More susceptible to falsehood than to truth

Anything can be corrupted, polluted or discredited

truthI receive Quotable Notes daily. One from March: “Man’s mind is so formed that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth.” –Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536), a Dutch humanist who was the greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance. I don’t know that “the first editor of the New Testament” is correct. But it WOULD appear so.

For the past couple years, in order not to write about him ALL THE TIME, I’ve posted on this date some links about a person who has described himself, more than once as a “an extremely stable genius”.

This has turned out to be an extremely difficult task. It’s not that there’s a dearth of examples of unsettling behavior but rather a plethora of them.

He feels compelled to comment about his claimed expertise in all subjects in some way, even when it comes to offering advice about something for which he is completely unqualified. He offered unsolicited advice on the best way to fight the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. It was met by derision and laughter because the weight of dropped water on a rooftop fire would have collapsed the structure and made things much worse.

He prevaricates brazenly, having lied or misled the American people more than 10,000 times.

He berates senior officials constantly. It’s remarkable how many times his aides ignored his dodgy or possibly illegal requests. He is tired of hearing “You Can’t Do That.” We should all be afraid.

Back in March, his 32 tweets were noteworthy, from a Saturday Night Live rerun he groused about to several attacks on the late John McCain.

He “railed against Shep Smith and other Fox hosts he doesn’t like; called on the network to defend Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro, two hosts he does like.” He’s since dissed Chris Wallace, and the network in general for allowing Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg on the platform.

Nation of Change noted: “No one has yet assessed the full disaster from stripping the office of dignity and competence, plus shredding prestige overseas. When ‘anything goes,’ even changes weekly, then anything can be corrupted, polluted or discredited.”

Frank S. Robinson says he has plan-free fact-free anal sphincter foreign policy. He CLEARLY has no idea how tariffs work.

Robert Reich wrote that, as a result of the tax cuts, “business is booming for connoisseurs of private planes. That’s because the tax law allows businesses to deduct the full cost of buying a plane in the first year of purchase… Some wealthy individuals have even created shell businesses to utilize the deductions.” His golf habit has cost American taxpayers $100 million.

Most Americans believe he has made race relations worse. He again targets transgender people – this time in new proposal to rescind Obama-era healthcare protections.

I could go on, and on, but it’s exhausting. He says he would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents; he feels no responsibility to protect the integrity of our democracy.

Should he be impeached? Probably, and for all these reasons. Even Justin Amash, a Republican, finds his actions “inherently corrupt.”

That said, as awful as I find him, he can win re-election in 2020. And THAT depresses the hell out of me.


A fugue

“Why so many blacks in ads?”

“An America fully integrating blacks is a better America.”

Old Navy ad

“Why so many blacks in ads?” is one of those burning issues that I was totally oblivious to until Frank S. Robinson, no relation to the Hall of Fame outfielder, as far as I know, laid it out recently.

He wrote that “I’ve made a point of tallying blacks in ads and commercials. And in fact they are way overrepresented, relative to their 13+% population share.” Oh, dear! And I thought we were supposed to be post-racial!

An “over-educated Trump supporter” named Bruce who’s “a conscientious, growing, practicing follower of Jesus Christ” – that is oxymoronic to me – elucidates further that not only are there too many blacks, but that “women as the head of household and/or the ‘brains of the outfit’ are overrepresented” as well, and breaks down other delineations.

“Urban liberal advertising agency powers are still directing ad content and money to buy ad campaigns, so this should be no surprise.

“However, are they risking a backlash? Are they fomenting a bit of ‘reverse racism’ and unnecessary divisiveness?”

Oh, so NOW it’s “divisiveness”. Maybe I need that course that some GWU law professor suggested to understand certain disgruntled 2016 voters.

To deal with this “scourge”, I recommend:

Frank should look at TV commercials, not just in recent years, but over the period that there has been national television. Let’s pick 1947, because that makes it an even 70 years, and because that was the year the World Series was first broadcast nationally – OK, to six cities from Schenectady to St. Louis.

Bruce should calculate the racial composition of those ads running in the 1950s and 1960s and well beyond versus the racial breakdown. He would discover, shockingly, that there was a certain group that was “overrepresented” compared to its numbers in the population for a very long time.

Moreover, the ads are representing a changing demographic. One in seven marriages in 2014 were of people from different races/ethnic groups, so the commercials represent not just what is but what will be.

At the point that the average number blacks and Hispanics et al. in ads are overrepresented over the seven-decade span – and not just the “non-threatening black friend” (yikes, 1 black person among 4 white people is already over your 13% quota!) – I’ll get back to them on what to do about this “problem”.

Meanwhile, I’ll muse over Frank’s assertion: “That yuppie demographic is where the consumer-spending money is. And for them, blackness is actually attractive; connoting coolness, hipness, with-it-ness, knowing what’s going on. Not inferior but superior. And to this demographic, an America fully integrating blacks is a better America. Putting them in ads hence creates a positive buzz.”

In other words, that assertion from the 1960s and ’70s that some deemed “racist” may be true: Black IS beautiful. And speaking of which, Procter and Gamble put out an ad called the Talk, which a conservative site described, in the title of its article, as “‘Sick sick sick’ racist Procter & Gamble ad crosses every line! If you are white, brace yourself before watching”.

C is for cultural appropriation

“Sometimes it’s annoying and disrespectful, but relatively harmless (like Anglos who have no idea what Cinqo de Mayo commemorates ‘celebrating’ by drinking too much tequila).”

If there’s something I DON’T want to write about, it’s cultural appropriation. It’s a no-win topic. So why tackle it? Because it keeps bubbling up in my circle of friends and acquaintances.

In response to a New York Times article, an NPR piece stated Commentary: Cultural Appropriation Is, In Fact, Indefensible. And it’s from there that I’ll describe the phenomenon:

“Writer Maisha Z. Johnson offers an excellent starting point by describing it not only as the act of an individual, but an individual working within a “‘power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.’

“That’s why appropriation and exchange are two different things, Johnson says — there’s no power imbalance involved in an exchange. And when artists appropriate, they can profit from what they take, while the oppressed group gets nothing.”

This distinction is important, and I believe addresses Frank S. Robinson’s post about “the newest gambit of politically correct grievance agitprop.”

The phenomenon is not new, actually. According to the Washington Post, the term goes back to the 1970s or ’80s. Bo Derek’s cornrow hairstyle in the 1979 movie 10 was a REAL issue to some folks, but I’ll admit I didn’t get it.

Weekly Sift had this:

“Cultural appropriation is when somebody from a dominant culture tries to acquire fame and fortune (or just look cool) by using stuff created by a dominated culture…. Sometimes it’s done with respect and a share-the-wealth attitude. (Paul Simon didn’t just steal the South African sound, he toured with and helped popularize authentic South African bands.)” [There are some who would disagree.]

“Sometimes it’s annoying and disrespectful, but relatively harmless (like Anglos who have no idea what Cinqo de Mayo commemorates ‘celebrating’ by drinking too much tequila).

“And sometimes it results in a significant injustice, like Elvis becoming a musical icon while the black pioneers he imitated couldn’t get radio time.” Presley became a source of conflict in my own household growing up.

My father HATED Elvis, but I thought he was bringing his own rockabilly sensibilities to the mix. (Now, if you want cultural appropriation, look at Pat Boone, whose vapid Tutti Fruiti squeezed Little Richard’s version out of the marketplace.) I had none of Elvis’ music until I went to college.

I saw this article about a Portland, OR “burrito eatery being shut down after the two white women who ran it were criticized for making food from a culture that wasn’t theirs.” I believe one or both of them jokingly suggested they “stole” the recipe, which helped generate outrage. I find that was a most unfortunate outcome.

I would suggest that the denigration of a culture, especially knowingly, such as Ted Nugent’s headdress in this context could also be seen as cultural appropriation.

So I believe cultural appropriation, different from cultural exchange, exists, and it’s undesirable. But I accept I don’t always know where the line is drawn.

For ABC Wednesday