There is a great similarity between the Underpants Gnome Theory of Business and quite a few of the more logic challenged memes of our time, thereby making it possible to explain the entire universe with one theory – the Unified Underpants Gnome Theory of Life.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Underpants Gnomes Theory of Business, it is a feature of a South Park episode and goes something like this:
- Phase 1: Collect underpants
- Phase 2: ?
- Phase 3: Profit!
There are three major areas in the US today where this theory has a strong fit to reality:
- Obama’s policies, programs and legislation
- Climate “science”
- MSM/mainstream “journalism”
As far as it applies to Obama, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal noticed the match in May of 2009, writing:
Sometimes it takes “South Park” to explain life’s deeper mysteries. Like the logic of the Obama administration’s policy proposals.
Consider the 1998 “Gnomes” episode — possibly surpassing Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” as the classic defense of capitalism — in which the children of South Park, Colo., get a lesson in how not to run an enterprise from mysterious little men who go about stealing undergarments from the unsuspecting and collecting them in a huge underground storehouse.
What’s the big idea? The gnomes explain:
“Phase One: Collect underpants.
“Phase Two: ?
“Phase Three: Profit.”
Lest you think there’s a step missing here, that’s the whole point. (“What about Phase Two?” asks one of the kids. “Well,” answers a gnome, “Phase Three is profits!”) This more or less sums up Mr. Obama’s speech last week on Guantanamo, in which the president explained how he intended to dispose of the remaining detainees after both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly against bringing them to the U.S.
The president’s plan can briefly be described as follows. Phase One: Order Guantanamo closed. Phase Two: ? Phase Three: Close Gitmo!
Granted, this is an abbreviated exegesis of his speech, which did explain how some two-thirds of the detainees will be tried by military commissions or civilian courts, or repatriated to other countries. But on the central question of the 100-odd detainees who can neither be tried in court nor released one searches in vain for an explanation of exactly what the president intends to do.
Ditto for Mr. Obama’s approach to nuclear weapons. In a speech last month in Prague, right after North Korea had illegally tested a ballistic missile, Mr. Obama promised a new nonproliferation regime, along with “a structure in place that ensures when any nation [breaks the rules], they will face consequences.” Whereupon the U.N. Security Council promptly failed to muster the votes for a resolution condemning Pyongyang’s launch.
Now Kim Jong Il has tested another nuke, and we’re back at the familiar three-step. Phase One: Propose a “structure.” . . .
In Gnome-speak, then, Mr. Obama’s energy policy goes something like this: Phase One: Inaugurate the era of “green” energy. Phase Two: Overturn the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Phase Three: Carbon neutrality!
Take any number of Mr. Obama’s other initiatives. Rescue Detroit? Phase One: Set a national mileage standard for passenger cars of 39 miles per gallon and force auto makers to make the kind of cars that drove them to bankruptcy in the first place.
Reduce the deficit? Phase One: Approve $3.5 trillion in government stimulus, and then await the mythical Keynesian multiplier.
Pay for a $1.2 trillion health-care reform? Phase One: scrounge around for about $60 billion in new “sin tax” revenue.
Actually, we can easily guess how Mr. Obama intends to make up the difference on this last item: To wit, by taxing health benefits. Taxes, subsidies funded by taxes, regulations and mandates will also fill in many (though not all) of the other blanks. Underpants gnomes: meet Phase Two. Say, what happened to profits?
Now that we are almost three years into the first (and last) Obama administration, there can be no doubt that Mr. Stephens’ four month assessment was correct and unfortunately for the country, correct with deadly accuracy.
There is an illustrative situation regarding the MSM, the New York Times in particular, that is very “Underpantsy”. It would have slipped without notice if not for Clay Waters at Newsbusters. Mr. Waters actually reads the New York Times so we don’t have to, he writes:
In April 20, 2008 New York Times story by David Barstow, “MESSAGE MACHINE: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand,” won a Pulitzer Prize for the explosive claim that the Pentagon had cultivated “military analysts” in a “trojan horse” campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay.
This was hailed at the time as prima facie evidence that the Left’s mantra of “Bush lied, people died!” was undeniably true. Bush did lie and he, Rummy and Darth Cheney all conspired to fool America by using the compliant right-wing media to sell a “wag the dog” theme to the citizenry.
Pulitzer Prize… Heady stuff for a “journalist”. Akin to the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” or the receipt of a royal warrant from the Queen of England, it is intended as a validation of unassailable quality and credibility of the product produced. The Pulitzer, like the two seals of approval, is designed to say to the news consuming public that “this is an author to be trusted, his writings are well researched and grounded in facts” – except where they aren’t.
On December 1 of this year, the Washington Times reported that an investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general, spurred by Barstow’s reporting, found no wrongdoing, and quoted a spokesman for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld saying the New York Times should return its Pulitzer. But the New York Times itself did not report the Pentagon’s vindication until Christmas Day, on page A20.
Charitably, David Barstow could be termed “wrong”. I doubt that an admission will be forthcoming or that his Pulitzer will be deemed tarnished because this is the just the way it works in an age of thinly disguised bias and “wishcasting“. Barstow was rewarded for the quality of his narrative, its potential for damage to a former administration and its value to the current administration as validation for their desired policies, not the accuracy of the story.
So, here we have evidence of the Underpants Gnome Theory of Journalism at work:
- Phase 1: Devise a story and a narrative that agrees with a “progressive” point of view.
- Phase 2: ?
- Phase 3: Receive the Pulitzer Prize
One would think that Phase 2 would normally would include…oh, I don’t know, say…actual research, maybe?
Not these days. These days the narrative (the story) is far more important than the actual facts. The theme is clear, the evidence is weighty. We have written about the tendency to skip the actual accumulation of facts step in a post titled “Over Suggesting”. We have also captured the tendency of Obama and his administration to lie in the pursuit of a “greater truth” here in “Obama Miracle is White House Free of Scandal: Jonathan Alter” and here in “Are you smarter than a #OWS protester?”
These “award winning journalists” are nothing but serial fabulists in the grand tradition of “journalists” like Ruth Shalit, Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass – who, like the President, are bent on getting to the “greater truth” even though they are building a ladder of lies to try to reach that “truth”.
Climate “science” is no different.
- Phase 1: Devise a crisis using an exclusive data set and fits a narrative that agrees with a “progressive” point of view.
- Phase 2: ?
- Phase 3: Receive scientific awards, recognition and grant money
Gather a bunch of scientists around a specific data set that seems to indicate that man is responsible for climate change, propose solutions that require significant controls by governments over private industry and society, stir in a political ideology (the objective of which is control over private industry and society) and skip Phase 2 all together and proceed to give each other awards for agreeing with the narrative.
I mean, with a narrative this powerful, who needs corroboration, replication of results or proper vetting via the scientific method? Surely we must believe this – it is coming from award winning scientists, right? We aren’t supposed to notice that they gave themselves the awards, I guess…
The pushing of this atmospheric angst is like operating a shady business or practicing an earth-first religion. An “authoritative” consortium such as the U.N.’s IPCC identifies an urgent condition (severe weather is caused by anthropogenic global warming), solutions are proposed (altering lifestyles, shuttering coal-fired power plants), services are offered (education, research, consulting, trading-companies for carbon credits), and oversight/enforcement is “required” (national and international bureaucracies).
Everyone seems to be cashing in on the doomsday predictions, from private companies and academic institutions to governments with their expanding power and work force.
Everybody wins … well, not quite. The big losers are, as usual, the ones stuck paying the bill — the middle-class taxpayers, plus the world’s poor, who manage to get by-passed in massive wealth-transfer schemes. And certainly scientific practice itself ultimately loses.
The concept of one international, authoritative group assembled to be “the final word” on an emerging complex issue like climate change is arbitrary and arrogant, besides being somewhat foreign to authentic scientific practice, especially when the leaders of the group are promoting political agendas.
This arrangement also invites corruption, as dominant personalities and their ideas and agendas frequently emerge and are imposed upon group members.
Perhaps the greatest example of the “progressive” establishment beclowning itself via the Unified Underpants Gnome Theory happened on October 9th of 2009 when the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that Barack H. Obama was to be the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for, and I quote:
“…his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”.
Take a second to examine that statement. It is perhaps the most vapid of all Nobel pronouncements because it contains absolutely no evidence of results – zero. Obama was awarded for his “efforts” after just 7 months as the president and a political career of voting “present”. To quote the President, this award was based on:
“Just words. Just speeches. It’s true that speeches don’t solve all problems, but what is also true is that if we can’t inspire the country to believe again, then it doesn’t matter how many plans and policies we have.”
Obama illustrates again his masterful ability to avoid substance via concocting straw men out of thin air. He states a seemingly innocuous truth that “It’s true that speeches don’t solve all problems” but leaves the implication that some speeches do solve some problems. Newsflash – no speech has ever solved ANY problem. It is a rhetorical statement that sounds good to receptive ears but contains absolutely no content of meaning. It is the Coke Zero of statements – all the taste of regular Coke but none of the calories – it is all artificial.
This is not uncommon in “progressive” circles because they value intent over actual content – just like in our “everyone gets a trophy” society, it doesn’t matter if you sit on the bench, you play – or even if you or your team wins or loses – you wanted to win, ergo – here’s your trophy and a trip to Chuckie Cheese.
One would think that the world would recognize the damage that the Nobel Committee has done to what should be recognition of true sacrifice for the cause of peace, but “progressives” have no sense of irony. Almost three years hence, the absolute corrupt nature of this award is fully evident and thanks to the Nobel Committee’s adherence to the Underpants Gnome theory:
- Phase 1: Award a Marxist leaning politician who has done absolutely nothing notable except give soaring speeches containing lofty rhetoric that apparently other people wrote for him.
- Phase 2: ?
- Phase 3: Peace!
If there were any true honor left in the world, every selected recipient after 2009 would refuse the award on the grounds of the blatantly political motivation of the award to Obama. They should because that one selection invalidated any future meaning that this “honor” will ever have, at least until the 2009 prize is returned.
The Underpants Gnomes should be suing the entire “progressive” world for stealing their business model.
Crossposted at The Rio Norte Line