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In the last quarter century, the Republican approach to America’s adversaries has gone from “Trust But Verify” to “Trust With No Limit.”
I am skeptical about the presumed terrible effects of the internet on the learning process of young people. The fear that folks my age have about our children, grandchildren, and future generations is not new. Socrates once told a parable of an Egyptian god warning a king about about a new technique called writing.
For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory.
My own experience with learning to read was a long, long time ago. Generations have come into being since then. Back then, adults had pretty much accepted writing. The big fear by then was comic books. Kids ought to be doing homework or playing baseball or something besides wasting time with Superman or Batman or Spider Man.
I learned to read fairly quickly, and one reason was comic books. I could see action happening in each panel, and I wanted to know what the characters were saying and thinking. The words in the balloons were the key to adventure, and I wanted that key.
Kids who had been deprived of the comic book advantage labored over repetitive texts:
Look, Jane, look!
See Dick play. Play, Dick, play!
Run, Spot, run!
By the time I got to the classroom, Dick, Jane, and Spot had nothing on me.
Today we see kids walking around looking at cellphones, and I suspect they are way ahead of where I was at that not-so-tender age.
In my comicbook days, I especially liked Superman and his X-Ray vision. Part of being super was the ability to look at something and see through it. Superman could look through anything.
Even more impressive, he had heat vision. He could send super-intense heat rays from his eyes. He could start campfires if he wanted to. Hell, he could set a whole forest on fire. Bad guys were not safe at all, except that Superman did not kill anyone that I recall. He could drive them out of a hideout by setting it on fire. Even if they were in a metal structure, he could still make it more than hot enough inside to force them to surrender.
Unless it was made of lead.
But even as a kid, I knew it was fiction.
So I was startled to read about a study by Princeton University. It was in The Journal of Improbable Research, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. Apparently, a lot of people believe you can really send rays from your eyes, and that it’s one reason people can see. There is actually a name for it: extramission.
The study indicated the percentage of Americans who believe vision involves sending out eye rays has really dropped. It was once up to 70%, then went down to 50% in 2002. It is now way down to 5%.
The fact the something so weird can be believed by so many, then lose almost all those true believers, could give us hope about bringing Trump followers back from the parallel word of alternative facts to something that might resemble rational thinking.
The study on eye ray belief did remind me of how Republicans have been mesmerized by the President of Russia. I think a small part of it started with President Bush in 2001. He was asked why he felt he could trust Vladimir Putin.
I’ll answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.
It wasn’t just the eyes. Condolezza Rice gave a bit of background in a book about her time as Secretary of State. Let’s read a bit from No Higher Honor
During the meeting, Putin shared a rather syrupy story about a cross that his mother had given him; to be fair, the President was looking for a way to establish a more personal connection and asked about the cross that the Russian was wearing, so Putin did not initiate the story. It seems that a fire had consumed his dacha but workmen had retrieved the cross and returned it to Putin.
Well that explains everything…
…Okay, maybe it really was the eyes.
Most of the current conservative infatuation with Russia’s Putin dates to 2013. The Olympics were held in Russia that year, so the spotlight on Moscow was especially intense. That was the year Putin cracked down hard on homosexuality. Children could be taken from their families if parents were thought to be gay. Visiting foreigners who came to watch the games were told they could be arrested on suspicion of being pro-gay.
Conservatives in the United States loved it. Vladimir Putin became a conservative cult fantasy.
President Trump seems to be carrying on what has become a bit of a tradition. He is asked about US intelligence reports that include actual recorded communications showing Mr. Putin ordering cyber interference in US elections. A dozen co-conspirators are recorded taking orders from Putin. But it turns out President Trump can reassure the American people that his own investigation has cleared the President of Russia.
So I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
In fact, not only did Vladimir Putin present a compelling case by pointing out that he did not do it, he offered to help take charge of the investigation itself.
And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the twelve people. I think that’s an incredible offer.
Incredible indeed. A guilty person would never offer to lead an investigation into the crime. Reason enough to prove him innocent.
This atmosphere of trust goes beyond a single issue of election interference. Russia’s offer to help the United States has extended to anti-spy security at our embassy in Moscow. President Trump awarded a no-bid contract directly to a Russian company called Elite Security. The company was founded by the Vladimir Putin’s old KGB boss.
Our nation’s secrets are now safe.
My President’s ability to see into the eyes of authoritarian leaders is not confined to Vladimir Putin. He was able personally to investigate and clear Saudi Arabia’s leader, Mohammed bin Salman, of personal involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after our Intelligence agencies said conclusively that the prince had personally ordered the killing.
I spoke with the King. I spoke with the Crown Prince yesterday, and he strongly said that he had nothing to do with this. This was at a lower level.
He was able to determine that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, knew nothing about the torture that put American prisoner Otto Warmbier into a coma from which he never recovered. He died after being returned to the United States. In fact, President Trump’s personal investigation revealed that none of that country’s top leadership knew anything about Warmbier’s harsh treatment.
I really believe something very bad happened to him. And I don’t think that the top leadership knew about it.
In fact, my President’s trust in Kim Jong Un goes beyond that single case of torture and death. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked him about it.
You trust him?
I do trust him, yeah.
We live in brave new world, a different world from that in which I grew up.
Technology has turned social interaction upside down. Conservatives love our former enemies. Their one-time preoccupation with global freedom is now restricted to domestic concerns with gun rights and freedom from the obligation to be polite toward those of different racial or ethnic backgrounds or sexual orientation.
And we have a President bent on establishing a New World Order based on love and trust toward totalitarian dictators who are willing to smile and praise him to his face.
Thanks to FairandUnbalanced.com.