Attempting a census of the great souls!


Pity versus punishment: Again today, we're recommending pity over punishment. 

Given our current state of development, punishment is still needed as a part of human society. That said, we're recommending pity over punishment as a fundamental moral approach. 

We decided to go with this recommendation today when we clicked to the Washington Post's web site. At the very top of the site's front page, a synopsis of a news report said this:

Democrats wrestle with length of Trump trial
Democrats are eager to punish President Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but wary of a Senate trial dragging on too long and slowing President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda.

"Democrats are eager to punish Trump." In our view, it's the eagerness to punish which represents the shortcoming here. 

At this site, we've long regarded Donald J. Trump as "some version of mentally ill." We've gone with that somewhat convoluted language because mental illness is a somewhat amorphous concept, and because psychiatry involves a poorly understood technical language.

On a technical basis, should someone afflicted with antisocial personality disorder be described as "mentally ill?" While we're at it, does it make sense to describe such a person as being "afflicted" at all?

Are such people "afflicted" with an "illness," or are they simply bad people?  It has seemed to us that such questions arise in the context of Donald J. Trump's extremely strange behavior over at least the past ten years—in the context of what seems to be the gentleman's vast disorder.

We would have liked to see (carefully selected) medical experts asked a wide array of such questions. Instead, our upper-end press corps agreed, as a group, that such questions, and such possibilities, must never be discussed.

So it goes, in this year of the lord, when "educated" members of our species attempt to conduct, or pretend to conduct, our version of "public discourse."

We'd recommend pity for Donald J. Trump, in line with Bob Dylan's past teachings, but also with a rosebud-scented assist from Citizen Kane. (First, of course, you try to remove such a person's ability to cause harm.) 

For what it's worth, we suspect that a pity-based discourse would produce better political outcomes. With that in mind, we note another headline in today's Post:

Poll: Majority wants Trump banned from future office
One of the analysts reacted by posing an ironic question. If a majority feels that way, why do we need to engineer a ban?

According to major experts, we humans are strongly inclined to leave no punishment behind. When we stumbled upon this morning's "eager to punish" synopsis, we'd already been thinking about the four books we mentioned in yesterday's report, and with them the great souls.

We said that Charles Mann's 1491:  New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus  was one of the two most interesting books we've read in our two decades at this site. We said we'd pair those two books with two other books—the two books we've read in that time which were most instructively wrong in some way.

That makes four books in all! One of those books leads toward a question—in our own lifetime, which people have perhaps emerged as our planet's "great souls?" 

Who are the modern world's great souls? Even as the NBA celebrates and commemorates Dr. King with ten (10) games this Monday, we may start our week by listing the four books to which we refer, then moving toward that census..

In theory, Dr. King will be remembered and commemorated on Monday. In practice, TNT and NBA-TV  will be televising five of those games, starting promptly at noon Eastern. One synopsis of this commemoration goes exactly like this:

On MLK Day the league will have a five-game slate of nationally televised games on TNT and NBA TV, beginning at Noon EST. During those games and throughout the weekend, teams will wear custom Nike MLK Day warm-up t-shirts designed in collaboration with the NBPA, MLK Foundation, and Martin Luther King III. 

As per official NBA posts, the teams will be warming Nike warm-ups. Always remember that central fact! Also, never forget!

According to anthropologists, this is the way we humans are inclined to think, behave, react. Our species has always been wired in such ways,  leading top experts now tell us.

Some experts say the great souls can help. At this point, we aren't prepared to judge that particular claim.


  1. "Again today, we're recommending pity over punishment."

    Of course you are.

  2. "Are such people "afflicted" with an "illness," or are they simply bad people?"

    This is not an either/or question. The answer can be "both". In Trump's case, he has chosen to be a bad person AND he has some underlying pathologies which he has chosen not to struggle against or seek help for. And that is part of what makes him bad. The other things that make him bad are his love of money and his mistreatment of other people.

    Somerby is arguing in favor of predestination and an utter lack of responsibility for everyone because we are all determined by our neurochemistry. That is not how our world operates anywhere on this planet, nor is it an effective way to organize a society.

    However, Somerby really only wants to apply this idea to Trump. He doesn't give Rachel Maddow a pass. Nor Chanel Miller, nor Chris Matthews, nor Maureen Dowd, nor anyone else (not even Biden or Harris, who said a bad thing about women's pay). Just Trump. The man who is least deserving of pity in our nation's history.

    Why Trump? Somerby never explains. He just quotes Bob Dylan. Somerby is a huge joke who isn't fit to talk about MLK. But it doesn't matter what Somerby thinks. Trump is going to get his comeuppance and his money will no longer protect him, because not everyone is as crazy as Somerby.

  3. Somerby has been arguing that reporters exaggerated what happened on Jan 6. The opposite is true. We are only now finding out that the rioting was much worse than reported at first, placing our legislature and vice president in greater danger than at first realized:

    "David Graham: “January 6 not only could have been much worse—it was much worse than was initially apparent. Sometimes real-time coverage of news events leans toward the sensational and overstates what happened. But because reporters were unprepared for the violence, and because of the fog of war (and tear gas), the horror of this event has emerged slowly.”

    “Many people were able to see the stakes on January 6, but it was much harder to see how close a larger catastrophe was to occurring, much less how much harm was actually done.”

    From Political Wire.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. "Poll: Majority wants Trump banned from future office.”

    TDH: One of the analysts reacted by posing an ironic question. If a majority feels that way, why do we need to engineer a ban?

    You seem to brag about this, but all it says to a knowledgeable observer is that one of your analysts lacks vital knowledge. Trump got elected by a minority of voters, which means it could happen again. Ironically, you brag about an analyst whose dumbness is truly embarrassing. Fire that person, Bob.

  6. Speaking of mentally ill people who should be pitied.
    The United States government executed a mentally ill woman this week.

    In other news, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant are the real barbarians.

  7. Somerby says that a mentally ill person should be prevented from doing harm, while also being pitied. If that person is the president, how do you prevent the harm?

    We have the article 25 and impeachment (which does not show any pity). The problem here is political partisanship. The Republicans will not remove Trump no matter how crazy he is. And this could work another way too. What if Republicans decided that anyone who believes what Democrats believe must be crazy, and they then tried to remove a duly elected president for being their version of crazy. Then, the only preventative to political manipulation would be having a political majority -- the same thing that has prevented Trump from being legitimately removed. So, article 25 requires that the president's own VP and cabinet members agree that he is crazy (guarding against the VP's political ambition in the process), but when a party believes that it is worth tolerating craziness to get tax cuts and courts justices, then there is no protection at all against the president's mental illness.

    If we were to institute a requirement that a nominee undergo a health evaluation before the election, whose results would be made public, that might protect the nation a bit more. We have had that tradition but it has not been formalized, and so was ignored by both Trump and the Republicans, and there was no way to force that issue without a congressional majority.

    At some point one must recognize that the problem is not Trump's mental illness but his party's run amok partisanship. There are few ways to guard against a party that does not want to function like a democracy, just as during the civil war, there was no way to constrain states that didn't want to be part of a unified nation, except by war.

    Somerby has no business talking about great souls or deep thinkers when his own analysis has been so superficial. Trump isn't the problem -- he is a symptom. The media isn't the problem either. People like Somerby, who defend and excuse everything Republicans do in order to further conservative aims and preserve their power, they are the problem. And they are not crazy. They are evil because they place their own self interest above the nation's well being.

  8. "Poll: Majority wants Trump banned from future office"

    Oh dear. We guess they should try to resist Dark Lord Putin's awesome hypnotic powers, forcing them to vote for The Commander.

    We'll be observing their heroic struggle, with great interest, dear Bob.

    "Democrats are eager to punish Trump."

    Meh. Liberal cult's leaders perform their ritual, that's all.

  9. You so stupid.
    In a Trump Jr. Way.
    Not a Goebbelsian way.

  10. “Democrats are eager to punish Trump." In our view, it's the eagerness to punish which represents the shortcoming here. “

    Lesson for the media critic: the reporter is using the word “eager”, a word which, oddly enough, no Democrat quoted in her article actually used. Of course, Somerby wants his readers to believe that the reporter’s word “eager” implies that Democrats are chomping at the bit to be able punish Trump, because Somerby has stated over and over again that Democrats/liberals/progressives exude a moral squalor and live for vengeance, for the chance of “putting The Others” in jail.

    In fact, Pelosi used the word “urgent”. Isn’t a speedy trial supposed to be the hallmark of our justice system? And is it not better to act now while the events are fresh rather than drag it out?

    And, in fact, in another take on the situation, an aide was quoted as saying the “sooner we can get this over with, the better”, because “some GOP senators may prefer to slow down the trial in hopes of bogging down Biden’s initiatives.”

    And, another lesson for the media critic: the reporter says “Democrats” are eager, but then quotes Senator Chris Murphy, who echoes the words of James Clyburn:

    “I think that confirmation and covid relief legislation is more important right now than expediting the trial of a president who has already left office.”

    So, it isn’t even all Democrats.

    Also, for the media critic: the reporter claims the Democrats want to “punish” Trump. That isn’t really the goal. The purpose is to hold accountable a president who lied about election fraud and incited an insurrection, which almost cost the lives of Senators and Representatives, and did cost the lives of five people, including police officers. And that purpose strikes me not as a shortcoming, but as a moral imperative.

  11. From Political Wire:

    "U.S. Capitol Police arrested a Virginia man as he attempted to pass through a police checkpoint in downtown Washington Friday with fake inaugural credentials, a loaded handgun and over 500 rounds of ammunition, CNN reports."

    1. Thanks for the repost from Political Wire that Political Wire reposted from CNN about the story that we all get on our phones every 5 seconds.

    2. Political Wire is a digest of news stories, it's what they do. Not everyone gets the same stuff on their phones. For example, Somerby seems entirely ignorant about all of this.

    3. It was a stupid thing to post, your reply is stupid and you are stupid.

    4. You forgot to say that I am a doody-head too.

  12. "New York Times: “The Capitol Police asked the sergeants-at-arms to request that the National Guard be placed on standby. But the sergeants-at-arms, Michael C. Stenger of the Senate and Paul Irving of the House, rejected the request without raising the issue with either the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, or Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”

    Both Stenger and Irving resigned immediately after the assault on the Capitol, before they could be fired.

    This is what inside help looks like.


  14. When a maddened paranoid schizophrenic breaks into your home and starts rampaging and threatening your life, you -- if safely restraining them requires more muscle and precision than is presently available to you -- and you cannot flee -- if at all possible, you kill them. Then you pity them.

    We are in such a dire situation at the moment. Survival should be paramount.

  15. Did Trump commit an impeachable offense? Without any background in psychology Somerby is quite willing to pass on that question. Let’s call it the “narcissistic antisocial personalities get a pass” rule. What nonsense.

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