Abraham Maslow, the initiator of ‘humanistic psychology’, has been described as being “concerned with questions such as, “Why don’t more people self-actualize if their basic needs are met?” and basically why don’t people try to reach their full potential.”

“To over simplify the matter somewhat it is as if Freud supplied to us the sick half of psychology and we must now fill it out with the healthy half. Perhaps this health psychology will give us more possibility for controlling and improving our lives and for making ourselves better people. Perhaps this will be more fruitful than asking “how to get unsick”. (A. Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being,)

In a sense Maslow follows in the footsteps of J.J. Rousseau.

“Although, in this state [civil society], he deprives himself of some advantages which he got from nature, he gains in return others so great, his faculties are so stimulated and developed, his ideas so extended, his feelings so ennobled, and his whole soul so uplifted, that, did not the abuses of this new condition often degrade him below that which he left, he would be bound to bless continually the happy moment which took him from it for ever, and, instead of a stupid and unimaginative animal, made him an intelligent being and a man” (J.J. Rousseau, The Social Contract)

In more than one sense.

Both consider that society presents its members with almost endless opportunities for self em-betterment, both wonder how come so few make good use of those opportunities and both have been accused of things they have never done.

Rousseau has been falsely accused of being the father of the ‘Noble Sauvage’ – and the quote above proves his complete innocence, ‘stupid and unimaginative animals’ can be mistaken for ‘noble savages’ only by those ‘abused’ by their ‘new condition’ – while Maslow’s detractors – who have failed to scientifically validate all aspects of ‘the hierarchy of needs’ – are questioning the scientific nature of Maslow’s ideas instead of reconsidering their own positions. (The truth being that Maslow had stated upfront that “I yield to the temptation to present it (his notion of a ‘Psychology of Health’, which includes the concept of ‘self-actualization’) publicly even before it is checked and confirmed, and before it can be called reliable scientific knowledge“)

Unfortunately it is rather obvious that while Maslow has successfully detailed what it takes for an individual to ‘ripen’ into the situation of being able to ‘reconsider its own self’, he failed to reach as far as Rousseau was able to. While the latter deplored the fact that ‘the abuses of his new condition often degrade him below that which he left’ the first blindly entertained the notion that self-actualization is necessarily a positive process.

I’ll use only two examples to illustrate my theory, even if by doing so I’m presenting myself as a target for the ‘science-nazi’.
First take a glance at those who founded/were involved in running LTCM. All of them had very respectable careers behind them at that moment. Why did they feel the need to get involved in such a risky business? For those of you unfamiliar with the financial world LTCM was a hedge fund which had to be bailed out in 1998 after losing $4.6 billion, a huge amount of money for those times.
Then tell me what drove Bernard Madoff, an already very successful ‘operator’ in the financial market  to transform the wealth management branch of his company into a huge Ponzi scheme that eventually lost some $18 billion of actual money ($65  billion if the fabricated gains are added to the total)? Not to mention the fact that he involved his family into the daily operation of his company, leading to his brother being sentenced to 10 years in prison and one of his sons committing suicide… – the other one died of lymphoma a few years after Madoff had been incarcerated.

Could it be that this ‘self-actualization’ business depends on two things, the character of the individual involved and the kind of interaction that exists between him and the community of which he is a member? Meaning that if the ties are weak the character of the individual becomes the dominant factor?

And since nobody’s perfect…

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” (Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom from Fear)

But also

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.” Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune

I’ll end up saying that it’s not the governments that have a ‘recurring problem’ but the peoples themselves. By definition governments come and go, it’s the peoples that stay behind and must suffer the consequences of ‘self-actualizations’ went wrong.

Recent riots in the US and the need to respond in force to the ever growing number of terrorist acts happening in the Western Europe has prompted some to worry about the specter of a potential ‘police state’ that might be lurking somewhere in the future.

Those who have first-handedly witnessed what it means to live in a real police state have a dissenting view on this subject:

“I live in a bona fide, real world, living, breathing police state: the People’s Republic of China. I live, in short, in the real thing, not in the cartoonish caricature of a police state that people have in mind when they hear the term. . . . The role of the police in a police state isn’t to control citizens’ lives. That’s a myth that’s almost laughable. . . . The role of the police in a police state is to protect the power structure from change. That is it in its entirety. Anything which doesn’t endanger the powers that be is unimportant to the police. Anything which does endanger the powers that be is brutally suppressed. . . . I have more direct, personal freedoms here in China than I ever had in Canada. So do most Chinese people. The only freedom they (we) lack is the freedom to criticize the government in public. . . . A competent, stable, secure police state doesn’t need brutality to keep itself in power. It’s insecure states (of any kind!) that find the need to brutalize their citizens to ensure compliance.” Michael Richter courageously posting on his FB wall.

Having myself lived for 30 years in a real police state – one that was insecure enough to terrorize its citizens – I can vouch for what Michael Richter tells us.

On the other hand police, in every society, acts like an ‘immune system’. Its job is to maintain the status quo. Basically it tries to maintain the entire ‘organism’ in ‘working order’. And here come the differences.
If that society is a normal one the police tries to maintain an ‘unbiased’ order.
If the society itself is biased the police will favor one side of the society.
Those who are favored by the police will consider this to be ‘normal’. Those who feel the brunt of the police action will reach the conclusion that they live in a ‘police state’.

Evolutionary theory teaches us that living things are able to maintain, for quite long time, a certain level of in-balance. For instance, warm blooded animals are, for most of their lives, either hotter or colder than their environment. And yet they manage to survive.

If the balance is not tilted too much, in either direction.

Same thing with the ‘police state’.

Basically all societies are biased. And all police forces in the world have to guard an in-balance or other.

As I mentioned before, as long as that in-balance is manageable – and the population at large is OK with it – the police can do its job without stepping over too many toes.

But if the in-balance that the police has to maintain becomes unmanageable, more and more people will consider they live in a police state and, at a certain point, something will break. The people’s acceptance of the police, the police-men’s willingness to impose that in-balance over their fellow citizens or even both at the same time.

This is so obvious that even the Ancient Romans issued a stern warning on the subject.

In reality ‘Fiat justitia, ruat caelum’ doesn’t mean “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” but ‘Let justice be just, otherwise the heaven will fall upon your (collective) head’.

tariceanu permis 1

tariceanu permis 2

Foarte interesanta chestia asta.
De vreo cateva zile ‘o anumita parte’ a ‘opiniei publice’ e ocupata sa il injure pe Tariceanu:

‘De ce nu stai ba la coada?!?’

Pai de asta avem nevoie noi? De un presedinte de Senat care sa stea la coada?
Daca ar fi sa judecam dupa rezultatele obtinute de presedintele care se ducea la mall cu Loganul personal – si dupa aia confisca telefoane de la tiganci imputite‘ – poate ca ar fi cazul sa o lasam mai moale cu ‘populismele’ astea.

N-ar fi mai bine sa-i intrebam pe toti presedintii astia, de Senat, de Tara, de bloc… s.a.m.d.:

‘De ce mai este nevoie sa stam la coada in secolul XXI?’

Aud?!?

PS. Pana nu demult personajele atat de marete nici macar nu se deplasau atunci cand aveau de rezolvat chestii din astea marunte. Se ocupau altii si veneau cu carnetul in dinti.
Tariceanu s-a dus pana acolo si a intrat prin spate. Mie unuia mi se pare un progres.
Dar daca ni s-a pus pata pe el…

Traditia este o institutie foarte importanta.

Prin intermediul ei comunitatile pastreaza o suma de informatii care stau la baza functionarii comunitatilor respective. Renuntarea cu prea mare usurinta la respectul cuvenit traditiei a dus, de prea multe ori, la o adevarata dezradacinare a comunitatilor care au facut acest lucru. ‘Om fara Dumnezeu’ nu este chiar o vorba aruncata in vant.
Degringolada morala care a inceput sa devina evidenta de pe vremea comunismului si care face acum ravagii printre noi are niste cauze oarecum obiective numai ca a fost facilitata si de usuratatea cu care noi toti am acceptat ‘noul’, fara sa luam in calcul toate consecintele actiunilor noastre.

Pe de alta parte nici ‘incremenirea in proiect’ nu reprezinta un panaceu.
Apelul la ‘traditie’ doar de dragul ‘traditiei’ sau, si mai rau, pentru ca in felul acesta poate fi construit pretextul pentru un ‘atac la persoana’ impotriva unui dusman, ‘personal’ sau ‘de clasa’, nu reprezinta o alternativa cu adevarat viabila. Nu de alta, mai devreme sau mai tarziu realiatatea are prostul obicei de a ne da cate un branci – tocmai pentru a ne ‘readuce pe calea cea drepta’.

“„Problema calendarului există demult, dar a căpătat o însemnătate deosebită în zilele noastre, când devine tot mai evidentă necesitatea folosirii unui calendar comun, acelaşi cu calendarul folosit în celelalte ţări ale Europei şi în America. Din toate părţile Biserica primeşte cereri şi doleanţe de a se stabili un calendar comun în viaţa laică şi religioasă, nu numai pentru ca creştinul să fie în armonie cu sine însuşi, ca cetăţean şi creştin, ci şi pentru a contribui la unirea tuturor creştinilor chemaţi în numele Domnului, care să poată sărbători în aceeaşi zi Naşterea şi învierea Sa”.

Aceleaşi motive sunt invocate de către patriarhul Meletie şi în cuvântarea sa la deschiderea Congresului ”pan-ortodox”: Devine evident că principiile directe care au dus la reforma calendarului bisericesc îşi aveau rădăcinile nu în tradiţie, teologie,  în  viaţa  liturgică  şi  normele  canonice  ale  Bisericii  Ortodoxe,  ci  în dimensiunea orizontală a gândirii semilaice, semireligioase, în cultul ecumenic al ideii politico-religioase a unităţii creştine.”
(“125 de la proclamarea autocefaliei BOR, cadoul masonului Meletie Metaxakis pentru SCHIMBAREA CALENDARULUI în România ortodoxliber.wordpress.com

Cei care continua sa ‘apare’ calendarul iulian, indiferent de motivul pentru care o fac, uita un lucru. Peste vreo cateva sute de ani Craciunul ar fi cazut in mijlocul verii iar de Paste am fi savurat in exclusivitate miei congelati – de unde unii proaspeti prin septembrie, octombrie… Dar poate ca ar fi fost si unele avantaje… Posturile ar fi fost mai usor de tinut, avand in vedere bogatia de legume si fructe proaspete, de Paste am fi avut parte de tulburel…

2500 later

Rio 2016: The Syrian Refugee who swam for her life – all the way to the Olympics. BBC.Com

At some point in time 12 tribes of nomadic herders had settled down on the banks of Jordan.

Conditions were good so they had enough time to think about things further than meeting their immediate needs.
For me it doesn’t matter much whether their religious teachings were a gift from their God or just a product of their own minds. The fact that they are choke full of useful advice for all of us and that the sharpness of that advice has not been dulled by the passage of time should be enough. We’d better continue to pay attention.

“For this reason was man created alone, to teach thee that whosoever destroys a single soul of Israel, Scripture imputes (guilt) to him as though he had destroyed a complete word, and whosoever preserves a single soul of Israel , Scripture ascribes (merit) to him as thoough he had preserved a complete world. Furthermore, (he was created alone) for the sale of peace among men, that one might not say to his fellow ‘my father was greater than thine’, and the minim might not say ‘there are many ruling powers in Heaven; again to proclaim the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He: for if a man strikes many coins from one mould, they all resemble one another, but the supreme king of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, fashioned every man in the stamp of the first one, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow. Therefore every single person is obliged to say: the world was created for my sake”

How come, then, that we are still killing each other in an organized manner?

OK, some go bonkers and kill themselves.
Some go so bonkers as to blame others for their unhappiness. They decide to go out with a bang and to kill as many of the ‘others’ as possible in the process.
The number of people going bonkers is naturally swelled by the present economic and social crises. Emile Durkheim, one of the fathers of sociology, had written an entire book on the subject, more than a century ago.

I can dig all this. It’s unacceptable but sort of explainable – aberrant behavior is not un-natural. That’s what evolution is for, to weed out aberrations that are too unfit to survive.

What completely baffles me is how come two and a half millennia after some simple herdsmen have demonstrated such acute but also noble thinking, some of us, most of whom pretend to be sophisticated intellectuals, continue to fashion religious teachings and ethnic/cultural values into wedges.
And use them to drive us into warring factions.

Why are they still doing this?
Why are we still heeding to their prodding?

Not only that we allow ‘them’ to ‘organize’ civil wars that kill hundreds of thousands of us and drive millions of the rest in exile but then we also allow some of ‘them’ to rule over some of the media that, supposedly, keep us informed.

“Unfortunately, some of the celebration was overshadowed by a completely unnecessary “omission” or outright censorship by Hungary’s public broadcaster. Refugee athletes are participating in the Rio Summer Games. Yusra Mardini, originally from Syria, is one of them and she has garnered a great deal of media attention, including in the Toronto Star.

“In the water, Yusra Mardini feels alive. In the water, Yusra Mardini swam for her life. In the water, Yusra Mardini helped to save the lives of many others”–writes Rosie Dimanno in The Star. The 18 year old ended up winning in the one hundred metre butterfly heat on Saturday. Not too long ago, Ms. Mardini had to swim to safety, fleeing her war-torn homeland, through Turkey and then across the waters in Greece. She and her sister swam for over three hours straight and, incredibly, made it to Europe safely. (They also helped save the 20 people that were in the boat they had been towing during those three hours) She trained for the Olympics in Germany.

Disappointingly, during the Hungarian public broadcaster M4′s coverage of the one hundred metre butterfly, they completely and seemingly deliberately neglected to mention Ms. Mardini. Jenő Knézy Jr., who is reporting live from Rio on behalf of the public broadcaster, mentioned four out of the five females competing–the only one he did not utter at all was the name of the Syrian refugee. It was as though she did not even exist– even though viewers could see her on their television screens. Mr. Knézy managed to avoid mentioning her, even after she won.

The hvg.hu news site wondered aloud after the incident: “Is it forbidden to even utter the name of a refugee on Hungarian public television?”

Mr. Knézy claims to have made an innocent mistake, when he forgot to mention the name of the winner of the competition.” (Christopher Adam, Hungary wins gold, breaks record on Olympics Day 1, but why did public television censor the coverage? August 7, 2016, hungarianfreepress.com)

 

“The Brexit vote may or may not have been a tragedy, but Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary appears determined to follow with a farce. On Monday, he scheduled a referendum on keeping out refugees for Oct. 2, further threatening to undermine the weakened European Union. The referendum question — “Do you want the European Union to be able to order the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without parliament’s consent?” — is a textbook example of voter manipulation.

This isn’t really designed to address the EU’s plan to settle 1,294 refugees in Hungary — the country’s share of the 160,000 people that European authorities have proposed resettling from the Middle East. Hungary and Slovakia are already suing the EU over the refugee quotas, and, in theory, Orban could veto any such plan. The referendum will help him prop up his domestic popularity and give him a “democratic” bargaining chip with other EU leaders — even though his strategy will be glaringly obvious because the question is framed in a way that produces only one answer.

Direct democracy’s biggest vulnerability may be that it can be subverted by political players who ask the people loaded, incomprehensible or otherwise rigged questions.”

“Orban has no one to correct him. Earlier this year, Hungary’s Supreme Court approved the referendum question. So now a Hungarian voter has a choice between agreeing with Orban or effectively recognizing that the EU can do whatever it pleases in Hungary without any national authorities having any say. The only other option is not to show up, thus refusing to be manipulated. If enough voters do that, Orban will be made to look a fool. But given the combined popularity of Orban’s party, Fidesz, and the hard-right Jobbik, whose thunder Orban is trying to steal with the vote, there’s a good chance the turnout will be sufficient.” (Leonid Bershidsky, Hungary’s Manipulative Referendum, July 5, 2016, Bloomberg.com.

Going back to Durkheim’ Suicide,  there is something there that I find of enormous importance. After studying how suicide rates vary, both in time and across borders and religions, Durkheim has noticed that each suicide act was indeed determined by the individual itself who, in his turn, was influenced by prevailing socio-economic conditions but that there could be noted another very important influence.
The members of the Jewish communities were the least likely to commit suicide, the Catholics came next while the Protestants were the most likely to end their lives, of those belonging to any of these three categories.
Durkheim explained this phenomenon by using  the concept of ‘social solidarity’ – for a society to survive its members need to stick together.
Then Durkheim went further and elaborated on the matter. ‘While it is good for a society to develop strong bonds among its members – the Jews have survived for so long and against such odds, these ties must not be allowed to become strong enough to stifle the individuals – otherwise that society would loose its ability to innovate, hence to adapt itself to the inevitable change that befalls upon its head, no matter what.’An equilibrium has to be met between social solidarity – which pushes us to think alike and to align ourselves to the values shared by the entire community – and individual freedom – that which allows each of us to depart, somewhat, from the social norms without being punished by the rest of the society.

I’m going to use, again, the Jews as an example. They have survived, as a people, for so long and against such odds that they must have done something right. Well… they do take care of their own and they do cherish individual autonomy.

After all they are the ones who came up with ‘God created Man in His image’. Hence all men are considered equal – because they have been cast in the same mould – and assigned a spark of ‘something special’.

Jews have done well in this world. Given the circumstances and until some of us have completely lost their minds.
Why don’t the rest of us follow their example?

They don’t kill each-other!
Not physically and not even symbolically.
No matter how much two of them might hate their respective guts, when push comes to shove  they’ll help each-other out of the mess.

Why have we, the goyim, ignored for so long such a fine example?
Why do we continue to do so even now, after we’ve found out that the only one Planet we can call home is rather small and that no one seems to be coming, anytime soon, to rescue us from ourselves?
And even if there was anybody who could have done this… would any of you lift a finger to help a bunch of quarreling idiots who are continuously threading on each-others toes? Specially when/if each of us would get their due after their death…

Then why would He?

Why would He help us before we start helping each-other?

At some point some of our ancestors figured that saving for tomorrow some of today’s bounty might increase the chances of survival for those who consistently practiced the habit.

Probably this happened in the temperate regions, where’s a marked difference between seasons and where the cool winters make it easier to store food.

And this is how thrift has become a commendable behavior.

Flash forward to the Enlightenment.

Drawing heavily from the Christian tradition prevalent in that cultural area – ‘God made Man in His own likeness’ – the ‘enlightened’ thinkers of the era determined that ‘Men were (created) equal’ – since all of them bore a certain likeness to the same standard.

Hence they must enjoy equal rights too. Including the right of pursuing happiness.

Go ahead. Click that link and read all about it. The guy writes a lot better than I’ll ever be able to. He even has an PhD on the subject.

The only problem is that he’s got it upside down. Using logic as a flash light to flush out happiness is like raping a woman in order to help her experience an orgasm.

But there’s another way to get there.

Csickszentmihalyi, who also has an PhD in psychology, noticed that people are a lot more likely to experience happiness by doing things and enjoying the results of their work than when trying to reach happiness ‘directly’. Even if he still uses the same term, “pursuit of happiness“, his approach is completely different from the one I mentioned first.

In this second scenario, happiness is no longer a goal per se but simply an indication that we are on the right track.

Towards what?

I simply don’t know.

I started with what our ancestors figured out. Imagine, for a moment, what those guys felt when a handful of them were gathered around a fire inside a cave, in the middle of February, munching on some fried meat that had been ‘preserved’ sometime in the autumn, specially when the north-easterly winds were howling outside. Was it happiness?

Again, I don’t know.
But please consider this: Did those guys stash wood, smoke hams and gather berries all autumn so that they might enjoy some moments of happiness in February or they did it in an attempt to survive the winter?

So why do we keep speaking about ‘gratification‘?
What’s the real difference between ‘instant’ and ‘delayed’ gratification? As long as we continue to see it as ‘the ultimate goal’?
A junkie who stretches his stash of dope for longer is any wiser than his mate who ‘enjoys’ his in one go?

last day 1

last day 2

row your boat

While discussing with a FB friend the last video posted by Price Ea – you can watch it by clicking on the picture above – something hit me.

We were exchanging ideas about how much control each of us has over his own life when I realized that our very insistence on using precisely this term is what causes a lot of trouble.

The notion of control divides the world in two.
The controller and the controlled.

And since we are social animals, things become very quickly very complicated.

Being ‘animals’ means we that we have ‘animalic’ needs. Air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, shelter from the elements… The first floors of Maslow’s pyramid, as you surely remember.
Being ‘social animals’ means that we not only depend on having access to enough physical space and resources but also on the cooperation of the people who happen to be in our vicinity.

The control hypothesis ‘leads’ us into a competition for both space and authority above those around us.
Our world becomes divided into what ever space we already control and the rest. Meaning the (yet) uncontrolled areas from where it is very possible that a challenger might spring up anytime so that the controller must somehow extent his control over those areas as well, as soon as possible.
Our neighbors become divided into our ‘slaves’ and our direct competitors. Who have to be, sooner or later, subdued into slaves – lest they do the same thing unto us.

In conclusion, the ‘control hypothesis’ sees the world as a constantly busy battlefield where each of the dwellers is in constant conflict with everybody else.

Luckily, even the most perfunctory  glance down the history teaches us that human success is more about cooperation than about conflict.

Only the conspiracy theorists believe that most wars are started by business people trying to sell their wares to the warring parties. The reasonable business people know that while a certain amount of tension is good for their business – tension sells guns, among other things – an actual war exhausts both parties and destroys solvent demand.
While it is possible that some callous business people or political actors might try to foment war, for various reasons, that doesn’t mean they are behaving reasonably.

Which brings us to the alternate hypothesis.

How about we replace the concept of ‘control’ with the idea of ‘autonomy’?

How about we give up the ‘tiresome’ notion of control and replace it with the peaceful concept of cooperation?

Since we have already figured out that we depend on both those around us and on whatever resources we can identify, how about we enroll the cooperation of as many of the like minded that surround us as possible and search together for those resources?
Instead of each of us simultaneously trying to run faster than everybody else and to hold back as many as possible – the true meaning of generalized conflict?

Which brings me to the notion of ‘autonomy’.
Being autonomous means being engaged in a special kind of relationship. It means being part of a flexible structure. One that is strong enough to resist but flexible enough to allow a variable amount of leeway for each of its components.
The very concept of autonomy recognizes the mutual dependency that exists between the autonomous members of the said structure and also the fact that the very strength of the structure comes from each of the members being able to solve problems on his own.

Autonomously, that is.
Drawing resources from the structure, sometimes enrolling the negotiated cooperation of some other members but, on the whole, most of the problems get to be resolved ‘under the radar’. To the great benefit of the entire structure.
The vast majority of the structure not even noticing the huge numbers of situations that get solved this way.

Compare this situation to the one described in the first scenario, the one where everybody fights, openly or covertly, with every body else and tell me what you prefer.

“Control” or “Autonomy”?

An all out incessant war for ultimate control or a continuous process of negotiation?

 

quote-we-learn-from-history-that-we-learn-nothing-from-history-george-bernard-shaw-52-49-23

Funny, isn’t it?

Or yet another reminder that constantly cracking jokes about everything and everybody is not exactly the best thing to do… Let’s compare the relative importance of the British Empire during Shaw’s coming of age – the period when he developed his habit of cracking jokes about everything, no matter how serious the subject, with the fact that Scotland is seriously planning a second independence referendum.

Or let me remind you of another Brit who enjoys cracking annoying jokes:

3727584669

Not funny anymore?

OK, let me try another tack.

What if

caaf122f196e61ec72335fd6ee6b0981

Could it be that the problem resides with us?

That this is basically a matter of what we do with whatever (history) has been passed to us by our forefathers? That what has been passed to us does have its own importance but that we can’t do very much about it?
History can only be rewritten but never changed…
We, on the other hand, can and should learn to deal with the dynamics of this world.

 

learning_from_history

How come ‘those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it’?

Could it be that some of the ‘students of history’ are doing something wrong?
Misunderstand the very lessons they try to impose on the others?

Cracking annoying jokes about the matters at hand instead of honestly helping others to reach intellectual autonomy and then respectfully allowing them to develop their own interpretations of things?

 

I hear a lot of people discussing about the need to choose ‘the lesser evil’.

Otherwise the ‘greater evil will prevail’ they warn us.

I’m afraid that those who fall into this trap actually validate the idea that ‘evil is acceptable’.
Every time this subject comes up I keep remembering the joke about an older man asking a young lady:
‘Would you sleep with me if I gave you a million bucks?’.
‘Well, I’m not that kind of girl… but you know, that’s an awful lot of money… I could help my old parents… I could go back to school… OK…”
‘But what if I gave you $100?’
‘I told you I’m not a hooker!’
‘That’s already been settled. All that’s left for us to do now is to negotiate the price.’
Same thing with ‘choosing the lesser evil’. Once you’ve  accepted that evil is inevitable … you’re sure to get some. And keep getting it until you quit playing their game.
That doesn’t mean we schould quit voting all together. It would send the wrong message. Even if you don’t go to the voting booth because you are disgusted by the available options the ‘analysts’ interpret your stance as ‘they’re so despondent that they don’t care anymore about their own fate. They they don’t have enough energy left in them to protest so no need to change anything. Or, maybe, things might be allowed to become even a little worse. For them, of course.’
What we need to do is vote what we really like, even if that candidate doesn’t stand the slightest chance. This way the intention of the voter is absolutely clear – ‘I want exactly this’.
If there is no acceptable option, we can always check the ‘non of the above’ box – if available – or take the necessary steps to annul your vote – the specifics depend on local rules and regulations. Again, this sends a rather clear message. ‘I refuse to play into your hands and accept that evil is inevitable’.

bullshit

I’m not a Trump fan. How could I be? Just look at his face!

On the other hand….

“I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.” Abraham Kaplan

Or, in this case, convince a journalist of something and he will ‘dress’ the facts to fit his new conviction.

As I said before, I don’t like Trump.
If I didn’t have a lot of trust in the overall resilience of the American democratic system I would be scouring for a big enough rock to hide behind if/when he might ascend to power.
Unfortunately the present most likely alternative isn’t any better.

But that’s another topic.

Let me go back to the present one.

What we have here is a news/opinion outlet which has a clear political option.
OK, I can live with that. I have some opinions of my own and I love to argue and defend them. In private as well as in public.

But I do believe that the quality of the arguments used in a debate are of paramount importance.

Let me analyze the four I mentioned above.

“Within 20 seconds at a press conference on Wednesday, actual Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went from suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin had once called President Barack Obama the n-word to saying he hopes Putin likes him.”

The apparent implication here being that Trump has trouble maintaining logical consistency inside a rather short discourse and that he is rather gullible – “For the record, there is literally zero evidence that Putin ever called Obama the n-word. It’s hard to say where Trump got this idea, but he has a long history of naively restating things he heard from one person — even random people on Twitter.

Hard to argue against this, specially since there is ample video testimony that he really said it.

a shocked again trump

Well… after actually hearing him, things are not so clear anymore.

“Putin has said things over the last year that are really bad things. He mentioned the n-word one time,” Trump said from his resort in Doral, Florida.
“I was shocked to hear him mention the n-word. You know what the n-word is, right?” Trump continued. “He has a total lack of respect for President Obama.”
Putin doesn’t like Obama, Trump told reporters.
“I think he’s going to respect your president if I’m elected, and I hope he likes me,” Trump said.
Earlier in the news conference, Trump claimed he had never met the Russian leader.”

Not a trace of either ‘gullibility’ nor of any logical fracture here. So why not call Trump for what he really is – a callous manipulator – instead of using convoluted makeshift allegations?

normal versus anormal

Absolutely impossible not to agree with everything written here, right?
No matter what side any of us belongs to…but wait!

“The Democratic Party’s convention was a normal political party’s convention. …”
“The Republican Party’s convention was not a normal political party’s convention….”

A new cleavage in American politics: normal versus abnormal

America’s main political cleavage is between the Democratic and Republican parties. That split has meant different things at different times, but in recent decades it primarily tracks an ideological disagreement: Democrats are the party of liberal policies; Republicans are the party of conservative policies.

But in this year’s presidential election, the difference is more fundamental than that: The Democratic Party is a normal political party that has nominated a normal presidential candidate, and the Republican Party has become an abnormal political party that has nominated an abnormal presidential candidate.

No, I’m not going to take sides here. Not only because I’m not an American citizen so I’m not entitled to vote. But simply because Democracy relies mostly on mutual respect. You cannot refuse to the other party the very right to exist yet still call yourself a democrat. Pretending that your opponent is ‘abnormal’ means that you’re convinced that your opponent should not exist at all.

The way I see it ‘America’s main political cleavage is indeed between normal versus abnormal’ only it seems that both the  Democratic and Republican conventions, if not the parties themselves, belong to the realm of the ‘abnormal’.

But wait, things are getting even more juicier.

When women speak, people tend to mentally turn up the volume

Women, and women leaders in particular, often get criticized more for how they say something than for what they actually say. They have to walk a difficult line of being assertive but not too aggressive, likable but not too much of a pushover.

Even though women are interrupted more often and talk less than men, people still think women talk more. People get annoyed by verbal tics like “vocal fry” and “upspeak” when women use them, but often don’t even notice it when men do.

The same mental amplification process makes people see an assertive woman as “aggressive,” which gets in the way of women’s personal and professional advancement. Women are much more likely to be perceived as “abrasive” and get negative performance reviews as a result — which puts them in a double bind when they try to “lean in” and assertively negotiate salaries.

These kinds of implicit biases are sexist, but having them doesn’t make someone “a sexist” — or if it does, it makes all of us sexists. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or whether you are a man or a woman; everyone has some implicit biases against women.

And that may be one reason why this is the first time a woman has ever won a major party’s nomination.

OK, so what should people do? Vote for Hillary Clinton simply because she’s a woman?

And no, I don’t have any implicit biases against anybody. I cannot vouch for anybody else but I cannot see myself as ‘abnormal’ so I expect there are others in my situation.
Hence I strongly believe that candidates should be evalued ‘all around’, without any biases based on their gender.

Or race.
Hey Trump, this one is specially for you.

barack is not the cause

I’m afraid that Dara Lind, the author of the article I just quoted above, has got her ‘butterfly’ wrong.
It’s not Obama that inadvertently caused any hurricane.
Do you remember the intensity of the birther campaign that had swept across America both before and after Obama was elected President?

And while it’s clear that Trump was one of the most vocal ‘birthers’  do you know who started the whole thing?

“You know who started the birther movement? Do you know who questioned his birth certificate, one of the first?” Trump asked.

“Hillary Clinton, she’s the one who started it. She started it years before it was brought up by me.”

Trump said he no longer talks about the issue because it always breeds controversy but promised to “raise it against” Clinton in a general election.

OK, we don’t have to take Trump’s word on this, even if he’s quite an authority on the subject – given his passion about the issue.

The last quote is from an article published on the CNN site. Click on it if you want more specifics.
OK, so where does all these leave us?
Scratching our heads while trying to figure out what went wrong around the ‘deep well of anxiety about America losing its culture and values’?
Or rather staring at those who drew from deep within this well and used the proceedings to stoke people’s emotions in order manipulate them? One way or the other?
It seems the he wasn’t the only one. Wannabe presidential candidate and ‘racial provocateur’.
So why keep on hoping that by choosing the ‘lesser evil’ we’ll ever reach the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’?
Why keep on trying to manipulate people one way or another instead of finally calling both ’emperors’ for what they are?
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