Part 3—When pundit professors opine: When Men in Black was released in 1991, it was widely viewed as a mere entertainment.
That said, experts wondered if the film might not have been intended as a disguised documentary—as a warning about extraterrestrial infestation of our home planet, the earth.
Signs of this possibility were widely observed. For starters, the film featured two actors improbably (said to be) named Smith and Jones.
One couldn't seem to decide where he was from—Philadelphia or Bel Air. According to published reports, the other had been chided as being perhaps a bit post-human as early as his (alleged) freshman year in college!
Was this film intended as a warning? There's no way to settle that question. But starting the very next year, coverage of the Clinton campaign began to suggest that this nation's political "press corps" perhaps seemed a tiny bit extraterrestrial. Rumors about this possible problem have only grown since then.
Occasionally, indications suggest a remaining human presence within the upper-end press. Just this morning, for example, the Washington Post editorial board presents the rare observation, noting that Candidate Clinton doesn't propose "abolishing the Second Amendment," despite what you know who says.
In recent days, waves of pundits spent many hours discussing Candidate Trump's insistent claim to the contrary. But even as the putative humans battered Trump's perceived call to arms in response to Clinton's desire, they kept failing to state the attendant point:
Candidate Clinton doesn't favor abolishing the Second Amendment! Waves of pundits, speaking for hours, kept skipping this basic fact.
Would humans really behave that way? Endlessly, all over cable, pundits avoided this second key point. As a result of their strangely strange conduct, voters received a double message:
It's wrong to murder a candidate or a president. Also, Candidate Clinton wants to grab your guns!
Would actual humans behave that way? The point was skipped by Corasaniti and Haberman in their front-page news report in the New York Times. They cited several figures making the claim about gun-grabbing Clinton. It didn't seem to enter their heads that they were actively spreading a false claim all around.
Would actual humans reason that way? Experts say it's unlikely.
(This morning, our analysts watched Haberman attempting to discuss the latest alleged Clinton scandal on CNN. "They got the modulation of her voice wrong," one of the youngsters wearily charged. Watching Morning Joe, they also fingered Donnie Deutsch. "He's much too genial to be a real pundit," they said. "And they gave him way too much hair.")
Bob Dylan may have had it right. "Time passed, and now it seems everybody's having that dream!"
So the thoughtful poet wrote—and by now, sure enough! More and more, people have started to see that our upper-end press corps seems to be just a bit "off" in its presentations.
For today, we'll restrict ourselves to two recent examples. For starters, consider Andrew O'Hehir's recent "hate letter" at the new Salon.
O'Hehir has been designed to represent the "progressive" voice. But could any progressive really display such loathing for average people?
Let's be fair. If O'Hehir was designed by extraterrestrials, they may have a sense of humor. He recently spent a week "on a personal visit to Florida," he wrote in his recent piece. In his reflections on this punishment, he seem like a parody of classic condescending elitist, a well-known figure of decades of RNC wet dreams.
Ignore O'Hehir's statistical bungles in which, among other things, he discovers a "suicide epidemic." It's his undisguised loathing for average people which so strongly suggests extra-human origins.
His loathing seems to center on Wendy's, a well-known fast food chain. In this passage, he makes the first of three separate references to the chain's Baconator Fries:
O'HEHIR (8/6/16): America is experiencing a health crisis on an enormous scale—a crisis that is simultaneously physical, psychological and spiritual and is hardly ever understood in holistic terms. If Trump is the most prominent symptom of this systemic disorder at the moment, he is not its cause or even its leading indicator. For starters, this crisis encompasses epidemic rates of obesity and epidemic rates of suicide, dramatic evidence of a wealthy country that is literally killing itself. It’s about a nation of worsening social isolation and individualized info-bubbles and pathological delusion, a nation that spends more per capita on healthcare than any other major Western power to achieve worse outcomes, and where Baconator Fries are $1.99 at Wendy’s.Those Baconator Fries rob O'Hehir of sleep.
O'Hehir's loathing for average people is undisguised and highly dysfunctional—a possible programming error. In this unpleasant passage, the Fries are back and the loathing achieves full flower:
O'HEHIR: I’m saying that the state of borderline psychosis produced by electronic consumer society leads to OxyContin addiction and Baconator Fries and a suicide epidemic and Donald Trump. Those things are not all the same, but they are interconnected. I’m saying that the landscape I just saw in west central Florida, whose inhabitants crawl mollusk-like from fast-food outlets to convenience stores to healthcare providers to office parks, in their SUVs and pickup trucks with tinted windows, is a landscape of cognitive dissonance and collective delusion.To this possible extraterrestrial, inhabitants of Florida "crawl mollusk-like" around "the landscape" of their state. As we learn all through the piece, they're unbelievably fat.
Everywhere Dylan looked, he saw his dream being realized. We have a similar reaction when we observe our upper-end "press corps" in action.
We'll quit today by linking to a piece in the Washington Post which made the analysts cry. In fairness, the teaser on the front page of the Post's web site provided the greatest offense.
It almost forced a person to click. Here's what the teaser said:
"Hillary Clinton is a bigger liar than Donald Trump. Here's why."
A human would almost be forced to click! If she did, she'd find a peculiar piece by one professor, Professor Drezner, channeling the work of another.
Who is Professor Frankfurt? she would be forced to say. The world's leading authority explains:
Frankfurt is probably the leading living Humean compatibilist, developing Hume's view that to be free is to do what one wants to do. (Others who develop this view are David Velleman, Gary Watson and John Martin Fischer.) Frankfurt's version of compatibilism is the subject of a substantial literature by other philosophy professors. More recently, he has written on love and caring.Among four living Humean compatibilists, Professor Frankfurt is likely the leading one!
Meanwhile, Clinton's a bigger liar than Trump? So says the leading living Humean compatibilist? Can anyone think that work of this type boasts actual human origin?
It seems clear that infestation exists. Just how deeply has it proceeded?
Tomorrow, apricot cocktails and Donald Duck, along with the wonders of Sartre.
Tomorrow: The province of high-brow reviews