20h45 UTC; FRIDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2014: It's but three weeks now before the traditional start of holiday shopping, as in "Black Friday," replete with the inevitable crowds, bedlam and confusion at malls and downtowns from Mt. Katahdin to Mauna Loa (in some instances, starting on Thanksgiving Day proper; Kmart, in fact--never mind their Winona store having just recently closed "for strategic reasons"--is asking its employees to be ready for work at 4 am on Thanksgiving morning, holiday tradition be d***ed).

So what would stand in the way of giving mein Online Mall your due consideration and regard for your online shopping requisites this Festive Season? (Especially considering that 9.11% of my proceeds off your purchases therefrom will go towards Reducing the National Debt of the United States, for such among you as think holiday shopping needs to serve a Useful and Productive Purpose.)

Mein Innkeeper Friend came up with this Point to Ponder this morning after coming back from an errand at the Hy-Vee supermarket here in Winona in behalf of the motel I do for, itself soon to convert unto Extended Stay accomodation: If so many of the RepubliKKKan members of the upcoming 114th Congress have college degrees (we'd like to know how many exactly), are they feigning their stupidity for the sake of their "Tea Party" and "Christian Patriot" support base and/or their ideological drookies?

And you thought conservative-tending prolefeeders had the global monopoly on mocking President Obama in the wake of Tuesday's midterm elections being an easy cakewalk for the more delusional RepubliKKKan brand of politico: Consider what John Sudworth, writing in BBC News' China Blog had to say about the Chinese response (and believe you me, such no doubt parallelled the more bigoted sort of stateside prolefeeder):
Given his party's miserable set of US mid-term election results President Barack Obama will, of course, have been bracing himself for plenty of harsh criticism.

But perhaps he would be surprised to hear that China's state-run media is joining in, with a blistering broadside describing his term in office as "insipid".

Even by the standards of the Global Times, a newspaper with close ties to the Communist Party and known for its strident editorials, the language is blunt.

With Mr Obama due to arrive in Beijing for an international summit in just a few days' time, the article describes him as a man who "dares to do nothing".

US society, it says, has grown tired of his "banality" and, as a result of the mid-terms, "the lame-duck president will be further crippled".


The Global Times is a tub-thumping tabloid with a circulation of more than 2 million for its Chinese language edition.

For many readers it is an unchallenged source of news about the outside world and it is often critical of the Western media, accusing it of taking "delight in blind, idle chatter".

The paper has defended China's right to block mainstream outlets - including the BBC, the New York Times and Bloomberg - without any apparent irony - it has been publishing and distributing a US edition of its paper since early last year.

It is safe to say, of course, that it is highly unlikely to be on President Obama's reading list - so he won't, at first hand at least, feel the wrath of its latest rant.

As well as the criticism of his domestic record, it takes aim at his foreign policy achievements: "He has managed to take troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan but left no peace."

Beyond the insults though, the piece appears to be a clumsy attempt to make a wider point about the limits of American democracy and its ability to affect real change.

"That party interests are placed higher than the interests of the country and its people is an inherent shortcoming of Western political systems," it argues.

Sign of insecurity?

And perhaps, on that point, the seemingly discourteous timing is not a coincidence.

What at first reading appears as confidence - "With China's rise, we gradually have the ability to have a clear understanding of the US. The country is too lazy to reform" - may instead be a sign of a deep, underlying insecurity.

As the presidents of two very different political systems stand side by side in Beijing next week, this is perhaps simply an attempt to send an early reminder to Chinese readers not to fret about their country's democratic deficit.

After George W Bush, the US public used to speak highly of Obama, the Global Times tells them, but now "they have reversed their opinions".

Mr Obama, even if the article does find its way onto his desk, is of course unlikely to lose too much sleep over the mudslinging and insults - after all, he gets enough of that at home to keep him more than busy.

And anyway, he could easily counter, at least the American public, unlike the Chinese, gets the chance to express its opinion, however unfavourable it may be.

No wonder the so-called "REAL AmeriKKKa" cannot be expected to accept truth out of latent fears about such risking serious insanity or mental error. As Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jnr. elaborated recently:
You can’t handle the truth.

There is a temptation to take that line from Jack Nicholson — snarled at Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men — as the moral of the story, the lesson to be learned from a new study on trustworthiness and the news media.

The study, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, informs us that America’s least-trusted news source is conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, rated unreliable by almost 40 percent of all Americans. The also conservative Fox “News” follows closely at 37 percent. So America’s least-trusted news sources are also its most popular; Limbaugh hosts the number one show on radio and Fox is the highest-rated cable news outlet.

It gets better. Pew tells us America’s most trusted news source is CNN; the network that eschews any ideological identifier is considered reliable by 54 percent of us. Yet for as much as we supposedly trust it, we don’t seem to like it very much. Its ratings — despite a mild resurgence in recent months — are but a fraction of Fox’s and it is undergoing massive layoffs.

For what it’s worth, there’s evidence to support America’s perception of who is and is not trustworthy. PunditFact, an offshoot of PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website, has issued a report card on the truthfulness of broadcast pundits by network. It’s an imperfect measure, but the results are still compelling. Over 60 percent of Fox pundit statements rated by PunditFact have been found to be some flavor of false.

CNN? Just 22 percent.

If all this sounds like a commercial for the network of holograms and missing plane obsessions, it isn’t. Rather, it’s a lament for the closing of the American mind.

There is an axiom that he who builds the best mousetrap enjoys the greatest success. But if that’s true, how is it the greatest successes in a business measured by trustworthiness are those entities judged least trustworthy of all? Maybe the answer is that conservative hardliners are more rabid in support of those who validate their views than the rest of us are in pursuit of simple truth.

In a nation where political discourse is increasingly a facts-optional exercise and reality now comes in shades of red and blue, that’s hardly reassuring.

Two years ago, at the request of yours truly, the people at Nielsen crunched some numbers. They found that in times of major breaking news — the examples used were the Columbine shooting, the Sept. 11 attacks, the commencement of the Iraq War, the Japanese tsunami and the death of Michael Jackson — ratings for all three cable news outlets tend to rise. But, almost without exception, the most dramatic spikes on a percentage basis are enjoyed by CNN. The week of Sept. 11, its ratings rose by 800 percent. No other network came close.

In other words, when something big has happened and people need to know what’s going on, they know where to go. They go where they can trust.

But on a routine day, many Americans, for as much as they will say otherwise, really don’t want to be informed so much as to be confirmed in their political biases, in the partisan version of truth that explains the world to them while making the fewest demands on intellect — and conscience. They need the “death panels” and “anchor” babies, the birther controversies and supposedly rampant voter fraud, the “threats” of sharia law and Obama-caused Ebola, the whole rickety structure of falsehood and fear upon which conservatism has built its alternate reality. That’s the whole reason Fox exists — and CNN barely does.

And it’s why Nicholson’s quote, tempting as it is, provides no proper moral for this story.

It’s not that we can’t handle the truth. It’s that some of us prefer the lie.
(Meanwhile, here's a Good Cause Worth Supporting in the runup to Indecision 2016, especially given its desired focus on an "educational" approach towards challenging RepubliKKKan agedae and articles of faith.

Given where Mama June of TLC's just-cancelled pseudo-reality show Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo continues to go on the defencive against charges of Child Molestation, Contributing to the Moral Harm of Minors (especially given whispers of her associating with a Known Sex Offender) and Misuse of Trust Funds Established for the Benefit of the Children, it's rather fortunate that conservative prolefeeders (especially such who insist that Amerikanischer Realkultur be seen through the rather narrow and warped Weltanschauung of Branson's "music shows" rather than the "liberally-distorted" such of New York and Hollywood, the former being seen as "more representative of REAL AmeriKKKa" in a Luscious Glory of "poor whiteism" held to be virtuous) have yet to come to Mama June's defence, or even claim that she's a Martyr to the Liberal Ideals and Values as Endangers Thy Dear and Lovely Land and Her National and Sovereign Identity as a Peculiar Among the Nations Solely by the Goodness of His Grace and Favour (as if insisting that Honey Boo-Boo's "poor whiteism" is Worthy of Study and Emulation Towards the Calling from Abeyance of Apartheid South Africa's Former Mantle as God's Own Country).

Let's hope such can be done without. Unless, however, we can have such cut short (preferably mid-sentence, and especially before things get hilariously absurd) by Lambsy's hue-and-cry of "It's the Wolf!! IT'S THE WOLLLLFFFFF!!!" unto Bristlehound on the It's The Wolf! segment of the Cattanooga Cats package Hanna-Barbera produced for ABC in the 1969-70 Saturday-morning season, which inevitably saw Mildew T. Wolf, seeking to eat Lambsy, get his just desserts--but not without some parting insult like "Spoilsport!", "Cheapskate!", "Doubting Thomas!" or "Me and my big mouth!" as he was tossed into the air.

So till next time, folks: "73"
(Which, incidentally, was railroad telegraphers' shorthand for "goodbye.")

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