Purblind

Our enlightened president recently noted that if we had fewer carona virus tests there would be fewer cases. Now we know (he has told us) he is the smartest man on the planet, but this is close to the stupidity he evidenced when he recommended that we drink Clorox.

The notion that if we don’t test there will be fewer cases rests on the absurd assumption that if we don’t see it then it isn’t there. I honestly think this man actually believes this. He is nothing if not sincere.

But this is delusional. There are facts and there are realities and no amount of strong belief can change those things. I cannot fly unassisted and I will not live forever. I don’t want to believe these things, but that doesn’t alter the facts.

I don’t want to join the parade of president-haters. It’s too exhausting and not very productive. Life is too short and attention to what the man is doing on a daily basis is certain to shorten my life which is already approaching its end. But I do believe that as a trained philosopher I have a responsibility to point out that what we want to be the case is rarely, if ever, what is the case. It’s an epistemological truth: facts exist independent of thought. And truth is a correspondence between what we believe and what is the case, independent of us. As much as I want the virus to be over I still realize that it is still killing people and as an old fart with a disease I am smack in the middle of the target demographic (as they say).

This is why I get so worked up when I see the delusional people going about their business as though the virus is over. Business demands that sports return as soon as possible, so the various billionaires who own the professional sports teams fall all over themselves trying to make it happen — as do college presidents. The colleges are even considering going ahead with collegiate football even if there are no students in the stands. Billions of dollars are at stake. There is even talk about holding the motorcycle rallies in Sturgis, South Dakota again this Summer because it is a celebratory year. So thousands of folks from around the country will gather there for a few days of fun and fames and then leave and take away with them hundreds of cases of the virus they can spread back home.

What we have here is a failure to communicate, as Strother Martin once said. There are a great many people out there who simply refuse to believe what they are told — even by experts with no axe to grind. So we open things up and express our surprise that folks are getting sick again. The numbers rise and we ignore the facts because we don’t want to believe them.

I have said it before, many times, and I will say it again. America is living in the Age of Entitlement when children are told they are terrific even when their work simply doesn’t measure up and all are supposed to succeed even though this empties the word of all meaning: when all succeed, none succeed. Thus do we refuse to recognize true excellence when it stands before us. Since they were very young the children of this country have been told they can walk on water by their parents and teachers. They grow up and, being unused to anyone saying “no,” they don’t hear the word — or see the writing on the wall. They cannot walk on water. Sorry about that.

Whether we like it or not, this virus has not gone away. It still sickens and kills and we need to remind ourselves that what we want to be the case may not be the case at all. In a word: for the first time in our lives, we may have to do something don’t want to do.

And we are demonstrating that we can’t handle that message very well. This does not bode well.

 

 

Suckahs!

These are the folks who reach for their phones half-way through the Infomercial to order crap from the TV (with free shipping (plus $8.50 in “handling ” charges)); they are the ones who can be fooled all the time; who are born every minute; who wouldn’t know a half-truth from an outright lie; who buy the “previously owned” car from the crooked salesman; who worry about what will happen to the hero on their favorite daytime soap opera, because they cannot differentiate reality from make-believe. They are, as Strother Martin would have it, “morons on our team.” They are bona fide U. S. citizens who have decided that the man standing before them with strange hair and small hands selling his own peculiar brand of snake oil will take them to the promised land. He is their deliverer! They don’t care that he is a chronic liar and filled with hate. They will not be confused by the facts because their tiny minds are made up. They are suckahs!

Clearly, there’s no point in trying to reach such people, and especially in this format — a blog post with a couple of dozen readers (on a good day). But one always hopes that somehow those still sitting on the fence will get the idea and wake up. We really need to continue to nudge them.

The University of Virginia recently had a poll and predicted that Hillary Clinton will win the election. They have never been wrong — they even predicted that Sanders would not get the nomination. Clearly these people are astute political animals who are able to read the tea leaves and see the future. I worry only that many people will take them seriously and think it’s “in the bag.” However, it’s not over, as they say, until the fat lady sings. And she won’t have sung until we all get out and vote for the one person in this strange, even ugly, political race who has the experience and know-how to run this country.

It’s hard not to get worked up about this race. Neither candidate will ever earn a popularity contest; they are both flawed in their way. But only one of them has made it absolutely clear that he doesn’t have the knowledge or experience — or even the concern — to be president of these United States. Only one has made it clear that he doesn’t understand the risks of a nuclear war. Only one has made it crystal clear that he is blinded by his own ambition and his hatred for those who are different from him and his determination to bring down those who oppose him. Only one has shown a complete lack of awareness of the role this country must play on the international stage.

To be sure, I am biased. But this bias is based on considerable reading and listening to what is being said. I do wonder why others are not doing the same. I would love to see a president who embodies all the principles I regard as essential to running this country and getting it back on the straight and narrow; somewhere along the line it fell off and desperately needs straightening out. But no one person can do this and we must choose the one out of these two (who are the only serious candidates) who can work with a crippled system and who has the political savvy to make the best of a bad situation. Until real change comes about this country will continue to be run by the special interests and money will be the determinant of political policy. In the meantime, we must vote for the only sane candidate out there — the other one is only for suckahs.