January 30, 2024

Politics, Science, Society – A Look Around Various Corners of America Today

How Many Types of Politicians Are There?

Bottom line, there really are only two basic types of politicians and would-be leaders, with one subset noted.Part of being a political leader is deciding what will be used to motivate people to vote for and support you. In spite of all the complexities and variances of modern life, this choice comes down to two basic approaches.

Types One and Two

Type I is to inspire, to call out our best in each other, to stress the us in USA. Franklin Roosevelt chose this path, as did Theodore Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy, and others. Joe Biden absolutely fits in this group. The history is pretty clear – the country is a better place and does better with such leadership.

The Type II approach, of course, is an exact opposite. This type builds a following by playing on hatred, prejudice, and fear. They speak not of “us,” but of “we vs them.” Fan the idea that “the others” are taking away from you, and they are aided by well placed, secretive powerful people who also do not respect you. These “others” directly threatens your values.

This latter one is politics based on a mean streak. Fear as a first choice political tool – and its partner Anger. Oh, and most helpful to pick vulnerable minorities as the target for such attacks – much easier to inflict damage on them. Dictators and so-called “strong men” (an oxymoron if there ever were one) almost always choose this model.

We saw it with Hitler and Mussolini in earlier generations. Today it is painfully obvious in people like Orban, Chavez, and certainly Trump. They need pain, turmoil, anger and fear or they are out. Countries with people like this in charge will never grow, mature, or know domestic tranquility. But it often works for elections.

And One More, A Variant on Type II

There is a spin off element in this last group. While some in the more extreme movements are true believers in their doctrine, no small number are little more than opportunists. These are people who know better but choose to walk down this evil path because it gives them power. They don’t believe in anything beyond opportunism, and will seize at a victory at any time, based on any empty thing. Trump clearly belongs in this group – the man does not believe in anything but himself.

Often these are smart people who decided to sell their souls for the metaphorical 30 pieces of silver. It would be hard to overstate how dangerous and unsavory this bunch is. If there is a hell, may there be a special corner for them in the near future. Who are examples? Trump for sure, but at the same level we find Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, JD Vance, Mitch McConnell, and others. Worst of the worst, deserving no support and no respect. When you hear things like this, you know you are hearing from this cabal: “I always tell people back home beware of bipartisanship,” Representative Warren Davidson (R-OH).

Ingenuity’s Last flight On Mars We received the sad news a few days ago that Ingenuity, the remarkable and plucky little helicopter that has been flying around Mars, WAY beyond all expectations, took some damage to its rotary blades on its last mission, and is to fly no more. This little four pound wizard made 72 flights, providing important contributions to science.

That this tiny thing flew by remote control from earth in an atmosphere unlikely to support helicopter flight at all is just terrific. Rest easy, little guy. You have earned your place in history – and as one of my permanent screen savers.

Alabama’s Desperate Push to Kill Someone

 Alabama takes the prize in this round as the place that makes us ashamed it is part of America and one that is populated by actual human beings, even though its policies would indicate that. State officials were desperate to execute somebody – it’s been so long, you know. They resorted to poisoning by gas, a completely untested and unknown approach to end a human life. All sorts of scientists, medical specialists, and moralists begged them not to do this, to no avail. They executed the selected prisoner a few nights ago, with the blessing of the current Supreme Court. We may never know how the process ever went. At least two more states are looking at this process as well.

I have no intent of defending the prisoner chosen for this. I know nothing of the specific case, other than he was convicted of a capital crime. I’m just saying that if Alabama politicians spent even half as much time, effort, and money taking care of their citizens as they do in punishing others, the state would be a hell of a lot better. There are nice people in Alabama – I lived there for a while. The nice people are not in charge of their state.

Education and Diversity Of Thought – Or Not

DeSantis (remember him?) created a monster in his effort to use the state of Florida as a demonstration of how masterful he could be in overcoming being awoke. Two most recent examples: Florida is taking sociology completely out of school curriculums. Heaven forbid one should learn something about how to understand those who are different from you. And at least one school district, in following state guidelines has chosen to ban not just any book; they are banning dictionaries.

No wonder educators, medical personnel, and others who rather like being in the 21st century are leaving the state in droves. Probably the next thing is to try shutting down Disney World and replace it with that Noah’s Arc thing in Kentucky.

Two Little Bonuses For Today
  1. Enjoy this short 5 minute video from CuriosityStream.com (a terrific service – highly recommend it). This gives one a feel for the remarkable reconstruction of Notre Dame. Hats off to the French – it appears the cathedral may be reopened as early as this year. Quite an accomplishment.
  2. A Prediction: Trump is on a downward spiral of multiple crashes and disasters. Circumstances, life, and karma will consume him before the first Tuesday in November. Feel free to call me out in due course if I am wrong.

          Bill Clontz

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