Integrity’s An All Or Nothing Proposition – You Either Have It Or You Don’t

In the movie Princess Bride, Wallace Sean’s Vizzini, confounded by their inability to outrun Cary Elwes’ Westley, repeats the word “inconceivable” with increasing consternation until, at one point, Mandy Patinkin’s Inago Montoya responds famously —

We have the exact same problem with the whole concept of INTEGRITY — never mind the word. A Democratic system of government relies on the integrity of its voting process. We think our voting system has “integrity”. That’s bullshit. There are several terrific citizen-journalist-investigators who’ve done deep, deep dives into the fact that our voting systems have pretty damned close to ZERO integrity (Jennifer Cohen and Mike Farb have been especially intrepid and indefatigable in their pursuit of the truth).

Our inability to see this core problem — this complete lack of integrity in a system — shouts volumes about our inability to see a lack of integrity in other humans. Isn’t that the way con men work, after all? The first thing they sell you isn’t a product, it’s bullshit — that they have integrity and you, dear rube, can absolutely trust them.

Donald Trump is a fabulist who has never understood that such a thing as “Truth” even exists. To a sociopath like Trump, the truth is whatever he thinks it is in that moment — whatever he says “the truth” is. Its connection to reality is irrelevant. Anyone who stands beside Donald Trump — knowing (and how can you not) that he lies as easily as he breathes — not only accepts Donald Trump’s lack of integrity, but demonstrates that they, too, have none. How can you stand with a liar and still have integrity?

It’s impossible. You just can’t.

When America stops standing by its word — when we pinball around erratically with no moral compass — we demonstrate that we AS A COUNTRY no longer have integrity (with the caveat being that our integrity has been under assault — if not completely DOA — forever and ever). Should we be surprised when Iran prepares for war against a schizophrenic foe whose word means nothing? Should we be shocked when every country with an agenda understands that with enough money, you can get the American government to do your bidding — even if it runs counter to America’s best interests?

Our news media doesn’t grasp how THEIR integrity lies in tatters. They don’t grasp that the moment they shrugged off “Mexicans are rapists” and then (as if that wasn’t enough FFS!) “pussy-grabbing” — they busted a cap in their own integrity as the final check on power. Even as every norm of behavior, decency, logic and longstanding tradition sloughed off around them, CNN, MSNBC, The WaPo, the NYTimes — pretty much our entire MSM — continued to turn a blind eye in the name of access. If they dared confront a blatant liar with his lies, they worried, he might not talk to them. Correction: he might not lie to them.

We’re living in an age where Joseph Goebbels’ famous “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth” has, ironically, become a kind of truth. It’s how things “are” now.

Can we even spell “integrity” anymore?

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America’s Love Affair With “Stupid”, Part II: “Donald Trump, Super Star”

A thought experiment. Put these two things in your mind together — Donald Trump & the word “stupid”. Aside from drawing the direct connection — “Donald Trump is stupid” (an inescapable fact) — let the two things sit for a moment. Yes, Donald Trump is stupid… but how is Donald Trump stupid? In what ways is Donald Trump Stupid? Specifically, what has Donald Trump done, said or tweeted that was stupid? See how we’re not talking about a line anymore, we’re talking about “an environment” — as in, a whole “environment” of stupid?

Patrician George HW Bush — a cynical politician’s cynical politician — chose Dan Quayle as his veep. An attractive young politician from Indiana, Quayle, on the surface, made sense. But Dan Quayle, the human, was a less than stellar example of the species. He was certifiably stupid. Said certifiably stupid things. Did certifiably stupid things, too…

Dan Quayle was not an outlier in Republican stupid — as it concerns vice presidential choices. John McCain outdid George HW Bush in cynicism when he chose Sarah Palin. He outdid Pappy Bush in stupid, too. If McCain had bothered to spend an hour in a room — alone — with Sarah Palin, I find it hard to believe he could have stomached all the stupid. But McCain famously didn’t vet Sarah Palin. That was stupid…

By the time Donald Trump rolled around, the Republicans had made stupid politically viable. You could get up at a meeting of Republicans and say flat out stupid things — and be seen as mainstream. The same wasn’t true for Democrats. Now — to be fair — Democrats are also guilty of stupid. But Democrats are stupid in a very different way. They’re not intellectually stupid, they’re “practical” stupid. That’s a subject for another rant.

Back to Trump. By 2016, Republican culture had become fertile soil for pretty much any kind of stupid.

Keep in mind — as they entered the 2016 race, Republicans were already deeply engaged in a cynical, greedy enterprise — seizing the reigns of power by hijacking the judiciary. As the 2016 race got serious, Mitch McConnell was already refusing to give Merrick Garland a hearing because (McConnell’s explanation — the American People deserved to make that choice, NOT the president those same American People had overwhelmingly chosen). That was flat out stupid. It didn’t make sense. It was bullshit. It was stupid.

And yet — as stupid always does in America — stupid played. And won. McConnell got away with something shockingly stupid because we let him. No shit. We The People let stupid triumph.

Trump’s campaign announcement was stupid start to finish. In retrospect, it was a remarkable amount of stupid crammed into one place at one time. And yet, despite a few days of “outrage”, we allowed Donald Trump’s candidacy to continue.

https://time.com/3923128/donald-trump-announcement-speech/

How could WE shrug off something so stunningly offensive? In this instance, Trump was spouting stupid — and we were accepting stupid. Oh, sure — in the moment we were offended by it. But we stopped being offended by it. We must have — cos we let it slide. We accepted Trump’s stupidity (his racism and bigotry — both products of stupidity) as “just how he is”. Trump was a “different kind” of candidate.

He became a “different” kind of president. A stupid one — exactly as advertised.

For going on three years, we have experienced a presidency steeped in stupidity. Donald Trump says things that redefine the word “stupid” almost daily. He holds to stupid positions based on stupid assumptions and stupid, racist beliefs that result in consistently stupid pronouncements and policy positions. He lies blatantly — stupid, easily disproven lies — delivered gracelessly. Our news media points out the lie — and how stupid it is — yet Trump holds firm. That’s stupid.

We let him get away with it. That’s stupider.

Hmmmmm… maybe our problem isn’t Donald Trump. In Julius Caesar, Cassius says: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves…”.  Which brings to mind another quote, equally prescient: “Stupid is as stupid does”.

Forrest Gump could teach Donald Trump — and us — a ton about what stupid really is.

Having A “Normalcy Bias” Isn’t Abnormal; It Should Be…

If a presidential contender coming down an escalator announces to the world that he’s running for President because America needs a wall to keep out all the Mexican rapists — and everyone (after an initial burst of outrage) shrugs because they’re already consumed by that contender’s next outrage — somewhere inside that shrug was born their “Normalcy Bias”.  Calling Mexicans rapists went — within a sentence — from being an outrage to being… “normal”.

That’s just how Trump speaks, the MSM told us.  Racism?  No.   Poor word choice — yes.  And, just like that, the MSM had built absolute racism into its Normalcy Bias.  Racism was — IS — now completely legit.  Pussy-grabbing worked the exact same way.  A few moments of outrage tempered by the “timely” release of a Wikileaks dump — which, too, got NORMALIZED.  Shall we toss LYING onto the bonfire?

How quickly did the MSM normalized the fact that a president of the United States lied more reliably than he told the truth?  Though they knew what Trump was saying was a lie, still they continued to report each lie as if it WASN’T a lie and therefore had to be considered as possibly the truth.

Sorry, but a turd is a turd is a turd. Call it a “perfumed package” if you like or a “surprise” or even just “poo”.  It’s a turd.  It stinks.  It has to be cleaned up.  Making it “palatable” while making it “do-able” also makes it “palatable”.  Maybe it shouldn’t be.

What our MSM can’t seem to grasp is how badly THEY are being fooled every day by their own Normalcy Bias.  When, say, you know going into a (rare) press conference that the Press Secretary is going to lie to you — and then you LET HER LIE & (worse) let her GET AWAY WITH IT, you are further solidifying HER Normalcy Bias that she CAN get away with just about every time.  What’s the cost of lying?  Nothing.

Normalcy Bias is no one’s friend.   It’s comfort with what is even if “what is” is utter bullshit. Normalcy Bias is how that frog slowly gets boiled to death without ever realizing it.