The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious (DOPOTO), the world’s foremost organization for not interpreting anything, has been as busy as ever keeping track of reality. Our job is simple, to observe and report. Not so simple, however, is sifting through attempts to explain away reality with “alternate explanations,” in effect telling people that what we think we see is not what we see, but what we are told to see. Big difference. There are no alternate explanations to truth. For example, water is wet, and nothing anyone says makes it any less wet. It is water, and nothing else. With this in mind, researchers and analysts here at DOPOTO have come up with a useful guide to people and words to beware of when trying to identify the obvious the news.

Corporate Spokesperson: Professional liar. Once called press agents, corporate spokepeople are individuals hired for several unique abilities; the capacity to lie with a straight face, the art of speaking while saying nothing and the ability to make even the biggest bonehead error seem like a stroke of genius. There is no reason to hire a press agent if you wish to announce what is actually going on (the truth) as opposed to what you want people to think is going on (lies). Always consider who is doing the announcing before accepting what they say at face value.

Lawyer: See above

Politician: See above:

Cable TV Analyst: These people generally analyze nothing and use carefully selected and misleadingly edited news stories along with out-of-context quotes to bolster whatever political view they are selling. In other words, attempting to redefine reality to conform with their views, even if their opinion is that water is a dry substance.

Words and Phrases That Sound Like Something But Are Nothing: The following are commonly used words and phrases often brilliantly employed by the above-listed individuals that do the opposite of what language is designed for – to communicate clearly. The beauty of some of these things is that they look like something, or sound like something, but are not.

Unseen Market Forces At Work: The phrase “unseen market forces at work” is often used by business executives (or their press agents) to assign blame for their latest dismal failure, citing the economy as a whole rather than themselves as individuals as the culprit. It also implies that the speaker is in possession of some special knowledge or secret code that ordinary people do not possess, complex formulas like literacy and simple mathematics. When used by corporate CEOs and politicians attempting to explain why the economy is a runaway train with the gold robbed from its safe by desperadoes in Brooks Brothers suits and everyone else got fired from their jobs, it means: “we have no idea how any of this works either.”

Free Markets: This phrase simply means a desire on the part of wealthy individuals and corporations to have no rules or regulations to obey or taxes to pay. Researchers here at The Department have confirmed that most people wouldn’t mind having any rules or taxes either but still see the wisdom of three-strikes-and-you’re-out and other laws and regulations we have formulated to assure a relatively smooth-running society. In a world where cashiers at McDonald’s have cameras trained on the cash register to discourage theft, senior analysts at DOPOTO have concluded that it is not a bad idea to scrupulously regulate the people handling many billions of dollars more of other people’s money than the average McDonald’s cashier.

Alternate explanation: This means anything you want it to mean, which generally adds up to meaning nothing at all. It was invented by a defense attorney desperately trying to convince a jury of sane people that there was an alternate explanation for the 27 dismembered bodies buried in his client’s basement and his set of human skull soup bowls. Most alternate explanations work about as well as that one did.

Right Thinking American: Invented a week after America was invented, this meaningless phrase all at once covers the speaker in the American flag while identifying anyone who disagrees with them as a puppy-drowning traitor. Right Thinking Americans would do well to skip this phrase and concentrate on whatever it is that this person is demanding you agree with. It just might be the opposite of what you really believe.

Foreign Policy: In a nation where foreign policy changes every 4 or 8 years, this is another elastic phrase that can mean whatever the current administration wishes, whether explaining away invading another country by mistake, trying to slap tariffs on China to prevent our last remaining factory from relocating there or to justify our dear friendships with misogynistic tyrants in gowns whose sandbox nations just happen to be floating on a sea of petroleum. Foreign Policy often means whatever foreign misadventure the current president is up to at the expense of everyone else.

Underperformance: Not a real word, but one made up by executives in relation to their company’s dismal stock price in an attempt to blame their colossal failures on “unforeseen market forces.” Think of it this way: when a trapeze artist misses the trapeze and plunges 50 feet to the ground, he has seriously underperformed. Unlike elite corporate princes, however, the trapeze artist doesn’t get to console himself by awarding himself and his fellow trapeze artists billions of dollars of other people’s money as a bonus.

Performance Bonus: Grand theft on a monumental scale. A simple concept, earning a reward for outstanding performance, the bonus is as old as commerce itself. In corporate circles, however, the bonus has become a tool for stealing other people’s money, the stockholders’ in most cases, no matter what sort of performance is turned in, with corporate executives feeling entitled to a huge bonus on top of their already obscene salaries. Until recent years the highest paid executives earned 20 to 30 times more than the average worker. These days, the average CEO earns 200 times the median wage, and collects a bonus even if they fail. When greedy people answer to no one, there is only one possible outcome, the results are predictable and yes, blatantly obvious.

The Liberal (or Conservative) Agenda: This phrase implies that all conservatives, or liberals, or Democrats or Republicans or any other large group of people, have identical goals. Usually this “agenda” is referred to by opposition groups to suggest that there is some sort of vast conspiracy afoot. In reality, an elite team of researchers in The Department assigned to uncovering these mysterious “hidden agendas” have found that these groups are often in sharp disagreement within their own ranks and can barely reach a consensus on what kind of donuts to serve at their meetings, never mind planning global domination. See: Right Thinking American (above).

This was report from The Department of Pointing Out The Obvious.

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