What kind of bullshit is Ben Carson’s “abyss of destruction”?

During last night’s Republican Presidential debate, Ben Carson’s opening comments spared no hyperbole:

“If someone had tried to describe today’s America to you 30 years ago, you would have listened in disbelief. Americans know that our nation is heading off the abyss of destruction, secondary to divisiveness, fiscal irresponsibility, and failure to lead.”

Grammar problems aside–you head into the abyss, not off the abyss–what the bacon-wrapped fuck is he talking about? “Abyss of destruction” would make a great title for a heavy metal album, but it’s somewhat lacking as a description of anything real, unless there’s a demon-spewing portal in the sky I haven’t noticed.

But what kind of bullshit is this?

Seems like claptrap to me. It’s the kind of absurdly exaggerated language that whips wrestling fans–er, voters–into a frenzy by almost literally demonizing the other side. When Carson says abyss of destruction, listeners can fill in the blank with anything they hate and fear, like heathen feminist Muslims aborting Baby Jesus on NPR (or some other reasonable scenario).

An abyss of destruction may seem like an odd trap for claps, but people love to think that the world is going to hell, the plane is crashing into the mountain, and the dingo is eating the baby.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pretend Donald Trump won’t be a Presidential nominee and drink a quart of absinthe.

 

 

What kind of bullshit is “I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”?

During last night’s Republican debate, orange supervllain Donald Trump had some tough talk regarding a popular form of torture: “I would bring back waterboarding, and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

Well, it is the age of reboots, but I wonder what Trump has in mind. In his douche-lizard brain, what’s worse than waterboarding? Drawing and quartering? Polio? Slavery? Netflix’s version of Arrested Development? But I guess Trump could bring back whatever he wanted, since the President is an all-powerful king who never needs to make compromises or concessions, making His Schlongness the perfect fit for the job.

But what kind of bullshit is this?

I reckon it’s guff.

This term originally referred to actual hot air, before it became the kind of hot air that blowhards and bloviators expel. It also rhymes with tough and has a pseudo-tough connotation. People say, “Don’t give me any guff!” They don’t say, “I am really impressed by your guff. I believe you will do what you say, just as I shall carry out thy will.”

Threatening to bring back waterboarding and worse is textbook guff. Trump isn’t bringing back diddly-squat, especially not anything watery and terrible, despite unconfirmed rumors that his running mate could be a leviathan.

 

 

 

What kind of bullshit is “You’ve got ten people coming to your house and you know one of them is a terrorist”?

During last night’s Republican debate, insane doctor Ben Carson was making a point about Muslim immigration that was the equivalent of doing brain surgery with a sledgehammer: “If you’ve got ten people coming to your house and you know one of them is a terrorist, you’re probably going to keep them all out.”

Dr. Doom followed this up with an insightful thought, “You know, we probably have to figure out a way to make sure that we keep America safe.” Good thinkin’!

There’s not too many ways to take Carson’s hateful hypothetical other than “blatant Islamophobia” and “unadulterated Islamophobia” and “this guy actually thinks (or wants you to think) that 10% of Muslims are terrorists.” Unless Carson routinely invites a bunch of people over and 10% say “I am a terrorist” on the RSVP, his comparison has no basis in unmedicated reality. It’s just another way to scare the GOP’s coveted demographic of terrified, pasty, confused grandpas.

But what what kind of bullshit is Carson’s 10% tale?

I’d say it’s claptrap.

Of course, just about everything spewed during a debate is technically claptrap, since getting the crowd to clap is a sign you’re pandering well. But this ludicrous scenario is claptrap aimed directly at the lizard brains of the audience, using lizard logic that goes something like this:

“Terrorists are heading to your home, right now. They’re hopped up on hummus and banging on the windows. Therefore, Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Also, Muslims are bad. Hssssss.”

If only Carson’s math skills were as charming as those of Brian Fantana, who famously said of Sex Panther cologne, “60% of the time, it works every time.” Come to think of it, Fantana would make a good Republican running mate. The GOP has to woo the ladies somehow, don’t they?

 

 

 

 

What kind of bullshit is “I actually like spending time with my husband”?

During tonight’s Republican debate, Carly Fiorina took a not remotely subtle shot at Hillary Clinton: “Unlike another woman in this race, I actually like spending time with my husband.”

While this statement could be 100% true, it’s still 100% bullshit. As the wonderful Harry Frankfurt pointed out in On Bullshit, the essence of bullshit isn’t lying. Frankfurt says bullshit is “unconnected to a concern with the truth,” therefore “Bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.” Fiorina isn’t trying to lie, but to confuse soft minds by making them think the state of Clinton’s marriage–which is, in all honestly, a greater mystery than Stonehenge–has any-fucking thing to do with her ability to be President.

So what kind of bullshit is “Unlike another woman in this race, I actually like spending time with my husband.”

I’d say it’s flapdoodle.

This Ned Flanders-ish noun can also be a verb, which usually means to bullshit in a circuitous way. Fiorina is being mega-indirect by slamming the Clinton marriage, implying a fragile chain of logic leading from Bill’s pants to Hillary’s credibility.

This is also plain ol’ Mean Girls territory. Oh well. At least Carly isn’t trying to make fetch happen.

What kind of bullshit is “At least [Putin’s] a leader”?

I have to restrain myself, lest this bullshit blog become the Trump blog. But I couldn’t resist the Trumpery of this starling sentence in a CNN article:

“He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said when asked by “Morning Joe” Republican host Joe Scarborough about Putin’s alleged killing of journalists and political opponents. Dec. 18, 2015, CNN.com

Trump–who has insulted all women, all immigrants, all Mexicans, all Muslims, and pretty much the entire human race during the course of his preposterous campaign–now takes a swipe at Obama for not being tyrannical enough, while making kissy-face with a deranged, shirtless depot like Putin. I honestly think a Trump endorsement from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is not far off. Then again, mutants don’t sound like good Americans. Trump might suggest shutting down the mutated parts of our DNA to stop this threat to our genetic purity. Also, Trump is probably miffed that the latest GOP debate was won by Magneto.

Anyway, what kind of bullshit is Trump’s latest BS?

I reckon Trump is selling wolf tickets.

To sell wolf tickets is a bullshitty expression much-loved by David Simon, creator of The Wire. To sell wolf tickets is to boast, brag, huff, and puff. Like crying wolf, selling wolf tickets involves a big load of baloney. Selling wolf tickets is also all about putting on a show, and you can’t deny Trump is a performer.

In fact, I still have hope that his whole campaign is misdirection. He can’t really be running for President as a supervillain, can he? Maybe the whole thing is just setting up a Wrestlemania match–against former champion and current hilarious Twitter hero the Iron Sheik perhaps. I’d buy those wolf tickets.

What kind of bullshit is “We will utterly destroy them by targeting the bad guys”?

During last night’s GOP debate–the 666th of the year, approximately–Ted Cruz had some tough talk for ISIS: “ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism will face no more determined foe than I will be. We will utterly destroy them by targeting the bad guys.”

Cruz also said, “We need to focus on killing the bad guys…” and  “…the focus of law enforcement is on targeting the bad guys” and “I’m very proud to have joined with conservatives in both the Senate and the House to reform how we target bad guys.”

This nuanced approach seems to be taken straight from the playbook of Mr. Mackey, whose “Drugs are bad, m’kay?” philosophy has long guided federal narcotics policy.

But what kind of bullshit is “We will utterly destroy them by targeting the bad guys”?

I say its guff.

Guff, like a lot off words for bullshit and nonsense, has to do with hot air. The original meaning was a puff or whiff of air: the Oxford English Dictionary spots examples of this meaning back in the 1820s. Later in that century, it started applying to empty words too, like in a 1897 review that mentioned “Histrionic guff and bugaboo, instead of fine acting.” That applies well to Cruz’s phony-baloney, kindergarten-level tough talk.

I was tempted to say Cruz’s words were bloviation, but a word with four syllables seems beyond the realm of Cruz, who appears to live in a simple-yet-deranged universe, not unlike professional wrestling in the eighties.

Those were days when the bad guys were no-good, four-flushing foreigners and the good guys were flag-waving, steroid-swallowing Americans. The only real similarity between those spandex-clad sagas and now is that the so-called good guys are racist.

 

 

What kind of bullshit is Jindal’s bathroom metaphor?

During last night’s Republican debate, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal made an interesting comparison:

“There’s only one of us who have cut government spending … There are four senators who have never cut spending. When they go to relieve themselves, the cause and the toilet gets flushed.”

That is a double decker bullshit sandwich for sure. Aside from being gross, the comparison doesn’t make a skidmark of sense. Wouldn’t flushers be more inclined to save? Like, they’d flush excess spending down the toilet? I don’t know. Jindal might have been better off comparing big spenders to people who use too much toilet paper or never running for President at all.

So what kind of bullshit is this? I’d say it’s gobbledygook.

That term (coined by the improbably named Maury Maverick) has been around since 1944. Though the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “Official, professional, or pretentious verbiage or jargon,” it often means language that is simply garbled. In fact, people sometimes mistakenly spell the word as garbledygook. When you consider the nonsensical gobble-gobble of a turkey, gobbledygook can be understood as the bizarre babble of a brain-damaged barnyard animal. That feels right in tune with Jindal’s mish-mash of a metaphor.