Seeing Is Believing

Our friend Hugh is a much deeper thinker than most of us. Well, he taught Philosophy in college, so he should be, yes? Last year, Hugh published a book, a compilation of some of his best posts, and this one was included in it. I, of course, own a copy of the book, and it is a treasured volume, for my copy is autographed by Hugh himself! This post is thought provoking on at least two different levels and addresses ‘faith’ and ‘freedom’. Hugh’s posts most always make me stop and think, and this one is no exception. Thank you, dear Hugh! By the way, I notice your book has almost sold out on Amazon! Congrats!


Years ago I wrote an earlier version of this post and it fell on deaf ears. While I admittedly have written a number of rather weak posts,  I thought this one of my better ones. In fact, I included the earlier version in my book, Alone In The Labyrinth. In any event, I found it especially relevant in these trying times when we seem lost and face an uncertain future with a purblind leader on a planet that is under attack by greed and self-interest.  

In one of the most dramatic portions of that most dramatic novel, The Brothers Karamazov, the two brothers Ivan and Alyosha meet to discuss the “dossier” that Ivan has put together to prove that God does not exist. It is a collection of brutal stories of human cruelty, capped off by the gruesome story of a landowner who turns his dogs loose on a…

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The Virtue of Stupidity

Once again, dear friend Hugh has hit the nail on the head regarding the dangerous attitudes of this nation toward addressing environmental issues, most notably climate change, or global warming. Please take a minute to read his excellent post … and make note of his new “law” at the end! Thank you, Hugh, for the post and the permission to share!


Temperatures around the country have recently been plunging and the nay-sayers once again point to the thermometer and tell us why they deny that the globe is warming. They ignore the fact that South Africa is experiencing the hottest summer on record and that what happens in Alabama or Alaska (or South Africa) is beside the point. Global Warming is a fact and it is not to be identified with passing weather events in particular parts of the world. Confusing the two and ignoring hard science are marks of the “virtue of stupidity” among those who remain with their heads in the sand — or somewhere equally dark. (This is a repost, which I have updated.)

In his remarkable book, Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, Charles Pierce quotes Norman Myers of the Climate Institute who estimated that in 1995 [over twenty-four years ago!] there…

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Collision Course

Our friend Hugh’s post tonight is spot on … not a post that’s going to make you chuckle and hum a happy tune, but certainly one with a message that we all need to hear … again and again … until we wake up. Thank you Hugh, for the reminder, and for giving me carte blanche to share your work.


I suggested in a response I made to a comment on a previous post that humanity is most assuredly on a collision course between global warming, on the one hand, and the expanding human population, on the other hand. The irony of ironies is that the growing human population seems to be, for the most part, oblivious to both of these problems! Perhaps it is denial on a grand scale? To be sure, most of us would prefer to ignore unpleasant facts. But be that as it may, the two opposing forces cannot possibly survive together. Something must give.

As long as we continue to think it is better to drive our gas-guzzlers and turn up the thermostat rather than ride a bike, drive smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, or put on a sweater when we are cold — while at the same time we embrace the notion that large families…

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Commodified Culture

I have often posited that greed is possibly the single biggest cause of the mess we are in today. As we wade knee-deep into the Christmas season, with retailers hoping to turn red to black on their income statements, advertisers are in full swing trying to convince you that you simply must have that shiny new object. Our friend Hugh has written a very good, thoughtful and thought-provoking post on this topic that carries a message we all need to hear, to be reminded of. Thank you, Hugh, for this post and your generous permission to share it.


You have probably seen the commercial. A young woman walks into the kitchen of a very posh house and places two sets of keys down on the counter and smiles at her husband (presumably). They race out of the posh house and stand beside two brand new GMC trucks (costs, appx. $50,000.00 apiece). One truck is blue and the other is red. The man points to the blue one, but his wife has already claimed it for herself and he weakly smiles as he realizes that the red one is his.

I have borrowed the words of Robert Heilbronner to help us grasp what is wrong with this commercial, so typical of those we see on our television at this time of year. To begin with these are apparently Christmas presents that the woman has bought for herself and her husband. Thus begins the set of problems this commercial sets…

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Guest Blog Post

As those of you who have followed this blog throughout the ‘Reign of Trump’ know, one of my biggest frustrations has been a failure to understand the reason Trump has been given free rein, despite the fact that his values are in complete opposition to those who support him. Our friend Hugh has hosted a guest post by Jerry Stark that goes a long way toward answering the question: WHY??? It has given me much food for thought, and I will yet need to do some pondering on his words, but today I wanted to share them with you, for I think they have tremendous value. Only when we understand the forces we are fighting, do we stand much chance of bringing about a return to a kinder, saner world. Many thanks both Hugh and Jerry for permission to share this worthy post.


The following comment by Jerry Stark expanded and improved upon my attempt to explain the notion of ressentment. It is extremely well done and helps us understand the mind-set of those who follow our sitting president and worship at his shrine. I post it here with Jerry’s permission.

The concept of ressentiment is intriguing, especially when applied to our current circumstance.

Nietzsche’s (pre-postmodern) claim was that morality is defined and established by the powerful and inflicted upon those whom they dominate. He further argues that new moral regimes can emerge out of a process of ressentiment, wherein those who are viewed as social inferiors by the powerful, and who have come to view themselves as socially inferior, develop a resentful hatred against those they view as elites — their “betters”. Ressentiment is not about class consciousness; it is about the revenge of the unworthy.

Ressentiment is characterized, in part, by…

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Hate Talk

“These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls”, said Thomas Paine on 23 December 1776. What makes the times today so trying to our souls is, of course, the government that no longer represents the people, but even more disturbing is the way the head of said government is pitting us against each other. Our friend Hugh has written a piece that is well worth reading and thinking about. Are we falling for the rhetoric coming out of Washington to the extent that we are sacrificing our future? Thank you, Hugh, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking post.


It has always been so: using emotive language to describe those people we detest reduces them to things. Such is the case with people we don’t happen to like — or want to kill in violent confrontations called “war.” Not long ago the Japanese were called “Japs,” and the Germans were called “Krauts.” We devise hateful names to describe those we hate and want to kill in the name of God and all that is good. It seems to work: it reduces human beings, as noted, to things to be dispensed with.

We now find ourselves living in a society in which our feckless leader has labelled his enemies in order to generate hatred of those things or people he has determined are his enemies — and therefore the enemies of us all. Thus are the Democrats now called “the party of crime. . .  too extreme and dangerous to…

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Sign Of The Apocalypse?

When I first began reading Hugh’s post, I inadvertently let out a primal scream, and after another paragraph, slammed the lid on my laptop, got up and reheated a small bowl of rice before I could finish reading the post. This may not sound like an endorsement for the post, but believe me, it is. Hugh has brought to light something that is happening today that has far longer reaching and outlasting consequences than any of the many abominations tied to Donald Trump. The subject? The re-writing of history, the replacing of facts with opinions. Please, please take a few minutes to read Hugh’s excellent post and think about what he is saying. Get your bowl of rice before you start, though. Thank you, dear Hugh, for bringing this to our attention, and for your generous permission to share.


One of the more insidious movements in this country is that toward the rewriting of history– eliminating unpleasant facts from the history books. This movement is perhaps a part of the New History movement about which I have blogged in the past — the attempt to reduce history to a form of literature, giving special attention to minor historical figures that have been ignored in the past (probably with good reason!)

In any event, one does wonder why this sort of censorship is not only allowed, but encouraged — even by the Texas State Board of Education which has decided to erase any mention of Hillary Clinton from the history textbooks in order to “streamline” history. As a recent Yahoo news story tells us:

The Texas State Board of Education voted Friday to remove mentions of Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller from the state’s mandatory history curriculum . . .  The…

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A Question With No Answer

A few days ago, our friend Hugh asked a question:

“Apropos of nothing in particular, but I wonder if Trump’s popularity, not to mention his election, is a cultural reaction to the fact that America had a black president for eight years. If this is even a possibility, it would suggest a racism that is endemic to this country and goes much deeper than I had imagined. Just asking…?”

Not for the first time, I revisited this question, for it is one I have asked since well before the election, when Trump’s popularity seemed to rise in direct proportion to his level of obnoxiousness.  My answer to Hugh was …

“This is the question I have wrestled with for more than a year, and I have concluded that yes, indeed, the “Trumpian revolution”, if you will, is naught more than a push back response to the election of an African-American president. Much of our nation is, indeed, extremely racist. That anybody could condemn Obama for wearing a beige suit one day, for trying to ensure that everyone is able to seek medical assistance, and at the same time support a ‘man’ who calls white supremacists “fine people” and proves time and again that he has no morals, no character … to me, that is the proof. I think there are more in this country like you and I, who are appalled by the current climate, but the racists, for the moment at least, own the stage. Some say Trump’s win was a response to economic frustrations among the middle class, but that argument doesn’t hold water for a number of reasons. Others say they were tired of the corruption in Washington, but look at it now! So … sad to say, but blatant racism, hatred for any who is different, seems to be the only answer.”

Each time I revisit this question, my conclusion is the same, and in my mind, I have often likened it to a pendulum that swings to the left and back to the right.  Or vice versa.  But the thing I have never been able to wrap my head around is the answer to the next question:  WHY?

Last night I came across an article on NPR:

Why More White Americans Are Opposing Government Welfare Programs

“A new study shows that since 2008, more white people in the United States oppose welfare programs, in part because of increasing “racial resentment.”

One of the reasons for this opposition, according to the report, is white Americans’ perceptions that they might be losing their financial and social status while people of color make gains in those areas.”

According to the findings of the study, while white American’s perception is that minorities are the biggest recipients of safety net programs such as Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance, the reality is that 52% of the recipients are actually whites.  African-Americans are fewer than 25% of the recipients.  But even when these statistics were pointed out to them, whites were against safety net programs that they continue to perceive as helping minorities.

Another study in 2016, by the same researchers, linked racial bias to the Tea Party movement.

Kevin Boyle, an American history professor at Northwestern University, says that white supremacy has always lurked in America’s shadow, and …

“Donald Trump gave them permission to come out into the real world.”

There is some agreement among scholars as to how the widening racial and ideological divide took root: Some white Americans began feeling left behind by progress. The decline of the white working class coincided with drastic cultural changes, like quickly diversifying demographics and the election of the nation’s first black president.  According to Steven Hahn, a history professor at New York University …

“With the election of Barack Obama, there was so much talk about being this post-racial moment, and on some levels it was extraordinary. But it didn’t take long for the really vicious racism to surface. It turned out to be an instigator of an enormous amount of rage, and I think Trump both fanned it and inherited it.”

All of which is intended to explain, but in my mind, it doesn’t.  Decline of the ‘white working class’?  What, exactly, is the ‘white’ working class?  In a factory or an office, there are people doing a job.  If you do the better job, perhaps you will be promoted, given a raise.  It doesn’t matter whether your ancestors hailed from Africa, Northern Ireland, Samoa, Argentina or Germany does it?  It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a Christian, a Muslim or an atheist, does it?  And it doesn’t matter whether the partner you go home to at night is of the opposite or same sex, does it?  What matters is that you are dedicated and enterprising at the job you do.  Or at least that is what should matter.

Last night I spent nearly three hours reading articles, studies, OpEds and the like, seeking an answer, and I still do not understand.  Yes, Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office today because Obama sat there for the previous eight years.  But WHY?  Obama was intelligent, well-educated and soft-spoken, and the majority of his policies were for the betterment of the nation and its people.  Obama’s presidency saw no scandals … not a single one.  His daughters did not appear drunk in public, he did not engage in extramarital affairs, and he and his family were the epitome of grace and dignity.  His policies were humanitarian, seeking to help people from all walks of life.  He was not perfect and did not always make the best decisions, but what president does?  If one considers the many foibles of his predecessor … and his successor … well, enough said.

So yes, the fact that a racist, ignorant, ill-spoken madman was elected to the highest office in the land is a push back, a response to the fact that we had a black man who was the opposite of all those things in office for the previous eight years.  It is, but I do not understand why, and likely never will, for I think the explanation defies logic.  That our nation is heavily racist is no longer in doubt, and the current climate that gives permission to such racism is setting this nation back in time.  As I said in the beginning, it is like the swing of a pendulum and I do wish somebody would take the battery out of the damn clock so the pendulum might come to rest.

Active Shooter

Last week, I wrote a post in which I mentioned a soon-to-be-released video game, Active Shooter, that was based on the spate of recent school shootings. The premise of the game greatly offended my sensibilities and I was, needless to say, appalled. The post elicited some comments and discussion about whether such games are a partial cause of the recent violent tendencies we are seeing in some young people today, such as the shooters at Parkland and Santa Fe. Our dear friend Hugh has taken up the gauntlet and written an excellent, thoughtful and thought-provoking post that opens the door to even more discussion! Please take a few moments to read and ponder Hugh’s post. Thank you, dear Hugh!


My good friend Jill recently posted a comment about the release of a new video game called “Active Shooter” in which the player is armed and enters a school to see how many “cops and ‘civs'” he or she can shoot. The “civs” are civilians — presumably including children? I don’t know because I haven’t seen it. No do I want to. But her summary and description of the game caused me to burst forth with a comment in which I insisted that we must finally face the fact that violent games cause violence in children. Scottie, a fellow blogger, then politely took me to task on the grounds that he was (and is) a game-player and also in the armed forces later in his adult life and he has no desire whatever to enter a school and shoot children. Point taken. I would like to respond to his comment…

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Our friend Hugh, aka the Professor, is a deep thinker, as one would expect of a former professor of philosophy. Today (actually a few days ago) Hugh delves into the effects on society, on humanity, of television and other electronic media. It is something we often don’t think much about, but … we need to … we really need to. Please take a few minutes to read Hugh’s post, for it is, as always, food for thought. Thank you, Hugh, for both this post and permission to share it!


I have suggested on occasion, sometimes generally sometimes pointedly, that the entertainment industry has been one of the more pernicious influences on the development of such things as intelligence and character that have been seen of late. It’s influence is felt everywhere and since we know that animals, including the human animal, learn from imitation it follows that the ubiquitous television and the social media (of late, especially) have had a tremendous effect on the development of young minds and hearts.

Robert Hutchins once pointed out that the invention of  television held out the greatest of possibilities for humankind. It could be an educational tool like none other and could bring about the elevation of minds and the enlargement of experience among all those touched by it. But we know that has not happened. Not only does public television — which was the last bastion of hope — struggle against…

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