The Nag

After Richard Nixon abdicated the presidency, pundits and historians suggested that maybe, just maybe, he had crossed the threshold of where a lie becomes the truth – and couldn’t discern the difference. OK, so pathology has its privileges. Fast forward 20 years to the first Clinton presidency when the truth was equivocated, and “facts” were fast and loose. No, not just regarding personal indiscretions but things like trade agreements, domestic criminal justice policy, banking regulations, etc. The following president launched an invasion on the pretext that something was present though the likes of Hans Blix found otherwise. Confronted with this, George W. Bush could only say “So what?” The next presidency and its election cycles brought increased use of near instantaneous “Fact Check”, hoping to settle fact and fiction (or in George W’s case – existence of non-existence, or is it non- existence of non- existence? Or, more succinctly, as his Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, put it “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”). More recent, the US legislative branch(es) blatantly disregards what displeases, Fact Check or not. The Planned Parenthood debacle with its ensuing flurry of state funding cuts springs to mind along with election fraud legislation and, lest we forget, the almost decades long disavowal of what geologists term the Anthropocene, “the current geological age, viewed as having begun about 200 years ago with the significant impact of human activity on the ecosphere.” Now, once again within the election cycle, we have not only a disregard for the truth (Fact Check be damned), but entire fictions upon which debates and discourse are structured and performed. One day a candidate embraces one narrative only to have the spouse espouse the opposite. Truth, Fact Check, or Reality TV, what is of value, worthwhile? “Seriously, America? Study finds mere 2.7 percent of U.S. adults meet criteria for ‘healthy lifestyle’” by Washington Post’s Ariana Eunjung Cha (3-22-16) may be of more relevance in all this than would appear topically. Seems no matter what, tobacco warnings with graphic depictions, Reality TV “Biggest Loser” shows, walkathons, runathons, sports hysteria, etc., Whole Foods, bottled water craze, gluten free, organic, “healthy” eating, etc., as well as wellness check ups, Affordable Care Act medical coverage, internet medical self-diagnosing/medicating, etc. (not to mention the Arnold), Americans’ preference for the “other” predominates. “A study conducted by Oregon State University, the University of Mississippi and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has awarded nearly every adult in the country a failing grade. The researchers used four barometers to measure whether someone’s behavior could be considered healthy. They include an appropriate balanced diet, being active, meeting the recommended criteria for body fat percentage and not smoking. Using data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, they found that 97.3 percent of the 4,745 people they looked at did not meet the criteria.” “an appropriate balanced diet, being active, meeting the recommended criteria for body fat percentage and not smoking” are not too complicated. Yet the overwhelming majority prefer otherwise. Analysis finds today’s preference for Reality TV over Fact Check (or truth) within contemporary election discourse to be no coincidence, more a nagging premonition that accurately defines the current climate (much as the Anthropocene describes our geological condition).


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