Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Fine Art of Bullshitting 5: Please do not be mesmerized by this woman.

I am immediately skeptical of anything I hear or read that comes from a conservative news source. Why? Allow me to present an example.

I saw a link to this on my Facebook news feed. (By the way, I'm not sure why so many of the suggested posts I see in my news feed are for conservative Facebook pages. Zuckerberg knows me better than that. He must be trying to sell me something.) According to the author, Kristin Tate,
It must get exhausting constantly dancing around the numerous scandals currently engulfing the White House. President Obama needs a vacation!  
The president and his family are taking a vaca to Africa later this month. It’ll only cost us taxpayers $60 to $100 million — gotta love how frugal those Obamas are!  
Most of that taxpayer money for the trip will go to security for the President and his family. Hundreds of US Secret Service agents will be joining the family in Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania during their extended trip. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, fully staffed with a medical trauma center, will also be stationed off shore. Ya know, just in case of an emergency!  
Also on the receipt: military cargo planes, lifting 56 support vehicles into the air. This includes 14 limousines (gotta travel in style!) and trucks fully packed with sheets of bullet proof glass, to cover windows of the first family’s hotels.  
Fighter jets will be flying in shifts giving the family 24-hour security. From airspace, they will be able to intervene if a threatening plane gets too close. 
Where did Tate get all of this information? Tate writes,
The Washington Post obtained a confidential internal planning document, that outlines the incredible security provisions. 
Really? So I did a few simple searches at Google and The Washington Post and found the story here. Could Tate have failed to mention any pertinent information, I wonder? Why, yes, I believe she did! According to the Washington Post,
The elaborate security provisions — which will cost the government tens of millions of dollars — are outlined in a confidential internal planning document obtained by The Washington Post. While the preparations appear to be in line with similar travels in the past, the document offers an unusual glimpse into the colossal efforts to protect the U.S. commander in chief on trips abroad.
So the measures are like those taken to protect previous presidents. Go on.
The first family is making back-to-back stops from June 26 to July 3 in three countries where U.S. officials are providing nearly all the resources, rather than depending heavily on local police forces, military authorities or hospitals for assistance.
Really? And why wouldn't they depend on the locals for the necessary resources?
“Even in the most developed places of Western Europe, the level of support you need for mass movements by the president is really extraordinary,” said Steve Atkiss, who coordinated travel as special assistant for operations to Bush. “As you go farther afield, to less-developed places, certainly it’s more of a logistical challenge.”
Because the locals are not able to provide them. I see. How could the need to vacation justify this great expense, though?
White House officials said the trip was long overdue, marking Obama’s first visit as president to sub-Saharan Africa aside from a 22-hour stopover in Ghana in 2009. The emerging democracies on the itinerary are crucial partners in regional security conflicts, Rhodes said.  
Obama will hold bilateral meetings with each country’s leader and seek to forge stronger economic ties at a time when China is investing heavily in Africa. He also will highlight global health programs, including HIV/AIDS prevention.  
The first lady, who toured South Africa and Botswana without the president in 2011, will headline some events on her own during the week. The stops will add to the logistical challenges, because she will require her own security detail and vehicles, the planning document shows.
So the first family is not going on vacation? They're actually working during this trip? But Kristin Tate told me that it was a vacation! You mean I can't believe everything Kristin Tate tells me?

Still, what about that safari the first family had planned during this trip? That doesn't sound like work to me!
Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also made trips to multiple African nations involving similarly laborious preparations. Bush went in 2003 and 2008, bringing his wife on both occasions. Bush’s two daughters went along on the first trip, which included a safari at a game preserve on the Botswana-South Africa border.
You mean W. and the family went on a safari in Africa, just like the Obamas had originally planned? Well, good for them, I suppose.

So, here's what we have. The first family is not going on a vacation. Rather, in an effort to promote the United States' security and economic interests, the first family is going on a diplomatic mission to Africa. Since the host countries cannot themselves provide the resources needed for the trip, the president will bring them with him, and this contributes to the trip's relatively high price tag.

Discovering the true story was easy. All it took was a few searches and some light reading. Yet I'm confident that the fine folks who commented on the story couldn't be bothered to do the slightest bit of research, as the following sampling shows:
Janice Simpson
It would be worth it if they only receive one-way tickets, then lock and bar the doors! 
Kim Triesler · Madison, Alabama
Sounds like they're life style is "Let 'em eat cake!" while the economy is on the skids, unemployment is still way too high (I should know, I'm in that rut myself and it sucks!), and yet they go out and about like they haven't a care in the world. 
Dan A. Zembsch · Washington High School, Cherokee, IA
Come on folks he just wants to take his family to his native country. Maybe he wants to show them where he was born and where the next presidential library will be. 
Eric Kessen · North texas horseshoeing institute
I find it totally disgusting the way they are abusing their positions to get free stuff ! This shouldn't be allowed period ! Besides ; why all that security when all they got to do is go native since they would blend in so well with the locals and according to him guns don't keep us safe ? Lol . 
Walter Sterling · Account Executive at Country Legends Radio
Can't he just stay with his brother in his shack or his family hut that he grew up in? 
Jack Eaton ·  Top Commenter · Truck Driver at Old Dominion Freight Line
Let him go visit his homeland on his own money. He has swindled enough out of us already.
The problem for conservative news sources, however, is that even independents will eventually learn that they are being deceived by the bullshitters, and will no longer trust them. That's one reason why conservatives aren't doing so well in elections for national political office. More and more, the only people who believe what conservative bullshitters tell them are conservative voters, i.e., the people who were going to vote for Republicans anyway. They can thank motivated skepticism for that, along with a bit of racism, I think. (Our former, whiter presidents stayed in hotels and traveled in limousines. This uppity one should stay in a shack and take taxis, I suppose.)

Kristin Tate's most conspicuous redeeming quality is that she would be conventionally regarded as incredibly hot:

(At first, I thought, "This picture is part of an ad for a dating website, right?") So, good for you, Kristin! Now instead of trying to keep conservatives' "partisan donors in a constant state of agitation to keep them ignorant, jumpy and writing checks," why not put your writing skills to good use and stick with the facts?

Gentleman: please do not be mesmerized by this woman. She is part of the conservative media's strategy of shutting your brain down while they shovel the bullshit. Not everything that is beautiful is good and trustworthy. Believe me, I know this from experience.

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It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson