Monthly Archives: June 2017

Donald’s Big Little Penis Day

4:17 AM Tweet

“MadCow Madow claims I have a small penis… Wrong! Lie. Fak NEws!!! So Sad.   She is the one with tiny penis. Mine is the biggest ever! Tremendous. I’ll show her…”

4:23 AM Reince Priebus on call from President

Reince: I saw it. Yes Mr. President, I’ll clear our entire schedule… yes even the terrorism briefing. I know, they’re boring anyway. No we’ll keep the meeting with Putin. He makes you happy. Will assemble the full cabinet for an emergency meeting at 6 AM. OK bye.

5:30 AM Melania during breakfast with Donald

Melania: That’s outrageous my love. You need to teach this Maddow a lesson putchkin. Make her suffer tenfold for saying my big strong Donny has a tiny penis… Yes dear you make me SO horny I have to go… <Click and dial tone heard from Melania’s end of the phone>

5:45 AM Personal Valet while lengthening President’s tie to penis level

Valet: Yes sir. Amazing sir. It’s amazingly huge. I can see that sir. Very impressive.

6:34 AM Emergency “War Room” meeting continues

Nikki Haley: No sir, again, we really don’t need to see it. We believe you.

Jeff Sessions: Have no fear sir, we’ll bring the entire Justice Department to bear against this Maddow woman. I never liked her much myself. She once made a totally inappropriate remark about my chin.

Rex Tillerson: I am not sure this actually rises to the level of an “International Incident,” but I’ll look into having that scope broadened.

James Mattis: Just to be clear, Mr. President, we can’t actually “nuke” an individual person. Yet. But we’re working on the technology.

10:03 AM Sarah Huckabee Sanders morning press briefing

Sarah: I’ll just say that the President has the hugest penis ever. No one denies that and it is just totally inappropriate for members of the media to be launching personal attacks like this against a sitting President.

Reporter: Have you seen it personally?

Sarah: No I have not but I don’t need to because everyone knows it’s the biggest. He’s the President after all. Next.

Reporter: How can you stand up there and communicate reports as fact that you have not confirmed to be true?

Sarah: I’ll have to check with the President and get back to you on that. Can we discuss another topic? There are many cancelled meetings today that are more important to the nation than this penis story which is totally fabricated by the fake news media.

Reporter: Sarah, we cannot find any records of Rachel Maddow making any penis comments that could be construed as maligning the President. Can you produce the tapes to substantiate this accusation?

Sarah: Those tapes will be coming.

Reporter: When?

Sarah: Soon. Next

Reporter: How do you respond to the leaks from within the Cabinet that this entire accusation is based on a dream that the President had this morning after eating an entire pepperoni pizza last night?

Sarah: Look, I’m not going to engage in who said what where or whether something was a dream or not or for that matter whether pepperoni pizza was involved. The President’s tweet speaks for itself and he has moved on. We should all move on as well.

Reporter: But it was just a dream!

Sarah: If the President dreams it, it’s real. End of story.

1:12 PM The President in response to a reporter’s shouted question

President: No I have not moved on. I will never move on until she apologizes personally for this small penis comment. I’m instructing my lawyers to file a libel suit against this Madcow Madow. I also have men looking into the size of my penis and what they are finding will shock you, let me tell you. That’s all I have to say. But I’ll just say that I have the utmost respect for women. No one has more respect for women than Donald Trump, OK? But the Madcow Madow isn’t really a real woman if you know what I mean…

3:54 PM Betsy DeVos on call with the President

Betsy: Yes sir, I got the pictures. Umm, thank you. Very impressive. Yes, I’ll definitely work on getting these put into education text books as soon as possible.

5:16 Dinner with Ivanka and Jarod

Ivanka: Well daddy, here’s one idea. We could pitch “The Biggest Penis Loser” to NBC. It would be a great vehicle to launch some new Ivanka Collection merchandise. Plus we could hold it at Trump hotels. Jared dear, what do you think.

Jared: <continues smiling and staring into the distance sagely>

 

Sarah Palin11:48 PM Personal Valet after being called into the Presidential Bedroom

Valet: Yes sir. It’s the most amazing penis I’ve ever seen. No… I mean the most amazing penis ever in the history of penises.

Trump: Ok, if you’re sure. Oh and could you bring me another pepperoni pizza? It reminds me of someone that makes my penis even bigger.

 

 

 

 

 

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Compartmentalizing Delusion

CompartmentsReligious people hold a lot of beliefs that nonbelievers conclude are delusional (see here). Many of these believers also hold important positions of responsibility in the government, in the media, and business. Some of them even sit on our Congressional Science Committee. Their decisions deeply impact public policy and the very existence of us and of our planet.

Those most fervent in their beliefs proudly tout the fact that their deeply held religious beliefs guide and influence all of their decisions as a lawmaker. But when someone points out that those deeply held religious beliefs are in direct conflict and contradiction to basic reason and accepted public policy, they then typically claim compartmentalization.

Essentially the contradictory claim they make is that while they affirm that they are deeply influenced by nonsensical ideas, those nonsensical ideas do not influence their thinking in rational matters. They insist that they can wail over rapture on Sunday and make prudent, long-term budget decisions on Monday. They can enumerate why evolution is a hoax cooked up by scientists at Wednesday evening Bible study, then properly assess the advise of climate change scientists in their Thursday morning advisory board meeting. They can affirm that the Bible is the only source of truth on Saturday morning, then go home and work on educational text book selections all afternoon. They assert that one is not affected by the other in the least – except when they want to tout the fact that it is.

Their amazingly selective isolation of thinking, they claim, is all thanks to the magic of compartmentalization. It lets them espouse crazy beliefs and claim to be perfectly sane and rational too. This claim is made so often and with such matter-of-fact certainty, that most people just tend to accept it as true.

But let’s examine this claim of compartmentalization more closely.

All of us compartmentalize somewhat. In fact, such compartmentalization is critical to our functioning. We mentally separate work and home, parent and spouse, private and public. When we think of scientific models, we hold two seemingly different views at the same time (see here). Compartmentalization is an essential rational and emotional adaptation. Maybe that’s partly why we accept their claim of exceptional compartmentalization so easily.

But all normal and highly functional behaviors can become abnormal and dysfunctional at some point. At the extreme, we see people with multiple personalities that are split so completely that they are not even aware of each other. And although some extremely rare individuals can apparently completely isolate their thinking, most of us cannot. For most of us, any irrational, dysfunctional thinking does spill over and taints our rational thinking.

We humans can do hand-stands too. When I was in high school, there were a couple of guys on my gymnastic team who could literally walk up and down stairs between classes, in a crowd at full speed, on their hands with perfect form. But because those rare individuals could do it doesn’t mean we can all claim it. Just because Jimmy Carter seemed to isolate his religious belief from his rational thinking in a healthy way, doesn’t mean that many of us can do that. Jimmy Carter was more like the gymnast who could walk up and down stairs on his hands. Most others who believe they can isolate belief from rationality will invariably plummet down the stairs, taking innumerable others crashing down with them.

As I point out in my book, Belief in Science and the Science of Belief (see here), religious belief is the pot smoking of rational thought. Every pot smoker or alcoholic is convinced that they can handle it. That their rational thinking is not affected. They think what they are expounding while high is really profound, but it’s really just nonsensical gibberish. Religious people can’t see how ridiculous they sound while they’re high on the Bible and only listening to others who are just as stoned.

We don’t easily accept this same claim of compartmentalization in any area other than religion. We don’t fully accept that ones stressful job as a homicide cop has no affect on their home life. We would not accept the assertion by a racist that while he may attend Klan meetings on Friday nights, this has no impact on his professional behavior as a hiring manager. Most of us would be at least skeptical in accepting any opinion expressed by a Wiccan who claimed to have supernatural powers, despite any claim of compartmentalization.

Even religious people don’t accept any compartmentalization except the one they claim. If I ran for public office as an atheist, I don’t have any illusions that my claim that I can compartmentalize my atheism would be sufficient to convince any religious people to trust that my judgement has not been tainted by my atheism.

Religious thinkers claim compartmentalization to avoid legitimate skepticism regarding their compromised rationality. Sadly, we accept this claim for the most part. We should stop giving them this free pass. Not only can such fervent “deeply held” delusions not be sufficiently compartmentalized, but believers don’t really want or intend to compartmentalize away their beliefs in any case.

Religious people want and need to propagate their beliefs and weave them inextricably into public policy. Our polite acceptance of their dubious claim of compartmentalization only helps enable them to do that.

 

Trump’s Cabinet of Sycophants

Like the rest of the nation, I have lots of other topics I’d like to blog about, but I instead need to vent about Donald Trump’s pathetic first “Cabinet Meeting” held today. It was a new low for a President who keeps surpassing expectations for how low a President could possibly sink – and that made it a new low for our nation.

donald-trump-cabinet-meetingThere was no actual meeting. No normal business was conducted. No information was exchanged. It began unsurprisingly with Trump touting how he is the greatest President ever. His obscene self-aggrandizement was followed with each of his cabinet ministers taking their turn to genuflect at his feet and pour praises upon him in the most hyperbolic manner they could (see here). Each one affirmed that their lord and master is the greatest president ever, that he has accomplished more than anyone else could possibly imagine, and showered him with their deep gratitude for the singularly great honor of serving under him.

Trump accepted each sickeningly fawning public declaration of adulation and adoration like some cheap fantasy novel King, nodding his approval as each of his Barons pledged undying loyalty with flattery and tributes of gold.

It felt like we imagine North Korea to be, but then again I’m not sure even Kim Jong-un is actually as pathetically needy or that he has a more disgustingly sycophantic group of advisors around him than Trump does. Today, at least in the Executive Branch, we became worse than North Korea because unlike the North Koreans, we chose to empower this ridiculous child-king.

Trump is still not a President. He holds the title but he does not act like one. He rather acts like the winner of a reality TV show – Survivor or Last Man Standing. Or maybe he’s closer to a romance novel Beauty Pageant winner, doing the circuit of required appearances to revel in the applause and envy of all those who called her plain and dull in High School. Dressing up each day only to feed her vanity but with absolutely nothing of any actual substance to offer from atop her throne.

This meeting today dashes all hope that Trump would bring together a Cabinet of distinguished advisors who could competently manage this nation. To be sure, he has succeeded, but he has succeeded in assembling a Cabinet of Sycophants who are willing to debase themselves and grovel to feed the insatiable ego of this egomaniacally compulsive liar.

As long as there have been kings and dictators, the worst of these have found sycophants to serve them. Donald Trump has found his.

Don’t Get Used to It

WeAreHereIn the early 1990’s, a group called Queer Nation came up with the “We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!” chant. It was wildly successful and contributed greatly to the phenomenal success of the Gay Rights movement. That movement was so successful that other movements still look to it as the gold standard for both inspiration and strategy. Many of them have adapted and adopted the “We’re here!” slogan-as-a-strategy in form, in spirt, and in attitude.

Arguably however, the slogan has jumped the shark. Even Lisa Simpson, longtime advocate for Gay Rights, eventually shouted in frustration “You do this every year, we ARE used to it!” (seen here). At this point, one could launch a counter-chant “You’re here! We’re used to it! Get used to it!

But the slogan is past its day in deeper ways. I’ll get to that shortly.

First let me point out that the slogan has become much more than a mere rallying chant. It reflects a worldview, an attitude, a tone, and an approach to relationships, both societal and personal that has influenced all of our culture. This message was so successful that it became deeply internalized and enculturated.  It permeated the very thinking of a generation of liberals and conservatives alike. It says, in the most uncompromising terms, that you get what you want by ultimatum. There is no room to negotiate. There is no shared responsibility nor shared blame. The burden is all on the other side. You had better change because I am what I am and I am not going to change or go back into any form of a closet. It is a problem when this no-compromise attitude is generalized beyond the bounds of movements like Gay Rights.

In addition, Liberals were particularly influenced in a much different way. The slogan enculturated the idea that we should not expect others to compromise. We must accept anything and everything no matter how distasteful we find it. We must never criticize other ideas or behaviors, let alone expect or demand anyone else to change. Good liberals chasten each other when they are insufficiently accepting of other viewpoints and differences. This is another unfortunate lasting impact of this movement which taught that it is wrong to judge or criticize.

If this seems confusing to you, I say good! It means you are paying attention! I am suggesting that the Gay Right’s movement in general and the “We’re here!” slogan in particular had two seemingly contradictory side-effects. One was to encourage a destructively uncompromising posture, and the other was to instill an attitude of principled acceptance. These actually reinforce each other.

In current culture this encourages us to assert an unwillingness to accommodate others in any way – even as we chide and criticize those who a do not accept the inflexibility of others. In practice, this is manifest by self-righteous “take me or leave me” declarations when the issue impacts us strongly, and at the same time preachy “you should accommodate others” admonitions when the issue does not impact us as personally.

While it was the right message at the right time for the Gay Rights movement, this confrontational get-over-it ultimatum it isn’t necessarily a good template for other movements. Moreover, it isn’t a particularly good attitude for society in general and it certainly is not a good approach to interpersonal relations. It is a strategy adopted even by the most vile and indefensible groups and individuals.

We’re here! We’re loud and obnoxious! Get used to it!

We’re here! We’re Confederates! Get used to it!

We’re here! We’re Gun-toters! Get used to it

Civilized societies have to cooperate, negotiate, moderate, and compromise if they are to survive. In most cases, an ultimatum strategy is doomed to result in unfortunate outcomes for both parties. When we can compromise and make changes, we can demand that both sides make some effort, some accommodation.

The same is true for interpersonal relationships. If one roommate declares “I’m a messy slob but I’m not going anywhere so you better just get used to it,” it leaves the other party no choice but to walk out. Love me or leave me doesn’t work. Unlike gender identity, most things are somewhat under our control and there are things we can and should do to improve our own behaviors.

In truth, this attitude is dated. Those still influenced by it are blind to the times we live in today. During this Era of Trump, uncompromising declarations and pious acceptance are not as appealing as they once were. People who are making a difference today are people who say “I am willing to change and I do not accept your assertion that you cannot change as well.”

WereHereWith radical crazies infesting the government and with Trump running a for-profit White House, we can no longer accept the “Accept the things I cannot change…” platitude. We cannot accept the fact that Donald was elected President. This picture posted like subversive graffiti on a telephone pole near my house. It reflects the new, more engaged attitude. It reads “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.

We cannot simply accept evolution and climate change deniers in the Congress and Senate. We cannot simply accept a narcissistic lunatic in the Oval Office. We have to criticize. We have to fight. We have to demand change. We have to give up this “liberal principle” of polite acceptance that has lobotomized our brains since the Gay Rights movement launched its famous slogan. We must stop falling for the jiu jitsu logic of Conservatives who tell us that – as we told them about Gay Rights – we now must “get used” to Trump and everything he fails to stand for.

The Gay Rights movement did not intend to teach us acquiescence. Quite the opposite – it was all about boldly fighting for your cause. But it also did not intend to teach that any assertion of an absolute position on any issue must be completely accepted. If both sides take absolute positions of ultimatum, we can only have division and dysfunction.

Apart from basic human rights issues, we do NOT have to accept every card we are dealt. No one should be allowed to build unassailable walls around their intransigence and we should not be pressured by our own peers into respecting and accepting those artificial constructs. “Get used to it!” should not be a principle that we apply in an uncompromising and self-destructive fashion.

Ultimatums are not a strategy, and neither is Zen-like acceptance. In most things, engagement with others and compromise on both sides is how we find win-win solutions.

In realms of faith, many of us conclude that my need for you to respect my crazy belief forces me to respect and support any crazy faith you may have. Truth and belief become inextricably blurred. It’s kind of the same thing here. If we want others to accept our ultimatums, we must then accept the ultimatums of others – no matter how crazy.

We have to exert more nuanced and fact-based judgement in both areas. It’s time to deprogram ourselves away from the old ultimatum-based “We’re here!” thinking of the Gay Rights era and adopt more sophisticated strategies to win hearts and minds and make real change. That starts with not accepting ultimatums or wisdom that tells us to accept what those who profit from the status quo tell us we cannot hope to change.