Diction, Eloquence, ISIS and The Big Lie

Growing up in the 60’s, and the brave new era of TV, I can remember with great fondness some of the eloquent, important speeches given by US Presidents. To an Englishman, the accent, and diction were fascinating. One of my favorites was this speech by Vice President Agnew about the Vietnam riots. I can remember distinctly hearing it, add to that the Robert Kennedy impromptu speech after the death of Martin Luther King.

That’s partly why I’m so disappointed with the current crop of GOP Presidential candidates. The way they say things, their speech patterns are disappointing. More importantly, in the last 10-years it’s what they say that infuriates me. GOP candidates seem to just make sh*t up. It’s like it’s the 1950’s and there is no way to fact check anything. Carly (desperately wants to be somebody) Fiorina is reported as recently saying

“Somebody once asked me, ‘What’s the difference between business and politics?'” Fiorina said at the event, which was hosted by the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. “And here’s the difference: Politics is a fact-free zone. People just say things.”

I don’t know when this phenomenon of just making sh*t up first started, but I just had a discussion about ISIS and how President Obama caused ISIS. I didn’t have this to hand, and it took me 30-mins to find it, but next time someone blames the President for ISIS, ask them to listen to the following about Vice President Dick Cheney, and remind them that President Obama was elected on a promise to bring the troops home and that he did.

It’s from This American Life, Episode #303 David and Goliath. This is excatly the technique discussed by Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, Vol.1 Chapter X. effectively a lie, so big, that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so much. In 1951, the US Army made a semi-documentary film called the Big Lie to heighten fear of Russia. You can watch it here[YouTube]..

What Cheney, then Vice President of the United States, and President Bush, by implication did was create a Big Lie as justification for the invasion of Iraq and to this day, despite numerous evidence to the contrary, Cheney maintains the Big Lie that ultimately gave us ISIS.

Yes, President Obamas’ withdrawal from Iraq left the country open for ISIS to thrive, it is worth noting though that the President campaigned and was elected on the basis of withdrawal, Cheney just made sh*t up and profited from it.

Update: 4:04pm added links for the US Army “The Big Lie”.

Coincidences

I often think to myself about coincidences, there are often times when I wonder if that was just a coincidence, but I’m most often decide it wasn’t. If you know me, you’ll know I’m a great believer in making you own luck and thus, it’s not a coincidence, it’s a result of a conscious, or unconscious action or decision.

That doesn’t mean coincidences don’t exist, this weeks This American Life has some great stories, enjoy!

Know where your food comes from?

OK, so I’m tired, I was out really late last night and I had to go to the Travis County tax office for 8am this morning to sign away the title for my VW CC aka, sell my car. Afterwards, I’m in my new car, heading to work and I decided to catch-up on the January 11th This American life, the episode is #484, Doppelgängers.

After an intro which included a Saturday Night Live actor imitating TAL show host, Ira Glass, they get down to act one. A story about food and food lookalikes. The real Ira Glass says “A quick warning that if you’re squeamish or averse to graphic images of food, there’s going to be some of that in this report.”. Within 2-minutes, I’m smirking so much I’m crying, tears, reals tears rolling down my cheeks. I’m sat at my desk typing this, I can’t wait to share, still chuckling.

Maybe it’s because I’m tired, maybe it’s my inner school boy, or maybe, just maybe I might have eaten “artificial calamari”. So, here it is, Doppelgängers. Enjoy.

Deception

p28q[1]What with Football players inventing dead girlfriends, cyclists deceiving everyone most of the time, sometimes lying can be difficult to understand, not the lie, but the motivation and more importantly, often why people believe lies in the face of reasonable evidence. This American Life nails it as usual. Listen along online, or download episode 173

Money and Politics

Comedians Steven Colbert and Bill Maher have made much recently about the Super PACs which are dominating this years presidential elections, Maher going so far as to donate $1-million dollars to President Obama’s PAC for reelection.

And ever since I’ve lived in the US, I’ve been astounded at the amount of time and effort that seems to go into raising money for elections. Especially since a large amount of it seems to be used to support activities which really don’t represent anything that most people would attribute as American values and strengths, optimism, the ability to achieve anything you put your mind to etc. Money in politics seems to generate activities more associated with Mob style tactics, money laundering and extortion.

I listened to this weeks “This American Life” (TAL) while doing laundry and tidying up last night, and it’s shocking. Seriously, Act One covers the amount of time that the elected politicians actually spend fundraising, which seems to be most of it. There is admission that lobbyists are a vital source of information, “they know the most about a subject”. Well perhaps if you didn’t waste so much time fundraising, you’d have time to get educated just enough to be able to grasp the issues and make an intelligent decision about how to support it. Then they wouldn’t feel the need to have all those lobbyists around as a  crutch.

John McCain is interviewed in Act Three. He makes some very interesting points, not least about the Supremem Court hearings that gave us “Citizens United” aka the Super PACs.

John Mccain

At first, I was outraged. The day that Russ and I went over and observed the arguments, the questions that were asked, the naivety of the questions that were asked and the arrogance of some of the questioners, it was just stunning. Particularly Scalia with his sarcasm. Why shouldn’t these people be able to engage in this process? Why do you want to restrict them from their rights of free speech? And the questions they asked showed they had not the slightest clue as to what a political campaign is all about and the role of money that it plays in political campaigns. And I remember when Russ and I walked out of there, I said, Russ, we’re going to lose and it’s because they are clueless

Which is just depressing. I wouldn’t have voted for McCain in the McCain/Obama Presidential campaign, even if I could. I can’t vote even in local elections. I’m wondering though what it is that stops good, principled men and women from speaking out about the men in politics? McCain/Feinberg was a start, America should be going forwards, not backwards.

You can listen to the whole episode of TAL here in their archives.

[Update: 4/6/12 2:50pm] TAL has just released the McCain/Feinberg interview, uncut here. Brilliant, McCain makes another telling point when he says:

It’s, it’s beyond belief. And, you know, and, and to ss,
sum up in one respect, what does it do to the view of young
Americans that Russ is talking to every day out there at Stanford? It makes ’em cynical.
It makes’ em cynical, and therefore demotivating; therefore it’s harder to get highly qualified men and women to seek public office, if they think we’re all a bunch of crooks.