Faced with a choice between being ignorant or being depressed, the bliss of ignorance begins to look more attractive. Being informed is hard work, and since fact can also lead to cognitive dissonance, it doesn’t always make us feel good.
Being entertained is much easier. Nevertheless, some of us still prefer knowledge. Peddlers of media realize this, and they are also very aware of our tendency to rubberneck at the scene of an accident. So the facts they present are often dire, urgent, and breaking. Their facts have shock value to get our attention, but we can only stand to be shocked for so long. This is a win-win for the peddlers, as we are soon driven to consume entertainment to assuage the pain of being shocked.
Those of us who still want to be informed consume action-scene-live-breaking commentary in an effort to seek knowledge, and we consume entertainment to ease the pain of the harsh reality of broken news. Every year that passes finds more of us skipping right over being informed and going straight to entertainment.
Network ratings are high this year on the heels of a very painful (though not very factual) presidential election. Many people simply refuse to discuss politics now. This is unfortunate, but understandable. However, the disdain for knowledge is expanding to include world events and scientific advancement. We can all remember the last conversation we had about “Dancing with the Stars” or the latest sports scores, but when was the last time we discussed a documentary?
The largest single group of people eligible to vote last year – did not. Those of us who did vote have done little to entice non-voters into our camp. We, the fact seeking voters of the United States of America, are partisans. We suffer in various degrees from confirmation bias, allowing only those facts which agree with our preconceived notions to penetrate momentarily into our consciousness. We are so partisan, in fact, that we make value judgments about world events and decisions by our elected officials based, not on merit, but on political affiliation.
So we gather here this week in yet another attempt to overcome partisanship and transcend confirmation bias while we seek the truth. To aid in this quest, we offer you something to rubberneck at the scene of an accident of historic proportions in a long and ongoing emergency. It is shocking in its own right, but doubly so because of the fact that so many people have overlooked it. If it does not shock, we hope that it will at least offend. Offense also increases the flow of blood to the brain.
Without further delay, here is the statement most shocking: President Trump and President Obama are very similar, and in some ways identical.
Bet you didn’t see that one coming. It occurred to me while watching a video of Trump’s entourage and Saudi royals in a traditional dance with swords to celebrate “peace after war.” This, after the largest single arms deal in history. One could choke on the irony.
You see, Obama, the Nobel laureate, was overall the biggest arms dealer in history. Not to be outdone, Trump has already penned the single biggest arms deal in history barely 100 days into his first year.
Obama ran on hope and change for the middle class and the oppressed and spoke of peace in our time. He abruptly packed his cabinet with Wall Street bankers and war hawks, bombed someone somewhere every day for eight years and instituted a program of global assassination. Trump ran on a platform of “draining the swamp,” and then abruptly packed his cabinet with Wall Street bankers and war hawks. Obama talked of a world free from nuclear weapons, and then spent over a trillion dollars upgrading the US arsenal. Trump accused Secretary Clinton of being a warmonger for her suggestion that we bomb Assad, then soon after getting elected, launched a cruise missile attack against Assad.
No doubt there are distinct differences between the two presidents. Obama abandoned his campaign promises by redefining terms and violating the spirit if not the letter of those promises. Obama was more sophisticated while Trump is more blunt and abrupt, already flipping positions on NATO, China, Russia, The Federal Reserve, and most recently, Islamic terrorism.
Both presidents ran, or rather “postured” against the establishment, but as Sam Husseini of Vote Pact wrote recently, they simply “rebranded” the establishment.
I saw an economic analysis recently which demonstrated that earning power for Americans peaked with those born in 1942. Washington has been occupied almost exclusively by Democrats and Republicans (and lobbyists) since then, so it would be almost impossible to blame this political philosophy or that for the decline in our fortunes. Yet we still do. We are supposed to. Our blame and our partisanship is essential for business to continue as usual.
In all these years, throughout all the arguments over social justice, fiscal policy, immigration, abortion and gun control, gender studies, wars on drugs and wars on concepts, with the changing tides and shifting sands of party platforms and talking points, we have seen quite a show. Somehow we were so distracted by the theater that we often failed to notice that our pockets were being picked. We failed to notice that the same companies always prospered. The same lobbyists stayed in Washington year after year. We failed to notice that every president, no matter what their party or platform, was always the chief salesman for the biggest arms dealer on the planet.
Are you beginning to notice yet?