“Land of the racist; land of the batshit crazy; land of the proudly ignorant.”

Johannes Rand


Principles are not values.

There is no ethical dilemma resulting from “conflicting” value systems if ethical management is principle-based. The difficulty of practicing principle-based ethics is the lack of identification that occurs as certain unethical behaviors become mainstream practices and personal values take precedence over values with universal applicability. The tendency is for individuals to identify unethical practices only when it affects them personally.

Bellamy, 1994


Patsy Cline song

“Strange how you stopped loving me, how you stopped needing me … oh, how strange.”


Well. I think USA has gone a bit batshit crazy. There is some shit going on which is real alternative universe stuff. Fantasy thinking. But. More concerning is how belief in some fringe thinking and ideas has slithered its way into mainstream and, worse, the fringe thinkers have seized some power.

Two things made me pull this out of my draft folder … two great bosses I had and things they have written. Charlie wrote a blog post that I just reread and David gave me something he had written in frustration.  It was Charlie who wrote in A More Tolerant Future:

“I thought we had already fought this fight for a more tolerant future. I thought we fought it for these kids.  And here we are, almost five decades later, as I watch the innocence wash from their faces and see them wince at that peculiar stench of prejudice and intolerance in the air. I am heartbroken.”

And David shared some thoughts under the headline of “My Country: Embarrassment/Pride” (see below).

Here were two people I genuinely respect suggesting maybe we need to do some real country soul-searching where we look at ourselves in the mirror and say “are you pleased, or satisfied, with what you see?” Personally, I would suggest the answer is no <or, at minimum, some level of disappointment>. And with that I believe we should think about the changes needed to shift away from the land of the batshit crazy, hold ourselves accountable for the things that clearly need improving and address some of the ignorance which undergirds some of the issues we face.

And maybe it is the latter I take on today.

The batshit crazy clearly remain ignorant with regard to the real nuances of what is true and even what the constitution suggests/states. And maybe that is where I want to lean in. The batshit crazy have lost the plot, the narrative, the important aspects of truth and are dwelling in the land of platitudes. I have defended the Trump voter, I have defended the people who focus on the day-to-day grind and cannot be involved in governance & voting, but I struggle to defend true “patriotic laziness.” It is within that patriotic laziness, or intellectually laziness, or ‘learning laziness’, in which the batshit crazy thrives.

And I bring that in because there is a difference in today’s environment in the batshit craziness. There is truly an asymmetry between what one would construe as right-wing batshit crazy and leftwing batshit crazy. On the Left I struggle to find the real craziness; it just may be some misguided ideas within good intentions (healthcare for everyone is not batshit crazy and no one gets hurt). Antifa is not really “left”, it is anarchy supporting (and I actually struggle to completely dislike anyone who is anti-fascist). On the Right there is some batshit crazy stuff going on and, worse, supported in some form or fashion by politicians (or some loud media voices).

But let me be clear on a couple of things just for context.

“People will try to hold on when their world starts to tilt, they will grab onto whatever is in reach.”

The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn

First. The United States citizenry is always in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction. The ‘public perception’ that the country was headed in the right direction has only broken above 50% 4 times since measurement began. I believe the last time was when Biden was inaugurated, the majority of the country breathed a sigh of relief Trump was gone, and then we went back to being perpetually dissatisfied again. I would also note this is partially why polls for everyone look crappy today.

Second. Every generation feels like these are “the worst of times.” That’s what generational attitudes do. I speculate it is tied to my first point in that everyone either (a) sees progress as losing something of value or (b) sees the past in a rosier fashion than it really was.

“Progress? The history of all times cries loudly against it.”

Immanuel Kant

Look. Generations will be generations. Old people will bitch about young people. Young people will bitch about old people. And the ‘bitches’ are pretty much the same things <maybe different words used> every time.

I offer this as context to state the depth & breadth of the existing batshit craziness is different, and worse, than the past. And, yeah, I can point some fingers. The first finger I will point to is the world wide web known as “the internet.” Social media naturally amplifies and social media platforms create amplification of the crazy. The batshit crazy of the past maybe huddled in wood huts with a few others mumbling about a world losing its way, citizen militia, whites losing influence and Jewish space lasers. The batshit crazy of the present shout day in and day out online and it echoes throughout an ambiguous world in which pieces of truth gain the gravity of whole truths. The second finger I will point to is politicians. They have found they can use portions of the batshit crazy in a self-serving way. In other words, politicians, who should be role models for what we should be and how to act, have elected to model the worst behavior – including some aspects of the batshit crazy – in order to, well, maintain their positions and power (and money). I would suggest 95+% of politicians act like what you would typically see in any high school in the USA, but that would be an insult to most high school youth.


The batshit crazy have found a voice, found a platform, and found some listeners. And, as with everything, all nuance gets lost and we fall into a deep dark crevasse of binary thinking, choices and beliefs. You are a patriot or you are not. You believe USA is exceptional, or not. You are a racist, or not. You support the military, or you don’t. It’s, well, crazy. And if it’s crazy, well, the batshit crazy will find it useful in spewing their batshit craziness. And none of us are better off when this happens. None of us. People get hurt, even physically, people divide for some fairly silly reasons and people increasingly get trapped in complex discussions and forced to make some simplistic choices/stands.


I am constantly disappointed with America, yet, simultaneously, constantly proud of America which makes it difficult to create a cogent view on America’s place in the world. America defies simplistic adjectives as it navigates an idealistic nation with grandiose vision and a practical reality that often doesn’t match up with either the ideals or the idealistic vision.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be patriotic, just not blindly so.

The truth is that it was because of some good fortune, in combination with some hard-earned achievements, we are tempted to think of ourselves as “exceptional”, and yet if we are honest, we would also have to admit quite a few “exceptional” failures. But that’s a backwards looking argument/discussion and instead I suggest getting to work solving the problems that prevent exceptionalism: growing inequality of wealth; unaffordable cost of higher education; the absurd level of energy consumption (and the wrong types); the ineffective healthcare system; the lingering effects of institutional racism; a business system inherently in love with Freidman instead of Drucker. Addressing any of those things does not mean we have sacrificed, or will sacrifice, the great contributions America offers day in and day out.

These are all important things but the batshit crazies most likely (a) can’t accept the nuance needed to address them, (b) attribute the flaws/failures to some nebulous enemy – communist democrats, deep state, anti-Americans, etc., (c) apply some alternative universe extrapolation of the Constitution to solve it or (d) create some simplistic patriotic narrative grounded in some distant past which we can never replicate (nor want to).

“… what I do loathe and fear is the decline in spiritual values. truthfulness is giving place to bigotry. Cruelty is replacing tolerance. And the sanctity of the individual is being blurred by mass emotions.”

Harold Nicholson, British statesman, 1945

Batshit crazies look backwards. Period. That is the common characteristic of all the crazy tribes. And while looking backwards almost always has too tidiness of inevitability to it, they always offer some simplistic tidy headline for craziness to rally around. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out life is untidy, people are untidy, society is untidy, and culture is not even close to tidy. Why would anyone think America is a tidy idea? And yet, batshit crazies try and convince us of some tidy alternative universe idea for anything that anyone could think of.

Let me say a couple things. A greedy, corrupt and aggressive America is a total waste of our human potential. The world is a complex place, America is a complex country, the American idea is complex, and while I do not believe people are becoming more ignorant, I do believe it takes a bit more work than many people are willing to invest to be less ignorant on some important things (and batshit crazy world counts on that). In addition. I believe it was Joseph Nye who said “Americans have a long history of worrying about their decline.” 1700’s Puritans lamented a fall from earlier virtue. The Founding Fathers worried that the America republic created might crumble like ancient Rome. And throughout history famous intellectuals have consistently suggested America is in a state of collapse, the economy is ailing or failing, our ‘power’ was diminished, democracy was broken and the end of “the American century” is always imminent.

All of those concepts are the batshit crazy’s reason for being.

Which leads me to some of David’s thoughts. Just ponder these non batshit crazy thoughts.




Religion:  I live in a country where a large segment of the population believes they live in a Christian nation, and should be governed accordingly.  I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country whose founding fathers were products of the Age of Enlightenment and believed religion was a personal matter.  I’m proud of that.  I live a country whose original laws neither mentioned Christianity or any other religion.  I’m proud of that.  I live in a country whose Constitution prohibits any law “respecting an establishment of religion”, “the free exercise of religion”, promotes any religion, is used as a political test, required as a qualification for any office or public trust, relied upon to make decisions regarding any aspect of the business of the country, or the daily lives of its citizens.  I’m proud of that.

Economy:  I live in a country where one political party believes the government’s budget is the equivalent of a household budget.  I’m embarrassed by that.  I live in a country where many continue to believe “Trickle-Down Economics” and balanced budgets lead to economic growth and prosperity for its citizens.  I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country that invests in science, technology, and the arts, and like a corporation (or a household) incurs manageable debt to revenue ratios to achieve a better life for its citizens.  I’m proud of that.

Health:  I live in a country where almost one third of all adults are obese, the highest obesity rate in the world.  I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country with more world class athletes than any other country.  I’m proud of that.  I live in a country that has won more than twice as many Olympic gold medals than any other country. I’m proud of that.

Fossil Fuel:  I live in country where the fossil fuel and related industries spend billions of dollars to drill for oil and gas offshore and in our national parks, blighting the landscape with rigs and risking ecological damage.  I’m embarrassed by that.  I live in country where fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is vigorously pursued by myriad energy companies and, for the most part, only supported by their own science.  I’m embarrassed by that.  I live in a country where the occurrence of contaminated ground water, and seismic anomalies following fracking are deemed coincidence by the industry.  I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country that has set aside a larger percent of its land and shoreline for parks and recreation that any other country in the world.  I’m proud of that.  I live a country that pledged it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 28% over the next ten years.  I’m proud of that. I live in a country that has become energy independent, invested in clean energy innovation when the ROI looked dubious, and now can actually produce clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels and fracking. I am proud of that.

National Defense:  I live in a country that spends more on defense than any other country in the world.  In fact, I live in a country that spends as much on its military as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, India, and South Korea combined.  I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country where three sitting presidents have been awarded the Nobel prize for peace.  I’m proud of that.

Justice:  I live in a country where the President, Vice President, National Security Adviser, Secretary of State, CIA Director and many of their close associates lied to Congress, and the American people, to start and prosecute the Iraq war, but were not charged with a crime.  I live in a country where wealthy are treated differently by the legal system than the less wealthy. I’m embarrassed by that. I live in a country that produced Supreme Court Justices Earl Warren, Charles Evans Hughes, John Marshall, John Marshall Harlan, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  I’m proud of that.

Slavery:   I live in a country that practiced slavery for 87 years.  I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country whose President recognized that slavery was wrong and signed the Emancipation Proclamation on the first day of 1863. I’m proud of that.

Racism:  I live in a country where individual states enacted segregationist Jim Crow laws starting in the 1890’s and were enforced for 75 years.  I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country that passed the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and The Voting Rights of 1965. I’m proud of that.

Prison:  I live in a country that incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world. I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country where the rate of violent crime is declining.  I’m proud of that.

Education:  I live in country that that once led the world in educational achievement, but now ranks <too low> among other industrialized nations. I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country that is home to more of the best universities in world than any other country.  I’m proud of that.

Poverty:  I live in a country where almost 16 million children live in food insecure households.  In 37 states and the D.C. 20% or more live in food insecure households. I’m embarrassed by that.

I live a country that is the most charitable in the world. I’m proud of that.

Living Standard:  I live in a country where today’s minimum wage buys less than half of what it bought 25 years ago when the minimum wage was $3.90.  I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country whose president signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for all workers. I’m proud of that.

Healthcare:  I live in a country whose healthcare system ranks, well, last worldwide according to the World Health Organization.  I’m embarrassed by that. I live a country that has the most expensive healthcare system in the world, but ranks last among 11 industrialized nations including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom for healthcare outcomes. I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in country that invented Pneumovax, Tetracycline, and Streptomycin, the polio vaccine, the Covid vaccine and led the mapping of the human genome. I’m proud of that.

Education:  I live in a country where a large percent of the population reviles intellectual curiosity and critical thinking. I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country that has won 339 Nobel Prizes, almost three times more than any other country—Medicine 98, Physics 88, Chemistry 67, Economics 54, Peace 21, Literature 11. I’m proud of that.

Banking:  I live in a country where the heads of the financial institutions that were the primary cause of “The Great Recession” we’re not prosecuted let alone jailed. I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in country where key executives of the largest financial institutions–Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Lazard—are paid large bonuses if they leave for high level government positions. I’m embarrassed by that.

Economics:  I live in a country where there are politicians, citizens and some economists who think lowering taxes on “job creators” would actually create jobs.  I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country that on average is creating more than a quarter million new jobs every month.  I’m proud of that.

Big Tobacco:  I live in country where the heads of the leading cigarette manufacturing companies lied under oath to Congress about the dangers of smoking and were never prosecuted even though millions became gravely ill or died.  I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country that 45 years ago banned radio and TV cigarette advertising and mandated all packaging, labeling, other forms of advertising and promotion must include prominent warnings about the dangers of smoking.  I’m proud of that.

Infrastructure:  I live a country that worldwide ranks 13th in quality of infrastructure.  I’m embarrassed by that. I live in a country where 11% of its bridges are “structurally deficient”.  I’m embarrassed by that. I live in country that hasn’t raised the federal 18.5 cents a gallon gasoline tax in over twenty years. I’m embarrassed by that.

I live in a country that built the transcontinental railroad and the Interstate Highway system.  I’m proud of that.

Exceptionalism:  I live a country where the idea of its exceptionalism has been co-opted by a large number of its citizens to be synonymous with economic, military, religious and historical superiority.  I’m embarrassed by that.  I live a country where a large number of its citizens are so committed to the idea of exceptionalism, they knowingly accept revisionist versions of the Nation’s history. I’m embarrassed by that.

All Said And Done:  I live in a country where the majority of its citizens recognize the nation is not perfect, are embarrassed by its flaws — past and present – but proudly applaud all that is just and right about where they live.

(well said, David)

Back to my words …

In the end I don’t believe America is the land of the racist, or the batshit crazy or even the ignorant. I do believe we have racists, batshit crazy people and ignorant people, but they are not the majority no matter how loud they shout. They are a minority and the majority can invigorate the progress the country needs – if it elects to.

In the end this isn’t about exceptionalism nor is it about achievements, it’s about people and perceptions. Its about whether the future of the country should be dictated by the batshit crazy. And when I say “dictated” that could mean someone actually be elected into a position of power to subvert America to the batshit crazy desires or it could simply be a large enough batshit craziness that puts enough barnacles on the America ship to slow progress to a mind-numbing stagnant plod.

In the end I would remind everyone of some thoughts about what America considers the greatest generation – the Lost Generation. During the First World War, the alleged stupidity of American youth became a raging issue when IQ tests indicated that half of all draftees had a mental age of under twelve. After the First World War their morals came under attack from the older generation. During the Depression, they were called “a generation of self-seekers” for wrecking “the temple of our civilization,” and throughout the 1930s were attacked as ‘nay-sayers’, “Irresponsibles,” and (as war approached) “isolationists.” And this was with what we often refer to as the greatest generation.

In the end we need to get a grip on the batshit crazy and craziness because, well, I struggle to believe anyone can be proud of “land of the racist; land of the batshit crazy; land of the proudly ignorant.” We need to disincentivize being batshit crazy and relegate the batshit crazy to the wooden huts of old and let them mumble amongst themselves while the rest of us thrive in reality. And then we, the non-batshit crazy, need to refind the ‘plot’ and recraft the narrative – for the good of America. Ponder.

Written by Bruce