Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Frienemy of the American People

Frienemy of the American People
©2017  Ross Williams

I periodically have to remind those with whom I'm discussing weighty topics that you don't get points for being right, you get points for being pertinent.  Being pertinent means, naturally, being right, but it also means being relevant to the issue under discussion.

My go-to illustration for this notion is that when the topic at hand is balancing your checkbook — where the relevant arithmetic is confined to addition and subtraction — it doesn't matter how many times you correctly recite the multiplication tables; your checkbook is not getting balanced.  Yes, nine times seven is sixty-three … so what?

And you must be able to answer the "so what" challenge if you ever hope to claim an intellectual position in a rational discourse.   "So what?" demands that you explain the pertinence of your position; if you cannot, then your position is no more valid than any childish quibble offered up by a six-year old — which I make certain to point out to those who can't explain it.

You are sitting at your laptop with your online banking open in a browser, and your Quicken software open to your checking account reconciliation tablet.  Your wife comes up behind you asking if you can afford to buy a new washing machine this month.  You reply by saying "Nine times seven is sixty-three." She responds by saying "So what?" or something less kind than that.

If you can't answer her, then you'd best close Quicken, log off your bank's website, and go back to minesweeper, because you are clearly overmatched by the rigors of second-grade arithmetic.   Hire an accountant.  Give the task to your wife.  Do something, anything.  But don't pretend you are competent at balancing the checkbook.

The issue at hand, and for several months, is fake news — with whatever consequence and implication that brings to those observing the proceedings.  And the assertion is that the mainstream press is thereby the enemy of the American people.

To be honest, this is one of those QED moments of philosophical clarity that Socrates would have killed for.  …and yet … people are quibbling and protesting and stomping their feet and wetting their panties in public over the statement.  Strangely, libertarians are among them.  And to the degree that the mainstream press is involved in the foregoing foot-stomping protests, they are adding evidence — as if more evidence is, at this moment, anything but overkill — that the "fake news" claim is real and that the mainstream press is indeed the enemy of the American people.

"Yabbut, yabbut, yabbut!" they whine; "because 'Free and Independent Press'!!  We're written into the Constitution, fergodsake!"  Please!  We haven't had a free and independent press for decades.  If you think we do, you haven't been paying attention. 

Of all the major news outlets, Foxnews is notoriously in the hip pocket of the Republican Party.  That's not free; that's not independent.  Virtually every non-republican understands this, and the sad part is almost all republicans understand this as well, even if they are loath to acknowledge it — even to themselves.  The support and proof for this?  Where do republicans go to get their information from? Foxnews.  Why? because it doesn't annoy their sensibilities.  They will not have their preconceived notions challenged by listening to Foxnews.

Of all the major news outlets, everyone BUT Foxnews is in the hip pocket of — and giving a happy-ending reach-around to — the Democrat Party.  This, also, is neither free nor independent.  Virtually every non-democrat understands this, and the sad part is almost all democrats understand this as well, even if they are loath to acknowledge it — even to themselves.  The support and proof?  Where do democrats go to get their information from? any news outlet that is not Foxnews.  Why? because it doesn't annoy their sensibilities.  They will not have their preconceived notions challenged by listening to, e.g., MSNBC or CNN.  …or The Daily Show, or Last Week Tonight, or anything by the fop Stephen Colbert, which are, judging by comparative ratings, where most on the American Left get their information.

Meanwhile, the 40-percent of Americans who do not self-identify as either democrat or republican [and which includes libertarians by definition], where do we go to get information from?  There is no major media outlet on the national news landscape even marginally fitting the qualifications for and duties of a free and independent press. 

The qualifications and duties of a responsible free and independent press are objectivity and skepticism.  [It wouldn't hurt to also have literacy — Foxnews editors, I'm looking at you, here].  The press, today, is not objective; they are not skeptical.  They are advocates for ideology and adversarial to those who defy the ideology they promote.  For those who can't see a difference, allow me to nutshell it: a skeptic demands, "Demonstrate to me you're right" while an adversary asserts, "No matter what you say you're wrong."

Non-aligned information seekers are left to bounce between the sanitized piety of Foxnews and the solipsistic sanctimony of whichever of the democrat mouthpieces they choose, while suppressing their gag reflex. 

The inescapable bottom line is that the American press is not serving the interests of the American people.  Yet, as an institution, they command — and demand to command — the monopolistic power, backed by government preference and deference, to form the ideas and outlooks the American people possess.  The media — all of it — become downright pissy when they are challenged on this, as we have seen in the last several months.

This means that we don't have news or anything remotely resembling it.   Available information is scrubbed by the mainstream media for its ideological purity and spoon-fed in intellectually predigested dollops.  It is pabulum.  It is, in short, fake news; propaganda.  Yes, it may contain one or more cherry-picked facts, but … so what?  In any sufficiently large body of data, there are reams [and often reams and reams and reams] of facts contrary to the purpose for which the cited facts are used … as even a cursory glance through the "global warming/climate change" brouhaha will attest.

We are left having to concede that the mainstream media is, indeed and relevant to the entire "fake news" subject, the enemy of the American people, as stated.  Why does it matter who said it?  Just because he's a dick, a putz, a veritable schwanz?  So what?  Dicks are capable of being right and pertinent.

Why does it matter how he said it?  Reality is real whether it appears in angelic vision, or is revealed in the company of profane tirade.  This reality is stated bombastically by a boor?  Again, so what?

Face it.  Trump was correct about the American press.  The only reason the media wish to quibble over it is because their ox is getting gored — and it's about time; the only reason individuals wish to quibble over it is because they don't like the guy who reminded them of what they almost certainly already knew — rudely and without tact.  And, well, he's an eminently unlikable guy for reasons both valid and farcical, but … so what?

If it matters who says something true and relevant, and if it matters how they say it, then the problem is not with the one doing the saying.  The problem is with the one doing the hearing, and in particular, the problem is with the ego of the one doing the hearing.

You cannot participate in an intellectual discussion if your ego is involved.  If you wish to involve your ego, then I'd advise you to at least make some money at it: respond to one of the many George Soros ads for insta-hooligans and get paid to troll real life.  Just don't pretend to be competent to discuss it intelligently.