For People Who Think

March 30, 2012

Foot in Mouth Syndrome…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 3:31 pm

It’s so easy to say something stupid.

You’re in front of a microphone and on the air for three hours a day, babbling on and on about public issues. You’re live and mostly unscripted – just winging it, day after day. You’re trying to get your point across in an interesting way. You want to entertain listeners as you do it.

And – inevitably, if you do talk radio long enough – you say something incredibly dopey. You blare out something so outrageous that it manages to offend just about everybody. How do I know this? Because I did talk radio for about a decade.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself, “Damn, I shouldn’t have said that.” Luckily, I never said anything as dopey as Limbaugh did, but if you do talk radio long enough – and if you run a program that tries to make a point about serious issues – you’ll do it sooner or later. You’ll say something really, astonishingly, breathtakingly stupid.

Ask Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who did talk radio for 30 years. She went off the air two years ago after saying something extremely dopey. I don’t know Limbaugh, but I had dinner with her once. Nice woman. She just did something fairly tricky and dangerous for too many years.

That’s what Rush Limbaugh did. He apologized for what he said, but he did that only after advertisers began to bail on him, so nobody took the apology seriously — especially the young law student whom he’d described as a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she’d said something on a political issue that Limbaugh disagreed with.

It’s also worth noting that just about everybody who has jumped on the Bash Rush Bandwagon has pretty much had it with the guy. The Democrats find him infuriating and want desperately to shut him up. Conservatives tend to care not at all what liberals say on the air or in print, but liberals live for the chance to shut up people they disagree with. That’s just the truth.

The professional Republican leadership isn’t that fond of Limbaugh, either. They’re annoyed at the influence Limbaugh has over a big portion of their party membership. Until this incident, the GOP pros kissed his butt every chance they got, but many of them found this incident positively heartwarming. Now, they figure, he’ll have less sway over their party faithful.

Limbaugh has been doing talk radio for 28 years. He began working in that format on a station in Sacramento and went national four years later. I first caught his program during the Gulf War in 1991. He was clever and amusing. Over the past 20 years, though, he has become less fun to listen to as he has begun to take himself more and more seriously.

Now? Well, who knows? He has no immediate plans to leave the air, but he’s in his 60s now, and his bosses had to have been thinking already of how they were going to replace him down the road. This incident is likely to prompt more immediate consideration of that question.

I dislike rather strongly Limbaugh’s kind of show. Extremists, right or left, give me the willies, and he just works to make the crazies crazier. He does the same show, hour after hour, day after day. That’s one of the things talk show hosts have to do – repeat themselves, over and over again in different words. Nobody has ever been better at that than Limbaugh.

Limbaugh has been perfect for his medium. The talk radio audience tends to be white, male, middle-aged and older. That’s who the conservatives in this society are. They love to hear somebody express veneration for their beliefs and to castigate their enemies. So, Limbaugh, who comes from a family of Republican lawyers in Missouri, has been Mr. Conservative on talk radio, totally comfortable in that role.

Too comfortable in recent years, as it turned out, and not nearly as clever or entertaining as he used to be once he began to believe that he’d become the very fount of political wisdom. His success made him way too arrogant.

I spent most of my career in print journalism. I always used my show to give listeners fair, accurate information and to encourage them to think about the issues. Limbaugh was better at what he did on the radio than I was at what I did. Conservatives were much more attuned to his messianic message than they were to my more balanced, fact-based approach.

But I never got the idea that the world was hanging on my every word. I made my share of boneheaded remarks, but I never believed that I could get away with saying absolutely anything. After all those years on the air, Limbaugh did.

And that arrogance caught up with him.

Be sure to visit my Web site at forpeoplewhothink.com.

March 20, 2012

The Content Thins…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 8:16 pm

One of the things that drive me crazy when it comes to the “base” of both parties is that they tend to be made up of people who have willingly suspended all process of thought. They believe anything that supports their biases, and they accept with no critical thinking whatever any crazy thing said by any politician or political operative from their party.

I’ll never forget that poll after 9/11 reporting that some staggering percentage of Democrats – 40 per cent of so, as I recall – believed that George W. Bush was either behind the Al Qaeda attack on New York City or that he’d known about it in advance and had let it happen just so he could start a war for oil in the Mideast.

That absolute refusal on the part of the base of either party to engage in rational thought is largely what the birther nuttiness is about. It’s what the fiction that Obama is a Muslim is about. It’s what drives the fantasy belief that higher taxes on really rich people will solve all this country’s economic and debt problems. That’s why all these nutty political E-mails that I receive from just about everybody I know are so disturbing. They’re crammed with bizarre distortions and outright lies, and purposefully so, but people in the base gleefully spread them around like the smallpox virus without ever checking their accuracy.

If, like me, you’ve spent most of your life trying to give people the best, fairest version of the truth you would despise this stuff as much as I do. What people in the base refuse to get is that politicians are not in the truth business. They’re in the persuasion business. They don’t care about what you know. They care about what you believe.

If you were ever curious about how so many Germans before World War II came to be Jew-haters, blaming the Jews for every problem Germany had in the 1920s and the 1930s, you should look up a guy named Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels. He was a smart, profoundly evil guy with a doctorate who served as minister of propaganda in Adolf Hitler’s government. His job was to demonize the Jewish people, which he did with great skill that led ultimately to the Holocaust.

Get on line and look up this guy sometime. You might do that right after you read one of those lying political E-mails. Goebbels would have absolutely loved the Internet. He would have thought he’d died and gone to Heaven – which, incidentally, was not where he did end up, I’m sure, after he killed himself in 1945.

The current distortion floating around relates to the country’s job picture over the past three years. It says that the country lost 3.4 million jobs during the first three years of Barack Obama’s presidency and that the drop in the unemployment rate is due largely to people getting out of the work force because they can’t find jobs. The implication is that the recovery is phony and that things got worse under Obama.

Essentially, the numbers are accurate, but that story lacks a thing called context. By that, I mean that you can’t accept it as truth without taking other factors into account. Here are a few of them:

First, the work force, on average, grows by 150,000 people every month as young people reach working age. That means that the work force grows by 1.8 million people a year. Over a three-year period, the work force will grow by 5.4 million people.

Second, the Baby Boomers are the single largest segment of our population. Every day, 10,000 of them become eligible for Social Security. That’s more than 3.6 million people a year who become eligible for a steady income without working. Over three years, that totals nearly 11 million people — many of whom, not surprisingly, decide to retire.

So, what you end up with, because of the age distribution in this country, is more people leaving the work force for retirement every year than you have entering it. The end result is a reduction in the unemployment rate and a reduction in the number of jobs as well.

Goebbels knew all about that context thing. He made a point of always ignoring it. He figured that context would just confuse people and, maybe, keep them from believing what he wanted them to believe.

Guess what? That’s what the base does, too.

March 7, 2012

Headline: Red Meat and the Base

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 5:00 pm

These are undeniably hard times in any number of ways, but there’s one thing we all can be thankful for:

With an incumbent President, the Democrats aren’t having a primary fight this year. That’s cause for rejoicing because I couldn’t bear to watch politicians of BOTH parties pandering to the clueless extremists in their ranks – to the real whackos of both the right and the left who constitute what political experts call “the base.”

That term sends chills right up and down my spine. Al Qaeda translates to “the fortress” in English. When I wore a U. S. Air Force uniform our fortress was called “the base.” In this case, the “base” of each party seems made up of people so dense, so illogical and so blind to facts, information and reality that they might as well belong to Al Qaeda. They’re not thinkers; they’re believers. And much of what they believe is dead wrong.

So, I’m finding all the pandering to “the base” on the Republican side alone so annoying that I’m afraid that the top of my head might blow off. The base is so blindly receptive to distortions, fantasies and outright lies that the politicians who want to be President can’t resist feeding them an endless stream of distortions, fantasies and outright lies.

That’s the “red meat” the political commentators on TV are always talking about. When you hear the term “red meat” you should understand that the phrase translates literally to another word, the first syllable of which is “bull.”

A prime example:

Newt Gingrich promises that if he’s elected President he’ll deliver two-dollar-a-gallon gas. How? Drill, drill, drill, that’s how, and keep everything that’s drilled for use by Americans. He never mentions that oil — like gold and other hard commodities — is priced and sold on a world market. He never mentions that the U. S., with about five per cent of the world’s population, uses 22 per cent of the world’s oil and has less than 1.5 per cent of the world’s oil reserves.

And he’s going to deliver two-dollar-a-gallon gas? Oh, yeah. He’ll do that right after he sprouts wings and flies across the Pacific to China, which is where an increasingly larger share of the world’s oil is going every day.

Right now gas prices are soaring because of dark, threatening storm clouds hovering over the Mideast, but over the long haul the real problem is China and India and all the developing countries around the world. They’re now building industrial economies and using more and more oil in doing it. That won’t go away. We need to find a serious way to deal with it.

Drill, drill, drill is not that way, and it’s not serious. Good, effective electric cars might be part of the long-term solution, but Gingrich says he dislikes them because they don’t come with gun racks. Tragically, he did not seem to be kidding.

Michelle Bachmann (remember her?) made the same two-dollar-a-gallon promise that Gingrich made the other night in the Arizona debate. And the halfwits in the base, stroking the tattooed images of Pamela Anderson Lee on their guts as they slouched in front of their TVs, all said, “Yeah, dammit, Ma and Pa, that’s what we need – more of that there drillin’!”

They’re just hopeless. And if the Democrats had a primary going we would hear politicians in that party saying something equally stupid, I’m sure – say, a Mercedes-Benz in every driveway paid for by confiscatory taxes on the one per cent. And the Democratic party base would display the same dismal gullibility as the GOP base. That’s what people in “the base” are like. They’re classic rubes, wherever they live.

Ultimately, we’ll keep energy prices down through the development of new technology – wind, solar, better batteries, whatever. The problem is that any real solution is a long way away from the marketplace under the best of circumstances. This drill, drill, drill red meat just means that it’ll take longer than it should to solve the problem because so many people in the base are so dismally thickheaded. They lack any functional grasp of what’s really going on around them and seem to be as happy about that as pigs in … well, red meat.

If all this depresses you as badly as it depresses me, then cheer yourself up by visiting my Web site at forpeoplewhothink.com.

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