Political Playground Parsing
December 15, 2016
Gee, our national discussion on this thirty-seventh day seems louder and more confounding then ever. What with the Russian election interference, the Trump ethical issues and the blindingly while cabinet, we nearly missed Lyin’ Paul Ryan quietly sneaking up on Medicare and Social Security. Yup, the neo-cons are busy while the country is distracted with the Russians.
Who could have imagined a Republican-Russian alliance of convenience? Well, the Donald for one, Putin for another. The republic stands assaulted on fronts both foreign and domestic; greedy old white dudes lead the incursions, safely from the seats of power.
But, enough trying to speak poetically pretty, let’s move on to playground ugly. Political parsing is used so often by our politicians, pundits and media that we, seemingly, just accept it a part of the common grammar. While real grammar is meant to allow the combination of words into meaningful sentences, political parsing is meant to allow the combinations of words into meaningless sentences.
For instance, while driving my dog to school this morning (Yes, my dog goes to school – though I suspect he attends just to avoid getting a job.), I heard a news story about how the Russian interference in our election was now traceable to Putin. During the protracted (it was NPR) explanation the reporter drew a very fine (highly parsed) distinction of fact. He said, “We know Putin had a vendetta against Clinton and interfered to hurt her. But, we don’t know if Putin intended to help Trump.”
WTF, yes we do! In, what was really, a two-candidate race hurting one would, as a direct consequence, help the other. And there should be no need to point that out to a NPR reporter. That second sentence obfuscates meaning – intentionally.
We have been hearing shit like this for a while now. From the philosophical “depends on what the meaning of is is” to the in-your-face “Make America Great Again” politicians have always excelled at obfuscation. Hence, we filter what they say – assuming self-interest.
Let’s not forget, our media speak with self-interest as well. Fake news is pervasive because people really prefer to hear news they agree with. And it’s really tempting to feed that human desire. Even NPR, in weak moments, leans subtly in that direction.
Think critically, filter everything – including this!
That’s all I got today. Take care of yourselves and each other,