Smiling Bill McCall — the finest illustration of illusion I’ve ever heard.
It’s not a well-known Cash song, but it’s one of my favorites for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is just the pure joy in the tongue-in-cheek nature of the tune.
And the lyrics are ingenious in their innate sense of humanity.
He’d stand and breathe in the microphone
With his guitar hangin’ to his knee bone
All the girls just sat and dreamed
When Bill began his sing . . .
To all the boys he was a big hero
They’d glue their ears to the radio
Then talk in a most unusual drawl
Imitatin’ Bill McCall . . .
In the spirit of the song, putting people on a pedestal is harmless. But in the way America worships the wildly undeserving in politicians and pundits — it’s impossible to overstate how wasteful and dangerous it is.
It’s perfect for the plague of systematic self-delusion that the punditocracy spreads.
Back to that in a bit.
Wisdom of The Deer Hunter
Stanley, see this? This is this! This ain’t somethin’ else — THIS IS THIS!
Someone’s bound to wonder, “Well, you brought up WMD on a post about 1619 — how is that staying true to the topic at the hand?”
I’m not disputing Sowell’s arguments on race-related matters: I’m reframing the discussion to question his credibility — and show how it poisons public discourse (thereby harming his own purpose).
That is entirely different from this
As Insincere As It Gets
If someone’s claim to fame is “follow the facts” and they’re egregiously one-sided in that effort — what would you call it?
That you believe Sowell is the real deal doesn’t make it true. And that faith-based belief runs counter to the very basis upon which you hold him in such high esteem.
Forget about the topics and just juxtapose some samples of Sowell’s writings on race-related matters and WMD. I’ve seen enough to know that his work on the former will look nothing like this:
Someone’s bound to say, “Well, WMD is not his area of expertise or interest, so the level of work wouldn’t reflect the same commitment.”
We’re not talking about volume of work.
We’re talking about principles of sound argument. And there’s nothing principled about “said so and so.”
It doesn’t matter whether “said so and so” is true or not — it’s the utterly ridiculous conclusions you draw from them that’s at issue:
That is the epitome of spin — to engineer an illusion — to make you believe that something meaningless has substance
— Richard W. Memmer
A lot of that goin’ around — and for a really long time.
That opening image is especially fitting — since it’s a myth popularized by Washington Irving and others.
Essentially no one during the Middle Ages believed the world was flat. Of the many myths about the Middle Ages this one is perhaps the most widespread, and yet at the same time the most roundly and authoritatively debunked.
In fact, the evidence is so overwhelming that refuting this myth is like refuting the idea that the moon is made of cheese.
So how could it be that Columbus set sail against contemporaries who believed the earth was flat — an idea that’s still in some textbooks today?
Woods explains this by quoting the good book above:
Uncritical acceptance of the myth was too tempting for many scholars, since it fit in so well with the caricature of Christianity they were already inclined to draw. “If Christians had for centuries insisted that the earth was flat against clear and available evidence,” explains Russell, “they must be not only enemies of scientific truth, but contemptible and pitiful enemies.”
Ulterior motives at work once again.
You don’t like it when people pull that stunt on you — but you have no qualms about doing the same to them.
And around and around we go
As I mentioned on Working the Refs, that the mere mention of a book can derail a discussion these days, is at the core of our country’s ills.
So even after all of the following:
- A blog series called Two Sides of the Same Counterfeit Coin
- A documentary that nails the Left to the wall for their kid gloves treatment of Obama (along with the race-related crap that hijacked his presidency)
- That the point I’m making is about the punditocracy across the board
- A verbal note in the doc that says, “The same book could not be written today” (and I’d take the author to task if he tried)
- And the fact that the book was published in 2003 — which might as well be 1903, in light of how far we have fallen
What does it say to you that I felt the need to do this lead-in — just to get you to listen before you go out of your mind over a title alone?
It’s the same reason I’m reluctant to cite Going to War when referencing The March of Folly.
Does countering with “Bush basher” sound like following the facts to you?
There’s a lot of “Obama haters” who told the truth at times. Whether you actually hate him or not — that doesn’t change irrefutable facts.
How did you feel about being summarily dismissed because of your hate — and people playing the race card to rig their own reality?
But if you’re gonna play that game — why shouldn’t they?
If you won’t even acknowledge the purist form of fact (like a 3mm wall having no chance of enriching uranium) — what makes you think you’ve got it right on things that are not so clear?
You think I just imagined this reaction to the book I’m about to cite?
As Capital Gang panelist Margaret Carlson observed, “The less you know about something, the better off you are. Network executives and news producers are looking for the person who can sound learned without confusing the matter with too much knowledge.”
“looking for the person who can sound learned without confusing the matter with too much knowledge” . . .
You put the fate of the nation in the hands of hacks — and they’re laughing at you all the way to the bank.
Propaganda . . . must always be essentially simple and repetitious. In the long run, only he will achieve basic results in influencing public opinion who is able to reduce problems to the simplest terms and who has the courage to keep forever repeating them in this simplified form despite the objections of the intellectuals. If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
— Joseph Goebbels’ diary, 1/29/42 (Third Reich Minister of Propaganda)
As for hijacking Obama’s presidency — not for one second do I think that he wanted to involve himself in race-related incidents.
He caved into his party’s playbook on pandering.
And I love how conservatives can sit there snickering about the coddling on the Left — when the Right has its own playbook on pandering.
That’s how we got here
These parties play you for fools — and you make it easy for ’em:
Probably the most powerful of these group cohesive forces is narcissism. In its simplest and most benign form, this is manifested in group pride. As the members feel proud of their group, so the group feels proud of itself. A less benign but practically universal form of group narcissism is what might be called “enemy creation,” or hatred of the “out-group.”
We can see this naturally occurring in children as they first learn to develop groups. It is almost common knowledge that the best way to cement group cohesiveness is to ferment the group’s hatred of an external enemy. Deficiencies within the group can be easily and painlessly overlooked by focusing attention on the deficiencies or sins of the out-group.
Nobody nailed Obama better than Matt Damon:
A one-term president with some balls . . . [would have been] much better
He had an opportunity to take race relations to new heights, but took it to new lows — by playing the same tried and untrue games that get you nowhere.
No amount of obstruction on the Right changes the fact that you blew it all by yourselves.
And worse that that — is your refusal to recognize that reality (allowing you to conveniently ignore other realities).
As I’ve said many times: Black Lives Matter, the removal of monuments, and Kaepernick’s kneeling — rolled out the red carpet for Trump.
That — was not smart
Even if I could demonstrably prove that you helped put him in office, you’d still deny it. For people who act like they’re so sharp — you sure don’t think things through.
It’s quite possible that Comey’s cover-his-ass actions in the 11th hour tipped the scales. Given the possibility that a single event like that could alter the atmosphere of an election — what do you think pouring fuel on the fire for years did?
Given the tight margins — there’s not a doubt in my mind that these ploys put Trump in the White House.
If that doesn’t register with the efficacy of your efforts — nothing will.
And the Right treating Bush like the Second Coming of Christ, set the stage for the rise of the Rock Star they spent the next 8 years railing against.
I don’t understand the math in your methods:
You pay untold millions to political strategists — don’t these people do any cost-benefit analysis on the long-term impact of endless lying and ineptitude?
You gleefully mocked anyone who questioned your beloved Bush — and when ya came up empty on WMD, you just bought more bullshit from the same people who sold you the first batch.
As I argued in 2004, the smart move was for you “take stock” and hold your own accountable.
Ya didn’t. So lying about sex was the end of the world — but blowing it up gets a pass (as long it’s your boy in office).
I actually changed my mind about Clinton’s impeachment. The me of today would have supported it for lying under oath alone — regardless of what it was about.
I was the same way about principle back then as I am now — it’s just that I couldn’t see clearly through the underhanded motives of those trying to bring him down.
The me of today would cut right through that crap.
And weigh his actions purely on the merits of the president doing the right thing — regardless of any wrongdoing done to him.
He put protecting his reputation over the good of the nation (not to mention breaking the law). I’m of the Dave doctrine when it comes to the presidency:
See, there are certain things you should expect from a President. I ought to care more about you than I do about me. I ought to care more about what’s right than I do about what’s popular. I ought to be willing to give this whole thing up for something I believe in.
But that’s me
And “squabbling for the scraps” is you:
You’re so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshank’s table . . . that you’ve missed your God-given right to something better.
Undeniably, the exponential increase in self-righteous certitude is tied to technology.
Instead of becoming more worldly with our exceptional tools — our conveniences are eroding our ability to think things through.
In our brave new world, we seem to thrive on being dismissive, distracted, distant, and shortsighted.
After all — who has time to be thoughtful anymore?
Roger Waters’ question from 1988 has been answered:
My quest for clarity in a nation that’s having none of it.
All day I’ve faced a barren waste
Without the taste of water, cool water
Old Dan and I with throats burned dry
And souls that cry for water
Cool, clear, water
The nights are cool and I’m a fool
Each star’s a pool of water
And with the dawn I’ll wake and yawn
And carry on to water
Cool, clear, water