Depressingly accurate lesson

If there’s one thing this year has taught us, it’s that Americans are staggeringly selfish. Not just like your meat-and-potatoes “don’t want to share” selfish. Total apocalyptic “I will let you die rather than inconvenience myself” selfish.

There is such a deep vein of this selfishness running through the country that you can get rich, or elected to the highest political office, or run any corrupt scam you want, if you can just tap into it. It has infiltrated our educational institutions, our churches, our businesses, and our media. It’s the rot that’s going to destroy the country.

Good luck to the future society that crawls over our corpse to take over the world. I hope you don’t catch the disease from us.


  1. wzrd1 says

    Well, if it’s encouraging, the Chairman, JCS took the nuclear reigns from the Other Guy after the 6 Jan debacle.
    Nixon only had his Chief of Staff do that, Trump got the military to literally mutiny at the leadership level.

  2. Doc Bill says

    We’ve seen this level of selfishness in spades here in Texas. During the campaign a “Trump Train” of flag festooned pickup trucks sideswiped a chase car for the Biden campaign while trying to run the campaign bus off the road. No charges filed, of course, but two civil lawsuits are going forward, one against the Trumpers and members of the KKK (no surprise), and one against the police who “sanctioned” the activities.

    The Texas governor has done his level best to thwart any Covid 19 mitigation in the state for no discernible reason other than to pander to his even greedier donors. Parent groups regularly picket schools opposing ISD mask mandates, i.e. attempts to keep kids safe.

    Hoard-of-the-Day: almost weekly some item is declared “scarce” and the hoarders descend picking the shelves clean. One week there was a run on soup. Soup! Any soup. The shelves were bare. Spoiler, there was no soup shortage.

    Never seen anything like it.

  3. whywhywhy says

    #2 The actions by Milley to disrupt civilian control of our military plants the seeds of a future military take over of the country. During 45’s presidency, the military was often left alone to run itself, which at the time seemed necessary and my initial reaction was relief. However, this sets precedent that the military can ignore the elected leaders of this country.

  4. kathleenzielinski says

    I have a theory that evil exists, but stupidity is far more common. Most of your run of the mill Trump supporters do what they do because they foolishly think it will make them happy. But it doesn’t, as evidenced by how poorly they do on just about every significant statistic, from level of education to domestic bliss to financial security to levels of drug abuse. Poor choices in life, which includes voting for Trump, have consequences. And a lot of them are probably too stupid to even see that what they’re doing impacts on the rest of us. They see it as enlightened self interest.

    That’s not true of the ones at the top; they really do know what’s going on. But for the great masses, well, sometimes I catch myself wondering if maybe democracy is overrated.

  5. dorght says

    I suspect that this statement is absolutely no surprise to people in other countries after encountering Americans.

  6. Who Cares says

    Not really.
    1) There is no check on the US president ordering a nuke launch other then said president not being insane enough to end the world as we know it.
    2) Trump had been bragging about the fact that he could remove any city or small country at his whim.
    3) After Jan 6th Trump should have been in the loonie bin not PotUS due to a full retreat into make believe territory (the stories from White House insiders in the days after Jan 6th do not paint a pretty picture with regards to Trumps ranting and raving).
    So to prevent a president who should have been served the 25th from launching a nuke at an imaginary enemy the one person who could stop that made sure of it, seeing that an enemy launch of nukes at US targets would have (also) gone through his office anyhow.

  7. James Fehlinger says

    The actions by Milley to disrupt civilian control of our military
    plants the seeds of a future military take over of the country. . .
    [T]his sets precedent that the military can ignore the elected leaders
    of this country.

    Yes, possibly. But so what?

    Problem is, no human organization or system of government can have
    its workings entirely captured and boundaried and guaranteed
    by a set of rules. There are always going to be exceptions.
    With any luck, they’ll be few and far between, but that doesn’t
    mean they’ll never happen.

    Yes, if you’ve got a corrupt military command, or a few nutcases
    like General Jack Ripper willing to take control to protect
    our Precious Bodily Fluids, then you might have a military
    coup (or a civil war) on your hands.

    On the other hand, if you’ve got a nutcase like Donald Trump as
    commander-in-chief (and an electorate so debased as to put
    him in office), then thank Dog for generals who can make sure
    he doesn’t press his Big Red Button, even if that means they’re
    technically being criminally insubordinate.

    What was the name of that Soviet nuclear submarine commander
    who defied protocol and refrained from launching his missiles
    against the U.S.? Stanislav Petrov. He was being criminally
    subordinate too.

  8. hillaryrettig1 says

    mathman85 – agree

    we currently have a system that incentivizes the very worst behavior, and punishes the best.

  9. James Fehlinger says

    Stanislav Petrov. He was being criminally subordinate too.

    . . .criminally insubordinate. . .

    We don’t use the word ‘crazy’ here. But you know it and
    I know it and Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy know it. ;->

    Fears That Trump Might Launch a Strike Prompted General
    to Reassure China, Book Says

    In a sign of his concerns, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer
    also gathered commanders to remind them of the safeguards in the
    nuclear launch procedures.

    By Michael S. Schmidt
    Sept. 14, 2021

    . . .

    Later that day, General Milley spoke to Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
    who was growing increasingly concerned Mr. Trump would lash out
    and use military force.

    “This is bad, but who knows what he might do?” Ms. Pelosi said.
    “He’s crazy. You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time.
    So don’t say you don’t know what his state of mind is.”

    “Madam Speaker,” General Milley said, “I agree with you

    on everything.” . . .


  10. davidc1 says

    Yet selfish amurica has made a cult of Military service ,the greatest generation and all that .It still continues ,I have been waiting for flights home to good old Blighty ,when someone comes on the PA and says active service people are on the flight .
    And everyone gives them a round of applause .
    Yet a lot of ex Military don’t get the help they need ,and end up homeless .
    Same over here .

  11. davidc1 says

    @3 During the last petrol shortage ,that wasn’t .I saw a lot of photos on faceache of people trying to fill clothes baskets ,washing bowls ,and other things that only a moron would think is suitable to carry highly inflammable petrol .
    A lot of the photos might have been faked ,but I am sure some were real .

  12. blf says

    James Fehlinger@9, Another (minor) correction: Stanislav Petrov was not a “Soviet nuclear submarine commander”, but (as per the link) “a lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defence Forces [who] was the duty officer at the command center for the Oko nuclear early-warning system”.

  13. birgerjohansson says

    There were two occasions when the Soviet Union was close to launch nukes.
    During the Cuba missile chrisis a Soviet submarine was without radio contact (this was before very long wavelength radio) and thought a war had started. To launch nuclear torpedoes, three persons had to consent; one of the three refused.
    20 years later, Anton Petrov was in a control room when a satellite claimed USA had launched missiles.
    Fortunately Petrov had been involved in writing programs and was familiar with the limitations of the system.
    He noted the satellite only indicated a small number of missiles, which was an untealistic scenario, och did not pass on the warning about immanent attack.
    After the Soviet Union collapsed he received various symbolic awards in the west but no official recognition, and died in poverty.

  14. garnetstar says

    One of my theories on the origin of the unusually high degree of sociopathy in Americans (did you know that we lead the world in serial killers? And that only white American men are found in the highest ranks of sadistic murderers? i.e., those whose main interest is torturing their victims, not so much murdering them) is our founding the country on slavery and genocide.

    The degree of lack of empathy, lack of caring for the suffering of others in pursuit of your selfish profit, that people need to carry out to two above, is sociopathic. And that culture has persisted, and not only in high-ranking people, but in the masses. Our degree of selfishness is sociopathic.

  15. James Fehlinger says

    20 years later, Anton Petrov was in a control room when
    a satellite claimed USA had launched missiles.
    Fortunately Petrov had been involved in writing programs
    and was familiar with the limitations of the system.

    You know, if there had been a thermonuclear war triggered as
    the result of an accident like that, historians of the future
    (assuming there were going to be any after such an event)
    would be endlessly scratching their heads, wondering
    What The Hell Happened.

    No doubt, there would be fringe conspiracy theorists alleging
    that aliens caused it, and peering into telescopes looking for
    signs of the invasion force.

  16. captainjack says

    James Fehlinger @#11

    The Soviet submarine wasn’t carrying missiles but it had a nuclear torpedo. It was submerged near Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis and U.S. destroyers were dropping depth charges around it to force it to the surface. The sub was out of communication with command because of the attacks. The captain thought the U.S. and U.S.S.R. might already be at war and wanted to use the torpedo against the destroyers. Petrov objected because the situation was unclear. I suspect that if command had ordered using the torpedo, Petrov would have complied, maybe even if it was the first shot. We’ll never know.

  17. blf says

    @18, “there would be fringe conspiracy theorists alleging that aliens caused it, and peering into telescopes looking for signs of the invasion force.”

    For some reason, that reminds me of a book I once stumbled across, author and title forgotten but very probably written in the early- or mid-1960s, trying to prove scenarios like those in Dr Strangelove and Fail Safe were impossible. The entire line of argument, as far as I can now recall, was The USAF says it can’t happen, so there! Accidents are impossible!! Nuclear war by mistake cannot happen!!!

  18. microraptor says

    There was apparently an incident when a black bear broke through a fence at a US missile silo, triggering an alarm that almost resulted in a missile launch.

  19. consciousness razor says

    If you didn’t already learn that every other year of your life, I doubt you’ve actually learned very much this year.

    A relevant, recent tweet from Ken Klippenstein:

    Periodic reminder that wage theft is greater than robberies, burglaries, larceny and vehicle theft combined. [Economic Policy Institute, 2017]

    As the article says, even when you’re only looking at one form of it (minimum wage violations), that by itself is larger. All other forms: much, much larger. And this is not anything new.

    When it’s “theft,” most of us have been trained to picture cops chasing down a black/brown person who robbed a convenience store or whatever … perhaps also shooting them, but certainly adding them to our gigantic prison population.

    Meanwhile, the response will often be something like “wage theft, what’s that? The just sounds like some commie bullshit that you just made up.” Or if it’s not completely alien, people usually don’t care enough to do anything: “no big deal / not my problem.” Anyway, it’s never cops dragging your boss away in handcuffs.

  20. kathleenzielinski says

    Re No. 23:

    A couple of years ago I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room and the man sitting next to me was talking on his cell phone about a construction project he was managing. During the conversation he said, in full hearing of anyone else in the waiting room, “And we’ll work them for four weeks and pay them for three.”

    The thing that surprised me wasn’t that wage theft happens; I already knew that. Rather, it was that he was so blatant about it that he didn’t even care who heard him.

  21. says

    The moment that selfishness won was when the Democratic Party decided to put a bunch of Reagan-emulating corporatist greedheads in charge, i.e. the 1992 primaries. Until then, the Republicans were (as always) dominated by greed but there was still a certain amount of serious resistance to them at high levels of control, but since the Clinton purge of New Deal Democrats which took place almost immediately, that’s all gone. The only thing permitted is debate over whose greed is more important — which group of billionaires gets to determine policy.

  22. jrkrideau says

    The USAF says it can’t happen, so there! Accidents are impossible!

    This is the same USAF that managed to accidentally drop an atomic bomb off the coast of Spain?

  23. blf says

    @27, Yes, and it was four fusion bombs, not one; one fell into the bay and three on land (two of which exploded, causing contamination which lingers to this day). That happened in 1966, probably after the book was written.

    There was also the 1968 crash near Thule Air Base, again four fusion bombs, all four exploded. From memory, parts of at least one of the bombs have never been accounted for and are presumed lost.

    Both the 1966 Palomares, and 1968 Thule, crashes involved B-52s flying continuous alertthreatening missions, similar to those portrayed in Fail Safe, one of the books (1962) / films (1964) that book I only vaguely recall was ranting about being “unrealistic”. (Admittedly, the scenario in Fail Safe differed considerably from the cause of either crash.)

  24. vucodlak says

    This discussion is most disheartening. I just GOTS this to say…

    You’re all wrong: nuclear* wars are much safer and cleaner than the alternatives. It’s only those damn dirty greens and their damn dirty lies that have anyone thinking that nuclear war is a bad thing. The greens have killed more than those aliens in War of the Worlds and Independence Day combined.

    The truth, which those vile greenies have tried so hard to suppress, is that global nuclear war is good for children and all living things. It doesn’t cause noise cancer like those horrible windmills, or use up all the sunshine like those wicked solar panels. It’s easy on the Earth’s resources and the eyes. It clears the sinuses and takes care of all sorts of joint problems.

    We must cut all those nasty greenie regulations and start launching our nuclear arsenal at once! There’s no time to lose! The US is a world leader; if we start launching, everyone else is bound to follow our lead. Besides, nuclear winter will cancel out global warming! We should, nay, must embrace our nuclear future with open arms.

    Now, please enjoy the following ten walls o’ text and two dozen links to dubious sources that will prove me right down to the smallest detail. If you should disagree in any way with my assessment that nuclear war is the only forward, then please know that you’re a filthy fucking greenie agent who is MURDERING THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD WITH YOUR LIES.

    Nuclear paradise awaits!

  25. says

    There’s been a clever bit of propaganda at work on the American mind for a very long time; a century, if not more. A little twist on two similarly-spelled but very different-meaning words.

    This is the conflation of “individualism” and “individuality.” This training to make Americans – and i’m sure many others beside – be totally unable to distinguish these words.

    Individuality is the act of being an individual. The expressions of one’s self and personality as distinct from others. Generally a positive thing, and something people through history have pursued.

    Individualism though is the belief that only yourself matters. That you are most important. That others exist in your personal story, only to be assistants or antagonists. Individualism is the ideology of selfishness and conceit. Rather ironically it is also antithetical to individuality, since “getting ahead” usually requires catering to the lowest common denominator, not deviating from a norm, and “keeping up with the joneses” in all regards.

    Individualism is what causes people to literally invade schools strapped to the nines because the school is mandating students wear masks during a pandemic, because “you can’t tell me what to do!” Individualism is what urges people to hoard and destroy what they can’t, because if you have more you “win.” Individualism is what pushes our climate and environment to the brink; after all it’s not MY fault why should I do something, and it’ll only affect THOSE people.

  26. birgerjohansson says

    origel @ 13
    The smart really selfish people get vaccinated, then tells everyone else vaccines are unsafe, and the right thing to do is go to an uranium mine and get a dose of radiation.
    After all others have died, the smart ones can steal their stuff.

  27. F.O. says

    The more power someone has, the more they need to legitimize it, lest we the people get really pissed at them.

    So yes, no surprise there that there has been a very strong push to legitimize “fuck you, I got mine!”