MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 2021
Anthropology lesson rolls on: The anthropology lesson rolls on, and on and on and on.
Consider the first half of this morning's essay by Ben Smith—the part of the essay in which Smith says "the mainstream media loves to beat itself up." If we might borrow from the late Fulton Oursler, it strikes us as the latest example of The Dumbest Story Ever Told.
We hope to run through this matter later this week. That said, so many dumbest stories, so few pixels and so little time!
Indeed, the ongoing lesson in our species' instinct for dumbness rolls on and on and on. For today, we'll start where we left you on Saturday.
We'll start with the corporate partners at TNT, the NBA and Nike celebrating the legacy of the late Dr. King. And no, we aren't dreaming this up:
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 you can see, the King family is involved in this gong-show too. Being just as human as everyone else, they've tended that way all along.
We humans! "The rents are too damn high," one sidewalk poet once said.
The rents were too damn high, but so too with the financial rewards! What inevitably follows, top scholars now say, results from our species' imperfect wiring.
Please remember Dr. King as you gaze on those Nike warm-ups beginning at noon EST! In passing, though, we'll mention two other examples of current human logic.
President Donald J. Trump pardons himself: We start with the possibility that Donald J. Trump will issue a pardon of or to himself at some point in the next two days.
We have no way to know how the Supreme Court would rule on the constitutional validity of such an action, but we ask you to ponder the logic of such an act:
If a commander-in-chief can pardon himself for federal crimes, then any such president could commit a federal crime each morning and pardon himself that night. Groundhog Day could prevail the next morning—and yet, in fairness, the Constitution doesn't explicitly forbid the commander from such a ludicrous action.
Senate bars Donald J. Trump from running again: The logic behind an act of self-pardon seems ludicrous on its face. But how far behind it is the logic of this other proposed action?
Can the Senate, by a simple majority vote, bar the current commander-in-chief from running for president again? We don't know how the Supreme Court would rule on the constitutional validity of such an action, but consider the logic of such an act:
In the current context, we're imagining that fifty Democratic senators, assisted by the tie-breaking vote of a Democratic vice president, could make it impossible for the most popular Republican pol to run for president the next time around!
In our view, this action isn't quite as dumb as a self-pardon would be, but it comes strikingly close. For the record, constitutional language concerning any such action strikes us as remarkably vague, and the matter has never been tested in court.
Does it make sense to regard these two proposals as something like "dumb and dumber?" We can't tell you how the Supreme Court would rule on the constitutionality of these proposed actions. But it's easy to see the way these two proposals join hands as our nation slides toward the sea of all-out tribal warfare.
(For the record: Could the possibility of that second action convince Republican senators to vote against impeachment itself? Do we really have to ask? Of course it maybe and possibly could!)
At any rate, major experts have persistently warned us about three anthropological points:
Our species just isn't especially "rational," these despondent scholars have said. Also, our species is inclined to split into tribes and to launch tribal war against the other.
Third point: When the tribal war begins, top experts all say, enlightenment values—our rationality, fairness and common sense—will typically be the first victim.
Our fabled rationality goes out the door! So we thought, this past Saturday, when we finally steeled ourselves to sit down and watch Thursday night's Maddow Show.
The host was discussing the children of Flint, and so we steeled our souls.
In our view, what we saw was anthropologically instructive. The children of Flint deserve our best work, so we'll start with that topic tomorrow.
Tomorrow: Misdemeanors and poison