Trump’s America

Yesterday morning I could have been shot.I wasn’t,but the anamnesis of the event is enlightening.That morning there had been a knock knock burglary in Westchester in the course, of which an 84 yr old was robbed and beaten.A blue van was involved,two or more perpetrators including two males and at least one female were identified as perpetrators who did get away.It was an early a.m crime.Fast forward to 11.a.m.with me sitting at the kitchen table with two hispanic plumbers who came two hours earlier in a red white and blue van.My problem was a rupture in a pipe without warning.As we were discussing,cost,risk and insurance,we heard the sound of a police helicopter flying low above the canyon.I remarked that there must have been some kind of happening on our part of the peninsula sufficient to draw attention.When I opened the garage door to let out the workmen we found at least 4 sheriff deputies,2 female 2 male,outside with 2 SUVs, 2 patrol cars with drawn guns.the contractors had hands up and asked me to help explain.I spoke to the sergeant in charge,who put his gun away and told his officers to put their guns away.He explained that someone on top of the hill had called in reporting a black guy and a white guy with a blue van casing a home.He said that it was clear that the in caller had ‘misinterpretated’the situation.I did not tell him that his English was wrong.It was enough for me that his assessment was quick and correct.The workers did have to produce IDs and sign some forms.After they all left I reflected that,fear,media adeptness,the insidious march of joblessness and an increasing ” I’ve got mine Jack ” attitude with increasing interpersonal hostility,has produced a potentially diastrous intrapsychic attitude mimicking a Trump leadership style,while the GOP pursues its course of squeezing a working and lower middle class.The ruckus produced by the technology of the helicopter sweep didn’t help either.Basically the officer in charge is to be commended.He and his charges conducted themselves reasonably but drawn guns frighten and invite tragedy.



  1. DS, firstly, thank you for the history lesson. The rest is a comedy routine offering material to some of the most sociological observant comedy writers.

    DS: “yes, leftism is a dogma of religious-like power and much of its energy derives from cultivating feelings of superior moral righteousness.”

    Without any empirical evidence to support that hilarious statement, I will take the liberty to substitute leftism with rightism and make myself subject to deserved mocking criticism as well. Next.

    DS: “… the leftist emotional inclination is to demean those feelings and attitudes that are linked to success – …”

    What an assumption! Is your insecurity that deep and your understanding that shallow? Tsk, tsk.

    DS: “The wealth ‘gap’ is a negative thing only to a leftist mind-set that invented out of whole cloth a Deity that demands for the sake of ‘goodness’ ‘equal distributions’.”

    Was the first part of this statement for the benefit of shock? Briefly effective … then, incredulity took over. As St. Ronnie would say, “There you go again.” How many times must we correct your misunderstanding that no one is referring to “equal distribution” but rather “equal opportunity?” Repeating your spinning misstatements do not make them any more accurate.

    Tell you what … unburdening you with my empathetic feelings towards you, I’m out of this loop which lacks facts in your presentation and reveals an unhealthy (is there any other type?) paranoia.

    1. I have presented some hypotheses that SB apparently finds so offensive (blasphemous?) that she chooses to demean me rather than attend respectfully to the ideas presented. I hope that readers examine these possible truths carefully and, if possible, correct them (for everybody’s benefit) with well-reasoned argument. Directly to the point of my thesis I see in SB’s emotion-based comments important lessons about the power (and intellectual dangers) linked to the cultivation of “sacred” beliefs.

      By the way, a rounded explanation for how capitalism creates new resources and efficiently expands their availability to all within its system is explained clearly in a well-reviewed, time-tested book written by Thomas Sowell called “Basic Economics”. I tend to make the assumption that we can all understand that it is the availability of needed resources (a rich soil) that is most fundamental to life. It is then an easy rational step to then understand that a growth of available resources expands the range of environment in which more of our fellow humans can thrive. If more can thrive the probability is that we have helped everyone – which includes those whom leftists claim they want to help. Yet leftism tends to counter and demean in many ways important economic activities that have been proven to expand the quantity, quality, and availability of resources. Go figure! That is exactly what we need to do – and learn (and enjoy) in the process.

      1. DS, this is dedicated to your arguments that tell us that those who do not succeed are not trying/working hard enough. From a fellow conservative (although not agreeing with your rigid parameters, you would classify him as “faux conservative.”):

        “Status rules are partly about collusion, about attracting educated people to your circle, tightening the bonds between you and erecting shields against everybody else. We in the educated class have created barriers to mobility that are more devastating for being invisible. The rest of America can’t name them, can’t understand them. They just know they’re there.”

        There’s honesty for you. I would forgive David Brooks if he mentors in communities.

        DS, I don’t want to demean you. I want to admire you … but, your arguments will have to get better. (Clue: pretentious platitudes don’t do it.). BTW, I’m not trying to I,press you either … just attempting to broaden your horizons. Of course, that’s perspective. 😉

        1. With enough exchange of ideas perhaps we will find a wide horizon of clarity. I have never presented a platitudinous argument that tells us “that those who do not succeed are not trying/working hard enough.” I do not think that you or anyone else would argue that in our vast society there are no people who are self-destructively lazy or inappropriately motivated; so although this factor is a valid PART of any economic GDP, it does not reflect the entire interplay of important forces and I have never said that it did. David Brooks in your quoted sentence about status rules is echoing the ideas of Charles Murray which have been presented with great statistical clarity in his recent and highly recommended book “Coming Apart”. Free people tend to form groups that reflect their common interests. Often within those groups values are formed which are demeaning of or in conflict with those formed by other groups. Social mechanisms evolve that are protective of these values and destructive of others. Murray, (and Brooks in this case), focus on the evolving differences between those “groups” with college educations and those without.
          Freedom tends to allow the growth of social “barriers” (restrictive cultures) but it also tends to produce (free market) for the greatest number of individuals a maximized access to needed resources. Our exceptional system of government has provided a constitution that focuses on protecting an equality of rights under the law for every INDIVIDUAL CITIZEN no matter their group-defined social status or their group-based dysfunctions (thereby we have limits to the degree by which groups can obstruct access to an individual’s opportunity). An effort to change this fundamental unifying factor of individual rights by altering constitutional law to favor members of some groups over others is likely to be destructive of the best that can be.
          “Pretentious” means: ostentatious, showy, exaggerated, conceited, hollow, pompous, fake.
          . I find little interest in ostentation (luckily, nor does my wife). If thinking that I have some valid ideas represents conceit then of this I am guilty. But the most foundational of these ideas is that I am desirous of adjusting to the best argument, so isn’t that contradictory of conceit? Only if supported ideas do not have meaning can I be “hollow” or “fake”. “Pompous”? Strutting is not an image with which I normally identify, but leading an orchestra of 76 trombones would be thrilling! So let’s march (strut) to the music of rational argument and enjoy the process.

  2. Two opening statements … the first one to a narrative of an unusual and highly challenging experience followed by the affirmation of and awareness of a current human condition.

    daedal2207: “Yesterday morning I could have been shot. I wasn’t, but the anamnesis of the event is enlightening.”

    The second provides us with a clinical diagnosis as a response to a harrowing event.

    DS: “A bit of drama gets the mind into high gear. However, the road traveled while in this state of mind doesn’t necessarily reveal objective realities.”

    In an attempt to delegitimize any inner revelations, there is a scurrilous assessment as to how one should react and judge such an experience. Drama? Really? The narrow-mindedness revealed is highly incongruous with the arts. Judgmental on this end? To be sure … in keeping with the recurring mocking of empathy that is the modus operandi of DS. Then, the usual platitudes follow of the dogma advocated. In rebuttal to the assessment of the right vs. the left warring positions (a spectrum that is inadequate in the 21st century … up vs. down being more accurate), I submit below the article (link and text) from the Financial Times’ Edward Luce … hardly a “liberal” publication. Arrogance in its extreme destroys and defeats. It is no substitute for confidence. Maturity is being able to tell the difference.
    “The Anglo-American Democracy Problem

    Lionel Jospin, former French prime minister, once said: “Yes to a market economy, no to a market society”. Anyone grappling with why the US and Britain have been hit worse by populism than many other democracies might recall his words.

    No two western societies have commodified more than the US and the UK. We live to consume. There are worse fates than that. But the price is that we tend to forget the value of other factors, such as the intrinsic worth of liberal democracy. Nemesis comes from believing your own marketing.

    The moment of peak hubris of Anglo-American democracy came in the George W Bush administration following the September 2001 attacks in the US. Supported by Tony Blair, Mr Bush announced he would export democracy by force to the Middle East. Germany and France opted out — a wise choice that looks ever better over time. Much of the anti-establishment cynicism in America and Britain was born during the Iraq war. But that pales against the generation-long triumphalism of Anglo-American capitalism.

    During the Reagan-Thatcher revolution of the early 1980s, the two largest English-speaking democracies rebooted their growth machines and put paid to fears of enduring malaise. Both were right to chafe at the price controls and worker unrest of the 1970s. Yet they over-corrected. Hundreds of thousands of French lawyers and financiers may have moved to London in the last generation. Many more British have been priced out of their own capital city.

    How do you put a value on democracy? For all its stagnation, France has done a better job at keeping its left-behinds above water than its Anglo-Saxon rivals. There are more prime-aged French males in jobs than in the US, an unimaginable statistic even 10 years ago. France’s level of income inequality is lower than that of either the US and the UK, both of which are near the top of the Gini coefficient league. Among the OECD club of developed economies, only Chile and Mexico score worse than the US. What applies to France is truer of Germany, which looks set to re-elect a moderate government in September.

    Both are probably too aware of their own fragility to succumb to breast-beating. Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, plans a series of Thatcher-style labour market reforms that will test his likely majority. Less than half of the French electorate voted in the first round of its assembly elections on Sunday, which is little better than America’s midterm record. On a higher turnout, a third of Mr Macron’s country last month voted for Marine Le Pen, his neo-fascist rival. Even if Angela Merkel wins easily, Germany is on course for its first postwar election in which a far-right party clears the 5 per cent hurdle to win seats in the Bundestag.

    But these are high-class problems against those facing America and the UK. Why are they in so much hotter water? Three reasons. The first is that they fell for their own propaganda. No two countries have done more to broadcast their meritocracies than the US and the UK. Yet the two rival each other for the worst records of income mobility in the western world. It is astonishing that on some measures it is harder to move up the income ladder in America than in class-bound Britain. Yet the UK was a supposedly much-changed society since the shake up of the Thatcher years. Classless America and post-class Britain are the west’s most rigid societies on this most critical count.

    Second, the English-speaking elites have lost confidence in half of their people. The US and Britain suffer from an illusion about the value of qualifications. They routinely confuse having a college degree with being skilled. Those without degrees are supposedly unskilled. Northern Europe has a better grasp of the distinction. In Germany, there is a dignity attached to vocational labour. In the US and the UK, lacking a college degree makes you a loser. It is no accident that it was the least educated — and the most despised — who voted for Donald Trump and Brexit. The danger is that both votes take us even further away from a solution.

    Third, they lack historic memory of system failure. The US and Britain stand out among western democracies as unmarked by revolution or occupation during the 20th century. The longer a country is stable, the more complacent it becomes. Only the paranoid survive in business. The same is true of political establishments. In markets they call this a “Minsky moment” — asset prices having been so stable for so long that investors take on too much risk. Anglo-American elites have played fast and loose with public trust. Their comeuppance has been long in the making.

    daedal2207: “After they all left I reflected that fear, media adeptness, the insidious march of joblessness and an increasing ‘I’ve got mine Jack’ attitude with increasing interpersonal hostility, has produced a potentially diastrous intrapsychic attitude mimicking a Trump leadership style,while the GOP pursues its course of squeezing a working and lower middle class.”

    Yes, daedal2207, fear is being promoted, resulting in hopelessness. The privileged have the luxury of dreaming and claiming it a reality … while being icily detached.

    P. S. I second John McEnroe’s disgust!

    1. Edward Luce of the Financial Times provides for us (thanks to SB) a number of hypotheses worth considering. The success or failure of other countries (when accurately reported) provides empirical evidence of consequences – but consequences caused by what, to what degree, and/or by what combination of orchestrated factors? As with all big issues, it is cause and correlation that needs to be parsed. For instance, Edward Luce states that the attempt to expand democracy to Iraq by George W. Bush was a failure avoided (to their benefit) by Germany and France, but that doesn’t mean that expanding democracy to that part of the world isn’t something that needs to be done for the sake of everyone’s best future. Like most things in life there were many reasons orchestrating together thus motivating our actions. Our move in 2001 against Iraq was not ONLY to advance the spreading of democracy. For instance, eventually we had a military “beachhead” that would have helped constrain the hostile elements of Islam. Apparently motivated by a belief that America was the major cause of hostilities Obama dissolved that force.

      SB stated that I engage in a “recurring mocking of empathy”. She is mistaken. Empathy is too important a concept to mock. With what do we choose to identify? How do cultures influence that with which we identify? What will be the consequences (personal and societal) depending on with what or with whom we choose to identify? Knowing the power of these variables is of immense importance if we are to become good navigators, responsible captains of our own ships on a sea (increasingly) crowded by many dangerously confused souls. SB would be correct in judging that I have serious concerns about the orthodoxies of empathy insisted upon by those of the growing (and increasingly totalitarian) leftist faith. Their insistence that “goodness” is a matter of (demands) empathy with the needy and downtrodden tends to ignore (even deplore) identifications with attitudes of success. This bias leads us into endeavors that limits rather than expands the growth of abilities, abilities that expand and efficiently distribute the fullest range of resources – the very resources that would ACTUALLY improve the lives of the needy and downtrodden.

      1. DS: “… I have serious concerns about the orthodoxies of empathy insisted upon by those of the growing (and increasingly totalitarian) leftist faith.”

        “Insisted upon?” One cannot “insist” a reaction that is innately instinctive. As Mama Rose said in “Gypsy,” you either got it or you don’t. But, the amusing new one is “growing (and increasingly) totalitarian leftist faith!” (Wink with a smile!) there is an obvious diversionary avoidance here of the new measurements that were pointed out in my piece. Forget the “left” and “right … how about the “up” and “down?” Suppose we substitute the classification with … the growing (and increasingly) totalitarian uppish faith! Try to convince the readers of this blog that the combined wealth (control) total of the ups is not greater than the combined wealth of the downs, worldwide. There’s your spectrum … the current reality. It affects all previously identifiable political generalities to the extent of upward mobility … talent-measure, or other efforts. To be blind to those consequences is much like the wildebeest in its herd movement escaping their predators … one more day of survival. Are we only wildebeest?

        DS, you keep me on my toes … especially when you (typically) go off on tangents that avoid the focus of the point at hand. You have my empathy … and, I thank you.

        P. S. To that extent, the worldwide audience of this blog is soooooo encouraged to participate when dropping in!

        1. SB – We are addressing some central themes.
          The history of man illustrates that “empathy” (it is understood that this is something that we all have) can be invested to different degrees in myriad causes, things, and people. In every case what we believe to be emotional understandings comes from OUR PERCEPTION of the object, the person, or group(s) with which emotional identification occurs. Often such emotional investments have resulted in self-sacrifice because our “selves” can evolve to become so many different and conflicting selves precisely as a consequence of our cultivating different forms of these “innate” empathic powers. History proves that we have options as to with what and with whom, and to what degree we may invest (or exclude from) our powers of empathy. For many people such empathic investments have turned into tragedy for selves and those within the orbit of such believers, and for many people such investments have led to success and productivity. It stands to reason that we should be aware of its power when used by others to manipulate, (religions and dogmas for example), and hopefully it will be understood sufficiently to give us a guided focus to those emotional investments that will cause the better future – for our discussions I tend to use as my criteria “the best future for mankind”.

          Importantly related (and not diversionary) – yes, leftism is a dogma of religious-like power and much of its energy derives from cultivating feelings of superior moral righteousness. The (fanciful) possession of a superior use of “empathy” is preached by its adherents. A special place for the believer is created – feelings of meaning and purpose are enhanced. For many believers it is felt to be offensive, (blasphemous) when confronted by disagreement with this faith’s foundational tenets. Right and wrong, good and bad, tend to become the emotional dynamic INSTEAD of the scientific “what is the truth?” and “what will work best?” It may seem incongruous, but “what works best” is not a focus on identifications with the plight of the poor, but it is more likely a focus on becoming empathic with attitudes of success (assuming that we exist within a competitive, relatively free market). Financial success is proof that resources have been created and it is the growing availability of resources that increases the probability that greater numbers of the “poor” will obtain that which is needed to survive – possibly thrive. But contrary to what would likely “work best” the leftist emotional inclination is to demean those feelings and attitudes that are linked to success – indeed often capitalism and “the rich” are condemned by the left as somehow being evil, greedy forces to be condemned. Apparently those whom the left most claims to care for ACTUALLY suffer harm because of its biased sentiments and methods.

          I would not try to convince readers of this blog that there is no (up-down) gap between the rich and the poor. A successful resource-enhancing economy is recognized by the fact that many can achieve and have actually become very rich. The economy is successfully finding and providing real opportunities for those with the full range of abilities to create the resources that save lives. Those who ACTUALLY want lives to be saved would applaud these excellent activities. The wealth “gap” is a negative thing only to a leftist mind-set that invented out of whole cloth a Deity that demands for the sake of “goodness” “equal distributions”. High levels of success, recognized by high (unequal) rewards, are a positive fact for those who want “what works best” – that which provides needed resources for the greatest number in our human family.

    2. Thank you, Susanna, for your apt notice of and response to the attack on the empathy and a harrowing experience reported by daedal2207. I was appalled when I read the initial response by DS.

  3. A bit of drama gets the mind into high gear. However, the road traveled while in this state of mind doesn’t necessarily reveal objective realities. My life without so much drama tells me that there is indeed much interpersonal hostility, but for reasons quite different than those listed here by Daedal2207. Rather than the working and lower middle class being squeezed I see (finally) efforts being made to energize business activity such that all “classes” may truly have more working options thus more opportunity to improve individual lives. It is true that the Democrats are doing all they can to obstruct these efforts and that will evoke much hostility. The Republicans are trying to enlist the dynamics of market forces (which reward unequally based on merit) rather than the simpler to understand, more controlling forms of government distributions ( which are based on the elite’s current fashions of equity – and empathy).
    I am glad the officers conducted themselves reasonably which included avoiding one of the worst events – being shot because one’s gun was not at the ready.

    1. Really, DS, you conjure comic images by Mel Brooks. Congress, playing baseball, suddenly under gunfire, drop the bat or never letting their toes leave their bases, pull out their guns and, in unison, all aim and shoot the bad guy dead.

      1. Daisy – Glad to have another mind joining in the conservation. I make the assumption that you find offensive my observation that police policies pertaining to gun readiness when confronting possibly dangerous people may actually be reasonable. Your baseball analogy may be a bit distasteful given the seriousness of the recent shooting, but it does raise an issue of how should Congressman be protected in a world where so many foment hatred for their causes. Had there not been a few good guys with guns a great many more good guys would have been killed by that bad guy whose deterrence or demise you have not seriously addressed. (I admit another important assumption – you do understand that Republicans can be good guys?) Maybe you could address that issue and the police policy by providing EVIDENCE that helps us all wisely select and support the best policies?

        1. DS: “(I admit another important assumption – you do understand that Republicans can be good guys?)”

          Daisy, do not be intimidated by the sarcasm or patronizing tone. We’re all adults and most of the time we do not address commentators as if they were children. This blog believes in and advocates for good people everywhere. There is a wide variety of interests here and participation/exchange of ideas are welcomed and encouraged. All voices aboard!

        2. Visual evidence is of no use to those who cannot see,auditory evidence is of no use to those who cannot hear.Thus in the valley of the blind there ‘s a one eyed man who’s king.Good guys and bad guys exist in neverland with Hook and Peter Pan.The best policies exist only in the context of truth which in the world of alternative facts is hard to come by. The key idea is ‘Context’is everything.

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