The Evil of Indifference

Politics has been called war without the killing; a process in which people with very different notions of the common good, the best way forward–even how winners should be identified and rewarded and losers punished–clash without bloodshed.

Throughout history, we’ve become accustomed to the passions that ideological combatants have brought to our political “wars.”

These days, however, politics isn’t really about that clash of ideas and passions. It’s about power and privilege, increasingly dismissive of ideas and political philosophies.

Even a blind person can see that Donald Trump and the Republicans who control Congress are utterly indifferent to policy except to the extent those policies operate to keep them in office. Trump, especially, is often called out for lacking even rudimentary knowledge of–or interest in–the legislation he supports. He is utterly indifferent to the contents of that legislation; his only goal is “winning,” which he evidently defines as getting good press.

This approach to governing isn’t only dishonest; it’s very bad for morale. There is nothing more disheartening than putting your heart and soul into a cause and finding that your employer is totally indifferent to it.

Citing Donald Trump’s ongoing quest to undermine and repeal the Affordable Care Act, his refusal to meet with HIV/AIDS advocates during the primary, and his general “lack of understanding and concern,” six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, established by President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago, have resigned. Former council member and Lambda Legal lawyer Scott Schoettes writes in the group’s resignation letter:

“As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care.

The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.”

Scientists who have devoted their careers to understanding and fighting climate change didn’t resign from the EPA–they were terminated by administrators indifferent to  the consequences of environmental degradation.

The agency quietly forced out some members of the Board of Scientific Counselors just weeks after leaders told them their tenure would be renewed, said Robert Richardson, an ecological economist at Michigan State University and one of those dismissed.

The board is tasked with reviewing the work of EPA scientists and provides feedback that can be a powerful voice in shaping the agency’s future research. The cuts “just came out of nowhere,” Richardson said.

“The role that science has played in the agency in the past, this step is a significant step in a different direction,” he said today. “Anecdotally, based on what we know about the administrator, I think it will be science that will appear to be friendlier to industry, the fossil fuel industry, the chemical industry, and I think it will be science that marginalizes climate change science.”

And of course, the news has been full of the indifference–and hostility– with which the Administration and Congressional Republicans have responded to the CBO analysis of their “health” bill, including predictions that it’s vicious cuts would be responsible for 208,500 preventable deaths by 2026.

Indifferent to human suffering, indifferent to facts, evidence, science, indifferent to world opinion….but not to criticism from cable news personalities.

How far “leadership” has fallen.

38 thoughts on “The Evil of Indifference

  1. There is more than enough indifference to go around. It isn’t just the Trump Administration and Republican Congress that have turned a blind eye to suffering, facts, evidence, science, and world opinion; it is a large swath of the American public that have manged to isolate themselves from reality either by the means of religion or money, sometimes both. Yet, they always feel threatened by the truth, and thus plot and scheme to hold onto enough power to maintain the status quo that allows them to live in a kind of La La land where comfort is assured and real life is held at bay.

  2. Most of the world/world leaders seem to be able to function in a more-or-less rational manner and consider and plan to deal with the long term implications of the science regarding climate change which only makes the former greatest country in the world look even less great.

  3. Not being familiar with the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), I did some quick searching and quickly located its website where members of the BOSC Executive Committee along with members of its 5 Subcommittees are listed. The 5 BOSC Subcommittees include:

    *Air, Climate, and Energy
    *Chemical Safety for Sustainability
    *Homeland Security
    *Safe and Sustainable Water Resources
    *Sustainable and Healthy Communities

    From a quick survey of each of the 5 Subcommittees, there appears to be at least a total of 46 BOSC members. Of course, Robert Richardson, the ecological economist from Michigan State who lost his appointment was not among the BOSC membership; however, it’s possible that Robert Richardson simply was replaced by another Professor, Jinhua Zhao, who’s also an economist and also from Michigan State. At this point, I take Professor Richardson’s complaint with a grain of salt.

    If any readers are of the curious sort as I am, I’ve included the EPA website to BOSC where one can view the members of the Executive Committee plus view the members of the 5 Subcommittees along with the current minutes from each group.
    https://www.epa.gov/bosc/bosc-executive-committee-membership

  4. Having a president who is indifferent to almost any major issue and who use main goal is to undo our elections is awful. Why bother?

  5. The concept and definition of evil has been a struggle for me to get a handle on for most of my thinking life. This was one of the areas of interest I pursued @ United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities for 10 years.

    An author whose books I have found enlightening over the years is, M. Scott Peck.
    His definition of “evil” is the best and most resonant I’ve ever found:
    “When I say that evil has to do with killing, I do not mean to restrict myself to corporeal murder. Evil is that which kills spirit. There are various essential attributes of life — particularly human life — such as sentience, mobility, awareness, growth, autonomy, will. It is possible to kill or attempt to kill one of these attributes without actually destroying the body. Thus we may “break” a horse or even a child without harming a hair on its head. ”

    Putin’s years-long “long” game has been to reclaim the “soviet” hegemony for Russia under his tyranny and to undermine every democratic nation for his nefarious purposes and is succeeding thanks to power-hungry politicians who believe in a “winner-take-all” approach.

    THEY’VE PLAYED INTO PUTIN’S HANDS !!!!!

  6. I agree with Marge. Save you breath. You’re dealing with a sociopath who has a psychopath as his behind the scene advisor. Grow up.

    If you try hard enough we still might be able to save the Statute of Liberty.

  7. We need to speak up now before “The Prez” is forced to draft, pass, and enforce new Sedition Laws. Who wants to end up like Thoreau? Would we still be able to blog? I don’t think so. Maybe this is a good question for discussion.

  8. Marv Kramer, I wager that not one reader knows if your mother was a sociopath or if your father was a psychopath. Simply accepting your personal self-proclaimed diagnoses of your parents’ supposed mental illnesses is a giant reach into a never-never land where the layperson’s opinion suddenly is more valid than the medical expert’s opinion.

    No, I don’t think you know what you are saying despite such bluster and boldness. And, no, what you are saying has absolutely nothing to do with today’s blog topic.

  9. Marvin, anecdotal evidence about your family is interesting only to a certain subset of people who enjoy reading about the personal trials and tribulations from others. For purposes of scientific research gathering, your personal anecdotal evidence amounts to nothing.

  10. BSH,

    As a matter of fact, as an attorney practicing in Texas, I was recognized by the courts as the foremost expert on sociopaths suffering from early onset Schizophrenia. By the way, my father was diagnosed with ambulatory Schizophrenia by a nationally known psychiatrist while I was in college at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m from a very powerful and wealthy family. My mother then started a nationwide attack on the psychiatrist’s credibility. My parents lived in Jacksonville, Florida. I didn’t know about the attacks by my sociopathic mother until one of my fraternity brothers from Kansas City, Missouri, “jumped all over me” for her diabolical conduct.

  11. BSH,

    Enough is enough.

    I included “I’m from a very powerful and wealthy family” to explain how my mother would be in a position nationally to slander a well-known psychiatrist from New York.

    I surrender. You win. Neither Trump’s or Bannon’s mental state is of any relevance.

  12. Au contraire to prior posts, Marvin has fallen on his sword now claiming the nebulous mental states of Trump and Bannon as having primacy in all relevant policy decisions. Marvin, how easily you acquiesce.

  13. The Evil of Indifference. The coverage of the Grenfall Fire in London on June 14 has received scant coverage here in the USA. At this point the best estimate is 80 dead. Grenfall tower was gutted by a fire. Grenfall was a 24 storey public housing flat. It was shocking that a fire like this could take so many lives in London.

    The details are shocking. A good link is http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/15/eight-failures-left-people-grenfell-tower-mercy-inferno/.

    Like many towers in the UK, Grenfell only had a single central staircase. Unlike many other countries, UK regulations do not require a second. There was no central sprinkler system at Glenfell which members of the Fire Protection Association said would have “undoubtedly” saved lives. Currently, sprinklers only need to be fitted up to 30 metres, but in tall buildings like Grenfell it is impossible for fire hoses to reach the upper heights, leaving the top floors without any protection.

    As the Nigerian writer Ben Okri powerfully captured in his ode to Grenfell, “They did not die when they died; their deaths happened long before. It happened in the minds of people who never saw them. It happened in the profit margins. It happened in the laws. They died because money could be saved and made.”

    Okri’s ode to Grenfall describes Steroid Profit Capitalism, married to our Political System. That is anything, such as rules, regulations and laws that inhibits Profit, must be eliminated. The political system which is the visible form of Steroid Profit Capitalism acts on the Steroid Capitalists behalf. Flint, Michigan was only one example.

    It should be obvious both political parties here in the USA provide cover for Big Pharma, and the Health Insurance Industry.

  14. Who ARE YOU BSH?…..perhaps even a name might help those of us who are reading your anonymous challenges. Why would we put any “stock in trade” from an unknown unnamed author?.

  15. @Barbara, I have no way of knowing you any more than you know who I am based upon full names. By virtue of my postings, Sheila has my name; however, I do not have your name other than Barbara.

    If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine. Deal?

  16. BSH, what your “quick” research on the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors doesn’t tell you, or us, is who the experts and scientists were that were terminated from the Board, what their views and opinions are concerning the science of climate change, safe and sustainable water, alternate energy sources, and the need for sensible environmental regulations to maintain our environment for us and future generations.

    Nor does just knowing the names of their replacements — if there have been any, which is highly doubtful given the large number of positions that Trump hasn’t bothered to even nominate anyone to fill — nor knowing the names of those who remain on the Board tell us anything relevant whatsoever. They’re just names. In order to reach any conclusion about the reason and intent behind EPA Director Scott Pruitt’s dismissing scientists from the Board would require knowing whether those “experts” and “scientists,” who remain on the Board or have replaced those terminated from it, work and opinions have been bought and paid for by the Koch brothers’ front groups?

    If your hypothesis from your “quick” search is that this just the “normal” sort of thing that takes place when a new Administration takes over, I believe that you are sorely mistaken. Do you really believe that the scientists who were dumped by Pruitt — climate-change-denier-in- chief who has been bought and paid for by the Kochs — after having been told they would be renewed, were climate change deniers and support Pruitt’s, Trump’s and the Kochs’ no environmental regulation agenda?

    Your “quick” search was a good first step, but really does nothing to cast any doubt on Robert Richardson’s assertions that Pruitt’s, Trump’s, and the Kochs’ intent was to purge the Board of those who strongly believe from their research and the factual evidence that climate change is not only happening, but is largely the result of our reliance on and use of fossil fuels. And that there are things that can be done, without harming our economy, to slow that change down.

  17. Humanity emerged from the jungle as collaboration replaced competition. Hunting gathering ended and was replaced by village life, domestication of willing other species, and gardening. We became specialized and codependent. Progress began. We even invented religion to codify collaboration, living together and each becoming an inseparable part of the whole.

    Things worked well along the way although there were some rough times when our collaboration extended out only to a limited selection.

    Was that a temporary solution? Did we lose the formula somewhere along the path?

    These times are not political wrinkles in the fabric of human history. Somethings way more fundamental have gone astray or, more likely, been kidnapped by those who want to replace collaboration with competition once more because they see a chance at winning big.

    This is destruction unfolding and it will either continue or will be defeated once again by indomitable human spirit. Unless indomitable spirit was also lost along the way.

    We can live as slaves but have traditionally chosen not to.

  18. @David F, when I did my quick search on the BOSC membership, like you I had no way of knowing what the number of members was before Trump took office. During my quick search, your questions did come into play. Prior to Trump, what was the total number of BOSC members? I do not know, do you?

  19. Many of us are indifferent to our political environment. I have had more than one person tell me that they have no interest in two things: politics and religion. I disagree. While one may safely disregard religion under the First Amendment’s big tent, one cannot avoid the effects of politics in such areas as war and peace, no taxes for huge corporations, the air we breathe, the wages we earn, our health, weights and measures, authoritarian control of our lives etc. etc. etc. These are the facts of life in the short span we are here, and as Sheila recently noted, facts are facts whether we like them or not, and affect our lives and those of our successors as certainly as not stopping at a red light because we choose to be indifferent to color. I am preaching to the choir, of course, as my fellow contributors are plainly and rightly very interested in political matters though not so much about religion (other than its effects on politics), which I think is appropriate. Parenthetically, let’s lighten up on criticism of Marv, whose contributions today have to do with his vision of things. I for one continue to welcome his observations and I think I have company.

  20. “These days, however, politics isn’t really about that clash of ideas and passions. It’s about power and privilege, increasingly dismissive of ideas and political philosophies.”

    No truer words have been written of late. The underlying problem is on of concentrated power and the ability of those with money to use it to concentrate power even more. Collectively, we need to study that issue, and work together to dismantle the mechanism they use to hold it in place. Overturning Citizens United is central to that effort, but there are broader social pressures to be put on those who seek to subordinate the rest of us. At the risk of redundancy, I recommend reading two very important books on the subject: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Poverty, Prosperity, and Power, and The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics. They are mirror images of each other and provide a guide for resisting and reversing the trends to which we are being subjected. The website, http://www.represent.us provides excellent information about how our system effectively subordinates the will of the people.

  21. Indifference is not contacting your congressman and senator and demanding their action to stop Pruitt from further damaging our EPA

  22. @BSH: No I didn’t. But I do now.

    According to this 5-9-2017 article from The Atlantic by Aria Bendix, Pruitt dismissed (or didn’t renew) half — 9 out of 18 — scientists on its Board of Scientific Advisors with the stated goal of appointing a more “diverse” group of scientists; most particularly those “scientists” from the chemical and fossil fuel industries (Koch brothers sycophants).

    https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/05/epa-dismisses-half-the-scientists-on-its-review-board/525909/

    I didn’t continue to look to see how many of those 9 might have been replaced and by whom.

  23. Actually I’m in favor of fighting back. We need to be focused and know what we’re talking about.

  24. Gerald,

    Thanks.

    These are very difficult times for everyone whether on the right or the left or in between. The biggest hurdle we’re facing is to create a sufficient mass to fight back as Marge just suggested.
    The “takeover” by Trump, Bannon, & Pence has an effect on the body politic in many different and basic ways. For some of us, we feel that we must fight back. Others feel that we shouldn’t make a stand. All views are pretty much represented on Sheila’s blog.

    No matter which way things will eventually go, all of us will be materially affected and will be facing many difficulties. In any event, the best thing we can do is not to kid ourselves about the deep and hard facts. They are not going to go away.

  25. I believe if ALL the facts were known there would be no other choice than to STAND UP to the looming political tsunami which I have been publicly warning about since 2004.

    loom vi.[<?] to come into sight indistinctly, esp. threatening
    ~Webster's New World Dictionary

  26. Now I’m in puzzle working/strategy mode. I also will mention that from the time the rancher in Central Texas started thinking about energy production in relation to the river running through his land until LCRA started generating electricity and selling it, it took thirty years. Even developing beautiful hybrid roses takes thirty years. Nothing happens overnight. I’m afraid lots of us have ignored the problems and solutions in government for a very long time. Our family leased our land for oil to Fred Koch when I was a teenager. I’m now 77 and have been keeping an eye on the Kochs all this time. The Kochs are older than I am and have a presence in 60 countries. They not only deal in fossil fuels but you can google “Koch brothers and security” (Kochs own the security in one brand or more of cell phones), “Koch brothers and manufacturing”, “Koch brothers and education”, “Koch brothers and transportation”–on and on. Google “Koch brothers and Rolling Stones” or “Koch brothers and Arcadia” and see who runs things. Arcadia seems to have a good idea. The Kochs are why we dropped out of the Paris Accord. Let’s think of ways to find small solutions that have big results.
    In college, there was a guy who drank like a fish. It was against the rules but they couldn’t catch him. It also was required to attend chapel. Roy frequently missed chapel. Attendance records were kept. Guess how they caught him. Yep, Roy missed too much chapel.
    You’re all smart. Get with a group like Swing Left or Indivisible or MoveOn and work with them. Find large professional groups who can join to put pressure on the Koch brothers or Trump. Find a strategy and see if it will work. Don’t look over your shoulder. Look in the mirror.

  27. Cogent and thoughtful political leadership in this country is subterranean, tantamount to not existing at all. Just one catastrophe after another and seemingly no way to credibly stop it right now. Just a look at how indifferent many Americans are to the cyber warfare waged against this country or what the fool currently residing in the White House does every day is very telling. Civilization fatigue I guess. We are in very deep trouble.

  28. Tom Lund; you said it all in your brief comments. Your final sentence sums it up and we are all fatigued to our very core just trying to keep track of the players…which change between morning and night at times.

  29. Speaking of indifference,8+ Years…When are Democrats going to be the grown ups?

    Bending the “cost curve” in this way appears to also bend “the care curve”
    As you can see from my results, the most under-represented specialties (on the left) are the ones that typically provide services to truly sick patients, such as oncology, cardiology, internal medicine, neurology. And no doctor specialty has more than about 75% representation on the Exchange provider networks. Hospitals are also included on the right of the graph. Their numbers are diminished in the Premera Exchange plan network via excluding specialty hospitals that are crucial to good care in this region, such as Children’s Hospital and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/07/quelle-surprise-study-confirms-that-aca-narrow-networks-exclude-top-cancer-doctors.html

    Oh well,OMG RUSSIA!!

    The constant fear-mongering works against the cooperative impulse.

  30. Being concerned enough to investigate the distinct possibility of Russian collusion in our Presidential election is fear mongering.

    Hmmmmm.

  31. To Marv Kramer and BSH
    Marv, I don’t know who or what BSH is either.
    But I do know just enough about you, Marv, that you are penetrating thinker on many issues, a valued contributor to this blog, an intellectual and a successful attorney.
    I was not alone to be devastated by our bipolar, bully eldest sibling who terrorized all of us including Mamma. Poppa was mostly away but suffered when present under the outbursts of his adored firstborn.
    As a teenager at the time I was aware of the dark cloud of fear overwhelming the family and the serenity enjoyed by all whenever big brother was absent.
    Now in my nineties, almost eight decades later, I can attest to the effect those disturbing years had on me as an adolescent.
    I fear Donald Trump is a victim of characteristics and frustrations similar to those of my late brother. I imagine a White House in which people are constantly tiptoeing over eggshells not daring to act on whatever issue for fear of incurring vicious rage for overstepping “his” authority or for contradicting some newly conceived tweet.
    Even some GOP Congress people and cabinet members convey similar impressions to me.
    It seems to me that voters find themselves outside the fray; that they think blustery anger is needed to “drain the swamp”, that they willingly bow down to this demigod, a requirement for survival.

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