Thursday, July 20, 2017

Just Because You Can Spout Bullshit At Lightspeed Doesn't Mean It's Not Bullshit

My TV is in grave danger from the Republican Party. If I see one more, just one more fast-talking, superficially slick, intellectually bankrupt, morally deficient GOP representative, senator, or "strategist," I'm gonna toss a shoe at my TV! And since my shoe of choice is usually a size 12 EEE Tony Lama western boot, that sucker's gonna die.

Day after day, for the last week especially, every news channel - even MSNBC - has had one of two variations on this model. Either the Blow-Dried Yuppie Slickster, or the balding, fatassed Good Ole Boy. Both versions display the same behavior: first they deliver a rapid, breathless spiel on "the Many Evils of Obamacare, and How It Hurts The American People," followed by repeated assertions that "Obamacare is failing!" but a flat refusal to discuss the details of exactly how and why it's "failing." Then  they'll reject the idea of actually reflecting and considering the implications of their constant bleatings for their constituents who, under this newest scheme, could be left with no health insurance at all; and all this nonsense is being spewed out at the interviewer with all the fast-talking, morally vacant, ignorant aggressiveness of a used car salesman in a cheap polyester suit.

And by then, I'm ready to toss a shoe at the TV. Who do they think they're fooling with this routine?

A lot of people, apparently. I first noticed this susceptibility many Americans have to fast-talking con men years ago, when I first moved to the Midwest. College bull sessions would be dominated by some ignorant, corn-fed jackass repeating something he had read but didn't understand in the Wall Street Journal. (Well, they *tried* to dominate the discussion, but I usually sliced right through their bullshit.) After college, I noticed the same deficiency in many Midwesterners; then, with the rise of Reagan, this disease spread nationwide. It's frankly disgusting, but it goes a long way towards explaining the rise of conservatism, and the election of, and continued support for, Agent Orange in the hinterlands.

Just because someone sounds confident, sounds like they know what they're talking about, doesn't meant that they are confident or that they do know what they're talking about. And rapid-fire recitations of talking points is not a substitute for clear, analytical, factually-based thinking; quite the opposite, in fact. Whenever you hear someone spewing oft-repeated talking points, stop them and ask: what facts are there that support your assertions? How is the present system or situation or plan inferior to the one that was in place before its institution? What do you have for a replacement, and what's so great about it? Usually, you'll see them sputter, and then fall upon another set of talking points. What you won't hear, 99 times out of 100, is some original thinking, or some facts that are new to you, or just plain facts, and not some inane nonsense that makes you pinch yourself to make sure this is really happening, and isn't an LSD flashback.

What you will hear, though, as their defense of their bullshit progresses, is something even crazier than their initial assertion. For example:

"Who knew healthcare was complicated?" said Agent Orange.
"Everyone!" said the rest of America.

"Only Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and myself attended that meeting with the Russian lawyer," said Trump Jr.
A week later, the number of people attending that meeting had doubled, including a former Soviet intelligence officer, and the number of meetings had increased from one to two. By next week, we'll find out that Boris and Natasha were also in attendance, with "Moose and Squirrel" listening through the adjoining wall with the office next door.

"We're gonna build a wall on our southern border, and Mexico is gonna pay for it!" said Agent Orange.
"No we're not," said Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto.
"We're gonna build a big, beautiful wall, and Mexico is gonna pay for it!" said Agent Orange again.
"Fuck you, no we're not!" said former Mexican president Vicente Fox.
"We're gonna build a wall, and Mexico's gonna pay for it, and it's gonna have solar panels and be transparent, so you can see the 60-lb. bags of drugs being tossed over it, and not get hit in the head by them," said Agent Orange one more time.
"BHWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!! You crazy orange man!" said everyone in Mexico.
 "We'll pay to build the wall, and then get the money back from Mexico," said the crazy orange man, but by this time, only the other crazies were still listening.
Americans didn't used to believe bullshit just because it came wrapped in a nice box with a bow. (e.g., Ivanka: "I support working women." Truth: she supports them in Bangladesh, and Vietnam, and China, at $173/month in wages) We used to not fall for the Flim-Flam Man.We need to retrain ourselves in those skills.

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