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Saturday, August 24, 2019

A moron walked into the Oval Office...

              This motto is required to be displayed in every public school by order of the President

I am not sure what is considered correct to call people who aren't all there.  Especially when there seems to be no there there.  In my youth, the term "feeble-minded" was applied delicately to avoid any sense of opprobrium.  For a time "retarded" was applied as sort of a medical term, but when the noun "retard" entered the vocabulary, use of the term was discouraged in respectful society.  In most communities, such people were often roaming about and their fellow citizens treated them with a caring deference.  The problem with them was when they participated in areas of community life that were far beyond their comprehension.

For a time there were a couple of such souls who frequented the college campus where I worked.  Students and faculty were accustomed to seeing them around, and would sometimes exchange casual greetings with them.  Well, not  both of them.

The one called Gus rode his bicycle and collected aluminum cans out of the trash and wherever he spotted them.  Gus was in constant conversation with some unseen and unheard person or thing, and nobody wanted to interrupt his conversations.  He occasionally checked the trash cans in the library where the workers asked him not to talk and disturb the patrons, but he ignored the request and continued his conversation, which was kind of mumbling anyway.  I could not make out much of what he said, but once I think he said, "The goddamn tater tots is rotten."

The other man, who I will call Ike, was distinguished looking and did not outwardly seem to have problems.  I did not realize what was different about Ike until the incident with the flower garden.

There was a courtyard between a pair of twin buildings in one of which my office was located.  In the center of the courtyard was a flower garden in which some very tall, stalk-like plants with flaming red flower heads were planted each year.  They reached their peak bloom early in the fall semester.  It was also a custom for students from nearby dorms during homecoming weekend to smash them down during some beer-fueled frenzy in the night.

One Monday morning I came to work and saw that the flower bed was trampled down.  Ike was loitering about the courtyard that morning.  

"Looks like there was quite a celebration here," I said to Ike.

He said, "It was the aliens, you know."

 I said, "Aliens?"

He said, "This is their landing spot, you know.  I see them land here when they come.  They park here when they read our books."

I hastened to my office to check on my books.

The two men were only occasionally a bit of concern.  When there were meetings open to the public, Ike would show up.  When the university had guest lecturers of some note, their lectures were open to the public, and the audience was invited to ask questions.  At one such lecture, a futurist who was an expert on designing environmentally healthy urban infrastructures finished his talk, and Ike was one of the first to raise a question.  Ike asked, "How do you keep people from peeing in the water?"  The lecturer was stunned and asked for clarification but the professor who was moderating the program took the lecturer aside and apparently explained about Ike.  Meanwhile, the audience sat in confusion while lecture sponsors buzzed about trying to figure out how to handle the situation.  A town official approached Ike, put a hand on his shoulder, said something to Ike, and then Ike followed him out of the lecture.  The people in charge tried to continue the question session, but those in attendance felt a sense of disorder and the discussion petered out.

As it turned out, Ike also attended city commission meetings where he anxiously awaited for the citizen comment and question sessions that were held at the close of every meeting.  It had become the custom not to call on Ike until everyone else had their turn, and as Ike talked, the commissioners would file out leaving the mayor to deal with Ike.  One of the commissioners learned from people who were acquainted with Ike that he could not resist an invitation to have a cup of coffee.  He thought that being invited for coffee was an acknowledgement  of his importance, and he would happily break off whatever he was doing to go for a cup of coffee.  The town official who intervened at the lecture had invited Ike to go for coffee, and Ike could not resist.

That was not the end of the matter, as students made a meme out of Ike's question and were heard quipping things like, "Aw, go pee in the water,"  and "Let's go pee in the water."  It became an issue with faculty who gave public lectures and brought guest lecturers on campus.  Faculty and administrators discussed the incident at meetings.  A senior faculty member asked the faculty to consider how it would feel to give a serious lecture on one's life work and the most memorable thing recalled about the lecture was some question about peeing in the water.  The guest lecturer had told his hosts that, while a bit amusing, the question had a disconcerting effect on him and the audience. Many people had stories about previous encounters with Ike on campus.  The senior professor reproved his colleagues by pointing out how Ike's question had occupied and distracted the campus  so that instead of talking about important ideas about planning healthy and reliable infrastructures for our communities, we're babbling about the ravings of an idiot.  That, said the professor, pretty much brings the campus down to his level.  He made the point that we should treat such individuals with respect, kindness, and consideration, but they should never be part of purposeful conversations on important matters.  We have free speech; our job is to provide coherent and responsible speech, he said.

Some objected to the harsh language of the senior professor, but the strong consensus was that he made a valid point.  The essential discussion that the lecture was intended to provoke had lurched off into the world of  incoherence.  The basic purpose of a university is to practice and teach the critical skills of coherent speech.

But it is in the world of incoherence that the United States find themselves.  When Donald Trump walked into the office, coherent and responsible speech left.  When Trump states something as fact, it is likely to be a lie.  As of this month, Trump has racked up more than 12,000 false statements since he became president.  

The most crucial point about Trump is the way his constituents react to him.  Part of the problem is press reports.  It is the job of the press to report on what government officials do and say, and what Trump says and does needs to be reported.  But the result is like musing over the latest antics of the village idiot:  what nonsense has he been up to now?  And so, the nation has been reduced to moronic babble.  

Recently after Trump made some brazenly racist tweets about four congresswomen of color,  the House voted in rebuke.  But the Republican members angrily defended him.  And so, a country that has worked its way out of slavery and segregation toward a working equality and sense of justice has regressed back into being a nation divided by racial hatred.  The divide is deeper than racism.  It is a divide between those who believe in freedom, equality, and justice for all, and those who want those things only for themselves. In the Age of Trump, when the country's leader can openly cast aspersions against those of differing colors and beliefs,  the goals of democracy are no longer a consideration.  The right to cultivate hatred is paramount.  And so, we babble and shake our heads, and act as a nation reduced to moronic passions.  

A few months ago, the Mueller report was released, which detailed efforts to subvert our democracy from foreign detractors who were given a receptive welcome from within.  In the raging sound and fury about the antics emanating from the Oval Office, the report has largely been forgotten.  Although about 62 percent of the people say they disapprove of Trump's performance, the national discussion is about the antics of a moron, not about those factors in the nation that made rule by Trump possible.  

The nation is divided by those who believe in the virtues of democracy and those who pursue the power to exercise their bigotry.  It is a hard fact to face that about half of the country prefers fascism to those human potentials outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.  Instead, we babble about the latest antics from the morons in the Oval Office.


larry kurtz said...

Covering Trump's every distraction has been the design all along, Dave. That's why the Clinton campaign threw the election.

The Deep State wanted Trump in the White House because they're the Mob, too and he’s leveling the other guys’ poppy fields and heroin distribution with bombers from South Dakota while leaving the friendly opiate trade to flourish. The Trump Organization is an equal opportunity money launderer doing it for CIA and other Deep State actors for decades. Trump hasn’t released his financials because they show the paper trail leading to every White House since probably Eisenhower. Fred Trump is a JFK assassination conspirator hence those dox are being held up, too.

John Thune's rejection of Trump was a ruse. He already knew Donald Trump was a sleaze from his basketball buddy Jim Comey. That's right: the vast white wing of the Republican Party was going to beat Hillary Clinton at any cost even if it meant colluding with a sworn enemy of the United States, destroying the presidency and taking down the republic. So Thune made Congress look the other way as Russia and Cambridge Analytica conspired with Facebook to hack the election.

And, had former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton been elected in 2016 Paul Ryan would be president today. Her campaign knew that if Hillary won the rabid Republican House would have impeached her by now, the Senate would have removed her before midterms and Trump would be on the sidelines egging them on. Somebody (Robert Mercer and Cambridge Analytica) promised Paul Ryan the presidency had Clinton been removed and Tim Kaine met an unfortunate end but that all crashed when Trump was installed. There’s no way in Hell the GOP would have given a President Kaine the time to choose a Veep.

Debbo said...

Excellent post professor. I'd like to quote you if that's okay?

"The nation is divided by those who believe in the virtues of democracy and those who pursue the power to exercise their bigotry. It is a hard fact to face that about half of the country prefers fascism to those human potentials outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution."

It's disheartening, but true.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States