Saturday, December 17, 2016

All the Fax That's Fit to Fix

The online chambers of vox populi echo with post-election rue, rancor, boasting and bullying.

I am struck by the common denominator of the “get-over-it, you-lost” crowd: their quasi-literate, playground argot; their ignorance of grammar, spelling and usage.  In a single day of browsing these exchanges I counted nearly 500 such illiteracies.  “Illicit” for “elicit.”  “Whose” for “who’s” and vice versa. “Loose” for “lose.”  Plural subjects with singular verbs and vice versa.  Reliance on third-grader insults: “Put on your big boy pants.”  “Waaah, waaah, waaaah.”  No wonder almost half these people believe their man won the popular vote as well as the electoral college.  No wonder they believe there really are pedophile parties in that pizza restaurant.  No wonder they think the Pussy-Grabber can actually build a wall across the southern border and make Mexico pay for it.  No wonder . . .

There I go again.

A university of London professor recently completed a factor analysis of the Brexit vote in the UK and the presidential vote in the US.  White racism was the most powerful  factor in both votes.  “Immigrant” is the new dirty word.  The most significant gap between the two sides was education.  The winning side, frustrated, it would seem, by their own limited articulation, spoke with their vote instead and cast it for someone who makes no sense whatsoever to an intelligent listener.

And so here we are, in chaos, in the post-truth era.  Did Russia hack those computers?  Was Putin personally involved?  Did it make any difference, really, in the outcome of the election?  Can we trust the CIA, the FBI, the White House, the “transition team,” leaders of the houses of congress, our mothers, our clergymen, Boy Scouts, altar boys, the media, the talking heads, educators, police officers, judges, celebrities, our neighbors, the druggist, the baker, the candlestick maker?  Can we trust anyone?  Does truth exist?

Some of the post-election posts are reasonable.  Here’s one: “The case against Russia is plausible, even likely, but too many questions remain. U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly demonstrated that they regularly both lie and get things horribly wrong. In this case, they may well be correct, but they cannot expect Americans to simply take their word for it.”

Makes sense.  It isn’t sufficient for Obama to tell us he barked at the bully and the bully backed off.  Show us the evidence.  Give us the reports of the CIA, the FBI, whatever intelligence you have that makes you so certain that Russia did this.

Back when Shrub was gearing up to invade Iraq, I went to a city where he was scheduled to speak and walked side by side with a prominent scientist and other protesters.  Someone from the other side approached and sought to engage us.  The scientist, a mild-mannered guy with the patience of Job, took up the challenge.

“You people ain’t got any fax,” the guy said.

“We do have facts,” the scientist said.  “Here are some.” He quoted the facts cited in the international inspection team’s reports averring that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  He quoted international law.  He  talked about the differences between the branches of Islam — Sunni, Shi'a, Ibadi, Ahmadiyya, and Sufism. He offered the lessons of history and described the scientific requirements to produce significant stores of WMDs, which Iraq lacked.

“Them ain’t fax,” the guy snorted, stomping away.  “You ain’t got no fax.”

USA! USA! It’s his country now.


  1. Fax or no facts, when a future "leader of the free world" does not know the difference between "unpresidented" and "unprecedented" -- as Trump apparently does not -- this country will become a laughing stock.

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