Talking with Charlie (11/8/2021)

Conversation 4:

Charlie’s Monday podcast had him talking with Rep. David Jolly, former Republican congressman from Florida (Nov. 7, 2021).

Just to make an overview of the discussion, Charlie, like me, is a Green Bay Packers fan. Charlie lives in Wisconsin too. He, of course, weighed in to begin on the situation with Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers who was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week. It was revealed that Rodgers was and has been this whole time unvaccinated. The worst part is that when asked back in August of this year he used language to evade directly answering the question by claiming he was “immunized.” It turns out that what he meant was that he was working with junk science and drugs like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to hold the virus at bay…it did not work.

Charlie is vaccinated and he found himself incredibly disappointed with Rodgers, I am too. I have ranted extensively about this on my Facebook page already, so, I will avoid this here in extent. I did enjoy though that Charlie played a clip of legendary NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw. The clip was coming from a broadcast from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD and the line I enjoyed most was part of what Charlie played:

“Come to the Naval Academy and learn how to be honest…Learn not to lie because that’s what you did Aaron.”

That is the crux of it all. 

Bradshaw slammed Rodgers for the use of ivermectin, Bradshaw pointed out that one form of it is a cattle de-wormer, and points out that Rodgers was taking some of that stuff to prevent getting Covid and he still got it. 


He calls him selfish. He is also right.

This was in contrast in how Rodgers has been praised by the right for refusing the vaccine and at the same time actively slamming the fact that the Sesame Street character Big Bird, who announced he was recently vaccinated (apparently it is worth nothing that BB has been permanently a 6-year-old since his conception and just now became eligible).

At this point, Rep. David Jolly finally comes on with Charlie and makes the statement: “Rodgers is a chump and big bird is a patriot.” 

I could go on about this kind of stuff forever because it is part of my major area of interest and study inside my discipline of Rhetoric. I wrote my dissertation around the power of models. I followed up with a book where I took my dissertation and expanded it to include real world political leaders.

Examining the conversation as a whole I want to talk about TWO newer points worth expanding on and ONE “retread” that is a continuing point of discussion

1. Culture Wars are Stupid

This works off the comments earlier about Aaron Rodgers and Big Bird noted above.

Jolly clarifies his earlier statement about Rodgers as a “chump” by saying that he is one because of his lying and failure as a leader. He failed to lead and abide by the rules as a model to others. His failure as a leader comes from the fact that he failed to step up and take responsibility for his actions and his decision and abide by the rules to protect his team.

Rodgers is committing the worst sin of our current narcissistic culture, which is that when he got caught and cornered, rather than ownership of his mistake and apologizing, he went straight for the “I’m the victim“ card. 

This is a card and view that people hate but those that hate it also use it too. It’s an incredibly partisan, tribalistic creation that is swamped with hypocrisy. Let me elaborate. 

Let us start with the Far Left. This is where you can find many progressives and others who firmly believe in making the world, in different ways, better through typically government policies. Despite their intentions, are willing to go against liberal democratic ideas, fundamental to America, to get what they want. They will lash out, mainly by social media, at people who step out from their conceptions of what is dogma and orthodoxy (respect for diversity without acceptance of attacks of any kind or all intentions are hostile) are attacked and “canceled.”

On the far-right there is a reaction and similar process at work. This is where you can find conservative ideas and other things many people see as horrible: bigots, racists, trolls (on the left too), militias, and neo-Nazis. This is where desires to conserve the ways life is or was get warped into dark conspiracy theories, grifting, and hate crimes. This is where the conception of democracy and liberal politics of the like are demonized. Authoritarian ideas are better for what is desired. Social media also ramps up their presence. This group also attacks and expels those who do not strictly adhere to their orthodoxy. They don’t call it canceling, but they do it to.

All sides here have an exponentially outsized presence due to social media.

The problem is even bigger because many of the illiberal and anti-democratic elements of both sides. The pushes for purity tests and conformity have been for a time leaking into and smothering the mainstream of America.

Without spending a tone of time here on this, it is worth summarizing it in the following steps

1. Someone or something who is in the opposing political or tribal camp says, does, or supports something.

2. Knee-jerk reaction from opposition seeks to attack it in defense of a constructed concept of a “real America” that is being attacked..

3. It spreads and influential figures pile on and take sides

4. Calls for canceling of the offender take place (both sides do it but it is seen primarily as a tool of the “left” so those on the right will not call it as such).

5. Said person or what is “cancelled” by the opposing side.

It is worth noting that at this point the decision tree takes effect on what then happens.

6. In a more responsible world, the offender, at this point, would apologize (and many do), and things would end there.

7. Instead, the new “vogue” is to refuse to apologize or if one does, to still be cast out.

8. The one cast out declares he is “canceled” and embraces grievance. He is not canceled many times at all and simply continues going on but from the position of a victim with a whole “woe is me” projection.

This is a really simple take on how the culture wars of our era are permeating everything around us. Social media has helped this immensely. The mainstream is flooded with fringe voices who are pushing conspiracies, anti-vax hysteria and misinformation into the country’s consciousness. The media then plays along. This applies to what Aaron Rodgers did in particular. He took it all the way to step 8 like others before him.

Now, the other side here is the recent tweet issued by longtime children’s character Sesame Street’s Big Bird. The tweet was promoting that he had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.

Let the outrage machine engage.

A bunch of conservative and right-wing individuals lost their minds over it. Attacking the character. They, like many others, fail to account for the fact that the character Big Bird has been pushing vaccine since the 1970s that no one complains about, just this COVID one, that’s all. 

Enter the Republican senator from Texas, who honestly no one in all of Congress actually seems to like, Ted Cruz.

Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to troll and act out for attention, Cruz tweeted back that this propaganda aimed at 5-year-olds. This is another form of indoctrination (don’t get me started how so many people don’t understand that term outside of a negative connotation). This coming from the same Ted Cruz who has a supposed “non-partisan” coloring book you can buy (2 in fact) that you can buy on Amazon for your kids.

Not to be done, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has been making a crusade out of defending Manliness and masculinity. He has attacked video games and watching too much porn as vices imposed on men by liberals. 

Talk about nonsense, this stuff helps NO ONE but those who stoke them in order to promote fear in their audiences in the search of money and votes. Jolly was correct to call Hawley a snowflake.

2. Bi-partisan Infrastructure Bill

Having discussed the Build Back Better bill still under discussion in the last post, it is interesting to talk more about this bill, which passed the House on Friday evening. It did so without some drama. So, what exactly is in it?

First off, as Jolly points out to Charlie, we are always spending money on infrastructure in some degree. What this bill did was focus on adding. $500 billion is new spending focused on democratic agenda.

What is in the bill, what is aiming to do?

– Funding for roads and bridges (repairing and replacing interstate and other aspects)

– Money to fund transit and rail projects

– Upgrade and expand broadband across the nation

– Upgrading airports, ports, and waterways

– Electric vehicles, particularly public-school buses

– Improving power and water systems

– Environmental remediation: clean up and reclaim mined lands and other areas

This will be paid for over 10 years, however, it turned out not to be completely revenue neutral when scored. See more from CNN article HERE.

Biggest surprise was that 13 House Republicans crossed party lines to vote with the Democrats. There were 6 progressive Democrats who voted “no” in protest over not passing yet of the BBB bill. 

Republicans tipped the scale. 

However, as noted earlier about the culture wars, which are now central to tribal and partisan identity, those 13 committed heresy. In the right-wing media the 13 Republicans are now the enemy. Why? For getting stuff done, for governing, and for not going along with a petty plan to ruin the country to ruin President Biden. 

It’s intellectual dishonesty from the right. 19 voted in the senate but 13 in the house is treasonous. Possibly would’ve been more Republicans if the bill has been truly deficit neutral.

Extreme left and right are the worst. Do they know that? Probably not.

3. Messaging (again)

(Another) lesson on messaging: Democrats need to go all in on for touting this bill for weeks to come. This is David Jolly’s advice. Democrats need this, because it is as a constant theme, they are BAD at messaging.

Democrats need to take the victory lap, get out there and flaunt it. DON’T ASSUME PEOPLE KNOW! Break the bill down and sell it like crazy.

This should be a selling of the bill but also what it represents for America’s future. America is trapped in waves of upon waves of destructive rage that is really hurting this country from the inside out. It is also a hypocritical rage for some too.

The same conservatives and media elements, here is that culture war element again, are furious at the 13 Republicans who voted on the bill but not the 19 in the Senate who already voted for it? 

Where is this incandescent rage for those who supported and now deny there was an insurrection on Jan. 6 at the nation’s capital?

What they are really mad about is that they broke the line for compromise, despite the fact that compromise is an essential part of our government gets things done. They dared to be bipartisan, apparently. They acted in rational manner to get things done, to do their actual jobs. What a thing to be furious over? We are so so broken.

Getting back to messaging in general, Jolly pointed out that if Democrats want to stave off a Republican taking back of the House and Senate and the disaster that could result, they need to go out there message better and speak better to the voters.

They have to meet voters where they are. This is rhetoric 101 that Democrats seem unable to grasp. They have to go and address their audience, not just the usual one’s that are easy, but the hard ones who don’t necessarily like or trust them but still need them regardless.

Democrats are failing to make the right choice and choose the issues the people care about right now. Failure to address current issues to one’s own failure. You have to address the fears and anxieties people are having. Of course fear is irrational, but that doesn’t make it less real for someone caught up in it. 

The fear and anxiety are responses to stress and change. Don’t dismiss it, fight against it for those people and help them. Jolly makes the point that we are in throws of an extended and intense conversation on race. We have to deal with injustices but know that it is a slow-moving process.

Schools have become a political battleground for this conversation and fears. Schools should be a place for teaching children how to think, not what to think. That is part of the fear.

Those who attack “indoctrination” are afraid, however founded or unfounded, that students are being taught what to think. It is not always that they want them to just learn to think, but often because what they are taught is NOT what the parents want them to think sometimes. 

Schools are where we go to learn, to gather information. How to think  about that information should take place in one’s home to be honest. Really, it should be a partnership but that’s really difficult these days on any level.

Democrats should get out there and tell people that the  Republicans are lying about Critical Race Theory (CRT) to them, expose their duplicity and lies. It is what is really undermining quality education. That is a way to fight back by committing to helping everyone reach a high standard of learning in schools.

Republicans are blurring the lines of CRT and teaching about race that are not the same. 

We should teach the history, all of it. But both extremes are guilty of pushing you to hate something that makes you feel uncomfortable. That is honestly un-American to me. We are not snowflakes.

Jolly to Democrats: You are right on issues but off on messaging. 

This means Democrats miss out on gathering to their cause the maximum audience. This is how they lose. Don’t play on the Republican’s field. Meet voters where they are and message to them that will reach them.

It’s simpler that one might think, if one is able to break out of the cognitive blinders that lock one into certain ways of seeing the world. Practice some real critical thinking, unlike Aaron Rodgers who only thinks he is, when he isn’t.

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “David Jolly: Funding Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”

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