Telephone – Inter-tube style & John McCain

The younger you are, the less likely that you played a parlor game called Telephone, as iPods, gaming devices, PCs, and other technologies crowd out attention spans, and finger control becomes more important than a well-chosen phrase, or a decent memory.

Telephone, for those who forgot, or never knew, was a game in which people sit in a circle. Someone turns to the person next to him or her, and repeats a phrase. The second person repeats it to the third, and so forth. By the time the message gets back to the start, the message, in Python-esque, is Something Completely Different. Compared to Grand Theft Auto, it might seem lame, even boring, but it drives home several points about human nature and our frailties: a. By mistake or design, any fact can easily be twisted out of shape, into Something Completely Different. b. If you want to know what to original message was, go to the source. c. Humans err. Online, humans err at Warp Factor VI. d. Even when an online lie is found out to be a lie, it is harder to kill off than a many headed Hydra.

This is not a new phenomenon. One of the world’s best observers and reporters on human nature, particularly AMERICAN human nature, was Samuel Clemens, aka, Mark Twain. (1835-1910). Some schools tried to ban his works, including Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, because he used language that while normal at the turn of last century, could be offensive today, mainly the word “nigger.” Where those idiots succeeded, they denied their children some of the best American writing and human nature insights that could be learned by children of all ages, even those in their 50s.

Clemens noted, in a way that only he could, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Keeping in mind Clemen’s insight, and the way stories change over time, the Game of Telephone, Intertube Style, is being played out right now, with hilarious, maddening, saddening consequences. Three Examples – Wes Clark, Barack Obama, Dick Cheney.

Dick Cheney
With a particularly accurate first name, our VP never saw an enemy he didn’t want to attack, he never ignored the slightest war-profiteering, and he never met a lie that he would not use, if it would benefit his nefarious plans or personal profits. So it was little surprise that he has repeated several lies directed at Iran, and recently claimed that a Chinese-Cuban consortium was drilling for oil off of Florida’s coast.

Considering how many commercial flights pass over Florida’s coastal waters, the 24/7 satellite coverage, and the huge investment in men, money, equipment, and barges, necessary to drill off-shore, (ignoring the pipeline needed to ship any discovered oil), arational thinker would have laughed off Cheney’s commentary.

It took Cheney’s press secretary five days before he withdrew his comments. Five days seems to have been long enough.

After the VP’s office withdrew those words, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and many GOP senatwhores, congresscritters and candidates, continued to press the China-drilling story. Faux News made repeated references to China, wondering why they can drill offshore, but we can’t. Even today, that false story has legs, and several anti-Obama e-mails mention his stance on oil drilling vs. Chinese theft of our oil.

Barack Obama

His problems with the intertube fallacies are so bad, so constant and consistent, that he created an official rumor debunking site, called Fight The Smears. http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/fightthesmearshome/

If only John Kerry had used the intertubes this way, he probably would have been elected president, and our nation would have been spared four years of misunderestimating the depths which President Bush would reach.

Despite this debunking effort, these rumors still persist: he’s a secret muslim, anti-christian, born in Kenya, a member of a secret terrorist cult, was named Barack Saddam Muhammed Hussein Obama, and eats small children raw, with chopsticks.

Recently, the Washington Post researched these e-mail and intertube rumors and found that the vast majority of them were penned by, or spread by Andy Martin, a prolific make believe artist on Free Republic. Media Matters, a apolitical media watch group, knows Martin well. http://mediamatters.org/items/200703290011

Wes Clark

For years, the MSM has had a mantra that never was pierced by a serious question, or reviewed in a serious way. “John McCain is a war hero and great leader.” No one bothered, or could be bothered to research the story behind the story. It was a conventional, unimpeachable fact, according to every newspaper, journalist, and sTalking head on cable news.

Wes Clark mentioned that getting shot down in one’s warplane does not a leader make. His exact words:

“I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president…”

“[McCain] has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn’t a wartime squadron.”

Straightforward, clear, concise and to the point. Except, you’d have thought that World War III erupted, from the reaction of MSM outlets. CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox, and many papers excoriated Wes Clark for attacking McCain’s military service. Karl Rove desrcibed Clark’s words as so vile, that it reflected badly on a losing campaign, left grasping at straws (Obama’s).

Over the next few days, the actual words used by General Clark morphed into something completely different, and were twisted into something unrecognizable. With an orchestrated attack that arch-enemies Gen. Patton and Gen. Rommel would have admired, Clark became a 12 hour target, an anti-American, anti-soldier, anti-service to your country, jerk.

Simply for telling the truth. I will admit that Wes Clark committed one error, just not the one of which he was accused.

He did not go far enough.

“I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president…”

Wes Clark spoke the truth, an unpleasant one for Senator McCain. Being shot down meant only that he was shot down. That does nothing for someone’s leadership skills. The real problem, one that has been hinted at by several observers and witnesses, is that John McCain suffers from a serious mental imbalance.

The real question we should be asking is not how dare we question his service to his country (no one does) but, what the hell happened in Viet Nam? Any person who is tortured, abused, kept locked in prison for years, comes out a different person than when they went in. PTSD is a permanent, disabling and recurring problem. If you have ever dealt with someone who suffers from it, and you later learn of the diagnosis, the most common reaction is “Oh, that explains it.”

PTSD is not limited to soldiers. Jewish Concentration camp guests, Chinese who survived the Great Leap backward or the Cultural Revulsion, Americans starving during the Great Depression and many others suffered, and continue to suffer from it. The symptoms include
# Having a difficult time falling or staying asleep.
# Feeling more irritable or having outbursts of anger.
# Having difficulty concentrating.
# Feeling constantly “on guard” or like danger is lurking around every corner.
# Being “jumpy” or easily startled.

http://ptsd.about.com/od/symptomsanddiagnosis/a/PTSDsymptoms.htm

John McCain’s bad temper is no secret. He blows his cool, he swears, he loses it. Many people have tempers and lose them, too. Unfortunately, the degree to which he loses his cool is measurably worse than the rest of us. In fact, people closest to him in the Senate worry about his sanity, especially when he blows up.

We should not be attacking Wes Clark for raising the issue. Instead, we should be looking into what exactly is wrong with John McCain. If he has a chance of serving as our nation’s president, we should be aware just how fragile his sanity and control are. We’ve had one madman in the White House, luckily he was too lazy, incompetent, and relied on people like Condi Rice and Karen Hughes, to do too much damage.

Do we really want someone who is unstable, mentally ill and incapable of dealing with stress sitting in the White House?