“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
― George Carlin
I was at a particularly low point earlier this week, and decided to write about the futility of fighting the rampant stupidity in this country. And to be honest, it’s just making me tired.
I know, that sounds judgmental, and it is frankly, but look around you at TV, the internet, your family. How much absolute mental excrement do you run across every day? And I fully realize that much of my frustration comes from a certain, more moderate political point of view. But in the name of all that’s holy, how do people believe what they believe?
For example, I try to balance my TV evening news consumption, and have been watching both Rachel Maddow and Tucker Carlson. I confess up front, I find Maddow more intellectually grounded and factual, albeit, always from a liberal point of view. But Carlson is actually very good at what he does, though he punctuates it with that laugh of his that sounds like a teenage girl at a slumber party.
And what he does is serve up a piping hot version of America that made me want to slip into a warm bath and open up a vein. Not because it’s true but because he sells it well and has an audience so large that it makes Maddow want to follow suit with the warm bath thing. For example, the anger and racism has gone from a dog whistle to an air horn, and no one is calling it out, well, except the folks at MSNBC to an audience so small they could hold a meet up in the conference room at a Motel 6.
Until I really started watching, I didn’t realize how blatant the snide racial references had become. Last night, for example, he hosted Professor Amy Wax of the University of Pennsylvania law school. She has the look of a quiet academic focused on the minutia of the Blackstone’s tomes on her bookshelf. She is actually like David Duke’s aunt Amy. Let me summarize for brevity’s sake. Black folks just aren’t mentally up to snuff for law school, not to mention Hispanics. Indian and Pakistani folks are smart enough but ungrateful and come from, ready for the first Trump reference? Shithole countries. This was all said with no pushback from your genial host.
My problem here is one that is shared across the board. The other night, Carlson found a wacky teacher on YouTube who bragged about sharing her personal gay dating stories with the kids. Conversely, you can always find some backwoods Republican legislator praising Hitler or something for the Chris Hayes audience. Then the hosts extrapolate to all teachers or all Republicans. The New York shooter, of course, represents all African-Americans, and so on. It’s ignorant and insults us all. The depressing problem is, it also works.
I used to say that part of Rush Limbaugh’s success was that he made people comfortable with…
A. Their prejudices or…
B. Doing nothing about various climate crises facing the planet.
But his snide asides about minorities were like Oscar Wilde snark compared to the TV mineshaft cave-in that has buried any sense of good taste in the rubble. Add to that the incomprehensible and craven bootlicking of almost any authoritarian leader from Viktor Orban of Hungary to everybody’s favorite cut-rate Stalin in Moscow, and you begin to feel like the only person who can still read.
I often make the mistake of interrupting some friend’s Facebook diatribe on inflation or oil prices, and offering a link to some analysis that would clear up all the misconceptions being offered as fact. Well, I might as well be talking to this coffee cup. I have made the even greater faux pas of writing out an explanation of how supply and demand work, the drop in oil demand followed by a spike in driving, and how the pandemic wreaked havoc on the supply chains around the world. Best I can tell though, it’s much easier to simply write “Biden.” Or if you are feeling more demonstrative, “BIDEN!”
I see our state politicians, caught up in the group hysteria of a political campaign, carrying out governmental policies that make no sense but will please the folks in the cheap seats. Sending busloads of illegal immigrants to DC? I don’t know if the Governor knows that those with legitimate asylum claims are required by law to stay in the state, but that really doesn’t matter, does it? If he’s not careful about this group he considers a drain on society, there will be no one left to redo the roof on the governor’s mansion.
Even our Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who appears to have had a cowboy hat surgically attached (ever seen him without it?) and is a fellow Republican, wrote Governor Abbott a stinging message that the onerous truck inspections at the border are costing everyone, and ultimately consumers, as produce rots in parked big rigs. That message might as well have been stuffed into an old Nehi bottle and tossed into the Gulf.
Eventually, Abbott wised up enough to back off a bit on that one.
We have filled our Congress with a cast of characters out of a Marx Brothers movie, only without the laughs. The boring job of actually legislating seems to interfere with an appearance on Hannity or Anderson Cooper, or alternatively, addressing some random Nuremburg rally somewhere. I am debating whether AOC or MTG annoy me the most. Nah, come to think of it, it’s neither. It’s Ted.
I wrote what I felt was a tough but fair account of Hunter Biden’s seamy life, and mentioned in passing that other famous kids cash in. One old friend took me to task for what-about-ism. Then a couple of days ago, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman took a break from his daily dismemberment ceremony to give Jared Kushner $2-billion for a new hedge fund he has established. Jared has never run one or worked in the financial markets. Did you hear much about it? Of course not. And you won’t, unless Jared rolls a bill up to snort coke, then it’s newsworthy.
I watched the hearings and debate for newly elected Justice Jackson and decided on a drinking game every time the words “woke” and “CRT” came up. I’d tell you about it, but got so drunk I can’t remember.
I do remember that what people like that nut log law professor on Tucker’s show say to minorities is, if you work hard, study, stay out of trouble and make the most of your opportunities you will become successful. The judge did all that and more, and was still called an affirmative action hire. I wouldn’t blame people like her for asking, “What exactly do I have to do to catch a break here?” But it’s OK, since Mitch McConnell has already said that if they win back the Senate, that’s the last pick Biden will get to make. Constitution, Schmonstitution.
Has Ilhan Omar said anything about Israel today? OK, just checking.
We understand that the Justice Department led by Merrick Garland, who makes Sam Elliott look hyper, is investigating after former President Trump took top secret files from the White House to Mar a Lago. And the January 6th committee says they’ll have things wrapped up soon, really, soon. Uh-huh. Truth be told, neither will have a report ready until after Trump finishes his next term.
The extreme logic I hear exercised in any debate is disheartening. If you think renewable energy makes sense, you hate the oil industry, whether you do or not. If you remind your green friends that we will depend on fossil fuels for decades to come, you are a luddite climate change denier. If you are concerned about children learning there are kids very different from them in race, sexual preference or religion, you are a victim of white guilt, a pedophile or anti-Christian. This logic is akin to A+B=…I don’t know…maybe L.
Oh, and the pedophile thing is the latest term to be thrown around by people without the sense that the good lord gave pieces of office furniture. If you don’t want to ban books or gag teachers, you are a secret Jeffrey Epstein “groomer” who will no doubt be caught lurking in a van near the playground.
The woman behind the black Lives Matter movement used organization funds to buy a $6-million house. Why? Beats me, unless they hired the world’s worst PR firm. You know the ones who said, “Hey, Ted. Cancun is nice this time of year.”
Even the world’s perfect sport, baseball, is letting me down. The Dodgers are evil, we all know, but their manager the other night, pulled future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw when he was 6 outs away from pitching a perfect game. There have only been 23 of them in the history of the major leagues, and he was cruising. But the statistical nerds have taken over and they didn’t want him throwing too many pitches. It’s akin to telling Margot Robbie to put some clothes on, for crying out loud. In other words, what are you thinking?
The reason for my depression is that you simply grow tired fighting it all. As Euripides said, “Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.” It just seems hopeless sometimes, spitting into the wind. You would think that logic, a superior argument with examples or simple truth would be enough. No more. We refuse to believe what is apparent to all. We dig in and can’t concede any point. It infects our government, our faith, our families. And it makes you wonder if we have hit a tipping point in this exercise in self-government.
Matt Gaetz is still dating. The Beatles broke up but The Squad is still together.
All this, and to add to my sinking feelings, Gilbert Gottfried died. Here is my all-time favorite joke of his…
GOTTFRIED: ”You know, I read somewhere that Hitler had a grandson who was a convicted child molester. Imagine being an embarrassment to the Hitler family.
Is there anything worse than being that Hitler who the other Hitlers don't talk about?”
It’s dark humor like that, that weirdly cheers me up.