Monday, January 31, 2011

Seven People That Are Screwing Up This Country

This is a topic that’s been idling around in my scotch soaked brain for quite a few months though recent events have turned it up to eleven. We’ve got problems here folks, and there is a roadblock to solving them. If we don’t address that roadblock we won’t solve a freakin thing.

As the title suggests, there are 7 people who are doing serious damage to our nation as a whole. In reality, the list is far longer than 7, but specific to the topic of political discourse these folks are among the most visible offenders. They are not fostering real critical political debate they are preventing it and by doing so, they are in part responsible for preventing us from solving many of the problems that currently plague us.

So who are these people….


Ok....Keith Olbermann got fired between when I started this piece and when I finished it and since written it seems Beck is on the outs as well. I've no doubt though that they'll find another job somewhere soon so for the time being.....

Let’s get one thing out of the way from the jump. There is not a lick of difference between them. Each of them a blowhard. Each of them equally guilty of spouting epic waves of complete bullshit. Each of them guilty of ad hominem attack against people with opposing viewpoints. Each of them offering far more invective than fact. Each of them with a singular goal. Not to be journalists, to inform, to foster critical debate or to offer solutions. Their shared goal is ratings. They need the vitriol, the salacious, the over the top and borderline offensive rhetoric. They need people to say, “Did you hear what [_______] said?” because without it, people watch less and when people watch less the various broadcast corporations make less money.

So you have this collection of talking heads, Hannity/Maddow, Olbermann/O’Reily, etc spouting all manner of angry diatribes invariably laced with a cornucopia of insults directed at those with opposing viewpoints. “Tea-Bagger”, Commie, Pinko, Tyrant, Fascist, Idiot, Stupid, Dolt are but the bare minimum you will hear on a daily basis from any of them.

Sure they’ll each have opposing pundits on their show in a feigned attempt at “fair discussion” but they spend the majority of the time shouting at and insulting the guest, more often attacking the credibility of the guest because a polite and reasoned discussion of the content of their position just doesn’t make for good TV. Either that or they lack time within the segment to thoughtfully debate said content. It's quicker to call them stupid and go to an advertisement for 36hr Cialis.

The alternative is the guest who is a fellow [_____]-winger who they will allow, unchallenged to spout darn near any absurdity imaginable without the slightest challenge. Case in point below; Michael Moore essentially states that anyone who is in favor of keeping a gun in their home is doing so due to racially motivated fears. Rachael Maddow gives the statement her tacit approval by not challenging the absurdity of the statement.

I use this video because it’s recent and easy to find. Maddow is by no means the only one guilty of such things, Limbaugh the hosts on Fox, Olbermann & Matthews are just as bad. 

Each of the aforementioned 7 has allowed guests to spout ignorance at least as bad if not worse. The point is that this garbage becomes part of the narrative. Arguing over who said what and which network is biased this way or that becomes part of the narrative as well and all of this keeps us from actually discussing ideas and solutions. 

The discussion becomes an argument about arguments rather than issues, ideas and solutions. The result is that you have a group of hard-left sycophants and another group of hard-right sycophants all running around, frothing at the mouth, repeating the ad hominem attacks, factless rants, accusations of tyranny, fascism, socialism and other asinine ½-truths (if not outright lies) foisted on them by their chosen talking head screaming at the top of their lungs to each other and nobody is listening. 

Why would they?

There is a fallacy at play here that the Nation is divided in ½. It isn’t. There is a relatively small group of serious nuts on the left and another group of serious nuts on the right and a big group in the middle where the left/right lines blur. These are people who share some views with “the other side” who perhaps consider themselves socially liberal but fiscally conservative or vice versa. People who rather than mindlessly follow one side or the other actually make judgments on individual issues and candidates based on their values and realistic analysis of the impacts on their lives. They are not the useful idiot. They are not the mindless drones that hang on every word offered by Keith Olbermann or Glenn Beck. They are the people who actually decide elections and we are freaking tired of all the yelling, screaming and insulting of each other!

We have simply got to get to the point where we can critically examine both sides of an issue without attempt to marginalize one side or the other. Not because it might lead to violence, it doesn’t and there is no proof to the contrary, but because it simply gets us nowhere if we don’t. We, in a collective sense, need to stop yelling and start respectfully speaking to and listening to one another. We, in a collective sense, need to turn off the TV/Radio when all it offers is the counterproductive, baseless denunciation of dissenting opinion. This is not to say that we all need to agree or compromise on principal as impassioned debate is absolutely critical. But it must be engaged in, in such a way where we can disagree without being assholes.

Each of the people I’ve mentioned here is intelligent. Each of them is capable of positing a reasoned opinion on a given topic and from time to time each of them makes excellent points. However, given that the manner of delivery usually begins not with reason, logic and fact but a preface of marginalization if not vilification renders anything that follows as little more than noise. The simple fact is that no matter who is talking or what they are saying, if one leads their point with “You are an idiot if you don’t agree that…..” you pretty much stop listening. 

Give it a try sometime; call your spouse a moron before you ask them if the kid needs braces and let me know how it goes.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. You're right of course. I always figure if a talking head is moving its lips then it's either spewing rhetorical BS, manipulative crap, or outright lies. In either case we should just plain stop listening. And I figure anyone who does listen to, and/or quotes those schmoes should also be completely disregarded. If ya can't think for yourself, keep an open mind and keep your mouth shut.