not steal (Stealing assures always winning)
- You shall not commit adultery (Why not?)
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (“To hell with fake news. They always lie about me. It’s a witch hunt”.)
- You shall not be envious of what your neighbor has (“Envy and greed are good…the Dow has hit records during my reign!!”)
The January 6th invasion of the congress is being described in grave tones as: ‘The most dastardly day in US history’;’ Our country’s worst hour’; ‘The greatest threat to democracy’, and so on. The deaths and the scenes of yahoos defiling the nation’s sacred space were nauseating. But at some level it was just another day in Reality TV America.
January 6th wasn’t the French, Russian, nor American Revolution. In those real government overthrow attempts, the actors actually had some values they were interested in risking their lives for. Did Trumpf put his life at risk? No he didn’t. He ‘fought’ like a TV wrestler fights. Trumpf wasn’t even there in the front lines with his admirers but back in the White House watching things on TV. The Congress Riot Actors wore wild costumes like the TV wrestlers do. The whole thing was another meaningless act in the last 40 years of The American Howdy Doody Show . It will likely inspire hope that things will change. But will they?
Ventriloquist’s dummies’ appear to have meaningful conversations if the audience imagines the dummy is real. Anyone who has taken Trumpf seriously, who thinks him real, is the dummy. Do you take him seriously? Seriously? Yes? YOUR’E FIRED!!! I think a Trumpf mob member’s greatest wish is to not be fired. To not lose their seat in The Ivanka Peanut Gallery (recently remodeled for 7 Billion Fake Trumpf Peanut Dollars ). They would be so alone then. So sad. Not merely not great again but having never been great even once.
The only beliefs or values at issue in the Trumpf Show have to do with stage craft. The art of making others ‘suspend disbelief’ and getting good ratings. Trumpf’s stage craft is limited to getting unsophisticated fans of TV wrestling and 80% of the people living in Red States to believe patently false absurdities. It has been TV wrestling and The Three Stooges since day one with Trumpf. Reverse Birther Theory even proves that Trumpf is the formerly unknown Fifth Stooge—Donald Fine Trumpf.
Many pundits have warned that the polarization of America that began with Reagan and spun out of control with Trump will continue and worsen. I don’t think so. Without an immature leader at the helm, polarization should at least stop accelerating. The importance of a leader has never been more apparent than over the last four years. Up until 2016, all presidents, competent and incompetent, were “presidential”. They continued a tradition of behaving overtly with civility and humility. How unseemly it is when the powerful boast of their power. Trump constantly behaved from a more or less unconscious assumption that he lacked power. He had to fire everyone who disagreed with him. Some democracy.
Lyndon Johnson made awful decisions on Viet Nam. But he was otherwise a great president. He kept his less than civil habits behind closed doors. And, he had a sense of humor. Trump on the other hand is completely without a sense of humor. Have you seen him at one of those dinners where the powerful gather to poke fun at each other? He is entirely tone deaf. And frankly, so have been the late night talk show hosts who assumed that they had hit the jackpot with a dope like Trump as president. The problem is that Trump is inherently a sad bully. Making fun of a bully who is constantly trying to overcompensate from a, more or less, unconscious assumption that he is essentially without competence and power is very hard to do. It is like ridiculing a disabled person. Nothing sticks to Trump because he has the emotional intelligence of a child. His defenses are too impermeable.
He should have been ignored not ridiculed each and every night for four years on talk shows!! You can’t get to an 8 year old who says when insulted, “I know you are but what am I?” Partisanship will persist. But it will lessen without a humorless, insecure, child in the White House who has made everyone, left and right, miserable. Trump’s biggest effect on the country was to leave all his critics unable to effectively criticize him. He was not funny and none of the critics were funny. He should have been entirely ignored. Why listen every day to a liar? You can say what he lied about with ‘fact checking’. But what a waste of time.
I was interested in phoney wrestling matches shown on TV. When I was ten, I had my father take me to Sunnyside’s Gardens in Queens New York to see the “championship fight” between Haystack Calhun and Bruno San Martino. My favorite, the chronic loser Arnold Scoland, did not get to the championship because his role in TV wrestling was as a sympathetic, hometown loser. On TV, Sunnyside Gardens seemed to be filled with screaming fans. In reality, only about 40 dopes were arranged on ring side. These were captured by the TV cameras which did not pan to the rest of the empty arena.
At that age, ten, boys of my generation liked TV wrestling and The Three Stooges. The wrestling and the Stooges appealed to a similar mentality. Ten year old boys sense of reality has not been fully formed. They can easily ‘suspend disbelief’ and enjoy moronic wrestling and slapstick comedy.
You know that Donald Trump has been involved with the current version of TV Wrestling shown on what i think is called WWF. I am not sure what WWF stands for but it is an extensively produced form of fake madness. It can be taken as real by today’s ten year olds and many older, immature men, the kind of people who like Trump. It is as if the Three Stooges and Carl Von Hess, a wrestler who dressed in a Nazi uniform, were running the country. Actually they are. Oh man!!
I just came back from a Walmart Super Store. Therein one can seemingly buy ANYTHING. The place is gigantic and stocked with food, clothing, hardware, kitchen ware, camping gear, drugs, electronics, home and office furniture, bath items, toys, automotive items, and on and on. It is the the Mount Everest of an economy built on constant demand for many essential and many stupid products. To me, the place is entirely depressing. Maybe it’s efficient to be able to buy anything you want in one place. But this is not what is disheartening about being there. It is seeing all the buyers trudge sadly through the aisles looking for what they think they need. They search for crap instead of feelings of friendship and love. The things that really matter. These feelings have been replaced by the need to acquire things.
I found it telling that when the virus quarantine was first lifted, people crowded into stores in order to buy new clothes! Modern societies depend on constant demand for consumer goods, needed and inane. This requires constant production, ruthless competition for money, and status seeking. These in turn create alienation, class warfare, envy, denial of health needs, environmental degradation, racism, and the election of a schmuck like Trump. Consumer economies have worked to overshoot the carrying capacity of the planet and of human societies. I think this may all end soon and violently .
Starting about when Ronald Reagan got into office, college graduates who formerly wanted to attend medical or law school began going to business schools. They got a degree called Masters in Business Administration—the MBA. As far as I can tell, MBAs are taught to make as much money as possible without getting thrown in jail. The best schools, like Harvard, Wharton, Duke, and Columbia seem to attract the most aggressive sharks. There is even a TV show called Sharks on which no nonsense MBA types decide if some naif’s business plan will succeed. The contestants are grilled in a harsh manner and most plans are rejected as being too weak.
I saw this kind of MBA attitude when I took five psychology students to the Columbia business school to participate in a mock labor negotiation. The event was hosted by Margaret Chandler, a famous labor relations scholar. The psychologists played the role of labor, naturally the business students took the management roles. Though this was only a practice exercise the MBAs had the psychologists scared to death. They used a classic negotiating technique in which one person on the negotiation team acts entirely nuts, shouting and screaming like a psychotic This terrified the touchy feely psychologists so much that they lowered their demands to get the thing over with and flee the room.
In the old days MBAs were relatively scarce. They wound up as CEOs, CFOs, and other high level positions. Now, with many MBA graduates around, they often find themselves managing service departments, the mail room, and really every function in organizations. The MBA credo is to turn every office of a company into a profit center. For example, when you call the service department of the company that sold you a phone, vacuum, bicycle, or whatever, you don’t get service. Rather they try to sell you a new, more expensive replacement for the broken one. Now service goes from a cost center to a profit center, from service to sales. MBAs know that sales is where the money is. Service is a loser. Service interactions are a form of ‘bait and switch’. They catch the poor customer with a promise of service but then switch their role to sales. If not illegal, this is a kind of moral crime very common in business today.
The ‘anything for a buck’ attitude has spread throughout the country. MBA values dominate the entire culture. It is not an accident that two of the worst presidents in American history, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, were graduates of MBA programs.
I know both the patient and provider sides of healthcare delivery in America. To bill insurance companies for patient visits I had to hire a biller to navigate the absurd complicated rules for getting reimbursed. I had to pay the biller 7% of my fees just to collect the money. Insurers in America are horrible institutions. Every claim they pay is a business “loss”. Of course, they don’t want to pay for what customers pay them to pay. They exclude this or that type of treatment and charge ridiculous premiums. For myself, I had to pay $550 per month for my health policy, and it didn’t include dental care. Aren’t teeth a critical part of the body? Most plans don’t pay properly for mental health disorders. Isn’t the mind important? Most CEO’s of insurance and drug companies may make as much as $30,000,000 a year!
In American health, A few people get wildly rich and most others get shafted. We have to pay too much for less than adequate coverage. Copays, coinsurance, exclusions, and deductibles all obscure the costs policy holders have to pay. Have you tried to read the contracts for the health care insurance? As Woody Guthrie said, “Some will rob you with a six gun and some with a fountain pen.” Corporations don’t exist to serve your needs but to get more and more of your money in exchange for fewer and fewer services and products.
The insurers’ key advantage is if you don’t treat a heart attack, stroke, brain aneurysm, cancer, mental illness, lung disease, etc, you will die. This motivates every shmo to buy the crappy insurance. Everyone knows the system stinks, unless you are an insurer or biller or drug company. But somehow many if not most hospitals in the US are very close to bankruptcy. I don’t quite understand this but I think it is because insurers benefit from cost cutting measures enforced on hospitals. After all, hospital stays cost an immense amounts of money. Insurers want to discourage hospital spending so they underpay for hospital costs. This had led to, for example, breast cancer surgery being an outpatient procedure. Keep ’em out of the hospital or ’em get ’em out as fast as possible. Lot’s of healthcare and comfort in that, right?
I have seriously considered dying before getting medical services that might push me into bankruptcy, as it has very many patients. “Your money or your life?”. I would like say, “Go to hell, shoot me!”. Of course, that is a rather radical decision. But if everyone did it the medical industrial complex would collapse. Its like with Trump. The only way to defeat him is to not pay attention to him. Call his bluff. Ignore the bastard who is working to ruin your life. “Yeah, come and get me!” Would you sacrifice your life to take down the oppressors? It a war. And, in war people often sacrifice their lives for something they believe in.
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