Category Archives: Culture

War and Peace (and Golf)


The America of 2021 is a constant game of tug of war between high and low expectations.  At one extreme, “Team High” is all about striving.  Which billionaire will almost make it to outer space first?  Which athlete will push the envelope to perform better?  Which company has the highest market cap regardless of fundamentals? Which students will have a longer list of extracurricular activities on their resumes?

At the other extreme, “Team Low” suggests all this striving leads to unhappiness and anxiety.  Dr. Jeremy Sherman made this point in a 2014 article in Psychology Today, presenting a counter-intuitive take on an oft-told story about optimism.

The joke goes that a child was so optimistic that, to test the extent of his optimism, his parents gave him a pile of horse manure. The kid’s eyes open wide with delight. He dives into the pile and starts digging.

“What are you doing?” his parents ask.
The kid replies, “With this much manure, I’m betting there’s a pony in here!”

Imagine his disappointment when there wasn’t.

For “Team Low,” being in the game is enough.  That participation trophy is a monument to trying, even when it does not lead to success.  Taking on a challenge is its own reward.  The journey, not the destination, is the source of the highest dividends.

As in most debates, the answer is probably somewhere between these extremes.  However, there is a bigger problem which I will call “situation expectations.”  It is not uncommon that one’s definition of success or failure will depend on the specifics of a given situation.  However, in this case, individuals occasionally adjust their position in the middle of an on-going scenario.  This is sometimes referred to as “moving the goalposts,” though it is more akin to donning an opponents’ uniform in the middle of a game.

SIK Golf's Bryson DeChambeau finishes 2nd in MexicoConsider the recent exploits of the golfer we love to hate Bryson DeChambeau as an example of how expectations can change in a matter of hours.  During the second round of the BMW Championship, after an eagle on the 16th hole, DeChambeau was in reach of a 59 with one birdie on either of the last two holes.  Missed putts of 17 feet on the 17th and six feet on the 18th resulted in “only” a course and tournament record 60, 12 strokes under par.  In the post-round interview, DeChambeau did not hesitate to voice his disappointment about misreading the putt on 18.  “I wanted to make it so bad.”

Rewind the video (I know, an anachronism) to DeChambeau standing on the first tee at the start of his second round.  Imagine if someone had asked, “Would you be satisfied if you could shoot 60 today and be tied for the lead going into Saturday’s third round?”  There is only one response.  “HELL YEAH!”  Of course, the irony is that missed six foot putt on Friday was the difference between taking home the BMW trophy and losing in a six-hole playoff on to Patrick Cantlay on Sunday.

Which brings me to the question of expectations when it comes to war and peace.  Twenty years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11, President George W. Bush rallied the international community to avenge the attack on the United States.  The goal: punish those directly responsible and disrupt potential future attacks.  Operation Enduring Freedom was initiated on September 26 when a CIA team arrived in Afghanistan to analyze the situation and identify potential anti-Taliban allies.  Soon thereafter, American and British special forces with U.S. air support pursued al-Qaeda militants in the Tora Bora region, forcing the survivors to retreat into Pakistan.  One could argue “First Tee” expectations, with the exception of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, were met when U.S. and Afghan forces decimated the 800 remaining al-Qaeda fighters in Paktia province in March 2002.

Perhaps initial success in Afghanistan came too easy (just as it again did in Iraq).  Why stop here?  Especially when anti-Taliban Afghans from the Northern provinces, led by Hamid Karzai, were eager to take complete control of the country even though U.S. military leadership on the ground advised against supporting the broader offensive.  President Bush then moved the goal posts with the April 2002 announcement of a “Marshall Plan” for Afghanistan, financial aid accompanied by an International Security Assistance Force as a counter-insurgency measure.  A lot transpired over the next 20 years, but I will leave that to historians to parse.

Which brings us to August 2021 during which expectations rose and fell faster and more frequently than the wave at a college football game.

  • Expectation #1: An equipped and trained security force of 300,000 Afghans could hold off Taliban advances long enough for an orderly evacuation of U.S. citizens and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders.
  • Expectation #2: Once Kabul fell to the Taliban, the possibility of a mass evacuation was slim and none.  On August 19, CNN foreign correspondent Clarissa Ward estimated American forces would be lucky if they got 50,000 evacuees to safety.
  • Expectation #3: Deploying 5,000 U.S. troops to secure a small geographic footprint surrounded by hostile forces (Taliban and ISIS-K) was extremely risky.
  • Expectation #4:  Sending troops to secure the evacuation would require an extension of Biden’s August 31 departure deadline.
  • Expectation #5:  Following the tragic loss of 13 service men and women, additional suicide bombings or worse, i.e. rocket attacks on departing aircraft, were likely.
  • Expectation #6: As U.S. forces began to leave, the last remaining contingent would be “sitting ducks.”

Imagine a meeting of the National Security Council in the White House situation room immediately following the fall of Kabul.  President Joe Biden asks for an honest assessment of the next 17 days.  National security advisor Jake Sullivan and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin paint the following scenario.

For a couple of days there will be complete chaos until we can secure the perimeter of the airport with approximately 5,000 troops.  By the third day we should be able to begin a round-the-clock airlift evacuating as many as 18,000 people per day.  By the departure date August 31, we estimate we can evacuate a total of 125,000 U.S. citizens and SIV recipients.

U.S. troops will need to be within close contact of Taliban forces and potential terrorists.  We cannot guarantee there will be no casualties.  We should expect 25-50.  However, we will be able to protect the airfield and planes from incoming rockets and secure the area until the last plane takes off.

Biden suggests they have painted a far too rosy picture and asks for the worse case scenario.   It is not pretty.    Decimated runways shutting down the airlift.  A filled mess hall or barracks becomes the target of an ISIS rocket.  A downed C-17 with 600 evacuees and troops killed.  Every critic and many pundits raised these possibilities, yet said nothing when they did not happen.

Out of Bounds: How to make F-word part of golfing vernacular?Which brings me to my last point about expectations.  Americans should heed the axiom, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  [NOTE:  The origin of this phrase is attributed to Voltaire who wrote in his Philosophical Dictionary, “The best is the enemy of the good.”]  Every PGA and LPGA tour player would love to shoot an ideal score, 16 birdies and a couple of eagles for good measure.  But they have not given up the game because it is, for all practical purposes, out of reach.  Instead, they yell, “FORE,” to acknowledge the errant shot, look for opportunities to recover and know the final tally never rests on a single stroke.

For what it’s worth.


De-Worm Turns


Treade a worme on the tayle, and it must turne agayne.

~John Heywood Proverb Collection (1546 AD)

The above quote is the origin of the phrase “the worm turns,” popularized by William Shakespeare.  In Henry VI, Part 3, Lord Clifford justifies the murder of Edmund, Earl of Rutland, stating, “The smallest worm will turn being trodden on.”  A more complete explanation is provided by Grammarist, a website comprised of writers who respond to readers’ queries about the origins, meaning and uses of English idioms.

The worm has turned means that someone who has previously been downtrodden has triumphed, someone who has previously been unlucky has become lucky, or someone who has previously been obedient has spoken up. The idea is that someone’s attitude toward another or his strength of conviction has changed.

FDA ivermectin warning: You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it. - Outbreak News TodaySo what was the event or events which triggered today’s post.  Based on the title, you may think it is obvious and not very creative.  It does not take a genius to make the connection between “the worm” and “de-worm” within 24 hours of the FDC tweeting, “You are not a horse.  You are not a cow, Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”  The warning was in response to suggestions on Facebook and by right wing media hosts the drug ivermectin, an ingredient in horse and cow de-worming treatment, was an alternative protection against COVID-19.  [NOTE: Did the FDA really need to use dialect like “y’all” to identify the audience most susceptible to this claim?  Now, had they substituted, “you’se guys,” that would have been surprising.]

However, the FDA directive was the equivalent of the 1914 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand his wife Sophie.  The royals’ demise was not the sole cause of the subsequent global conflict, only the catalyst which accelerated a chain of events which culminated in World War I.  Likewise, the reference to de-worming started a similar chain of events beginning with research into the metaphorical use of the phrase, “the worm turns.”  Quickly followed by these questions, based on the Grammarist definition.  Who are the worms in this case?  Why did they feel downtrodden or unlucky or obedient?  Have they triumphed or been subject to a change in luck or become newly outspoken?

To start this conversation, one must recognize there are many species of human worms.  Those cultists and sore losers who perpetuate the “big lie” and participated in the January 6th insurrection.  Those who are pro-choice when it comes to a life saving vaccine yet want to deny women the right to control their own bodies.  But the most disgusting and virulent strain might be those who march to the rhythms of chants such as “You will not replace us, “Blood and soil” and “The South will rise again.”  Their reemergence provides the best laboratory for observing the the life cycle of these erect tubular invertebrates.

We begin by asking why they feel downtrodden.  It was not always so. For almost 250 years (1619-1865) two governments (Great Britain and the United States) offered de jure protection of the myth of a superior white race, allowing half the new world to treat transplanted Africans as chattel.  For the next 100 years (1865-1965), former slaves and their decedents in the antebellum South and elsewhere continued to be treated as second-class citizens under Jim Crow laws and both de jure and de facto segregation.  At the same time, they believed the future of Anglo-Saxon, protestant America was threatened by the influx of Catholic and Jewish immigrants.

One can argue 1965 was the beginning of what might be called the white nationalists’ “downtrodden era.”  It lasted 50 years during which nine U.S. presidents affirmed there was no place in America for this kind of bigotry and ignorance.  But the worms were never in danger of extinction.  They merely went underground.

The current “revenge era” began in 2015 when candidate Donald Trump launched a presidential campaign under the MAGA banner sending a signal it was okay for bigots to come out of the woodwork.  How lucky to have found such a champion of their cause.  In fact, so lucky that they became cultists willing to following their leader’s every directive.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise many of the conspiracy theories espoused by anti-vaxxers have their origins on neo-Nazi and white supremacist social media that promote fears the vaccines are a form of population control or a for-profit scam perpetrated by Jews.

And come out from the woodwork they did.  Trump’s election was falsely interpreted by the likes of the Proud Boys and the Nationalist Social Club that Americans were ready to welcome them back and support their cause.  Conversations which were limited for half a century to secret meetings and the darkest corners of the internet are now taking place at rallies in major cities and on Facebook.

Make no mistake.  As Carol Anne Freeling (portrayed by Heather O’Rourke) proclaimed in the movie Poltergeist, “They’re back!”  And even though a worm, as Heywood suggests, has turned, it is the same worm which always inhabited society, and is sorely in need of de-worming.

For what it’s worth.


You Never Know


When someone mentions the law of unintended consequences, it is almost always in reference to unanticipated, negative outcomes.  However, as a self-proclaimed champion of counter-intuitive thinking, I forever look for a case or cases which suggest the opposite can also be true.  This morning I found it, in Afghanistan of all places.

Until this morning, many foreign affairs specialists identified two paradoxes which were early contributors to the events of the past two weeks.

  1. Nation building should not be an element of U.S. foreign policy or national security.  It did not work in Vietnam.  Iraq.  Libya. Yet, that did not stop one more failed attempt in Afghanistan.
  2. Following 9/11, we were told the war against terrorism would not be a conventional conflict.  It would not involve engagements based on geopolitical boundaries or governments.  Neither would success depend on large, well equipped armed forces.  Instead it would be about intelligence, analysis of the data and precision strikes by special ops and manned or unmapped vehicles delivering guided ordinance.

The initial 9/11 response, ironically, was totally consistent with these assumptions.  Consider the following excerpt titled “The First Salvo/October 7, 2001” from an analysis of the two decades war prepared by the Council on Foreign Relations.

The U.S. military, with British support, begins a bombing campaign against Taliban forces, officially launching Operation Enduring Freedom. Canada, Australia, Germany, and France pledge future support. The wars early phase  mainly involves U.S. air strikes on al-Qaeda and Taliban forces that are assisted by a partnership of about one thousand U.S. special forces, the Northern Alliance, and ethnic Pashtun anti-Taliban forces.

It proved sufficient to result in the total collapse of Taliban forces by December 9, 2001.  The only piece of unfinished business was bringing al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to justice, the justification for the introduction of large numbers of ground troops to prosecute the war into the Tora Bora region where bin Laden was believed to be hiding.  As we later learned he had escaped, probably on horseback, to the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Interview - David FrumDavid Frum, staff to George W. Bush during this period, shared his perspective that the troop build up and 20 year war could have been avoided in an August 15, 2021 article in The Atlantic titled, “The 1 Thing that Could Have Changed the War in Afghanistan.”

Had the United States caught and killed Osama bin Laden in December 2001, the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would have faded away almost immediately afterward. I cannot prove that. It’s only an opinion from my vantage point as one of President George W. Bush’s speechwriters in 2001 and 2002.

If true, one wonders if the major deployment of U.S. ground troops to secure the new constitution, democratic elections and Karzi government was a substitute for failing the prime directive, capturing or killing bin Laden.  Not to mention the second Iraq war which diluted resources which could have been devoted to the hunt for bin Laden.

Which brings us to the present.  And my long standing but unproven theory the real tragedy in Afghanistan was the U.S. effort at nation building only postponed an inevitable civil war in which Afghans would decide the nation’s future direction.  If the American war between the states settled some major issues on which the founding fathers punted, why couldn’t a similar intra-national catharsis serve the same purpose elsewhere around the globe?

Strangely, this may become the unintended consequence of the 20 year U.S. presence in “the graveyard of empires.”  Not to shore up a corrupt government.  Not to train a self-sufficient Afghan security force.  Instead, the lasting legacy may be time for a new generation of Afghans, who were unborn or too young to remember Taliban 1.0 in 2001, to grow up in a more open society.  With access to the outside world.  Where women could fully participate in the community.  Where young girls could go to school and dream of becoming doctors, teachers, etc.  A whole generation who is willing to tell the Taliban, “NO!  We do not accept what you offer.”

The first signal this new generation may become a thorn in side of the Taliban emerged in the last 48 hours as reported by two Washington Post correspondents.

(Afghans) staged protests in Kabul and other cities Thursday, challenging Taliban fighters in scattered demonstrations, including at least one that turned deadly…In the capital, men and women carried the black, red and green flags of the Afghan Republic, chanting “our flag, our identity,” according to videos posted online.

~Erin Cunningham & Rachel Pannet/August 19, 2021

The numbers are not in the Taliban’s favor.  The United Nations Population Fund in Afghanistan (UNPFA) reports 63.7 of the 37.3 million residents are 25 years of age or younger.  Compare that to the estimated 200,000 members of the Taliban.  Yes, there will likely be a continuing humanitarian crisis, bloodshed and days on which the cause may seem hopeless.  Nor will it resemble the American Civil War.  The optics are likely to be more akin to “Les Misérables” than “Gone with the Wind.”

But if this new generation of Afghans become the force for change and modernity in this ancient land, this unintended consequence means the expenditure of U.S. talent and treasure, along with that of our allies, will not have been in vain.

For what it’s worth.


What, Me Worry!

Roy Wood Jr. - WikipediaBut if we get rid of the confederate flags (pause) how am I going to know who the dangerous white people are? I’m just saying, the flag had a couple of up sides.  I grew up in the south.  I can’t tell you how many times the flag came in handy.  You stop for gas at a strange place at two in the morning.  You see that flag hanging in the window.  You know this is NOT the place to get gas.

~Comedian Roy Wood, Jr./Father Figure (2017)

I live in Florida, one of three states along with Texas and Missouri, which account for 40 percent of the total number of new U.S. COVID cases in the last seven days.  A state where the number of new cases has increased by 232 percent over the last two weeks.  And COVID related deaths have risen by 30 percent.

More specifically, my wife and I reside in Nassau County, Florida.  The weekly “Situation Report” provided by the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) reported, for the week of July 9-15, there were 445 new cases.  The new case positivity rate was 24.5 percent and the new cases per 100,000 residents was 499.2.  Both these latter statistics are twice those for the entire state for the same timeframe, positivity rate of 11.5 percent and 207.5 cases per 100,000 population.  In other words, Nassau County is among the worse counties in one of the three worse states in the country when it comes to the fourth wave of the on-going pandemic.

How did Nassau County achieve this “honor?”  The first clue is in that same weekly “Situation Report.”  For the week of July 9-15, the number of new vaccinated county residents totaled 370.  That’s right.  There were 75 more new reported cases than vaccinations.  Therefore, it should be no surprise only 37.1 percent of county residents 18 years old and up are fully vaccinated compared to 60 percent for the country as a whole. [NOTE:  The state used to provide a daily update until Governor Ron DeSantis declared “mission accomplished” and issued several executive orders prohibiting local governments and private businesses from requiring masks or proof of vaccination.]

The above statistics and two experiences Friday morning made me  think about Roy Wood, Jr.  What is the equivalent of the confederate flag during this variant induced surge in new COVID cases?  Do we need something similar that tells us whether an establishment is the place to do business or whether we should move on?  My first stop this morning was at IdentoGo, a federal contractor that facilitates background checks for security clearances including TSA PreCheck.  The email which confirmed the date and time of my appointment included the following, “ALL CUSTOMERS MUST WEAR A FACE COVERING TO ENTER OUR CENTERS. (their emphasis)”  Upon arrival, it was clear the rule was being strictly enforced.  No confederate flags in sight.  I felt safe.

On the way home, I stopped at the local Walmart to pick up a few items.  I put on a mask and approached the store.  In the front window was the following sign.  “Fully vaccinated customers are welcome to shop without a mask.  We will continue to request that non-vaccinated customers wear face coverings in our stores.”  I imagined how Roy Wood might interpret this directive.

It was different from the high point of infections in late January when the newly inaugurated president called for a national mask mandate.  Wood might have welcomed Biden’s directive, suggesting:

But if we get rid of the mask mandate (pause) how am I going to know who the COVIDiots are?

But the current situation is akin to the “what color is the dress” challenge that took over the internet in the winter of 2015.  The message I saw in Walmart’s window was still a “red flag.”  Why?  Because it was not totally accurate.  At the peak of the pandemic, Walmart was one of the safest places to shop due to the stringent enforcement of the mask mandate.  At a risk to their own safety, employees refused to allow the unmasked to enter the store.  To say “we will CONTINUE to REQUEST” (my emphasis) misrepresents their former policy.  They continued nothing.  Instead, they changed their policy from REQUIRE to REQUEST.

A majority of the shoppers, however, saw it as a “green flag” that could be ignored.  How do I know?  Just do the math.  The store was moderately busy, and only a handful of shoppers wore masks.  But for argument’s sake, say it was 10 percent.  Based on the FDOH Situation Report, 63 percent of the customers in Nassau County were likely not to be fully vaccinated.  It was probably higher since that does not account for fully vaccinated individuals, like myself, who out of caution chose to wear face covering.

What’s more, Florida is analogous to an Aesop fable with the title, “The Boy Who Thinks Everyone Else Cried Wolf.”  The protagonist in the story is, of course, Governor DeSantis.  He has ignored concerns voiced by his own health officials and by local officials in the most impacted jurisdictions.  He is spending taxpayers money to sue a cruise line that challenged his executive order prohibiting the company the right to require proof of vaccination to protect both its employees and passengers.

Last weekend, DeSantis chose to participate in an anti-immigration photo op with Texas Governor Greg Abbott at the southern border.  Does he really believe that is the priority when 148 of his constituents died of a virus-related illness in one day (July 23)?  Which, by the way, accounted for 30.2 percent of the total U.S. COVID-related deaths (486) that same day.  When the governor brags Florida has handled the coronavirus better than any other state, he is not lying if you look at the situation from the virus’ perspective.  It is amazing what transpires when you confront a crisis wearing kid gloves.

Furthermore, in the latest “karma is a  bitch” moment, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody tweeted she had tested positive for coronavirus four days after accompanying DeSantis to the Texas border. DeSantis’ office refused to respond to a Miami Herald inquiry “whether the governor would get tested for COVID-19 or take any precautions after coming in close contact with Moody over the weekend.”

At times like these, I imagine how current events would have been covered by individuals who are no longer at the forefront of the news and entertainment industry.  One wonders if 2016 would have turned out differently if Tim Russert had a chance to interview Donald Trump on “Meet the Press.”  Or how David Letterman might have dealt with the misery in New York City during the early days of the pandemic when it was again “ground zero” during another national crisis.

Mort Drucker, Master of the Mad Caricature, Is Dead at 91 - The New York TimesToday, my thoughts turn to Mort Drucker (1929-2020) who, for more than 50 years, drew many of the classic cartoon parodies in Mad Magazine, including the iconic portrait of mop-haired, gap-toothed Alfred E. Newman.  Would the cover of this month’s edition feature a drawing of an ostrich with Ron DeSantis’ head, in front of a hospital or cemetery?  Would he be walking up to a podium bearing the great seal of the state of Florida except on this rendition, instead of “In God We Trust,” the state motto would read, “What, Me Worry!”?

For what it’s worth.


You Want the Truth?

I am always wary when someone says, “Power to THE people!”  I’ve learned they usually mean, “Power to MY people!”

Senator Joe Biden/September 1974

Biden was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Council of State Community Affairs Agencies in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  The topic was the consolidation of several legacy programs administered by the the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Instead, the monies would become state block grants allowing each jurisdiction to determine the allocation among a number of eligible uses (e.g. housing, sewer and water projects).  NOTE:  The proposal was shelved until the 1980s when block grants became a centerpiece of the Reagan administration’s domestic policy.

I start with this story because Biden’s words made me reassess my own understanding of the words “power” and “empowerment.”  Both now seemed more temporal and less absolute.  Power was good in the hands of people who agreed with my values and ideology.  Less so if held by those who did not.  From then on I was skeptical of any debate over the consolidation or decentralization of power.  It may be the reason why I hesitate to advocate eliminating the filibuster, though my skepticism is waning.  But that’s a topic for another day.

Bottom line?  Regardless of one’s view whether power is good or bad, the word itself confuses more than it clarifies.  Which brings me to today’s topic.  I now believe the word “truth” may be the root cause of the political and cultural divisions within the United States.  The proverbial phrase “absolute power corrupts absolutely” also applies to truth.

Jon HuerIn Jon Huer’s examination of academia titled Tenure for Socrates, the author explores the misconception facts and truth are one and the same.  He correctly points out facts are discovered; truths are created.  He offers the following as evidence.

Truth, if rejected, is found to be false.  Facts, if rejected, are to be incorrect…Truth is determined by the inquirer’s intention; facts by the inquirer’s outcome.

No truth has been changed by applying further knowledge.  Many a fact, however, has been discarded when proven incorrect.

Consider one of the most iconic exchanges in filmdom history, the court martial confrontation between  Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) and Colonel Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson) in A Few Good Men.

KAFFEE: Jessup, did you order the Code Red?
JESSUP: You want answers?
KAFFEE:  I want the truth!
JESSUP:  You can’t handle the truth!

Jessup then lays out HIS truth based on his personal values and experience.  “Son, we live in a world with walls that must be guarded.”  Does Kaffee challenge Jessup’s truth?  No!  He abandons the quest for truth in exchange for the facts.

KAFFEE: Did you order the Code Red?
JESSUP:  You’re goddamn right I did!

Even as Jessup is dragged out of the courtroom, he continues to justify his actions based on HIS truth.  As Charlton Heston might say, “Jessup will give up his truth when you pry it from his cold, dead hands.”

This fictional example helps explain why the misconception about facts and truths may also be at the heart of tribal divisiveness in the American body politic.  Consider the current debate over critical race theory (CRT).  The concept, introduced in the 1970s at Harvard Law School, posits centuries of institutional racism still have a lasting effect on the financial, legal and social status of minorities in the United States.  At the same time, some of the loudest CRT critics decry the reexamination of pre-Civil War America, including the demotion of confederate generals and political leaders from “heroes” to “seditionists.”  They argue, slavery was critical to half the fledgling country’s economy, without which the U.S. would not have become the commercial powerhouse it is today.  In other words, slavery was an unfortunate but necessary chapter in the nation’s history.

These seemingly conflicting views are not incompatible.  Both admit slavery and antecedent dependence on minority labor, often compensated below the levels of non-minority workers, exist.  That is a fact.   But one tribe’s “truth” is that years of incremental progress on issues of race have adequately addressed past sins.  The other tribe believes those injustices have not yet been reconciled.  And as Huer suggests, no new knowledge or data will loosen the hold those opposing truths have on either tribe.

In closing, let me paraphrase what I heard Joe Biden say 47 years ago.  “Be wary when someone says they are on a quest for THE truth.  What they mean is that they are seeking to affirm THEIR truth.”

For what it’s worth.