Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Importance of Being Earnest...

Merriam-Webster's definition of Earnest: : a serious and intent mental state 

I had a life changing experience driving home from my first gig today. I surfed my XM radio over to the Patriot / Conservative channel to catch Sean Hannity's opening monologue. 

I have to hand it to Mr. Hannity. I really do. In a little less than 10 minutes or so, he had found a way to mention virtually every single negative talking point about Barack Obama that I think exists. He was able to string together Obama's "transformation" of the United States, Obamacare's hidden taxes (which keep getting bigger and bigger), Obama's strong desire to divide the Country, Obama's hatred of the upper class, Obama's hatred of good, decent hard working Americans, Obama's unseemly and dishonest campaign tactics, Obama's lies, Obama's failures, Obama's deceptions, Obama's Socialistic tendencies, Obama's Eurocentric direction for our future, Obama's war on religion, Obama's war on freedom, and a few more things Obama's trying to do that I can't recall because I began to weep at this once in a lifetime artistic execution that I'd never experienced before.

The pure skill involved in weaving all of these together in a tapestry of sorts is very high level stuff. Something only the likes of a Pavarotti or Puccini could really appreciate it and understand. So many things going on in such a sophisticated way that the listener has no real chance of fully absorbing on the first listen. Like many great works, Hannity's performance today is the kind of thing that ought to be preserved and studied in classrooms across America for decades to come. Required listening for all.

Like a great artist, Hannity has a way of sharing his art in an almost intimate way with his audience. For a few miles there, I felt like he was speaking directly to me. Just Sean and Bill having a conversation about the plague known as Obama. I could feel my pulse quicken as he made this point and that point. This charge and that charge. This claim and that claim. Like all good orators, he used his voice as a musical instrument. Start in a lower voice, half tones...let it develop organically into the mid voice with more feeling and emotion behind it...finally the climax of the last refrain. Full voice, open throat, let the technique serve you best on the most dramatic phrases. With the skill and prowess of one of the great vocalists of our time, Hannity mesmerizes his audiences. With both words and unspoken feelings, his message comes across as pure. Barack Obama...for the sake of our nation...is evil and must be defeated. Like Handel using repetition in his masterpiece, The Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah, Hannity also knows how to use that device. Barack Obama...for the sake of our nation...is evil and must be defeated. Barack Obama...for the sake of our nation...is evil and must be defeated. Barack Obama...for the sake of our nation...is evil and must be defeated...

Then, my senses returned to me. I understand what Hannity's doing and God damn, he's good at it. I mean that sincerely. To be able to compact that much fear, that much loathing into ten minutes and have millions of people buy it lock, stock and barrel is a phenomenal skill. 98% pure, grade A, American and christ-blessed bullshit of the first order. His fans soak it all in as gospel. Too often, these fans have forsaken education as they view advanced learning as a curse of sorts. Who needs that brainwashing, Hannity implicitly seems to have told his followers? I'm sure there are loyal fans of his that have college degrees, but its hard to understand why they would enjoy his programs. Or, it says something not so good about the value of an advanced degree these days. 

While we can find the same kind of crap on liberal media outlets, (and make no mistake, its out there...), its not as good as the Hannity crap. Rachel Maddow's crap doesn't begin to compare to Hannity's. Maddow's crap is merely good crap, where as Hannity's crap is gold plated, Hall of fucking Fame crap. Possibly without rival anywhere in the cosmos. 

The saddest thing of all isn't how Sean Hannity chooses to handle his business. Its the degree to which so many of his fans swallow his message without hesitation. To broaden the point, I'll say the same thing towards the media voices from the Left as well. They're mostly the same.

If you think for a second that when you watch Sean or Rachel or Bill or Keith or Glen or Rush or Ed, you're getting an objective, impartial version of the news, you might be an idiot. Its not news. IT'S NOT NEWS!!! Its an entertainment show disguised as an informational program. "I love Glen...everything he says is right on, that's what I think!" "I love Ed...everything he says is right on, that's what I think!" This is not the way to become an informed person. This is how you become a fan of a television personality. (Remember, fan is short for fanatic-which is fine for baseball teams and players, but a foolish way to try and understand our world.)

To then run off to facebook or wherever you go to post your opinions and try to portray yourself as an informed citizen is painful for many of us. To chastise others to become "informed" like you are is laughable. I know this sort of talk immediately raises the defenses and is, perhaps not very reasonable, but at some level bullshit has to be called what it is. Bullshit. Chances are very, very good that if you watch some of these shows on a regular basis as your main source of information, you are spreading bullshit. And most of us know it...

Rather than pose as an informed citizen, I'd suggest turning off the cable tv and finding some of the policy experts from both sides on the issue of your choice. Whatever it is, you can find them. All political persuasions, in fact. Go to your library and take out a few books on the subject you're interested in. Don't select them by the ones that seem to fit to your world view, pick them by the expertise of the author. Health care, Economics, Finance, Foreign Policy, etc...they're all out there. Seek out the moderate voices and writings. Study the history of the topic. What's worked, what hasn't? Invest some time educating yourself. Audit a college course. Contact an expert from the industry and email them a question, many will respond. In other words, teach yourself about the issue you care about. Synthesize all of this info into new opinions and attitudes. Understand that the talking heads on cable TV are often the worst places to find information. If you're on facebook or a message board spouting about politics, health care, economics, etc. and have a hard time naming 2-3 experts in the field, you're on shaky ground.

If you do this, people will respect your opinions a great deal more than they probably do now. Chances are good you'll develop an appreciation for the complexities of the given topic. You'll find merits from both sides of the political spectrum. Forget the default positions of Right or Left, they will misguide you almost every time. Forget winning and losing. Learn to enjoy learning. Passion and emotion are great attributes, but without an underlying basis of knowledge and information you're the 45 year old angry young man that Billy Joel sang about in the 70's or you're the teen age girl who doesn't know why she's crying. She just is. Emoting for the sake of emotion is mostly annoying.

Forget emotion, get passionate about knowledge and information and the emotion will resurface at the right time in the right way.


  1. good article ...
    i myself need to learn to let the emotional side go too...
    its just hard to keep my emotions in check when no matter how many times and ways you show someone the 1+1=2, they still argue that the sum is 3, because thats what Hannity told them it was.
    Ignorance angers me.

  2. As it should, Bob...That's the healthy, appropriate response...

    Thanks for reading...