What’s the point?

Tired talking point? Nah! Editorial cartoon by Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle.

Tired talking point? Nah!
Editorial cartoon by Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle.

If there’s anything consistent in politics, it’s that talking points seemingly never die.

Try as we might to eradicate those based on falsehoods, they just keep sticking around because someone still believes them and wants to spread them far and wide. God forbid you comment on the agenda behind them. Then you’re just a hater persecuting those who don’t agree with you.

You didn’t need your sanity, did you?

Sometimes the letters we receive are so full of debunked talking points that I feel the urge to play Talking Point Bingo. The problem is that I’d lose my voice from shouting “Bingo!” so much. Turning it into a drinking game (water for me, thanks) would be even worse, and hospitalization would likely result (yes, even from water; you can drink too much).

Image found on Brown Man Thinking Hard.

Image found on Brown Man Thinking Hard.

Image found on GayPatriot.

Image found on GayPatriot.

My eyes roll every time I see the same tired tropes of Barack Obama being a golfin’, teleprompter-lovin’, Murica-hatin’ Commie Kenyan Moooslim who’s always gallivantin’ around on vacation. I cringe every time I see any gun argument, pro or con, simply because both sides have the tendency to go overboard (one more than the other, though).

All the parties do it—as do the various sides to topics such as climate change and abortion—and when these talking points are repeated ad nauseam, they become gospel and the party line. Never mind if it’s true. All that matters is selling it as the truth.

So no, last year’s claim that 9 million previously uncovered people gained insurance due to the Affordable Care Act is not quite true. That number included people who’d renewed existing plans through Medicaid or SCHIP or switched to plans on the state or federal exchanges, and young adults under 26 who were added to their parents’ policies, according to FactCheck. While millions did gain coverage, that number was inflated, as was the claim of the millions who lost coverage.

How dare they! Editorial cartoon by Ed Stein.

How dare they!
Editorial cartoon by Ed Stein.

And no, abortions do not make up 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services. FactCheck found that that number counted only certain services (abortion, prenatal services and adoption referrals); that leaves out “family practice services,” pregnancy tests, and other medical services for low-income pregnant women provided through WIC. Planned Parenthood told FactCheck that it doesn’t track the total number of pregnant women it serves, all the services provided, or referrals to other providers when the clinic doesn’t offer prenatal care. Without the total number of pregnant women served, statistics purporting to represent the percentage of abortions are basically meaningless.

Meh, who needs math? Editorial cartoon by Steve Kelley, New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Meh, who needs math anyway?
Editorial cartoon by Steve Kelley, New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Straightforward math is thus a huge casualty in talking points. Have pity on the math teachers of America, please. Just say no to bad math. Damn math-heads.

Another of the unfortunate side effects of this talking-point bonanza—besides contributing to some editors’ migraines—is that people have the tendency to pay attention only to the surface details, like titles. Sometimes only the titles … and then they spout off, regardless of facts.

Conservationist William deBuys, who wrote the Perspective cover, “Mega-droughts” (printed in the Los Angeles Times, and reprinted Sept. 13 by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette), responded to a letter printed on the Voices page from a reader who judged his book by its … uh, title. I thought it only fair to print that response.

“What a brilliant, witty, and incisive riposte to my column on climate change you posted from your reader Bill Tucker Jr. of Lonsdale … . With deep insight he points out that anyone who publishes a book with the word “unicorn” in the title is not to be trusted: ‘Does Mr. William deBuys have any books out about Bigfoot as well? Or maybe the Loch Ness monster? These guys crack me up!’

From the side, a saola's two horns look like one, hence the nickname "Asian unicorn." Image found on ScienceNews.

From the side, a saola’s two horns look like one, hence the nickname “Asian unicorn.”
Image found on ScienceNews.

“Very funny! Except that my use of ‘unicorn’ in The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Rarest Creatures is actually—stop the presses!—a metaphor. The book concerns a wildlife expedition in central Laos in search of a very real animal called the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis).

Very few saola exist in the wild, and what few there are are hard to find. Image found on The Guardian.

Very few saola are out in the wild, and the few that exist are hard to find.
Image found on The Guardian.

“A previous book was A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest. It doesn’t mention Bigfoot. In truth, all of my eight books deal with serious matters, which Mr. Tucker can easily discover if he knows how to use the Internet.”

That goes along with one of the things I’m firmly behind: Research. Taking something as truth without checking it out is just asking to be fooled. If someone makes a claim, especially one that seems overly controversial, find out the real story before you go off the deep end.

(And just so you know, The House of Mirth is not a hilarious read … unless you find humor in tales of desperation that end in lonely death. If you do, lose my number.)

As long as people keep using political talking points (especially those that are false), we’ll continue to have mindless drivel endlessly repeated, and actual thought will be rare indeed. That’s not a world I want, especially since that means we’ll keep making the same mistakes over and over.

And that’s not entertaining, unlike John McCain makin’ like a zombie.

Gee, I thought zombies wanted brains ... looks like John's an ass man. Image found on KnowYourMeme.

… or is it a dead-on impression of Igor?
Image found on KnowYourMeme.

Hey! I'm tryin' to sleep here!

Oh, Lord! What did you do now?

Print subscribers might have noticed something amiss on the Voices page last week, with Friday and Saturday’s columns switched. No, we’re not changing our schedule, so no need to worry about that.

The Saturday page was inadvertently pasted onto the Friday page, so that was why Mike Masterson appeared on Friday, and Dana Kelley appeared Saturday. No conspiracy was afoot (and what a boring conspiracy that would be; it’s much more exciting to watch Luke attempt to evade his daily steroid gel in the ear).

It was a mistake, we learned from it, we’ve moved on.

Too bad that doesn’t often happen in politics.

What am I saying? More like never happens.


10 thoughts on “What’s the point?

    • Obviously! 😀

      If it’s Firefox, it tends to get overly sensitive … sometimes mine tells me that my site and my email aren’t safe. The links should be safe; they’re just FactCheck and William deBuys’ site. Unless they’ve been taken over by Commie Moooooslims.


  1. Just like most conspirators, you deny the conspiracy. I am sure switching the columns on Friday and Saturday is really your way to start switching the world order, planting seeds in our lives so when the conspirators are ready, they easily can make cats the leaders, even as Egypt, and put people on the bottom. It all starts with the huge machine behind the curtain controlling the switch of the columns, a slippery slope that is planned to ultimately give felines power over people, step by conspirator step.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the “Obama Talking Points Bingo!” I think the best way to play that would be with mini Reese’s peanut butter cups. I’ve seen a Republican debate Bingo. I’m sure something similar will pop up for the Democrats, but it won’t be nearly as entertaining.

    I’ve been too swamped with homework to watch the debates, but I have a friend who posts comments on Facebook during the debates. He is so funny!! Here’s a sample:

    Trump: “We need to assimilate more women, who I respect, from Eastern Europe. Jeb, quit speaking Spanish on the campaign trail.”
    Jeb: “Su madre!”

    That is just one of many. I need something to laugh at during election season, which never seems to end for some strange reason.


  3. I loved this! I so often feel as though we are preaching to the choir, as they say. I have a Republican friend who sends me all of these bizarre stories about Obama, the Affordable Care Act, and each time I would do a factcheck and send the answer to him…always not true, but he so wanted to believe these stories, it did no good. I fear that is what we are facing in our nation…truth no longer matters. However, what you wrote was excellent!


    • 😀

      I know the feeling! I’ve even had the more paranoid people refer me to checks done by outfits like Conservative Fact Check, Zebra Fact Check and PolitfactBias as examples of nonbiased fact-checking. Funny, they don’t seem to offer their sources much, and they tend to make some rather opinionated analyses … gosh, I think I’ll pass. Last time I checked, opinion wasn’t fact … although it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s soon an act of Congress to rectify that.


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