Monthly Archives: September 2016

“Basket of Deplorables”

Of the 4,000 mammalian species, only chimps and humans make war. Relentlessly, ruthlessly, ferociously. Both species have been at it forever. Hunter-gatherers  were not a harmless people. Up to 30% of their male population died violently. Not like Gettysburg, where 30% of Lee’s army got killed in three days. No, one warrior at a time, in season and out, as inexorably as the waxing and waning of the moon. If the modern world suffered such losses, they would add up to two billion dead.

And who, invariably, is the enemy, whether 50,000 years ago or at a Trump rally?


Trump started his campaign in 2011 with his Birther offensive.  Who is this Barack Hussein Obama, this athletic blackman, born someplace called Kenya? Must be out of Africa. Not a member of our tribe, that’s for sure.  Trump didn’t undertake his Birther conspiracy out of respect for James Madison. He wouldn’t give two African figs for The Constitution. He was after The Other!  “I’ll launch my presidential run there,” thought the Donald.

If you were exiled from your group, let’s say for unacceptable behavior, you would not survive. Or if your group didn’t survive, you wouldn’t either. The success of your tribe was a matter of life and death, Us vs. Them. Good guys vs. Bad guys.  24 hours, 7 days, 52 weeks a year!

In the 17th century, David Hume recognized that moral judgments are powered by emotions, not reason. Trump understands this. He doesn’t bother with reason. He stirs up hatred and contempt for all others, gathering his enlarging tribe – perhaps numerous enough to win the election! – into a group of fanatics. How does he do it? Mexicans – The Other. John McCain and prisoners of war? – The Other. Gold Star Muslim families? – The Other. Obama’s generals? – The Other. Purple Heart recipients – The Other.

Only One Group, One Leader.

Trump takes our collective breath away. Genius can be simply doing something to the very extreme. That’s our Donald!  Folks can’t believe Trump can ride rough-shod over every group, including the Republican party. How does he do it?

Hillary found an answer, what she describes as Trump’s basket of deplorables. Yes! Yes! Let me explain. Some 25% of every population consists of borderlines, psychotics, paranoids, recruits for the White Supremacists, Islamophobics, homophobes, and so forth. They make up roughly half of Trump’s base.  But the other half of his tribe are the victims of deplorable politics. They have lost faith in our government. Help is NOT on the way. On the day of Obama’s inauguration, some twenty Republicans, including Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, vowed to make Obama fail. They would bring his government to a standstill.  It was there for the taking – a black President. The Other. Perfect.

Hillary has to now double down on her insight. She must expose this Republican betrayal of our political system. Chapter and verse. Such as the Senate not acting on judicial appointments, including the Supreme Court; the House not authorizing funds for infrastructure; Republican governors denying Medicaid to millions, even though paid for by the Federal government.  Hillary offers a White House and a Democratic Congress that will make the fierce battles inevitable in a democracy not deplorable, but a work to be done. She must spell out that The Other is not a Party. The Other is our country and its needs.

Under Republicans, The Other is Us!  Their deplorable betrayal of American politics has made the unthinkable thinkable, – Trump as President. “What do you have to lose if you elect me?” asks the greart charlatan.









Trump’s Moral Rampage

Trump’s response to Putin’s flattery, someone pointed out, was that of a second grader. I agree, but that doesn’t account for Trump’s genius. Isn’t Trump’s campaign unlike all others? Isn’t it wildly successful, having already dispatched 16 highly competent folks? What is his magic? What makes him the most unique candidate for the Presidency in 240 years? I will tell you.

Trump knows that the Moral Instinct is an incomparable weapon for silencing the Voice of Reason. Almost every word out of his mouth is a moral judgment. He does not discuss policies or deal with issues. It’s criminal Hillary, traitor Obama, brilliant Trump. His world is populated by the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, With astonishing brilliance he conjures the Moral Sense and its emotional power.

It has been experimentally established that every child, the world over, comes equipped with a Moral Sense.  By age two, a child  has a mental list of prohiibited actions.  By age three, children apply the concept of good and bad to their own actions. By six, well before second grade, they suffer guilt. Language is another faculty that matures sequentially from age two.

Thomas Jefferson observed, “Man was destined for society. His morality, therefore, was to be formed to this object. He was endowed with a sense of right and wrong. This sense is as much a part of his nature as hearing, feeling, seeing.” The fact that moral intuition is universal is evidence that it came by way of evolution. It goes back a long ways. A troop of baboons was observed on a raiding mission when a junior member made a noise. He was immediately slapped for his crime.

The Moral Sense functions as a congenital invariant which persists through the entire life cycle. It is not accessible to reason. It is not affected by experience or aging. It is indifferent to scrutiny. The Moral Sense simply IS!

Everyone knows what is right or wrong. It is automatic. This judgment comes from regions of the mind that are not accessible consciously. Morality that comes from reason is an afterthought. St. Paul said,  The truth about God is known to mankind instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts.” We’re the only animal that comes into this world with a Moral Sense. All children arrive with moral imperatives. Society does no more than shape them.

Now here’s the genius of Trump: HE KNOWS THE ABOVE! Like the back of his tiny hands. What is the hue and the cry across our land? “No one stands up to the monster.” The fact of the matter is that they can’t think. They are frozen in place, like Lauer last Wednesday. These folks are not dummies. They may in fact violently disagree with his rubbish. Then why don’t they confront him? In the case of journalists, why don’t they do their job?


And what happens under these conditions? Emotions take the field. Emotions churn in the depths of our bowels and flash with the incandescence of a blush. Emotions generate enormous power. Witness any Trump rally. He mobilizes the troops into an army of three year olds, morally aroused, screaming about Hillary’s guilt. It’s the same energy that sent Crusaders to the Holy Land. Or that fuels ISIL.

As one scientist said, “Our moral intuitions specify that behavior is either right or wrong or morally irrelevant. It is all the more interesting that no change is observed in the domain of moral intuitions. For the three year old and indeed for most adults, the fact that a behavior is right or wrong is not a function of reason.”

Why does Trump double down on his outrageous statements? Moral maniacs are the same yesterday, today and forever.