Tuesday, August 1, 2017

JULY 2017 IGNOMINIOUS ABSURDITY AWARD: THE IGGY

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I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with the term “bonehead absurdity” as an apt description of the asinine statements I nominate each month for the infamous Bonehead Absurdity Award. ”Bonehead” suggests a foolish or stupid person who, possibly without thinking, blurts out an absurdity--a slip of the tongue, if you will. Looking back over nearly four years of bonehead absurdities, it is clear to me, and a number of Phronesis readers, that the absurd utterances I select do not represent momentary lapses of judgment; On the contrary, they provide a window into the character, values, and beliefs of the speakers. The utterances demonstrate ignorance, to be sure, but more importantly they reveal deceit, hate, mendacity, moral corruption, empathy deprivation, and, in many cases, depravity-- some of the speakers are downright evil to the core.

I have not been alone among Phronesis readers thinking that “Bonehead Absurdity” didn’t capture the essence of the shameful utterances. Loyal reader Jim Dubbs responded recently that the speakers defy definition in the extent of their stupidity or, of what he considers worse, "their willful and cynical exploitation of the baser instincts, fears, ignorance and gullibility of so much of the US population." I'd like to think an exploitation purpose motivated their absurd comments, but my sense is they reveal a deeper truth.  I think they really speak volumes about what's in their hearts and souls. These people simply can't help themselves.  A new name for the monthly award is thus called for.

No single term aptly conveys the disgraceful utterances I highlight each month. Perhaps one that comes closest is ignominious, meaning deserving of public disgrace or shame (at least from the thinking public). In recognition of the ignominious nature of the nominated absurdities, I will henceforth call the award the Ignominious Absurdity of the Month, or IGGY for short. Let all future IGGY winners will live on in Phronesis infamy.


1. Rick Wiles of TruNews. By now, you’ve heard that some Republicans have pointed the finger at liberals for the Alexandria shooting. Well, one religious right pastor took it to another level. He called for Democrats and their supporters to be rounded up en masse.

You may recall that in 2014, Rick Wiles called for a military coup against Obama. And yet, ever since Trump took office, he has warned that any opposition to Trump amounts to sedition. Hours after the Alexandria shooting, Wiles took his new line to its logical extreme—calling for a real-life version of Order 66. Listen to the whole thing here, or catch the highlights via Right Wing Watch.

Wiles claimed the shooting was the latest product of an attempt by the deep state—or, as he calls it, “the dark state”—to push Trump out. He accused the deep state and its allies on both sides of the aisle of “whipping up sedition” against Trump. To Wiles’ mind, there is only one solution—the Democrats must be branded as “a violent, seditious political movement” and disbanded.

Co-host Ed Szall asked if the “agitators in the media” should go as well. Wiles’response?

“I think they should be rounded up. It’s getting out of control. This was an attempted mass assassination today. Are we going to wait another month or two, until 30 or 40 members of Congress are mowed down? Are we going to wait until a Democrat socialist progressive commits an act of violence against Republicans?”

He then railed about Democratic attacks on Trump supporters both during and after the campaign—forgetting about the numerous acts of violence at Trump rallies, as well as the ugly and outright criminal trolling by alt-right thugs on Twitter.

But facts didn’t matter to Wiles. He claimed that the Democrats are trying to start an American version of the French Revolution. For that reason, he believes it’s time for the hammer to come down—now.

“Rachel Maddow ought to be taken off the air right now. MSNBC should be shut down. The Democratic Party should be disbanded as a violent, socialist seditious organization. It is NOT the party of Harry Truman. It’s certainly not the party of Thomas Jefferson. This is a seditious group. These are violent revolutionaries."

Wow. He’s openly calling for a real-life version of “Revenge of the Sith.” This is fascism, plain and simple.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

JUNE 2017 BONEHED ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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1. Donald Trump. Where would the boneheads be without Donald Trump,  so I’ll start out with two. This morsel derives from his absurd decision to withdraw from the Paris accords. Included is a selection of comments he’s made in the past on climate change.

In the years before running for president, he called it “nonexistent,” “mythical,” and a total con job.”

Reminiscent of Senator “Snowball” Inhoff, whenever snow would fall in New York, Trump would be prompted to mockingly observe” “Global warming has been proven to be a canard repeatedly over and over again,” he tweeted in 2012. Later that year he said the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” A year later he wrote that “global warming is a total and expensive hoax.”

Did belief in the phoniness of global warming lead Trump to pull out of the Paris accord, or was it, as he stated, because the accord was hurting the American economy (or maybe it was that hard Macron handshake)? As with Trump, you never know. As usual, his muzzled staff offers no clue to his "thinking." What we do know is Trump thinks playing to his base is a formula for success. I don’t know what’s worse, Trump or his base?


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

FORBIDDEN QUESTIONS

NOTE: I received the following comment from anonymous on my Stupid is as Stupid Does post:

Anonymous: You make some good points about our cognitive amnesia and the failure of Americans to ask hard questions about our country’s foreign affairs. I agree that we have been very stupid about using military force, though I tend to lean toward willful stupidity: too many powerful individuals and organizations benefit from war.  What are some of the tough questions you think should be asked?  

Dear Anonymous,

For an expansive list of questions that should be asked, and very likely won't, I offer the following list provided by Andrew Bacevich, a highly regarded historian, specializing in international relations, security studies, U.S. foreign policy, and American diplomatic and military history, which was posted on the TomDispatch website. Bacevich is a Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at the Boston University Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies.  He is also a career U.S. Army officer who retired with the rank of Colonel.




Saturday, June 10, 2017

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES


By Ronald T. Fox


"Stupidity is not the lack of knowledge, but the illusion of having it." 
                                                                                               Grigore Iulian:

STUPIDITY 7

These are confounding times.  The widespread rejection of facts and reason by many of our national leaders as well as a sizable portion of the American public has perverted our national discourse and led to decisions that boggle the rational mind.  Many people point to Donald Trump as the culprit who perverted our historical commitment to truth, but in reality our escape from reason traces back decades.  President Trump has clearly demonstrated he is well prepared to take irrationality to new heights.  

Not only have facts become politically irrelevant for most Americans, so has history. As a people, Americans are suffering, perhaps terminally, from cognitive amnesia, particularly as it applies to foreign affairs. I can’t help but think of the Santayana aphorism: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It’s patently obvious that most of our political leaders, Republicans and Democrats, and most top military brass, foreign policy think tanks, and popular political pundits, have learned little from our recent history of military interventions in the Greater Middle East, Africa and Asia.  The Trump administration is no exception.  With missile attacks, intensified bombing, and loose talk about troop surges, it is doing its best to continue the amnesiac process. George Orwell would be proud.

STUPIDITY 5

Why are we oblivious to the lessons of past political and military disasters in places like Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, to name a few? Why do we continue to try to achieve political ends through the use of military force?  Why do we tend to shun diplomacy?

Friday, June 9, 2017

May 2017 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH


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1. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho). A constituent told Labrador at a town hall meeting at Lewis-Clark State College: “You are mandating people on Medicaid to accept dying …. You are making a mandate that will kill people,” to which Labrador responded:

“No one wants anybody to die. That line is so indefensible. . . . Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” he continued, drawing loud jeers from the audience.

Not only is this untrue, this is so transparently untrue that you would have to be in a Guyana cult leader's camp for the last decade to even give him the benefit of contemplating it for a half-moment. Americans attempting to struggle along despite not having access to health care is a staple of the news cycle. Americans showing up in emergency rooms suffering from acute dangers that would have never happened in the first place, had they been given access to preventative care beforehand.

Not only do Americans die from a lack of access to health care, they do so regularly, and by the tens of thousands. Labrador's insistence otherwise is not just a lie, it's a thumbing of his nose at everyone in the room. There's no way Labrador believed what he said to be true.

It's rare that we can conclusively answer the age-old question of dishonest politicians—evil, or just stupid?—but in this case it's fairly clear that Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador is lying on purpose and sincerely does not care if his constituents know it.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

APRIL 2017 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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1. Donald Trump. The Donald allegedly told Tea Party groups at the White House that if the GOP health care plan dies, he will let Obamacare fail and let Democrats take the blame. So the Donald would allow our healthcare system to fail, destroying the lives of millions and millions of Americans, because he can’t get his way. What a baby! This should be a huge story.
 
Trump is like an attack dog. Whether its enemy Democrats, the enemy press, the enemy former President, the enemy healthcare system, or anyone else who speaks ill of him or his policies, he’s quick to move in for a kill. God help us.
 

Friday, March 31, 2017

MARCH 2017 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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1. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). Fact-conscious Americans understand that Donald Trump is a notorious liar. What’s most alarming is that many Americans, including most Republican Party identifiers, believe anything The Donald wants them to believe—that humans don’t cause climate change, all Muslims should be presumed dangerous, vaccinations cause autism, scientists shouldn’t be trusted, Obama was born in Kenya, massive voter fraud stripped him of a popular majority, his inauguration attracted a record number of attendees, the media pumps out vicious lies about the president-elect, and on and on. Chalk up Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, as a devoted Trump believer. According to Smith, it is:
 
“ … better to get your news directly from the president. In fact it might be the only way to get unvarnished truth.”
 
This is what it’s come to in America: a significant portion of the public trusts Trump’s direct communications more than it trusts the media, not to mention the truth. When this happens, as is perilously close, our democracy ends.